I put off going to town today until after 4. Necessary to go to grocery store for catfood, carrots for donkeys, and may as well pick up items for self, granola bars, bananas, apples, paper towels, Bounty, the only kind I'll buy because they work, peanuts, a cranberry-grape sugar drink with "no sugar added," ice cream Klondike bars with a polar bear logo, something to nibble on while writing, reminding me that polar bears are on their way to extinction but for zoos. African elephants may be extinct soon but in zoos. The gorilla is on its way to extinction. So curious. And what can we do? Nothing. I once knew a woman for a short time who worked in Rwandan refugee camps and other African refugee camps, mostly burying bodies with a shovel. Several years of it made her gaunt and took the light from her eyes. She was serious, wanted to do something to help, wanted to help the suffering. She couldn't change it, but she could do her best to assist survivors of international horrors. It broke her spirit. She entered a short-lived, disastrous marriage hoping to rehabilitate herself living rurally in America, the Appalachians, with a guy who lived simply, grew his own vegetables and hunted his own meat. Except he was crazier than she was. She jumped out like the frog dropped into boiling water. I hated to see her go, but was glad for her she cut and ran instead of sticking around being miserable. She was already miserable. She wanted to rest from it. She comes to mind when I feel impulses to want to do something about the vast horror show of extinctions going on and genocides and people hating each other for mere existence. It is possible that too many parasites can kill their host. After how many thousand years of religion as an ongoing part of civilization and pre-civilization does it take for humanity to get it?
People calling themselves Christian spew hate predictably like Old Faithful blowing steam. They're the most hard-hearted people around and they point the finger at the rest of us (three fingers pointing back at themselves). When I meet somebody with a hard-hearted attitude, I know right away its a Christian. Not a Catholic, not an Episcopalian, not a Lutheran, not a Methodist, not a Presbyterian, but a Christian. This is behind my Woody Allen quotation in the column to the right. Jesus really would not ever stop throwing up if he were to come back and look at what was being done in his name. For once, the Catholics have a pope who expresses compassion and caring for down and out people, maybe first one since the beginning, one who wants to dress simply and know people, wants to be in among the people around him, to feel their lives, their living spirit. His eyes glow with love as do his sayings. Strange to see the top dog bureaucrat in the original bureaucracy is of a sincere heart. He sets himself up for assassination going against the Sicilian mafia and says, What have I to lose? So I leave the body. I will be free. My jaw drops to witness such a man in the papacy. Some say he speaks truth, but does he live it? He gives the appearance that he does. He won't wear red shoes. He wears the simplest garment allowed a pope, wants a simple room for himself. He has been elevated by his character to a place where he can make a difference to the poor by appealing on their behalf as infallible authority to a rather large population. He may yet be offed for so much emphasis on the poor, the billions of people having a rough go of it all day every day, hungry and no help coming from anywhere;. The poor have been his lifetime concern like some people are concerned for pandas and ecology. I continue to be in awe that such a man would even be considered for pope. He's pissing off the rich Catholics and alienating important (translates: self-important) people everywhere in the world. He's a rebel.
Pope Francis came to mind as someone who has a position he can use to make a difference appealing to the higher self of the people who look to him and to many who do not look to him. He's the only pope of my lifetime I'd like to meet. But then, why? If I admire what he does, I can find in myself a way to "make a difference," whatever that means. I don't have money to give to the poor. Hell fire, I'm one of the poor. That's by American standard, not by the Zimbabwean standard or the Somalian. I don't know what I can do to help the poor people in my world. When I come face to face with somebody who is poor, I don't turn away. I regard the poorest people I know with even higher respect than the well off people I know. In fact, the poor people I know get a great deal of my respect. They have hard lives that I can't change. I work with the Hillbilly Show in Sparta to raise money to help some people of the county in need. We can't take care of everybody, but we can help some. We're a dozen devout believers, each in our own way, who come together in agreement that we can do something toward giving an assist to people who need help. Sometimes I give money to somebody asking for it and sometimes I don't. An individual's worth, to me, is in who the person is, character. The wealth factor is just a way of life. I prefer the company of working people, the working poor. I came to the mountains wondering what it was about the poor that God loved so much. Some years of living in the world of the working poor and having known about as many truly poor people as I've known very well off, I find the well off are better educated, experienced in the social graces, dressed up pretty with every hair in place, and every suit showing its price tag. The poor are every bit as obsessed with money as the rich. And the poor are stuck wherever they're living, unable to afford to move someplace else, like the rich live near the source of their income. The poor have nothing to fall back on but God, while the rich have money. They're God liberated.
I've never known where I stood in the matter of being a benefit to the poor. I see so much going on around the world that is creating human misery, animal misery, misery to all life, poisoning the worms in our lawns, poisoning the ants with lethal food that kills the whole colony. Roundup spray for weeds is the first thought now, like Raid for bugs. All this happening at such an alarming rate, it's looking like the momentum is going in an obvious direction, everybody sees it. We're like watching it on tv. Even the news on television is fantasy. What can I do to stop the Japanese from killing whales? How can I turn the rising temperature of the ocean? Our politicians are on the take. That's the long and the short of it. They're no good to us. They're a large part of the problem. The part that floors me is that everybody in the congress and senate and supreme court is college educated. They don't sell a college education any better than Michele Bachmann sells Jesus. A large number of them have law degrees. I look at them and listen to them and think: What? An educated man who speaks like a fool. So many of them. What is it about our educational system that doesn't educate stupid out of people? It seems like transcending stupid would be a matter of education, but these people are educated and, as we say in these hills, dumber'n shit. It is surely the end of the American Empire when our representatives only represent our ignorance by acting it out publicly. I know there are intelligent people in this world, a lot of them, but they're staying out of sight in this time. This is the age of ignorance in the driver's seat, the Reagan Revolution 34 years into its purpose, ignorance its trump card. Ignorance has taken over our government from local to state because intelligent people are staying out of it. It takes low intelligence to want to be a politician in this time, and a very real inner cheapness. Our "leaders" are not respectable in this time, except in fake ways. My answer for myself on where I want to aim my respect is never for wealth or the show of wealth, but for individuals with compassion in their attitudes.