something about everything

Archive for the category “Search for the Truth”


That’s ridiculous, you say. Who would put a pesticide in a Frappuccino? No one would; but it seeps in, hitching a ride on the farm to table passageway. Here’s how: A cow, if its lucky enough to be grazing these day, eats green grass protected by glyphosate, the killing agent in Roundup, ℅ the king of the genetically modified organism, Monsanto.


The farmer milks his cow and goes to market. Starbucks buys his milk and that milk is transported to your neighborhood Starbucks Café and finds its way into your coffee, and then a smiling Starbucks Barista serves that milk – and ice cream – to you…in a Frappuccino.


You don’t believe it, you say. It’s a stretch. And you reason that even if we’ve been getting small doses of Roundup, our bodies would build up an immunity to it. Isn’t that how vaccines work? Except that Roundup isn’t a virus. It’s a chemical with one objective: TO KILL. And your immune system is helpless against it. Read more…

America in 500 Feet

It rises out of the ground floor by floor.  Cement trucks arrive like locusts to deliver the mixture that will hold the enormous weight of the 56-story building. The construction workers begin to look like ants as each floor reaches toward the sky. The sun shining on the corner of Arch and Eighteenth streets will soon be a thing of the past.


A homeless man sits against the fence of the Arch Street Presbyterian Church. His hair is dark and unkempt. He stares ahead, oblivious to the massive structure rising in front of him. In his hands, he holds a dirty cardboard sign that says Homeless but not Hopeless. On the ground is a wrinkled baseball cap holding change and a dollar bill.

Around the corner, the original Comcast Center stands higher than any building, and when the new Comcast Tower is completed, they will dwarf the skyline of Philadelphia.


The homeless man wants something to eat. In the near future, a restaurant 900 feet above him will light up the night sky and look down upon William Penn on top of City Hall. After the last French truffle is served, the garbage dump will overflow with enough food to feed a thousand homeless people.

What it could look like

The Caviar Crowd Look Down on the City

Someone said that 10,000,000 television watchers around the world, most of whom could never afford to eat in the top floor restaurant, paid for the cost of each floor.

In the 500 feet between the homeless man and the Comcast Tower and what it represents, all of America exists.

Where are you on this continuum of American life? Most of us are closer to the homeless man than we would like to believe; but you can only see it…if you open your eyes.

Not Another New Year’s Resolution

This isn’t my New Year’s resolution. This is me becoming resolute about writing. I’m going to sink my teeth into the New Year as if it were a succulent piece of beef and I was a starving carnivore.

I’m going to create my own January thaw by pumping creative heat into my writing, which has been on life supports due to neglect, fear of failure and other excuses. And then I’ll persist through the February freeze and beyond.

So I didn’t follow through with my writing time and again. That was yesterday. What I should have done is in the past, which only has the power over me that I give it. I’m taking that power source away by shutting it off today…

…and turning on the power source within me that will light up my writing.


Enough said. It’s time to write. I have something to say with words…and if I don’t say it now, when will I say it?

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in
the present, which is what there is and all there is.”  Alan Watts


Marching to the Calendar of Life

I learned of her death in a text message. In the final days of her life, she only wanted to share with the people in her life. She once wrote, over 30 years ago:

We cry of things instead of beings
We want, we want, yet its never enough.

Last week, I talked with her on the phone. She was happy that I was coming for a three-day visit. In the past, I composed songs from her poems and we sang together. She said she still had a guitar and we could sing again. Then she said my visit would be too short. But how do you tell someone who is dying, who is finally free to live in the moment that you are not free, that you still have to apportion your time and march to the calendar of life?

Lost in the daily grind of wheels
On hardened steel, on hardened souls
of materialistic needs.

I knew that when I saw her again, I would be free to live in the moment with her. But I had measured my time as never-ending, and couldn’t grasp that her time was ending. I watched her battle with cancer from a distance, because the memories of what she meant to me remained buried under the weight of the passing years. And then her time ended before my visit.

Where is the time we frittered away?
Where the nights, where the days
Of ecstasy and peace?

Since I learned of her death, I have been thinking of her, and like a camera that zooms in on a scene, I remember how she smiled, and laughed, and wrote about the world as she saw it.

What is the message that we send to the world?
Where is the kindness, where the caring
For lost and bleeding humanity?

From the poem in this post, I composed a song for us to sing. It is now part of  my memories of her.


