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Entries in war (44)

Tuesday
Nov042008

My Two Cents

After eight years of the party that wrecked America, I think it is time to hope again that integrity and transparency will have a chance to be the tools of the presidential trade. I think a man of principle and honor has won this election, and one who has demonstrated unparalleled ability to excite people to action for their own good. I think this election trumps the 2004 go around because this was not an anybody-but-Bush election. This time, I felt like we had a good man on the ticket—as good as has been found in national politics for a long while.

It happens that he is also of my denomination, the United Church of Christ. I didn't vote for him solely for that reason, but it was something that helped me understand something of what makes him tick. No two UCC congregations are alike, so his at Trinity is very different from any I have attended, but in the UCC, social justice is a major concern and he has worked for that for many years now, and he understands there is more to it than handing out checks to people. These days, his grassroots empowerment and consensus building expertise is desperately needed. But I think his greatest strength, even before any of that is accomplished, is that he seems to be a keen listener. That alone will be a radical regime change from the status quo!

While I wasn't the stunned and joyfully weeping Jesse Jackson or Oprah, I did find myself a little verklemt as it dawned on me what happened tonight. The camera's sweep across the masses gathered in Chicago reminded me a little of the images of the night when the Berlin Wall fell. And in some ways, this event is as momentous. It is a victory just the same, a victory over the fearfulness and divisiveness of bankrupt ideologies.

Now, jubilation aside, I have my concerns that even Barack Obama—soundly principled as he is—is entering a total shitstorm of history and even he will be a small figure before the wave of events before us. But if we have to simultaneously face assorted crises like peak oil, global warming, terrorism, economic wipeout (that might end up leading us to a new economic philosophy that reins in the excesses of capitalism I hope), and all the woes before us, then I'd prefer Obama as a leader who can talk cool and tough, knowing when it is time to listen more than talk. With the Bushies, the adage of "when all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail" was the prevailing but bankrupt logic. I think Obama's tool chest is larger than that.

I heard a section of NPR's All Things Considered where black voters were being asked to share their opinion of a pending victory for Barack Obama. One fellow told a story of how his friend sent a text message to many friends with something like the following:

Rosa sat so that Martin could walk.
Martin walked so that Barack could run.
Barack ran so that our children could fly.
Friday
Oct312008

You Gotta Be Kidding Me

I already voted for my presidential candidate. And his name didn't rhyme with "John McCain." My short list of reasons for not voting for McCain includes the following, with some humor present.

He is not shy of hauling out the tired story about his warrior past. Let me sum it up for you:

  • He is the only guy who managed to get shot down during the Vietnam war while sitting stationary on board his own ship. He was a casualty of what is called a "maritime surface-to-surface friendly fire incident."
  • Rather than spend his time like his fellow Republican/Vietnam fighter pilot Duke Cunningham (who actually shot down the enemy's planes), McCain's biggest claim to fame is getting shot down and captured. OOOOhhhh. Big deal! Even the one ace from that war—The Duke—isn't any better as a Republican politician, hanging his head in shame a while back for his dubious deal making. With that in mind, you can't even say, "well, don't give me the guy who got shot down in Vietnam, give me the guy who shot the enemy down!" It's sort of an apples-and-apples deal, and you want oranges.
  • Then, he was stupid enough to stick around for five years, often taunting his captors, who continued to beat the living shit out of him. Oh! What great foreign policy chops you got there, Johnny Boy! I can't wait till we fall to our national knees before the Russians who will have the oil we need.

So, for those undecideds out there, you gotta ask yerself if you want to vote for the guy who first can't get his plane off the ground without being shot at by his own team, and then can't keep it in the sky long enough to get home, and then has to put on a cocky (oh, Maverick-y is the word?) show of bravado when maybe some common sense would have been in order. He did do better than Bush about doing his military service, but he spent five years on the sidelines. And now that makes him presidential material?

GOBAMA!

