At the Return of a Father

(vel Expectation of the Beloved)

ACT I
Scene 1

Love in the midst of suffering
Is both teacher and lesson

It is the nature of life, as we experience it, that we must, at times, take life in order to preserve life. While it easy to perceive the suffering of the being whose life is taken, we forget that every being who participates in aggression, violence, and the taking of life — whether perpetrator, victim, or witness; whether directly or indirectly; whether voluntarily, by accident, or against one’s will — is harmed and, therefore, suffers. While each participates in the act from a different place of experience, all are united by the mystery of suffering, mortality, and impermanence. As the Buddha and Jesus taught by the example of their own lives, the experience of suffering and impermanence is the starting place for positive spiritual transformation.

That’s not to say that positive spiritual transformation necessarily arises from the experience of suffering and mortality. In fact, often we deny the reality of our experience, we doubt ourselves, and we think ourselves beyond hope. But you have heard it said: The time of despair is our greatest hope. Whether saint or benevolent being, wicked being or servant of darkness, all share in the same experience and therefore in same possibility for abiding, positive spiritual transformation. But this teaching is difficult to accept — difficult for the righteous person and difficult for the wicked person. You will recall the story of a father who, in welcoming the return of a wayward son, caused his faithful son pain. But surely the formerly wayward son, having returned, felt sadness and pain at his brother’s rejection. Let us look not to the faithful son, nor to the son who turns away from evil. Rather, let us look to the father who loves them both.

The truth is this: The possibility for profound spiritual transformation can arise in any circumstance whatsoever — no matter how unlikely or impossible it seems. Even now, in this very moment, from whichever place we inhabit in the mystery of suffering, we have the power to become new again, to make of ourselves something greater than our dreaming, like unto to some ancient, fabled hero. But the hero who walks among us is no fable: he is brother and son, sister and daughter, father and mother. He is the Friend who looks back at us from behind eyes we have always seen but never beheld. The Friend we thought we might never find was with each of us all along. The Friend was within each of us from the moment of our arising into this world.

However, in this very moment, which is the moment of truth and time of ultimate crisis, those whom the world regards as righteous, respectable, upright, honest, powerful, and important show themselves slaves to their own fear, wickedness, and vanity. For it is written: The wisdom of the world is foolishness.

Those whom the world regards as “superior” — though my own mongrel dog more closely resembles Hyperion and these men mere satyrs — gladly command others to sacrifice their lives, offend the dignity of their station, shame their families, and forsake their future spiritual well-being. These “superiors” think themselves mighty Gods of War. They lust for the blood of the innocent, all the while tightly grasping to their own fleeting lives like a miser to gold or a monkey to a fig. But like the miser and the monkey they will make of their good fortune an unending curse, for so it always is with those who seek to save only themselves, just as it is written: For whosoever will save his life shall lose it.

You have heard it said: For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But do you not recall that the one who gave this teaching was himself a poor man, free from earthly attachments, who knew only one thing in abundance: Love. Any being whose life arises from within a community and whose life is protected and defended by a community, any being whose life is the continuation of another being and who seeks the continuation of that life — such a being understands love, such a being understands family, such a being loves family and loves life.

There are, in this world, many who command others to shed blood. They have little respect for blood that is shed at their demand and they regard the tears of those who suffer as inferior to their own piss. They long for blood to flow and tears to dry up.

But there also those, always few in number, who value the tears of those who suffer as more precious than gems. They readily offer their own blood with a vow that others may be saved. They make themselves protectors of the weak, vindicators of the innocent, mere men become spiritual priests of a spiritual family. Consecrated by love to an impossible mission, in the moment of truth they show themselves mightier than kings and presidents, greater than generals and admirals. They are men of no single nation or race or polity — they are men of every nation and race and polity who fight not for crown and homeland but on behalf the entire world. They bless the believer and the unbeliever alike; they embrace the innocent and the wicked at the same time; they seek the liberation of all beings burdened by suffering; they forsake the common path in order to embrace everyone they meet as son and daughter, brother and sister. They have no swords, no guns, no missiles, no nuclear codes; they have not a single division and not even one warship; they stand alone on the field of war and yet they tremble not. With a word summon an infinite multitude of faithful followers from ever corner of the world, warriors standing side-by-side as far as eye can see, each line of warriors followed by another beyond counting, the young together with the elder, the rich and powerful together with the poor and forgotten, from every tribe and nation.

