Ch 32: A First Step for US, the United States

“We admitted we were powerless in the face of our blind loyalty
– that our activities had become unmanageable.”
– A Rephrasing of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Step 1

The idea of being powerless seems absurd to Americans at first blush. We are the most powerful nation that ever existed and the greatest of the three superpowers! Of course we’re powerful!

But is a bully really powerful? Or is a bully anxious and lonely; full of fear and rage? Clearly, we are the world’s bully. We believe our troops are “fighting for freedom,” but all they create is more trouble. As we peek behind the scenes and do a bit of digging, we find that we could have known this was going to happen. None of our goals are being met. The more we fight; the more troops we send, the worse it gets. From our perspective, up to now, it has been their fault. This means, if you really look at it, that we’ve been blaming them for the results of our choices.

This isn’t powerful. It is pathetic. And it is pretty much the way an alcoholic household works. The alcoholic pretends to be powerful. He roars and strikes and demands and bullies. Everyone else is afraid. They kowtow to his overbearing pride or hide when he’s around. Truth is irrelevant.

We go to church and look great in public, but behind closed doors, we have to dull our senses as we take six-, seven-, or eight-digit salaries for doing the dirty work of our society’s systemic greed.

We praise our troops for their work, when we must know or suspect that nothing good is happening or about to happen as the result of armed and deadly Americans in places where they aren’t really welcome, where they don’t really belong, where they are, at all times, in fear for their lives and the split-second life-or-death decisions they will be required to make. How could such a situation be welcomed? Who would want this within their community, outside their front door? And why would we send our troops into such a spiritual nightmare and pretend this is good?

We are responsible. We cannot vote in ignorance or, worse yet, not vote and then blame the resulting government on others. It is our responsibility. If we say it isn’t, we are conceding that we are no longer in a democracy. If we are still a democracy, it is imperative that we learn from our mistakes. We cannot keep voting for corporate representatives and expect things to magically change. We cannot allow our hearts and minds to be manipulated by dishonest rhetoric or dishonest beliefs. We must ferret out the truth and risk speaking it to our fellow voters. If our alternatives are bad and worse, we must take it upon ourselves to find a third alternative and risk being outside the mainstream.

When did you first recognize that something was wrong, that our nation isn’t and hasn’t been dedicated to the proposition that all men [and women] are created equal? When did you notice that these rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, supposedly given to everyone by God, have no meaning for us as soon as our troops venture beyond our borders?

I came of age during the Vietnam War era in conservative Orange County, California. The John Birch Society and the House Un-American Activities Committee1 were active. I went to a liberal college in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, where classes were suspended during the anti-war marches in D.C. I got two completely different stories. They couldn’t both be right.

I dropped out of school at the end of football season my second year because of low self-esteem and a great deal of confusion. I was an Engineering major making A’s without half trying, but my favorite class was World History and I was working my ass off for a C.

Having surrendered my student deferment, I was going to be drafted, so I enlisted in the Army for three years with training in the Military Occupational Specialty with the highest re-enlistment bonus of any MOS not slated for the War and I studiously avoided Officer Candidate School. Nevertheless, I served with men who had served in Vietnam. They were severely damaged by the experience. My first cousin committed suicide a month after returning from his second tour of duty as a helicopter pilot. My scuba instructor, a kind and gentle father and the only one I met of the returning servicemen who didn’t have obvious emotional scars, told me of being ordered to murder civilians in their homes in the dead of night – of war crimes ordered by General William Westmoreland and, presumably, by the White House.

It was five years later and the North Vietnamese and Jane Fonda were saying the exact same thing they had said five years earlier, but the US had a completely different justification for our involvement. I joined the anti-war movement. I was at a peace rally in California broken up by our governor, Ronald Reagan, because he didn’t agree with what we were saying. Like the marches in Selma for voting rights, this peaceful gathering was broken up by police in riot gear running at us swinging clubs.

You don’t defend freedom by quelling dissent. You don’t defend freedom by insisting only you are right and everyone else is somehow evil or diabolical.

