Sunday, October 31, 2010

Albert Schweitzer

I see the bug on the sink. I am about to turn on the water. I think of killing it...then...I think of Albert Schweitzer.

Schweitzer was one of the greatest human beings who lived in the 20th Century, a Nobel Prize winner; yet he is mostly overlooked now. I think because he was such a strongly religious man. His devout Christianity was held against him by the intelligentsia; and his accomplishments demeaned by their cynicism. His bio is amazing. A world class Philosopher and writer (of myriad books and voluminous letters) in his 20s, as well as a brilliant, world class organist, he then became a minister as well as a medical student (and doctor) in his 30's. Completing his medical studies, he gave up on civilization (at least in life style) and went to work as medical missionary and doctor amongst the poorest of the poor in Gabon, Africa' There he spent the remainder of his days, and used his growing world fame to raise money to build a hospital in the middle of the jungle. It was his crowning achievement. He remained there, ministering to the body and spirit of the local natives, until he died at the age of 90s.

Throughout his five decade sojourn into the heart of Africa, he lived according to his philosophy, "A Reverence for Life" (the title of a book his wrote early in his career). According to that simple yet comprehensive doctrine, he refused to kill any animal or insect or other living thing. He lived in the tradition of Jesus, whom Godhead believed in and loved devotedly, and Gandhi, Buddha and, eventually, later than him, Mother Teresa. He maintained a reverence for all life,

After my brief ruminating on Schweitzer, I paused in turning on the water in the sink until I lifted the bug on a sheet of paper and deposited it gently on the ground outside my door. "One for you, Albert," I thought. Then I recommenced washing the dishes.

I though it was the least in that small way I could do to honor him, one of his Century's great human beings; a great man who walked the walk and set standards of compassion and life's interconnectedness as he watched and refused to participate in humanity's wasteful defoliation, deforestation, war, animal cruelty, species' extinction and all the other unthinking death and pain humankind rains down on the planet;s fellow creatures.

Few of us can be Schweitzer, but we can honor his standards by (1) accepting the impossibility (and yes, naivete) of his ideals in the abstract; and yet (2) each day, striving to match them in the smallest way. Isn't that the purpose or reason; to gain mastery over chaotic and cruel existence? Thus illogical grows into logic, and progress moves forward in spite of silly little living bug at a time.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Hooray for American Democracy!!!

Are we finally coming to the end of the five-decade Age of Entitlement? Where the American dream trans morphed from "Work hard, save and your kids will eventually prosper;" the American dream became " "Work only hard enough to qualify for a credit card, spend on trinkets and toys and a lackluster education, and create the illusion of prosperity when it was really spending/mortgaging your own and other's (your kids' and grand children's...if you weren't too selfish to have them) future."

"I deserve. I have right to. What is mine is mine; what is yours is ours. There are no winners; just equal participants. I play in the league: I deserve a trophy, too. Self-esteem is not the reward for effort; it is an inalienable right. Why do I have to say "'I'm sorry?' If I did anything untoward to you, my mother and father caused me to do it. The apologies should come from them." "I should say 'Thank you?' For what? I earned all that I'm taking from you by the simple and glorious fact of my birth."

From the five-decade long indulgence in Entitlement also came the modern horrors of the political left and right. The left is self-righteous in their equitable sharing of the goods of others (note that they are not too excited about higher taxes on themselves.") And on the right, the sense of entitlement has produced greed, elitism and smugness.

The antidote to this five-decade old Entitlement experiment?: the Great Recession. 2010 come-up-ance; chicken's coming home to roost; if you don't pay now, you'll pay later. The inevitable fact of life: what goes up must come down.

Do I have sympathy for today's American malaise; mine and other's? No. Not a bit. We deserve it. Dare I use the almost archaic concept?...we are RESPONSIBLE. We are responsible for the muck we're in, and boy are we ever RESPONSIBLE for the muck of getting out. Victims (the other side of the human coin of entitlement) BEWARE. We are all victims now! Poor babies, those prior victims. Today's situation leaves no one for victims to blame. You are nothing special. You want to bitch about your situation? Don't start bitching to me! Because a few words into your rant I start bitching to you about my situation. We are all on the same floor in the hospital, if not the same room. We are all on the same oxygen machines and life-support. Forget black, brown, woman, men, illegal immigrants or Daughters of the American Revolution, young, old, gay and straight...your/our unique victimization is over. The great leveler has occurred: when we all look into each others' eyes for sympathy, when I look in the face of my social and economic problems, and I see...that I look just like you; another miserable person!!

