Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Wounded Knee - You Can Justify It In The End

I love this song "One Tin Solider" by Coven from the movie "The Legend of Billy Jack."
Spotted Elk lies dead after Wounded Knee Massacre, 1890

It tells a story of "Valley People" who wanted a treasure that was in the territory of the "Mountain People." Whereas the Mountain People were loving and ready to share, the valley bullies decided they wanted the treasure for their very own. And so they killed the mountain folk in order to get that "reward."

The reason I love the song so much, besides the ironic ending which we will get to later, was because of these poignant lines:

"Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of Heaven, you can justify it in the end

You can justify it in the end. 

Cleaning up the mess December 29, 1890, South Dakota
This leads me to Wounded Knee and all the other justified killings humans have ever thought were a "good idea." For all the times warriors, soldiers, and freedom fighters stood in righteousness over their murderous actions, there has been a small cry of sanity hoping for another way.

Wounded Knee - originally termed a "battle" by the victor, later termed a "massacre" by realists - took place December 29, 1890 in South Dakota. The day before, the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment led bands of Miniconjou and Hunkpapa Lakota to Wounded Knee Creek where the Lakota set up camp, surrounded by the Calvary. On the morning of December 29, the troops went into the camp to take away the firearms of the Lakota. That's when all hell broke loose. By the time it was over, between 200 and 300 Lakota men, women, and children had been killed and 51 were wounded. On the U.S. military side, 25-30 soldiers perished, with at least 20 soldiers later awarded the Medal of Honor.

All right. Is that enough insanity for you? No?

Cleaning up the mess, Some time after 1938, Germany.
Consider any other killing. Consider the Holocaust, which ironically carries similar views of mass graves. Consider the simple gang drive-by shooting on the streets of Chicago. Consider the bombs, missiles and drones that wipe out children, families, villages and cities in foreign lands. Consider 911 deaths, and the subsequent deaths of those the U.S. believed perpetrated that terror? Consider the nuclear detonations of August 1945 in two cities in Japan. Consider the hanging of blacks in the south in the an ugly nation's past, or the hangings of dictators in foreign countries today.

It is all insane.

There may be some minds struggling with the previous paragraph above, as some murder may appear justified while others are horrific. But is it not all murder on a tangible level? Do not the 10 Commandments include "Thou shalt not kill" without any asterisks or addendum? Does not one limb break the same as another; one mother wail in agony the same as another, one heart break the same as another? 

All asterisks and addendums were added to "thou shall not kill" after the fact, once a mind could justify not turning the other cheek, but instead pushing and pulling for "bringing the terrorists to justice." Who is the terrorist when all murder results in the same brokenness and horror? The righteous leaders may be able to rally enough fear and hatred in the people to support the pure madness and evil of murder, but does it ever justify it?

Wounded Knee, with its anniversary today, can stand as an example of a humanity gone wrong, a story that shifted from a battle to a massacre, but one that will always be - on a very real level - insanity. We can all learn from it, to realize killing is killing, and it will always have the same result: more killing.

Now, back to the end of our song with which we started this story. Our Valley People wanted that treasure for their very own. Remember?

Now the valley cried in anger - "Mount your horses, draw your sword"
And they killed the mountain people - So they won their just reward
Now they stood beside the treasure - On the mountain dark and red
Turn the stone and which beneath it - "Peace on Earth" was all it said.

Perhaps the only real ending to the story will be peace; perhaps it will be standing for something else besides killing, greed and leverage. Perhaps it will be our own sanity. Perhaps the only thing we ever will be able to truly "justify in the end" will be brotherly and sisterly love.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer living in San Diego, California. He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

For an Entrepreneur - Time to Get Crackin... Pretty Soon

Today is Monday, December 28. You know what that means. 

It's the Monday after Christmas and a few days before the New Years. And you know that that means!

It's a time period where most people are still reeling from the holiday feeling and still in restful anticipation of another holiday.


No? Neither do I. All I know is it's an odd, off-time, where the world appears to be slumbering and sleeping off a Christmas roast beast meal. Work? That's hard to do when you have the winding down of an old year ... and all that freaking chocolate candy calling your name.

However because I'm an entrepreneur with only one boss - the banks and creditors who also call my name - I must keep working and looking for work. Because of this, I have created a regiment, to keep me moving in the right direction. I don't get a holiday break like the college and school kids do, and I don't have "vacation time" saved up. Nope. I'm stuck having to CHOOSE my own life and do all I can to make it all work out.

And so what do I need to do? Simply, I must be faithful to a protocol and regiment laid down before me, with the magic start time of Monday, December 28.

Here we go.:
  • Prayer ... check!  
  • Yoga ... check! 
  • Mediation ... check! 
  • Writing... check! 
Now ... if I could only get some ... checks.

From what I understand, if we - as humans with intentions, dreams and ideals - continue in faith down a path of higher purpose, we shall be rewarded. Must it appear in the form of money, checks, abundant bank accounts? I do not know. I realize I do get attached to such monetary rewards, as the creditors and banks really seem to dig money and all it can leverage.

