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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Avidya

Many years ago, in my first go-around in graduate school, I had a neighbor who was a Navy "Swiftboat" veteran of the Vietnam war. He was a Geology student, and a pretty intelligent guy. He also relished the experience of killing people, and believed the U.S. shouldn’t have stopped with Vietnam. He had names for a number of Asian ethnicities: "Paks" for Pakistanis, "Flips" for Filipinos, "Slopes" for the Vietnamese, and several other names that I can’t remember. He said we should pave the streets with them, among other things. He also was a solid Nixon supporter, and argued that we all should "obey" the President, because he was the "ruler" of the nation.

The "leftist" view of such a person is simple and predictable: he’s a "racist." As if that term really covers the subject, and sufficiently describes the state of mind of the soon-to-be geologist. I don’t happen to believe there is such a thing as race, so I don’t believe a person can be a "racist," except to believe in something that doesn’t exist. This view is not just mine, and further background can be found by clicking here. I can give just one example, though, of the futility of the simplistic "racism" model. The state of Israel, and supporters of the state of Israel, are often referred to as a "racist" state and as "racists" in their treatment of and attitude toward Palestinians. Genetic evidence has shown that Palestinians and Israelis are nearly identical, making it possible to be "racist" only against one’s own cohorts.

This is an important question, because many in the U.S. have attitudes similar to that of the Geology student. Especially toward Arabs, and Muslims in general. We can add in the French, and even the "French-looking," as hate radio minions have suggested about John Kerry, erstwhile Bush-lite candidate for President. The flames have been fed by celebrities in need of attention, such as James Woods and Dennis Miller, calling Arabs "diaper heads," and "towel heads." It doesn't occur to these entertainers that desert head covering evolved as the most effective protection from sun, wind, and sand. Here in America our main means of protection from our effective environment are the gun, the SUV, and the TV set. And, of course, the bottle and the pulpit.

What the Geology student’s views about "others" revealed was not so much "racism" as what in India is referred to as "Avidya", an active, willful ignorance. It is not ignorance due to lack of knowledge or information, but a conscious ignorance, knowing better than to think and believe in such a way, but continuing to do so anyway. It also is ultimately a hatred of one’s own self. To see a difference where none exists is to need to see that difference, to pretend that the needed difference is meaningful, and that action is required to either eliminate the "different" ones, to "put them in their place," or at least to make dominating use of them.

"Leftists," who, by the way, see themselves as "different," actually reinforce this silliness by needing to have "races" for people to be "racist" about, so that they can condemn them as "racists." They don’t so much see the "racists," as diseased human beings whose beliefs can be deconstructed and changed, but rather as "enemies" to be "defeated." It’s really as archaic and "reptilian brain" as the "racists" of the world. Vestigial. Rudimentary. Paranoid.

Why is this distinction important? Because the human species is at its most crucial juncture in its history. We have a global economic system that is destroying the planetary environment, and its major players seem bent on destroying humanity as well. It is not because of "ideology" that this is happening. It is because of Avidya, willful misunderstanding of the purpose of human life. There are other names, like psychopathy, sociopathy, and criminal insanity, but it all boils down to seeing life in tribal terms, as "our" group against "theirs," and its extreme, "me" against everyone else. Interscholastic, intercollegiate, amateur-Olymic, and professional sports provide some masturbatory relief for this mistaken need, but there’s nothing like murder, especially mass murder, to soothe the savage beast.

Into this diseased milieu comes the Bush crime family, the personification of Avidya, willing to exploit every prejudice, fear, resentment, anger, and need to crush and humiliate. Their "Shock and Awe," "War on Terrorism," "Imminent threat," "Patriot Act," "Homeland Security," and "Social Security bankruptcy" slogans are all aimed at the emotional center, the Amygdala part of the brain. The members of the Bush crime family, all afflicted with false human consciousness, have become highly skilled at arousing the same false consciousness in the general population. Saddam Hussein was the partner in crime of the Reagan/Bush(I) criminal organization, and was double-crossed by Bush(I) in the "Gulf War," a war as arbitrary and capricious as the current one. Bush(II) is only more obvious, and the planet is now on notice that a reckless criminal gang is a "gathering threat," to borrow a phrase.

