When I was young I had a small wooden box, a souvenir from a family trip to the giant redwoods. We drove through a hole in one of the trees and stayed overnight in a cabin infused with the wood-sap-green perfume of the forest that surrounded us.

Inside my box I kept:

1. A polished orange agate
2. A worn Canadian quarter with a moose on one side
3. A dark red matchbook from a fancy restaurant
4. A small magnifying glass in a black plastic frame
5. A brass pocket knife
6. A 4 cent stamp with Abraham Lincoln’s picture on it
7. A fingernail trimmer

I had a portable record player and a collection of 45 rpm records with pictures of the artists on the paper sleeves. Elvis! I had picture books of nursery rhymes, jungle animals, Peter Pan, automobiles, a school book with illustrations of Columbus discovering the new world, children’s poetry and comic books. I had baseball cards of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sandy Koufax! I had a set of small rocks glued onto a cardboard mounting, each underscored with their names and geographic origins.

I had a half-dozen or so stuffed animals who shared my bed.

I had drawers full of inconsequential objects such as red rubber bands from Sunday newspapers, paperclips, a bottle of dried-up glue, spare change, pens and pencils, a ruler, a small plastic stapler and scattered staples, a Scotch tape dispenser, assorted notepads, folders, three-ring binders, old birthday cards, Christmas cards sent to my family and forgotten photographs taken when we were all dressed up for some holiday.

I had plastic guns and rifles, dozens of small metal cars with real rubber tires, and a few hastily glued model airplanes.

I had a closet full of clothing picked out by my mother and drawers of underwear, socks and pajamas. I had pairs of worn tennis shoes and rarely worn dress shoes that made blisters on my heels.

I had a red and white Schwinn bicycle with large tires. I attached playing cards to the spokes to make it sound like a motorcycle. When I attached a balloon it sounded even better, but the balloon would soon pop.

I had so much more, so many possessions for such a young boy, and yet so few when compared to this adult life where the clutter of accumulation dims the childhood wonder I had when everything was new.

~ by Russ Allison Loar

© All Rights Reserved

This Idea Of Free

I am so used to this idea of free
I forget how many in this world
Are shackled by ideas,
So many in this free country,
In my hometown,
Shackle themselves with ideas,
Rules for living,
Or no ideas at all,
Just behaviors,
Self-destructive behaviors
Masquerading as freedom.

So confusing,
This idea of free.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Those Who Would Be Dictators


In my quest to become a wise and enlightened being, I listen to the words of others. And there is no shortage of those who claim to possess the truth. There is no shortage of those who have developed methodologies, philosophies, theologies, psychologies – rules for living.

    Yet, is it not true that so many of the horrors of humankind are perpetrated by those who say they are only obeying the rules? Who made these rules and why must they be obeyed? They are made by those who would be dictators. But their rules must never be questioned, so they portray themselves as merely the humble servants of God, of Allah, of the Sacred Writings, of The Public Welfare. That is all the justification they need to lead us to righteousness, and to exterminate those who disagree.

    Even in the evolving democracies of the world, in the United States, are we not surrounded by little dictators working hard to impose their vision of the truth upon us all? Consider how many books have been published in which the chosen few hand down small tablets of truth about our lives, small tablets of truth which they have received from on high. The questions of the heart and mind have all been solved, by them.

    Isn’t American democracy rooted in the idea that each of us must be free to discover our own truths – spiritual and otherwise – about the lives we lead? Why, then, do we continue to revere and respect those who oppose free and unfettered thought?

    To do good works is praiseworthy. To be charitable to those in need is kind. To help the ignorant discover the value of ethical, moral behavior is a worthy endeavor. But to promote the belief that any one theology and its book of rules constitutes unquestionable eternal truth is to mistake the human for the divine. Even if a word, a sentence, a paragraph, an essay, a pamphlet, a book, is divinely inspired, it had to be written down by a human being. We have no books that were penned by supernatural beings and published on other planes of existence. We are the creators of these things, regardless of whatever divine or supernatural source we credit or invent.

    Yet those who would be dictators do not want to be judged on human terms, to be subject to our Earthly criticisms, and so they say their words – whatever their source – are infallible. How often is this simply a tactic to deny any challenge to their dictatorial will?

    We are taught to respect traditional beliefs, practices and institutions, yet our evolving democracy has expanded freedom by exposing the injustice of many traditional beliefs, practices and institutions.

    I believe in the evolution of the soul, an evolution that requires us to examine our beliefs, practices and institutions, and change them, improve them, and sometimes, abandon them.

    I taught my children to be suspicious of those who pretend to know the truth, as if we were all on the same journey, living the same life in the same body. I taught my children to listen to the wise counsel of parents, friends and community, then find their own way in this world. The path each of us must take in life is unique to each of us and cannot be predestined by a parent, a priest, a psychologist or a politician. We should reject those who want to control our thoughts, even those who are merely self-help guru celebrities. Given the chance, they too would be dictators.

    Listen to the words of those who open doors for you, who enlarge the possibilities of your thought, who encourage you to trust your own conscience and seek your own way through this life. There are many enlightened voices, even those who would be dictators possess wise words which they offer like cheese in a mousetrap. Never let anyone take over the job which is yours alone: the growth of your heart, your mind and your spirit. This is why you are alive, to do this work that only you can do, to grow a larger soul. 

    Please continue.