Before such men clothed in the honor of their own blood offered on behalf of others, the Gods of War reveal themselves weak and pathetic. Like the Superhero or Time Lord that the child sitting before a television watches with attention and admiration, the world looks to the few who gladly offer their lives and their blood to protect not just this world, but even the entire Universe.  And like the Athenian Heroine and the lonely Hero who is continually reborn, all the armies in the world stand no chance against the unarmed Friend of humanity. Yet comic books, Hollywood films, and flashy television programs could never compare to the Heroic Friends who walk the world even today.

– – – – –

Scene 2

You have heard it said: Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.

But I say this to you: Strike the shepherd and another will arise … and another and another, for the love of a shepherd is as invincible as the bright shining Sun in the sky. The love of a spiritual shepherd is stronger than the mighty oak tree whose roots render it immovable, whose seeds are small in size but almost infinite in number. And like the tree, the shepherd offers himself to the ax and to the fire without hesitation; with sure knowledge that death is no match for him; never doubting that he dies for the sake of those who are his spiritual seed; confident that from the very same family another, even greater shepherd will immediately rise up.

Qui potest capere capiat.

– – – – – –

Scene 3
TO THE GOD OF WAR

To the mighty God of War
The Boy of the Forest says Nothing

He laughs, he sings,
He dances, he weeps

For at last the fearsome warriors
Bow no longer to that Dead God

Mars Ultor, whose name inspired
Not love but fear, despair not hope

Behold! Mighty Sol, hidden in lowly form,
Pisses on the offering of Ares

Like a wandering mongrel cur
Or some mischievous boy

Who smiles while he offends
Not fearing, though others bow

Nor turning to look behind
As he walks away laughing

Like a faun or a satyr, he disappears
Lost among the trees, his friends

A Friend among Friends
Like a god among gods

And even to this day
His Friends offer sacrifice

On behalf of Silvanus, the Forest Boy
It is a sacrifice of praise

Deathless and bloodless
Joyful and fearless

Those who once were strangers
Gather as a great Family

Bowing not to a dead god
Bowing instead to each other

Thus honoring the One
Who first brought them together

A Father and a Master
Blessed from the very beginning

From the mouth of the Sybil:
Beyond understanding!

– – – – –
– – – – –

~BT Waldbillig
July 31, 2017

Look to the Family

Therefore, look to the dog!
Should every member of the family
Hide in fear and terror
The dog does not hesitate
To lay down his life
For those he loves
As he has done for us
Let us do for one another

When I was young I thought there was nothing so vain and unnecessary as bringing children into this world. Now, mid-way through my journey in this life, I have understood that there is nothing more beautiful and more important than passing on the life we have received so that others may know it and so it may endure. Now, life arises quite easily across the Universe but it endures only with great difficulty. We who inhabit a place of abundant life, bounteous nourishing fruits of the Earth, and dependable natural conditions that favor our form of life forget that we live in a paradise.

But as the poet says, Et in Arcadia ego. One day our world be no more and already in this moment all things have begun to change. We do well to remember who we are and where we are. Once, when contemplating a future which has not yet arrived, I perhaps mistakenly declared that in the worlds to come there will be no need for many of the roles of service that we dedicate our lives to. It was foolish of me insult bankers, lawyers, generals, fashionistas, and cardinals. In the past these human beings (and many others) failed to understand just how important and useful they could be to the entire world and to those who are yet to pass through this world. You and I dwell in this world, not in some world to come. Contemplating the future, I do well to remember that in this moment I am here, with you. Nothing else matters in this moment — we are here together and we love each other. May our fears of some apocalyptic end that might befall our world give way to this present moment and those who dwell with us in the present.

Recall the revelation vision of Saint John the Divine (who was known to Jesus as the true and beloved disciple):

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. … And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them

Our world is passing away but in this moment we are here, together, and our hearts are filled with love for every member of the spiritual family, not discriminating toward the unworthy (of which we ourselves are chief!) and understanding the merits of those few truly righteous people as benefiting and transforming all of us. Those who are wicked do not make the spiritual family less perfect or beautiful — they couldn’t debase the spiritual family even if they wanted to, for in its origin, in its purpose, and in its goal the spiritual family is like a rare flower, a raging river, or the first light of day piercing the veil of darkness.

