Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Breakfast with the Pope, Sanders, Rubio, Putin & Elton John

7:00 am. I wake up, heavy lidded and limbed. Yesterday I vowed to go to bed early so I could wake up before dawn this morning and not when half the day was already gone; used up by busy important people making something of their lives. 

While I... Come evening I succumbed to the devil. And couldn't unsuccumb myself until after midnight.

I lie in bed for a while, wasting more time, pondering yesterday, today and tomorrow. Until the world—aka coffee—calls. 

I shuffle off duvet and sheets and do a few quick bicycle exercises on my back. It helps to keep up the illusion that I’m doing something about getting fit again. I jump out of bed and glance at my body in the mirror. Do I look any fitter? Sure, honey, whatever you say. Actually I’m not in too bad of a shape, all things considered. All things being that I’m somewhere between forty and death and, more to the point, that I haven't achieved a state of sustained exercise yet apart from when I was cycling from New York to Key West. I don't even cycle at the gym. That's probably because I never go to the gym. 

Maybe it’s all the brain activity that keeps the weight off. Not that I’m a rocket scientist, mind you; it’s more rampant imagination than anything else. Maybe I’m just lucky; I love stale chocolate cake seeped in cold full-cream milk and carrot cake with cream—mind you, cream option works pretty well with chocolate cake, too—but that’s it for sweet things. I just don’t like them. I like salty things like chips.

Apart from a spoonful of sugar in my coffee and honey on my Ryvita in the morning. Huh. That’s quite a lot of sweet stuff after all. Ah well, life is a mystery sometimes.

I roll up the blinds. It's grey out there but not cold. Winter is over. It always seems to happen from one day to the next out here at the southern edge of Africa, the end of the world. I sit down with my coffee, switch on my laptop, bring up the New York Times. 

There are quite a few articles about the Pope’s visit to the US and his message about poverty, climate change and the dark side of capitalism, the downside of greed.

The wrong-headedness of arms dealing. I hope he finds time to talk to Marco Rubio, who said:

“If the United States military is going to be engaged by a commander-in-chief, it should only be engaged in an endeavor to win. And we're not going to authorize use of force if you're not put in a position where they can win.”

But Il Papa would probably have more in common with Bernie Sanders, who said: “It is my firm belief that the task of a great nation with the most powerful military on earth is not how many wars we can engage in but how we can use our strength and our capability to resolve international conflicts in a peaceful way.” 

Amen Bernie Sanders. I wish you'd talk to the Pope about gay marriage. I wish you'd persuade him it's not a good idea to support Kim Davis and tell her that her bigotry is purely standing up for her right to speak her mind. She did a lot more than that, ace.

On other things Francis is doing well; addressing pedophilia, corruption, rampant capitalism and greed within the Vatican. He's defied a lot of the odds. The last pope who tried to do that allegedly died in his sleep from a heart attack, never having had a problem with his health up to that point. What followed was what looks like a cover-up by the Vatican; one that, if it was real, was outrageous 

This Pope has even gone so far (for a Catholic it’s pretty far) as to say “who am I to judge” of homosexuality. It's not far enough though and no amount of other-goodness can balance out his and the church's attitude to gay marriage. His attitude to gay marriage also doesn't negate all the good things he's doing.

I tell you who Francis should speak to: Elton John. He can stand in the queue with Vladimir Putin, who, according to a tweet that made the rounds, intended to call the great musician. When the fraud was exposed, Putin decided he really did want that conversation. I couldn’t find any content on that, but I did find an interview with Elton John talking about LGBT rights in the Ukraine. What a great guy. He's done what he wanted with his life since forever, with his leaping-about laughing energy. He's still doing it, only now he's also using his wealth and clout to promote global tolerance. 

He was asked if he thought he could really get Putin to change. He said he didn’t know, but you either try or you don’t. You tell your truth and you may not succeed but at least you know you did your best.

I finish my coffee, thinking about that. I have boundless respect for people who tell their truth when it’s life promoting, because it’s never easy. They have to push through monstrous barriers erected by bullies who don’t want to hear it and want to shut them down. It’s crushing, painful, frightening, soul-destroying, even if you’re only doing it in your personal life and you don’t have global attention. And, you’re not just taking on other people, you’re essentially confronting everything in you that believes their resistance to your truth to be valid. Add sobering to the list. 

It’s also rewarding. And nothing is worse than keeping quiet. I’m sure of it. It’s definitely better to suffer slings and arrows of outrageous fortune than to stay mute and in hiding. 

This is Elton John’s speech at the 12th Yalta European Strategy (YES) meeting, talking about LGBT intolerance and about so much more. 

8:07 I head off to the shower. The Pope, Bernie Sanders and Elton John make good breakfast companions. Marco Rubio and Vladimir Putin not so much. I doubt anyone can change Rubio, but Putin? Strangely, I don’t think it’s inconceivable that Elton John could have a positive influence on the man. 

Go for it, I say. Between you and Obama you might be able to achieve miracles.