Chapter 2: Power and Peace
Prose & Poetry by JJ Johnson
Power and Peace
1000 Keys & Pay For The War
plus all prose from chapter 2
And Weeds is a philosophically
expressive compilation of poetry and prose, offering progressive views on
politics, peace, nature, fate, faith, family, friendship, introspection, and
is more than simply a collection of
verse with splashes of imagery. This book challenges the mind and heart to find
a better way through observations and feelings on the rise and fall of
character, creatively expressed in rhyme and reason.
Do you know of someone who has allowed pride to grow into a colossal weed and strangle those who will not bow down before his regime? Will we silently witness the simultaneous strangulation of Humanity and Mother Nature at the hands of the foulest fertilizer in the world?
It's time to weed the garden....
I would like to believe that no one wants war, but as I have seen in my
own neighborhoods, many people seem to thrive on gaining power over others. On a
larger scale, nations want to be stronger and wealthier than others. When a
country finds itself in need of natural resources or land, taking it from other
countries has always been the simplest solution. Down through history, wars have
been waged and the winner takes the spoils when the war is won. War seems to be
a survival instinct for cultures. In today’s world, there are new variables
that for thousands of years never came into play. The survival factor is still
there, but now other considerations complicate matters. Terrorism is one of the
more recent issues.
would seem on the surface that terrorism is a good reason to go to war, but the
problem with this idea is that it is not easy to identify who the terrorists are
and which ones have done which act. Also, finding those responsible even when it
is known who they are is not a simple task. Many terrorists belong to
organizations that have more than one national origin, so bombing countries is
not a sure method of removing the groups that are targeted. And to add to the
problem, often innocent civilians, many of whom are children, wind up being
killed in the attempts to root out the terrorists. When this happens, the
survivors of the lost innocents become a threat as they seek out revenge for the
wrongful deaths of their family members. Of course the terrorists rely on this
as a method of reducing potential retaliation against them for their own deadly
Sometimes nations become more like terrorists when they begin wars of aggression. Not for self-defense or survival, but to take another countries resources, or remove a government that does not bend to the will of the stronger nations beliefs. It has happened many times down through history and continues to this very day. Often, the nation that wants to go to war will rationalize all sorts of reasons why the other country must be attacked. Lies are created, truths are twisted, facts are distorted, situations are manipulated, stories are exaggerated and propaganda is spread using every method of communication at the disposal of those who want to go about their conquering with as little interference as possible.
So it is left to those of us who
are free to voice our descent to speak out with our own methods of
communication. Journalists use the press, musicians sing songs, poets write
poems and citizens assemble to be heard as one voice but the strength of many.
Attempts are made to silence those who speak out against the government, rights
are rescinded, laws are changed or abolished, marches are denied, interfered
with or restricted in size and location. When a nation faces its own people as
its opposition, the choice becomes compromise or civil war. And for those who
thrive on war, who have shown their willingness to kill innocent children of
other nations, how far of a leap is it to making war on it’s own citizens?
cannot allow our government to take away the very freedom that protects us.
Freedom of the press is the one component of freedom that prevents our chosen
leaders from silencing decent. When we put our elected officials to task before
the people, it prevents them from secretly shredding the Constitution behind the
shroud of national security. The press must never be put on trial for revealing
the truth unless it truly causes a danger to our society. But to stop the
presses because of political differences is un-American.
Americans lose the right to privacy and their freedom of speech, we must not be
silent. Allowing politicians to pass laws that strip the Constitution of its
ability to protect us from illegal wiretaps, unlawful imprisonment, due process,
the freedom to speak out against those who are doing this very thing to us, is
to accept for ourselves the oppression we have denounced from governments such
as China and the the Soviet Union. The things they did to their citizens are
what we were taught to fear from Socialist Communism, and yet now we are
allowing our government to impose the very same conditions on us, unless we are
with them, that is.
Retaliation has been used against those the government fears most. Smear campaigns pop up at a moments notice, even after a person has been investigated as a matter of course just to obtain the job they have. When they speak out and become a threat to the government and its agenda they suddenly become rapists, child molesters, tax evaders, draft evaders and various other types of criminals. Now we who live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” are being forced to make choices, to put ourselves in harms way and speak out against our leaders for crimes of their own.
