Sunday, July 31, 2005

By their fruits ye shall know them

Signs of Good Government

When Master Xuetang was leading the community at Qianfu, one day he asked a recent arrival where he had come from. The student said he had come from Fujian. Xuetang said, "Did you see any good leaders along the way?"

The student said, "Recently I passed through such-and-such a province, and although I have never met him, I know Master Ben of Poshan there to be a good leader."

Xuetang said, "How do you know he is good?"

The monk said, "When you go into the monastery there, the paths are clear, the halls are in good repair, there are always incense and lamps burning in the shrines, morning and night the bell and drum are sounded precisely and clearly, the morning and noon gruel and rice are clean and wholesome, and the monks are polite when they see people as they go about their activities. This is how I know Ben is a good leader."

Xuetang smiled and said, "Ben is surely wise, and you have eyes too." He then reported these words to the governor of the prefecture and added, "I am getting old, and I ask you to invite Ben to be leader here at Qianfu, in hopes of the prosperity of the work of the Chan community."
-Annals of the East Lake taken from Zen Lessons - The Art of Leadership by Thomas Cleary

Matthew 7:1-5
1Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.
3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye?
5Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

Inner Mastery, Outer Rectitude
Xuetang said to Master Huaian Guang:

When I was young I heard these words from my father:
"'Without inner mastery one cannot stand, without outward rectitude one cannot act.' This saying is worth practicing all your life; in it is summed up the work of sages and saints."

I remembered these words and cultivated myself while living at home. Even now, when I am leader of a group, these words are like the balance stone weighing heavy and light, the compass and rule determining square and round. Without this everything loses its order.
- Extensive Record taken from Zen Lessons - The Art of Leadership by Thomas Cleary

Xuetang said to Master Qiean:

In managing affairs one must weigh the heavy and the light; when speaking out one must first think and reflect. Strive to accord with the middle way, do not allow bias.

Hasty and careless actions seldom bring success. Even if you can get done in this way, after all you cannot complete anything totally.

When I was in the community of students, I fully witnessed benefit and harm. Only those of virtue moved people by their magnanimity. I hope those in the future who have willpower will practice this carefully. Only this will be of sublime benefit.

Lingyuan used to say, "Usually when people always dwell in inner reflection, they are able to clearly understand much, but when they get involved in things, running outside, then they oppose integration and lose the body of reality."

If you really want to think of inheriting the responsibility of the enlightened teachers, I direct you future descendants to always examine and criticize yourselves.
- Extensive Record taken from Zen Lessons - The Art of Leadership by Thomas Cleary

Matthew 7:6

6Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you.

Someone of Perception
Xuetang said:

When Gaoan addressed the assembly, he would always say, "In a group you must know when there is someone with perception." I asked him the reason for this, and Gaoan said, "Have you not read the words of Guishan, 'In your actions, take your examples from the superior, do not lazily follow the mediocre and the vulgar'? Those who while daily in the midst of the crowd do not sink into low folly all utter such words.

"In a multitude of people, the vulgar are many, the knowers are few. The vulgar are easy to get used to, the knowers are hard to get near to.

"If you can develop your will so that you are like one man facing a thousand enemies until the power of vulgar habits are ended, you will truly be transcendent, beyond measure."
- Extensive Record taken from Zen Lessons - The Art of Leadership by Thomas Cleary

Matthew 7:13-23
13Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby.
14For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.
15Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.
16By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works?
23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

"By their fruits ye shall know them."

"Narrow is the gate... and few are they that find it."

"I never knew you"

Or perhaps, more to the point he should have said... you never knew me.

Wide is the way to destruction and many are they on that path, the vulgar and the mediocre, the one's that see the mote in their neighbors eye but not the beam in their own. Too often I fall into that company. Perhaps we all do. Inner reflection allows me to find these faults in myself. Sometimes right away, sometimes after much work, sometimes only after battling much denial and self-justification. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly... doesn't matter... as long as we are practicing inward reflection, practicing inwardly what we profess outwardly... searching for these answers the timeframe is of little consequence. The fruits will always materialize if we work for them and if we have eyes to see and ears to listen we can always see those that are striving on that narrow, inward path. The difference between they and those on the wide path are glaringly obvious once the mist is lifted from our eyes.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

September 19, 1862

From a transcription of the diary of Lieutenant Colonel Ezekiel Silas Sampson:

August 23rd, Saturday, received five letters from Sigourney each informing me of stating that Governor Kirkwood had concluded to give me command of one of the Regiments. This unexpected announcement pictures a place to me as one of tremendous and fearful responsibilities, Sutler See Section 3 Act November 1862 selected by the commission officers of the Regiment.

