Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Smoldering Spring Morning

I woke this morning to a brilliant purple/orange sunrise breaking through my window. The sun, which has been absent these past few gray weeks, had returned and, for me, marked the beginning of spring in words sufficiently clear though silent.

The Robins and Mockingbirds sang as we got the kids ready for school, and our kittens stared out the window and "barked" at the birds. Not being a cat person, I don't know if this is normal behavior, but our two kittens both make a chirping/barking sort of noise as they look longingly towards birds fluttering about outside.

Maybe we just have weird cats.

Donna had to make an early-morning run to the homeless shelter where she works and, upon returning and entering the back door, she pointed out to me that our garden fence was smoking with beautiful wisps of steam rising from its thoroughly soaked innards. It spoke to me of a changing season, of a new day.

Coming on the heels of such a dark year, a new day sounds promising.

Friday, March 25, 2005

In honor of Oscar

“I have often been threatened with death,” Archbishop Oscar Romero told a Guatemalan reporter two weeks before his assassination on March 24, 1980. “If they kill me, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people. If the threats come to be fulfilled, from this moment I offer my blood to God for the redemption and resurrection of El Salvador. Let my blood be a seed of freedom and the sign that hope will soon be reality.”

On this 25th anniversary of the death of Oscar Romero, I am mindful that the global military machine is still alive and well. I am mindful that I've a son who will soon be in the crosshairs of relentless military recruiters. I'm further mindful of all of our children who are being courted to join in on the side of those who believe violence serves some noble purpose.

And so, in the memory of Fr. Romero, I pledge to take my stand against warmakers and for Peace and Justice. For Fr. Romero and for my son and daughter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


I've been a bit busy, first with that jury duty, then a trip out of town and today (my birthday) with a root canal (and glad I was to receive it)!

So I will try to write something fresh soon. For now, here's an excerpt from my essay that appears in the book, Bicycle Love:

Whether I knew or was deceived, whether by my fault or society's, the fact remains: I had become a captive of my car. It determined my path and separated me from the great outdoors.

But now, now I am free. And it was a bicycle that led me to liberty. My cage door has opened and outside, amid the sunshine, trees, grass and fresh air, a $20 beat-up bicycle bade me come into the presence of this world and share in its pleasant grace.

Now, when I need to get from home to work, I open my house door, roll my bike out into my neighborhood and greet the little girl next door waiting to go to school. I pedal along the streets of my city, enjoying the tree-lined urban setting, old brick houses on either side, history rolling past.

As I head north through downtown, I can make my way down to the river and bike along the riverfront. I can zoom along rapturously embracing the glory of the day, moving at just the right pace. I can get to work just as quickly as I could in a car, but the journey is entirely different.

When cycling, I move at a speed that gets me where I need to go promptly enough, and yet slowly enough that I can watch the mallards swimming in pairs on the Ohio River.

I can watch downstream as an elegant great blue heron slowly stretches and leaps to the air, filling the city with feathered grace unknown to all but me.

When I travel by bike, I know the earth in a way that was lost to me while driving blindly around in my car. I can truly know the delight and challenge of each season as the year spins like a grand wheel.

On my bicycle, I can embrace the coming spring, and revel in the newborn daffodil and crocuses as they colorfully bid winter goodbye. I can laugh at the tickle of a sweet honeysuckle-scented shower.

On my bicycle, I can know fully the heat of a humid August day and accept it as evidence that I am alive in this world. I can appreciate the cool escape of an early morning ride through Louisville's summer, mocking the fever of the soon-rising sun.

On my bicycle, I can rattle through autumn leaves lying on the street, scattering crisp joy as I ride. I can race the sparrows, darting out of bushes as I surprise them into flight.

On my bicycle, I can breathe deep frigid winter breaths, exhaling my own clear clean exhaust into a bright December sky. It can be cold and I can dress warmly and it is okay... By biking, I've found my place in this beautiful fragile wild world and been made whole.

