Thursday, 30 December 2010

The Tempering

As the leaves and ruddy ground are swept into the snows of early winter, hiding the rotten Fall beneath a canopy of a chill white blanket, I am left to contemplate the Realization of being passed over. Like a pebble, washed smooth in the lonely bed of this ice cold stream, wantonly lying down, anonymously, beside some stranger, unnoticed, beneath the waters torrent.

These ragged edges, chipped and broken in the spring wash, the rush of the Summers heat , the tumbling Fall, eased once more, resting beside a scorched hoard of stones, at the bottom of this harsh mountain. Chips and shards, chipped and scared, fallen, beneath its wintering shadow.

Nothing hides the emptiness, when the void has been hollowed in the remnants of your heart. Yet, the distraction of a warm soul, rocking beside you in that cold place, can seem as though, for a moment, it is filled again. A simulacrum of possibility, a chimeric happenstance of hope, easing the sombre moments, with the tipping of the touch in the eddy's of that wandering and aqueous memory.

Even in this cannot hide. Be seamless, unseen, unheard amongst the denizen throng, this hearts soft beat tapping out the song of its longing. never to be known, never to be seen again.

How in all the world, does a poet discard his memories?

Draw back from the firmament, the ligation of his soul, and find a resting place with eyes half full, half closed, to the reflected glory of this hearts desire...The shimmering melody of that winter moon, the cruel cool glare of reflection, that peeks into his soul and shines the truth of the lost heat of that summers touch...Is there nowhere he can hide the sorrow and the shame?

If my heart were a flame, it would melt the steal with its rupture. Yet, it is but a watery grave, swallowed by the quenching bath of that steels hardening, Tempered, brittle now, close to shattering.

In time the edge will be sharpened, and the cut will be keener for the memory; but now, in this place, in this foreign land, this sea of eyes, it merely looks to hide beneath the cool waters of that winter stream, awaiting the spring melt, to wash it clean again.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

A force of nature

A force of nature

I never saw a Hurricane ask for permission
or watch a storm edge along the fence line.
In the gathering twilight, as the sea surges,
will we stand at the waters edge and say;
"this far, and no further".

Half a league
half a league
half a league onward.
Half a world sold,
catching up to move forward.

As the rising tide swells to burst,
to dash upon humanity forestalled, and worse,
will we wait in long lines,
rubber stamped to submission,
sheepishly tied to a stake of contrition,
or rise like a force of almighty nature
and crash on the gash of a poxed legislature.

Half a league
half a league
half a league onward.
Half a world sold,
catching up to move forward.

Rage!, Rage against the manacled mendacity,
a forged tempest that sweeps an age aside,
overturned, overwhelmed, over.
Leaving the righteous, and justice behind,
to reside where no liars or greedy can hide.

Half a league
half a league
half a league onward.
Half a world sold,
catching up to move forward.

I never saw a mountain top explode without fire,
or rain upon the land without righteous desire.
Did the north-wind stop at your borders?
or its icy grip slip, as you barked out your orders.
For when that glacial blast tore,
at your heart and your toes,
were there tears in your eyes,
were you stunned where you froze?

Half a league
half a league
half a league onward.
Half a world sold,
catching up to move forward.

I never saw the earth wait for a ticket to rumble,
or fracture on time, or plan the quakes tumble.
When the balance is so out of kilter the law,
is to redress the dynamic stasis and score.
courage, for every generation to come,
courage, for all that has been and was won,
courage, to take up your heart in this fight,
courage, to win back the day from the night.

Half a league
half a league
half a league onward.
All the world sold,
sectioned, cut up, and bordered.

I never saw a Hurricane ask for permission,
or watch a storm edge along the fence line.
did you?

© Richard Michael Parker 2010 

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Winter Moon

Winter Moon

Oh sunless sky,
cold winter of this barren heart
when did you leave this pitiless place?
why in death did you depart?

leaving but a remnant
a shadow of your light
to shine upon a mirror
to mock me in this cold hour
shining bright
without your warmth
or soak of heated touch
a silver'd echo
in the long night
of the broken hearted.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010


Sunday, 5 December 2010



This Penetrating wind,
sensate gusts,
formless unions embraced,
redoubled in soulful resonance.
How does one separate a unity?
Bonded at the roots,
connected through all eternity.
Time and space,
distant illusions to an infinite soul,
a shared remembrance of two made whole,
one soul, housed in separate forms,
metering out the hours of our passing,
Life to life,
moment to moment,
caught in an eternal present,
forgetful of this timeless unity.

No death, nor passage from this gray world,
no distance, or time, nor separation,
no harsh words, or bitter scorn,
no damned plague, nor heart forlorn,
no broken bridge, nor trust divided,
no sullied lives, nor minds left chided,
could ever break this ring, united.

Its truth, was in a kiss revealed,
its time, within two hearts concealed,
forgotten but for a little while,
rejoined by soul-filled fated guile.
These soulful winds, each penetrated,
restoring love, reverberated,
recounted, in each soul retold,
reborn anew, this love of old.
Each waking moments skintight bliss,
manufactured in this kiss,
was formed in loves bright bonded hearth,
and schooled in smelted parted bath.
In silence... both souls entwine,
and whisper of a love divine,
A majesty, both full and wrought,
in unity, both halves are caught,
and wrapped around, each one together,
the fulsome coil of timeless tether,
completed in this ring tied knot,
to birth new hope, in spring begot.

This Penetrating wind,
that soulfully resonates between the spaces,
speeds time, to broach those distant places,
leaving all those hard woes behind.
Impassioned memories,
the birthing pains exposed,
a sufferance of repose.
Yet, tight is the bond born of suffering,
the fiery trials, the endless yearning,
redoubling fortitude in the burning.
No bond born in so frightful a forge,
could ever be broke,
or rent by wanton tongues that first bespoke.
The tarnished remnants of remembrance,
chipped away, polished in the light.
Loves revelation of golden unity,
a ring of glistening luster,
dazzling and bright,
a bond of remembrance,
a unity of soul.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010

Thursday, 2 December 2010

A Simple Poet

A Simple Poet

I am just a simple poet,
who dreamt of a better way,
if I failed in translation,
or my words did not strike a chord,
try not to think ill of me,
I can only offer what is in my heart,
imperfectly, full and overflowing.

Yet these words seem a pale shadow,
cast through a turbid mind,
between the light and the hope.
If they evaporate upon the wind,
and form some cloud of shade,
may it rain down upon you,
sometimes in tempest and squall,
at other times in gentle mist,
covering the parched ground,
with a filigree of dew,
soft and moist, a balm,
against the harsh Sun of reality.

Every word I have felt,
every emotion has coursed its weary way,
or sped upon this hearts fleet rapids,
tumbling over tumult and waterfall.
In sunlight, sometimes the rainbows arc,
The roar is heard even in the dark.

If you find yourself here,
and on some placid bank, thirst,
sip, quench that emotive desire,
in nestled pools or somnolent steams;
But when wading into those waters,
remember me, as they flow past,
for it is a life that passes you,
a flood of heartfelt yearnings,
shared for those I have loved.

I am just a simple poet,
who dreamt of a better way.
Do not say of me,
'He failed in his dreams',
but rather, sit and sup of your fill,
and let me flow ever onward,
past the boulders of your judgments,
and the critique of your damns,
for you bathe in my tears,
drink of my blood,
shed for you over all my years.

This flood that has beat within my heart,
with love, always love.
Yet I am but a simple poet,
and these are my waters you drink.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010 

Friday, 26 November 2010

Did you not know?

Did you not know?

Love came to your door,
did you not know?
Did you not recognize the knock?
Was it so foreign to you,
to hear that soft beat upon your heart?
Love walked into your house,
lips pressed upon your own,
saw that the door in your heart was open,
and walked inside, leaving nothing to hide.
Every drawn curtain was flung aside,
love unlocked every door,
opened every window,
until the dark and dim-lit passageways,
dazzled in the day glow,
fresh gusts tumbling through the halls.
Where the hidden dreams and broken dolls were stored,
the dolls without limbs or clothes,
the dreams crushed beneath departing woes,
could you not see the silver thread,
the iridescent salve from the broken and dead.
Did you not see how the sunlight shone?
and watch as the dust sparkled,
captured for an instant in those shimmering rays,
swept before the gusting winds,
along those too long dark passageways.
Was it so strange,
to have that light play within that space,
to dance along the corridors so long left unlit,
and you, hid, behind those locked doors,
Just as you were locked,
behind those closet doors in your youth.
Did you hear the lock fall,
and the chain crash upon the wooden floor?
When that knock came, could you not recall?
and when you closed the doors again,
was the darkness as welcoming as it seemed before?
Did it coddle you in slumber?
When you close your eyes,
can you still see the shadows play upon the walls,
through the slits and gaps in those doors?
Love rests upon the wooden step now,
with the tattered railing,
unkempt and peeling, from the years of neglect.
It is warm out here,
the sun glimmers in bright streams,
and falls upon this place.
Hands cupped in the orange glow,
elbows resting upon soft seated knees.
In the calm of this setting sun,
you can glimpse a patient smile,
full and enduring,
shining in the constancy of grace.
Come, sit for a while,
you will find it is still warm.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010 

Tuesday, 23 November 2010



Vivid vibrant greens meld with the rustic oak,
whilst the evergreen pines pause,
between rivers of dappled leaves,
flowing upon the halcyon balmy grounds,
of lovers golden dreams;
Crisp apple mornings
Smack of the frosty cool winds of life;
Silken webs lie naked,
frozen into silhouette upon a sapphire sky,
that sets a thousand paintings into motion,
and stokes the flaming wheel,
that arks this glorious heaven.
Until as ruby red,
he falls,
lays dead;
from whence the silverine ghost arisen,
slithers her separatist path,
across the great mourning,
silently she rests,
to beckon yet another,
exalted dawning.

© Richard Michael Parker 1987


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Love is a Gift

Love is a Gift

Love is a gift,
unwrapped in the giving,
tied in a bow of surrender,
clothed in a package of trust.

It slips between the fingers of a grasping hand,
and drips upon the heartfelt ground,
at times soaking us in pools of desire,
muddying the earth on which we stand,
a bog of desperate flight,
an endless race in which we tire.

In the desert of the greedy heart,
it weeps between the grains of a shifting sand,
and slakes no thirst.

It cannot be captured or withheld,
nor forestalled by any wall or tower,
such is the omnipotence of its power.
It flows through every yielding heart,
and conquerers every demon,
every viperous snake at the start.

In timeless transcendence,
it sparks the fervent seed,
once planted, held gently,
grows beyond every wanton need.

In the fabled land of love,
light adorns every corner,
no shadow is cast,
but by the objects of our own design.

As we glide between the spaces,
the unfettered places.
These gaps we have created
between the remnants and the walls.
Love shines.
Its golden light, playing,
between the columns in these halls.

As we dance within its glory,
flickering in the light,
of our own allegoric story.

