Life’s Longing for Itself: You Say Tomato, I Say Potato

Dedicated to permitting our children to grow as they see fit, leaving other people’s children alone, and being responsible enough to say “tomato” when our little ones say “potato”

Nickel head Ted Turner owns land
Equal to Delaware and
Rhode Island.
How can they say size doesn’t matter, when such a smattering
Gives us all such a battering
In this finite world?
Yes, he made space for the bison
But he burgers them out for my son
Buggering yours.

Child pornography, abortion and deja vu.

Sure, those involved in child pornography should be caught, and made to suffer the legal consequences (along with a bit of therapy). No-brainer.

Abortion, well … here you’ve got heated debate. But, for the sake of moving on (leaving much aside), let’s say that LIFE begins with conception. For conversation’s sake. That being the case, we’re talkin’ abortion = murder. A whole different ball of wax than pictures of buggering.

There’s a whole lot of fuss — understandably — made out of the child pornography busts, but little about the buggering alluded to above … in the Ted Turner poem. Which refers to the screwing of all children, not just one kid. As in the bombed out babies in the video by Doner. War’s so often a cover for coveted land and underhanded game plans. Skewering humanity.

Those who can rationalize the napalming of so-called gooks or so-called towel heads need not read on. Others, I’d say, must read on and get with me.


No more mamas crying, please.


When I read the lines from Gibran

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

 it strikes me that that’s where the presumption starts. The misguided, terribly destructive idea that parents have the obligation/right to treat their children as if they are their children. From there it’s a small leap … nay, a tiny step into the realm where one can tweak, mangle and mutilate the souls of their offspring. “Hurry up with cleaning your room, we’ve got to get to soccer practice!” [Or any of the infinite # of “first cousins” of that dynamic.] Tell me again, if you will, why it’s okay to yell at children. Maybe I’ll get it

Once parents go down that slippery slope of traditional parenthood, their kids are goners. They can too easily be made immiserated souls. They can effortlessly be encouraged to go off to war when they meet up with another authoritarian figure, especially if mom and/or pop are prone to singing America the Beautiful in the shower. Bowers begone!

And then, I don’t have to tell you how easy it is to tolerate your kids killing other kids. The combo of politicians, media and the Destruction of Schooling guarantees it … just in case you’re not fully with The Program.

Neither the so-called Taliban or Al-Queda are the threat they’ve been portrayed as being by beings making money and more off our wars. No more true than claiming the U.S. is about authentic democracy at home or abroad. Obviously. [Definitive documentation upon request.]


I can’t take it no more. You can’t take it no more. And you will help me to end all abominations against children For we are all Life’s longing for itself.

Babies are born abroad with two heads because of our widely distributed, horrific depleted uranium. And our “babies” come home permanently damaged by that horror too. Slouching beasts goosestepping obliquely toward their own kin, souls akimbo.

Anything that’s not aligned with Life’s longing for itself we can kiss goodbye.

For the vast majority of people on this earth that would include child pornography. For a great many people that clearly embraces abortion. But for ALL citizens of the world it must include war.

And any definition of human nature which rationalizes war, unquestionably is not acknowledging Life’s longing for itself. [Pause.] Listen. [Pause.] Hear One Love’s children crying.

Contact me and I can explain how NAFTA and CAFTA and the like are wars against children too). I Say Tomato, I Say Potato. There are lots of ways to send them off. Don’t do any of them, please. Please get with me. There’s time. It’s called your heartbeats. [Pause.] But not much, for as we go through the day… our hearts and shoes (or feet) wear out… leaving a trail of death. I say Life’s Longing for Itself! What do you say?

Richard Oxman has been an activist since he was seven-years-old at the Peekskill Riots. He's been a professor and a worldwide educator on all levels for half-a-century, and he can be contacted at Read other articles by Richard.

15 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Maien said on March 29th, 2010 at 12:19pm #

    You touched on a number of scenarios but I am still not reading about any clearly stated issue/s. I am not clear which version of traditional parenthood you are identifying. I think that I agree with your statement that “anything that’s not aligned with Life’s longing for itself” although I would have stated it a little differently.

    What am I missing? What is your specific message?

  2. Ox said on March 29th, 2010 at 1:17pm #

    Thanks for commenting, Maien.