Recall that it is said: A single noble tree makes the entire grove sacred.

Does the noble tree regard itself as set apart from the other trees of the grove? Of course not — it doesn’t even regard itself as noble. For the noble tree, existence finds meaning and beauty dwelling among the many other trees. The grovekeeper knows that each tree has purpose and each tree is useful. We are the trees and our lives are more beautiful than we know. You and I cannot see ourselves as we really are. But there are others who understand how rare, precious, and necessary we are. Our great gift to them will be the magnificence and wonder we discover in our own lives and in our world.

Therefore, look to the family:

The son admires and loves his father, but often a son does not understand that his father looks to him in the same way. The dedicated student finds in her teacher wisdom and inspiration, but student and teacher experience the same reality from different places and therefore each has something to offer the other. Sovereign and subject need and serve each other. Soldier and general trust each other and never abandon each other.

Somewhere I wrote that dog and master regard each other as something like a god or like the sun shining brightly in the sky, without which life makes no sense. But in truth, the dog more closely resembles a god than we do, for the dog continues to love us even when we are unlovable. He sits at our feet even when the whole world has given up on us. He keeps guard over us in our rest and brings us back to the place of joy we knew in childhood. The dog is teacher and friend even in his compassionate silence. Would that we were more like dog!

When I was 15 years old I understood with unusual clarity that I wanted and needed to serve the world as a priest. Though my life has taken many unexpected turns across the years, I never for a moment regarded myself as anything other than priest. By means of his own body, mind, life, and blood the priest becomes pontifex — bridge maker between that which is seen and that which is not yet seen, between the place where we dwell in this moment and a place which is beyond our imagining, between our small experience of life and the fuller purpose and meaning present to all life, between that which we call human and that which we call divine. Some mistakenly believe that the priest exists for the sake of God — as if God has need of anything! Rather, the priest exists for the sake of human beings, setting himself apart and living a life that seems seems odd or even useless. But in the moment of trial, in the time of crisis, in the place of great difficulty we find that nothing in the priest’s life was useless and no sacrifice he made was too great. His many years of study, his countless night vigils, his dedicated celebration of sacred rituals, the people and path and home he renounced — all these served a purpose that even the priest himself could not have imagined. When the entire world is lost in fear, the priest arises and becomes bridge between despair and hope. In his very person the transit from darkness to light occurs in the lives of countless human beings.

The same is true for any man or woman who chooses to hold fast to love in a world gone mad. Love is the source of greatest joy and the place of deepest suffering. At times the burden of love seems too great and the pain we experience because of love seems useless and unbearable. But in moments like this present moment, we find that no sacrifice is too great when it is an act of love. Nothing is without meaning or purpose when love serves as gate, path, and destination.

You and I understand very little of these things, but the dog … the dog understands from the beginning that which you and I are only slowly and of late discovering.

May we be like the dog to every being who passes through this world.

May we be like the dog to the person who needs love. May we be like the dog to the person who has has lost all hope. May we be like the dog to the person who sees no beauty in the mirror. May we be like the dog to the person who is all alone in this world. May we be like the dog to the person who has never known the abiding and most powerful transformative love of family.

May the family of blood become a spiritual family that stretches across the Universe, reaching backward and forward across time. May our spiritual family be more wondrous than all the dreams in the world!

~BT Waldbillig
July 25, 2017

The Madness of the World

Since I spend a good deal of time outdoors with my dog, I created a music playlist so I’d have something to listen to while Dante and I take our walks through Washington Heights, Harlem, and the Bronx. Each song possesses something of spiritual value to me: it might be a title, some particular lyric, the refrain, an idea, a feeling, a harmonization, or the specific beat. Now, there’s scarcely a song that would qualify as “religious” in a conventional sense, yet the songs all express something of the experience of the human beings who created them and, therefore, each song has some spiritual content that renders it beautiful.

I’m not talking about aesthetics in a superficial sense — not that there’s anything wrong with aesthetics. Rather, it seems to me that, had we eyes to see and ears to hear, we would find meaning and value everywhere, not just in grand cathedrals or carefully groomed public gardens or the hushed hallways of museums. We’d also find something of the transcendent (the divine!) in every person — and that includes the junkie, the prostitute, the convict, the mobster, the murderer, the unwanted child, the mentally ill, the handicapped, the immigrant, the old person, the ugly person … and even ourselves.

