~Living a life of sophisticated domestication deep in the heart of Texas~

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I have a dream....

Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

~ The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saturday morning....

....and I'm sitting here at the desk drinking coffee.  It's not as good as when SGTex (my personal barista) makes it and brings it to me in bed, but it will do.  I made it strong and very black.  Or is it black and very strong?  It's hot, is what it is.  And it's hot outside, too.

I let the pups out into the back yard this morning and they ran around and had their conversation with Willie Nelson, the neighbor's gigantic bloodhound.  I say "gigantic" because Willie has been known to stand on his hind legs at the fence and look SGTex straight in the eye.  And bite.  Bless his heart, he's a good dog and is left on his own so much, he can't help himself.  He makes that bloodhoundish noise, whatever it is, when he's lonely, and he seems to be lonely most of the time.  Our two Havanese seem to get along nicely with him and they do keep each other company from time to time.

In other outdoor dog news, where there once was only one squirrel, now there are two.  That makes for a more interesting adventure for Sebastian, who is a regular on squirrel patrol.  Seamus seems to ignore them.  The reason I mentioned that it is hot out there is that I saw Seamus check out the bird bath for a drink this morning.  We have a lovely, old, concrete double-tiered birdbath under one of the pecan trees and it's quite picturesque.  The cuteness factor when he stands up and looks there for a drink is pretty darn high.  Anyway, the dogs are back in the house to cool off and wait for the mail carrier, and Willie is back being sad again.  I do think the Havanese really make his day.

Which brings me to what just might be my point, this morning.  Someone on Facebook posted about how what he had said to someone else in their own language (he and his son are globe-trotters) brought a big smile, and I thought about how wonderful that was.  It made her day.  Then someone else came along and posted about their day having been made by another's kindness, and I thought about how that really could be the point of getting up in the morning....making someone else's day.  We do like our day being made.  (Hey, that's a funny expression, isn't it?!  I'm thinking Clint Eastwood, here.  No, not quite.)

It actually is one of the many wonderful things that make my day when SGTex brings coffee.  There's quite a lot to that, and I won't go into details, but it gives me something nice to think about when he's gone to work for several days at a time and I'm here having my days made by my pair of little Havapups and friends in far away places.....

C'mon!  Go out and make someone's day.  Or, just stay in and do it right here and now.

As my Man says, "Fly, little electrons...."


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Misleading religion fuels the Texas creationist machine

(Sneak preview:  This column submitted today to the San Angelo Standard-Times.) 

Just finished surfing the web a bit to check, and science has not yet come back with anything on what makes the right wing so cussed and so brainless.  We are going to have to be patient.  But this, our Texas, is most certainly the laboratory for it.  As Paul Jury explains, “Everything is bigger, even our morons.”  

Math skills and U.S. history aside, boneheadedness in our state government is most glaringly and tragically evident in the area of science.  Recent efforts of our state legislature and governor to put a brutal sharia on women’s health highlighted this deficit, as does a tireless spite-fest to undermine and defund the beneficent Affordable Care Act.   

By the same right-wing Republican token, we might expect the willful ignorance of climate-change denial to flourish where so much wealth comes of raping the earth night and day. 

Such pandering by sold-out politicians invariably includes an obsequious connection to Christian fundamentalism, so it’s little wonder they grapple and contend with our having rights based on the values of humanism and instead churn out the toxic products of spiritual darkness.

Buddhism identifies the “three poisons” involved:  Anger (meanness), greed and stupidity.  We all have some of this blend in us, of course; there is help for it in the light of a good religion, but a bad religion can only make things worse.

There is in Texas a perennial skirmish within false religion’s war on science that is at least as embarrassing and tiresome as the crimes mentioned above.  I refer to the State Board of Education’s commitment to the abject folly of Bible creationism. 

My earliest opinion letters to the San Angelo Standard-Times addressed this, way back in the 1980s.  In those days, busybodies Mel and Norma Gabler of Longview lobbied the Textbook Selection Committee to considerable unfortunate effect, but from that zany endeavor – perhaps ironically – there has been descent with modification and development of an antievolution cadre of some diabolical sophistication. 

According to the Texas Freedom Network, of six prominent creationists invited to review biology textbooks and influence their publication for Texas and America, some even have doctorates – and one of those is in molecular and cell biology!  (Never mind how a man can hold such a degree and retain in his heart an animosity for science; a zealous handful are apparently able to accomplish the contortion.) 

Only half of the half-dozen are engineers (traditionally a discipline overutilized as “scientists” of creationism), to include a Baptist university’s professor of engineering, a chemical engineer who’s a business instructor, and a systems network engineer. 

There may be a Christian schoolteacher or two, and then it made this ol’ Aggie hang his head to learn that a chemistry prof from A&M has made himself available to the quixotic contingent.  They all probably will reflect some grudging advancement over the “dinosaurs-walked-with-men” sect and aggressively favor the euphemism, “intelligent design.”    

But even these champions of the fantasy could not effect serious destruction.  The danger to science education comes from the 60% of high school teachers identified in a notable study ([Berman, Michael and Plutzer, Eric.  "Defeating Creationism in the Courtroom, But Not in the Classroom," Science 28 January 2011) as "cautious," i.e., prefer to avoid lending their support to “either view.”  It is these brave souls who are really working for the creationists, since they allow fervor to trump knowledge and effect a de facto "balanced treatment" in their classrooms.

Bleating platitudes about “both sides” only gives aid to the creationist dream of having a leg to stand on.


Monday, August 12, 2013

The Cosmos apparently believes in reincarnation....

Felt called to respond to John Ankerburg’s commentary today:  “An increasing number of people now believe in some form of reincarnation. The idea that after death we can return to life once again in a higher form has gained widespread appeal. But what does the Bible say?” 

The Bible is not without reincarnation-friendly implications, but hey.  What does a rational and scientific worldview say?  In my faith we apprehend a living universe characterized everywhere by cyclicity -- from waveform and subatomic orbital and spin through celestial orbits and the tides and seasons they mediate and, between these, our worlds of life featuring breath, pulse, brainwaves, cellular division, reproductive cycles, sleep and hibernation, the opening and closing of flowers, all this on and on ad infinitum.  If there is a word the vibrant universe shouts, it is "again."  Of all known phenomena, it is difficult to cite anything that happens but once; indeed, the mind-boggling multiplicity and abundance of stars, to say nothing of atoms, suggests a style and general rule consistent with reincarnation.  One can't fault a prescientific desert people for having a narrower point of view, since they had no idea of the vastness, nor of the nature of the cosmos.
Photo borrowed from this uplifting Facebook page: The Mayan Ouroboros: The Cosmic Cycles Come Full Circle