Monday, December 31, 2012

2012, RIP

     Thus today quietly passes 2012, the year that the world ended.  The Mayas told us so.

     Before moving on into tomorrow, it might be worth a couple of moments' reflection on all the distraction and disinformation that caught up our media-driven consciousness.

     Who sourced this hype?  Where did it come from?  It didn't come from the Mayas, that's for sure.  The calendar-makers are long dead, and their descendants who still live today in the same area of Central America didn't foist this upon us.

     Who believed it, or half-way believed it?  The media creators?  Your friends and neighbors?  You?  Me?  Or only the Dumb People?

     Who benefited from all this distraction?  Was it just to sell more commercial time, make a little money?  You know, like William Randolph Hearst hyped the Spanish-American War into existence.  Just to sell newspapers and make a little more money.  Right?

     What were they doing, while our media-affected eyes were looking the other way?  Setting us up for 2013?  World without end, amen?

     Perhaps we shall soon see.  Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Real White Man's Burden

A parody.

     I am indebted to Laurence Vance, who posts regularly at the Lew Rockwell website, for calling attention to the excellent website 'History Matters,' dedicated to providing reliable resources for the study and teaching of history.

     The website includes Rudyard Kipling's well known poem, "The White Man's Burden," which was published in 1899.  I hope you will take a moment to re-read it.

     The website says:

     'In this poem, Kipling urged the U.S. to take up the “burden” of empire, as had Britain and other European nations.  Theodore Roosevelt, soon to become vice-president and then president, copied the poem and sent it to his friend, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, commenting that it was “rather poor poetry, but good sense from the expansion point of view.”  Not everyone was as favorably impressed.'

     The historical context for Kipling's poem was the recent victory of the United States government in the Spanish-American War.  The U.S. Army's upcoming deadly treatment of the Filipinos was clearly in view, and needed sanctimonious justification.  Kipling provided it.

     In 1902, Ernest Crosby published this parody, which I hope you will enjoy.  As Laurence Vance notes, the parody "reads much better than the original."

     One thing is for sure.  More than a century of experience and hindsight shows that Crosby was much closer to the truth than Kipling.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Punishable Peacemaking?

A link to a post.

     Rick Love, the director of the organization, Peace Catalyst, has just written an op-ed for the Washington Post, in which he calls on our current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to exempt peace-making organizations from the federal decrees that punish people (with confiscation of assets and imprisonment) for making overtures to groups in other countries that the U.S. Government, in its boundless wisdom, has deemed "terrorist."

     I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Love at an Evangelicals For Peace conference in Washington, D.C. a few months ago, and am persuaded that he is interested in real peace-making, primarily between Christians and Muslims.

     I urge you to read his post, 'Punishable Peacemaking?'

     If you are interested in promoting the cause of peace, or at least of peace-making, I invite you to share this link with people whom you hope you can influence.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

William Cavanaugh: The Myth Of Religious Violence

A link to a video.

     If, like me, you are someone who feels that you have been caught in the Left-Right Paradigm (that has been used to direct and control Western -- and American -- civilization for a couple of hundred years),  and . . .

     If you suspect that most of what you are getting from the broadcast-cable media and big publishers is pushing something onto you that you doubt is fully true, and know you don't really want, and . . .

     If you would like some perspectives to help in backing out of The Standard Approved Mental Box into a clearer, more honest and thoughtful space . . .

     Then I think you will like this video link, The Myth Of Religious Violence.  It is a recording of a speech by the theologian William Cavanaugh given to an audience in Wellington, New Zealand, on July 30, 2012.

     I advise you:  the whole speech lasts over 57 minutes, and it gets off to a slow start for the first 5 or so minutes.  That is okay.  This is no sound bite; it is also not an interview.  It is only one of several speeches by a careful Christian scholar and researcher.

     I further advise:  Unlike the talking heads (that we all know and love), he doesn't claim to have all the answers.  But what he does have is some excellent commentary on current trains of public thought, Western domestic and foreign policy (mostly American), and a more comprehensive perspective on matters political and religious than a whole lot of better-known and more popular people.

     You can find out more about Dr. Cavanaugh, and his books and articles, here.

*       *       *

     There is a second video, 'Myth Of The Free Market,' which is a speech in the same series, given by Dr. Cavanaugh on the following day.

      I am indebted to Charles Burris, a contributor to Lew Rockwell's website, for bringing this fine thinker to my attention.  Comments are most welcome.

Friday, December 7, 2012

We Have Been Scripted

     We have been scripted.

     We have been deeply scripted by evil men.  I think, all of us have been scripted.  Some more so than others.  But probably all of us, to a greater degree, and with more negative effects, and for longer, than we suppose.  And in ways, and by such means, as we are hardly ready to admit.

     The script is specific, general, pervasive, and old.  Ancient, even.  It is filled with damage.  Saints and sages have warned us of it.  It hypnotizes, allures, distracts us, weakens us, and compels us.  It is embodied in bad men.  They tell us what to do, how to think, where to go, and when.  They check up on us to see that we are obeying them.  They control us; or want to. 

     I do not claim to know all the whats or hows or whys.  I think I know some of them.  I think it would be profitable for us to think for a while about the script, about its existence, its agents, its nature and effects, its complexities and simplicities, and what we may know, and what we do not know.

     I think that there is a way out, but I will save that for some other time.  

*       *       *

     See my previous post, "A World War II Veteran Comes Home," for some of my specific thoughts on the nature of the evil script.

     I also made a reference to this in another post, "Reading Between The Lines."

     Your comments, as always, are most welcome.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A World War II Veteran Comes Home

     Here are some true stories of World War II veterans, which were personally recounted to me a long time ago.  I wrote the title of this post in the singular to make it more individual, to emphasize the point that each man lived only his own singular, private story. 

     When I met him, and I met him only once, Wally was a friendly and mildly prosperous insurance salesman.  It had been more than thirty years since the Greatest Generation had "won" the Good War.  He came to sell us -- my new bride and me -- life insurance; but for interesting reasons we shifted subjects and he ended up telling us the war part of his life story.

     He grew up in Idaho, the son of good Mormon farmers, with all the love of God and family and country that that implies.  He knew right from wrong, worked hard, and loved his country -- as he knew it, America being, in his mind, God and Idaho, only writ larger.  A war was on, and at the age of eighteen he found himself in the U. S. Army.  He received training as a paratrooper, and must have been a good one:  at the tender age of nineteen he would find himself in charge of a company of over a hundred men (I think he said, about a hundred and sixty) that was part of a larger force that had been dropped on a Japanese-occupied island in the Pacific.

     So there they were: a small company of young paratroopers, under the immediate command of a nineteen year old potato farmer from Idaho, untested in battle -- jungle, battle, and Japanese soldiers were all equally unknown to them.  He told me it was like being dropped into a totally different world.  I could believe it.

     His company was in a concealed position, and wanted to keep it that way.  The enemy forces apparently -- who knew for sure? -- occupied their own section of jungle on the opposite side of a large clearing.

     Suddenly, one of the paratroopers broke and ran.  Was it panic?  derangement?  Whatever it was, the soldier was running straight for the clearing, in the supposed direction of the Japanese.  In a few seconds, he would surely be giving away their position, and jeopardizing a hundred men.  Wally was in charge.  What does a nineteen-year old farm boy do, with only a second to decide?  Let the guy give away your position?  or instantly "drop him" -- one of your own men?

     It was a matter that apparently still haunted Wally after thirty years; something that he wanted to talk about to somebody -- in this case my wife and me.  (And we were complete strangers.  And probably it helped that we were complete strangers.)

     He returned to farming after the war, but a freak hailstorm in July broke him.  With some regret, he left farming for insurance.

     Stuart grew up in a midwestern city.  He graduated from high school in the middle of the Depression, and had difficulty finding a job.  He landed one with the Civilian Conservation Corps and went to California, where he worked in a National Forest.  Whatever his job was, it required lots of camping out, and he spent many nights alone, with his protection being only a campfire and a sleeping bag.  He told me that he occasionally shared his camp (unwillingly) with mountain lions that apparently roamed pretty freely in the California mountains in the late 1930s, as I suppose their descendents still do today.