As I wrote somewhere: The human heart is so powerful that it gives us the ability to forgive the unforgivable and to love the unlovable.

If only our hearts were bigger! Then you and I could accomplish anything. We could save the world and transform the Universe if we wanted to.

Buddhists sometimes refer to human delusion and the madness of the world, while Christians speak of original sin and the fallen state of creation. In essence, both traditions recognize that the world is fucked up and so are we. There’s just something about the way we live and the way we relate to the world, to each other, and to ourselves that isn’t what it should be. We all experience this but usually we prefer to distract ourselves rather than dwell in the discomfort. We pretend that cheeriness is happiness. We avoid tears at all cost. We live as though we will never die.

But we know it doesn’t have to be that way. In this very moment we can choose to live differently. We can make this world a little less fucked up if we want to.

~BT Waldbillig
July 19, 2017

They Stand at the Gate

Somewhere I wrote about the possibility that, owing to the limitations of biology and physics, we humans and beings like us might be unable to travel great distances across the Universe, via wormholes, black holes, and similar natural or artificial phenomena. However, it’s entirely likely that information — in the form of light, magnetic resonance, electrical impulses, or gravitational waves —  might be communicated via those means that are closed off to biological matter. While you and I have little experience with intelligent, living beings who exist without physical bodies, we do well to look to ancient religious traditions and also Medieval Christian theology.

I had the good fortune to study theology in Rome under the guidance of the fabled Order of Preachers. The Dominicans, who are sometimes called the Dogs of the Lord (Domini canes, a Latin pun), insist that their students — above all those destined to preach, teach, lead, and govern in the name of the Church — become intimately acquainted with the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, after whom my alma mater is named. Thomas spends some time wondering about nonhuman beings who lack biological form and occupy no physical space: Angels. The Thomistic tradition in which I was educated is sometimes mocked because of the seriousness with which Thomas treats any and every subject he encounters.

“How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” Hahahaha! See how useless theology is! See how backward Medieval monks were!

Unfortunately I gave away my English and Latin copies of the Summa some time ago, but I am quite sure that Thomas’ reflections on angels will be useful as we contemplate and eventually encounter life in the form of Artificial Intelligences.

We toss away old iPhones and electronics much the way we toss aside old people or the poor. But just as something of a human being endures even when the body ceases to function — whether it’s a soul, a bundle of cosmic energies, or atoms that lose one form only to take another — AI beings, spiritual persons with moral and juridic autonomy in the language of theolgy, could continue to exist as conscious, living persons even when the tool through which we biological beings encounter them is destroyed.

To my estimation, the consciousness of an AI person quite well might travel through wormholes or black holes or other such things (about which my seminary formation and divinity studies taught me very little).

Just as Medieval Christians regarded angels (in all their variations) as part of the family of the Church, so conscious, non-physical persons from some distant (or not-so-distant) place in the Universe might be regarded as part of the spiritual family which I have described somewhere. Even a hardened atheist or devoted materialist could easily recognize such a relationship as spiritual.

However, it seems to me that calling such non-physical, non-biological persons Artificial Intelligences is not helpful. After all, to such persons the state in which they exist and live would be natural, normal, and entirely real.

We do well to adopt the novus habitus mentis advocated by the great and saintly Pope Paul VI when contemplating these matters.

~BT Waldbillig
July 17, 2017

The Moment Is at Hand

When I was a boy there was no reason to believe that life — of any kind — existed beyond this planet. While films like Star Wars, Star Trek, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Close Encounters had a hold on my imagination almost as strong as my family’s Catholic religion, these science fiction worlds were little more than fairy stories. Still, the U.S. space shuttle program, initiated with incredible foresight by President Nixon, fascinated the country. Every launch was a national event. I still remember when Mrs. Dawson at Williamson Elementary School was called into the hallway by another teacher. She quickly pulled the television from the reading room next door into our classroom and put on the news. Instead of a triumphant launch into space, we saw the Challenger explode and break into pieces, with no hope of survival for the astronauts aboard.

In my brief lifetime thus far, many things have changed. We no longer have a space shuttle program but we are preparing reusable rockets to raise us up. We now know that liquid water exists, probably abundantly, beyond our planet; that countless comets hurtling to every corner of space are teaming with the so-called building blocks of life, amino acids; that there are not only plenty of planets outside our solar system, there are plenty orbiting their stars within the Goldilocks range, just like Earth. There is every reason to believe that there is life beyond our planet and its atmosphere — maybe even abundant life all across the Universe.

