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Number of posts: 73
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By Alex Kearns:
- Shrieking, hysterical attack ads don’t inspire confidence or admiration. So you don’t like your opponents. That’s a given. To comport yourselves like ill-mannered toddlers does a disservice to us all. Don’t rant about how person A is a swinish, ignorant, kitten-eating spawn of the devil – instead tell me what you plan to do to address this country’s many ills …
the knife of tax-greed
“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed.”-Wallace Stegner
Cumberland Island National Seashore and United Nations Biosphere Reserve is the largest of the southern United States’ sea islands. It is a paradise of eco-diversity and incomparable beauty. Visitors can only access the island by a private boat or the ferry from St. Marys, Georgia, and when they arrive, they find that they have been transported to a realm that is beyond all expectations.
port of st. marys
St. Marys, Georgia: A peaceful little coastal town of unsurpassed beauty. It serves as the gateway to Cumberland Island National Seashore, a mecca for tourists who want to experience true Southern charm, and a dream-realized for those seeking a natural environment beyond compare.
Enter developer Christopher T. Ragucci and his Knights of the Green Shield/Worldwide Group. (Cue “Razzle Dazzle” from “All That Jazz.”) They quickly changed the company name to “The Port of St. Marys, LLC” and set about trying to convince the townsfolk and elected officials that turning St. Marys into an industrial barge port would be a blessing and boon to all.
freedom to discriminate
A Facebook message: “Alex, I think you’re a really great person doing wonderful things for the world but you need to stop promoting homosexuality on your Facebook page or people will get ideas about you. I’m sure you’re a good Christian woman so your writing should reflect those values.”
Gadzooks! “…get ideas”? What – that I’m (gasp) a closeted lesbian? A lapsed Christian? Or that I have actually studied the Bible and believe, above all, in acceptance and equality…
georgia hb 17
During the 2015-2016 Regular Session of the General Assembly, our Georgia elected-officials are expected to vote on HB 17 – “the Hidden Predator Act.”
“A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 3 of Title 9 and Article 2 of Chapter 5 of Title 49 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to limitations of actions and child abuse and deprivation records, respectively, so as to extend the statute of limitations for actions for childhood sexual abuse…
This evening I popped out to the corner store for milk. A woman was there with an older man. He was walking up and down the aisles as she trailed behind him – sighing and huffing and saying things like “Dammit, Dad! You dragged me out to get something with you and now you can’t remember what you need?” Her words seemed to fall like blows on his shoulders. He began picking up items in a random fashion and knocked over several cans of soup. I bent to retrieve them up and when I straightened I looked into his face. There it was: the panicked, lost look of a man who set out with clear intent… and lost his bearings along the way. I know this look – and it breaks my heart.
taking god's name in vain
HB 1023 and SB 377 are now slithering through the dank halls of Georgia’s government. These bills would allow business owners to openly discriminate against gay Americans by denying them employment or services: banning them from restaurants, hotels etc. (Translation: anybody who wishes to discriminate against someone for any reason need only say that it’s because it’s part of their “personal religion”.) The so-called “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act” would, in effect, permit any individual or for-profit company to ignore Georgia’s anti-discrimination and civil rights laws.
When I was a child, I had a purple Crown Royal bag filled with all manner of marbles. We collected them, admired them, competed with them, and crowed about who had the most or “rarest.” There was something deeply satisfying about the heft of the bag, and the “aggies, beauties, cats-eyes, clearies, steelies, tigers and swirlies” within. We gathered friends in the same ways: through an arcane process of admiration, competition and number-building.
It is an inescapable truism that “watch-dogs” are essential for the well being of us all. Too often those who are motivated by financial gain, expedience or power, seek to circumvent the laws and structures that serve to protect citizens and the environment.
And so we have the many organizations (and individuals) that devote their time and effort to remaining steadfastly vigilant. They don’t look for “issues” – they simply function as entities that can be contacted and called to action when questions and concerns arise.
