Intent

Simply put, laws are rules that in democratic societies derive from a majority’s agreement on certain accepted social standards.  It serves to maintain peace and tranquility while also supporting individual and societal progress.  The more inclusive and rehabilitative laws become, the more they succeed in protecting the public’s interest and fostering social progress.  The more prohibitive and restrictive they become, the more societies crumble around the fringes. 

Social standards develop from history and tradition over thousands of years.  In immigrant societies like the United States that history and tradition evolves over time because of its fluid and diverse demographic.  To that purpose, American history shows that its people – through the legislature – and its courts – by interpreting legislated laws – have always broadened the meaning of liberty for all.  Though, nothing can deny the hypocrisy of owning slaves while forming an egalitarian government.  I have pondered this for as long as I have studied American history; how could its slave-owning Founding Fathers reconcile owning slaves while drafting the Constitution?  Either they viewed slaves as property and did not intend them to become citizens or they believed the Constitution and the government it formed would compel the Nation to abolish slavery.  If the former were true it would render futile the very document they drafted. 

The American Constitution is an open-ended document.  While scholarly debates still continue over its flexibility, the document itself is a charter that vests future power in three branches of government to create, operate and interpret laws in keeping with its ratified liberties.  In fact, it vests upon its government the power to amend the Constitution itself, making way for the Bill of Rights and the seventeen other ratified Amendments.  Had our Founding Fathers intended a static social paradigm, the Constitution would not provide for Amendments, nor the creation of new laws, nor interpretation of such laws by its judiciary.  It would not operate on a system of checks and balances between its three branches of government to ensure all branches upheld the best interest of its People rather than one rise above the rest and bring with it the reign of tyranny.  After all, America began with a departure from tyranny and autocracy.

Invested in the power of its People, in due process of law and a balanced administration of justice through enacting, enforcing and interpreting procedurally and substantively sound rule of law.  Rule of law formed by representative consensus of evolving social standards that broadens over time to ensure justice, prosperity, tranquility and security for all.  Our Founding Fathers understood the inevitable nature of change and evolution better than we ever will.  That a time would come when evils of slavery, misogyny and bigotry would become obvious and their dangers to democracy would create the urgency to outlaw prejudice; that change would happen incrementally and it required patience and process.  They had faith in our better angels.   They ratified the inherence of equality when they began their great experiment, to guide future generations ‘to form a more perfect Union.’  Surely enough, within 250 years we abolished slavery, gave women the right to vote, passed the Civil Rights Act, and expanded the scope of America’s promise.  So not only did they intend that future generations would one day abolish slavery, they designed the government to ensure it happened.  

Now that responsibility continues with us, the bearers of their promise to humanity.  American citizens have a sacred duty to participate in their democracy; to study, learn and strive to understand its dynamics.  To accept that the very object of America was to create a more perfect Union, not separate states bartering, squabbling and trudging through time.  That had our Founding Fathers intended bigotry to be endemic, their consolidated expression wouldn’t have been exactly the opposite.  Times like now seldom arise when circumstances test our faith in the fundamental truths of free society – we mustn’t forget that these truths are self-evident in our Nation’s foundations.

E Pluribus Unum

 

Sheep

What about the cancer of the mind?  Not the brain; the mind.  The place beyond space and time; each a universe of its own, whizzing by and colliding with one another.  What about that cancer that invades the peace of millions by a few strokes of a few pens? Awakening the demons within humanity, that swarm like gnats to rotting flesh.

Let them not onto your wounds. Let the hatred not spread from their viral wings to your dreams.  Heal yourself.  Support your sister; love your brother – help a stranger.  Do not let your fear of inequity deprive others of their natural right to be free. We are all born equal; equality isn’t a right – it’s the universal playing field from which stars leap onto the skies.

Find yourself in this vastness.  Learn about yourself, your family and friends.  And a few strangers; reach into their worlds and see through their eyes, and then your own.  Walk in their shoes to fully appreciate the tandem nature of actions and their consequences.  Of your actions and their consequences.  Karma isn’t a bitch; she’s your gentle shepherd, for your salvation.

 

A letter to the American People

Dear fellow Americans,

The next two years will test the fortitude of our democracy.  It will be a worldwide lesson in how America functions as a nation and how its founding principles ensure tyranny never goes unchecked.  Donald Trump’s executive order to ban certain populations from entering the United States goes against the grain of humanity like nails on a chalkboard.  It disrespects America’s immigrant legacy and dishonors its centuries-old public policy to broaden the scope of human liberties rather than be exclusive.  Isolationism isn’t an American trait; it is a quality of cowards.  Though, it has shown its ugly face over and over again.  I’ll briefly regurgitate the horrors of slavery, misogyny and general bigotry because responsible citizens must actively fight these demons of ignorance to restore liberty for all.

