20 January 2017

On Inauguration Day

On Inauguration Day

The beginning of love, wrote Thomas Merton,  is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.

If in loving people we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

I think this is the challenge for me over the next years, to resist asking others to fit themselves into my own image, my own values, while saying grounded and productive and peaceful. I think it won't be easy, but I am determined to try to do it. Our system is broken and hurting, I do not know yet what I can do to help it and also respect the boundaries around my own life.

I promise me (and you) that I will not be one of those people raging on Facebook or Twitter, checking the news every few minutes, living on the fuel of outrage and anger.

On Inauguration Day, I commit myself to listening, and trying to understand the message other people, my fellow citizens, are sending, I have heard the primal screams but do not yet fully comprehend them.

I commit myself  to being open-minded and positive, and to not add to the din of arguing, lament and worry and grievance.  I would like my writing and my photos to life people up, not to bring them down or stoke anger and divisiveness.

There is much good news for me. I feel I am giving birth to myself again, in ways that are good.

I commit myself to doing good, to identifying myself as a member of the moral and compassionate community, wherever I may find them. I do not identify myself as a person who is for our against our new President. I hope he succeeds, that would mean we all succeed.

No President or politician will live in my head or determine what is in over the next years, that my choice, and not how I choose to live. I cannot survive that way.

I commit myself to showing up, to being myself, to understanding and embracing my own values and following them. First, I need to be absolutely certain as to what they are.  I commit myself once more to not telling other people what to do and think, or judging them for what they believe and think.

The key to my feelings are thoughts are me, not anyone else. I carry no label, not the left or the right. I do not permit anyone else to label me. I choose to think for myself.

I do not look to tell other people what to do, to argue their beliefs or mine, or to berate people for their own thoughts. My idea is to show up and keep faith with myself. To engage in small acts of good and kindness. To take beautiful photos and write words that life people up and help them think. To love and honor my wife. Good and important work, all of it.

I see a number of things comfort, ground and define me. My love for Maria, for my daughter and granddaughter. My love of animals and my life with them, my wish to do good, my blog and my photography, our animals, my books. My friends, my community and character. Those things will be my focus, my sense of being, my purpose.

I will follow the spirit and heart of my spiritual guides – the true Christ, Thomas Merton, the Dalai Lama, Mandela, Gandhi, Dr. King, the mystics Kabbalah.  In a sense, they all confronted the same challenge and dilemma I face: how to love, do good and retain hope in the face of great diversity. They are valuable to study because they did what I wish to do.

They inspire and inform me. I will seek to give hope to the poor, comfort to the afflicted,  encouragement to the creative, as I enter a new and rich phase of life,  I will share what little wisdom I have learned with those who wish to hear it.

I do not seek to cajole others to fit my own image. We must learn to live with one another, or perish together.

This year has been a gift for me, it has challenged me to affirm my values, to acknowledge them and bring them to the fore of my life, rather than to let them languish in the background.

I will not be angry, but I will not be oblivious either. I think, for once in my life, my country needs me, and that is an enthralling idea for me. It connects me to America in a new and powerful way. Our experiment is important, for us, for the world.

My salvation does not lie in the political realm, but in the personal and spiritual world. Washington is not my capital, I worship the farm, nature, my life, and the good hearts and souls of people.

The next years will ask me to consider carefully how I will live, act and feel, rather than simply react to the argument of the day. I am serious about this process and will share my journey with you, as always. I am hopeful, the opposite of hope is despair, and I will not surrender to that.

As always, I'll share the trip.

Posted in General

Video: Maria’s Very Creative “Off Day” – New Scarf and Tote-Bag

When I have an off day, I do nothing. This is sort of part of our new You Tube Sales Channel.

When Maria has an off day, she makes a beautiful scarf and fun new Bedlam Farm Tote-Bag. Both went on sale today, when everyone is watching the news, I imagine. The scarf is $60 plus shipping, the tote-bag is $48 plus shipping. This video is better than the news, Maria stands like a stork and explains her idea of the "off" day. Check it out. You can buy either by e-mailing Maria at [email protected] We should all have off days like this one.

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Ash

Going Green

In my life, I am going green. I asked a farmer friend if he believed in climate change, and he said "well all you really have to do is look out the window to understand everything you need to know about climate change." Good advice. Here on Bedlam Farm we are always looking for ways to need less and useless. We throw less and less away all the time.

We have two wood stoves going in the house when it is cold, and while they use one kind of energy, we save on another. Maria now even distributes the ash along the driveway to fill in the potholes caused by winter. I love the image.

