reign of terror

“The secret of freedom lies in educating people,
whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.”

―Maximilien Robespierre

Robespierre’s quote seems sensible enough…
for I’d bet we can all agree that an education does truly open minds.

But opens to what?

On the flip side to that opening of ignorant minds to that of knowledge,
would it not then depend on the education that is being provided…
provided to give this particular gift of knowledge?

So when it is a state-run, state-funded institution offering said education,
aka the knowledge provider, well then…
I suppose you get a state’s worth of education/knowledge…be that for good or bad.

Thus we shouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there might be just a wee tad of skewing
buried in all that educating…a skewing that leans back toward the state…but I digress.

Today’s thoughts are not exactly about education…
or maybe they actually are…I’ll let you decide that once you take all of this in…
as to whether or not you learn something…be it good or bad.

Today’s post is really just a post about a particular type of lesson…
a lesson which focuses on a new and troubling trend.

The other day I read a rather interesting article by Newt Gingrich.

Now you can say what you will about the former Speaker of the House,
but being a close friend of the Speaker’s late first wife and mother to his two daughters,
I can certainly say my fair share…
however, I will say what she always graciously said…” he may be a lot of things but out of
all those things, he is extremely smart…”
She even would often use the word brilliant…

Despite having every right to say some other choice and more fitting words…
my friend would always opt to share the good by choosing to offer a positive
observation. And in this case, it was certainly true.

So with that being said, we should know that the Speaker, in turn, knows his stuff…
especially when it comes to his passions…
and those passions are history and politics.

So in this recent article, Mr. Gingrich shares both his knowledge
and passion with regards to a dangerous opening of Pandora’s box by the Democratic party.

The article’s opening sentence says it all:
“a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) wrote an article for
Vox explaining the movement’s goals –
to end capitalism and radically change America.”

It seems that Mr. Gringrich is concerned, as well we all should be,
with this current growing trend in the Democratic Party…
the trend of a hatching of a hybrid in the guise of youth, vigor, newness, and relativism…
that being the Democratic Socialists.

Let those two words sink in slowly…
Democratic + Socialist.

Democratic + Socialist = a demon in the making

Or so says our professor for the day, Professor Gingrich.
(who did indeed teach college classes)

I never thought I’d live long enough to hear Socialism as a viable option in the US
coming from those other than odd little fringe groups…
so maybe hell is indeed freezing over because these youthful, truly ignorant, idealist
candidates are actually being elected.

And I suppose we can thank Bernie Sanders for unlocking this proverbial box and
gleefully lifting the lid.
But I suspect our thanks can go back even farther than Mr. Sanders.

Gingrich goes on to quote Meagan Day, a member of the East Bay Chapter of DSA,
as saying “in the long run, Democratic Socialists want to end capitalism.”

Who else vehemently denounced capitalism???… Let’s think…
What did our history lessons teach us?
Was is Marx, Trotsky, Lenin, the Bolsheviks, the Communists…?

Gingrich observes that the recently elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
who defeated a senior Democrat in New York City’s 14th Congressional District
as now going on a whirlwind media tour,
spreading the gospel of socialism.

This explicit goal of ending capitalism makes clear what Ocasio-Cortez meant when she
said cryptically in a recent interview, that
“capitalism has not always existed in the world,
and it will not always exist in the world.”

This is a clear threat to the system which has made us prosperous and the envy of the world,
but I appreciate the honesty.
Ultimately, the United States is a democratic republic.”

But Gingrich actually prefers to look further back to a different Nation that underwent
its own revolution of change…
all the way back to the French Revolution.

He does so because he notes that “however, the second notable item in Day’s
article suggests that Democratic Socialists don’t value democracy all that much.
Day also identified herself as a staff writer at a New York-based,
socialist magazine called Jacobin.
In fact, several members of the Democratic Socialists of America are writers and
editors at Jacobin magazine.”

And so who cares whether or not a magazine opts to name itself Jacobin
or that there are those who desire to identify themselves as Jacobian?

Gingrich continues with our history lesson…

The Jacobins were the most violent and radical political group of the French Revolution.
Led by Maximilien Robespierre, the group responded to a growing backlash against
the revolution by executing anyone their so-called Committee of Public Safety
deemed insufficiently loyal.

Gingrich makes note that the estimate is that over 40,000 people were beheaded by the
guillotine for being considered in opposition to the Jacobian rule.
Gingrich then shares a moving true story about a play which he and his wife attended
a few years ago that told the story of a group of nuns who were beheaded for not
denouncing their faith and adhering to the Jacobian way…

“A few years ago, Callista and I saw “Dialogues of the Carmelites”
at the Washington National Opera.
It is a moving, true story of the Carmelite nuns who refused to denounce Christ at
the peak of the Reign of Terror.
(The French Revolution was virulently anti-Catholic –
many churches were closed and reopened as “Temples of Reason.”)
The nuns were beheaded for their unwillingness to denounce their faith.
Moments before the guillotine dropped,
they displayed the power of God’s love by singing hymns and renewing their vows.