The issue wasn’t completely black-and-white, but we have politicians in power today who present black-and-white issues to a constituency which is malleable and reactive. We have a resurgence of a similarly narrow view today in the conservative wing of the Republican Party. This time, they have an even stronger and better-organized following. Their hero is my protagonist, Ronald Reagan, a man who told us many things which weren’t true such as trickle-down economics would benefit us all and that deregulation would be good for our nation, a man who illegally supported an insurrection in Nicaragua against the duly-elected government (Iran Contra) who let others take the blame for his treason, and a man who, like the Tea Party Politicians today, made a career of vilifying others with differing views.

It has taken me many years to glean a truth I might possibly convince others with. I discovered that Ho Chi Minh was born in South Vietnam (although South Vietnam was an artificial colonial construct of NATO which denied the 4,000 years Vietnam had been united). I discovered that the “elections” held in South Vietnam were subverted by the South Vietnamese elite we chose to sponsor. I discovered that Madame Nu was a narcissistic Catholic Francophile, completely unrepresentative of her “country.” I learned that Vietnam, both north and south, was primarily Buddhist, not Communist. And I discovered that Vietnamese Communism was a reaction to the unfair colonial redistribution of land ownership by taxing subsistence farmers.

Years later, I discovered that as soon as the last American troops left Saigon, the Vietnamese government in Hanoi was fighting on our side of the Cold War, opposing the Chinese surrogate government in Cambodia and the invasion of their traditional enemy, China, from the north. Rather that being allied with the Communists, Hanoi was violently opposed to them – morphing from enemy to ally just because we stopped trying to impose our will upon them.

This is not a trivial or unimportant discovery! This fact must radically change our understanding. We must not ignore it because it is key to understanding current events as well. The Cold War was NOT a war against Communism; it was a war against self-determination and independence in the Third World and we and the Communists squabbled over which superpower got to lord it over which countries. In Vietnam and in Afghanistan, both the United States and the Communists were repelled; colonialism rejected by the indigenous people.

We harassed Jane Fonda until she recanted telling us that North Vietnam wasn’t our enemy. Yes, they held prisoners-of-war. Yes, there were undoubtedly abuses. But the men who were abused actually piloted sophisticated machines which rained down mass destruction on a nation halfway around the world from our borders, on a nation that should have received our support and encouragement, on a nation close to twenty times as old as our own, and on a people who had been traumatized by a succession of foreign invaders and longed for their own independence, a longing which should have resonated with us but didn’t. It is amazing that so many of our troops survived the experience of capture and incarceration.

Think back to the origins of the Cold War. At the end of World War II, both sides raced to establish control of territory. I believe that this is why we dropped the bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima – to enable us to block the troops moving towards South Korea rather than spending any more time on Japan. We took West Germany, West Berlin, the Middle East, the Western Hemisphere, the British Commonwealth and the Pacific Rim up to Japan and parts of Korea. They took East Germany, East Berlin, East Europe, and North Korea. Both sides had intentions that were colonial, not ideological. We often installed kings or dictators. They installed dictators. Both sides opposed any regime which dared to ignore their demands or even appeared independent, such as Hungary in 1955-56 and Cuba in 1961. We decided socialism was bad even though many allies such as Sweden and England were at least partly socialist and, when people elected a socialist government, we opposed it, still pretending we were supporting “democracy.”

It took me many years and a lot of work to gradually pry my eyelids open, to see what was clearly and obviously true. There is still more denial and blindness, but I’m working on it. I keep harping on the Vietnam War, not because it is unique but because it is clearer than the many other examples of our efforts to subvert independence in the Third World.

Are there other, more recent examples of our misuse of power?

We have finally removed ourselves from another ruinously expensive and foolishly destructive occupation in Iraq. Each and every reason we gave for the involvement of our military forces in removing and replacing the government of Iraq were false. The government we installed is not only more corrupt than the one we removed, the rule of law has disappeared, almost the entire modern middle class has fled the country, and human rights are at an all-time low while violence is at an all-time high.

