How Many Pieces Are In The Human Jigsaw Puzzle?
Front and Center:
How Many Pieces Are In The Human Jigsaw Puzzle?
For some time, I've been seeking the words to demonstrate the magnitude of the current push to redefine "entitlements" downward into the future. This afternoon, as I once again listened to the din of despair offered by those who have access to the proverbial pot of gold, it became obvious.
It's all about messaging...and the message being delivered by our elected (entitled would be more accurate) elites is this:
"The American Dream is no more...and we who have managed America's blood and treasure, and filled our coffers with its riches, no longer believe it can be made available to everyone...nor should it be. You everymen who have done everything that was asked of you - worked hard, raised families, contributed to your communities, fought our wars, paid your taxes, your unemployment insurance, your Social Security and Medicare withholdings, must accept that the American Dream is out of reach for you...even though you paid for it your entire life. Yes, you did so because your government espoused the promise of doing so...but your government has chosen to set a new course.
Unfortunately, we who have lived the dream, now choose to tell you it won't be what was promised...and you can't hold us accountable for breaking that promise. Now that we, and our benefactors, have squeezed all that could be extracted from the pot of gold, we must inform you that the pot is empty, and we won't be refilling it with the excesses we now hold.
It is time for you to accept that the expansive dream is now little more than a shrinking flower...and it is you who must sacrifice, you who must accept that your golden years will be a cliffhanger of calculations. As each year passes, and the holes in your safety net multiply and expand, you will sit at your table and wonder if the costs of survival will eclipse your means to do so. This shall be your sacrifice.
Let us be clear, this is not a moment for shared, temporary sacrifice. This is not akin to the many times in our storied history when momentary need was met by monumental sacrifice. We're not asking you to leave your homes and build bombs to defeat a defined enemy...we have either contracted that job to our corporate overlords or found fledgling fools on foreign soils to toil for less. We will, however, require you to buy our parlayed products at prices you can't afford...because you now realize that our long engagement to enterprise is a binding union of a different stripe.
You wont hear any of us promising to reverse these sacrifices if and when prosperity returns. You see, you wont be a part of prosperity...that window has been sealed off. Were the American Dream a board game, we have chosen to end that game midstream. You will take what you have...or haven't...at this moment in time...and so will we...and a new game with a new set of rules will begin. What you have contributed is irrelevant...there isn't enough left to go around. Your portion must come from a smaller pie. The fact that we baked it is also irrelevant. The fact that we have our own pies is none of your business.
Those of you who insist on noting the historical ebb and flow of prosperity...and positing that lean times will surely give way to bounty...must conquer your optimism. It is no longer an innate American trait. We will define your values and your value. Your task is to resolve yourself to the new order...and be thankful that the new less is not more less.
Don't recount America's interminable will to succeed to your children. Such folly will make future sacrifice less palatable...and we all agree that anarchy is anathema to our adjusted and austere aspirations. America must continue...albeit as a shell of its former self. So long as you do as instructed, it will.
It's a new day; it's a new dawn...awaken to the new America. The nightmare will soon be over, my fellow Americans. We assure you the American Dream will live on. Tomorrow, if you look in the windows, you too will see it."
I can't wait...can you?
Every now and again, inspiration pushes its way through the mundane and the miserable and into our everyday consciousness. The most recent instance of this all too rare occurrence comes in the unlikely embodiment of a 47 year Scottish charity worker and self-reported virgin...Susan Boyle.
On the latest episode of Britain's Got Talent, Boyle made her way to the stage, endured the cynicism of the audience and the judges, and then proceeded to bring the house to its feet with her spectacular rendition of the acclaimed Les Miserables tune, I Dreamed A Dream.
You can see Boyle's performance in the following YouTube video. As of this moment, the video has been viewed over eight million times...jumping by well over two million views just today. Her story was featured on tonight's national news and you can expect to see her in numerous other interviews and appearances.
I suspect Susan Boyle symbolizes the ray of hope many are seeking in these times of economic uncertainty. Her story also begins the difficult task of restoring our faith that living a decent life will not go unnoticed. While Wall Street weasels wag the dog, the Susan Boyle's of the world serve to remind us that fame need not be flashy...in fact it is far more real when it is authentic. Susan Boyle, thank you for helping us put our feet back where they belong...firmly planted in the solid soil of sincerity.
Having watched this video numerous times, it sent my synapses into overdrive...connecting this event with other inspirational moments long seared in my memory banks. What they all have in common is the simplicity that comes with knowing something is right...even when the darkness seems destined to distort our ability to distinguish it from the demons that surround us.