Friday
Sep122008

The War Against Terrorism (TWAT)

the hooded iraqi in silhouette and iconographic starkness, with the words cruel and unusual, america must do betterHow's that war going, Georgie? Oh, which war, you ask? Well, how about all of them? I guess there are too many to really keep straight these days. After all, if you want to keep battling terrorism until you squash it like a bug, you gotta go to war with the whole world now, because there are terrorists behind every rock and tree and dare I say, every computer keyboard! Well, if you think on it hard enough, there are people who support terrorism in your neighborhood. There might even be some in your house right now! I happen to think they have infiltrated the White House and are acting as our nation's leaders even now as we speak. Never mind the hunt for Osama Been Laughin', the real terrorists are operating within (nearly) full view, doin' dirty deeds like they are.

Who now can see the "war" in Iraq as anything but terrorism by a different name? According to IraqBodyCount.org, we leveled the score of 9/11/01 by going to town on Iraq, to the tune of about 90,000 dead civilians. Let's see here—about 3000 of our people is cause to wipe out 90,000 of someone else's. But of course, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 anyway. Hell, even our dead soldier count is out of whack with the 9/11 civilian count. Man, oh man. I really don't even know where to start with that one.

But for years now, I've come to believe that we have to pat ourselves on the back for this one too. We all have to admit that we as regular Americans enjoy the fruits of a lifestyle that is war-based. I include myself in that assessment. We don't just have a "war president," we have a war economy that itself is backed by a war- and expansion-based national mythology that has allowed us a free pass to taking what we want, when we want. War is just the visible tool that is needed (increasingly so) to live out the national myth. I guess now that we expanded to our western coast, and have scored Alaska and Hawaii, it is time to set our sights elsewhere, and Iraq is but part of that push to appropriate what we want to live a certain way. We don't need to turn it into a state; just a place that plays by our rules.

a densely edited and layered photo collage with odd imageryFin de Siecle, French for the End of the CenturyAll our purchases somehow are linked to this tragic mythology. Even the anti-war crowd is as guilty as the pro-war crowd. We all shop. Ergo, we all enjoy the benefits (from this perspective) of the world being arranged the way it is—with Americans enjoying a place at the top (more or less) while violence props up our lifestyle. Violence, I say because a sweatshop in China or Indonesia is another way of destroying lives of promise, not all unlike what is happening in Iraq as a result of our purposely mis-aimed attack and occupation there to make our nation feel better after 9/11. A life robbed of its potential is violence, and the economic arrangements we enjoy now are not ours to have forever because no one will like to live under such arrangements for any longer than necessary.

The national rhetoric about "getting back" at those who carried out 9/11 is preposterous. Those people are dead because their mission was a success—and, I might say, has been quite a return on their investment of a half-million dollars. Meanwhile, we watch billions and billions go away—hundreds of billions now, and have nothing to show for it but economic wipeout with whole commercial sectors bombing out, an energy crisis looming, whole cities and towns being wrecked by natural disaster, failing infrastructure, deficient education, etc. It is preposterous in so many ways what has been traded away so we might have some "homeland security." I guess we didn't need those hundreds of billions. We have the money to destroy an innocent nation, but not to make ours greater.

I don't kid myself in thinking that this is just a series of unfortunate mistakes. Men who hold power like to hold it for as long as they can. Drive it like you stole it, the saying goes. To that end, anything goes. It is almost as if the bull ride is to hang on for the full eight years, and never mind what damage is done while the bull bucks and tries to buck old Georgie and Dicky off. What will be left after this eight year party thrown by the (grand old) party that wrecked America? I sort of wonder if this year's October surprise will be the news that we have Osama bin Laden in custody. Great! Then the idiots will vote GOP again because the picture will be painted to portray these GOP assholes as heroes and all these years as righteous effort toward defeating evil, yadda, yadda, yadda. The mind boggles.

I lament the loss of life on 9/11 and the videos still shock me. But I can't let that lead me to justify killing so many other people who also did not deserve it. Shame on America for being the leading terrorist state in the world today and having the gall to claim that of others. I repeat again: you and I don't have enemies in Iraq or most other places. (At least none that our government or corporations didn't create for us.) What there is out there is a growing population that is losing its patience with the double standard inherent in our economic structure—and we can't expect people to wipe our asses for ever and still call it progress. Some will break. And should we actually be surprised when another 9/11 type event happens, if this nation has not changed the way it relates to the world?

