Seeing Myself - A Wonderful Poem by Karl Bray

Dennis Edwall

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For those who have not seen this, I would like to share with you this inspiring, feel-good poem. The author is Karl Bray, a fellow liberty-lover (and activist, I believe; more details welcome from anyone who knows more) whose life was tragically cut short early by cancer. Enjoy.

Seeing Myself


Karl J. Bray

I looked in the mirror, and what did I see?

A strong, silent friend, admiring me;

I stood and I watched, and I studied that face,

I saw no evasion, never a trace;

I observed and I pondered the beauty in me,

And saw myself calmly, saw what was me;

I smiled so lightly, delighted and staid,

With certainty and pleasure, I liked what I’d made;

I knew as I stood there, aware of my mind,

That I had matured, I now was defined;

I laughed at the man and he laughed back at me,

And I did in that instant love the ego in me;

I continued with relish to admire that man,

Seeing his image, his full self-command;

I loved what I felt, this fine mental state,

And I wanted it always, to always be great;

I watched with full focus his implacable stand,

And felt pure emotions, not tarnished or bland;

I turned from the mirror, I knew I was free

To be what I wanted, to be fully me;

I challenged the world as never before,

And built better structures, better and more;

I worked and I studied, and wasted no time,

And thought of the mirror, its image enshrined;

I grew in self-knowledge, and came fully to see

That the source of my courage, my greatness, is me;

I traded with others, to our mutual reward,

And because we were honest, we never did guard;

I taught what I’d learned to other like minds,

I earned their respect, gave payment in kind;

I now do love others, and they do love me,

But only because my first love was me;

I write brilliant lines, and speak of my life,

And sharing its value, a woman, my wife;

I choose all my values, and I choose the good,

With full conscious effort, I do as I should;

I stand on the top of the world that I’ve made,

And thank the reflection who was not afraid;

I see that my purpose in life is my choice,

And in this grand knowledge, I immensely rejoice;

I trust only reason and rational man,

And commit my whole being to my rational plan;

I clearly see man as he is and should be,

In a rational universe, open and free;

I am as I was, the reflection is me,

The creation is mine, the creator is me.

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Thank you, Dennis, for sharing this poem. I met Karl once. He seemed a wonderful person.

He was at that time staging a Thoreau-like civil-disobedience protest. He was of the standard libertarian view that taxation is theft. He was publicly refusing to pay income tax and speaking at libertarian events. He was sent to prison.

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This was a very interesting decision that dealt with contempt and has an excellent series of cases on contempt mentioned including the classic Buck Stove Case.

423 U.S. 73 (96 S.Ct. 307, 46 L.Ed.2d 215)


No. 75-5182.

Decided: Dec. 1, 1975


On June 25, 1973, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) served a subpoena on the petitioner, Karl J. Bray, directing him to produce business records for examination and to appear for questioning in connection with an inquiry into possible violations of the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970, 84 Stat. 799, as amended, 85 Stat. 743, note following <a class="subref" href="" title="12 U.S.C. 1904">12 U.S.C. 1904 (1970 ed., Supp. III). When he failed to comply, the IRS filed a petition for enforcement of the subpoena in the United States District Court for the District of Utah. Following a hearing, the District Court ordered him to comply with the subpoena. Upon his refusal to testify or produce the records, the court directed him to show cause why he should not be held in criminal contempt. He was subsequently convicted of criminal contempt under 18 U.S.C. 401 and sentenced to imprisonment for 60 days. 1 He appealed the judgment of conviction to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, but that court dismissed the appeal for want of jurisdiction, holding that the appeal came within the exclusive jurisdiction conferred upon the Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals (TECA) by § 211(b)(2) of the Economic Stabilization Act. This petition for certiorari asks us to review the propriety of the dismissal of Bray's appeal.

As part of the Economic Stabilization Act Amendments of 1971, Congress created the TECA and vested it with "exclusive jurisdiction of all appeals from the district courts of the United States in cases and controversies arising under this title or under regulations or orders issued thereunder." § 211(b)(2), 85 Stat. 749. This judicial-review provision was designed to provide speedy resolution of cases brought under the Act and "to funnel into one court all the appeals arising out of the District Courts and thus gain in consistency of decision." S.Rep.No.92-507, p. 10 (1971), U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1971, pp. 2283, 2292. The provision thus carved out a limited exception to the broad jurisdiction of the courts of appeals over "appeals from all final decisions of the district courts of the United States." 28 U.S.C. 1291.

The Tenth Circuit held that, "notwithstanding Bray's prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 401," the contempt charge did not "change the substantive nature of the original enforcement proceedings" and therefore remained "a 'case or controversy' arising under the (Economic Stabilization) Act." This was, we think, a misreading of both the language and the purpose of the stabilization statute. The Act does not contain any provision prohibiting the violation of a district court's enforcement order or establishing penalties for such a violation. Thus, rather than "arising under" any provision of the Act, the contempt prosecution was commenced under 18 U.S.C. 401, the provision of the Criminal Code that empowers federal courts to punish certain contempts of their authority. Nothing in the Act or in its legislative history indicates that Congress intended "to include existing offenses, already covered under Title 18, under the umbrella of the Stabilization Act." United States v. Cooper, 482 F.2d 1393, 1398 (TECA 1973). 2 Review in the TECA of criminal contempt convictions relating to compliance investigations or enforcement efforts is not necessary to assure uniform interpretation of the substantive provisions of the stabilization scheme. Indeed, a requirement of such review would only serve to undermine the prompt resolution of Stabilization Act questions by burdening the TECA with additional appeals.

The charge brought against the petitioner based on his refusal to obey a lawful order of the District Court initiated "a separate and independent proceeding at law for criminal contempt, to vindicate the authority of the court" and was "not a part of the original cause." Gompers v. Bucks Stove & Range Co., 221 U.S. 418, 445, 451, 31 S.Ct. 492, 502, 55 L.Ed. 797. Although the contempt charge related to an order entered in connection with an investigation of Stabilization Act violations, it was not dependent on the existence of such violations or even the continuation of the investigation. As the Court noted in United States v. United Mine Workers, 330 U.S. 258, 294, 67 S.Ct. 677, 696, 91 L.Ed. 884: "Violations of an order are punishable as criminal contempt even though the order is set aside on appeal, Worden v. Searls, 121 U.S. 14, 7 S.Ct. 814, 30 L.Ed. 853 (1887), or though the basic action has become moot, Gompers v. Bucks Stove & Range Co., 221 U.S. 418, 319 S.Ct. 492, 55 L.Ed. 797 (1911)." Here the conviction and sentencing of the petitioner for criminal contempt constituted a final decision of the District Court that was then appealable to the appropriate court of appeals. We therefore grant the motion to proceed in forma pauperis and the petition for certiorari, vacate the judgment, and remand the case to the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Judgment vacated and remanded.

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The District Court stayed execution of the judgment pending appeal.


In Cooper, the TECA held that a prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 1001 for willfully and knowingly making false representations to an IRS agent in connection with a Stabilization Act investigation was not "a controversy 'arising under' any title of the Stabilization Act or under regulations or orders issued thereunder." 482 F.2d at 1397.

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