When we live despite the urge to fear

Live without the urge to fear (Willow)

Fear is an ugly thing. It contorts the face, boils the gut, and manifests in every unhealthy emotion – anger, worry, hatred. Fear can spread across the land, a virus more deadly than any microbe.

“Fear is the mind-killer,” Frank Herbert wrote: It robs us of our reason, strips love and compassion from our hearts, and brings out the monster in us.

The children of fear are slavery, tyranny and war.

When we overcome fear, we rise. Continue reading “When we live despite the urge to fear”

A dystopia, if they can keep it

Benjamin Franklin, who famously said that the Founders had crafted “a republic, if you can keep it,” is also often quoted (apparently incorrectly) as saying those who would trade their freedom for a small measure of security will have neither.

H.L. Mencken did write, and I often quote, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

I picked up my 50th anniversary edition of Animal Farm the other day, and found the 1996 preface and – to a certain extent, even the reprinted 1954 introduction – a sense of relief that the world had escaped the dystopian Soviet model that so concerned George Orwell when he wrote his brilliant fairy story in the 1940s. I’m not so sure that their relief was justified. Continue reading “A dystopia, if they can keep it”

So what is How to Play a Blue Guitar anyway

How to Play A Blue GuitarUPDATE: If you were waiting for the hardcover, wait no more. Click this link.

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So far I will not be able to retire on the sales revenues from my newly published book, How to Play a Blue Guitar. I confess that I have not been especially helpful explaining what this book is.

Is it a manifesto about how to live a life of peace in a turbulent world? a cry for sanity in an insane world? a chuckle among friends? an oddball collection of diverse thoughts and fables around more or less a common theme? a serious attempt to step up and say something even if no one cares to listen? a frivolous jumble published on a sudden whim? a ponderous, jubilant shout from a man trapped in a world he never made?

Why, yes. Yes, it is. Continue reading “So what is How to Play a Blue Guitar anyway”

Beware The Deep Silly

dreamstime_s_104503816 sinister eyes © Sjstudio357

The Deep Silly is a conspiracy of bored bureaucrats who have banded together and challenge each other to see what ridiculous things they can get people to do.

This is why such conflicting information flies about. This is how many laws and regulations are crafted.

Does something seem so ridiculous it can’t possibly be real?

That’s the Deep Silly at work.

Elected politicians think they’re in charge, but they’re mere pawns of the Deep Silly. Behind every major political movement of the 21st century, the Deep Silly is calling the shots, manipulating all human endeavor and thought until it is completely ridiculous.

Why does it do this? The Deep Silly hates our freedom – with a passion. It won’t stop until we all make fools of ourselves by allowing its power to grow.

It has but one weakness: The Deep Silly has no sense of humor. If we laugh at its edicts, the Deep Silly will wobble, although it won’t fall down. The Deep Silly grows offended when someone mentions how silly it is, but laughing at Deep Silly is a healthy thing.

In fact, the best way to deny the Deep Silly is to laugh at it. No, Seriously.

Wolves in the Wind


Across the land, two wolves are fighting.

One wolf has a legitimate fear of a potentially deadly virus and wants people to take reasonable precautions not only to protect themselves against infection but to protect others who may become infected if they, themselves, are unknowing carriers of the disease.

The other wolf is mining that legitimate fear to advance and extend government actions that, under normal circumstances, would be considered unacceptable by a vast majority.

Which wolf wins?

The one you feed, of course.

The Ones Who Think We’re Theirs: A dystopian fantasy

dreamstime_s_56454176 shackles

I still remember the moment. I was – I honestly don’t remember much about the day before it happened. But of that day, I remember noticing that the sun was shining, leaves were off the trees but the evergreens gave a feeling of warmth, and we rode our bicycles on and off the sidewalks in front of cozy, well-kept houses. This was in the days when smaller towns had sidewalks.

And when it happened, the world changed. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that “after” it happened, the world changed. Or maybe this was the moment when we realized the world had been changing all along, and we hadn’t noticed. Continue reading “The Ones Who Think We’re Theirs: A dystopian fantasy”

Imagining a world without rulers

dreamstime_s_7268548 planet and star
Planet and Star © Andreus Dreamstime.com

1. Love your neighbor as yourself.

2. Come and go in peace.

3. Give more than you receive.

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Eight years ago (at this writing) I wrote a book purporting to be the memoirs of a man who led a non-violent revolution a century or three from now on the fourth planet from the sun Sirius, establishing a “common wealth” of people who live without a set of rulers trying to run their lives.

The Imaginary Revolution is – to be charitable to myself – uneven as a novel, and if I were to write it today it would be different, just as I am different from the guy who wrote it. I may yet tell the same story from a different perspective – I left the characters of The Imaginary Bomb hanging a very long time ago, and very alert readers may have noticed two of them perish in the background of The Imaginary Revolution. I’ve always wanted to bridge the gaps between those two stories.

My revolutionary fellow, Ray Kaliber, boiled his philosophy down to the above three “Tenets of Common Wealth.” (Actually, his second tenet is “Interact with love – not force or violence,” but in the ensuing years I’ve found a better way to say it.)

This reflection is adapted from a section of The Imaginary Revolution that Kaliber called “What I Believe,” removing the middle man (Mr. Kaliber). Continue reading “Imagining a world without rulers”


Submitting a Vote

The angry old men
Stood across from each other.
“Me,” said one.
“No, me,” said the other.
They glowered in silence
for a moment, then a voice said,
“Let the people decide.”
They scoffed but turned
to the people.
“Oh!” the people said.
“Are you still here?”