Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Heroes

You find heroes where you least expect them. Sometimes nobody else considers them to be heroes, or at least nobody has noticed yet. They are original heroes. Eventually they are in the right place at the right time and what's inside them moves them to action. Only then does someone notice and they become popular heroes.

People with exceptional and rare combinations of both intellect and heart are my first choices. People who show a kindness quietly when no one is looking when there is no motivation for gain or notoriety.

Those are the people who inspire me.

There are antiheroes too. Those who believe that "he who dies with the most toys wins" top that list. Some popular heroes are frauds and only gained that regard via artful and painstaking manipulation.

See? That's part of the problem. Many members of the TV generation think that HERO = CELEBRITY. Just ain't so. To quote Bush 41, "Not gawn dewit."

I'm not saying that its not good to drive a nice car.. I even had one once but I wouldn't trade all the Hummers or Ferraris in the world for a single wave or meaningful moment with a friend. OK, so I lied...I could give up a few, but not all, waves for a Ferrari. The best things in life are not the trophies that people point as signs of their own worth. That sort of self-absorption confuses greed for love and envy for respect....

For those who chase illusion I suspect that in the end, there is only regret. So my heroes are those ordinary optimistic people who care about others besides themselves, who never look back, and who in some small way touch those around them with their spirit.

Yeah, I know. It sounds kind of, well, uh sappy and soft doesn't it? But that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Life is full of contradictions. Sometimes to get it all you have to give it all up. Sometimes it takes more strength to show a weakness than it does to constantly parade your toughness.

IMHO (in my humble opinion)

I was looking through the wide variety of "heroes" in MySpace and it got me to thinking. I know, uh-oh, that gets me in trouble whenever I do that, but I just can't help myself. At times I can be more entertaining to myself than TV.

Consider the local news:
Local news in LA is just murders and movie stars, nothing substantial of social significance. It's just a mind-numbing distraction from what we do the rest of the time.

Consider the national news:
You've either got angry people yelling at one another or blaming the country's woes on some group that's not even in power, or it's milquetoast.

"Well, Bush did lie about WMD or was ignorant but those figures Kerry gave in the debate were off a few points."

Our media today, in it's quest for ratings, tries to give everyone a little of what it wants without offending anyone. Jeez, what do they do when offensive things start happening in the world, like, uh, maybe dropping a lot of bombs? Oh yeah, don't believe all that pinpoint accuracy nonesense. If you do, you need to dig a little deeper, to find the truth.

So today there is this type of political moral relativism that leads the media to say certain things, as if there were no difference between objectivity and neutrality. Washington beltway MSM (that's mainstream media) are like one giant sphincter which tightens and relaxes in unison. It's kind of like a parent of two young boys who gets so sick of the fighting that they snap and say "STOP! Yes, Jimmy was wrong for planting the claw end of the hammer deep in your skull Billy, but you were wrong too and shouldn't have called him a doodie-head." Because things through the media are made to seem so distant, as we are encouraged to "go out and shop", we have lost the ability to weigh and discern what is credible or egregious.

Sure our government is giving Halliburton contracts without competitive bidding and an offshore division that pays no taxes is dealing directly with Iran, a state that really funds terrorists (unlike Iraq), but on the other hand, John Kerry came back from Viet Nam and actually protested the war! The nerve! Gimme another latte with an extra shot.

Wake up and smell the dirty socks or bury your head in the sand like an ostrich, there is a choice to be be made here...or run from. Once the floodgate cracks open to begin allowing two contradictory things to be tolerated simultaneously without question there is no end to what can be written off without remorse. I really believe that America is suffering from some sort of collective emotional breakdown and that makes us susceptible to some politician who tells us how good we are and that he "Loves our values." Why do I feel like someone 5'4" and 200lbs who is told around closing time at the bar, "You look like you've been working out"?

Or maybe everything is just illusion and we are trapped in the matrix like so many seem to be.

Uncle Sam has now become a corporate bitch who has to bend over and grab his ankles each and every time some corporate bubba dangles a few greenbacks. Bush let the foxes in the henhouse. While taxpayers get nailed and pay taxes til it hurts (the kind of hurt that those near the poverty level feel, not the kind that might result in having to reduce stock options to some corporate bigwig making 10-100 million per year) as the price of our freedom. Giant corporations, apparently the source of all that is right with America, after benefitting in one of the most business-friendly political systems the world has ever known, pay ZILCH, and show their thanks by exporting our jobs overseas.

