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Now, the chickens were happy. Happy as clams, you might say, but you would of course be wrong, because they were chickens after all. Dozens of them, running around and scratching and making noise on the wide yard, their coop behind them. Happy as chickens could be. Scratching out a living, never leaving the safety of the yard, laying an egg or maybe two a day, nothing awfully strenuous, and relying on the farmer to throw them something to eat and keep them in water every day.

Chickens have small brains. They don’t really worry much, unless they think the sky is falling or some such. They don’t really fly. They squawk when upset, and they might peck you if cornered, but that would take a lot. Now, if a whole yard full of chickens got upset, that could be exciting to watch. The feathers might fly. Otherwise, on a normal day in a normal month in a normal year, I’d most think of a coop full of chickens just sitting there brooding.

Sam the farmer loved his chickens. He was like a father, no, maybe an uncle to them, keeping them safe and warm and dry, feeding them and keeping the predators away. It was sure easy taking care of a yard full of chickens, or so Sam surmised. The problem was, you see, that Uncle Sam was a good man, a decent man, but he was dumb as a post. He could not see beyond his small white farmhouse and the yard and the chickens he loved. He never ever looked towards the dark woods, just past the open fallow field, just paces from his dirt yard. He liked to pretend that the dark woods were not there at all.

There were foxes in those dark woods. Sly, cunning, beautiful, sleek foxes. Exotic animals, they were, when compared to the chickens. Red foxes, with bottle brush tails and sly little grins on their whiskered faces. Perked ears that heard all, especially at night, under cover of darkness. Brains that never stopped thinking of chickens and dirt yards and farmhouses that didn’t belong to them.

The foxes never came out in the open during the day, not during broad daylight, because even the farmer, who was dumb as a post you might remember, could usually believe his own nearsighted eyes when something was amiss in broad daylight. No, the foxes were stealthy creatures of the night. They only came probing when it was pitch black out and the farmer was sitting in his rocker, full of supper and snoring the late evening hours away.

The foxes began to pick off the chickens one by one, so that the farmer might not notice. First, the Rhode Island Reds. Then the Guinea fowl. Then the Cubalaya. Then a Bantam breed or two. The foxes cared not a whit for different colored feathers, or top knots or wings or funny shaped beaks. They picked them off slyly, not in overtly foxy ways at all. Sam did not even notice at first, as he had a problem with numbers and counting you see.

One day, Uncle Sam decided to count all his chickens, even the ones that had not yet hatched. He enlisted his wife Libby to help him. She was older and smarter than Sam. She loved him without question, always had, but she sometimes grew tired of his simpleton ways and inability to see things as they really were. She soon realized that they were losing their prize chickens, the ones that had come to the farm from very far away and were valuable. She related this assessment to Uncle Sam, who spat loudly into the dirt and promptly denied that this was happening. An argument ensued, and Libby threatened to leave the farm, and Sam if things did not change for the better, and soon. The foxes, listening just inside the tree line in the dark woods, heard every word, and smiled.

Time went on, more chickens were lost, ones of every color and variety, prized chickens that Sam and Libby had sacrificed to bring to the farm. The borderland between the farmyard and the edge of the dark woods seemed to be blurring. Libby grew more upset, then angry, then depressed, then despondent, then lost all hope. She moved away, never to return to the white farmhouse.

One night, Sam was awakened by a clatter in the yard out by the chicken coop. He grabbed his shotgun and went outside into the darkness. Hearing commotion, not having any idea what it was, and feeling very afraid now, he fired his gun into the darkness, one time, twice, three times, until all his shells were spent. The noise continued. He reloaded and fired again, blindly responding to the threat that he did not understand but was very frightened by. The noise stopped. “There,” he said out loud to no one, “that’s better. Nothing to fear. Nothing to see.” Satisfied that he had done his duty, he went back into the white house and fell asleep.

The morning after, Uncle Sam came out of the house, got a pail of feed for the chickens and prepared to distribute it to them as he had for many years. As he approached the coop, the site of all the commotion from the night before, he saw blood and feathers everywhere. “The foxes,” he said out loud. “Libby was right, it was the foxes that did this awful thing.” Then he noticed that the dozens of chickens had not been torn apart or dragged away by foxes at all. They had all been shot. In his denial and blindness and panic, Sam had wiped out his entire  chicken coop in the dead of night.

