Love. Always. Wins.

All newborn babies are cute little things, right?

No?

Not all newborn babies?

Oh, I see.

Yeah, that wrinkly alien-thing with the one eye open.

Ooh. And that one with what looks like pubic hair on its head.

And that. Clean yourself up, you icky thing.

Okay, so not all newborn babies are the cutest thing known to humankind.

Oh, but look at them.

Aw.

All together in the nursery. Quiet and content. Even that colicky one over there in the corner.

They are precious, aren’t they?
When I was a wee lad living in the poorer parts of middle Tennessee, I was scooped up every Wednesday night by a battered van filled sporadically with churchgoing kids.

What I remember most on those Wednesday night children services was that I was the ‘yellow’ kid.

As the song went: Red, yellow, black, and white. They are precious in our sight.

The preacher would line us ethnically diverse kids up in front of the congregation. My sole job was to stand still between the Native American (The ‘Injun’ as she was so pleasantly called) and my buddy, who just happened to be blackish.

When those lyrics hit the air, the preacher would touch our heads in succession: Red; Yellow; Black; White.

It was a dirty job, but I did it well. With no perspective.

Okay, the mid-70s were a shocking mixture of mundane-meets-offensive. Don’t believe me? Just watch an early episode of ‘All in the Family’ and see how many times you can count the word ‘nigger’.

But years later, here I am trying to put in all into perspective and all I can think about are the babies in that nursery room.

All those babies in that nursery room, cooing, crying, or pooping. They actually have no real agenda. No real political motives.

It’s so trite of a thing to write about. The innocence of children.

But look at that crowd of hatemongers. Those grown-ups. Imagine them in that nursery. Not yet walking. Not yet talking. That’s them. Those grown-ups full of self-validated hatred. They were once in that nursery. Holding their own feet. Their diapers full of shit and piss. Their mouths aching for the nipple, plastic or real. Their eyes open to what the world offers.

We gathered as babies. Surpassing the insurmountable odds of not being born. Only to grow up adding hatred to the world.

Adding sorrow to our nursery.

It’s a contribution that takes away contribution.

If it’s your right to prolong a hatred for another newborn that just happens to share the nursery room with you, know that you were once like that other newborn. Struggling to become alive. Seeking love first. Seeking comfort and safety.

Seeking each other.

 

Love. Always. Win.

 

JLT

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Touch

Look at your hand (hopefully, you have one).

Flex it. Curl your fingers inward and touch your palm with your fingertips. Open it. Spread your fingers and let your hand expand flat in the air in front of you.

Touch forefinger to thumb.

Turn your hand palm down and make a fist. Look at the mess of knuckles bulging from your skin.

Now clasp hands together and squeeze slightly. Let go and just stare at a hand until you feel the perplexity of the limb in front of you.

You are looking at a part of your body. You are looking at an extension of yourself consisting of near-infinite amounts of particles put together and fired by the will of your mind.

You don’t see the bone and sinew underneath the sheath of skin, but know that there is a miracle to your machinery. It’s a reality you take for granted now but once was fascinated by with infant eyes.

The hand exists for you.

Use it to touch others that you love.

Feel their existence.

And know how strange and wonderful this ability is

to touch until you cannot touch anymore.

For one day the use of your touch will be gone forever…

Touch while you can.

JLT

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Raining Red Amoebas

He’s a loving husband, father of three children, and owns a modest house in a suburban area where his pet dog and cat roam freely. Despite his shortcomings, he remains gainfully employed to support his family.

Upon a well-deserved family outing one night at a local all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, this man was thrown out by the restaurant owner due to the man’s overindulgence of the endless buffet policy, the reason for the ejection eventually subjected to a court hearing. The man was cleared in favor of the court for any wrongdoing, as it was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the man clearly did not eat ‘all-you-can-eat.’

One of the jurors, sympathetic toward the family man, was so angered by the blatant injustice caused by the restaurant owner, exclaiming, “That could have been me!”

That’s the crux of protest against injustice. It could have been you, not Homer Simpson, up there on that stand demanding justice.

The circumstances here are farcical and dismissive because – well – it’s a freaking cartoon. I tend to escape to cartoons during times of crisis. Something funny to drown out the media buzz that either boil or mislead human emotion. A day watching cartoons with the kids beats the drumming negativity howling on news channels and flooding through social media.

Focus on the good, not the bad. It’s a likely way to live. Impossible when we feel the outrage after so much pointless bloodshed lately, many of us taking a trembling breath before screaming, “THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ME!”

The problem with empathy is that not everyone feels the same way about tragic injustice. We split into multiple amoebas, each divided portion countering the other with discord.

Some of us scream for action. Jimmy said it best from 8 Mile: “If something needs to happen with this shit, it needs to happen now.” These amoebas think they’re right.