Two centuries after African slaves built the White House we had the fortune of an African-American First Lady tending to the Nation’s gardens.  It took us two centuries to begin righting that wrong.  Work remains – in our inner cities and county jails where a disproportionate number of African-Americans remain chained in one way or another.  Not because ‘white’ people owe them anything, but because America promises them so.  As it does to its daughters.

Less than a hundred years after the Nineteenth Amendment ensured women the right to vote, we popularly elected Madam Clinton as President of the United States.  Here too, work remains; in election-reform, media coverage and information technology management, to ensure corporations and foreign governments do not influence the purity of our right to vote with misinformation and faulty-logic now called alternative facts.  More importantly, work remains in uprooting misogyny.  Through education and by example; through strong role-models who range from pantsuit politicians to highly underrated actresses to gender-equal pioneers.  Because nowhere in ‘We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America’ do our Founders mention gender or any other discriminative quality.  This unifying American spirit has been reaffirmed in every walk of American strife, best seen in the resilience of its People.

In disenfranchised Chinese immigrants after they built American railroads, whom no one hired in San Francisco; desperate, these immigrants started businesses in laundry and food services, performing social functions then traditionally performed by housewives.  And though speculative, I’d say that very act of self-preservation not only freed up time for American women but also, by working to support their families in China, laid the foundations for today’s China.  Most American minorities have similar stories of strife and triumph, where they now dance down the streets where they were once shunned.  This happens naturally in America, where our innate good constantly debates our ignorant fears.  While bigotry runs its course, our Constitution ensures legal due process and equal protection under constitutionally sound rule-of-law.

Every executive order Donald Trump has thus far issued rebukes this legacy; they isolate, target and discriminate against one sub-population or another.  From encumbering women’s health to perpetuating the lethal legacy of fossil fuels to the most recent and controversial immigration ban, his directives narrow the scope of American generosity while unconstitutionally broadening the power of the Presidency with vague veneers of social shock-and-awe.  Soon his administration will order similar facially unconstitutional restrictions on other minority populations.  They will distort facts and create smokescreens to evade climate and social welfare agendas at the heart of America’s next Reconstruction, and even disrupt and question journalistic integrity.  Although, none of his orders will amount to much if blocked as unanimously throughout federal courts as the immigration ban; except, it will disrupt countless lives and rob them of their peace of mind.  It will misinform the world about America’s promise to humanity; to its tired, poor and huddled masses – a welcoming place exists, where equality is the standard and hopes aren’t just daydreams. So while our representative-in-chief recklessly squanders American good will, it falls upon its citizens to practice and preach our Nation’s true identity.

Support organizations that perform vital social functions whether in the arts or in women’s health; be diversely informed about the State of Our Union and dispel misinformation.  Protect the weak and weary; be vocal about America’s true nature.  Do not be afraid.  Educate oneself and each other to leapfrog everyone past their wildest dreams.  Wear safety-pins and hang pride-flags.  Watch over your neighbors’ gardens without hope that they may do the same, but with a sense of common duty and responsibility.  Learn American History; understand the true meaning of history as the archive of our collective identity – find yourself and your place  in this grand story.

The 21st century will be nothing like the last.  The Information Age and its digital gateways have virtually connected humanity.  The world has shrunk and circumstances have become far more visible.  We must use the power of the internet to understand both others and ourselves.  To protest abuses on liberty and protect our fundamental rights of speech and expression.  To prevent religious intrusion into our secular government and preserve our legacy of broadening and evolving standards of justice and equality.  We can do all this with our fingertips as I am doing now – our times make it possible and require active citizenship unlike any time since the Civil War.  The enemy isn’t at our door; it’s within selfish interests and ignorant fears now embedded within our government.  History shows that Americans have proven Americanism as a democratic way of life rather than a Nation of malice and cowardice.  Entrepreneurship, solidarity, service and labor in the face of surmounting difficulties define us far more than border walls and immigration bans.  I used to be proud to be an American until I realized being proud wasn’t enough.  I had to live it.  And in doing so I no longer take pride but each day am humbled by America’s majesty.  We cannot let it tarnish.  Please join me in reading, listening, watching, writing, painting, singing and dancing the message of America – One People out of many, for all.