The globe is warming day by day
And a burning Bush will lead the way
Then from behind the Bush a chilling breeze
Comes to blow us all away
When Mother Nature's tears can freeze
He rapes her till her spirit leaves
Blazing with pride for all he strips away
Like the bark of fallen trees
A single sound of a thousand keys
Unshackling those hung there by his deeds
Soldiers falling to their knees
A mother found her child today
She wished the dead could pray
One hundred thousand silent pleas
Echo unheard by God through Heaven's haze
Still Allah heard each sing his name in praise
No missing souls, no WMD's
A nationwide candlelight vigil was held in silence to honor the first one
thousand American soldiers killed in the war in Iraq. I attended one just across
the river from my home in Schenectady, held in Freedom Park in Scotia. Silence
can be very inspiring while it lasts and when I arrived back home afterwards, I
wrote 1000 Keys. One year later, the death toll had reached 1888, not including
civilians in Iraq and soldiers from other nations. The silence in our hearts was
not loud enough to be heard by those who will not listen, but still, it beats
with the rhythm of peace and harmony.
many lives can be given, how many can be taken and how many are lost before war
is won and lost? Will the casualties continue to add up or should they be
subtracted from the census and our senses? Do bodies pile up or just require
deeper graves to silence the voices of the dead? Are there distractions that can
take our minds off the destruction of war like kicking ones shin when your elbow
hurts? And rather than fixing both injuries, the Doctor allows your shin to get
infected so you won’t be reminded of how much pain your elbow is in. Then,
before you know it, the immune system is overwhelmed from trying to fight off
infections coming from the outside but growing with. And to think all that was
necessary was a little preventive caring, common consideration and healthy dose
of equality before it all started.
The answer has always been in each one of us, at the core of our being. We must learn to let go of the external sources that penetrate our hearts, making them compete to lead the band with the drum major instinct that craves a volume louder than the skin can withstand. Inevitably, we break through into silence and fool ourselves into believing it is peace and quiet. But when the beating begins again, we come to realize it was only the calm before another storm. Our seasons cycle around in circles as we recycle the seeds that become the weeds that poison the house that God built.
Meanwhile al-Qaeda hides Osama in the Afghan hills
Spun and fled, they live to produce terror another day
In his oval orifice George seeks funds to ease the battle bills
Against his father’s enemy, he swears that he will pay
He’ll win the war at any cost, no matter who he kills
1888 U.S. soldiers dead along with the children of Iraq
Perhaps a distraction of destruction by nature’s forces would prevail
As Katrina stormed the Gulf he opportunely turned his back
He might drown out one mother’s tears with Mother Nature’s gale
Or did he just not care because his latest victims would be black?
Some feared the worst would be costly oil spills
Till the Chevy sunk the levee and the price rose anyway
Filling with water that need not have crossed those hills
Drowning the barren streets but the dead float anyway
The sunken city of New Orleans starves while his hungry war chest fills
Repeating the call though we have heard it all before
Impeach Gee-Dubbaya before he passes on the blame
Evict his whole God dam regime and lock the White House door
For there’s no amount of money that can buy away his shame
But one way or another we will pay for the war
Created On: 09/03/2005
Many people felt before the war began that there was no legitimate reason
to go to war with Iraq. And as time went on, it began to become more and more
obvious. Those of us in the peace movement have been well connected and informed
by various sources throughout the past few years and were aware that several
things the President had said before Congress in his State Of The Union address
were not true. At one point, I recall getting an e-mail about a story that was
being reported in some of the smaller news media, about an Ambassadors wife who
worked for the CIA.
