A Day of Service

South Africa ended apartheid—the classification of people by skin color (delegating the dark skins to the worst conditions in society and the white skins the best)—ended in 1994 a little under twenty years ago. Yet today in a mall shoppers of all races can come together and shop without any problem or any papers.

Please watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iIFqHMOE1g

If South Africa can overcome its racist background, why can’t the United States? Some people call the Martin Luther King Holiday a day of service—but why one day of service? Why not everyday a day of service? Why not find a way to bring happiness to others just like the individuals in the flash mob above did in a nation where two decades earlier there would have been mass arrests because at that time a person of color (and where did this phrase come from–doesn’t everyone’s skin have color?) was not even allowed near a person who was not and to actually hold hands with someone of a different race? Unheard of.

I Am Punctuation

A Poem by A.J. Huffman

a symbol, designed to adhere
to set system of rules. I am a brief
moment of pause, an interjected breath.
I designate
conversation. I am atmosphere:
Proclamation, exclamation, definitive articulation.
I am the flow
of connotation,
a black spot, a final point. I am the last
thing your eyes will see.

How Monsanto Wastes Money In Times Of Need

By the Admins of Project Agent Orange

Monsanto spent over 4.2 million dollars on stopping Prop 522 from passing, yet it cannot—nor will it—pay any money towards helping Agent Orange victims here or anywhere else in the world.

Our project has raised and spent about six thousand dollars over an approximate eighteen month period.

Let’s see what our six thousand has done:

We are supporting three Agent Orange communities with three farms—one growing fruit trees, another raising rabbits and the third, water buffalo. All three communities have become self-sustaining. None of our groups had clean water—now two have an ample filtration system in place. One member of one of our communities had Agent Orange issues that caused temporary flights of insanity. He is now getting medical help and his issues are under control. We have done a lot, but we still have a long way to go—remember: our mission is to find a way to degrade Agent Orange so the next generations in Viet Nam feel its negative effects less and less. We feel ending poverty within the Agent Orange communities of Viet Nam will go a long way in helping us reach our goal—and so far six thousand dollars has done just that.

Monsanto spent 4.2 million dollars—we the taxpayers will subsidize because the spent money is a valid and legal tax deduction. We asked for ten thousand in our original proposal. Monsanto has not offered as dime. If six thousand can offer so much benefit, can you imagine what 4.2 million would do—here and abroad?

Let me tell you what I feel is a crime against humanity—when a corporation develops a poison, causes havoc around the world, and ends up paying a small amount of money to American vets, but nothing to anyone else anywhere in the world. But they can shell out 4.2 million dollars for a political campaign.


The Rules

A Poem by Jonathan Butcher

We roam once more, as sedate as palace
guards, the slightest upheaval from the
narrow road shocks us into consciousness.

The morning now brighter, with the absence
of sleep, the sunlight hits the nearby puddles,
shredding its beams into harmless blades.

Another story is told through your dried, chapped
lips at the usual maddening pace, like a jury’s
verdict to the guilty, your hands swaying like
pythons to the charmer.

You tell of your clichéd menace; harassing the
elderly, local shop keepers and the girl who only
speaks when shouted at. With colossal pride,
you recite your misdemeanours without a glimmer
of irony.

And again you brag how all this was possible,
without the aid of weapons, only your bare hands
and tongue, no stones or catapults welded, as to
be armed, would of course, be against the rules.

In Praise of Thinking Big

An Essay by Adam Veile

The world prefers a simple idea. A simple idea can be accepted or rejected without much effort or consequence. A simple idea doesn’t shake up what we know. A series of simple ideas can get you somewhere without risk. But, every life needs landmarks. Every person needs to know what he or she is capable of. Every life needs big thinking.

What is thinking big? Thinking big is looking at a complex problem in your own unique way. Thinking big is looking at the forest when you only see trees. Thinking big is taking chances. Thinking big gets you unstuck. It requires that you believe you have some amount of control over your world. It involves injecting yourself into the world, instead of just letting things happen. There is no scale to judge what is a big thought and what isn’t. Thinking big is relative. If you’re barely scraping by, figuring out a way to put your kid through college requires big thinking. If you’re rich, putting your kid through college only requires a check.

Some people seem almost offended by big ideas. They see ideas that aren’t pursued or actions that lead to a dead-end as wasted time. They call you a “dreamer” in a tone that somehow makes it an insult. This part is true: Most of your big ideas should never even be attempted. The vast majority of the time, safe and steady is the smart way to live your life. Big ideas have a much higher chance of failure than every day ideas. They have more moving parts and a higher degree of difficulty. Even these failed ideas are not a waste. Thinking big exercises your creativity and analytical thinking. It helps you see not only what is around you, but what could be around you. It brings the long term into focus. It has an energizing effect. In a recent Time Magazine article, Dilbert creator Scott Adam describes the energy he gets from a big idea: “I’m not too concerned that my idea or invention will turn out to be a failure. I assume most of my ideas are flawed in some way. All I ask of my Big Ideas is that they have a nonzero chance of working as far as I can tell. That’s enough to keep me energized.”

Though I see value in thinking, I see more value in doing and the most value in succeeding. To me, there is honor in not taking the easy way out in your thoughts and actions. And, again, I don’t mean every thought and every action. These are calculated risked. Think about your favorite book or movie, and think about how it would look if the protagonist took the easiest route. Think about if the hobbit decided to stay home, instead of going after a ring. Yes, that’s fiction and you’re dealing with real life, but one day all that’s left of you will be a story, and no one’s going to tell it if it’s not interesting.

When you’re 80 years old and reminiscing about the good old days, you’re not going to talk about the hours you’ve spent sitting in front of a computer or your decision to put money in your 401k; you’re going to talk about your adventures. Find joy in the small moments in life. Time with your family, interactions with your friends, your job – those are the things that will take up nearly all your time. But, every life needs some kind of bold action and every mind needs big thinking.

A Writer’s Ego

A Poem by Wayne Scheer

I was reading a poem
I was writing
to my wife,
when I turned,
expecting an admiring comment,
and discovered
she wasn’t there.

It didn’t matter.
I kept reading anyway,
finding the sound
of my voice

Unsent letter #15

A Prose Poem by Anon ymous


I remember things not related to love: how one day
you took off your wedding band to see if he would
notice; how Francis is your favorite saint; how the
color orange tastes like grief. The days are starting
to get shorter; wish I was someplace deep and green.
Do you know I love your imperfections? Each one is
the perfect sin. There’s a moving van across the street;
a plane unzips the blue from the sky. The downtown
skyline is a layer of gray. The landscaping is all done;
the mallard and his mate have been gone for days.