Archive for September, 2011



20
Sep
11

supreme irony

I love this country, but I hate what it is becoming.

A couple days ago, Jerry and Eva sent me an e-mail asking me to wear blue this coming Friday for “Blue Friday,” an expression of support for American troops overseas. The idea is to wear blue every Friday until all our troops come home. We need our young men here at home. The futile, senseless killing has got to stop. I support this gesture and will be wearing blue this Friday.

Too many family tragedies like this one have been playing out for too long.

This is the arrival home of the body of 2nd Lt. James Cathey, as photographed by Todd Heisler of The Rocky Mountain News. (Heisler won a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for these photos.) Passengers are seen here watching Cathey’s family gathering on the tarmac at the Reno airport as a Marine honor guard climbs into the cargo hold and drapes a flag over his casket.

Here Lt. Cathey’s widow Katherine is seen in the arms of a Marine major who was detailed to oversee funeral arrangements and provide grief counseling for the family.

Cathey died on August 21, 2005. He and a corporal had gone ahead of a platoon to scout near Al Karmah, Iraq and a roadside bomb exploded. “He always told me, ‘Don’t worry,'” Cathey’s mother Caroline said. Her son had told her, “If we don’t fight it over there, we’ll be fighting it over here.”

As I recall, Cheney and Bush originated that line. By now we know how truthful their justifications have been all along for everything from the Iraq invasion, to the efficacy of torture, to tax cuts for the rich. In Afghanistan they oversaw the production of more opium in each growing season than in any one year of rule by the Taliban, who had pretty much eradicated opium poppy cultivation. Cheney/Bush (and now Obama) policies are responsible for the deaths of more than 4,683 American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Katherine learned she was pregnant with a son while Cathey was in Iraq. The night before his burial, Katherine refused to leave his casket, asking to sleep next to his body one last time. A few months later, just days before Christmas, their son Jimmy was born. He will be six this December. The Marines have been doing an admirable job of supporting Katherine and Jimmy, but nothing they do can ever restore the lost husband and father to life.

How many other American kids are growing up without fathers?

And how many more kids are living with the awful consequences resulting from the 32,800 troops who have been injured, half of them with serious mental health disorders and brain and spinal cord injuries?

For the last decade we have been recklessly meddling in the lives and affairs of other nations, arrogantly presenting our system of governance as superior to all others.

At the same time, our own house has not only been in fiscal disorder, but its foundations have been deteriorating from rot and moral corruption as our freedoms have been bargained and frittered away.

This was reinforced last night when Stephen called to tell me that James Prindle’s prosecutor has upped the ante in trying to get James to admit to a crime he did not commit. James rejected an earlier plea that included an admission to the crime and lifelong labeling as a sex offender. Now the prosecutor has changed the offer to all-of-the-above plus forty years in prison—in reality, a death sentence. The prosecutor has no evidence connecting James to the crime. He doesn’t have anything going for him but a judge who is himself a former prosecutor inclined to give the prosecution the benefit of the doubt.

If James were to go to prison as a sex offender, he would be targeted for murder within a general population that takes a dim view of inmates who are said to have sexually victimized children. The State of Tennessee has absolutely no interest in truth or justice, only winning, and James’ court-appointed public defender has been ineffectual. Upon hearing this news, James spiraled into a suicidal panic and we had to ask the Memphis jail to put him on a special watch.

“The practice of blackmailing accused people with the threat of extremely high sentences to force them to admit never-committed crimes to get lower sentences is…everyday life,” wrote Martin Killias, a professor of law and criminology at the University of Lausanne, in a Swiss newspaper. “Madness has become normal in the US,” he said.

Why do so many Americans not see this and demand real justice, especially for our own children? Is it for this shoddy standard of justice that so many American soldiers have died or been maimed? Is it for this that so many children of military families suffer?

In an eleventh-hour move, we have finally identified a private criminal defense attorney in Memphis who is experienced defending sex crimes. Stephen talked to him last night and called me to discuss the particulars. It will be expensive: $15,000.

Stephen asked me if we can raise that much. “What is the life of a child worth?” I countered. I told him we have no choice but to raise the money. “Call that lawyer and tell him we’ll do it,” I said with as much confidence I could muster.