first it seemed shocking to me that it wasn’t being reported on any of the TV
stations or in major newspapers. But up to that point, most of the media was
siding with the Bush administration on the war and I suspected wouldn’t report
the story even if they knew about it, which I assumed they must have. It took
nearly four months before the mainstream news began to report the story, and
after more than two years, it still hasn’t been thoroughly investigated and
dealt with. As long as the government is controlled by the Republican party, it
likely will not be resolved, and if the President is anything like his father,
he will give a pardon to everyone who might be involved just before he leaves
I am of the mind that the President, Vice President and others who have conspired in this illegal war should be impeached and the power to pardon be rescinded until after the hearings are over and it is decided if they should be removed from office or not. The list of reasons for impeachment has grown steadily over the last three years and has reaffirmed my belief that it must be done. It has gone beyond the war to the invasion of the privacy of American citizens. The war profiteering almost seems insignificant compared to the most recent developments. No one is above the law, and the Constitution Of The United States of America is what gives the power to the people to keep our elected representatives working for us and not their own agendas. It’s all we have and we cannot allow it to be disrespected and undermined by corrupt officials, no matter what their office.
Father, Like Son
Created On: 06/17/2003
The issues of war
and hatred make me wonder if there will even be people on the Earth a couple
hundred years from now. Our methods of fighting wars have gotten to the point
over the last 60 years that we could very easily kill everyone in another world
war. The precision of the weaponry is hard to fathom considering how we fought
wars just one hundred years ago. With all our technological advances, the thing
that makes war disgusting is the casualties. From soldiers who lose their
innocence in battle, to innocent civilians who choose not to fight yet have no
choice but to die when the liberating forces sent to set them free, only free
them of their Earthly journey.
the survivors don’t seem to be much better off, whether it is soldiers who
have been physically, mentally and emotionally injured, or people left homeless,
living in impossible conditions, without food, water or much of anything. Iraq
is not the first place to suffer the same result at our hands and the hands of
nearly every aggressor down through the history of humanity. You’d think we
would have learned by now. All we have really learned is how to make better
weapons, but what we need to make better is humanity.
God on our side? God is love, or so I’ve been told. How can anyone who seeks
God find hatred? Those who find hatred from faith seem instead to be seeking
power. How many pray when times are good? How many give thanks for all they have
and the good things that happen to them? Is anyone ever satisfied? It seems to
me that those who have plenty always want more. Yet, when things are not so good
and life becomes a struggle, what do people pray for? People ask God for the
strength to overcome whatever overwhelms them. But I do not believe God gives
strength. Strength is power, which I believe is for God alone to wield.
Shouldn’t we instead ask God for help? If we are humble before God and allow
him to use his power through our faith, I believe his judgment will be just.
If God helps us, that is his decision. If not, why do we so often circumvent his verdict by making war? Helping one another as individuals is not so complex, but between nations, it can be. If, in helping an oppressed nation we kill the very people we were trying to help, we have broken God’s law. There is nothing in the Bible to support war, yet we claim God is on our side when we wage it. If God were on our side in war, we wouldn’t need guns, bombs or gas masks. If God is love, then it seems to me, all we need is love.
Pride Blinds Biased Eyes
America has no more claim on God than any other country, so why is his
name on our money, the symbol of financial wealth? Why do our Presidents always
end their speeches with God Bless America, as if God does not bless other
nations? There is more than one nation under God, yet it suggests otherwise in
our Pledge Of Allegiance.
flag is a symbolic representation of our nation, but it is not the nation.
Nations are made of people, not of the land beneath them or the flags flown over
them. All the land of the world is not a nation without people bringing humanity
on it. The flag represents all that a nation is, not just the good and the
glory, but the mistakes and the wrongs. Soldiers may feel it represents those
who have died for this country, as well it does, but it also represents those
who died at the hands of our soldiers, and not all of those who fell to our
soldiers might did so justifiably. What child has ever deserved to die? Not all
of the blood spilled for our flag has been American.
always claim God on their side when wars are waged, even if Allah is on the
other side. In a country where so many religions are represented by its people,
we cannot have any one placed over the other, regardless of the number of
worshipers any particular religion has. We have one flag for the nation, but the
people of this nation have come from countries all over the world that fly flags
of their own.
