Masked Ball on the Global Dance Floor

Dip, dive, whirl and swirl, three steps ahead, two back, feign and dodge. A waltz, a tango. Strobe lights bounce off mirrored balls hanging from the ceiling.

We are at a masked ball, reaching for the hand of one partner and then another, not sure who is behind each mask. See the fox face, rusty red? The noblewoman in black lace? Behind the column, is that magician kissing a ballerina en pointe?

A grizzly bear leads a lamb by a ribbon. An orangutan teases a leopard as a harlequin does handstands. Death is here, a scythe in one hand and the Mad Hatter in the other.

Nothing is as it seems, or perhaps everything is as it seems, which is the best disguise. We strive to see who is who and what is what in a cacophony of color, sound, and moving shapes. People disappear. Blood red dominates the smear of colors.

We strive to see behind the masks. Who is friend and who is foe? Who is aid and who is injury? We must be careful not to misjudge a friend as an enemy. Doesn’t misjudging or denying a friend create an enemy?

Sounds hit us, of guns, bombs, children crying. Louder is the silence, of hunger, kidnapping, destroyed cities, and of guilt.

Some people breech the chaos to tend children, refugees, the ill and starving, the bombed and shredded – those too vulnerable and wounded to have masks. Their faces are bare and tell us all.

My five-year-old granddaughter told me there are bad people in the world. “Pirates.”

“Pirates?” I asked.

“From Somali. There are pirates from Somali.”

I did not tell her that Somali pirates are among our lesser evils. Did the band just start playing “Pirates of Penzance”?

You want evil, I’ll tell you evil.

Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, any part of Syria, the killings and destruction in Gaza, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al-Shabab in Kenya. And Yemen, the Congo, and, yes, Somali.

And ISIS. Members of ISIS wear ugly black masks, which is somehow more honest: I am a monster, I behead people.

The U.S. Congress appears more innocent, perhaps because sock hops appear innocent even when the dance floor is taken over by the popular high school kids who got C’s and D’s in science, math, and geography, while the nerds have their backs against the wall.

Ted Cruz heads key Senate committees and is running for president but doesn’t believe in global warming. Tom Cotton, who received $1 million from a conservative political group that supports military solutions for Israel, fancies himself a pen pal with foreign heads of state.

Congressional masks tend to look alike – fools with “This Space for Sale” printed across their foreheads. (The few good men in Congress are mainly women.)

At the global masked ball, dancers shift, weave, clash, sell arms, form unholy alliances, claim lands and people. Masks fall off and are grabbed again. (Think Netanyahu, though that mask might as well remain off. We have seen too much.)

And us? We who think we are good people? We who have trouble seeing through our own masks? We stumble. We fall. We try to regain our balance. We try to do our best.

Duck, there’s a drone overhead!

In the madness, this global confusion and anger and fear and camouflage, there is one sure line of sanity. That is to care for all children no matter what. All children must be safe from more than Somali pirates. They must be loved and protected and educated and allowed to dance beautiful dances together, in trust, in joy, in their full humanity, unwounded, unafraid, knowing we live best when we live in harmony.


Kissinger, here’s a mirror

Men cannot be left to manage things like war or peace on their own.

Recently I was at a private reception in a brownstone on the west side of New York City. It was a lovely home and very nice hors-d’ouevres were served. Twenty or thirty highly educated men were there, with an equal number of women. The men sought the answer to how to end, or at least contain, the rising violence in the world. What can we do in the face of monsters and the expanding divide between cultures and sub-cultures and tribes and religions and barbarians from who knows where exactly and armed by who knows whom exactly,  . . . between them and us, the civilized people with goat cheese canapés sitting on comfortable sofas. Henry Kissinger was a guest.

The focus was on the Middle East, and perhaps the two presenters were only trying to convey what they see as happening, but they framed what they see happening in ways that activated the testosterone in that room until the air filled with the vapor of men who were afraid. Flight or fight has never been so safely demonstrated to me. Power had to be met by greater power and force had to be destroyed by greater force. Kill more of them than they kill of you, and do it soon.

The concept that there are different ways to fight, different ways to win, different ways to safety than power over power didn’t enter the discussion.

