Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at Opednews.com and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: http://www.mach2.com/williams/. Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email DonWilliams7@charter.net.


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Don Williams comments

Mysterious Friend Brings a Parable of Springtime
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   05/11/2007)

Early morning and bells were ringing, then I realized they were ice cubes jingling in a glass.

"What are you writing?" came a voice.

I wheeled around. I hadn't heard any door open, yet here stood my friend, excess flab bundled into black running shorts and a purple t-shirt that declared: "If you can read this, you're not the president."

"Hope it's something upbeat," he said, peering over my shoulder, "because I'm here to celebrate, dude." His jaw nudged aside a celery stalk and he sipped generously of red liquid. He could've used a shave.

"Where did you come from?"

"I was jogging by, and your door was unlocked. I helped myself to a Bloody Mary. Meant to grab some Gatorade but saw juice in the fridge, and you know me…."

"All too well." I swung away from my desk. "Haven't seen you in a while."

"I laid low after they fired your butt at the big paper for being so tough on Bush. Figured it was my fault. I always agitated you for tougher columns until they canned your butt—"

"They didn't can me, I quit writing for them on principle."

"Whatever. Anyhow in your last column there, you quoted me, of all people, predicting WWIII if Congress didn't cut off funds, remember?"

"Yes, you thought I'd been too optimistic in one of my earlier columns about how 2007 would play out."

"Yeah, well, I'm here to take it back, dude. Mea friggin' culpa. I've had a revelation, a vision you could say, but I swear it's true, happened less than an hour ago."

"Do tell."

"All right, listen up. I'm out jogging in the bloomin' countryside when I round this bend and what do I see? There's a newborn calf in a ditch. You've never seen such a little calf. Black as leftover night. I look around, wondering where's Mama, and I hear this big moo. I look up, and standing not 70 feet away on this steep hillside, is the cow what dropped the calf. That baby's entered the world, plop, rolled down the hill, underneath the fence, and there she lays. In the ditch, not a mark on her. Eyes wide open. And I'm thinking, wow, she's gonna be all right. She'll figure out how to stand up, then climb out of that ditch. What an amazing thing. A new, um, sentient being opening her eyes just in time to get tumbled downhill, all dizzy, not knowing her head from her butt, only to hit bottom and look around. Then, get this, she starts trying to climb out of the ditch. Well, she gets a little help from the owner, an old white-bearded man who rolls by in a rusty old Chevy pickup, gets out and lifts her up under the forelegs and heaves her into the truck bed. He smiles real friendly at his prize, thanks me for nothing, says, 'Its such as this that gives me hope,' and we share a laugh or two, then I'm off jogging down the road again."

"Great story," I say. "That really happened?"

"Scout's honor. So I come in sight of your house, and that sets me thinking on how they fired your butt for saying—"

"For the last time, I quit."

"--too much bad stuff about Bush, and that gets me thinking how blind we've been, because the media was afraid to talk about certain stuff because our Republican Congress wouldn't look into anything and the Demos wouldn't stand up to them for fear the Bushites would call them names. And I'm thinking how this country's been rolling downhill fast for years and how we won't have a clue which way is up until we hit bottom." He takes another sip. "But then I'm thinking maybe we've done hit bottom, and we're all waking up to find ourselves in a ditch, but at least we ain't blind, right? We're being reborn."

I looked at my old friend, his eyes wide with wonder, and didn't say a word.

"At first I was skeptical. I figured it was the endorphins kicking in as I jogged down the road. Then I started adding it all up and realized, hey, there's reason to celebrate." He slurped loudly, licked his lower lip.

"What do you mean?"

"Look-it. You've got a mainstream can-do, American businessman, Lee Iacocca, saying we should all be screaming bloody murder for what Bush has done to our country, about the same time Dennis Kucinich introduces a bill to impeach Cheney."

"That'll never fly."

"Congress sets a timetable for leaving Iraq."

"Nor that."

"Don't interrupt. That Waxman dude holds hearings into the big lies about Pat Tillman, you know, the football hero shot dead in Afghanistan? Turns out you were right. One of his own men shot him. And Jessica Lynch testified in Congress how the military turned her into a pawn, makin' her out to be some kinda hero for getting banged around and busted up in that convoy in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Supremes rule that the EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gasses, speaking of which, big business and lots of states ain't waiting on the Shrub any longer. They're coming up with their own plans against global warming. Maybe it helped that Al Gore's movie won them Oscars. And now it looks like Bomplex 2030, that stinker of a plan to build new nukes like it was still the Cold War—is losing support in Congress--"

"Too little too late," I interjected.

"Wrong, dude. We're at a tipping point, like ole Gore says. The tide's turning on all fronts. Donald Rumsfeld's long gone at Defense, George Tenet at CIA, Scooter Libby from Cheney's office. Alberto Gonzales is about to get fired at Justice, ditto Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank. They're gonna make Condoleezza Rice explain how those 16 little words about Saddam's so-called nuke program got into Bush's State of the Union Address in 03. Last month Bill Moyers comes on PBS and points out how Billy Kristol and George Will and Judith Miller and Richard Perle and Charles Krauthammer and Thomas Friedman and people like that parroted phony stories that got us into war. Moyers was asking the same thing I've heard you ask: What the heck are these talking heads still doing on TV, as if they had a clue? Among Bush's foreign supporters, Tony Blair's stepping down in England, and it looks like Olmert's on the outs in Israel. And get this: more people are looking into whether Bush stole Ohio in the last election. So what's not to celebrate?"

