News note: 50 years ago this month, the St. Norbert College chapter of Students for a Democratic Society quietly disbanded. “We want to be peaceful – completely nonviolent and peaceful,” chapter president Greg McHugh said. “SDS no longer represents all students, but only those seeking violent revolution.”
In this time, when the president is a caricature, and left and right alike seek blood at every turn, where are those who want to be peaceful – completely nonviolent and peaceful? Does anyone really want this to be a violent and aggressive world? Besides the mad, that is?
As precious and special as life is, why would anyone sane wish to extinguish as many lives as possible in one fell swoop? Why would anyone sane wish to obliterate a single life?
“You can’t beat us,” the bullies sometimes tell us.
Malcolm Reynolds, stalwart captain of the space freighter Serenity, had the best-ever response: “I got no need to beat you. I just want to go my way.”
What’s with all the discouraging words? Home, home with the strange, where the crackpot politicians play, where seldom is heard an encouraging word and the skies are just cloudy all day.
Sow discord, reap the whirlwind. These gardeners have been tilling the soil with seeds of hate, envy, fear and loathing for so long, it’s hard to breathe with all these weeds choking the air.
Fortunately, there is a solution. Stop listening, for one. Much of their power is in the silver tongue of false promises and false prophecies. (”The world as we know it will end unless you give me more power!!!”)
Whatever is good – think on those things. Listen to those who add value to life: the builders, not the petty demolition experts. Turn off the noise …
It’s 300 or 400 years in the future, give or take. Robots are in charge, sort of, and people spend most of their time avoiding each other and popping pills that leave them pretty doped up most of the time. Close interaction with others, including eye contact, is strenuously discouraged if not outright illegal. Now and then two or three people get together and immolate themselves, for no readily apparent reason. Oh, and there don’t seem to be any children around. Continue reading “W.B.’s Book Report: Mockingbird”
Milton Mayer’s book subtitled “The Germans 1933-45” is a remarkable bit of work. Mayer lived in Germany for a few years after the close of World War II and wanted to know how ordinary folks could have allowed the oppressive regime led by Adolf Hitler to seize control of their country and their lives.
The title of the book says it all: They thought they were free.
Mayer writes about his friendship with 10 men and his conversations about their everyday lives in a relatively small town. He paints a plausible portrait of people only tangentially aware that their government was descending into totalitarianism and tyranny — because they were busy living their lives and it usually didn’t affect them directly. Continue reading “W.B.’s Book Report: They Thought They Were Free”
It’s interesting to me, looking inward, that of all the big and little books I have assembled over the years, when I recommitted to making books, my first impulse was to polish up and rebrand these two books that celebrate the power of the individual over the state. Continue reading “2 great calls to liberty”
I study Ray Bradbury because I wish to convey joy and wonder the way he does with his words … or Paul Harvey.
I’ll always remember Paul Harvey describing the amazing car of the future, rhapsodizing about its many features and technological wonders for three or four minutes, and then revealing he had just described his new Oldsmobile Toronado.
Ray Bradbury and Paul Harvey were so good at using words to create that excitement in your chest as you breathe more rapidly because what you’re seeing is so wondrous … to call the reader or listener’s attention to the miraculous right before your eyes … Continue reading “Our lives are magic”
I don’t know much about Seth MacFarlane – mainly that he has a different sense of humor than mine, because many of his jokes fall flat with me – but he seems to be an intelligent and talented man, so when the characters in his scripts say or do something, I think he knows what they’re saying or doing.
I’ve been mostly enjoying MacFarlane’s television show The Orville, his homage to Star Trek, but he stopped me cold last week with an exchange during the episode titled “All the World Is Birthday Cake,” written by MacFarlane, in which Capt. Ed Mercer’s crew makes first contact with a civilization much like ours but a century or two behind the enlightened Union space travelers.
During a banquet scene, one of the natives asks about the economic system of the visitors, saying, “I’m fascinated that there’s no form of currency exchange.” Continue reading “Slipping poison into a vial of laughter”
The notifications – the dings and chimes and beeps and boops – the shouts, the rhythms, the alarms – the clangs and flashing lights – all of these served to keep the people from thinking too hard, to blur their focus, to mesmerize them, and after a while they forgot.
They forgot why they had considered it so important to be free. It was more important to be secure, free from the valleys, all mountaintops for them, not touched by bad things, only safe and warm and comfortable.
And the safety net, built so meticulously to help the struggling and the poor and the old and the infirm, became just a net. Continue reading “How liberty died to thunderous applause”