Friday, November 28, 2008

Ecce Homo

"Wal-Mart worker dies after shoppers knock him down". Every once in a while an event takes place which startles the shit out of me. Today's event is the stampede at a suburban New York Wal-Mart where rabid shoppers broke down the doors trying to enter the store to secure whatever Chinese-made treasures their vacuous hearts were yearning after. In the "event", a worker was trampled and died from his injuries. The victim was 34 years old - Black Fucking Friday, indeed.

Events like these hold up a mirror to us. If we are willing and brave, if we are able to distance ourselves from ourselves for a brief moment, if we look carefully into the mirror, we can acknowledge the verity of Walt Kelly's line from the old "Pogo" cartoon from a couple of generations back -- "we have met the enemy, and they is us." It's not just that other person who is part of the mob that rampages when their favorite team wins the championship, or who is so fearful of not getting that $388.00 flat screen at Wal-Mart, or who believes they are justified in their killing because their government, or their religious leader, or their thirst for vengeance says they are. It is all of us who are this strange admixture we call human. Capable of such wrong and harm -- and at the same time able to find within us the capacity to care for one another, treasure life, and even sacrifice our own lives for the sake of another.

In troubled economic times, the concern is which part of our nature will be acted upon most......the rampaging mob part of us seeking to act out of, and protect, our self-interest.............or the part of us that is rarely draw upon in such times, the good, the sacrificial, the "brother's keeper", the authentic humanity we were created to be.

The mirror tells us which one the advertisers and merchandisers would prefer ----

"They is us....Ecce Homo".

Happy Holidays

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Timely Question

Who am I? They often tell me I would step from my cell's confinement calmly, cheerfully, firmly, like a squire from his country-house.

Who am I? They often tell me I would talk to my warden freely and friendly and clearly, as though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me I would bear the days of misfortune equably, smilingly, proudly, like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of, or am I only what I know of myself, restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,

struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat, yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds, thirsting for
words of kindness, for neighborliness, trembling with anger at despotisms and petty humiliation, tossing in expectation of great events,

powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance, weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making, faint and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the other? Am I one person today, and tomorrow another? Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others, and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling? Or is something within me still like a beaten army, fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine. Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine.

The words were written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer over sixty years ago as he sat awaiting execution for his role in an unsuccessful assasination attempt on Adolph Hitler. Bonhoeffer was a pastor of the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church in Germany. His rationale for participating in an assasination attempt was, "it is better to do evil than to become evil".

The words of the poem are pertinent to me as I reflect upon my life. Now unemployed for the first time since I was 15 I ask the question daily, Who Am I?". My questioning ends the same as Bonhoeffer's, "Whoever I am, Thou Knowest, O God, I am thine."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Morning After

I slept in this morning. I wasn't up late or anything like that (though I did consume several Coors Lights over the limit). I was election fatigued and took the opportunity to snooze all the attack ads out of my system.

It was a storied election. Exciting, exhilarating, enlivening. Of course, I voted for Obama - this old, mid-west liberal sat with tears in his eyes as he watched the President-Elect deliver his "victory speech". I was transfixed, once again I was reminded of the power of words to create and punctuate a moment in time. Words have power - they can kill or make alive. Our new President knows that well, I believe. I will offer prayers for him, and the country often in the days and years ahead.

I hope that we will be patient with him -- he has inherited a horribly dysfunctional economy. I trust his wisdom to gather around him other folks to try to sort out the morass in which we find ourselves.

I'm glad to be done with "Palin". Although, to the extent that she contributed to the defeat of the Repbulican ticket, I'm glad she got the exposure she did. Her choice should be a reminder to all of us that our country is too complex to be governed with "gimmicks". She should become the lowest common benchmark by which women are measured on the political scene from now on. McCain's flaw in his VP choice, in my humble opinion,was that he couldn't convince Condoleeza Rice to run with him. That would have been a highly formidable ticket and the election might have had a different outcome -- certainly it would have been a much closer battle.

On the Poler front -- I haven't been playing online much lately. I used a bunch of my bankroll earlier in the summer to prop up the family while we were struggling with the restaurant debacle (another post -- a long one). I tried to win an entry to the BC Open later in
November but couldn't get there. I played well, just never could get the big stack accumulated.

Paula (wife) and I spent a couple of nights at Spirit Mountain (Grande Ronde, Or.) about a week and a half ago. We left on the day we signed the sale papers on The Albina Green. We got out of town late so I missed the Thursday night bounty tourney. I played Friday's tourney - got through the first level and 1/2. Saw three flops in that time -- got it all in w AK against A9hh - flop came Jh,7h,Qd - turn was 3s, river came 9c -- rivered and out. Played cash game from 2pm till 9pm. Cashed out the princely sum of 60.00.

Saturday we played Pai Gow together for most of the day -- dreadly boring game - but an action game nonetheless. She snagged a couple of straight-flushes on the prop bets and we ended up up a few hundred bucks. Pai Gow creates an interesting social scene -- all players play against the dealer and no one can screw up the play(like in Blackjack where folks can affect the outcome of play by hitting/not hitting correctly. A little community forms at the Pai Gow table where folks are in each other's corner and bonded by the constant vision of the dealer with a Jack high Pai Gow.