Our Worst Nightmare
As a life-long environmentalist (“environmentalism” was once known as “simple common-sense”), I’m accustomed to trying to convince others that plastic detritus is suffocating the planet, recycling is A Good Thing and those who live on the coast run the very real risk of drowning in rising waters even as drought and cataclysmic storms decimate other areas of the nation.
“But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.” – Rachel Carson
You hold in your hands an intricate basket made of woven sweetgrass, palmetto and pinegrass and you marvel at the artistry. You listen to the murmur of a language that challenges the lexicologist’s analysis, for it is a melding of many ancient cultures into a unique and musical tongue. A burial by the sea so that the spirit of the lost one can return to the home beyond the waves, the exhilaration of a “ring shout” as the Lord is praised… these are the precious traditions of the Gullah/Geechee: a world, people and history that was pivotal in the formation of this country. Now, as “progress” alters the face of the Sea Islands…
Bunkers of Hatred
It’s so much easier to edit other people’s work than my own. In that I (usually) know exactly what I meant to say/write, my brain plows ahead and overrides my capacity for reading analytically.
Perhaps this same phenomenon is at work in our attitudes and beliefs as well: we lose the ability to step back and dispassionately examine the stance that we’ve taken. Our words begin to form our belief structure (when it should be the other way around) as we dig our heels in the sand. Even when we’re proven wrong, we strut along in our Emperor’s new clothes and refuse to adjust our position.
Where it Hurts
I’ve often been told that the only way to compel people to “take environmental issues seriously” is to talk to them about the financial impact of their actions (or inaction). I suppose that I’m guilty of resisting that theory for I tend to assume that, for the most part, people are intelligent creatures who understand that we do rely on the “good graces” of this planet for our continued survival and well-being.
Regarding a popular fast-food chain that’s in the news these days (and other equally-divisive issues): The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (submitted to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789, and adopted on December 15, 1791): “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Bridge Between 2 Nations
Spanning the miles. Reaching across the centuries. The United States and Canada – two countries that share the world’s longest undefended border – have stood as staunch allies in times of War and peace. On July 4, 2012, the establishment of the southernmost Binational Peace Garden in St. Marys (next to historic Oak Grove Cemetery) further united these two great nations.
There are those of us who must write to the beat of client-drummers in order to maintain the roofs over our heads and keep our anti-virus programs running. To measure the ease with which the average reader will peruse (and, hopefully, comprehend) our articles, editors often feed the painstakingly written pages through literary meat-grinders known as “Readability Tests.” These tools of creative destruction usually employ the Flesch Kincaid scale to measure the difficulty of reading, grade level, length of words and so forth. Plug any article into an online test-site and, voila – it’s analyzed and judged “suitable” for a particular age demographic.
Dear political candidates (and those who hold office at all levels),
Far be it from me to presume to know better than you how to win an election (or stay in power) but, for what they’re worth, here are my thoughts:
To the firm of Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, Paul & Perry,
Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation from the position of temp in your Company, Our U.S.A. Inc., for I have decided to join the great and honorable establishment known as America Incl. Although I doubt that you’re the least bit interested in my reasons for this sudden and startling departure I will, out of respect, explain.
My computer has been engaged in a prolonged snit: re-start tantrums, spontaneous self-cleansing, voracious file consumption and an odd, slightly operatic, noise. Due to this, I’ve been without access to email, Facebook, blogs, news stories and the other dubious offerings of the Internet for several hours. (One wouldn’t imagine that that would have any discernable affect but I must confess that if I am to be “unplugged”, I prefer it to be an act of my own choosing and thus I felt a bit dislocated – to say nothing of worrying about looming deadlines for articles).
Once my computer (hereby know as Hermes – god of trickery, travel, communication and the conductor of souls to the underworld) exhausted itself and decided to play nice, I checked my email.