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Animal Farm, 2030: The Department Of Animal Rights, Propaganda, And Revisionism

Revisionism

When the animals are gone. Thoughtcrime: A thoughtcrime is an Orwellian term used to describe an illegal thought. The term has also been used to describe some theological ideas such as disbelief or idolatry." – Wickipedia. The idea that elephants and carriage horses and other animals are not all being abused and are being driven from people and the earth, often to their deaths,  is a thoughtcrime to many in America, a new form of heresy.  This story is dedicated to the animals who have been taken away, who our children and grandchildren will never seen again. And to people who love animals and can still think for themselves.

_____

The animals were all gone by 2025.

They came for the greyhounds at the tracks, then the race horses. They came for the carriage horses and the mules, they came for the lions, then the tigers.

They came for the ponies in the farmers markets giving rides to children. The polar bears died on the melting ice, the snakes and lizards and birds died in the great flooding. They came for the cows on the farms, and then, the came for the magic of the circuses and took away the elephants. They came for the old people with cats on their laps.

They came for the homeless people who slept on the streets with their dogs, and the two elderly sisters who rescued cats. They came for people who were poor, or old, or who had fences that were too low. They took their cats, and then their birds. It  was now officially cruel to keep any animal in a cage.

They closed the zoos because they were cruel, and took the sled dogs away from the sledders. They came for the border collies who herded sheep because work is cruel, and the cats let outdoors, and the barn cats on the farms,  and the cows and pigs and horses on the farms. They came for the dogs who sniffed for bombs – what could be more abusive? – and the ones who guided the blind.

They banned the donkeys who pulled carts of fruit in Baltimore, they banned the use of animals to entertain people or make them smile. They came for the rabbits in cages and shut down the pet stores in malls. They banned the breeding of dogs and cats, and then, the ownership of dogs and cats. They said animals could now only live on secret preserves, with nothing to ever do again in their lives.

Under Article 60, uttered by the Chairman of the Department Of Animal Rights, known to exist as a digital space only on Facebook and Twitter, animals could no longer be owned by the people, all animals must be returned to the wild, to nature, to their dignity and origins.

It was no longer legal to mention or discuss Climate Change, or the loss of animal habitats, or the decline of two-thirds of all animal species, which had been recorded and announced by the World Wildlife Fund in 2017. The fund was no longer legal, and had been abolished. It was not legal to say there was no "wild," or any nature for the animals to return to.

They talked about all of the preserves where animals had come. But the preserves where animals had been  herded were closed, gone bankrupt or shut down by the Department of Animal Rights, Propaganda, and Revisionism. It turned out they were cruel places as well. And they were expensively cruel.

It was now a thought crime to speak or think of the work of animals, or to decry their disappearance in the world.

Big Victim, the leader of the nation of Atlantia,  ruled a world that was perpetually polarized, continuously at war with itself, characterized by omnipresent government surveillance, public and media manipulation, the ubiquitous use of screen technologies, and under the control of a privileged elite that ruthlessly persecuted individualism, idiosyncratic and individual ways of life and independent thinking, all of which had been outlawed.

No one had ever seen Big Victim – Atlantia was by now a nation of victims now – or even knew for sure if she existed.But she issued new instructions every day, all on her Twitter account. It was against the law to question her existence.

The Department Of Animal Rights, Propaganda and Revisionism ruthlessly sought out and persecuted people who still had and hid their animals – in basements, barns, caves, remote hillsides – and loved them and prayed to them. If caught, the animals were seized and taken to "preserves" and never seen again, the people who owned them taken to re-education camps on the first offense, were executed on the second.

The former animal lovers claimed the animals were put to death, but it was not legal to say that publicly, or to write it.

The animal were stubborn and subversive people, said Big Victim, dangerous and willful. They would all be rooted out.

The animal lovers – labeled "deviants and abusers"  – hid one another, organized secretly and dangerously.

They lived off the grid and away from the screens and video cameras that were installed in every home. They stole food to give to their dogs and horses, had a vast network of contacts and safe houses, were sometimes seen traveling or hiding in forests or woods, or abandoned factories, or basements. They comforted and supported one another, they missed the animals in their lives.

There were fewer and fewer of them every year, new surveillance technologies made it difficult for them to hide, and their need to find food for their animals often gave them away. When they vanished, they never returned.

