Mar 7, 2012

Gene Whisnant

Meet OR Representative & ALEC Legislator of Year Gene Whisnant

May 30, 2011

May oh eleven
Looking like she came straight from heaven

Feb 7, 2011

Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled and torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again; you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mar 1, 2010


(photo taken without permission from the post secret blog)

I was following my usual Monday morning protocol of browsing the Post Secret blog with a fresh cup of dark coffee when I came across this "secret". It's damaging one for me, for reasons only one other person knows. Every single aspect of it speaks to a decision I made 8 years ago at the fresh young age of 20. That decision undeniably would have altered the trajectory of my life. In a great way. Now 8 years later, I stumble upon this random person's secret on a website and am forced to ponder what regret means.

I hear a lot of people throw out the stock line that they don't believe in regret. I've been that person, many times over.

It's true, my decisions have led me to where I am, to my understanding of myself, of what I want and where I would like to be headed. I like that. I am a fan of where I am in my progression as a person, I'm excited to see what this life will bring.

However to say that I am not curious about what life could have looked like is not honest. To say I wouldn't go back and make a different decision (regardless of sacrificing the awareness and existence of present-day me) is not honest.

Without thinking, I would absolutely rewind 365 x 8 (sue me for not opening up my calculator on my celly) and ride out that decision. Would it change the way I think about myself, my decisions and my growth? Absolutely. But that chance has to be measured by what I could have gained in the process.

The only thing I can take from this stark realization that life could have (and probably should have) looked different is that I must live much more pragmatically. This random person's "secret" is a reminder of the amazing outcomes of seeming haphazard decisions. This "secret" means I must be aware how delicate people and opportunities are in life.

Ironically, it was that fateful decision 8 years ago that allows me to even understand the full depth of regret. I might not have never known. Scarily, I still might not have never known what I was missing. Crazy.

(note: I'm aware at how vague this post is... don't care. Check out below if you want to know who this blog is for :P)

Feb 11, 2010

Long Time Gone

Wow, I can't even remember how long it has been since I visited The Saints Cry....let along how long it's been since I thought about writing here. It wasn't necessarily an issue of motivation, or inspiration, rather a question of validity and purpose.

I don't know exactly how many "bloggers" are out there, or the number of blogs that exist in the webisphere, but I do know that there are a lot more people who have blogs than those that take them seriously. While looking at the whole phenomenon, I've been forced to look at my own reasons for writing and discovered that this process MUST be about my desire to reflect what's going on and what I'm thinking about for myself, for me. Not because there are people out there who are reading this with any real interest on what I am thinking. To think otherwise is to mislead myself. To conjure up some grandeur and self-importance.

This place is my vent. It is my mind. It is my hope. It's a place where I can come to rant and rave, to place importance on issues that I wish were more important. To enlighten one insignificant, imaginary locale with words of blessing, wisdom and clarity. If the only soul that is affected by such words is mine? Then thank God for that place.

All that being said, I'm back. More quotes, articles, thoughts to follow.

Mar 3, 2009

Is it right?

Cowardice asks the question: Is it safe? Expediency asks the question: Is it politic? Vanity asks the question: Is it popular? But conscience asks the question: Is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular -- but he must take it simply because conscience tells him it is right.
-- Martin Luther King Jr., from his address, "To Chart Our Course for the Future" (1968).

Iran, the Jews & Germany by Roger Cohen, New York Times

(Important op-ed from the Times in regard to American perceptions of Iran.  Having met several people from the country, I have been forced to address my own misconceptions and stereotypes based in the coverage the American media sadly continues to propagate.)

So a Jerusalem Post article says that I’m “hardly the first American to be misled by the existence of synagogues in totalitarian countries.”

Earl Wilson/The New York Times

Roger Cohen

Readers' Comments

Readers shared their thoughts on this article.

The Atlantic Monthly’s Jeffrey Goldberg finds me “particularly credulous,” taken in by the Iranian hospitality and friendliness that “are the hallmarks of most Muslim societies.” (Thanks for that info, Jeffrey.)

A conservative Web site called American Thinker, which tries to prove its name is an oxymoron, believes I would have been fooled by the Nazis’ sham at the Theresienstadt camp.

The indignation stems from my recent column on Iranian Jews, which said that the 25,000-strong community worships in relative tranquillity; that Persian Jews have fared better than Arab Jews; that hostility toward Jews in Iran has on occasion led to trumped-up charges against them; and that those enamored of the “Mad Mullah” caricature of Iran regard any compromise with it as a rerun of Munich 1938.

This last point found confirmation in outraged correspondence from several American Jews unable to resist some analogy between Iran and Nazi Germany. I was based in Berlin for three years; Germany’s confrontation with the Holocaust inhabited me. Let’s be clear: Iran’s Islamic Republic is no Third Reich redux. Nor is it a totalitarian state.

Munich allowed Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland. Iran has not waged an expansionary war in more than two centuries.

Totalitarian regimes require the complete subservience of the individual to the state and tolerate only one party to which all institutions are subordinated. Iran is an un-free society with a keen, intermittently brutal apparatus of repression, but it’s far from meeting these criteria. Significant margins of liberty, even democracy, exist. Anything but mad, the mullahs have proved malleable.