Yet to tell you the truth, I went to bed deeply troubled that it has come to this. I awakened early this morning no less troubled.

And then, when I fired up my computer, an e-mail was waiting for me from £ance Nickson, the organizer of the “Aussie Gang” in Melbourne, Australia. He was writing to tell me that he’d recruited new members into the Gang. He said they were sending more money in a few days for James, Blade, and the other kids. He said he’s organized a Christmas benefit concert at an Anglican church for our kids. (£ance is not only an accountant—hence his use of a pound symbol instead of an L—but a liturgical organist.)

The uncanny timing and content of his message truly was a godsend. It was the perfect antidote to the doubts that had troubled my sleep and even raised fears of official interference. It reminded me that even if many Americans are asleep to the perils to our freedoms, there are lots of people like £ance… people who, despite all our nation’s failings of the last decade, still believe in the American ideal of “Liberty and Justice for All.”

It just seems like such a supreme irony that while our soldiers are fighting and dying overseas for reasons based on deception and greed, people like £ance who live overseas are looking out for America’s children here at home. In a curious way, it makes me believe in the idea of America all the more.

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Robert Morse and the cast of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” performing “I Believe In You”

19
Sep
11

memento mori 2

Admittedly, the death of a dog is not equivalent to the loss of a child or other family member. Yet it does present a similar challenge to integrate the reality of death into a life that, in its totality, is hopefully creative and life-affirming. Somehow we must all live on after loss and eventually deal with our own mortality in positive ways.  

Memento mori is a Latin phrase which translates as “Remember your mortality”, “Remember you must die” or “Remember you will die.” The phrase has a tradition in art, dating back to antiquity, identifying a genre of artistic work which reminds people of our inevitable earthly fates.

In the relatively modern art form of photography, memento mori often refers to a peculiar Victorian practice, originated in the earliest years of photography, of postmortem portraiture. The invention of the daguerreotype in 1839 made portraiture—once only available to those rich enough to commission a painted portrait—available to people of middle class means. Moreover, with the extremely high childhood mortality rates of the age, a postmortem photograph might be the only image a family could ever have as a keepsake of a lost infant or child.

This practice impresses contemporary sensibilities as macabre. It eventually peaked in popularity around the end of the 19th century and waned as “snapshot” photography became more commonplace with the introduction of the Kodak camera. Yet response to my July 30th post about mummies, “I See… Dead People,” has been so unexpectedly strong, I cannot resist the impulse to once again pander to people’s morbid curiosities.

However, I do think viewing these images can serve a higher purpose than merely satisfying our gratuitous and arguably voyeuristic urges. They remind us of the pervasive fact of life that without dark and loss, we cannot fully appreciate and optimize the light and love that life has to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Cure performing “Pictures of You”

18
Sep
11

memento mori

After I’d gone to bed last night, I heard Otto go outside through the dog door at the back of the house. Earlier in the day his efforts to use the door were frustrated by his extreme weakness, and he crumpled on the spot. I didn’t want anything similar to happen while he was outdoors in the dark, so I arose to be with him. It’s now five in the morning and I have been up all night, watching and keeping a vigil for him.

I have done this so many times before, for people mostly, that I feel like an old hand at it. I don’t really do anything for the beneficiaries of such vigils; I mainly just watch them sleep.

Sometimes I have doubts and feel my presence is useless and superfluous; yet at such times, all I have to do to center on the worth of my being there is to remember a time when I entered the hospital room of a friend and mentor who was dying of cancer, suffering dementia, and was highly disturbed. His family was not there. His attendant, an ignorant woman who was assigned to sit with him for no particular reason except that she was a minimum-wage employee, was unable to calm him. I touched my friend’s forehead, said his name, and he resumed momentary consciousness. “Oh, Dan,” he said, breathed a sigh, and instantly became calm.

I told his attendant she could leave us, and I held his hand for a couple hours while he slept comfortably. It was the last time I saw him. He died in the middle of that night. Yet I clearly heard his voice answer a question the next day.

Through that experience I learned the importance of not letting people die alone, even if there is nothing you can do. Your presence is enough. It will never be forgotten.

It is now eight in the morning and I have just awakened from a three hour nap in the chair. Otto has been sleeping peacefully. When I open the door to a beautiful sunny day, he follows me outside and assumes a new sleeping position in the sun. The air is clear and fresh and laden with moist desert aromas. I leave him in this peaceful state, reheat the night’s coffee, and type a few paragraphs into this post.

