Monday, September 2, 2013

Losing Touch

Last November I experienced a terrible pain from my neck, down my right shoulder blade, along the tricep and then down the forearm, into my hand leaving my index and middle finger numb.  They have remained numb since regardless of physical therapy, chiropractic work, acupuncture, dance, yoga and anything else I could think of that might help.  My doctor had me get MRIs done at which point it became very clear that nothing but surgery would remedy my pain and numbness.  So next Friday, September 6th, I will have surgery on my cervical spine to remove bone from C5, C6 and C7 that are compressing nerves. 

One of the biggest impacts this has had on my life is that it has made working on computers much more painful.  I'm on computers all day at work and have successfully re-trained myself to mouse left handed.  But by the end of the day, when I get home, the thought of opening my laptop and doing more work, as is my habit, became too much.  My websites have all lapsed, my social networking hit and miss, and no more mobile apps development.  So I've lost touch, not just from my finger tips, but also with friends, my writing, and my work.  I didn't realize how much of my connection to this world of people happens via the computer. 

On a more personal note I consider myself very tactile.  When I shop for clothes, which I loathe doing, I shop with my hands.  I don't buy clothes unless they are pleasing to my fingers first.  I love touching my daughter's hair, stroking my lover's skin, petting my kitties, tree bark, satin, mud, new baby green growth on the tips of the evergreen trees, and on and on.  I run my fingers over the surfaces of my dishes as I wash them to dislodge any remnants of stuck on food.  It's been interesting to note the things that I miss.  Also noticing when I burn or cut one of my fingers without notice has been a bit alarming. 

As surgery neared, and the details became more clear I sent out an email to those I hold dearest.  Most responded with good wishes but what stood out was one silent voice.  It's made me realize how easy it is to lose touch without even noticing.  A dear friend of nearly 30 years, who has co-written music and creative prose with me,  has disappeared into the mist of passing time - his reassuring voice lost to me on this occasion.  Admittedly, it is difficult to maintain fulfilling relationships at long distances, but that doesn't mean we miss them any less when we realize they are gone.

What is this life is it isn't one of relationships, of touching one another.  The worst feeling in the world is to be truly alone, isolated.  Ask anyone who has lived through solitary confinement.  As my immediate world contracts for a period of convalescence,  my heart expands, nourished by all the love and care that I'm receiving from my loved ones.    The surgeon expects me to get feeling back in my fingers in time.  As I heal, I intend to reach out with restored love and interest in touching this world in every way that I can. 

Who knows, I might even blog more....

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Guns, Girls and Violence

When this image went around Facebook recently there were two reactions to it: one cheering her and her family on, the other reminding us of the toll guns take, especially on the innocent.  On the pro-gun side was the feeling that this girl will never become a victim because of her ability to wield this automatic weapon and that she may even one day become a defender of freedom, fighting for her country (presumably the USA).  Another strain of thinking are that  guns are the great equalizer for girls and women in a world full of crazy, unpredictable, and dangerous men.  Of course we also notice that she's wearing a hoody with peace signs showing a big disconnect in our culture regarding the meaning of peace.

My personal stand on guns is not as clear cut as some of my fellow pacifists.  Certainly I have abandoned the gun, the knife, the sword, the nun-chucks, the death stars, tasers and even the pepper spray, as my form of self defense.  I have adopted instead the form of defense used by Gandhi and other great leaders, my heart and my mind, or love.  Most of those great leaders that I'm thinking of ultimately died by the gun, assassinated.  But, the reality check is that if Gandhi or Dr. King had taken up the gun to start with, their time on earth would have most certainly been shortened by many more years.   But that's another discussion regarding large nonviolent movements, not the safety of home and family which seems to be the greatest concern evoked when looking at this image.

