Such a Simple Idea

man holding sheep statuette
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!”
― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

 

 

 

Jesus had such simple ideas.

Blessed are the merciful.

Blessed are the pure of heart.

Blessed are the peace makers.

Such simple ideas.

But we are complicated people.

I have a right to defend myself.

I have a right to bear arms.

I will serve my country in time of war

I will sue you for every imagined wrong.

I will protect the institution over the individual.

Jesus became a Christian symbol and his simple ideas have been mostly forgotten, replaced with institutions, hierarchies, rituals and dogmas.

Jesus had such simple ideas, but we are such complicated people.

 

 

 

 

Winter, Touching and George RR Martin

WP_20181116_10_32_35_Pro

God pity all the homeless ones,
The beggars pacing to and fro.
God pity all the poor to-night
Who walk the lamp-lit streets of snow.

Sarah Teasdale

I snapped the photo above from my back door this morning. Seven centimetres of very wet snow overnight and thirty minutes of shovelling.  Though because it was wet snow, it stuck to the trees, and everything looks very beautiful. Still five weeks till Winter officially starts.

While I’m here a few random thoughts.

I drive my thirteen year old granddaughter, Brianna, to horse back riding lessons twice a week. She is one of my daughters thirteen year old triplets, she has a brother and sister the same age, she also has a fourteen year old brother and an eight year old sister. Brianna is very talkative and loves music. She switches my classical radio station off as soon as she gets in the car and listens to her iPod’s playlist, sans headphones.

I told her about the giant snowball battles we engaged in when her mother was young. Whole streets,  children and parents would engage, sometimes ten  a side. She told me that they were not allowed to have snowball fights in school. The principal had just made an announcement this week that any child caught throwing snow would be sent to the principals office and their parents would be notified of this breaking of the school rules.

We had a discussion on the games children play today and she mentioned tag. I told her that when I was young we played a form of tag where as soon as you tagged a person you joined hands and had to tag the next person while running together with hands joined. Every person you tagged had to join hands until this chain surrounded the last person. Brianna told me that they were not allowed to touch another person at school, it was against the rules. I cried a little and didn’t dare relate that in the school playground,when I was younger, in order to get people to join in a game, we would walk around with arms entwined over another students shoulder shouting ” who wants to play tag”. Any other student who wanted to play would join in and put their arm around a person in the group  and so it would continue till no one else wanted to join in. A little like a Russian Cossack dance.

Now for a pet peeve. George RR Martin is publishing a new book for release date November 20, 2018, ‘Fire and Blood (A Targaryen History) “. I consider this book promotional advertising for the new series being contemplated on HBO after the Game of Thrones ends. I have been reading his books of Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones) since they were first published in 2003. I eagerly awaited the release of each of the five books in the series. Then he became involved in the HBO series and hasn’t published another book of Fire and Ice since the series started. I was so sure that he would write and publish to finish the books series before the HBO series overtook the books narrative. However, it was not to be. So although I will still follow the series on HBO I will not buy any more of his books. His unfinished symphonies. He of course is free to do whatever he thinks best, but so am I.

Thanks for reading. Just letting off some steam after shovelling.

The Great Divide

 

burnt candle candlelight dark
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“The Moth don’t care when he sees The Flame.
He might get burned, but he’s in the game.
And once he’s in, he can’t go back, he’ll
Beat his wings ’til he burns them black…
No, The Moth don’t care when he sees The Flame. . .
The Moth don’t care if The Flame is real,
‘Cause Flame and Moth got a sweetheart deal.
And nothing fuels a good flirtation,
Like Need and Anger and Desperation…
No, The Moth don’t care if The Flame is real. . . ”
― Aimee Mann

Do you blame the flame for consuming the moth. Do you blame an idea for consuming a person to such an extent that it leads to the destruction of their soul.

Rebecca was passionate about politics. In the heat of political debate she became a fiery volcano, spewing her views at anyone who crossed her path with contrary opinions. She despised Republicans. Those Trump loving, gun loving, racist, misogynist demagogues. She wasn’t born angry. In her younger days she was very perceptive in her observations of life, she cared about other people and would go out of her way to show them small kindnesses and let them know she cared.  She had slowly grown into her political ideology after the blush of puberty. Each perceived societal injustice burned into her soul because she cared so much. It reached its climax in university when she took a course on ‘ Protesting For Social Justice Issues ‘. She was taught that it was her right to vigorously protest the inequities in society and to shame and disrupt opposing views. She was content to be confined to her echo chamber, allowing her mind to become an empty shell, repeating her political mantras.