Monday
May262008

Compassion Day

To honor whatever it is that one honors on Memorial Day, I chose to watch the film Why We Fight (Wikipedia). Of course, as my earlier Memorial Day missives will reflect, I am not precious about the day and its typical rituals of nationalistic bullshit. The documentary features a multifaceted look at the military-industrial-corporate-thinktank complex and questions civilians, politicians, and military alike what motivates this nation to go to war. There is a lot of talk about how Ike predicted (rightly) the massive system which now must be fed our billions of dollars, our young men and women, and helped along by a cheerleading media. What disturbs most is that it is allowed to take over by a public that is lulled to sleep by sensational news, bullshit "reality" TV, working two jobs to get by, and the host of other distractions we face in daily life.

But I also heard a rebroadcast of an episode of Fresh Air (NPR) featuring a Marine and a journalist who have written a book about fallen soldiers and how the Marines dispatch such officers to not only break the news of a combat death, but to help look after the family for as long as it takes for grief to work itself out. The officer told gripping stories of how ritualized the whole thing is in the Corps. It was hard to not choke up and get a bit teared up at some of the things he said. The point was made at how the Corps was trained to be utmost efficient and good at being a killing machine, but this story demonstrated a great deal of mercy and steadfastness in taking care of the family, and indeed a fallen brother or sister, even past the burial. It was genuinely touching to hear. War, terrible though it is, at least doesn't eclipse all the best parts of a man, or even the potential for the human image to shine through what is inherently a dehumanizing institution—the military.

But I like to reach deeper. Jesus taught to love one's enemies. He didn't say this so that they might trample upon you time and time again as you prove your weakness and vulnerability, but that they might be rendered as non-enemies. I heard of a Hasidic tale that had two men talking about love. One said, 'do you love me?' The other said, 'sure I do.' The first asked, 'what hurts me?' to which the second said, 'I don't know what hurts you.' The first came back, saying, 'how can you say you love me if you don't know what hurts me?'

America has done a good job of wrapping itself in the flag for a good while, but none so much as since 9/11. And it all seems so packaged and contrived. It has to be. If we ever had to confront the real reasons for 9/11, our heads would explode. So the easier way is to just declare that "they hate us for our freedom" and other such nonsense. We are cavalier like this in a time when the world grows ever more complex and daunting. But just give us the snappy soundbite reasoning. What is not pleasant to remember is that the world is hurting, and that too often, it is hurting not just because nature can deal some blows—earthquakes, storms, tsunamis, etc. —but that there is plenty of shit that comes down because of man made social constructs—economics, politics, and their dirty-deed-doing comrade, war. The world is mostly hurt today by a corrupt economic model which America champions but one that ultimately is a shameful, destructive thing. So I posit that America has forgotten how to hurt in sympathy with the rest of the world, and because we have forgotten how to hurt, we can remain blind to the real suffering that exists, in part due to our success. As long as we can remain ignorant of this hurt, we can never say that we love the world enough to bring our precious democratic values, our liberty, and all that other jibberish talk.

America has not these values to offer another land because they do not exist here like we think they do. What we have is a military that will aid big business in its expansion into other territories, intruding into the political workings of other nations, and a media that will turn enough of a blind eye so that people here don't really know what is going on. In that vacuum, people feel of no consequence in relation to the system. But the rest of the world isn't so duped. So why are we so surprised that a 9/11 happens? Maybe because so many Americans are without clue as to what really is going on in the world and that contemporary events don't just happen out of the blue? Americans don't like to admit what effects our way of life has in the world. That blindness has earned us 9/11. People argue that our way of life 'must be great because people flock to it.' Shallow argument, I think. Our way of life is hitting the dead end that was inevitable. A world in uproar is part of the sign that the party is coming to an end. And what has been clearer to us that something is wrong than 9/11?

Yet here we are, throwing completely unconscionable amounts of money at the problem with nary a clue to what is really the problem.

It's the economy, stupid.

The world is not willing to be our factory forever. Or our slaves forever. Or our doormats forever. But somehow, all attempts are made to cling to the status quo of easy motoring (as Kunstler says), endless mall shopping, and all this other consumption-based activity, no matter what price the nation must really pay in money, blood, international goodwill, etc. Yet our economists talk about how the consumer activity constitutes 2/3 of our economic activity. They talk about how the consumer feels good or bad, almost as if to scare people into consuming so the economy doesn't falter. I think that is a form of mental slavery, quite unbecoming a nation that fancies itself free and democratic. It is certainly a form of manipulation.