Sampson was from Sigourney, Iowa. Forgive the choppy and often difficult to follow text. I have copied it here as I received it. I have not seen the original.

August 31st were mustered. Had a heavy shower in afternoon. Received letter from J.H.Sanders informing me that Governor Kirkwood had commissioned me Lieutenant Colonel of the 5th Iowa.
September 1st received commission and was qualified.
September 2nd entered upon the duties of my new position. Leaving my Company is like leaving home and my friends.

Lieutenant Colonel E.S. Sampson had been commissioned Captain of Company F, 5th Iowa Infantry Division at Keokuk on April 26th of the previous year.

September 4th served as brigade officer of the day. Bought a horse from William Carpenter - owe him balance of $60.00.
September 7th in evening struck tents and loaded up and held ourselves in readiness to march in a moment's notice. Rebels reported in large force at Booneville.
September 8th continued prepared to move until 4 o'clock pm. When we unloaded tents and pitched them on old camping ground.
September 11th at 10 pm orders came to prepare two day's rations, have teams hitched up at 2 am load up at 3 and prepare to move at 4.

Much of the previous entries in the diary, which begins in August 1862, are like this. Marching, setting up camp, being prepared to move, not moving, striking camp, pitching camp, looking for supplies, dealing with weather... etc.

September 12th visited camp at post 3am. Had returned to camp but a few minutes when firing was heard on Monmethe Road. Mounted and rode over as soon as possible and found that a Company of rebel cavalry of 40 or 50 had made a dash on our most advanced post and driven the sentinels in and taken one prisoner. Post occupied by Company B the sentinels fell back on their reserve about 1/2 mile distance. On the 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th had all camp equipage loaded up ready to move. On the 15th there was a skirmish with our pickets of Sullivan's Brigade. On 16th train sent to Corinth with only having sufficient transportation, entrenching tools and three day's rations.

September 17th had orders to prepare two day's rations in Haversacks and prepare to move by 3. Raining.
September 18th left camp at 4 am, very rainy about 5 o'clock. Halted 6 am remained along the road feeding our horses from neighboring field and roasting corn for ourselves until nearly sundown. When we returned 1/2 mile and bivouacked in field of tall grass. Just as we got back a man of Company I placed in our hands a prisoner to be taken to Colonel Sanborn. Rested fairly.

And then we arrive at Iuka...

September 19th reveille at 4 took up march again for Iuka at sun half hour high - morning clear. Marched on passing a small entrenchment. Across the road fallen trees on the left side. Made a day or two by the enemy. Marched on to about 6 miles of Iuka. Halted, formed line of battle on right side of road. Ohio battery on left and the artillery commenced cutting brush and masking artillery. Soon orders came in to move forward.

In short time General Rosecrans came in with Sanborn's Division on a road intercepting ours on the left. Shortly three Companies from the right of our Regiment were ordered formed as skirmishers. I was at this time riding at the left of rear of Regiment. Colonel Matthies rode back and told me three companies had been ordered forward as skirmishers, I had better see if General Hamilton did not want someone to command them.

I rode briskly forward and met General Price's Aid de Camp coming for a commander for the skirmishers. I immediately went forward to General Hamilton who directed me to follow the cavalry to move ahead but if they met with an resistance to throw the skirmishers forward and push through.

I deployed Company E on the right and D on the left and held Company A as a reserve on the road. In a short distance I found there was so much cavalry to possess I assembled the skirmishers to allow them to fall in rear of cavalry. At this junction, just as the head cavalry had crossed a small creek in site of a large white farm house. The enemy skirmishers fired when they wounded a Lieutenant and Private. I immediately moved my skirmishers past the cavalry and deployed them as before. As I rode to the right in site of house, balls swithering freely. Company D hurried rapidly around to left under cover of brush and timber and routed them.