Kuwait was the illegitimate, rogue state, not Iraq. They were an English/American colony placed on land traditionally part of Iraq, occupying her only deep-water port on the Persian Gulf, and slant-drilling hundreds of oil wells under her border to steal oil in massive quantities. As the invasion of Kuwait demonstrated, she had no army to speak of even though she was the wealthiest per-capita country in the world. She was and is a nation of dilettantes who hire others to do the actual work. And, though technically independent, she is totally dependent on the United States and our interest in her oil. She was created at the site of concentrations of oil deposits at the end of World War I along with a deep but protected port near Saudi Arabia and its “black gold.” As with Palestine and Bahrain Island, this territory was administered by the British in the best interests of the British Empire and its economic imperatives, not at all in the interest of local concerns, peace or political stability within the region. As England and the British Commonwealth gradually became a client state of the US with preferred status, much of the remains of the British Empire were under the protection of the United States and, as such, also under a certain amount of our control.

Our State Department (April Glaspie, a career diplomat) enticed Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait. We lied to the leader of Iraq so we could have an excuse to put a half million troops in northern Saudi Arabia. Our biased news sources presented us with a dishonest account of events.

I suspect Desert Shield had a lot to do with the Saudi Arabian Oil Company which is the new name of the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO), owned by members of the Saudi royal family and a consortium of US oil companies, whom President Bush represented. From the point of view of someone like Osama bin Laden (a well-educated and wealthy Saudi), ARAMCO lived outside the law in Saudi Arabia and, as such, was an insult to their law enforcement, religion, customs and traditions.

Saudi Arabia is a dry country. Smuggling or making alcohol in Saudi Arabia is a capital crime, not a misdemeanor. Anathema to the customs and Islamic traditions of Saudi Arabia, the principle non-work activities in the ARAMCO enclaves within Saudi Arabia involve alcohol. So, from the traditional Saudi point of view, the Saudi royal family is in league with felons, raping their country of its oil and bringing in illegal booze and Bibles. The proper term for these people might be “illegal aliens.” Furthermore, some of the Saudi royals live lavish and immoral lifestyles outside the laws and traditions of their own country, funded by this alliance.

I imagine the Saudi royal family, subverted by money and power, wanted the troops there and were willing to again look the other way as we brought our own customs and traditions with us.

Desert Storm drove the Iraqis back out of Kuwait. Then we embargoed Iraq and engaged in perpetual “inspections” for Weapons of Mass Destruction, none of which were found … even after we invaded and occupied Iraq for a number of years. Of course, we have quite a few WMDs ourselves. We have even used our WMDs on civilians … several times. We hypocritically placed ourselves above international law and made rules for others that we never followed ourselves.

By-and-large, the biggest lie we told ourselves, however, was that there were terrorists in Iraq. There were terrorists and terrorist-sympathizers in Saudi Arabia, in Syria, in Pakistan and in Iran. Some terrorists were born in Egypt. None were born in Iraq. None were supported by anyone in Iraq. Our President was told this by his top Mideast adviser, Richard A. Clarke, who was fired and ignored.

Because of this dishonest, illogical, immoral and unilateral military action by our government, Iraq has lost a robust infrastructure, its rule of law and about a million political refugees, mostly from the educated and moderate middle class, those most closely allied with our values and attitudes.

I suggest reading Baghdad Burning if you want to get a good sense of what we did in Iraq. One of the very first actions the United States took in Iraq was to fire the 400,000 men in Saddam’s army, creating a united group of 400,000 men who were armed, trained, seasoned in two wars, and now had no jobs, no income and the United States to thank for their joblessness. The invasion created the terror and terrorists it was pretending to stop. It erased all the progress that Iraq had made in equality (including gender equality), opportunity, and stability that had been achieved under a repressive but stable dictatorship. It galvanized anti-American sentiment into action in the form of ISIS. It did not make the world safer or freer – for us or for them. And the lawlessness created by this and other equally irresponsible actions made life miserable for our troops as well as everyone in Iraq besides bandits, con artists, and greedy, selfish politicians.

This isn’t accidental. It is a direct, predictable and predicted consequence of our foreign policy.

When did this abuse of power start?