The discussion looked at the expansion of ISIS, the threat of Iran having nuclear power, the need to hold our collective noses regarding Egypt, and that Europe has “no backbone” regarding the Ukraine. i.e. Merkel & Co. are soft on Putin.

Not specifically mentioned was Boko Haram, possibly because they kill, abduct, and rape people most Westerners don’t identify with. And the Palestinian-Israeli “problem” was not discussed in any depth, possibly because some of us in the room might have identified closely and differently than others of us. We were polite and unwilling to turn against our own.

In addition to experiencing the fear-driven energy of men answering the call to defend themselves, their families, and their cultures, I saw how statistics can be isolated as truth and dressed up as proof that a Larger Hammer is the only option.

The prospect of a horrific, entrenched, prolonged war on many fronts seemed imminent, inevitable, unavoidable. The only manly thing to do is to face reality and take on the enemy hard and fast, with something like “shock and awe.” . . . well, that’s proven to be effective.

No woman spoke up, including myself. I am not proud of that. In retrospect it was a mistake, but I was mesmerized by what was happening and wanted the experience of seeing how far it would go. No, stop! That’s only partly true. I, too, was being polite. I, too, didn’t want to disturb anyone. We were such a convivial group and the men presented with such confidence and so many numbers. My contributions would have raised questions, been more complex, given hesitancies. My questions would have interrupted the flow of things.


“What would Henry do?” was the unspoken question before all of us. Most people in the room accorded him great respect. I regarded him with profound suspicion. The phrase “blood on his hands” kept going through my mind.

To be sure, we have real enemies who do horrific things. They would like to kill us and many other people, and destroy our cultures. How did that happen? Did we do anything that contributed to that? Is our doing the same old same old the best response we have? This is a complex threat that cannot be solved by simplistic answers. Violence is a simplistic response.

The discussion, when deconstructed, was about our safety by the destruction of others, not about our safety through common humanity and vested interests. It supported outlooks and actions that would further divisions – if you are not with us, you are against us – rather than outlooks and actions that would strengthen the middle ground of rational well-meaning people in all groups.

The discussion was conducted along the Masculine Principles that favor short-term solutions such as 1) making statements rather than asking questions, 2) equating dominance with safety, 3) thinking the only way from A to B is a straight line, 4) believing numbers tell the full truth, and 5) favoring conversations between people at the top of hierarchies to such an extent that the effectiveness of conversations and cooperation at other levels is lost.

Note: Masculine and Feminine Principles of perception, communication styles, and action can be carried out by either men and women. It’s not who does it, but what is done. We’ve all seen women leaders out-macho men.

Note: Both Masculine and Feminine Principles have their pros and cons. The most productive Masculine Principles include building the systems and structures necessary to sustain peace, uphold high ideals, and enact laws that are just.

Masculine and Feminine Principles can be thought of as hardware and software. We need both the hardware of structures and the software of creative generous communication and connection. Hardware without heart, conscience, and empathy is ultimately dangerous. Software without structures and systems is ultimately ineffective.

I spoke of this evening and the energy in the room afterwards with a male friend who has had considerable experience in peace building inside conflict zones. He said that the most holistic approaches to peace often come from men in the military, people who know first hand what violence does to the human body, men who have been not only hardened but softened by fighting, men who saw testosterone flattened and dead on the field of battle.

Henry Kissinger sat there, looking content. He spoke impromptu on the imperative first to know what we want to happen, then to examine if that is possible, and then to do what is needed to make it possible. It sounds practical enough, but it felt like someone talking from inside a sealed room, a safe sound-proof sealed room. What was his success rate again? How many people died? When he looks in the mirror, does he see what I see?

What I see is that until we have the wisdom and courage to find our safety in tending others we will not be safe. It is the most complex thing in front of us. The first step is to look ourselves in the mirror. The second step is to trust our better impulses, masculine and feminine, and create innovative structures and institutions for inclusive peace across divides.

The third step is to love our enemies. If we’re not quite ready for that, we can stick with the first two for now. It’s a start.


Shoot first or never shoot?

For a brief period in the fall and winter of 1975 I simultaneously dated two men. One was David Hume Kennerly, the White House photographer for President Ford who received the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 for his photography in Vietnam and Cambodia. The other was Richard (“Flashlight”) Gordon, a member of a religious commune in New York state and former teacher at Smith College.