Had one man Lieutenant Jones wounded in hip. When I rode up to house found citizen there denied that the rebels had fired from his house. Said there had been two Companies near there - moved the skirmishers briskly forward twice to the lines and gave me very valuable assistance. We deployed as skirmishers and drive the scouts of the enemy before us until we were relieved about 3 o'clock by 6 Companies of the 26th Missouri under Lieutenant Colonel Hellman on foot. Where we were retired there was a house after the boys drive the rebels from it and helped themselves to the bread, butter and preserves.

We killed two of the enemies and wounded several. One was dead in a peach orchard, another was dying on the left in a low swampy place of brush and timber. I asked him a few questions which he answered freely. As I was passing through this swamp a grape vine caught me around the neck and jerked me from my horse, I wasn't hurt - it only halted me for a moment.

Soon after we were relieved - someone found in a small log house on the road a jar of cream and some cornbread. I got a glass of cream and a small bite of bread. We were all very hungry. After we got this, someone told us there was a woman in the other room. I didn't see her. In nearly every houuse we passed there was a table set as though they had been feeding the rebel soldiers. Men, women, and children had generally fled on our approach. We had not passed the house where we got the cream but about a half mile when a heavy volley was fired by the rebels into our skirmishers causing them to fall back double quick. The brigade was immediately deposed in order of battle.

The 11th Ohio battery was on the road, our Regiment on the right, 48th Indiana and 4th Minnesota to the left, 26th Missouri, 17th Indiana Sesame near where our left rested was a very small unfinished, not old looking school house and a road on a ridge running parallel with our line. Left on the crest of the hill and right on the slope to the West timber with tall underbrush of oak and pines, some places especially to rear of our right uncommonly dense and difficult to pass through. While we were forming we could hear the rebels forming and they were picking us with grape which went mostly over. Suddenly we formed and the battery fired a half a dozen shots. When the whole rebel line opened fire of musketry which was very severe on the battery. Our line opened in return except one Regiment which mostly reserved its fire. The sound of the tramping of the many through the leaves and brush of the line and the menditious force. (Often under curtail they had three lines.)

Enemies moved steadily forward shouting vociferously. Heard above the din and roar of arms. From the tremendous volley fired into us it would seem the enemy relieved each other with new Regiments frequently. Soon our battery was silenced. Half of the men and nearly all the officers either killed or wounded and the 48th Indiana Regiment of horseback. We had poured into the enemy with our wilfilled rifles and by the din of the 4th Companies of the 36th Missouri such a good fire as to cause them to move and fall back.

Twice we moved forward over the crest of the hill pouring into them our incessant fire. They would fall back and then return apparently with a fresh line firing in destructive volleys. Then there was battle in all this terrible realities. The lines of the contending armies swayed back and forth. Twice we moved forward firing a most destructive fire into the enemy. As we raised the rest of the hill their fire was terribly destructive on us.

We fell back to the first position where we continued firing until our cartridges were exhausted. We soon were enveloped in clouds of smoke. The roar of arms, shouting of contending armies, swithering of bullets were constant and deafening. The screams and the groans of the dying and wounded could scarcely be heard. The Regiment on our left 48 gave way. The enemy rushed forth upon the battery which had sometime been relieved. More than half of the men being either killed or wounded and from the most destructive fire from the left which nearly struck them to the earth.

Four companies of the 26th were brought in at the request of Colonel Matthies but when they were approaching them Colonel Brown was badly wounded. Colonel Matthies tried to get them in line with our Regiment but it was too hot a fire. They came promptly up and commenced firing, fought well but were forced back a short distance. Our Regiment had fixed bayonets at the commencement of the action and were continually ready to receive or make a charge.

I instructed the right wing not to fire until the enemy came near. When they fired it told fearfully upon the ranks. I was close to the line on the right wing. Not off of my horse and making every effort to keep them in line and to keep men in line in two ranks to prevent them from getting into confusion and backing to the rear. Many whom I ordered to the ranks who were coming to the rear would show me they were wounded. Lieutenant Marshall 2nd Missouri also on the right doing noble service.

When our cartridges failed, we fell back through very thick brush to an open field. Of very high grass but a short distance to our rear. Just as we came to the edge of the field the 11th Missouri passed up towards the enemy into the brush in the direction of the line we had occupied, and we soon heard their volley firing out upon the enemy but it was now quite dark. We returned across the field stopping a short time behind a fence then around on the road and obtained a fresh supply of ammunition. On the way we passed the 10th Missouri and part of the 26th under Colonel Hellman.

