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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.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Value systems

I went to the county fair a couple of months ago, and the local newspapers had a booth where they offered tremendous bargain rates for subscriptions. So I signed up for the weekend special, in spite of my disdain for so much paper waste. Over the last couple of months I noticed that the advertisements for women's underwear have become more revealing and enticing, to a degree that has to be offensive to most newspaper subscribers. Men may find the ads entertaining and even arousing, but I suspect they would by-and-large not find them appropriate for a family newspaper.

A "leftist" way of looking at this phenomenon would be to rail against the exploitation of women, the commodification of sex, and the "sexist" nature of corporate greed. While all these complaints may be well-founded and accurate descriptions of the practice, I think it goes deeper, and is holographic for what ails us as a people.

We don't have a meaningful or sustainable way of distinguishing right from wrong, of good from evil, of proper from improper, and of before from after, antecedent from consequence. Ethically and morally, as a people we don't know our asses from a hole in the ground. As a result, we have such surreality as the presidency of George W. Bush, the Iraq war, torture, "extraordinary rendition," the multiplicity of scandals in our various governmental bodies, of corporate irresposibility, and of the destruction of our environment, most seriously evidenced in our unwillingness to even admit that Global Warming exists, much less to try to solve the problem.

We can go on like this for a while longer, and probably will. The growing opposition to American hubris worldwide will not slow things down domestically until the gods of money see their own stature threatened. To the average "American," change will not come except by some catastrophic event like a depression, disease epidemic, natural disaster, environmental breakdown, or some combination of these factors.

"Americans" make fun of how "Muslims" require their women to wear a veil, "chador," "hajab," , "hijab," or "burqa," (Or is it bourka, burke-uh, birqua, or bercka? Only Khadaffi, Qadafi, Kadafi, Ghaddafi, Ghadaffy, or Gadaffi knows for sure.) According to "American" values, the "Muslims" are oppressive of women, "sexist," "uncivilized," and "backward." Our ways are "better" and "more advanced." One of the things Bush and his cronies boasted loudly about in the supposed defeat of the "Taliban" in Afghanistan was that women would now be "free." They would no longer have to wear the "burqa." Mission accomplished.

Some "Muslim" cultures may be extreme in their rules of gender behavior, but they recognize something that every society on the planet contends with in one way or another: People who have reached the age of puberty, especially men, have powerful reproductive drives and urges. These drives can be controlled and channeled in various ways, but all civilizations have found it necessary to establish rules of behavior. Here in "America," men and women use separate public bathrooms. We generally wear gender specific clothing, have different grooming practices, and still have some occupations that are either gender-specific or nearly so. Nurses are still mostly women while firefighters and police are mostly men.

In regard to display of the human body, "America" is at the prurient end of the spectrum. Though few of us are as physically attractive as the women shown below, having a sexually attractive body and displaying it in an alluring fashion is the social ideal.

In my guru-following days the men were separated from the women in the chanting and meditation sessions. The reason given was to avoid distractions. At first it seemed prudish and archaic, but it gradually became clear that the practice was based on experience and practicality. Some "liberated" women voiced their objection, but men, the more easily "distracted," kept quiet. In yogic lore it is the sexual energy that is transformed through spiritual practice into higher energies. The struggle of the meditative journey is at its core a struggle to control and transform this energy. With an understanding of the power of this struggle it is easier to understand why so many religious "leaders" are found to be sexual abusers and philanderers. They aren't just phonies. They fail in the struggle.

If you have a sense of the difficulty and elusiveness of recognizing and dealing with the power of sexual energy, look at the advertisements below, and see if you agree that the "American" way of treating it might be just a little crazy, a mixture of licentiousness and condemnation, of irresponsibility and repression, of the permissive and the forbidden. Then see if this craziness applies to other aspects of our way of being. You might want to ask yourself if this way of being has a future.


Blogger MirrorCrax said...

hey there, i like the flow of thought you got there, but i'm not quite clear if its ripples of thoughts on the surface of the water or an anxious river heading somewhere, i realize there is no need to make a specific point of everything, and i accept that, i do not demand an explanation as much as i request entry into your thought chamber

10/11/2006 10:56 AM  
Blogger John Hamilton said...

It certainly is a big world out there. Many are the states of mind, and many are the expressions of those states of mind. A comment to one of my posts was from a fundamentalist "Christian," which I prefer to this type of silliness.

Put another way, growing up is a lifelong process. It is an easy pitfall to get oneself into, upon learning a few words, reading a bit of literature, wondering at a couple of metaphors, to give free rein to one's ego, feigning erudition.

Entry into my thought chamber. Gads! I didn't know I had a thought chamber. It's a big world out there indeed.

10/11/2006 11:54 AM  

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