Echos From Shadows of The Past…

“The Law was made for one thing alone, for the exploitation of those who don’t understand it, or are prevented by naked misery from obeying it.” – Bertolt Brecht

“A man who sees another man on the street corner with only a stump for an arm will be so shocked the first time he’ll give him six-pence. But the second time it’ll only be a threepenny bit. And if he sees him a third time, he’ll have him cold-bloodedly handed over to the police.” – Bertolt Brecht

In 1933 the Nazis seized power, and like many German dissidents, the writer Bertolt Brecht had to leave. After several moves, he ended up in Denmark where he and his family accepted the offer of a house in a remote village. It was there that he penned an essay which quickly began appearing in different European cities. The journal responsible was Unsere Zeit (Our Times). It was even smuggled into Germany and distributed under a plain cover. The title “Statutes of Reich Association of German Writers.”

The actual title of this work was “Funf Schwierigkeiten beim schreiben der Wahrheit,” which translates to “Five Difficulties in Writing the Truth.

Brecht went on to say that if one chooses to oppose lies and ignorance, and to write the truth, there are five difficulties that you must overcome.

The real title of the essay was “Fünf Schwierigkeiten beim schreiben der Wahrheit,” or “Five Difficulties in Writing the Truth.” Brecht wrote:

“These days, if you want to struggle against lies and ignorance, and to write the truth, you must overcome at least five difficulties. You must have the courage to write the truth when everywhere truth is repressed. You must have the wit to recognize the truth, though everywhere it is concealed. You must have the skill to make the truth into a weapon. You must have the judgment to choose those in whose hands the truth will be effective. And you must have the cunning to spread the truth among such people.”

While the obstacles he faced were epic under fascism, they are also present in the lives of writers who have suffered exile, had to flee their homes and also for those who live in countries that claim to be democracies when they are not. Today we live in a world where fascism is rearing its ugly head. In some countries more than others, it is quickly become the rule of law in some parts of the world.

I believe that it is time to dust of Brecht and to committ to exactly what type of writer each of us will strive to be. Remembering his circumstances and reading his words, I shall endeavor to follow his ideals.

The Courage to Tell the Truth

It seems obvious that, as a writer, you should write the truth, in the sense that you ought not to suppress or conceal anything or deliberately write things that are untrue. You ought not to bow down before the powerful or betray the weak. It is, of course, very hard not to bow down before the powerful, and it is highly advantageous to betray the weak. To displease the possessors means to become one of the dispossessed. To pass up paid work or to decline fame when it is offered may mean being unpaid or unknown forever. This takes courage.

Any truth worth writing is one that those in power do not want you to tell, and the enemies of truth will try to exact a price. They will leak your personal information to the press or to your enemies. They will dox you. They will try to make it embarrassing or frightening or dangerous to tell the truth. A man who corrupts whole countries gets less prison time than a woman who votes by mistake. This is what power means.

In times of oppression, there is usually much talk about elevated matters. To write that you are “in the resistance” feels dramatic and important. You can get the feeling that you are a truth teller, because truth ought to feel dramatic and important. What is this feeling of drama? Surely, it must be the truth. In such times, it takes courage to write of low and boring matters such as food and shelter, access to healthcare, the rights of refugees.

When every channel is blaring the message that strong feelings trump knowledge, and that a man without compassion is more deserving of attention than one who cares for others, it takes courage to ask: Who profits? When all the talk is of who is a real American, it takes courage to ask: Who is unreal?

It also takes courage to tell the truth about yourself, about your own defeat. You lost. They are drinking your tears. Many of the oppressed lose the capacity to see their own mistakes. It seems to them that the persecution they suffer is itself the greatest injustice. The persecutors are wicked simply because they persecute; the persecuted suffer because of their goodness. But this goodness has been beaten, defeated, suppressed. It was therefore a weak goodness, a bad, unreliable goodness. For we cannot accept that goodness must be weak as rain must be wet. Weakness is not goodness. Goodness is not a weakness. It takes courage to say that the good were defeated not because they were good, but because they were weak.

Naturally, in the struggle with lies we must write the truth, and this truth must not be a lofty and ambiguous abstraction. When we say of someone, “She spoke the truth,” we imply that some people said something that was not the truth—a lie or a generality—but she said something practical, factual, undeniable.

