21 December 2012

Reflections on Violence

I've lost a small child.  So I know that if you are experiencing loss now, nothing anyone tries to say to you will make any sense.  I know that compassion and love reached me in the depth of my loss.  So if you are in pain, please accept my love and compassion.

The rest of this post is analysis, so please read on only if you are in a state to receive these thoughts.

Since 2004, I've subscribed to a feed of every syndicated editorial cartoon in the national papers (http://gocomics.com).  This feed gives me a finger on the pulse of the major media that is more incisive than the print stories.  This is the first time since I started subscribing in 2004 that I read the list when every single cartoonist agreed on one thing, and had the same take.  They all editorialized gun control as the solution, or lack of gun control as the problem.  I get cartoonists from left, right, center, and independent.  They have never agreed on anything before.  So clearly, this latest shooting brings out similar thoughts and feelings.

But I can't help but wonder if there isn't an agenda to make us give up our constitutional right to defend ourselves against a government gone security-state.  The NRA exists because many Americans feel passionately about their constitutional right to bear arms, and the right to bear arms that a militia would use.  My mother believed in non-violence.  I have always dismissed the argument that if you were willing to take up arms when the Commies come marching up your own street, you couldn't be a conscientious objector.  I object on conscience to all foreign military adventures because they make us the invaders.  I've defended myself, and I think, despite my non-violent upbringing and my Buddhish nature, that I would take up arms against a corrupt U.S. regime if the Code Red Coup were to happen here.  ( http://ProvisionalAuthority.us )  It's my constitutional right.   I would join with my neighbors, friends, and countrymen, and I would hope that we'd have sufficient weapons to prevail.  No, I don't have a tank, but assault rifles in the hands of Iraqis have sure kept the "Most Powerful Army On Earth" from being victorious in Iraq.  I say this not to piss off American soldiers and their families, but to imagine, for a moment, what it might be like to be Iraqi, stuck between a U.S. supported dictator and the U.S. Army.

On the other hand, I'm not hearing a lot about the causes of our current situation.  I would like to hear more about how we don't offer national healthcare in this country, when all other industrialized nations do.  I would like to hear more about how we don't provide mental health care.  How we don't educate our citizens in Non-Violent Communication (NVC).  NVC was promoted by Ghandi, and the work is carried on today in the most hostile of regions with some success.  I studied with Dr. Marshal Rosenberg ( http://www.cnvc.org/ ), who teaches this method, and he and his co-workers bravely tread into Israel, and Sri Lanka.  But how many school children or adults could tell you what NVC is?  I'd like to hear about how we tolerate violent TV shows, Web ads, Movies.  Have you seen Spiderman?  It's a children's movie.  Up until I realized how dire Romney would be, I was going to abstain from re-electing Obama because of his little robot-speech about how he hunted down and killed Osama bin Laden.  Without a trial.   This country has been on a path for a long time that pointed to the morals of the law of the Wild Wild West.  Every president has sought blood rather than compassion.  So many TV shows make crime sexy, and glorify the masters and minions of the security state.

Ronald Reagan, when he was governor of my state (California), opened the mental wards and just let everyone out, claiming that the state and the people shouldn't have to pay.  Then he rode into washington as an un-apologetic Wild West cowboy, and joked about nuking the Russians out of existence.   ("My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today, that I have signed legislation that would outlaw Russia forerver.  We begin bombing in five minutes." --Ronald Reagan.  On microphone, at a Whitehouse press conference.) Even Hilter was unable to wipe out the Russians, so Reagan was talking about some major kick-ass.  I believe the word is genocide.  Reagan is now revered as a statesman.

I am limping these days.  I broke my toe kicking a BMW who cut me off in a cross walk.  That's how close he was.  I'm Buddhish (means I think Buddhism makes sense, but I can't claim any single belief system) so I consider my broken toe to be a Hard-Zen lesson.  My anger did nothing to this man and his car, but it hurt me.  I live in Berkeley.  I used to carry quarters in my pocket to fling at all the cars that cut me off.   I went through about $1.50 a week.  But, thinking of the damage I've done to my toe, I've sworn off attacking those who trespass against me, as a small step towards non-violence.   For ultimately, our violence comes back to get us.

My mother was manic-depressive.  She found yoga, meditation, music, and a loving church community to be helpful.  My mother worked on psychiatric wards. We performed music in chronic wards.  My friend John was schizophrenic.  He was never violent, except to himself.  His sister made a documentary that included him because he slipped back and forth between lucid cogency, and hearing aliens speaking in his head warning him that the government was controlling him through the TV.  (Well, I believe that the government and the market are controlling us through TV, but that's different.)  He meant literally warping his mind through special rays.  His sister said every time she screened the film, folks would come up and say they had someone in their family who had a grave mental illness.  Every family has some contact with mental illness.  Yet John could not get care for more than 30 days at a time before he was out on the street.  And he had healthcare and his family had some money.  The system simply does not deal with long-term illness.  Without being committed, you simply cannot get long-term coping care.  And committment is roughly equivalent to imprisonment.

I feel for everyone who is outraged and incensed.  I'm only asking that we take this time, those of us who can, to reflect on our whole society, and our laws, our warrior-class aproach to the world, our consumerism and materialism, our fear- and security-based society and media, our social network, our industrialized school systems, our "gilded-age" health care system, and our lack of mental health care.

Laramie Crocker
21 December 2012
Berkeley, CA

20 December 2012

the last day

On the day before the end of the world
I wanted to die
to prove that the Universe would end
I wouldn't know if it proved it to the ones I left behind
but it would end for me

On the day before the end of the world
I had a bad day
I woke up
with a pain in my head
my body ached
my toe throbbed
my belly churned
and I wanted to crawl back
into bed

On the day before the end of the world
I fought time
as I always seem to do
it should be  a flow
but it felt like a bad joke

My dreams premonitor my waking life
and tell me I'll be stuck in the same pattern
fixing floor tiles
while airplanes crashed overhead
and I was supposed to be catching one
to fly away
to the place that would make me feel OK
in the middle of Winter
on the day before the end of the world

And then the floor tile was done
and I wanted to live
and write a song
and tell stories
and sing

Fear itself
is dread
o do I fear dread

on the day before the end of the world
I saved a hummingbird
by blotting out the skylight
and airplanes hung low over the house

10 December 2012

Happiness: my 2012 birthday bash!

I was thinking that maybe I needed a house-boy to do all the things I was supposed to be doing as host of an epic all-night-birthday-bash party. Things I was too busy having fun to do. Like replacing broken light bulbs, stoking the woodstove, pulling the dishwasher off the front porch...

But I never did get a house-boy, or needed one, because everyone else was having so much fun just as things were. Wherever I went Saturday night, someone was reaching an arm for me, or waiting to be schmurgled. I felt so much love wandering around the house, and making music with everyone. We spend so much time trying to prepare and create for our friends, so we can be loved. Practicing songs, preparing the house, this is loving by doing. At the party, just sharing our happiness and love brings a houseful of sharing, happy, loving friends.

Thank you, and we'll see you for the next Cowboy Lounge!

photos: greg cross
photos: wendi olson

20 February 2012


A new song, still in progress.

por Laramie Crocker
Un suñeo es mi vida
Que dulce es mi vida

Es dulce en mi jardin
en la primavera con tigo

Que dulce es tu vida
con migo

Un suñeo es mi vida
Que dulce es mi vida
con tigo

Listen Here: Dulce