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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Today I was able to read the HamptonRoads.com piece about Jesse Scaccia, his “off-color” poem, and the reaction of different City Council members. Not surprisingly, some took offense, namely Vice Mayer Anthony L. Burfoot who criticized the poem for its colorful expressions regarding race and sexuality in Norfolk. Far be it for me to presume to know the motives of Burfoot’s reaction, but for the sake of this specific write up, I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Let us believe that he was genuinely concerned about what someone like Jesse Scaccia might do if he is indeed elected into any political position. And now..let us respond…

Anyone who is at all familiar with Scaccia can not for one second entertain the idea (however one chooses to interpret his poem) that his views on race and sexuality are at all problematic, either as a citizen or as an elected official. One doesn’t need to go any further than Jesse’s own words, as stated on his campaign website–

“I don’t believe there’s a black part of town and a white part of town. I don’t believe there’s the nice neighborhoods by the water and the inland ghettos that need to be avoided. I don’t believe in Navy vs. civilian, suit vs. punk, GLBT vs. straight, Norfolk native vs. transplant. None of that. We are one city. We are Norfolk. And we will be whatever we will ourselves to be.”

Jesse’s vision of Norfolk is one that seeks to unify the community, and a discussion with him at any length with show that he passionately believes in what he says.

Although, I admit, I am speaking subjectively. Let’s take a moment and consider the poem itself and even ignore the disclaimer which informed readers of the context. Any reading of the poem will suggest that is about an individual who was changed for the better by Norfolk. The poem, from the perspective of a stubborn northerner, tells the story of an individual awakening to the realization that his preconceived notions are way off. His views of redneck whites and back country blacks, immigrants and homosexuals are certainly problematic and entirely wrong. The obstinate and thoroughly misguided northerner was awakened to a new potential by the city of Norfolk. His stereotypes were shattered. If a reader takes away anything from the poem, he would take away the fact that to experience Norfolk can be (at the risk of sounding dramatic) a life changing and world-view altering happening. Burfoot’s reaction stinks of political posturing because it so unbelievably dismissive of the meaning of the poem.

Lastly, we can’t neglect what Burfoot seemingly ignores. While I am not surprised that the Vice Mayor chooses to see potential Council member Jesse Scaccia as the writer of the poem, it must be remembered that it was a poem written in 2008 by a grad school student named Jesse who grew up in Connecticut and spent his 20’s traversing the country. His poem expressed the destruction of stereotypes, not the stubborn adherence to them. There is much said about the apathy of youth in relation to local and national politics. I believe that it can be proportionately related to the degree of inauthenticity of the ambitious politicians the youth has to pick to from. To that point, this poem certainly does expose Scaccia–it reveals a character of authenticity. It exposes his humanity and involvement in the arts. It exposes his growth and willingness to change. A child will relate more so to an adult who is proud he was a kid, than an adult who merely admits to it. If Burfoot wishes to criticize the poem publicly, then he wishes to simultaneously display a lack of faith in the community. If he assumes that kids and adults are unable to think for themselves, and interpret this poem thoughtfully and understand it as art, then he assumes to think for us all. Burfoot is being wonderfully political, while this poem reveals Scaccia as *gasp!!* a vulnerable human being.

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Based on a reading of Matthew 9:11-12, it is very difficult to believe that even the most otherwise sober minded Christian could be a proponent (either political or social) of any degree of oppression towards those who do not live their lives by the same creed. The emphasis placed on mercy towards others qualifies an attitude of compassion towards all others. Existence is such that all others indeed suffer, not as an exclusive result of any behavior, but as a result of living, as a result of that large gap between what we are meant for and what we are. All deserve unqualified compassion and love. One who feigns some degree of sadness, an awareness of the injustice of such a prejudice, but still presses forward “in faith,” fools himself into seeing his behavior as some perverse and worldly misunderstood martyrdom. Regardless of God’s view on certain behavior, Christ proclaimed our task in way that is very straight forward and clear–that is, to love others without condition, without requiring any prior qualification. One must dispense of any metaphysical arrogance in relation to God’s intent or His entirely perplexing and disturbing ideas of what can only understand as justice. We are called to love others, and we fail on such a fantastic degree, even towards those we do feel “comfortable” with. Although, Jesus, with his impossible demands, require that we love all. He is an  affront to our silly notions of self worth, our reason driven by our humanity, our entitlement. We are called to love our enemies–we are called to love that bully who abuses your son or that boy who takes advantage of your daughter, we are taught to love those terrorists who are so bent on reeking havoc on us because of our “freedom,” we are called to love. We are called to be everything we are not, in hopes of becoming our true selves. And I myself…my own mind and my own heart seem to want nothing of it, if behavior is to be any indicator. Jesus is truly alone, he is truly a lunatic by those standards so dictated by the world, and therefore he must be on to something.

In most cases, I do not fully agree with what I write, or what I think. I never trust myself with anything, most certainly opinions. And this is no exception.

There is nothing more heart breaking or destructive than dreams, or aspirations. Any individual, upon reading what I just wrote would be correct in assuming that I am not succeeding at what I want to do, and that I am merely whining. . Another individual, perhaps one who is some what close with me would call me ungrateful, as I have been able to experience a dream realized. Although, dreams are incessant, they are tenacious. They do not cease unless they are murdered. I would be skeptical of anyone who claims that a dream realized is a dream satisfied. As Arthur Schopenhauer quite accurately expressed, a satisfaction of desires only births new ones. My dream has come true and it has since become a nagging nightmare.

Oh! I have such a thorough, genuine, and ardent love for certain things, coupled with a paralyzing degree of critical standards which I must apply to myself as ruthlessly and enthusiastically as I apply it to others. I am a cynic and an optimist all at once. On the quiet evenings I can find rest in the fact that I still have aspirations be a certain type of person, and during the day, I remember that, however strong ones desire is to accomplish a goal, there are always, lurking behind every obligation, reasons to come to terms with the situation at hand, a situation that fights tooth and nail against romantic progress. I can put my mind to it, and my mind will cower under the scope of the more expansive reality…not from fear of what others will think, but from something much more paralyzing, fear of what I think. Those motivational speakers will categorize me as the ones who are afraid to change my world, afraid to “go for it,” although, how often have I wanted to tell people that they should not go for it, and surely that is what I often tell myself. I am drowning in the talent and ability of others who paint with colors they invented, while I spend hours trying to creatively and poignantly sum up my 31 years into a body of clumsy words or power chords. I am a coward, and the monster I avoid is the reality of which I am a part.

I have heard of God’s will, and I been reading CS Lewis and Simone Weil who speak of the supernatural love of a God who reveals a harmony–a harmony which only those who are willing to leave themselves open will have. I must say they are correct, because I too have never had that feeling. I have my will and that is what I desire, that is what drives me to self elation and self loathing. I know nothing of God’s will. I see it in poetry, I hear people speak of the mysterious alignment with God which they can not even explain, but only be thankful that they experience it. If I believe I am God’s creation, then it is what God himself instilled in me that drives me into these pathetic states. I’m entirely untethered.

This is not a dismissal of my past based on the conditions in which they unfolded, this is a look in the mirror which demands I locate my disposition, it demands I come to terms with an evolution which is nothing more than a torturous tease littered with all that I am told I should be thankful for, littered with all that keeps my nightmares of mediocrity alive. Oh the selfishness, such that I fail to see what I should be thankful for. Forgive me, or rather do not, I am human, and while that is always a reason, it is never an excuse.

Just because I have dreams does not mean that they should come true.

I want to expr….

oh. time for work.