David was a little miffed. I don’t remember it being as much about my seeing another man as by the choice of Richard, a dropout with long hair, drawstring pants, and sandals. The Vietnam war was over by only a few months. David had been on the frontlines, he had photographed death.

Once he called me from San Francisco and said there had been an assassination attempt less than an hour before on President Ford. His gut had told him to demand that Ford go around the back of his waiting car, not the front – a move that surely saved the President’s life. The bullet skimmed by David, who credited his gut with saving his life then and in Vietnam.

“Ask that guy you see,” David said, “what he would do if people were running at him and shooting at him.”

Me: “Flashlight, what you do if people were running at you and shooting at you?”

Flashlight: “If I had a gun, I’d shoot them first.”

This issue of shoot first or not at all is a tricky one. Just because both the Pulitzer Prize winner and an imitation yogi agreed on shooting first did not mean to me that it was the best thing to do. (I had also started going to the commune, which centered around universal love. The mice were caught in humane traps and transported off grounds.)

Most significantly, death is permanent. I’m not making a case for no life after death. I am saying that when your body dies you no longer walk, talk, eat, feel, think, dream, kiss, hold hands, study, go to school, go to theater, feed your children, have children, dance, sing, raise a family, make love. You’re dead.

We tend to slide over this fact in regards to other people, especially when the number of dead gets large, especially when we kill by drones, especially after we decide to hate them, especially if they have killed people we like or identify with, especially if they believe things we don’t believe, especially if we are afraid of them, and especially if we think they want to kill us.

Yet we never lose sight of the fact that we personally don’t want to die. We are fully and always aware when it comes to ourselves that death means the end of being here.

So, is it all about clearing the way so we feel we won’t have to die, at least not soon? Some Israelis said of Gaza that it occasionally needs mowing. It’s not that Israelis are meaner than other people. It’s the position they are in that includes fear, historical beliefs and harsh realities, isolation, and having the power at hand to “mow.”

Circumstances, real and imagined, affect how people – individually and collectively – perceive. In turn, what people perceive affects what they are willing to do to others, including to kill them. Given a potent dose of the “right” circumstances many, maybe most, people lose empathy. They become empathetically illiterate.

Look at ISIS. They perceive – literally live in – a different reality than most of us do. Their beliefs, which are circumstances, seal them inside a “truth” that gives them a mission and radical zeal. They want power and territory to bring the world into line with their image of truth and they will kill for it. You and I may not buy into their vision but they are pretty intent about it. They believe their perceived reality.

We could also say that we in the US perceive people are coming at us, and our friends and other good people, with the intent to kill us. It seems real from here. What can we do except shoot before they get here or before the number of dead becomes even more astronomical? Hold that question.

Why two beheadings was a catalyst instead of more than 140,000 dead Syrians and 900,000 Syrian refugees and displaced people is another question. Well, we know why. The beheadings were two from the US home team. Our empathic literacy only spoke English.

In the midst of this violent catastrophe we forget that all people are people are people are people and killing means real people die.

Our major flaw as human animals is that we forget that each of us is potential and future and love and art and creation and compassion and beauty. We forget our existence is an incomprehensible miracle, and it ends.

Given the stakes, you would think we would put more thought and action into creating circumstances where people perceive their good as invested in the good of others, where we give each other what we all need so we become friends and family, so it becomes unthinkable to kill each other.

But once the horror is underway, . . .  Well, I, too, would probably pick up the gun and shoot first if the option were between them and me. Certainly I would if it were between them and my family or friends. Now, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to save myself or family or friends if faced with murderous assault.

I know that in reality this is a moot point since I personally will never fight in a war and I will never own a gun, but if I am hypothetically willing to kill in some circumstances, how can I say my nation never can?

And I believe, faced with a choice between my death and that of a member of my family or a close friend, I would go on the sword. Hopefully this is never tested.

But it is tested endlessly around the world, isn’t it? Parents are constantly giving up their lives to save their children due to real and desperate circumstances. Average people do heroic things.

Can we average people do what is needed to prevent future wars and lessen the wars now around us?