It takes little courage to mutter a complaint about the triumph of barbarism in a place where complaining is still permitted, even prized. Many writers pretend that the guns are aimed at them when, in reality, they are merely the targets of influencers, trackers, and ads. They shout their generalized demands to a world of friends and followers. They insist on a generalized justice for which they have never done anything. They ask for generalized freedom: Alexa, make the government change.

These writers think that truth is only what sounds good. If the truth turns out to be difficult or dry, they don’t recognize it as such. Because what they crave isn’t the truth but a feeling and a status: the feeling of truth, the status of being a truth teller. The trouble with them is: they do not know the truth.

Upcoming Post: The Wit to recognize the Truth

Bisous,

Léa

LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN

Please, open your heart and feel each word.

“When I was five years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wrote down “happy.”They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – Langston Hughes

LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN

Langston Hughes – 1902 – 1967

Let america be america again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed-

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek-

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean-

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today-O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home-

For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,

And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa\s strand I came

To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?

Surely not me? The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed

And all the songs we’ve sung

And all the hopes we’ve held

And all the flags we’ve hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay-

Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again-

The land that never has been yet-

And yet must be-the land where every man is free

The land that’s mine- the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s ME-

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose-

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me

And yet I swear this oath-

America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We the people must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain-

All, all the stretch of these great green states-

And make America again!

*******

Bisous,

Léa

Red’s own story

“And whenever I’m in a situation where I’m wearing the same as 600 other people and doing the same thing as 600 other people, looking back, I always found ways to make myself different, whether it be having a red lining inside of my jacket, having red shoes, it hasn’t changed.”
– Jeremy Irons

“When in doubt wear RED.”
– Bill Blass

 

Red’s Own Story

 

She is the thick

Slick enamel

That covers my nails

A pointer when tracing

Concentric circles

On bare flesh

She is the sports car

Darting along the highway

Hugging the curves

Turning an eye

She is the ripe

Succulent strawberry

Her flesh firm

Yet yielding

Tantalizing dipped in dark chocolate

Suits her best

She is the

American beauty

Long stemmed, heady fragrance

Her tight buds unfurl

Exposing her inner delicacy

We forget the thorns

She is the creamy dark war paint

On my lips

A signature

When and where

I choose to leave my mark

She is fire

On the move

Churning inside

Rising up

Beckoning me on

She is

Passion

 

Bisous,

Léa

Deep in the jaws of a pandemic – If

At times like this, I seek knowledge, wisdom and some comfort from some of those who have lighted the way for many in the past. Instead of the usual quotes, I hope I give you much more today.

 

If               

If you can keep your head when all about you,

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good or talk too wise:

 

If you can dream and not make dreams your master;

If you can think and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear the words you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breath a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And-which is more- you’ll be a man, my son!

 

– Rudyard Kipling 1865 – 1936

I do hope you take his words to heart and perhaps listen to what he is telling us and perhaps you? Despite this poem being a century old, it resonates as if told today for the first time. 

Bisous,

Léa

One-Liner Wednesday — Home of the Brave

This, That, and The Other

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“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

Reporter and Peabody Award Recipient
Elmer Davis

I found out about this quote from fellow blogger Léa at Found In France. I’d never heard of Elmer Davis, so I googled him and learned that he was a news reporter, author, the Director of the United States Office of War Information during World War II, as well as a Peabody Award recipient.

Davis had been a reporter and editorial writer for The New York Times before joining CBS radio as a newscaster. In 1942, Davis was appointed to head the Office of War Information, where he won respect for his handling of official news. His liberal stance, however, especially his opposition to military censorship, generated controversy. In 1945 he resumed his career as a news broadcaster, this time with ABC, until 1953…

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This time 20 years ago: on the waiting list — bruises you can touch

CARLY-JAY, I LOVE YOU! For those of you who do not yet know her, please meet the BRAVEST, MOST CORAGEOUS HUMAN I have ever encountered. A lifetime battle with the Health Care System and despite all odds and predictions, she is still with us. Thank the goddess and the goddess is CARLY-JAY! XOXO 

You are without a doubt a hero! 