Goodbye, old friend.

The Meaning of “Wife.”

My wife is an artist. She finally recognizes that. I’ve known it for quite a while. So have others in her life. It’s her color schemes and shapes and lines, all hints of the beauty and complexity that fill her mind.


Her art adorns our living room, so I see her all around me. She speaks to me here, without words. I feel the quiet inside of her, like the depths of the ocean; and I feel her angst, like a swift-moving tide rushing onto the shore.


She tells me she can’t stop her mind from the never-ending thinking that keeps her awake at night. Thoughts come at her like a straight-line wind and make her heart pump wildly, in the misguided preparation of flight or fight.


 Yet from this turmoil is the wellspring for the creative bursts that free her.


Surrounded by her art, I’m in a satellite orbiting the spherical edges of her mind’s eye, peeking into its core, capturing glimpses of the unknowable parts of her, trying to build my understanding of her. It remains a work in progress…like her art.


Her art adds meaning to her life. She has found what she must do. And for me, her art teaches me about her, and the meaning of “wife.”



How many schools told their students about the significance of D-Day yesterday? In my small sample of five school districts, the answer was none. My guess is that it was a rare school that even requested a moment of silence for thousands of soldiers who gave their lives to bring the world out of the darkness of Nazi Germany.


The children of today are locked into a world of iphones, iPads, iTunes, and other technology. Corporations like Apple and Samsung and all the rest are pumping out these gadgets as fast as the United States pumped out tanks and planes and bombs and missiles during World War II.


It’s a funny thing though: Countries are still pumping out tanks and planes and bombs and missiles. For every App that gets launched…there’s a missile that gets launched…



It really happened…whether or not we tell each generation of children about its significance.

Oh, I’m sure a corporation will conjure up a high-tech game that will have kids all over the world shooting down German soldiers on the bluffs of Omaha Beach and Utah beach.

But what would be missing is WHY they had to be shot down. If we don’t tell them why that event 70 years ago had a direct result on their lives…and the freedom to download any App they might want, then…


…And we keep repeating it, over and over again.


 The Liberation of Paris, August 25, 1944




What the Grammys Gave Us

What did the Grammys actually give us last night? A glimpse into the future.

Certainly it was an array of the full range of musical expression and a synthesis of the most unlike forms of music: Take Metallica and Lang Lang: Who could have guessed?  Who would have believed they could play on the same stage?  It was a musical marriage that no one could have foreseen.


…And then there was another kind of marriage that the Grammys gave to the world last night:

ADDITION The 56th Ann_Cham640Audience members participate in a same-sex wedding during a performance of “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the 56th annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Thirty-three straight and gay couples lined the aisle dressed in wedding finery. They exchanged rings near the end of Sunday night’s show televised on CBS.

It was a glimpse of the realization of the great American experiment of democracy and equal rights. It was the real meaning of “All men are created equal.”

That’s the way it’s going be everywhere someday.

No doubt, the extreme right will try to stop it; but they can only slow it down, just the way they slowed down every progressive movement on the trajectory of equality:

Women’s right; minority rights; gay rights…and any other “rights” struggle that doesn’t conform to their rigid beliefs.

I hope I live to see what I saw at the Grammys in every town, in every city, in every country on Earth:

The commitment of love, called marriage: Color-blind, Gender-blind, every-difference-among-the human-race blind.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Trusting Strangers: a Way of Life

Do you trust strangers? Of course you do. Our lives depend on trusting strangers. You wouldn’t leave your house if you didn’t trust strangers.

This is what I thought the other day as I watched a cop walking the beat on my commuter train. He’s “packing,” of course. He’s a big guy with a big gun hanging from his holster.  I look at him and he says “good morning” very softly.  I say it back.

We all feel secure with him there. But why do we feel secure?  He is a stranger with a gun. We feel secure because he is a stranger with a gun wearing a police uniform, the universal symbol that he’s here to protect us. We all rest easily.

But if he weren’t wearing a uniform we would all be frozen in fear…terrified.

But then I think: We trust that he is a cop. How hard, really, is it to get a facsimile of a police uniform?  We hear stories on the news about police imposters stopping cars on the highways.

And if we’re sure that he is a cop, we trust that he’s not a psychopath who happens to be a cop who wants to kill us all. We live by trusting strangers.

We trust that drivers will stop at red lights; we trust that chefs in restaurants won’t poison us; we trust that the pilot who soars our plane up to 35,000 feet isn’t suicidal.