Most of Iran’s population is under 30; it’s an Internet-connected generation. Access to satellite television is widespread. The BBC’s new Farsi service is all the rage.

Abdullah Momeni, a student opponent of the regime, told me, “The Internet is very important to us; in fact, it is of infinite importance.” Iranians are not cut off, like Cubans or North Koreans.

The June presidential election pitting the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, against Mohammad Khatami (a former president who once spoke in a synagogue) will be a genuine contest as compared with the charades that pass for elections in many Arab states. No fire has burned the Majlis, or parliament, down.

If you’re thinking trains-on-time Fascist efficiency, think again. Tehran’s new telecommunications tower took 20 years to build. I was told its restaurant would open “soon.” So, it is said, will the Bushehr nuclear power plant, a project in the works for a mere 30 years. A Persian Chernobyl is more likely than some Middle Eastern nuclear Armageddon, if that’s any comfort.

For all the morality police inspecting whether women are wearing boots outside their pants (the latest no-no on the dress front) and the regime zealots of the Basiji militia, the air you breathe in Iran is not suffocating. Its streets at dusk hum with life — not a monochrome male-only form of it, or one inhabited by fear — but the vibrancy of a changing, highly educated society.

This is the Iran of subtle shades that the country’s Jews inhabit. Life is more difficult for them than for Muslims, but to suggest they inhabit a totalitarian hell is self-serving nonsense.

One Iranian exile, no lover of the Islamic Republic, wrote to me saying that my account of Iran’s Jews had brought “tears to my eyes” because “you are saying what many of us would like to hear.”

Far from the cradle of Middle Eastern Islamist zealotry, she suggested, “Iran — the supposed enemy — is the one society that has gone through its extremist fervor and is coming out the other end. It is relatively stable and socially dynamic. As my father, who continues to live there, says, ‘It is the least undemocratic country in the region outside Israel.’ ”

This notion of a “post-fervor” Iran is significant. The compromises being painfully fought out between Islam and democracy in Tehran are of seminal importance. They belie the notion of a fanatical power; they explain Jewish life.

That does not mean fanaticism does not exist or that terrible crimes have not been committed, like the Iran-backed bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires 15 years ago.

But the equating of Iran with terror today is simplistic. Hamas and Hezbollah have evolved into broad political movements widely seen as resisting an Israel over-ready to use crushing force. It is essential to think again about them, just as it is essential to toss out Iran caricatures.

I return to this subject because behind the Jewish issue in Iran lies a critical one — the U.S. propensity to fixate on and demonize a country through a one-dimensional lens, with a sometimes disastrous chain of results.

It’s worth recalling that hateful, ultranationalist rhetoric is no Iranian preserve. Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s race-baiting anti-Arab firebrand, may find a place in a government led by Benjamin Netanyahu. He should not.

Nor should racist demagoguery — wherever — prompt facile allusions to the murderous Nazi master of it.

Jan 6, 2009

Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony

Robert Fisk:

How easy it is to snap off the history of the Palestinians, to delete the narrative of their tragedy, to avoid a grotesque irony about Gaza which – in any other conflict – journalists would be writing about in their first reports: that the original, legal owners of the Israeli land on which Hamas rockets are detonating live in Gaza.

That is why Gaza exists: because the Palestinians who lived in Ashkelon and the fields around it – Askalaan in Arabic – were dispossessed from their lands in 1948 when Israel was created and ended up on the beaches of Gaza. They – or their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren – are among the one and a half million Palestinian refugees crammed into the cesspool of Gaza, 80 per cent of whose families once lived in what is now Israel. This, historically, is the real story: most of the people of Gaza don't come from Gaza.

But watching the news shows, you'd think that history began yesterday, that a bunch of bearded anti-Semitic Islamist lunatics suddenly popped up in the slums of Gaza – a rubbish dump of destitute people of no origin – and began firing missiles into peace-loving, democratic Israel, only to meet with the righteous vengeance of the Israeli air force. The fact that the five sisters killed in Jabalya camp had grandparents who came from the very land whose more recent owners have now bombed them to death simply does not appear in the story.

Both Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres said back in the 1990s that they wished Gaza would just go away, drop into the sea, and you can see why. The existence of Gaza is a permanent reminder of those hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who lost their homes to Israel, who fled or were driven out through fear or Israeli ethnic cleansing 60 years ago, when tidal waves of refugees had washed over Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War and when a bunch of Arabs kicked out of their property didn't worry the world.

Well, the world should worry now. Crammed into the most overpopulated few square miles in the whole world are a dispossessed people who have been living in refuse and sewage and, for the past six months, in hunger and darkness, and who have been sanctioned by us, the West. Gaza was always an insurrectionary place. It took two years for Ariel Sharon's bloody "pacification", starting in 1971, to be completed, and Gaza is not going to be tamed now.

Alas for the Palestinians, their most powerful political voice – I'm talking about the late Edward Said, not the corrupt Yassir Arafat (and how the Israelis must miss him now) – is silent and their predicament largely unexplained by their deplorable, foolish spokesmen. "It's the most terrifying place I've ever been in," Said once said of Gaza. "It's a horrifyingly sad place because of the desperation and misery of the way people live. I was unprepared for camps that are much worse than anything I saw in South Africa."

