High Res Newsolutions

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“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

– L.M. Montgomery

2016 is upon us, and as I prepare to bridge the New Year with a late anniversary trip to Santa Fe and points beyond, I want to inject a bit of optimism into the proceedings.

My whole life has been an exercise in mediocrity. (No, that’s not the optimistic part.) I have always been very good at being moderately accomplished in a variety of contexts–a sort of Renaissance-ish Man, if you will. I can play the piano, the viola, the drums, and a bit of the guitar, and I can sing…well enough to get by, to amuse myself, and no more. As a theater student, many moons ago, I could act my way onto a stage and off of it, without overly impressing or depressing anyone. I can write, and I dedicate myself to my craft…whenever the mood strikes, which isn’t terribly often. In other words, I coulda been a contender, but instead, I’ve rarely cleared the ceiling of “intender.”

But that all changed yesterday. Yesterday, instead of just carping on a cause, I stepped up and actually did something concrete. You see, yesterday, I officiated for the first time at a same-sex wedding. I’m not just talking about LGBT rights anymore; I’m standing up and doing something about it. It was in my power to offer something to someone that they hadn’t had access to before. And yes, I know anyone can perform these ceremonies now; I know someone else could have done this for these wonderful people. But it wasn’t someone else. It was me.

So that’s my New Year’s resolution: I’m done with the “just okay” approach to life. From now on, it’s balls to the wall. I’m going down swinging.

I hereby resolve:

  1. I will think not just outside the box, but outside the concept of box-ness. There are no boxes, as far as I’m concerned, anymore. It’s time for new and crazy-ass ideas, because today’s crazy is tomorrow’s hope for change.
  2. I will use this blog as a starting point, but it will be just that–a springboard for actual action, in the real world, because, while words are important and powerful, on their own they just aren’t enough.
  3. I will throw myself back into my work like never before, because at the end of the day, what you do and how you do it is who you are. Point me to my sled and tell me to mush; I’m ready to pull like my life depends on it. Because I firmly believe that in some cases, some people’s do.
  4. I will be a friend. I will answer my phone. I will help when asked, no matter who asks me. I will smile, even when it hurts, because it’s only dark until someone turns on a light. And my hand is on the switch.

Expect a post a week from me in future (if you’re listening); anything else takes up too much time, distracts too much from actually living a life that touches the lives of others. Unless your blog is how you touch the lives of others, in which case, blog away, and may it give you purpose.

But if you do seek to change the world by means of the blog, remember: hate breeds only more hate, bigotry cuts both ways, and there are real faces sporting real lives and back stories behind the little icons on your screen. So proceed with love and caution.

Happy New Year to you all,
and may 2016 be our moment, as a species,
to shine!

It Loves Me, It Loves Me Not

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Shall we play a game?

– Joshua

The Box is my shepherd; I shall not want.
It maketh me to lie down in screen captures; It Instagrammeth me beside still waters.
It refresheth my Newsfeed.

It leadeth me to Facebook for status updates’ sake.

Yea, though I talk naught but shallow and meaningless dreck, I will fear no consequences, for Thou art with me; thy detachment and anonymity they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table for me at the pleasure of mine followers; Thou crownest my posts with Likes;
my tweets runneth over.

Surely hashtags and friend requests will (sort of) follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Box
#forever.

De-Tweet!!!!

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Do not go tweet-ly into that good night;
Rage, rage against the dying of the write.

Not Dylan Thomas

A brief announcement:

After two weeks of shoe horns and crowbars, @magnificenttoad is no more.

I will not sell my soul, I will not eat my words, and I will not pretend there is true creativity in enforced brevity. Concision is for wimps. And those determined to make a point in 140 characters or less.

Dickens makes my soul sing; Hemingway makes my soul shrink. Twitter makes my soul nauseous.

So enjoy your tweets.

I will speak my own language. In complete, punctuated, grown-up sentences.

P.S. I am fully aware that the foregoing is a statement dripping with condescension and assumed superiority…

I’m okay with that.

The Radical in Me

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Not to see that the essence of humanism is to understand human history as a continuous process of self-understanding and self-realization, not just for us, as white, male, European, and American, but for everyone, is to see nothing at all.

– Edward Said

As I listen to our national fears emptied upon the world in terms beyond hyperbolic; as I watch our rhetoric become self-fulfilling prophecy before our very eyes; as I wait for whichever shoe drops next to land with a thud upon our collective psyche, each successive blow threatening to bring down the whole of the crumbling edifice of our pretension…

…I wonder…

At what point do we realize that it is our own violent language that encourages the radicalization of enemies we ourselves create every time we allow sound bites to shove aside sound judgment? Hate gives birth to hate, prejudice to prejudice. When the Trumps among us deliver pronouncements that devalue and demonize difference as difference, we should not be so surprised when difference gives way to demon, or when difference devalues us in return.

The 24-hour “news” networks have taken xenophobia to the air waves in a way not witnessed since the height of the Cold War: Radio Free Europe has morphed into Video Loose Lips. We monger fear alongside patriotism, to the point that it becomes difficult to distinguish between the two. And we are hoisted on our own petard. We grow so intent on destroying the Other that we do not realize that we are actually destroying ourselves.

