Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lithium Will Keep Us Together

The lesson of The Seeker has rested gently on my mind. Is humankind like a “passel” of dogs where each dog rips and tears for itself? This was my frame of mind as I listened to President Obama’s recent address to the nation.

Thankfully, my disorientation as I heard an American president talk about concentrating on the United States and its people by withdrawing troops from Afghanistan was short lived. This could not be, I thought, America cannot be doing such a thing. We just might be more than a pack of feral dogs.

Then, I took a deep breath and remembered an article I had read at and with a sense of resignation accepted that the dismal future forecast in my fears is probably not capable of being averted.

Comically, I thought about that old song: “Love will keep us together” and could hear it in my mind with a slight change in words. Now it was “Lithium will keep us together”. It really has a beat to it when you think about it. Can’t remember whether it was the Captain and Tennille or Sonny and Cher, but you get my drift here.

So I yawned and sadly got ready for bed, knowing that everything, while not all right, was as expected. The status quo would continue on the path of deterioration of the present level of existence for most of us. The president’s assurances seemed to my cynical self as just another bait and switch to keep the peasants from seeing. Yep, an affirmation sadly that there is no way folks are gonna wake up.

This put me in mind of India and my recent visit there earlier this year; the dirty skies, the constant inhalation of particulate matter, and the sad knowledge that this is going on not only in India, but also in China and the rest of the developing nations of the world.

Of greater concern to a minority of us is that the degradation is already starting in America as the populous begins to view environmental regulation as the Satan that prevents economic growth. No one seems to realize that the absolute continued pursuit of personal benefit at all costs leads to absolute failure of our system. Most folks just don’t see that greed must be regulated. There, I have said it.

Is it time to get messianic? Will it make a difference? Is there free will or is man truly an animal unable to change his nature? Can the message of love, caring and concern voiced by the enlightened for eons find fertile ground without perversions and exceptions that permit hatred “just some of the time?” I think not.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Seeker Returns

Just when you think that certain experiences are behind you, you look up and there is one ahead of you. While recently at my country retreat known as Brief Recess, I went out to the barn to check on the tractor and noticed a fleeting shadow as I approached the door. I paused and looked again, closely. Then I heard his voice.

“Come on inside here before you get sunstroke out there with no hat,” the familiar voice called out.

I walked on inside to the coolness of the barn. My eyes adjusted and there he was, just twirling something like screw driver with a leather string through the handle around his index finger. He was wearing the same white shirt with the familiar pall mall cigarette hanging from his lip.

What, I wondered, was he doing here? Did he have some wisdom to impart about the crazy current happenings in our country and the world? I fumbled around and finally spoke to him. “It’s been over five years since we last talked, I think.”

“Well,” he grunted, “you seemed to be kinda perturbed and I didn’t want to see you bust your bonnet over whatever you got in your craw. Had some time off and thought I would drop in and see how you were doing.”

I related that I had retired from the judging business, started doing a little gardening and traveling around in the world.

“But something ain’t right, is it?” he inquired.

“Nope,” I admitted. “The world seems to be getting a little crazy in some respects and I feel sorta powerless as one person to do anything about it.”

“Does the way that the nation is behaving in the world, does it kinda remind you of the alpha dog in the pen full of hounds at feeding time?” He said while grinning broadly.

“You know, that is sorta the feeling I get; what with all the frustration everybody is venting about politics, about the lack of jobs, and the feeling that everybody’s standard of living is in jeopardy. I mean we don’t seem to see a need to maintain the status quo, but just seem to keep on with each individual just wanting more and more.”

“Yep, that’s lead dog behavior in the pen all right,” he remarked. “Reckon the dog getting put in a pen all by his self will calm him down any?”

“Not sure what you’re getting at here,” I replied. “But sometimes I do separate out the big dog if he gets too rough on the others, eating more than his share and all“.

“Think about it,” he said. “The nature of the world has a balance to it. When one part starts acting up, another part acts in a way to provide a counter balance. What you got to hope for is that no one part gets so caught up in its sense of individuality that it forgets it is a part of the rest. It is the same with the dog pen.”

“And so,” I asked, “your point is what?”

He looked at me thoughtfully and replied, “you gotta hope that the dogs don’t all get to snarling and fighting to the point that they tear down the whole darned dog pen.”

