IS THAT YOUR FINAL ANSWER?

I feel inclined to offer this thought tonite, regarding Bill Cosby.

DUALITY is a state of being. Two disparate realities, simultaneously co-exist.

DISPATCHES by Michael Herr. First best book I read about what I’d just survived. Michael wrote “Vietnam was the worst, most disgusting experience of my life. Vietnam was also the most ecstatic, most profound experience of my life.”

Yep. When I read that, I stopped arguing with myself.

IT WAS BOTH. I knew that intuitively…but it was not cool to say that out loud.

That is the nature of duality. Bill Cosby was a seminal positive cultural influence in our lives. He was also a man who used his power to sexually exploit women.

He was both. Deal with it.

THE FRAGILITY OF LEGACY

I’m troubled by recent allegations condemning the past conduct of an icon, Bill Cosby. I think many people of color share my sadness, Bill was one of few successful role modes in entertainment, someone on our TV that looked like us.

I know nothing factual…but in this day, perception trumps reality and the comments of another comedian have brought controversy and past allegations into the limelight. It’s hardly news that prominent, wealthy men have for centuries used their power to gratify their sexual desires. It is no less surprising that women have long used their sexual appeal to further their own ambitions. That’s just how shit works in the world. It seems stupid to me for any man with such options – able to pay for it, choose from countless groupies – to choose to drug or physically force a woman to comply with his will. Why? Hubris? Is she THAT singular? Or is it just a small head overruling a larger head at a critical moment?

How many athletes, politicians, actors, businessmen – with more money than God – end up with such claims filed against them? In this case, sullying the legacy of this incredibly successful entertainer. I am embarrassed for him, embarrassed by his lack of judgement and self-discipline. But it seems to happen so often, to so many professional successes, I sense that there is a fundamental flaw in our male wiring; this willingness to jeopardize unimaginable success, regard and standing, all for carnal pleasure. I am intimately familiar with carnality, I’ve lived my entire life as a single man…and over the years, I’ve made more than a few questionable decisions, entirely based upon lust.

I’m told crack is pretty compelling. I’ll just bet it is. But I’m never likely to do it because I’d like to continue to enjoy life as I know it….and my sense is, that becomes impossible under the influence of such choices. I’m grateful to now be free of self-destructive choices…but I’ve been there…

Are we ALL, those of us that knowingly indulge our worst excesses, mentally ill?
Or are we simply, ultimately, fundamentally just animals with larger egos?

VETERANS DAY, 2014

I neglected to mention earlier when I wrote about my parade experience yesterday, a conversation I had with the veteran in this picture. As we waited for the IAVA contingency to join us, he told me that his uncle had told him how poorly Vietnam veterans were treated when we came home. That hostility and contempt was pretty challenging for us all to deal with. He realized that people greeting him at airports nowadays and thanking him for his service and saying, “Welcome Home” was special and he was grateful for that feeling of inclusion and approval and respect.

I explained him that my generation made a pledge to ourselves. The founding commitment, when Vietnam Veterans of America was formed was this: Never Again Will A Generation of Veterans Abandon The Next Generation. We hadn’t felt supported by older organizations like the American Legion and the VFW. We decided to change that dynamic. We succeeded in teaching America not to blame the warrior for the war.

As I spoke, I could see how moved he was, tears welling up in his eyes. He shook my hand, excused himself and walked away to regain his composure. I think that’s about the most profound recognition I’ve experienced for what my generation of veterans has accomplished,tom and I crop(1)