Near the road was a great crowd of stragglers, the 48th Indiana, 6th Iowa and 80th Ohio, and a few from other Regiments. Nearly all of our Regiments were with us except the killed and wounded. It had now been dark some time - we distributed cartridges by candle light. We were directed to remain where we were. Harry Lumbuck of my old Company gave me a bit of hard cracker and sugar which I divided with Lieutenant White who had none.

We were near the hospital and could constantly hear the groans of the wounded. We lay down near the road to get a little rest expecting a hard day's work on the morrow. The ambulances were running all night moving the wounded to the rear. I visited the hospital once in the night. It was a bloody sight. I noticed two lying on the ground who had just had their legs taken off above the knees.

About 11 o'clock there was quite a brisk picket firing. We had our horses saddled and everything ready to work. During the remainder of night we were quiet, not withstanding the great bustle, stir and passing of ambulances within a few feet of where we lay, I slept quite soundly.

Between 3 and 4 o'clock on the morning of the 20th we moved a short distance and formed a line of battle right in line of road. Stanley's Division had the front. We remained in line until break of day - moved a short distance to the rear, halted in road and those who were fortunate enough to have coffee made coffee and ate. My old friend of Company F gave me a cup of tea and some crackers which were delicious.

Here we heard from whom we supposed had been killed. Here during our hours of halt, the scenes of the evening before and the night were fully discussed - everybody talking. The fact that those present were so fortunate to exist left not withstanding their sorrow for their comrades told what they were doing, saying, how acting when the fatal shot struck them.

After our meager repose the brigade returned again toward town and passed back by the hospital and along the road into the battlefield where details were made to convey the wounded still on the field and to bury the dead of both armies; the Colonel being engaged away from the Regiment. I was obliged to remain most of the time with it.

As we passed by the hospital saw quite a pile of legs, arms, hands and feet which had been amputated and thrown together. From here on the dying and dead were stretched along the road. At first they were all blue uniforms but when we approached the rebel line of battle the butternuts lay in profusion. Between the line, blue and butternut were intermingled. The ground, grass and bushes were smeared and spattered with blood and limbs and mangled bodies lay thick around.

Saw two rebel brothers lying one partly on the other. I thought they had found a file with the bottle as shot of grape. The rebel corps were very black in the face supposed to have been caused by being intoxicated at the time of death. When in close contact the men said they could smell whiskey on their breath.

Saw Lieutenant Holcomb and acting Lieutenant Lister. The expression of Holcomb's countenance was firm and tense. Lister had the appearance of having bled to death. He was shot through the thigh and had tied a strap around his leg to stop the blood. To see so many noble boys lying dead on the field caused one to reflect that the glory of the field was dearly bought. Saw most of the dead and wounded of Company F either on the field or along the road or near the hospital and passing in the ambulance. Remained on the battlefield until about noon, then leaving a detail to finish burying the dead returned to Jacinto road 6 miles and bivouacked for the night. Boys had plenty of fresh beef and sweet potatoes.

With all our advances in technology, medicine, and efficiency in killing each other... I don't think that war has really changed all that much in 143 years.

Ezekiel Silas Sampson, my great-great-grandfather (his daughter was my father's much beloved and fondly remembered "GrannyBird"), went on writing in his diary until spring of the following year, including the battles of Champion Hill and Vicksburg, but then he stops writing...

... except for lists of the names of the dead and wounded.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Soul Food

Everybody on earth knowing
that beauty is beautiful
makes ugliness.

Everybody knowing
that goodness is good
makes wickedness.

For being and nonbeing
arise together;
hard and easy
complete each other;
long and short
shape each other;
high and low
depend on each other;
note and voice
make music together;
before and after
follow each other.

That's why the wise soul
does without doing,
teaches without talking.

The things of this world
exist, they are;
you can't refuse them.

To bear and not to own;
to act and not lay claim;
to do the work and let it go:
for just letting it go
is what makes it stay.

- Tao Te Ching #2 - Ursula K. LeGuin

Heck of a lot of good advice for living life here. It has taken me awhile to understand this duality business and today I have an intellectual understanding of it and have been working on internalizing it into daily life for a few years now.

