December Peace Party


Crappety crap crap crap. It’s over halfway through Decembar and I haven’t done my Bloggers for Peace post yet. I nearly almost forgot. So, what is it?

Plan a party that will ripple peace to the world.

Crappety crap crap crap. I’m not good at parties. I don’t like attending them and I don’t like throwing them. I will come to your party, find some alcohol and a place to chain smoke while making fun of all your guests. Then, I’ll leave without saying goodbye to anyone. The next day, you’ll come over to my house and say, “Where did you disappear to? One second you were there, and the next, you were gone.” I know this because those were the exact words a friend of mine said on Sunday morning after Saturday night’s party. I’m like a bad party ninja.

Party planning. Shudder. Alright fine. Let’s plan a party for the world.

1. Invitations. Everyone is invited to my party. I do mean everyone. It doesn’t matter where you live, what ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or race you are. My party will take place everywhere including the internet. Everyone is invited and there will be no squabbling. If you are involved in a kerfuffle, you will be escorted to an area where you can settle your differences diplomatically.

Since there are bound to be clashes, we will have a get to know you type of thing. Everyone will be assigned a random party buddy so no one has to come alone or feel like a wallflower. Your job is to get to know your party buddy. If they happen to be your enemy, you will set that aside. The aim is to have a good time, not settle political differences. Your party buddy is your friend for the night. Tomorrow, you can go back to killing each other.

Unfortunately, some people will have to work on the night of the party. If your job is one of those imperative jobs where you don’t get holidays off, like emergency services or bartender for my party, you get to pick a day off at some other time of your choosing. All you have to say to your employer is “party night” and you get 24-hours off no questions asked.

2. Booze. I have social anxiety and the only way I can really get through a party is with at least one drink. It’s a requirement unless you want me to hide in a corner, chain-smoking and glowering. So, everyone can have one drink with a maximum of five. Tipsy is okay at my party; drunk is not. If you are drunk, you will be excused for a little while to a sober up area. My bartenders are the arbiters of drunkenness. If they think you are too intoxicated, they will serve you placebo drinks for the remainder of the evening.

3. Music. So as not to exclude anyone, we’ll be playing the biggest dance hits from around the world in every decade from the 1920s up, heavy on the big band and swing music, because I don’t care who you are, you can’t hate big band music. If you’re under 70 years old, you might groan about it, but I don’t care. Learn to dance like your grandparents. They knew how to do it right:

4. Food. What would a party be without food? This party will be a pot luck because I want to try all of your food. I ask, not require, but ask that you bring one item of food that best represents your city, region or country. If you live in the American south, bring sweet potato pie or something. If you’re from Boston, bring clam chowder, etc. I would like to try one bite of food that best represents every city on earth. Please make sure that dishes are clearly labeled with an ingredients list. We don’t want any anaphylactic allergy reactions.

5. The big event. At midnight in every time zone, if you became separated, you will find your party buddy. We’ll hand out champagne or sparkling cider and everyone will count down like it’s the New Year, even if it isn’t. At the stroke of twelve, we’ll be celebrating a new openness in the world. Hopefully, by the end of the evening, you will have made at least one new friend from a different culture. You will have tried some food from a part of the world that you might not have tried otherwise. You will realize that maybe we’re not so different after all and this enemy business is kind of silly.

Peace Through Insignificance

Wave for the camera.
Image from wiki.

This month’s Bloggers For Peace Challenge is about quotes. Specifically, we are to post a quotation that will bring peace to the world.

The first thing that popped into my head when I read that was Carl Sagan.

In 1990, Voyager 1 took a picture of Earth from a record distance of about 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers). In the photograph, Earth is shown as a tiny dot (0.12 pixel in size) against the vastness of space.

Think about that for a second. The Earth, our home, has a radius of only 3,959 miles (6,371 km) with a surface area of 139.43 million square miles (361.132 million sq. km). We tend to think that’s pretty big. There’s plenty of room for lots of different kinds of climates and creatures. It houses all of our history. All of it from Galileo to Gustav Mahler; from Tyrannosaurus Rex to Neanderthal. Every lizard, bird, fish and person, every single living thing that we know of, has lived out its entire existence in that 139.43 million square miles.