Four hours without my attention and there are 36 emails in my groaning inbox. The last time the postman delivered that number of missives to me in one day was in 1983 when I failed to apply sufficient postage to my wedding invitations …
I have often wondered why I sometimes feel like such a “stranger in a strange land.” Perhaps it’s because, although Canada and the USA share (in many respects) a common culture and history, we are quite different in terms of our priorities and what we most value. Maybe, as many scholars believe, the fundamental differences began with the formation of the two countries: as it has been said, America was born of revolution; Canada was formed through cultural evolution …
I recently published an article on this site about the latest threat to the St. Marys River (entitled “Can We Count The Loss?”). It resulted in several heartfelt comments from Like The Dew readers and, once I shared it with others via email and blog, quite a response from the people of Camden County.
Yesterday I read the minutes of the last meeting of the St. Marys River Management Committee wherein they met with representatives of the company, Miocene Holdings, LLC. Those would be the people who want to suck 350,000 gallons of water per day from our low-flow, slow-moving blackwater river in order to remove the tannins (to augment fertilizer) and then pour it – treated to a pH level of 7 – back into a river with a natural pH range of 3.8 – 4.2.
The St. Marys River: She (and, oh yes, this is a feminine river with her entrancing curves and mysterious ways) is tea-dark, exquisite beyond compare and fragile. And now she is being attacked yet again by those who would drain her, damage her and use her for their own gain.
Allow me to introduce you to this lovely lady:
The St. Marys is a magical and mystical blackwater river and, as such, was recently designated by the Southern Environmental Law Center as one of Georgia’s “endangered places.”
I sit and read some of the thousands of comments that are posted on FaceBook, online forums and after each news item… and I cringe. I watch the televised scenes of jubilant rejoicing, flag-waving and back-slapping… and it all feels, somehow, primitive and wrong.
Today I simply feel pensive. Though the removal of Bin Laden is a blow for justice and a strike against the tyranny of terrorism, I find it difficult to celebrate for the day is also a reminder of unspeakable tragedy and loss. Instead of cheering, I just feel like finding a quiet place in which to pray for a world gone so terribly awry.
11 pm on the night of Easter I sit at my desk and read the news on-line. It is a wide-ranging buffet of the tragic, the violent, the clownish words of preening wanna-be politicians, the latest “calamity” du jour to befall the famous (and desperately trying to be famous) and the farcical lunacy of mankind in general.
While poverty, pain, ignorance and war run amok, we have bizarrely-coiffed “birthers” bleating endlessly for their 15 minutes of fame, obsessive fascination with the upcoming nuptials of a young British couple and the unending drama of the post-pubescent celebratocracy as they lurch from mansion to re-hab and back again.
I wonder, at times, what an alien species would make of us as we stagger and leap about this small blue planet while it careens through space.
I received a rather nice email from the publishers of Like the Dew, asking about my silence these past few months. I replied “I’ve just been laying low of late due to the fact that I have a cyberstalking, death-wish-spewing psychopath who’s re-published and bastardized articles that I’ve written for the Dew (and others) while doing his utmost to destroy me personally and professionally. (Such is life in a world where the existing laws regarding such things are feeble at best and non-existent at worse: we are all at the mercy of any disgruntled fool with a keyboard and an internet connection)” …
The aim of cyberbullies – either those who plague others openly or the cowards who do so anonymously (as is most frequently the case) – is to instill enough fear in the object of their “attentions” to muzzle them.
“All of civility depends on being able to contain the rage of individuals.” – Joshua Lederberg
And how those individuals rage these days. They hurl accusations, taunts, threats and self-righteous assertions. They feed their opinions into the gullets of a willing populace and the media laps up the rank dribble. They storm about, damning those whose opinions may differ from theirs. They “rail against the machine” (which “machine” depends upon the day, the time and the speaker’s position).
And in this age of technology, they quickly take to the vast and unfettered realm of cyberspace. There they often hide behind a cloak of anonymity; lies, rumors, smear-campaigns… all spewed out into the world with little thought to either truth or consequences.
