Don Edwards Literary Memorial
Stories | Commentary/Opinion | Dialogue Posts | Poetry




Here is a curious offering.

There was no parking space immediately in front of the house, but they found one down the block. I walked to meet them, long time no see, I said. Oh, it’s only been 40 years, he replied. We shook hands and embraced, abrazo-style.

He was a young man from the L.A. area, barely 19, if that old, when I first met him in Delano. He was one of the first outside volunteers to join the farmworker movement in 1965. I was not far behind, but a good 12 years older. He left the movement three years later, and I after eight.

Our reunion was the result of his telephone call: he was going to be in Sacramento with his wife, could he come by and see me.? Of course, why not come for an early dinner, and they did. Three plus hours of reminiscing, comparing notes, gossiping about people forty years removed as if it were only yesterday, and bringing one another up-to-date about careers, family, the deceased and the divorced. Time was up, we parted company.

A curious reunion. We had not been friends, but more like comrades in the same fight; we were disparate in age and had maintained no contact these many years, but now his need to want to meet and talk about those days. Those three years, he said, seemed like yesterday, and they reshaped his life forever. Even now, as a university professor, he sees the results of the farmworker movement reflected in some of his students, especially Latinos.

We may never talk again but that does not seem necessary to me. What was important was sharing and reliving, if even for only a few hours, what was a life and death enterprise for each of us when we were young men determined to change the world. It is not likely, I think, that our children will ever have such a reunion, but I do not rule out the grandchildren – a half-century seems about the right spacing.

Take care,




There is nothing like a beheading – or the threat of a beheading – to strike fear in the hearts of Westerners. I remember as a child going to WWII movies and occasionally coming upon a scene where the Japanese general was standing in front of his POW’s brandishing a sword. Which prisoner would he choose to make an example of? Which prisoner would have his head severed so swiftly and cleanly that he would still be left standing at attention? Grisly, hair-raising and paralyzing stuff to contemplate, and it could only be explained away by the fact that such perpetrators were foreigners, not of our culture or religious beliefs, more akin to ruthless, Godless infidels..

In the Iraq war, we have seen many threats of beheading, in fact one American young man, an engineer from Pennsylvania, I believe, was beheaded. In addition there have been many video threats of Iraqi insurgents standing behind the blindfolded American with a razor-thin scimitar at the ready. Apparently, it is just not Americans who are frozen with fear at the prospect of being beheaded, but Iraqis too. Within the last week, there have been at least two reports of the heads of Iraqi’s delivered to the city center in banana boxes with a note: Beware! This is what happens to traitors! – or words to that effect.

And now Canada: the Internet headlines lead one to believe that their home-grown terrorists were planning to behead the prime minister. News media outlets kill for such headline opportunities – plot to behead prime minister! Who could even imagine such a thing?

Personally, I do not wish to be beheaded. Even the thought sends a shiver down my spine, which after all, is the intent of the threat. But when you compare war apples to war apples, how much different is the threat – and the act – of beheading some one, than say, randomly pulling an Iraqi out of a passing car and executing him on the street, or kicking in the door of an Iraqi residence and executing two dozen family members, or “accidentally” killing a prisoner through the torture method known as waterboarding? Which one is more – or less – humane? Which one is more civilized? More Godless? More ruthless? Perhaps, in the end, there is no difference.

Here is some home grown public relations advice: if you want to create a screaming international headline – true or not – to put the fear of God into the Western populace, threaten to behead someone, but choose wisely: a pope, a president, a prime minister, or a queen are far better publicity choices. Not to worry whether such a beheading is even in the realm of the possible, it is the threat that counts. However, a word of caution: the threat of beheading a head of state is more credible if you own a scimitar.

Have a nice Friday,




Your vision story is wonderful. Is this a revised version from the one you sent a year or so ago? Perhaps it just catches me in a more receptive mood, but it seems more understated and more carefully drawn than I remember. Whether revised or not, this story sheds a great deal of light on the state of religious monasticism in the 1950’s.

First point: the absolute role of the religious superior. We were taught that a religious vocation was a calling from God for service but what your story illustrates is a different reality. The religious superior stood in God’s place and based upon his own individualized vision – or even lack of vision – of the purpose of the religious order, and therefore the candidate’s potential contribution to achieve that purpose, he culled out those who did not conform to his own interpretation, and he did so with absolute impunity. His decision was final, not in any sense appealable and even worse, the monastic religious tradition held that his decision was not even to be questioned – blind obedience, it was called. Amazing, when you consider the number and variety of personality-types of religious superiors we were sworn to obey: Edward, Michael, Pius, Xavier, Gabriel. This helps to explain, I think, why the mission purpose of so many religious orders of that era was so mushy and undefined – of course, the original purposes for which they were founded had been mostly abandoned or watered down decades earlier.

Second point: the secretive and mysterious role that spiritual mysticism played in religious life of the 50’s. The mystic, Cora, seemed to have captured a certain sector of the religious-life market, but there were others too. I forget just who, but one of Cora’s followers allowed me to read some of her writing, but only on condition that I was to keep it very hush-hush. Frankly, I could not understand what she wrote but, on the other hand, what is there to understand about religious rapture? You’re raptured or you’re not, and I wasn’t.

Loved your story, very well written with good detail.




I gave you every opportunity to earn a personal merit badge for your magnanimous – albeit rhetorical – handshake of gratitude with the mysterious and phantom religious superiors who rejected your monastic vocation but you chose instead the high road of full disclosure: a swift kick to their collective privates.

It is true: I profited immensely from those seven years of intense monastic programming – in fact, I thrived. Every minute of every day laid out, nothing left to chance, no decisions to make because there were no choices. Even a military regimen could not be as demanding, I think. Take our summer time prescribed novel reading for example: even though the novels had to be pre-approved, setting aside 90 minutes each afternoon, six days-a-week for required novel reading covered a lot of books.

My leaving monastic religious life was different from yours in at least one respect: I made the decision to leave for the sake of undertaking a new calling. I rejected one calling for the sake of another. In your case, you were, for all intents and purposes, dropped off at a street corner with instructions to find your way forward. (You will recall that other classmates of ours were simply driven to the Napa Greyhound bus depot and given a ticket home. Not even a good-bye, good luck farewell – more like a good riddance.)

Not that I could have lifted a finger of protest, or did, I was always disturbed about how the religious order could dismiss candidates out-of-hand with no thought given, let alone any assistance, to their transition, and even worse, forbidding those who remained behind – God’s chosen ones – from even discussing the departure of their soon-to-be-forgotten friend and colleague. An amazing display of the institutional privilege associated with the Catholic religious-caste system during the 1950’s.

Years later, long after I had left religious life, I often viewed myself as privileged and set apart from others – that I was owed some special respect. Complete nonsense, of course, but it was one of those cultural relics left over from the religious caste system. Yes, I’m afraid there were other such relics, but now at my advanced age and in this forum, and because of 666, I prefer not to become too confessional.