With that in mind, I've included two videos from a little known 1991 movie, Hear My Song, featuring Ned Beatty as the renowned true life tenor Josef Locke. In the movie, a nightclub owner believes he can save his struggling business by booking Locke, an iconic figure in self-exile from the UK due to pending tax troubles. Locke, in a daring and risky return to the UK, makes his triumphant appearance before an adoring crowd eager for inspiration. Hear My Song is a story of triump reminiscent of Susan Boyle's roof-raising moment. Both are a reminder of the power of the human spirit so often found in song.
Torna a Surriento - Ned Beatty as Josef Locke in Hear My Song
Goodbye - Ned Beatty as Josef Locke in Hear My Song
The final video is from Alejandro Amenabar's 2004 movie, The Sea Inside, chronicling the true story of Ramon Sampedro's efforts to end his life many years after an accident has left him a quadriplegic. In this video, Sampedro (played brilliantly by Javier Bardem) employs the only tactic that has enabled him to endure his dilemma...he imagines himself flying out his bedroom window...across the beautiful terrain on his way to the sea...the singular source of tranquility in his troubling existence. He does so while listening to one of the quintessential tenor arias in opera, Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandot.
Nessun Dorma - Javier Bardem as Ramon Sampedro in The Sea Inside
Each of these stories have at their core the unyielding nature of the human spirit...a belief that beauty and bounty can be found in all that encompasses our often exasperating and existential existence. All remind us that this life is precarious at best...but also that a life well-lived and a life well-ended may be the essential elements over which we're able to exert any meaningful influence. When we do either well, all of humanity is enhanced. Susan Boyle may be our most recent protagonist to prove as much.
Tagged as: Alejandro Amenabar, Britain's Got Talent, Hear My Song, I Dreamed A Dream, Josef Locke, Les Miserables, Ned Beatty, Nessun Dorma, Puccini, Simon Cowell, Susan Boyle, The Sea Inside, Torna a Surriento, Turandot
The Absence Of Angels In America: An Argument For Anarchy? genre: Econ-Recon & Nouveau Thoughts & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation
Philosophers have long debated the question, "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?". In these moments of economic peril and in light of our advancing animosity, perhaps the question should be, "Are there any angels in America?". Better still, "Could today's anarchists be tomorrow's angels?".
At this unprecedented economic juncture, the inertia that accompanies our adherence to accepted, acrimonious, and antiquated algorithms has, by attrition, abrogated the principles of osmotic parity that have the potential to prevent our collapse...a collapse that would undoubtedly be defined by our dogmatic deification of unchecked political capitalism...a lecherous linking that history would likely depict as the opportunistic and incestuous appetite of the "ruling" class to copulate with corporate concubines in order to share in the symbiotic perks of prostitution that permeate the shameless pursuit of power and profit...absent a sufficient appreciation for the ameliorative aspects of altruistic governance and the shared success it should support.
When government is little more than the means to obtain or hold political power, it has become, by its very existence, the prevailing argument for the initiation of anarchy.
The aforementioned dysfunctional formulation of governmental "order" is antithetical to the symmetry oft associated with the social contract defined by our forefathers. As such, one can reasonably argue that our recent and rampant self-serving configuration of capitalism may well precipitate the initiation of anarchy as the means to destroy an unintended and unabated disease.
In this current conflation of chaos...a top of the pyramid chain letter economy powered by a Ponzi scheme psyche...perhaps anarchy (disorder) can actually be the means to "order"...an antidote that purges political prevarication...a virtual vaccine that seeks to supplant a systemic infection whose signature symptom is a seemingly endless urge to usurp utilitarianism.
The virulent nature of this virus leads many to seek the leverage that accompanies the disparate distribution of power and profit. It transforms those it touches into careless arsonists who peevishly persist in passing it on...thus acting as accelerants for an approaching anarchy.
Those in the media who promote political pettiness in order to insure the flow of dollars to the kingpins of corporate capitalism simply serve up the obnoxious oxygen that insures the ignition of inequity. Instead of enabling erudition, their lamentable locution does little more than circumvent any commitment to cerebral acuity or empathic expression.
In its final iteration, capitalism unchallenged becomes the hemlock of homage to the advancement of ad hominem histrionics that serve as a shortsighted and circuitous sheepskin shell designed to disguise the dogged drive for the lion's share of the spoils...despite the derivable certainty that such shenanigans assure the anarchy that an adherence to such an ideology will undoubtedly advance.
