The New Colossus

I believe it is safe to assume Emma Lazarus, author of “The New Colossus” which graces the inner wall of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, would not vote for Donald Trump.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Let’s forget for a moment the completely insane notion that it’s actually possible to deport 13 million people of any race or origin. A nation that couldn’t find takers for a handful of Guantanamo prisoners can pull this off? Sure.

Let’s also forget the cost to execute such an undertaking would run into billions of dollars, but certainly wouldn’t end there because the bulk of those deported would no longer be contributing to the tax base. Yes, they pay taxes and do so without the loopholes.

Let’s also forget the destabilizing effect of losing those “aliens” whose lives are so intertwined with our own. Many of us love them and need them.

Instead, let’s focus on the ideal of the sonnet.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

Storied pomp? Arrogance? Apparently many in this country have decided to embrace the temperament of those ancient lands from which our predecessors fled.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me

Who could have dreamed that people of such desperation would contribute so much beauty in music, art, philosophy, and well — everything? Perhaps people who are made to feel like outsiders work a little harder for acceptance. Perhaps those who feel entitled need to be made aware of the whole picture, not just the dirty little fringe aspects that are common to the low lifes of every society.

Liberty-StatueLet me sum this up. I’m not afraid of xenophobic idiots and self righteous thinly-veiled racists who spout this nonsense. You will lose. Your numbers are dwindling. Your flag has been taken down.

Our current president is living proof that when push comes to shove, a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, will show up at the polls and kick your deluded asses. Enjoy the banter while you can.

Be Nice

In the late ’70s and early ’80s I was involved in a Christian Pentecostal church which subsequently became very controversial because of its association with a high profile evangelist of dubious sincerity. I was young, inexperienced and, for the most part, dumber than a rock. However, in retrospect there were many great lessons to be learned apart from faith and scripture. Also, this experience exposed me to many fascinating characters; some good, some outright disdainful.

One of the good ones was an elderly preacher by the name of Glen Miller. As a musician I will never forget his name for obvious reasons. He was a sweet man who was extremely fond of the adage “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” In that regard he practiced what he preached. I once witnessed him in a heated debate with another preacher during which he remained kind and respectful throughout. All the heat came from his opposition.

The United States is moving forward with some historic Supreme Court decisions that step on very sensitive areas in our communities. Many people feel their rights and traditions are under attack. Perhaps the latter is true. I think it’s clear some traditions need to be attacked. After all, sacrificing virgins to the Sun God was once an acceptable tradition somewhere. With the way we are able to exchange information in modern times, there is no excuse for failing to evolve and become more enlightened.

The momentum of social progress can rise gradually like the tide, or come crashing like a wave. It’s the wave that concerns me. As we debate the issues of today, we need to understand that the adage is true. Human nature can be extremely defensive. If you start an argument with an insult, your words are completely wasted beyond their contribution to a mob mentality. You will not convert anyone regardless of the strength of your logic. However, if inciting a mob reaction is what you intend, be prepared for the consequences.

Am I guilty of this? Oh, hell yeah. That’s why I decided to do a little blog writing as self penance.

We are truly divided. There will never be a time when everyone becomes liberal or conservative. In fact, there are studies that indicate our political views may be more in our DNA than in our souls. Is it not wrong to attack someone for having tendencies that they were born with? I know this is a fuzzy line. Even I have moved from one end of the political spectrum to the other as the result of arguments put forth with the correct recipe of logic, diplomacy and persistence.

Keeping it real, I know that at my self righteous best I am still dumber than a rock in the greater scheme of things. When you spend enough time looking at Earth from the perspective of the Hubble Space Telescope you are forced to realize there will always be more questions than answers. It’s an exercise in humility. Like that line in the Lee Ann Womack song “I Hope You Dance”: I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean. Humility and diplomacy go hand in hand.

The country is experiencing growing pains. Everyone is cranky. The best advice I can give was better delivered by the Patrick Swayze character in the 1989 film Road House. Be nice.

Rickie

Rickie and JenniferI don’t really know how to say good bye. It’s really a struggle.

For those who know me as a musician, this guy was my first fan. Over the years he gave me more encouragement than anyone. For that, especially, I will forever be thankful.

Rickie was uniquely Rickie.

We were childhood friends about as opposite as two can be. He had a seemingly insatiable penchant for mischief. I was always a very reluctant cowardly type. Socially, he seemed to be able to connect well with anyone, at least from my perspective. I was the brooding introvert. He was into everything, never wanting to miss out on a good time. But he never made me feel pressured to follow along. He was a class rebel. I was the good student.

The two things we did share, however, were a passion for music and a love of the water. Ultimately, we spent more time jamming together than fishing or water skiing on the bayou.

Rickie loved playing guitar. But learning to play guitar came a little easier for me, probably because I was more withdrawn from the rest of the world than Rickie. So he started to celebrate my abilities in ways that always made me feel special. It was support I desperately needed at times. His kindness had no bounds.

We briefly separated when I went to college. Then he decided to take a stab at the college life himself and tracked me down. I tried to help him adjust, but it seemed his free spirit couldn’t be contained for any extended period of time.

Years later, we connected again in Maryland. I had rebooted my life up there. He was bouncing around after getting displaced by a hurricane. That was an eventful era with many stories. So many things have happened since, but we never completely got out of touch. He made a point to follow every band I’ve ever been in. I could never leave a musical project or start one without wondering how I was going to explain it to Rickie.

Many times Rickie would call or write me and say, “Remember so and so?” He never seemed to forget anyone or anything that happened when we were kids and beyond. My memory was not so good.

But I won’t forget him.

Ever.