Yet, this is what we look like from the edge of the solar system:

Wave for the camera. Image from wiki.
Wave for the camera.
Image from wiki.

The sun, the engine that keeps our solar system moving, is only one of the estimated 200 to 400 billion stars in this galaxy alone. The observable universe is 93 billion light years. Its scale is so vast, we can’t measure it in miles or kilometers because numbers don’t go that high. We had to create a new system of measurement–the light year. Just one light year is about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). We live in a universe that has 93 billion of them, and that’s just what we can see so far. There’s a reason earth is technically the center of the universe: we can’t see the whole thing.

All of human existence is but a speck on the timeline of the universe.

Some of you think that concept is pretty scary. Some think that humans and dinosaurs ran around together collecting firewood in the early days, and that the earth is only 6000 years old or so. It was created in only seven days by one person, or deity, if you will.

This post is not intended to be a religious debate. I just wanted to point out that, if you don’t believe in the nearly infinite age and vastness of the universe, you’re missing out on all the wonder. It takes all the spunk and pluck out of our story. The intestinal fortitude, good fortune and absolute doggedness in our very existence is lost.

I don’t find it scary. I find it exhilarating. We do not know what’s out there. If we had all the answers, life would be pretty boring. I am giddy like a schoolgirl when the concept of the universe is mentioned. I find all of this stuff absolutely fascinating. If I had a better head for maths, I might have gone on to be an astrophysicist or cosmologist, but I suck at it.

Had I been alive in a different era, I would be one of those people who packed up all of their belongings in a horse cart and ventured west to climes unknown. Unfortunately, I was born in an era of Google street view. There is only one frontier left to us; that of the solar system and beyond.

It is not me against you. We–you, me, Ghandi and Saddam Hussein–are all Homo sapiens. We are all the same. We have the same basic genetic structure. We’re all bipedal humanoids. The differences between us are quite small in comparison to our similarities. Just like dogs, most of our differences are but a tiny fraction of our genetic code. Dogs share 99.8% of the same DNA. That means this and this are essentially the same:

Chihuahua, Scottish Deerhound. Images not to scale.
World’s smallest dog breed–Chihuahua, giant dog breed–Deerhound.
Images not to scale.

And so are this and this:

Frederick Douglas, Sonny Chiba. Images not to scale.
World’s most intense stares: Frederick Douglas, Sonny Chiba.
Images not to scale.

Do you see how both dogs have four legs, a snout, tail and fur? And how both humans have two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth arranged on an oval surface perched atop a neckhole with hair on top and sides? That’s because they’re not that different. All of us in the same species, whether it be Canis lupus familiaris or Homo sapiens, share the same basic genetic structure. We are all mostly the same, no matter how differently we think, act or look. Humans should act more like dogs. They don’t care about size, color or appearances; all they see is dog.

We share the same planet, a pale blue dot in the Virgo Supercluster. We share the same genetic building blocks. We share the same bipedal movement and the same history. We are one species among many on a pretty blue planet wobbling around in infinite space. It’s time we stopped thinking of ourselves as so disparate. It’s time we accepted each other as the same species and stopped killing one another over our differences, don’t you think?

Enough of the preamble. I’ve gotten sidetracked from my quote. Carl Sagan said it better and more succinctly than I can, so I’ll leave you with his words:

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

This Song Goes Out To You


Halfway through August and I haven’t done my monthly Blogger’s For Peace challenge yet. Tsk tsk. I have an excuse though! I’ve actually been working on this for a while, trying to get it right.

This month, We are to invoke the power of music.

My favorite inanimate thing on earth is music. One could argue that music is anything but inanimate. It stirs the soul, it makes you feel, it makes you think. Music has the power to bring us together by involuntarily triggering emotions on a visceral level. It is humanity’s culture, values and emotions wrapped up in a tidy auditory package. It is our oral heritage.

Music can change my mood. It can lift me up when I’m feeling down. It can make me feel not quite so alone. It can inspire me. And, really, what’s the most peaceful emotion that humans have? If you said stabbing someone with an icepick, you’re wrong and should probably seek help. The correct answer is love.

