Start the Year Right

Happy New Year! In this time of turmoil it’s hard to say what the turn of the calendar will bring. Yet it remains true that life is what we make of it.

Barataria promises to dedicate itself to spreading as much peace, brotherhood, and happiness as possible in 2017. We’re all going to need it. Someone has to lead the way – which is just what this piece is about.

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Over the Lines

Apparently, bragging about predatory sexual assault is over “the line”. I have been wondering where the line was for some time.

We all knew this election was going to get ugly. We all knew this was going to plumb the depths of personal attack and warped reality, straying far from the many things we need to work out as a people. We all knew that it was going to be sick, weird, and ultimately just unreal.

So here we are, adrift in that spot on the map labeled “Here be Dragons”. Taking a metaphor from Columbus Day, we’re in that terrible moment when there is no sign of land and just about anything can happen. Our biggest fear should be that we’ve seen this story before and we can only hope that it doesn’t wind up with new horrors far away from the civilized authorities – horrors like genocide, slavery, and plunder.

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Racists Anonymous

Not many years ago, it was fashionable to say that racism was dead. “We live in a post-racial society now,” many people said, “And we don’t have to worry about that any longer.” Many white people, that is, said that. Non-whites knew perfectly well that racism has always been the disease at the core of our nation. The hurtful words were confined to private conversations and public dog-whistles of code didn’t fool anyone kept down and apart by racism.

With the rising voices of racism in the last year no one says that anymore. “At least,” in the words of Mike Yard, “We know who the racists are now.” The First Amendment does work. But for all the pain this open racism causes, are we any closer to getting past it? Only if openly acknowledging our racism is the first step towards healing.

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Prince

“I’ve tried to avoid all this, but I can’t”
“I just gotta know, are we gonna try to love each other?”
Batdance (1989) (from the “Batman” soundtrack)

The outpouring of love for Prince over the last few days has been deep, wide, and intense. It was more than his music that people loved – it was his purple self that resonated all over the world. Sexually androgenous as well as culturally androgenous, he redefined the boundaries between id and culture to create a new identity that was uniquely his own.

His otherworldly presence also provide an example for a new approach to life that may yet help us all navigate a changing world. Like Prince, we can make it all in our own image, born in love and creativity, together.

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The Christmas Truce

Christmastime stories all have a touch of magic in them. From spirits of Christmas past, present, and future to a real Santa Claus the light of the season becomes real through some divine spark that illuminates a life. But all of these fairy stories dim in comparison to one with a much lighter touch of providence acting only through the hearts and arms of men. And this story is also true.

The time is a century ago, near St Yves, France. The Great War has stalled into the mud as Germans and English have dug in yards apart. The men of both sides shiver as December settles deep into the trenches. Hired on as murderers, the stench of death around them, they chose instead for a few days to be something much more. For a brief moment, they even become friends.

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