The big political divide that has formed should really not come as a big surprise, SHOULD IT? I mean, it is kind of hard to dismiss some of the things that are happening with the wave of a hand. I used to have a grandmother whose favorite expression was "Well, I just don't know about that." She loved Nixon til the end and maintained that "He was such a nice man and I'm sure that if he lied he had a good reason for doing so."

It's hard to believe, given some of the things that are happening, that there is any middle ground at all. With the likes of Halliburton one either has to be shocked, betrayed, and angry or simply trust those who tell you it isn't so.

Oh, to be a child again, to be tucked in at night and have food put on the table on schedule. To trust, no, to know that all that is done without our involvement. Sorry, we're adults now and should not be so trusting when it comes to choosing who leads the country.

The worst thing of all, the thing that gives so little cause to hope, is that our national media is eating out of the governments hand.

During Viet Nam, there was no shortage of imagery that surrounded the carnage. We saw it daily on the nightly news. That sort of made that war up-front and personal even though we were safe in our living rooms. My wife gets upset if I say "doodie" at the table so just imagine having the TV on and seeing the body of a child burned to a crisp. There were images of seemingly miles of body bags coming home. Finally, after getting hammered on the head with this for a few years, people started asking "Why?" That was long overdue.

We will be in a never ending war as long as our media does not do what it takes to de-sanitize the war, with respect to what we are seeing of it. Get used to it. They can't get us to stop and we can't get us to stop. When we finally realize that we created more enemies that we killed we will once again collectively decide (with our vote) that it just isn't worth it. That will neither make us cowards nor mean that we admit wrong though the loss of a certain personal, false pride will be too much for the mentally constipated to take.

Our national media has become a force for Orwellian doublespeak. The pablum they feed the typical non-thinking mind in front of a TV set is as mono-dimensional as the absurd reduction that "there are good guys and bad guys and the good guys always wear white hats." Words like "terrorist", "insurgents", and "freedom fighters" appear to have deep meaning and we all nod our heads as if we know just what these things mean. In cowboy movies this sort of childlike thinking is OK, but the real world is more complicated, fraught with bothersome shades of gray.

Want to know how to make an insurgent? Kill their loved one, intentionally or accidentally. It takes a little imagination to understand this...you have to forget that you are you for just a moment and ask "What would I do?"

To spare my much-appreciated friends and readers any further verbosity in this heroes section, I delegate to the crush of thoughts engendered by that last paragraph with a link.

The worst thing about it is that nobody bats an eye anymore, instead we eat it up. "Bush is a godly man and he wants to protect us", I keep hearing. "Why do these people keep saying bad things about OUR PRESIDENT?", some ask, without ever asking whether the reason might be because it is true. TRUTH is a rare commodity these days.

Even our national news is entertainment, molded more by the need to sell itself than any sort of human values.

Consider our basic ignorance of the world around us:
Since 1976 weekday newspaper readership has fallen from 77.6 to 54.1 % of adults 18 or over (See Link ). This statistic parallels others that suggest that more and more people are turning to TV for their news. That offers scant perspective to those, who are unable to escape the confines of their self-imposed knowledge prison, who succumb to scapegoating of the collective “they” by others who stand to gain from tidily packaging the jumble of fears that have been engendered in the post-911 world.

I can tell you this, as a nation we are most provincial, particularly in comparison to Europeans. Statistics vary, but passport ownership is one good barometer.

Once you subtract out travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and other nearby countries and consider that many passports are good for 5 or 10 years and may be used only once it is apparent that “they” understand much more about us than we do about “them”, and that’s not much either. This isn’t exactly the most effective climate for understanding how our actions as a nation might be perceived abroad, IS IT?.

Or maybe it's just not important how the vast majority of nations regard us. After all, "We're an empire", George Bush tells us. After all, theres no single nation whose butt we could not kick. Whew! Glad someone pointed that out, so I can sleep at night.

Bill Clinton said that he was preparing our nation for the day when we are no longer the worlds single dominant superpower. Sounds like a prudent savings plan to me rather than a cowardly admission. Ever seen a big dog play with a small dog? The larger one lays down and makes itself smaller so as not to scare the little dog, and pulls all its punches. Now maybe the dawg theory of international relations is not sound thoery but you probably catch my drift. We have a real choice of electing someone who will be conciliatory or someone who is like a mongrel dog -- snapping, snarling, and threatening at any little dog that does not do our bidding. When you are big dog you can afford to be a little magnanimous.

