Dear Lord, Let Me Be Wrong

Mist pours in on a comparatively warm November evening, shows me my cross-eyed headlights and blinds me when I click on the brights. Walmart is full of people. At eight on Thanksgiving eve. Full of stink eye and camouflage and middle aged women in pajamas. Our little country corner of the world. Little girls apologize for their father’s scowls with upturned eyes. A grizzled looking gentlemen sights a slender twenty two caliber rifle up at the twenty foot ceiling. Capitalism is most at work when we aren’t. Swiping hours of our lives away with flimsy magnetized plastic, futuristic looking chips embedded in them. There’s a doglegged line in front of the pharmacy. Gigantic Hershey kisses and hollow shepherd crooks full with M&M’s. Grown men wearing flip flops. Little boys in cowboy boots beg beside the bike rack, tears in the corners of their eyes. 

I can’t settle my heart. It liked living outside too much. For my thirties, my eyes and my feet are best friends. They do everything together. Partners witnessing crime. Flying down Old Post I can not help for the life of me the feeling there is hatred and resentment more so than white knuckles and hidden toes powering the machines passing me. It is an old Jeep, I confess, I don’t dare push past the speed limit, so I damn near see the whites in their eyes as they ride my spare tire bumper. There are young men in the Walmart almost through the door when they spot a single lady walk in all by her lonesome and nod their heads together and turn around.

My deepest prayer to date is that I’m wrong. 

Answered by family, warmed by fire, wrapped in mist in the foggy corner of the county we call home. I want to turn around and grab those boys by the scruffs of their necks like tomcats. I want to buy that kid his bike. I want to take the gun out of those paint stained fingers and kiss that man on the cheek if I have to. Wrap him up in a hug and ask him what’s the last thing he forgave. I want to let her know she’s safe, but I don’t have to, anyone wearing pajamas in public is already far more comfortable in their own skin than I ever have been. I want to buy all the milk almost past its date. Tell the people wearing blue vests and name-tags how proud of them I am, how honored I am to be helped along by them, how I never would have found HDMI converters without them. 

As I drive, I get real afraid the mist is smoke. I imagine deer throwing long tan legs out like Rockettes onto the stage. I wince at the sight of roadkill. I throw the Jeep out of gear and coast downhill, thinking how that engine is idling same as if it was sitting still in the driveway, going fifty-five and bouncing across the flimsy bridge at the bottom. If it doesn’t bend it breaks. 

What are we all doing with our life? This is our one shot at the world. What are we all doing at Walmart at eight o clock on a Wednesday night. Looking so sour. Looking down sights. Staring down strangers. 

Strength. True strength. Is not stubbornness, or rigidity. When the man said love your neighbor same as you would love yourself, he could just as easily have said, if a bridge doesn’t bend, it will break.

“I really don’t care. Do you?”

I’ve been calling them shakedown years since about two thousand and fifteen. It feels like the tipping point between words and reality finally took a topple toward words. We’re supposed to listen to and respect someone’s right to conversation, in complete deference and willful ignorance of all their words definitions. You can tell it, yell it, scream it in my face, but if I don’t see conservation in your life, in your philosophy, decisions and actions, I am not going to call you a conservative. If you pull into my driveway and explain how you’re a christian as you apologize for calling me a waste of life and telling me I’ve disappointed my deceased grandparents, you may not actually be living up to the definition of the word Christian.

I hear you. I probably smiled, nodded, maybe gave you an ‘I don’t know’ headshake, or a ‘let’s agree to disagree’ grin, but I saw you. I see you. And the day will come that you might ask me to read you. And I won’t paraphrase. Your complete way of life is beside the point.

I don’t care about your opinion on abortions. If you wanted me to, you needed to go to school, and earn that right.

I don’t care your opinion on illegal immigration. The end result of that line of thinking will have us walling off our states, standing in line outside of our own hometowns providing bonafides and credentials just to be let in. If I drew a line in the sand and said no one could cross it, I still wouldn’t be surprised when someone does. Such is the nature of lines drawn in the sand.

I don’t care that you dislike black people. Or that you would like to casually comment degrading, disrespectful remarks about people who are different than you, in every way except their willingness to suffer and die for their identity. That, you have in common with everyone.

I’ll care when you give me something worth caring about. When the issue on your lips is one we all need to pass over ours in order just to maintain not caring for another day. Our society skipped right over any form of discussion about the basic daily life essentials we’re all scrambling to acquire. Our society has slipped its way between us and our earth and is selling it back to us piece by piece as we grow up and recognize our needs.