Our economy is founded on serving the needs of others in one great economic circle jerk-slash-merry-go-round from which hardly anyone can escape. Who knows what to do to break out of that? We're trained to produce and consume so that we might be good citizens—er, consumers (the new patriotism it seems). There is a sort of fear instilled in people so that we won't try to avoid our responsibility to the system. It really is the religion of the land. But this economy is different from the one based on real self-sufficiency in an earlier America, or in many parts of the world even now, and certainly in pre-industrial societies where there was no factory to make goods for ready consumption. And, since much of the world is enjoying a growing trend toward industrialism, the social strains are there the same as they were when Britain, the US, and Europe were confronted with the stress of abandoning rural life for urban-industrial settings. America forgot, that is what it is. We were there, experiencing the dislocation from rural, isolated people who were pressed (or drawn) into the cities.

America forgot what it was to have that upheaval. Now we are on the other side of the equation, and we can't understand how the rest of the world feels. I'll bet it feels rather the same as when early industrialists started in on their radical social transformation in the name of progress. Not every farmer who was lured from the farm, or forced off the farm embraced the urban-industrial lifestyle. So it is with other peasants around the world who see change as threatening and not altogether necessary if it means their land or resources will be taken away without real compensation. This is where America has failed to understand what hurts people and nations. This is where America has failed to show compassion in the real sense of the word—suffering with. This is where America cannot say it loves other people or places enough to bring them democracy or liberty of any of that. This is also where America cannot think of itself as a Christian nation. (This is a jab at those righty evangelicals and fundamentalists who say such nonsense.) America cannot foist any more economic injustice upon the world and expect cooperation. September 11 was the wakeup call for that. This means that everything must change or it will be changed for us.

Jesus of Nazareth was essentially a nobody from no place worth mentioning. But, as theologian Marcus Borg emphasizes, he was a man defined by and who defined compassion—suffering with. I think to be Christ-like is to understand suffering of another; to know what hurts a person. I will repeat again that you and me don't have enemies in Iraq or Afghanistan. But what we do have is a problem of thinking we are separated from one another—as if they haven't suffered the same (and worse) as we've suffered. I can't find it in my heart to hate another peasant in a far off land, or even in Mexico, about 20 miles from here. I've been told by my "leadership" that I have enemies out there, and that people are out to get what is mine, and I have to fight them before they attack me. That is the rhetoric these days, and it works as well as in any time and place. But who are our enemies but for other humans who hurt and feel just like you and me, and frankly, have been pushed into more desperate places in their souls than we have? If humans are our enemies, then we'd better get busy killing people, because there sure are plenty of them out there! But if they aren't, maybe killing gets us nowhere, and maybe on a day like Memorial Day we need to realize what a colossally stupid thing we do when we march off to war and engage in a fruitless pursuit that has proven itself to be that time and time again, and no amount of spending and media hype will ever prove anything to the contrary.

I frankly don't know what to think of vets now, seeing how most of them fought wars that were dubious, and a couple wars now were fought with so-called "volunteers." Part of me thinks these volunteers are blind fools, but really I just have to have pity on the poor souls who think that the military is a good place to be in this day and age. Touching as it was to hear how the Marines look after their dead, I still think that sort of ritualistic care should be put into avoiding the whole franchise of war in the first place. One day, let us hope that Memorial Day would be able to actually memorialize ALL the war dead, because there would be no more coming home draped in flags.

Wednesday
Mar192008

Five Years In Iraq

The USA isn't as good at war as it once was
Now it takes five years to reach a quagmire
Once we knocked out the Axis on two fronts
It only took three-and-a-half years

Four thousand men and women who tasted death
It must be great being free that way
Freedom and liberation sweeps across the land, yeah
While others just know it by its other name—
Death!

The inner ring of empire decays and rots
Leaving nothing to fight for back home
The myths of valiant soldier-saviors
Die hard but not hard enough to change the equation

Freedom felt at the pump is delusional
The asphalt highway beckons and speaks
Of freedom, of individuality, of joy and abandon
But oh the nasty secrets that lie beneath the hood
Death!

