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“If a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models.”
-– B. Lester
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|| ''Clarity and Joy''|
At our Quaker meeting last Sunday, we considered the joyfulness of the early Quakers. I was then led to consider other groups that derived joy from political and spiritual struggle. I thought of the hippy communities of the 1960s and the patriot communities of the 1990s. I also thought of the early Christians, of the Russians in 1917, of the Sandinistas in the 1980s, of the Allende supporters in the early 1970s. I thought of the 200,000 Iraqis who joyfully demonstrated for peace, back on February 15, 2003.
Joy is contagious: A joyful political movement is more likely to thrive than a grim movement.
We today are engaged in a great political and spirtual struggle. What, if anything, prevents us from knowing the joy that enlivened and nourished our predecessors?
Joy derives from truth, self-awareness, and clarity. Which is more joyful and more uplifting, a clear blue sky or a murky grey sky? Grey chaos, confusion, and bottomless complexity sap our joyful energies.
To attain joy, we must first fnd simplicity and order in our own house. We must separate the wheat from the chaff, the valuables from the trash, the furniture from the dust. And even before we can do that, we need to find a simple way to distinguish between the truth and the trash.
Unfortunately, we would-be revolutionists tend to be romantics, and careful house-keeping is one of the essential activities that adolescent romantics deprecate.We don't have time for "all of that"!
Real revolutionaries fight fire with intelligence and joy. But we mindless romantics would much rather fight fire with fire. We unconsciously emulate the enemy. Thus we become the very thing we supposedly oppose.
Because the War System is grim, we think that we need to be grim in our opposition. We equate "grim" with "serious". We do not realize that joy-inducing truth is even more serious than grim self-righteous emotion.
Although clarity liberates us and sets our hearts afire, we have come to mistrust it and eschew it. In part, this is because the existing political system gives order a bad name. The system chokes us with "clear" but false dichotomies -- such as the artificial opposition between the "D" and "R" wings of the War Party. or the supposed opposition between "Left" and "Right". We allow one-dimensional political geometry to take the place of three-dimensional morality, and thus we blind ourselves to the deadly moral extremism of the government defined "center".
Then there is the supposed "eternal" opposition between "Jews" and "Arabs". In reality, the conflict is a war between a 100-year-old European fascist movement and a non-fascist resistance, Jewish and non-Jewish killers on one side, Jewish and non-Jewish peace-makers on the other.
(The anti-fascist resistance includes "Arab Jews". Such people have existed for centuries, yet our artificial ethnic-based dichotomy makes their existence inconceivable for us!)
This true and moral dichotomy, based on behavior, is obscured by our inculcated tendency to divide people along ethnic or genetic lines.
The German people fell victim to such a tendency seventy years, and the British Empire has often fostered and exploited the tendency: divide and conquer.
Like rats on a treadmill, we expend our energy frantically flailing at the "clear" but non-existent windmills the War System provides to us, while real dichotomies, such as the choice between freedom and tyranny, go ignored or unseen. We wonder whether "Arabs" and "Jews" will ever "get along", while the real conflict, between fascists and non-fascists, goes unimagined.
Spin that treadmill! Kill that windmill!
The false illusional order that the system imposes on us generates frustration, pain, and resignation. We react instinctively by turning against order in general.
Instead of clarity of thought, we embrace vague politically correct feelings.
The false "dichotomies" act like certain chemicals, carbon monoxide, for example: They clog our receptors.
But instead of carefully identifying the poison and removing it, we mistakenly reject all order, all clarity. We throw out the baby with the bath-water, the oxygen with the CO. Our vision blurs and our heads begin to swim in a nebulous whirl of emotion.
The dependence on blind emotion makes us predictable, easy to ridicule, and easy to manipulate.
Because it is politicallly correct to "feel good" about "Democracy", for example, we are cajoled into supporting the barbarous Bushovik aggression against Iraq.
Because it is politically correct to "feel good" about the word "humanitarian", we found ourselves supporting Clinton's 1999 "humanitarian" aggression against Yugoslavia. We -- some of us! -- cheered when Clinton dropped his "humanitarian" cluster bombs and cruise missiles on the Great Ogre.
Because we know we are supposed to "feel good" about opposing ethnic cleansing, we supported an act of unprovoked aggression that led directly to ethnic cleansing, the very thing we supposedly opposed.
Such deadly debacles happen because we don't take the time to think before acting. Instead, we react mindlessly to the tug of politically correct group-think and self-indulgent adolescent spite.
