Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Poem by Suranga

In my recent post featuring a Saguaro in bloom I received this poem in the comment section from Ugich Konitari. I want to share it with you.

Ugich lives in India and if you haven't visited her blog Gappa you are missing a rare treat. Obviously, English is not her native tongue, but she writes far better than I do. Here is a link to her blog.

Thank you, Suranga. Enjoy her poem.


"The unknown cactus in a yard near you...." and the Saguaro with its myriad uses of blossoms, inspired this:

Green in peace,
Pink health blossoms,

from the,
very expressive,
democratic cactus;

They stand,
waving hands,

arms raised,
"yes, we can,

yes, we can!"

And the Guv,
the latest law,

rolls up the window,
as her car passes
a Saguaro ,
that says,
"Be tough,
look tough,
for the good of all,
but remember,
unless you blossom
in empathy,
you are useless in this world.....


People may wonder why I love this State considering the stupid and irrational laws passed by our Republican legislature (I believe they are Conservative Christians all) and signed by the current governor. Suranga's poem and the photo that inspired it might help you to understand.

The desert is not neutral; you either love it or hate it. I happen to love it and so I stay. Tucson is left leaning and the right wing group reside it the Phoenix area. Of course, you can find all types in both cities.

It all set me thinking and wondering for the umpteenth time how Conservative Christians can read their Bible and justify the positions they take. This morning I read an article that states my belief better than I can. The original article contains references to Bible verses that prove to me that the conservatives are flat out wrong. If you want to read the entire article including the referenced Bible verses here is the link. I will follow it with excerpts from the article.

Why Are So Many Christians Conservative?
By Mike Lux

The most fundamental difference between progressives and conservatives is that question of which side you are on. Conservatives believe that the rich and powerful got that way because they deserve to be, that society owes its prosperity to the prosperous, and that government's job when they have to make choices is to side with those businesspeople who are doing well, because all good things trickle down from them. Progressives, on the other hand, believe it is the poor and those who are ill-treated who need the most help from their government, and that prosperity comes from all of us -- the worker as well as the employer, the consumer as well as the seller, the struggling entrepreneur trying to make it as well as the wealthy who already have.

Between Glenn Beck's conspiracy theories about Christian social justice (Since Communists and Nazis both used the words "social" and "justice," sometimes even together, the phrase must be bad) ------and Sarah Palin's "spiritual warfare,".------

I am always puzzled by how people who claim to be followers of the Jesus I read about in the Bible can be political conservatives.

High-profile preachers who claim to speak for Christianity but preach a brand of narrow, intolerant conservatism ------ it's important to have a sense of just how different the Bible is from how conservative Christians represent it.

Conservative Christians' primary argument regarding Jesus and politics is that all he cared about was spiritual matters and an individual's relationship with God. As a result, they say, all those references from Jesus about helping the poor relate only to private charity, not to society as a whole. Their belief is that Jesus, and the New Testament in general, is focused on one thing and one thing only: how do people get into heaven.

The Jesus of the New Testament was of course extremely concerned with spiritual matters: ---- if you actually read the Gospels, it is clear that Jesus' main concern in terms of the people whose fates he cared about was for the poor, the oppressed, and the outcast. Comment after comment and story after story in the Gospels about Jesus relates to the treatment of the poor, generosity to those in need, mercy to the outcast, and scorn for the wealthy and powerful. And his philosophy is embedded with the central importance of taking care of others, loving others, treating others as you would want to be treated. There is no virtue of selfishness here, there is no "greed is good," there is no invisible hand of the market or looking out for Number One first. There is nothing about poor people being lazy, nothing about the undeserving poor being leeches on society, nothing about how I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps so everyone else should, too. There is nothing about how in nature, "the lions eat the weak," and therefore we shouldn't help the poor because it weakens them. There is nothing about charity or welfare corrupting a person's spirit.

What there is: quote after quote about compassion for the poor. In Jesus' very first sermon of his ministry, the place where he launched his public career, he stated the reason he had come: to bring good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, to help the oppressed go free, and that he was here to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord -- which in Jewish tradition meant the year that poor debtors were forgiven their debts to bankers and the wealthy.