So what's the point?
Ah, yes. The point. There always is one, or at least there should be.

Is a hero someone we envy or someone we respect?

Christina Aguilera or Mother Theresa?

I must admit that Christina's hot, juicy little ass trumps Mother Theresa's leathery old tookus, any day of the week.

The Nobel for Christina, I say.

So, is it any small wonder that:


  • We elect a former cheerleader, a D+/C- student for president over a smart guy?

  • We are totally clueless as to how the rest of the world views us?

  • We just don't give a shit wheher the rest of the world respects us as long as they envy or fear us?

  • Most people's decision-making process is just a minor gene-sequence short of an amoeba's?

  • We are like a bus full of drunken idiots going full steam, the wrong way, down a one-way street into a big 16-wheeler?

Sorry, you probably are thinking, ooooo, he's no fun. I'm having a bad case of day-after-election-day-blues.

Anyway, back on track..the POINT...

Maybe some little wormy scientific nerd, a vertiable mental muscleman, would make a better hero for all of us than Arnold Schwarzenegger. I know, Terminator I really did have a profound influence on the lives of so many, even though III sucked.

Wow, what a unique concept...maybe the guy that invents somethng which overnight eliminates our dependence on foreign oil, if oil company hit-men don't assassinate him first, is the real hero.

That's all. That's where I was heading with all that. Many peoples heroes are who they'd want to screw or who emulating would get them laid or possibly envied, not those who would affect our lives in any appreciable or lasting way. Maybe that's too harsh so maybe it's just human nature to call someone merely recognized by all as a hero. Would that make Paris Hilton a hero?

Christina really does have a hot little ass though, doesn't she?

Upon reflection, I'm compelled to sing praise to those rare unique individuals in history, veritable Bodhisatvas, who saw with clarity the flawed humanity of us all and held up a mirror that relected back the monsters within -- Jesus and MLK to name a couple. But jeez, look what they got for their trouble. That speaks tons, doesn't it? Doesn't Jesus have any cool relatives left who'd be willing to have a little talk with Bush?

MySpace

I was between jobs once and took a look at MySpace. I actually got a space on MySpace, MyMySpace.

So, I started looking for some cool heads in some group "Peace" somethingorother and everybody that seemed cool was young. That's not to say I don't consider add requests for those in 40-50 range. What ever happened?

Was it Churchill? or Lord Chamberlain?...someone English anyway, that said "if you are under 40 and not a liberal you have no heart and if you are over 40 and not a conservative you have no brain?" Cool is ageless and both Einstein and Ghandi were 15 once.

Back before piercings we thought long hair was unique. A close friend had the first earring on a male (at least that most in that university had seen) ever back in '73. Now that was rad, or so we thought. Shocking, no? Gotta keep doing something new in order to to keep from becoming a cheap knockoff or coarse, unoriginal, copycat. Kids of tomorrow are going to assert their individuality and punish their parents with something like...maybe, no tattoos.

Bill Maher's acute observations come to mind. He observed that tattooing yourself with a letter from one of the Chinese alphabet does not make you spiritual or even deep. Picking your nose is an intensely personal experience but that doesn't make you interesting.

Hawaiian shirts have become the Golfer's Izods of today. I'm giving all mine to GoodWill. Death to Tommy Bahama!

But I was just networking and not scamming so what they hey, maybe they'll be "friends" anyway. MySpace "friends" is sort of a misnomer. Maybe networkee, or virtu-buddy, or make-believe-playmate. In some cases it is merely a listee, a notch in my E-Bedpost, or seldomly-accessed-trophy-on- the-shelf. Is it possible to really have 100's of friends? There are always quality vs. quantity issues for me.

So what's this thing about body parts? Boob shots and booty shots? Not enough context to show how it all fits together and not enough heartfelt verbiage to give an inkling of what's inside or whether there is even a dirty mind, which can be very healthy. There is beauty in the way it all connects, but a nipple shot? That approaches the same sort of captivating allure had by the dissection segment of my human physiology class...blaaahh

Some of the ladies are trolling for men. Some of that man-bait gets a few keepers but it can also get...well, never mind...to each their own. Not tryin' to moralize. Just a non-judgemental observation. I must admit I like some of the half-face images. They sort of draw you in.

