Sunday, June 25, 2006


Standing amidst wide-eyed children and scores of military veterans, this intrepid pacifist and peace activist ventured to Bowerman Field in Hoquiam on Friday to get a rare opportunity to explore two pieces of our nation's military history. For a mere $8, I was able to stand inside a B-24 & B-17 "Flying Fortress".

Named "Witchcraft" and "9-0-9" respectively, both aircraft were here in the Harbor as part of the Wings of Freedom touring exhibit.

While I'm fairly certain many of the older veterans came to see (and re-live) part of their own personal histories, I went in memory of Gregory Peck AND as a favor to my dad (who lives in Bend).

One of my favorite movies growing up as a child was Twelve O'Clock High. Made in 1949 on the heels of WWII, it starred Peck as Brig. Gen. Frank Savage. One of the important messages of this movie is that -- unlike so many other films of the time -- it did not glorify war. In fact, a great deal of the plot had to do with the terror most crewmen felt at flying these bombers over Germany.

Standing next to the ball turret, I could easily see why the men assigned to such planes were terrified. Aside from freezing off their gonads in temperatures nearing -40 F, they were sitting ducks for any stray bullets that might happen to fly by. In fact, one of the many aspects of both planes was how thin the metal covering appeared to be. It seemed like one could easily poke a hole with nothing more than a .22 rifle.

Another interesting aspect was the crampness of both planes. Standing outside of both, they looked rather large. However, once inside, I felt like I was trying to turn around in a VW Beetle. I can just imagine the claustrophobia some of the flight crews must have felt.

For me, the best part of my experience was getting the opportunity to see both planes land and the B-24 take-off. For a scant moment, I felt like I was in England or the Pacific Theater.

While I abhor war and violence, I made this brief sojourn because I'm a student of history. For good or bad, the US took part in WWII. I relished this opportunity to stand face-to-face with this history.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

What Makes a Difference?

It's been over 1 1/2 weeks since I last posted anything here on RT. It's not that I haven't had anything on my mind during this period, it's just that I haven't had a block of time on any given day to collect my thoughts and write something halfway cogent. Instead of writing on this blog, I've been coordinating fundraising for two state Green Parties plus doing database entry and general records management.

I know that a lot of people would say to me -- Why bother? The Green Party is small compared to the Republicans and Democrats. The Green Party holds very little, if any, power in the US (though this is certainly NOT true in many European countries). Why commit all this effort and time to an entity that not enough people even know about?

This is where I think I differ from many of contemporaries. For me, trying to make a positive difference makes a difference. If everyone tried to better society and our small place on this planet, we'd be in a lot better shape because the act of TRYING changes each of us and changes each of us for the better.

And that, my friends, makes a difference!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Send God Packing

Here's a snippet from an excellent article from Intervention Magazine on the evils of the various Gods.
Religious fanaticism in all its forms leads inevitably to bigotry, hatred, and, too often, violent confrontations. Let's end it like reasonable human beings. How many more Crusades, Jihads, Holy Wars, whatever you want to call them, must we live through to see the light? Let's put belief in a personal God, who tells us that only we are right and that everybody else is wrong, on a dusty top shelf, out of reach, where it belongs.
I realize many of the religious will argue that there's nothing wrong with God -- it's how some people interpret him/her/it. Frankly, it doesn't matter whose fault it is. Religion spawns fanaticism and fundamentalism. There's no escaping this.

Therefore, if we jettison the concept altogether, we certainly wouldn't be any worse off than we are today.

Monday, June 5, 2006

It's All Subjective!

On Saturday, at one of our local grocery stores, I got into a discussion with one of the courtesy clerks about religion and philosophy. When the clerk learned that I'm a Taoist (a what?), she wanted to know more. After I provided a 5 minute explanation, she looked at me in an odd way and said, "That sounds like a very self-centered philosophy". She went on to talk about people needing direction from others and a rock solid guidance system (i.e., the Bible).

If you think about it, Christianity -- her belief system -- is a lot more self-centered than [philosophical] Taoism. By and large, Christians tell other people what they should think, how they should believe and the forms these beliefs should follow. That's about as self-centered and egotistical as a person can get -- thinking that you know better than another as to how someone else should view the world!

Taoists don't pretend to tell others how or what they should think or believe. We leave it up to each individual to figure out for themselves. There are as many paths to enlightenment as there are people.

The idea that the Christian Bible offers a rock solid guidance system is laughable. If the message contained within is so concrete and definitive, why are Christians always disagreeing with each other on how this rock solid guide applies to the important issues of the day?

In Sunday's Daily World, there is an article about the contentious nature of church alignment over an anti-gay rights initiative that may appear on the Washington ballot this Fall. To wit:
The contentious debate over a new gay civil rights law has carried over to the pulpit, with some churches citing the Bible to exhort voters to repeal the measure, while others cite the same text to argue for its preservation.
As with ALL things human, understanding the Bible is wholly subjective. A myriad of variables impact how each believer will interpret and/or understand any sentence written in this tract. Consequently, it's about as rock solid as quicksand!

Since Taoists don't countenance any dogma nor possess any holy texts, we completely avoid these kinds of raucous debates. The only rock solid edifice in our lives is the world within and around us. And we recognize that each individual will interpret and/or understand the universe in different ways.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Both Sides Now

One of the stories making the news in this area --– across the nation too --– was the week long anti-war protests at the Port of Olympia over the past few days. The impetus for the protests occurred when military convoys arrived and the U.S. Naval Ship Pomeroy docked to transport the equipment overseas.

One of Olympia'’s City Council members attended many of the demonstrations as an observer. He was later castigated by many in the community. One of the many critiques came from a military veteran. Upon learning that said Council member had never served in the armed forces, this person wrote in an email, "When it comes to war, leave it alone. I read your biography and notice you never served. This doesn't surprise me since about 95 percent of protesters haven't."”

This comment harkened me back to Salem, Oregon, 2 or 3 years ago. I was standing on a downtown street corner holding a sign protesting the war in Iraq. A gentleman came up to me and asked if I had ever served my country in the armed forces. No, not me, I replied. He then launched into the same kind of diatribe.

I just smiled at him. I found his comments amusing. He was stomping around telling me that no veteran would be wasting their time as I was. Unbeknownst to this gentleman, the two men standing on either side of me were indeed veterans, one having served several tours in Vietnam and the other served in Desert Storm. Both were vocal critics against the war in Iraq.

This incident underscored for me the fact that people jump to too many conclusions on how THEY believe a particular person might feel about any given subject. Just because an individual is a military veteran does not mean they will be in favor or against our current military endeavors.

While many current anti-war protestors have never served a second in military service, this same fact is also true of the vast majority of the individuals who support the war!! It's very apparent then that military service does not, in and of itself, determine a person'’s point of view.

This is equally true for almost any topic one can think of. There are many Republicans who have become outspoken critics of the Bush Administration and it seems just as many Democrats who vote the Bush line.

In fact, from my perspective, one of the greatest examples of a person'’s political position not seeming to match up with their "“label"” is borne out by Gay Republicans.

That one is hard for me to wrap my brain around!