Have a nice Friday, Don.




Your piece keyed to my Richard Halter requiem was both therapeutic (I think) and clever. My own story about not being wanted – or appreciated – by the Christian Brothers came several years after your reddition-story – “the Council questions your vocation.”

I was in my fifth year of teaching in San Francisco and the Brother Visitor came to make his annual inspection visit, and of course, conduct the prescribed reddition with each religious brother. In summary, this ranking religious superior explained to me that because I had taken final vows, I could not be removed from the religious order, but he wanted to make it clear to me that if the “Chapter” had to vote again today about whether to grant me final vows or not, I would be voted out. Talk about being stunned! This man was determined to hurt me, and he did. It was not long after this encounter, I was assigned to teach in Bakersfield where I had the good fortune to meet Cesar Chavez, and eventually leave the religious brotherhood on my own terms. Like you, I have never regretted that decision – indeed, it was a lifesaver! But unlike you, I am not magnanimous enough to shake his hand and say, thank you!

Hot day today in your old hometown.




Wednesday night at 10:20 p.m. Richard Halter, age 52, was pronounced dead, the victim of an auto accident between a 1987 Dodge Dakota pickup truck and a 1972 Yamaha motorcycle just two miles north of Loaves & Fishes – Richard’s destination. The driver of the truck received minor injuries.

Six years ago, I had barely finished my retirement speech at The Grand in downtown Sacramento, when Richard, a bear of a man, came right up to the podium, threw back his shoulders, cocked his head slightly to the right, took a deep breath, stared me full in the face and said: LeRoy, I just want to shake your hand and say thank you, you saved my life.

I suppressed my defensive (and selfish) urge to deflect and discount his sincerely delivered and forthright compliment; instead, I extended my hand and said: you’re welcome, Richard.

Truth be told, it was Richard who needed to be thanked, he had saved himself from a life of substance abuse, he was clean and sober for the first time in many years, he was in recovery. My role? I had hired him to live at the Loaves & Fishes complex and work in the night watch program.

It has taken me several years to understand what Richard meant when he screwed up his courage that night at The Grand to look me in the eye and say his piece. What he meant goes something like this: I was in bad shape, I knew it, but I couldn’t ask for help. I didn’t believe in myself, I had let everyone down, I was no good. I got what I deserved. Loaves & Fishes accepted me, fed me, kept me alive, believed in me, and slowly I began to believe in myself. I wanted to walk the painful path of recovery.

It was not LeRoy Chatfield, it was the quiet, unassuming, welcoming, non-judgmental every day work of providing survival services through the charity, Loaves & Fishes, that was the lifeline for a hurting person like Richard. He simply paid tribute to the gospel spirit of providing a cup of cold water to a thirsty person, in the only way he knew how – to the retiring director.

And for my part, I say: Richard, I cannot shake your hand, but I just want to say thank you, you saved my life.

May he rest in peace.




The Internet news lead story announced the U.S. had agreed to face-to-face talks with Iran and went on to quote Condoleezza Rice, “the United States will come to the negotiating table as soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities.” What silliness! What arrogance! What naivete! And with a straight face, no less.

It reminds me of the time when the growers publicly announced they would sit down and talk with Cesar Chavez if he called off the strike and stopped the boycott of California grapes. And our reaction? Pour it on, stoke up the coals, all stops out, these guys are really feeling the heat!

The entire world community understands the U.S. would not even be making this lame overture unless the Iranians were developing nuclear power – and now Iran will agree to give up the very leverage that forced us to come this far? I think not.

Part of our government collective mind-set is that Iran, and other Middle East countries, are so inept, so corrupt, so lacking in modernity they need not be taken seriously; they barely rise to our contempt level. This was the same mentality embraced by growers about Mexican-American farmworkers – manana lazy, illiterate therefore stupid, culturally backward, disorganized and powerless.

The fact the Iranians have been a viable civilization for more than a 1,000 years before Christ seems to mean as much to Condoleezza Rice as the fact that Mexicans were civilized more than 800 years ago meant to the growers.

Without doubt, the worldly ignorance of our modern-day rich and powerful government will be the cause of our undoing. You can count on it.

Have a nice Friday,




A formerly homeless man in New York is quoted in today’s Times: “After you spend a certain amount of time in the streets, as difficult as your circumstances are, they become a routine. You want to avoid disruption of the familiar – even if it’s sleeping in an alley.”

Perhaps this explains my recent inability to post to the Dialogue – my routine has been disrupted. The house had to be put back together after the hardwood floors were installed, several hundred photos needed to be posted to the Documentation Project, attendance was required at a wholly unproductive and artificial meeting about William Land Park, etc. As ho hum as it may look to others, my routine provides the daily structure for my accomplishments, such as they may be.

I have been thinking about your comments relative to religion and myth. It has been my experience that one man’s religion is another man’s myth – who is to know for sure? Like you, I was a true believer during our monastic years, but as I grew up and was exposed to more “worldly” experience, most of it wore off. Frankly, most of what I had believed – dogma, infallibility of the church, birth control, catechism, etc. – seemed irrelevant to the human condition of people, especially poor people I came to know. I suppose the final straw was laid when I came to know people who were living on the street – what possible application could church dogma play to relieve their indigence and societal alienation? None that I knew of.

In today’s Times, my homeless mentor goes on to say: “My winding up homeless was really a slow suicide. I resigned myself to just deteriorating in the streets. If you don’t feel that life is worth living, that life has meaning, that there are goals worth striving for – that’s much more devastating than going through a chilly evening or getting caught in a rainstorm.”

Take care,





You may be familiar with the biblical scholarship of the Jesus Seminar (1994) In summary, these 77 biblical scholars found that 80% of what has been attributed to Jesus was made up by his movement followers after his death. Further, Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah, nor did he predict the end of the world. His followers are the ones who compared the bread and wine of the Last Supper to the eating of his body and blood, not Jesus. He did not teach the prayer of the Our Father because it was made up after his death. Finally, the Jesus Seminar agreed that Jesus was a social revolutionary, not an apocalyptic visionary.

How refreshing.

I remember during our years of monastic training, great teaching emphasis was put on the fact that Jesus was both divine and human – not one without the other. Even so, the Jesus presented to us in our everyday regimen of worship, prayer, spiritual reading, and asceticism was that of the divine, or more accurately stated: the pious divine. Handsome, clad in long flowing robes of pastel colors, this Jesus was pictured in a bearded profile, dreamy eyes cast heavenward and with long and delicate fingered hands clasped together. He looked like no man I had ever met, which of course made perfect sense to me since I had never met a divine one.

