4.5.2022 – Courage was mine, I

Courage was mine, I
had mystery; Wisdom was
mine, had mastery:

Adapted from the poem, Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen, who wrote some of the best British poetry on World War I, composed nearly all of his poems in slightly over a year, from August 1917 to September 1918. In November 1918 he was killed in action at the age of 25, one week before the Armistice. Only five poems were published in his lifetime.

The punctuation is in the original.

Strange Meeting

It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,— 
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand fears that vision’s face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.” 
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress. 
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery: 
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels, 
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.

“I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now …”

4.3.2022 – endless ruin has

endless ruin has
overtaken enemies
memory perished

Based on Psalm 9:6

Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies,
you have uprooted their cities;
even the memory of them has perished. (NIV)

The Psalm also includes:

The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
    their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.
16 The Lord is known by his acts of justice;
    the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.[c]
17 The wicked go down to the realm of the dead,
    all the nations that forget God.
18 But God will never forget the needy;
    the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

3.18.2022 – present perspective

present perspective
creates no absolutely
new situation

In a sermon preached at the invitation of Canon T.R. Milford at Solemn Evensong in the Oxford University Church of St Mary the Virgin on June 8, 1941, C.S. Lewis said this:

I think it important to try to see the present calamity in a true perspective.

The war creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it.

Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice.

Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself.

Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice.

This sermon was after almost two years of war between Great Britain and Germany.

TWO YEARS that we here in America watched and read about the invasion and destruction of Poland.

TWO YEARS that we here in America watched and read about the invasion and destruction of Holland, Belgium and Denmark.

TWO YEARS that we here in America watched and read about the invasion and destruction of France.

TWO YEARS that we here in America watched and read about the invasion and destruction of Norway.

TWO YEARS that we here in America listened to Edward R. Murrow say, This … is London.

TWO Years that we here in America listened to Murrow say, with the sounds of bombs falling and going off, “The lights are swinging over in this general direction now. You’ll hear two explosions. There they are. That was the explosion overhead, not the guns themselves. I should think in a few minutes there may be a bit of shrapnel around here. Coming in–moving a little closer all the while. The plane’s still very high.”

TWO YEARS that we here in America listened to Winston Churchill saying things like “we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

And then something happened.

You know what?

The Japanese, on December 7, 1941, bombed Pearl Harbor.

And America was at war with Japan.

Then for reasons historians have debated for last 80 years, wonder of wonders, Hitler declared war on the United States of America.

Had Herr Hitler not done that, it is doubtful that the United States would have got into that European war.

The war creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it.

America has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself.

And sometimes, that has been very hard for American’s to take.

PS: This photo of FDR on Dec 8th is in today’s House of Representatives. The rostrum was completely rebuilt to today’s polished wooden look in the 1950’s. The ceiling was also replaced as when this room was built, in the 1860’s during the Civil War, the ceiling was a vast leaded glass skylight which was being replaced when this photograph was taken.

3.16.2022 – Strong doesn’t mean big

Strong doesn’t mean big
Strong is brave to fight for right
to live decently

This is from one of the few known prints of Van Gogh’s Six Sunflowers – the original was destroyed by bombs on Japan in WW2

Strong doesn’t mean big.

Strong is brave and ready to fight for the life of his citizens and citizens of the world, human rights for freedom, for the right to live decently and to die when your time comes, and not when it’s wanted by someone else, by your neighbor.

I am almost 45 years old. Today my age stopped when the hearts of more than 100 children stopped beating. I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths. This is my mission as a leader of my people. and as a leader of my nation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the US Congress on March 16. Below is a translated transcript of his speech, primarily delivered in Ukrainian, and taken from the C-Span network.

Thank you very much, madam speaker, members of Congress, ladies and gentlemen.

Americans, friends. I am proud to greet you from Ukraine, from our capital city of Kyiv, the city under missile and airstrikes from Russians every day.

It does not give up. We have not even thought about it for a second. Just like many other cities and communities in our beautiful country which found themselves in the worst war since World War II. I have been honored to greet you on behalf of the Ukrainian people and freedom-loving people who for years have been resisting Russian aggression. Those who give their best sons and daughters to stop this full-scale Russian invasion.

Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided. The destiny of our people, whether Ukrainians will be free, whether they will be able to preserve their democracy. Russia has attacked not just us, not just our land, our cities. It went on a brutal offensive against our values. Basic human values. Against our freedom, our right to live freely, choosing our own future. Against our desire for happiness, against our national dreams.

Just like the same things you have, you Americans. Just like anyone else in the United States. I remember the national memorial Mount Rushmore. the faces of your prominent presidents, those who laid the foundation of the United States of America. Democracy, independence, freedom.

For every person who works diligently, who lives honestly, who respects the law, we in Ukraine want the same for our people. All that is a normal part of your own life.

Ladies and gentlemen, Americans, in your great history you would understand Ukrainians. Understand us now. We need you right now.

Remember Pearl Harbor. The morning of December 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you. Remember. Remember September 11. A terrible day in 2001 when people tried to turn your cities into battlefields. When innocent people were attacked attacked from the air. No one expected it. You couldn’t stop it.

Our country experiences the same every day. Right now, this moment, every night for three weeks, in various Ukrainian cities, Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death for thousands of people. Russian troops have fired 1000 missiles at Ukraine. They use drones to kill us with precision.

“No-fly zone”
This is a terror Europe has not seen for 80 years and we are asking for an answer to this terror from the world. Is that a lot to ask? To create a no-fly zone over Ukraine to save people. Is this too much to ask? A no-fly zone. Russia would not be able to terrorize our cities.

If this is too much to ask, we offer an alternative. You know what kind of defense systems we need. You know how much depends on the ability to use aircraft to protect our people, our freedom. aircraft that can help Ukraine, help Europe. We know they exist and you have them. They are not in Ukrainian skies.

“I have a dream. I have a need.”
I have a dream. I have a need. I need to protect our skies. I need your help, which means the same you feel when you hear the words I have a dream. Ladies and gentlemen, friends. Ukraine is grateful to the United States for its overwhelming support. Everything your government and your people have done for us, for weapons and training, for leadership to pressure the aggressor economically.

I am grateful to president Biden for his sincere commitment to the defense of Ukraine and democracy all over the world. I am grateful to you for the resolution which recognizes all of those who commit crimes against Ukraine as war criminals. In the darkest times for our country I call on you to do more.

New sanctions are needed constantly every week until the Russian military machine stops. Restrictions are needed for everyone on whom this unjust regime is based: all politicians in the Russian Federation who remain in their offices and do not cut ties with those who are responsible for the aggression against Ukraine from the state duma members upwards.

All American companies must leave Russia from their market immediately because it is flooded with our blood. Ladies and gentlemen, members of Congress. If you have companies in your district who financed the Russian military machine, you should put pressure. I am asking to make sure the Russians do not receive a single penny they used to destroy people in Ukraine, the destruction of our country, the destruction of Europe. All American ports should be closed for Russian goods. Peace is more important than income, and we have to defend this principle in the whole world.

We have to defend the world. We already became part of the antiwar coalition, the big antiwar coalition that unites many countries, dozens of countries, those who reacted to president Putin’s decision to invade our country. We need to move on and do more. We need to create more tools to respond quickly and stop the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24. It would be fair if it ended in 24 hours, that people would be punished, that evil would be punished.

Today the people do not have such tools. Institutions should protect us from war but they unfortunately do not work. We need new alliances and we offer them. We propose to create an association, united for peace, a union of responsible countries to stop conflict immediately, provide all the necessary assistance in 24 hours, weapons if necessary, sanctions if necessary, humanitarian support, finances, everything you need to keep the peace and quickly to save the world, to save life.

Such associations would provide assistance to those who are experiencing natural disasters, who fell victim to humanitarian crisis or epidemics. Remember how difficult it was for the world to do the simplest things just to get a vaccine against covid to save lives, to prevent new strains. The world spent months, years doing things like that much faster to make sure there are no victims.

Ladies and gentlemen, if such an alliance would exist today we would be able to save thousands of lives in our country, in many countries around the world, those who need peace, those who suffer inhumane destruction. I ask you to watch one video. a video of what the Russian troops did in our country, in our land. We have to destroy every single aggressor who seeks to subjugate other nations. Please watch the video.

