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February 2003


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We Hope To See You At Our Next Celebration

February FOKUS Sharing

Sunday, February 9, 2003
4pm - 9pm
At Kafka's Kastle (Bruce's Condo)

For directions, please call Bob Olson

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Art Sharing
Sunday, January 12, 2002

Seiko Olson serenaded us with two Japanese melodies on the harmonica. Bruce Taylor read the article “John Pilger Reveals American Plan” from the Manchester Guardian, and his story “Conversations”. Roberta Gregory passed around her Naughty Bits #37. Heidi Mosbarger read the first two chapters of her novel Dream Trees. Bob Olson read the Preface, the Epilogue and Chapter 20, “On Strike”, from his new book Rich Memories with a Christmas Spirit. Elizabeth and Roger Pankey modeled medieval costumes that Elizabeth created for their daughter’s wedding in March and passed around their current Creative Index as well as an impromptu caricature Elizabeth drew of Bruce (included in this issue). Jennifer Diamond showed her miniatures houses, furniture, landscapes and much more, and shared the start of a short story. She also created the (Pippin’s opinion) world’s best cassoulet for us to enjoy. Pippin Sardo presented her poem, “Ariana” and performed a flamenco jota to the music entitled “Chocolate” from The Nutcracker Suite. She also shared her hummous bi tahini and homemade pita. Mike Monroe and Judy and Ericka Smith were appreciative listeners.

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Other Stuff

Bruce had his story, “Cars”, reprinted in Roberta Gregory's latest Bitchy Bitch. (Great issue, by the way. Thanks, Roberta).

Bruce also presented two workshops at “Write on the Beach” writers' conference in Ocean Shores, WA.

On Feb. l3, Bruce will be presenting a class at Discover U on Hypnosis for Stress Relief.

Pippin Sardo is helping with costumes for another Donna Ray Davidson and Robinski Jones musical, Cindy Elle, a modern-day take off on Cinderella, at Arts West theater in West Seattle, from 2/12-16.

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Bruce Taylor's Editorial

Nazi Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering (leader of the German air force) on Military Recruiting:

“Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war either in Russia, nor in England, nor, for all that matter, in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship, voice or no voice, the pople can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denouce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Cynical, no? Right? Yes. And I think that's why Bush is so eager for war--he wants to get it going before people smarten up and he loses his "mandate", as if he ever had one. This kind of thinking is unpatriotic. I know. Guess I'm something of a lost cause, supposed to be believing everything I read and see in the papers, even though KIRO reports 200,000 marching in Washington, D.C. on Jan. l8 and KING reports it at 30,000. Hey, KING--are you having problems with your accuracy again? Kudos to KIRO for at least getting THAT part right. But what about the small detail of those twelve empty casings found in Iraq by the U.N. Inspectors, only to have a headline in The Seattle Times on Jan. 18 that reads: U.S.: IRAQI WARHEADS A 'SERIOUS' VIOLATION (by Colum Lynch, The Washington Post). We hear about the "... discovery of l2 undeclared chemical warheads in Iraq..." Nowhere in the article is it mentioned that they are empty casings. Suddenly, over a couple of days, they have become "undeclared chemical warheads", and today, l/l9,we have "l2 empty casings" again. My, my, my, how fluid "facts" become. Looks like the editorial department at The Seattle Times either needs more double shot lattes, or better editors to scruitize what goes into their paper. But you know something? That's not gonna happen, precisely because the media is not into fairness. They are into sales and sensationalism. And they do represent “them that got the bucks”: Mr. Gates can easily afford to run ads on ABC or NBC anytime, about anything he wants. Me? I think the ad rates are a bit beyond what the belly of my piggy bank presently holds. But the larger question is this: why has the media abdicated their responsibility for truly critical and investigative reporting? Is it because they are corporations, or because the have become corporate mouthpieces? I laugh my butt off at conservative allegations that our media is "liberal". Oh, sure. Sure. It was our "liberal media" that was part of the character assassination of Bill Clinton. And our "liberal media" placidly, stupidly, drool like lapdogs for the Oil-garchy, not challenging withdrawal from international treaties or those that advocate out and out war on the environment by reversing laws on air and water quality. But there may be another reason that this has come about: (p 552, A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn), "In the mid-l980s, with Ronald Reagan as President, the "fairness doctrine" of the Federal Commucations Commission, requiring air time for dissenting views, was eliminated. By the l990s, "talk radio" had perhaps 20 million listeners, treated to daily tirades from right-wing talk-show "hosts" with left-wing guests uninvited."