I also remember the emphasis that was placed NOT on the study of the gospels, but on the teaching tradition of the church. It was what the church taught through its tradition that determined the meaning of scripture, not the words themselves. I suppose one of the purposes of the Jesus Seminar is to distinguish between the gospel tradition of the life of Jesus as created and promulgated by the church during the early Christian centuries from the sliver of information available about Jesus himself.

Take care,




After re-reading my Jesus post and your response to it, I have to ask you, whatever happened to the Jesus of our monastic years? That Jesus not so much human as divine, the miracle worker who healed the sick, raised the dead, and made the leper whole again. That Jesus who had the authority to forgive the sinner and rebuke the accuser, the one who descended from a long line of God’s anointed to redeem mankind, and yes, the Jesus with the halo around his head, the dreamy look in his eyes praying to his heavenly father?

Has Jesus changed, do you think? Or have we? Or is it only me? Or did this Jesus ever exist?

Have a nice Friday,




You write that you would give high grades to Jesus for his life. Interesting comment; let me think about this.

The life of Jesus: what do we know? He was born and raised in a small rural town, his education was minimal, and he worked for a living. He left his work to live the life of a street preacher, sponging off the hospitality of others. He made up simple fictional stories, which he recited in public to illustrate his moral views about life. In the course of his wandering, he attracted a few people who left their jobs to hang out with him full time. Because his views about the morality of living were far removed from the mainstream, but ever-more appealing to the people who came to hear him preach, he came to the attention of the local religious establishment – they were not amused. They publicly challenged his unorthodox view of religious morality, the historical authenticity of his preaching, and the kinds of people who made up his entourage. These public confrontations dramatically increased the size of his audience, and the numbers of full time volunteers who became part of his traveling road show. More and more people in the audience were attracted to this new morality and openly began to question traditional moral codes of conduct. The tension between the followers of Jesus and the religious authorities ratcheted up to such an extent there was no hope for a moral accommodation of any kind – the views of Jesus were too extreme, he had to be removed from society. Ultimately, events were staged and arrangements made by local authorities, both religious and civil, to bring him to trial and judgment. After the death penalty was executed, his audience was dispersed and his fulltime followers fled for their lives. The public street preaching of Jesus lasted only a few years.

Jesus left no written record behind; likely he could not write. Because he did not beget children, his family name was extinguished, and he left no estate because he had no possessions. Jesus came and went, or so it seemed.

Don, how can you grade a life like this, especially when so little is known about Jesus? On its face, it seems like a complete failure to me, yet several thousand years later I find myself writing about it – and not only because you seek to give high marks to Jesus but because this short and tragic life changed the course of mankind and its history. I have to think about this some more.

Let me change the subject by saying this: hardwood floors will dramatically improve the quality of my life in 2006 – why did I wait so long?

Take care,




A grade of B+? If my past is any grade indication, I would have to give myself an Incomplete. I never finished anything I ever started. You make an excellent point about academics and others who write and publish their journals, autobiographies, studies, etc. – the past is their subject matter.

Here is a short piece that relates to my father, and a man you too know much about: St. John Baptist de La Salle 1654-1719 – the founder of the Christian Brothers who later in life was forced into exile for many years by the members of the congregation he founded. Oh, the stormy life of a founder . . .

May 15 has been a special day for me because it was the birthday of my father, and the annual Catholic religious feast day of St. John Baptist de la Salle, the founder of the Christian Brothers. After I resigned from the monastic religious brotherhood in 1965, and my father passed away in 1970, May 15 lost some of its luster, but even so, now more than 35-years later, this date resonates with me – more than a case of nostalgia, I think.

I have no childhood recollection of ever having celebrated my father’s birthday, or my mother’s, for that matter. If birthdays were much celebrated in the 1940’s, that custom seems to have eluded the small rural town in Northern California where I was raised. Perhaps the immediate aftermath of the Great Depression and the country’s involvement with World War II put a damper on such matters, and people focused more on work and survival, and less on things that might be considered frivolous or unnecessary or cost money.

Only after I left home in my early teens to enter monastic religious life, did I learn the importance of the celebration of feast days of the saints and the Catholic liturgical calendar. Every day was a special remembrance day for a particular saint, something akin to a birthday, and short excerpts about the saint were publicly read during the course of one of the daily meals. The Founder’s Day, May 15, was celebrated as a holiday, complete with special liturgy, decorations, meals and activities; and for me, this holiday also served as a celebration of my father’s birthday.

Take care,


P.S. This post is made in 91 degree weather. Yesterday was 96 degrees. No rain birds to be heard.



Happy Mother’s Day to you, too!

It’s confusing. I look forward to this evening, tomorrow, and maybe even the day beyond that, but not much more. Why would I? Would you?

Living in the past happens to most of us – the elderly, getting older – but whether or not, it has certainly happened in my case. Most every day now, I live much of it in the past. This state of being began with the advent of the Farmworker Movement Documentation Project, which I began in May 2002. At first I did not notice the change in my orientation, but the more I delved into the very early years of Cesar Chavez and his farmworker movement, the more I began to reside there. And as former farmworker movement colleagues came forward at my urging with their own reminisces about that era, I remembered even more. Details, pieces of conversation, sequential events, the tone of voices, the names and faces of people not seen for more than 40 years; I even began to recreate some of the meetings in which I had taken part. This state of mind began to consume more and more of my consciousness, especially throughout 2004 when I organized and served as moderator for an eight month online discussion with more than 220 former colleagues.

This backward living continues unabated, so much so, I have developed a rationale to justify it. At my age, how many years do I have left? Pick a number, any number, but the cold reality is this: not many. Think about it: if my seventy-plus years now seems like a flash – my God, how did they go by so fast? – how quickly will the number you chose for me pass? In the blink of an eye. I have stacked up more years behind me, than I will ever have access to in the future. It is literally downhill, getting steeper all the time. Besides, I tell myself, I enjoyed those years – not just my farmworker years, but other career years as well, so why not plumb them for additional enjoyment? What’s the harm in it? YES, this sounds a little crazy, even to me, but what to do about it? Perhaps you can help.

“Don’t live in the past”! How many times have we heard this admonition? Why not, I ask, what’s the harm? And if in the course of this backward-living, I am able to produce one of the most unique and important documentation projects in American history – or even if it merits only an honorable mention – how bad can it be, especially if I am not making a talking pest of myself or badgering others with my ancient history. Do you think it would be more personally satisfying to me, or would I be more productive, if I focused all my effort and attention on the uncertain future? I think not.

The best,




Thanks for calling attention to the post you made inside my old post – PROTESTANTS NOT CATHOLICS. Without your note, I would have no way of knowing it was there. Obviously, this is one of the limitations of this blog approach to communication.

My own view is that when either one of us makes a comment about a previous post, we reference the old post, but keep the comment within the new post. (These words do make sense, don’t they?)

So far, I am enjoying this blog-type communication, and you are being a good sport about it too. (Appreciate it!) It seems to me – on its face, at least – to be a more serious and thoughtful form of communication than email, but this might be due to the fact I realize that unknown-others are reading what I write. Email can be very slam-dash, slangy, cryptic and lazy!