Government is crushing farmers, because government does not want us to farm. It wants major corporations to take up those arms, and they’re hesitant. Because growing food is hard. Keeping clean water, and more animals than you can count in your own backyard, is expensive. And, farming has this neat effect on the human life. It gives us a different, more dutiful, dependable and fair master over our time and labor. Nature. And government does not want nature to be anything more to us than a recreational activity.

Well. I am done. Done pretending this is the way it is. The founders of this nation had nothing even remotely similar with which to compare our current way of life. The fact that almost all of us would start to starve the instant grocery stores stopped filling up. The richest aristocrat of George Washington’s era still had chickens in his yard. Still used horses for a car. Still knew the soft snap of green beans and the smell of soil turned over for the first time after winter.

A farmer is a producer. And a producer makes an inconsistent consumer. And our society, our government, in no evil or malicious manner, simply doesn’t benefit so much from a population of producers as it does a system filled with poorly educated, ravenous consumers. That’s as simple as it gets.

If you want to talk about freedom, there has to, I repeat, has to, no option otherwise, be a way of life at the very base of our system, in which a person can eat good food, sleep safe and warm from the weather, and drink as much clean water as they could ever need, without using any form of currency. Apart from their humanity. And whatever morning choring those things require.

This idea. What is freedom without forty acres and a mule? Perhaps that should be our golden rule. Before we sail off into this corrupt, divisive, consumption based, product placed future, we all need to know there is a piece of land set aside for us. A way of life fruitful enough to provide for us. A simple, quiet life in the country.

The economy of want is not appropriate to manage the economy of need.

I refuse to talk about building walls, renovating bathrooms, or putting in a new kitchen sink, until the foundation of this building has been surveyed and repaired.

I am not saying anyone is right or wrong.

I am saying that until the conversation includes providing a base level of survival resources or environments for every citizen in this country, it is my right not to care.

Dirty Dishes Day

Getting set in our ways is set in our way. We don’t pick a calendar date for change. Numbering each day indefinitely as if they’ll stay the same. Then. That sunny one we needed. We wake up to rain. Wind. We wake up to cheddar cheese lightning staining the wet earth orange. Didn’t make a plan for that. When the truth is, we really didn’t make any real plans at all.

Hoping and wishing is not the same as planning.

Crossing fingers doesn’t cross that little box on each monthly chart. That ancient graph.
Showing us all the possible outcomes of the imaginary equation that is tomorrow.

Best case scenario. I’m talking world peace. An end to hunger. Homelessness becomes nothing more than a joke, just something college kids take a semester off to try out. There are still storms. Hurricanes and earthquakes and floods. There is cancer. Sickness of all manner. There’s still the matter of dinner. And then afterward, best case scenario ever, we still have to do dishes.

Revolutions. Are not just something we do to get around the sun. Of all the best laid plans of mice and of men not one, not a single person, put dirty dishes on the calendar. Even though it was more vitally predetermined than Christmas even. Life is messy. If the standard of building a perfect system is to have no extra remainder of necessary effort or labor unforeseen at the initiation, then settle in folks, this is going to continue being a bumpy ride.

But what if, oh the irony, what if we stop dreaming. What if we wake up right now and admit, fully admit, what we already know. The human being is not a thing. It is a process. The systems we establish to protect, enable, provide for humans, will not function in a fixed state. As we grow along, our societal solutions to individual problems will have to prorate. Will have to change. Not to speed up. But just to keep pace. We’ll get smarter, leaner, wilder, wiser, every successive year. You fight that. You set up roadblocks in front of progress, you’ll have a revolution every twenty years. You plan on it. Allow. Foster. Even enable it. Put change on the calendar. You’ll get a little bit of revolution every day.

An internal upheaval for every human being to remind them if all of this goes correctly there will be another day after this one. Definitely. It is a big if, but as far as we know, every if of its kind that ever came before has come true. Until now, there has always been a tomorrow. Maybe we could make a plan for something to happen that isn’t a birthday, or Christmas, or some kind of sugar-glazed, paper wrapped holiday.

Perhaps we wouldn’t need a big hairy revolution every other decade.
If we went ahead and made a plan to picnic in the rain.

Disagreeable Animals

It doesn’t have to be a conspiracy, to mean it isn’t an accident. This country is not broken. We are. Because that’s what the men who wrote our constitution were dealing with. A divided population desperately being translated into a divided constituency. England left slavery alone in America, because that is all America was to the British Empire. Slave labor. Pillaged resources. Raw goods, for industrial ends. The idea that under Britain, we would never own our farms, but if we were culpable only to Americans, we would. Talk about a powerful campaign promise. That’s all freedom really was to our founders. It is not a conspiracy, but was not an accident, that they did not address the liberty of all the people living within their country. How a leader can preserve the self esteem of thousands on the oppression of hundreds. Someone to look down on. The rejects, and runaways, and the chattel of Europe, and their African slaves. If they were not evil in their initial intentions, then they were certainly turned over to the idea by time. Look at who we are today. We are the inevitable, flighty, judgmental result of our ancestors. This was not an accident.