To the servant we have become the slave
The greedy system commands our every move
We call it non-negotiable and inevitable as if
God really wanted it that way

Cycling, spiraling, spending our way down
The endless techno-hole, our proven god over all
God that needs food, god that needs fuel and
God that needs our total devotion— God that brings—
Death!

Five years chasing the wrong bad guys
Five years blowing the grandkids' futures
Five years showing our total commitment to
A dying way of life

Check your reason at the door upon your entry
The games we play here are for the hardened
Love and grace aren't understood or welcomed
Fighting and dying aren't seen to be lies that bring
Death!

The real war is on the human spirit; death within our souls
The soul that must have an enemy is a house divided
The greater evil to be lamented is the one thing we fight hard for
Success no matter how its won, will only have one true name:

Death!

Wednesday
Aug152007

Tricky Dick

Is this not the finest ever instance of flip flopping?

Monday
May282007

Memorial Day

the dead heroes quote from Gore Vidal, overlaid upon a stylized photo of the military standing around a flag draped coffin inside a C130

Memorial Day once again. Today is the day when we attempt to consume more than our shares to keep the ol' machine going even as it crushes some of our sons, fathers, brothers (and now, because of the magnanimous politicians we supposedly elect, our daughters, mothers and sisters too). We consume because said kin are not here to do so anymore so we must pick up the slack and carry on in their absence. This is how we are good citizens now—by being good consumers.

What a great nation, eh? Consume at all costs, at all times, even on the national holiday. Just makes you wanna go throw yourself in a thinly-armed Hummer and go die in a foreign country, doesn't it?

I'll stay home and tend my garden instead. Call me unAmerican.

 

Monday
May212007

Holly Near's 10 Reasons to Leave Iraq

Here is a reprint Holly Near's web site [link removed due to rot], ten reasons to end the occupation in Iraq. Or, as she says, "The battle for hearts and minds has been lost."

  1. The human cost of war is unacceptable
  2. The US occupation is a catalyst for violence
  3. US actions inflame divisions and the chance of civil war
  4. Iraqis want the US to leave now
  5. Democracy cannot flourish under an occupation
  6. The US has failed to rebuild Iraq or provide for Iraqis' basic needs
  7. The Iraq war and occupation wastes resources needed for US domestic programs
  8. The US occupation of Iraq destabilizes the Middle East
  9. Humanitarian aid is crippled by the occupation
  10. The global community wants the war and occupation to end now
Monday
May072007

Katrina for Whitey?

Hmmm. I heard on the news that Kansas will be slow in responding to the tornado extravaganza last week, particularly in Greenburg. It seems that the various emergency response people, trucks, trailers (and various other supplies needed to respond in a meaningful way) happen to be in IRAQ of all places. Charming. Is this the white-persons' Katrina? Or will there be a better bailout for these nice white (possibly Republican) folks in good old Middle America? Will their town be build back up with all due haste? I guess we shall see. Maybe with enough of this sort of stuff we may find out that Iraq is a bad thing for a number of reasons, not least of which is because it seems to be drawing all our resources away from here—men, brains, equipment, etc.

[And now for the shadowy conspiracy theory...]

All the emergency crews fighting terrorism (supposedly) over there, but the real terrorist-cum-destroyers-of-American-Cities is the weather in the Heartland. So much for Homeland Security.

[And now for extra super shadowy conspiracy theory...]

Or maybe global warming and these violent storms is a proxy paramilitary agent for the US Government—able to destroy American cities without a clear, traceable path back to the bad men in power except for their little wars on abstract concepts which make it increasingly difficult to respond to these natural threats. Maybe it's time to proclaim a Global War on Nature. Oh, wait. That is what the whole concept of civilization (specifically industrial society) is all about!

