Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's brooding

Another outstanding article by James Carroll in the Boston Globe.

Reading a James Carroll article is like listening to Miles Davis. It's very rewarding. It is awesome how he can put into a 700-word article so much meaning, as it is with Miles Davis putting so much musical meaning in 32 bars of improvisation.

If you could ask time about time, the answer would be a question in return: what's time? There is no such thing in the real world as chronological time – the arrow of time; time as with light, it just simply exists.

“New Year's is the joyful celebration of all that has ever transpired anywhere, aware of itself now in you.”

Happy New Year,

New Year's brooding
By James Carroll December 31, 2007

WHAT IS MORE worthless than the ripped off page of a calendar? Indeed, what is more brusque than that act of ripping off? On New Year's, you start over with a new calendar, and the fresh pages, each with its day or week or month, are innocent and beautiful. You move through time by sullying each page, tearing and discarding it. In the black-and-white cinema of your mind, a locomotive forever chugs along its tracks, while in the foreground, the pages of the calendar flip by, into the wind. Is that all there is to time?

The trouble with the image of time as a calendar with pages to be torn and tossed is that it can reinforce your general feeling of disconnectedness, as if the events of life cohere no more than one page does to another. All that stands between you and the cinder pile of history are a pair of staples. You, too, are a mere page on the calendar, and the dull roaring in the back of your head is that locomotive, bombing into the unknown, with no relationship to what it leaves behind. No relationship, finally, even to you - unless, of course, you are the train. Past, present, and future are nothing but a set of unchosen tracks along which you move, picking up speed - leaving behind the litter of what just happened. This is time experienced as mere chronology, one damn thing after another, and then it's over.

The benign brooding of New Year's suggests another way to think of time. The Greeks distinguished between chronos and kairos, one a railroad track spanning the surface of life, and the other, say, a spiral winding down into the depths of wisdom and true knowledge. There is chronological time, with its detritus, and there is contemplative time, where nothing is lost. The first depends on the skill of forgetfulness, while the second nurtures a feeling for the past through memory. To the first, the future is the next surprise; to the second, the future is familiar, because the past and the present prepare it.

The word contemplation has a Latin root, suggesting "time with," as if in contrast to chronology as time alone. But the "with" here is not merely social. Contemplative time is time in which connectedness is perceived as essential. There is no fully human knowing unless it is knowing "with"; knowing, especially, how one experience links with another. The connection is what matters, and in contemplative time, the connection is what shows itself. As the scientists tell you, there is homo sapiens, the creature who knows; and there is homo sapiens sapiens, the creature who knows that it knows. Who knows "with." And "knowing with," of course, comes to us from Latin as conscience.

That double knowing is the realm of meaning. It is what you live for, and why you aim to move from mere chronology to contemplation. The first is episodic, with events following each other as if randomly. The second is dramatic, with events joined not by mere sequence, but by causation. In contemplation, where you perceive the "with" in time, you see that the past, present, and future flow into one another not accidentally, but as choice flows into consequence, which flows into a new choice, and an ever-larger consequence. In the spiraled knowing of contemplation, you see that choice is the seat of connectedness, which makes time the realm of morality, as well as meaning. You grasp your part in the simple wholeness of all that is, a part defined by freedom and responsibility. The episodes of your life, therefore, are not discrete pages to be discarded one by one, but form a moral unity, the purpose of which is to be understood. Every day you have lived has been preparing you for this day - the fullness of time. Kairos.

The timespan of Earth stretches back across thousands of millions of years, with the cosmos stretching farther back through years without number. Your lifespan is less than a blink of the eye of time, and so, for that matter, is all of humanity's. The law of chronology suggests that, on such a scale, what you make of the turning calendar means nothing. But the law of contemplation is otherwise. Today, the previous span of cosmic incomprehensibility adds up in the sum of your thoughtfulness. New Year's is the joyful celebration of all that has ever transpired anywhere, aware of itself now in you.

James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe.

© Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A New Way of Thinking: Religion, Terrorism, Money

Creating money with debt

Anyone who has read The Creature from Jekyll Island by Edward Griffin will instantaneously relate to this video. It's a long video, 47 minutes, so set the time necessary to watch. To comprehend it's message it must be watched multiple times, especially for those who are not familiar with Griffin's book.

