Friday, October 30, 2015

A Great Harper Lee Quote

Fear not, there will be no assessment of the current Harper Lee novel, nor any of the comparisons with To Kill a Mockingbird. I simply want to toss your way a two line quote from Go Set a Watchman.

"But the white supremacists fear reason, because they know cold reason beats them. Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: 
they both begin where reason ends."

It's the second sentence, of course, that contains the thought for the millennium. Is it any wonder that faith at the extremes leads to prejudice. Why not, they both begin with the abandonment of rational thought. 

"Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: 
they both begin where reason ends."

Thanks to my friend Marcia for reading this to us the other evening. This is going into my repertoire of quotable quotes. My conservative friends and a few of the liberals are not going to like it when I pull this one out. At least I can say, my friends will get the comparison. Think any of the current candidates would?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Just a Thought and a Feeling

"Writing is a socially acceptable form of 
getting naked in public."
- Paul Coelho

". . . even more so these days is the act of blogging."
- me

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Question (#1 in a series)

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” -- John Steinbeck

How do you, how does anyone defend the right of the 1% to be greedy, avaristic bastards?

I asked that question of a friend of a friend, a known moderate republican. Okay, so I might have softened the wording just a bit, but I got an immediate answer.

"I don't know why anyone begrudges another person the right to make a lot of money."

I let that sit for awhile and then followed up with this: "Don't you think someone who has become wealthy based in this system of free enterprise. Don't you think they owe something to country that gave them the freedom to make all that money?"

"What exactly did the government give them?"

I had to go with the obvious answer: "Well let's see. Roads and railways to transport their goods, the Internet to advertise and make sales. An educated workforce via the public school system. Tax breaks . . . shall I go on?"

"What do you think they should give back?"

"Well, first it would be nice if they paid taxes and didn't ship jobs out of the country."

"But both of those are legal."

"So, you're okay with someone dodging taxes using IRS loopholes, while you pay your fair share and you don't come home to a swimming pool, a vacation villa and half a dozen luxury cars?"

"I am perfectly find with it. It's called the American Dream."

Clearly, this lady and others like her have a very different Dream than I do. Though their view of fairness does remind me of what happens some  dark nights, only I call them -- nightmares.

art credit: timeline photos

Friday, October 09, 2015

I wish I had said that . . .

One of the benefits of wandering/visiting about the country is the literature. Everyone reads different books and subscribes to a wide variety of magazine and periodicals. I currently have several years of The Atlantic and The New Yorker to leaf through, which leads to today's little gem.

From The Atlantic issue October 2014 an article on the Creation Museum in Kentucky. The author interviews various members of the staff and at one point poses this question. Hint: It's the response that's worth the read.

Did he ever wake up in the morning and have doubts about the truth of the Bible?, I wondered.

"No," he said. "Show me another book in the world that claims to be the word of one who knows everything, who has always been there, that tell us the origin of time, matter, space, the origin of the Earth, the origin of water, the origin of the sun, moon, and stars, the origin of dry land, the origin of plants, the origin of animals, the origin of marriage, of death and sin," he said.

"Lord of the Rings?", I answered, tepidly.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Like many of my generation I have some very strong feelings about the American war in Vietnam. Now forty years since the withdrawal of U.S. forces, not everyone has mellowed at the same pace. Some not at all.

I have for some years taken a literary path, reading dozens of books about the war. For those who have not heard this recommendation before - A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan is the quintessential book on the subject. I should probably do a separate post of the top ten Vietnam War books, maybe later.

What nearly everyone from that era will tell you is that Vietnam was frustrating, maddening and horrifying. That sense of frustration was captured again for me last night as I read yet another book on the war. A new novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer. What got me up to grab a pencil and paper was this line:

". . . swimmers doing the backstroke towards a waterfall."

The line was in context of a several chapter description of the chaos surrounding the final days of American withdrawal from Saigon viewed from the perspective of those Vietnamese who had supported (collaborated) with the U.S.

The sense of frustration and powerlessness from decades ago, came back in a most uncomfortable reality. And I had to wonder, why don't we feel the same about Iraq and Afghanistan?