Other amoebas say justice was served and death was warranted. And these amoebas think they’re right as well.

Then there are amoebas like me, those that simply wish it was all a silly cartoon and not reality. Because reality has limitless potential for peace only inches maddeningly close to realization. I’m not talking utopia. Who the hell wants that?

Each of us grew up with different thoughts, experiences, and upbringings. No, the playing field is far from level, and every life is a unique, fleeting raindrop that exists as a watery orb before falling to the ground to dry away. Some of us clash together in mid-air on our way down, joining lovingly into bigger droplets of water, or splattering together into destructive, wet oblivion.

We must remember the color of human rain no matter where it falls from our sky.

Blood red.

Always that.

Right now the rain falling is a torrential storm. It will quiet, eventually. Hopefully.

More importantly, one day the rain will stop for all of us.

 

Love to you all.

JLT

 

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Stop Yelling at Me!

When do you raise your voice with angry words of protest?

I’ve heard voices raised at:

  • Fast food employees
  • Insolent children (at least in my house)
  • The double-parked car (there’s a personal Hell waiting for these people)
  • My dying laptop (sigh)

Take the first from the list. I’ll spare the rest, but I will share this one real account of everyday life.

Dusk settled in and people crammed into a fast food lobby for less-than-stellar sustenance. A previous customer, a tall and wide disgruntled man, loomed over the stainless steel counter, snarling over less-than-stellar customer service as his teenage daughter looked on, embarrassed.

The man pointed a thick finger at one of the employees behind the counter and marked her for missing an item on his order. His voice boomed across the whole length of the counter and all fell silent around him.

“It’s right there in front you!” he yelled, pointing at the missing quarter-pounder on the sandwich chute that belonged in the crumpled sack his cowering daughter held in silence. “It’s the one that’s probably cold as hell by now. Can’t you see it!”

The employee, her voice low, responded with apologies at first, but then her voice rose after he said, “You must be stupid.”

It would take more words and a skilled court stenographer to dictate the heated exchange that followed from that point on between the man and the employee. Upper fast food management came to the rescue, but they saw and conquered nothing. Even the refund was made in vain, appeasing nothing. The man left these parting words: “I’ll never come back here again. And if everyone is smart, you won’t let that bitch touch your food.”

The unhappy customer walked out before anyone could respond, his daughter in tow. As if by theatrical direction, all eyes then fell on his nemesis to see her reaction, but the fast food worker, her face hard as stone, merely shook her head and continued her work, muttering words under her breath that would best be left unheard.

I activated the holographic visual recorder implanted in my right eye to play back the scene. Okay, I don’t have one of those yet, but I did try to recollect what this unhappy guy was like before the debacle ensued. I had been a few customers back in line, and I remember he acted normal as anyone, resigned, grunting the start of his order in a mild tone and had even placed an affectionate hand on his daughter’s shoulder to get her attention while ordering. Who knew a forgotten burger would set the guy off?

People screw up.

I once backed into a stranger’s car early one morning. Happy Monday. The damage resulted in scuffs on car paint, thankfully, but damage nevertheless. Car damage, even the slightest, is more dangerous than forgetting your fries on your value meal, but the exchange between me and the other driver went pleasantly, almost jovial on both parties. Why is that? I can only recount that voices remained at normal levels.

We may never know what triggers bellowing like the unhappy blowhard that sought an audience so he could proclaim someone stupid for forgetting his cheeseburger. Perhaps you agree with him. You raise your voice when injustice has been served to you. To do anything less is a sign you are weak and unworthy of happiness. Then by all means, pursue your form of happiness. Fight. Scream. Yelling can be a craft with its own merit and there are plenty among us that filter life this way to achieve goals (bill collectors unite!).

We’ve all been wronged at some point in our lives, whether intentionally or not. When it happens again, I ask that you take a moment before inhaling your lungs full of air to break loud, sonorous verbal wind toward someone. Could it be handled another way? Is it really a life-and-death matter? Is it really worth verbal abuse? Is there really such thing as giving someone a piece of your mind? Will all this really matter on your deathbed? Is that heart-unfriendly burger or those few lost dollars really worth a coronary or a fisticuff? If so, raise thy voice. Otherwise, save those vocal cords for singing and spare the world one less act of negative energy.

“You can’t get your head around something if you’re yelling.” -Henry Rollins


“Words are wind.” -George R.R. Martin

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The Nice Wars

The world is near obliteration, devastated by unending war.

Many surviving humans are rounded up, penned together and placed in a central location near an enormous spacecraft the size of Texas; this is the last refuge for humanity. This bulky craft made of undiminishing material, with its infinite power and food supply, is capable of sustaining human life for the entire remaining population virtually forever. It has enough living space to handle 100:1 per person in case of overpopulation. Though it cannot travel faster than the speed of light, the craft is shielded, capable of withstanding impact of unknown space debris lesser its size.