 

abstract blur bright christmas
Photo by Meve R. on Pexels.com

“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire,
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.”
― Robert Frost

Is it right to conserve the past, keep our traditions, encase them in ice and preserve them till the end of time. Is it right to freeze an idea in our minds, unchanging,  preserving it till we die.

Robert was very political. He knew what he believed, and that was that, no debate necessary. No compromise. He was cold towards other points of view and debated contrary opinions with icy rhetoric. No need to get emotional when he was so certain of his beliefs. He didn’t actually hate the Democrats, he just considered them a bunch of trouble makers of no consequence. Rabble rousers trying to pull down the foundations of society with their fiery, emotional rhetoric and virtue signalling. He wasn’t born entombed in his views. He was the ideal child, listened to his parents, respected them, was liked by his teachers, received excellent grades in school. He was a little reserved, didn’t make friends very easy, but loved tradition. He was a creature of routine, everything in its place, order was his rule of the day. He held to these views through puberty, high school and university. Unchanging.

selective focus photography of child s hand on person s palm
Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on Pexels.com

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
― Anais Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934

Rebecca approached the counter at Starbucks and ordered an iced peppermint white chocolate mocha and a blueberry yogurt and honey muffin. Reaching inside her pocket she found it empty, as realization dawned that she had changed jackets that morning and had left her wallet in the other jacket. She gave a sigh and explained to the server what she had done and turned around to leave.

Robert happened to be the next person in line and understanding Rebecca’s dilemma offered to pay for her coffee and muffin. She politely declined, but Robert insisted that he was sure she would have done the same for him. So she eventually accepted. Robert ordered a skinny mocha and lemon loaf, paid for him and Rebecca, and proceeded to find a table. The only space to be found was the same table as Rebecca, he sat opposite her and soon they began to strike up a conversation.

Rebecca explained her love of art and her ambition to tour all the famous art galleries in the world.

Robert stated his love of history and how he would love to explore the ancient cathedrals of Europe, the Taj Mahal  and the pyramids.

Rebecca talked of her love of the sea, its turbulent and chaotic nature on a windy day.

Robert expressed his love of the desert, its tranquility and vastness, the myriad of stars to be seen at night.

And so the conversation continued for two hours until Rebecca glancing at her watch said it was time for her to go. Before she left she asked Robert if it was okay for her to return the favour and buy him a coffee next week. He accepted and they agreed to meet at the same place a week from now.

Two souls. Having a conversation. Discussing their dreams and aspirations. Listening to each other.

 

 

 

 

 

Sun Shine Blogger Award=2

apple laptop office macbook
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Thankyou sadje for nominating me for the Sunshine Bloggers Award. I have blogged previously of my feelings on this subject but I will spread the blogging sunshine by participating fully this time. Once again I fail to follow the rules as I am technologically illiterate and so unable to use the “Sunshine Blogger Award” logo on this post. I am unable to copy any photos into my blog other than those under free photo library on WordPress. Oh well.

The Rules:
1.Thank the blogger/s who nominated you.
2.Use the “Sunshine Blogger Award” logo on your post and list the rules.
3.Answer the 11 questions the selector asks of you.
4.Nominate 11 bloggers you want to give the award to.
Ask the bloggers 11 questions of your own.

Questions Sadje asked:

  1. Why did you start blogging?

In March of this year I was reading a blog by Prof. Jordon Peterson and was intrigued by the WordPress icon. I had never heard of WordPress and so clicked on the icon to the WordPress site and signed up for the cheapest option on a whim. I completed the whole process including naming my blog in about 30 seconds.

2. Do your friends and family support you in blogging ( or any other passion of yours)?

Yes. They have been very supportive and follow my blogs.

3.Which is your favorite flavor, in ice cream?

Mint chocolate chip by a mile.

4. What would be your dream job?

I have been retired for 13 years mainly looking after my grandchildren full time for 11 of those years. I am actively looking for a 20 hour a week job. I wish there were more book stores around as I would probably apply for that position. I have my name in at online job sites for non profit organizations. I don’t really have a dream job. I prefer to read books and drink vodka.

5. Who is your favorite actor, or author ( if you don’t watch movies)?

My favourite actors are all in the past John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, Peter O’Toole, Michael Cane. My wife and I rarely go to movies these days because there is nothing we like, so I am out of touch with modern actors. Though I am looking forward to seeing the second installment of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

6. What do you do first thing after waking up ( and not what you do in your bathroom, please)?

I make myself a pot of green tea and read the news on my iPad. Reuters , BBC etc.