Some of you are groaning now, but love isn’t just about making out with tongues. It is a universal emotion felt not just by humans. We can feel it towards anything: our kids, pets, friends, hobbies, the color blue, art, words, songs, chocolate and even our planet. Love is the common bond that living things share. We all love something, even if it’s only stabbing with an icepick.

The art of the mixtape has been lost with digital technology. We don’t think about putting a few songs that speak volumes together anymore. That’s a shame. So, this month, I’ve decided to put together a mixtape of the songs that express all sorts of love, except the goopy kind. This mixtape is a love letter to my faithful readers. It’s my way of saying thanks for being here. Enjoy.

Flaming Lips – Do You Realize?

“Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face?
Do you realize we’re floating in space?
Do you realize that happiness makes you cry?
Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round”

(A little dismal perhaps, but a valid message nonetheless.)

Flogging Molly – If I Ever Leave This World Alive

“If I ever leave this world alive
I’ll thank for all the things you did in my life
If I ever leave this world alive
I’ll come back down and sit beside your feet tonight
Wherever I am, you’ll always be more than just a memory

If I ever leave this world alive
I’ll take on all the sadness that I left behind
If I ever leave this world alive
The madness that you feel will soon subside
So in a word, don’t shed a tear
I’ll be here when it all gets weird

So when in doubt, just call my name
Just before you go insane”

(I’ll definitely be here when it all gets weird.)

Edith Piaf – Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m a stupid American who doesn’t speak French so I had to translate into English.

“No, I regret nothing
Not the good things that have been done to me
Nor the bad things, to me these are the same
It’s paid for, removed, forgotten
I don’t care about the past
With my memories I lit the fire

My troubles, my pleasures
I don’t need them anymore
I start again from zero

Because my life, my joys
Today, it begins with you”

(Hells yes.)

They Might Be Giants – Don’t Let’s Start

“No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful
Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful”

(there are way more lyrics, but I included this song simply because of those listed.)

Prince Buster – Enjoy Yourself

“Get wisdom, get knowledge and understanding
Those three were given free by the maker
Go to school
Learn the rules
Don’t be no faker
It’s not wise for you to be a foot stool

So enjoy yourself
It’s later than you think
Enjoy yourself
While you’re still in the pink
The years go by as quickly as you wink
Enjoy yourself
It’s later than you think”

(Excellent advice.)

Descendents – Original Me

“Mirror, mirror please believe
I need to find a sign
All of my life spent wondering whose hiding behind this face of mine

Confusion, illusion, misinterpretation of the original me

I need a sign, a simple chime
A windblown kiss across my mind
Solitude in the craziness
Of a world gone mad, a world behind

What big thoughts you have
I can see them in your eyes when you pretend to laugh
The reflection I see reminds me of somebody like me”

(You have very big thoughts – I mean that in a good way.)

The Brought Low – A Better Life

“Oh, my city lies in dust
My head’s about to bust from all the smoke
Oh, my back’s about to break
I took all I could take, not anymore

Deep in the dark night, I hold my pillow tight
Dream of a better place, of a better life

Oh, my friends they are lost
Some I can trust, some I don’t
Oh, my family has fled
Left me for dead by the road

Deep in the dark night, I hold my pillow tight
Dream of a better place, of a better life

I won’t let go
I won’t lose hope
I won’t let go
I won’t stand down”

(I won’t stand down, dammit.)

Led Zeppelin – Thank You

“Little drops of rain whisper of the pain, tears of loves lost in the days gone by.
My love is strong, with you there is no wrong,
together we shall go until we die. My, my, my.
An inspiration is what you are to me, inspiration, look… see.

And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles,
Thanks to you it will be done, for you to me are the only one.
Happiness, no more be sad, happiness….I’m glad.
If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you.
When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.”

(I’m not actually going to hold your hand. We don’t have that kind of relationship, unless you really want me to.)