Guess that might explain a lot right there, eh? What we may really need to do is to get the "fairness doctrine" back in our media. After all, freedom of the press is supposed to be about all ideas having a forum and presentation and then, when all sides are fully represented, then, as I think was the Founding Fathers' idea, people would make the best choice given ALL the views. But we're no longer getting the information that we need, so how do you make an "informed decision"? Without the "fairness doctrine" in the media, how do you hear opposing arguments? You can't. And, therefore, decisions can be suspect because they are based on suspect or biased information as not all sides are given equal time or representation. So what do you do? Where do you get the information that you need to make informed decisions--especially around such major issues as war and peace?

My advice? DON'T TRUST OUR MEDIA, with the exception of NPR (under fire) and programs such as “NOW with Bill Moyer” and “FRONTLINE” (KCTS). Otherwise, try to get CBC or get The Vancouver Sun or The Province or other quality Canadian newspapers that really DO give a full spectrum of information. Read the alternative press (Mother Jones is a great place to start) or the Utne Reader. There are certainly things you can do: talking to your neighbors; going to/hosting peace potlucks; joining the ACLU, The Sierra Club, or Greenpeace. Marching for peace. Re-read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. Write or call your Representatives, your Senators, (any librarian can find their contact numbers for you, or a pick up a brochure at the library entitled “They Represent You”, put out by the League of Women Voters). Write letters. Use email and network. Goering was right only to the degree that people are fearful, disconnected and unaware. Things can change, but it requires information and the belief and knowledge of the Social Contract: I matter to me; and if I want a life that ensures my basic freedoms so I may feel safe, I must actively promote those activities that make me an active member of a democracy. By doing so, I protect my rights, and, by extension, yours as well. You, by being active, by doing those things that make you an active member of society, and thus protect your rights and this democracy, you, by extension, also protect my rights and my freedoms. Failing to do so, for whatever reason, is a breach of that Social Conract. And when the Social Contract is breached, trust and safety, or the "public good and order" break down. Then, when they break down enough, the result is anarchy. (Editor’s note: an = not, archy = government.) Protecting your freedoms, you protect mine. Protecting my freedoms, I protect yours. Now, having said that, shall we go out and take our country back from those vipers who think that everyone has forgotten the Social Contract? Because If we don't believe we can do this, Goering will have been right. Again.

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Bob Olson's Epilogue
from Rich Memories with a Christmas Spirit

When I was a kid in 1936 I walked the three miles to school over bumpy gravel roads. The crowing roosters woke me at dawn and I was still rubbing my tired eyes as I trod to the hen house to collect the morning eggs. Mom fried eggs with bacon and made buttered toast for breakfast. I cut the oranges and squeezed out the juice. Dad poured the glasses of orange juice and milk. After breakfast, Mom bundled me in warm clothes before I joined my friends on the long walk to school.

When my daughter Trilla was a kid in 1962 she woke up Seiko and I at 6AM. Trilla was dressed for school and had the Pop-Tarts in the toaster while Seiko brewed the coffee for breakfast. Coffee cup in hand I rushed out the door when the weekly driver for my car-pool honked at 6:30. Seiko and Trilla were still drinking their orange juice and milk. Times change.

As decades passed, I go back to 1969 for a recollection of changing attitudes. I was a school counselor at Northrup Junior High, Northrup, Washington. Our school and community were divided between liberal, counter-culture, psychedelic-minded individuals and traditional old-fashioned people. The “psychedelics” wore long hair with brightly clashing, neon-colored shirts or blouses and bell-bottomed jeans. Sometimes they experimented with marijuana and other hallucinogens. The “old fashioned” ones wore their hair short with conservative clothes. Dress determined which group you belonged to, with students, teachers and parents alike. Just as support and opposition to the war in Vietnam divided our country, these two groups divided our community. “Hippie” parents did not want their children educated by the “out-of-style” traditional teachers and the ”old-fashioned” parents did not want their children to have any part of the others. Thus, the idea of two schools within one building came about.