And he was a really serious class warrior, too -- he wasn't just into helping the poor; he didn't seem to like rich folks very much.

I have never heard a conservative Christian quote any of these verses (found in the article)-- not once, The one verse they always quote (and I mean always) is the one time in which Jesus says that "the poor will always be with us." The reason they love this quote so much is that they interpret that line to mean that in spite of everything else Jesus said about the poor, that since the poor will always be with us, we don't need to worry about trying to help them. Apparently since the poor will always be with us, we can go ahead and screw them. But Jesus making a prediction that there will always be oppressive societies doesn't mean he wanted us to join the oppressors. By clinging desperately to that one verse in the Bible, and ignoring all the others about the poor and the rich, Christian conservatives show themselves to be hypocrites, plain and simple.

The Jesus of the New Testament ---- repeatedly blessed mercy, gentleness, peacemaking, community, and taking care of each other. He lifted up the poor and oppressed, and spoke poorly of the wealthy and powerful. If anyone in modern society talked like he did, you can bet your bottom dollar that conservatives would condemn that person as a class warrior, a socialist.

Jesus is not exactly the only Bible character concerned with issues of social and economic justice. All of the first five books of the Torah (the Old Testament for Christians) talk a lot about justice for the poor; the Psalms are full of verses about the helping poor; every Old Testament prophet castigates the Jewish people (and yes, their governments) for mistreating the poor. And in the New Testament, there are some dynamite passages promoting progressive thinking aside from all of the Jesus quotations I mentioned.

Judeo-Christian scripture is a rich and complicated work of literature. Written over the course of (at least) several hundred years by dozens of different authors, there are a variety of perspectives and many times outright contradictions in the theology and the politics of the writing (if it's all inspired word for word by God, He seems to have changed his mind a lot). But one thing is extremely certain: the poor seem to be who God is most concerned about. Yes, there are a few quotations (four, if I remember right) trashing gay people, along with quite a few more about the right way to do animal sacrifice and to be careful about eating shellfish and hanging out with women who are menstruating. But mercy, kindness, and concern for the poor and the weak and the outcast seems to matter a lot more, with literally several hundred verses referencing those agenda items. If you are a progressive, that is a pretty good ratio.


Looking to the Stars said...

neat poem. I agree with you, you really have to love the desert to live there. I always thought I would live in the desert, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think the climate in Colo. would agree with me when I got older.

I cannot handle the heat anymore. I love the spring and fall here. Thanks again for the email, I really enjoyed it :)

K. said...

The Arizon desert is a wonder, something that the New Mexico and Texas deserts definitely are not.

"Conservatives believe that the rich and powerful got that way because they deserve to be..."

It's a complex argument, but many sociologists and historians believe that a key origin of capitalism lies in the Calvinist conviction that material success was a sign of God's favor. The theory was first advanced back in the 19th C. by Max Weber.

Ugich Konitari said...


Thanks so much for featuring my poem. I must say that the minute I saw the photo of the "unknown cactus" , it felt like it was holding out hands to someone/something...the way the cactus has grown is so "telling". And the Saguarro has its own thing to tell...

Sometimes, nature teaches us. This was just my interpretation....

Kay Dennison said...

I always recall Gandhi's words: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."

I think we know who he was talking about.

Darlene said...

*Looking to the Stars - I'm the opposite; I can't handle cold. I don't think I could live in Colorado in the winter now.

*K - Thank you for the interesting information. It makes sense.

*Ugich - It was my pleasure to feature your poem.

"Kay - Yes we do know. Thanks for the Ghandi quote; it's a good one.

Tabor said...

Arizona is a lovely state and while I think a good percentage of the population have allowed their brains to fry in the desert heat, I know there are wonders like you still living there. I also love the desert. It is austere and original...just like you. By the way, wasn't Jesus a communist?

Darlene said...

*Tabor - Thank you for the nice things you said. I think Jesus was a Socialist, Tabor. ;-)

20th Century Woman said...