A few years later we visited the Picpus Cemetery in Paris.
It holds the graves of the martyred nuns and more than 1,300 victims of the Terror
in a six-week period of 1794.
It is a very sober reminder of what the Jacobins did during the Reign of Terror.
It is not a record for which any American should advocate.”

And so if you’re one to think that all that is in the past…these are just superficial
coincidences Gingrich cautions…
“It is hard to imagine a modern-day Reign of Terror happening in America.
But consider the recent phenomenon of outrage mobs on social media demanding people
be fired and ostracized for expressing un-PC points of view.

Think about the left-wing activists taking over classrooms to prevent conservative
voices from speaking.
Think about the rash of people being attacked for wearing MAGA hats.
Think about the violence of Antifa.

Perhaps it is not so difficult to imagine.”

So perhaps those new demons who are currently being unleashed from this newly unlocked box
shouldn’t be so full of themselves as it would behoove them to remember the fates of previous
generations and their revolutionaries…

Trotsky was assassinated by means of an icepick when Stalin sent the secret
police to Mexico to find him.
While Robespierre’s very own Committee of Public Saftey turned on him…
arresting him, placing him in the very cell where he had once sent Marie Antoinette
as he eventually met the same fate with the guillotine.

So before these new “socialists” begin claiming a new day in this brave new world, a look back to
a history lesson just might be in order… they might be surprised who it is crying
“OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/08/18/newt-gingrich-democrats-have-no-idea-what-demons-are-unleashing.html

fragility

“We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it,
that we discover the possibility of true joy.”

Desmond Tutu


(a spent monarch butterfly lifeless in the yard / Julie Cook / 2017)

You may remember that I once wrote a post about the life expectancy of butterflies…
and surprisingly, it is very brief.
Often times just a matter of a few short weeks.

Which is a bit hard to wrap one’s thoughts around when this yard of mine
is awash with the comings and goings of what seems to be hundreds of
butterflies in every size, shape and description.

I also know that some butterflies even migrate from life here in the south down
even further south to Mexico and as far as even South America.
I don’t know much about the life expectancies of those particular travelers
but for such a southerly jaunt, I’d imagine stamina is key.

Yet despite their brief lives, it is always sad finding one having given up
the ghost…

I don’t think I really need any more reminding on the fragility of
life…
however, having spotted this dead Monarch in the grass,
that’s exactly what I got when I was out watering the plants…

It is amazing to me how I can look at a dead butterfly and feel such a sharp pang
of sadness.

For despite my own spate of life’s current sadness, which is currently running
amuck in this little world of mine,
seeing a butterfly lifeless, in a fading clump on the ground, sends a rush of
melancholy washing over my heart.

Life, be it a butterfly’s or our own, is oh so fragile…
And yet we rarely think of it as such.

Our own ego and bravado coupled by the current run of angst and anger…
all run counter to any notion of life being fragile…

Life which is actually something to be savored caressed and
counted as a joyous gift not merely taken for granted or even worse,
purposely attacked.

I wonder what it might take for the majority of this angry Nation of ours,
what could move the hearts and minds of those filled with such hate
and intolerance…
what could possibly stir in the hearts of the gang members, those who
choose to relish in causing pain and suffering …
what could open the eyes of man to his fleeing fragile nature as he races
forward toward his own death and demise….


(a daredevil Tiger Swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2017)

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.

Psalm 39:4

Where is your Peace?

Above all things let us never forget that mankind constitutes one great brotherhood; all born to encounter suffering and sorrow, and therefore bound to sympathize with each other.
Albert Pike

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.
Mother Teresa

“Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, or by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitude wherever or with whomsoever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there.”
― Meister Eckhart

DSCN6282
A female mallard glides gently in the pond in the Boston Public Gardens / Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014

DSCN6278

My heart is agitated and restless within me.
I am troubled by our times.
Global headlines are dire and grim.
Our own country is troubled by an exodus which is flooding into our land as we fret and worry how to best tend to these masses.
The weight of heartfelt burdens grow by the minute.

Yet you tell me simply not to worry.
“Forget about it”
“Don’t dwell on the negative”
“Think happy thoughts”
“None of this effects you, why worry”
“You can’t do a thing to change it, so don’t think about it”
“You don’t have a dog in this fight, therefore it’s of no concern”
“Be the ostrich and just put your head in the sand”

But I will not will myself to forget about troubles in our world.
I will not pretend everything is fine just because I am not being directly impacted.
It is true that there is very little I can do, if anything at all, to alleviate any of these maladies.
I am helpless, just as you are, watching dramas play out daily in the headlines.