The mottled sanctuary of every soul,
is born between the shadow and the light,
and peers out behind a curtain, cut,
for eyes that seek respite from that night.

In the darkness, a pinprick of light,
is all that is needed to beckon eyes that have opened.

Love is a gift,
unwrapped in the giving,
a revelation without demand,
a sweet intoxication of the spirit,
infused with the perfume of its tenderness.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010  

Artwork by Peggi Meyer Graminski

Monday, 8 November 2010

The Gnarled Tree

The Gnarled Tree

The Gnarled tree grows,
Twisted and rent.

A sprout in the undergrowth,
amongst the weeds and thorns,
torn leaves, a tattered sapling,
bullied by the underbrush.
A tenuous rise in forlorn skies.
Stolen light, from the tall and bright,
the majesty of a family,
born in good earth.

Not a straight limb to be found,
on this dark and perilous ground.
Roots of desperate fingers,
clinging to the rocky outcrop.
Squeezing and fighting,
between the spaces.
The dappled light shines,

No chance to grow,
no right to keep going.
Gnarled and knotted,
in agonized contortions,
a sap laden ascension,
struggling beyond the canopy,
broken and bleeding.
Yet in the struggle,
it has grown strong.
Strong enough to stand the wind,
barking at the tempest,
armour thick and stout,
to endure the licking flame,
whilst all around fall to the fire.

Alone it has survived,
fed by a heartwood soft and supple,
adaptable and triumphant.
In the Spring light, another,
sweet succor for tormented limbs,
Entwined in a flowering glory,
with Seeds born anew.
A living testament to an ancient story.

The gnarled tree grows,
twisted and rent,
its heartwood,
supple and true.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010

Sunday, 7 November 2010



Dark pitted abyss
beckons below
Lugubrious and slow
I am sucked Deeper
into the quagmire
My souls dull ache clouds all reason
Noumenon is blackness
it is all pervasive
Lost in this turgid miasma
I am nothing
and in nothingness

RMP (1987)

© Richard Michael Parker 2010

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Only love remains

Only love remains

When that fire flows through my soul,
surging through the gates,
burning away this endless longing,
it is beauty that remains beyond the pain.
The promise of springs lush new growth,
brings hope to Winters soul.
I wish only to give of that beauty,
free in form and flow.
To be beautiful in your eyes,
is the envy of my heart.
To watch you gasp as i rise,
and to know that all i have done,
all i have won,
was for the beauty in your sight and soul.
The trials, the scars,
the battles of yearnings endless years,
brought before your temple,
and laid before the alter of your love.
If i could take the ugliness,
that remains in this wretched heart,
transform it, raise loves standard,
and ring the bells of beauty,
i would surely do so.
For to burn it out,
and from the ashes,
grow such a rose of this love,
that every captive eye would weep,
in remembrance and admission,
is my hearts true calling.
Yet those thorns cut deep,
and still have not withered, nor broken.
The blood still seeps upon the stem.
Yet, i will not tire, nor fold resigned,
nor rescind, from this desire in my heart.
For beauty wants nothing,
but to give of itself,
and in the giving,
find its reflection returned.
You are my fire, my love,
and in your flame,
only love remains.

 © Richard Michael Parker 2010

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Winter Sun

 Winter Sun

As morning breaks,
shattering the dreams in this lonely place,
and your warm delicate hands,
slip beneath the covers,
moistened fingertips,
sliding over my soul, your skin;
It is I who feels each tender stroke,
the tremor within.
As your body opens to the memory of me,
entering a suckling reminiscence,
licking at the peeks,
and slips over the fullness of our love,
the fire that enters you, enters me.
When you walk in that distant place,
along the narrow paths of memory retraced,
your feet tread softly upon my heart,
and sink, slowly into me.
A wanderlust of bare feet,
soft pads pacing an endless retreat.
When that ache of longing stirs,
in the womb of our warmth,
it is i who stirs, within you,
yet in absent silence,
I am Winters cold sun,
a light without fire,
shining warmth on no one,
but you.

 © Richard Michael Parker 2010

Artwork by Leonid Afremov

Friday, 29 October 2010

The Fire at Night

The Fire at Night

It is as if the starry night itself has transmitted its cool evocation into your flaming soul, and you lick at the stars as they twinkle upon your brightness, splaying themselves between the flickering light of your orange flame, tinged with the purple hours of silence; The spaces between the waves, the remnants of the forgotten embers, that feed the flickering fire in the numbing cold of that fallen place.

Space...without a trace of you, seems endlessly blue. Yet the deep blue canvas of that emptiness, beckons a palette of golden light, filled with flame, searing into the stark sky; licking at the torment, with blood hot notes in luminescent hues.

Scorching tongues of effulgence, snapping at the blues. Whirling streams of white hot schemes, and denizens of rancid dreams, torn from the corpulent mass of the fractured reams of sententious artisans, whose only fire was that stolen from the funeral pyre of this love.

Someone should have mentioned, that as the log burns to ashes, the flaming phoenix arises, and devours the remnants of the darkness in resplendence...arisen, the dawn awakens. Shafts of fire, slick upon the landscape of this hidden desire, forge transcendence, with flaming wings of sapphire and gold, rings, not for the timid but the bold.

Arise! hearken through incandescent eyes, and see the fiery wreath devoured, beneath the luminescent skies, blazing in the glory of that resplendent dawn, on wings replete, no longer sullied and torn, nor boiled within the cauldrons pit, but power, unfurled, to crack the mordant's spit. To smash the remnants of that vanquished foe, beneath the blazing sun, a testament of every righteous blow.

Yet-lo, on wings reforged in dying embers below, grace redoubles itself, and in gentle strength sweeps away the ragged teeth of that spark'd place, and settles for a while, to hold with trembling hand a humbled face.

No power comes by light of day, nor bares the chastened heart, without forgiveness in loves sway, reborn in loves sweet art; Yet those that seek the fires wealth, the sacrificial game, prepare your heart in times of health, or reap devouring flame.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Crazy Love

Crazy Love

Stormy skies in huddled masses,
brood between the mountain passes,
The silver winged Garuda,
this carrier of the just,
set down upon a distant land,
of tremor, fear and trust.

The action born of courage,
with love, for all to see,
brought close the fiery maiden,
to her man of fate, and free,
But she had fled to other realms,
for fear was sown without,
a rancour born of other whims
instilled in her dark doubt.

Some agent of malevolence,
had whispered in her ear,
with tawdry psychobabble,
born of jealousy and fear,
it set her own fears racing,
of a time set in the past,
where cloistered manacles,
had suffered liberty made fast.

And so she ran, and hid from grace,
though he be filled with love,
and fled unto a secret place,
his own true morning dove.
He looked for her, both night and day,
yet naught would he have found,
until designed to fly away,
'the fates', will, would redound.

For kismet would not be denied,
nor fail for love and courage,
and so in deep regret and sighs,
they both converged to assuage,
the deep and dark malevolence,
that rancour had instilled,
and set it right, to meet perchance,
the salve of hearts fulfilled.

He wandered back, through drizzled rain,
his heart was rent asunder,
and though he loved her endlessly,
he knew her flight was thunder,
for it had crashed within his soul,
and lightening struck his mind,
he was resigned, to let her go,
for all of loves sweet kind.

You see, he knew this one great truth,
that true love knows no shackles,
it comes from out a place of couth,
a gift that fires and crackles.
It flows between, two free souls,
and makes of them one heart,
the fire, it feeds on mutual coals,
the warmth of loves deep art.

For she too, found her troubled mind,
did wander for a while,
so off she sped, some things to find,
to pass the time in style,
and led by fate, she left that place
to walk into the night,
to seek some solace and some grace,
and calm this wretched fright.

Some great and over arching force,
looked down upon two lovers,
and moved the fated lovers course,
from forlorn, to each others.
At first, he was not sure,
the night was wet, the lights were dim,
he blinked in disbelief, then called,
she stopped, and turned towards him.

He staggered for a moment,
on that corner in the rain,
so long his beaten heart,
had simply echoed out her name,
then all at once, there she stood,
before him in the flesh,
a little tremulous, discreet,
corporeal none the less.

His beating heart resounding,
his words they came, but lightly,
her own dear heart was pounding,
yet fear had gripped it tightly,
but all at once, in loves true light,
the reticence, it tumbled,
at first the eyes, and then the arms,
into each others, stumbled.

So on that fateful cornered night,
two doves both born of love,
did find themselves betwixt the light,
that shone from realms above,
to bring both hearts again in joy,
together, through dark milieu,
and shine into each heart-filled eye,
loves golden light, twas once blue.

They held each other tightly,
on the corner of that road,
a meeting place of minds and souls,
to lighten loves dark load.
To free again the truth they new,
when first they did perceive,
the flowering of loves first heart,
they thought would never leave.

Then hearkening, she did depart,
trepidation though, remained,
for neither had returned the art,
their lips were never stained,
with all the truth,
that only lovers know is in their kiss,
forsworn, forsooth,though fate had bent,
the kismet kiss was missed.

Two days of sufferance and silence,
both lovers did endure,
he sought divine guidance,
she pondered loves detour,
what were the odds that they should meet,
upon that fateful hour,
the dark and dim rained cornered street,
illumined like a flower.

Yet all dark rancour, was not as yet,
cast off, and set aside,
for evil had her ear beget,
and born it full with pride,
she would not reconcile her trust,
nor answer his sweet plea's,
for fear in her was wound and trussed,
from distant shores disease.

Determined now to not abandon love,
nor his sweetheart,
he asked for wisdom from on high,
from whence he was to start,
and woke after a fitful dream,
and settled on his course,
to win beloved's honeyed stream,
lest both live out remorse.

He booked his flight on silver wings,
then gathered up 12 Roses,
and sped off to her haunted springs,
to shine the love with poses.
He did not hesitate
or wait for anyones permission,
he simply stormed the gate,
and wrestled on without contrition.

Past the armored guard,
that waited down below in pairs,
onward through the gates,
up through the corridors and stairs,
until at last before her place of work,
he found himself,
two guardians before the door,
to deem him worthy of loves wealth.

The final test was won,
and so he entered her sweet gate,
and told her he had come,
to give her love and not berate,
she sat there stupefied,
that he had mastered every trial,
and found her in that lonely place,
armed only with a smile.

She baulked a moment,
then found her courage had returned,
and rose to leave the foment,
to seek some salve from that which burned,
for in her heart, conflicted fires,
the evil crop of jealous seeds,
were fearfully enticed again,
entranced in her to bleed.

He stopped upon descending stairs,
and beckoned her by name,
she turned, to find 12 roses,
and a heart wrought full aflame,
yet gentle were his words, and deeds,
with patience and with poesy,
she took the blooms her heartfelt needs,
her cheeks full flush and rosy.

They crossed the street,
and sat inside a cafe for a while,
two hearts did beat,
with wonder of loves power, gift and guile,
each took a hand, and gently,
all sombre doubt was slain,
cast down into the pit of hate,
where rancour will remain.