I proposed a game which had the potential for being quite quite erotic if approached with the right frame of mind. I went first:


  • Get out your digital camera

  • Take a picture of some part of your body

  • load it into photohop or some other graphics software

  • crop a bit of flesh, say 1/4" x 1/4" (if you really want to push the envelope and fancy yourself a diva, sex god/goddess, or sexual Olympian do 1" x 1")

  • put it on your space

  • free prize to whoever guesses the approximate body location it came from


Here's mine (blown up a little):


More about me...yawn...snore

I 'm SouthernBoy-cum-CitySlicker. By thirds of my life, living in Central Florida, Atlanta, and currently Southern California. People are mostly the same everywhere, Y'all dudes should know dat, huh?

Circumstances surrounding my birth had it that I was exposed to Southern Black Gospel Music for hours per day from age 0-2 years (No, my parents were not poor white sharecroppers. Dad was a liberal southern lawyer a la Gregory Peck in To Kill A Mockingbird). Suppose that affected me, sort of like the imprinting by which a baby chick thinks the first thing it sees after hatching is the momma hen. Even today, I hear that Gospel Music and automatically start twitching uncontrollably all over and raising my hands to the sky in a cross between calesthenics and the hokey-pokey, like some devil-possessed Pentacostal....and make no apologies for it. My tastes have since become vastly more eclectic, but I still love MoTown sound.

People in certain places only THINK they are different. After all, you have to have someone to be better than, or who are you, right? Not! Believe it or not, the average person in LA is quite provincial and very self-assured in their belief that everything was invented here. I just love to inform my friends that something new and trendy existed years previous on the Right Coast....that sort of bursts some bubble. The tougest one to swallow is that 6-time world surfing champ, Kelly Slater, is a Floridian...don't forget that lil' titdbit of trivia. A little mean, but I'm gentle with it.

I realized I'd lived in big cities too long when I went back to a HS reunion and found my former friends in a tightly closed circle, viewing me with circumspection of the sort we've all seen when that dusty stranger comes in from the prairie to some little one-horse, western town. Everyone's peeping through shutters until one brave soul approaches the n'er do well drifter saying "Howdy stranger, what business ya got here in Tombstone?" I managed to escape the citizen's commitee of Southern Baptists armed with an ample supply of rope, pitchforks and other implements of destruction.

It is that from which I came...raised in the Methodist Church and sang in the choir...all good things to which both moral and musical senses owe but I am no longer active. Maybe if I'd had kids I would return for their benefit. The church group did not bear the slightest resemblance to anything fundamentalist at which I would surely have chafed more and diverged from sooner. That experience left me with a curiosity and perhaps disdain for religious types whose faith is not enough. Some need to hear what they believe proclaimed as absolute truth and echoed in a well-understood form by all around them. Many are profoundly disturbed when these outward signs are not constantly present.

Q: You know why Baptists won't have sex standing up?
A: Someone might think they're dancing

None of this is to say that I am an iconoclast. I am respectful of all beliefs and religions. It is just that our beliefs erect barriers and that true understanding of another comes when you know something of the experiences and influences that led to the beliefs. Usually our beliefs are exactly what prevent us from gaining the knowledge that leads to understanding.

Having beliefs that do not resonate with core values can require reconciliation of biblical proportions as new facts are uncovered. If this gets to be too much either the mind refuses to reconcile further facts or ostensibly and deceptively rational information is accepted without question. Once one is in too deep rigidity is inevitable. There is no shortage of social, political and religious safe havens from all the confusion.

The American People


We are the American people
Loving Jesus, church with steeple
Voluptuous cushion of assurance
Unquestioning, righteous, our concurrence

The nations fear is so infectious
Redemptive bloodlust might protect us
They cannot change so what's in store
If not a never-ending war?

What can we do, who can we blame?
We know inside they're all the same
This national lynch mob cannot stop
Glorious presidential photo-op

We're strong and nearly unopposed
And they'll be buried, decomposed
There is no risk, no roll of dice
We do it without sacrifice

Labels define us to a "T"
Yellow ribbons on our SUV
I'm for the cause one hundred percent
Regretful though not penitent

It's so simple, black and white
Reason fails so we must fight
While we won't give for we are strong
Unlike us they'll break before long

Islamic, balsamic its all the same
Oily, murderous, money game
Forced into it, it's not our fault
Their just rewards, deadly assault

We can't be wrong, I'll be explicit
It's all their fault, we're not complicit
They're ignorant of our God-like mission
As we beat them all into submission

Admit to nothing, straddle no fence
Has naught to do with competence
If we can't get the ones who dunnit
Get some others, that's how we'll run it