To start let me qualify my opinion with my own history.  I grew up eating venison and elk, a child of the great Northwest.  The animals had been hunted, cleaned and dressed by my father and grandfather.  I saw the deer cleaned.  I fondly remember the warmth of wrapping myself in their musky hides.   I even played with a severed foreleg from a deer for several days, fascinated by the way the tendons caused the hoof to flex.  My mother eventually took it from me, scolding my grandad for letting me play with this "dead thing".  I learned to fish and clean and cook my own catch from my grandfather.  I'm not easily grossed out or timid when it comes to hunting.  My ex-husband is also a hunter and although I refused to eat the dead squirrels in the freezer, I didn't faint from them being there.  It was part of his Kentucky heritage (yes, they eat rodents in the South and that's just the beginning).  I learned to shoot a gun from my father.  I enjoyed going to the shooting range with my husband.  So this is part of my heritage too.  But I have changed in my attitudes over the years.  But just as I'm not a militant vegetarian, I won't force my opinions on others, or condemn their choices as "wrong".  My world has never been black or white, love or hate, not even gay or straight, I've always been one that finds some middle ground, or something more akin to a tightrope, on which to walk my walk  This quote from Gandhi makes me wonder if didn't also have moments on the tightrope over this issue.

 Gandhi wrote in Chapter XXVII, "The Recruiting Campaign," in his autobiography, My Experiments with Truth:
'Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.

I've spent a number of hours pondering this statement.  Some may say that Gandhi misspoke, or that he might have felt differently at the end of his life.  I don't know Gandhi's mind but what I see in this statement is the same message of fear I hear coming from NRA (National Rifle Association) that helps people sidestep skilful action and enter into the survivalist mentality pictured above.  Our culture associates guns with respect and the ability to protect and provide for oneself and family. Clearly even Gandhi succumbed to this argument.  But there is another reality, guns were designed for one purpose, the destruction of life.  So this is where my attitude begins to shift.

While living in the Bull Creek Wildlife Management area out in the swamps of Florida between Melbourne and Kissimmee I would keep a gun near my bed.  I was staying in a house, five miles from a paved road and a good 15 to 20 miles from any signs of civilization.  The gun wasn't to protect me against critters;  gators, wild boar and snakes of all variety.  The gun was for the people out there, many who bragged about killing based on skin color.  These people were also well armed so I'm not sure how I would have saved myself with the gun, but I found it reassuring.  My intent was to kill if anyone threatened me.  I truly believe I would have done so.  After leaving that place and encountering Buddhism I've had to look back on that intention with new critical eyes.  In my study I came to see that every moment and every thought is shaping what is to come, part of karma.  Karma isn't just in the physical action or the damage done in retrospect, but it is the intention as well.  So to keep a gun is to have the negative intention for my fellow beings.  Same is true for holding any weapon including the nuclear arsenal we continue to allow our government to hold.  That is Himalayan sized negative intention put into the world and it threatens all of us.

So what DO we teach little girls?  This image and its caption tell me that the author believes that girls are truly helpless without a big weapon.  Are you helpless without your gun?  Am I helpless?  I've managed to live 45 years without needing to kill anyone to survive.  Is my daughter helpless?  One thing I've told her time and again is that a man's Achilles heel is not his heel, and if a man ever tries to grab her she must hit and kick, even bite that tender area until he's crying on the ground and then run like hell.  Never, never let them take you anywhere.  But I also tell her that everyone she sees is hurting, but only a rare few will hurt her.  More importantly, we all need each other.  Within each of us are seeds for good and bad.  We cannot garden ourselves very well, so we depend on the intentions of others to water and nurture those seeds within us just as they depend on us to do the same for them.  If we go around looking at each other suspiciously, our hand on the butt of a gun, the wrong seeds will continue to sprout as they have been since the beginning of our nation.  Do we wish to be the Nation of compassionate people working for the well-being of this world and its inhabitants or will we continue to be the Nation of self-centered cowboys, cowgirls, gangsters, bankers and CEOs who value our possessions over life?  I know what my intention is.  I suspect that if Gandhi could glimpse the world today, the countless children killed or wounded due to firearms in homes, the dead black children in our inner cities, the school shootings, the nuclear arsenals, the white phosphor burns, the cluster bombs, the depleted uranium birth defects and cancers, he may very well have altered his statement.  All these weapons are all mind-made, and it is our minds that also hold the door to our freedom.