As I pondered this point, I heard thunder overhead, looked back at the barn door, then looked at where he had been. He was gone, but I thought I heard him chuckling somewhere in the eternal distance.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Contortions, Contractions, Contradictions

Everyone is talking today about the changes we observe happening here and all over the world. People are uncomfortable from Peoria to Paris. Social upheaval ripples from New Delhi to New Zealand to New Bedford. Tunisia to Tripoli finds everyone seeking a solution. Can these concerns be understood? Perhaps we can see an outline.

Mawkish nostalgia has met avant-garde and the results are really WOW!
Just the other day it seems, we learned from the writings of Upton Sinclair about the need for regulation in the meat packing industry to make food safer to eat.

Now minority forces seek to convince us that the prevailing sentiment in America has changed. That regulation in any form is bad! The magic hand of the free market will solve all problems. Proponents of this doctrine say we need to expand conditions that will support innovation and create solutions to the problems faced by the world. Supposedly, government (which is all of us lest we forget) artificially tied the hands of economic growth in the past and now the fetters must come off.

Tremendous improvements brought about by government programs in the past are ignored. Rural electrification, spend-offs from the space industry, results in medical research that extend and enhance the quality of life, and other items achieved through education are all being ignored by those who now say that government is bad.

Particularly repugnant to a reasoning mind is the manner in which a minority seeks to achieve the goal of less government. The masses of people are being manipulated as never before through devices that have nothing to do with the issue. The issue should be how we make our lives better through our combined efforts known as governance, not the destruction of such a "standing together" to bring about great things.

Although most people would prefer a job, a place to live and the security that these things would be there tomorrow, opponents already financial secure see such an extension of basic life benefits to the rest of the citizenry as a threat to their security. These opponents have now adopted the use of symbols to divide or divert attention from the real purpose of government.

These symbols are better called “red herrings”. One major symbol injected into the political process in this country is fundamentalist religion. The rank hypocrisy of use of such a symbol in the political process is illustrated by the fact that the armed forces of the United States are engaged in fighting two wars against population factions in foreign countries to prevent self-governance there by a religious process, fundamentalist Islam. Why? Because fundamentalist Islam demeans the rights of people to choose a more secular life style!

Alternatively, in America, the forces that would reduce government and destroy its force for good are turning more and more to introduction of divisive religious issues into the political equation. Campaigns are conducted to place religious idols, monuments or items in public places without regard to religious rights of others. Intrusive free speech is exercised to attempt to degrade the death of soldiers at their funerals. Laws are sought to attempt to govern behavior between consenting sexual parties. Some groups are even inspired to interfere with questions of private, personal ethics like abortion when a future mother’s life is in danger.

Many of the people engaged in such religious campaigns are earnest in their belief that their religious duty is to create such theocratic constraints on the public. What many of them fail to see is that their beliefs make them subject to being manipulated.

When political issues dealing with government at any level are debated, the stance that a political candidate may have taken with regard to a social religious issue is often used to discredit him or her. So, the end result is that the very people who would benefit most from election of candidate A are forced to turn away from that candidate because they think that survival of their immortal soul requires it. Candidate B is elected because that candidate made the right decision on a non-relevant religious issue, even though the needs of the electorate on relevant issues is thwarted.

Yes, the American Taliban has been born and prospers. The issue is no longer whether we should be pooling resources to investigate and find new ways to continue to prosper. The issue is whether we should divert, divide and destroy what would otherwise be a common will to collectively serve the interests of all individuals in our country.

Ideas no longer compete on merit. As resources have shrunk, civility of political discourse no longer allows a discussion of the greater good.

What should be discussed is the REAL issue. Individualism versus collectivism should be the prevailing issue. Is it better to continue to isolate ourselves in individual plots or merge together in a larger area? Is it wiser for each of us to float in a tiny canoe or for all of us to get in a large boat?

Lost in the discussion is the possibility of solutions that occupy a middle of the road position. The issue is now become a parody on the question: Can you be a little bit pregnant?

Gone are the distinctions of the caterpillar and the butterfly. Kill a caterpillar and you have killed a butterfly. The details of natural interplay in the life of the caterpillar, the events that can and do happen before that caterpillar (if lucky enough) becomes a butterfly, have all been forgotten as the search for normalcy centers on absolutes.

Somewhere, somehow, humankind has become a separate entity from the rest of the world. Instead of being a part of creation, we have grown apart from creation. Lost is the field of reference for consideration of our existence.

We should remember the Hindu proverb:
Rivers do not drink their own water. Trees do not eat their own fruit. Clouds do not swallow their own rain. What great ones have is always for the benefit of others.