Everybody on earth knowing
that beauty is beautiful
makes ugliness.

If blond haired, blue-eyed, big breasted, long legged, thin women are the standard of beauty then anyone that doesn't meet up to that standard is not-beautiful. Failure. Not good enough. Less than. Ugly. This is just one example but I think a clear one of the concept. Simple logic really. If this then not that. If that then not this. I do plenty of programming and that sort of thing is pretty clear. To extrapolate that out to cover dualism in all our thinking is what needs to happen though. I grew up in Chicago as a rabid Bears fan therefore I hate the Packers. Clear. Black and white logic. I have the right answer therefore if you don't agree with me then you are wrong. My religion is the true religion therefore your religion is false.

Everybody knowing
that goodness is good
makes wickedness.

More of the same yet here I also have the thought of rebellion. If a standard of good is defined and it is not my standard then I rebel and am wicked on purpose not simply because I didn't meet the standard but because I intentionally decided to trounce all over what someone else perceived as good. I am also aware today that what I consider to be good is not necessarily what someone else considers to be good. Our intentions are both to be good and follow the teachings we've been given since childhood but our personal perceptions of each others actions and words brand each other as wicked, evil, wrong.

I used to be driven by the need to be right. To get it right. To have the right answer. A counselor I had in my youth once asked me a question that bothered me for years. I had said something about needing to get something right and she said "Why?" I was totally baffled by the question. Was she implying that I should be trying to get it wrong? I had no concept of just how driven I was to achieve some illusion of appropriate rightness.

Being right is not all its cracked up to be. I have had more interpersonal difficulties over being right then I care to think about. I have offended more people by trying to assist them in being right (wouldn't you want to know when you'd gotten something wrong?)... and of course it has always been my idea of right with no clue that it's possible for someone else to have an equally valid concept of rightness totally at odds with my own. Today I have a better understanding of how right and wrong, good and bad, righteous and wicked, circle around that pivot, each having their moment and being at once equally important and meaningless.

For being and nonbeing
arise together;

The essence of the dualism concept. Pure simple mathematical logic when you think about it. If being then anything not being is not-being. What I didn't grasp before is that this applies to our thoughts. I had some cosmic idea of this referring to some state of matter existing and not existing but today I think I understand that the greatest import of this statement has to do with the conclusions and concepts of my mind. As soon as I decide that what I am looking at is a tree then the field of corn beyond it is obviously not-tree and so I name it something else... Corn. The moment I define (and limit) something within my mind it's negative value, that which is beyond the limit or definition, is also immediately defined. If spending time with my granddaughter is the most joyous thing in the world for me then having her taken away from me and not being allowed to spend time with her is the most painful experience in the world for me. I have been told that expectations are pre-meditated resentments and I believe that but here I think the same concept extends further into all our thinking processes.

hard and easy
complete each other;
long and short
shape each other;
high and low
depend on each other;
note and voice
make music together;
before and after
follow each other.

More evidence of the dependence of opposites. If there isn't something easy then there isn't anything to define hard against. If my wife and I were the same height then I wouldn't be tall and she wouldn't be short. If a tree falls in the woods and there is no hearing apparatus around to receive the soundwaves then no it doesn't make a sound. If I try to pick a fight with you and trash your position and you respond with a small smile and say "You may be right," then there is no fight.

That's why the wise soul
does without doing,

Hmmm. wei wu wei. Interesting stuff here. Turning theory into action words. The previous stuff all deals with thought, conception, perception. This deals with how one goes about their lives. Do without doing. I take this to mean, here in this context, that one goes about life doing the next responsible, next right, or next sober thing that is in front of them to do... without plan, without guile, without thought of consequence or reward. Simply doing what is put in front of us to do at the time it is put in front of us to do it. Keeping it about as simple as it gets really... hard to put into practice for someone like me that analyzes, plans, builds systems which in the darker recesses of mind becomes scheming, calculating, and manipulating.

teaches without talking.

It is established in chapter one that the way that can be spoken is not the true way. I have learned far more in my life by watching what others do and how they conduct themselves in situations then I have ever learned in words. My granddaughter has been a great example of this. She has been teaching me about the truly valuable things in life since the day she was born. As she grows and learns better communication skills I continue to learn from her but it is more in watching her struggles with the lessons of life then the pure and simple reactions of a child.