Distraught at his own foolhardiness, he returned to the farmhouse, packed a small, battered suitcase, and left the farm behind. He thought of his wife, many days gone before him now. “Liberty,” he said (he always called her Liberty when things got serious between them), “I’m coming to find you. If it takes me ten years, I swear I’m gonna find you. We need to be together. We have to be together.”

As darkness fell that night, there was no soft clucking or rustling as hens got comfortable on the roost. There was no cheery whistling or singing as Libby made an apple pie in the kitchen. There was no snoring as Sam slept through the changes that had cost him his way of life.

There was only the softest rustle of fur on fencepost and a fast-moving glint of red in the moonlight as the next occupants of the little white farm house moved through the dooryard.

What’s It All (Really) About, Alfie?

I am sick to death of the misinformation, the lies, the bogus rules and regulations, the demagoguery, the trumped up charges, the turning of a blind eye. I am sick of people, all kinds of people, who hide behind the cloak of righteousness but are wearing no clothes. I loathe the ones who hide behind their religion, walking stiffly and piously behind the cross as if it were a Sherman tank protecting them from bell tower snipers. I scoff at the ones who point to academic degrees or ancestral pedigrees and nod knowingly, as if those pieces of paper give their opinions and ideas any more weight than those of the butcher, the baker, or the candlestick maker. 

I am sick to death of all of us, ALL of us, writing and rewriting the rule book of life as if it were a movie script. 

What’s it all about? 

We need rules, they say, harsh and punitive and enforceable and ironclad. 

We are guaranteed our religious freedom by the constitution of the United States, they say out of one corner of their venomous mouths, while spitting at the ones worshipping differently, out of the other side. 

We need to keep our citizenry safe! Our children! Our wives! Our homes and businesses! 

There is only one marriage between a woman and a man, they say. There is no room for love in the interpretation of the Bible and its inspired Word. Excuse me? Have you read the Bible? Really? If they had their way, sexual orientation would be a mandatory 100 level college class, not a descriptive idea. 

And politics. My God, don’t get me started on politics this year. This fall will be hell, do you hear me, HELL, for this country and its democracy. Is anything about politics, which by the way means the work of the people for those they represent, aimed toward serving constituents anymore? Is it about making life better for all of us? Or is it about showmanship and money and power and influence and fifth grade epithets and character assassination? Will we survive this election cycle in the United States? Yes, we will. Will be be a stronger country, ready to lead the free world? No, I assert, we will not. 

Education, money, influence, family history, grandfathering, and legacy claiming. All tools of the modern day elite to oppress those who DO NOT HAVE. 

What’s it all about, really? In this day and age, what is it all about? 

It is about nothing more than fear, my friends. 

Fear that the future will be worse then the present which for us is worse than the past. 

Fear that the ones in charge will not look like me, act like me or think like me. 

Fear that I will be forgotten. 

Fear that I will be used, abused, and even killed. 

Fear mongering is the new consensus building. 

There is a grand illusion of equality in this country. 

There is a Pollyanna sense of safety in this country.

There is a false sense that we are TOO BIG TO FAIL. 

We are passing laws about bathrooms, when we should be much more concerned about BACK ROOMS,  where the deals are made. 

What to do, what to do? 

One man’s opinion.

Reform government so that laws that protect ALL and strive for the success and wellbeing of ALL are actually written, debated, and voted upon. 

Set rules and regulations and reasonable precautions that protect ALL of us from the harms that we know full well exist in today’s world. 

Understand, fully understand, that we live in a very pluralistic world, and there there IS no going back. 

Develop and promote expectations for decorum, reasonable behavior, and positive, productive human interaction. 

For violators of ANY of the above, develop protocols for swift, terrible, and very serious punishment. Allow no quarter for those who would stall with millions of dollars and hundreds of hours in court after court, appealing and dodging and dancing around the improperly dotted i or the uncrossed t. 

Make America great again?

No, no, no.

America, and much of the rest of the global village, has always been great. 

We have simply lost our will to stand up for the afflicted,  champion the oppressed, reward hard work, acknowledge the worth of the ideas of our citizenry, and get back to the fundamental values and tenets that have allowed us to coexist on this planet for this long. 

We must put our heads together and figure out what it’s all about, before it’s too late.