In the 1993 Broadway play, Angels in America, the perilous and poignant promise of Kushner's millennium is exemplified as a society of individual's who, despite their awareness of their ailments and the attendant adversity, come to celebrate diversity despite its innate complexity...embrace redemption and reconciliation regardless of their unequivocal elusiveness...and endure their ongoing agony in the hopes of occasional ecstasy. His notion of the future is predicated upon the simple theory that our destination emerges when our dances of deception are dutifully debunked.
Fate is the fallacy of fools. The maelstrom of the millennium no longer approaches...it has arrived. We must shape tomorrow or it will consume us. What began must end. The future is now...or it will never be. Choice is the wisdom and the wherewithal to adopt anarchy when the continuation of the status quo insures its inevitability.
Capitalism At The Crossroads: Time To Wing It? genre: Econ-Recon & Hip-Gnosis & Nouveau Thoughts & Six Degrees of Speculation
In Beckett's "Waiting For Godot", time is both passed and suspended in anticipation of arrival. Neither the passage of time or the thoughtless suspension of its value is a worthwhile endeavor...yet so much of the human condition is spent accordingly.
Fortunately, the ebb and flow of life frequently compensates for this miscalculation and we are rarely forced to face the futility of our allegiance to being unaware.
At the same time, history, in retrospect, has meticulously recorded such periods of ambiguous angst with the application and affirmation of a seemingly all-encompassing "ism" of merit. Sadly, we humans rarely understand our migration from one "ism" to the next...at the moment it transpires...frequently leaving us in the same suspect and suspended scenario as those waiting for the transformational Godot to arrive.
America, in its quaint yet quixotic commitment to the courtesan we call capital "ism", is being confronted with such a stretch of meaningless moments...waiting anxiously and aimlessly for the arrival of someone or something to remove the paralysis that permeates our propensity to participate in the chain letter economics that powers our Ponzi scheme psyche...even though we "share" in the ironic experience of watching our pyramid collapse under the weight of its own egocentric and ignoble ideations.
Two events provide perspective on our predicament - one a calamity and the other a harbinger of hope. The former, 9/11, brought us together long enough to offer consolation and condolences before scurrying out the door with our credit cards and the cash created by our homage to home equity high jinks...in hopes of perpetuating perceptions rather than recognizing realities.
The latter, the safe landing of an aircraft on the Hudson river and the preservation of every single passenger's life, allowed us to reconnect with the principals and perseverance associated with the mythical America and the essence of the collective spirit that had come to define it...all of which evaporated so quickly following 9/11.
Here's the problem. Today, Captain Sullenberger's landing on the Hudson is no longer just a job well done or an act of American stick-to-itiveness; rather it must be morphed into an extraordinary act of unexpected hero "ism"...a deed beyond the pale...an act of selflessness in a society all about the self. In America, tragedy is synonymous with litigation and triumph with accolades...both of which have material enrichment as their expected outcome. Hence American decency is but a function of fault or fame...not an intrinsic component of character.
As such, in this dark hour of economic uncertainty, the core constructs of capital "ism" still trump our actual ability to embrace the noble identity that gave it life. Like spectators at a Gladiator match, we sit on the sidelines of our "Super Bowl" society admiring the exceptional athlete or the precise pilot...ever focused on the means and methods to our own nascent notoriety...never mindful of the inevitable intersection of motivation and moral maturity.
Let me be clear, when I mention moral maturity, I am not invoking an absolutist ideology or an adherence to religion; rather I'm imploring us to understand the essence of our shared humanity. Moral maturity is not the means to superiority...it is the simple act of enabling and embracing equality in lieu of cachet and celebrity. In fact, doing so not only fosters an appreciation of altruism over the accumulation of assets, it disarms the drive for deification by substituting the satisfaction of service for the seemingly endless search for the satiation of selfishness.
Should there be any doubt as to the dubious nature of our situation, and therefore our ever expanding and suspect sense of entitlement, look no further than the latest Gallup Poll on the merits of the President's stimulus plan. Only 38% of respondents believe the stimulus plan should be passed as proposed by Barack Obama. Another 37% are in favor of a stimulus plan but they believe it must include major changes.
While the majority of Americans favor Congress' passing some type of stimulus plan, there is remarkably little confidence on the part of the public that the plan would have an immediately positive impact on the U.S. economy. Americans are also pessimistic about the plan's potential positive impact on their own families' financial situations.
There's only one way to interpret these numbers. Self-interest is the primary motivation that drives debate in America. Confronted with the worst economy since the Depression, and an uncertain future, most Americans cannot view the stimulus plan absent the bias of the status quo...and most of our elected officials must be included in this group. The shortsightedness is astounding.
