Tuesday, December 28, 2010

To Those Who Love Too Early and Too Deep

To those who love too early and too deep,
Whose love is both impractical and bold,
Who wage wild dreams and trouble their own sleep
And find their beds without him all too cold.
I know the passions burning in your heart.
I know the pressure building in your chest.
I know the quick despair each time you part.
I know the joy and pain and all the rest,
And though I have no words to ease the fears
That love won’t last or he won’t love in kind,
Believe in love despite the pain of tears
That threaten every time he comes to mind.
  I know that love is all we need to know;
  Despite the risks, I’d ever have it so.
[Karl Jennings, Dec 28, 2010]

This poem came to me earlier today almost whole. I know what it's like to love to early and too deep(ly) (Ha! Poetic license trumps grammar). I've jumped in almost blindly to every friendship and romance I've had. This is especially true for those relationships that have meant the most to me. So for what it's worth, I can relate to those of you who fall hard and quick and sometimes find it not returned or ill timed or just too much too quickly for the object of affection. Despite that, though, to me there's a freshness and an honesty in letting people know how you feel. The greatest tragedy would be not to show it and miss a joy that could have been.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I've Boldly Broken From the Traveled Road

I’ve boldly broken from the traveled road.  
The toll, I found, was much to dear to pay.
I’ve left the path, ignored the ancient code.
With one last glance I’ve thrown my maps away.
For where I head no map can be designed.
There are no guarantees of how I’ll fare
Though you may call me “lost”, I hope to find
A life and love more beautiful and rare.
But I would travel pathless, not alone.
Will you come with me, Angel, lover, friend?
And you, my Lover-Saint, can we as one
In life, in love, seek out a better end?
  Let others walk the wider path and scorn
  While we find out how better loves are born.
[Karl Jennings - 12/24/2010]

I've found the most joy in my life in unconventional places. I don't know what it is about the "beaten path" but it always seems to become an end in itself, even when the more fertile fields of life and love have migrated elsewhere. I've come to the realization that life is too short to waste time following paths that only have the virtue of being well traveled. I don't intend to be a trail blazer, necessarily, though if I find what I'm looking for, I'll try to leave the trail well marked. I hope some of you will come with me, and others will forge new paths of their own.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Treat

I love Halloween.  I especially like the old-style spookiness that often seems to be forgotten in favor of blood and gore these days.  I also really enjoy spooky stories, poems and other writing and like to try my hand at it around this time of year.  This year, I came across a challenge to write a short story, (300 words), and it had to involve a pumpkin.  Here's my attempt:


Summoned from another year’s rest, I will protect you from darkness and from evil.  I’ve done this since ancient times, watching from porch or fence, daring the Evil Ones from making mischief here.  Oh, they will make mischief.  The lucky or persistent ones may even find a home where they can latch-on to strife or anger, hatred, envy, greed or any other misery.  Then they will do mischief, and more, but not here.  Not on my watch.  The oldest ones know better, but the younger, foolish ones I gobble up and swallow back to the dark place where they can think about their foolishness for another year.  Better luck next time, heh, heh.  

This is the charge I was born for: to protect you during this brief time when evil pours anew into your realm.  But each year I see fewer and fewer of my comrades.  Your neighbors have turned the ritual into a game, making mockery of the sacred gourds.  They forget the ancient ritual, the sacred symbols for eye and nose and mouth.  They carve bats and greetings and even (ugh) kittens into the sacred fruit, or worse.  The fools will weep.

But tonight I guard you, who remembers the sacred ways.  My face is fierce and my flame is strong.  I will keep the dark things from your home even as your neighbors are invaded.  (Kittens?  Really?)