Water the seeds of good intention. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Rose City Invasion met with Love

The first thing to be disrupted by our commitment to nonviolence will be not the system but our own lives. ~ James Douglass

Every June in Portland we begin the celebration of the Rose City with a festival, but also with the Naval Fleet.  The fleet began visiting in 1907.  The girls come out of the woodwork to hook up with a sailor (certainly not the brightest thing for a young girl to do).   People flock to tour the boats.  It's a tradition, part of the cultural identity of this city and its festival.  But there are a hand full of activists who take a moment to stop and publicly question whether this is appropriate.  It's not 1907 anymore.  Our wars today are wars of aggression, wars to take what we want from other countries.  Our own people are losing their homes, their savings and their jobs to continue to feed a war economy with no end in site.  Does it still make sense to show our support in this way?  When the navy has been re purposed to save people, to help in coastal floods and tsunamis, rather than carry around an arsenal, then I will gladly take my daughter to see the ships.  Until then it's my duty as a world citizen to say in my loving and nonviolent way, "No, not here". 

My brother was in the Navy.  A good friend and colleague worked on the nuclear subs which ultimately sparked his interest in Physics which he later earned a degree in.  These are not bad people.  Neither were their commanders.  In our culture they were doing what they believed to be right and just way of earning a living and getting an education (and travel the world).  If we dehumanize them, or condemn them, we've lost and there will be no progress toward peace.  We need them to help us send a message to the top of the command chain.  We need them to know we care, we don't hate them for what they do.  It's helped me to watch this talk by Shelley and Jim Douglass to remind myself how to protest against these war machines.  They have worked many years doing this and are an inspiration.

So I put my sword down, and pick up my desire to heal these deep wounds between us and them.

My Two Year Protest

On May 1st 2010 I wrote in my journal about the great sense of freedom that I felt as I headed back into Portland on the train after leaving my Rav4 with Toyota Beaverton, beginning what would be a two year experiment in the car free life. Some interpreted my decision as an attempt to be green.  That wasn't why I did it.  I did it for the children of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Every time I filled the tank I knew it was with their blood.  Pretty soon I just couldn't drive it anymore.  This experiment was my personal protest.  Many people looked at me as if I'd completely mad. Looking back I can see their point. I'm a single Mom that works a full time job that's 15 miles South of the city. And naturally, I had to make that even harder on myself by moving 6 miles North of downtown to a community house where I would no longer be living by my own rules, without a clothes dryer (sweaty bike ride plus sour clothes, trust me, it's not a good smell), and add a nice hill climb on the bike ride home when I was the most tired everyday and you have a very bad DOE (design of experiment). As an engineer I should have known better than to change so many variables at once. But I always have tended to make my own life as hard on myself as possible.

The experiment started well. I had prepared to do this for well over a year, leaving my Rav parked while I tested out my theories and various routes to get around in life. At first I would ride my bike downtown and then put it on the bus for the 15 mile trip to Tualatin, where I work, and then ride the remaining two miles from the bus stop to my lab. Our city buses only accommodate two bikes, and it seems I wasn't the only one with this idea, so I was left stranded a couple times, enough to change my strategy. I would then lock my bike at the waterfront, get a nice cuppa at Three Rivers Cafe, and enjoy looking out of the sleepy morning river with it's dragon boat teams practicing their maneuvers. It was a nice start to the day, but gave rise to some jealousy. You see, I had been a regular kayaking fool before the experiment, but having no way to get my beautiful blue sea kayak to water I reluctantly sold her. I miss the times I had all alone on the water, whether a lazy paddle on the Tualatin, or something more aggressive on the Willamette or Columbia, it was my refueling station and after two years without it, I feel very empty.