In the end, to be the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace. Peace in your country does not depend only on you and your people. It depends on those next to you, on those who are strong. Strong does not mean weak. Strong is brave and ready to fight for his citizens as citizens of the world. For human rights. For freedom. The right to live decently and die when your time comes and not when decided by somebody else.

Today the Ukrainian people are defending not only Ukraine. We are fighting for Europe and the world and our lives in the name of the future. That is why today the American people are helping not just Ukraine, but Europe and the world to keep the planet alive. To keep justice in history.

I am almost 45 years old. Today my age stopped when the hearts of more than 100 children stopped beating. I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths. This is my mission as a leader of my people. and as a leader of my nation.

I’m addressing president Biden. You are the leader of the nation, of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.

Thank you.

Slava Ukrayini.

3.14.2022 – think of violence

think of violence
goes nowhere – to not think
about it, absurd

Adapted from the paragraph:

This is the brain fog of war.

It’s impossible to think straight, because thinking about violence goes nowhere, yields no new insight, has no texture.

The alternative would be to not think about violence, an absurd idea.

Everybody’s in the same state.

If you’re not talking about Ukraine, you’re thinking about it, so everything else you say is gibberish.

It’s better just to talk about it, but say what?

Which appears in the article, The impotent fury of watching the war in Ukraine is giving us all brain fog by Zoe Williams in the Guardian today.

She ends with this:

When all this is over, people say, the world will be changed.

We keep saying that about things. Some phrases I don’t understand, because they don’t mean anything (“new normal”).

Others, I’m only beginning to understand as they draw to a close (“rules-based order”).

The brutal truth is as true for Ukraine as it was for Covid: that those who lose the people they love will be changed for ever, and the rest will find 100 really solid reasons why it’s time to move on.

We might be more human while we’re not thinking straight.

BTW, the image is another sunflower image painted by Vincent Van Gogh.

I have been using the sunflowers as folks have pointed out that the sunflower is the national flower or symbol of Ukraine.

Of this painting it is interesting to note that it is one four paintings by Van Gogh made of sunflowers in August,1888, when models hired for the day did not show up.

Of the four paintings, two are famous and been reproduced around the world and in this blog.

One of the four went into private collection (after being last exhibited in Ohio in 1948 and never seen again).

This painting, named Six Sunflowers, was in a private home in Japan when it was destroyed during a US bombing raid in World War 2 on the same day that Hiroshima was destroyed, in a separate bombing attack on Ashiya.

It’s impossible to think straight, because thinking about violence goes nowhere, yields no new insight, has no texture.

The alternative would be to not think about violence, an absurd idea.

3.11.2022 – have confidence that

shape future that will
be determined by what we
do in the present

Once the war in Ukraine started, I often found it difficult to write a haiku on a daily basis.

To fill in those gaps, I turned to this entry, originally posted on March 6, 2022 and created several haiku to fill in gaps.

Please forgive this effort on my part to produce a daily haiku in retrograde fashion but as I like to say, my blog my rules.

Suffice it to say, this entry may not have been created on this date and this essay was not written for today but then the essay itself is somewhat timeless in its application.

Thanks

MJH

——–

Adapted from the article, The world is unpredictable and strange. Still, there is hope in the madness by Rebecca Solnit and the paragraph in particular that states:

Despair is a delusion of confidence that asserts it knows what’s coming, perhaps a tool of those who like to feel in control, even if just of the facts, when in reality, we can frame approximate parameters, but the surprises keep coming.

Anyone who makes a definitive declaration about what the future will bring is not dealing in facts.

The world we live in today was utterly unforeseen and unimaginable on many counts, the world that is coming is something we can work toward but not something we can foresee.

We need to have confidence that surprise and uncertainty are unshakable principles, if we want to have confidence in something.

And recognize that in that uncertainty is room to act, to try to shape a future that will be determined by what we do in the present.

Recognize that in that uncertainty is room to act.

I have been told that the symbol of Ukraine is the sunflower.

I find it, well, comforting, or fitting, or entirely appropriate that Vincent Van Gogh let out so much of his expression through sunflowers.