     I do not find it surprising, therefore, that the Army ended up sending him "behind enemy lines" in Burma; he was surely more qualified than most.  In Burma, it seems, "enemy lines" was an exceedingly fluid concept.  From what he told me, the small-unit military operations he was involved in included a fair amount of Americans setting lethal booby traps along trails that the Japanese would use, and then ambushing them.  It was, of course, equally important to avoid the ambushes and booby traps set by the Japanese.

     He lived for weeks at a time with local people and shared their (to him strange, to them normal) food.  He said they were very hospitable; and I suppose that they learned to avoid the booby-traps set by both sides.

     I have wondered what the "natives" (as usual, the people who lived in and belonged in that country for generations, but did not control it) thought about what the Allies and the Japanese were doing to their country, and to each other.

     At any rate, Stuart survived the war without any apparent damage other than being very jumpy about abrupt loud noises for a while after he returned to "the States."

     Will was a clerk in a small construction company when he was drafted into the Army and was sent, by his request, to serve in the medical corps.  He landed in England at an army hospital in 1944, shortly ahead of D-Day.  His hospital handled many of the seriously wounded; and he handled their records.  

     The hospital treated all kinds of wounds.  They were always treating men with severe burns -- mostly crew members of tanks that had been hit and caught fire.  He told me that they rarely treated tank drivers. Apparently it was very difficult for the driver to survive the ordeal of crawling through and out of a burning tank.

     Infantrymen in the rifle companies had other kinds of injuries -- limbs shot off, terrible belly wounds, and the like.  He told me that many had their testicles and other genital apparatus shot off.  (What happens to men like this?  You never knew, you didn't hear them much talked about.)

     Will, like the others I have mentioned so far, returned from the war unharmed.  When I talked to him many years afterward, he had become a minister.


     Delbert fought in Europe.  Whatever it was he saw and did, I never knew, because he didn't talk about it in public, but he was seriously damaged.  His wife and children made the best of it they could -- "one of his crying spells, you know, one of his breakdowns; Daddy hasn't been right since the war" -- and he lived the rest of his life somewhere between fragile normalcy and extreme depression. 

     What name would you care to put on his injury?  "That's just the result of cowardice"?  "Get hold of yourself, man"?  "Just shows that he lacks true grit"? 

     In World War I they called it "shell shock."  In World War II, with a predictable Freudian condescension, they called it "war neurosis."  Today it is called "post-traumatic stress disorder," unless you prefer the smoother and more genteel "combat stress reaction."  Personally, I would call it a common and natural reaction of a human person who has been placed in mortal danger, repeatedly, against his own will or against his own better judgment, and who has found no way out.  Given the extreme conditions, it is both predictable and non-preventable.  (To prevent it, one must remove the conditions.)

      Bill fought in France and Germany, in and around the Battle of the Bulge.  He said that when they captured men who fought in the German SS, they castrated them, pretty much then and there.  (He did not say with what precision they carried out this field surgery, nor did he say how many they treated this way.)

     Bill came home from the war pretty much okay.  He got a good job and raised a family.

*       *       *
     For an interesting fictionalized account of a World War II veteran's experiences, read Wendell Berry's short story, "Making It Home," which is found in the book, That Distant Land.

     Comments always welcome. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thus Spoke Zarathushtra

A memo.

To:  The Moderns and the Post-Moderns

Date:  Now

Subject:  Wisdom


1.  Right now, in the midst of your years of conversation with your philosophical peers and adversaries, take this moment to consider the wisdom of Zarathushtra.

2.  Thus spoke Zarathushtra:

     I have seen things, and I will speak:   There is a God, one Lord, who is both Wise and Good.  I know that He is, but He has not told me His name.  Therefore, I shall simply call him "Lord Wise" -- Ahura Mazda.

     A Wise Lord would desire in worship that which would most accord with His own nature: an active wisdom and goodness on the part of His worshippers.  Therefore, I will worship Him in the way that He most likes, because it is most like Him:  by following after wisdom and goodness -- by good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.

     I will summarize and symbolize His active wisdom and goodness as a holy Fire.  When I kindle a fire, I shall think of it as a sacred thing, and meditate upon the holy energy of the Wise Lord, which it signifies.

     I will make Songs for my family, and I will sing them.

     I have seen that there is a realm, around and above me, which is usually invisible to me, but not always.  This realm is part of the wisdom and goodness of the Wise Lord.  In this realm, too, the Wise Lord is best worshipped by wisdom and goodness, by any creatures, such as Angels, who inhabit it.

     I see around me much evil, which appears to directly oppose, with much success and energy of its own, all that is wise and good.  This evil is widespread, I see; and I see some of it in the natural world; but it seems to center mostly in Mankind.  I do not know what name it takes for itself, so I shall simply call it "Lord Manu" -- Ahura Manu.

     Lord Manu appears to be a persistent and effective opponent of the One Wise Lord.  He appears to operate not only in the world of Men, but also in that less visible realm of which I know something.

     I am aware of Lord Manu and some of his agencies, both visible and invisible.  I will always seek to oppose the works of Darkness.

     I choose to follow the Wise Lord, and I will worship Him with good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.  I will always think of Him in the sacred Fire, and when I sing my Songs.

3.  Serious reflection on the old wisdom of Zarathushtra can clear many of the cobwebs that have been woven into the modern and the post-modern mind.

*       *       *

     My own words, yes;  not precisely Zarathushtra's.  But, from those who have read him,  I welcome commentary as to whether or not you think that I have expressed the gist (gestalt) of what he said.  Not so much what you or I think that he should have said (although you can include that, too),  but rather, what was his own wisdom.  Do you think of things to add, or revise?

     The place and time of Zarathushtra's life are the subjects of much interest, and I will not go into that here.  There is a serviceable entry at Wikipedia as a starting point, although I have found much better information at other sites available on the Internet.

     A word about names.  Over the many centuries after Zarathushtra's time, Ahura Mazda's name was contracted to the more familiar "Ormuzd," and Ahura Manu likewise to "Ahriman."  Zarathushtra, when his name was translated into Greek with a scribal error, became the more familiar "Zoroaster."

     The Zoroastrians of today are not numerous.  They are to be found mostly in Iran, the country of their origin, and in small communities around the world, notably in southern California.

     Readers of the Bible can find some connection with the Zarathushtrians in the person of Darius the Mede, one of the kings under whom the prophet Daniel served, as well as the Magi (Wise Men) who came to Israel at the Nativity of Christ.

     Twentieth-century allusions to a Zoroastrian paradigm can be found in the music by Richard Strauss, "Also Sprach Zarathustra," which was popularized in Stanley Kubrick's film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.  There is also an implicit Zoroastrian mindset in the original StarWars trilogy (now known as IV, V, and VI, crazily enough), with its perpetual conflict of good and evil, its "dark side," "dark father," and the "Force."  Other comparisons and contrasts may occur to people.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Footprint In The Mud

     This, from Robinson Crusoe:

It happen'd one Day about Noon going towards my Boat, I was exceedingly surpriz'd with the Print of a Man's naked Foot on the Shore, which was very plain to be seen in the Sand: I stood like one Thunder-struck, or as if I had seen an Apparition . . .

      I like the suddenness with which the author introduced that momentous scene:

     Robinson Crusoe had, by that time in the story, spent a long time on his lonely island.  With commendable thoughtfulness and energy he had already adapted himself to his circumstances; he had taken the tools that were at hand, and with ingenuity he had created a very serviceable shelter, and he had developed his own adequate, private economy.  He had truly made, we may say, a home for himself in this interesting wilderness.  Generally speaking, things were happening to Crusoe, and in his small-bounded world, pretty much as he thought they should.  And now, quite suddenly and unexpectedly . . .

     The footprint.

