Friday, December 14, 2012

When It Makes No Sense

Taser-bristling law enforcement in this twilight America apparently now consider speaking to a policeman--as an act of aggression. And sufficient provocation to unleash heart-stopping high voltage.

I don't know how we, mere citizens, will restore sanity and community, but a couple of Gandhi-esque transformations thrum my imagination.

Imagine strolling along the seawall in Newport, Rhode Island, the dawn harbor full of "tall ships." A friend of the family was there to enjoy the salt tang of the sea and wind in the great sails.

A retired Marine Colonel, he had returned from Nam shell-shocked with disgust at lies, violence done and dishonor. But also with a deep love for gardens! He had wandered shattered and somewhat restored through the otherworldly gardens of Kyoto.

He was walking along the seawall--enjoying the clove fragrance of Rugosa roses, planted along the path in the Victorian era a hundred years ago--when he heard the roar of heavy equipment, a bulldozer.

A bulldozer ripping up the roses, a glory of the harbor. The ex-Marine, actually not a large man, bellowed, "Stop!" The operator ignored him.

So, infuriated citizen threw himself in front of the 'dozer, arms spread, legs spread and rooted. He'd learned martial arts in the Far East, but that would not have stopped his being crushed.

The bulldozer operator came out of trance or oblivion and jammed on the brakes. The ex-Marine informed the Genghis Khan of 'dozers that he would not move, until authorization could be produced for this outrage.

No authorization had been given, as it turned out. A bozo was loose on a massive instrument of destruction. Replanting the lost roses would take years of healing.

Speaking of Marines, my Texas uncle, Marine helicopter pilot in another war, the Korean, reported on cretins in that microcosom of horror. He transported supplies in to the various hazardous fronts, and dead and screaming wounded out.

Watching grunts on-load lumber was a particularly stunning glimpse into bozo-land--a board ten feet long broadside to the copter door and slammed against the side in confusion, rather than pointed inward. Even more memorably, a board presented vertically, and chopped to bits by the rotaries which also were destroyed.

Operators of mayhem, you see, may not be sane, intelligent or authorized.

This includes those armed with chainsaws, the greed-creators of watershed wasteland. I was very moved to read Vandana Shiva's description of her childhood in the fragrant forests of the Himalayas, swimming in the mountain streams.

She returned to joy of her youth to say farewell before leaving for Canada to study. She found the mountain slopes clear-cut, streams a trickle and the women of the land in desperate straits. It is they who gathered water and firewood to prepare meals.

The women loved the forests as protector of watershed and living mother of plenty, and it is they who confronted the board feet devastators of the Himalayas. They stood among the trees with lanterns in daylight, and sang!

Are small acts of love and protection insignificant, when power seems to have gone maelstrom-mad? 

Or do acts of courage accrue, pebble in a pool, rippling hope of community?


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