There eyes were locked, in seas they swam,
while lips embraced completely,
and sumptuously slipped
upon the shores that tasted sweetly,
with moaning sighs, and tears, and tongues,
two lovers knew the truth,
that God, and fate, attracted both,
there bodies were the proof.

No words, or foul demonic deeds,
could separate this beauty,
no pseudo-analytic seeds,
could breach loves honored duty,
for even if a 1000 miles,
be wrought between these lovers,
the kiss of truth, embracing love,
is found beneath their covers.

The doubts and fears were shattered,
and departed from the scene,
in haste, loves passion entered,
washing spite and hurt all clean,
and filled both hearts with hope,
that they might loyally endure,
the separated nights,
to persevere, with love made pure.

So once again,
he left on winged steed into the day,
In trust, to God and fate,
there love would find a way,
To recall, faithful Penelope,
her loyalty so true,
remembering the Odyssey,
that modern days still brew.

My love do not forget my eyes,
nor how my lips then tasted,
do not, forlorn, sink down in cries,
or think this love is wasted,
remember how these actions,
reverberated in your heart,
and faithfully recall our love,
embraced, with kiss, to start.

For i will live forever,
in that heart-filled blessed day,
the intimacy of swimming eyes,
will never go away,
and nor will you within my soul,
my one true fated lover,
for each of us, in each, made whole,
in deeds, souls, minds, each other.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Poets can't be a Business

Poets can't be a business

So the tax man said 'Poets cant be a business'
it must be the risk involved in self employment,
is too great for the poetic,
for the government to take a chance.
So 'the man' decided that Poets cant be a business!
Arms manufactures, prostitutes, Oil producers can,
Bankers who lose a trillion pounds at the bookies
costing us a million jobs in the process,
and crashing the world economy,
they can be a business,
but!.....poets cant be a business!

Yeats, Keats, Shelley, Byron, i'm sorry lads,
but your out of business!
Shakespeare, just stick to the plays that pay,
then YOU can be a business,
but poets, no!.... no, im afraid you cant be a business!
The Arts have never brought in any revenue here,
they never sat a seat on a stool with good cheer,
or filled a drinking house with music and beer!
they just aren't lucrative enough you see.
So Poets!, cannot be a business!

If poets were a business where would it end?
every man jack writer and his friend,
would settle for 1 meal a day,
wear three jersey's to keep the cold away,
and scream through some virtual mailbox,
just to have his say!!, poets...Poets cant be a business, you see,
they might be in the business,
of looking out for you and me,
or living off their words, or wisdom, self sufficiently,
but they cannot be a business!...for free!

They simply can-not-be-a-busi-ness!
because if they were a business, well!
too many eyes might be watching,
too many minds might start pondering and wondering,
why it is that simple men cant live free,
but those who hold the reins of this democracy,
offer jobs and gratuity to friends and family.
No....i am the Tax Man, and i have spoken.
Poets cannot be a business, not in this land,
this 'green and pleasant land'!
poets, No!...Poets,...they cant be a business!
can they?

© Richard Michael Parker 2010

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Only Words

Only Words

What does it matter what i write
they are only words
and words cannot bring my love back
they cannot hold her hand
or caress her cheek
enfold her in the sultry airs of an endless night
or swing in a gentle breeze
they cannot sit across from her
laugh or break bread
or stare into her sea green eyes
with wonder and surprise
they feel nothing of this loss
when i held her hand gently in my own
stroking each finger
each tip
they cannot hurt when she raged
or feel the joy at being in her arms
or see her blush in the morning.
as these tears fall in endless streams
what will words do with the seas i fill?
what does it matter what i write
they are only words
and words will not bring my love back.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010 

Pirates and Ghosts

Pirates and Ghosts

I do not know where to begin, or end,
everything in between seems lost somehow.
Tangled in a forest of blue,
i too am lost.
It took me days to pick up a pen,
i dropped it next to my heart,
and kneeling down, i found i had to start again.

Left to look into the open spaces,
seeing only visions of Phantoms,
knowing somehow that this haunting,
will always leave me empty.
Gaps in my life, vacuums,
sucking me in, when i recall your jealous kiss.
A kiss, that made my heart weak.
Your smile, the endless vivacity,
your guile, the envy of all to see.
The way you tasted; Peaches in summer.
Your fragrance of sweet magnolia.

Supping at the table of my soul,
filling that hole,
the hollow in my heart,
the 4am silence,
the inverse space,
in the remnants of that place.

A shadow world that has lost its Sun,
growing ever colder in the distance.

I tried to find the moment of our passing,
but it happened in frames.
Snapshots of carelessness and conceit;
Fears of jealously and deceit.
In the end we were killed by ghosts.
Phantoms haunting the present,
jealously guarding their soulful hoard;
Pirates stuffing our hearts into their chests,
buried in the depths,
The Jolly Roger hoisted,
over the remnants of our love.

...and still i sing, in the quiet of that night:

'I will not give up,
this Love i will defend,
i will not give in,
True Love knows no end.
Love conquers all.'

 © Richard Michael Parker 2010

Artwork by Peggi Meyer Graminski

Monday, 4 October 2010



Few debates in modern ethical philosophy polarize sentiment so completely than the debate concerning Euthanasia. It is a subject, which stimulates wide-ranging and often emotive responses, more often than not from contrasting polemical positions, from which sound reasons and not so sound intuitions issue forth. What I will attempt to achieve in this essay is an informed debate on the contrasting positions of the distinction drawn between passive and active Euthanasia. I will also briefly touch upon other relevant issues, such as preconceptions of death, and some historic-religious background to the Euthanasia debate, in the hope that in charting a course through this minefield, we may come to understand more fully the argumentation surrounding this emotive issue.

It may be helpful initially to divide this anfractuous debate into constituent parts, so as not to confuse the varying issues. Although it will become apparent that all the issues to be addressed do in some degree or another dynamically touch each other. Firstly, however, I would like to define some essential terms so that no confusion arises from any interpretation in this matter.

For the rest of this essay, the term ‘passive Euthanasia’ will denote an act of omission, and the term ’active Euthanasia’ will denote an act of commission, in which the life of a person is cessated. It may well, however, become obvious that these distinctions blur somewhat upon finer analysis. The term ‘voluntary Euthanasia’ denotes a consensual act of the person, such that, the person for reasons pertaining to their death has granted verbal, written or some prior permission for Euthanasia to occur.

Euthanasia stems from the Greek, (eu=well or good, thanatos=death), it literally means to have a good death, as was perceived by the Greeks, dating back to at least the times of Zeno, and more likely beyond. For as long as men have fought wars the practice of alleviating the suffering of fallen comrades on the battlefields has been with us. It was a practice in common use, yet not advertised, during the first and second world wars of last century.

Diogenes Laertius says of Zeno’s death (1)“the sage leads himself rationally out of life, namely on behalf of fatherland or friends, also when he suffers from pain which is too fierce, mutilations or incurable diseases”. As we can see the Greeks had a healthy respect for the rights of the individual to take control of there own destiny in this matter, in fact, it was more of a duty, to take this matter into ones own hand so as to alleviate the vicarious suffering incurred by family and friends, and in some respects the wider community.

Hindus too, do not see death through the same eyes as it is perceived in the west. Death is a transition through which one passes into another incarnation, in a constant interplay of death and rebirth, the soul is what is of utmost importance, and thus the cessation of life is merely an illusion brought about by the perception of a carnal body within the temporal chimera of the dance of Vishnu. In fact the act of ‘suttee’ where the wife throws herself upon the funeral pyre of her dead husband was a form of honorable death and invested with great esteem in the Hindu culture. Although it must be said that this practice has now been outlawed due to its pervasive barbarity and denigration of the wife as chattel rather than a person in her own right.

Buddhists too have an altogether different conception of the body. One in which the cycle of samsara, (birth, death and rebirth) is constantly revisited until the soul evolves to a point from which it transcends the mundane world and evolves to a higher plain of existence. Death is a necessary gateway in this perpetual cycle of suffering. For, Buddhists believe that to inhabit the mundane world is to live each day in suffering. In fact, it is a central tenet of Buddhist philosophy that life is suffering, and death is ultimately the form of release from this worldly suffering.

In Japan also, the act of ‘hari kiri’ was a way the dishonored warrior or family member could reestablish the familial and personal honour that was of utmost importance to the society as a whole, thus suicide was a medium through which dignity and respect could be won rather than lost.
The reason I illustrate these few alternate cases is so that we may have a clearer conception of the debate in light of the context in which it exists. For it is for the most part a peculiarly western dilemma, one born from the womb of our Judaic-Christian heritage, and brought to it’s pinnacle in light of angst ridden atheistic existentialism that permeates modern culture. It may then be enlightening to glean from whence this enigmatic debate comes. The Hebrew tenet ‘Thou shalt not kill’ (2) is commonly believed to be the sixth commandment of the ten that were handed down to Moses on mount Sinai, during the exodus of the Hebrew nation from Egypt. It is a crucial point in the religious position of those that oppose any form of Euthanasia, especially active Euthanasia, that this covenant be adhered to. Yet under careful analysis, the Mitzvah, in exodus, actually translates as ‘thou shalt not murder’, murder here being translated from the Hebrew word (3)‘ratsach’. This may seem like hair splitting but in fact, it is absolutely crucial in any religious interpretation of the text and thus the question in hand. There is in fact no word in Hebrew for the term suicide, and consequently no negative connotation connected to the act of suicide. There are a number of recorded cases in the bible that mention suicide but it appears that no negative repercussions ensue from this action. This is evidenced by the story of Achitopel in the book of Samuel2, who after putting his house in order, hangs himself, and is buried in the family sepulcher, and thus does not appear to incur any societal censure given his ability to remain within the designate of his family.

