Saturday, May 3, 2008

April follies

Sometimes I feel as though I have died and reawakened into the world subtlely changed.

I saw on C-SPAN an interview with a Muslim-American woman, co-author of a book based on worldwide polling about attitudes of various peoples about issues such as war and peace and the issues behind them. She brought out that polling showed about an equal percentage of US Christians and Islamic country Muslims thought their religious texts ought to form the basis of their countries' government. Also, that the vast majority of people were totally against targeting civilians in attacks. Christians and Muslims seem to have cross-misunderstandings, members of each group often attacking the other for the same misperceived faults.

Someone suggested to me that the idea of War and Peace as opposites keeps that paradigmatic system alive. Perhaps the story might better be about consciousness and cooperation.

I do know that a theme I keep running into recently is about dignity and respect for all as the underlying basis for real progress for humankind.

I've got to wonder how it is that all these Christians (and I know it is not all Christians, just these who are interested in quickening the Day of Judgment) are in such a hurry to have the story end. What are they so desperate to escape? If life is about worship and doing God's will and perfecting our souls, aren't we ever so happy to be here? Are we so concerned that Justice be served quickly that we rush to Judgment before all the evidence is in? I am somewhat persuaded of the opinion, in regard to Jerusalem, that it is a holy place for several faiths and ought be treated as such, like a sanctuary zone where everyone is free to practice their rituals in peace. Perhaps appropriate accommodations, infrastructure and business practices could be put in place to set it up for religious tourism as a sort of cottage industry and sole trade resource to preserve, protect, and maintain the holy city.

currently I am caught up with Captain Jack Harkness of Torchwood, the reluctant immortal filled with love for all conscious life, yet ruthless in the extreme when he believes it's warranted, burdened with his long life of experiences and those he's lost, cute, cheeky, irreverant, occasionally bordering on wise -- great hero material

I don't know where the humans are racing to, but we really need to slow down and think it through. We destroy our very livelihood, our basic resources, our chance for meaningful joyfilled lives for plastic war toys and healthless treats. Yet many of us are doing the best we can with very little, struggling for survival.

I think quite often we are not well taught about how to fulfill our appetites. We are fed empty calories, sugary treats, junk diets, and learn to live on these expectations.

Big black, cawing along my path
entertaining thoughts of gothic plains
endless emptiness of sky and sorrow
but for portents of doom, despair

Life is not always sunny days and pop songs
Times come and go of pain so overwhelming
breath is a miracle unloved, unwanted

Nature would want us to prevail
find our fittest stance
until our time of devourment
by her latest darling

Crows, noble in their mundanity
keep time in cacaphony
know the ancient secrets of
flight and carrion-bearing

We each do create our own reality in that we are each operating on
our unique systems of experience and self. We perceive based on
these systems. We have no idea what "reality" in some objective
sense would be. This does not mean that we create everything that
happens. There are many, many realities operating out there, and
they interact in sometimes unpredictable ways. Like astrology (as
above so below) wherein there are all these bodies and angles
interacting and acted upon by even more forces than those of which we
are aware. We look, interpret based on our own level of perception,
but can never account for all the factors.

Yes, we can visualize and brainstorm and get into the zone and find a way, figure it out, make our dreams come true. This is indeed a very "real" possibility. We can carry our vision so strongly that each step we take is a step in the direction of achieving that goal. We can see the obstacles, the utter lack of some essential ingredient, the social barriers and immense gap between here and there, and we can persevere, find the little chink through which to slip into where we need to be. It can happen. It doesn't always happen. For a great variety of reasons, people get trapped, they get discouraged, they give in to despair, they die without achieving their goal, they get too ravaged by disease or starvation or denigration, too overwhelmed by responsibilities or an ever rising bar or the demand for qualities they do not possess. It is not clear sailing, and often our ships capsize. Sometimes the fickle fates then give us liferafts or send the Coast Guard, sometimes not.

I have often heard it said that happiness is not about getting what you want, but wanting what you get, being grateful for the blessings that show up along the way. I am not looking for happiness (well, sometimes, but you know how fickle minds can get), but for that bliss place, where every step is a dance and every obstacle is a wall to paint beautiful visionary murals and a capsized ship is a chance to learn merskills. This is a place promised by the mystics of every faith of which I am aware. I do not judge my fellows who have no idea nor perhaps even interest in such a place, who seek happiness in all the wrong places, who see their capsized ship as an opportunity to drown in a sea of tears. I don't even know for myself how to stay in that place the times I find it. That fact is that I do find it, so I know for me at least it is real, and the only true reality where I feel all those warm safe supported elated wonderful feelings that actually are my goal.

I found the transcript of the Obama "bitter" comments in response to a question from an audience in San Francisco here:

Yet another supremely stupid tempest in a political teapot. Interesting the way this statement is almost a Rorschach. People twist it to mean whatever fits their image of the Senator. To me,anyone with an inkling of sense understands that, speaking to a more elite, liberal San Francisco audience, Senator Obama was working towards his underlying goal of bringing people together. He was explaining to those who might harbor ill-will against what they perceive as failings of small town working class Americans as "gun-toting" or "gun-loving", ignorantly Bible-thumping, homophobic, racist, unaccepting of those unlike them, that their classist perceptions were off-base, that people (any people) cling to what they know, to the values of their childhoods and families and clans when they feel hopeless, unheard, overwhelmed by factors so far beyond their control. It was a heartfelt, compassionate, sympathetic plea for cross-cultural understanding, fellow feeling, let's all get together to make our collective lot better without falling to the falacies of judgementalism. So, obviously everyone calls him "elitist" and "divisive." Yet again, the evil of politics as usual is twisting truth to gain power. It is ugly, this manipulation of the electorate through divisiveness.

