Frankly, on this gorgeous spring morning in mid-March, 2012, when the sunshine is flowing cloudlessly from the sky and the big tree in my backyard is about to explode with blossoms and the quiet is perfect for a working day, I’d rather be writing about the love that directs this creation and the birds who have started singing like myself. And I’d rather not have to remind myself or anyone of the Janus-faced Emperor of Ruin, who bemoans the recent atrocity of a four-tour, brain-damaged U.S. soldier that stealthily by night assassinated 17 members of an Afghanistan family, including nine children, their parents, and grandparents.
I’d rather not be layering that on the prospect of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange spending their lives in prison for exposing all the dirty secrets of war and the government and have to think of them fed to the lions of the law like ancient Christians in the Coliseum once, to be nibbled to the bone. I’d rather not think of the drone of a plane I hear in the blue sky this morning being a drone headed somewhere to kill someone for some reason only the ruler of this chaos understands or desires. I’d rather be writing of the love these Afghanistan family members had for each other and the love that Manning and Assange have exhibited for the truth, so fearlessly pure it makes me squint. Or is it a tear.
I’d rather not be thinking that exposing plots to start new wars on the ongoing wars was the love I wanted to expend in a poem or a story on this beautiful day, like so many that keep returning in the cycle of nature to soothe like a balm, when you ache all over for the pain of your fellow human beings being slaughtered wholesale. I’d rather talk about the love of adolescents with hope for their futures and going to college because they’ve been told to do that since they were children: that college is a wonderful experience and will help them find themselves in some rewarding career that they love.
I would rather think of my own college days, and how wonderful they were, meeting new people, learning new things, falling in love with some pretty coed or other. Regardless how long the relationship(s) lasted, it filled me with a joy for life. So I would rather write about this, my friends from back then, how we were changing from boys to men, and the girls to women. I would rather not have to think of young people who could not go to college, or were forced to join the armed forces for a job at murdering people on a daily basis. I don’t think that was their intention for a life. If so, they have my sympathies as do their parents who must mourn, too, the loss of their flesh and blood.
I would rather we all understood how connected we are like this incredible tree outside my window and fed by the sun till it opens its branches like hands and the buds and leaves fly out and the wind carries their flowers perfume, which makes you want to put your work aside and go far away from the news you’re reading and watching of these other atrocities, conscious and unconscious, and how we live with so much fear and anger these days, even of our own police, who seem to have become enemies of both us and the truth.
How did this happen? How did the state that fed my parents, uncles, aunts, cousins and immigrant grandparents, turn so abruptly on this generation and so many others as if we were interlopers, spies, terrorists, because we feel good telling the truth. A brave young man named Gregg Smith summed it up in an op-ed he wrote in the March 14 New York Times, Why I’m Leaving Goldman Sachs. Here are the first three paragraphs . . .
“Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm—first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London—I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.
“To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.
“It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief . . .”
Obviously, what Mr. Smith loved was helping his clients, being a straight-shooter not a liar, and helping to build a firm that he was proud to work for. That’s all gone in lies and deceptions, as with so many things today. Read the full letter. It is four pages, very inspiring and eye-opening, whatever business you’re in.
In the truth not in lies is life’s source, and not in distorted interpretations of events, ruinations of laws that our forefathers wrote to hold this country together as a Republic, giving all a chance to live free and joyful lives, free from the dictates of false accusers, fear-mongers, those with hearts full of hate. I noted from the morning news that one of Japan’s northern islands, experienced a small earthquake this morning and fortunately not another tsunami that tore apart nuclear reactors used for electric power and spread instead the power of death, slow and languorous, or shockingly fast, taking to the airwaves to fly around the world like angels of death.
I would like to write about my love for the Japanese people, their art and cuisine, their discipline, their manners, and not whisper that the Tokyo Electric Company went on the cheap with America’s General Electric to build these reactors, so that they were not properly protected against tsunamis and then hid and denied the truth, and still do, while untold numbers are still dying and more will continue die, and that the nuclear energy business will continue to have dangerous facilities all over the world adding to this disaster’s numbers.