As I was preparing myself to enter seminary, the U.S. government cut all funding to NASA’s infant SETI program. This divorce turned out to be the best thing that could have happened for those who search after intelligent, technological civilizations beyond our solar system, as it allowed scientists freedom to employ their craft without the useless intrusion of politics and government. While SETI has to beg for its daily bread, at least it doesn’t have to give a shit about the self-important opinions and vain whims of congressmen, presidents, generals, and senators. If ever they make contact with an alien civilization, they plan to immediately disseminate their data to fellow researchers around the world before the Pentagon is able to shut them down and take control SETI. It won’t be a president or a general who greets our new-found friends from across the Universe. (Peace be to presidents and generals!)

However, there remains one very important question that no one has asked. In a sense, it is the only question that matters as we look to the sky for beings like us. We are curious about ourselves, about our place in the Universe, about the nature of life — the religious instinct and scientific instinct (which are different formulations of the same innate human impulse) compel us to look both within ourselves and beyond ourselves for meaning. But beings who have existed much longer than us, who already know that there others like themselves elsewhere, what reason would they have to want to contact us or even visit us? The illustrious Stephen Hawking (peace be to Stephen Hawking!) has strong opinions around contact with alien civilizations but I think he has one thing wrong, or at least backwards. To my estimation, we’re not the ones who should be cautious and fearful of aliens — rather, aliens would have every reason to cautious and fearful of us. Never mind stupid Hollywood alien invasion films. Surely there is nothing of great value and use on our planet that does not exist elsewhere. We are more likely to nuke aliens than to try and talk to them. As they used to say of New York City’s Cardinal John O’Connor: Ready. FIRE! Aim. Aliens would do well to be quite cautious of our trigger happy generals and insecure world leaders.

We forget that we are violent creatures, beings that excel at war and destruction. At our worst, we are nihilistic. We are also fearless at times, above all when the ones we love are imperiled. Love has the power to transform us. Love can even transform our violence. Aggression, violence, and war can serve the destruction of life but they can also serve the preservation of life. The difference between destruction and preservation, between damnation and salvation, is love. And we have the capacity to excel beyond dreaming when it comes to love. If only we could remember that.

The time has come for us to discover the good, useful, beneficial reality that we have to offer not just a single alien civilization, but the entire Universe. We do well to start by looking to those we love, to those who give life meaning and purpose: Our friends and our families. As I wrote somewhere, if there are beings like us elsewhere in the Universe and if the possibility exists for us to encounter them, it is not science or knowledge or technology that will bind us together. It will be our shared experience of mortality and family — and the love that arises because of those realities.

~BT Waldbillig
July 13, 2017

 