While I agree and endorse that We need to have confidence that surprise and uncertainty are unshakable principles, if we want to have confidence in something.

I agree too with the statement that the world we live in today was utterly unforeseen and unimaginable on many counts.

But I also am comforted knowing that when the when Moses came down Mt. Sinai with the 10 commandments and he wrote the the first five books of the Bible, God knew that it wouldn’t be long until I was reading those books on something called an iPhone.

3.10.2022 – I find no peace, and

I find no peace, and
all my war is done fear and
hope holdeth me not

Adapted from I Find No Peace by Thomas Wyatt about 1540

I find no peace, and all my war is done.
I fear and hope. I burn and freeze like ice.
I fly above the wind, yet can I not arise;
And nought I have, and all the world I season.
That loseth nor locketh holdeth me in prison
And holdeth me not—yet can I scape no wise—
Nor letteth me live nor die at my device,
And yet of death it giveth me occasion.
Without eyen I see, and without tongue I plain.
I desire to perish, and yet I ask health.
I love another, and thus I hate myself.
I feed me in sorrow and laugh in all my pain;
Likewise displeaseth me both life and death,
And my delight is causer of this strife.

3.8.2022 – world that is coming

world that is coming
something we can work toward
we can not foresee

Once the war in Ukraine started, I often found it difficult to write a haiku on a daily basis.

To fill in those gaps, I turned to this entry, originally posted on March 6, 2022 and created several haiku to fill in gaps.

Please forgive this effort on my part to produce a daily haiku in retrograde fashion but as I like to say, my blog my rules.

Suffice it to say, this entry may not have been created on this date and this essay was not written for today but then the essay itself is somewhat timeless in its application.

Thanks

MJH

——–

Adapted from the article, The world is unpredictable and strange. Still, there is hope in the madness by Rebecca Solnit and the paragraph in particular that states:

Despair is a delusion of confidence that asserts it knows what’s coming, perhaps a tool of those who like to feel in control, even if just of the facts, when in reality, we can frame approximate parameters, but the surprises keep coming.

Anyone who makes a definitive declaration about what the future will bring is not dealing in facts.

The world we live in today was utterly unforeseen and unimaginable on many counts, the world that is coming is something we can work toward but not something we can foresee.

We need to have confidence that surprise and uncertainty are unshakable principles, if we want to have confidence in something.

And recognize that in that uncertainty is room to act, to try to shape a future that will be determined by what we do in the present.

Recognize that in that uncertainty is room to act.

I have been told that the symbol of Ukraine is the sunflower.

I find it, well, comforting, or fitting, or entirely appropriate that Vincent Van Gogh let out so much of his expression through sunflowers.

While I agree and endorse that We need to have confidence that surprise and uncertainty are unshakable principles, if we want to have confidence in something.

I agree too with the statement that the world we live in today was utterly unforeseen and unimaginable on many counts.

But I also am comforted knowing that when the when Moses came down Mt. Sinai with the 10 commandments and he wrote the the first five books of the Bible, God knew that it wouldn’t be long until I was reading those books on something called an iPhone.

3.7.2022 – today unforeseen

today unforeseen
and unimaginable
world on many counts

Once the war in Ukraine started, I often found it difficult to write a haiku on a daily basis.

To fill in those gaps, I turned to this entry, originally posted on March 6, 2022 and created several haiku to fill in gaps.

Please forgive this effort on my part to produce a daily haiku in retrograde fashion but as I like to say, my blog my rules.

Suffice it to say, this entry may not have been created on this date and this essay was not written for today but then the essay itself is somewhat timeless in its application.

Thanks

MJH

——–

Adapted from the article, The world is unpredictable and strange. Still, there is hope in the madness by Rebecca Solnit and the paragraph in particular that states:

Despair is a delusion of confidence that asserts it knows what’s coming, perhaps a tool of those who like to feel in control, even if just of the facts, when in reality, we can frame approximate parameters, but the surprises keep coming.

Anyone who makes a definitive declaration about what the future will bring is not dealing in facts.

The world we live in today was utterly unforeseen and unimaginable on many counts, the world that is coming is something we can work toward but not something we can foresee.

We need to have confidence that surprise and uncertainty are unshakable principles, if we want to have confidence in something.