The best,





Have you read the letter sent by Majmood Ahmadi-Najad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to the W? If so, where did you find it? I subscribe to the daily edition of the New York Times and thus far the text of the letter has not been reprinted there. Why is this, do you think? I have read Times reports quoting the W to the effect he was not aware of such a letter. Then came the report the W dismissed the letter because it did not deal with Iran’s development of nuclear power, and now comes the report the W has officially rejected the letter. As an American citizen, is it asking the W too much to release the letter so that we may read it? Certainly, the New York Times has a copy of the letter, why won’t they publish it? Could it be the W and the Times have decided it is best for citizens not to read this letter because they might not be able to “handle” its contents? What on earth is – or in the instant case – is NOT going on? Can you help me with this?

Confused in Sacramento,



“Mr George Bush,
President of the United States of America

For sometime now I have been thinking, how one can justify the undeniable contradictions
that exist in the international arena — which are being constantly debated, specially in political forums and amongst university students. Many questions remain unanswered. These have prompted me to discuss some of the contradictions and questions, in the hopes that it might bring about an opportunity to redress them.

Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great Messenger of God,
Feel obliged to respect human rights,
Present liberalism as a civilization model,
Announce one’s opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMDs,
Make “War and Terror” his slogan,
And finally,
Work towards the establishment of a unified international community – a community which
Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern,
But at the same time,
Have countries attacked; The lives, reputations and possessions of people destroyed and on
the slight chance of the … of a … criminals in a village city, or convoy for example the entire
village, city or convey set ablaze.
Or because of the possibility of the existence of WMDs in one country, it is occupied, around one hundred thousand people killed, its water sources, agriculture and industry destroyed,
close to 180,000 foreign troops put on the ground, sanctity of private homes of citizens
broken, and the country pushed back perhaps fifty years. At what price? Hundreds of billions of dollars spent from the treasury of one country and certain other countries and tens of thousands of young men and women – as occupation troops – put in harms way, taken away from family and love ones, their hands stained with the blood of others, subjected to so much psychological pressure that everyday some commit suicide ant those returning home suffer depression, become sickly and grapple with all sorts of aliments; while some are killed and their bodies handed of their families.

On the pretext of the existence of WMDs, this great tragedy came to engulf both the peoples of the occupied and the occupying country. Later it was revealed that no WMDs existed to begin with.

Of course Saddam was a murderous dictator. But the war was not waged to topple him, the
announced goal of the war was to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. He was
toppled along the way towards another goal, nevertheless the people of the region are happy about it. I point out that throughout the many years of the … war on Iran Saddam was supported by the West.

Mr President,

You might know that I am a teacher. My students ask me how can theses actions be
reconciled with the values outlined at the beginning of this letter and duty to the tradition of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the Messenger of peace and forgiveness.
There are prisoners in Guantanamo Bay that have not been tried, have no legal representation, their families cannot see them and are obviously kept in a strange land outside their own country. There is no international monitoring of their conditions and fate. No one knows whether they are prisoners, POWs, accused or criminals.
European investigators have confirmed the existence of secret prisons in Europe too. I could not correlate the abduction of a person, and him or her being kept in secret prisons, with the provisions of any judicial system. For that matter, I fail to understand how such actions correspond to the values outlined in the beginning of this letter, i.e. the teachings of Jesus Christ (PBUH), human rights and liberal values.

Young people, university students and ordinary people have many questions about the
phenomenon of Israel. I am sure you are familiar with some of them. Throughout history many countries have been occupied, but I think the establishment of a new country with a new people, is a new phenomenon that is exclusive to our times.
Students are saying that sixty years ago such a country did no exist. The show old documents and globes and say try as we have, we have not been able to find a country named Israel.
I tell them to study the history of WWI and II. One of my students told me that during WWII, which more than tens of millions of people perished in, news about the war, was quickly disseminated by the warring parties. Each touted their victories and the most recent battlefront defeat of the other party. After the war, they claimed that six million Jews had been killed. Six million people that were surely related to at least two million families.
Again let us assume that these events are true. Does that logically translate into the
establishment of the state of Israel in the Middle East or support for such a state? How can
this phenomenon be rationalised or explained?

Mr President,

I am sure you know how – and at what cost – Israel was established:
– Many thousands were killed in the process.
– Millions of indigenous people were made refugees.
– Hundred of thousands of hectares of farmland, olive plantations, towns and villages
were destroyed.
This tragedy is not exclusive to the time of establishment; unfortunately it has been ongoing for sixty years now.

A regime has been established which does not show mercy even to kids, destroys houses
while the occupants are still in them, announces beforehand its list and plans to assassinate
Palestinian figures and keeps thousands of Palestinians in prison. Such a phenomenon is
unique – or at the very least extremely rare – in recent memory.

Another big question asked by people is why is this regime being supported?
Is support for this regime in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ (PBUH) or Moses (PBUH) or liberal values?
Or are we to understand that allowing the original inhabitants of these lands – inside and
outside Palestine – whether they are Christian, Muslim or Jew, to determine their fate, runs
contrary to principles of democracy, human rights and the teachings of prophets? If not, why is there so much opposition to a referendum?

The newly elected Palestinian administration recently took office. All independent observes
have confirmed that this government represents the electorate. Unbelievingly, they have put the elected government under pressure and have advised it to recognise the Israeli regime, abandon the struggle and follow the programs of the previous government.
If the current Palestinian government had run on the above platform, would the Palestinian people have voted for it? Again, can such position taken in opposition to the Palestinian government be reconciled with the values outlined earlier? The people are also saying “why are all UNSC resolutions in condemnation of Israel vetoed?”

Mr President,

As you are well aware, I live amongst the people and am in constant contact with them —
many people from around the Middle East manage to contact me as well. They dot not have faith in these dubious policies either. There is evidence that the people of the region are becoming increasingly angry with such policies.

It is not my intention to pose to many questions, but I need to refer to other points as well.
Why is it that any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East
regions is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime? Is not scientific
R&D; one of the basic rights of nations.

You are familiar with history. Aside from the Middle Ages, in what other point in history has scientific and technical progress been a crime? Can the possibility of scientific achievements being utilised for military purposes be reason enough to oppose science and technology altogether? If such a supposition is true, then all scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, engineering, etc. must be opposed.
Lies were told in the Iraqi matter. What was the result? I have no doubt that telling lies is
reprehensible in any culture, and you do not like to be lied to.

Mr President,

Don’t Latin Americans have the right to ask, why their elected governments are being
opposed and coup leaders supported? Or, why must they constantly be threatened and live in fear?
The people of Africa are hardworking, creative and talented. They can play an important and valuable role in providing for the needs of humanity and contribute to its material and
spiritual progress. Poverty and hardship in large parts of Africa are preventing this from
happening. Don’t they have the right to ask why their enormous wealth – including minerals – is being looted, despite the fact that they need it more than others?
Again, do such actions correspond to the teachings of Christ and the tenets of human rights?