Two very different teachers headed our two schools. Myron Coleman, with his long black hair and beard, highlighted by a blonde lightening-streak which ran from the crown of his head to the tip of his beard, for the psychedelics, and James Whitman, with his short brown hair and conservative dress, for the traditionalists. Teachers selected to join either Myron or James according to the school of their choice. Parents and students seemed content with this educational experiment.

I was asked to join the psychedelics as their counselor. These kids identified with me. My after-school encounter rap group was their thing. I wore my hair shoulder-length, had a graying beard and sometimes wore flowered shirts with a bell-bottomed sky blue corduroy leisure suit. Every Tuesday night I drove a bunch of these kids to a drop-in center where young people with drug and alcohol problems could rap.

But neither Myron nor James fell into a clear category. James demonstrated the most unconventional teaching style. He continually created anxiety with our principal Ronald Swagg. Often Ronald asked me to check up on this teacher – “See what He’s doing now.” I’d go to the classroom and find no teacher. The kids were teaching themselves. I marveled. These were Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry classes. Even in my ignorance, I could understand the lessons. These proud kids beamed self- confidence as they taught themselves. James might or might not be hidden in the shadows watching his proteges. With or without him his class was never unrully. I liked his style, so I became part of the “traditional old fashioned” group under teacher James Whitman with his unconventional approach to students; however, students selected the counselor of their choice and Coleman’s students with problems still saw me.

By contrast Myron Coleman was a martinet. He believed others should follow his beliefs, which were radical authoritarian anti-authoritarian, which doesn’t make sense.

My life has been filled with such rich memories – memories brightened by challenge and opportunity.

Selected as a high school “Citizen of the World” in November 2002 my grandson Oliver was invited to a banquet held by the World Affairs Council in Seattle. The guest speaker was Dr. Oscar Arias, who received the Nobel Peace Prize as a former president of Costa Rica. Oliver gave me the following quote from his speech:

“I want to tell you tonight that the world is in crisis. Those who watch CNN and MSNBC are inundated with one particular crisis: that of terrorism and the war against it. But I want to remind everyone tonight, that there are many other crisis in the world that do not capture headlines, but are equally as urgent. I tell you that it is a development crisis when nearly a billion and a half people have no access to clean water, and a billion live in miserably substandard housing. It is a leadership crisis when we allow wealth to be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, so that the world’s three richest people have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the poorest forty-three countries. It is a spiritual crisis when – as Gandhi said – many people are so poor that their only God is bread, and when other individuals seem to have faith in the capricious “invisible band” that guides the free market. It is a moral crisis when 35,000 children die each day from malnutrition and disease. And it is a democratic crisis when 1.2 billion people live on an income of less than one dollar per day, and are effectivdly excluded from public decision-making because of the wrenching poverty where they live.

If this scenario brings tears to your eyes, I do not blame you. If you feel angry, this is justified. But let me warn you that acting out of anger and sadness will not heal this broken world. It is only with hope, with friendship, with solidarity, with tolerance, and with love that we can save this planet from ourselves. Fortunately, there are many people around the world who work to hold up these positive values, and it is because of these individuals, including yourselves, that it is possible to imagine a future worthy of this beautiful planet and all the life on it. As Victo Hugo tells us, the future has many names: ‘for the weak, it is unreacheable; for the timid, it is unknowable; for the brave, it is an opportunity.’”

Now, in the third year of a new century, America has become the only super-power at a time of depression and war.

I recall the dedication of the Minutemen in the American Revolution. Our soldiers today are also Minutemen, but they have a more complicated task - that of soldier, peacekeeper and missionary. Today all countries desperately need to create a promising future. The leaders of people around the world must hold up the values of “hope, friendship with solidarity, tolerance and love”. However world peace and prosperity can only exist if these values bring promise to terrified populations as well as those who hate them and wreak murderous terror in the insanity in their despair.

Our country can lead the people of the world to meet this challenge, and I believe fifty years from now my grandson Oliver will recall his own Memories with a Christmas Spirit.

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A sketch of Bruce Taylor

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