Friday, May 23, 2014

Do Americans Know How to Face Death?

Do Americans know how to face death?
I'm not sure.
I'm not sure I know how.

It's unsettling to think about it.

So, we come up with polite euphemisms.
Put a happy face on it.
"What, me worry?"

When someone dies, we're likely
     To blame them.

Lack of exercise, poor diet.

Or too much stress.

"If only they had ..."
Judgment ... so much judgment in those
few words.

When someone loses a loved one.
We grant them grief for a few weeks.
And then they better get on with it.

We're surprised, maybe miffed.
When six months later.
Tears and depression arise.

Maybe even in ourselves.

Death, I don't like it.
But I have no choice.

Perhaps faith offers something.
But even Jesus dreaded the prospect of death.

No cakewalk for him.
Nor for us.

And so it goes.

We can't run away.
Nor hedge our bets.

The mad accumulation of goods
     Is a hedge.
          Against death.

And so are harsh words
     Toward the poor.
          Who can't accumulate.

"What's the matter with them?"
      Do they remind us of something?
           We'd rather not know?

So we worship the Great God MBA.
And its Wall Street Minions.

Little boys and girls in expensive suits and fast cars.
Drinking expensive liquor.
Joy-riding in the fast lane.

Escaping death.
Running from it.
Full tilt.

All the way.
No tomorrow, is there?
But sooner or later.

The last tomorrow comes.
And then what?

Death holds a few keys in its wearied hand:

As for accumulation?
How about piling up hordes of mercy?
Or justice?

A little charity now and then.
But more than charity;
A whole lot of effort to transform

     The mechanisms of society.

To face life.
That's what it's all about.
To see it for what it is.

Opportunity, but limited.
With death hanging around.
And maybe that's okay.

Can't do much about it anyhow.
Except thank it for the reminder.
That life is precious.

"So, get with it," says death.
"I'm here, waiting for you."

So we learn to face life.
In the gray light of death.
To live, maybe even well.

Some of the time.
Maybe much of the time.

Because there isn't that much time.

There really isn't.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Never Tell a Young Person ...

Never tell a young person
They will run out of time.

They won't understand.
Time for the young is forever.
Time, plenty of it.
And they're mostly right.

For a while.
When time is forever.
When you're young.

So, if you need to talk about time
Running out.
Talk to someone with age
Under their belt.

They'll know what you're
Talking about ... uh huh!
They hear the clock ticking
All the time.

Damnit all, they might think.
But they know the clock ticks
for them ... for all of us.
And it's okay.

As my friend said,
"I just hope the end is easy."
Something us enders all hope for.
Us enders.

So, don't tell the young
That time runs out.
They'll think you're nuts.
And maybe that's true.

A little crazy now and then.
About life and its
Fleeting story.
Sure, that's all right.

Tell the young to go for it.
Stretch their wings.
Fly high.
Build their dreams.

The world needs their naiveté.
Their boundless energy.
Hope and foolish daring.

Tell the young:
"You can do it."
"Don't be afraid."
"Take great risks."

The world needs this.
And the young will give it.
Until they tire.
And become enders.

And then another team takes the field.
The young benchers.
Waiting for their moment.
When Time says: "Your turn!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Suffering and the Task of Peace-Making

Doing some digging about a part of the world that suffered mightily during WW1, yet of this time and place, we know little, what with our focus on the Western Front.

Th attached report about "refugees choking Serbian roads" and their "only food" being dead horses is a snippet of human history, but it makes me wonder about the nature of life - which seems to be mostly war and suffering interrupted by brief moments of calm and rest.

Serbian refugees arriving at Salonika Christmas morning.

Please note the brief note that follows the refugee report, about the suicide rate ...  with older workers being replaced by younger.

I think I'm clear - the task of peace is never-ending, and the drive to war is enormous. Though we decry its violence, we apparently can't help ourselves, as we plunge wildly into one conflict after another.

So press on dear friends ... the cries of the suffering are never-ending, nor are the ways of the wicked who find profit in the bloodshed and suffering.

Keep on learning and keep on agitating ... don't give up the fight for justice and peace ... keep telling the horrible truth ... and while enjoying the delights of life, keep an eye on the larger world and its needs.

Every prayer offered,
every article read,
every petition signed,
every note written,
every book read,
every cup of coffee with a friend on such matters,
every step taken in a picket line,
every effort of solidarity with the poor,
every protest against the vanities of wealth,
every tear shed for the horror of it all,
every moment of righteous indignation,
every promise made to make this a better world,
every vow taken - it all counts.