After my quiet moments by the water I'd hustle to the bus stop, ride down the I-5 (often witnessing a beautiful sunrise), then catch a free shuttle, provided by the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce, or if the weather was nice I'd walk the two miles in. This morning trip takes about 1.25 hours. On the way home the duration stretches out for up to 2 hours, sometimes more. Yes, for the last two years I've spent 16+ hours a week in transit, about 800 hours a year (at my current rate of pay, that's almost $30k/yr). My company paid for my transit passes and my bike ride was free, so the only costs I had were for Zipcars, which is a car share program that helped me out in emergency situations. In my two years I've spent nearly $5k in zipcars, that comes to a little over $200 a month. So although my commute was free, in practical terms it was not at all free. Plus I could no longer work overtime because the weekend commute was impossible. I even had to walk out in the middle of important conversations because my shuttle was waiting. I'm a professional, and that's not acceptable. So the real cost is hard to calculate, but it was clearly getting to the point where a car payment and insurance made sense again.

When I started the experiment I thought about the health benefits.  As a middle aged woman nearing menopause, the battle of the bulge is nonstop.  I really had expected that this would be a non-issue if I took on so much activity.  To my surprise I gained weight, but that was more due to the shared eating at the communal house in North Portland and my lack of discipline to turn down the candy, ice cream and pies.  My cardio endurance did improve, but I did have quite a scare with chest pain last year.  It was nothing serious but a loud wake up call to my age and changing body.  My upper body strength has diminished considerably.  My occasional knee pain is now a constant companion.  The knee pain has caused my quads to waste to nothing.  I have more hip pain.  To do this commute also requires packing everything you and your child need on your back everyday.  I now have a constant dull  backache and worse posture, something new in my life.  So the health benefits associated with a daily biking/walking practice are questionable.  Mechanically it has caused me more trouble, but my heart health is top notch.

Regardless of my loss of freedom to move about the country at will, my lost time on the water, health concerns and the financial sacrifice, I persisted for two years in this, my personal protest.  The house experiment ended after only 9 months and I moved closer in to town to another community, but this one provides each resident with sovereignty over their own space and each unit has its own kitchen and thanks to the goddesses and gods, there's a shared laundry facility with a dryer.  My daughter's school is only a mile away and she can walk it easily after much practice (and the $1/mile allowance I gave her).  It has extended her endurance a lot and has also sensitized her to those around us who, not by their own choice, are also walking.  But after much consideration and seeing another summer approaching where there would be logistic hurdles to climb that stretched well beyond my creative capacity, I've ended my protest. 

So what has it got me?  The children here and abroad are no safer, if anything less so.  My one vehicle didn't make even a miniscule change in America's footprint.  As long as our military continues to burn fuel at their current rate, even every American going car free wouldn't matter.  But for two years, everyday, I've thought about my world in a new way.  I've made friends on mass transit.  I've listened to the stories of people I've met who struggle each day just to get out of bed to face commutes of more than 4 hours a day for maybe a 6 or 8 hour job.  I've listened to alcoholics who have lost their licenses.  One recently broke her ankle in three places and faces over a year of riding the bus with a walker and in pain to get to her job, which she cannot afford to lose.  I've sat next to smelly people, people speaking and even yelling and some invisible stranger and I've learned not to fear them or run another way.  I recognize my common humanity with all of them in a way that my insulated car life had blocked.  Sometimes I felt more like them, then this well paid professional that I am at work.  And my daughter took the ride with me and has shared in these lessons.  She hands money to the homeless without fear.  She cares and wants to know about the man with the Navy cap in the wheelchair with the scarred face and missing ear as our bus heads towards the vet hospital.  She's seen all kinds of people with various missing limbs, vision problems, hallucinations and colorful clothing, or lack of - and she seems to understand in a way that I never could have at age 7 that they are not monsters, but just like us only broken in different ways.  We are all on this big blue boat together, for better or for worse, so we should give each other respect, love and even a smile from time to time.  This world needs it - we all do.