    The main thrust of the piece is centered on the fact that just about all upbringing in our culture assumes it’s appropriate for parents to be “the boss.” I know that that particular statement is a bit vague, but if you glance at the article again, I believe it will be clear enough… for starters. The vast majority of people I’ve come across in my four decades in education, to say nothing about personal experience outside of academia, take for granted that giving children direction demands drawing hard and fast lines, overseeing activity way beyond what’s necessary, etc. For instance, yesterday at an 8-year-old’s birthday party, my partner told a visiting parent that we home school our little one. She elaborated and said that he was into companion planting in our garden… without much supervision. To that the other parent responded, what about math? What about science? As if math and science could not be involved in gardening. But, more telling, there was that suggestion lingering in the air that the child needed supervision, guidance, that control had to be imposed. That more direction was called for. I could go on, of course, but the point is that children who are allowed to follow their passion do not require such parameters. In short, there’s too little respect for that fact that children can make their way in this world as long as parents provide “protection” in the formative years WITHOUT DIRECTION which assumes the child’s own sense of direction is lacking.

    That attitudinal set which works on the premise that a child’s sense of direction is not adequate, for the most part, is characteristic of “traditional” parenting… in whatever form it takes. Just about all school settings provide a child with an environment in which it’s assumed that the teacher knows better than the child… what path should be followed, what timetable, etc.

    Does that answer your questions? If not, I’ll be happy to write more for you here. Or you can contact me directly at tosca.2010[at]

    By the way, HOW would you have stated IT differently? Also, please note that the “specific message” has a lot to do with the fact that children would not go off to war, and parents would not send their offspring off to be killed if it weren’t for traditional schooling and parenting which demands much too much (unnecessary) respect for authority figures. That’s central to my message. And, I might add, choice on career in, say, destructive corporations is also a function of such upbringing.

    Lots of love,
    Ox has the updated version of the article.

  3. Ox said on March 29th, 2010 at 1:37pm #

    Oh yes, the piece is also very much about the message that action is begged for, to address this dominant cultural horror. Something can be done to help people to self-educate about what they’re doing to their kids along these lines. Just as Jamie Oliver is doing something by high profiling that there are huge numbers of children who don’t know what a tomato is, who are so desensitized, removed from nature, that their point of departure for just about everything is what’s unnatural… like processed food. Something can be done about all this, and my article is very much about encouraging people to move in solidarity with me… or without me. Best, Ox

  4. lichen said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:08pm #

    I agree with you, and I really like this piece, Richard. Authoritarian, distrustful, hateful parenting is that root of the bad things in our world. We see that the states with the highest population of young men entering the military–such as texas, are states where parents and schools frequently beat children with paddles into their teen years; then these beautiful children, turned into primo fascist material, go into the military, where they torture and kill indiscriminately, and do things like drag Afgani schoolboys out of their beds at night, handcuff and execute them (just like they were likely dragged out of their beds, held down and beaten as children.)

    Children are not the possession of their parents; their bodies belong to themselves. Their minds also belong to themselves, and they deserve democratic, self-led forms of education as opposed to these condescending, punishing, grading schools we have. Great damage is done by parents who think they own their children and who project all sorts of terrible things on them, and care about random strangers more than they do their own children. Emotional abuse such as yelling, humiliation should be illegal (as it is in other countries) and so should all forms of corporal punishment. Abortion, however, is a great thing, because bad parenting is highly likely to occur where people are forced to have children despite not wanting them, not being ready for them.

    Children are born with the capability to be completely kind, nonviolent people that can far surpass the limited minds of the older generations–so long as they are protected, not from tv or video games, but from the authoritarian, child-beating, condescending, emotionally abusive scum that comes in the guise of parent, teacher, grandparent, neighbor….

    It is a terrible travesty that so much of the US left refuses to even come near this topic; and will talk abstractly about things like ‘education’ without mentioning the disgusting policy of school paddling still exists, and also not raging enough against arne duncan, who setup military schools to punish, humiliate, and force poor male youth into that serial killer organization.

  5. Ox said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:32pm #

    Yes, yes, yes, Lichen. I LOVE your response. Thanks ever so much. Truly. For what it’s worth, I’m in support of women determining whether or not they want to give birth to a child. It’s all well and good to help people to self-educate about being “responsible,” BUT… it’s people, for the most part, who treat their kids as possessions who want to tell others what to do also… about a great many things, including decisions about abortion, education, etc.

    Yesterday, in that confrontation my partner had with that other parent… that person told her that too many home schooled kids got to deal with their day as if every day was like being home sick from school, idling away the time, etc. My partner, God bless her, said something like, “Yeah, that’s right, that’s what our kid does every day… does what he wants with the day, as he sees fit. No heavy rules, no arduous timetable, etc.”