Paul Grignon's 47-minute animated presentation of "Money as Debt" tells in very simple and effective graphic terms what money is and how it is being created. It is an entertaining way to get the message out.

7 of the Most Important Economic Events of the Last 7 Years: The Buildup to World War III

Friday, December 28, 2007

A New Way Of Thinking: Peace Is the Way

Deepak Chopra's book, “Peace Is the Way: Bringing War and Violence to an End was inspired by a saying from Mahatma Gandhi: There is no way to peace. Peace is the way. In a world where every path to peace has proved futile, the one strategy that has not been tried is the way of peace itself. We must not bring one war to an end, or thirty, Chopra tells us, but the idea of war itself.”

Chris Hedges informs us “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.”

War has the same psychological effect on patriots, as any sporting competition has in success and failure, winning and losing, on the fan. When hostilities begin, patriots rally around the flag, regardless of whether it is right, wrong, moral, or immoral. The idea of losing always has its attendant shame and disgrace. In Iraq, everything is hunky-dory as long as there is a sense that America is winning; when there is a sense that we are losing, there is a need to bring the troops home.

For those who are the combatants’, “war forms its own culture.” Chris Hedges explains, “The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. It is peddled by myth makers, historians, war correspondents, filmmakers, novelists and the state -- all of whom endow it with qualities it often does possess: excitement, exoticism, power, chances to rise above our small stations in life, and a bizarre and fantastic universe that has a grotesque and dark beauty. It dominates culture, distorts memory, corrupts language and infects everything around it, even humor, which becomes preoccupied with the grim perversities of smut and death. Fundamental questions about the meaning, or meaninglessness, of our place on the planet are laid bare when we watch those around us sink to the lowest depths. War exposes the capacity for evil that lurks just below the surface within all of us.”

War is archaically evil. We must create a new way of thinking and make necessary changes so that violence is no longer appealing. Chopra tells us, “War has become a habit. We reach for it the way a chain smoker reaches for a cigarette, promising to quit but somehow never kicking the habit.” However, Chopra also tells us that peace has its own power, and our task now is to direct that power and multiply it one person at a time.

Peace Is the Way challenges each of us to take the next leap in our evolution. You aren’t asked to be a saint, or to give up any belief. You are only asked to stop reacting out of fear, to change your allegiance from violence to peace. ... Violence may be innate in human nature, but so is its opposite: love. The next stage of humanity, the leap which we are poised to take, will be guided by the force of that love. This is more than a hope or an aspiration. It is a new way of being in the world, giving each individual the power to end war in our time.

We must provide the leadership and be mentors for peace, creating memes for the evolution of peace.

Peace is the way. Do not let war be the force that gives us meaning, peace can also be the force that gives us meaning, for it is the natural way. Just as war forms its own culture, so can we create a culture of peace.

It is a new way of thinking.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
(Mohandas Gandhi)

Monday, December 24, 2007

A New Way Of Thinking

The gestalt and wise eventually arrive at an understanding that material and object value must be put into equilibrium with spiritual value. People must transform to a new way of thinking; new in the way they think, believe, and perceive reality. To understand ones inner world is to understand that the ultimate reality of consciousness is the potency that steers our world.

Those who are wise understand that all experience of sound, touch, smell, taste, sight, and perception are a result of chemical reactions and their interactions that occur within each one of us when sensations are experienced. The fruition of being from non-being in our world only works by way of life within our particular law of physics, which yields the dimension in which we live. And, so, it is only by being that non-being can be contemplated, and that a new way of thinking can be known. An unknown lies beneath our surface reality that may never be fully known, but we must be cognizant of its existence and continually endeavor to understand its ultimate reality.

The fruit rather than the flower are the concern of the wise. Each one of us must decide what it might be that we seek: the outer world flowery trapping of material and object value that comes to fullness first, or the fruit that comes from consciousness and the unknown ultimate reality that is beneath that is apprehended by the flower of knowledge and understanding.

The cosmos and all living things are formed by being, shaped by our creation of environment, and as a result nourished by virtue; the being from non-being. We are responsible for all creation, its direction, and for its health.