Average people brought an end to the war in Vietnam even if it was late in the game. Such a futile stupid war.

Has there ever been a wise war? President Carter referred to war as sometimes a “necessary evil,” which raises the pertinent question of if wars can be prevented in advance by actions taken by you and me, average people.

Assuming the answer is “yes,” the most pertinent question is, are we willing to build communities across cultures, to minister to each other’s needs, and to become empathically literate in all languages?

It would take conscious evolution of our consciences, voluntary opening up, leaps of faith in ourselves and others, and going against our impulses to shut down and shut out. Many good people do peace-making work now. How do we build on their work to create a massive coalition of the willing? This is the question. What are the answers?

The question “shoot first or never shoot” must become obsolete, a relic of when we were more primitive. War photos of dead, wounded, and dying men, women, and children should only be seen in historical archives.



The Post of a Newborn Radical

Sometime last week I realized that I no longer have any truck with anyone who kills other people. I don’t care who you are, what your history is, what land you think is yours, what happened yesterday or 2000 years ago, or what orders you are following. None of it matters. You kill someone, the blood is on your hands. Killing is a personal thing.

The only thing that matters is that the number of human beings who justify killing others, especially children, must be marginalized. Put them all together on a large ship, give them a small island-less section of ocean, take away their arms, drop them protein bars, and let them growl at each other. No outside connection. We, the rest of the world, don’t want to hear from them.

Returning to the personal: We don’t want to hear how moral you are, how you are forced to defend yourself, how your religion is the true religion, how other people are savages who offer up their children to your bombs, how it is the other people who are racists, how vengeance is called for, how you have no choices.

We also don’t want to hear you yelling at children at borders to go away, or how you must defend your right to have guns, or how poor people are freeloaders, or how health care for everyone violates some rights you construed from a piece of paper written over 200 years ago, and we don’t want to see you parading around with assault weapons over your shoulders in grocery stores or anywhere else.

We – I, at least – don’t want to hear it, see it, smell it, touch it, or be killed by it.

We might drop you bags of chocolate in our relief to have you where you stop harming other people.

It’s possible that nothing I said above was politically correct, but to be totally clear – I’m willing to take the minority that has been killing Syrians, re-butchering Iraqis, kidnapping girls, shooting passenger planes out of the sky, imprisoning journalists and human rights advocates in multiple nations, slaughtering Gazans, and, yes, sending missiles into Israel and I would put them all on a boat. A caravan of boats if necessary, but definitely under siege with no possibility of getting out. It seems to be a fashion.

We could even drop in movies for them to see. Things like “Rambo” and “Apocalypse Now”. They’d like that.

Then we could love and care for each other across the borders. Can someone explain to me the purpose of borders? I don’t get it anymore. Suddenly borders make no sense.

We could have peace and help each other. We could have safe food, equitable opportunity, art, music, dance, education for everyone – and what is the thing again about dinosaurs being in the garden of eden or something like that? We could reinstate science and learning as having dominion over fantasy.

We could save our damaged planet with sustainable fuels and care for our animals. There is no reason, no God-given or human-given reason why we cannot have peace. NONE. It is all a farce, it is a charade propagated by people who do not know that they are the problem.

I want all the religions – if they must exist – to share their sacred temples and sacred books and for all of us to wander amongst each other like it’s one big happy picnic. Some hummus, some wafers, some incense, a few cows strolling about, some holy-rollers – probably no live snakes.

I want the haters to go away. It would make it so much easier to love them if they weren’t constantly harming us and others.

We could provide lounge chairs, even wet suits, snorkels. They could face off with the sharks just to keep their hand in.

Let them bore (perhaps “boar” is the word) each other with their rhetoric about how they are more justified in hating others while simultaneously being more righteous than others. Let them all grow beards.

Oh, now that’s interesting. I have pictured them all as men. Bet you did, too.

Or maybe it’s not interesting at all.

What’s really sad is that they would all think they were there by mistake. But you and I wouldn’t have to know about it. We would be at the picnic creating beautiful lives together.


Does Gravity Have Weight? Or when will insanity stop?

My six-year-old grandson knows the important questions:

“Gramma Trisha, does gravity have weight?”