This type of behavior was happening during King David’s reign when he claimed that God formally gave him authorization to kill or enslave others and appropriate the fruits of their labor through “covenants.” It was in full swing during the Greek and Roman Empires. The Dark and Middle Ages saw numerous armies invading communities, stealing their wealth, and forcing them to pay ransom or taxes to remain alive. The ordinary citizen had to choose between constant peril or perpetual slavery. The greed and brutality of war hasn’t stopped yet. It isn’t universal, but it is a big part of the cultures which created the United States.

We appropriated land from the people already living here, made peace treaties with them, and then violated those treaties whenever an influential American found something of value on their land.

The Louisiana Purchase and the Alaska Purchase also gave unwarranted, fraudulent sanction to a continuation of our expropriation of Native American lands. France and Russia didn’t own what we “bought” from them. 99% of it belonged to (or was in use by) Native Americans!

The Monroe Doctrine in 1823 laid claim to the entire Western Hemisphere as our area of influence, distinct from colonies only in that we had no obligation to them and our troops went wherever our government sent them – usually in service to an American enterprise in the area.

It was in full swing during the Opium Wars in China and Admiral Perry’s bullying of Medieval Japan.

It has never really stopped.

What happened and how did you feel?

My father and mother were divorced. My father worked in the Middle East, had Arab friends, both Islamic and Christian, whom he brought into our home in California and whom I got to know on a personal basis. They ranged, as did Americans, from outstanding individuals to rogues and rascals but none were “evil” or believed the things the ignorant people in my mother’s church said they believed.

I knew Christian bigotry first hand at an early age. When I tried to say something, they assumed I was ignorant and they quoted the Bible to justify their anachronistic attitudes and set me straight. I knew what I knew and I knew that the Bible, at least in the context of the Twentieth Century, was wrong. I shut my mouth because there was no way they would listen to an opposing view and I steamed as they maligned people I knew and admired.

When the six-day war happened, my father, stepmother and younger siblings were living in Beirut, Lebanon. They stayed on for quite a while, but anti-American sentiment in the region forced a relocation. By that time, I knew a lot about Mideast history and our role in their politics.

When Colonel Gaddafi took over the government of Libya, my father was there. For a month, he was under house arrest and he was lucky to leave with his life. His considerable business assets, however, were confiscated and this was a major financial blow. Again, I knew too much. I knew that our government had installed a Hashemite king after World War II and that we trained and supplied his army and air force. I understood that some of our activities may have been well-meaning, but this ancient region was our colony in all but name, taken from the Italians. Because he insisted on independence, we refused to accept this setback and boycotted and otherwise fomented trouble in this country which was never a threat to us or our legitimate interests in the region.

At the time, I felt ambivalent. On one hand, my family was getting shoved around. On the other hand, Americans were all over the Middle East and, unlike my father’s practical training which was building a strong and modern middle class in the region, my government was actively colonizing the area, though they carefully avoided the labels and the liabilities. I was angry, disturbed and frustrated.

When did you first become convinced the United States was dysfunctional?

I suppose I knew it from at least age eight. But it has taken me many decades to pry off the layers of denial – and I know I’m still not done.

I was 24 when I joined the movement against US involvement in Vietnam’s Civil War.

Desert Storm and Desert Shield confused me. The embargo and inspections made no sense at all.

I knew from the start that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were a mistake because I knew that Americans occupying an Arab country was a recipe for disaster and I knew that the Soviet Union had already tried and failed to occupy Afghanistan. We didn’t understand the culture. We didn’t understand the language. And Arabs, particularly Arab men would rather die than be disgraced. I finally found the blog and book entitled Baghdad Burning, which confirmed my worst fears.

Our pro-Israel stand was a slap in the face to almost all Arabs. When the British took over Palestine and installed a Zionist governor, there were protests in the 1920’s, well before Zionist terrorist activities and unfair British tax laws stripped land from its traditional owners and presented it to immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Americas.

What did you do about America’s dysfunction?

I found a way to serve my military obligation without going to Vietnam. After the war, I joined Vietnam Vets Against the War and participated in local war protests.