It is now nine in the morning and I stand in the doorway watching Otto sleep. He raises his head, looks at me, and struggles to his feet. He stands there as if unsure of what he wants to do. I walk over to him and brush off the tiny pebbles that have adhered to his chest and stomach. All he wants to know is that he is not alone. That he is still cared for.

He moves to a new outdoor sleeping spot in the shade.

It will likely continue like this through the whole day. Maybe I will feel comfortable enough to go to bed for a good sleep. I don’t know. We will have to see.

Now Otto has come indoors and is sleeping next to my desk chair.

There is nothing for me to do but to just be here for him. It’s probably enough. He won’t forget.

Maybe his spirit will rejoin me when my time comes.

۞

Otto slipped away quietly in his sleep this afternoon at 4:35 pm central time. He was still sleeping next to my desk chair.

۞

(four days later)

A ghostly outline of his body still  marks the spot where he died.

I believe his spirit is still here, too.

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Lenny Kravitz performing “Believe”

17
Sep
11

sacred time

For the last couple days I have been noticing from his vomit and stools that Otto is bleeding internally. His footing and balance are increasingly unsteady. He is very weak. There is an uncertain look in his eyes. I think it is just a matter of time, but I do not know how much.

We have spent all day just being together. I rub his ears, massage his back and spindly bare legs, just as I have since he was a puppy. When he goes outside, I go with him and offer encouragement as he needs it. I do not want him to get the idea of going off someplace alone to die.

I wonder if some mysterious, sympathetic thing is happening between us. My own health has been uncharacteristically fragile, too. At the slightest exertion, the pain I experienced several days ago returns. It is almost as if Otto and I have entered the same time-space domain together. We are moving in tandem, in parallel. Otto will not come through this passage alive in a physical sense, but I must and I will.

Yet experiencing and sharing what Otto is experiencing—at an intense, profound, and challenging level—is mine to do right now. I owe this expression of fealty not only to him, but to me. We will meet again. In this passage will be imbedded some of the tenderest moments in our relationship—it is always that way at the end.

In my June 29, 2010 post, “Talks With Animals,” I wrote about an encounter with Cindy Wenger, an animal communication interpreter. At that time she told me that Otto and I—or, more precisely, our souls—have been fellow travelers through many lifetimes. I am inclined to believe it. It provides a logic for why we seem to be connected in ways more significant than mere habit or mutual comfort. It explains why we so often seem to know one another’s thoughts and moods. It helps explain why Otto didn’t pass on long ago like all of his litter mates (he is its last survivor). This may explain why we are both hanging onto one another so tenaciously in these last days, this sacred time.

Yet the bone drummer is drumming his beat, and we have no choice but accept his timing and dance.

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Leon Redbone performing “If We Never Meet Again This Side of Heaven”

16
Sep
11

allegiance no more

I’ve always been disdainful of “true crime” television programs, books and magazine articles that transform people’s tragedies into popular entertainment. For a long time this was more the result of an allegiance to snobbery than any virtue–I have just seen such voyeurism as unseemly. Yet the irony—and maybe even the hypocrisy of it—is that I’m now filling my days living a “true crime” life.

I never chose it. It chose me.

I still struggle to understand how this calling came to me of all people. I’d never even met my first criminal until I was in my late 20s—a bald-headed con artist who’d figured out how to suck the remaining liquidity out of troubled companies that he’d buy with bad checks and bogus contracts. The guy gave me the creeps and I backed off in a hurry.

But I never really knew anybody who had ever done jail time until I moved to Texas almost ten years ago. Then it seemed like most families in my average small town had some cousin, son, father, or other family member who’d gotten into scrapes with the law. Life in Texas was the first inkling I’d had that a lot of typical human behavior has been criminalized and puts its hapless victims into a condition of permanent servitude to the state.

I lived such an insulated life, I had no idea such a thing is the norm in America. Include all US residents currently incarcerated, on probation, or on parole, and the correctional population of the US is 7.2 million—roughly one in every 31 Americans. All told, the US incarcerates nearly 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, even though we are home to only 5 percent of the world’s inhabitants.