Sunday
Apr012007

Roll Over, Gramps

ed and tara tearing up the grassy yard in prep for the gardenMe and Tara weeding and prepping the soil at the new gardenHah. A long time ago when my grandfather used to have me help him tend his tomatoes, he used to mock my avoidance of the dirt part of the work. In his Ohio farmboy-tinged speech, he used to remind me I'd have to get my hands dirty in that line of work. I guess he might be rolling over in his grave on Fort Rosecrans now because I just took the initiative to start a second garden project at home, but this time instead of being the helper boy on someone else's project, I was the one who went and fetched $90 worth of all the soil components (organic compost, chicken manure, and worm castings, based on the first project from last year at Calabrese West), and with the superb help of Kelli and Tara and Kalyn, a mother-daughter pair of friends from our church, we converted about 170 square feet of dingy, fallow soil into the basis of a nice organic garden. This took a lot of shoveling to break up the old soil (pleasantly easy to spank out with a shovel), which had been fallow for maybe six years or more, so we gambled on putting some enriching components into it and hoping for the best. There were weeds and Bermuda grass to shake out of the shoveled clumps. The dirt itself was a good base. We've been into composting for the last three years or so, at the various places we've lived, and this place is no different. So far we've never been able to really employ much of the compost in any gardening projects, but I have generally kept a bin that has done pretty well considering my novice level of expertise.

So we are thinking of planting tomatoes of one or two sorts (this year we will do it on time in the spring), beans, bell peppers, jalapeno, chiles, broccoli, and lettuce, and maybe a few other bits of herbs. Last year there was squash and cucumbers in abundance—and maybe over abundance—and two types of eggplant too, none of which was really my thing. But I did enjoy the beans and peppers a lot. The tomatoes at the old plot were apparently planted too late, and when they did come ripe it was getting too cold to carry that far. But that's because we planted in mid June. This year, it looks like we will get at least two months' head start and have more summer season, and would plant second round plants sometime later.

This project has come after about a year of reflecting on many of the world's problems, and has been one tangible way to practice something of the change I wish to see in the world. The past year too has been a time of my stepping away from electronics more and more, and embracing things that don't send me to fits of anger when things are out of my control. Gardening (or attempting to) can really do wonders for one's world view, I have come to find. Of course none of that was taught to me as a kid. To the younger me, it was a way to get my two dollars an hour so that I could go out and buy toys. (In the mid 80s, it might have been Voltron or The Transformers—sci fi fighting machines from a future age when war was still not abolished or abandoned or seen for the futile and wasteful consumption of resources and life that it is.) No, my grandfather, of Ohio farming stock, didn't really pass on much in the way of lessons on how to cherish life, though in retrospect maybe a bit more attention to growing his tomatoes would have probably filled that bill as much as anything. Can I blame the guy? His life and future was saved by the Navy during the depression years and San Diego and the growing military-industrial complex which turned my desert town into a paradise where he spent more than half his life. While he himself was not particularly a warrior, the military, vast leaps in technology, sustained post-war economic growth and the Republican party were his world. I guess he was happy to not have to do the Ohio farm thing, simply because other systems enabled him not to need to in his age.

ed and tara offloading the truckload of compostOne cubic yard of this compost stuff overflows my truck. Good to have help from Tara!From where I stand, it seems like a lot of that has potential for losing its glory or falling apart altogether. So the effort at gardening—or at least learning enough to be genuinely sympathetic to those who do—is but one part of my willingness to see the world very differently than he. I think his generation and mine are on two different sides of the same peak of technology's life cycle. For his generation, they were the witnesses to the growth of all that would change their lives for the better, at least as they saw it. Technology was something of a religion, it seemed, and that of course is still where we are at now. It is an imperialistic religion. But like all the imperialistic religions that impose their wills on the people who do not need nor want it, it will convulse or possibly die when all the nasty things are brought to light and recognized for what they are. I call this deeper understanding of the dark side of technology by a word of my own coining: "techgnosis". Many people don't have it, or they reject it because the "techno-messiah" is ever-changing and chameleon like and people always find some new techno messiah to anticipate. But the logic is flawed; each techno messiah has come to defeat the other techno messiahs that came before. All our problems are because of the failure of a long line of techno messiahs. Indeed, as Richard Heinberg has said (probably quoting Joseph Tainter), civilization grows ever in complexity, and the old problems of complex social and technological advances are solved with further complexity. But how far does that go? It would be hard to imagine living a life that is any more complex than what we have now, but I know the march will continue on until we use up resources, or suffer from pandemic diseases, or global climate disaster, or something. The point is, the march forward is a march backward because we will never get to the technological promised land while simultaneously growing our population past the point of carrying capacity, and trying to get the entire world to a "developed" state. There is more to life than technology.