Sincerely,

Oeishik

Broken Things Mend

 

This was the intent of fate

To fracture faith

At the core

Along its line of ideas

To separate light from darkness

A deed impossible

But done

With a colored veil of numbness.

But broken things that belong together mend.

They bend to tighten bootstraps

And pantsuits, and pride flags,

Along fractured lines

For the test of our time.

Stand together,

Love oneself and another,

And one more after that.

And on and on,

Till the end of time.

For the many in mine.

Reason

 

Reason creates a sense of purpose.  Without it only instinct remains.  The ability to reason, to ask why and ponder how; to recognize and harness the nature of consequences – this separates human beings from other earthly creatures.  With this tremendous power to discern comes the enormous responsibility to understand it.  Because without understanding power becomes chaos; a child with a box of matches on a bed of dry leaves.  Or a gun in the wrong hands.

Humanity has evolved to a point where we have an individual as well as collective capacity to existentially observe and functionally embody a balance between reason and instinct.  It clarifies our purpose, our reason to live in an orderly world both as individuals and as a collective enterprise – among the universe’s most intelligent creations.  One that lives in the ocean of cause and effect; where, sharpened by reason, our instinctive choices shape purposeful lives.

Not just for ourselves but also our families, friends, pets; the plants we cherish through our windows and the destitute to whom we bring food.  The choices we make, the causalities we create through these choices, and its effects that ripple into space and time all impact the environment we share with countless other life-forms.  And because we can realize this, because we can fathom the full majesty of creation, we have a responsibility to understand before we act.

The next decade will bring monumental changes to the world to which we have grown complacently accustomed.  New problems will arrive on chassis of old habits.  Pain and suffering will surmount and consequences of unexamined actions will tear us apart, tugging on instincts to self-preserve.  But we must find the reasons behind these challenges and purposefully sacrifice isolationist preservation for the sake a more perfect Union.

 

Of many, One.

 

Pantsuit Nation

fire

And a fire was lit,

Under the earthen kiln,

By a core of molten heart.

Strangers woven together,

Melding parallel times,

Into a one-string chime:

Of a nation with one heart and mind.

One soul unfolded,

Connected and molded,

Beyond the reach of death.

Beyond pain and sorrow,

And a happiness borrowed,

To a blissful State of kind:

In a Nation with one heart and mind.

Beyond time,

Beyond gray lines,

And hate crimes,

My Nation of one heart and mind.

 

Merry Together

img_1240

Understanding fulcrums the scales of knowledge and ignorance.

Without it neither knowing nor oblivion holds any meaning.

It builds the foundations of instinctive responsibility.

That goes beyond the ambit of oneself

To connect with the unitary Soul.

That pulses in unison.

Like rhythms of drumbeats,

And raindrops on glass menageries,

Like the crimson dawning sun

Glistening the waning harvest moon,

And reflecting onto a reflective universe

Within ourselves, behind our brains,

By hammers on drums,

And light on cones,

All to become one.

 

Kites over Barbed Wires

img_4556

Our legacy is one of the constant refugee.

Constantly running away from oppression.

Out of fear for our lives and survival of our family.

Our lives become menageries of tragedies.

Latent ones that remain through generations,

Chronic ones that hum themselves in stories,

And acute ones we feel within ourselves,

Where do we really belong?

And while thinking this we sense an unfamiliarity with the ground beneath us,

But it is also strangely familiar at the same time, as it is just as we are – there.

We are strangers in our motherland,

And lesser anywhere else,

Nobles of faraway lands,

We cook and clean, and work with our hands,

And dream with our wings spread wide,

Across demilitarized zones and mines.

We find power in our strife,

To make the best of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change Paradox

light-at-night

When I started college fifteen years ago I wished the world would change; I wish I had been more careful.  On the eve of the 15th anniversary of 9/11, those wishes have manifested in the form of plights this planet has never before experienced.  Droplets of water now struggle in our ocean of blood, oil and waste.  Life would be simpler had I been less curious, less wishful and less hopeful of a better future.  I would feel less responsible for the grim one at our shores.