How can life and its expression, love, hold this true blue sky and inspire us to live while others bury the truth like bodies one by one? What will come of all those who tell the truth, who blow whistles on lies, who try to alert the world to its inherent dangers and are pilloried, slaughtered even, for doing so? What will happen to Mr. Greg Smith? Will he survive and get to Washington to tell his story like Jimmy Stewart playing another Mr. Smith in the 1939 film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, to try and tell the truth to Congress. Or will someone try to silence him?
Wiki writes, “The 1939 American drama film starred Jean Arthur and James Stewart and was about one man’s effect on American politics. It was directed by Frank Capra and written by Sidney Buchman, based on Lewis R. Foster‘s unpublished story. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was controversial when it was released, but also successful at the box office, and made Stewart a major movie star. The film features a bevy of well-known supporting actors and actresses, among them Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, Guy Kibbee, Thomas Mitchell and Beulah Bondi.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning for Best Original Story. In 1989, the Library of Congress added the movie to the United States National Film Registry, for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” That’s pretty high praise for an American film of any era. But it’s about a man who loves the truth and is prepared to defend it to the end.
Its opposite goes against the very conscience instilled in human beings to help save them and others from their worst selves. It destroys the very instinct to protect others as one’s self, to think of the common good, to be able to look down the line and preserve the institutions of law, and the quality of those laws and how they should not be handed over to barbarians for quick gains, or to make false claims that corporations have speech, as do human beings, when they are legal entities formed on paper to protect and increase corporate profits. It’s like saying a bulldozer has a heart, so you can run it over as many Palestinian houses as you like, because it’s only crushing bad people.
I would rather be writing about love, the love of silence, a single hammer that’s tapping a nail into a piece of wood, the labor of all beings to survive this life with dignity, so that life doesn’t seem to be in the common mind a one way trip to nowhere. Love gives things meaning. It brings out those deepest feelings of connection to the other; connects it to more parts of life and learning and ways of being. In its finest moments love should help us turn our cheeks to our enemies, not slaughter the innocent, take advantage of the weak, the aged, the infirm, and cheat them out of their Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, largely for the purpose of making more war, larger conflicts, and profits for those who already have more than they need.
I would rather write about the police and firemen and first responders of that woeful day of 9/11/01 when they pushed their own safety aside to help save others, selflessly giving their own strength and even their lives. That was a great act of love. Love ennobles not disables people. It was a morning just like this one, cool, perfectly clear, blue, cloudless, when the sheer lack of love and pure presence of hate and greed struck, killing thousands, and somehow strangely, triggering a decade of War on Terror.
But the War itself became the terror, with minions of terrorists who claim they’re out to protect us, but would bury us in prisons or worse for telling the truth. This is not love, not patriotism, not anything but a mechanical greed that pulls out the worst in us like one of those cranes at Ground Zero would haul up a twisted girder from the rubble.
Yet, I still remember how beautifully that day started and how horribly it ended. And yet, while the world’s love tried to heal us, others rushed in to anger us, to make us fight, to urge us to kill by telling the people lies like Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was about to use them on us. Or that Osama bin Laden, sick and under kidney dialysis, was directing this operation from a cave in Pakistan.
But this is not all about one awful day, but those who sought power, access to oil in Afghanistan, the Stan countries surrounding the Black Sea, and to build pipelines to pour the filthy lucre through Afghanistan to Pakistan and to the Far East. I feel this anger rising in me in the mere telling, as if it were for the first time. I have to close my eyes and let it go. And go in another direction. Look out the window at that glorious tree in the backyard and hope the pain goes away and love, that binding blinding force like the light and warmth itself, will return.
I don’t want to be haunted by hate. It’s toxic to the system. In the last three years, my sight in my right eye is being destroyed by an unknown disease. So I have to stop writing now. I have to look at some trees in the woods. I thank you for indulging me. Whoever you are, wherever you are, if you have love in your heart, we are related. And if you hate, if you think taking life is a joke, a bagatelle, you will learn one day the truth of your own waywardness. It will be the darkest not brightest of days. Remember that. Even on a day like this, the world can turn, literally and figuratively, into the darkest. Act accordingly to change your path. Do not be one of the blind. See where you and we are going. Look for Mr. Smith to be your friend.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer, life-long resident of New York City. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock,” on 9/11 and its after effects is now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on politics and government as Associate Editor of Intrepid Report (formerly Online Journal). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.