The brave and faithful people of Iran too have many questions and grievances, including: the coup d’etat of 1953 and the subsequent toppling of the legal government of the day,
opposition to the Islamic revolution, transformation of an Embassy into a headquarters
supporting, the activities of those opposing the Islamic Republic (many thousands of pages of documents corroborates this claim), support for Saddam in the war waged against Iran, the shooting down of the Iranian passenger plane, freezing the assets of the Iranian nation,
increasing threats, anger and displeasure vis-à-vis the scientific and nuclear progress of the
Iranian nation (just when all Iranians are jubilant and collaborating their country’s progress), and many other grievances that I will not refer to in this letter.

Mr President,

September Eleven was a horrendous incident. The killing of innocents is deplorable and
appalling in any part of the world. Our government immediately declared its disgust with the perpetrators and offered its condolences to the bereaved and expressed its sympathies.
All governments have a duty to protect the lives, property and good standing of their citizens.
Reportedly your government employs extensive security, protection and intelligence systems
– and even hunts its opponents abroad. September eleven was not a simple operation. Could it be planned and executed without coordination with intelligence and security services – or their extensive infiltration? Of course this is just an educated guess. Why have the various aspects of the attacks been kept secret? Why are we not told who botched their
responsibilities? And, why aren’t those responsible and the guilty parties identified and put
on trial?

All governments have a duty to provide security and peace of mind for their citizens. For
some years now, the people of your country and neighbours of world trouble spots do not
have peace of mind. After 9.11, instead of healing and tending to the emotional wounds of the survivors and the American people – who had been immensely traumatised by the attacks – some Western media only intensified the climates of fear and insecurity – some constantly talked about the possibility of new terror attacks and kept the people in fear. Is that service to the American people? Is it possible to calculate the damages incurred from fear and panic? American citizen lived in constant fear of fresh attacks that could come at any moment and in any place. They felt insecure in the streets, in their place of work and at home. Who would be happy with this situation? Why was the media, instead of conveying a feeling of security and providing peace of mind, giving rise to a feeling of insecurity?
Some believe that the hype paved the way – and was the justification – for an attack on

Again I need to refer to the role of media.
In media charters, correct dissemination of information and honest reporting of a story are
established tenets. I express my deep regret about the disregard shown by certain Western
media for these principles. The main pretext for an attack on Iraq was the existence of
WMDs. This was repeated incessantly – for the public to, finally, believe – and the ground
set for an attack on Iraq
Will the truth not be lost in a contrive and deceptive climate?
Again, if the truth is allowed to be lost, how can that be reconciled with the earlier mentioned values?
Is the truth known to the Almighty lost as well?

Mr President,

In countries around the world, citizens provide for the expenses of governments so that their governments in turn are able to serve them.
The question here is “what has the hundreds of billions of dollars, spent every year to pay for the Iraqi campaign, produced for the citizens?”

As your Excellency is aware, in some states of your country, people are living in poverty.
Many thousands are homeless and unemployment is a huge problem. Of course these
problems exist – to a larger or lesser extent – in other countries as well. With these conditions in mind, can the gargantuan expenses of the campaign – paid from the public treasury – be explained and be consistent with the aforementioned principles?

What has been said, are some of the grievances of the people around the world, in our region and in your country. But my main contention – which I am hoping you will agree to some of it – is:

Those in power have specific time in office, and do not rule indefinitely, but their names will be recorded in history and will be constantly judged in the immediate and distant futures.
The people will scrutinize our presidencies.
Did we manage to bring peace, security and prosperity for the people or insecurity and
Did we intend to establish justice, or just supported especial interest groups, and by forcing
many people to live in poverty and hardship, made a few people rich and powerful – thus
trading the approval of the people and the Almighty with theirs’?
Did we defend the rights of the underprivileged or ignore them?
Did we defend the rights of all people around the world or imposed wars on them, interfered illegally in their affairs, established hellish prisons and incarcerated some of them?
Did we bring the world peace and security or raised the specter of intimidation and threats?
Did we tell the truth to our nation and others around the world or presented an inverted
version of it?
Were we on the side of people or the occupiers and oppressors?
Did our administration set out to promote rational behaviour, logic, ethics, peace, fulfilling
obligations, justice, service to the people, prosperity, progress and respect for human dignity or the force of guns.
Intimidation, insecurity, disregard for the people, delaying the progress and excellence of
other nations, and trample on people’s rights?
And finally, they will judge us on whether we remained true to our oath of office – to serve
the people, which is our main task, and the traditions of the prophets – or not?

Mr President,

How much longer can the world tolerate this situation?
Where will this trend lead the world to?
How long must the people of the world pay for the incorrect decisions of some rulers?
How much longer will the specter of insecurity – raised from the stockpiles of weapons of
mass destruction – hunt the people of the world?
How much longer will the blood of the innocent men, women and children be spilled on the streets, and people’s houses destroyed over their heads?
Are you pleased with the current condition of the world?
Do you think present policies can continue?
If billions of dollars spent on security, military campaigns and troop movement were instead spent on investment and assistance for poor countries, promotion of health, combating different diseases, education and improvement of mental and physical fitness, assistance to the victims of natural disasters, creation of employment opportunities and production,
development projects and poverty alleviation, establishment of peace, mediation between
disputing states and distinguishing the flames of racial, ethnic and other conflicts were would the world be today?
Would not your government, and people be justifiably proud?
Would not your administration’s political and economic standing have been stronger?
And I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever increasing global hatred of the
American governments?

Mr President, it is not my intention to distress anyone.

If prophet Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael, Joseph or Jesus Christ (PBUH) were with us
today, how would they have judged such behaviour? Will we be given a role to play in the
promised world, where justice will become universal and Jesus Christ (PBUH) will be
present? Will they even accept us?

My basic question is this: Is there no better way to interact with the rest of the world? Today there are hundreds of millions of Christians, hundreds of millions of Moslems and millions of people who follow the teachings of Moses (PBUH). All divine religions share and respect on word and that is “monotheism” or belief in a single God and no other in the world.
The holy Koran stresses this common word and calls on an followers of divine religions and says: [3.64] Say: O followers of the Book! Come to an equitable proposition between us and you that we shall not serve any but Allah and (that) we shall not associate aught. With Him and (that) some of us shall not take others for lords besides Allah, but if they turn back, then say: Bear witness that we are Muslims. (The Family of Imran).