A comparison may help explain my concerns as well as my contention that capital "ism", in its current form, is no longer viable. Let's start by assuming that our economic situation is dire. If so, then one should be able to construct a scenario to evidence the gravity of this moment as well as the complacency that has grown out of our commitment to the tenets of capital "ism" as they have existed since the Watergate years.
For this exercise, let's assume that NASA has identified an asteroid heading towards earth in ten years and that its trajectory puts the U.S. at great risk. Now suppose that in response, our government decides to establish safe shelters in all major metropolitan areas. Logically, one should be able to presume that Americans will get behind the effort and pitch in to insure that the country is prepared for the worst. One should also be able to expect that individuals will put self-serving objectives aside in hopes of achieving maximum safety and survival. In other words, while some people might feel slighted by the placement of shelters...or other aspects of any response plan...the gravity of the situation undoubtedly dictates that such concern is set aside in order to work towards a collective solution to an anticipated crisis.
Notwithstanding, I'm of the opinion that our adherence to a "me first" mentality may well preclude our ability to react effectively to this or any other plausible threat. Therein lies the inability to visualize the risks of maintaining our seemingly insolent and intransigent mindsets. You see; the instincts we momentarily demonstrated in the aftermath of 9/11 still exist. Unfortunately, the fact that we so easily slipped back into more of the same doesn't portend well for addressing the current economic crisis...a crisis that is more than a glitch in the U.S. economy...a crisis that won't be solved by imploring Americans to go shopping...a crisis that is the leading edge of a reordering of the world and the manner in which we humans serve as stewards of this earth...and therefore whether we will be purposeful proponents for the ongoing existence of humankind.
The fact that so many of us latched onto the "Miracle on the Hudson" as a tangible measure of the enduring human spirit serves to illustrate the paradox we seem so unwilling to acknowledge. On the one hand, we marvel at the fact that a trained pilot was able to land an airplane on water...yet we forget that absent years of training...a concern by the flight crew for the safety of their fellow man...and finally...the presence of wings...it not only couldn't have successfully landed on the water...it would have been unable to support and sustain the 155 individuals who stood upon those wings while waiting (and believing) that kind and compassionate passers-by would come to their aid.
America is a plane in trouble...but our fate need not be dependent upon the heroic acts of a select few. At the same time, we must be wise enough to listen to those who may have more insight. This plane of ours will never achieve a safe landing if each of its passengers demands their turn in the cockpit...regardless of ability. The role of being a good citizen is also an act of hero "ism"...even if it means sitting quietly in coach while the pilot brings us to safety or helping an elderly passenger make their way onto the wing once the plane has landed.
America can no longer wait for our Godot to arrive. We needn't a savior or a heroin...we needn't aspire to the adulation we believe accompanies a seat atop the pyramid...we needn't support or negate our leaders based upon political ideology...Godot is every man and every woman...Godot is merely a belief in each other predicated upon the notion that we grant the humanity we seek...Godot need not come if he is already here...Godot does not exist if we need him...humanity does not exist if we betray it.
If we humans are too survive, it's time for us to wing it...which is nothing more than believing that the service of humanity floats all boats...as well as the plane in which we are all passengers. Fighting over the stimulus plan while the plane is crashing is absurd. Human "ism" may lack the glitter and glamour of capital "ism"...and it may mean less in a few pockets but more in most...but it may well be the only remaining "ism" of consequence.
Its merits will never be fully known if its value is never fully affirmed...yet it has always been there for us to accept. If it isn't adopted in the here and now, history will fail to recognize and record it. You see, in the absence of humanity, there is no future. If there is no future, there will be no history. In the end, all "isms" lead to the same destination. We can travel willingly or we can jeopardize our very existence. The waiting must end...the wings exist. There's room for everyone.
Driving For More
I drove a Dodge
He drove a bargain
I asked for more,
He left me starvin'
Easy street may never get you there
But the expressed way seems vacant
And the bus driver stares
Life passes us by
On the way to the grave
You can drop in your tokens
But the bill's never paid
If your debts are defined
But the numbers won't sum
Is the soul so sublime,
If we live on the come?
The bargains we make
May make us feel fine
But the living it takes
Negates the divine
I'm driving for more
I hope to arrive
To those keeping score
Fuck death...today I'm alive
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. In stating as much, they omit the fact that the absent heart may be neither fond nor profound. Hence in many cases I suspect it is but momentarily vacant. Such is the explanation for my period of absentia from blogging.