Another rendition of this chapter refers to the wordless teaching. It's all well and good to intellectualize this stuff and understand the concepts but this is living and breathing stuff and knowing it is meaningless if we aren't living it on a daily, moment to moment, basis... practicing these principles in all our affairs.

The things of this world
exist, they are;
you can't refuse them.

Yeah but we sure seem to try like hell don't we! LOL

Acceptance is a difficult concept. To accept things exactly as they are and not try to bend and shape them to how we would have them. Once again the idea of our preconceptions getting in the way. If we think things should be one way and evidence shows they are not then we try and set things right by forcing them to change and be the way we conceive. And since we are generally powerless to change the things of life we end up frustrated, angry, resentful, and bitter. If we have no pre-conceived notions of how things should be and simply accept them as they are, then there is no disappointment, resentment or frustration. Everything is ok with the world because it is exactly the way it is. Exactly the way it is supposed to be.

To bear and not to own;

Much fear stems from the idea of losing something we have or not getting something we want. This concept of ownership. Mine! All mine! Is another yin-yang thing. If it is mine then it is not yours. If it is yours then it is not mine. I am the youngest of five siblings. My oldest brother is the tough guy. My oldest sister is the smart one. My middle brother is people person, the worlds greatest guy. My next sister is the talented one. If they are those things then I am not them... or so I thought growing up and much into my adulthood. They owned those things and so I couldn't.

Grasping. I am learning not to grasp in desperation at things. It is ok. I do not need to be any of those things nor do I need to find some perceived equivalent that I can own as my own. I yam what I yam to quote the great philosopher Popeye... and what I am is ok. I do not need to be this or be that and this comparison business, comparing my insides to your outsides, is for the birds. It has no value.

I am also learning that I can put an idea out on the table and not live and die by whether or not it is accepted or not by the individual (in a relationship) or group (in a business setting). My worth and value do not depend on this anymore... well... at least, it's getting better.

to act and not lay claim;
to do the work and let it go:

There is a line in the writing called Just For Today that talks about doing someone a good turn but not getting found out. If anyone finds out then it doesn't count. It is kind of along the lines of the random acts of kindness bumper stickers. The Tao takes it further though. The JFT line always struck me as being not quite right and very difficult to do as well. The idea of being helpful without any expectation of reward or recognition is of course a good one but I get the sense that the idea of the Tao is to have this simply be such an ingrained habit, no, not even habit because that seems to imply a sense of duty or premeditation, but rather simply one of those next right things that we simply do because it is right there for us to do and we are to do it without thought or even consideration that it is a good thing that we are doing. We do it simply because that is what we are supposed to be doing at that moment. The problem with the JFT was this sense of premeditation and perhaps a building up of brownie points or something. The Tao seems to tell me not to even think about it as being good or bad, right or wrong, simply it is the next thing to be done in living life... like breathing and sleeping and eating.

I am very fond of saying to people that I work with that it is ours to do the footwork and to let go of the results. This has been a very important concept for me to grasp as it has helped to free me from that driving compulsion to get it right and stopped me from trying to force solutions or direct others actions but rather to simply do whatever it is that I am supposed to be doing at any given time... and then doing whatever is next.

for just letting it go
is what makes it stay.

There is no surer way to receive love and peace then to give it away in your every breath.


Friday, July 15, 2005

"And now it is your turn."

Just about a year after my sister was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer (just prior to 9/11) our Mother was given the same diagnosis. Now Mom is very healthy and has always taken good care of herself but she is also staring to get up there in years so this was a real concern.

During the late winter/early spring of 2003 I made arrangements to travel to my parents home to be with them during the surgery. Mom and Dad have both seen a lot of years, are spiritually strong, and understand that life is what it is and takes the course that it does. All the same we children decided that we'd make sure one or more of us were around at all times. So I went to stay a few days with my parents and accompany them to the hospital.

This was during the run up to the Iraq War. I had already come to the conclusion that I needed to get involved in the upcoming Presidential campaign somehow. There was no question that we were being lied to and this administration was criminally negligent (or worse) in their handling of Afghanistan, the so-called Patriot Act, homeland security, budget deficits, lying their way into Iraq, and of course Guantanamo Bay, which was the most egregious of outrages perpetrated by the Bush Administration.

