The Commoner’s Manifesto

wpid-prayer-by-kmls.jpg.jpegPrayers are simply wordless encounters with inner spaces long since forgotten and buried beneath senseless babble of years of sensory overload.

In a world that prides itself on having a million versions of the same thing, one is quickly and thoroughly lost in the incredible noise of it all, saturated like a gluttonous sponge, swollen and bloated, and never allowed to be wrung dry. Silence becomes a luxury to be bought by the rich and made available at wholesale prices to those who wish to dabble for a minute moment in the wealth of hearing nothing. But always there is the inevitable return to the trappings and the trap of economics gone awry. In the end, the sum total of our effort is to be even more so effortlessly consumed by the endless driving need to survive, to eat, sleep, work, and finally to forget that we are connected to each other the world over by something deeper than the global market or the internet.

Shadow of a Man by KMLSA man sits frozen on a cold folding chair in a slow-warming cottage in the deep woods listening to the rain on a corrugated tin roof. He is at the end of another long conversation with himself and the result is the same. He cannot begin to see his way to the end of that which he knows he must strive for. His body is filled with the toxins of fast food and convenience store goodies, places aptly named to promote their strengths and irresistible temptation to the one who hasn’t the time or the energy to cook for himself. He has built up a tolerance and a taste for the stuff and even now when he sluggishly thinks these thoughts, a trickle of drool dribbles down his chin.


His visions are swallowed by the sights of video stores piled high with videos; supermarkets filled to the brim with eighty kinds of cereal; bookstores oozing with books, magazines, and endless versions of the Bible; movies, radio, TV,  and their plethora of advertisements. His simplicity and commonness is consumed by the drives of millions and he racing right along with them, striving to  become like the beautiful ones at the top leering out from glossy pages and flashing screens.

Freedom Guatemala 97 (2)
He is an intelligent man. He recognizes the strange dichotomy of the elite being completely and utterly supported from below who at the same time are graced with the incredible ability to believe that what is given is deserved, somehow a blessing from heaven, with no connection whatsoever to the commoner who buys the record, sees the movie, watches the soap, purchases the product, invests in the corporation, labors, and thereby creates the unattainable goal that he, the commoner, strives for.

However, intelligence is not enough for him to break the cycle of centuries either for others or for himself. It is all too big. And to add to the dilemma, when one looks at society minutely, there are the masses polarized and fragmented in self-centered camps of one infatuation or the other pushing a good particular important issue at the cost of the whole. Specificity reigns in what we are against, but breaks down all too quickly when we are asked what we support.

football chalkboard plan

The man rises from his cold chair in the midst of his spinning thoughts and goes to the television. It is Monday night and time for football. As he watches the players on the field, he is struck by a thought. The game is a microcosm of society as a whole in that it is the effort of the average-paid unmentionable ones on the line who determine the awesome play of the highly-paid stars. He wonders what would happen if they all collectively refused to block. They would probably get reprimanded for not playing as a team or blamed for the star getting injured.

He sees himself on the line, waiting for the snap, getting ready to move out of habit, the player across from him like the millions he’s faced before. He is prepared for the ordinary. But what of the extraordinary. Is it really a bad thing if the line breaks down?

The ball is snapped. He rises and he makes his choice.

November 18, 1996 with ending completed December 2011


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