I never saw this in the big city, where I stuck to familiar haunts and pathways that bypassed grimmer realities; when I moved to a small town where eventually you learn everybody else’s business, the truth was baldly exposed.

One evening I was tipping drinks with the county judge of a nearby jurisdiction, and when I told him about my avocation he advised me to tell kids not to accept probation or parole; it is better to serve one’s full sentence, he said. The probation and parole system is set up with all kinds of technical violations designed to keep people under the state’s thumb forever.

Anyway, I came to this work as an innocent babe with expectations conditioned by years of privilege. I had always dealt with police with the assumption that they were serving me, rather than actually being members of a predatory armed force to be distrusted and even feared.

After I became involved with Derek and Alex King in 2005, I’ve been shocked to learn that the quality of justice in America bears no resemblance to that which I’d previously believed to have existed.

Average people, poor people, less-educated people, people of color—and their kids especially—do not have access to justice in America. Justice is only available to those who can afford it. If you cannot pay a lawyer $100,000 or more for a competent defense, if you cannot afford to hire expert witnesses and private investigators to find exonerating evidence that the police failed to pursue, you are S.O.L. and can expect years of exploitation at the hands of a “justice” system that knows only how to punish, torment, and bleed you and your family dry.

As Alex told me, “There is no reform in the system, only punishment. Punishment is fine, if it reforms. Punishment without the intent or hope of reforming is abuse.”

Yesterday I received a letter from Alex that (my words, not his) questions the wisdom and intelligence of the state in pursuing its vendetta against him. “I have been a model inmate for nearly all of my time incarcerated. On probation, I took care of all my responsibilities. I have shown no intent to, or desire for, ‘bucking the system.’”

Alex takes responsibility for the car accident and his response to it yet, he says, an “intent to harm, in any sense of the word ‘harm’, is missing.” He has already been held, at great cost to the state, for 3½ times the jail sentence for the so-called crime—a non-criminal act. Wouldn’t it make more practical sense, he asks, for “this offender” to be put to work repairing the damage done to the other vehicle and its owner?

“Fines, community service, an extension of probation; this feels like justice to me,” he says. “Were the crime malicious, perhaps my view would be different. As it stands, justice is not being upheld in this state.”

When we pledge allegiance to our nation’s flag, we repeat a verbal compact with our government that assures “Liberty and Justice for All” in return for our loyalty and allegiance. Yet through Alex’s experience and others’, day after day we see indisputable evidence that we’ve been betrayed. The compact has been broken by the forces of tyranny; hell, maybe the promise was fraudulent all along.

“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny,” once said a wise man.

“When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty,” he said. “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”

Any nation or state that widely administers injustice forfeits its moral authority to rule. The denial of “Liberty and Justice for All” is tyranny pure and simple.

As the Arab Spring has demonstrated, tyranny can no longer command the allegiance of citizens. The payment of taxes, service in the armed forces, compliance with all laws and regulations are all up for grabs in the absence of moral authority. “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical,” the wise man also said.

Lest anyone accuse me of being seditious for expressing these views and, assuming you are curious about who the “wise man” is, I’ll share one more of his famous aphorisms as a clue: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Did you recognize these famous words by Thomas Jefferson?

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Anne Mccue performing “Broken Promise Land”

 

This license plate is now available for sale for $25 from http://www.kingbrostrust.org. Please enter "license plate" as a note. $15 of the price will help defend Alex King against this injustice.

15
Sep
11

reluctant traveler

I really do not want to leave Estrella Vista today, but I must. My larder is full enough, I have plenty of gas, there is enough ice to last through tomorrow, but I must go to the post office today to post a certified letter in my capacity as a trust fund trustee. I’m not looking forward to starting the journey that letter represents.

I am also reluctant to make the trip because it takes time away from working for kids—at least three hours in this instance. I am bothered by the fact that the guards at Wabash Valley Correctional Institution are still assaulting Blade. He was admitted into the infirmary with cuts—something suggesting over-the-top staff behavior. I have just learned that the habeas corpus brief took more time to prepare than we’d originally thought. I need to raise an additional $650 to cover those costs, and I don’t think Blade would understand the addition of even a day’s time to his imprisonment at Wabash when every day brings the possibility of more brutalities being heaped upon him.