During my visit my Dad and I took a walk together along Lake Champlain. To those of you that are Dean people, along the famous bike path. A few years earlier when my folks moved to Burlington to settle down for their last years, it was the bike path that decided it for my Father.

I don't recall now whether it was this visit or, I think perhaps Christmas prior, that Dad had stated that for the first time in his life he feared fascism in America. This got my attention. I had been thinking the same thoughts but figured I was being overly dramatic. But Mom and Dad lived through the 30's and 40's. They'd live through a time of the real thing. When he said that, unprompted by me, it confirmed for me that the danger was real. I think that was the moment that clinched it that I would have to do more than vote.

So Dad and I took this walk and we talked. He had been active in the early sixties in the Civil Rights movement having gone down to Mississippi a few times, the first time attending Medgar Evers funeral in 1963. Dad was the President of the Chicago chapter of The Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity (ESCRU) and had been invited to represent the church as an honorary pall bearer. Dad came home rededicated as a leader in the struggle for urban renewal and equality in the Chicago school systems.

As we walked and talked about politics and other things Dad spoke of these experiences (he was a few years younger than I am now) and said to me that it was the most exciting time of his life. What he didn't say but what I heard loud and clear was "And now it is your turn."

Mom's surgery went well. Very well in fact. She is amazing to me. She was awake the whole time and joking with the Doctor. In fact she said to me that she wished they had set up a mirror so that could watch (they had a tent set up so that she couldn't see). She is a tough, tough lady. I'd have insisted they knock my butt out. My sister and I shared that inclination and this despite her having had a very hard time with the anesthesia during her surgery.

Both Mom and Sister had two surgeries just to be sure they got wide enough margins but thanks to having health insurance and practicing preventive health care their outcomes were good because in both cases the cancer was caught basically at stage zero and therefore their outcomes were good.

While many of you were experiencing a Sleepless Summer I was watching all of the various candidates trying to determine who was the one to support. I had an early inclination for Gov. Howard Dean as I knew a bit about him and his record in Vermont, my nephew went through school with his daughter, my brother knew him parent to parent, and I liked what I was hearing. But I didn't think a Governor from Vermont stood a chance.

But the end of the summer came along and I knew I had to make a decision. I had expected Kerry to move to the front but he hadn't. None of the campaigns seemed to be distancing themselves from the others. So I spent a weekend reviewing everything I knew so far and the obvious became clear. It was Howard Dean that was making things happen. It was Howard Dean that was getting people excited. It was Howard Dean that was taking on the Republicans and saying the things I wanted to hear.

A few days later I attended my first local Dean planning meeting. I brought home paperwork to become a delegate to the Democratic National Convention for Dean and involvement in a local event. I also signed up to carry a petition to qualify Gov. Dean for the primary ballot in New York. A few days later I attended my first meetup.

Sometime soon after that I received a phone call from a woman in the next county south. She was co-chair of the petition drive for Gov. Dean in our 10 county congressional district. She explained the process to me, answered my questions and at told me that they didn't have anyone to captain my county yet. There was a long pause after that before the conversation went on. We talked some more and then she came back around to tell me that they didn't have anyone to coordinate my county yet. Another pregnant pause with me chuckling inside about that. The conversation went on some more before she came back a third time and I sighed and asked "What does that entail?" So I went from volunteering to carry a petition for the first time to coordinating the entire petition drive for the 12 towns in my county that are in this district as well as helping find someone to captain the remaining 4 towns in the other congressional district.

I didn't make it to Iowa but I did go to New Hampshire. When the campaign ended and Gov. Dean asked that his supporters stay involved, that we look around for local candidates to support or that we run for office ourselves or take seats on our local town, city and county Democratic Committees, it was obvious were the opening was for me. My town didn't have a Democratic Committee. Hadn't since before I moved here. So I made some inquires and found out how to get on a committee and found a couple other guys to do it with me. When the appropriate time came we carried petitions for ourselves and formed a new Democratic Committee and I became Chair.

In the meantime, our Dean Meetup group became a Democracy for America group and somehow I ended up as the organizer for it. We stayed involved. Worked for Kerry, worked for a local insurgent District Attorney, worked on a Democratic Congressional Campaign against a particularly ugly player in the Bush 2000 election monstrosity, Rep. John "Shut it down" Sweeney.