7. Are you a morning person?

We change over time to adapt to life. Before I was married, every Friday night I would stop at the book store and buy three books. I would get home ( I had my own apartment) put a chicken pot pie in the oven for supper and settle down with a book till about five in the morning. I would get up around noon or 1:00 p.m. When I dated my wife she used to get up at 6:00 a.m. and go to bed at 10:00 p.m. so something had to shift. I am not a morning person by design but I am usually up around 8:00 a.m.

8.What are your ambitions for the coming year?

My ambitions for the coming year is to find a job at a non profit corporation and contribute in a meaningful way. Also to try and improve upon my blogging skills.

9.How do you think the world is going to cope with environmental challenges?

I think environmental challenges are highly politicized and its all about rhetoric rather than any meaningful action. I could go into a rant about banning plastic straws, as if this will save the world, while not banning plastic water bottles or methods to reduce packaging. I believe this is called virtue signalling. I think environmental challenges will mainly be met with technological advances over time including the introduction of micro biology for waste disposal and other issues.

10. What would be your ideal holiday vacation?

Somewhere in the desert where I had a view of the night sky in all its brilliance.

11.How many of Harry Potter movies have you watched and which one is your favorite ( or books, if you haven’t seen any of the movies) ?

I have read all the Harry Potter books and seen all the movies. I do not have a favourite. My daughter who is a school teacher introduced me to Harry Potter. A while ago she asked if I would buy some books to help her in setting up a class library. She was teaching grade 6. I asked her what books children read at that age and she mentioned Harry Potter among others. Rowling had written three of the books at the time and I purchased all three in a boxed set. Out of curiosity I started reading the books before I passed them on to my daughter and was instantly hooked.

I will mention again that I am technology challenged. I copied the following eleven bloggers I nominate for the award from my followers list but have not made it user friendly. I thought an icon would appear which you could push but it didn’t happen.

http://shithappens927.wordpress.com/

http://allinadaysbreath.wordpress.com/

http://gcdiaries.wordpress.com/

Pankanzy
@pankaz91

http://shoumikpinto.wordpress.com/

throughrosetintedglasses54
@throughrosetintedglasses54

Stephanie Raffelock
@stephanie4152

rothpoetry
@rothpoetry

http://pvcann.wordpress.com/

http://amazingtangledgrace.wordpress.com/

https://driftyness.com/

If you should accept the challenge my eleven questions are:

–  What country would you like to live in

–  Do you like the turbulence of the sea or the peace of the desert

–  What is your favourite colour

–  What is your favourite TV program

–  Are you a fan of social media

–  Are you a passable cook

–  What genre of books do you read

–  Do you follow sports. If so what team.

–  Do you follow astrology. If so what sign are you.

–  What do you think needs changing in society

–  How do you see the evolutionary progress of the human race 500 hundred years from now

 

 

 

 

Remembrance Day, 2018

meadow flower poppy wild poppies
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

“Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die.”
― Herbert Hoover

Poetry from soldiers written in the first world war. This is the 100th anniversary of the wars end.

Leaving for the Front

Before I die I must just find this rhyme.
Be quiet, my friends, and do not waste my time.

We’re marching off in company with death.
I only wish my girl would hold her breath.

There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m glad to leave
Now mothers crying too, there’s no reprieve

And now look how the suns begun to set.
A nice mass grave is all that I shall get’

Once more the good old sunsets glowing red.
In thirteen days I’ll probably be dead.

Alfred Lichtenstein


Instinct

Before the attack, he didn’t have a clue
Though often he’d imagined it with dread-that tragic time
When he would join the fray, led there by fate and driven by
The innate enmity of man.

He doubted he’d turn out to be a hero.
He’s always been a softish sort of chap, kind natured too
But when the ordeal came it was sublime! He saw, exulting
That his hands as if in witness to his courage,
Streamed with blood.

