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Time Bombs: A Meditation on Walt Whitman’s 200th Birthday

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/06/01/time-bombs-meditation-walt-whitmans-200th-birthday

If Walt Whitman were living today, I wonder if he would go outside at all----or would he stay inside writing world of warcraft poems, or would he have been one of the helicopter murders in Collateral Murder---- or would he end up working on Wall St.?
I have always wondered about the Time Period when a person is born if that time period truly affects a persons’ viewpoint of the world.
Somehow, I think he would be writing poems about the world, by truly being in the world. I always liked that poem “I SING THE BODY ELECTRIC.” Maybe that’s what connected him so much to humanity to wherever he went in the world. Feeling a part of the world, the whole world, well that would be a skill that maybe some day we will find in people in Congress, or in the Presidency, or maybe even in the military-----------wouldn’t that be nice… that electricity flowing through him out into the world, and actions to suit the words---------what a wonderful world that would be. : )

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We miss you Walt. See you soon.


“Today is Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday. A friend observed it’s better he’s not seeing what’s happened to his country.”

Walt Whitman wrote some some of the best poetry of his time but he was a bundle of contradictions: he opposed slavery but still thought whites should dominate and had an ex-Confederate as a lover. His country is in the fix it is because it has yet to own up–let alone atone for its horrific history of racism and the need to exploit others for profit.

He celebrated the individual and yet failed to recognize that it was the enslaved black human being that created the most original culture of this “Union” that still tries to exclude him.

“America has a death penalty. America has the largest military in the world and in history. America will not stand being crossed. These moments of spasm and orgy are threads in a cultural fabric. Americans have a right to be enraged because of being crossed or challenged or humiliated”

And before these which explains them are three of the most unforgivable crimes:

  • the theft of land and lives of the First Nations Peoples–genocide

  • enslavement of the African–the most pernicious chattel slavery

  • the dropping of two atomic bombs over Japan and thus foisting upon the global community the constant threat of nuclear winter.


Hi theoldgoat:
Wow, that was wonderful. NO question , I would vote for him for president! : )
Because… once again, We the People, still makes us all into WEE the people. After hearing that ancient church doctrine is still ruling as a freedom of religion place----- it’s
time for real change! : )

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Hi Giovanna_Lepore:
Oh you are right ----- Walt Whitman did have a lot of lovers of both sexes I’ve read, and so that made him very 21st century----but too, he was a product of his time, and 99.99% of women had no power, because you know, biblically it wasn’t there, except weirdly for that lady Judith , who cut off a( said to be an enemy ) man’s head.

But he did write that we were all each other -------and true, his routings no seeing the young die in war—well that was an anti-war guy. way before WW1 or Vietnam— but still to me he has a lot of value, because he did move among all kinds of people and his understanding of a great part of the world was good.
I see a value in that, but also see a big value in the Ted Talk of thegoldgoat’s video.
I wish I knew that Native man’s name, but I will always remember his words-----and what he said made me see things for the first time, and at least gave me hope that , as another poet wrote, “Someday America will be…” and he was writing as a black poet in the 20th century. sigh—it’s hard enough being a decent human, but for a whole nation—wow–that will take some time, so we all better start now. : )

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This is the most lucid, clear-eyed, and breath-freeing recognition of the founders’ intent and limits, with the consequences of pain and recurring violence manifestating currently on this continent.
Definitely where I will focus my energies, writing and educational activities from now on: to create the national conversation of conciliation among humans he is committed to bringing forth by 2021. Acknowledging how off-the-mark our past actions and behaviors have been as a Common Memory allows us to generate a national unity of leadership in humility, who will listens into being our international planetary Common Community for the mutual benefit of all humans and sentient beings.

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The son of an American woman of Dutch heritage and a Navajo man, Mark Charles offers a unique perspective on three of the most misinterpreted words in American History. Written in the Papal Bulls of the 15th Century, embedded in our founding documents in the 18th Century, codified as legal precedent in the 19th Century and referenced by the Supreme Court in the 20th and 21st Centuries, the Doctrine of Discovery has been used throughout the history of the United States to keep “We the People” from including all the people. Mark Charles is a dynamic and thought-provoking public speaker, writer, and consultant. The son of an American woman (of Dutch heritage) and a Navajo man, he speaks with insight into the complexities of American history regarding race, culture, and faith in order to help forge a path of healing and conciliation for the nation. Mark serves as the Washington DC correspondent and regular columnist for Native News Online and is the author of the popular blog “Reflections from the Hogan.” Mark is a founding partner of a national conference for Native students called “Would Jesus Eat Frybread?” Mark’s forthcoming book on the Doctrine of Discovery entitled Truth be Told is being published by InterVarsity Press and will be available in 2019. Mark is active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram under the username: wirelesshogan. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

Ah yes, the infernal “Doctrine of Discovery” BS. One of the key motivations for the Revolutionary War was twofold which were interdependent:

  • Rejection of the British deal with the indigenes for the purpose of expansion to conquer/steal more land for growing cotton which became “King Cotton” and enriched both the south and north at the expense of both Native peoples and Africans and African-Americans slaves

  • In order for the white supremacists to enrich themselves further, not content with only the 13 colonies, they needed both more land and a cheap source of labor to cultivate this land in sugar but especially cotton.

As Gerald Horne, in his well researched book, The Counter Revolution of 1776, showed that keeping and expanding slavery was a key issue to fighting the British.

The US Constitution is indeed a white supremacist document–without the corrective amendments-- which considered black folks 3/5 of a human being, women did not count and as Mark Charles pointed out indigenous peoples were “savages”.

The sooner we as a nation acknowledge this the better for reconciliation and to stop all further atrocities abroad too such as what we did to Japan.

Hi Giovanna-Lepore:

Thank you! MARK CHARLES… I won’t forget that name…Thanks too for the other source,: he is a wonderful speaker! : )