With that stated, my return to writing is an exercise in conflict. Specifically, in the aftermath of the November election, I've been in search of vision...the ability to see beyond my own malaise in order to capture the essence of the existential angst that envelopes my own psyche and leads me to conclude that all is not well in the evolving identity we define as the human condition.
In order to offer insightful observations on this or any other subject, I frequently travel the only path I've found fertile enough to germinate a glimmer of advancing awareness...isolation. You see, I'm convinced that the momentum of our fundamentally mundane and mechanical morass is the very means by which we find ourselves disconnected from that which can keep us traveling towards a more meaningful and noble destination...a more perfect humanity and the sustaining spirit that would invariably accompany it.
The election of Barack Obama, on its surface, incites hope, which is as it should be. On the other hand, the circumstances that led a majority of Americans to effect his election require a more thorough examination...one that respects, retains, and relies upon the missing elements alluded to above...that being both the curiosity and the cynicism necessary to move us forward while simultaneously forcing us to question the prudence of our precarious path...the one we've traveled to get here as well as the one we're still walking.
Let me be clear. In stating my clearly cautionary pessimism, it should not be construed as an indictment of our newly elected president or his aspirations for our advancement, which he so artfully outlined during an inspirational campaign.
Notwithstanding, in light of our unprecedented economic uncertainty, I suspect we are a society and a world in the throes of an inevitable sea change...the kind that history so aptly tells us has the potential to signal the death knell of an antiquated "ism" or to embolden the emergence of one that has not yet been defined. At the same time, history also tells us that the gravity of these tipping point events is rarely identified at the time of arrival.
For the seeker...a moniker to which I aspire (redundant and ironic)...travails and time are intertwined in an effort to envision what exists around the bend while lacking tangible evidence. It's the equivalent of reading a book and predicting the ending without having read the intervening chapters...a feat that defies logical construction yet one that is achieved and that is frequently recorded by historians as the astute observations of a visionary...all of which illuminates the unfortunate predicament of the seeker.
The seeker assumes the role of a prism...demonstrating a willingness to see what went before, endeavoring to receive it as real while hoping to tease essence out of its obviousness in order to emit something that is more than the sum of its observable parts...only to be defined as an instrument of distortion...despite the fact that the vision that the prism (the seeker) emits is wholly constructed from reality...though ordered in ways that defy convention and incite accusations of engaging in acts of incantation or pessimistic prognostications.
I'm reminded of one of my favorite expressions, "Everything's shit...until it isn't". The prism realizes that the reverse is equally profound, "Nothing's shit...until it is". Those who are able to ascertain these moments of transformation are met with ire in the here and now...and then...at some point in the distant future...the still blind byproducts of humanity's persistent progeny proclaim the prescience of the prism...and history's equation remains intact.
Unfortunately, the seeker rarely has the satisfaction of witnessing the affirmation of his or her hypothesis. Death has long since consumed what remained of his or her human form. As such, all that is the tragic nature of the human condition is affirmed in a legacy of legitimacy never lived...though dutifully recorded years hence by virtual stone tablet statisticians in a surreal semiconductor society.
The heart stirs...though the circuitous circumlocution of the human condition remains elusive. A bend approaches...the seeker seeks.
I wanted to update readers on my seeming silence. In the aftermath of the election, it was clear that I needed a little time off from blogging. Having no idea when I would find new inspiration, I've been hesitant to offer an apology without knowing when I would be back to daily blogging. Suffice it to say that I'll be back at it this coming week.
In the past week, I've spent a good deal of time on some of the other projects I've been working on in the background of the blog. Those who have been longtime readers know that I enjoy poetry and have occasionally posted some of my own here at Thought Theater. I'm hoping to do more with it in the near future. I'm also interested in photography and film and have incorporated many of my photographs in my postings. I've also been working on a documentary that is nearing completion.
Needless, to say, I'm hoping to compile all of these elements into a plan for the future. It's hard to predict where this might lead, but I'm convinced there's enough content to warrant some further explorations.
With that said, I look forward to posting my thoughts on those issues that have been the heart and soul of Thought Theater. Lastly, my sincere appreciation to those who visit Thought Theater and share in the journey...wherever it may lead us.
Keith Olbermann Special Comment On Proposition 8 genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Video-Philes
The following video is the latest special comment by Keith Olbermann. In it, he offers an impassioned rejection of the passage of Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage. We can only hope that more Americans will stand up to defend the rights of their fellow citizens.