I wrote a Christmas Poem around 1994 which talked about our mistreatment of the people of Palestine.

I started blogging about the connection between Christianity and the disconnect we have with other cultures and (at least historically) the female half of our own population about ten years ago.

I talked about stuff with anyone I met whom I thought would listen.

I started this book about five years ago and kept trying to engage others about its content. I joined a writers’ group for that purpose a year and a half ago.

I recently stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Up until then, I thought I could be a loyal American citizen and more-or-less silently and invisibly disapprove of our foreign policies. It finally occurred to me that if I were truly loyal to our country, I would speak out about how we are on a self-destructive, no-win course. Not saying the Pledge is my odd way of “speaking out.” I am not disloyal to our country; I oppose our self-destructive foreign policy and our slavishness to short-term profit at the expense of all else we hold dear, including our actual safety and security.

Describe some of America’s behaviors that indicate we are operating in a dysfunctional manner and need help.

Dishonest Rhetoric:

Eighty-six and a half years after declaring 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 …” the Emancipation Proclamation finally made slavery illegal. It took another hundred years for blacks to actually begin to achieve that equality so grandly proclaimed by our founding fathers. We are now working on gaining the same rights for our homosexual and transgendered citizens.
Sixty years after declaring our government “of the people and by the people,” women finally got the right to vote in elections and to run for office. We said the words without understanding their meaning. It is noteworthy that these advances in freedom and democracy were opposed by most Christians.

These days, we frequently and publicly thank our returning troops for “fighting for freedom.” We never question this assumption. As we sent men and munitions into battle, the Middle East region destabilized. Refugees poured out of the countries we invaded; these refugees being the most modern and moderate and providing a significant part of their country’s modern infrastructure. None of the leaders we installed have won or would win a free election. Our troops were fighting for profit.

Like Vietnam, our actual goal seems to be war itself, not freedom, not self-determination, not local rule. In the goal of war, we’ve been quite successful. In the stated goals, we’ve failed miserably. As to our own safety, we’ve now created new and more fertile breeding grounds for terrorists like those of 9/11/01. We are not safer. As the violence comes home to roost in our children and grandchildren, we must sacrifice what freedoms we have to try and keep our children from being murdered. And as the children and grandchildren of the people we kill in those destabilized foreign countries come of age, we will again lose freedom to protect ourselves from new and increased terrorist threats.

Like Vietnam, we took potential allies and friends and made them into “enemies” rather than making enemies into friends. We have worked consistently and unceasingly toward the goal of more violence and less safety and security while declaring goals entirely incompatible with our actions.

We use only our loyalty and our feelings, not our minds to make decisions about war and government. We work ourselves into a frenzy of hate and fear and listen to lies about what’s happening and who is responsible and we buy it all, just like in church.

The right wing is trying to dismantle the part of the US government that does function, declaring all government to be pernicious and all free enterprise to be fit, proper and effective; a position which is consistently contradicted by history. We ignore the huge losses our economy has sustained due to uncontrolled greed. We ignore the successes of socialism in other parts of the world. We ignore the horrendous cost of constant warfare and the ludicrous and unmanageable debt which conservatives created: ruinous defense spending without increased taxation. This graph of the national debt shows what I mean.

We are stuck in our loyal/religious/reactive minds. We have no place for real facts and little tolerance for differing views. We have little compassion for other cultures, other traditions or other value systems.

We congratulate ourselves at being the world’s remaining superpower, not realizing that our foolishness, our gullibility, and our short-sighted greed is ruining the pleasant, beautiful, prosperous and cooperative world we inherited from our ancestors and have been charged with protecting.

We are so busy reacting that we no longer can think logically, can no longer vote rationally, can no longer distinguish a contrived “threat” from a real disaster about to happen. Furthermore, we are so loyal that we don’t really want to know the truth. We may concede that our troops are also fighting for lower gas prices and greater munitions sales, but then we go right back to the same comfortable lies.

In our disorientation, we confuse compassion with weakness; bullying, murder and robbery with strength; and short-term profit with success. Our values no longer have any real meaning and have devolved into meaningless slogans we recite with great feeling but little understanding.

