Seriously

Prompt: Seriousness

frank-zappa-eat-that-question

“Civics was a class that used to be required before you could graduate from high school. You were taught what was in the U.S. Constitution. And after all the student rebellions in the Sixties, civics was banished from the student curriculum and was replaced by something called social studies. Here we live in a country that has a fabulous constitution and all these guarantees, a contract between the citizens and the government – nobody knows what’s in it. It’s one of the best kept secrets. And so, if you don’t know what your rights are, how can you stand up for them? And furthermore, if you don’t know what’s in the document, how can you care if someone is shredding it?”

Frank Zappa, 1991.

Problem Solved

Prompt: Tremble

dog-with-butterfly

The only way to find out who had abandoned the dog was to follow it on its quest to return home.

That’s what Maxine was doing. She first tried to stop the creature, a wet, cold, straggly retriever mix that was unceremoniously dumped from a moving car on a remote road, on one of the iciest winter mornings of the year. Maxine, well-fed and healthy, was making her way from her country family to her city family.

The young dog, a male, might once have had a beautiful coat, clear eyes, and a steady gait. Now he was a trembling, weak, and unwanted beast. He immediately started to walk back in the direction in which the black car had disappeared. Maxine sniffed and nudged. She could smell blood and pain. The retriever was so traumatized that he ignored her and blindly plowed through the snow and ice.

It took several hours. Maxine was uncertain how the puppy survived. His pace was slow, and Maxine found her paws grow painfully frigid and her bones ache from the cold.

The black car was parked outside a small bungalow. All the curtains were drawn; the sidewalks uncleared of snow. The dog made its way to the front door, scratched at it, and when there was no response, he curled up into a ball, pressed hard against the traces of warm air leaking from under the door.

It took Maxine a half hour to get to Bernard’s, and he was horrified when he opened the door to a shivering, ice-covered bitch, but Maxine had no time for tender care. Andrew was there too, eating as usual, but at her relentless insistence they both got their coats and got into Bernard’s taxi. Maxine guided them to the bungalow.

“He chews up the carpet and the walls. He shits on the floor.” said the man who answered the doorbell, as he used his knees to prevent the animal from entering the house. “Sure I disciplined him, he doesn’t learn. I have to work, I can’t watch him every fucking minute. Stupid fucking thing could of just fell asleep and died out there, problem solved.” Bernard stared at him. Andrew draped a wool blanket over the puppy. The man said, “Report me? What for? What proof? Fuck off.”

Maxine lunged at the man, teeth bared, grabbing him firmly between the legs. His cry of shock and pain was muffled by the layers of powder snow accumulated on the porch, in the yard, and in the street. Andrew picked up the blanket-wrapped dog in his arms and carried him to the car.

Now the man was curled up into a ball on the threshold to the house.

“My dog? It wasn’t her,” said Bernard through clenched teeth, speaking loudly all the same, in order to be heard over the shouted threats. “Report me? What for? What proof? Fuck off. If you can.”

Andrew started the car, and when the heated air flooded the interior, the dog, exhausted, fell asleep.

 


  • Support your local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or an equivalent organization in your area. This allows them to promote animal care education, hire qualified staff, gives them the means to pursue animal cruelty offenders, to pressure authorities to make meaningful laws, and to enforce those laws. 
  • I support the BCSPCA. Please Google to find an agency near you.

Smug Pilots

Prompt: Resist


Hello Wednesday,

The word of the day is resist.

What is there to resist?

 

cartoon-plane-hands-up


cartoon-indian-wall-pilgrims


 

What can you do to resist? If you live in the US, you can make weekly or daily calls to your representatives in government, at all levels; get involved in organizations that reflect your values; participate in protest marches; contribute financially to organizations that resist, or those that are adversely affected by policy changes; support an independent press; and remember to resist peacefully. Outside of the US, there are organizations and marches that you can join to resist global fascism, and you can still contribute financially if you are able to groups in the US like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and to independent American publications that are not afraid to truth-tell. Make your views known to your elected representatives. Resist bigotry and racism on every level, loudly but peacefully.

Sometimes I find the situation in the US so distressing that I have to take a physical break, and this often involves deep breathing and an actual effort to calm down.

Humour helps too.

cartoon-red-state-marriage


Peace!

~~FP

Second Thoughts and Day 8

Prompt: Second Thoughts

second-thoughts-saatchi

“Second Thoughts” by Kat Wright.