Editor: Good morning, Mr. Twain. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the editor at NewSouth Books and we wanted to inform you that future editions of Huckleberry Finn will not include the N-word.
Twain: Beg pardon, son, but there are a whole crap-load of N-words in the English language. Delete things like the word “not” or “never” and the whole damn book’ll fall apart.
Editor: No, no, Sir! We’re just cleansing the book of the word (he whispers) “nigger.”
Twain: You’re kidding me, right?
Editor: Why, of course not! Who would joke about such a serious matter?
It is the nature of humans to hold personal views regarding same-sex marriage, abortion and other “hot-button” issues – views formed by our past, our family dynamics, our religion, our education and so forth – as “self-evident truths.” But what is incomprehensible to me is that the most vehement flag-wavers among us tend to cavalierly disregard the words “that all men are created equal.” And they use the Bible to support their stance.
As a student of philosophy, this use of religion to defend the indefensible smacks of the argumentum ad verecundiam fallacy (the appeal to authority). While this is often (for the uninformed) an impressive way to buttress a line of thought, it becomes fallacious when one of the following happens: the authority is not an expert in the field in which one is speaking, or the allusion to authority masks the fact that experts may be divided down the middle on the subject (hello Tea Party).
My daughter was a healthy, happy and active child. In her ninth year, while on vacation in Florida, she became ill and fell into, what we were told, was a diabetic coma. We’d had no signs that we knew of but, in the years to come, we were to learn that they had been there …
She is now in her mid thirties and has experienced decades of multiple daily insulin injections, failing eyesight, complications and a difficult pregnancy that ended last week with the blessed arrival of her son … In my daughter’s case diabetes was unavoidable as genetics played out their willful game in her system. But such is not the situation with so many.
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Such wise and lovely words of strength and inspiration. Throughout the years, millions have muttered this mantra during times of duress (certainly I do and, not being that singular, I assume that others do as well). Seemingly simple words…and yet, perhaps, not.
“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” – James Bovard
Citizens are putting democracy to the test in a small town in southern Georgia. Having realized that their City Council has completely run amok, some people began to plan their response. For those of you who may be in a similar state of frustration and concern regarding your own local government, here’s the recipe:
First call together a group of like-minded individuals who have all expressed intense frustration with the present administration. Then assemble a vast amount of research and documentation to support your position. Next, request a hearing with the Grand Jury, release the news to the media, gather signatures for the petition and brace yourselves against the onslaught of umbrage and angst from City Hall. Await the Grand Jury date. (In this case, Oct. 20th)
It was only a matter of time before the horrifying events of Sept. 11, 2001 became the tool of power-seekers, manipulators and fame-addicts.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki said it well: “I do lament the fact that the tremendous sense of unity we had after Sept. 11 is no longer the case. We were for a while all united, everyone, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative …
Sometimes I weary of the rattle and thrum of incessant bad news: the screaming headlines portending (or portraying) death, destruction, economic cataclysms, cynicism and tawdriness. We all need to, from time to time, shake ourselves free of umbrage and divisiveness and seek out the good and true things around us. They’re there – they just don’t get the press.
A case in point: The True Freedom Learning Center in St. Marys, Ga You may take this as an advertisement if you wish but it is intended as a tale of seemingly small but profound and hard-won triumphs in the face of almost insurmountable odds.
Scene: City Council chambers in a small southern town in America.
Act I: Citizens file into Council Chambers, pausing only to have a police officer wave a wand over their bodies. They talk about the days – not long ago – when none of this was deemed necessary: when a Council meeting was an occasion when one could catch up with friends, talk to elected officials and partake in that singularly beautiful event known as “participatory democracy.”
Feelings are running high and before the opening crash of an energetically-wielded Mayoral gavel, the people speak to one another about the issues that are dividing and consuming their community…
“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.” President Obama
Damn! There’s that inconvenient First Amendment thing cropping up again as American citizens attempt to exercise their Constitutional right to build a mosque on privately held ground two blocks from “Ground Zero.”