Now the witching hour approaches.  Now the evil presses in from every shadow.  Now I burn with righteous fire!  But wait!  No!  My fire is weak.  My candle burns low.  It gutters and will go out!  That Old One!  It sees me falter.  You will be naked to him and he knows it.  Foolish mortal!  To leave me so weak at this evil hour!  This is not a game!  THIS IS NOT A GA--

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gay Marriage Opposition Shows No Substance

The initial trial over Prop 8 is over and I'm sure no one reading this is unaware that Judge Walker ruled the proposition unconstitutional.  Of course, proponents of the proposition are appealing the decision, and the question probably won't be settled until it goes to the Supreme Court.  However, Judge Walker's opinion (which can be read in its entirety here) makes it clear that proponents of Prop 8 had no other basis than religious bigotry for barring same-sex couples from the right to marry.

This is monumental.  As is well documented, the campaign for Prop 8, while a California state initiative that would have no standing outside the state of California, was heavily influenced by organizations (mostly religious) who drew enormous resources from out of state.  When Prop 8 was challenged in federal court, the state officials named as defendants (including Gov. Schwarzenegger) chose not to defend the proposition, the state Attorney General even conceding the unconstitutionality of the proposition.  This left the organization and individuals initially responsible for the proposition to come to its defense.  Because this issue has been touted almost as a last stand for "traditional marriage", and has enjoyed the support of such deep pockets and well organized indoctrinators as the Mormon and Catholic Churches, one should expect that this defense represented the best arguments available for preventing gay marriage.  Of course, in a court of law in a country where laws are not supposed to be enacted on purely religious bases, the proponents of Prop 8 took pains to avoid explicitly religious arguments supporting their proposition.  Unsurprisingly to many, without "god says so", they had nothing to left to offer, and Judge Walker agreed.

As one would expect in a pluralistic society such as ours, Judge Walker maintains:

"A state’s interest in an enactment must of course be secular in nature. The state does not have an interest in enforcing private moral or religious beliefs without an accompanying secular purpose."

Left to show a secular purpose behind their proposition to bar gays from marriage, the proponents of Prop 8 claimed that "the state's interest in marriage is procreative", but when asked to explain how allowing gays to marry would adversely affect this interest, the only response they had was "I don't know".  Despite this, they claimed they would show some 23 specific harmful consequences that would result from allowing gays to marry.  In the words of Judge Walker:

"At trial, however, proponents presented only one witness, David Blankenhorn, to address the government interest in marriage. Blankenhorn’s testimony is addressed at length hereafter; suffice it to say that he provided no credible evidence to support any of the claimed adverse effects proponents promised to demonstrate."

The opposition purported to provide evidence that children raised in straight households fare better than those raised in same-sex households.  They failed to show any credible evidence of this.  Not a single legitimate study has shown this to be true, and in fact, the studies cited by the plaintiff's lawyers showed the opposite, that there was no appreciable difference in the adjustment or care of children raised by gays or lesbians, and those raised in more "traditional" families.  

In the end, the key witness for the proponents of Prop 8 agreed with the plaintiffs:

Blankenhorn noted that marriage would benefit same-sex couples and their children, would reduce discrimination against gays and lesbians and would be 'a victory for the worthy ideas of tolerance and inclusion.'”

In spite of that admission, Blankenhorn maintained that gays should be denied the right to marry on the basis of his unsubstantiated opinion that to allow them to marry would "weaken the institution of marriage".  Anyone following the debates about gay marriage should be all too familiar with this vapid, yet often repeated platitude, clung to so desperately by the anti-gay-marriage crowd.  For years proponents of gay rights have asked "How, exactly?"  Now, officially and before a federal judge they reveal their only legitimate answer "I don't know."

Religions enjoy a lot of freedom in the United States.  They are free to disseminate all manner of doctrines, theories, creeds, and even diatribes, venom, racism and bigotry, as are the rest of us.  What they don't have the freedom to do in the United States is to legislate their private religiously based morality.  To enact laws abridging the activity of others in the United States, they have to show that there is a compelling state interest in that abridgment.  The proponents of Prop 8, despite the support of highly organized and well financed organizations on a national level, have failed utterly to show any state interest in denying marriage rights to gays.  I submit that this is because there is none.  If there were, the Prop 8 trial would surely have been the place to show it.