Percy Sledge – Dark End Of the Street

“At the dark end of the street
That’s where we always meet
Hiding in shadows where we don’t belong
Living in darkness to hide our wrong
You and me at the dark end of the street
You and me

I know time is gonna take its toll
We have to pay for what we stole
It’s a sin and we know it’s wrong
Oh but our love keeps coming on strong
Steal away to the dark end of the street
You and me”

(This song is actually about an illicit love affair, but I think it applies to all my bloggy friends, too.)

Tom Waits – Take It With Me

“All broken down by the side of the road
I was never more alive or alone
I’ve worn the faces off all the cards
I’m gonna take it with me when I go

Children are playing at the end of the day
Strangers are singing on our lawn
It’s got to be more than flesh and bone
All that you’ve loved is all you own
I’m gonna take it with me when I go”

(Me too.)

If you’d like to listen to your mixtape from start to finish, you can do that by clicking on the tape below:


This post is part of Bloggers For Peace.

More B4peace posts for this month’s challenge:

Dear Universe

Our tiny little corner of the universe.

You are very big and very old. I mean that in the nicest possible way. I don’t mean you’re fat, although maybe you are compared to the other universes, but I’ve never seen any others. I’ve lived my whole life inside of you like Jonah in the belly of the whale, so I’m not really sure what you look like on the outside. Perhaps you are whale shaped.

There is so little that we actually know about you and we’ve gotten many things wrong over the course of centuries. At first, we didn’t even know you existed. We could only see our own little planet. Then we discovered the solar system. We thought our pretty blue planet revolved around the sun and that’s all there was to it. But now we know you exist. We know that our little corner of you is as small as a cell is to a body, maybe even smaller since we still can’t see you as a whole. This is only what we can see of you, so we’re in the middle:

Wave for the camera.

You are all-encompassing and you’re getting bigger. You are literally everything we have. Every laugh, every tear, every idea and scientific breakthrough that the man-ape known as human has ever made has happened inside of you.

Some like to think that you’re fair. Some like to think that you have a plan for us, that you’re sentient and paying attention. I don’t think any of that is true. You’re no more fair and just as random as accidentally knocking the cue ball in the pocket on break.

Image from

Except no one is in control of the pool stick, and you are all the balls and even the table. We really have no idea how the stick hit the cue in the first place; we’re still circling the pockets, waiting to land.

It’s a nice notion to believe there is a purpose in this or that someone has a plan, but I think the randomness of it actually makes it more exciting. If we knew how long we would live and what would happen, if we had all the answers, it would be a pretty boring existence. We don’t know how you came to be or how we got here. There are still so many questions and I think that is pretty neat. The unending quest for knowledge is the most noble trait we have.

You are as complex as the creatures that live inside of you. No human is entirely good or entirely evil. We all have done horrible things that we regret. We all have the potential for evil lurking inside of us, but in the same sense, we have the potential for greatness, too. It’s up to us which path we choose.

I don’t think you’re fair. I don’t believe that, because if you are, you’ve got a pretty fucked up sense of fair play. Some good people live their entire lives in misery, while others who sew evil and selfishness live in total impunity. They achieve power and do terrible things to the people just struggling to live day to day.

For me, the fact that you are not fair is actually the nicest idea, because it means that you are not biased and we are free. We are free to choose good or evil. We are free to be decent to each other and help each other out. We are free to love, laugh and live. Freedom is the best possible gift you could have given us. It means that we won’t always do the right thing, but we are capable of choosing.

There is evil in you, there is no doubt about that. Some people are truly terrible creatures. But there is good in you, too. There is joy and love. There is compassion. There is the possibility to choose our own paths. We have it in us not to ignore someone in need, but to stop and help. We can listen to each other and sympathize. We can help each other when we’re struggling and lift each other up. Not all of us will choose this path, but there are enough good people in you that it makes it all worthwhile.

So, while I don’t think there is an innate plan or a purpose or a sense of justice and fairness in you, that’s alright. We don’t know why you exist or why we exist, but we are here nonetheless. The why doesn’t matter. What matters is what we do with our time inside of you. What matters is how we love. Thank you for existing. I’m proud to call you home.

Our tiny little corner of the universe.
Our little corner of the universe, the Milky Way Galaxy.

This post is part of Bloggers For Peace.