Mr President,

According to divine verses, we have all been called upon to worship one God and follow the teachings of divine prophets.
“To worship a God which is above all powers in the world and can do all He pleases.” “The Lord which knows that which is hidden and visible, the past and the future, knows what goes on in the Hearts of His servants and records their deeds.”
“The Lord who is the possessor of the heavens and the earth and all universe is His court”
“planning for the universe is done by His hands, and gives His servants the glad tidings of
mercy and forgiveness of sins”. “He is the companion of the oppressed and the enemy of
oppressors”. “He is the Compassionate, the Merciful”. “He is the recourse of the faithful and guides them towards the light from darkness”. “He is witness to the actions of His servants”,
“He calls on servants to be faithful and do good deeds, and asks them to stay on the path of righteousness and remain steadfast”. “Calls on servants to heed His prophets and He is a witness to their deeds.” “A bad ending belongs only to those who have chosen the life of this world and disobey Him and oppress His servants”. And “A good and eternal paradise belong to those servants who fear His majesty and do not follow their lascivious selves.”

We believe a return to the teachings of the divine prophets is the only road leading to
salvations. I have been told that Your Excellency follows the teachings of Jesus (PBUH), and believes in the divine promise of the rule of the righteous on Earth.
We also believe that Jesus Christ (PBUH) was one of the great prophets of the Almighty. He has been repeatedly praised in the Koran. Jesus (PBUH) has been quoted in Koran as well; [19,36] And surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord, therefore serves Him; this is the right path, Marium.

Service to and obedience of the Almighty is the credo of all divine messengers.
The God of all people in Europe, Asia, Africa, America, the Pacific and the rest of the world is one. He is the Almighty who wants to guide and give dignity to all His servants. He has given greatness to Humans.

We again read in the Holy Book: “The Almighty God sent His prophets with miracles and
clear signs to guide the people and show them divine signs and purity them from sins and
pollutions. And He sent the Book and the balance so that the people display justice and avoid the rebellious.”

All of the above verses can be seen, one way or the other, in the Good Book as well.
Divine prophets have promised:

The day will come when all humans will congregate before the court of the Almighty, so that their deeds are examined. The good will be directed towards Haven and evildoers will meet divine retribution. I trust both of us believe in such a day, but it will not be easy to calculate the actions of rulers, because we must be answerable to our nations and all others whose lives have been directly or indirectly effected by our actions.

All prophets, speak of peace and tranquillity for man – based on monotheism, justice and
respect for human dignity.
Do you not think that if all of us come to believe in and abide by these principles, that is,
monotheism, worship of God, justice, respect for the dignity of man, belief in the Last Day, we can overcome the present problems of the world – that are the result of disobedience to the Almighty and the teachings of prophets – and improve our performance?
Do you not think that belief in these principles promotes and guarantees peace, friendship and justice?
Do you not think that the aforementioned written or unwritten principles are universally
Will you not accept this invitation? That is, a genuine return to the teachings of prophets, to monotheism and justice, to preserve human dignity and obedience to the Almighty and His prophets?

Mr President,

History tells us that repressive and cruel governments do not survive. God has entrusted
The fate of man to them. The Almighty has not left the universe and humanity to their own devices. Many things have happened contrary to the wishes and plans of governments. These tell us that there is a higher power at work and all events are determined by Him.
Can one deny the signs of change in the world today?
Is this situation of the world today comparable to that of ten years ago? Changes happen fast and come at a furious pace.
The people of the world are not happy with the status quo and pay little heed to the promises and comments made by a number of influential world leaders. Many people around the wolrd feel insecure and oppose the spreading of insecurity and war and do not approve of and accept dubious policies.
The people are protesting the increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots and the rich and poor countries.
The people are disgusted with increasing corruption.
The people of many countries are angry about the attacks on their cultural foundations and the disintegration of families. They are equally dismayed with the fading of care and compassion.
The people of the world have no faith in international organisations, because their rights are not advocated by these organisations.

Liberalism and Western style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of
humanity. Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the
sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic
We increasingly see that people around the world are flocking towards a main focal point –
that is the Almighty God. Undoubtedly through faith in God and the teachings of the
prophets, the people will conquer their problems. My question for you is: “Do you not want to join them?”

Mr President,

Whether we like it or not, the world is gravitating towards faith in the Almighty and justice
and the will of God will prevail over all things.

Vasalam Ala Man Ataba’al hoda
Mahmood Ahmadi-Najad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran”


…And I forgot my most important point: the message of Jesus has very little to do with any of the churches, Protestant or Catholic. Having just re-read the gospels and Acts for my research into the early Church, I can fairly reasonably say Jesus’ main messages were….”Try to be a good person, take care of the poor and disenfranchised, love children, treat others the way you would like to be treated.” Oh yeah….and don’t be a fig tree. He really didn’t like fig trees.


Hey, LeRoy…I’m trying to experiment with our blogs, but I’m not sure why this is better than sending emails back and forth.

I have to admit I am very anti-religion. Not antiGod or anti spirituality, but I just have no tolerance with the bullshit “our” church and other churches seem to think, something like “if you don’t believe in my god, even if you believe in my god but don’t agree with my interpretation of my god, or even my flavor of god, well….I’m going to kill you!

I am so grateful that a million immigrants or immigrant supporters got out…but Valerie will tell you similar stories about the “million mom march” and nothing happened, no follow up, no “assassins for the cause” came later.

I think Martin Luthor should be cannonized. Everything he posted finally happened. Except for one thing. Protestants kept protesting….hoo, ha, what an amazing phenomenon. Rebels keep rebelling.

At this stage of my life, I have little tolerance for religious intolerance, for religious dogma, for anything other than some very high level care for the miraculous fact that both you and I are somehow here. Is that a miracle, or what? We are both on our way out. Good….that is what God intended, I suppose. And if we can do some things yet to be helpful to kids, especially, well, thank God for that.

I can’t say why, exactly, but I am very angry today. My note reflects that. You have sometimes sent emails with “my personal demons” commented. My personal demon right now is me.

No chirping this morning. As always, a beautiful dawn, me in chapel as always, but….



Sleeping in this morning? No chirping about Ajijic sunrises or chapel meditation, and definitely no early dawn post sent to the Dialogue. I meant to comment on the college photo of your father: good looking in an Ivy-league manner, seems cheerful and enthusiastic, and if I am not mistaken, presents himself as forward-looking and energetic. I remember you at that age; indeed, you were very much like your father.

I have been fussing for some time about the relative contribution of Protestants and Catholics to Cesar Chavez and his farmworker movement, and this short essay is the interim result. Don’t ask me why such matters seem important to me, I do not know. I cannot explain it.


The first point I wish to make is that history will never accord to Protestants the credit they deserve for the founding, the credibility, the support, and the momentum they gave to Cesar Chavez and his farmworker movement. My second point is that history will assign the credit to Catholics.