Of course, it was left to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to admit that "sometimes also civilians pay the price," an argument she would not make, of course, if the fatality statistics were reversed. Indeed, it was instructive yesterday to hear a member of the American Enterprise Institute – faithfully parroting Israel's arguments – defending the outrageous Palestinian death toll by saying that it was "pointless to play the numbers game". Yet if more than 300 Israelis had been killed – against two dead Palestinians – be sure that the "numbers game" and the disproportionate violence would be all too relevant. The simple fact is that Palestinian deaths matter far less than Israeli deaths. True, we know that 180 of the dead were Hamas members. But what of the rest? If the UN's conservative figure of 57 civilian fatalities is correct, the death toll is still a disgrace.

To find both the US and Britain failing to condemn the Israeli onslaught while blaming Hamas is not surprising. US Middle East policy and Israeli policy are now indistinguishable and Gordon Brown is following the same dog-like devotion to the Bush administration as his predecessor.

As usual, the Arab satraps – largely paid and armed by the West – are silent, preposterously calling for an Arab summit on the crisis which will (if it even takes place), appoint an "action committee" to draw up a report which will never be written. For that is the way with the Arab world and its corrupt rulers. As for Hamas, they will, of course, enjoy the discomfiture of the Arab potentates while cynically waiting for Israel to talk to them. Which they will. Indeed, within a few months, we'll be hearing that Israel and Hamas have been having "secret talks" – just as we once did about Israel and the even more corrupt PLO. But by then, the dead will be long buried and we will be facing the next crisis since the last crisis.

Dec 12, 2008

O Lord, open my eyes that I may see the needs of others; open my ears that I may hear their cries; open my heart so that they need not be without succor; let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong, nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich ... And so open my eyes and my ears that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for thee.  
Alan Paton

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

Alice Walker

You are a Christian only so long as you constantly pose critical questions to the society you live in ... so long as you stay unsatisfied with the status quo and keep saying that a new world is yet to come.

Henri Nouwen
Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time. 

Abraham Lincoln,

Letter to James C. Conkling, Aug. 26, 1863.

Dear President Obama...

We join people in your country and around the world in congratulating you on becoming the President-elect of the United States. Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place. We note and applaud your commitment to supporting the cause of peace and security around the world. We trust that you will also make it the mission of your presidency to combat the scourge of poverty and disease everywhere. We wish you strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead. We are sure you will ultimately achieve your dream, making the United States of America a full partner in a community of nations committed to peace and prosperity for all.

- Full text of a message from Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, to Senator Barack Obama

Without Love

If there is love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. If the love within your mind is lost, if you continue to see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education you have, no matter how much material progress is made, only suffering and confusion will ensue.

- The Dalai Lama


"Hope" is the thing 
with feathers – 
That perches in the soul – 
And sings the tune 
without the words –
And never stops at all.

Emily Dickinson

So let me tell you: I intend to protect my home. Praying -- not a curse -- only the hope that my courage will not fail my love. But if by some miracle, and all our struggle, the Earth is spared, only justice to every living thing (and everything is alive) will save humankind.  

Alice Walker, The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in aTime of Fear
Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world. 

Etty Hillesum,
died in Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of 29. From An Interrupted Life, a compilation of her diaries and letters.

Dec 5, 2008

I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions. Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness

Lead me from death to life,  from falsehood to truth. Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust. Lead me from hate to love,  from war to peace. Let peace fill our hearts,  our world, our universe. Peace, peace, peace.

Satish Kumar

I believe in person to person; every person is Christ for me, and since there is only one Jesus, that person is the one person in the world at that moment.  Mother Teresa

Strength to Love

One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right if the head is totally wrong. Only through the bringing together of head and heart – intelligence and goodness – shall man rise to a fulfillment of his true nature.

Martin Luther King Jr., from Strength to Love, a collection of Dr. King's sermons.

Nov 28, 2008

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
G.K. Chesterton

Nov 24, 2008

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.

-- Plato

Nov 21, 2008

Dear President Obama....

Please don't let Rahm Emmanuel completely dominate the US's reaction to the Israel/Palestine situation...
I came here 25 years ago to live in the countryside and raise my family. We wanted to resettle the whole land of Israel. But now when I see how our soldiers treat Palestinians at the checkpoints, I am ashamed. I want us to get out of here. I want two states for two people. But I can’t get any money for my house and I can’t leave.

-- David Avidan, an Israeli living in the Jewish settlement of Rimonim. He is one of 280,000 Israeli settlers living on Palestinian lands in occupied West Bank territory. (200,000 more Israeli Jews live in East Jerusalem, also captured and occupied since 1967.) According to Avshalom Vilan, an Israeli Parliament member from the left wing Meretz Party, “Half the settlers beyond the barrier are ideologically motivated and do not want to move. But about 40 percent of them are ready to go for a reasonable price.” (Source: The New York Times)
It is no wonder that just the touch of another human being at a dark time can be enough to save the day.

- Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words