     Robinson Crusoe, as Daniel Defoe tells it, reacts:

I listen'd, I look'd round me, I could hear nothing, nor see any Thing, I went up to a rising Ground to look farther, I went up the Shore and down the Shore, but it was all one, I could see no other Impression but that one, I went to it again to see if there were any more, and to observe if it might not be my Fancy; but there was no Room for that, for there was exactly the very Print of a Foot, Toes, Heel, and every Part of a Foot; how it came thither, I knew not, nor could in the least imagine. But after innumerable fluttering Thoughts, like a Man perfectly confus'd and out of my self, I came Home to my Fortification, not feeling, as we say, the Ground I went on, but terrify'd to the last Degree, looking behind me at every two or three Steps, mistaking every Bush and Tree, and fancying every Stump at a Distance to be a Man . . .

     This has all the makings of a Myth.  It begins with a fact -- a footprint in the mud -- that under ordinary circumstances would be common and unremarkable; but this fact is observed, it is remarkable, and thus passes into the intelligent mind of a man.

     He looks around, goes to the "rising Ground."  He looks farther, "up the Shore and down the Shore."  He sees nothing out of the ordinary, no supplementary facts or information.  He doubts himself.

     He returns to the footprint -- the fact.  There is only one there.

     But the meaning -- ah!   "Innumerable fluttering Thoughts."  He has come face to face with the Other.  Well, except that he has precisely not come face to face with anything.  Except a footprint -- a significant Fact as he knows, although he cannot yet determine its full meaning.

     I used the word "myth" a moment ago, because I think that this little scene does contain a real myth, and reveals the power and truth that can be found in some myths.  We might even name it:  "The Myth Of Solitary Discovery."  Would you agree?

     First of all, we would all acknowledge that this story is pure fiction.  The whole story, and Robinson Crusoe himself, are products of the imagination of an author, Daniel Defoe.

     But, we can argue, it is not mere fiction:  it could be true.

     But better:  it is true, and we know it to be true: as myth.  It speaks of something true of reality, perhaps even universal.  Not that we have ever been on Robinson Crusoe's island, or seen the footprint.  But we know that some people -- possibly ourselves -- have in their solitary experience stumbled across Facts, or a Fact, that has very deep significance, very deep meaning, even if they, or we, are not sure what all that meaning is.

     And that changes things.  First of all, perhaps, only in our own minds.  But suddenly Mundus -- the world -- is no longer merely mundane to us.  And it never will be, again, no matter what the doctrinaire skeptics, or the merely unenlightened, may say.

     In this way, myth can, at least, help us understand that the world is not merely mundane.  It may also help us to begin to appreciate its possible meaning.

     The Mind is a powerful thing.  So, too, is a Foot.

*       *       *

     So, too, may be one sparrow guarding its injured fellow.  So, too may be a well-placed comment!   (By the way, both of these links were accessed from somewhere around the world just today, according to my blog-statistics report.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Reading Between The Lines

     I strongly suspect that now is a good time for all people of good will to spend some time reading between the lines.

     Enough said?

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Place In Time

A book review

     Here is great news for all those people who love the "Port William membership":  Wendell Berry has just published a new book of twenty short stories called A Place In Time.

     The stories continue the beautiful weaving-together of people-and-place that began over fifty years ago with the publication of Nathan Coulter and A Place On Earth, and has continued through the years in many more books and short stories.  Those who have read the earlier stories and have come to love characters such as Wheeler Catlett, Jayber Crow, Mary Penn, Burley Coulter, and the rest, will be delighted to re-enter their lives in the stories in this volume.

     There is the very funny story of Big Ellis and his romance with Annie May Cordle, in which Burley Coulter becomes, shall we say, the match-maker.

     There is "A Desirable Woman," which includes something about Tom Coulter and his time, just before the war, in the little community of Sycamore.

     There is the story of Uncle Peach, far gone in alcohol, recounting his glory days with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War:

     "Yeees sahhh,"  Uncle Peach said, drawing out the words as if to make them as long as his stick, "them was rough times, which was why we was called the Rough Riders.  Hair, shit, blood, and corruption up to the horses' bits, and you needed a high-headed horse to get through it atall.  When it was all over and we was heroes, Teddy says to me, 'Leonidas, looks like one of us is pret' near bound to be the presi-dent of our great country, and if it's all the same to you, I'd just as soon it would be me.'  And I says, 'Why, Teddy, by all means!  Go to it!'"

     And there is the opening story in the book, told by "The Girl In The Window," set in the 1860s.  It is the best, most authentic commentary on the Civil War I can think of right now, and I am including Matthew Brady's photographs when I say this. 

     I was going to say, that if you haven't read Wendell Berry's fiction, you should start at the beginning, with his earliest work.  But on second thought, why?  His stories are like the Kentucky River -- there are lots of great places where you can jump right in.

     And after all, my own introduction to "Port William" occurred all unexpectedly one afternoon at Barnes & Noble a few years ago.  I pulled a copy of Hannah Coulter off the shelf, opened it to the middle, and literally couldn't put it down until I had finished it.  So I bought the book, went home, and read the first half.  No joke.

     Enjoy A Place In Time.  Wendell Berry remains in full possession of his many literary gifts -- and generously shares them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

McGovern and Means, RIP

     Two men who were politically significant in South Dakota in the 1970s have just passed away.  George McGovern was 90; Russell Means was 72.

     Each was considered to be operating from the left side of the left-right paradigm.  Which I suppose they were:  you can't argue with the left-right paradigm, can you?  (But you can change it, for yourself.)

     Senator McGovern's campaign for the presidency in 1972 was coincident with the first presidential election in which I could vote.  And I, quite ignorantly and conventionally, voted for his opponent that year.  I clearly remember walking out of the voting booth, with a voice inside me saying that I had wasted my vote, my first one, on the wrong, winning ticket.  I remember being surprised; I had not expected that point of view.

     It took seven years for me to understand the significance of that inner voice, and I learned it from a fellow teacher.  He was an industrial-arts teacher (and self-taught furniture craftsman), and he and his wife had spent several years teaching on an Indian reservation in South Dakota.  He was firmly happy that he had voted for McGovern in 1972.  (Again I was surprised.  I knew he was a good Christian fellow: and he wasn't pure-bred Republican?)  Clearly, he knew something, up close and personal, that I did not.  But the voice had known.

     Well, back to the present.   Former Senator McGovern has been seriously ill for some time, and his passing was not a surprise.  So there have been several "looking back" articles that have appeared on the web. I'll give some links.

     Bill Kauffman wrote a profile of Senator McGovern several years ago for The American Conservative, titled "Come Home, America." 

     Nick Gillespie has just written a piece for Bloomberg: "George McGovern's Legacy As A Libertarian Hero."

     Here is an article by Conor Friedersdorf for Atlantic: "On War And Peace, George McGovern Will Die Vindicated." 

     Here is a very brief You-Tube tribute. 

     The unspoken theme that is implicit in these viewpoints is that the left-right, evil-good stance simply doesn't work.  Whichever pole we choose, the paradigm forces us to dismiss and oppose people who think differently than we do, rather than listen to their ideas.  We choose to listen to our handlers instead.  Which is usually, in America, the media.  "Secular" or "Christian," take your pick.


     Russell Means was an activist with the American Indian Movement, famous for his participation in a standoff with federal authorities at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1973.  I have recently read a couple of books about that incident and its aftermath.  But since I don't know all of Russell Means' beliefs and reasons, I withhold comment about him.

     Suffice it to say that at the time of his notoriety, both South Dakota senators, George McGovern and James Abourezk (Abourezk more than McGovern), saw something in Russell Means and the American Indian Movement that was worthy of their respect and at least qualified support. Both men tried to mediate the conflict between AIM and FBI.  They were not successful.

     Here is a link to an article from the New York Times.

     Ryan McMaken has written a very brief note, "Russell Means As A Conservative Bogeyman."

