Fall Leaves – Natsui Ureshenko

A beautiful fall day; the leaves were turning to fire, rust, wine and gold. A magic time of early morning jogs, sunset walks and the rich smell of chimney smoke from fireplaces around town. The birds that stay here were settling in for the winter as were the squirrels and rabbits, foxes and skunks. The streams ran icy cold and the forests still concealed; fishermen and hunters were getting their last haul before winter enveloped everything in frost.

This season was really their time. They’ve been at it for thousands of years. The turn of colors signaled the cycle of life. No one really noticed the missing rabbits or squirrels. Once in a while there was an investigation when a jogger went missing. Otherwise, it was as it always had been.

Every morning, Rachel would go out on her run. She wanted to lose those few pounds before her high school prom. None of her friends thought she needed to lose any weight. Her mother always made sure her plate was full at dinner time. They would argue about the wisdom of this nightly ritual. However, Rachel always had the last word on it even though it sounded more like a retch.

This morning, Rachel noticed more leaves had fallen from the black mulberry tree outside her bedroom window. It always lost leaves earlier than the rest. It never seemed worse for it though. She picked one up to study it on her morning jog. She decided to take the route down by the reservoir.

As she ran, she twirled the leaf between her fingers. The veins in the leaf seemed to subtly pulse with life. Rachel didn’t remember any leaves doing that before. It appeared to turn a slight rust color where she was holding it. The path by the reservoir where she regularly ran was rarely raked in the fall. Leaves from hundreds of surrounding trees collected here. She found herself plowing through piles of them to make headway down the path…

Off a Cliff – Thomas Jefferson Douglass

How can our leaders blithely stand by while our economy careens toward a metaphorical cliff of runaway debt, tax increases of many sorts and a knee jerk cut to social entitlement and defense spending? At least that’s what the crisis is this time around.

It takes a body of people who freely exhibit extreme deception; manipulative cunning; lack of guilt, remorse, or empathy; a failure to accept responsibility for actions; a parasitic lifestyle; and a lack of long-term goals coupled with impulsivity. Wait just a minute, those characteristics are found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision. Hmm, I think we have a problem here.

Now ‘those leaders’ would have you believe that it is the fault of the rich, or the unions, or Wall Street, or those that don’t pay any income taxes at all. But that is not true. It’s everyone’s fault because ‘we the people’ voted them in and we keep on doing so. We’ve been warned about this looming cliff for more than twenty years by some folks reckoning. And we’ve done nothing except wring our hands and wait for ‘our leaders’ to kick the can down the road once again.

Nothing has happened so far, has it? Well, the bad news is that ‘nothing’ is coming to an end. Unless, of course that is what you want to have happen. What? Does anyone want the American economy ruined and the country, a hostile takeover candidate, subjugated by other nations?

Some think this nation inherited the imperial scepter from the last great power, England, and it wields it too well. Some think a nation constituted by the people is no different from a kingdom of tyrants and shouldn’t be cherished as the special experiment it is. Some want the nation punished for its ‘sins’. Some have hedged their bets. Some just want to fiddle while the nation burns. Maybe they’re right. ‘We the people’ don’t seem to deserve this nation any longer.

President George Washington said in 1789: “… since there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people…”

 Flowery language for ones so modern as us; but, nevertheless, he was right. We have dishonored this great man, and even more, his entire generation, by our quest for happiness, advantage and public prosperity without virtue, duty and honest policy. We offend Heaven when we disregard ordained order and right. And finally, we abdicate liberty and representative government when we give over this final experiment to those we would not voluntarily let into our homes. We must exercise our franchise for those who would freely exhibit honesty and be honestly effective; show empathy; accept responsibility for actions; live a magnanimous lifestyle; and establish long-term goals coupled with determination to get things right for the nation.