Me: “I’m not sure. Why don’t we look it up?”

“And if light has weight.”

Me: “Right, un-huh, that too.”

Well, I couldn’t decipher all of the Google entries and complex formulas re gravity having weight, but the consensus seems to be that gravity does not have weight. So that is what I told Ben with the caveat that we might find out in the future that it does have weight.

Also light does not have weight, except – oh, yeah, those photons when light is being particle and not wave – the ultimate morphing job. So it gets wobbly, but I told Ben that most people believe light does not have weight but maybe in the future we would find out that it does. I give the future free reign to surprise us all, hopefully for the good.

It’s not that I think that public opinion about gravity or light having weight is going to fluctuate like opinions about eating gluten or the efficacy of melatonin. It’s that I believe scientific inquiry will continue to advance in corners of civilization shielded from Creationism, Fundamentalism, war, violence, and other social ills. Little clusters of scientists – and other rational people open to change as new evidence comes in – will continue to explore all the aspects of being alive on our planet. The DNA thread with courage, the one that urges us to learn the truth based on repeatable evidence, will prevail through hard times.

Hard times such as when great factions of people are trying to set back the clock on women’s rights, deny climate change, violate the principles of separation of religion and state, carry assault weapons – omg! – into market places, help the rich get richer without caring for the poor, divert funds away from health care and education, and destroy Mother Earth on the assumption that she will just keep on giving to her spoiled children.

Ben reminded me of the important things: we will not fling out into the cosmos whether gravity has weight or not, and the sun will come up tomorrow whether light has weight or not. We have what we need to make love, give joy, and provide health and safety and justice for others on this planet.

Abrupt change right here:

I am in grieving about what is happening in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel. I know that I am grieving more profoundly because I have friends there. It is personal.

The deaths in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and the Ukraine are larger, perhaps more horrendous, though Israel is announcing – perhaps has already begun – massive bombing attacks on Gaza and is talking about land forces.

[A moment ago, as I was doing a final check on this blog, reports came in that bombs have reached Jerusalem, missiles seemingly from Gaza. How horrendous this is going to become is beyond my desire to imagine or ability to face at this moment. It is not impossible that Gaza will be decimated. The below continues more or less as originally written.]

These attacks escalated from the actions of two hate-filled violent Palestinians that Hamas seems genuinely not to have known or to have been able to control. We now know that the Israeli authorities knew within hours that the three settler youth were most assuredly dead. They had the phone tape that included the gun shots and the songs of the monsters who killed them, celebrating their deaths. For a week they didn’t tell anyone, including the parents, while they (re)arrested more than 500 Palestinians, demolished homes, and managed in the process to kill at least 10 Palestinians. Gangs of Israelis – mostly young men by the videos I saw – took to the street chanting “Death to Arabs.”

This is the open warfare that I know the most about. It is more manageable and personal to me than Syria, Iraq, Egypt, the Ukraine. I know the territory and can wrap my head around this catastrophe. It just happens to be that way. I have no excuses, just lack of knowledge of the other horrors.

At the same time the US Stock Exchange is reaching new highs. Is this because we feel separated and insular from the fight, therefore safe? We are the island of stability? Or are we grateful that for once we aren’t sending troops anywhere? Let them all kill each other while we will eat cake? Or are investors just oblivious? [Later note: let’s see how the Exchange reacts to today’s suicidal insanity.]

I sold my stock in Caterpillar Inc. a month ago, before the Presbyterian Church divested from its stock holdings in companies like Caterpillar Inc that contribute to Israel’s containment and occupation of Palestinians. I can’t hold stock in a company that helps build nine-meter high concrete walls to hold a nation in and provides bulldozers to level people’s homes.

I don’t think Caterpillar Inc. noticed my sale, though I did send them a note about it. I also told them I would add the sale to my blog. Hence, here it is.

Returning to the light:

Maybe gravity and light have weight yet to be measured. Maybe they don’t.

But death and violence and racism and prejudice and hate do have weight. People fall when they die, when they are battered. So do morals of a culture, so do hopes and aspirations, so do opportunities, so do fragile psyches, so do the minds of children when they lose their parents. (I remember in Afghanistan. You could look into children’s eyes and see immediately who would rise and laugh again and who would be broken for the rest of their lives.)