Before I discuss the reasons that might account for such an historical rewrite, it is necessary, I think, to provide full disclosure about my childhood Protestant bias. As a descendent of austere French-Canadian Catholics, I lived my childhood in a rural community of Northern California (pop: 2,900) under the religious auspices of conservative Irish Catholic priests. This childhood period would have been 1940 -1948. Given this religious context, I was not permitted to associate with Protestants, go inside their churches, attend youth activities in their church halls, or attend a church wedding or funeral. But especially, I was not permitted to date a Protestant or worse still, marry one. (A lesser standard was applicable to non-Catholics, who were not Protestants. For example, my mother married a non-Catholic (my father) but to remind her of this deviance, she was not permitted to be married from the church altar, but was required to stand outside the communion rail.)These religious strictures were the important stuff of my 1940’s Catholic childhood. It must be difficult to believe but the first Protestant church I entered was during my college years, when I walked into San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral to take an organ lesson. Even as I write this paragraph, I shudder to remember how marginalized and narrow my upbringing was.

My first working experience with Protestants came at the age of 31, when I joined up with Cesar Chavez and his farmworker movement. It was in this context that I met the California Migrant Ministers (not priests, mind you) as Jim Drake, Chris Hartmire, David Havens, Gene Boutilier, Phil Farnham, Richard Cook, Dale Van Pelt, and many others. These Protestants were ordained religious men working at ground zero doing the daily work of building the farmworker movement. Catholics talked a good game, but it was the Protestants who literally rolled up their sleeves and joined the farmworkers to organize, strike, and boycott.

As a progressive Catholic I had read about the controversial (even though minuscule) worker-priest movement in France but in Delano California, through the National Farm Worker Ministry, I saw its reality in the creation of a full-blown worker-priest program, which included both men and women and their families. This ancillary movement formed the organizational backbone of much of the organizing and boycott activities of Cesar Chavez and his farmworker movement.

And the Catholics? Many of the full time farmworker volunteers were Catholic, but none were assigned to the movement as part of their institutional church, in fact, just the opposite. They represented only their personal commitment. Some concerned priests and nuns – mavericks, I would call them – supported the farmworker movement, even in the early years of the strike, but they too were on their own; they did not enjoy the official institutional support of their bishops; they walked a fine line between the teachings of the church with respect to the rights of workers to form unions, and the Sunday contribution collection plates, which were heavily supported by rural Catholic growers.

What puzzles me now, more than 40 years later, is why Protestant ministers who were associated with the National Farm Worker Ministry during that era, or who were members of this utterly unique and radical farmworker-priest religious ministry, evince no interest in discussing, documenting, or reflecting about their role in the farmworker movement. Nor do any seem interested in the origins of the ministry, its theological underpinnings, or its subsequent history. Perhaps this priestly ministry so identified itself with the cause of the farmworkers, it lost any sense of its own institutional separateness. If this is the case, it is commendable, but it also represents an important and significant historical memory loss for the rest of us.

By default, the institutional Catholics have the farmworker history playing field to themselves, and it is their history of involvement you will read about; deserving perhaps, but in reality, only a small fraction of the story about the religious influences that sparked the development of the farmworker movement in the 1960’s.

Don, do they have sunsets in Ajijic?

The best,




I loved your “Virus and us” the first time I read it a few weeks ago, I like it even better now because of your fine tuning. I know how difficult it is to keep a story like this in check and under control, especially for a shameless punster like you. Clever, very clever. Good work.

While you were in chapel meditation this morning watching the glorious Ajijic sunrise, I was hard at work righting one of Sacramento’s greatest wrongs – warding off the ever-increasing urban encroachment into William Land Park. Don’t laugh, this is the stuff of civility, sanity, and the quality of life. Even our city codes speak to the need to protect parks, open space and the urban forest in order to provide refuge from the “ever-increasing urbanization in Sacramento.” I told you, this is a serious matter, and don’t be misled by the fact that I am the only person I know who seems concerned about this encroachment because change begins with one person.

During my daily walk in the park, I counted more than 160 galvanized pipe standards in the interior streets of William Land Park. – 102 with signs, 58 without signs. Most of the signs read: No Parking Any Time (58), and No Open Alcohol Containers (26). On one street within the park (4/10 of a mile in length) there are 36 No Parking Any Time signs.

With my Rescue Land Park campaign, it took me almost four years to build enough political pressure to convert William Land Park from its misuse as a 1000-car college parking lot back to park status (effective January 1, 2007). How long will it take me, do you think, to reduce the number of sign standards by 50% and paint out the rest with park-appropriate colors? You are probably right.




The mention of your father, whom you never knew, prompts these comments about the relationship with the father I knew. Never sick a day in his life, he died at age 56 from pancreatic cancer. This was 36 years ago.

As I began the process – in fits and starts, at first – of writing my series of Easy Essays, I found myself drawn to write about my father. Strangely, I felt just the opposite about my mother. Even though both were deceased when I began to write, I instinctively felt my father would approve, and my mother would not. I still feel the same way.

Through death, you lost a father, whom you never knew. Through a series of voluntary separations, I lost my own father. At the age of fourteen, I left home to attend boarding school sixty miles away; I came home once or twice a month on weekends. This would have been 1948. The second separation occurred a year later when I entered a religious monastery. For the next seven years I saw my father only once a month on “Visiting Sunday”. A further, and more deliberate, separation was caused by strict adherence to the monastic religious ideals of seeking to separate oneself from the world, including one’s family members, for the sake of serving God – we were taught to be “in the world, not of the world.” Such separation included wearing monastic garb, giving up the family name and replacing it with a religious one, and keeping one’s family at a distance, lest they become a distraction and/or interfere with our religious calling.

I cannot say what the relationship with my father would have been without these voluntary separations. Probably not much different, I suppose, than what it turned out to be. In the first half of the 20th century, the family role of fathers was much different than it has become thus far in this century. My father’s relationship to his own father seemed detached and distant to me, much like my own to my father.

In your case, you think – and wonder – about what relationship you might have had with your father if you had been given the opportunity to know him; and in my case, even though I knew my father, I wonder what my relationship might have been had I not chosen to separate myself from him.

All the best,




My definition – a compilation, really – of an organizer goes something like this:

>An organizer is a person who knows how to create something out of nothing.
>An organizer is a person who takes something that does not now exist, and make it exist.
>An organizer is a person who creates his/her own reality.
>An organizer is a person who knows how to create a path of forward motion moving from the known to the unknown.
>An organizer is a person who knows how to mold chaos.
>An organizer is a person who recognizes the blind alley, knows how to alter course and pick up the pieces.
>An organizer is not the person who does all the work, but the person who knows what work has to be done, who can do it, and why.
>An organizer is a person who interprets for others the small victory achieved today, which will surely lead to a larger victory tomorrow.
>An organizer is a person who recognizes the seeds of victory sewn in today’s defeat.
>An organizer is a person who does not ask others to do what he/she will not.
>An organizer is a person who leads not by fiery bombast, but by example, by patient teaching, by their wits, and by a stubborn persistence.
>An organizer is a person so convinced, that others respond to his/her request for help.
>An organizer is a person who organizes the march, not the person who leads the march.
>An organizer is a person who does not accept no for the answer.
>An organizer is not an administrator, that is another person.