What difficulties are we having in recognizing our powerlessness?

Like a blind man with a machine gun, we may have the weaponry, but we cannot see our “enemies.”

We pick “enemies” almost at random and think invasion necessary and proper. We disrupt their countries and kill anyone who opposes our occupation of their communities. When we leave, we haven’t achieved any of the goals we set for ourselves. In the case of Vietnam, leaving was the act which freed our “enemy” into becoming an instant ally in our supposed war with the “Red Tide.”

We have gradually lost the respect of most of the rest of the world and only a fool would trust us to do the right thing. We remain convinced that violence will solve things even though it rarely does.

From the prosperity of the fifties when we rebuilt the infrastructure of our former enemies, Japan and Germany; when we mutually profited from lifting an “enemy” back up, when we had a robust and growing middle class, we devolved into a state of constant wars with stupid, unattainable goals in places where our presence is a deterrent to peace, stability, and prosperity. Our middle class is shrinking as our grotesquely wealthy amass more and more and more unearned and unneeded wealth.

We are literally impeding progress while believing ourselves somehow justified and doing the “right thing.” We are dupes and stooges, not a powerful and informed electorate. And we have the leadership (or lack thereof) to prove it! Lured on by constant ads for credit and bonuses for using credit, we have sold our financial stability for trinkets and gee-gaws, for luxuries – and for drugs to dull our senses.

What childhood memories illustrate our country’s dysfunction?

I remember the HUAC interrogations in Los Angeles and the dubious process of coercing names from people in exchange for not ruining their careers, friendships, and reputations; a self-perpetuating witch hunt which was both immoral and illegal, carried out by a right-wing element of our government in clear violation of our Constitutional rights and their oath to protect those rights.

I remember Senator Joe McCarthy denouncing “traitors” in the highest places of our government simply because they had views at odds with his narrow and distorted political agenda.

I remember the insanity of the Korean War made laughable in a well-written TV parody called MASH.

I remember the lies my government concocted about a North Vietnamese alliance with China and its Communist regime. I remember the impassioned, clear and truthful speeches of Jane Fonda during the anti-war campaign. I remember the shunning and ostracism that followed her for decades. And I remember her final recantation of the truth, succumbing to the dishonest pressure from those “powerful” men who actually run our country.

What are our major control issues today?

We are polarized, divided, disorganized, disillusioned, and demoralized. As an electorate, we are asked to choose between two completely divergent ostensible views who both represent the same people. Like the Cold War, these ostensible “enemies” are both on the same team whose goal is to disrupt our society and make us fearful, malleable, demoralized, and detached from their systematic pillaging of public monies for phony and unnecessary wars and, of course, the unnecessary spending of credit so as to keep us perpetually in debt, anxious and dependent.

We pretend to be in control, but it doesn’t matter which party we vote for, The same backroom billionaires win the election in either case. Third parties are all fairly well left out of the process and the expense of running and the social costs of personal attacks and threats of assassination make considering public office fraught with concerns for ones health, family and reputation.

What is the key issue that caused you to hit bottom and admit to all this?

The Vietnam War was such a horrendous experience for our country, I hoped we had learned from it. When the same insanity of invading a Third World Country in full force once again happened, I was almost apoplectic. Fellow Americans were angry, reactive and illogical. It was like watching a train wreck. You could see the disaster well before any damage was done. There was no way to stop it.

Then I had hopes we would learn from the Iraq invasion. Again, I was disillusioned.

What is the primary behavior pattern or habit you would like to correct?

I would like to change the firm cultural belief that violence solves problems; the almost knee-jerk violent response to “threats” which have no real validity when looked at rationally. I would alter the belief that, like the alcoholic with alcohol, if a little violence doesn’t work, we can always escalate; the ultimate threat being nuclear or biologic or chemical: WMDs.

We saw threats in Buddhist rice farmers striving for self-determination after two centuries of being colonial pawns. When we withdrew, they were immediately and unequivocally allies in the Cold War, opposing the same regimes we opposed. How was this delusion possible? How can such delusions be averted or corrected? Where did this propensity to blindly follow irrational beliefs come from?

