Culture vulture

Low tide

Low tide

Photo By C. Owsley Rain

What the …?
Like quite a few other voters, Culture Vulture has been pondering the popular meaning of the phrase “moral values” for the past couple of weeks. Of particular interest is the question of how to ascribe positive moral values to a person who would order the deaths of tens or even hundreds of thousands of innocent children and women, and who would order hundreds of thousands of this country’s youngest, bravest and most honorable young citizens to carry out that death sentence at the risk of their own lives and sanity. Perhaps I’m naive, but no matter how I look at it I can’t see anything moral about the above scenario.

Recently while reading an interview with one of the U.S. military leaders of the Iraq conflict, I was horrified to learn that the U.S. military makes no effort to keep track of civilian casualties or deaths. Noncombatant women and children killed in the course of attacking supposed enemy strongholds are of absolutely no consequence to our military apparatus. But that apparatus is made up of individual human beings whose moral education is based on the precept that killing innocent people is wrong and punishable by death. This is the type of inner conflict that creates the most insurmountable form of post-traumatic stress and raises suicide rates among returning veterans and soldiers in the field. And yet veterans’ benefits and access to counseling are being cut more all the time. How moral is that?

Oh, the humanity
Despite the horrors we continually inflict on her, Mother Earth never ceases to shower us with luscious bounty. Here in our beautiful little town the everyday world swirls swimmingly along—a seemingly never-ending cavalcade of wonders and pleasures. The warm autumn days have been perhaps the most beautiful I remember. This year’s crop of pomegranates are bursting with big seeds full of rich red juice and transcendently succulent flavor, and the fuyu persimmons at the Saturday Farmers’ Market have a spicy sweetness and crispy snap that defines the harvest season.

Confronted with such natural beneficence, it’s hard to imagine a reason to send someone around the world to kill someone else whose enjoyment of such things would be very little different from our own if we were allowed to sit down together and do so unencumbered by ideological training. The darkest mystery of the world is why it is so difficult to break out of the cycle of hostility and retribution that keeps us from achieving such a simple act.

Stress relievers
1. Raking the fallen autumn leaves

2. Extracting pomegranate seeds and eating them

3. Imagining all the people living life in peace