Be resolute and do not bend
Since they will thank us in the end
For mother, father, sister, son
Dead and buried, freedom won

World opinion matters not
We need no friends to join our plot
When we need help they'll have forgotten
The spoils however misbegotten

And please accept our stated reasons
For more death with each passing season
We'll help them learn Lord, if you're willing
See it our way or see blood-spilling

Oh Lord, sweet Jesus, God of war
Help us smite them we implore
Rain oil down on us from on high
Until our wells have all run dry

Our body counts, so good, so low
Our working class, the ones to go
Their hope is our benign neglect
No need to think, care, or reflect



Techno-warfare, missiles in space
Unleashed without even a face
To know in moment of last breath
A reason for the end, one's death



We're good at war, as well you know
Your kids don't even need to go
Forget it starting based on lies
We stay by keeping news sanitized

Will hope arise, will it fight back
Through mindless stupor, Mac Attack?
Find one good man, a fearless leader
Sans riches, ego, vengeance meted


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Who's strong enough to turn a cheek
Holding mighty no higher than meek
Relentless in the quest for peace
No cronies, debts, or palms to grease

Copyright © 2006 by Pat Pattillo. All Rights Reserved.

Threats and War

One of my greatest passions might be best described as "what makes otherwise reasonable people go do stupid things". There is a keen personal stake in this as I, myself, have done some very stupid things along the road to middle age.

There was the time I painted my the headlights on my Mom's Chevrolet blue just to see whether they would project blue light at night. My delusion-filled, pre-adolescent mind which could not quite fathom how the world worked even anticipated praise for having been so clever. Wrong! On another occasion I was caught with evidence of recording the swear words on my fathers dictating machine that I'd learned from older boys at little league. Then there was the time I attached a sheet to a box using safety pins, perched it on top of a ladder, climbed inside and proceeded to shake the ladder until it fell--all to see whether or not the jury-rigged parachute would deposit me gently on the ground. Needless to say, I was lucky to survive my assolescence at my own hands or those of others.

With years came wisdom derived from the failed physics experiments of my youth and I began to focus on more serious matters such as zigzag vs. marfil and other pertinent questions of the day. Wait...scratch that, fast forward 20 years...ok, thats better...to focus on more serious matters such as politics and other unnatural acts.

I became perplexed by the susceptibility of so many to being manipulated since 9-11. Not quite satisfied with the answers, I was eager to learn more about how people are motivated by their recognition of things of which they have no direct personal experience. I stumbled onto a book, Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti, touted by some to be the seminal work in the area of mass psychology. He won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Literature for this work.

I love his style which leads him to pose questions without imposing answers, leaving it to the reader to follow by virtue of their own conclusions. Canetti has much to say about war and it is consistently thought provoking. But on the other hand, maybe I'm just easily impressed, particulary on days when contemplating the lint in my navel is an uphill climb.

Among the kudos given Canetti are:

  • Crowds and Power is a revoutionary work in which Elias Canetti finds a new way of looking at human history and psychology.

  • In this study of the interplay of crowds Canetti offers one of the most profound and startling portraits of the human condition.

  • Canetti dissolves politics into pathology, treating society as a mental activity-- a barbaric one, of course-- that must be decoded.


His thoughts on war are not so much a value judgment but rather descriptions of how and why people perceive threat and line up for war. He surveys at length various types of crowds and reasons why humans gather in various cultures. He delves into questions of national identity and the compelling forces that bind individuals to their culture. He asks questions and much of my affinity for him owes to that, leaving me wondering whether his wife every asked him to just shut up and chill.

Canetti describes war as two rapidly forming "belligerent crowds" replete with characteristic dynamics. On the formation of a belligerent crowd Canetti asks:

What, from one moment to another creates the uncanny coherence? What is it that suddenly moves men to risk their all? The phenomenon is so mysterious that it must be approached with a measure of caution.

WTF***? "...must be approached with a measure of caution"??? Howzit that almost everyone I know at work has all the answers on almost every topic imaginable and a Nobel Prize winner, A NOBEL PRIZE WINNER is saying that he needs to be careful and approach a topic with caution?

Damned refreshing, this guy. He continues:

War is an astonishing business. People decide that they are threatened with physical destruction and proclaim the fact publicly to the whole world. They say "I can be killed" and secretly add "because I myself want to kill this or that man." The stress properly belongs on the second half of this sentence. It should run: "I want to kill this or that man, therefore I can be killed myself." But when it is a question of war starting, of its eruption and the awakening of a bellicose spirit within the nation, the first version will be the only one openly admitted. Even if in fact the aggressor, each side will always attempt to prove that it is threatened.