We saw Iraq as a threat: WMDs and terrorist camps. Again, it was delusional. What makes us so gullible? What can we do to see the truth and think more rationally? How can we return to being a responsible nation? How can we end this nightmare we’ve created for ourselves?

For the past fifty years or so, we’ve spent money we didn’t have on wars we didn’t need to fight. We’ve run the tab so high that we can’t even meet the interest payments if interest rates ever get out of the cellar. We’re almost bankrupt: financially, ethically, and spiritually. Our addiction to violence and immediate gratification has brought us here to the brink.

We’re clearly and unequivocally insane. Our actions have been irrational, destructive, unnecessary and ruinously expensive. We have a belief system based on credulity which keeps us hopped up on anger and fear and we believe whatever stupid story our leaders feed us. We are reactive and malleable from crisis to crisis to crisis, never seeing the bigger picture, never considering nonviolence as a viable option despite knowing of its successes. We seem to be addicted to the drama, to the fear and hate, to the feelings of righteous indignation and to that captivating, engulfing violence we surround ourselves with in our entertainment. We were raised by our culture to trust in violence. It wins the video game and defeats the bad guys over and over in our movies. Why doesn’t it work in real life??

A Prophetic Christmas Poem
By Dave Dodson
written around 1994

What happened there in Bethlehem two thousand years ago?
What happened there in Bethlehem? I’d really like to know.
Were angels there? Did trumpets blare? Did shepherds really fright?
Did wise men come? Did oxen stare upon a Holy Sight?

Such knowledge still eludes my mind. The contradictions show.
Such certainty’s for other men. It’s not for me to know.
But miracles of smaller size have been for me to see.
Of love fulfilled, of pain removed from those quite lost in misery.

I witness God in all I see, both near and far, both young and old.
Ageless skies and babies’ cries all awe me; now the truth’s been told.
Two thousand years is but a sneeze, a hair’s breadth of the cosmic span.
A virgin birth? This tiny Earth? Too small a scale for God’s great plan.

And yet what size the human soul? What depth the human heart?
What task too small when worries pall beside the Master’s healing art?
I’ve felt the touch. My life renewed when I gave up my will.
My heart found life, my joy reborn; the promised hope God did fulfill.

Let others talk about the day the Christ Child came to be.
I think I’ll talk about the way God gave new sight to me.
My fetid life in grim despair was lifted from that darkest night.
My soul redeemed (I care not how) when following the Maker’s light.

And thinking of the Holy place so wrapped in joy, so blessed with peace,
I wonder how the Ruler’s Son must ache to make the terror cease.
The Christ Child’s gift of Peace On Earth was stolen from this place.
Lord Balfour with his worldly plan has pitted man against God’s grace.

How those who praise the Good Samaritan and selfless deeds for foe
Could deed this land to guns and pain and frightful tales of woe?
A jurist’s trick? My heart is sick. False promise in the promised land.
A mother’s son without a home? Harsh hand of man – it’s NOT God’s plan!

It is a trick as tired as time … pitting one against another,
Making waste instead of hope and taking things from trusting brother.
Steeped in greed and blind with fear, I think we fail to see
The bounty in OUR promised land, a gift of hope in loving generosity.

So ring the bells and send the gifts that celebrate that Hopeful Day
But don’t forget the needs not met of homeless children far away.
What irony were we to find upon being wrapped in God’s great plan
That chosen ones were left in need … that we confused what Christ began.

©David N. Dodson, October, 2015, Phoenix, AZ

1 I believe that harassing Americans because of past or present beliefs and associations is the actual un-American activity and not a belief that socialism might be good or that government ought to be concerned with the needs of all people rather than just the wants of the wealthy and powerful. I believe it is unconstitutional and unethical to harass, threaten and ostracize people because of their friendships. Edward R. Murrow finally put a stop to this ideological double-talk and the use of the legal system, political power and social and economic ostracism to subvert the democratic process.

==>Ch 33: A Second Step for US, the United States


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