Democracy, equality, equity has occurred. Nobody on Team America gets a trophy. Self-esteem is out the window, Misery. The cold hard facts of reality. That is the game today. We are all the same. Power to the People! The American Dream...finally fulfilled after almost fifty years of the coming of the Age of Aquarius. Hooray!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Tale of a Sperm

Does a sperm ever get tired? I mean. just flat-out, deep-breathing, muscle-aching, beat-up, wasted, exhausted tired? I do when I think about them.

First of all, if you're a sperm, you're not very big. You're just a single cell. That's it...a single cell, seen only by a microscope. On top of which, inside, amongst many other things you're carrying 23 chromosomes, designed to seek 23 other chromosomes somewhere out in a universe; which a goal that is somewhat elusive. They say the whole human race is depending on you. Talk about a soldier's backpack. The whole human race, all six billion of them, are depending on you. (And you know when the original model of you was created: 1 and a half million years ago? That's right. The first one of you was created one and a half million years age. So you really don't have the benefit of a modern design!)

You've got a head, surrounded by some chemical stuff around it, designed to help you penetrate something called an egg (whatever the hell that is). You also have a neck and a long tail. The tail is designed to move you forward; and get this: it is designed in such a way that you can't go backward. Right. I mean it: that's the way your tail works. You can only go forward. Forward march! Like a Marine "grunt" on a WWII landing craft, doors opening, depositing you on the sands of Iwo Jima with your Sargent holding a bayonet an inch from your asshole saying: "Forward, march!

Suddenly, out of nowhere, due to some huge thing sometimes called a prick getting hard, and, as they say, "getting off" you and a million other cohorts are suddenly swept up by some moist stuff called semen. It surrounds all of you like a wave set loose by a hurricane. You are summarily shot out of a cannon with millions of other moisture-surrounded competitors into this narrow (sometimes wide; it doesn't depend on you. The choice was made by the "prick" and the egg holder) receiving vessel. They call it a vagina. Caught up in the tide of moisture, you start your journey forward, swimming like hell, upstream. By the way, you better stay withing the moisture. Without the moisture, you die.

Now...if all this isn't bad enough, and here is the penultimate exhausting part of the whole "being-a-sperm-reality": only one of you, amongst the million other spear swimming along with you (everybody is going forward, remember, probably bumping like hell into one another) is going to MAYBE win. MAYBE.

Winning is getting to one egg. Right, at the end of this journey there is one egg...ONE...fucking...egg...hopefully waiting to embrace one of you amongst a million or so other competing sperm. Talk about a lottery.

So let's say you're a winner; the athlete amongst athletes. You get there first with the most-est. Does anyone cheer your victory? No, just the opposite. The egg pushed you away, holds you off, plays hard to get. That's where the design part comes in. You now have to batter your head, aided by a helmet of chemicals, with tail churning, against this one egg who is not exactly welcoming you with open arms. So you batter and batter, get through...and for what? What is the pay-off for this long, tiring, winning effort? Your 23 chromosomes unite with the egg's 23 chromosomes and you are gone. You are no longer a sperm. You have disappeared, merged, co-joined, united. You are bye-bye. The egg goes on...oh, boy, does the egg go on! It hangs around dividing and dividing until it grows into a full fucking human form; sometimes a vagina holder, sometimes a "prick." It's all designed to be about 50-50. It doesn't matter for the sperm. Existential exhaustion--the long swim--has become existential extinction.

The Egg and the Sperm. Aesop should have told that one.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Joy of Process

"Process" (the love of the activity itself) is a faithful long-term lover; whereas "achievement" is all too often capricious, fleeting and unfaithful. Embrace the first; flirt with the second; and if the Gods allow, you may have them both.