Historically speaking, the first sustained attack upon the act of suicide within the Christian tradition is penned by saint Augustine (354-430 ad), in response to the unfortunate yet widespread practice of the day, in which Christians would either martyr themselves by riling an adversary so that they would be killed. Alternatively, kill themselves, in some other way, so as to ensure eternal salvation in the afterlife. This was done immediately or as soon as possible after baptism, in which the soul was purged and cleansed from sin, so that death would ensure that the subject did not sin again and thus confer eternal damnation. As one can imagine, this practice had a most deleterious effect upon the Christian population of the day, and it therefore fell upon Augustine to nip this practice in the bud. This he did through an appeal to the afore mentioned sixth commandment. Further appeals by Saint Thomas Anslem, were made during the years 1225-1274 ad, and these rested upon three alternate arguments found in his ’Summa Theologica’. Firstly, Anslem states that suicide contravenes the natural law of love and is thus sinful. Secondly, it was his assertion that due to the fact that no one exists in isolation the act of suicide was deleterious to the community as a whole. Last but not least, his third argument was grounded upon the premise that we are in fact creatures that belong to God, and thus it was by Gods divine providence alone that the matters of life and death should be settled, and not by the hand of man. I do not wish to enter into the theological debate on these issues, but rather it is my intention to sketch, albeit briefly, the historical background from which modern religious opponents of Euthanasia draw there argumentation, so that the arguments may be illuminated in light of the historical context from which they derive. It is pertinent to point out though, that the afore mentioned reasoning, if taken to its conclusion would rule out all forms of selfless heroism, in which one may sacrifice oneself in order to save one or a multitude of others. This very same selfless heroism is at the core of Christianity, and can be seen in Christ’s foreknowledge of his impending death at the hands of the Romans, in the garden of Gethsemane. Rather than flee, he meekly surrenders his freedom in the knowledge of what is about to befall him, hence he sacrifices himself willingly so as to ensure universal and eternal salvation for humanity. This is in fact, the very same act of selfless heroism against which Anslem protests and a clearer or greater example, I contest, can not be found. In fact, I would contend, it is the very fact that Christ acts in this selfless manner in full knowledge of his actions and the precedent repercussions, that has attracted so many adherents to the Christian faith. So, far from being the case, that heroic acts of self sacrifice are an abomination to God, if we are to believe the Christian position that Christ is the son of God and thus one with God, it would seem logically consistent to infer that such acts are in some way divine and thus cannot be in any way abominable.

Leaving aside the various religious arguments for now, I would like to pursue a more contemporary debate, although it will become clear that many of the specious arguments propounded by anti-Euthanasia proponents owe much to these antecedent Christian positions for there moral import.

Much of the contemporary debate surrounds the competing notions of passive verses active Euthanasia, where it will be remembered that we have defined these two terms as both omission and commission respectively. The lay view has seen these differing conceptions as a debate between letting a person die and actively killing them, where the first is generally considered to be morally acceptable and the second, that of actively killing them, as morally repugnant. As we will soon see though these preconceptions are somewhat arbitrary and can for the most part be misleading. Let us now look at some practical situations, to illustrate the point. It may well be the case that in a situation in which a person has been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, where upon arrival at the hospital and subsequent to further medical care, the prognosis for the patient is far from favorable. Let us say that this person is exhibiting abnormal brain wave activity issuing from the ophthalmic region, which is often critical in deducing brain death. Further more, they can only continue to survive if they remain connected to artificial respiration and the like. In such cases, we would be likely to say that in turning off the artificial life support systems, we were leaving to providence the persons natural ability to survive, and thus this would clearly be a case of letting a person die. It must be said, at this juncture, that various issues such as futility, informed consent, and financial and resource pressure have been left aside for now in this rather simplistic example. Imagine if you will a case in which this same person arrives at the hospital and after extensive medical treatment regains consciousness in full grasp of their faculties. Unfortunately they have been left so traumatized by there injuries that they will never have feeling below the neck again, and there head and scalp have been so badly burnt that they are in prolonged and extensive pain that is barely imaginable. In this case, the person may continuously beg to be put out of the psychological and physiological pain from which they cannot escape. The torment for this person is beyond the bounds of superhuman suffering, and the only way this person can escape this horror, for horror is what it would be, is to have some assistance to end their plight. If, as a grief stricken relative or caring medical practitioner, you were to assist this person in their wishes you would be actively killing this person, due to their inability to action their wishes without assistance, and here in lies the difference. The moral worth assigned to both actions, as we have already mentioned, has usually been predetermined, yet it becomes at once clear that in cases, such as these, the moral designation afforded to active and passive Euthanasia becomes somewhat blurred, if not totally arbitrary. It may well be far more reprehensible to insist the second person suffer their existence because of our predetermined moral principles, than to insist upon the continuance of the unconscious first person, maintained under artificial means, and visa versa in ending there respective struggles. What may be critical here is the notion of quality of consciousness. Part of what we have believed, in the west, as the sanctity of life has been inextricably tied to the notion of the sanctity of consciousness. For many, consciousness is a blessing, a divine gift, a heaven in the here and now, Yet this very same consciousness may to some, and indeed I contend, is, a living hell; from which there is no escape. Those that insist that they suffer this hell, are merely the devil’s tormentors. The cyanide capsule given to spies and French resistance fighters during the second world war, was not only given to them to protect the others in the cells in which they operated, but rather was seen as a humane alternative to the grotesque forms of torture that the Gestapo would use to extract information from those unfortunate enough to be captured. The question must then be asked why in times of peace do we not afford the same dignified exit from existence that was afforded those born in a time of conflict and war?

James Rachels makes some very telling points in his influential paper ‘Active and passive Euthanasia’ (4). Rachels asks us to imagine a situation, all too real, in which a patient in hospital is dying of incurable throat cancer. The doctors agree that the situation is hopeless and thus agree to the patient’s pleas to forgo further treatment, as it would only prolong his agony. Now, once this decision has been made to forgo further treatment, it may well be the case that active Euthanasia is preferable to passive. Given the fact that under a regime of passive Euthanasia the patient will take longer to die and hence suffer longer than if the doctor administered a lethal dose of some narcotic. The point being, that if the object of Euthanasia is to alleviate suffering, (and some would say this is the only reason for it), then active Euthanasia may indeed be more preferable to just letting the person die, as this passivity may indeed take longer and cause extended suffering, which is exactly the situation one is trying to avoid.

Rachels second argument is that cases decided upon the conventional doctrines as purported by the AMA (American Medical Association), lead to decisions of life and death made upon irrelevant grounds. The AMA’s stance on such matters as active and passive Euthanasia can be succinctly put by way of reference to a statement expressed to the House of Delegates of the AMA on Dec 4,1973: (5)
‘The intentional termination of the life of one human being by another-mercy killing-is contrary to that for which the medical profession stands and is contrary to the policy of the American Medical Association. The cessation of the employment of extraordinary means to prolong the life of the body when there is irrefutable evidence that biological death is imminent is the decision of the patient and/or his immediate family. The advice and judgment of the physician should be freely available to the patient and/or his immediate family.’

Rachels asks us to consider a case where a Downs syndrome baby is born into the world with a congenital intestinal blockage. If the baby receives an operation to clear the blockage, the baby will live, but if the parents do not consent to the operation then the baby is doomed to die. The point being that, the decision to operate or not, is being made upon the basis that the baby has Downs Syndrome, not upon the basis of the intestinal blockage. The parents and specialists then have made a value judgment that due to the Downs Syndrome it would be better for the baby to die. This being the case, the decision of life and death is being made upon irrelevant grounds, here being the intestinal blockage. The idea here being that those babies with the intestinal blockage are allowed to die, where as those without the blockage are not, given the fact that the doctrine forbids active intervention in the death of the baby. This is counter intuitive as a form of reasoning given that the motivating reason behind the ‘letting the baby die’ is not the blockage but the Downs Syndrome. I do not wish here to debate the various merits of the differing appeals to whether Downs Syndrome babies have lives that are worth living. For this is a minefield in itself, and brings to mind the ‘wedge’ arguments propounded by pro life adherents who point to the Euthanasia laws of the Nazi’s, and there infamous ‘lives that aren’t worth living’ statements, that acted as dubious justification for the eradication of the aged, sick, infirmed, mentally retarded, Jews, Gypsies, and eventually all non Germans. Rather the point is made to illustrate the internal inconsistency in the AMA’s statement and to show that often decisions of life and death are made upon irrelevant grounds.

A further argument is made by Rachels concerning the moral arbitrariness of the distinction between letting some one die and actively killing them. Here Rachels makes a clever distinction by way of analogy. He asks us to consider a situation in which ‘smith’ is out to kill his young cousin, so as to secure a large inheritance. ‘Smith’ waits for the boy to take a bath and wanders into the bathroom with the full intent to murder him. This he does by drowning the poor boy, and then makes things look as though an accident has occurred. He then asks us to envisage the same situation for a man called ‘Jones’. ‘Jones enters the bathroom with the same malefic intent. Unlike the ‘Smith’ situation however, upon entering the bathroom, ‘Jones’ sees the boy slip over and fall into the bath in which he quickly drowns. ‘Jones’ does nothing to help the boy as he drowns. The point being that the same intent to cause harm to the boy is present in both situations and thus both are equally morally deplorable. Yet, in the ‘smith’ case, the death is actively brought about, and in the ‘Jones’ case, the death of the boy is realized by an omission on the part of ‘Jones’ to help. Are we then to say that ‘Jones’ passivity is morally better than ‘Smiths’ activity? I think not. For both are as morally corrupt as each other, and thus the distinction between active and passive falls away under the predilection of original intent. It is the underlying moral culpability, and not the actions or inaction’s of the perpetrators that Rachels is thinking of in connection to the AMA’s directive concerning the difference between passive and active Euthanasia.
Rachels states: (6)
‘The bare difference between killing and letting die does not, in itself, make a moral difference. If a Doctor lets a patient die, for humane reasons, he is in the same moral position as if he had given the patient a lethal injection for humane reasons.’
On the face of it, this appears to be a powerful argument for those who contend that the distinctions between active and passive Euthanasia are morally arbitrary. Let us then look at this proposition more closely. In order to do this I will lean rather heavily upon the observations of Tom Beauchamp in his critical reply to Rachels entitled ‘A reply to Rachels on active and passive Euthanasia’ (7).
Beauchamp rightly concedes that Rachels is correct in assuming that the passive /active distinction is sometimes morally irrelevant, but contends that the above case is so dis-analogous to the cases envisaged by the AMA that it fails in its assertion, that distinctions between killing and letting die are always morally irrelevant.

The first problem with the Rachels analogy is the fact that it is an analogy. Analogous arguments suffer from the failing that they usually only hold for relevantly similar cases, and thus it weakens the Rachels assertion that from this particular case we may draw wide ranging and sweeping conclusions about the passive/active debate in toto.

Secondly it is rightly pointed out by Beauchamp, that Rachels cases, involve two unjustified actions; unjustified due to there original intent, which makes them morally reprehensible. The AMA, however, distinguishes between justified cases of letting die and unjustified cases in which active means are used to terminate life. We shall revisit this distinction soon, for it is this distinction, concerning just such justification, which is at the heart of the passive/ active debate.

Thirdly, In Rachels example, both Jones and Smith, are morally responsible for the death of the boy, and us thus equally morally culpable. The AMA however designates an agent morally responsible only if they actively take a life; but the same agent is not morally required to preserve life, (in extraordinary situations), and is thus not held morally responsible for the patients death, when removing the patient from the extraordinary means of life support. What one denotes as extraordinary is itself the subject of considerable debate. A debate I do not wish to pursue in any great length here. For reasons of brevity, We shall take extraordinary to mean, any procedure that is both artificial, beyond societal normalcy, and at the cutting edge of modern medical technology. Although it must be mentioned that, what one perceives as artificial and extraordinary will vary in an inverse manner to ones exposure to the technique and its consequent availability. Remembering of course that Antibiotics where considered extraordinary not so long ago, but are today commonplace.