But I ask you, how do I:
Tell the Dutch people not to worry?
Tell the Malaysian Airliner Company not to worry–agian?
Tell the Malaysian people not to worry–again?
Tell the Ukrainians not to worry?
Tell the Russian people not to worry?
Tell the EU not to worry?
Tell the small bordering countries of Russia not to worry?
Tell the Israelis not to worry?
Tell Jews worldwide not to worry?
Tell the Palestinians not to worry?
Tell the children of Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, El Salvador not to worry?
Tell the Americans in the border towns not to worry?
How do I tell all the parents who have lost and are losing children throughout the past week to simply dry those tears and carry on?

DSCN6275

DSCN6273

Where does your peace hide?
Where is your wellbeing located these woeful days?
Not your distractions.
Not your diversions.
Not your poisons to deaden any and all feeling.
But rather your Peace?
Your wellbeing?
Your clam?
Your anchor?
Your harbor?
Your refuge?

In such times, it is to Nature, which offers a soothing clam, that I turn.
In Nature is where I may observe life, as it goes steadily and happily along, despite global worrisome events.
To spend sacred time silently with the Creator of the Universe.
Finding in Him and in His handiwork the offerings of silence, of hope and of beauty which joyfully continues spilling froth from all His creation.
Here is where I find it possible to offer prayers for hope because here is where hope still exists.

May you find that place which continues to hold you in comfort and care—that place which offers you Peace. . . and may you then, in turn, offer prayers for the desperate healing of which our world is in such need. . .

DSCN6165
(St Francis in a small garden adjacent to the Old North Church / Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014)

Listen to my words, Lord,
consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
with you, evil people are not welcome.
The arrogant cannot stand
in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong;
you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful
you, Lord, detest.
But I, by your great love,
can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
toward your holy temple

Psalm 5: 1-7

Tourists vs strangers– or– is it just me, but is everyone staring?

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, but then I thought, there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels flawed and bizarre in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this, know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
― Frida Kahlo

DSCN3981

First of all, don’t get me started on Freda Kahlo.
Yes I taught high school art, and yes, I thought Freda Kahlo was a freak!!
Way out there on a limb kind of freak.
Not her work per se, but her life in general.
She was a mess.
Not, in my opinion, the poster child of a role model for kids.

I once had a student, who had done a marvelous rendition of the self portrait of Freda as the colonial Mexican woman verses the modern woman, —as there were the two woman seated side by side, each in custom dress of the times and there was blood.
Lots of blood.
Which of course symbolized the “tie that binds” between the contrast of both woman who resided within the one single woman. A quasi self portrait of the two Fredas.
A contrast and a conflict–all nice and neat–rolled into one with severed arteries and lots of blood, spilling out on a colonial victorian white ornate dress.
A bit off putting to a mild mannered observer.

We were to always have art work on display at the Board of Education office. The ladies who worked down at the BOE were always a bit, shall we say, intimidating and reserved.
Yet they always loved it when the high school would send work down to be displayed–as the work was quite exceptional—not because of their teacher, but because I always had some exceptional kids.
I debated sending the Freda piece, knowing how “the ladies” were, but yet I knew the work was indeed exceptional.
I sent it, against my better judgement.
That whole, “I know how they are, yet I know good work when I see it” kind of conflict a high school art teacher must constantly rankle over.

Sure enough, they called up to the high school asking that I please take the one particular piece back, bringing them something a bit more “happy.”

Hence the story of Freda in a nutshell and of how her work could effect her viewers— as she had that eye for shock value.

But it wasn’t until I showed a PBS documentary, for my kids one day in class, —a small biography piece on Freda, that I finally developed an appreciation for the person she sadly was—her tragically sad life and the circumstances surrounding her growing up, her marriage, the horrific accident, the love / hate relationship between her and her much older husband (and may I add much less attractive) Diego Rivera as well as their dabbling in to communism and an alleged affair with Mr Trotsky himself—ode to the heady times of revolution—

All of which played a part in the building of the person of Freda Kahlo.

And so it is with today’s quote in mind–a sweet thought regarding the position of being a stranger in a strange land—as Freda so eloquently states, that somewhere there is truly someone who is sympathetic and empathetic to the plight of the “newness” of a stranger.

And so it is, with Freda’s wonderful quote in mind, that I step out on the new and foreign soil of southern Texas wondering. . . is it just me, or are the locals all staring . . .

DSCN3914

DSCN3982

DSCN4005

DSCN4170
(duck, pigeons, sparrow –locals of San Antonio, Texas / Julie Cook / 2014 )