I wonder if God flies a flag of his own. I wonder if he has flags from all over the world, flying around him in a big circle, or maybe he has them lined up in a row, with his favorites closest to him. Maybe he just likes the way the stars and stripes look next to one another and that’s why he loves America more than all the others. Or maybe that’s just a bunch of bullshit. Maybe God sees flags as just another way for people to allow pride to consume their hearts and wave in the faces of their enemies. What was that I read about loving thy enemy?
One thing about flags that I always keep in mind is that no matter what
flag it is, it is a representation of something, it is not the thing. Symbols
are not sacred, the feeling behind them is. If someone broke into a church and
destroyed statues of the Saints, Christ or God, there would be reason for anger,
but we also know that those statues are not to be worshipped. Even if they are
original works of art, as opposed to made by a machine in some factory, they are
still not the objects of worship. These representations of our faith are no
different than those of our patriotism.
hurts when one is destroyed, but no ones faith or patriotism is reduced by the
act. We may be insulted when others tread upon our flag, but only when they
destroy what the flag represents is the flag truly burned. New flags can always
be made, but freedom is not something a machine can manufacture. If our freedom
is taken away or minimized, then the flag is being burned by those who take it
from us without smoke or flame.
Flying a flag is a sign of allegiance, flying it higher than someone else’s is when pride grows beyond love and transforms from within into hate. Always let your flag fly along side your neighbors, no matter what color they may be.
Empty Arms And Burning Flags
I went to the mall one afternoon and
purchased a shirt that had a ragged American flag printed on it. I liked the
shirt so much, I decided to wear it that day. As I was walking through the mall,
an old man wearing military clothing and war medals began yelling at me for
having the shirt on and saying it was disrespectful to Americans who served in
the war. And I thought the flag was for all Americans, not just those who go to
war. And how about American Olympians wearing sunglasses with stars and stripes
on the lenses?
I felt he was imposing his
version of patriotism on me. It was not, after all, an actual flag cut up to
make a shirt, it was just a print. When I saw it, to me, it represented the
damage that had been done to America through the 1980’s. The tattered flag was
a way for me to express my opinion on the state of the nation. It hurts me
personally when I see those who have been elected to represent the people using
their offices to impose their agendas on us, rather than for the people.
Coincidentally, this happened in
the same mall where Steven Downs was arrested for wearing a shirt that read,
“Peace On Earth” on one side and “Give Peace
A Chance” on the other. Because the mall is private property, they can
set whatever dress code they wish. Mr. Downs refused to take off his shirt,
which he purchased at a store in the mall, and so was arrested. I never heard of
anyone being arrested there for wearing shirts that promote violence and depict
other objectionable material.
Another issue, aside from the
discriminatory aspect, is that malls are not particularly private, even though
the property is privately owned. The doors are open to the general public and
the food court where Downs was arrested is a place where people go to meet, not
just eat. In-door malls have become community gathering places. Once a place
becomes part of the community, shouldn’t the private rules become secondary to
that of the community?
No matter what the outcome of that debate, if a man can say I should not wear a shirt because he finds it offensive, I should have an equal right to offer an opposing opinion. The question of what is offensive is the heart of the matter. Some view burning the flag as offensive, others see it as a form of protest. As I said before, the flag is not the country. Freedom is not burned because a flag is burned. Freedom is lost when there is prohibition placed on burning the flag. When you lose your right to protest, you lose your freedom.
Stars And Stripes
Though I wrote “There’s More
Than One Way” nineteen years ago, I could very easily have written any time
during the past few years. In 1980, I
wrote my high school senior essay on the Nixon driven, FBI investigation and
illegal wiretaps of John Lennon. Some
said Lennon was crazy when he claimed Nixon had his phone tapped and the FBI was
watching him until his file was made public. I
wonder now, as a war protester,
if there is a file on me in the
FBI. I wonder if there might be one on you. Do you?
I haven't forgotten the lies of
Richard Nixon from Watergate, Viet Nam, and the Oval Office tapes to the
conspiracy to deport John Lennon. Now
we have another President who thinks Executive Privilege applies to anything and
everything he does or wants to do.
No one is above the law and it is clear that the President and his
administration believe they can do whatever they want without any ramifications.