The 2008 Wake - Waiting For The Sea To Change genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation
Many elections are bittersweet. 2008 was no exception. While celebrating Obama's historic election, California voters were dashing the dreams of LGBT children throughout the world. Today, they doubt voters will ever grant an LGBT candidate the same defining moment of acceptance.
When we're young, life is immeasurable and expansive. As we leave the coddled confines of our childhood, it is the equivalent of the snail emerging from its protective shell to explore all that exists in the grand garden of life...eager and idealistic...hopeful to a fault in the absence of unforeseen obstacles and disappointments...unaware of the protective nature of the domicile we depart.
My journey began in 1976 as I graduated from The Abbey School. Two years prior to my graduation, I made a decision I recall announcing in our kitchen to my mom, "I won't be the valedictorian of my class...that's not what's important to me...but I'm going to win the Sullivan Award". I can't even say exactly how she reacted though I believe it was part surprise and part puzzlement at such a specific pronouncement. Once she absorbed my statement, she observed that grades weren't everything and, by and large, left it at that.
The Sullivan Award was given at graduation to the high school student who contributed the most to student life during their four years of attendance. While an esoteric achievement, it fully symbolized my sense of community and my unyielding belief in the promise of humanity. On a warm summer day in front of the towering monastery...as a member of the esteemed 50th graduating class...in the centennial year of Colorado's statehood and the bicentennial year of this nations existence...I received the Sullivan Award...and all was well in my idyllic world. My dreams had come true.
In a few short months, while attending college, I cast my first vote for Jimmy Carter and life was my oyster. Much to my dismay, little else would measure up for many years to come. Aware of my homosexuality, but determined to suppress it, I decided to quit college after three years and return home to work with my dad and his brother.
On the surface, the decision had the appearance of a considered choice, but in retrospect, it was motivated by my fear that should I remain in college, the opportunities to pursue my orientation would overwhelm my hesitations and preclude the remainder of my smoldering dreams...not the least of which was the political arena and the fanciful notion that the presidency was within the realm of possibilities.
In hindsight, my actions had little to do with choice and everything to do with being a Catholic raised in a small community where the thought of being gay struck my psyche as nothing more than a perceived and fully unacceptable pathology...the kind that not only precludes one from social acceptability...but most certainly eliminates any fanciful ideas of the presidency.
Yes, the little boy of five (who vividly remembered every detail of the assassination of John Kennedy...including the faces of those he encountered as he entered Safeway with is father after having heard the news on the radio)...and the boy of 10 (who watched every speech and every primary in the candidacy of Robert Kennedy...including anxiously getting up early in the morning to see if he had finally been declared the winner of the California primary...only to realize he was dead)...and the teenage boy (who watched the Watergate hearings with an intensity reserved for a member of the prosecution...up to and including the moment when Richard Nixon...the antithesis of his idealism...finally boarded a helicopter and released the presidency from the egregious grip of corruption)...had by the age of 21 found himself feeling as if fate had stripped him of his dreams.
Four years later, following countless hours of contemplation and with the realization that I had now lived a lie for a quarter of a century...I met a man and fell in love. Soon after, I allowed myself to accept my sexuality, announced it to my family, and on the spur of the moment...on a summer afternoon...with my relationship with my family in ruins and all that remained of my seemingly shattered life hastily tossed in a pickup truck...I moved to Denver.
Ever the idealist, abundantly naïve, and convinced that acceptance...or at least some simulation thereof...would undoubtedly come by affiliating with other homosexuals...I jumped headfirst into being gay. Unfortunately, doing so while attaching oneself to a lover is apt to end up being little more than an act of misguided transference. Should one be unlucky enough to choose, in haste, the wrong partner or the wrong affiliations, the process of separating oneself and completing the task of attaining a sound and self-sufficient identity can appear to be an insurmountable struggle.
In retrospect, it's terribly saddening that gays...during the coming out process...the moment they most need support...are often required to summon a strength they most likely lack in order to accept and understand the rejection they encounter from those they love. Toss in the abject scorn that much of society heaps upon homosexuals and you have a rather rancid recipe unlikely to bake an ebullient and unencumbered identity.
Not to belabor my bad choices or appear to be seeking sympathy, suffice it to say that I spent the next eight plus years attempting to grow into the 25 I had missed. Emboldened by a new job and an expanded support system, I ended my relationship and began the process of becoming myself.
Living in Denver under the newly received protections afforded to those of my orientation, the trajectory of my life seemed to be in sync with my dreams...all be they far more modest than majestic. Sadly, such synchronicity was short-lived. In November of 1992, pleased by the promise of a potential Democratic presidency, the arrow identified as Amendment Two sat waiting in its quiver, poised to puncture my improving peace.