 

 

This time twenty years ago, I was dying in hospital. Not to be hyperbolic, but I really was. That’s why it was so strange when I had to go into hospital last week to start IV antibiotics for a sinus infection. Sinus – it sounds so innocuous, doesn’t it? Except that it’s become one of […]

via This time 20 years ago: on the waiting list — bruises you can touch

Quotes of the day -Guillement du jour

Despite the passage of time, I find much relevance to the present. If any of these quotes speak to you, or make you think, it is what I hoped for. In addition to the quotes you find here, you will find a few added to the Quotes page and I hope you will stop by. I often find inspiration upon ruminating on one quote or another… Choose a quote and take it out for a walk and see where it takes you. Who will pick up the gauntlet?

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” Malala Yousafzai 

“Diplomats make it their business to conceal the facts, and politicians violently denounce the politicians of other countries.” – Margaret Sanger

“A free race cannot be born of slave mothers.” – Margaret Sanger

“Woman must have her freedom, the fundamental freedom of choosing whether or not she will become a mother and how many children she will have. Regardless of what man’s attitude may be, that problem is hers – and before it can be his, it is hers alone.”    – Margaret Sanger

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”  – George Orwell

“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”  – George Orwell

“Nationalism is power hunger fuelled by self deception.” – George Orwell

“Sometimes the scandal is not law was broken, but what the law allows.”                           – Edward Snowdon

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”  – Mark Twain

“Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”  – Mark Twain

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer up somebody else.”  – Mark Twain

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”  – William Shakespeare

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”                                 – William Shakespeare

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” – William Shakespeare

“How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”  – William Shakespeare

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

“Man becomes great in exactly the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow men.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Power is two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than one derived from fear of punishment.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“What we think, we become.”  – Budda

“Three things cannot be long hidden: The sun, the moon and the truth.”  – Budda

 

 Bisous,

Léa

 

In her safekeeping – Carly-Jay Metcalfe

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill

“I say to people who care for people who are dying, if you really love that person and want to help them, be with them when the end comes close. Sit with them – you don’t even have to talk. You don’t have to do anything but really be there with them.”  – Elisabeth Kulbler-Ross

*

In her safekeeping (For Carly-Jay)

On that freezing

winter’s night

I struggle to

stay on path

fighting the winds

I hear the howling

all too close at hand

it is the darkest of night

even the moon has

turned her face

I am alone

frightened

the way ahead

into the unknown

unprepared

my eyes seek

respite

lifting my head

in the storm

a window

in the distance

illuminating the way

unconditional love

inviting – welcoming

offering safe harbour

the guardian

reaches out – her

voice gentle, calm

reassuring

there is no judgment here

she knows intimately 

its weariness, each toll

her embrace 

I am safe in her keeping

steadfast she escorts me

until I am at last

at rest

*

Webster defines courage as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. To possess such courage, is rare. To find it in one so young as Carly-Jay Metcalfe, is remarkable. To have someone like her come into your life, I promise, will illuminate even the darkest of corners. She can inspire like few others. I am indeed privileged to know her. A writer, a speaker and a champion to those whom she reaches out to in the darkest days of their lives.

Carly-Jay knows death on a first name basis. She has navigated in its shadows since first drawing breath. Yet instead of running from it, she faces it full on to guide others. Please, for your own sake, get to know this amazing young woman. She has so much to offer all who open their mind and heart.

In addition to my meager words, I offer links to explore the world of Carly-Jay, get to know her. Death touches each of us and running from it can only harm us. Enlightenment is the key to life. Carly-Jay is the keeper of the key.

http://www.carlyjaymetcalfe.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYaBlW9sSYQ

*

Bisous,

Léa

Red’s own story

“And whenever I’m in a situation where I’m wearing the same as 600 other people and doing the same thing as 600 other people, looking back, I always found ways to make myself different, whether it be having a red lining inside of my jacket, having red shoes, it hasn’t changed.”
– Jeremy Irons

“When in doubt wear RED.”
– Bill Blass

Red’s Own Story

 

She is the thick

Slick enamel

That covers my nails

A pointer when tracing

Concentric circles

On bare flesh

She is the sports car

Darting along the highway

Hugging the curves

Turning an eye

She is the ripe

Succulent strawberry

Her flesh firm

Yet yielding

Tantalizing dipped in dark chocolate

Suits her best

She is the

American beauty

Long stemmed, heady fragrance

Her tight buds unfurl

Exposing her inner delicacy

We forget the thorns

She is the creamy dark war paint

On my lips

A signature

When and where

I choose to leave my mark

She is fire

On the move

Churning inside

Rising up

Beckoning me on

She is

Passion

Bisous,

Léa