That they believe this to be true makes them even more dangerous. I
wonder how far the secrets go and the files grow.
is no justification for violating the Constitutional Rights of American
citizens, nor is there a need to do so when legal loopholes exist for the
administration to use to do everything it did. If those loopholes did not apply
to the particular situations, perhaps there is a good reason not to violate our
rights. The potential to use information against political opponents or
protestors is too high to allow eavesdropping on Americans without a court
order. If you have to change the law to make it legal to do what you have been
doing all along, then you know what you were doing was illegal.
had his men break into Watergate because he wanted to see if there was anything
in the Democratic parties files that he could use against them to gain the upper
hand in the upcoming elections. I wouldn’t doubt it if the current wiretapping
plot was created with the intent to sway upcoming election results.
How many young Americans will grow up as I have, unable to trust our Presidents because they are allowed to undermine the Constitutional Rights they are supposed to protect. How many will suffer at home and abroad, how many will die because he mislead the entire nation to believe that Iraq was pursuing nuclear weapons and we couldn't wait for the mushroom cloud to take action? I will not forgive or forget the lies of George Bush and all of his men, and women any more than I have forgotten what Nixon and his did.
There's More Than One Way
What's funny and un-funny all at the
same time? One thing that comes to mind is hypocrisy. It's funny because when
you hear someone saying something unbelievable, yet said in all seriousness, you
just have to laugh. On the other hand, when people who listen to a hypocrite
they believe is telling the truth, it is not in the least bit funny. So when
that hypocrite knows his listeners believe him, even when he knows what he is
saying is an outright lie, then that pabulum spewing puppet moves into the realm
of dangerous misinformer. He became neither an entertainer, nor a commentator,
and stepped even further from being a journalist. Lies are never jokes, but
those who tell them are.
It’s no surprise that a liar of such enormous proportions would turn to powerful pain killers, seeking relief from the backlash of hurting others. Perhaps his mind suffered from an endless wave of headaches. His tongue may have nearly choked him from the constant vomiting of mendacity and spinning of half-truths. But worst of all, the pain in his heart, if he indeed has one, must have weighed heavy in his chest. I almost feel sorry for him, knowing his addiction was simply a symptom of unbearable pain. Meanwhile, back on the funny side of all this he, and the other pea brain in his pod, Factorman, should get together and co-star in a movie called “Liar and Liarer”.
Rush To Judgment - Judgment To Rush
I am not
sure exactly when I began feeling that war was something terrible and wrong. It
may have come from my Catholic upbringing, or at least from going to church when
I was a toddler and hearing Priests read about Jesus Christ dying for what he
believed in while not raising a hand or organizing his followers to revolt
against their oppressors. It could have been while listening to Bob Dylan and
other artists who sand out against war, or it might have been something I heard
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr say about the war in Viet Nam. But whatever it
was, I have felt for as long as I can remember, that war is Hell. I don't know
anyone who wants to go to Hell.
was reading about families that found themselves on opposite sides in the Civil
War and got to wondering how often it happened that brothers may have met on the
battlefield. I wondered if any had ever come to the point of having to shoot and
kill his brother. And then it occurred to me, we are all brothers and sisters
under God. No matter what our nationality, color, religion or whatever else
might be a dividing line between us, God sees us all as his children. God has
already given us his commandment on this, so who are we to ignore his pain when
we raise arms against each other, brother against brother?
second generation of humanity, brothers have been killing one another. I suppose
that makes it all right in the eyes of those who want something the other has,
or wants to keep the other from having something they possess. But in retaining
these things, are we willing to lose the one thing that each of us has been
granted by God, that no other living creature, not even an Angel has. Are we
willing to give that eternal spirit to one who has none, and makes practice of
collecting ours for his torturous amusement?
