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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.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Will the Circle be Unbroken?

The greatest experience of my life was in a Sikh ashram right here in Madison, on east Dayton Street in September 1976. After a rigorous morning session of very difficult Kundalini Yoga postures, I had an opening at the heart level, leading to an intense experience of universal love that lasted about twelve hours. It wasn't enough to keep me at the ashram, or to make me become a Sikh, but I have had a fondness for the Sikh faith ever since. I still have my turban, though I haven't tied it in decades. I also still have the sheepskin I bought for doing yoga and meditation. This is used, and it goes with me almost everywhere I travel.

Sikhism was started in the 1400s in the Punjab region of India, based on the teachings of Guru Nanak. It is a monotheistic religion that I have been told by adherents was intended to be a synthesis of Hinduism and Islam. The men wear turbans and grow beards, and also don't cut their hair, tying it at the top in what is known as a rishi knot. The men tend to have the last name Singh, which means lion, while the women take the last name Kaur, which means princess. Sikhs tend to be larger than most other Indians, being meat eaters. They are successful in business and agriculture, making the Punjab the wealthiest state in the country. They also are prominent in the Indian army because of their skill and courage in battle. Because Sikh men have bronze-colored skin and wear turbans, they are often thought to be Muslims by ignorant Americans, of which we have many millions. It doesn't help when famous people like James Woods, Dennis Miller and others call them "towel heads" and "rag heads," making it acceptable to see them as "other." Then of course there is Fox News.

Something to consider in the Oak Creek tragedy is that we have a lot of people in this country who are primed for murder. It doesn't take much to get them to kill someone. Murderers tend to kill people they know, but some make their targets people who are different in some way. Then there are those who kill randomly, like the shooter in Colorado. Whatever the case with this killer, we would do well to tone down the hate speech. We could start by putting James Woods and Dennis Miller in stocks for a few days.

One approach to understanding the Oak Creek killer, Wade Michael Page, is to back-navigate or reverse engineer the path that led to this act. The locus, or focal point of neo-Nazi activity in the Army has been Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of the 82nd Airborne. The 82nd Airborne is an elite within the Infantry, and there is likely an even more elite group within the division. Page was stationed at Fort Bragg for several years, and no doubt had contact with Nazi elements there..The underground Nazi movement isn't exclusive to Fort Bragg, though, as this investigation reveals. Since the end of the draft the military has become insular and self-selecting, not having a constant flow of one-termers in and out of the service.

Regarding the "ideology" of hate groups, they are similar to religions in that they rely on huge amounts of magical thinking. They make things up, developing a complete mythology to support their silliness. One could also look at the "Tea Party" this way - fantasized notions about Obama, scapegoating of "liberals," "Keep the government off my Medicare," etc. The difference is in degree. It is safe to say that people who join hate groups like the Skinheads (and their offshoot Hammerskins), Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Brotherhood, The Order, and others have not met with great success in life, likely have had poor performance in school, run-ins with the law, difficulty holding down a job, and substance abuse problems. More often than not they also likely have violent tendencies.

Wade Michael Page received a General Discharge, one step below honorable, usually awarded to get someone out of the service in an expedient manner - for mental disease, drug use, unsuitability for serving in the military, etc. It is likely that he was part of a purge of Nazis at Fort Bragg and other military installations in recent years.

That's some background, but it doesn't offer any answers. Hate groups exist within a context of a comprehensively corrupt political system, an irresponsible and greedy corporate-governmental mutual reward infrastructure, an infinite-growth but declining and collapsing economic system, and an electorate that is intimidated by a fanatical movement of crackpots who are only different from the hate groups by a matter of a few notches on the grand "spectrum." As the system continues on its trajectory of decline and corruption we can expect more people to fall into the ne'er do well category. From this growing pool we can then expect more people to join hate groups. Will the circle be unbroken? _________________________________________________

Sing it. Here's the words and chords.

Here's an update on the story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.

Profiles of the shooting victims can be seen here.

In case you are wondering how turbans are tied, here's a quick lesson.

I went to the 3HO Summer Solstice observance in Pecos, New Mexico in 1976. Among the things that went on there was about three afternoons of doing the Jap Ji, a sacred Sikh chant. It was done in long lines of seated pairs of males and females facing each other, doing various mudras. It was pretty intense and blissful.

Here is a Sikh group singing bhajans.

Here's a pretty good explanation of why I didn't last in 3HO or any other cult. I left before I got very deeply involved. It was too hard, they wanted you to work constantly, had a slogan "keep up," and they were fanatics. I opted for the guru who could awaken your Kundalini energy for you.

Update, August 9: Democracy Now has a few good segments about the Neo-Nazi/"white" power/Skinhead movement in the "U.S." Here's some background on the Oak Creek killer. In this interview the growth of "white" supremacism in the military is discussed. Curiously, "Republicans" and the media blusterocracy have done what they could to suppress information about the growth of hate groups. Read about it here.

National Public Radio offers a more mainstream report on Wade Michael Page.

R.I.P. Jerry Garcia, August 1, 1942 - August 9, 1995.