     I know from direct memory that the Establishment/FBI/media insisted that we all believe that Russell Means and AIM were a communistic organization.  As were all "liberals," such as Senator McGovern and the rest who opposed the Viet Nam War -- communists, fellow-travelers, and radical hippies they were.  So we were told.  So we are still told.

     Am I saying they were right about everything?  No.

     Am I saying they should have been listened to, and their viewpoints treated with serious respect?  Yes.  They were calling attention to important problems, mistakes, and injustices -- most of which we still live with today, and they have gotten worse because we have pretended these situations do not exist.

     At this point, I can not muster up a single cheer for the left-right paradigm.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rozeff : Leapfrog The West

by Michael S. Rozeff

Tunisians, Egyptians, Bahrainians, Omanians, Libyans, Saudi Arabians, Yemenis, Jordanians, Palestinians, and all the other many peoples of the world who are striving for better forms of government that will lead to real improvements in your lives, I wish you well. You are engaged in a difficult enterprise. Many of you are risking much to achieve it. May God be with you.

If I were to sit down with one of you in your country as your guest, after the exchanges and pleasantries of friendship, the conversation might turn to the ways of life that you wish to bring into being. That is my subject.

Your desire to imagine and create new ways of life, to cause to be where nothing was before, is the central human capacity, one that is given by God and one that is shared by all human beings. This creative power is freedom.

To love God I take to be man’s mission and God’s desire. We are in this together. To love God is to love his creation, which includes other people. To love one’s neighbor implies, at a minimum, tolerance of his freedom and the ways of life that he creates. Be slow in judging him. Be slower still in using force to hinder and dominate him. If, in your eyes, his ways are strange or evil, tolerate them. I am not speaking of the crimes such as murder, theft, arson, and rape of which we all know, but of the myriad of other behaviors on which human beings are prone to disagree.

If you desire a good society, you should not pursue it as an abstract goal, nor should you pursue it as a general goal obtained by the State’s uniform laws or by customs dictated to all or enforced on all by social means as supposed ways to make people good. Focus instead on the person, on each and every person. Each person has the highest value, over society and over state. These are not persons. They are merely organizations and tools to achieve other purposes and they are always seriously flawed. The good society is good when its people are able to be persons, which means they are in possession of the unhampered freedom to create.

My advice to you who are now involved in various revolutions and protests is something like the following, in very brief outline.

Leapfrog the West. Learn from the mistakes of the West. Don’t imitate the West blindly in the heat of the moment of attaining new governments. Opportunities like this do not arise often. Make the most of them.

Do not immediately or quickly fasten upon some more or less standard political agenda. They are all deeply flawed. They reflect the sins and mistakes of the West, which the West has not overcome. Seek instead to understand the fundamentals of human life and the human being as a basic guide to social, ethical, and political life.

If your educated class is promoting grandiose social schemes and promising grand results, don’t believe them and don’t approve their agenda. Such promises have been made in the West for several generations. These social engineering and wealth redistribution schemes all are coming to a bad end here. Don’t be enticed into repeating the Western follies.

My view is that the essence of the human being while on this earth is the free human personality. Our being is tied up with freedom at its very root. Every sacrifice of freedom that arises from the pressures, domination, and coercions of family, friends, business, church, society, and state, or from our own personal sacrifice and enslavement by ourselves, destroys a portion of that being or suppresses it, thereby causing a degree of non-being. As I understand the human condition, God created us as free persons. We are free to choose good or evil. Non-being is evil. Being, which presumes freedom and actualizes freedom, is good. The free human personality, as God’s creation, is good. It is a value that is above family, friends, society, organizations, and states. Its worth is above any of these.

Therefore, nurture freedom of the person. Nurture freedom of conscience. Nurture freedom of creativity. Nurture freedom of thought, expression, speech, and action. Nurture all of these at the level of each single person. Do not nurture domination by society, religion, state, family, business, or any other institutions. That which is good is the free spirit in each person.

Make no attempt whatsoever to create the “good life” or happiness or welfare of citizens (or subjects or individuals or voters) by means of the state or any institution or association that dominates and suppresses the person. That approach is godless and wrong. It invariably leads to a confusion of means and ends. The state uses violence as a means. If you allow the state to use violent means in the hope of achieving the ends of happiness or general welfare, you will destroy the freedom of the person. But freedom of the person is the good. It is what God brought into being.

Do away with notions of sovereignty by any person or group or institution. The U.S. Constitution is deeply flawed from the outset in its assumption that We the People are sovereign. Sovereignty is a godless concept. It is entirely at odds with the idea of a free person. God is not sovereign over human beings either. He does not determine what we do with our freedom. Even being sovereign over oneself distorts the idea of a free and creative spirit. In the same vein, the libertarian notion of “owning oneself,” although consistent with and correctly emphasizing the idea of freedom, is essentially a cold and bloodless view of a human being. The human being has a more fiery, passionate, hotter, and loving core in its free and creative spirit. The attempt to justify freedom by beginning with a natural right or self-ownership derives from an agnostic or atheistic view of human life. It doesn’t ground freedom in God and his creation. It treats the human being as matter or as a socially-derived institution of property. It doesn’t make us all brothers and children of God. It isolates the personality and thrusts the human being toward egoistic individualism. This is not an entirely false depiction of fallen human nature, of course. And yet the human spirit naturally reaches out to other similar spirits and to God. It reaches backward to creation and forward to the last days and the Kingdom of God. Purely rationalistic concepts of the human being that were born in the Enlightenment and have carried through in different forms to modern day democratic, social-democratic, socialist, and communist governments are insufficient to understand human nature and insufficient to move firmly away from the many varieties of slavery, overt and covert, and toward freedom. These old Western ideas have resulted in Western governments that suffocate and suppress persons. They culminate in efforts to spread the same kind of governments worldwide and to have one worldwide government.

The U.S. Constitution gets off on the wrong foot by making the general welfare an end. This leads only to the sacrifice of the person. Utilitarianism, which is the philosophy that sets happiness as the ultimate human value, is deeply flawed. It is basically another godless concept and one that leads to the adoption of violent means to create the end of happiness, thereby sacrificing the free person, which is the actual value.

Do not attempt to eliminate the everyday human failings and limitations by using force or the powers of society and state. Human beings must be free to choose between good and evil things. They must be free to make mistakes. Human beings cannot be moral beings without making choices for and by themselves. They cannot share in God’s grace without such freedom. Do not be legislating personal morals. Do not be imposing societal sanctions on beliefs, speech, clothing, art, sexual behavior, and discovery. Do not be attempting with such broad powers to create earthly utopias. This is not only impossible, but attempts to accomplish this go directly against the free and creative human personality, which is God’s creation.

Don’t bother catching up to the flawed Western ideas of politics. Surpass these ideas. They are not rooted in God, despite the rhetoric to that effect that attempts to fuse God, country, nation, and State. As such, the Western ideas lead to godless behavior. This was evident early on in America and is becoming increasingly marked over time.

Do not create theocratic states, however. They too are inimical to human freedom of thought, conscience and action. Power over the human person cannot be turned over to priests, clerics, and ayatollahs any more than to secular politicians. The combination of a powerful church and a powerful state is a recipe for suppression of the person.

Separation of church and state is a good idea. In practice, however, the State makes itself the new God. It tries to surround its immoral activities with an aura of high morality. In the U.S., there are many religious denominations. Somehow, though, the churches either make very little noise about the welfare-warfare State or else support it outright. The State has managed to get organized religion on its side, by and large.

Revolutions usually go about constructing a new State that is in no essential way much different from the old one. Avoid this at all costs. Otherwise, the people are doomed to another 50 or 60 years until the next revolution breaks out.

You simply must understand the nature of the State if you are to leapfrog the Western political structures. If you understand it thoroughly, then you will wish to minimize the State.

The State is the sword, that is, power. Its essence is power: holding power, increasing power, and administering power. This has been evident for several thousand years if one examines the rise and fall of empires throughout the entire world as well as their conquests, wars, and legalities. The state has no central interest in justice, righteousness, rights, or the freedom of people, its own or others. It would just as soon enslave everyone if people did not resist. It would make war continually against others or against its own citizens if it could. It makes war to prevent peaceful secessions. It claims territory through war and dictate, through ruse and stratagem, through conquest, blood and violence. It claims all within its boundaries.

