Posts Tagged ‘Reagan’

Think It’s Time for a Change

April 22, 2013

I started doing this blog shortly after Obama was elected in 2008. I saw better times coming and wanted to talk about where I believed we should go after all the years of Reaganism. It hasn’t turned out that way. First there was the much-deeper-than-I-foresaw racist reaction to having a black male as president. And then there’s been Obama’s inclination toward Reagan-like policies. (Yes, things could be worse—like, say, a McCain or a Romney presidency. But we are still heading toward hell, just at a slower pace.)

Lately, things have gotten so crazy that I find myself constantly conjuring up comebacks to all the negativity in the form of posts that I end up not writing because I’m tired of writing about this stuff. It’s my intention to stop reading and thinking about the violent and greedy egomaniacs in our midst and to start talking about where I believe we should go, or, at the very least, where I want to go. There are solutions to what ails us, and it’s not too late. I don’t think many people recognize what those solutions are, though. We’ve become too frivolous and distracted. But this is where I am going to put my energy now.

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Another Take on Freedom (Life’s Little Ironies)

August 9, 2012

One day back in the mid-to-late 1980s, I met an emigre couple from the Soviet Union. Having studied the Russian language in high school, I took a special interest in them. I don’t remember the details of their situation, other than that they’d become deeply dissatisfied with life in Russia and had gone to great lengths to come to the United States. When I asked them how they liked their new lives  in America, they looked at each other nervously, their eyes clearly saying, “Dare we answer him honestly?” I assured them they couldn’t possibly tell me anything that would upset me. This was the Reagan era, and I was profoundly disgusted with my country. After much reluctance on their part and much encouragement on my part, they finally managed to stammer out, “It’s so unfree here.” Not what I expected to hear! I laughed out of surprise and some confusion. I asked them to explain. They said that in the Soviet Union they could go wherever they wanted, that they could just start walking across the earth in any direction without restriction, save for, I assume, military bases and the like. But here, they were constantly encountering “no trespassing” signs and other private property issues. They said they felt like cattle being herded through a set of narrow chutes. I have never forgotten their perspective.

Occupy Wall Street

October 10, 2011

I’ve been busy getting my work on Street Song back up and running. But I do want to take a moment here to offer a word of support to the Occupy Wall Street people and all the brother and sister movements. There are two main criticisms I keep seeing. One is that they have no clearly defined agenda, and the other is that they are not mainstream. As for not having a clearly defined agenda, a person in danger of drowning yells “Help!” first. Then the details get worked out. That’s perfectly fine and natural. As for not being mainstream, it was mainstream ideas (or what became mainstream after Reagan) that got us into this mess. People have to leave the mainstream behind. It’s not working and it’s never going to. We need a change in the way we live. And whatever that change is, it has to be humane.

One more thing: There’s an excellent opinion piece about Occupy Wall Street in today’s Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times.

 

Flying the Flag

May 4, 2010

Last night I went to the San Francisco Film Festival to see a documentary film about the poet Gary Snyder called Practice of the Wild. (I thought it was okay, not great.) I was reminded by the film and by the audience where my real allegiance lies: with the counterculture. By “counterculture” I mean the movement that started with the Beats in the late 1940s and peaked in the 1960s and early 1970s with the hippies and so on. I think it’s an unfortunate term in that it stresses our opposition to the current world order rather than the world we would like to see. But people know what you mean when you say it. Today, the movement is small and weak, but it isn’t dead. Most folks think it was all about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but I never saw it that way. The core of it was about recovering real values. But it was only a first effort, and it floundered when the powers-that-be (through their puppet Ronald Reagan) put their foot down, insisting that it was all about money and power.

Suzuki Roshi, the Japanese man who founded Zen Center here in San Francisco, once said that the hippies needed to become “super-hippies.” I think he meant that, yes, love is the answer, but to realize love requires a very serious effort. And yes, there must be justice, but there can never be justice until we are just in our smallest, every-day transactions. I don’t think you can argue with that. And because the culture-at-large is more serious about money than it is about love and justice, I cannot give my heart to it. So I’m letting my freak flag fly.