A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. – John Steinbeck
What would you consider the best intellectual training for the would-be writer?
Let’s say that he should go out and hang himself because he finds that writing well is impossibly difficult. Then he should be cut down without mercy and forced by his own self to write as well as he can for the rest of his life. At least he will have the story of the hanging to commence with.
Close my eyes
I hear the highway,
A soul sized hole quips,
“Cheer up chap-
This is as good as it gets!”
How can my feeble mind,
Grasp the grandeur of the stars?
How can my feeble soul,
Feel the weight of Creation?
I’ve been struck by the dichotomy between two deaths in the past month. One, Steve Jobs, died a terrible death from cancer, and was hailed a pioneer, even world changer. The second, Muammar Gaddafi, died a terrible death from what appears to be execution, and was hailed a dictator that was better dead than alive. I am troubled not by the media, and specifically our values as a culture, which have viewed these two men as polar opposites, but rather that as a “democracy” founded on values and justice, we have celebrated the murder of another human. President Obama, in hearing the news, exclaimed “You’ve won your rebellion,” as if the rebellion itself could only be accomplished with the gruesome death of Gaddafi. Hadn’t the rebels won the rebellion when they seized control of Tripoli? Was it necessary to murder Gaddafi?
Now, I don’t want to condone the actions of Gaddafi, but if one is to proclaim that killing defenseless people is wrong, as done by Gaddafi on his own people, shouldn’t that be a value held by the one making the statement? Haven’t the people of the rebellion echoed Gaddafi’s brutality by executing him? Make no mistake, despite the brutality of Gaddafi, this is not justice. How barbaric to celebrate the execution of a man, especially one denied due process and a trial.
As a culture we have always toed the line that we are just, and as such we have values that we will not break, regardless of the circumstance. Those values, as described by our Bill of Rights, are not values specifically for citizens of the United States but for all mankind. The exact language used, that man is “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” even implies that such rights are divine.
God help us if we start to lose track of those rights, and the line between the just and unjust is blurred. God help us if we decide that “unalienable rights” are “State given” rights and thus can be taken away, or suspended for the worst among us, as the State deems necessary.
“In a society in which nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else’s mind or by a disembodied mind, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn the truth about the activities of governments and corporations, about the quality or value of products, or about the health of one’s own place and economy.
In such a society, also, our private economies will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon property that is institutional and abstract, beyond individual control, such as money, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, and shares. And as our private economies become more abstract, the mutual, free helps and pleasures of family and community life will be supplanted by a kind of displaced or placeless citizenship and by commerce with impersonal and self-interested suppliers…
Thus, although we are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else’s legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make. What would be the point, for example, if a majority of our people decided to be self-employed?
The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth – that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community – and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means. ” – Wendell Berry, Racism and Economy
Oh for a man who is a man, and, as my neighbor says, has a bone in his back which you cannot pass your hand through! Our statistics are at fault: the population has been returned too large. How many men are there to a square thousand miles in this country? Hardly one. Does not America offer any inducement for men to settle here? The American has dwindled into an Odd Fellow — one who may be known by the development of his organ of gregariousness, and a manifest lack of intellect and cheerful self-reliance; whose first and chief concern, on coming into the world, is to see that the almshouses are in good repair; and, before yet he has lawfully donned the virile garb, to collect a fund for the support of the widows and orphans that may be; who, in short ventures to live only by the aid of the Mutual Insurance company, which has promised to bury him decently. – Civil Disobedience
“And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression.”- John Steinbeck’s East of Eden