This whole post made me think. First, I liked the poem, and I looked at Ugich Konitari's blog which I will now follow.

I love to visit the desert. I also love the sea, so I live near it, but the desert has charms that no other place can give. The cactus blossoms are beautiful.

I am afraid that I think all fundamentalist religions are a force for evil in the world. Christian extremists (which we have here) want to target gays and Latinos and deprive them of their rights, turn women into second class citizens and control what all of us can read, see, or learn in school. Islamic extremists kill and maim in the name of religion, and Jewish extremists try to kill as many Palestinians as they can, hoping to eliminate them from the earth. I know that these three religions also have groups that show charity and compassion, but it doesn't outweigh the harm done in the name of religion.

Joy Des Jardins said...

You have some gorgeous plants and flowers there in Arizona Darlene; but I'm afraid I couldn't take the heat very well. I prefer cooler weather; but then of course living here in the Midwest...I grouch about all the snow and really freezing temps. Is there a place that has perfect weather conditions really? Hugs, Joy

Darlene said...

*Vagabonde - We think alike regarding religion. It has always been the source of so much evil. Think of the Crusades and the Inquisition. Makes you wonder why.

*Joy - The cactus blossoms are beautiful, but they only last a few days.

I am the opposite of you. I can't take the cold. I don't mind the heat because when it gets really hot I stay in an air conditioned house, ride in an air conditioned vehicle, get in the pool or go up in the mountains. But when it's cold I'm making everyone suffer by turning up the thermostat.

Vagabonde said...

Darlene I just read your post and enjoyed the poem very much. I think that you meant to reply to 20th Century Woman above but in your reply you said Vagabonde. Of course I think the same as she does. I am reading a book written by a French man visiting the US in 1893. His remarks about the country could be remarks made now. He does say that religion plays a large part in the country, but as the same time the people are quite self-centered – that was in 1893, so I believe it is the American culture, from way back. He makes a lot of good remarks about the US too – we just have to take the good and the bad, hoping that it will get better.

Darlene said...

*Vagabonde - You are right. I made a boo boo. Sorry about that.

Yes, religion did, and does, play a large part in our culture starting with the Europeans coming here to avoid religious persecution. Now some of them are persecuting us with their religious rants. ;-)

I apologize 20th Century Woman. I was careless.

tnlib said...

Beautiful poem and will visit Ugich Konitari's site.

The Ghandi quote is worth putting on my blog, so thank you Kay.

I lived in CO and AZ. There's a lot to be said for either state.

Sylvia K said...

I love Suranga's poems! She leaves them on my blog as well and I always post them because I love to share the beauty. I'm sorry I don't get by more often, but for some reason, although all the other blogs that I read, show up on my blog as soon as they post something new, yours doesn't and I have to go look for it. As scattered as my brain is these days, it frequently slips by me. I hope all is going well with you.
Hope your week is going well!


Lydia said...

Lovely poem. Thanks for sharing it.
I love the desert too, Darlene, and miss it. I don't know if I could live in the dryness comfortably any more, but I really miss the air. And the stars!

I appreciate the article. Will share with my husband. Just saw the Gandhi quote left by Kay. Isn't that the truth?!!!

Rummuser said...

Thank you for the link to Gappa. I find the blog quite fascinating.

Darlene said...

*tnlib - I agree that there is a lot to be said for CO and AZ. I think I am lucky to have lived in both.

*Sylvia - I don't know why my blog doesn't record on yours when I post. I am not as faithful as you are and my posting is a hit-and-miss affair. I am just happy when you do drop in. I do not always comment on yours, but I always look at your beautiful photos and love the quotes you have to accompany them.

*Lydia - The desert dryness can be a problem. My skin is so dry I have to take a second bath in moisturizing lotion.

*Rummuzer - Somehow I knew you would like it. Ugich is amazing!

AMIT said...

Your poem is really good to read.

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Darlene said...

*AMIT - Suranga does write lovely poems. She often submits a poem on another blog, Sylvia From Over The Hill. I felt honored to have her write one for my blog.