Children / One Family We Are
Created On: 03/03/1985
God's Children / One Family We Are
it is the desire of those who go to war to save their people. Perhaps they are
willing to die in order to be more Christ-like. But no matter what, no war has
ever stopped evil or put an end to the birth of new wars. Though the spoils may
indeed go to the victor, and they in turn write the history of their battles for
future generations to marvel at their bravery and perseverance, the truth that
war leaves only casualties in its wake is undeniable.
is our ultimate goal in fighting wars? What are we preserving by conducting
them? It seems to me to be a misguided attempt at self preservation, or perhaps
the preservation of a way of life for those who think they have achieved a
better condition of existence. Do we think that we will eventually be able to
create Utopia on Earth? But Paradise has already been built for us, and instead
of preparing ourselves for an eternity in it, we diminish our chances of ever
we have been offered a second chance, a way out of our sins. All we have to do
is repent for all we have done wrong and accept that the man who suffered and
died that we might take advantage of that second chance, is our savior. Faith is
the key to Heaven’s gate, so why is it so hard to turn the key when it’s
already in hand? If I had the answer, I wouldn’t have any doubt about my own
fate, so I can at least understand why we needed the Passion of the Christ. I
only wish we could all be grateful for it, I wish I could be grateful.
Not Die For Me
Created On: 01/22/1985
Do Not Die For Me
To view excerpts* from other chapters, click each Chapter Title below
Each Chapter excerpt presented on-line contains two poems and prose from that chapter.*
Information on purchasing this book can be found below the index.
Seeds & Weeds main page: Seeds & Weeds index(click link)
Chapter 1: Pride & Prejudice* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
1: Pride Is One Seed
2: Seeds & Weeds - (prose)
3: 3 Seeds ** (onmain page)
4: 4th Independence
5: Matthew 5:5
6: Knot In The Loop
7: Segregation *
8: Separation *
9: Where Will You Aim Your Hate?
10: NYS OCFS Graduation Speech, Parker Training Academy, 12/10/99 *
11: The Boyz At Tryon
Chapter 3: Faith: Search Within & Beyond* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
23: Great Unknown *
24: Pass On True Freedom
25: A Question Of Faith
26: Have You Heard?
27: Faith In What I Don't Believe
28: Unwilling To Let Go
29: This Dream I Dreamt Last Night
30: The One On My Shoulder - Never Succumb
31: No End To The Flesh
32: Invisible Light
33: Touch *
Chapter 4: Dysfunctionality & Family* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
34: Ro-Ro Rows Her Boat *
35: Quarter-Life Crisis
37: Within Me - Beyond Me *
38: The Task Undone
39: A Ray Of Sun From A Pot Of Gold
Chapter 5: Introspection* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
40: Life Is An Ocean *
41: Self Portrait
42: Forgive Not Forget
43: Two Faced
44: Constant & Changing
45: Walls And Bridges
46: Desire To Fly
47: The Man I Am No One Else Knows
48: Blind To The Me Others See
49: Stock Room Blues
50: But Does God Trust in US?
51: Struggle Against Success
52: Every Eden Has It's Apples
53: See Through Inner Eyes
54: I Am
55: Under The Bridge *
Chapters 6: Mother Natures Sun* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
56: He Who Laughs Last Will Be A Fertile, Mutant Cockroach *
57: Sleep (Hiding From The Touch Of Death)
59: Inner Eclipse
60: Full Womb Crescent Moon
61: Moon & River *
Chapters 7: State Of The Artrocity* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
62: Death Of A Virgin *
63: Artificial Artists (State Of The Art)
64: Artificial Artists (X-Reprise) *
66: Artists Are Lonely
67: Where Is My Muse?
68: Philosophy Therefore Poetry
69: A Test
Chapter 8: Broken Bonds* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
70: Drive Home *
71: Even The Best Of Us
72: This Quiet Cemetery
73: A Ghost At My Door
74: Soul Silhouette
75: Where Are You Going? I've Seen Where You've Been! *
76: A Door Too Close To Closed To Adore You
77: At The End Of Every Rainbow
78: Eye Of The Pirate, Heart Of A Thief
79: Sometimes Wishes Come True
80: What Happened To Us?
Chapter 9: Loose Ends*(click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
81: Big Hair
82: Across The Miles
83: Hidden Alterations
84: Unspoken Thirst
85: Daylight’s Darkness
86: Two Color Souls One Color
87: Someone's Drowning In Your Pool *
88: Aisumasen Renee *
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