The totalitarian states of the twentieth century provide clear examples of the demonic nature of the State. The worst of them under Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot butchered untold millions of persons. They sought meticulous control over economy, press, thought, money, and travel. The Western social democracies are not far behind in these respects, and they are already past masters at making war. Reject them as a model of government. Jesus rejected “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.” Follow his example.

If it were not for man’s craving for a universal kingdom, his craving for power, his fears and desire for security, and his susceptibility to the hypnotic temptations that the State generates, this evil institution would not exist. It exists now only to be overcome and bypassed by humanity. Do your part in this endeavor.

The State promises order. Its order is a superficial pastiche of arbitrary laws and measures that typically discriminate unjustly while also imposing uniformity on those affected. The State promises to remedy chaos, but it creates chaos and non-being by suppressing the creative spirit of persons.

The idea of the State as a thing to win is an incentive to warfare and chaos. When a state loses control over the people, warfare often erupts among groups that cannot tolerate one another as all strive to gain control over a new state and impose their agenda on everyone.

One of the worst features of the State is that whatever is immoral for a person is made out to be moral for the State. The State uses its people to kill and maim, to torture and spy, to inform and rat on others, and to assault and destroy, and all of this is approved of and applauded as if nothing were wrong. Brutality becomes something that wins medals and is glorified in motion pictures. The most corrupt and lying politicians gain the most respect.

Putting in place a Western-style democracy is not going to create prosperity. It only introduces a source of friction at the heart of a society. It will be an institution that endangers property rights, seeks greater power, won’t allow secession, won’t tolerate any serious challenge, manipulates the public, caters to special interests, wastes resources, taxes onerously, corrupts the money, and takes every opportunity to control the people.

Taking foreign aid from the West is one of the worst things you can possibly do. You will simply doom yourself to being a satellite of the West and part of its machinations. You may well end up at the mercy of its bankers.

Rather than thinking about a new government, think instead about how to build a vibrant society in which persons can exercise their creative spirits freely, for that is the basis of a good society. Think about generating tolerance. Think about generating trust. Think about well-defined property rights. Think about free markets. Think about incorruptible money. Think about a variety of institutions of justice and defense. Think about justice itself.

The West is strangling in its own debt, its own corruption, its web of lies and deceits, its fearful peoples, and its overly large governments. Why look to the West? Why go backwards when you have a chance to go forwards? In short, leapfrog the West.

March 11, 2011

Michael S. Rozeff is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.

Copyright © 2011 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted,
provided full credit is given.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rozeff : Are They Doing Their Job Well?

A link to a post

     Michael S. Rozeff is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.

     He has just published a very short post that, in my opinion, deserves the broadest possible consideration by the good people of this country. Since this post currently occupies only a tiny corner at Lew Rockwell's website, I fear that it will be lost  -- that is, never even discovered -- by its target audience (you and me) in the welter of information that we all sort through, both urgent and important.

     His post, entitled "Are They Doing Their Job Well?"  poses the question to us, about our western imperial elites.  You can read the whole thing in under five minutes, but I think that it is something that you will want to encourage some of your selected friends to read.


     He has also written a more comprehensive post, which is even more deserving of wide-spread consideration.  I intend to post it, in its entirety, in a couple of days, but I urge you to read it right away.  It gets behind the problems and self-limitations that good people find in the world and in themselves -- including Christian libertarians, of whom I consider myself to be one.

     Blessings to all.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Makers Of History

     I have on my shelves nineteen volumes of a twenty-volume set of books titled, "Makers of History."  A little bit of research on the Internet tells me that this set was first published in the middle of the 19th century, by Harper and Brothers; was aimed at 15 to 25 year olds; was popular in schools and libraries across America; some editions had as many as 33 volumes; and the series enjoyed a republishing history into the early 20th century.  And apparently, some of the books are still being republished in the 21st.

     Although in their day they were classified as "juvenile history" (they were strong on a sense of adventure and somewhat romantic portrayal of their subject matter), their popularity and perceived value went far beyond the students and young scholars who first read them.  If the following quote is to be believed, Abraham Lincoln wrote this to the authors, Jacob Abbott and his brother, John Charles Abbott:

"I want to thank you and your brother for Abbott’s series of Histories. I have not education enough to appreciate the profound works of voluminous historians, and if I had, I have no time to read them. But your series of Histories gives me, in brief compass, just that knowledge of past men and events which I need. I have read them with the greatest interest. To them I am indebted for about all the historical knowledge I have."

     Hmmm.  Allowing for the fact that expressions of gratitude may be more fulsome than we might truly mean, I think you will agree with me that Abe Lincoln, perhaps the most sainted president of the United States, appears to have been greatly impressed with this set of books.

     So let's do a quick rundown of the titles of this history series that was responsible for "about all the historical knowledge" that Mr. Lincoln claimed to have, and that provided him with "just that knowledge of past men and events which [he] need[ed]."

     In order, here are the "Makers Of History" as they appear on my shelves: Romulus, Alfred, Darius, Xerxes, Alexander, Pyrrhus, Cleopatra, Hannibal, Caesar, Nero, William the Conqueror, Genghis Khan, Henry IV, Hernando Cortes, Elizabeth, Mary Queen Of Scots, Peter the Great, Marie Antoinette, Josephine. (I think that my missing volume is Cyrus the Great.)

     Other editions would have included Charles I and II, Henry VIII, Hortense, Joseph Bonaparte, King Philip, Louis XIV, Louis Philippe, Madame Roland, Margaret of Anjou, and Richards I, II and III.

     Permit me to pose the question:  What was their criteria for selecting these thirty-odd persons to fill their list of "makers of history"?

     Not to criticize the Abbott brothers for selecting outstanding "makers of history" -- they were no doubt deservedly famous -- nor passing any negative judgments of their stylistic handling of their subjects, but do you notice anything, when you reread the list? 

     I don't know for sure what you see, of course, but I see a list of people that leans heavily toward the makers and agents of wars and empires -- or their consorts, or their rivals.  Is that not so?

     Here are some thoughts of mine, framed as rhetorical questions:

     *  Why is this idea of "makers of history" so biased that it selects only characters from political history,  rather than including the explorers, scientists, sages, and saints who also made history?

     *  If we are going to select only from political history, why only from the narrative of "western civ" -- Greece, Rome, Western Europe, and the nations, such as the Persians and the Mongols, who threatened them?  Could we have something to learn of political history from the Arabs, the Turks, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Russians, the Hindus, and many others?

     *  If we are going to restrict ourselves to western-related political history, why do we focus almost exclusively on those characters who were involved with conquest, empire, tyranny, and court intrigue -- and their consorts and their rivals -- rather than those who followed very different lights, and made a better history?  Could we not have used a volume or two, say, on the development of the enlightened kingdom established by Ashoka, or on the founding of the Swiss Confederation, or the beginnings of Ireland, or the development of the Caliphate, with appropriate adventure and romance?

     Forgive my seeming tendentious, what with my obvious bias against war;  but I think that the makers of "the makers of history,"  and the chroniclers on whom they have relied, have been pretty tendentious themselves.  Tendentious toward justifying and romanticizing the "adventure" of war, conquest, empire, race hatred, tyranny, and other gross villainies.

    A more balanced set of the "Makers of History" might well have included, as I said, explorers, scientists, scholars, sages, saints, and founders of religions.

     I could wish that "about all the historical knowledge" that Mr. Lincoln had, had prominently included some things other than what it did.  Who knows, he might have discovered that there were some real and preferable alternatives even to the Civil War.  But, as he said, he had just the knowledge that he needed.

     And, we are reminded, he was a product of his times.  Which we are, in ours, unless we decide to do something about it.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

How To Be A Poet

Two Interesting Links

     How To Be A Poet, by Wendell Berry, which he subtitles, "A reminder to myself."  It is easy to picture him in his "long-legged house," perched on a steep slope, guarded by trees, watching the Kentucky River a hundred feet below, following his own instructions.