Liberal Wimps for War
Watch out for the 'nation-builders'
by Justin Raimondo / February 2, 2005
The liberal mind is a woozy and amorphous phenomenon: wrapped in a hazy gauze of vague benevolence, kept from dispersing into utter formlessness by a canon of rigid prejudices.
it is hard to identify as either a solid or a liquid.
It doesn't think, it coagulates, like blood forming a scab over wounded pride.
What, one hastens to ask, is so hard to swallow -- that George W. Bush is a liberal do-gooder, just like you?
Yes, the "liberal" mind hates Bush, but not because Bush is a mass murderer. "Liberals" hate Bush because he is doing what they themselves would do, only better.
Kerry, let us recall, supported Bush's aggression against Iraq, and continues to support the occupation! "Inflicting "Democracy" on the "savages" in Iraq is our "white man's burden" -- or so the neo-"liberals" would have us believe.
Neo-cons advance their own cause by rightly ridiculing the unprincipled "knee-jerk" tendency to march whichever way the neo-"liberal" wind blows. Thus, the two neo's play off each other and prop each other up. We "liberals" are always eager to serve as a helpful foil for the neo-cons.
The alternative to this sheeplike struggle to keep up with political correctness is a political struggle based on clarity, independence and self-awareness.
The more we come to know ourselves, the more we come to know that we do not need the War System. It then becomes possible to seced from that system -- to get out from under it, step back from it, and recover our humanity, our moral independence.
As we come to understand our own derangements, we come to understand the derangement of the system as well.
This understanding -- speaking truth to the power within ourselves -- then brings transformation. Light deters crime. The mirror of self-knowledge deters ugliness.
Awareness is sufficient, but the awareness needs to be deep, and much of what we need to be aware of runs counter to the grain of our socialization.
Consider, for example, our view of the human being. We tend to view the human being in purely materialistic terms -- as a body, as a consumer, as cannon-fodder, as a taxpayer, a subject of the Almighty All-Wise All-Holy State.
Our American founders saw the human being very differently. For them, the human being was a conscious entity, a citizen, a fount of intelligence, a spiritual sun or source. For them, the system existed to serve the human being, and the human being existed to serve God.
Today, of course, the hierarchy is reversed: The System is God, and we exist to serve the All-Perfect System. Transcendence is unthinkable and politically incorrect.
My own introduction to the transcendent aspect of human nature came in the mid-1980s, when I discovered James Hillman's brilliant book, Re-Visioning Psychology.
Hillman taught me that the human condition is the mortal neo-Platonic "soul". Not immortal: mortal. Paradoxically, what is finite in time is infinite in depth. As William Blake wrote,
To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wildflower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
-- William Blake, Augeries of Innocence, 1800--1803
While "mainstream" religion promises "immortality" and thus appeals to our lust for more minutes, neo-Platonism appeals to our hunger for timeless truth and boundless depth.
If I read Hillman right, soul is the point where the desire for life and the desire for death meet and balance.
Of course, our materialistic society makes all mention of the latter desire taboo: There must be no alternative to consumerism, no hope of eventual escape!
Exploration of this desire for death is taboo for another reason as well: When we find and face this desire within ourselves, we gain the power to see this desire at work in society at large.
We see this urge for death in our infatuation with apocalypse, in our attachment to formulaic mind-numbing spirit-killing "religion", and, of course, in our war-making.
We think we are killing Demons and Ogres -- "Iraqis" and "Serbs" -- but actually we are killing our fellow human beings. That is, we are killing ourselves -- war is a form of suicide -- and our devotion to war rests on a faith in the efficacy of death.
Our war-making merely deflects our own repressed desire for death onto "others".
These "others" become the scapegoat, the sacrificial lamb. Plunging the knife into the victim, we propitiate our Old Testament "god" and attain "Freedom". We kill the Iraqis "over there" so that we can have "Freedom" from our own terrors "over here".
As we become aware of these tendencies within ourselves, the urges release their grip on us and we begin to see the world in a fresh and vibrant light.
Going beyond mere awareness, however, is counter-productive: When we try to repress or "fight" our "negative desires", we create a second level of ossification, and our desires merely retrench.
Similarly, in our struggle with wayward society, awareness is sufficient. Let the lemmings see where they are headed, let them understand the mania that drives them into war, and they will sober up. The spell that entrances them will "break".
To go beyond awareness, however, is to give the War System an excuse for repression and paranoia: The evil then retrenches and starts playing the role of the "victim". Meanwhile, our own movement ossifies and the politicos take over: We become a mirror image of the system we oppose.