We are poised to start another war, this time against Iran, our former ally. For the ignorant, willful or otherwise, the freely elected leader of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh, was overthrown in an American and British sponsored coup d'état in 1953. The brutal puppet regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi reigned until it was overthrown in 1979. The Bush crime family would like to take Iran back. They would like to have control of the Mideast, and they would like to have the oil.

If the Bush crime family succeeds in waging a war against Iran, then they will start yet another war. Then another. It’s like a Ponzi scheme. As the criminality of the existing war is revealed, a new war must be started in order to keep ahead of public scrutiny.

The only way to stop this criminality is to deconstruct the underlying Avidya in the country, laying bare our national vulnerability to the simplistic, the emotional, the hateful, and the false. When the psychic infrastructure of criminality is laid bare for all to see, then perhaps the people as a whole will be motivated to resurrect our civilization, and move it in a sustainable and mutually beneficial direction. A good place to start is with the weakness of "leftism."

I was listening to one of the shows on Al Franken’s local "Air America" affiliate a while back, and the show host was lamenting that "They’re going to take away our porn!" This was part of a laundry list of wicked things the Bush crime family has in mind for the American public and the world. There have been some great rallying cries in our nation’s history: "Give me liberty or give me death!" "Remember the Alamo!" "We have nothing to fear but fear itself!" "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country!" I don’t think "They’re going to take away our porn!" is destined to become one of them.

If "leftists" are going to succeed in creating positive change, they are going to have to communicate with someone other than themselves. There may be an argument for the social benefits of nude photography, but I would not place it on an even plane with economic sustainability, social equity, and peace. This may seem like an extreme example, but it is a hologram for the exclusivity and arrogance of what I call the "Rights advocates."

Rights are fine, but they depend on what people think they are, and people’s attitudes change. When people advocate for an activity or practice by advocating the "right" to engage in the activity, they move a step away from advocating for the activity itself. By moving the argument to one over the "right" to engage in the activity, all real communication about the actual practice is avoided.

The two best examples of this communication problem in modern times are the issues of gun control and abortion. The "right" of gun ownership is the rallying cry of supposed "right wingers," the National Rifle Association, and criminals as well. The "right" to abortion is the rallying cry of "left wingers," the National Organization for Women, and other choice advocates.

My own view on gun ownership derives from a quote I read from Mahatma Gandhi decades ago: "The gun changes the house and its occupant." It’s not a view I would impose on anyone else, but I prefer to live without firearms. The ability to possess firearms is something a little different from beliefs, though, and there’s nothing wrong with society choosing to limit the ability to shoot people.

As far as abortion is concerned, I do not think it is a good thing. I don’t think it can be said with certainty that it is the taking of a human life, but it is not just a surgical procedure. It is in one of those gray areas that we just can’t speak of definitively at this level of being. In spite of this it is not a choice to be denied. It is a difficult choice for any decent human being, whether or not to have an abortion, but the choice lies with the person carrying the potential person. If a soul is due to live on the physical plane, it will be born.

The point I wish to make is that it is not enough to advocate for a "right." The issue goes beyond mere "rights." If the "right" won is not explained to the general public, a vacuum exists, and is easily filled by opportunists. In the case of abortion, fake preachers (Hmm. A bit of a tautology.) like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart, and numerous others have happily used the issue as a wedge to enter the consciousness of millions of ignored and susceptible people. (By the way, if you click on the Jerry Falwell link, you will see that he is now looking for donations for Tsunami relief. He wasn't singing that tune a few weeks ago, when he was fulminating about the hand of God punishing the heathens. The dollar sign is never far behind the fulmination.) It is a difficult issue. It should be kept a personal decision, and the practice should be minimized by education, freely available contraception, and support for motherhood and families.

In other words, we are all in this together. Evangelical Christianity, an essentially immature, emotion-based, paranoid form of spirituality, flourished not only because it appealed to people’s weaknesses and prejudices, but also because it has been the only game in town for many Americans. If advocates for change can recognize the need to communicate with all people, with a higher truth, then the first step to ridding the world of the Bush crime family will have been taken.

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