     Twice Removed, by Tamara Nicholl-Smith, at Front Porch Republic.   A very different place.


*       *       *

Comments always most welcome.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Paul Craig Roberts: Two Articles

Links to posts.

     I am here providing links to two recent articles by Paul Craig Roberts.  My own personal reading and observations cause me to think that he is telling the truth.

     And if he is telling the truth, it is important.  We are being systematically lied to by our media-led government.

     His first article,  A Culture Of Delusion, deals with events beginning in the 1980s and 1990s and moves to recent consequences.

     His second article:  How The Government's Lies Become Truth, focus on the current media-government campaigns against Iran and against Julian Assange.

     If you believe the MSM-CBS-NBC-ABC-CNN-FOX spin, you may find his conclusions unpalatable.

     Please read, consider, research, and speak out.

*       *       *

  As a follow-up, you may want to read Mr. Assange's recent words to the U.N.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

To The People Of Iran : About The West

Please understand the ironical and sarcastic style that I have used here to highlight painful truth.


     In the Great Patriotic War of the 1940s, Great Britain and the Soviet Union -- "allies" at the time -- mutually invaded your country and argued and fought over whose sphere of influence you belonged in.  Your young Shah hardly knew how to choose.  Neither of the "Great Powers" ever left:  when their armies left, their cadres of undercover operatives and revolutionaries remained.  This is, of course, all your fault.

     In the 1950s,  Mohammad Mossadegh became your prime minister.  Kermit Roosevelt and the CIA decided you had chosen poorly, and regime-changed you.   For certain considerations (your oil sold off very cheaply) you were granted a modern air force, a long term relationship with the West in the "fight against communism," and a vicious security apparatus to prosecute that fight within your borders.  This was, of course, in your best interests.

     In the 1960s, you signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which you were allowed and encouraged to develop a nuclear program for peaceful purposes (including large-scale power plants; including radiation-based medical technology), and the West would provide you with technical assistance.  (This was the whole point of the treaty.  Remember Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace"?)  You believed that this was a good idea.  You believed that treaties with the West would be honored in good faith.  It was your fault that your government believed our government.  You should have checked with the ghosts of the Sioux Indians who signed the Fort Laramie treaty in 1868; they could have told you otherwise.  That would be your fault, wouldn't it?

     In the early 1970s, your Shah decided he wanted a better deal on his oil give-away to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.  This was unacceptable to the Western Money Powers.  His days were numbered.  This is your fault.

     In the 1970s, Ayatollah Khomeini, some of your clerics, and many others, revolted against the police state of the Shah.  There was a great deal of disorder and death.  Many innocent people (and, no doubt, some guilty people) were killed as various factions grabbed at power.  This is your fault.

     In the early 1980s, you were invaded by Saddam Hussein -- a client of the Good West, armed and resupplied by them (us) with conventional and chemical weapons to prosecute an eight-year war against you.  Many hundreds of thousands of your young men died.  After Saddam had prevailed against you, he then took his weaponry that was intended to be used upon you, and used it on his own people instead.  This is also your fault, since you were supposed to keep absorbing casualties.  (Gassing Iranians: good -- gassing Kurds: bad.  Same gas; different human beings.)

     In the late 1980s, your unarmed civilian airliner, Iran Air Flight 655, a giant Airbus containing 290 passengers and crew, was "accidentally" shot down by the crew of the USS Vincennes as it flew in your own Iranian air space near the Persian Gulf, because it was "mistakenly identified" as a tiny F-14 Tomcat, a high-performance fighter aircraft that has a crew of two, different size, different flight performance, different silhouette, different radar signature.  All lives aboard your airliner were lost.  Not our fault, of course -- it was an "honest mistake."

     In a supposed retaliation for this, Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland -- allegedly proven to have been done by Libyan agents at the instigation of Muammar Ghaddafi, although the official story is murkyVery murky.  But somehow, whether or not Ghaddafi did it, this was also your fault.  Ghaddafi was evil; but you are the axis of evil.

     In the early 1990s, after winning the eight-year Iran-Iraq war which it started, Iraq was defeated by the West, its former patron, in G.H.W. Bush's Gulf War.  This upset the balance of power in your favor, if you chose to use it.  Therefore, you needed to be kept in check with serious, credible threats. No matter that you had suffered over half-a-million casualties at the hands of our client, Saddam Hussein, over the previous ten years.

     In the late 1990s, the Neo-conservatives in the West decided it was time to advance their control over seven Muslim governments in five years (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran).  You were not targeted first, for strategic reasons.  But it was bandied about in the Pentagon that while an early target would be Baghdad, "real men go to Tehran." You knew that you were in the cross-hairs.  Look what has happened to the other six; it's your turn.  It has taken over twelve years to accomplish this little neo-Trotsky-ite five year plan, which is clearly your fault. You were supposed to have built that nuke seven years ago.  Or fifteen years ago, according to the up-and-coming politician, Benjamin Netanyahu, who said so in 1992.  What has taken you so long?

     When the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after the September 11 attacks, you offered the Americans your support, since you had your own reasons for distrusting the Taliban.  But it wasn't really about the Taliban, of course.  (Or even Bin Laden.)  It was about putting a forward American airbase right up against your border.  So your assistance was refused. This was your fault.

     In 2002, George W. Bush identified you as part of an "axis of evil,"  alongside Iraq and North Korea.  You can understand why he did this:  you were all alike, weren't you?
     (1)  North Korea actually had a nuclear program;
     (2)  the Neo-conservatives assured us that Iraq had a nuclear program, complete with yellow-cake uranium from Niger, plus chemical and biological weapons ("we know where they are, secret agents have told us") -- except that, oops, we/they/somebody lied about that -- and no apologies to you, Iraq, about destroying your country under false pretenses  -- America doesn't apologize;
     (3)  and the same Neo-conservatives assure us that you, Iran, have a secret nuclear weapons program.
     You quite freely admit that you are building a nuclear power plant (under the frequent inspection of the International Atomic Energy Agency, as provided by the Non Proliferation Treaty, signed by you and the US);
     And we admit, most rarely and reluctantly, that this power plant project -- which is quite ordinary, well understood, and has been successfully undertaken in many other countries -- absolutely requires mildly enriched uranium to run;
     But you could use your facilities to begin to develop super-enriched uranium and then nuclear weapons, eventually, could you not?
     So this makes you logically and politically equivalent to those two other nations, according to the Neo-conservatives and their controlled media.  It is, as usual, your own fault.

     In 2005, your people elected Mahmood Amadinejad as your president.  Against the will of the West, your people (primarily the poor) re-elected him in 2009, and thwarted one of our "color revolutions."  We Westerners don't like poor people running things, because they can't be trusted like rich folks can.  They get uppity.  They steal the silverware.  You should have known that.  (We much prefer billionaires as rulers.  They know where they got their money, and they know how they can lose it.  Ask the ghost of Ghaddafi.)

     When Ahmadinejad was openly critical of the government in Israel and its constant threats (and acts) of war, and our Western media deliberately mistranslated his remarks to make them more incendiary, and our politicians knowingly repeated this deception a thousand times in order to inflame our people -- that was your fault, too. After all, you re-elected him over our preferred candidate.

     Since 2005 or earlier, religious zealots in America and Israel, always notified by "reliable highly placed officials who can only speak on condition of anonymity" in their own governments (who do not lie, who have never, never lied), have known "for a fact" that you are within 6-12 months of a nuclear bomb.  If you were within 6 months of a bomb seven years ago, how much more are you within 6 months of a bomb today?  What are you waiting for?

     When a 2007 CIA national intelligence estimate showed that there was no evidence that you were developing nuclear weapons, (and hadn't been for at least the previous four years, if ever), the media and the lobbyists and the Congress and the people ignored that and kept on howling -- that it was still your fault.