On both sides those involved usually come together very quickly, whether in physical actuality of in imagination and feeling. The outbreak of a war is primarily an eruption of two crowds. As soon as these crowds have formed, the supreme purpose of each is to preserve its existence through both belief and action. A belligerent crowd always acts as if everything outside it were death. The individual may have survived many wars but, with each new war, he surrenders himself afresh to the same illusion.

Canetti speaks to what he calls "first death":

It is the first death that infects everyone with the feeling of being threatened. It is impossible to overrate the part played by the first dead man in the kindling of wars. Rulers who want to unleash war know that they must procure or invent a first victim. It need not be anyone of particular importance, and can even be someone quite unknown. Nothing matters except his death; and it must be believed that the enemy is responsible for this. Every possible cause of his death is suppressed except one: his membership of the group to which one belongs oneself.

(c) 2001 The Record, (Bergen County, NJ).

This brings to mind the recent conservative anger (well...OK, Bill Maher's slutty girlfriend, Ann Coulter) aroused by 9-11 widows declaring their opposition to Bush policies and actions ostensibly made on behalf of their deceased husbands. The virulence of the ensuing personal attacks was all at once disgusting and expected since, after all, these widows were debauching the efficacy of what Canetti calls "first death" and diluting its potential to serve as a "crystal" around which belligerent crowds are always formed and maintained. That offense that incurred the momentary attention of the entire conservative matrix and subsequent, nauseatingly dreadful "echo chamber effect."

I cannot believe that this would have happened had 9-11 not been justification for much of the Bush administration policies since, those within the law and those outside of it, including war with a nation not involved as well as his reelection.

I was also impressed by the line:

A belligerent crowd always acts as if everything outside it were death.

This is an apt characterization of the mind-sets of those saying "How could you possibly cut and run or dishonor our troops by ending the war short of complete and total victory." To some, anyone who would suggest that there was a leap to war without due diligence is as bad as the 9-11 terrorists themselves, despite our knowing more of the facts now. Nobody ever said that war was a rational business.

And all we get from our President is that we were "misled by intelligence" just as he was. I'm not quite sure what to feel about that. Am I to consider myself an unindicted co-conspirator for having been fooled right along with Bush and unca Dickey?

I trace my thinking back to a day marked by a discussion with a liberal friend and unabashed cynic a week after the yellowcake and aluminum rod stories were included in a presidential address.

"They must have something" I said, making my best trusting case.

The cynic replied, "Don't believe a word these liars say."

"But they surely have other information they cannot tell us because of things like protecting sources and covert operatives" I replied.

So it went. I wanted to believe and did not want to believe I was lied to, even if I did not vote for Bush and most likely would have voted for Attila the Hun and Boris Badenoff had they been on the Democratic ticket.

A month later I called my friend to apologize for doubting him as the picture became much more clear. Bush and Cheney had not recanted but enough related information had leaked to cast doubt on their assertions. Even more telling was that they did not offer proof in defense of their positions. I remember thinking to myself that they either did not feel they had to explain further or they had very little else that they could explain.

Well, you know what they say, "Fool me once..." So I understand wanting to believe and wanting a higher power to trust so I am not without sympathy for even the few remaining holdouts today who cling to what might be their only link to the goodness of others or perhaps even of themselves.

I also understand being on the receiving end of some slick manipulative lies. The month or so that I believed and the month I struggled are as vivid to me as my embarassment over having been duped remains. I lived the Viet Nam war era as a politically aware post-assolescent, preparing to receive a lottery number as the war ended. I had seen our government lie before, but still I wanted to believe.

Perhaps I should have known better. I am less innocent now but strangely enough, less cynical than in my youth. Does everyone seek the comfort of illusion with age? Is that the process I am undergoing?

Now I know who misled me and who continues to do that almost daily with Orwellian catch-phrases like "Healthy Forests" and "Clean Air Initiative".

So there it is...black and white, for the war 100% or traitors to the cause, in the circle of trust or outide it where Canetti suggests is the belligerent crowd perception of death. Don't these folks seem terrified? This all seems more like an underlying sickness that does hardly constitutes compelling proof that we are a good, God-fearing people.

I'm hoping that we can prove we really are good by what we have to choose from and what we choose in the upcoming elections. Be gentle with those who cannot admit to the fear that drives them and you just might help them.