However I am going to stay open minded ... here on this magic day of Monday, December 28: the first day BACK TO WORK after Christmas, in a time period a bit odd on the energy scale but a phase that I must tread through in order to keep an account book balanced, a career rich with purposeful work, and a life full of joy, happiness and blessings.

At least I DO KNOW what that means.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in San Diego, California. He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Grace's Bracelet - A Gift for the Ages

It was a tough year. It was the end of the year in 2009. I was quite down and depressed. Wasn't sure what could lift my spirits, if anything.

And then there was Grace's bracelet.

Yes, it was a difficult time for all. It was hard for my entire family. For my mom. My 77-year-old mother had fallen ill and was not up to participating much in the holidays. The home-for-the-holidays wasn't ever going to be as it once was.

Giving and receiving gifts, store bought, was always the call of the season. Shopping, gift-wrapping, more shopping, and more gift-wrapping were the norm.

But not this year, and perhaps never again. It was not going to be the same. Not that it ever had to be the same forever, but change is change, and when the past is filled with the beauty and wonder of unconditional gift-giving, change can take on a painful sting.

But then again, there was Grace's bracelet.

A friendship bracelet, made of multi-colored string, fashioned together by a caring teen's hands, lacing in and over and through, until a final gift was created. By the hands of a niece - giving, loving, unconditional.

It would be enough.

In the face of a broken heart, when the family unit wasn't what it used to be, when store-bought gifts would no longer hold the symbol of consideration, carry the currency of care, stand for the transaction of the sacred, it would arrive here: in the simple giving - revealed not in high-powered tools or high-priced products, but in the form of a handmade friendship bracelet.

Like Dr. Seuss' Grinch would discover after his failed attempt at stealing Christmas through packages, boxes and bows, this innocent boy, so loving the tradition of Christmas giving and receiving, would find the light and the love in "something a little bit more."

More than products, more than the store's empty offerings, the gift from a loving niece would reveal the truth once again: it's the care that counts, it's the love that lasts.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer who still owns a friendship bracelet created by his niece. It can be found on his dresser. He can be found at LegacyProductions.org.

Friday, December 25, 2015

It's a Pretty Darn Wonderful Life - And Here is Why

Brought to us by a holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life" this is a lesson in "context" ... a lesson in the way we hold in our minds the world before us ... how we approach that life in our attitude, energy and presence. What context do we hold in our lives as we move about this crazy world?  What is our choice of mindset?
  • "Hurray, here we go!" 
  • "Life is hard" 
  • "Oh drats, what's coming next?"
With so many ups and downs, smiles and frowns, we may believe that our emotions and attitudes are at the effect of our situations and circumstances. However, let's take a look at the classic movie "It's a Wonderful Life." I just want to point out the last part of the movie, not the dreaded circumstances that befell our dear hero George Bailey.

In the face of a bankruptcy, a jail term and the loss of his prized possessions, the reformed George - after seeing the depth of what matters to him - comes home to a house full of characters:
  1. A bank examiner and his cronies
  2. Law enforcement
  3. The media and newspapers
  4. George's children

Now, this is some great movie making, as the director made choices quite symbolic for its main messages. The children are hidden from view at first. All George sees when he rushes in the home are the bankers wanting to repossess his home, some law enforcement with a warrant for his arrest, and newspaper reporters wanting to document the entire mess.

And what is George's response to this obvious breach of territory and decency? The old George (prior to some angelic guidance) would have been distraught and raging. However, since he had been through quite a journey to realize what's truly of value to him, George had these responses:

For the bankers: "Well hello Mr. Bank Examiner!"

For the law: "I bet you it's a warrant for my arrest. Isn't it wonderful? I'm going to jail."

To the press: "Oh reporters."

This latter response was a complete "throw-away line," meaning he said it in passing, to demonstrate it didn't matter what the press represents or what they did with the story. In a symbolic gesture, in just that instant of a dismissive throw-away line, we see that George doesn't care what people or the public thinks of him. He knows who he is and what he loves. And that is enough.

In that position, in that reality, he has realized his own self-worth, and therefor he can choose the attitude, emotion, affection and CONTEXT that leads out in front of him. The money didn't hold the power. The possessions did not matter. The public image did not matter. His love mattered, and it shined so strongly on his children.

And what reward did George receive with this shift of context and mindset? The home was saved, the wife returned through the door, the money was plentiful and his home was filled with the warmth and friendship that would matter the most. And what of the children, the symbol of innocence and love? They stood atop the stairs looking upon their father with a wish for a merry Christmas. In that moment, with George's new context, all he could do was rush up the stairs - kissing the broken stair knob on the way - towards the higher realm where he belongs.

He went to a place where we ALL BELONG. The higher realms of innocence and love. And he did it, and we all can do it, with a shift. A shift of mind. A shift of heart. A shift of context.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in San Diego. He can be reached for a context boost at www.LegacyProductions.org.