And recognize that in that uncertainty is room to act, to try to shape a future that will be determined by what we do in the present.

Recognize that in that uncertainty is room to act.

I have been told that the symbol of Ukraine is the sunflower.

I find it, well, comforting, or fitting, or entirely appropriate that Vincent Van Gogh let out so much of his expression through sunflowers.

While I agree and endorse that We need to have confidence that surprise and uncertainty are unshakable principles, if we want to have confidence in something.

I agree too with the statement that the world we live in today was utterly unforeseen and unimaginable on many counts.

But I also am comforted knowing that when the when Moses came down Mt. Sinai with the 10 commandments and he wrote the the first five books of the Bible, God knew that it wouldn’t be long until I was reading those books on something called an iPhone.

3.5.2022 – watching ukraine war

watching ukraine war
watching and waiting for what …
for that shoe to drop

Me and my brother Pete were just over a year apart in age.

We were brothers.

We fought a lot.

And often.

There is a famous scene in our childhood when my future sister-in-law, Judy Beach was visiting us.

Judy had grown up in a nice, calm family with one brother.

She dated my brother Paul who was and is a nice, calm guy.

I suspect Judy was surprised if maybe not overwhelmed when she was at our house ‘to meet the family’ and me and Pete got into it, MMA style.

It wasn’t until we were a little older when we got into Junior High that we learned about wrestling and trying to use our weight (which neither had very much of) to hold the other down.

Nope.

This was brawling.

This was we-watched-them-do-this-on-tv cowboy in the saloon bar fights.

This was Three Stooges, sitting-on-you-while-trying to bash-your-head-through-the-floor slugfests.

We swung and kicked and bit as best we could.

Screaming all the time.

And no one paid much attention to us.

But it caught Judy’s attention and she was distraught and anxiety gnawed at her.

Was no one going to say anything?

Was no one going to stop this?

I was 9 and Pete was 8.

After a while, my Mom took notice.

“Stop it, stop it, stop it.” said Mom.

Judy later told how relived she was that finally this was over.

She felt she could breathe again.

Then my Mom said, “Give me your glasses.”

Pete and I both wore glasses that got broke often.

We took them off and gave them to Mom who put them on the kitchen counter.

“Okay, get it over with,” she said as she turned back to Judy and we got back to brawling.

It must have been something to see.

I remember another time one of these fights took place in front of my Grandfather.

He stood over saying, “Here here, here here.”

Which struck both me and Pete so funny that we stopped fighting just to laugh.

For a long time we could make the other laugh in church by leaning over and whispering, “Here here.”

SO we watch the war in Ukraine.

The world stands by and says, “Here here, here here.”

The world stands by and says, “Now stop that.”

The world stands by and says, “Now look out for that nuclear power plant.”

We know we aren’t going to do anything.

They know we aren’t going to do anything.

Well, we are going to cut off their allowance if they don’t stop.

What to do?

What can you do?

So we wait for this war to be over.

Though I am not sure what over means.

I think I want Mr. Putin to come to his senses and say, “My bad – So sorry – We are leaving.”

I also want a million dollars (tax free).

I know Mr. Putin is not going to come to his senses.

Mr. Putin wants to make Russia great again.

So what do I want?

Let’s go the movies.

Do I want to be Richard Blaine?

Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and get back into the fight, a fight I know this time our side will win?

Do I want to be Sam Spade?

Humphrey Bogart in Maltese Falcon and say to Putin, “I won’t play the sap for you! I won’t play the sap for you because you’ve counted on it.”

I have to admit I think a lot of problems that people have could be avoided if they had said to themselves, “I won’t play the sap for you.”

On the other hand …

It just occurred to me.

In Maltese Falcon, Bogart wears black suits.

In Casablanca, Bogart wears the white dinner jacket.

How long will it take for the shoe to drop?

Cities bombed.

People killed.

Now here here.

March Madness is about to start and we would really like to just watch it okay?

Boy I wonder who Joe Biden has in his bracket?

I think, in the end, the movie will be the old John Wayne standard, Chisum.

You know the line.

Finally John Wayne has been pushed too far and he is asked what he is going to do and John Wayne says, “What I’d have done 25 years ago.”