I've entered into the community that I was never truly apart from except in prisons of my own creation. In traveling this path, I've had to move deliberately in a direction opposite from the norm and accepted wisdom, but I've not been alone. I ride upstream with all of nature and the goodwill of friends who wish to break away from the foolishness of humanity.

On my bicycle, I've found freedom and more. With my two-wheeled connection to the world, I've no reason ever to be caged again, and that's been my salvation.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Parable of Gus and Ralph

Warning: Hidden anti-car message below!

Let's suppose that Ralph has a neighbor whose house needs serious repairs. That neighbor, let's call him Gus, finds a contractor who will do the work for $100,000! Yikes! He can't afford that.

Fortunately, Gus finds a second contractor who will do the same work for only $10,000. As Gus' friend, Ralph is relieved.

So the contractor begins his work. As he tears out walls for remodeling, he throws the trash in Ralph's yard. Clearly, Ralph is unhappy about this. "What's the deal?" he asks Gus.

"In order to afford to have the work done at this price, the contractor has to cut corners," Gus explains.

And so, as Gus' friend, Ralph picks up the junk and moves it to the garbage.

The next day, as the contractor is throwing junk out in Ralph's yard, a board with a nail konks Ralph's daughter on the head and kills her! Now he's seriously miffed.

"It's the best he can do at that cost," Gus informs Ralph with a resigned sigh.

Ah, well. If it's the best he can do...

The contractor continues his messy, dangerous work and Ralph's poor mourning family continues to clean up. In the process, Ralph's wife gets cancer from the asbestos that was thrown in his yard. She dies.

It's sad, but Gus just couldn't afford the better contractor who would have done the job more professionally for ten times the cost. And Ralph died soon thereafter a broken man. That was sad, too.

The end.

The moral?

I'm not sure. But sometimes, it seems to me, $2/gallon gasoline is not nearly as overpriced as it might seem at first blush.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Splendor at Dog Hill

Still on jury duty least for a few more days. It's interesting work. I was a bit put off with some of my fellow jurors who were complaining about it being a waste of time to sit around waiting for them to decide if they need us or not. Hey! That's just the way it works.

On the other hand, I've been impressed with the people that I've served with on the one trial I've been on. While I suspect that we might disagree on many points, philosophically, politically and otherwise, when it came right down to the evidence, we were all able to agree generally on what was right and wrong.

Additionally, everyone has been on time and ready to work every day, and I think that's saying something.

More to come...

Thursday, March 3, 2005

A Karate Kid

The Car Invention

I've had the privilege to be called upon for jury duty and have been thus predisposed. I'll try to write about it when I've finished.

In the meantime, I have managed to have a small email conversation with one of my friendly opponents on the right on the nature of evil. That conversation led to the question of whether immorality need be intentional. To that end, I offer the following story.

Imagine, please, that we lived in a culture where there were no personal automobiles. Then, one day, someone suddenly announces that they have a new invention called the “automobile.” It will allow us to travel around the city or around the state with astounding speed. We won't have to wait for buses or trains. We won't have to bicycle or walk.

However, in return for that speed and convenience, one million (give or take) people will die world-wide due to the inevitable car wrecks. An additional three million will die each year due to the effects of air pollution, an existing problem which will be exasperated by this new invention.

In addition to those four-or-so million deaths each year, there will be countless millions maimed, injured and restricted due to automobile crashes and air pollution.

Furthermore, this new automobile will require billions – maybe trillions – of dollars in roadway construction and healthcare costs. Damage to the environment would be hard to put a price on, as our environment is priceless. Suffice to say, it would be significant.

Finally, this automobile will require horrendous amounts of fossil fuels. Perhaps more than we can sustainably obtain. It will require that the U.S. spends billions - eventually trillions - of dollars in military spending in order to protect “our” oil.

Now, once the benefits and the costs of this new invention, the car, have been explained, it is put to a vote: Is the convenience of the personal automobile worth the millions of lives that will be lost each year and the trillions of dollars spent in roadway construction, military protection and environmental degradation?

Just because we've inherited this car-centric society, does not mean that we must maintain it. Compassion, morality and logic dictate that we should seek other answers.

How would you vote?

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