All these refutations point to the fact that, Rachels conclusion, that passive/active distinctions are always morally irrelevant, rests upon shaky foundations.
At this juncture Beauchamp brings to the table the often-cited case of Karen Ann Quinlan. In 1975, Karen Ann Quinlan stopped breathing for several minutes, for reasons unknown to this day. She received mouth to mouth resuscitation, which failed to revive her. She was then rushed to a New Jersey Hospital, in which she was attached to life support mechanisms, which supported her. Physicians pronounced that she was in a chronic, persistent vegetative state, and her father appealed to the court for legal guardianship, with the express purpose of taking her off life support. After much legal wrangling, in which the debate ranged between physicians that believed her to be beyond rehabilitation and those that were not so convinced. The New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the Fathers appeal and allowed him guardianship, at which juncture the life support mechanisms were turned off. Karen Ann Quinlan survived until 1985 when she finally passed away, never recovering from the coma she had fallen into ten years previously. This, as Beauchamp rightly notes, is much closer to the kind of case that the AMA had in mind in it’s directive concerning passive Euthanasia. Beauchamp asks us to envisage a situation in which, the father of Karen Quinlan benevolently wishes the doctors to administer his daughter with an overdose of morphine, thus terminating her life painlessly. We would be tempted, he believes, to say that the initial situation is morally justified, and the second, in which the doctors actively terminate Karen’s life, is not. What then is the distinction he is drawing upon here? It rests in our judgements of medical fallibility and moral responsibility. After all there is the remote possibility that the medical profession might be wrong in there prognosis, as has been evidenced in other cases in which comatose patients have miraculously revived to lead healthy happy lives. To bring about her death then would be to ‘preempt the possibility of life’ (8), where as to allow her to die by the removal of artificial equipment removes the moral responsibility that comes with wrongful diagnosis and medical fallibility and thus absolves one from moral responsibility in the taking of a life under circumstances of wrongful diagnosis. The distinction here is that active termination of life removes all possibility of life for the patient where as passive means may not.

The major point is that due to differing moral principles that can govern similar situations we may sometimes be morally culpable for actively killing someone, but not so, when we allow them to die. The problem is, that there will be cases in which we are morally culpable for the death of an individual under both the active and passive distinctions; and conversely, morally justified in taking a life in other such cases. Circumstances in which we may be morally justified in taking the life of some one else, in an active manner, can be seen in such real life scenarios as self-defense, or within a wartime framework, where one fights for some other competing right. The distinction between active and passive and the consequent moral culpability then is somewhat dependent upon the circumstances in which that decision is to be made. A judgement to ‘allow to die’ is just as likely, and in fact, is almost wholly dependent upon knowledge that is possibly fallible, as is the judgement to kill. Obviously, this fallibility is quantitatively and qualitatively dependent upon who is giving the assessment in each specific situation. For the most part Medical practitioners who specialize in various fields would be far more likely to give an increasingly closer approximation to the potential prognosis for patients coming under there specialized fields, than would the lay person, and for the most part this is why greater weight is given to their expertise in these matters. It must be cautioned though at this point that even specialists can be wrong, for they are only human after all, and often rely upon laboratory results for there informed opinions. To return to the point Beauchamp is making though, if we kill the patient then we are certainly culpable for their death, but in similar vain, if we cease treatment, and the patient dies, where had we continued with the treatment the patient would have lived, we may equally be responsible, and thus morally culpable. The assertion made by Rachels, that passive/active distinctions are always morally irrelevant then, fails under the auspices of responsibility, and the best we can say is that sometimes the passive/active distinction is morally arbitrary.

Beauchamp then goes on to offer an alternative argument that rests upon the doctrine of rule utilitarianism, and although eloquently argued, it suffers from the same complaints that other forms of utilitarianism suffer, for this and many other reasons, I do not use it here.
Another often cited species of argumentation made by proponents who oppose voluntary active Euthanasia (VAE), but may or may not support passive Euthanasia, is the ‘slippery slope’ or ‘thin end of the wedge’ species of argumentation. This form of argument would have little philosophic import; if it were not for the fact, that the fears expressed by proponents of such arguments had not already been realized during the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s. The subtlety with which this pernicious abuse occurred must give any proponent of Euthanasia, either adherents to passive or active, cause for concern. I cannot for this reason dismiss out of hand the concerns voiced by those that fear the types of abuse that can occur under a legitimized and legalized regime of Euthanasia, and for this reason alone, a closer inspection of those very concerns must be addressed in any legitimate discussion of Euthanasia laws.

In 1920, a book entitled ‘The permission to destroy life unworthy of life’ by Alfred Hoche .M.D, and Karl Binding was published. It had an immediate effect upon the German psyche. It argued that under very specific situations, a patient should be able to ask for ‘death assistance’. The patient had the right at any time to ask for their request to be withdrawn and a panel of three competent professionals was to decide upon this request. It was explained that the ‘death assistance’ was highly congruent with the highest medical ethics, and was essentially a compassionate solution to a painful situation. The book explains further how this ‘death assistance’ was not to be limited to just those patients who asked for it, but was to be offered to ‘empty shells of human beings’, thus allowing valuable resources to be channeled to patients more deserving of proper treatment. Already parallel’s can be drawn between some of the arguments propounded by modern Euthanasia supporters and the sentiments expressed in this book.
During the 20’s and early 30’s, various articles, films, and documentaries were created that rejoined the sentiments expressed in this book. In 1933 an article appeared in the NY times (10/8/33, page1 column 2) that reported the then German justice minister as saying ”it would now be possible for physicians to end the tortures of incurable patients, upon request, in the interests of true humanity, and the savings would redound to the German people, if money was no longer thrown away on the disabled, the incurable, and those on the threshold of old age”.
The scene was now set for further slippage down the road towards eventual genocidal carnage, for the seeds of just such a result had been sown in these early years. The ‘Baby Knauer’ case occurred in 1938, and is celebrated, if celebrated is the right word, as a turning point in the general acceptance by the German population of an active Euthanasia program. The father of ‘baby Knauer’ appealed directly to Adolph Hitler, to allow his son to be allowed death, as the child was blind, retarded, and missing an arm and a leg. Hitler turned the case over to his personal physician, Karl Brandt, and the request was granted. What followed was the incremental and gradual erosion of any semblance of civilized humanity. A committee was established to adjudicate upon ‘mercy killings’. ‘Hungerhauser’ were established to starve and in some cases freeze the aged and infirmed. Eventually this would result in the work camps in which millions of 'non-humans', or Jews, were systematically murdered.

It is important to note that during this time, no laws were passed concerning Euthanasia, merely edicts from the Fuhrer, for by the time the ‘hungerhauser’ were established in 1941 Euthanasia had become just normal hospital routine.

Although this is an analogous argument, and we have already stated, analogous arguments suffer from the failing that they are only useful when applied to relevantly similar cases, parallels may still be drawn and lessons learnt from the subtle and incremental way in which this horrific systematic barbarity crept upon the generally normal population that inhabited Germany in the 20’s and 30’s.

Arguments of this sort are indeed intuitively horrifying, and so they should be, for it is just such abuses that we should be constantly and zealously on guard concerning. Parallels can be drawn between the circumstances that surrounded the debate of the 20’s and 30’s in Germany and those of the modern era, it would however, be over reaching the point to insist that even with the proper safe guards in place, humanity will slide inevitably towards such abuses. A warning however must be taken in light of this historical evidence. That is, in any well-meaning program, from which potential exists for abuse, safeguards must be sufficiently stringent to obviate the potential for such abuses. Under a system of Democracy, the potential certainly exists for well meaning programs, such as consensual Euthanasia laws, to fall foul of the warnings of these past atrocities. It would not be beyond the realms of possibility for instance for beneficent and well meaning laws to be passed that under the current administration find no corner for abuse, yet ten or twenty years hence are twisted to meet the demands of those with hidden agendas and more malefic intent. Already this millenia we have witnessed in the United States of America the rise of a new order within the Republican party, who have had potentially terrifying and callous policies, that would make the Nazi party policies pale in comparison. Can we be sure that laws passed today are universally and temporally respected for the intent in which they found inception? The answer to this question is undoubtedly an unqualified ‘do not know’. Thus, it is undoubtedly important to bare this in mind whenever we formulate laws that on the face of it conform to our principled beliefs. Laws after all are not temporally specific, as we are; they cross the bridge of time and consequently effect future generations in ways that we may never be able to envisage.

Does this mean then that we must reject any form of Euthanasia on the grounds that it may, or may not be abused? Certainly, we have seen evidence in this essay of the compelling nature of many of the arguments both for and against passive and active Euthanasia. Yet, we have by no means exhausted the potential positions of both sides of this debate. Further research into this issue would entail a detailed exploration of voluntary Vs involuntary Euthanasia and such subsequent Arguments the like of which I can briefly outline here. Those in favor active Euthanasia point to assertions that:
1)Individuals have the right to decide about there own lives and deaths.
2)Denying terminally ill patients the right to die with dignity is unfair and cruel.
3)People have the right to die with dignity and lucidity.
4)Autonomy trumps all.
Whilst some of the issues that are propounded by those that oppose a policy of (VAE) are:
1)Can we be sure that consent is voluntary?
2)Allowing active Euthanasia will lead to abuses.
3)What of the possibility of mistake.
4)Can the taking of human life ever be morally acceptable outside of special circumstances like war, and self defense.
5)Does it not run counter to the Hippocratic oath to insist that Medical Practitioners perform active Euthanasia?

The point here is that this is a highly anfractuous and contorted issue and one in which the full range of human emotions range. I have been confronted with the reality of the intellectual debate as it exists today, through the contraction of terminal cancer and eventual death of my step father, and have experienced first hand the effects this had upon not only the person who contracted the terminal illness, but also the subsequent effects on those who both loved and cherished this person. Without a doubt, the issue of suffering was at that time central to my concerns, and formally held intuitions were radically challenged in the face of the reality that came with such a diagnosis.

As I started this essay so shall I finish it, with the observation that western conceptions of Death may in themselves be inextricably tied to misconceptions wrought by a sanctified predilection towards death as an evil, rather than as a release from suffering and a transcendent passage to a better place. For anywhere may be better than here, when the pain and suffering of existence so clouds the mind that the quality of ones existence falls below the threshold for which only the sufferer can adjudge.

As to whether we can legislate upon this suffering I am at present undecided, and as with any anfractuous and problematic conundrum which may have far ranging repercussions, I can only say that at this juncture it may well be that we must err on the side of caution, for to construct a society that seeks to rid itself of the meta-moral that life is sacrosanct, is to walk a dangerous line, that has historical precedent in some of our most heinous evils as a collective humanity.