The general election has not yet started. McCain gets to slide for a bit while the Democratic debate goes on. Please, realize, it is still a very long way to November. Many voters do not even engage until the Fall of the election. People may or may not be "bitter" but are generally quite busy, which is why a lot of soundbites get repeated "on the ground." Pound on Senator Obama all you like. He is no John Kerry or circa 2000 Al Gore (who gave up on being President after being challenged). He keeps saying he can't wait to debate McCain on the real issues. I can't wait to enjoy that.

As to the "debate": I was quite "bitter" watching the first almost hour in which nothing of substance was addressed. The political media are just too taken with themselves.

The game is politics, so we know to expect all these divisive messages to be sent around, canting whatever "evidence" can be found to rally against the opponent. I really don't care that a young Michelle pre-Obama worked hard to discover what she thought was important about her world by working through ideas about race, class, history, in light of her personal biography. Or rather, I understand that as being an indication of her deep caring and intellectual searching for justice.

I do care that Senator Obama has the support, still, of people like Samantha Power and Rev. Jeremiah Wright -- who personally know him and what he is about. I care that the message is not about politics as usual, or even cleaning up government as usual, or hate this or that group (for those who fear demagogues or fascist incitement), or pie in the sky. It is a cogent, reasonable, let's hang together or we'll surely hang separately, hey we know how to do it right so let's make it happen, appeal to commonality, commonsense, commonwealth. You act as if we are electing God, or Emperor of All who can waive a wand or send forth a commandment and all is as He orders. That's not what a President is. He is a politician, a negotiator, a dealmaker, a voice exhorting the nation to excel, a commander in chief watching over his troops and the mission but backed by the rest of us, who really ought to be doing our own watching over the public policies and taking care of the business of citizenry.

I have been saying for decades that it would solve so many problems to have factories/schools/offices pretty much all businesses, working on the 24-hour clock. People could work the hours best for them. Rush hour traffic would cease to exist. As you point out, more efficient use could be made of resources otherwise locked down and useless for all those hours. There would be no need for unemployment due to lack of jobs, since this would effectively triple the amount of work hours. For the hours we are not working, we would have the convenience of the services we want to use always being available. There would be a lot less job stress if the workload were more divided. That's just a few of the advantages.

The important result would be giving people incentive to work out imaginative yet practical ideas with a chance to implement them. Even if they did not acquire a specific grant, they would have the program worked out and ready to find sponsorship.

There need be no predestination involved as far as Judas' actions, nor betrayal. I see Judas as a hero. Without the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus was just another prophet. Without Judas or someone playing that role, there would be no Christianity. It was a divine act, meant as such, out of devotion and loyalty to the Christ.

Having thought myself plagued by bipolar disorder since my teens, I am
learning that often these behavioral symptoms (note, not physical evidence
in the body nor specific microbial attack) can actually come from a variety
of causes. I have been reading about behaviors common to gifted people that
can be confused with so-called bipolar symptoms, as well as such early
childhood stress reactions as personality disorders, and behaviorial
disorders of unknown causastion such as those on the autism spectrum.
Psychiatric professionals to a large extent are just guessing, especially in
regard to the drug treatments they recommend or order. My readings in
regard to treatment seem to indicate that both the safest and most effective
treatments are the cognitive behavorial therapies in which the person
suffering from their apparent social maladaptions learn to think and behave
in ways more suited to their goals.

words flow into meaning
or not
who interprets
who defines
I have been touched
as if by you
each moving on

This is where it starts. This is where we lose the chances to do better, to create a politics more in keeping with humane values. We think we are protecting children by pablumizing the content of our world. The function of childhood is not to be some fantasy of illusion. It is to learn how to become a functioning member of our world. We would do so much better to expose children to these complex ideas, along with caring, mentoring older people who help them to make sense of a multi-dimensional world. The history Rev. Wright is preaching, is teaching, is important for our children to learn. We don't need generations of "God Bless America, and God Bless Me for being American" or other chauvinistic simplicities. We need thoughtful, well-educated citizens who understand that diversity of views and backgrounds, complex interactions historically and currently, hopes and fears and angers and reconciliations are all part of America, and the rest of our places and peoples. We "cotton-paper" our world at all our risk and none of our benefit.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously opined that the cure for bad speech is not no speech, but more speech. Open dialog needs to start with our first words.

that is our job, as the "fan club," to deflect obvious untruths, exaggerations, twisting of facts and words. It's not only the Republicans' fans that can attack, defend, show up with effective ads and issue statement placement.

Everywhere I look in this campaign, we the people seem to act like we are electing a god; and that the way we choose god is who can go most negative. A President is not a deity, nor a dictator, nor an All High Emperor, nor a miracle worker. A President is merely a head of state. His/Her power comes more from words than deeds, and completely from the power acceded by those who listen.

We call our governing system a democracy, but we give away our people power to professional persuaders and throw up our hands as if we have no choice.

Rev. Wright strikes me as a very honorable, intelligent, caring, social activist. These are the people I at least want to encourage to prosper, to have open microphones that we might hear and be made more, to be the role models we are craving, and to help lead us to peaceful prosperity and justice for all. Rev. Wright needs defending at least as much as politician and honorable, intelligent, caring, social activist Obama. In fact, ultimately what we, if we truly care ought to be working towards is opening that message out into the streets and blogs, churches and classrooms, Senate and House, with whatever individual and collective power we the people can muster.

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