    The so-called U.S. Left has left its children in the care of individuals like the ones whose classrooms Jamie Oliver visits in his tv show. Adults who don’t know LOTS, who have no business locking kids into classrooms where their imaginations get stifled, and where ignorance compounds ignorance. The authority the kids are taught to respect in schools, in hospitals and many other places, including those at military centers deserves… undermining. A good litmus test is provided by simply counting the number of Obama/Biden stickers which still stand on bumpers. OR… you can check into the so-called ALTERNATIVE media where they’re still referring to Obama as PRESIDENT OBAMA instead of Murderer Obama.

    Anyway, thanks Lichen!

  6. bozh said on March 29th, 2010 at 3:13pm #

    We cld try using more than one teacher in any class. We cld eliminate grading and make it top secret who scored high and higher-highest on any subject.
    Then we cld put everybody in a circle.
    During any class at least one joke shld be told. And all people shld decide what shld be taught.
    But only after people selves wld be enlightened ab what shld be taught. A flag or picture of any human being shld not be displayed in classroom.
    The true or desirable meaning of a flag shld be explained. Obviously the flag in a timocratic democracy wld have an entirely different meaning than the same flag in a plutocratic or authoritarian democracy.
    Actually, no human being shld ever be graded. Judging people is based on first ‘scientific’ studies of animal behavior.
    And indeed the strongest, wisest, fastest lioness organizes tribe’s hunt for gnus and other pray.
    Yes, we had elders also to lead us; have lived most likely in an idyllic society; which had been utterly destroyed by early ‘scientists’ such as shamans, mentalists, sorcerers, clergy and later ‘nobility’. tnx

  7. Ox said on March 29th, 2010 at 3:24pm #

    Love this response also, especially the part about one joke having to be told every so often. I know, let’s start on this humorous note: Why do “classes” have to be held in a classroom? Why can’t they be held at home… the way they used to be for most of U.S. history? Why use “the need for technology, labs, etc.” be the justification for leading our “little lambs” to the academic slaughter? If people actually believed that parents were as capable of teaching their own offspring as the offspring are capable of directing themselves… well, then, we’d be off to a good start, wouldn’t we?

    I mean any “brushing up” on the part of parents could be helped along by, say, ending our wars and/or reducing our military capacity and/or supporting nations like Israel unconditionally. Yes? Yes!

    I really like that bit about no flags or pictures of anyone in the classroom. Let’s get rid of the classroom. Chomsky said recently — or suggested — that technology was going to be necessary to address our mutual problems. I understand where he’s coming from in saying that, and perhaps he’s got a point worth considering. However, my gut reaction is to respond: ” Not necessarily.” Addressing our centers of education as per the spirit of my article might go a long way toward making a world without such reliance on the solutions of technology possible.

    Let’s see what happens when kids go into a garden, and don’t come out till they want to. Go into a garden without “career” being a concern. Go into the Garden of their Mind for pure joy, to behold the Heaven on Earth which is at their feet and in their blood. Not enter into the typically bloodless academic setting K through 12 and beyond.


  8. Maien said on March 29th, 2010 at 3:55pm #

    Hullo Ox! I like your nickname. My work is very much aligned with your subject area. I do understand deeply what you are discussing. I was seeking more clarity from your article as I know how messages like this can be forgotten, as the issues you are touching upon are difficult for some to recognise and consider as well as carry out the sincere change required in attitudes even in ones daily choices through personal and community relationships

    How many people continue to believe that it is healthy to allow a new soul to cry and cry. The souls first lessons are: ” this place hurts. I am unworthy. i do not deserve. “. Add religion …you are a sinner, someone else has to have authority over you… and you have the perfect biomass to turn into a slave or a minder of slaves. Your parent will teach you about this world so that you may become an able and productive/creative human… has been ended especially during the last several hundred years of empire building. Children have been so objectified and current parenting loves that convenience!! Look what happens when you ignore a child deeply. They turn into a Paris Hilton type. Doing absolutely anything to get attention to feed that deep demand of, “Look at me! Love me… please …look I can even run a business..please look at me. My only value is what my audience tells me. I have no value, you see, I am nothing inside”

    I was fishing to see if words like authority, responsibility and religeon would be used or perhaps a remark on how eastern and western attitudes towards children are so vastly different and why. Just wanted to see where you were directing the information.

    Thanks for your response! I am glad for the discussion.

  9. Ox said on March 29th, 2010 at 4:09pm #

    And I value the discussion (immensely) too, M. Thanks for the clarity.

    Since I am all about DOING something, however, I’m obliged to ask you and other readers if they’re located in California. My next step is to step into the City of Salinas… where the homicide rate is higher than in L.A. To offer my services to help to transform their community… and in the process… through the parents… through the schools… help the children to have a different upbringing than what’s currently offered.