Light may have weight, or it may not. But it can cleanse and heal and return us to sanity and give us hope and help us to forgive, and that is something of such value that it must have substance.

Whether that substance relates to something in our oh so real physical bodies and brains, or if it is the vapor of an elixir that comes from some great elsewhere doesn’t matter. I believe we can call light into our beings, and into our lives – and we must now. Now.

Each one of us for all of us. Because that’s how light works. It is not exclusive.

If you don’t share light and healing, it will leave you to the dark, which gives you and me only one viable option as I don’t think you like dark and injury anymore than I do.


Memorial Day in Real Time . . . oh, dear

You have to get this setting. I’m in the upscale restaurant on the ground level of my hotel at the corner of State Street and Washington Street, Chicago, trying to find the mildest thing on the menu.

No, they don’t have chicken soup. No, they have no side dish of steamed spinach to substitute for a salad. Yes, they can make the veggie burger, substituting the Boursin for a chèvre, and leaving off the creme fraiche. Yes, they do have mint tea.

Outside, people are gathering for the Memorial Day parade due to arrive momentarily. I can see nothing from my seat in the restaurant. It is a window seat but on the wrong side. I look across the restaurant out the far windows and see the backs of standing people. Chicago seems to be a patriotic town, we need northern patriotic towns, I think.

I am here for the wedding of a dear friend. His first, her first. He is 64, I don’t know how old she is but it’s reasonable. He is the oldest of a brood of Irish Catholic siblings. She is the oldest of Japanese-American siblings. They are being married in a United Methodist church across from Daley Plaza and the Picasso statue. The church has magnificent stained class windows. I cried, though no one knew, at the rehearsal last night. Oh my, people with faith in each other and life.

I hear drums, masses of drums, and see the tops of flags, lots of flags. I see the top of a float of the Illinois state seal.

I have a tummy ache. Hence, the mint tea. This is my first meal in 24 hours.

No one in the restaurant looks out even though many hundreds came to line the street and the television station scaffolding is right outside. Theoretically we are at the apex. I hear trumpets.

Let’s talk about war. My veggie burger has arrived. Thick, predominantly brown rice and mushrooms, a limited thing.

War sucks. War would not be necessary if humans were more clever, particularly if Americans, the people with money, were more clever, and kind, and far thinking, and not, in sum, ridiculous in our choices and closing of our hearts. We cheat our own, so I guess it makes sense that we believe people who aren’t us are “outsiders” better left alone until they attack us.

I’m not saying all war is avoidable. There are people who do evil in the world. I have dear friends who believe in strands and stains of evil. Mostly I say there are humans who try to avoid being “merely” human, who want to feel they are so much stronger than others that they are safe despite the dumbbell they see reflected in the mirror – the dumbbell they think they are because they didn’t discover the Grand Unified Theory, or can’t sing like Pavoratti, or run a three-minute mile.

More drums, more flags.

Or they aren’t rich or . . . Oh, I see the tops of rifles going by.

Or they aren’t . . . whatever.  So they go rigid and fundamental. (All extremists are fundamentalists in one way or another.)

And then the rest of us (we do like to think we are on the good side and God really does prefer us) have to fight back, to protect ourselves, or whatever.

I am the only soul in this restaurant who is looking up and out the window. Oh, mimosas, salmon, Eggs Benedict, and salade nicoise, how privileged you are!

People die in wars.

More flags, a gap in the crowd, I see the American Legion.

People die in wars, mangled, cut short, leaving children and spouses, and futures. And that’s just the fighters. And now more civilians die in wars than fighters. Women crouched down to protect their children and standing up and running to get water. Children who play with spent shells.

More flags. A float. Was that the mayor?

I don’t believe in war. I do believe in marriage between people who love each other. I believe in mint tea. I believe in mint tea for tummy aches and heart aches.

I believe in the nations with substance acting in ways that prevent war in the first place. But that depends on people caring about others in real time, seeing the needs, and tending each other early.

I am proud of the people who serve. I can’t bear that we need to fight because we didn’t tend.

More drums, more flags.

Rifles and berets.

The wedding is in an hour, I must leave here and get ready.