Sometimes, people kept photographs of their animals on their cellphones, or more dangerously, in their homes. When discovered, or reported by the Secret Informers of the Ministry Of Animal Rights, they were confiscated. The lucky people were given final warnings. All photographs or books or articles about pets and people loving one another were taken and burned.

The Ministry Of Love And Compassion worked tirelessly to rewrite the historical record, issuing a stream of instructions ordering workers and citizens to correct the false history of animals and people, once rumored to share the earth together and work together to build civilization and to life one another up.

The true story of animals was abuse, the Ministry said. They were all abused. Animals should never be owned, or used to love or entertain people.

The Ministry said it was not ever true that people and animals lived in harmony, or that many people loved them or treated them well. It was not true that children loved the magic of the circus, or that lovers melted in the back seats of horse carriages in Central Park, and came from all over the world to ride in them. All mention of 4-H activities or projects was forbidden.

The Ministry said these fond memories were forgeries and falsifications. All animals were victims of people, their abusers driven to the edge of society, forced out of work, had their homes taken from them, were appropriately harassed,  denounced and dehumanized.

The Ministry worked relentlessly – and successfully –  to destroy all documents relating to the love of animals and people for each other, or the rumored rich history of people and animals working together.

No poof existed any longer that the government might be lying, or that the Department Of Animal Rights had destroyed the true history.

A group of animal lovers had marched on the capital to plead for the return of animals to a life with people, they talked of official deception, secret surveillance and manipulation of history by a political entity that had become authoritarian and totalitarian. They were all arrested and disappeared.

The images of animals were permitted only in the Holocaust Memorial For Animal Slaves, a virtual museum that existed only on social media, a chilling and emotional monument to the mistreated animals of the world –  horrific photos of tortured elephants, the ponies, the carriage horses, the lions and the tigers, dogs and cats. The animals that had been exploited so much, said the museum,  because they had been forced to pull carriages in Central Park, entertain children in the circus, offered unconditional love and support to people.

It was, said the museum, torture for horses to pull carriages or give rides to children, or for elephants to appear in circuses.

None of that was permitted anymore.

"This museum is a monument to the Age Of Animal Abuse," said the museum's website, "ended in our time by Big Victim. Animals are no longer permitted to be owned by people, to live and work among them, and above all, to entertain or uplift them. They have all been returned to the wild, given their dignity, they are living happily in nature."

There were chilling black and white photographs of horses pulling carriages in Central Park, of elephants parading in a circus ring with their trunks raised, of dogs on leashes and poodles sitting on the laps of smiling people. There were photographs of racetracks, shuttered, demolished now. There were countless archives showing abused elephants, horses, dogs in the most graphic way. "No one who watches these images," announced the Ministry of Love, "could ever wish to live with or work with an animal again."

People fought to keep their dimming memories of the animals in their lives, the ones they had lived with and worked with. But time and the totalitarian government was against them. Thoughtcrime was a serious crime.

It was no longer safe for animal lovers to keep these images anywhere but in their own minds. The elephant trainers in the circuses and the horse carriage drivers were  especially hard hit, targeted by the Ministry and Hunted Down, one by one. They were especially dangerous, it was believed, because they had come too close to the magic and the truth, they loved their independent way of life,  they were a threatening disease that could spread.

Big Sister especially hated independent ways of life, they threatened the very idea of Atlantia.

Sometimes, children wandered off-limits online and saw a photograph of a puppy, or an elephant parading down Main Street on the way to the circus, or a puppy playing with a child, or a pony giving a first ride to a little girl, or a carriage horse trotting through Central Park, an orange plume darting in the wind on his head.

The child would ask if he could go to the "wild" or one of those "preserves" and see a horse or an elephant, one what wasn't on You Tube or on the Animal Holocaust Museum website. Sometimes, the children would cry, it seemed this pull towards animals was a part of them.

The mother or father would shush the child and tell him or her sternly to never mention this subject again. The animal preserves were all closed to the public, for the sake of the animals, so they could have the peace and good life deserves. There were no more zoos, all the museum exhibits had been taken away.

People, who had abused animals so wantonly and for so long, were never allowed to go there and see them.

Then, sometimes later, on a walk or a swim or on the way to school, the mother or father might, if they wished, pull the child aside and tell them: "Listen to me, there are no more animals in the world. The Ministry Of Animal Rights got all of the ones who lived with us, the world changed. There are no preserves, there is no nature, there is no wild. Do not ever mention the animals again. There are no more animals."

It seemed at first, that they only came for them. Over time, and bit by bit, it became clear that they were coming for me and you.

Posted in General