Sunday, June 26, 2011

One Single Impression -- Seven Sins

immune to prayer
-unlike gods-
implacable nature
punishes sins,
greed and pride,
with civilizations'

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Check out the poetry of other writers responding to this prompt at One Single Impression.

It has been more than a year (one year and three months almost to the day) since I last posted a poem for One Single Impression. I'm not entirely sure why I stopped. This morning, I decided it was time to get those creative juices flowing again. When I went to the OSI site, however, I was a bit dismayed at this week's prompt "seven sins," as I don't believe in "sin" in any conventional sense, nor in a parent-like god that personally assigns punishments in some afterlife for sinful behavior.

My belief is in a transcendent, omnipresent, everlasting power in the universe that is expressed through an inexorable physics of matter and energy that governs all activity and relationships. In this universe actions have consequences, some positive, some negative, some devastatingly destructive and some breathtakingly creative. There are no excuses, no pardons, no exceptions, no bargains to be struck or deals to be made. We either work with the power of the universe or we struggle against it. We can fool ourselves - indeed whole civilizations can fool themselves - thinking that we can do whatever we want, because consequences in reality are often incremental and slow, and do not manifest themselves until years, even centuries later.

I'm not just talking about man's relationship to the physical world, although that is upper most in my mind at the moment. This applies in to human interaction as well. There are universal issues and conditions, cooperation, trust, honesty, competition, sharing, exchange, truthfulness, and many others, that operate in the same inexorable way. To gain trust, one must trust, and behave in a trustworthy manner; violate these principles and trust erodes and disappears.

So on reading the prompt, I thought, perhaps it's time to think about a new set of seven "sins", related to these laws of the universe. However, after pursuing Wikipedia's discussion of the Catholic Church's seven deadly sins, I've decided that properly understood the original list really does encompass all the things I'd been thinking about.

Friday, June 10, 2011

a year of small stones - 016

unmistakeable fragrance
of summer rain
on hot, dry lawns
and dusty leaves.

Friday June 10, 2011

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

the corruption of power

I like to remind myself at times like these that there are and have been wonderful, decent, honest, men of integrity who have been U.S. Congressmen.

My freshman year at Oberlin College in Ohio, I got to know personally U.S. Congressman Don Pease because he and his wife (with their 5 year old daughter) were the dorm "parents" in my dormitory. Over the next ten years I interacted frequently with the Pease family. While I was a student at Oberlin, I was their daughter's primary babysitter, and I worked on two of Don's Congressional campaigns. After college I remained in touch and visited as often as I could.

The Peases were not rich, or even particularly affluent. They lived in modest rental housing both during his years in Congress and after he retired. Don was a staunch advocate of education, energy, environment and public transportation issues. The only "perk" I ever knew him to take from all his years of public service other than the legally defined salary, benefits and pension, was occasional passes on Amtrak, a government agency that he worked hard to promote. Don Pease was a quiet, gentle man who was beloved as both a husband and father.

So I know first hand that some office holders are not corrupted by the power of their positions. Unfortunately that cannot be said of all.

I am not one of Anthony Weiner's constituents; I've never contributed money to his campaigns; I'm not a friend or family member. But nonetheless I feel betrayed by his actions and especially by the week of lies that he told about his actions.

My sense of betrayal comes because Weiner was a vocal proponent for issues about which I passionately care. He was an eloquent, feisty, acerbic, witty, and even at times belligerent voice in Congress that said things that I would like to say, about the abuses of money, greed and power. I know now that I will never have the same level of comfort or satisfaction with Weiner's public pronouncements. When I see and hear Weiner, from now on I will always know that he is capable of bald-faced lies and deception, and wonder.

In the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Jimmy Stewart has an emotional, histrionic breakdown in front of the Senate. We accept this in the context of the movie because we have been shown that this is a man who always tells the truth, a man of integrity. Take away the integrity, and all you have is noise, bluster and showmanship.

I am sad and angry both. We don't take well to finding out our heroes are liars.