One other thing my daughter has learned in her hours of waiting for buses and walking our city streets hand in hand with her Mommy - she's the queen of silly walks.  Watch out John Cleese, Alexa is making her moves. Oh, and although my protest wasn't about global warming, or being green, my choice in a new vehicle is.  Our new sled is a Prius C - so far I've been getting 50+ mpg consistently on my commute to work and it's plenty peppy.  I'm not quite ready to be so green as to go without a clothes dryer again, but this is a start.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Mothers Day Request

I don't want cards or chocolate
I want to look at my daughter and know she will have a full life
living in a world worth living in
Where trees still beckon to the Great Spirit above
and the body of our Mother Earth is respected and cared for

I want my daughter's friends of all colors to be safe from harm
regardless of what resources they were born near
or that their parents can be exploited for cheap labor
I want technology to bring them together not rip them apart

I want her to be safe from men who would exploit her body for money
I want her to be free to trust without being betrayed
I want her heart not to be chained and bound by fear
I want her to love whomever she chooses to love

I want men to grow up so my daughter can have a long, safe life
stop blowing things up in our backyards, because they're your yards too
stop making bigger bombs, robots, and stealth killers
stop raping us and this planet - we are not your playthings
stop acting so stupid, so tough, and please pull up your pants

I want us all to give peace a real chance
turn the other cheek, but don't turn away from suffering
carry the extra weight if you can, helping the hurting ones
listen, don't talk
breathe, don't think
and start anew

Then I, and all Mothers Everywhere, may have a Happy Mothers Day

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Tale of Two Soldiers

There are two soldiers that represent so much of what is wrong in our war culture. One is Bradley Manning and the other is Robert Bales.
Bradley Manning, a queer boy bullied at home and abroad, in a final bid to fit the expected “tough boy” mold, joined the Army. In a futile attempt to suppress his feminine side, the very side that yelled every time he watched innocent people die needlessly, he finally succumbed in a desperate hope and belief that if American people could see the horror of war they would stop it. The kinds of atrocities that tore at the soul of Manning were exactly that very evil allegedly committed by Robert Bales.

Robert Bales is the Army Sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers as they slept, including 9 children. What drives a father of two to kill the sleeping children of others? What could have been in his mind as he stabbed innocent babes to death? Revenge? At whom? The Army that sent him back even after he’d suffered a brain injury? The villagers because he’d seen his friend lose a leg to a bomb earlier in the week and so he blamed all Afghans? At himself, hoping someone would stop him, put him out of his own misery and inability to help his own family—who, at that moment, were losing their home?

Both of these soldiers come from the Midwest; Manning from Oklahoma and Bales from Ohio. After Manning’s parents divorced, when he was 13, Manning moved to Wales with his mother. There he suffered bullying in the school system due to his effeminate nature. After passing his secondary school certification exams he returned to Oklahoma City to live with his father. Difficulties at home drove him to move in with an aunt in Washington D.C. After a series of low-paying jobs he enlisted in the Army and trained as an intelligence analyst. He was later deployed to Iraq, all the while a victim of redneck bullying by men probably much like our second soldier.

Bales is a well-established tough guy, fitting all the characteristics mandated by our violent, male-centric society. He played football through high school and college. He was 27 when 9/11/01 occurred. Two months later he enlisted to exact revenge for his country. One year into his service he was brought up on assault charges, which resulted in a warning from the judge to get anger management counseling. He gave up the next 11 years of his life in multiple deployments, the last one seemingly pushing him over the edge. While his government made up lies about WMD to send him to fight in Iraq, his family struggled in the failing war economy at home. Three days before his rampage his wife listed the house on the market, a short sell, as they owe more than the house it is worth, and they are behind in their payments.