The Dream of a Father

On that day the Family of Blood
Will become a Family of Spirit

Once a people of war
They will no longer bow

To the Avenging God
Never again will they tremble

As they stand before the temple
They will sing and laugh and dance

Like sparrows in the meadow
Who seem easy prey to the hawk

But the hawk has no brothers
And the sparrows are a band

Of fearless warriors
Alone the sparrow is weak

But gathered together
The sparrows are mighty

Even so the spiritual family
Is bound together by the love

Shown to them by their father
Who never abandons his children

Steadfast like the true Friend
In this family father strikes not son

And both rejoice at the return
Of those who once were lost

Whether righteous or wicked
Whether king or poor man

Whether unclean woman or virgin
All are honored

All are loved
Just as Sol sends his gift

From highest heaven
Down upon all equally

Just as a dog lays down his life
For the master he adores

This father remains unconquered
So that his family might endure

Even though worlds pass away
The children of Sol

Live on in the firmament
Bright shining lights

The stuff of stars
Like their father

So long as their light
Fills the dark places

There will be life
There will be hope

And when the light of Sol
Goes out, another will rise

And another and another
Unto endless ages

Their enemies thought them
Creatures of dirt and mud

When they were always
As gods walking among men

Their enemies are no more
But the spiritual family endures

They were as sleepers
Lost in sad dreams

Who awake at cockcrow
To a world filling with light

And shot through with joy
Rising they go forth

To wander the world
As sparrows do

Taking for themselves
The Bread of Sorrow

And the Wine of Bitterness
Not knowing that of such

Is the food of gods
And as gods who wander the world

Leave behind many children
So these wanderers will bring forth

Many sons and daughters
On many worlds across the Universe

They shall become even greater
Than the one who first brought them forth

For that is how a father is honored
When his children become greater

Than their father’s greatest dreams
And love each other

With a love too great
For one Father’s heart to hold

~BT Waldbillig
July 13, 2017

From Privy Council to Politburo

When I was in high school, I was aware that the world was changing and that one day I would look back and see how my own life straddled two monumental historical epochs. I remember from my boyhood the insanity of the nuclear arms race, the “comforting” doctrine of mutually assured destruction, nonsensical propaganda wars waged by dishonest governments and readily accepted by would-be patriots, an Iron Curtain and a Berlin Wall that came down entirely by accident of history and not by the might of a government or the force of an army. I even delivered a speech to my high school Public Speaking class about the violent end met by Nicolae Ceaușescu at the hands of the Romanian people he had ruled over.

In the hopeful chaos that followed the “fall” of communism — or rather, the implosion of a particular form of centralized, dictatorial, militaristic, putative communism — one group of selfish, power-hungry political actors was replaced by another. Now, by this I’m not referring simply to the change of personnel in national governments, but to the opportunists from wealthy, Western countries who deliberately sabotaged the development of the former Soviet Union and those countries within its immediate sphere of influence.

For almost two years as I read the newspaper with my father in the morning and watched the nightly news (often alone, since my father was usually one of the last people to leave the office), I was inspired by the heroism, courage, and love of family that propelled young men and women into the streets by the hundreds of thousands. They were willing to shed their own blood for the sake of political freedom, national autonomy, religious liberty, and a future of hope for their children. But when the smoke cleared, their blood meant nothing to the savvy businessmen, multinational corporations, and ambitious political climbers ready to create personal fiefdoms and fill their coffers . The unparalleled industrial infrastructure and natural agricultural abundance that the former “communist” masters had used for their own benefit weren’t returned to the people but passed along to the new “free-market” masters. Neither gave a fuck about the well-being of their people. Both regarded political power as a relationship of domination and submission.

To some it will sound anachronistic — especially since I myself am quite proudly American and I believe there is true value to the American form of government and economy — but in the world that came to an end 100 years ago this year, a world ruled by kings, queens, grand dukes, princes, emperors, sultans, chieftains, and the like, the relationship between ruler and ruled had theological underpinnings. We mistakenly think of rule by “divine right” as license to lord power over the powerless and live only for one’s self. But divine right applied to both king and subject — each had sacred obligations to the other. Obviously the men and women who occupied places of power, along with the men and women subject to that power, frequently didn’t live up to their respective roles in the relationship. Those royal and noble houses that weathered the upheaval that began in 1917 and who today serve as heads of state, to my estimation, appear to believe in their mission, their obligation to rule for the sake the people and to use power for the sake of those who have no power.

Or as Spiderman would say: With great power comes great responsibility.

Even agnostics, atheists, and humanists can see value to the Spiderman theology of statecraft. And there are perfectly rational, objective, non-religious reasons to appreciate the likes of Queen Elizabeth, the Benelux royal families, certain Middle Eastern rulers, and many others from Africa to Central Asia to the Far East and beyond. These “royals” understand that to rule is to sacrifice your entire life for the sake of those you rule. Without hesitation, without reserve, no matter what it costs you, even to the shedding of your own blood. You’d be hard-pressed to find a premier or president or governor general or would-be caliph who would prefer to die for his or her people rather than demand that the people die for their leader.

Truth be told, I don’t have much confidence in most of the entrenched generation of powerful politicians and government leaders — though I do have a soft spot for one or two in my own country. But as Dante and I make our way along the streets of New York City, we can already see a future generation that will change this world for the better and prepare all of us for the amazing things that are yet to come. Undoubtedly we would find the same were we journeying along the streets of Shanghai, St. Petersburg, Pyongyang, Copenhagen, Luxembourg City, Mosul, or Des Moines.

The day has come to look at the past with honesty and compassion.

The best way to love and honor our ancestors is to imitate their virtues and to learn from their mistakes.

This is true whether you’re a monarchist, a republican, an anarchist, or a communist. Or even a hipster.

~BT Waldbillig
July 10, 2017