At first pure instinct made him swell with pride, but soon
A shadow fell, eclipsing self acclaim, and all at once
A gush of shame welled up within his heart and spread
As noxious as poison through his veins. A sobbing sound
Then, like a river running red with blood , remorse
Consumed his soul

Lucien Linais


A whole night long

Crouched close
To one of our men
Butchered
With his clenched
Mouth
Grinning at the full moon
With the congestion
Of his hands
Thrust right
Into my silence
I’ve written
Letters filled with love
I have never been
So
Coupled to life

Giuseppe Ungaretti


 

 

Contrast

grayscale photography of man praying on sidewalk with food in front
Photo by sergio omassi on Pexels.com

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

The bell hop placed the luggage by the bed and turned towards the door, hesitating a little in his stride. I reached for my wallet and looking inside seeing that I only had $50 bills, I thought, why not, and handed one to him. He looked at me with an ecstatic smile  and thanked me profusely. I waved my hand in a self depreciating manner and saw him to the door. I turned and surveyed the large, magnificent hotel room and sighed contentedly. I reached for the champagne bottle and poured a glass. I then transferred some of the chocolate covered strawberries onto a smaller plate and carried both the champagne and the strawberries into the bathroom. I ran the whirl pool bath to exactly the right temperature. Ten minutes later I was immersed in the bath, my body relaxed, my eyes closed, sipping champagne. This was the life.

A hand gently shook my sleeping form , ” You’ll have to move on, the store opens in half an hour”. I slid out of my sleeping bag and proceeded to roll it up and place it in my back pack. I paused for a minute in the stores entrance, sheltered from the wind and rain. Exhaling sharply I stepped out onto the sidewalk and rushed the one hundred yards towards the MacDonald’s restaurant to use their toilet facilities. After relieving my bladder, I approached the sink and splashed water on my face, rubbing vigorously. Staring at myself in the mirror I tried to plan the day. I had five dollars in my pocket to buy myself coffee and a breakfast biscuit. I could linger over that for a couple of hours and then I’ll head over to St. Mathews for lunch, and the city shelter for supper. I just had to struggle through the day seeing to the needs of my body knowing that twelve hours from now, when I slept, I would once again be enfolded in luxury.

I’ve been reading about the tent cities in California and watching some videos on YouTube. I couldn’t help making the contrast between the $millions made by the Hollywood film stars and the lives of these tent people.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the migrant caravans moving through Mexico towards the U.S. wondering about the motivations and dreams of these migrants. The conditions they are enduring and the logistics of sleeping, eating and waste disposal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saints and Solzhenitsyn

architecture art cathedral chapel
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“[Saint Anthony] said, in his solitude, he sometimes encountered devils who looked like angels, and other times he found angels who looked like devils. When asked how he could tell the difference, the saint said that you can only tell which is which by the way you feel after the creature has left your company.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

I have just celebrated my birthday, November 1, All Saints day. Shortly after awakening I gave my halo a quick polish, it sometimes gets a little tarnished as I wrestle with life’s problems. Growing up November 1 was a good day to be born, as it was a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics and Catholic schools were closed. I was guaranteed a holiday from school on my birthday, what can be better than that. So I’ve now turned 71 and still trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I envy people who can plan there life, I am not one of them. I’ve known a few saints in my life and have found them to be unremarkable people. They just go about their daily life, offering an encouraging word when needed, giving a smile to brighten someone’s day and lending a listening ear to someone in pain. May we all aspire to become saints.

 

saint basil s cathedral
Photo by Julius Silver on Pexels.com

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I’ve read many articles and watched YouTube videos on the Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn but never actually read the book. So as a birthday present to myself I purchased the abridged version, with a forward by Jordan Peterson, that was released November 1, 2018. The original version was a three volume text written between 1958-1968 and published in 1973. The three volume text has around 1,600 pages compared to 500 pages for the abridged version. Gulag is the term given to the soviet forced labour camp system created under Lenin ,reaching its peak during Stalin’s rule from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. I was reading reviews of the book  and would like to share one of my favourites as follows:

I’ve worked at a lot of jobs over the course of my short life. Everything from bookstore clerk, supermarket stock room, painting designs on plates, etc. Many of these jobs have brought me into contact with the public-at-large. I’ve heard a lot of complaints over the years–All of these are delivered in a tone of incredulous indignation. As if I’d failed these people on some fundamental, spiritual level and they are appalled, just appalled, that there is no Twining’s tea on the shelves. Well, whenever I’ve encountered one of these random bastards I’ve always wished I had a copy of this, the unabridged version of Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece, handy, so I could bash them over the head with it while screaming ‘You think you’ve got problems!? Try a week in the isolation chamber covered in your own excrement! Try being randomly shot just to fill someone’s quota!’ People think they have problems. People think they know suffering. People don’t know jack.

Lets try to hang onto freedom and democracy for as long as we can. The alternative won’t be pretty.