Climate change (melting polar icecaps; rising sea levels; coastline erosion; irregular weather patterns; higher frequency of storms, droughts, forest fires, flashfloods, etc.), mass extinction (massive-scale extinction of mega-fauna and ecosystems  –  coral-reefs, elephants, lions, tigers, sharks, whales, stingrays, clownfish, bonobos, etc. – in countless habitats like the Great Barrier Reef, African savannahs, tropical rainforests, etc.), and geopolitical instability (European economic crisis; Brexit and all its attendant complications; the rise of the ‘Islamic State’ and a myriad revolutions in the Middle East; the resulting refugee crisis that shows no signs of slowing down and has already been called the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II; racial polarization and the resurgence of the radical far-right; corruption with impunity, suppression of human rights, abuse of power, etc.) only start the list of horrors in the making.

Whether humanity accepts its part in creating this apocalyptic existence notwithstanding, it must do everything possible to restore a semblance of balance; if for nothing else, then its own survival.  Ironically, the perils that plague us sprang from novel ideas to enable our survival.  In this journey to survive, we have manipulated every material resource available on our planet.  And such would only be natural.  But we have seldom left the ambit of ourselves.  We have placed ourselves at the top of the proverbial food chain as a species, and in society have categorized and forced humanity to mimic arbitrary hierarchies that only exist in the realm of human ego.  Nature does not work that way.

We exist within a conundrum of elemental stagnancy and movement.  On one hand, though we constantly change, we do not fathom this incremental change because we cannot (or don’t have the patience to) consciously observe it.  On the other hand, while the universe has never remained the same, its foundational building blocks remain unchanged.  For example, oxygen will be oxygen till the end of time and iron will be iron whether inducing a star to explode or floating in our blood.  The universe uses this change-paradox of absoluteness and relativity to evolve.

Billions of years of this process has produced the human being, an organism capable of realizing and understanding this duality.  Whether predestined or by chance, it puts us at a pivotal place in the fabric of existence, instinctively compelling us to understand the universe  through questions, answers and choices we make that cumulatively build societies, its status quos, and over time its institutionalized codicils of popular faith and governance.  Over time that norm becomes second nature and popularity trends overshadow the fringes that do not fit the fold.  This breeds fear, ignorance, and neglect, suffocating society under the weight of old habits.  We cling to ‘normal’ from fear of the ununderstood.

At such times when normativity becomes stagnancy, new ideas usher in revolutions by detaching society from the bindings of its habits. They remind us that society would not exist without humanity; that we have constructed the very idols that mislead us.  That we choose to accept the definitions of others, the ideals of others and the morals of others because we find comfort in the complacency of normativity rather than our instinctive actionable curiosity.  In doing so we diminish our capacity to understand; to not just seek knowledge, but also wisdom that comes from labor and learning.   Revolutions tear us away from the abyss of habit and hurl us into the unknown, under the guiding torch of past generations, to reach closer to the realization of the cosmic fundamental duality within us and within which we exist.  To what end remains a mystery, but realizing this and striving to understand it has always been the trademark of revolutions and its revolutionaries.

We now live in such a time; at some point we will have to choose between complacency and the responsibility of survival; either death by old habits or change as naturally predisposed.  The past fifteen years have changed humanity at a far more drastic pace than the first eighteen years of my life.  I know now that the peace I felt at the Top of the World two weeks before 9/11 was the calm before the tempest.  It haunts me; it taunts me, questioning my understanding.  Though, I am beginning to understand the nature of duality; so I remain resolute in my dream of a better tomorrow.

 

 

The Year of Orlando

Flower

When I was just a little gay boy, my mother taught me to mend my speech impediment, my lisp.  I knew I was different from then on, but my understanding of what I knew I was hadn’t yet come full circle.  She told me many years later that she taught me that to save me from a world of pain and suffering.  The world when she grew up, where being a sexual minority wasn’t a thing; of course it was shameful, shunned, and unacceptable – something she couldn’t imagine as her son.  And it was definitely not something about which one could be proud.  But things have changed over the last thirty years.  Today we live in a world of extremes; where unconditional love can finally have a say while under hateful attack.

When I was just a little gay boy, I did what my mother said.  But over time, I decided to love myself exactly the way nature intended.  I stopped changing for others, placating the status quo and a heteronormative society – I became myself.  In my years as a gay man I have done very little for the benefit of my community.  Though, I have never hid myself.  I have been afraid to come out; but I have come out.  And with each step toward the open vista that is now my life, being me and being proud has gotten easier.  But I’m well aware that this march to reclaim an egalitarian cosmic right to exist is far from over.  June 12th, 2016 will remind me of that every year for the rest of my life – and that’s all it will do.

It will not scare me into hiding.

Be Proud!