Thursday, May 01, 2008

The First of May 2008

May Day greetings to all. Today is the international Worker's Day and a time to reflect on the Means of Production. Who owns/controls them? How did they come to that position? Who benefits from them? Most importantly, does organized society promote human freedom and opportunity? Think about that as you go about your business today.

May 1 is the National Day of Prayer in the US and may still be National Law Day. The latter was established as an alternative to "communist-inspired" May Day and no doubt Prayer Day is also a means to distract Americans from considering the relationship among society's classes and control of its resources. America's Labor Day is moved way down the calendar and is more of an End-of-Summer milestone than any reflection on the role of labor and capital.

But today is also a beautiful spring day in Olympia. The sun is shining. Some clouds are still in the sky but I can see lots of blue. The city is becoming greener by the day after a cold spring. The weather isn't exactly warm yet but the promise is there. The oak trees on my street are budding out with the first hints of leaves showing, Rhododendrons are blossoming everywhere. Tulips, daffodils and many other flowers are in bloom. Spring here feels like an opening up of life as we emerge from the dark winter, which I found not at all depressing. In my former location, spring is the occasion for heading underground to escape the the coming heat until, maybe mid October.

Thoughts of spring remind me of an evening spent at Eckville Shelter on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania in May 2005. I sat on a bench outside the shelter as countless bumblebees swarmed the area. Bees were constantly checking me out but not at all aggressive. They were far more interested in each other than me; once they figured out I wasn't a bee, they were gone. Occasionally, one would fly into me and simply bounce back into the air. No big deal. When I first went out to sit, I was a little unnerved by the swarm but the bees had definite business that did not involve me. As the evening progressed, bees would buzz about, somehow finding a partner and fly away as a tandem. Sitting on that bench, looking into Pennsylvania's green woods, life was beginning anew and I was so much a part of it.

I feel same connection here in Olympia. The small town environment seems to make spring all that more noticeable. No doubt the drastic change in my locale has a lot to do with the experience. Whatever the reason, I like it.

Maybe I'll go find some bees to hang with.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

More Local Stuff

Olympia held its annual Procession of the Species yesterday along with a weekend art walk. Large crowds all over downtown, a good day to be on foot. The Procession is community parade celebrating the elements of life--earth, water, air and fire. It is very whimsical, colorful, creative, funny and fun to see. Lots of percussion. Many amazing and simple costumes and floats, all people powered (no motors or draft animals). All sorts of people participating. We even had a sunny, warm(ish) day. Pictures here. Slime mold here.

Last night was a Recycled Fashion Show featuring models wearing outfits made from recycled materials. The woman wearing the architectural drawing skirt looked very proper. An orange parachute made an elegant gown. Appropriately, the event was held in an alley spray painted with graffiti.


A Not Too Modest Proposal

Five years of war and occupation in Iraq with no real end in sight has convinced most Americans of its futility. (I told them that back in 2003 but they would not listen.) Iraqis have much the same opinion. If either nation were a real democracy, American troops would be long gone from Iraq. But they are still there and will be for at least another few years or 100 years, if John McCain thinks it necessary.

Congress is spineless or complicit in this waste of American life and treasure. After 60 years of continuously handing power and authority to the Executive in the name of national security, Congress only response to the call of most Americans to end the occupation is to continue funding whatever the president demands and wringing its hands over its institutional flaccidity.

Since America’s representatives will not act on behalf of the people’s will, the people themselves must act. We have but one effective tool left to stop this insane waste and destruction: do not send the military any more recruits. No draft is in effect. You break no law by refusing your service. You commit an act of patriotism on behalf of your nation. More than counter-recruiting, which is also essential, refusing service is everyone’s effort. All Americans should tell young Americans that joining America’s military at this time in our history only enables a rogue executive to continue misusing a national institution on behalf of corporate imperialism. A national boycott of military recruiting will deny CheneyBush the fodder for their private wars disguised as national interests.

I do not make this call with any hostility or animosity to America’s armed forces. I do so because I no longer see any other way to stop our government from wasting your talent and dedication, from destroying what are supposed to be a national resource. Many of you have little choice but to follow orders unless you are willing to challenge their legality, a difficult and daunting hurdle. Those among you who choose to not to serve in a war you consider illegal orders are indeed true heroes. Your resistance is an act of conscience.

But no civilian is required to serve and can legally decline to enlist. Either the government will be forced to initiate a draft (fat chance!) which would ignite widespread debate about the value of our military actions or the government will have to scale back operations; an Army in the meat grinder of combat operations always needs new recruits. If the people cannot stop paying for a war they consider of little worth, then we should tell all citizens, especially those of military age, to reject military service as a career option. The machinery of death will slowly grind to a halt.

In this time of war and occupation, I will honor, as a patriotic American, anyone who declines military service. I will honor all who support young Americans’ refusal to answer a call to serve in an illegal, unnecessary and counterproductive war. Ii will especially honor those who offer opportunity to young Americans that gives them a choice away from military service. It’s really the only action that patriotic Americans have left to salvage our nation’s soul. Our so-called leaders or wanna-be leaders are unlikely to act on our behalf. It’s really up to us.