(If you wish to help, please direct your gift through PayPal at info-at-wandervogel-dot-com, and designate “Blade Reed” as the purpose.)

I’m reluctant to go because I am still recuperating from my health bout; yesterday I had to leave home to do some laundry, and I overdid it. I had to cut short a call with Henry to go to bed early last night. I woke up in the middle of the night, did some work, and then went back to bed and slept in until ten. I’m feeling back to normal today, but I am still reluctant to push my luck.

Minimizing visits to town—more than 55 miles roundtrip—is a real necessity for someone like me who is living on the edge. The gasoline that’s expended is a significant cost alone. I’m reluctant to make the extra trip because it is at variance with the self-discipline I have been applying as a strategy for survival in lean times.

One of the things life out here teaches is the importance of balancing consequences for every decision one makes. As my experience with the Mojave illustrates, there is a very narrow margin for error out here. There was some rainfall last night, but nowhere near enough to top off our water tank. In almost every respect, life off-the-grid is an exercise in doing-without and making-do.

As I have learned from my remarkably self-disciplined son Henry, with discipline it is possible to make substantial progress even in times of want. (He has figured out how to live on $12 per week for food while paying off his student loans and making retirement investments. I am in awe that he has been able to maintain this level of self-discipline over a period of many years.) Because of self-discipline, he is aware of money-saving opportunities that most of us would miss.

“I always bend down to pick up lost coins,” he says. His example reminds me ours is an abundant Universe that reveals its abundance in small ways more often than big.

 

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Teddy Wilson and Billie Holiday performing “Pennies From Heaven”

14
Sep
11

evil banished

I awakened early this morning without any of the pain I had been experiencing for the last couple days. Thanks to everyone for your well-wishes and advice.

I am greatly relieved to have emerged from the particular mental state I was experiencing yesterday. St. Augustine said that physical pain is the greatest evil. I drifted in and out of sleep most of the day and was bothered by recurring thoughts, dreams, and images of evil in the world. These thoughts filled me with ambivalence about living. Evil is, after all, the antithesis of life.

A friend had sent me an MP3 of a prophetic message saying that civilization is about to experience a great collapse in the next few months. Even though I don’t put much stock in such things, I did listen to it and it helped put a pall on the day. I had also been bothered all day by news that Blade Reed was in the infirmary after having been beaten again by guards at Wabash. There was a story on the radio about CIA torture and Dick Cheney’s lies about its effectiveness. In one of my fitful dreams, I remembered the voice of one of my neighbors saying, “There’ll be a lot of dead cops when the shit comes down.” As if to reinforce these negative thoughts, when I awoke late last night, there was an interview on the radio of a man who had been a prison guard and hostage at the Attica Prison uprising forty years ago. He narrowly escaped being murdered by a New York state policeman during the suppression of the insurrection. He said the authorities claimed other hostages’ necks had been slashed by inmates, when in fact they had been shot with high-powered rifles that only the state police were using.

Evil is such a pervasive force in the world there are times, like yesterday, when it saps my strength and I almost despair that we can do anything about it. My work with young murderers reminds me that there is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. The function of wisdom, said Cicero, is to discriminate between good and evil.

The best thing about awakening without the pain is that a wiser, more positive frame of mind will be restored today. The day outside is beautiful, and a soft breeze is flapping the curtain and washing a sense of well-being over me.

I am heartened by the thought that the humblest individual exerts some influence—either for good or evil—upon others. “The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual—for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost,” said M. Scott Peck. Nothing is so contagious as example, and we never do any good or evil which does not produce more of the same.

Hannah Arendt wrote that the sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Evil is committed naturally, fatally, and without effort. When we are in its power, evil is not felt as evil, but as necessity. Little progress can be made by merely repressing evil. Our greatest hope is in developing what is good. Goodness is always the product of some effort.

With my health restored I am able to return once again to the good fight. We have so much to do.

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Derek and the Dominos performing “Evil”

13
Sep
11

low

Sorry, there will be no post today. I’m not feeling well. 

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Bob Burnette performing “I Think I’ll Lie Down”

12
Sep
11

circle of friends

Yesterday morning got off to a slow start. Just a couple e-mails, only one phone call, and very little traffic on the blog. I had just resigned myself to probably seeing lackluster results when something new happened. Traffic was being referred to the Diary from Infowars.com.