Gov. Dean was right about the fact that we have the power. This government belongs to We the People but only if we take action to keep it.

We have the power. With power comes responsibility... to use it. To use it wisely. To use it fairly. To use it for the common good. To form a more perfect Union.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Basic Logic and Bush's options regarding Rove

There are some very basic rules of logic that ought to be applied to Karl Rove's current employment status.

First, for Mr. Rove himself there are two options:

1. Rove is guilty of outing an undercover CIA agent

2. Rove is not guilty of outing an undercover CIA agent

Second, Karl Rove is employed as the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the President of the United States of America. I do not know what his security clearance is but it is safe to assume that it is fairly high and that he has a great deal of access to highly classified information.

Third, for President Bush there are three options:

1. Bush knows that Rove is guilty

2. Bush knows that Rove is not guilty

3. Bush does not know whether Rove is guilty or not

Fourth... the If-Then construct...

If President Bush knows for a fact that Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is guilty then it is obvious that Rove must be fired immediately, security clearances revoked, documents and computers confiscated, and all pertinent information handed over to Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald and the police.

If President Bush knows for a fact that Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is not guilty then the pertinent facts ought to be shared with Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald and both Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Bush ought to be able to state categorically that Mr. Rove is not guilty and the pertinent facts will be revealed at the appropriate time.

If President Bush does not know for certain whether Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is guilty or not then it is President Bush's duty and obligation in defense of the United States of America to place Mr. Rove on temporary leave from all of his duties, revoke all security access, confiscate all documents and computers that might contain classified information Mr. Rove would have normal access to until such time as Mr. Rove's guilt or innocence can be determined.

There are no other choices.

The Summary:

Mr. Rove is guilty, not guilty, or it is not known.

I assume that if Mr. Bush knew that Mr. Rove had knowingly and willfully compromised the security of the United States of America that he would already have acted accordingly, fired Mr. Rove, and requested that charges be brought up against him.

To not do so would make President Bush complicit in Mr. Rove's actions.

Likewise I assume that if Mr. Bush had proof that Mr. Rove is innocent of all charges that he already has gladly come to the defense of one of his most trusted friends and aides, shared that proof with the prosecutor, and that both the Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Bush can publicly declare Mr. Rove's innocence.

To not do so would make President Bush a disloyal man.

Since neither of these of occurred then it must be assumed that it is not known whether or not Karl Rove is guilty or not.

President Bush therefore has no choice... no choice... but to defend the United States of America against a potential enemy within and place Mr. Rove on temporary leave of absence.

To not do so would make Mr. Bush negligent in his duties as President and show willful disregard for the security of the United States of America.

The question:

Which is it Mr. President? There are only three choices. Which is it?

Monday, July 04, 2005

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton
Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton
Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton
Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean
Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark
Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Happy Canada Day!

Since the whole Gandar thing seems to have me on a Canadian roll... I may as well post that I've had this trip to Toronto planned for 5 years. So here I am and here is a small report for the day....

I am in Toronto for the weekend. I just wanted to pop in and say Happy Canada Day! We'll be returning home Monday which is basically Happy USA Day.

Reading the Canadien papers in my room this morning was an interesting experience. One lead story of of the poor Syrian-Canadian fellow that was deported by the US sometime back... to Syria, not Canada. The RCMP knew full well he was being subjected to torture and was prepared to share information with the Syrians in this effort. After a year in the tender care of the Syrians the Canadian government finally told Syria there was nothing on this guy and they should send him home to Canada. The RCMP Super in charge said he'd do it all again.

Guess we aren't the only government gone haywire.

In the LTE's a writer responded to a previous writer that said he was so upset about Canada approving same sex marriages that he and his misses would be emmigrating to the USA as soon as possible. The writer said "Bye." My misses and I thought to ourselves... "Great! That's just what we need. More bigoted wackos coming to live in the USA!"

Canada's economic report is looking up. They seem to be freeing themselves from the problems of their relationship to the US dollar. Guess they are feeling pretty good about that.

Picture of Canadian troops getting ready to head to Afghanistan (Kandahar) with one fellows 10 year old carrying his bag for him.

Toronto is nice. I'm having a good time. Made it across the border without a hitch.

It's coming back to the states on Monday that has been concerned. Wonder if they'll let me back in.

Hope so... I plan to take a leisurely drive through the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York to complete the trip.