"Well…"

"Say what you will about the Democrats, but we'd still be rolling downhill, all dizzy and clueless if they hadn't won back Congress. Now people are telling the truth. Not all the truth, sure, but some of it, and that's opening doors to more of it. Like it says in the Bible, them with ears to hear, uh, let 'em see."

I laughed. "Close enough for a bloody Mary morning. Give me a sip of that." Hints of celery and Texas Pete went down good. "Still," I said, blinking back tears, "it's a long ways from having your eyes opened, to standing up and taking back your birthright."

"Hush dude. Save the downers for another day. Let's celebrate."

And so we did.

* * *

A Parable of Springtime (short version)

Listen up. I'm out jogging in the blooming countryside when I round this bend and what do I see? There's a newborn calf in a ditch. You've never seen such a little calf. Black as leftover night. I look around, wondering where's Mama, and I hear this big moo. I look up, and standing not 70 feet away on this steep hillside, is the cow that dropped the calf. That baby's entered the world, plop, rolled down the hill, underneath the fence, and there she lies. In the ditch, not a mark on her. Eyes wide open. And I'm thinking, hey, she's going to be all right. She'll figure out how to stand up, then climb out of that ditch. What an amazing thing. A new, um, sentient being, opening her eyes just in time to get tumbled downhill, all dizzy, not knowing her head from her butt, only to hit bottom and look around.

Then, get this. She starts trying to climb out of the ditch. Well, she gets a little help from the owner, an old white-bearded man who rolls by in a rusty old Chevy pickup, gets out and lifts her up under the forelegs and heaves her into the truck bed easy as pie. He smiles real friendly at his prize, thanks me for nothing, says, "Its such as this that gives me hope." We share a laugh or two, he drives off, I wave to big Mama, standing there in the woods, then I'm off jogging down the road again.

When my house swims into view, I turn my mind to the column I've got to write this morning, and that gets me to thinking on how blind we've all been. And I'm thinking about how many folks in media have been afraid to talk about certain issues because Congress wouldn't look into anything when the Republicans controlled it. And how the Democrats used to not stand up to them from fear of being called unpatriotic.

And I'm thinking how this country's been rolling downhill fast for years, and how we won't have a clue which way is up until we hit bottom. But then I'm thinking maybe we've already hit bottom, and we're all waking up to find ourselves in a ditch, but at least we aren't blind, right? In a sense we're being reborn.

As I jog past the azaleas and a big yellow iris that survived the late frost, I begin to count all the reasons we have to celebrate. We're waking up! Signs are everywhere.

Rep. Henry Waxman holds hearings into the big lies about Pat Tillman, the football hero shot dead in Afghanistan by one or more fellow soldiers. And Jessica Lynch testifies how the military and media tried making her out to be some kind of Davy Crockett hero for getting banged around and busted up in that convoy in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court rules that the EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gasses, speaking of which, big business and lots of states are not waiting on the Bush administration any longer. They're coming up with their own plans against global warming. Maybe it helped that Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" won Oscars. Now it looks like Complex 2030, that stinker of a plan to build new nukes—is losing support in Congress.

Meanwhile, Dennis Kucinich introduces a bill to impeach Cheney. It'll never fly, most likely, but at least it gins up the historical record and puts Congress on the spot.

Congress sets a timetable for leaving Iraq, adding pressure to leave the genocidal conflict there in a war the country no longer supports.

We're at a tipping point, like Gore says. The tide's turning on all fronts. Donald Rumsfeld is long since gone at Defense. George Tenet at CIA. Scooter Libby at Cheney's office. Alberto Gonzales is about to get fired at Justice, ditto Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank. Condoleezza Rice is likely going to be calling on Congress soon to explain how those 16 little words about Saddam's so-called nuke program got into Bush's State of the Union Address in 2003. Among Bush's foreign supporters, Tony Blair's stepping down in England, and it looks like Olmert could follow soon in Israel.

Last month Bill Moyers comes on PBS and points out how Billy Kristol, George Will, Judith Miller, Richard Perle, Charles Krauthammer, Thomas Friedman and people like that parroted phony stories that got us into war. Moyers is asking the same thing I've asked: What the heck are these talking heads still doing on TV, as if they had a clue?

And get this: responsible people are looking into whether Bush stole Ohio in the last election? So what's not to celebrate?

Say what you will about the Democrats, but we'd still be rolling downhill, dizzy and clueless if they hadn't won back Congress. Now people are telling the truth. Not all the truth, sure, but some of it, and that's opening doors to more of it.

Admittedly, it's a long ways from having your eyes opened, to standing up and taking charge of your own survival, but I'll save such news is for another day.

Let's celebrate the rebirth going on around us.