Greatness

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Greatness

An osprey dives over and over,
as many times as it takes to stay alive
and become incidentally superb.

Driving down the road near my house
I see them flying, a stunned fish in their claws,
as if nothing could be more ordinary
than a bird bringing home dinner.

Wings or brains,
we work with what we have.
I can’t snatch a meal from the ocean
at 50 miles an hour,
but I can plant a garden,
make stories out of thin air,
learn the difference
between an aspen and an alder.
Minute by minute,
even I can be splendid.

Alabama’s Abortion Bill

2000

My questions, unanswered, hang in the heat. I want to know why change comes hard in the Deep South, why generation after generation accept the religious precepts they are handed as if each day were not studded with evidence that their god is neither just nor caring. I want to understand why making continual excuses for a cruel and capricious deity is easier than living without one, and why a skewed omnibus written thousands of years ago is considered an instruction manual today.

At this point, humanity appears to be a failed experiment. We have not learned to co-exist or curb our numbers, and the scale of our pollution has tipped the balance of life on earth. If there were enough of us committed to saving our species, we certainly could. Our brains are up to the challenge. Scientists could develop the means and the rest of us would only have to be decent human beings. Without the wedge of religion, we might achieve this. With minds to better our world and hearts to better ourselves, what do we need with deities and dogma that only drive us apart?

Alabama legislators just passed a bill that makes abortion a Class A felony. Women in this state have been stripped of the rights to their own bodies regardless of their situation. This legislation was approved by 25 white males and one female, the state’s governor Kaye Ivey. In contrast to her Christian rhetoric on the sanctity of life, Ivey opposes gun law reform, believing that Alabamians have the right to own assault weapons.

250,000 children live in poverty in Alabama, and the state ranks 49th in infant mortality. Meanwhile, firearm mortality rates put Alabama in the country’s top percentile.

If this bill becomes law, the consequences are obvious. Welfare programs will be forced to expand. More children will become victims of abuse. Impoverished women or those fearing exposure will have babies they don’t want and are not equipped to raise. Others will seek abortions out of state, adding to the risk and cost. Reputable doctors will discontinue their services while those with more dubious skills will set up facilities in unsafe locations and charge high prices. People across the state will exist in a miasma of secrecy and dread. All because 25 men and one woman decided that a woman’s body does not belong to her.

I don’t know how Governor Ivy reconciles her religious speak with her views on private ownership of semi-automatic weapons. I don’t know how she can allow adoption agencies to discriminate against the LGBT community. And what I really don’t understand is how a woman can take away the rights of other women and consider herself a beacon of virtue.

From her desk in the state’s capitol, Governor Ivy signed a bill—much easier than looking into the face of a frightened, desperate woman and telling her that what she wants does not matter, that you have eliminated her options. If you’re going to play God you need to keep a safe distance, as far as possible from reason and accountability.

Past Lives

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Past Lives

Sometimes they are not dead.
Sometimes they just live far away,
and even if you stopped by for a visit
what words would persuade them
of your betterment, the worth
you finally achieved?
What could they do but listen and nod,
knowing what they know?

 

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