Tuesday, March 29, 2011
This kind of thinking allows comfortable Americans to "own" their success as if it were their own creation, rather than a simple gift of chance and circumstance, not to mention God, and then, when looking at folks in hard times, blame them for their troubles, attributing the hardship of others to moral failure or sloth, or any number of sins the successful love to blabber about on talkshows and in their self-congratulating books.
Anyway, life is full of limits. And we all know that, and it pisses us off, for sure. But what can we do about it, except tell the truth, and discover the power and the glory of life lived within limits, life that sees and embraces its own reality, rather than living in some bizarre dream-world than can only end with nightmares and tears?
And we all die, sooner or later. And that's a mighty big limit. Not even The Trump can work his way around that one. Money can buy time - watch the wealthy and their hyper-expensive health-care programs and plastic surgery and organ-transplants prove that one every day, while the poor languish and die too soon. But money cannot buy more than the limit - dust to dust, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, is still the truth about life. And when we live beyond the limit, when we buy more time than we deserve, by robbing it from others (that's always the trade-off), then we end up looking like hell and sounding like it, too.
We all die, and that ain't so bad!
After all, we have to make room for one another, especially the young, who may make better choices than we have.
I'm glad when someone can face hardship and disadvantage and prove the victor; it happens all the time. Of course. It's a good thing to push hard and sieze the day, and all of that. We can all do more than we imagine.
But I'm sorry for the mind-tricks we play on our cultural heros, and the mind-tricks we play on ourselves, pretending that we can get to the top of the hill all by ourselves - as if no one ever helped us, even as we ignore the humbling truth that just plain luck, or chance, or fate, or God, or what have you, played a decisive role in all of it.
Will someone write a book entitled, "I Was Just Plain Lucky"?
Or, "I Don't Deserve Any of These Good Times"?
Or, "I'm Sorry I Think I'm Better than You Are"?
Or, better yet, "Life Is Beautiful Within the Limits"?
Monday, March 14, 2011
I do not believe that the right has a genuine interest in PUBLIC ed.
They're too quick to demean teachers and attack the systems that work pretty well in giving us a level playing field for millions of American children, a playing field growing increasingly uneven for want of fair funding.
Are things wrong with the system? I've learned that one can make a good living out of criticism of what may be wrong; but what we are need are people who are devoted to lifting up the system, even with its flaws, and celebrating the millions of teachers who are devoted, who are successful, leading our children to a better life.
Ragged individualism, combined by hyper-induced parental anxiety, fueled by the far right and driven by a sales culture needing anxious parents to seek and to purchase nirvana for their little prodigies, America is shredding its public institutions, much like a mad dog biting its own legs in frustration and fear.
Oh well, just some ramblin' thoughts from an ol' retired guy!
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Obituaries: David S. Broder, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, dies at 81 - latimes.com
We have all lost in Broder's death, for his sanity is badly needed today, more than ever.
Yet, we have all gained from his life. Can anyone offer more than he did?
Life is limited. Period!
But it remains, now, for the living, to learn what a good journalist like Broder can teach us.
And to penetrate the fog of political blather and empty-minded sloganeering, to discern just how history works, what democracy means and how a constitution can work ... and to bring a generous helping of common sense and decency to the public square.
And, by the way, he owned cabin on Beaver Island, Michigan - that, in itself, says a lot about the man's character.
RIP Mr. Broder - you've done your job, and you've done it well.