Robert Bales had been a soldier in good standing, having been awarded several medals, suffering a couple injuries in the line of duty, including a head trauma. He fit the American stereotype of a hero, but was really a monster in the making. He begged the Army not to send him back, but lacked the courage to stand firm and refuse re-deployment so that he could protect his own home and family.

While Manning seemed far from hero material, he showed great courage by pulling back the veil on these wars. He showed us the murderers of the war—those who, as Bales is alleged to have done, engaged in killing because they’ve had too much trauma or stress and are no longer in touch with their humanity. How many more massacres, suicides, and homeless vets and homeless families will it take for Americans to begin to put it all together and see that war, and our “kick-ass” mentality, is just wrong. So many American men have been reduced to the level of mad dogs by this thinking and the alpha males in Washington D.C. are doing little to help them, their families, or the rest of us.

Both men sit in cells in Ft. Leavenworth. One has endured ten months of torture and abuse in Quantico before being transferred after pressure from a concerned public. His life has been dragged through the media, making a mockery of all that is sensitive and caring in his nature, reminding us all that the worst thing to be in a war culture is a woman or woman-like. The other has been treated with compassion and understanding by his captors and the mainstream media. The sad plight of his family is being used as an excuse for his behavior. One will likely spend the rest of his days in a military prison while the other might spend a few years in the system, only to be released into Dante’s next level of Hell, reintegration into a world he’s long lost touch with—or has he?

We are all victims of a war culture. We live in a society that can more quickly forgive a soldier who murders children in their sleep than it can a soldier who reveals the dark secrets of war, embarrassing higher-ups on The Hill with their own leaked words. In truth, Manning embarrassed us all, as war is fought in our names in what we so proudly call a democracy.

War and violence require secrecy. A culture of peace has nothing to hide. There’s no need for WikiLeaks in that world. What if America had evolved to embody peaceful ideas instead of perpetual violence and expansion? We might still have a state-paid body of rigorously trained people who could employ the latest technologies to help our brothers and sisters across the globe. Rather than kill their children to get their oil, we could exchange food and other products or services, providing them with farming technology rather than leaving their fields barren and toxic and littered with unexploded ordnance to ensure we continue to kill their children long after our troops leave.

We used violence to break free of an Empire more than 200 years ago, and we continued to use violence to take over the lands of the First Peoples and now we have become that which we once fought so hard to escape, an evil colonizing empire projecting power across the globe with an iron fist that has now outdone the British Empire.

Our children are weaned on First-shooter video games, teaching their malleable brains how to kill from an early age. The Department of Defense has infiltrated our High Schools and our childrens’ private records for recruitment based on personal family demographics, thanks to the No Child Left Behind legislation, clearly meaning no child left un-recruited. Since the early 1990’s fifth graders across America have enjoyed a fun-filled week at a military base under the guise of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in a program named Starbase. They also get to tour the grounds, touch armored vehicles, look into cockpits of fighter jets, play with bomb diffusing robots and other whiz-bang technology ultimately intended to destroy human life. Even my seven-year-old daughter is not immune to the toxic environment that the war system brings. In her after school program she played with Legos with a boy her age. I commented that it looked like they had built a great city, but they excitedly corrected me that it was, in fact, bombs going off. My country has become so very entangled in the war system. The economies of most cities depend on Pentagon contracts to survive. We all contribute via our tax dollars, and often directly with our labor and knowledge in research. We suckle at the teats of this monster while it starves us both body and soul.

