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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Fiend

When I was seven years old my family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where my father began a residency in surgery at the VA hospital there. I call it my "Leave it to Beaver" phase of growing up. Lincoln was a much more innocent place than Chicago, less crowded, and more placid.

No place is totally innocent, though, and Lincoln had its own dark episodes. Few today remember Charles Starkweather, but he had the entire country's attention in the late 50s, murdering eleven people in a killing spree that spanned two months. He has been the inspiration for several movies, and for Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska" album.

In the winter of 1954, a similar darkness nearly happened to my family. The tennis courts at the nearby city park were flooded so people could ice skate, and the neighborhood kids spent much time there. One day a stranger showed up, and older man - much older - probably in his late 50s. He was pretty grubby looking, either unshaven or with a short beard, but was a good skater, and gave kids tips about how to skate.

Skating pairsI instinctively didn't like the guy, and my sister didn't either, and we avoided him. But my sister's pretty friend Patty was flattered by his attention, and skated with him in the hand-holding manner of the couple in the image to the right. We were pretty horrified by this, and angry too, I remember, at Patty for being so friendly with this stranger. She was ten years old.

The guy showed up a few more times, and we got kind of used to him, but never liked him. I don't think I ever said a word to him. One day my sister went out to go skating, and stopped by Patty's house to see if she wanted to go. Patty was not at home, so my sister went to the park by herself.

This time, there were no kids there, but the strange man was there with several other men. When my sister saw them she immediately turned and ran, and the men all chased after her. She got to Patty's house, and desperately pounded on the door, with the men in close pursuit. Patty's mother let her in, and called the police, who soon arrived and arrested all the men. They were wanted criminals, almost certainly child molesters and/or kidnappers.

The following summer we moved back to Illinois, where my father finished his residency at another VA hospital. It was a bit of a culture shock after three years in Nebraska. Kids talked "dirty," carried knives, got in fights, and engaged in minor acts of delinquency. The Leave it to Beaver days were over.

Life was fun where we lived. We were at the edge of town, with a woods and river almost in our back yard. We had a park one house away, and a larger park within a short distance. We weren't allowed to go in the river, but played around it, fished, and played in the woods. We spent endless afternoons playing baseball and football in the big park, and even ice skated on it when it rained over a snowfall, then got cold again.

By the time I was twelve years old I could stay out after supper, and often after dark. In the fall I would wander around the neighborhood with a friend, and sometimes goof around in the parks and woods. The area behind the larger park, just before the woods and river, was a local lovers' lane, and one evening when it was dark we walked up to a parked car. My friend looked in and said "Hey mister, my turn!" But there was no one in the car.

All of a sudden a large man appeared, and came towards us in a menacing fashion. We took off running, heading towards our path in the woods. He chased us into the woods, and almost caught us, but after about 200 yards he gave up. I remember the guy to be about forty years old, about six foot-two, and wore glasses. We named him "The Fiend," and made up stories about him, imagining him to be some kind of monster. He probably was.

I don't remember how long afterwards it was, but we returned to the same place on another night, and without seeing the car, my friend noticed a large man rapidly approaching us. He yelled "It's The Fiend," and we took off running, heading for the same path through the woods. The Fiend chased us for about the same distance as before, and we got away again.

I don't know if my friend told his parents about these episodes, but I didn't tell mine. I was too afraid of getting in trouble. In that era parenthood was a bit different from what it is today. Kids kept things to themselves for the most part, in order to avoid punishment.

We didn't spend any time in that area after dark anymore, finding plenty of other things to do for amusement. I almost forgot about "The Fiend," but recent arrests locally and nationally for child pornography reminded me of these past events. I have been wondering lately about the molestation of children, about crime in general, and about the relationship between the incidence of crime in the general population and crime in high places.

Such as the Bush crime family, its "Republican" co-criminals, its "Democratic" enablers, its supporters in the media, its corporate sponsors/beneficiaries, its various "religious" backers, and the millions of mentally and emotionally disturbed people nationwide who find its crimes so appealing.

Maybe people like "The Fiend" are not such an anomaly. Bush is not much of an anomaly. He is the person who became President of the United States, with much help. He didn't come out of the blue, so to speak. He came from us, just like all the presidents before him.

Over half a million Iraqi children died of starvation and disease under the sanctions imposed during the tenure of Bill Clinton. When his Secretary of State Madeline Albright was asked about this on "60 Minutes," she said it was "worth it."

If you think child molesters are "someone else," then why is it that in the "Olympics," the "women's" gymnastics and ice skating get so much more attention than the men's? Could it possibly be that the "women" gymnasts tend to be scantily-clad 14-to-15 year old girls, sometimes younger, and the ice skaters not much older, usually around sixteen?

Have you noticed how retail stores are pushing well-below-the-waist jeans and pants for young girls? These are large corporations that are doing this. The same mentality that sells us cigarettes, liquor, SUVs, chemicals, guns, and dangerous, violence-promoting toys. The only thing that matters is profits.

So the killing of children is OK with our "leaders," and the lusting after little girls is just fine with our corporations and media.

In this light, "The Fiend" was just a normal "American," out for a night's entertainment. He was a small-timer, lurking in the dark at a lovers' lane. If he had any talent he could have gone into politics, or he could have been the CEO of a large corporation. Or even a journalist.
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Here's a tune that is a good listen after this post. It has a couple of weak spots. Some of their other songs can be seen and heard on the side frame that comes up.

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