Sunday, December 11, 2005

It's hard to be a democracy, messy and hard. In China recently they killed a few protestors because they started throwing firecrackers at the police. Seems the villagers were upset over corrupt officials who were seizing land for great profit and not compensating the owners. The officials want to build a power plant, no doubt thinking that the good of the people is more important than the lives of the people. Curiously, here we recently had a Supreme Court ruling that it was okay for local officials to seize land from people for the greater good and then sell the land to private contractors so they can build profitable enterprises. Not a hell of a lot of difference except here in America either the people don't have the balls to protest, or the 'liberal' media refuses to cover their protests. Likewise in China they arrested the official who ordered the shooting and here in America they would have appointed them to a better paying position, or given a job as a consultant.

It's nearing Solstice, bonfire time. The Christians and semi-Christians are putting out the Goddess-as-Tree and setting out the offerings for Her. It always makes me uncomfortable to use cross-symbols for such an important event. By that, of course, I mean using Goddess symbols for a male Gods story. The true story of Solstice deals with Persephone and her descent to the underground to become the Queen of that Afterlife. She is hung on the wall and stripped of her flesh in order to die and become one of them. A little harsh immigration rules, nes pa? But we know that the Great Circle demands she return and we will have spring again, as all the circle symbols this time of year affirm. I like the circles, but the Tree makes me a tad uncomfortable, because it relates too strongly to the other Tree, upon which the Son of God was hung. Oddly, that part of the story is probably an example of deliberate cross-symbolizing. I believe the Romans crucified exactly because of the Persephone story. Then the Christians took the symbols and modified them for their own resurection story, borrowing both from the Greeks and the Egyptians. Sometimes I wonder if the real Joshua bin Joseph was rather stoned to death. Now as nice a tale, though. We'd have piles of rocks on a table maybe and eat pressed duck.

Pretty soon I will drive down to see Jon. Not today, as I have to get this house arranged for the 'holidays' and my sweety-pie will wipe herself out doing it by herself if I don't help. Can't have that... she already stresses enough these days. Monday I need to get the brakes fixed on Inga, the '89 Volvo. She's a good old car, with a girder for a bumper and broken parts all over, but not enough to fail inspection. Not unlike myself. So maybe by Wednesday or Thursday I can break loose and go down. He's been sick off and on with fevers, not high ones, not the kind that bring seizures. Just enough to send him to the hospital for observation. What do you bring a man who is in that state of being, that drifting in and out but never enough to move the body, never enough to speak a word, or moan, or smile at my face? He's like a lava lamp with that mind of his floating around so slowly. Not a lot to do with him but wait and tell him we love him. If I say it often enough I hope he hears. I hope he hears and understands that there's nothing I can do for him any more. I'll probably buy music and some clothes for him, some nice warm things and some hot music. The words in the music may provide him with dreams, so I want to buy happy, getting-laid, getting-high kind of stuff. Something that if it caused a dream would be the kind of experience he'd look for if he could walk out of there.

I've decided to relate to the Xmas season as a form of American potlatch. Otherwise all the presents piss me off when there are so many people we know of who are dying in the cold of the mountains of Pakistan, or the plains of Iraq, the cities of Philadelphia and Washington, DC.... Seems so wasteful, but using the potlatch as a launch point you can understand all the frenzied gift-giving and it makes sense to buy everybody some little something. Certainly has nothing to do with an ancient dead rabbi who promoted poverty and public service. The soup kitchens would be stocked to the nth if we used the story as it was intended. But a potlatch, where you give til it hurts, that makes sense. It's even an American story and since it happens without reference to a specific date it's okay to celebrate the birth of a man 6 months removed from his likely birthdate. So Jill Sweet, my comparative religion teacher, would be happy to know that her lectures on potlatch enabled an old pagan to accept Xmas and even celebrate the giving. I hope she's okay and celebrating Xmas with her happy family.

Here's a story of unselfish giving. I was hitching up the Coast road, PCH-1 and had reached a point in Oregon or upper California, maybe near the Russian River. I had my pack and my stick and my thumb stuck out when a pickup truck stopped for me. It was a Mexican family traveling down to the fields to work. The father put me in the back with all their furniture and packs and kids. As we traveled I came to know that the kids spoke no American and the only Mexican I knew was a handful of serious swear words curtesy of my Dad, totally inappropriate for this situation unless one of the kids pulled a knife on me. A little girl with big brown eyes and dark brown hair was staring at me, eating slices of bread from a bag. I smiled at her and she smiled back, offering me a slice of bread. I took it and ate it, not having eaten in a couple of days. She offered me another and I took that. When that was done she offered me another, still smiling, but I could see she had only a couple more slices left in the bag so I declined. She kept trying to give me her last bread but I refused and tried to tell her that she should eat the bread, that I was stuffed. I weighed in at about 120 then and looked like a bag of bones. The truck stopped and I got out and smiled at the girl who offered me her last slice of bread, grinning at me. I refused, grinning back at her. The rest stop had a cafe so I went inside and ordered two cups of hot water and from my pack I took a cube of bullion and a tea bag. There were packages of crackers and a catsup bottle on the counter, so it was going to be a good meal. The waitress came with my water and I put in my tea bag and bullion cube and she watched me. I asked her if there was a charge for the water, because I had no money. She asked me how old I was and I told her 18, which was close enough. Then she handed me a menu and told me to pick a lunch. I repeated that I had no money and she told me that her son was about my age and she wouldn't want him to go hungry on the road. I got a hamburger with fries and a glass of milk. It was a great meal and I shared some of my poems with her, then I left to travel some more and write some more, but most of all to experience more.

So the man gave me a ride, the daughter gave me a slice of her bread and the waitress gave me a lunch. Together they gave me a slice of American life, a look at the rich American heart. That was back when we didn't think strangers were dangers, when kids on the road were kids and like our sons and daughters deserved a meal and some kind words. Since then I've fed a few roadbound strangers and thought often of that little girl. She'd be in her 40's now and maybe tells the story of a skinny white kid she once fed a slice of bread to when her family was traveling between jobs. Taken individually we Americans can be pretty human. Even Bin Laden says so. He just has decided that as a group we should be bombed and shot and sliced. I think before you decide to have a jihad against an entire people, the way our President does, you should hitchhike around and meet a few of your chosen victims. Maybe then you'd decide that rather than kill them you might want to sit down to a meal and discuss Life, the Universe and Everything. Or at least discuss how a great meal with people you have just met can be a life-affirming, life-giving chance at being human. You can take that to the bank, but you can never spend it. Thanks for the bread, kiddo, thanks for the ride. I told my Mom about that waitress and she told me that when she and Dad had a bar and grill she had fed many a hobo. "It's what you do, son...."

Time for coffee and toast and digging out the lights for the Xmas tree.

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