Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Defining Violence: Part IV

At the beginning of this debate I sought to define violence, questioning whether violence is defined entirely by that which is done with malice or if it doesn’t extend to the whole of human suffering. It is my personal believe that the later compels us to acknowledge all the infractions of our forbears against the truths we have come to view as self evident. Since we lack empirical data to juxtapose the 20th century to any proceeding century, we must formulate our opinions based a upon accounts of the period; documenting the conditions of factory labor, domestic violence, political oppression, disease, and famine. In exploring the evidence I have found no reason to question my original position. Despite the violence evident in the wars and conflict of the last century, peoples around the world liberated themselves form segregation, and colonial oppression in a largely peaceful manner. Labor unions helped to improve working conditions for many people. Suffragists helped to create laws protecting women and children against domestic violence, and assault. Medical advancements helped to constrain diseases which before had destroyed civilizations. In this way the violence under which many people had long suffered was uprooted. It is my hope that we will continue to see such progress.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Thing to be Thankful for

The family decided to spend the holiday in Yosemite. It was a brilliant decision. The pain, guilty and trepidation of the season was abandoned, supplanted by the true magnificence of America, which we profess to celebrate on such occasions. 
Over the last few months I had begun to feel that I would never leave LA. I have come to detest this city, which sprawls out over an inhospitable landscape. We are all refugees from reality here. Insulated by our own ingenuity. Indomitably refusing to acknowledge the futility of our occupation. 

On the appointed morning of our expedition it seemed to take the boys an inordinate amount of time to ready themselves. I on the other hand would have rushed out the door in nothing but my bedclothes given the opportunity. I was so eager to leave. Unfortunately propriety -even in California - insist that I dress myself before leaving the house. So that morning I showered, dressed, and sat patiently in the kitchen, tapping my feet; until the clock struck twelve, and all parties were at last ready to leave. 

Venturing from the insulate, artificially cultivated enclaves of suburbia the dilapidated remnants of the city appear like concrete phantoms, alluding to a far gone period of promise and prosperity. As we reached the boundaries of civilization the scorched aftermath of the fire engulf us. The hills and mountains rose up around us stripped bare by the flames. Charred branches extended from the clay like hands reaching up from the grave. As the landscape gradually became depressed evidence of man’s eternal conquest to dominated nature reemerged. The landscape was uniform, utilitarian, the industrial deposition of an entire way of life. The pragmatic solution to the insatiable appetite of an ever growing population. Now at the end of November the country side appeared desolate. Everything outside seemed lifeless. As we drove up to the park I stared out the window at the fields of shriveled brown plants, in neat rows, stretching back to meet the dull gray sky obscured by clouds of dust.

At the gas station a man told us that his wallet had been stolen and he needed help getting back home. Dad won’t give him anything. I knew if I offered to help Dad would make an issue of it, so I sat there silently. I felt mean and petty. 

We made it up the mountain in the dark. As we ascended the air became cool and clean. I could see by the headlights the trees growing up from the sheer drop where the edge of the road disappeared on our right. On our left the mountain rose up in precipitous walls of rock from where the road had been cut away from its side. I felt as though life was flowing back into my body as color began to come back into the land. 

There are now only reservations of wilderness as once blanketed the earth. A handful of places spread across the globe which remain as they were upon the morning of creation. To look upon such places is to see the world as God created it. To be in the presences of the unrivaled grander of his hand. It is enough to say that we came from the desert back to the mountains, back to the forest, back to the rivers, and the lakes, back to God’s kingdom.