Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bark Here Now

Golden Retrievals
By Mark Doty

Fetch? Balls and sticks capture my attention
seconds at a time. Catch? I don’t think so.
Bunny, tumbling leaf, a squirrel who’s—oh
joy—actually scared. Sniff the wind, then

I’m off again: muck, pond, ditch, residue
of any thrillingly dead thing. And you?
Either you’re sunk in the past, half our walk,
thinking of what you never can bring back,

or else you’re off in some fog concerning
—tomorrow, is that what you call it? My work:
to unsnare time’s warp (and woof!), retrieving,
my haze-headed friend, you. This shining bark,

a Zen master’s bronzy gong, calls you here,
entirely, now: bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Wrong Theocracy

I received this email today:

"America, Canada, all Europe ..... needs a President like this.

"Prime Minister Kevin Rudd - Australia

"Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.

"Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques.

"Quote: 'IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.'

"'This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom. We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, Learn the Language!'

"'Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.'

"'We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.'

"'This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, THE RIGHT TO LEAVE.'
'If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.' Maybe if we circulate this , American citizens will find the backbone to start speaking and voicing the same truths.
If you agree, please SEND THIS ON."

I get stuff like this from time to time, and I usually ignore it. Not today. My group reply:

America was founded by a group of very different people whose early leaders were all too familiar with the tyrannical role religion played in government. Even though these leaders argued and argued fiercely about many, many issues, they were clear on this point--the new nation would have a government separate from religion, ruling a country where its citizens were free to practice whatever religion they choose. This was the Age of Enlightenment, and the law of reason would guide the new state.

19th and 20th century evangelicals felt differently. In the early 20th century, they even succeeded in adding "In God We Trust" to the nation's currency, a move religious president Theodore Roosevelt strongly opposed as sacrilege. Today, people insist, against all evidence, that America's founders designed a Christian nation, despite their rigorous omission of the mention of Christ from any government documents. Some people today, ignoring both historical tyranny and modern day examples, wish to create a theocracy in the U.S. It is a horrible mistake, and goes against everything this nation was founded upon. It is also an aberration against religion.

In 19th century America, the new railroads needed workers. They also need towns and people to populate them along the new rail routes. Since the U.S. didn't have sufficient population, in numbers or willing participants, they invited immigrants. Literally--ran massive ad campaigns to sell Europeans on coming to America. There were literally more Irish in New York City than in Dublin. Town after town of German immigrants spread across the midwest. And in darker times, America became a refuge for the scientists and artists and social leaders facing death in their own countries--immigrants who helped change a backwater country into the center for the arts and science it is today.

Every business of even moderate size today does business overseas. These are our markets. We are citizens of the world. It makes sense to talk calmly and reasonably to other nations, even as we keep the ability to use stronger methods when necessary. Arrogant cowboys strutting about telling the rest of the world to go to hell, we're Americans, is neither patriotic, effective, nor reasonable. It only proves to the rest of the world that we cannot be reasoned with, that the only thing we listen to are nuclear weapons, and they'd better hurry to get some.

Mindless blather circulating the Internet has replaced thinking. If America faces any particular difficulty, it's that. Legal immigrants of varied backgrounds are no threat whatsoever. Who cares if we have multilingual people? Anyone who thinks they deliberately sit around refusing to learn English is an idiot--this would only make their life harder. I have seen many of these people, struggling to finish a college degree in a language they are still learning while working crappy full time jobs and living with their families and a few others in just a few rooms. And they do it. They fricking successfully do it! America needs more people like that, people with courage and determination, people with the will to make their lives and their world better than it is. More people with real spirit, and less mouths bitching on the Internet.

The message also ignores the reality of the millions of Muslims who live in the U.S.--doctors and scientists and professors and every other profession, just like everyone else. They don't practice Sharia law here. They don't try to, and they don't want to. They see themselves as Americans, and they follow the law of the land.

Theocratic, jingoistic Christians in America should follow their example or get out. Australia seems a possibility.

This crap angers me. Stop it. Use your brains and think, for Christ's sake.