Culture Joys… April 19, 2012

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There were about a hundred people in the restaurant.

I was sitting there enjoying my dinner and the ambiance of the human simmering of conversation when I realized that Janet and I were the only two people of European extraction in the room. It was remarkable. It was actually quite wonderful.

Since arriving in California I have become more aware of culturalism–because California has done a great job to provide for us as a nation a human relief map of what our entire country will look like in thirty years. The United States should NEVER have been just white. After all, our whole concept was openness, acceptance and the encouragement of immigration.

But we started our segregating the Native Americans were to be segregated because…well, basically because they were in the way. We had some strange, abiding belief that black people picked cotton more easily than our white children. It might have been all right if we had treated our cotton pickers with some kindness, but apparently white supremacy goes deep into the genetic fabric of paler brothers and sisters. And when it wasn’t skin color it was nationality and when it wasn’t nationality it was religion and when it wasn’t religion it was gender and when it wasn’t gender it was sexual orientation and when it wasn’t sexual orientation, it has even come down to assessing people based on if they voted for Ronald Reagan.

Something had to come along and stop this–or God was going to sneeze and just blow us all away. May I be the first–or at least the second–to say there ARE no culture wars? There may be cultural ignorance, but it should be turned into culture joys. There is a giddiness that comes into the human heart when we finally abandon our childish prejudices to become true men and women of Planet Earth.

Last night I was delighted to perform in front of a Samoan congregation. Candidly, they stared at me a bit when they realized they had scheduled in someone of lesser-Island-experience. But it didn’t matter. By the time the evening was done, we were brothers and sisters. My only lament was that the Samoans love to eat, and since I have been on a limited food regimen of late, the temptations they offered on their banquet table after the presentation were nearly inescapable. But I was able to restrain and eat sensibly.

But back to the culture wars, which I will tell you should be the culture joys … if you’re getting sucked up into the hidden agendas of bigotry under the guise of immigration, entitlement programs and just general fussiness about human-kind, may I suggest that you consider this four-step process to turn your wars into joys? Last night, when I looked out at that audience, I thought to myself:

1. We share so much in common that it will be fun to explore our differences. It’s not the other way around–it’s not that we’re so different that we need to explore our commonalities. I have been with people of every culture, and the basic need for humor, heart, soul, thinking and nourishment is present within each.

2. NoOne is better than anyone else, which means NoOne is worse than anyone else. It also means that NoOne is more colorful than anyone else and includes that NoOne is smarter than anyone else, which certainly leads to NoOne is dumber than anyone else.

3. No teachers. All students. One of the more ridiculous aspects of culture wars is the notion that certain races of people have been given an advantage in arenas of life, and for that purpose they’ve been placed in the world to teach. It’s just ridiculous. We’re all students. The minute you start thinking that you’re a teacher of humanity, your sheer arrogance will forbid anyone from receiving your message. Just sitting down in front of those lovely folks and sharing my little dab of talent last night, I felt no need to be the boss or the brilliant of the night. I learned as much from them as they learned from me, because we were all in the classroom.

4.  And finally, understanding is something that people need to give to us–never anything we  can demand. I don’t know what the answer is to immigration, but I do know two things: (a) you can’t stop it; and (b) since you can’t stop it, find a way to make it profitable. It reminds me of the first person who looked at Niagara Falls and said, “We need to find a way to put that water to work.” The next thing you know, we got electricity.  You can either look at the immigration question and say, “We need to close our borders,” or you can say, “Since our borders are open, how can we channel this energy to make America more productive?”

Beware of those who believe in a culture war. There is no culture war–just a lot of people pushing and shoving to prove they’re supreme over one another. I have perched myself in California in the middle of a human smorgasbord–and brought my fork and spoon. I am prepared to be a part of the culture joys.

Because you can try to fight against nature, but Mother Nature always has a way of spanking her unruly children.

**************

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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