Because, you see…we’re all somebody’s Other.

The enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy. If we are to insist on casting ourselves in the role of nemesis, is it any wonder that we are treated as such? Such an approach may work well on Game of Thrones, but let’s face it: what are the odds anyone actually survives it?

Faced with the specter of radicalism, at what point do we realize that the only real solution to any of our problems is to become radicalized ourselves? Not by way of guns or bombs, and not as dictated by any religion or ideology (including, I might add, the one that goes by the name of “freedom and democracy”)…but as members of one race, one global community of neighbors far and wide. We’re all in the same boat, and when it goes down, we all go down with it.

I dream of a day when our humanity is of so radical a stripe that difference as difference ceases to exist. A day when we conceive of one another only as various shades of similarity, when kinship transcends oceans, bloodlines, and political boundaries, taking in every feature, every line and crease, of a global human face. When we truly are the world, regardless of the beverage we drink.

And every time a new story hits the wires, I feel myself pushed closer and closer to that day. Underneath the anger and frustration, there is a glimmer of hope, dim though it may sometimes be.

I want to be a radical in my human being, in my humanity toward humanity. I want to be a terror to terror by offering love in the face of hate.

My enemy is my enemy because I am his enemy. I will, then, be no one’s enemy. Difference divides only if we allow it to take away from, rather than add to, who we are and who we can be. I will, therefore, subtract no one from myself.

In a world coming apart at the seams, this sort of radicalism is the only thread that can hold us all together…

Spread the word:
Open the doors!!!

This Post Is Anonymous

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Never free
Never me
So I dub thee Unforgiven

– Metallica

It is not I who writes these words; we write in my place.
I am Locutus of Earth.
Resistance is futile.

I speak with violence,
for violence;
with peace, for peace.
I speak as one for all
and all speak through me.

I am the sound of bullets;
I am the echoes of screams.
I am silence in place of speech
when speech is not enough.
I am the planet; I am the stars;
I am faces laced with scars
of battles fought and yet unfought.

More than words, I am
a Thought:

smile amidst ashes,
rainbow in storm.
I am the cold keeping you warm.

Open hand in place of a fist,
touching the faces of you who exist
apart and within
once and again…

I am the hope at the heart of despair.

No one and everyone–
that is my name.
A world’s worth of hearbeats
in one living flame

One ray of starlight
pierces the Night
One drop of saltwater,
silent, takes flight

Wish what we may
wish what we might–
humanity strapped to the string of a kite
caught in the wind, embracing the breeze–
We are the blossom born of the freeze

and the future holds whatever we please

 

Will the Real Pro-Lifer Please Stand Up?

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It is possible that life begins at conception…
but it is indisputable that it does not end there.

At the height of the Syrian refugee “post-ocalypse”, I stumbled across the following blog post: “That Other Refugee Problem is Much Bigger than the Syrian One.”

Okay, No. 1: Bullshit.

And, now that that’s out of the way…

We need to revisit the parameters of the pro-life/pro-choice debate in this country. Because at its heart, it is neither one nor the other. But then, that is what labels are for: focusing attention on the sound bite so that the content ceases to matter.

What we need is not more rhetoric; what we need is a new definition of life.

  1. We cannot claim a pro-life stance while ignoring the ongoing plight of the Syrians at our borders. Let’s get that out of the way up top. Last I checked, they were alive, living beings…at least for the moment. So get off your high abortion horse and try some introspection on for size.
  2. We cannot claim a pro-life stance and insist that our fellow citizens do not have a right to affordable, adequate healthcare. Are we really protecting life if we do not provide for the continual well-being of the lives we have protected?
  3. We cannot claim a pro-life stance if we are not willing at least to reconsider our positions on capital punishment. If it is murder to take a life at its inception, is it not also murder to take it at any point along the way? And why is it we’re more concerned about the death penalty than about life sentences handed down for ridiculous reasons? What about those lives? Do we simply slam the door and forget about them?
  4. We cannot claim a pro-life stance and proceed to ignore the “strangers” on the other side of the planet.
  5. We cannot claim a pro-life stance and insist that rampant capitalism, guided only by an invisible hand (apparently attached to the invisible arm of an invisible sociopath), is the most promising approach to global economics.
  6. We cannot claim a pro-life stance without calling to account the employment practices, at home and abroad, of the merchants and corporations with whom we do business on a daily basis.
  7. And (I hope it goes without saying) we cannot claim a pro-life stance and proceed to shoot up Planned Parenthood clinics. To do this is both to give the lie to our supposed position and to misunderstand the work that Planned Parenthood does. The value of a woman’s life goes far beyond her ability to give birth, and PP does much to ensure that this value is recognized in full, start to finish, as it should be.

Whether or not life begins at conception (and, personally, I tend to think that it does), there is no escaping the fact that it doesn’t end until death. But here’s the problem: the period between the two is often measured by our own understanding (too often political rather than principled) of the meaning of life. And if we insist on limiting our concept of “pro-life” to the nine months preceding birth, many of those full lives will end far too soon.

As for myself, I am neither “pro-life” nor “pro-choice.” I am pro-nuance. And that poor little guy goes begging every single day.