Have a nice Friday.




In anticipation of surgery, the medical profession strongly recommends at least two weeks of abstinence from the use of aspirin. Presumably, this is a preventative measure to control excessive bleeding or some other, but in my case this recommended aspirin-abstinence has generated some drug withdrawal-like symptons, especially a feeling of insecurity. Believe it or not, I have taken two aspirin-a-night for at least 50 years, certainly since 1956, but I believe even before that. Do the numbers: 36,500 aspirin. Is it any wonder that I am experiencing the pangs of withdrawal.

Who is to blame for my addiction? That’s easy, my grandfather and the Christian Brothers. During certain extended periods of my childhood, I lived with my grandparents – this would have been during the 1940’s. Every evening at bedtime, my grandfather would take down a glass tumbler from the cupboard, fill it with water, and bring it to the dining room table. Into the water, he dropped two Alka-Seltzer tablets, which fizzed so loudly you could hear it, especially if you placed your ear right next to the glass. Before the tablets were completely used up, he drained the entire glass with a gulp or two. Sometimes, he would let me take a sip just before he drank it down. Why did he drink Alka-Seltzer? I have no idea, but he did so every night, as regular a ritual as that of my other grandmother who knelt down every night – and everyone in the house with her – to pray the Rosary before she went to bed. In the 1940’s, adults were in charge, and children were meant to be seen and not heard, and no explanations about these kinds of family rituals – health or religion – were ever proffered.

True, Alka-Seltzer is not aspirin, but I knew there must be some relationship between this mysterious fizzing medicine and sleeping well, and besides, aspirin was readily available to me, and Alka-Seltzer was not – the drugs are different but the principle was the same. However, the real culprit responsible for my aspirin addiction were the Christian Brothers. As a young – a very young – Christian Brother, just out of college, we were permitted to drink a glass (or two, if you hurried) of wine before the evening meal. This was the modern-day equivalent of the cocktail hour, except in our case, it was 30 minutes by the clock. The wine was sweet – a sherry, a tokay, a port – and on a growling stomach waiting for the dinner bell to sound, it packed a wallop. Looking back now, I cannot even imagine how I was able to drink it. But the nighttime effect of this sweet wine resulted in a throbbing headache; I could not sleep. I remembered my grandfather’s remedy and simply substituted two aspirin. I tell you, it was a miracle cure! Two nighttime aspirin warded off all the side effects of the alcohol stupor, and I slept like a stone.

The story of my aspirin addiction.

Take care, Don.




Your daughter was kind enough to alert me that you have been knocked off-line since last Thursday, and might not get power back until later this week. This explains your (enforced) silence. Truthfully, I was getting worried about you, and besides, how would I explain to our vast Website audience that I was carrying on a dialogue with a silent classmate? It is true, I talk to myself, but not in public.

Today marks the first U.S. Immigrant Boycott Day in our history. Millions of immigrants and their supporters are expected to take to the streets to protest the efforts of House Republicans to classify them as criminals and have them deported. Think about it: advocating legislation to create a criminal class of 11 million people. Even the W isn’t willing to pander to that extent.

Last evening I talked with a longtime friend and colleague, albeit much younger than me, about Mexican immigrants. He is Latino himself. He made these two points:

1. Most Americans do not yet realize that the U.S. – Mexico border has already been moved northward – at least fifteen miles or more, by his estimation. This new area – between the old and the new borders – in effect belongs to Mexican nationals. In the abstract, it still remains U.S. territory but in reality, it is Mexican. If the W administration is truly serious about building a thousand mile Israeli-wall on our border with Mexico, I wonder which border it will choose? The wrong one, I’m sure.

2. When my Latino friend is challenged: Why are you supporting this gated 2 billion dollar subdivision when you know that only rich white people can afford to live there? I look at it this way, he responds. Those are our (immigrant) jobs! We are going to get the unskilled construction work to build those homes, we will clean their houses, nanny their children, landscape their gardens, and wash their cars – and when our grandchildren marry their grandchildren, they will move into those houses. Cesar Chavez had a saying: your currency is either time or money. Immigrants don’t have the money, but they have the time.

Have a nice Friday.




I heard the thrill of anticipation in his voice: do you want to see your stone? I thought for a second. See my stone? If I have a thousand choices left in life, this would not be one of them; or even if I have ten thousand left, but what could I say? The reality was this: I’m flat on my back, my feet have been fitted high up into the stirrups, and there is a camera up my penis. This professional wants to show me my stone, he awaits my answer. Sure, why not? I said. There is a delay while the nurse swings the portable monitor into a place where I can view it. There it is! he says. Can you see it? Yes, I said, I see it.

It is true, I did see the stone floating around in my bladder; it looked to be the size of a marble. What was it doing there? How did it get there? How do I get it out? Or do I? I lost interest. The truth is I have never been interested in learning about things medical. The medical headline in the newspaper and/or the first paragraph of the newspaper article satisfy any interest I have about medical matters. Members of my family use medical terminology to discuss health-related matters; I barely understand their conversation, and I lack sufficient motivation to overcome my ignorance. Why is this, do you suppose? Most likely a case of: what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Of course this is dumb, but I have always been this way, even since childhood.

The professional tells me he will break the stone into little pieces and wash it out. This sounds like a reasonable thing to do, I tell him. But how am I going to show Don my stone? I wonder. Well, you have heard the saying: even if they don’t come, they have been invited.

All the best,




Without doubt, this is the craziest undertaking of my life. Why would I wish to risk public humiliation by creating an Internet forum to carry on a dialogue with another person? Worse yet, why would I recruit one of the few friends I have left – a high school classmate, no less – to participate in this crazy public spectacle?

Think about it. For more than five years, a few thousand emails or more between us, we have carried on a private correspondence in which we talked about whatever we wished – no topic was off limits. Well let me stop here for a minute to think about this. Maybe our private email correspondence was not so private after all. In the age of the W, we have learned that the FBI has been secretly authorized to collect information about and spy upon American citizens. I doubt the W would be much interested in what I think or write, but you might be a different story. How guilty would I be, do you think, if in the course of spying on you they might read one of my emails, which detailed the moral outrage I felt since the W declared war against the Iraqi people? Or one of my emails, which expressed how embarrassed I am to be an American citizen during the messianic age of the W? I’m afraid I would be guilty as charged. Very clever ploy on your part, my friend, to deflect the W’s spies to me – and you get off scott free! Expatriates have it so easy!

Well now, how does this first Dialogue post strike you? Is it exhibitionism run amok, an obscure type of intellectual pornography, or just an old man seeking to stave off old-age?

Take care,


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