It is never too early in a process to have second thoughts. I’m only at Day 8 of NaNoWriMo and I’m already… no, I’m not really having second thoughts about writing a novel in thirty days, no more than I do every November 1 when I sit down at my keyboard and think “What on earth have I committed to?”

second-thoughs-armstrong

“second thoughts” by Alicia Armstrong.

The phrase second thoughts implies regret. Sometimes though, second thoughts allow us leeway to stop and think before jumping into the abyss, or an opportunity to withdraw from a regretful situation before it’s too late, like a hunter coming face to face with a vulnerable prey.

second-thoughts-with-writing

“The Second Thoughts When There’s No Going Back”: by Helen Chapman.

“The second thoughts where there’s no going back”. Also known as regrets. I wish I’d had the wisdom and courage when I was much younger to honestly say to myself, “Will I regret this some day?” I might have been braver, less selfish, more bold, because don’t you find that most of our regrets circle like buzzards around the the little bundle of decisions that reflect not what we have done wrong, but what we wish we’d done when we had the chance?

Somewhere

Prompt: Trust

Maria Jose Caceres

Somewhere, a child is sick and can’t breathe, can’t cry, won’t live, will surely die. Her lungs filled with fluid, she smothers herself.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children globally.

Somewhere a pharmaceutical company earns $6.245 billion in revenue from sales of the patented vaccine, PCV 13, that successfully treats this virus.

Somewhere a Pfizer spokesperson composes an email which reads, “Pfizer is committed to making vaccines available to as many people as possible.”

Doctors Without Borders refuse a donation by this giant pharmaceutical company. Donations of this kind, say a DWB director, “are often used as a way to make others ‘pay up.’ By giving the pneumonia vaccine away for free, pharmaceutical corporations can use this as justification for why prices remain high for others, including other humanitarian organizations and developing countries that also can’t afford the vaccine.”

Somewhere a number-cruncher calculates that Pfizer returned $13.1 billion to its shareholders.

Somewhere on the Internet, there is a summary of the annual salary, shares and bonus programs available to Pfizer executives, but I was unable to find it.

When is a seemingly generous donation actually a cynical ploy by a multinational corporation to increase profits at the expense of children drowning in their own bodily fluids?

 


Small Men

Prompt: Flattery

shadow

When small men begin to cast big shadows, it is a sure sign that the sun is setting.

― Lin Yutang


What does this have to do with the daily prompt, ‘flattery’?

I interpret ‘smallness’ in this quotation as a small-minded man, not a man short in stature, and the sun setting implies a coming darkness. So it made me think of the American presidential election.

Flattery is defined as “excessive and insincere praise, especially that given to further one’s own interests.” One of the candidates, He Who Shall Not Be Named, is given to excessive praise, for himself. He encourages the basest of instincts in his followers for his own gain. But HWSNBN, as a narcissist, is devoted to himself. This alone is not the worst quality ever seen in a presidential candidate, but combined with other characteristics, makes HWSNBN utterly unfit to lead a country. I see darkness ahead if this small man is permitted to cast a long shadow.

I have added a tiny little prompt to this site, urging Americans to register to vote. It appears at the bottom of the window. Please do register, and get out and vote.

Rich Old Bones

Prompt: Generous

monocle-cigar-442_540

A chilling— and true? –quotation by novelist G.K. Chesterton in A Miscellany of Men, on the subject of generosity:

Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.

Today there are many almost accidental millionaires; for example, those whose modest start-up companies are purchased for massive amounts of money by the juggernauts like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. Even an innovator like Bill Gates, one of the richest men on the planet, may not have had the goal of multi-billionaire when he first started fiddling with computers. Along with Mark Zuckerberg, Mr Gates has lofty plans to make the world a better place.

But I understand Mr Chesterton’s meaning, in a broader sense. While great suffering exists in the world, does great wealth become a shameful thing? The bible is quite clear about this:

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
King James Bible

I am a dedicated fan of hard work, and I am not against material possessions; I have several of my own. But when money and the love of money actually rule the world, when corporations are given legal “person” status in the U.S., when wealthy individuals hide behind a corporate facade to avoid the consequences of destructive greed, when the gap between the desperate poor and the obscenely wealthy widens, I have two questions:

  1. How do such heartless people sleep at night? Is wealth enough?
  2. Why doesn’t the world revolt?

Anyone?