In 1961 Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about the Military Industrial Complex as he made his exit from the White House. We didn’t listen. In 1971 Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, showing the Vietnam War with all its depravity reaching to the very top. Still we didn’t listen. In 2010 Wikileaks exposed volumes of memos and videos of troops gunning down unarmed journalists and civilians from a helicopter, purportedly supplied by Manning. Still we don’t listen. We ignore our own children as they toy with concepts of mass killing and death. We ignore our own hearts at our own peril. War has always been immoral. The question is, are you? All it takes to change is for you, me, and a few million of our closest friends to change our minds, to value life over death. Bradley may die in prison, but he’ll die with a clear conscience. He did the best he could to show us the truth. Bales will not have that option. If he did those murders, he’s taken what cannot be repaid. His best hope is to spend the rest of his days caring for war orphans to heal his own deep wounds and theirs. The karmic wheel of life will exact a toll on him far greater than any court could assign.

As these stories fade from the headlines, what will be their legacy? Will we learn or will we continue, killing more innocent human beings in Iran, or some other place simply to keep the engines of our cars and our war machine churning? Change takes courage. I challenge us all to have that courage to turn away from this and find another path before it is too late.

Friday, December 23, 2011

How Occupy Stole Christmas

Dr. Suess was the first author many of us learned and loved.  This time of year it is the Grinch.  I remember how I looked forward each year to seeing the Grinch on t.v. and hearing that wonderful deep narration by Boris Karloff and the singing voice of Thurl Ravenscroft (also Tony the Tiger for my generation t.v. viewers and cereal munchers).  It was the highlight of the Christmas season.  I've often wondered why that show, of all Christmas shows, was the one that was a must see for me.  Charlie Brown was cute, but not that interesting.  Rudolf was downright sexist (have you seen it since the 70s?).  There was Frosty and the others, but none captured my attention the way that the Grinch did.  Recently, I was asked to do a reading for a group that would help blend the message of the Occupy movement with the season and I immediately thought of my favorite childhood Christmas show.  Here's what I read:

It was quarter past dawn...
All the Whos, still a-bed
All the Whos, still a-snooze
When he packed up his sled,
Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!
The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mount Crumpit,
He rode to the tiptop to dump it!
"Pooh-pooh to the Whos!" he was grinch-ish-ly humming.
"They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
"They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!
"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
"The all the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!"

"That's a noise," grinned the Grinch,
"That I simply must hear!"
So he paused. And the Grinch put a hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow...

But the sound wasn't sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared down at Who-ville!
The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook!
What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

What was the Grinch's complaint after all?  He was disgusted by the materialism of the holiday.  I feel this same disgust each and every year.  It's only exacerbated by the fact that I now have a 7 year old that thinks Santa should bring everything her heart desires. 

So what would happen in the US if families woke to find their homes "robbed" of all the Christmas loot?  I doubt we'd all join hands and sing in the streets.  You could probably even determine a person's political leanings by their reactions.  The Republicans would be looking in all the nearby neighborhoods and stealing what they could to make their own Christmas seem a little better (aided by the US Military naturally).  The Libertarians would form a well armed posse to seek out the sneakly 'ol Grinch and then they'd shoot him and mount him over a fireplace.  The Democrats would wait to see what everyone else did and then try to do what the Republicans are doing all the while smiling and assuring everyone that all is well.  There would be the idealistic folks that hold hands around the city tree downtown and sing - and they would be happy.  Then there are those of us who would be busy researching all the activities, blogging about it, tweeting it out, posting on Facebook, flash mobbing, and having a protest about it, but once we're certain that the Republicans are not behind the whole thing we might join hands and sing too.  The young, the visionaries and those who can see into tomorrow because it belongs to them, they would bring a tent and set it up by the tree, and they start singing loud enough to scare the Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians.  Those of us busy networking the event feel our hearts grow at least three times larger watching their courage and loving the sound of their voices rising up.  They are the Spirit of Christmas and of the Rebel Jesus.  They are the ones feeding the homeless.  They are the ones acknowledging the true worth and dignity of each living being.  They are the ones experimenting with real democracy at each General Assembly, sitting for hours to make sure even the smallest Who has a say.  It is their voices that soften the Grinch in people like me this season.  Merry Christmas Occupy!