    Thus far, amazingly, neither the major nor the law enforcement officers in charge of programs in place are getting back to me. Wrote to the YMCA in the area, asking to move in solidarity with them on some limited basis… to help the children following a new paradigm. Zero response to date. Contacted the United Farm Workers in the area, but they seem to only be interested in their own programs, don’t seem to be open to any bottom-up communication, will not consider anything fresh offered from anyone on the outside!? Chavez would turn over in his grave….

    So… I am turning to the parents and the local educators. Waiting to hear. And anyone out there who’s in California can jump in on this wagon. Others can too.

    Love, Oxydoodle

  10. Ox said on March 29th, 2010 at 6:10pm #

    My poem which opens the piece should have read:

    Nickel head Ted Turner owns land
    Equal to Delaware and
    Rhode Island.
    How can they say size doesn’t matter, when such a smattering
    Gives us all such a battering
    In this finite world?
    Yes, he made space for the bison
    But he burgers them out for my son
    Buggering yours
    Shorting Life
    All over again.

    Then the line that follows would make more sense, yes?

    The questioning Ox.

  11. lichen said on March 30th, 2010 at 1:34pm #

    I agree that it is completely atrocious to leave an infant to cry alone, to refuse to pick them up, refuse to feed them when they are hungry. And this insensitivity continue on often while the child grows up, where parents use the child’s need for food as a tool for their own control and manipulations, where they turn away from their child’s pain and sadness, and work to surpress any outward show of their emotions that is not ‘pleasing’ to the parent.

    Anyway, Ox, you are definitely right; there is science and math and art in gardening; there is also the great skill of getting to grow beautiful organic fruits and vegetables, and all the better that it is on his own time and because he wants to do it, is interested in it for the moment. How sad that someone would try to interfere with that and say he needs to be locked in a room somewhere and follow some condescending person’s plan instead.

  12. Ox said on March 30th, 2010 at 2:36pm #

    Parents — people– simply do not understand WHY mandatory public education came about. Ironically, my home schooled kid knows the origins of the abomination we’re helping him to avoid. If citizens knew the degree to which learning to be obedient, learning to be a “participating” consumer, learning to follow the flag (unquestioningly) were interwoven into the fabric of the whole required school experience… well, then, they’d have a shot at not getting sucked into its vortex. Their kids would have a chance to follow their own acorn… outside of the prison walls. Oxlove

  13. Melissa said on March 30th, 2010 at 3:10pm #

    Looks like beautiful souls hang out here . . .

    The whole mill of it, eh? We see the conveyor belt. So how do we help others jump?

    Women’s Work

    Is to love, fully
    In order to teach love how
    Dignity is first


  14. Don Hawkins said on March 30th, 2010 at 3:24pm #

    You have to admit he brings up a few good point’s

    On the influence of vested interests:

    We shouldn’t let the lobbies influence science. Whatever criticism might befall the IPCC and the UEA, they’re nothing as bad as lobbyists who are politically motivated and who will manipulate data or select data to make their political point. For example, it’s deplorable for the BBC whenever one of these issues comes up to go and ask what one of the green lobbyists thinks of it. Sometimes their view might be quite right, but it might also be pure propaganda. This is wrong. They should ask the scientists, but the problem is scientists won’t speak. If we had some really good scientists it wouldn’t be a problem, but we’ve got so many dumbos who just can’t say anything, or who are afraid to say anything. They’re not free agents.

    On what it will take to convince the public that meaningful action is required to tackle climate change:

    There has been a lot of speculation that a very large glacier [Pine Island glacier] in Antarctica is unstable. If there’s much more melting, it may break off and slip into the ocean. It would be enough to produce an immediate sea-level rise of two metres, something huge, and tsunamis. I would say the scientists are not worried about it, but they are keeping a close watch on it. That would be the sort of event that would change public opinion. Or a return of the Dust Bowl in the mid-west. Another IPCC report won’t be enough. We’ll just argue over it like now.

    I don’t know enough abut carbon trading, but I suspect that it is basically a scam. The whole thing is not very sensible. We have this crazy idea that we are setting an example to the world. What we’re doing is trying to make money out of the world by selling them renewable gadgetry and green ideas. It might be worthy from the national interest, but it is moonshine if you think what the Chinese and Indians are doing [in terms of emissions]. The inertia of humans is so huge that you can’t really do anything meaningful.

  15. Ox said on March 30th, 2010 at 3:39pm #

    With regard to Melissa’s take on women (and helping others to “jump”) AND Don’s concern with motivating people to tackle climate change well enough and soon enough, I recommend glancing at ASAP. This is not the space to discuss Don’s climate change concerns in detail (attached to this article), but I do want to confirm that the Cap & Trade schtick is a very bad schtick. Oxlove