Tuesday, March 20, 2007

March 7, 2007

Dear Sis~
I was more than a little surprised last week to find our counselor making rounds accompanied by a playful, yellow dog on a leash. Rusty is a "therapy dog", a male Yellow Lab/German Shepherd mix with one floppy ear and a frantically wagging tale. Our counselor brought him around and opened the tray slot on each of our doors so we could reach out and pet him. It was amazing how such a simple thing - just being able to touch a dog - cheered us up and brought a smile to our faces. This should not be surprising considering how we are perpetually locked down in small cells, deprived of virtually all human contact and interaction, with very little mental stimuli. I was told Rusty will be coming around once a week, but I'm skeptical. You rarely see anything progressive or innovative in prison, and if you do, it hardly ever lasts. The heavy forces of the status quo usually suffocate attempts at innovation...
I'm disappointed to see the Discovery Channel relentlessly running these ads promoting it upcoming new special titled Our Children's Children's War, described as "the war America will be fighting for generations". Ted Koppel, clearly drinking the Kool Aid, breathlessly narrates the program which is designed to indoctrinate Americans into believing that America will be "at war" with "Muslim terrorists" for many decades. This is merely a continuation of the fearmonging propaganda which the Bush/Cheney administration has been indulging in since the 9/11 attacks gave them a pretext to place our nation in a constant, perpetual, never-ending state of war. To be at war, you must first have enemies, of course, and what better enemies than some faceless, stateless entity which can never be "defeated" in the conventional sense. I'm so sick of this administration (and those powerful forces that profit from us being in a continuous war posture) trying to turn us into a fearful country, a nation of cowards who must quake in fear at all of the supposed boogymen populating the world. Sadly, many Americans have succumbed to this propaganda; many Americans do live in a constant state of fear and that fear motivates all of their actions and beliefs. We used to be a bold and fearless country; now it seems we're a bunch of punks scared of our own shadow. Actually, it seems like this country, for the past 60 years or so, has always desired to have an "enemy" to confront, real or imagined. In the words of John Quincy Adams, we are always "in search of monsters to destroy." (Competing with the "Muslim terrorists" for the top spot in our list of enemies, of course, is "the Chinese", and the vague but implacable threat they supposedly pose to our existence)...
Alright, sis, I'll get off my soapbox and mail this off. Keep your chin up and smile on your face!
With Love,

March 11, 2007-Sunday evening

Dear Sis~
I just finished watching a new episode of ABC's Extreme Makeover-Home Edition, which I've observed to you before is one of the best things on TV. It's difficult for me to get through any of the shows without shedding tears (usually more than once per show) because it's so emotional. Each week they find a well-deserving family, which has gone through some type of shattering trauma, and the team of builders goes in and builds them a brand new home in 7 days. One of the best aspects of the program is how invariably the entire community comes together to help the family out, sort of like how in the Amish community everyone gets together and raises a barn or house for a neighbor in a day or two. It's very moving to see so many people give of their time and energy so eagerly to help out those in need. It's a vivid reminder of the goodness in most people's hearts, a reaffirmation that most Americans, given a chance, will give generously to help their neighbors.
In tonight's episode there was a mother (named Faith) and her two daughters, left all alone after her teenage son was killed in a car wreck. The girls were left with a half-built house (it was only framed in timber so it was more like a quarter-built house) which was left exposed to the elements for 2 years out in the Georgia woods. The mother and girls had been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for 2 years, barely able to make ends meet. The build team finished building the house, turning out a really beautiful home. On top of it all, the deceased son had donated his major organs and the build team surprised the mother by introducing her to the teenage girl who received her son's heart! It was a very emotional meeting. Throughout all of this show the mother, Faith, exhibited a beautiful and gracious spirit (and a terrific smile) :} What a great Mom she is!

It's getting late & I'm gonna hit the hay, Sis. (Did you happen to catch the total lunar eclipse last week? You should have been able to see it from your back yard).

Love & Peace,

Thursday, March 08, 2007

February 21, 2007

Dear Sis~
There's a program coming on the Discovery channel in early March called Planet Earth which, based upon the previews I'm seeing, should be well worth watching. You may recall that the Discovery channel ran a series a few years back called (if I remember correctly) Blue Planet which was all about the oceans and seas; it was an exceptional series with incredile photography and outstanding science. I'm all for any program which enlightens viewers about the environment and the state of the earth, and opens the mind about where we are going as a species and what we're doing to our planet...

We went on quarterly lockdown last Friday, so I'm sitting here waiting for the wrecking crew to roll through the cellblock and tear up our cells. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week or the week after (lockdown usually lasts 16-20 days)...

This afternoon I was laying here on my bunk, not really meditating, just sort of reflecting, when I suddenly recalled an old memory which is still rather vivid in my mind and which pops into my consciousness from time to time for no discernable reason. I was perhaps 5 or 6, and you were 7 or 8, so it must have been around 1959 or 1960. It was Easter morning and Dad had taken us to an early church service, as a prelude to visiting Mother's grave. Others were with us in the car and I'm guessing it was "Aunt Phyllis" and Uncle Al. What I remember the most is that because it was Easter you'd been dressed up in a new, fancy yellow dress, with a matching bonnet and lots of ribbons. I was in some kind of little boy's suit, too. We were all dressed up and everyone was fussing about your yellow dress. Someone was telling me (as we were standing around outside the car, in the bright morning sunshine) that your dress was yellow because it was Easter and my suit was blue because I was a boy. For some reason all that seemed important. Then we went to Mom's grave and flowers were laid on the grass there. I was too young to grasp the significance of Mom being dead (and, even then, Aunt Phyllis was brainwashing us that she was our mother, so I was definitely confused). But that scene has always been indelibly burned into my consciousness. It's a very pleasant memory, despite the context. It's odd what our childish minds choose to retain, isn't it?...

I'll leave you with that memory (if you recall it!) and mail this off, Sis. Give the doggies a tummy rub for me!

With Love, Bill