It was also not a southern tradition, or some small, easily discounted regionalism. America owes its existence more heavily to African Americans than any other group of people. This is the motivation for racism, untrue, identifiable, quantifiable hierarchy. Undelivered respect.
And the guilt it inspires.

Emancipation did not end slavery. Slavery, the word, does not mean the incarceration of one group of people in one country during any certain period of time. The people at the top, going all the way back, use the subjugation of others like caffeine. Slavery is in our prison system, it lives in welfare programs, and minimum wage, hourly pay, two weeks off a year careers. Slavery is the lack of having any other real, substantive option.

And if you did not participate in some form of income generating activity, where would you live, what would you eat, where would you go that you would not owe a single debt?

It is not some great conspiracy. But it is also was not in any way on accident.

It’s agriculture.

We, the people, are being farmed by the same poor standards we subject our animals to undergo. Taking the horns off goats so they don’t hurt each other. Castrating cattle. Separating mothers from babies. Not evil, just specific to a very particular context, that if taken out of that context, has a very similar shape, make-up and the same sordid potential of anything we would agree to call evil.

Up until now, no one has really been trying to shape a sustainable, viable society.
We’ve been building and expanding pastures. Fence lines. Tethers. Barns and locked pens.

Doing it outright to others is actually a highly successful method of pulling the wool over the eyes of people having it done to them. All the little pecking orders animals in cages establish over one another. Whispering conspiracy theories about those towering shapes that show up to trickle grain into a dish, or clean the water tub, and leave us some hay. Do they love us? Is that why they’re feeding us? Then why do we disappear one by one as our offerings shrivel up, why aren’t we guaranteed life outside of productivity and use? Did they shape all of this for this purpose, to keep us confused, yet working, ignorant, yet dutifully pulling the cart, for fear of a lash from behind?

It’s just, humans can’t be fully domesticated. The wilderness is written into our curious consciousness. We’re the shepherd creature. Through evolution, we learned the latent power of the universe.

Revolution.

And until we invent a system that truly guarantees our freedom, a pasture with a gate any one of us can open, we’ll have revolution after revolution after revolution. Just as we see when we study our history.

I refuse to believe we’ve been earnestly investing and upholding societies that break down this destructively and this often on accident. We’re too smart for that. It’s not a conspiracy that government has been used more as a tool for control than an actual mechanism for organising access to the basic needs and protections for entire populations.

It’s just inconsiderate, bully farming. But humanity makes for a precarious subject.
A creature that rivals goats at breaking down and betraying barriers.

We all need resources for food, water, and shelter built into our local communities.
And if we are living in a system that can not or does not provide those resources,
we all need the equivalent amount of commercial value that would allow us to sustain basic life.

It really is that simple. Leaving us in conditions that demand payment for items we die without, breaks down our sense of community, it lends tender to the fire of prejudice and division, and keeps us hungry, and reactive, unsettled and under stress. Essentially, our society doesn’t feed or water or house the chicken, until after the egg has been laid. Which is really poor farming. Most of us who have raised chickens provide a safe, warm environment, clean water, good feed, months and months before an egg is ever laid. And even when it grows cold, and the production slows, we don’t. A good farmer still pays into the livelihood of animals that are not currently returning.

“Is it really as simple as that, Jeremy?”
Yes. It really is. Society doesn’t need to organize our social lives, or tell us how to chicken. We really just wanted government to make sure the things we need to stay alive get distributed evenly to all of us, because no matter who or what we are, we cease to be any good to anyone without them.

Reading the headlines, scrolling through timelines, if I knew nothing else of America, I’d say every American had a full stomach, a good roof over their head, clean water, the protection and rights that come from any decent shelter. Four walls and tin roof and all. A big old yard outside to roam around, and a little help fending off the dogs. Which I know isn’t true.

So I’m asking you, if it really could be that simple, will you at least consider it?
That all sorts of issues we’re facing as a nation could be solved if there were a little more feed in our dishes, and if we, all of us, had more free time in the yard? That we wouldn’t have to take the horns off the goats, if they had space to explore their instincts and roam.

We need to start at the beginning, and experience a bit of the lives of our ancestors before we step boldly into so-called new worlds. There has to be a quiet, tax free, simple, self made life in the country available to every person, in order for a puritanically economic system to still be called freedom. Or every citizen needs to be provided with the economic equivalent of what it takes to sustain basic life in the town or city.

