To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Observercast

And All That Jazz

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It was bright and sunshiny Christmas Eve, a little cool, but not for December. [Eleven years ago we had a blizzard.] Starting with Duke Ellington’s Jingle Bells, I listened to a succession of talented jazzers. [My semi-isolating pandemic ways bear close resemblance to my normal days.]

But what gives me the right to be content when our president pardons the mass-murdering mercenaries who shot up a Baghdad neighborhood just for sport? And why does our nation need to be hiring gunsels? What’s that about? If we’re too ashamed to do a job ourselves, then, perhaps, just maybe, it shouldn’t be done – which applies as well to private, profit-prisons.

That same president – Loser of the Year, according to Der Spiegel magazine – works harder now than in the past four years – but only to sow confusion and suffering.

He still finds plenty of time for playing golf [he cheats], with us paying fees to his country clubs exceeding $150 million.

He vetoed the budget for military “losers” and tweets election lies. His delay in signing a COVID-19 relief bill jeopardizes a full week of unemployment benefits for people already suffering from his deliberate bungling of a health pandemic into Main Street economic ruin.

He hopes [where is his Hope these days?] to create sufficient chaos to cripple the USA in revenge for our rejecting him. His goal is to sabotage the team that exposed his delusions as foolish dreams – the collateral damage to the country not a blip on his self-centered radar.

He has decided to make it as hard as possible for Biden to re-establish our world stature instead of running foreign policy to benefit Trump family fortunes.

This is our republic he’s trying to hamstring while threatening Republicans who dare to stand for the rule of law.

He would, of course, prefer a coup.

The onlyest Thelonious Monk entered, playing Sweet and Lovely, Charlie Rouse soaring on his tenor sax. Monk’s Dream devolved into a nightmare as Monk’s piano took the lead again, and I realized that about a third of my Land of Liberty neighbors would be eager and happy to accept a fascist dictator.

These same folks proclaim themselves to be super-patriots despite flying flags of treason and mouthing the Nazi propaganda that my dad and his army buddies blew to hell during World War II.

Still, there are better people in the world than I – no surprise – but I do have an inkling why. Their concerns are of a Cosmic nature. They walk a tightrope above a chasm of despair, more consistently aware of the interconnectedness of all things.

They see crises where many just don’t dare to look for fear that caring might make them feel obligated to address the problem – or shame them for knowing that they would do nothing to rock any boats afloat on the ocean of the holy status quo.

Ah, Dave – and Gerry – yeah, Take Five. Take a break and let the beauty of the music – and the world – shake everything into clearer perspective. A longer range view of the universe shows its inexorable evolution toward freedom, as Neil deGrasse Tyson reminds us.

Still, that progressive procession offers no solace to the people in Nisour Square that day, or their survivors or Iraq at large, laid waste based on another spate of lies.

Hey, there’s money to be made from wars, especially if your former CEO conducts the choir of lying chicken hawks eager to sacrifice those braver than themselves to provide more padding to the bottom line.

We wouldn’t want to hint – much less admit – that Iraqi lives just don’t matter if they get in the way of Wall Street wealth – nor any other Muslims’ either. Damn, if there were just a Trump Tower Gaza Strip, Palestinians might get treated as if they, too, are humans.

I retreated to my office to catch my breath in preparation for the work ahead of opposing ignorant bigotry, trying to ensure my nieces and nephews will have a habitable Planet Earth and advocating legal equity that eschews the privilege money buys as well as protecting minority rights.

Yep, that liberal agenda that built this country and inspired the world.

Needing music, I turned to the computer for jazz from Barcelona by members of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band – present and past.

It defies logic that a 15-year-old girl can rock back on the heels of her tennis shoes, begin to sing and break our hearts before fitting the pieces back together healthier than they have ever been.

You find it impossible to turn away from the existential ache in Alba’s voice. No Nick or Disney sexification here – with her band’s black t-shirt and distressed jeans. It’s very clear – and they sing that song, too – that only the music matters.

YouTube critics say – they always have their say – that Alba and her friends are too young to sing the adult-oriented American Songbook. But such sophistication is less risqué than what other teens listen to each day.

Her maestro, Joan Chamorro, has found a way to keep the spark that all children display burning in his students as they age.

How many young bright eyes have been dimmed by institutionalized education, where fitting in becomes the desired end?

Personal development is what they need to create as many insights as possible to address the debacle they’ll inherit from our greedcentric civilization, determined to leave devastation in its wake.

And the movement to turn education into a profit-making venture –  the goal of the ruling ten-percenters –  is another ill that must be opposed to guarantee the continuation of the American upward mobility that has attracted ambitious immigrants with their distinctive, diverse relishes since the inception of our melting pot.

Or to venture another metaphor: Once it absorbs various minerals, A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing.

Alfred North Whitehead, my mentor’s mentor’s mentor, reminds us that relativity includes, “the essential relatedness of all things,” that source of despair for many caring people.

And what applies to “entities” and “occasions,” which he demonstrates to be the same thing, is even more essential when applied to representatives of our unirace.

The highlight of my year was a February trip to Big Bend. No sane person would desecrate those canyons with a wall. Downriver, small, caged children were effectively orphaned by a president who claims that Lady Liberty is an irrelevant relic.

Fittingly, on St. Stephen’s Day [Boxing Day, the first day of Kwanzaa, Saturday], I received a Christmas card from an old pal whom I’ve known since she was after-school help who judged the quality of returned filmstrips and provided extra clerking when needed.

Justly proud of her five daughters, the youngest of whom initiated – and lost – a fight to move a traitor’s statue off the courthouse square in her plantation town, she concluded by noting, “Young people give me hope.”

I could have told her that 36 years ago when she and her friends wandered in full of energy and ambition and refusing to admit any limitations.

I know enough not to expect to win many political battles against entrenched and satisfied go-alongers.

But Iscle Datzira and Eva Fernandez – SAJB alumni mainstays while I’m writing – exhibit mind-expanding freedom when improvising on tenor saxes.

The eclectic amalgamation of songs, original and standards, of which their and their pals’ song lists consist hint at Joss Stone’s world music tour to prove the relatedness of our unirace and the equality inherent in that fact, voicing – melodically – the message of appreciation toward Mama Earth, and the commitment to protect her that young Greta Thunberg advocates to condescending world-destroyers.

Liberté. Égalitié. Fraternité. Still the standard; still the goal.

I’ve been working to deepen my own gravitas, working against my native flippancy to try to concentrate on a continued, active concern toward our cousins and Mother Earth.

If we keep our senses activated, there’s no telling what they might reveal.

But too much time studying the news can lead to an unsatisfiable blues, unlike its musical kin which offers life-propelling, 12-bar resolutions.

Yet, San Antonio’s Naomi Shihab Nye – the most serious poet whom I know – when writing about an approaching Christmas in a none-too-prosperous neighborhood, observed, “I plunged my foot/ into the river of gloom,/ it said it did not need me.”

What we need to do is to embrace the beauty in the world, commit ourselves “Body and Soul” to nourish and protect it and hope that next year we can discuss issues instead of the most corrupt and incompetent presidency in this country’s history.

Or as Ira observed over George’s tune – and which Ms. Armengou appropriates appropriately: “I was doin’ all right/ but I’m doing better than ever now,” knowing that the road ahead is one that I’ve been treading all of my life, my boon companions and I trailing honored forebears and with younger generations mobilizing behind us.

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Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democrats. He lives in Duncan, following a sporadic career as a small-town journalist, mostly in Texas, and as an editor of educational audio-visual materials. Some days he's a philosopher/poet, others a poet/philosopher.