1)Stoffell, Brian: ’voluntary Euthanasia, suicide, and physician-assisted suicide’ in ‘A companion to bioethics’
Ed by Kuhse, Helga and Singer, Peter.
(Blackwell, 1998:pp272-279)
2)Grassian, Victor: ‘Moral Reasoning’.
(prentice hall publishing, 1981)
3)Chan, Wing-Tsit: ‘Chinese Philosophy’.
(Princeton University press, 1963)
4)Rachels, James: ‘Active and passive Euthanasia’.
In the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’vol292, pp78-80.
5) Beauchamp, Tom L: ‘A reply to Rachels on active and passive Euthanasia’. In ‘Social Ethics’ Ed by Mappes, T, and Zembaty,J: (NY, McGraw Hill, 1976).
6) Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth: ‘On Death and dying’.
(NY, Macmillan, 1974).
7)Singer, Peter: ‘The legalisation of voluntary Euthanasia in the Northern Territory'’
in ‘Bioethics’, volume 9, number5, 1995,
8) Pence, Greg: ‘Dr Kevorkian and the struggle for physician-assisted dying’.
In ;Bioethics’,vol 9, number 1, 1995.
9) Beauchamp,Tom L, and Walters, Leroy; ‘Contemporary Issues in Bioethics’, (3rd ed, Wadsworth, 1989).
10) Beauchamp, Tom l, and Childress, James F; ‘Principles of Biomedical ethics’ , (4th edn, Oxford university press, 1994).
11) Callahan, Daniel; ‘Pursuing a peaceful death’.
(Hastings center report, July-August, 1993,pp33-38).
12) Schneiderman, Lawrence j, and Jecker, Nancy s, and Jonsen Albert R; ‘Medical futility: It’s meaning and ethical implications’.
In Annuls of internal medicine , volume 112, number 12, June 15, 1990.

1.Page 272 of bibliography reference(1)
2.Page 273 of ibid.
3.Page 273 of ibid.
4.Reference article in bibliography (4)
5.Page 312 of ibid.
6.Page 315 of ibid.
7.Reference article in bibliography (5)
8.Page 321 of ibid.

 © Richard Michael Parker 2000

Friday, 1 October 2010



Where did you go?
while you wandered in that snow,
was it cold?
did you feel my lips, or delicate finger tips,
play upon your still frame,
in that frozen place;
Did you remember my name?
Did my soft lips embrace your warm mouth,
passionately sucking a heat between us?
Did your body, pressed down,
trapped beneath the fire and the ground,
slip in the wheels of your mind,
round, and round?
What were you thinking?
when your tiger eyes rolled in the heat,
and that porcelain skin shattered,
searing the succulence of your sizzling meat,
screaming at the church across the road,
while you came, like it mattered.
When you ran home, melting,
desperate to hold me, to feed me your fire,
to stoke the hearth of salacious desire,
did you stop even for a second,
to wonder, how do you build a snow cave?
As you wander now, in that winter wasteland,
beaten by the drifts of frozen snow,
did you ever stop to think;
You just might not know?
how to heal a broken heart,
or mend those desperate scars,
or give yourself a loving start,
from out behind those bars?
did vanity have its way with you before me?
did pride cripple your soul before i got there?
It doesn't matter,
because as you slip again beneath the icy surface,
drowning, as that ice sheet widens,
thickening above your breathless body,
it will be the cold numbing forgetfulness that takes you,
breaks you, like the little girl inside,
who drowns every time her mothers love is denied.
But I didn't forget;
These blazing hands, that fought the fire,
and wrenched the living coals from out your soul,
ripping the white hot steel of desire,
from the belly of that corpulent hole,
were forged to break that icy flow,
to reach beneath the shattered surface,
into the icy depths, where love lingers still.
To pull you screaming, like a spanking babe into life.
knowing that winter ends,
and the snow melts into spring again.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010 

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

I long to read you poetry in the morning

I long to read you poetry in the morning

I long to read you poetry in the morning;
to watch you half slumbered,
eyes still seeing another world,
walking on a sun shot land,
in the dim light of another moon.
slowly awakening with a mellow breeze,
blowing away the cobwebs,
singing in the trees, of this love.
I long to read you Poetry in the morning;
An orange sun glowing in your tummy,
as my soft low voice whispers,
'remember me'!...slowly,
A smile shooting from your toes,
the smell of coffee, and musk,
all the way up to your nose,
the sweet scent of the evening's dusk,
lingering on the bedsheets still.
I long to read you poetry in the morning;
Softened joy spread across your face,
hypnotically holding you with my voice,
washing you with my words of grace,
you, moaning, like you had no choice,
spread, like the soft morning dew
on the lush grass of spring.
I long to read you poetry in the morning;
To watch the ocean in your eyes,
stir those calm waters into peeks,
as my wind, sweeps, gently across your surface,
and plunges into the depths of you.
I long to read you poetry in the morning;
and have you feel my resonating chest,
reverberate beneath the sheets,
rippling into your soft warm frame,
waves lapping against your alabaster shore,
my heart, in lilting tones, echoing your name,
the silken sands, seething with sighs, 'Je t'adore'.
I long to read you poetry in the morning;
then throw the book to the floor,
and kiss you deeply, longingly, forevermore.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010 

Amy Knutkowski's Artwork

Monday, 27 September 2010



Did you wonder where we had gone?
did it cross your mind,
as you crossed the road,
buried in your feet and thoughts,
at the middle of your intersection.
'I wonder where the patter of those footsteps has gone?'
the ones that used to walk beside me,
sometimes racing ahead,
at times shadowing me,
like the back hoofs of a slow horse.
Well, We are all still here! attached;
Stopping the traffic,
removing the obstructions,
guiding folks around you as you walk,
with your head down low...
peering through the earth at the sky on the other side.
if you look up,
you just might find the same sky,
but see it from a different point of view,
and if your lucky,
and if the earth hasn't moved too much,
while you've been away,
you might just see me too.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010 

Artwork by Julie Bergmann

Sunday, 26 September 2010

I will not ask you

I will not ask you

I cannot ask you to feel pain for me.
I cannot beg that you ache,
or demand that in the silence,
you burn and break.
I cannot tease that time from you,
or stir your gut like a simmering stew,
nor force you like a rusty screw,
to turn your heart inside out,
with all the fear of loss and doubt.
I will not do that to you
I will not make a martyr of a lover
or ask you to watch as I walk
or wait while I talk, with another.

When all the wasted time is totalled,
and those moments in which you came,
and went again, are remembered,
it will be the bleeding of time,
the ebb of carelessness,
that finally, washed the sands away.
The lost minutes, seconds
hours of avoidance, the silence,
that spoke loudest of all.

So I will not beg, nor wallow
or ask you to sit in this eternal sorrow.
I will not ask you to join me there,
I cannot, you see,
because I've loved you,
and I care.

© Richard Michael Parker 2010

Artwork by JoyusLion

Saturday, 25 September 2010

The Birth of Tomorrow

The Birth of Tomorrow

In this brief note I will attempt to sketch out some of the arguments presented by proponents of liberal nationalism, and contrast them with my own interpretation of the global cultural situation as it exists in the new millennium. So as to find some potential common ground between both the global humanist stance and the concerns and issues raised by liberal Nationalists in relation to the question of culture, and the subsequent flourishing of individuals in the new millennium.

Firstly I would like to explore the concept of “nationhood’ in relation to cultural affinity, so as to better understand exactly what it is that lays behind the traditional drive and import of nationalism.

The modern debate that rages presently, concerns the protagonists of the pro-Nationalist assembly, who vehemently defend Nationalism and have of recent tried to construct defenses that encompass both the more traditional line, with more modern conceptions and understandings. These defenders of nationalism are often referred to as liberal- nationalists, and amongst their number are such notable scholar’s as David Millar, and Yael Tamir. It is to these two defenders of nationalism that I will address my proposition specifically. Rallied against them are the Human Globalists, Jeremy Waldron and Gillian Brock being most notable amongst their number. What I will attempt to show is that due to a misconception upon the part of these two positions they have been talking at cross purposes, and that the concerns of both positions underpinning their arguments, can be in part be resolved by subsuming them under a new definition of the word “nation”, In the hope that the outmoded chaff can be winnowed from the grains of truth that are contained within each position.

What is a nation? This is certainly a core question, and one that evokes many answers, as many in fact as there appear to be people willing to proffer an interpretation. To some a nation is a state or territory , Whilst others talk of culture or ancestry as the defining mandate of nationhood . Still others hearken to even more potential explanations, such as a shared history, or historical pursuit, being religious or otherwise, that project from a traditional past, through the existential present, towards some future goal (Israel being an obvious example). Yet none of the answers proffered, is wholly sufficient in explaining what it is to be a nation.

As Stephen Nathenson so rightly emphasizes:
“While each of them maybe sufficient to ground a sense of Nationhood, none is absolutely necessary”

I would like at this juncture to posit my own interpretation of a nation. A nation is a body of persons, however many, who extend themselves in such a way as to identify there association as an intrinsic expression of who they are, and what they ‘believe’ themselves to be. It is in the extension of the individual that Nationhood arises.

Nationhood is a mutual coextensive concept. One cannot be a Nation of ‘one’, Unless that ‘one’ is the body total of the group membership. Individuals themselves are constructed of individual cells, quite distinct from any of the other cells of the body, yet each functioning in a harmonious accord to create a new entity that is cognizant of it’s own wholeness.

Nationhood arises then, when two or more people mutually recognize enough similarity in the dispositions and belief structures of the significant other/s, and have a common supportive purpose, for there to arise an identity that transcends the self of each of the participants in this newly created entity. I mention a common purpose here as it is an essential criteria of any free association that common aspirations be mutually supported so as to create a sense of belonging. A belonging that itself feeds back into the supportive network of this association. Now it is true that many nations have arisen that have failed to manifest in a prolonged manner this free association and sense of common purpose, But I contend that for any ‘Healthy” progressive association to exist and grow, this common purpose is essential.

Nationhood, thus understood in this light, is a mutually objective extension of subjective ‘beliefs’, such that, each of the participants in this association play a part in creating a new entity that embodies the naturally extending beliefs of the inner self. This new ‘communal self’, is nothing more than the collection of projected inner selves initially, and yet through this projection this new entity takes on a cognizance of it’s own. It is as if the members of the Nation are organs for the body politic, and by way of free association they actively create and support a greater entity than themselves. This will continue unabated, so long as each of the Members are sufficiently supported. At some stage in this growth process the body becomes large enough to begin to support dissenters, or fellow nationals who no longer find themselves or there beliefs concurrent with the prevailing interests of the body. However, if the dissension becomes great enough the body begins to collapse and national crisis usually ensues, as evidenced by such things as sedition, or revolt and rebellion.

No nation or association can afford to so disenfranchise its membership that revolution occurs. The bargain to be struck is that of a balanced and harmonious accord with the wishes of ‘all’ of its membership.