That’s it. That word, free, we’ve been throwing around for so long, that is what it has always meant. To be taken literally, free of required expense, or payment for products that can’t be boycotted, because they are essential to life. Every living thing has a right to the break neck pursuit of staying alive. Governments should exclusively be a facilitator and ally for us in that pursuit.

Humans are a precarious, particularly devilish animal on a farm. They refuse to lay their eggs in cages. And the human grazes only where the grass is greener, won’t live right not knowing what’s on the other side, for better or worse. Whinnies like a horse, and chatters loud as chickens. They make little plans, and take the screws out of wood, and dump their dishes and peck the farmer, when kept cooped up in pens, and solely within fences.

I get it, government. It’s not some conspiracy. Certainly wasn’t on accident. But up until now the pursuit has been better fences and pens. It has. No reason to deny it. You wrote out a Bill of Rights for us, but we never returned the favor, and put down our bill of rights for you.

Food.
Water.
Shelter.

Everything else we need from you will be lessened once those things are covered.
Like roots. We only see a tower of leaves and color.
But just to stand, just to argue, just to be someone hated by everyone,
you still have to have eaten, had water, and slept somewhere out of the weather.

So what we can’t agree on everything.

Governments, farmers, by necessity, must be impartial.
They feed and care for us all, just so we can get back to the business
of being disagreeable animals.

A Silly Pursuit

I don’t want to change the world. I think it is a silly pursuit.
I just want options. You know. In lieu of a philosophical discussions.
We could just agree on the definition of the world within freedom.

As having many options.

And if you tax land, regardless of what it does,
then you have made living on it simply and free
an illegality. When every human has the right
to a free and quiet life in the country.

That is what I believe.
Options are the medicine I would feed this sick nation.

We did not decide this government so it could sit on top of the land
and divy it up back to us as soon as we pay a percentage of its worth.

I don’t want to change the world. I just want to add to it.

A Sherwood of sorts.
A path. A way of life.
A place where everything society says you earn between nine to five
is simply part of an environment. Paid for by not being a villain. Mostly.

Food. Water. Shelter.

And what you do with the rest of the day is yours.
Hard work is hard work is hard work.
It’s a choice you have to make.

It is clearly not something every human was cut out to do.

Sending us all out on the interstate at the same time headed the same way.
Is causing massive pile-ups, and cheapening life.
Interactions in abundance. Seeing people by the hundreds. Thousands.
Hard to believe each one has a name, and parents, and pets waiting at home.

When you encounter so many faces out there. When you’re never alone.
Who cares who you crush on your evening commute. What is it to you?

Just trying to get home from work after a long day.

There just aren’t a lot of options to get somewhere as quickly as possible.
Without running into a million others who have the same sensible thought as you.
We need options. I’m not talking about putting in an extra lane.
There has to be a place. A quiet life in the country.

Somewhere
the only way to get there
is the long way.

Terrible things

I said this thing to Ashley the other day. Talking about our son. I said you take Roan so personally, and I take him so plurally. Every sound he makes moves her. And if he is upset, she can not settle. I admit, I laugh at him in his little tantrums a little too often. But I look into his eyes, the only part of him that really doesn’t appear all that infantile, and I see a million other sons. And daughters. And naturally, a lot of parents take their kids so seriously they never get around to pluralizing the experience. Recognize it has a unifying effect on the people who have been affected. It’s social adhesive. Procreation. A biologic gauntlet, that in this particular instance, we sort of tripped over. And thank God for that.

But I can’t look at my son and not see my society. I refuse to fail to imagine the world he will come into knowing. A world that seeks to make a product out of him. Exactly as it has successfully done to me. And I desire nothing other for my son than for him to be free.

Fully free, in the one mainstream definition we all seem to forget when we use the word politically. But economically speaking, I want my son to be free. I do not want to feed the worst impulses of my society’s fear of other societies, and fuel money into the military instead of fixing my path as a nation, so that my footsteps aren’t leaving huge indentations.

I imagine all our enemies, no matter how awful, still look at their children the way I look at Roan. I imagine if they’re fighting this hard, right or wrong, they have some powerful motivation. I don’t have to apologize for, forgive or pretend to understand them.
But if I’m ever going to end this war,
I am going to have to heavily reconsider calling them my enemy.

I have a sneaking suspicion once I do that, I’ll fix my own life in such a way
that enemy is no longer their name.