US Airways Rumored To Be Pushing For American Airlines Merger

We always trust strangers; it’s a way of life.

What Price for Papal Resignation?

When I was growing up, my family treated religion just like the decorative, high back chair my mother placed in a corner of the living room:  It was so uncomfortable that no one ever sat on it; but it was always there, just in case we needed another seat for special occasions.

So even though the impending resignation by the Pope will have as much impact on me as Lance Armstrong getting stripped of all his cycling championships, I still feel compelled to comment.

We know that President’s can resign…


But a Pope?  The last Pope resigned over 600 years ago because of the Great Schism (look it up yourself if you care!).


Think of this: When the search committee (a.k.a. the College of Cardinals) meets to select a new Pope, one of the great mysteries of Catholicism occurs: Sitting at the head of the conference table of the Papal-picking group of wannabe Popes…is divine intervention.


So after the cardinals deliberate…and argue…and cajole… and finally the white smoke replaces the black smoke and billows from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel…we have a new pope! But only through the highest executive order and not by the Cardinals.

(While this divine authority would not be covered under the expressed powers of a Heavenly Constitution – if there were one – it would be covered under the “implied powers.”).

And when God intervenes, you don’t get elected Pope for a puny four-year term like an American President.  You’re “it” for life.  There are no term limits in God’s time.

You have to answer to over a billion catholics, Pope Benedict. And don’t try to claim that you can’t be wrong because of the doctrine of Papal infallibility…because guess whose authority made you infallible?

Still want to resign Ratzinger?

I wouldn’t want to be you when you go into the confessional and St. Peter slides open that screen…


The Words that Killed 58,000 Americans

“This is your text-book,” Mr. Anderson said  as he held up a small paperback on the first day of class. It was 1967. He was my American history teacher in my senior year of high school.  He was short and stocky and his face seemed to be in a perpetual pout.

“It’s the only book you’ll need until Christmas,” he told us.

After he said that, my friend Nick and I looked at each other as if to say, we have finally reached Heaven in school: How could it get any easier?

The book was American Diplomacy, 1900-1950 by George Kennan, a former foreign policy analyst for the State Department.


We didn’t know, of course, that this was not just any book.  And we really didn’t care.  But soon enough, we learned that Mr. Anderson was bent on teaching us a powerful lesson about life through this book.  He was bent on getting us to think…and to question what people claimed to be the truth.

Mr. Anderson showed us how Mr. Kennan’s words led to the war that was raging in Vietnam.  It sounded crazy to us.  Words caused a war?  So Mr. Anderson went on to teach us how words and war are linked.

Mr. Anderson then explained that Mr. Kennan had formulated  the “Containment Theory.” It was supposed to block the spread of communism.  Before long, Mr. Anderson went on, the Containment Theory became the backbone for the Truman Doctrine’s anti-Soviet Union policy in 1947.

Mr. Anderson also referred to Mr. Kennan’s theory as the “Domino Theory.”  In the domino game, if you tipped one domino over, it would topple all the others in line.  He taught us that Mr. Kennan said countries would fall in the same way to communism.


One day Mr. Anderson lectured us about the Korean War.  He recounted how the Chinese domino had already fallen and the Korean domino was next in line. It was already teetering, he said, so we sent troops to “prop” up the South Korean domino.  Mr. Anderson, with a pout more sobering than his usual one, said that it took 36,000 American lives to keep that domino from falling.

Then Mr. Anderson focused on Mr. Kennan. He told us Mr. Kennan complained that the politicians distorted his views in order to justify an aggressive stance toward communism. Eventually, Mr. Anderson said, Kennan became a critic of the foreign policy he helped to create.

When I look back, I believe that Mr. Anderson was successful in teaching us to think and question.  He taught us that when the ideas of thinkers like Mr. Kennan get into the hands of politicians, they often get a new interpretation to justify the actions the politicians want to take anyway.

And so as we studied Mr. Kennan’s book in our history class, we couldn’t have known that some of us who were turning the pages of his book today could be killed in Vietnam tomorrow.  We didn’t know that the words we were studying, words written a generation before, had already shaped our immediate futures…

…because it would take 58,000 American lives to prop up that Vietnamese domino …

and then it fell anyway.


Long ago, Mr. Anderson had taught us to think…to question…and to understand how words and war are linked.

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