At the base of the giant ship is the entranceway where people will funnel in to get aboard. Before anyone can enter, however, a choosing must be done. Only the nice people may enter the ship. The mean people will have to stay. After all, we don’t want to start another war while floating in space, do we?


It’s been said, by me admittedly, if we could take all the jerks of the world and put them all on an island away from us, the world would be a better place. Some would say that’s happening right now. It’s called: insert the most vile-inhabited place you know here.


So say it happens. Let’s keep the choosing simple and define the mean as anyone that threatens your world of nice, from the serial killer down to the soccer mom that cut you off during rush hour. They’re all carted away: criminals, thugs, mean bosses, petulant relatives, bratty children, annoying neighbors, feckless teenagers, faceless terrorists and any other enemies that threaten your peace. Not exactly something a nice person would do, and not exactly true world peace, but all the meanies are expunged from the land and sent to their private island.


Peace is achieved.


Temporarily.


Unrest occurs. Amidst the Isle of Mean a fortress is built and an armada of mean forces march back toward your home. Instead of trying to exile you to an island for nicetarians, the meanies just try to kill you off. You defend your borders with the lesser nicelings, but the approaching meanies breach your walls, leaving you no choice but to bomb the front line of meanies before they can farther invade the nice lands. Many meanies anticipate the strike and counter-attack in quick reaction.


When the bomb smoke clears and all is quiet, you search for your loved ones and find only young children wandering the desolation. You can’t tell the mean from the nice. The children all cry and weep together.


This is a great opportunity, however. You can now parent every child and teach each of them the nice ways of the world. Only, some of them don’t listen. Many of them can’t even understand your language. All of them are tired, sick and hungry. After days of hearing their aimless crying as you try to press your love and wisdom on to them, many children mock you, revealing their mean inclinations. Several former children of nice convert to meanness, hardened during the war.


The children begin to separate into groups on their own, becoming duplicitous tribes. You try to stop this, becoming the peace ambassador among them. They ignore you, many of them blaming you for their troubles. You try begging some of them to be nice. A few listen but are then chastised for their treason against their tribe. Soon, you are left with no choice but to force them all to be nice by your hand. The two nicer tribes join you reluctantly and you use their numbers to reeducate the remaining tribes on the values of being nice. They revolt and war ensues once again.


You soon take a step back and do nothing. You watch in the safety of your confine until the children have sorted it out on their own. Eventually, they do after many have died.


You step back out and greet the survivors. You are met with the weary that want nothing more to do with war. You invite them to help rebuild your world, but many of them are grown now and seek only freedom from the world of nice and mean. You let them go build their own lives. That would be the nice thing to do.


Playing a deity, even a nice one, doesn’t work when it comes to creating world peace. Sure, we’ll leave it to God to sort it out, but while here on earth let’s admit that life is filled with conflict; the degree of conflict spanning a near infinite arc starting from slight disagreement to total war. It’s a strange paradox. I can declare my love for world peace, but will clench my hands into fists against anyone that tries to harm my children. It’s an unspoken axiom that sounds virtuous and violent at the same time.


Strangely, we even argue on how best to obtain and maintain peace. George Carlin said: “fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.” Malcolm X said: “sometimes you have to pick the gun up to put the gun down.” Then there’s the one-button solution that might end war, but it includes the price of possibly ending all life on earth. We may never go that far, and we may disagree with the solutions we have in place now, but if we do nothing we should at least value those that have fought and are fighting in the name of peace and freedom, both those armed and unarmed.


World peace. Good will. These thoughts of yearning for everyone on earth to love one another makes one exhausted and weary. Because it’s so simple to stop war simply by choosing to. Yet we can’t stop the world in its track no more than we can settle every dispute in a single house.


We can mollify these frustrating thoughts on war in different ways, many of us leaning toward spirituality or apathy. War stories provide perspective, though I seldom enjoy opening up a book on war to see pictures of the dead. I think of my mother, a survivor of the Korean War. She would never share all of her recollections, but told a few stories from time to time. She was ten years old at the time the war began, living in the capital of South Korea. One of her stories was told in casual conversation about how dead bodies near a pond was helping the vegetation grow, providing food for the starving survivors. Other stories were only half-told, filled with hesitant pauses, about the loss of her father. None of her stories give complete perspective, but they are there to say this happened to her and that is all. We may coin it another way: shit happens.


Real war continues today. There might be some solace from quotes. Here are some I leave you with as we scratch our heads toward world peace.

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace” – Jimi Hendrix

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” – Nelson Mandela

“Better than a thousand hollow words, is the one word that brings peace.” – Buddha

“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“War is over… if you want it.” – John Lennon

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds- Carl Sagan