I see all that in his navy eyes. In the skeptical lines as he stares me down, typing. He likes the sounds of the keys clacking. So do I. We have that, and a whole lot more in common. We all do. We could stop right now, and lay down our arms, and pull back limbs like tortoises into all of our shells. I am speaking globally. About many nations. We are fighting unending conflicts with the exact same motivation.

I knew it the instant I held my son in my hands.
I realized the source of the fear that now rules the land.
And it is the purest love I have ever felt.

And I would do terrible things to protect it.

You could use a thousand words.


How can we be free if we don’t voluntarily pay taxes. When we end up in jail if we don’t hand over however many dollar bills correlates to the life services we purchased in order just to stay alive. How can it be freedom, if it isn’t actually free to merely subsist within this system.

You have no answer for this. You could use a thousand words to prove to me you have no good answer to these words. You don’t. Fear of war. Fear of violence. Imagination that the symptoms plaguing our nation existed prior to the formation of things called nations. They didn’t. How do you fix society, when grouping a species as heavily dependent on ferocious individuality into too tight knit communities caused the problem in the first place.

It is simple. Humans need to be free range. And we’re being pastured in lots so small the grass is gone and we’re ankle deep in muck, eating thrown out Christmas candy, corn in every form but corn. Cages and barns and fence lines they say can change but never do.

Rural lives don’t need to be taxed at the same rate.
We’re not provided public transportation, or the daily services we depend on
to move trash and pump water and repackage a planet into suppertime.

There has to be place in this place where a human can just go and human.

Freedom means free access to the resources that support and sustain life.
By definition, freedom will never be provided by capitalism. Never.
You could use a thousand words. You will never change my mind.

A human is not an isolated existence, but a delicate balance struck between nutrition, hydration and environmental security, within a complex ever-changing universe that produces all of them. You can scream the word freedom until blood vessels in your face start to burst. But humans do not exist in a vacuum. When you mention a human, or look at a human, you are looking at food sources, water tables, and shelter structures that protect against weather and predators.
Without those things, you are not looking at a human.
You are only looking at a matter of time.

Food, water, and shelter are liturgical. They are God-given.
It is not America. It is not capitalism. Or democracy. It’s dinner.

It is your next breath.

I just think we should reconsider using the word free
when we are describing this much debt.

Peace Reigns

Peace please give us a piece cut out from the heart of war.
Fair. Dark. Slice a center line and give pale peace to the world.
Amputated. The shadow possessing truth. Gradual.
Procession of armies toward a center that starts in the clouds,
while gray and full of storms, majesty thick enough to choke the world.
Grace grace expanding plumes of vapor. Peace and war.
Downed. Low. Hidden in shadow. Patriotism is like a torch,
it shines impressively more alluring seductive in the dark.

Deeply planted amidst fear, confusion, ignorance.
Eyes turn to the patriot, but with ease, when it is light,
eyes yield to peace. Pieced storm clouds looming,
lingered overhead, overheard mongering, malice beneath.
Voices talk of preparation for battle. Killing embraced. Strangled.
Too well by the shadow cast off of peace.
That good, light, utopian years increase a people’s fears. And stupidity.
That a piece of peace can be begged for, fought over, many wars,
in peace name.

This prayer, for peace and not much else, brings pain.
Like a storm carries lighting and wide-mouth thunder.
Strong roof rustling wind and of course, that shadow. Darkness.
Spread over the land like a stain.
Then, and only then, peace rains.

Family – Old Journals

Once a remedy,
aid in the face of a struggle-based environment,
has moved away.

The landscape is differed. Changed.
Organizations of humans far off from kin offered to take the gap,
a cat hole formed at the base of the family tree, and fill it in.

When hardship was equal, beneath tiered economic heights,
rooms higher up stack heavy on molded basements,
before the promise of insured amnesty,
healthcare aimed like automatic weapons only at symptoms,
before upper, middle and sad desperate foundational,
before widespread acceptance of ambivalent modern calamity,
sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, fathers, mothers,
grand and great and twice removed too,
friends scattered intermittently,
before government or society,
people turned to community.

In ever-changing environments that provided no immunity,
creatures of all kinds fell too hard into family.

An Edge Occasion.

Education solves criminals before they’re committed. Education is disease prevention. Education wins wars, because education knows when and where and why not to fight. Education bypasses elections by creating presidential citizens. Education pre-dates America, it is how the constitution exists. Education feeds the hungry, especially those with full stomachs. Education is by nature liberal, functionally conservative, and by necessity unbiased. You want to solve the problems facing America? Make laws more teachable, incentivize citizens to be more affable, and blur the line where education ends and adult life begins. In fact, erase that line altogether. All things may be possible, but without education, we will never see past our present circumstances. Education represents options. Education has the power to change reactions into decisions.