     Okay:  Why no honest diplomacy, no real negotiations from the West?

     America refuses to normalize relations with you, because of the hostage crisis of 33 years ago.  Even though your fifty-something-year-old leaders of today were only high-school or university students in 1979 -- nevertheless, they, and you, are held responsible for the acts of your uncles and grandfathers.  (Not unlike the 70-year-old Cubans who were teenagers when Fidel Castro took over in 1959, but they and their great-grandchildren must still be "sanctioned.")

     Britain hates you because you nationalized their oil company on your land.  It is your own fault if you want to own your own company.  You are supposed to respect your betters.  Have you learned nothing in the four centuries since the British East India Company moved in on you in 1616?  (That would be about 40 years before they moved in on Manhattan.)

     The governments of the Gulf States hate you because you are Persian, not Arab, and because you are Shia, not Sunni, Muslims.  This is the fault of your ancestors about 1300 years ago, and you need to fix it.

     The Saudi royal family hates you because you are not Wahhabi, and because they can't own you.

     You are an "existential threat" to Israel, because they think you might use a nuke. (If you had one.  If you were planning to make one.  If you wanted one.)  On the other hand, the fact that Israel, and the Congress of the United States, have been sanctioning you for years, and attacking your laboratories with Stuxnet worms, and murdering your scientists, and threatening you with Israel's "secret" nukes, is simply. . . well, that's the way we run the Empire of the West. You should have figured this out by now, and submitted to us.

     In the minds of our Great Western Elite -- our centuries-old multi-national corporations, our military, our governments, and the financial wizards and press-lords and old money and old families  who rule them all, it is apparently all your fault.  For all being terrorists.  For sitting on natural resources that we covet.  For being Persians.  For existing.

     It must be true that you hate us for our freedoms. George W. Bush told us so; and George W. Bush is an honorable man.  So are they all; all honorable men.


     Please understand that among the ordinary people in the west, including Christians, Jews, your fellow Muslims --  and even agnostics and atheists, and little children who don't even know what they believe yet -- there are people who respect you, respect the truth, desire peaceful resolution of conflict, and are concerned for the well-being of the people of Iran.  But only the noisy, the rabble-rousers, the planted agents, and official government spokespersons are permitted to appear in our tightly controlled national media.

     We in the West do not own our own media: they own us.

     We in the West don't influence our politicians: they are picked and owned by the powerful.

     We in the West don't even own our own liberties:  we have surrendered them to our government and they license them back to us for a price.

     Know this, people of Iran: some of us in the West know, as you know, that the ordinary people of any country -- workers, farmers, tradesmen, scholars, religious, old people, families, children -- do not, deep down, want war.   You don't; we don't.

     And those who do want war?  It is a fever.  Either they will get over it, or it will kill them.  And perhaps, us.

*       *       *

Copyright retained by Robert Heid. 2012.

       If someone quotes or translates a part of this for any purpose: please draw attention to the fact that I have used an ironic and sarcastic style.  It would be terrible to distort the meaning and intention of this post.  It is a call for honesty, respect, understanding, forgiveness, and peace.  May God keep us all from harm, and from doing harm.

     Please also see my previous post: To The People Of America : About Iran.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

To The People Of America : About Iran

"Bomb, bomb, bomb -- bomb-bomb Iran"

     Let us stop kidding ourselves.  This is not funny.

     The Iranian people are being set up -- have been set up -- and they know it.  And we should know it.

     Recent US administrations, whether Democratic or Republican, have been deeply dishonest and insincere in their diplomatic maneuverings -- with many countries, not only Iran.  They have been bellicose.  They brag about the next war.  They talk of wars intended to last generations.

     They are uninterested in pursuing peace.  They are interested in playing to the misinformed prejudices of the American people, who have been guided by a self-serving and immoral media.

     We all know that the press/media is not about truth -- it is about entertainment and lies.  What we also need to remember is that it is all about war.
     America is murdering innocent people by the tens of thousands because we are addicted to lies and we can't kick the habit.  We know that the media are liars, but . . . we're hooked.  Hooked on obscenity and cruelty.  We want to see people having sex -- preferably violent and demeaning sex.  We want to see people dying -- preferably a grisly death induced by treachery and violence.  We have made Caesars for ourselves and expect the world arena to stock our personal Coliseum of depravity.

     Why, do you suppose, are our fellow-citizens (or we ourselves) so deeply fascinated by images and reports of cruelty and obscenity?  Is it because they (we) want to know that the world is evil -- so that we can feel good about ginning up some first-class evil of our own?  Why is the major part of our world-girdling English-speaking culture taking its cues from its tabloid-oriented media?  Why is Israeli culture experiencing the same thing?

     The behavior of religious people in this country has been horrible.  The world has heard the loud chorus of false religiosity and self-righteousness and shallow civic religion as it has paraded across our country.  We have proudly displayed a mindless antagonism toward all Muslims.  Prominent Christian and Jewish personalities are leaders in this propagandizing of the American people.

     Meanwhile, serious-minded Jews and good-hearted Christians know that the lies are lies, and that religion-baiting is wrong and destructive; and many of them are trying to take effective private and public stands against this shameful behavior.  But they are being marginalized and largely ignored by their noisy, more numerous, and better-connected co-religionists. 

     Liberals lie.  Conservatives lie.  The government lies.  Sometimes, religious people lie.  They have for decades.  Some people believe their lies because they don't know any better.  Some people believe their lies because they are scared of the truth.

     Nine years, and we refuse to admit that the invasion of Iraq was based upon a completely concocted lie.

     Eleven years, and we still can't face the truth about September 11 and the completely mis-led war in Afghanistan.

     Almost fifty years, and we still don't want to face the truth about John Kennedy's death, the run-up to the Viet Nam war, and the ascendancy of our military-industrial complex; although most of us who are old enough, know -- we have seen for ourselves how it has unfolded, and how it has been disguised.

         Our media/government overlords have already spent more than a decade manufacturing a "crisis" with Iran.  I think it is entirely possible that major elements in our national-security state will manufacture an event, as well -- probably explosively violent -- in order to release the dark tensions of crisis into the darker tensions of war.  Again.

     They have done this before.  And we have not learned to distrust them.

     America:  It is time to stop the hate-mongering, and the fear-mongering, and the lie-mongering.  It is also time to stop believing that war is the answer.

     War is not the answer.  And Iran is not the problem.

*       *       *

You may find this article by Steve Lendman interesting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Young Woman In Coma

Who are you, K-------,
How do you know yourself
Now or everwhen
Your men
Your babies
Was it the never-connected


it has been said
that the true light
lights everyone coming
into the world
their unlit ways
from obscurity
to obscurity
go with God

*       *       *

She was unplugged from life support a few hours after we visited.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Two Questions

I have thought
that one Ultimate Question
would be, Can God
Fold The Cosmos,
which is all well and good
that we already
know the Answer to that one.

A more practical question
of mine
long asked but only recently
in precisely
this way:

I address it to Padraig
-- who else,
which other holy one? --
Your Wild Goose:
How was He
about Plans?

*       *       *

You may find this interesting.

*       *       *

Sorry I can't reply to comments right now.  Google (the provider of this blogsite) isn't letting me post comments, either with my "Google Account," nor Anonymous-ly.  I wonder if other people who try to comment run into the same problem.  But how would they let me know?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Letter Poem One: To Rumi

Guest post by Justin Adams

Most people, I think, have something to say – some life experience, some bit of wisdom come by honestly, and worthy of consideration, some legitimate question others should ponder. For some, that experience, wisdom, or question might involve someone no longer present. 

I remember walking up a hill beside the Ohio River, up to the Utica, Indiana graveyard. I was no more than ten years old, likely younger. My mother, sharing the stories of her childhood, brought me to that bald hill. There, I learned names I had never heard of – greats and great-greats who never saw me – names like Owen, Colvin, and Snelling. They had come to this soggy river town for reasons lost to me. And there they died. 