As election night approached, Shangri-La seemed within my grasp. Bill Clinton appeared a certain victor and the polls suggested Amendment Two was headed for a handy defeat. Sitting in front of my television, the trajectory of my evening was torn into two...split apart...one half buoyed by the good returns in the presidential race; the other sinking fast in the realization that the good voters of Colorado had unleashed their coy attack upon my civil rights while cowered in the confines of the ballot box.
Like an unhealed wound, the announcement that Amendment Two was projected to pass tore it open and left me in anguish, alone on the floor...bleeding tears. How could it be that I'd found myself again at that oh so familiar juncture...lulled into a sense of safety and security...clinging to my trust in the decency of the human spirit...only to be clobbered by that brazen beast I'd come to know as bigoted bias.
As I pondered the sudden sense that my good job and the comfort of my support system were seemingly insufficient, the television announced that it was cutting away to the Democratic Party's election watching headquarters where a group of gays had stormed the stage to protest the lack of support that had allowed Amendment Two to succeed. Soon word came that the police had been summoned...then word that prior to entering the venue to escort the intruders out, the police officers had stopped to don latex gloves...inferring their fear that the unruly crowd would most certainly be infected with the hideous HIV virus.
In short order, more and more gays arrived and the uncertainty of the moment escalated and the protest grew. In an instant, I grabbed my coat and ran out the door to join my brothers and sisters. With nothing to lose, I knew there would be comfort in the kinship I would find. By the time I arrived, the crowd had grown even larger. Soon word came that Mayor Webb had been notified and summoned to calm the crowd.
Not long after, the mayor arrived and spoke to the crowd...offering words of consolation and expressing his willingness to explore the options afforded to the city of Denver to fight the Amendment. In order to defuse the moment, he asked the protesters to follow him to the State Capital Building where we could continue to voice our anger. We did...but there was little relief to be found that night.
The battle to defeat Amendment Two ensued...culminating four years later when the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down. In truth, it took us four year to fully reclaim the ground we'd obtained in prior years. The victory was sweet, but the time was gone and the scars would fade, but never disappear.
Life moved forward and the plight of gays improved, though we've remained the object of derision for many...especially those on the religious right. In 2003, as we approached another election and the prospect of Supreme Court appointments that could well preclude the rights of gays for another generation, I grew weary of my career.
The passage of years served to remind me of the pace of progress...or the lack, thereof. Unsatisfied and unfulfilled, I began unwinding a 14-year career without a plan for the future. Instead of accepting the certainty of what was, I chose the uncertainty of what could be...though I had no idea what it was or where to find it. You see, try as one might, the absence of something is always known...no matter how full the cup.
Something told me it was time to look again. I informed my boss that I would be leaving the company once my house sold. Fate would have it that my departure would coincide with the 2004 election. I sold my house and the bulk of my belongings in late September...having decided to embark on a trip around the world. I scheduled my departure for November 5th, three days after the election.
At the time, I was guardedly hopeful that America would turn away from the politics of division and the scapegoating of gays. It turns out I was wrong, but I still felt invigorated by the prospects of the unknown. Absent any long-term plan, I packed my bags and left the shores of the United States. All I knew for certain was that my journey was limited to one year as a stipulation of the round the world ticket I'd purchased.
What I learned in my nearly four month trek was that the image of the United States had become increasingly tarnished and the reelection of George Bush had cast a doubt in the minds of many that his troubling presidency might well be indicative of the disquieting mindset of the average American...a development few of those I met wanted to conclude though they felt it seemed far more plausible given the November second results.
When I returned, the only thought that kept repeating in my head was that I had something to say and I needed to find the means to say it. Against the backdrop of fear for our future under GOP domination, the further faltering of this nation should that happen, and the festering fury being directed towards gays, I decided to launch a blog.
From my little corner of the world, I've disseminated my fair share of missives; ever hopeful I could exert some measure of influence in redirecting this country. All the while, I've had a sense that America was on the precipice of a pendulum swing away from the partisanship of "compassionate conservatism" (code words for the politics of theology) and ready to embrace the kind of real compassion that engenders moderation.
I had no idea that the man who spoke truth to me during the 2004 Democratic Convention would be the one to carry this torch of hope into the 2008 election. At the same time, I had no way of knowing that the 2008 California ballot would include a measure designed to remove the right of gays to marry (Proposition 8).