Morality and goodness are the result of this understanding. There are things that transcend our outer world reality that are the essence of the cosmos and of all life. We create all there is from this unseen reality. Ultimate reality lies in consciousness, the absolute, in which there is an absence of desire and wanting; within the parameters of this understanding, evil does not exist. Evil is the result of created desire and wanting. We create evil; morality and goodness are innate.

The efficacious, good, beneficial, and powerful force of the absolute ultimate reality is the natural way, in that all things are born of it. This is where the God of all resides.

Monday, December 10, 2007

All Power, No Influence

Another good article by James Carroll, although a little longer than his usual 700 words at around 844 words; the title “all power, no influence” is right on point.

“… what really endangers the United States today. Arguably, the single largest threat to national security [world peace] is the growing gulf between desperately impoverished peoples [ not only impoverished or poor, people with a loss of self-esteem, but indigent in many other human ways: for an example, the availability of a simple glass of clean water] and those who have what they need to live [only in the sense of affirming, and promoting equal political, economic, social, and civil rights; it does not mean to simply give them money to make them economically equal]. What is the Pentagon budget to that? Environmental degradation is also a massive national security threat. How do aircraft carriers help with that?”

Moreover, I might add, how do we develop an alternate source of energy and make a transformation for domestic purposes to include in that transformation an alternate to oil dependence a fuel for an M1 Abrams or a F-16 Fighting Falcon, or for that matter any of the other military assets that need gasoline, naphtha or kerosene to operate? How does this figure in our reluctance, seemingly (our postulations and desire seem only to be rhetorical), to find an alternate for oil? What would be the cost of transformation to another energy source for our military? Would we have the same capabilities or diminished capabilities? I am not an engineer, obviously, but in reality can it even be accomplished?

In a previous life, an incarnation where I was somewhat belligerent – a time when I thought war was probably necessary -- I operated an M47 Patton tank. It took a ton of diesel to fill it -- around 230 gallons. I would assume that the M1 Abrams is more fuel-efficient than the M47, which was manned by a five man crew and whose firepower utilized 90 mm rounds (weighty in and of themselves, and carried on board at full battle readiness 70 rounds) and a couple of machine guns. Nevertheless, the M1 still must take a ton of fuel to operate. It just makes me wonder how oil calculates into our need for hegemony in the Middle East, and, as a result of that need, the premeditated, preemptive Iraq War. Why our belligerent posture toward Iran? And, please don’t tell me it is because Saddam was a bad man as the reason we are in Iraq, or that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is another Hitler (the same rhetoric was used for Saddam) and needs to acquire WMD’s to dominate the world, therefore there is a need for regime change in Iran. It’s not complicated -- “It’s the oil, stupid!”

I agree that maybe the single largest threat to national security is the growing disparity between desperately impoverished peoples and those who have what they need to live. However, it is not the only threat, the need for oil as an energy source may be, arguably, the largest.

If you do not agree, please let me know.

James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Who is the real humanitarian?

I received an email glurge the other day. The email related a simple allegory pointing out the benefit achieved by people helping people. I am sure that many have previously heard the tale; the parable can be found by following this link: The Difference between Heaven and Hell (on earth) .

I thought the message was a good message and so I summarily forwarded the mail to friends and family. However, a good friend had a different take on this parable.

My friend’s email reply: “I appreciate the idea of sharing and taking care of loved ones. There is however some facts that I would like to draw your attention to. Observation over long periods of time concerning human behavior tell us in no uncertain terms that human beings are property acquisitive.They like to acquire all types of property. If you prohibit them from doing so they die. Unfortunately, you see, people are selfish. You may not want to acknowledge that fact but nonetheless it is true. Ann Rand spent the better part of her life trying to show the world that the great civilization that has come into being is a result of the accomplishments of selfishness. Galambos had a great way of illustrating this idea. He hypothesized a situation where two brothers inherited equal amounts of substantial wealth. One brother was an ‘humanitarian’. The other brother was a very selfish individual. The humanitarian brother decided to give all his money to the most needy people he could find. He and his brother had inherited 100 million dollars each. He did a study and turned up 10000 of the most needy people he could find. He gave them each 10000 dollars apiece. A very few invested the money. Most went on a buying spree and spent the money in short order as you can probably imagine. This action put them right back in the condition that they were in the first place. The other brother, being a very greedy selfish person, decided he was not satisfied with his inheritance. He wanted much more. He thought about it and decided that the thing for to do was to do research and find out what the market place would want to buy from him. He finally settled on a product. He acquired production facilities, hired workers, and went into business. Gradually his business increased and he expanded and hired more workers. After awhile he employed 10000 people. These people earned their pay year in and year out. They also earned something else. They earned their self-respect. Now the question is ‘Who is the real humanitarian?’”

