Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Sounding Brass from Washington

The Hollow Man has been sounding again. Like sounding brass or a tinkling symbol but without soul. He has ordered someone he no longer employs to refuse to show up to speak to Congress. He seems to have forgotten who is sovereign in this land.

I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends, and, unlike my namesake, molineux, eschew violent action as an appropriate method to settle differences. I also know I share my home country with people who believe differently. I can only stand for myself, and like many others, both supporters of war and those against war, have not been truly faced with violent death. But the example Gandhi and his supporters set in India shows that non-violent assertive action can work wonders if, and here is the catch, people are unafraid to die.

Being unafraid to die is the only thing stronger than being willing and unafraid to kill. I cannot say non-violence will always work. Neither can those who support war say that war will always work. Fewer died in India in the resistance to the British Raj than if there had been an all out war. And those who stood bravely in the face of British Sten guns, some of whom died have kept their human dignity intact.

The founders of the United States knew people argue passionately about religion and they knew that if kings and despots ruled, the 'safe' religion(s) this year could get one hanged, burned, or deported the next. Our government was founded to be secular for a reason.

Yet Spirit infuses our lives and wants us to express our best values as we know them. It is not theological bickering to say we all know we should live our lives with integrity, honesty, responsibility and kindness. We may deny these in some aspects of our lives, but in Truth, we do know what is right.

Or maybe would know it if we didn't work so hard to clutter up our thinking with external bombardment from TV, radio, traffic...

Our way home is NOT the path of consumerism preached by the wealthy leaders of this country. It is the path of grounding and listening, once again, to the life that is all around us.

Find a special place in nature and get to know it, through the seasons and different weathers. Pay attention to what changes and stays the same. Get some guidebooks and learn what you are seeing. Sit and listens, walk and observe. Do this regularly and reflect on how much stuff you really need, how much does a consumerist ideology satisfy you at your core.

If we are to navigate the coming bottleneck for human survival made from the peaking of global oil production, climate change, population growth, declining per capita food production, and more, we need to calm down, regain our center, and ask of ourselves to actually try living our values rather than blathering about them as our Hollow Man does.

I suspect this message falls on deaf ears in general, if any reading this are not already thinking this way. But we are now living in a new age of heroes and those of us who see it will one day likely be called to our heroic act whether visible to the world or not. No more hiding in the sand....

Do Quakers have a peace warrior Valhalla we can go to?

Love Peace and Joy to all,


Friday, June 29, 2007

The 4 Rs

So today's theme is about the 4 Rs. They are


These qualties, in balanced proportion are what is needed for a civilized life. These, not stuff, however useful and pleasurable the stuff is.

As a member of American mainstream society, I put Rights first, couldn't help it. After all, that's the message we hear all the time, isn't it. And it really comes down to 'MY Rights'.

Well, Rights only can exist meaningfully if each of us takes on the Responsibility to Respect other's Right to exist and try to gain a safe and free life. This is what the founders of this country, at their best (and who is at their best at all times? Or their worst?) were working for.

Mainstream Americans need to get a new focus on the role Responsibility plays in a civil society. And to be mindful of the question Responsiblity to whom. Those to be considered are all that live and contribute to life. This includes those living beings we all see, but it also includes the life in the soil and in the rock. It includes beings we really do not like at all.

In this I also have to concur with my Haudenosaunee friends that 7 generations is an appropriate time scale to consider.

Whoa, this means going a lot slower about new things than we have.

So along with Responsibilities, and Rights, come Restraint, and Respect, these last two are values rarely exemplified these days, muchless encouraged.

It might help if we remember that while we often think of democracy, free enterprise and capitalism as inseparable social realities, they can be decoupled. In fact, it is imperative that we begin to examine what this decoupling might mean for the long term health of ourselves, our families, our nation and our planet.

More later,


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Time for Truthtelling

You know, when I go the doctor, I want to know the truth. I don't want the truth hidden from me. Funny, we almost all feel that way on a peronal level, but when it comes to our behavior in the aggregate, oh no, don't get in the way of my money, convenience, or cherished but inaccurate ideas about the physical universe.

Hi all, I hope to be very provocative here. I want meaty responses, too. Thoughtful ones that show a willingness to keep digging deeper. Flamers will not be welcome. Say what you mean strongly, yes, but with decency and some willingness to help me and others see what you base your thinking on.

For starters, I want to say that I grew up in a mainstream episcopal church household. Dad was an engineer. We were familiar with the bible and learned to take it in very deeply as the set of teaching stories we believed it to be, not as an unerring document. So I feel an acceptance of Spirit, and in many other expresiions, too. I guess I would say I am a distinctivist, not an exclusivist in my approach to Spirit.

I also fiercely believe in the rights of people to live unencumbered by nosy neighbors and prurient government.

The lower classes of our world, in an economic sense, are basically wage slaves for the better off. This has been built on the increasing availability of cheap and easy to use energy over the last century and a half. Each american has the energy equivalent of 300 slaves! Not in Bangladesh or even Colombia, Mexico, Poland, or India.

When energy availability starts to decrease, what do you thionk will happen as people see their imagined entitlements go away. What about the bitterness of billions of people who know they will never see a piece of the pie and that their children won't either.

Not a recipe for peace, I think.

Well, taking a biblical view of prophecy, which is, and always was, a way of calling the attention of the people to their own situation, not a foretelling, sometimes using imagery of the past, or future, to emphasize a meaning.

Here is my feeble effort.

The US is the New Babylon and George W Bush and gang are the High Priests of Mammon and Moloch. They have led by example and continue to encourage us and our children to look at money first, not values. Shouldn't the right thing to do in a situation trump the saving of some money or convenience?

This placing of wealth and convenience above decency and neighborliness is the worship of Mammon.

Though I don't know for certain, I don't really believe that these people are consciously demon worshippers, but that is the effect of their behaviors. And we should be able to name what we see without fear. Avoiding that 'calling a spade a spade, or a heart a heart' prevents us indiviually and collectively from doing what is good and decent and pushes us willy-nilly into the circus of greed.

Sending our children off to an inexcusable war is exactly what worshippers of Moloch did, in a very different way. They put their first-born on the red-hot arms of Moloch to die in fiery pain so that they and their riches would remain safe.

The answer is not really to focus anger at the administration or captains of industry, though they should be held accountable.

The real news is - We all should be held accountable! We have all snitched a little more than our fair share from the cookie jar one way or another, we haven't given our neighbor room to be an imperfect human nor have we made sure that we keep the world safe for others including the other creatures of all shapes and sizes.

The increasing range of insect borne disease due to warming global temperatures is an example of the mechanism of justice. For Hubris always meets its Nemesis.

Rather than other directed anger and hostility it would be helpful to cultivate an attitude of saying 'enough' to more for ourselves, and gentle forgiveness of others for their old die-hard bad habits. It is not as though we don't have any of those ourselves.

Go slower, look at ALL the life around you, marvel at it, or at least enjoy it. The enlarging of your heart will let the answers to all this that are yours free to be expressed.

Who knows, maybe YOU are the one that can help the Washington crowd see the world a little differently and become life enhancing people instead of lovers of death.

Talk to me people. Let's work this out.