I've been thinking that for a man, maybe the closest he could get to being God or a woman (not necessarily saying there has to be a difference!) might have to be in his ability to garden—the role of creator and sustainer enacted as much as possible for mortal men. Men are notorious for destroying things, sometimes just to do so. The men in my formative years had that tendency. They stopped short of hunting for fun, but on the whole, they took more than they gave, or participated in institutions that worked along similar lines. I find myself marveling at the intersection of my current interests in life-giving and sustaining systems—interestingly enough they are Christianity and gardening/permaculture. I guess I have to find the beauty in such things, else I'd be dead because of all I witness in the world, and having to admit that I am a product of a lot of things I loathe. I happen to have a wife who understands and supports all that too, and often leads the way, but we both reinforce each other's findings as we learn about how to be better humans and life forms in general. The people that we hang with more and more understand that critical intersection between the seemingly abstract notion of Christian life and the tangible world of permaculture. If we really are what we eat, then does that make us just industrially produced garbage that moves further and further from the natural world? Is that what God intended for us? Sooner or later, along that path, we can expect to lose more and more of what makes us human, and recklessly embracing that "machine" is sure to spell our doom. And we shall march to our deaths, referring to it as "progress."

We can scientifically show that we aren't particularly made from clay like the Bible says, but the etymological connection between human and earth exists: human and humus. Adam of the Bible had a name that played with the Hebrew word for "earth" in a way that makes it clear that he is an EARTH-ling. Whether or not he was made of earth, the point is made that we are in an inextricable relationship with the earth. It would be good to remember that being of the earth, of the natural world, is not a bad thing. It is not a sin. And when we can subscribe to that belief, maybe we could step back from the endless march to destroy the world with our evermore complicated technological "progress." Sure, we don't call it a march to destroy the world, but why not admit that is what we must do in order to prepare the way for the coming of the techno messiah? I won't be so arrogant to say that Jesus is the only messiah the world will ever know, but I think it is safe to say that the endless march of technology can safely be seen to be a false messiah now that we can see how we must destroy life to save it. That is of course the sort of skewed logic that made the bloodbath of World War One permissible: "The War To End All Wars." A war fought, not insignificantly, with the latest and greatest technology available at the time—some of which were powered or enhanced by the remarkable energy or chemical building blocks available from oil and natural gas. One interesting bit of technology that was employed in that war was certain natural-gas and nitrogen- based toxic chemicals that later were turned into commonly available fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides that could help people grow more tomatoes in their back yards or massive agrigoliath farms—but at what cost? Shall we poison the earth and hope that we would remain immune to all that in our food and water? How can anyone's soul rest easily if one takes the time to really reflect on what it means? Living under such conditions is something that some might call HELL. It makes me perfectly ashamed of some people in this land who call themselves Christians but believe that Christ will come when the last tree is felled and the last gallon of oil is burnt to fuel a terrorist fighting war machine or SUV. I assure you, I don't march under that banner. My grandfather probably viewed his little tomato project as a hobby. Of course, it could be just that. None of it was productive enough (even with all his chemical products he used) to really do much, and there was a whole industrial agriculture machine that was growing by leaps and bounds during his life. But folks like me are finding out what a lie all that is, and what we have to do about it. I'm pretty certain I am not doing enough, but considering this stuff isn't in my blood, I have to believe I am off to a start. I can't help it. It is compelling me away from the computer, giving me something real in my life, and if I ever need to, I will have something to pass on to another generation, maybe something useful, unlike some of the technological things I learned twenty, ten, or even five years ago. In 20 years, if anyone even knows the difference between Mac and PC or Ford and Chevy or Coke and Pepsi, they probably won't care because they will want to eat, and people who can help facilitate that will be the real stewards of life's knowledge, just as before. I don't care how great a web designer you are, or a system admin, or an ad executive, television personality, or a fashion model or car detailer, your professions are worthless, or will be in just a few years or decades. Add to that the fact that much of the stuff we surround ourselves with is just our beautiful natural resources turned into junk. Our labor turned into disease, divorce and social meltdown.

Realizing that sort of thing has changed my priorities a lot as of the last year or two. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. A friend from my early days in the music biz told me, "you can live around people who will invite you to live, or around people who will invite you to die." So thanks to Tara and Kalyn, Kelli, and all the people in Lee's orbit who are latched onto something deeper in life and who believe enough is given for all to enjoy.