I clicked on the Infowars link and quickly discovered that Alex Jones had not only picked up and reprinted yesterday’s post “Humbug,” but had given it top billing among the Featured Articles on his website. By the end of the day at least 350 new visitors found their ways here and more than 240 comments had been left on the Infowars site. Referrals were coming in from two or three other blogsites, too.

This morning I scrolled through the comments to my article on the Infowars site, and what I saw there was a crazy street brawl. People were using all sorts of obscenities and insulting one another. It created the distinct impression that provocateurs were posting for the purpose of preventing any meaningful discourse. I’m glad they didn’t come here to disrupt our party.

Yet if past experience is any guide, there will probably be a lot of first time visitors here today, so—and longtime readers please bear with me—I’ll give new visitors an encapsulated view of what this site is all about.

The flip answer, of course, is “Me”… which is true inasmuch that I write the Wandervogel Diary from a very personal perspective. The Diary reflects my work, interests, values, and beliefs… and, yes, my vision and aspirations.

I am a juvenile justice advocate living very simply in a remote part of  Texas near Big Bend National Park. Since 2005 I have been organizing legal defense and other substantial support for kids—the youngest kids in America—who are charged as adults for murder. I focus on parricides because those kids are the least culpable and the most vulnerable victims of a legal and prison system focused on retribution. By contrast, our goal is the redemption of these young lives, and when we take on a young person, our commitment is for the whole life of that individual.

These typically are children who have been severely abused by the adults who are supposed to have been nurturing and protecting their children, but who have instead inflicted unspeakable cruelties and injuries upon them—physical, emotional, sexual, etc. These kids have repeatedly tried everything they could think of to get the abuse to end, but they come to the tragic conclusion that killing their abuser is the only option left open to them. They’re kids who have fallen through the cracks in the system and who have been failed by every adult in their lives.

The kids snap and almost never let a single shot or stab or blunt impact do; their handiwork is typically so gruesome and excessive that it incites politically-motivated prosecutors to go for the most severe and vengeful punishments they can get. These prosecutors are often opportunistic bullies who bring the full weight and power of the state to bear. By contrast, the kids are usually indigent and friendless and always the most vulnerable and powerless victims a prosecutor could have. Not all of these kids are guilty. Some are wrongfully accused.

I’m focused on evening the odds by backing these kids with brains and muscle—the kinds of resources and support the kids would have were they children of privilege. I’ve been collaborating with a growing network of experts and activists on a vision that is already bringing about a change for the better for kids.

This vision consists of two things: 

First, the creation of “The Redemption Project,” through which powerful worldwide networks of support are created around individual kids for their lifetimes. Whatever phase of need a kid is in (legal defense, incarceration, prison-to-freedom transition, education, employment, family, etc.), his/her network will be there with world-class resources and services to help these kids achieve their goals. Instead of shoehorning an individual young person into a “program,” our approach is to take our leadership from the child and his/her unique dreams, interests, abilities, etc.

The second element of the vision is the creation of a safe, year-round youth encampment/spiritual retreat here in Texas at “Estrella Vista”—a community of young people based on a “healthy family model.” We are creating a “green” off-the-grid infrastructure and business base here that can be self-sustaining for about 15 people. We already make our own electricity from solar and wind power. The 80-acre property will one day be at least 120 acres, and will consist of a dining facility, a library, workshops, cottages, greenhouses, an observatory, etc.—adobe buildings which will create an otherworldly environment that is in harmony with nature. For me, the place is already a heaven-on-earth; I want to share it with kids and, through the practice of “spiritual hospitality,” make the healing qualities of this place available to others. When I die, control of Estrella Vista will pass on to the kids who have lived here and contributed–a permanent home where they can visit and stay and continue contributing… a permanent place for “homecomings.”

We will do all of this without government support, strings and constraints (i.e., the requirement that kids be put on psychotropic drugs), or money-based exploitation of the kids and their families. Our core values—borrowed from the Wandervogel movement of pre-WWI Europe—are Freedom, Self-Responsibility, and Adventure. Our moral values are Absolute Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness, Love, and Loyalty. Our mission at Estrella Vista is to provide Spiritual Hospitality to visitors through the philosophy and disciplines of Servant Leadership.