A marching bane, white tubas, red uniforms, flags twirled by majorettes.

. . .


I stepped outside, went to the corner to get you a photo of flags, and inside of three minutes I am interviewed on t.v. (complete with my name) as to what I see as the most crucial question facing Chicago today. “I’ve only been here three days but from what I see Chicago is a vibrant robust city.”

imageAnd an Indian woman waving an American flag then introduced herself as a commentator for 17 years, now a doctor, and the great-granddaughter of Gandhi, “the great freedom fighter for India.” “Yes, I know of Gandhi.”

Gandhi, the icon of non-violence. You cannot make this stuff up even if you don’t know what to make of it.

I now look out from my hotel window on the 9th floor, a float is going by of paralyzed veterans.

War = Evolutionary Flaw?

War proves that evolution is hodge-podge. We create master works of art, architecture, technology, and exploration, and then we destroy them along with each other.

The glitch in survival of the fittest is that mean greedy strong people – think Huns, think small pox in trading post blankets, think any dictator – lack empathy and seem to have little appreciation for the arts, education, or other people. Well, some monsters appreciate the fine arts so long as they get to own them.

Since before the sacking of Constantinople, the multiple fires of the Library of Alexandria, and the Crusades, the dynamic has been the same. People strive together to learn, create knowledge and beauty, reveal the mysteries of existence, and build new cultures. Then some ruffians come over the hill with weapons. Destroy, rebuild, destroy, rebuild. Certainly humans have resilience and persistence. We keep striving to the light.

These days, the “destroy” part of “destroy and rebuild” is on the move, literally. Displays of strength everywhere. Russian troops along the Ukraine border, Israeli fighter pilots flying low over Gaza as a reminder, Egypt judges condemning hundreds of Islamists to mass executions, as hundreds of thousands of Syrians seek refuge from violent madness.

It’s been awhile since it’s looked this bad. The world is fracturing more than usual along the usual lines of fear, greed, suspicion, denial, self-righteousness, and beliefs of having a monopoly on the One True God – and which One True God is on our side, and we, being created in One True God’s image, should rightly rule over others. “Dominion over the earth” and all that.

Well, I don’t know if Putin has One True God beyond himself. He might take up his entire world.

Ever feel like a small fuzzy mammal trying to avoid being trounced by very large reptiles? Very large reptiles that never look down? Who think only they and the other large reptiles exist?

If my evolutionary metaphor is getting out of hand, it’s the panic speaking. Remember the dodos? They never got upset, and they were wiped out. On the other hand, lemmings jump off cliffs and wild horses stampede and it’s no benefit to any of them. What to do? What to do? “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date (with peace).”

Last night I had dinner with a fellow peace worker . . .  Yes, dear readers, that is my background that until now I have avoided bringing into my emerging blogger career. So, last night I had dinner with a fellow peace worker, a veteran with decades of training. I told him I was worried.

I told him that, since stepping back from the peace business, I’ve started to lose control of my professionally-imposed balance regarding cruel people and idiots. Yes, I said that. I said “cruel people” and “idiots.” I also said “blind people,” and “people who think they are liberal but aren’t.”

I told him that I had started wanting the last word, that my nonviolence was becoming tinged with the impulse to squash everyone I felt interfered with love and song and flowers and truth, and that I was on the last dregs of patience.

I also said that I felt there just might be something wrong with these impulses. He leaned back and said, “It’s part of getting older.” He told me we have earned the right to be cranky.

I said, “I can’t see a single reason why people fight each other. Not one. I just want to shake people and say ‘stop it, just stop’.”

He said, “Yes, they should just stop. Maybe in a year, maybe ten, maybe a hundred.”

And that is the flaw in evolution: not all humans can tell what is good for them. I hope the rest of us can live with that.

Creationism has it worse. Any God that nudged the pieces this way and that is a pretty sorry god.

So we’ve got evolution – and free will within the limits of what’s possible in the constraints conflict places on us.

My free will chooses to support those who create master works of beauty and exploration and answers and solutions. My free will supports the peace makers. My free will sides with those who see that it’s a miracle that we exist and who tend that miracle with grace, forgiveness, and generosity.

My free will still believes in the One True God of “love your neighbor.”