Tag Archives: election

From Easter Cometh the Wise Man

DSCN0355This year’s Easter feels different, perhaps because 2016 is an election year. Less the customary Easter weekend of peace and spirituality, it’s caucuses, delegates and speeches that capture attention. Brightly lit stages spotlight well-dressed politicians addressing hysterical followings. (That the politicos resemble various dark horses and lame ducks strutting around a field of wildly chirping chicks is probably just coincidence.)

Perhaps not so ironic then, my annual spring viewing of Ben-Hur, the 1959 MGM masterpiece about the life of Judah Ben-Hur, just took on all new meaning, starting with the famous chariot race scene.

Roman citizens storm the bloodied sand on the huge coliseum racecourse. Flailing their wings in hysterical delight, hundreds dash toward Hur, their new charioteer hero. Despite a smashing victory over several chariot teams, Hur remains calm, caressing the four white stallions who led the way, horses who also crushed fallen foe Messala under their hooves.

Pontius Pilate, Rome’s leader, awaits arrival of the new champion. Ascending Pilate’s emperor box, Hur’s face glistens from sweat, accentuating expressions of humility, exhaustion and pride, contrasting stony Pilate, Rome’s grey-haired figurehead clothed in fine woven fabrics.

“A great victory. You are the people’s one true God,” Pilate tells Hur. “For the time being.”

Pilate rises from his throne and approaches Hur.

“I crown their God!” he proclaims, placing a leaf circlet on Hur’s bowed head.

The crowd noise is deafening. Having used strength of character, intelligence and humility to stay alive against so many odds thus far, and now utilizing his mighty courage in the arena, Hur has suddenly accumulated power and status beyond the imaginable. His headdress now accentuates a new countenance – fear.


Messala’s trampled body, what’s left of it, is strapped to a table below the coliseum’s ground level. Through wretches and groans echoed across the dark chamber’s cool air, Messala begs the surgeon, “Cut the legs off me, but not before I’ve seen him – in full body.” Amputating legs in an effort to save his life is less important than presenting a strong image to Hur, a boyhood friend disenchanted with Messala’s eventual entry into the Roman power politics game.

Hur slowly enters the room and approaches Messala’s bedside space, the scene of a broken man he once respected, the same soldier he’s crushed and beaten in the heat of competition.

Strained whispers utter, “Triumph complete, Judah. You have crushed the enemy.”

“I see no enemy here.”

“You think they’re dead, your mother and sister, and the race over. It isn’t over, Judah.”

He knows what he’s about to say will crush Hur, the admission that Rome secretly sent his mother and sister to leper colonies long ago to live out their lives in misery.

“It goes on, Judah, the race … is not over.” Exhaling his last sentence through withered, useless lips, Messala has gotten in the last word.


Egocentrism is the personality trait that all people with great political power share. It was necessary to get to the top before, and is today, particularly in America with the political system as currently structured. Gone here are the days of tyrannical leaders trampling bodies to get to the top. What we have instead are intelligent and educated people (savvy, sometimes ruthless and charismatic if nothing else) – Hilary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Bush, Cheney, Reagan. ‘Winners’ all, but I don’t trust them.

Often, the wisest people are those who chose neither to follow nor lead. They follow their hearts. In that way, they do good for the world.

Ben Hur was too good for the political arena he had entered.


It’s ironic the actor chosen to play Judah Ben Hur was Charlton Heston, figurehead for the politically powerful National Rifle Association.

Ego riding the wheels of charisma will take you anywhere you want to travel – or chirp.

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Election Fever

TV political ads 004I adopted an alien son last week. He looks like us, talks like us, but has slightly protruding ears and blueish pallor to his skin. He’s amazingly bright, already knows our language and is a voracious reader. Unfortunately, he’s a fish out of water on Earth, in America, and particularly here in Santa Fe.

From just one week driving around town and watching TV at home with me, he’s observed a lot and rattles off questions like there’s no tomorrow left in our universe. At first, I wondered why all the questions, but realized – unlike me, an eighteen year citizen of Santa Fe – he is still seeing things for the very first time.

As we drove down St. Francis Drive yesterday, he asked, “What are all those signs sticking out of the ground over there?”

“Pictures of people running for political office in our upcoming elections.”

“Oh,” he said. “I have noticed some of these people are very attractive by Earth standards.”

“Well, yes, and sadly, some people vote solely on that criteria.”


“I suppose it’s because voters don’t know anything more about the candidates.”

“How could they not? I have seen 129 ads for political candidates on TV this week.”

“Right, but candidates don’t talk about themselves or the issues they stand for because they’d rather show how the other candidates have screwed up, whether they have or not.”

“Why do people believe these ads then?”

“I don’t really know.”

“When do we hear about what the candidates do stand for?”

“Sometimes in debates and sometimes in the newspapers.”

“Do people here read these newspapers?”

“Not so much.”

“Do they watch the TV?”

“Oh, yes. A lot.”

“Then people must know a tremendous amount about the candidates.”

“No, they don’t.”

“Even with the debates?”

“Well, there’s usually only a few of them, if that.”

“Then how do voters get to know the candidates and the issues, from these signs and all the political TV ads? I ask because New Mexico political candidates are spending 7.7 million on 177 hours of political ads for November’s Election Day.”

“How do you know that?”

“From these newspapers you speak of. I don’t understand who receives the 7.7 million dollars spent for TV and newspaper ads.”

“Advertising agencies mostly.”

“They must know a lot about the issues and what’s right for your planet. With all that money spent on campaigns, they must get a lot of people to vote.”

“No, because not everyone registers and only about half the voters get to the polls.”

“Then how are elections valid?”

“Look, that’s the way it works with elections and our two-party system.”

“You only have two parties, only two contrasting candidates?”

“Well, sometimes three, particularly if that third-party or voice has stumped for enough campaign contributions.”

“What would money have to do with it?”

“Oh ho-ho, let me tell you, without millions in fundraising, no one could win.”

“What is all this money spent on?”

“Advertising agencies, I suppose.”

“These advertising agencies seem very popular and powerful – smart, too. So, who makes these road signs of beautiful people?”

“Print shops, advertising agencies.”

My once stoic, alien son suddenly looked excited. He even rubbed his tiny hands together.

“Is anyone from an advertising agency running in these elections? I’d like to vote for him!”

“What? Even if you were old enough and an American citizen, you haven’t even heard the issues.”

“No one else has. I do not understand your logic.”


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