Stop the Idea Killers!

When does personhood really start? Some say that it starts with the beginnings of self-awareness, especially when your new baby sister arrives and you suddenly realize the world is not all about you. Some say it starts with a viable fetus that can exist outside the womb. And some insist that it starts at the moment of conception.

But it really begins much earlier. For each of us is not just physically conceived, but mentally conceived as well. We literally begin as an idea. It may be the earnest discussion that precedes the procreative attempt, or merely the idle thought of someday having a child. It may be no more than the twinkle in your eye or the come hither look from your spouse. The very moment of this idea—the conception of a future potential reality that is you—is when human life truly begins.

It is a most precious thing, this idea. Nothing must interfere with its sacred goal. Every part of this conception, from the first hazy notion to the final design plan, must be nurtured and protected from all harm. And it must be accorded the full measure of human rights.

Recently, a number of states have tried to pass so-called Personhood Amendments to their constitutions to recognize the rights of the unborn zygote. But why stop there? By defining human personhood merely as the moment when physical conception occurs denies the far more important mental conception that precedes it. Without this first conception there is none of the other stuff. It is the exact moment of that thought which defines us in the most basic human sense.

And since the federal constitution along with the U.S. Supreme Court have the final say in such matters, state-level amendments just won’t “git ‘er done.” What we need is a federal constitutional amendment—one that goes all the way to that first moment of conception—a Conceptual Personhood Amendment.

Such an amendment would redefine those three important first words of the Constitution—We the People—as We the People, from our first idealized conception. This would leave no doubt in anyone’s mind just who or what a person is, and when that person begins.

But there are those who would deny these rights of the unborn. They claim that just thinking about having a child is not at all the same as actually having a child. For them only a real child will do. But what of the imagined child? In their bias for the real, these idea killers seek to nullify its existence. For them, only physical conception will do.

But just because the idea for a child is not acted upon is no reason to deny it full rights under the law. There are many reasons why some of us never achieve the physical birth our parents dreamed for us, and it is not the government’s or anyone else’s business to pass judgment. It is the idea that counts. The U.S. Constitution speaks for all of us—the born and the unborn, even the unborn thought.

Irreverent Musings on Nature

Print cover frontHere’s a new review of The Absurd Naturalist, posted on Amazon by writer, editor, and reviewer Don Martin. Like all authors, I enjoy reading reviews (especially good ones), but this one is particularly entertaining in the way it creatively weaves together some of my essays in a playful, irreverent tone befitting the essays. Thanks, Don!

on August 16, 2015
This handsome volume contains 43 essays tangentially related to the subject of naturalism, or if you prefer, the avocation of being a naturalist. I use the term ‘tangentially’ very loosely here, because I am just not so sure. Maybe if you stretched it a bit, but that would be fine because the stories are quite good.Where else might you read about the evolution of the toaster oven, and which naturally-selected physical traits you should look for when considering a replacement model? Or, have you recently considered the question of same-species marriage? No matter where you come down on the issue I think we’d all agree that procreation should be limited to an intra-species affair. When you start to cross-breed, say, people and cats, or maybe dolphins and polar bears, you can never really be sure what you’ll get. And the author treats us to what he claims is the first X-rated naturalist essay, which would be an oddity indeed! Unfortunately he strays badly afield and we never really get to the juicy good parts.Perhaps you may be considering becoming a naturalist yourself. Why you would ever want to do that I just don’t know, but no worries! Contained herein are two companion essays, ‘The Well-Dressed Naturalist’ and ‘The Well-Equipped Naturalist.’ Careful study of those chapters will allow you to at least pretend to be a naturalist, and do a convincing job of it, even though you probably have no formal training in the science and have certainly never studied it.And, of course, you’ll need to know how to keep javelinas out of your garden, which you can never actually do, so the best bet there is just to peacefully coexist with them. Which is not the recommended approach when it comes to packrats. Packrats mean an all-out war, man on rat, to the death! You will not win that one either. After considering the various animal species you will certainly, as a pseudo-naturalist, want to move on to the world of plants. And you’ll certainly need some legal advice on how to file wrongful-death lawsuits on behalf of your dearly departed zinnias. You know those ones. The ones who looked perfectly green and healthy at the nursery, but which suddenly expired of some mysterious ailment as soon as you bought them, brought them home, and lovingly planted them in your garden?

This book sits right on the line between humor and satire, and it sits there very well indeed. Good satire is becoming a lost art, and it’s refreshing to see someone who knows his way around it. I guarantee you that you’ll at least smile as you read these short essays, and I’d be willing to bet you’ll even catch yourself laughing out loud at times. They really are that good! The Absurd Naturalist is quite entertaining, and is very highly recommended.         Buy a copy here: Amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Absurd-Naturalist-Irreverent-Musings/dp/1502977281

Fish Bait

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

If I could ask the writer one thing
it would be this: what bait did you use?
Was it a simple hook and worm
impaled with your usual deliberation?

Or was it a fly made from a feather
plucked with due reverence
from the wing of a dead neighbor?

Perhaps you preferred a bait more primitive,
crouching like a raccoon next to the stream,
attracting fish to your hand through sheer will.

For sure you would not have used
one of those shiny metal baubles
favored by today’s fishing dabblers.

No, yours was the direct approach.
I see you not waiting timidly as the stream
passes by, but diving deep beneath
its rippled surface, meeting the fish head on.

First published by Poetry Quarterly summer 2015  http://poetryquarterly.com/poetry-quarterly-issue-22/