Friday, October 15, 2004

What's wrong will always be wrong. That's what poet Richard Hugo wrote as the first line of his poem "Villager."

Iraq is no-place to us. That's because we've lost our way. Our way, we like to think, used to be the modeling of freedom and justice. Now, losing our way at home, we try to impose on others a facsimile of what we've stopped believing in.

If that sounds harsh, listen to the words of a writeup about Seymour Hersh interviewed recently in Berkeley, California:
There was more -- rumors of atrocities around Iraq that to Hersh brought back memories of My Lai. In the evening's most emotional moment, Hersh talked about a call he had gotten from a first lieutenant in charge of a unit stationed halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border. His group was bivouacking outside of town in an agricultural area, and had hired 30 or so Iraqis to guard a local granary. A few weeks passed. They got to know the men they hired, and to like them. Then orders came down from Baghdad that the village would be "cleared." Another platoon from the soldier's company came and executed the Iraqi granary guards. All of them.

"He said they just shot them one by one. And his people, and he, and the villagers of course, went nuts," Hersh said quietly. "He was hysterical, totally hysterical. He went to the company captain, who said, 'No, you don't understand, that's a kill. We got 36 insurgents. Don't you read those stories when the Americans say we had a combat maneuver and 15 insurgents were killed?'

"It's shades of Vietnam again, folks: body counts," Hersh continued. "You know what I told him? I said, 'Fella, you blamed the captain, he knows that you think he committed murder, your troops know that their fellow soldiers committed murder. Shut up. Complete your tour. Just shut up! You're going to get a bullet in the back.' And that's where we are in this war."

The story seemed to leave Hersh sincerely, deeply saddened. While his critics may call him a "muckraker" and unpatriotic, on Friday night it was obvious that Hersh takes the crumbling of America's image, very, very personally.

(On Friday evening, Oct. 8, Seymour Hersh, investigative journalist extraordinaire, was interviewed on the campus of UC Berkeley by KQED host Michael Krasny.)

War is personal. It must be taken thus.

We're frightened by the mind of the men who cheerlead us during the war.

Hugo was right -- What's wrong will always be wrong.

Today is the feast of Teresa.
If we plant a flower or a shrub and water it daily it will grow so tall that in time we shall need a spade and a hoe to uproot it. It is just so, I think, when we commit a fault, however small, each day, and do not cure ourselves of it.
(--St Teresa of Avila)

Until we learn love.

A far cry away.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Let's not forget who we are.

Suzanne, John, Joanie, Su Sane, Robert, Erika, Saskia, Sylvia, Dirk, Will, Sandra, and I read and conversed about "True self or No self?" by Jack Kornfield at Wednesday Evening Laura Conversation.

Is the cause of hostilities in war and elsewhere our failure to recognize our true self? In and through one another?

All so vague:
The reasons why in autumn
All fade away
And there’s just this
Inexplicable sadness.

- Saigyo (1118-1190)

There will be two men debating tonight. They each want to win the presidential election.

Leaves fall. Creative imagination is on hold. The sadness we feel is partially caused by the way these men split us in two.

We are not two. We cannot trust any man who tries to divide us.

Is there anyone who understands the true self?

We have to be something to comprehend it.

If we remember who we are, those who divide will be forgotten.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Boston Red Sox open against the New York Yankees tonight in the American League Championship Series. Schilling will face Mussina. They'll throw whatever they have at one another.

Scaling the crags
Where azalea bloom, not for plucking
But for hanging on!
The saving feature of this rugged
Mountain face I’m climbing.

- Saigyo (1118-1190)

The baseball battle will be a welcome alternative to the bloodier battles taking place in Fallujah and Ramadi in Iraq.

Also Tuesday, the military resumed air strikes in nearby Fallujah, said to be the hideout of the terrorist network run by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born militant responsible for numerous bombings, kidnappings and beheadings, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials.

The military said it hit a center for Zarqawi "terrorist meetings" in one strike and a "known terrorist safe house" in another. The safe house was being used by Zarqawi associates at the time of the strike, a statement said.

Wire service reports said at least one of the buildings hit was a restaurant. The Associated Press reported that five people died in the strike on the restaurant.

("U.S., Iraqi Forces Raid Ramadi Mosques, Air Strikes Resume in Fallujah," By Fred Barbash, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, October 13, 2004; 7:30 AM, in Washington Post, Tuesday, October 12, 2004) [Note: Tomorrow's date is on this news posting. It evokes magical thinking -- that we might be able to forestall tomorrow's pain by diverting it from its temporal course. It is today here, it says, might we change tomorrow today?]

I'd rather we stole a base than set up bases, hit a triple than cripple bodies, throw a 2-hitter than split two countries in two with the cruelty of war and foolishness of want, power, and false security.

What is it we fail to comprehend about the mystery of life we call God?
Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloriae tuae."Heaven and earth are full of your glory." (in Te Deum)

This war of ideology, bombs, and bullets is a shame. Baseball playoffs with runs, hits, and errors -- with full counts, pitching changes, and stretching for extra bases -- are better expressions of skill, strategy, and human excellence than the ugly (though some say, necessary) behavior of warfare.

Let the championships begin!

Let warfare end!

Let us play!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Maybe we can fake it. At least for a while until, with practice faking it, we might ease into the thing itself.

And what is this thing? It's in the bag.

If you want to catch a rat
You don’t need a fancy cat
If you want to learn the principles
Don’t study fine bound books
The True Pearl’s in a hemp sack
The Buddha nature rests in huts
Many grasp the sack
But few open it.

- Shih-te

If we could shut up, be still, sit down, and look at the sack awhile...maybe we'll see there's nothing to say.

Life is this simple. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story. It is true. If we abandon ourselves to God, and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes, and we see it maybe frequently. God shows Himself everywhere, in everything - in people and in things and in nature and in events. It becomes very obvious that God is everywhere and in everything and we cannot be without Him. It's impossible. The only thing is that we don't see it.
(~ Thomas Merton)

We don't see God because we are in God as God is in us. This dualistic language is the way we normally describe something whose explanation might satisfy the intellect. It never does.

Let's fake it.

Let's say nothing.

Without dualistic language we wouldn't know what to say.

Let's open the sack, and say nothing.