There are many values: materialistic values – those values that have monetary value, which is the inference in my friend’s email, the philosophy of materialism of which everyone is familiar; object value – those values that people adopt in egocentrism, narcissism, and idolatry, and are coexistent in the adoption of material values; spiritual values – those values that are colloquially more closely related to religion, as opposed to the authentic relationship to the new paradigm of consciousness; and, then there are human values that attempt to put into balance all of these values in such a way that it benefits the evolution of consciousness and the world environment within the dimension that we live.

Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” is an outstanding metaphor for people helping people, although I am sure that his definition would not be the same as mine. The principle of the “Invisible Hand” should be interpreted beyond the economic scope of its meaning to include those things that people do to promote human values. The “Invisible Hand” principle incorporates material value, object value, and spiritual value into the values associated with human values, which benefit life and not the pocketbook or self-centeredness. It is the concept of the “Invisible Hand” that is metaphorically represented in this story.

I am deeply interested in economic principles because, as by example in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and Human Action by Ludwig von Mises as well as on the Ludwig von Mises website, of their close praxeological relationship with human values.

Galambos was one of those selfish individuals of whom the tale speaks. Galambos first came on the scene in the late 50’s or early 60’s, died in 1997, and he or his heirs have not accomplished anything to promote any human value, except for those things that have material and object value. Galambos or his heirs have not even benefited their own cause, except monetarily, because of their selfishness due to intellectual property concerns. It seems they want to keep their grand plan for society a deeply held secret.

Galambos was correct; we never help anyone by simply giving them money.

It is people, such as …

· Jesus Christ (not the bible, but the historical Jesus)
· Henry David Thoreau
· Ralph Waldo Emerson
· Mohandas Gandhi
· Albert Einstein
· Martin Luther King, Jr.
· Noam Chomsky
· Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev
· Dr. Helen Caldicott
· Jimmy Carter
· Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
· Muhammad Yunus

and so many others, who are the authentic humanitarians.

Andrew Galambos or Ayn Rand have not intrinsically contributed one iota to benefit humankind, except for those bent on avarice.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Take Nothing For Granted

“The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination [military-industrial-academic complex] endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.”

— President Dwight D. Eisenhower,
Farewell address, January 17, 1961

This monition of President Eisenhower clearly has not been heeded.

Americans, as far as I am concerned, have embraced the policies of Bush, Cheney, and their cabal. They have signed-off on the doctrine of the Project for a New American Century.

It has not been until recently that Americans have rebuked these policies, and only now, because their perception is that we are not winning the war.

It seems Americans will accept war, torture (but only by America, of course; everyone else would be scolded), suspension of habeas corpus, and give up their freedoms out of fear. Fear that we are not winning the battle, whether that is a war, immigration, or something else.

A fear carefully manipulated by our present government, as well as all previous governments. A real fear, imagined or created to garner support for some impending action they intend to take – Adolf Hitler creating a fear of Jews is a prime example.

For those who may be a naysayer, just look at history. Three examples, but there are so many more: Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, suspended civil law and enacted martial law, imprisoning 13,000 Americans who were simply practicing their right of free speech and freedom of assembly supposedly guaranteed to them under the Constitution of the United States of America; between 1942 and 1945, the U.S. government forced more than 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes, farms, schools, jobs and businesses, in violation of their constitutional civil rights and liberties, incarcerating them in internment camps; the Bush cabal Patriot Act with the issuance of National Security Letters, their policy and practice of extraordinary rendition and torture, the initiation of an illegal preemptive war, and now Senate Bill 1959 to Criminalize Thoughts, Blogs, Books and Free Speech Across America under the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.

What is surreal is that the law has passed the House on a vote of 405 to 6, and it is now being considered in the Senate.

Do not take for granted that at sometime, somewhere, when you least expect it that this law will not apply to you.

Please consider these links for information:

Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.

Google Groups

Senate Bill 1959 to Criminalize Thoughts, Blogs, Books and Free Speech Across America