Always I have gravitated toward books written by men and women now dead -- some for many hundreds of years. Those who have come before have left on me their indelible marks. And so I carry their life and thought, and often not as well as I should.

Having been an English Literature major in college, I am often guilty of ignoring the rest of the world's stories, essays, drama, and poetry. My sin is not one of prejudice so much as ignorance. Occasionally, someone crosses my path and shares a writer who wasn't born on one of the British Isles sometime in the last thousand years.

One of those path-crossers is Aaron Weiss, a humble, spindly man from Philadelphia. Meeting him, one could believe in his city's name. Although he is a poet and a singer (or more accurately, poem-shouter) of the band mewithoutYou, he is a listener. Most nights, still covered in the sweat of frenetic concert dervishes, Weiss listens one by one to the line that has gathered at his feet. His shouted lines of poetry like “Why not let's forgive everyone/ everywhere, everything,” and “If your old man did you wrong/ then maybe his old man did him wrong” foreshadow the atmosphere of his post-show listening.

After my first time seeing his band, I waited to see him too.  Overhearing Weiss’ conversations as the line moved forward, other lines of his poetry such as “No clever talk nor gift to bring/ requires our lowly lovely king./ Come, you empty-handed/ you don't need anything” seemed to fit the humility of his stance towards others.

Seeing first hand the care he offered hurting folks, and the way they fed on such attention, I wanted to know who fed him -- what writers have helped him see more clearly God and creation within God and man within creation and God.

When I arrived at my turn, Weiss stuttered through a few familiar names, as well as Scripture, before he mentioned Rumi, an early Persian Sufi poet.

Since I'd heard of neither Rumi nor Sufis, I made that my next mini-research project. As it turns out, Rumi lived in 13th century Persia (modern day Iran) and inherited a leadership position at a religious school at just 25, and was very much within the religious "in-crowd."

Around a dozen or so years later, he met an ascetic named Shams who taught him the dervishes, and the ecstasy through experiential worship. As a result of their friendship, Rumi rejected his academic heritage to embrace asceticism. Rumi's change prompted such intense controversy that Shams was kidnapped and killed, allegedly at the hands of Rumi's son.

Despite (and possibly due to) the pain of that loss, Rumi continued in ascetic Sufism, typically expressed through poetry. As a Sufi, his basic goal was to experience -- sense, feel, and know -- the fullness of God.

And, interestingly, Rumi made some jaw-dropping statements regarding Jesus. Here's one:

     In the fire of the Divine love,
     behold I saw a whole universe
     Each particle there possessed Jesus’ Breath.

I'd encourage anyone interested in Christianity, faith, life, art, or poetry to read up on Rumi’s life, not because he was perfect or always spoke the whole truth, but because his work reveals beauty (which is from God) and compelling affection for Jesus (which is also from God).

So, here's my letter to Rumi, inquiring after the death of Shams.

Although letter writing is not a new frontier in my life, I am indebted to Wendell Berry for returning that art to my mind, along with the freedom to imagine conversation with those now gone.

To Jelal ad-Din Rumi

They say you looked for him
as far as Damascus,
the friend who had arrived
in the night uttering
prophesies that shook you
from your syllogisms.

Did you ever suspect
your jealous son, the one
you stopped tucking-in at
night, could be the culprit
wielding a khanjar knife
inscribed My only one,

Or your long neighbors who,
having coveted your
old company at the
city gate, balked hearing
the whirling dervishes
of your beat poetry?

Old friend, did you divine
that they, your daughters and
wives, took the sycamore
crook of your shepherd’s staff
to your beloved’s neck
by the Euphrates shore?

*       *       *

Copyright retained by Justin Adams.  Published here with his permission.

Visit his website. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Israel, War, and Wall Street

     It has been said for so long that it has become a truism -- a truism with which I readily agree -- that "there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the two political parties."

     So.  Let us talk about what unites them, the Democratic and Republican parties.  What is the X, Y, and Z of their political philosophy around which their common foreign and domestic policies so tightly revolve?  It is quite simple:  and it is proclaimed in almost every political rally and public media forum in the nation.

     X.  The Nation of Israel Is Always Right.  Their military always fights triumphant, righteous wars.  Their government can do no wrong -- unless, God forbid, it is unduly influenced by people committed to working for a real peace with their neighbors.

     Y.  America's Wars Are Always Right.  We have never waged an unjust war; we have never fought an ignoble battle.  And our bi-partisan intellectuals are willing to go farther -- in an unguarded moment they will admit that they think that wars as such are not a bad idea:  they unite the people! And we need to all be united.  (And our armaments industries and investors always need the money.)  God Save The Union, Now And Forever, One And Inseparable.

     Z.  Wall Street Is Always Right.  Well, maybe not always right, exactly.  But let no one doubt that they are indispensable, and that amounts to the same thing.  Indispensable to Our Way Of Life.  Too Big To Fail.  Did they mess up a little bit?  Well, if they did, it is our patriotic duty to bail them out.  It is unthinkable that our Captains Of Industry would have to take a haircut. Or go bankrupt.

     These three core beliefs are unshakable in the American political mind, whether on the left or on the right.

     My beliefs about X, Y, and Z, above?  (Not that they particularly matter.  But here goes.)  Remove the word "Always" in the above principles, and replace them with the words, "Sometimes," "Occasionally," or "Rarely," as appropriate.

     Notice that I did not say, "Never."  And I don't mean, Never.  But no human being, no institution, no cause, and no national or international crusade, should expect our complete respect, let alone our thoughtless approval, or our unquestioning support, or our undying loyalty, or our unconditional obedience.  Just my viewpoint:  and, I readily admit, a very small minority viewpoint.

     Sorry to rain on the national parade.  Have a great day on November 6, voting for X, Y, and Z.  Don't worry about which candidate you vote for: this year, they are all pre-approved.  And you will have done your civic duty for the year.  Thank you, patriotic Americans.  Stand tall for God and the American Way.

*       *       *

     Your thoughts are most welcome.

     You may be interested in this interview between Bill Moyers and Mike Lofgren, the author of The Party Is Over:  How the Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted. 

     This report by Philip Weiss may also be interesting to you.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

George The Snake

     I met George in the classroom, not in his natural habitat.

     In my early years as a teacher (of junior-high math and science, primarily), I shared my classroom with a biology teacher whom I shall call Bob, since that was his name; and Bob introduced me to George.

     George was a beautiful little garden snake of some species unknown to me.  In fact, I couldn't swear that he shouldn't have been named Georgette, because I have never been trained in snake-sexing.  I'm taking Bob's word for it, and I'm not positive that even he, the biology teacher, was trained to know.

     George was about eighteen inches long, at most; of a nice greenish color with a pale head, and, if I recall correctly, four thin pale stripes running down his length.  As far as snakes go, he seemed delicate.  (Can anyone identify the species, on this slight information?)

     He lived in a glass sandbox in the classroom, where he had to be fed from time to time (I think he was a vegetarian; on second thought, I doubt it), and he was taken out of his confinement frequently for play with students and teachers alike.

     We handled him carefully, noticing that snakes -- at least his kind -- are very flexible in a side-to-side bending situation, but not in the up-and-down way.  He seemed to like the attention:  he would loop himself on my forearm for periods of time, and exhibited no apparent fear, such as coiling or striking behavior, whether he was being lifted from his sandbox, or being put back, or being stroked gently, or being transferred from one person to another.  He seemed to have a bright curiosity and a general amiability.  (Am I anthropomorphizing too much?)   His slightly shiny skin was absolutely dry and pleasant to the touch.

     I like to think about what George taught me.  I can think of several things, right off.

     That snakes are not all the Spawn Of Satan.

     That even strange and little creatures are beautiful, fascinating, and mysterious, because they have a real life of their own.  Their reality interlocks with our own -- but it is different.

     It helps if you give them names.   You assign to them the status of personhood in your own mind, and with a little luck, you start to care.  Who knows, maybe a little psychic link is established.

     Anyway, George, you were a fine snake, and a credit to your species.  Be fruitful and multiply.  Go with God.