Monday, May 28, 2012

some mornings

that one moment doesn't last forever
        a few minutes, maybe
    as the rising sun
        begins to warm the ground
an aroma, infuses my senses
        fresh & clean
    from evaporating dew
        or last night's rain that
            soaked the ground, just enough

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memory of the Future

at breakfast, by myself
    eggs & toast, pen & paper
I saw my daughter
    walk by on the street
(she was, I imagine, actually
    in a middle school classroom)

the woman crossing the street
    (going to work, or on
her way home after last night)
    is already grown;
my daughter, not yet. 

    there she was, catching the
corner of my memory
    vaulting me forward in time
as if I'd skipped a decade ~

    and now, seeing her grown
I recall those middle school years
    so long ago.

                         and so I sit
pen & paper, eggs & toast, nostalgic
    for what has yet to come to pass

Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's Beginning

The earnest presidential campaign, that is.  Of course, the candidates have already been campaigning, but it's beginning to start to ramp up.  I see this, and I hardly every watch broadcast television.

But despite the fact that I don't watch much TV, I still get to hear some of the rhetoric and the name-calling and the political maneuvering and the criticizing of the other candidate's position on whatever issue.

Most of it bothers me ~ but what might bother me the most is the accusations from one to the other of being wishy-washy, or flip-flopping on an issue. 

What bothers me more than the accusations, though, is the reaction of the accused ~ most of the time, the reaction is to try to explain away their previous positions.  I'm sure someone must have done it at some time in politics, but I've never heard a candidate say, "Yes, that was my position at one time.  Now, though, I see things differently.  Let me explain why I've changed my mind, how I've grown, and why I believe my current understanding is better."

Personally, I'd rather elect someone to office who honestly embraces the struggle and the moral uncertainty of real life, and would rather not elect someone who pretends like their positions haven't changed an iota since they were 25 years old. 

Plus, if we were a little more honest and humble about our own position, we might be a little more respectful of someone else's position ~ which just might lead to a growth in civility within our national political discourse.

As I go back and read this post, it seems like perhaps I'm looking and hoping for, dreaming about, honest politicians.  Is it too cynical to say that, perhaps, that's a pipe dream?


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bike to School Day

Today is bike to school day.  To celebrate, my son's school organized a group ride of about three miles, from a park to the school ... complete with police escort (two motorcycles, like they do for funerals). 

It's a beautiful day for riding, and the kids were excited with anticipation as they gathered before the ride started.  During the course of this adventure, I noticed two different people who weren't part of the ride. 

The first passed by our group before we started riding.  He was pretty obviously a bicycle commuter ~ I assumed, looking at him, that he rode his bike to work most days.  He slowed down as he approached the group and asked what was happening.  I told him that it's bike to school day, to which he replied, "How about bike to work day every day."

The second person I noticed also looked like a regular bicycle commuter on his way to work.  He passed us as we were riding.  Since he was going the other way, he didn't have the opportunity to ask about our group.  He did, however, have (and take) the opportunity to clap his hands and shout words of encouragement to the elementary school students riding down the street.

Which of these, do you think, did more to encourage young people to spend more time on their bikes?  The one who focused on, and bragged about, himself and who made us feel inadequate for biking on this one day?  Or the one who was encouraging and supportive?


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Raising Taxes

I just saw a social media comment (you know how it goes on the blue-bordered social media site ~ someone wrote something, and then their 'friend', who has a different opinion, wrote a comment expressing their opinion) indicating that they don't want their taxes raised by asking the rhetorical question, "Do you want your taxes raised?"

Of course, if we heard it as an actual question, rather than one written to make a point, I believe that the typical and natural response would be "obviously not".

See, by and large, we're greedy.  Once we have possession of something, especially something valuable, we tend to want to keep it.  In this case, we tend to want to keep our money, because it's valuable.  With money, we can buy things we want.

My response to the question "Do you want your taxes raised?", though is almost always "Yes, of course".

Don't get me wrong ~ I'm just as greedy as the next person.  When I have money, I want to keep possession of it so that I can buy things that I want.  It's just that in this case, that's exactly what my taxes do.  With my taxes, I buy things I want.  For instance:

The Police and Fire Departments
The Military
Street Repair
Urban Sewer Systems
Student Loan Interest Relief
Food Safety
Public Libraries
Public Education
Parks and Recreation Centers
National Parks and Monuments
The Government

In short, my taxes buy civilization.  If we didn't pay taxes, we'd be much worse off.  Since I like civilization, I want civilization to continue, and so I'm happy to pay for it. 

Of course, we could argue forever about whether tax dollars are spent wisely or not ~ which would be a good conversation.  I, for one, would consider spending much less on the military.  Or, maybe I'd spend just as much, but would spend less on fighting wars and more on salaries for enlisted troops.

I'd spend more on public libraries, more on parks and rec, more on student loan interest relief, and much more on public education. 

But, how we spend tax dollars and how much are we required to pay in taxes are separate (albeit related) questions.

So, to say that we pay too much in taxes is to imply that the government is able to undertake all of the projects that are beneficial to the public welfare without any financial constraints.  And, given the truth that for two years in a row the public education budget in Colorado shrank while enrollment increased reminds us of the problems with this claim.

Some people (motivated by greed) want to pay less in taxes so that they can purchase more things that they want.  I (also motivated by greed) want to pay more in taxes because I'd like civilization, and would like to continue to purchase.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Slow Down, You Move too Fast

I saw a billboard yesterday that gave me pause. Once I saw the sign, I realized that I had seen it before; but when I saw it before, it was on the wall of a grocery store instead of on a billboard.

The first time I noticed it (on the grocery store wall), I was standing in line waiting it to be my turn to pay for my groceries. I was standing in the 'I want someone else to scan my groceries' line instead of the 'scan the groceries yourself' line, when the clerk who was monitoring the self-checkout area invited me over there. She even told me she'd help me use the machines.

My response, pretty quickly, was something like “This line is fine ~ I'm not in a hurry”. She got a confused look on her face, and turned back to her work.

It was about fifteen seconds later that I saw the signs on the wall proclaiming 'Faster Checkouts' and 'Less Waiting' and 'Your Time is Valuable' ... or something like that.

Some days I don't really want to talk with anyone in the store, so I make it a point to use the self-checkout. Some days I feel like interpersonal interaction, or I don't feel like looking up the codes to all that produce, so I choose the clerk-operated line.

Sometimes I'm in a hurry and choose the quickest line; but most of the time, those 30 seconds that I save by rushing through the store don't actually matter by the time I get home (especially if I sit at the parking lot exit at a stoplight). And if I'd moved over to the quicker line, I'd have missed the opportunity to have a really pleasant conversation with the woman in line behind me.

Plus, what is it that we're all rushing so quickly to get to? Don't most of us just end up spending those extra seconds, maybe five minutes accumulated over the course of a day, surfing the internet or watching television?

I wonder if hurriedness, and its corresponding malady busy-ness, isn't a sign and manifestation of selfishness. Martin Luther pointed to the truth that the beginning of all sin is self-centeredness, or being turned in on ourselves.

When we are always rushing around, and when we're always busy, we are by default setting ourselves and our own agenda ahead of someone else's, and thereby dismissing the value of our neighbor.

Of course, I'm as guilty of this as many other people. But every so often, I remind myself to slow down by choosing the slower line at the grocery store, or by not trying to pass the slower car in the lane in front of me. 


Speed and busy-ness have their place … but so does slowing down and recognizing the gift of the moment instead of rushing to the next one.