Free Expression

Many years ago, in Salem, Oregon, there was a late night cable access television program where the host could be seen dancing nude and even defecating on camera. His actions, however offensive, were expressions of art and protected from censorship.

Within each of us is a vast potential for individualized creative expression. We all have a choice of how we manifest our expressions, our art.

Under the umbrella of art, comes a plethora of expressions: paintings, from oils to illustrations; music, both composition, and performance; literature, with its story and poetry; film and theater with its drama and comedy and form, from sculpture to carvings, but the most important expression of all is appreciation of things beautiful.

Perhaps there ought to be a litany of requirements that before anyone may use the public airwaves to express prurient, voyeuristic and lewd creations as art, they must first demonstrate knowledge and appreciation of the other arts that express the beauty and grace of humankind.

It’s not the way it used to be…

I had lunch with a new friend the other day. During our conversation and discussion, he said, have you noticed not being able to have a political discourse with friends and colleagues of the opposite persuasion?

My answer was, “yes, I have, both personally and professionally” Ever since the campaign and the election of Donald Trump, discussion leads to contention. Conversation leads to squabbles. Comments lead to controversy and communication ends in partisan contradiction.

I did say, that Congress is probably the catalyst for this since both political parties have been in contention for the last eight years and beyond and I think it has spread to the world.

When I first started covering Capitol Hill as a young reporter fifty years ago, I observed camaraderie between the political parties. Senators and Representatives could argue their point in a debate but would laugh and fraternize in the cloak room or at a bar afterward. I was privileged to have been invited to dinner at various representatives homes where both republican and democrats shared congressional stories with respect for each other’s position.

I’m not in DC anymore, but I’m told it’s not that way these days.

We need to get back to civility, to courtesy, and to common sense.

At the moment, every conflict nibbles at the fabric of our republic.

Every distortion, every fabrication, every innuendo from those in power removes a thread from the cloth of compromise, and soon the covering of democracy will be laid bare.

I fear for what might come next.

Arkansas’ Executions

I’ve been thinking about all the executions scheduled in the state of Arkansas. Families and some lawyers say the deaths will give the victims families closure.

If the courts eventually allow the executions to take place, the families and friends of the killer’s victims must once again face their sorrow and see if execution and the witness of it, will ease their pain.  I suspect there will always be an emptiness, a piece of their hearts they cannot mend and we should do what we can to comfort them.

It’s unlikely there will ever be a consensus on the efficacy of the death penalty. There is no way to satisfactorily compile statistics as to whether death is a deterrent to murder. The destiny of agreement may be a perennial debate.

Perhaps the question we should ask ourselves, after every execution, is not whether the person deserved to die, the law decides that, but how do we individually react to it.  In the vastness of attempted understanding, there are many valid emotions; tears, anger, fear, and even relief.

Vengeance, however, is one active emotion to which we must give prayerful thought before we choose to embrace it, for it is consuming and eternally unsatisfying.

 

A Holy Time

Passover and Easter are often intertwined as they are this year.

It is often hard to embrace the centuries-old message of Easter and Passover when we are mired in seeming fear and worry from terrorists and terrorist’s threats. Today we are occupied with concern for our servicemen and women and their safety in so many fields of harm, and at home, we struggle just to meet the daily needs of our families in tough economic times.

Easter for Christians around the world is a time of renewal and rebirth, not only of one’s faith but also of the joy and peace that is supposed to come from the practice of that faith. Passover is a happy time with the four questions of one’s faith.

In general, it seems to me that many who profess to practice their faith, no matter in what religion it is structured, more often they talk a good game, but come up short in honoring one’s God with tolerance, non-judgment, and unconditional love. Me included.

Opportunities of selfless and Samaritan acts of grace go by the wayside when quick judgments, dogmatic bickering, and historic ethnic hatreds rule our everyday actions.

There is good and truth in all faiths, all religions. It is man who creates the differences and the conflicts to worship the same God of many names.