To this end, it is possible within the auspices of this definition to be a nation of ‘two’. Not a Nation in a traditional mould, as will be explained a little later, But rather a nation with a common coextensive belief structure that acts more like an association rather than a traditional nineteenth century body. It may then be somewhat misleading to refer to this body politic as a ‘nation”, for the concept of nation traditionally has been mistakenly construed as a state, often a landed state. Inter- ‘national’ bodies such as the United “Nations” have fostered this perception, and although it functioned well during a growth process in which harmonious accord necessarily took this route, it is in serious jeopardy of overstaying it’s welcome in the burgeoning atmosphere of the twenty first century. For this reason I believe it is more apt to describe this new body politic as an association rather than a ‘Nation”. Yet I will continue to use the term nation loosely throughout this essay and ask the reader to understand this to mean association unless otherwise mentioned. The core of nationhood then is the individual, for a nation is founded upon the mutual association of such individuals. Whether people ‘believe’ themselves to be a part of that nation then is intrinsic to the health of that association, as much as it is important to the flourishing of the Individual concerned. Yet, because the mutual association creates a new communal entity, it is not ‘solely’ upon the belief of the Individual concerned, that a nation can be said to exist. For when a person enters into a free association, the other member’s beliefs are affected so as to encompass the new person into the community, and thus their perception of what and who constitute this nation is altered. It is only by actively disassociating oneself from the entity, and Informing the other members of such an occurrence that the perception of that nation is changed and thus the subsequent belief structures of the membership and the Body itself altered. This educational faculty is also of great importance and is at the heart of the current modern dilemma in the debate between Globalism and nationalism.

I mentioned that it was possible to be a nation of ‘two’, sharing many similarities such as values, history, ancestry, beliefs and many other internal facets of the self. These project into the future, such that the participants of this newly created entity share a will to uphold mutual obligations and coextensive rights, which ensure the flourishing of this conjoined mutuality. The nation then becomes an Identity unto itself, it will flourish or fall wholly at the whim and will of the members behest. It is a relationship, and as with any relationship, is open to the structural dynamics that allow for dysfunction or flourishing alike, this is a point I will talk more about shortly. The possibility of a nation of ‘two’ can be a modern construct unencumbered by the traditional checkpoints that are often cited as an elemental part of most formal traditional interpretations of “nationhood”. Although this may well be the case, it need not be, for one can clearly imagine more historical examples, namely, the last two mori-ori, or the last two Tasmanian Aborigines, being such examples of this type of association. These last two surviving members of a dying culture might very well exhibit all the requisite predisposition’s of their forebear’s, Having undergone the same cultural inculcation that many of more diverse and populous cultures undergo today and which are the foundation stones upon which internal belief structures are constructed. For we are all party to the ongoing education process of our culture. From the earliest age to the latter days of our existence, sources such as language, education, parental nurturing techniques, and a plethora of environmental influences (not least of which are television and other media in the modern age), impinge and imprint upon the developing psyche and help to foster and nurture the world view we develop.

In times past the cave dwellers of hunter-gather times, would have had a core social unit that today is as central to the health and well being of the developing infant as at any other time. Yet as times past, these individual units melded into still larger associations, sept's, clans, tribes, etc. The reasons for this would have been many and various, certainly for genetic breeding purposes, but also for security and diversity of goods. For trade has always been an important factor in the Human story. Hunting and Gathering would have become more efficient, and with the advent of a sufficient number, settlement would have been achievable. The consequent ramifications for this would have been most beneficial to the association of members, lower infant mortality, increased trade and security, along with numerous other advantages.
With the advent of settlement the identity of community became complex, communities needed to create various rules so as to ensure well being for the membership and a functional and harmonious life structure. This life style had to be flexible enough to allow for prior knowledge to be embellished, and sometimes over turned, by the dictates of the present circumstances, whether they be societal, as in the case of population increase, or environmental, as in the case of resource scarcity, and natural calamity. The wisdom gleaned by each successive generation was passed down to the next as a form of code. Culture was born, and along with it, the plumb line of tradition. A tradition upon which each successive generation could map their present development, and project a future path that ensured the continual survival of the communal association and its constituent membership.

Many communities sprung up, and as they grew, interaction occurred between disparate communities, these interactions became more prevalent in time. It is at this juncture that a number of things began to happen, wars occurred between communities for numerous reasons, resource competition being but one example. Yet it is at this juncture that we begin to see the same kind of interaction that marks the internal Interactions within communities. Communities that promoted respect for individual human interaction usually extended this courtesy towards other communities. Whilst communities that ruled by oppressive and authoritarian dictate, more often than not extended this rule of law to all and sundry, wayfaring travelers and neighboring communities alike. Trade became as important between communities as it was within the marketplaces of the communities themselves. Traders of course formed the vanguard, and were often the first outsiders to enter into the inner sanctums of disparate communities.

Jeremy Waldron points out:
“It is no accident that most people live in multicultural societies. There prevalence is witness to the history-the particular history-of human movement and resettlement around the globe”(4)
And furthermore he goes on to say:
“Indeed the beginning of wisdom in multicultural education is the rejection of any simple correlation along the lines of ‘one person-one culture’. Each of us is the embodiment of fragments from a great many cultural traditions and the modes on which they have managed to impinge on us, despite there seeming oppositions and the evident differences in there province, tell us much about what respect for persons is like in a multicultural society as a study of the contents of the various cultures themselves”.

Now I am aware that the mono-cultures and traditions that I have talked about at this stage of human evolutionary history, are not quite the same as the multicultural societies of which Jeremy Waldron speaks. However it is clear that with each new interaction in these earlier times, cultures would often be irrevocably changed. Changed sometimes so much, that new technologies, foods, clothes, etc, would become common place and often replace more culturally traditional forms and items. More often than not it was both the efficacies of the newly acquired item, good, or technology, and its subsequent desirability, in combination with the plasticity of the cultural legislature that dictated whether it was adopted or not. If the culture or community, into which the new technology, custom, or good was to be incorporated, was too rigid to incorporate an evolutionary superior product, then they were unlikely to survive the rigors of a thriving and competitive, often barbarous ancient world. That is of course unless they were of sufficient barbarity to formulate whole societies built upon the premise of ‘might is right’. This of course occurred upon more than one occasion, the Sung dynasty of China, noted for it’s exquisite artistic renditions and artistic communal promotion, was no match for the brutal military machine that was Ghengis Khan and the Mongol hoards. Numerous other conquests by quite often technically superior (but not always) cultures can be cited, such as the Etruscan subjugation by the Romans, or the excesses of the Spanish Conquistadors, to name but a few. It has been noted that the entire colonization of the Globe was an example of this form of military and technological superiority suppressing and in some cases eradicating entire cultures. Yet with the advent of the multicultural melange, that can be seen as the norm in this modern age, we are no longer faced with base hostile takeovers by other cultures, rather more orthodox cultures find they are set upon in far more subtle ways. As was true though of the prior mono cultural community, those cultures that do not adapt to meet the requirements of it membership are doomed to self extinguish. Rigidity rather than plasticity is the death knell of any culture.

I realize that we have moved through a rather large slice of time in the preceding paragraphs, but they are illustrative of the point I have made earlier concerning the initial reasons for the societal construct of the nation. I hoped to show that the cultural justification for nationalism is not so well grounded as many liberal nationalists would have us believe.
Yael Tamir approaches the question of what constitutes a nation in a slightly different manner to many liberal nationalists. She is in accordance with the view that a nation is not a state. Although there is an historical parallel between the two terms, she believes that the misconception has been accentuated by such anomalies as article 27 of the 1947 Human rights charter, drafted by the United Nations, a body who might more properly be described as the United global States. This charter specifically mentions the word, ‘state’, in reference to a person’s inalienable right to choose political representation. Tamir believes that this is just a mistake, and I would have to agree on this point. For to call a nation a state, is to confuse the two quite separate concepts. Given the aforementioned description I have offered concerning the definition of a state, it is just a simple historical accident that any particular nation or association of members happened to inhabit any particular piece of land. Although many cultures point towards some piece of land as being their birthright due to some ancient first settlement, it must be seen within the wider context of the historical flow of people globally. Thus although within the given confines and parameters of modern history it might be feasible to point to some ancient first origin as a landmark so to speak, the actual state of affairs as seen within the modern context has less force.

For Tamir then a nation is a cluster concept fabricated by:
“Cultural communities demarcated by the imaginative power of their members”

Although this Interpretation is somewhat similar to the one I have presented it still falls short of the general proposition I have propounded. Tamir concedes that this rather loose definition doesn’t allow for a sufficient demarcation, such that one would necessarily be able to distinguish between nations and other cultural groups. However what I am proposing here is that Tamir is in fact just confusing her terms of reference. Although her definition of a nation may well be closer to the truth in emphasizing the cultural aspect of collective association, the switch to demarcating nations by way of ‘culture’ is just a mistake. A mistake brought about by limiting her perspective to group associations of a large number, and type, which are commonly understood in traditional nineteenth century terms to be the pinnacle of amalgamation. It may well be said that the cultural heritages of say Iceland and Tonga are clearly demarcated, and that an intuitively obvious difference between the two cultures differentiates the two as separate nations, but this differentiation is chimera, a perspectival trick. For although it might be easy to note the differences that demarcate these two disparate regions and cultures for the liberal nationalist, it is just as easy for the Human globalist to point to the similarities. Both cultures unify male and female so as to procreate and perpetuate their particular group, both cultures breathe the same air, drink water that is formed from one body of cyclical water exchange, and in short both cultures exist within a body of people, who within the modern era are driven more and more into a symbiotic relationship with one another globally through trade, information and the understanding that we are one planet. In fact the similarities are just as endless, for the global humanist to enumerate, as the differences are for the ardent liberal Nationalist. What counts here is from which perspective you are viewing the situation. They are in fact two sides of the same coin. That coin being the Human condition within the closed ecosystem of planet earth. It would not be beyond the pale to go further at this juncture and extend this perspectival anomaly beyond the human condition. Ecologists talk much of the interrelations of a closed Eco system, and it is becoming more apparent that humans are in need of a radical shift in perspective when it comes to such issues, if we are to survive into the later part of the new millennium. This is a point that I would like to address in my closing remarks, concerning the concept of Nationalism and that of Global humanism, however it will suffice at this juncture to stop someway short of this position. The emphasis at this point is upon the conceptual understanding that perception and belief structures are paramount in the adoption of the particular biases of both the nationalist and Human Globalist positions.

Judith Lichtenberg offers 5 quite common defenses that are often touted by liberal Nationalists.
1.The flourishing argument.
2.The self-determination argument.
3.The reparations argument.
4.The pluralism argument.
5.The Intrinsic value argument.
Unfortunately due to brevity, it will not be possible to look at all of these arguments in full, so I would like to take the first of these and look a little more closely at it’s internal justifications.