A year-and-a-half ago, I launched this daily blog. It has been the main vehicle through which we have been publicizing the vision and telling the stories of our kids. To me one of the most surprising things about the blog has been the large, loyal, and involved audience it has created for American kids in Europe and other parts of the world. More than merely donating money, Diary readers contribute their time, energy, expertise, and experience as researchers, organizers, advisors, mentors, advocates, etc. It is inspiring and beautiful.

We have created a robust community of care on this blogsite, where everyone is free to speak their mind as long as it is expressed respectfully. We are dealing with deep issues which demand fair and thoughtful discourse if we are to have a positive impact on the spiritual malaise and dysfunction which I believe are at the root of the official victimization of children in our society.

As I have been struggling to figure out an appropriate way to end this post, Wolfgang (one of our most respected community members) has just sent me the lyrics of a Wandervogel song. (This kind of synchronicity happens here quite often.) So I will quote a stanza here:

Ob Nord, ob Süd, ob Ost, ob West,

wo du auch stehst, ist gleich,

ein Freundeskreis durchzieht die Welt.

Horch auf, die Zeit ist reif!

(Whether north, whether south, whether east, whether west,/ where you also stand is alike,/ a circle of friends pulls the world through./ Hear, the time is ripe!)

Perfect, nicht wahr?

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Phil Ochs performing “Outside of a Small Circle of Friends”

11
Sep
11

humbug

Yesterday I was up since early morning copying music CDs onto my hard drive. Presenting daily Grooves requires that I increase my music library at every opportunity. A couple days ago a friend offered me a thick portfolio of music by artists not well represented in my collection and I seized it, literally.

This was a monotonous task.  I listened all day yesterday to NPR’s news programming as I worked through my boring chore. The news was mostly a run-up to the tenth anniversary today of the destruction of the World Trade Towers and our entry as a nation into this dismal decade. I’m sick to death of it. I don’t trust any of this propaganda.

I have the overwhelming impression that we’re being duped.

Whether the official explanation of the disaster is true or not is less important than the fact that we have so much justification today for distrusting anything our governments tell us about 911 or anything else. That so many people have concluded government is so untrustworthy is arguably a greater tragedy than the loss of 2,792 innocent lives ten years ago today.

The tragedy of 911 has been compounded since then by the deaths of 4,683 American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 32,800 troop injuries—20% with serious brain or spinal cord injuries, and 30% with serious mental health disorders. None of these numbers count the families of our troops whose lives have been disrupted or destroyed.

And we’re not even considering the death and human misery we have inflicted on the Iraqis and Afghans: 911,911 killed (interesting number!) and 1,687,780 injured.  This is obscene. It’s pointless. It’s evil.

Is this what America should stand for in the world? Does this make you proud?

Our nation’s sense of trauma and the 911 victims themselves have been cynically exploited by the power elite and their politicians to advance outcomes which are remarkably consistent with George Orwell’s prophesies in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell’s dystopian vision has come true in so many ways: the hegemony of elites, the omnipresent surveillance, a perpetual state of war, mind control and organized hate, destruction of the middle class and deteriorating standards of living, historical revisionism, torture, confiscation of private assets and property, slavery, Osama bin Goldstein, doublespeak, etc.

Our money is untrustworthy and the world economy is on the verge of collapse. Our leaders tell us one thing and do another. They are in the pockets of predatory banksters and corporations that care only about expanding their own wealth and power. We wage a phony war on drugs while we support opium production in Afghanistan. Our system of justice is unconcerned with the truth of guilt or innocence, only with making money off the misery of the hapless people ensnared in its hungry, sticky web.

Is it any wonder so many people doubt the truth of what government tells us to believe?

I do not believe the system can be reformed, most certainly not by the selfish hypocrites who dominate the airwaves, political parties, and halls of power. The whole corrupt thing must be swept away and started anew based on a solid foundation of universal morality: absolute honesty, purity, unselfishness, love, and loyalty.

I’m not going to listen to the radio today. It will be better, I think, to enjoy and reflect on the bracing truth, order, and beauty of Nature which offers the clearest evidence of God’s intentions for our world. It will wash away my doubts and anxieties and restore hope.

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Johnny Rivers performing “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water”