Last night, like clockwork, my next succinctly timed sixteen-year squall struck with little notice. While celebrating the fact that Barack Obama was elected president, an amendment was being passed in California to deny my gay brethren equality. From 1976 to 1992 to 2008, the vignettes of my life have brought both symmetry and sadness. In 1976, I celebrated my membership in the fiftieth class to graduate from The Abbey. In 2008, I celebrated my fiftieth birthday. At each juncture, my prevailing pursuit has been the unconditional acceptance of my identity as a homosexual. At each juncture, it has been denied.
On November 5, 2008, my dreams have been dashed and my hopes have been passed to another man of color. In 1992, Wellington Webb took my hand and led me towards inclusion on a cold and dark night...carrying a No On Two placard...carrying the weight of sixteen years of exclusion. In 2008, Barack Obama has been handed the torch as well as thirty-two years of my exclusion.
In the passage of this last sixteen years, those carrying my torch have succeeded in transforming the dreams of their fellow African Americans from the possibility of being the mayor of a major city to the reality of being elected to the presidency of the United States. Many times Barack Obama has spoken about the meaning and the message that would be imparted to black children should this nation see fit to elect an African American president.
It's too late for me to dream so big for myself...but it's not too late for those who may be sixteen or thirty-two years behind me. Today, I dream of the day when my gay brothers and sisters can place their hope in a gay candidate...one who carries the torch for them and speaks of the meaning and message that would be imparted to LGBT children should this nation see fit to elect a LGBT president.
As I await the next storm to appear upon the sea of my sixteen year horizon, I'm still waiting...I'm still seeking...I'm still hoping...I'm still dreaming...I'm still dying. On November 5th, 2008, in the wake of another election, I'm still on the outside looking in.
Tagged as: 2008 Election
Don't ask me why, but jokes about Barbara Bush have always made me laugh. Perhaps it's because I've always been a fan of Phil Hartman and Saturday Night Live and their relentless savaging of the former first lady.
In the following video, I think The Onion one-ups SNL with their "Barbara Bush Has Run Aground" spoof. In my opinion, this is one of the funniest videos from The Onion in quite some time.
Craig Ferguson: How About That John McCain, Huh...Huh? genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes
When John McCain first commented on Sarah Palin's debate performance, I found his manner of speech rather annoying (you'll see it for yourself in the video). When I saw what Craig Ferguson did with that speech, I was rolling on the floor.
While we wait on pins and needles for Election Day, I thought we could all use a little laughter. Besides, it tickles me to see John McCain lampooned.
2008 Election: Jerry Springer Isn't Just Another Village Idiot genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation
By now, we've all heard countless talking points on the issues and the significance of the 2008 election. Unfortunately, in a country where political surrogates are kept on script, there is little opportunity to hear alternate explanations of the issues at hand.
In the following video, Jerry Springer, former mayor of Cincinnati, provides another perspective on the role of government and how it relates to the oft heard labels that are indiscriminately attached to parties and their candidates.
I realize that the mere mention of Jerry Springer can invoke thoughts of the village idiot...but I've always found him to be a well-spoken and very insightful individual with a keen understanding of human nature. Frankly, his gift is his ability to understand the village idiot. In a country with 300 million inhabitants and a world with a population approaching 7 billion, an ability to make such discriminations and discern essence from ignorance seems like a valuable asset.
Watch the video and I'm certain you'll have a newfound appreciation for Springer as well as an expanded understanding of the appropriate role of government...with the righteous and rigid rhetoric removed.
Have you ever wondered who in the hell can remain undecided with the election less than 24 hours away? I'm not sure if it speaks to a need for attention or if it might be a sign of diminished capacity. Whatever it is, David Sedaris isn't buying it.
I don't know that it was always this way, but, for as long as I can remember, just as we move into the final weeks of the Presidential campaign the focus shifts to the undecided voters. "Who are they?" the news anchors ask. "And how might they determine the outcome of this election?"
Then you'll see this man or woman-- someone, I always think, who looks very happy to be on TV. "Well, Charlie," they say, "I've gone back and forth on the issues and whatnot, but I just can't seem to make up my mind!" Some insist that there's very little difference between candidate A and candidate B. Others claim that they're with A on defense and health care but are leaning toward B when it comes to the economy.
I look at these people and can't quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?
Be sure to follow the above link to read the full article. If you like what you read, the following video is an added bonus since it ads some catchy lyrics to Sedaris' sentiments and some much needed prodding to our undecided friends.
In the following video, Mo laments our seeming obsession with all things political and he offers some closing thoughts on the 2008...as well as a preview of the 2012 election. After all, it's never too early to think ahead, eh? How does Palin & The Plumber sound to you?