The flourishing argument is one that states that individuals need to belong to a group outside of themselves or their family in order to fully realize their potentials, and develop themselves fully. This is a self-evident truism. We may conclude that human beings all need some form of personal and communal association. A sense of belonging, which manifests within the person requisite psychological feedback, that allows for both a sense of well-being and personal security, such that the persons sense of self, as an extensive human being is bolstered and flourishes as a result. Needless to say, some of the saddest and most tragic circumstances are when a person is isolated or ostracized. This is in fact a form of punishment, still in use today in modern prisons. Yet isolation can be felt by anyone, at anytime, anywhere. It can be a state of mind, generated by a psyche that withdraws from the throng, by creating imaginary lines of demarcation.

The flourishing that is used as justification by Liberal Nationalists, like David Miller (who even uses it as a wedge for nation states), is still a construct of individual minds. Now I do not deny that a healthy human being will often flourish in circumstances where they believe their own personal lines of demarcation are being mutually regarded and protected, my point is that, just as the Serbian associations believe themselves to be a cultural identity worthy of nation status, so to the association of global philatelists, may see themselves as a cultural entity worthy of the same recognition. Now it may be objected here, there is something altogether different about a group of people interested in stamp collecting, and the Serbian culture. One is a bunch of people, who enjoy a hobby, even if they are a little over zealous in there pursuit, where as the other enjoys hundreds of years of rich history, a language, a social dynamic and a homeland, that is far and away richer and more meaningful than any that could be envisaged by a mere collection of enthusiastic hobbyists. This however is once again a chauvinism, and smacks of cultural bigotry. At its worst, this form of thinking plumbs the depths of racism. It is precisely this form of thinking that brought the world to the brink of destruction toward the middle and latter half of last century. People belong to groups either through an accident of birth, cultural inculcation, or through a volitional exercise. More and more today we are party to a world in which the volitional begins to supersede the accidental, although cultural inculcation is still prevalent and needs to be closely monitored so as not to become an equally as oppressive force as that of patriotic jingoism was in the likes of Nazi Germany. True personal choice can be fashioned according to the beliefs and internal drives of the individual. Yet as I have already mentioned cultural inculcation can have an overbearing influence upon the belief structures of the individual, especially the young, and for this reason much care needs to be taken so as to ensure that those most vulnerable to manipulation by more powerful bodies are not so inculcated that there ability for free choice is compromised irrevocably.

Education and diversification are the hallmarks of the twenty first century. No longer are many bound to narrow circumstances (although those in the third world are still in dire need of basic primary goods and are somewhat left out of this equation) in which they are tied to the cultural mores of their immediate environment. We have begun to see the ‘mongrolization’ of culture. Whether this is good or bad is a mute point. It is already happening, and the flourishing of individuals, who collectively associate themselves with like minded others, is bound to this process. They are the burgeoning offspring of new cultural entities. A new pan Globalist culture has already started to emerge. Associations that restrict this exercise are doomed to suffer the same fate as a thousand other rigid associations before them, that have fallen by the wayside in the evolutionary history of the human species. Rigidity is tantamount to societal and cultural suicide at times of punctuated evolutionary equilibrium, and with the advent of the technological revolution we are witnesses to the dawning of a new age for the human species. I do not wish to decry the all-important position that ‘Tradition” plays within the new emerging world culture. Language is an essential faculty of such tradition, and for the most part is heralded by people as an essential part of who they are, this will continue to occur, even if English begins to emerge as the global linguistic currency. Diversity will always have an indelible part to play in the human make up and for this reason, what we are beginning to see is the adoption of English as the universal language and regional and cultural languages being added and strengthened as either primary or secondary languages. However, Traditional values and structures will only survive if the association that harbors them embraces this new evolutionary process. Cultures must be seen to be plastic enough to incorporate the new education’s, technologies, and movements, so that these previously held traditional mores may enrich rather than impoverish the lives of there membership. In this way true ‘flourishing’ will be seen to have occurred.

Another important point for liberal nationalists who would wish to use the flourishing argument to support there position is that, if one sees oneself as a member of the human species, and that is the personal demarcation point, then anything that falls short of allowing one to join the global membership, and it’s consequent cultural unity will detract from true flourishing. The truth of the matter is that all human beings make subjective value judgments about where and at which point they feel comfortable drawing the line. It is not beyond the realms of possibility to posit that for many these days that demarcation point has more to do with education and practical efficacy, than with any historical rootedness. Education is an obvious tool for the expansion of collective consciousness. Practical efficacy is a two way street in which personal empowerment or dis-empowerment is realized through environmental circumstance, like political governance. Thus an impoverished rustic Ethiopian may not have any sense of cultural identity outside of the family or tribal unit in which the subsistence of existence is gleaned, where as the globalist living in New York, whose personal empowerment is wholly dependent upon a world culture might be more inclined to take a more expansive view of things.

Flourishing then has to do with interpersonal identification of internal belief structures allied with external impingements upon the development of those belief structures. It then falls to the Liberal nationalist to somehow support their view that it is an essential part of a human beings make up to be party to a singular nation, or state in David Millers case, in a world in which global identity is a growing phenomenon. Furthermore, far from being the case that isolationist liberal-nationalism helps the individual to flourish, it may well be the case that the opposite is in fact true. That individuals who see themselves as set upon by small minded others who continue to quash their aspirations to be Global citizens may in fact have there sense of flourishing severely hampered if not damaged.

Gillian Brock makes a good point about the nature of cultural identity and it’s subsequent value:
“In order for ones cultural identity to be freely chosen, or to be able to make cultural choices, one must have ’real’ options”

The point being that in order for true flourishing to take place, one must have real authentic options from which to choose. These options, can only emerge in the modern context by living in a culturally pluralist environment, where one has access to other cultures, and exists within a heterogeneous political community that supports the personal intentions of individualistic choice. It does not appear likely that rigid traditionalism would support such a mode of individual operation, and thus it is hard to see how Nationalism founded upon these traditionalist models, could constitute an atmosphere in which authentic flourishing could take place.

For all this though it must be remembered that each individual even though they believe themselves to be self determining agents is a part of a collective. I have talked much of the sanctity of the Individual, and they’re right to freely choose the associations to which a sense of full flourishing can enrich their lives. It must however be recognized that no person lives in isolation, there make up and character are formed from the well springs of a traditional past, brought to bare in the present and projected into the future. This path which each person leads, is intimately tied to the paths of others, so that no separation can in fact be considered whole. A growing awareness of Humanity as an emergent body of oneness is allied to the individual choices that make up this body. Each individual in choosing their path and free associations allows their own particular and individual talents to bare upon the body in a free and authentic manner. Some are destined to act as brain cells, whilst others see there function as allied to cleansing nature of the liver or kidneys, but in all there is a growing awareness that their individual choices are connected to a growing and emergent entity that supersedes the mere collection and chaotic amalgamation that has to this point been the historical precedent of the human species.

Each individual when they enter a relationship, are in a sense a product of their own unique past, a past that has inculcated them with traditions and belief structures that are as vital to the body of this emergent collective new self as any other. What Liberal Nationalists fail to grasp is not that they may have responsibilities towards others, for it is clear that both the Likes of Yael Tamir and David Miller are as equally vociferous in there collective obligatory regulations as any Human Globalist. Rather it is the failure to recognize that this emergent and growing new consciousness is like a new born baby, requiring all the subsequent attentions so as to ensure it grows in a harmonious and naturally developmental manner. Clinging to outmoded doctrines, that can neither support a feeling of collective association, nor bolster the requisite means for it’s full emergent flourishing will only harm and restrict this emergence. One thing is for sure, once a child is born it can longer go back to the womb from which it emerged. This global consciousness owes much to the historical precedence of traditional cultures and the peculiar histories of the peoples of those cultures. If however those cultures are to survive, then surely it is better that they be incorporated within the diverse body of humanity as it grows into a single entity, functioning as a collective, than being used as some form of historical chain to tie this new entity to a past from which it is emerging.

There must be grave concern as to the particular motivations of those that would insist that people globally restrict there collective action to designated national entities, structured so as to dis-empower and restrict this collective sense of unity. We have seen nationalism raise it’s ugly head more than once in the last century, through wars, and towards the latter half of the century by way of first world negligence towards the basic needs of a vast majority of the worlds population. Nationalism is touted as a means of redistributing goods to those less fortunate nations, yet central to the core of this argument is the fallacy that we are separated from these others, cocooned in our own isolated little spheres of existence. It is exactly this attitude that fundamentally works against the emerging global consciousness. For at its root is the presupposition that we are essentially different from those around us who inhabit this one single sphere.

This separation has more to do with the historical accidents of isolated communities or associations of members, than any tangible separateness of fundamental character. Although it is true that each association brings it’s own unique perspective to this body, as does each individual, it cannot be the case that the ‘we’ that is being created is itself separate. What is required as this emergent collective self is born is an understanding and subtle restructuring so as to incorporate the paradigm shift that is a consequent of any future emergence. Each individual is responsible for the care of this new entity, and we leave ourselves open to dangerous manipulations by those who would control the subsequent power that is humanity, if we allow others to dictate the terms of our emergence. So although we have seen that Nationalism has had its important part to play in fostering a sense of unity amongst disparate communities, it would be ignorant and patently unwise to rest upon the false laurels of Nationalistic desiderata at a time in which the growing Global community, begins to recognize its functioning as a unified and collective whole. For to do so would be to leave ourselves open to the machinations and fickle predisposition’s of those few who have the reigns of power given to them by mere historical accident.

Communication and education begin to transform our world, the Internet offers all first world countries the insight into a possible future, in which people are separated by thoughts and interests by no more than a fraction of a second. We are in short within the grip of a technological revolution, a quiet revolution, and a potentially peaceful evolution. The danger is that in moving forward into this burgeoning new frontier, we leave behind those who are also a vital constituent part of the body of humanity. Nationalism in all of it’s guises, emphasizes at its core a fundamental misconception that has no part in this new emergent self save but to herald the concept that together there is a collective identity.

David Miller charges the Universalist to:
“ Show that in widening the scope of ethical ties, to encompass equally the whole of the human species, he does not also drain them of their binding force”

What Miller fails to recognize is that this statement can be flipped upon its head in the new global situation. For those who recognize that there own existence is intrinsically entwined within the entire tapestry of humanity it falls to the Nationalist to answer the criticism that in perpetuating a sense of isolationism they aren’t diminishing the ethical import of the times, and consequently diminishing and restricting the full flourishing of each constitutive individual and the entity as a whole.

I have tried to posit a slight variation upon the two camps of contention between the Liberal Nationalists and their very real concerns of traditional values, and the Human globalists with their identification of an emergent future. I have attempted to show that they are in fact two sides of the same coin, and that any emergent community must recognize the truth that each brings, not at the expense of the other but in light of the valid concerns and insights that each position harbors. It may well be that ecological necessity and understanding will someday allow Humanity to move beyond the mere human concern and incorporate the entire sphere of this ecosystem we call our home. For ecology is rapidly becoming the focus of our concerns, and it may well be that both Human Globalism and Liberal Nationalism are both too narrow and chauvinistic to incorporate this new understanding, as we begin to recognize, that everything we do to our environment we do to ourselves.

© Richard Michael Parker 2000