Our best strategy is to speak truth to power and then sit back and wait for the yeast of truth to do its work. Deprived of legitimacy, tangled in lies, weighed down by ignorance, the system falls -- as the discredited communist system fell in Eastern Europe -- and the bread of freedom rises.
Joy is our natural condition.
Imagine, for a monent that we have come from the Middle Ages: Imagine how we would marvel at the perfection of glass and plastic jars, objects that we today take for granted and quickly discard.
Or instead of transporting our consciousness from the Middle Ages to the present, let us temporarily transport ourselves into the body of a different kind of animal, a cat say. A cat with the mind of a human being: Wouldn't that be wonderful? But how is our current condition any less wonderful?
Imagine we are returning home from a decades-long visit to a distant planet: Wouldn't we marvel at everything we see here on Earth? Wouldn't the sight of the sky fill us with joy?
But then the sky fills up with clouds -- false dichotomies, lies, unexamined urges, unfaced fear and dread -- and our joy evaporates.
When we shine the power of truth on the clouds -- when we examine ourselves and cast aside the illusions -- our native joy returns. Free at last! -- with a freedom deeper and more transcendent than MLK ever imagined.
Who are we? If we persist in asking this question, over time, we will find answers. And the answers will surprise us: We are not who we think we are! And the surprse will be pleasant.
If we look into the mirror of feeling intelligence, we are at first frightened, but if we look a little deeper, we find much to like. As we look beyond the fears, our perception clears, and with clear perception, joy returns.
Dichotomies quiz: Which of the following dichotomies are true, and which are false?
Which can hurt us and which can help us? Which of these dichotomies do we ignore at our peril?
Democrat or Republican
On The Left or On The Right
Saved or Unsaved
Liberal or Conservative
paleo-con or neo-con
paleo-lib or neo-lib
war or peace
republic or empire
tyranny or liberty
Pharisees or Christians
Jew or Arab
fascist Jew or Jew of conscience
The Serbs and The Kosovars
primacy of the Individual or primacy of the tribe
domination or mutual respect
tribalism or cosmopolitanism
Old Testament or New Testament
Joe Six-pack and Joe Billionaire
the rulers and the ruled
the criminals and the authorities
"we the criminals" and "we the people"
true or false
good or evil
God or satan
God seeks comrades and claims love; the Devil seeks slaves and claims obedience.
-- Rabindranath Tagore, Fireflies, 1928
Nevertheless, no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can't imagine it unless you see it ...
-- Rachel Corrie, Febr 7, 2003
Note: Blue1Moon highly recommends this article. If you read nothing else on AlienLove - read this. It is awe-inspiring.
Discuss this article in our forums.
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|Re: ''Clarity and Joy'' (Score: 1)|
by NonZionist on Wednesday, July 20 @ 15:13:56 EDT
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|Thanks for publishing this, Blue1Moon, and thank you for the extremely favorable response. |
I wonder whether we can foment some discussion here. What are some of the passages in the essay that you found particularly helpful or meaningful?
In the essay, I've presented much of my material in one big lump. Perhaps we can now break it down into more manageable pieces.
My submission was a little premature. I feel that I need to get to know AlienLove better. Then, perhaps, I will be better able to address and engage your audience.
The essay presents my own interpretation of ideas that come from a number of thinkers
- Emerson (New England, 1841)
- Mel Lyman (Boston, Avatar, 1960s)
- James Hillman (Re-Visioning Psychology, 1970s)
- Adi Da (Free Daist Communion, 1980s)
Are you familiar with any of these writers and thinkers? Who would you list as YOUR influences?
I'm not interested in religious BELIEF-systems, but in the essay, I do mention one religious PRACTICE, that of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
However, I don't wish to limit my advocacy to just one religion. I find value in a variety of religions, including Soka Gakkai Buddhism (SGI):
and what used to be the Free Daist Communion
You may find the SGI peace proposals helpful:
Inner Transformation: Creating a Global Groundswell for Peace
by Daisaku Ikeda / January 26, 2004
Once again, Blue1Moon, thinks for giving me a platform for introducing a lot of new ideas!
|Re: ''Clarity and Joy'' (Score: 1)|
by Blue1moon on Thursday, July 21 @ 23:49:32 EDT
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|It is my pleasure and AlienLove's to have you here. Thank you for this enlightening and powerful article and for your many posts in our forums.|