Sunday, October 26, 2008

New ways of thinking: a paradox in my political view

One day when I was old enough to understand, my great grandfather explained to me in a very succinct way: Republicans are for the rich; Democrats are for the poor. In my life this has turned out to be a fact. “Compassionate Conservatism” is a recognition by the Republican Party that they in fact are not that compassionate, not that caring about the welfare of all. Libertarianism leans too far to the side of limited government with no regulation, touting individual freedom, free markets, and the sanctimony of intellectual as well as private property; the exact mindset that got us into this economic quagmire of today -- there doesn’t seem to be any recognition that we need boundaries. Democrats have been labeled socialist for their support of entitlements for the underprivileged, and support of collective bargaining. For that reason and that reason alone, I have been a life long Democrat. However, I am libertarian leaning: I am “one who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.” I believe in small government, the smallest possible, but we still need governance. I believe in free markets and freedom; however that does not mean we do not need regulation or boundaries on human behavior, and it does not mean we can all drive the highways and byways without the benefit of traffic lights. It also does not mean that we as a people should not have a concern for the least amongst us. There is more to governing than protecting individual liberty and property. It does not mean we can live in a society without authentic justice for all. I believe that the only way to fundamental and authentic freedom is world peace.

I believe in capitalism and free markets, where “individuals and firms have the right to own and use wealth to earn income and to sell and purchase labor for wages with little or no government control.” It’s an outstanding concept, but in our zeitgeist we still need regulation and boundaries on human action.

The irony in my sort of oxymoronic view is that I support economic protections, programs of wellness and support for the indigent or those who do not have the where-with-all to compete with those who have-it-all. My view should not be interpreted as a view that makes me a collectivist or a socialist (“ownership and control of the means of production and distribution by the people collectively, under the supervision of a government.”), a communist or Marxist (“government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people”) but I am egalitarian. I, as does Barack Obama, do believe in equal political, economic, social, and civil rights for all people. It also should not be interpreted as that I believe in handouts.

Martin Luther King believed in and suffered for equal political, economic, social, and civil rights for all people. He was not a communist, as was claimed by his opponents at the time. He was not an anti-semitic, which was claimed by his opponents at the time. He did not believe in an exclusive black America or anarchy to achieve his goals, which was also claimed by his opponents at the time. He was jailed, vilified and investigated, and all sorts of derogatory claims against his character were made. He believed in community based initiatives, and non-violent human action that would bring change to government. He played a significant role in what changed the way we embrace race in America, as I knew it as a young man to what it is today. The young people I know today are absolutely color blind. Martin Luther King, Jr. put us in the right direction to achieve that.

Labor unions, a socialistic way of organizing labor, have benefited all of us. Americans would not enjoy the personal and family benefits from work that we have today if it was not for labor unions.

The “invisible hand” of Adam Smith (“a belief that the greatest benefit to a society is brought about by individuals acting freely in a competitive marketplace in the pursuit of their own self-interest) nor the “Trickle-Down” economics of Reagan (“supply-side economics, trickle-down economics is the theory that tax cuts for the wealthy merely 'trickled down' to the bottom groups’) does not help the middle class or the indigent; “Trickle-Down” just doesn’t happen in a way that benefits all. I don’t understand why we provide help for Wall Street -- in other words “corporate welfare” -- and provide no help for anyone else; socialistic approaches of help are good for the rich, but not for anyone else. How come?

With conservatism, the caveat is oligarchy or plutocracy; while socialism is the inherent caveat of liberalism, and anarchism is the caveat of Libertarianism. It is up to you and me to make sure that “We the People” keep things in balance.

My priorities are world peace, and protections for the least-amongst-us. In my view, we cannot have good governance, fundamental capitalism and freedom without world peace, which is more than the absence of war, but a concern for the welfare of all people.

There is a level of fear about Obama derived from his socialistic views, the positions that Barack Obama has taken is a result of his concern for protections for the least-amongst-us. Opponents are calling his position socialism, further addressing it as Marxism, communism, or he as the newest disciple of Karl Marx, even Obama the black Hitler, comparing the similarities between Barack Obama and Hitler.

The level of fear about Barack Obama has even brought some Americans into calling him a terrorist because of his associations with William Ayers, who is now a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, holding the titles of Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar. He did have radical views, and took violent radical action in opposition to the Vietnam War. However, anyone who lived through the zeitgeist of Vietnam surely must have some understanding of the torrent of violent and non-violent human action that was taken in opposition to that horrendous war.

Barack Obama believes that community based initiatives, NGO’s, and faith-based organizations will bring about the change that is needed for America to evolve to a better place in the world. That change in how we govern ourselves and in foreign policy will come from the roots of America, from the “boots on the ground.” Change will not come from Washington, but to Washington from and by Americans; the very essence of a democracy. He believes in “We the People.” This is what Barack Obama believes. This is very different from a Nazi, Marxist, or communist view.

Barack Obama believes in diplomacy and negotiation as opposed to belligerence. Fred Shelm's Blog, as well as McCain and others, refer to Barack’s approach as Chamberlainian by calling it appeasement, which it is not from any reasoned viewpoint. Obama’s goal is to resolve issues peacefully. That is a change he intends to make in regard to foreign policy.

What we need from our next president is authentic leadership. We need a president with the capacity to lead and the ability to inspire, the ability to effect change, which I believe is Barack Obama.

His ability to inspire others is evident in the following endorsements, because, obviously he has inspired them:

Colin Powell said in his endorsement of Barack Obama: “And I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities--and we have to take that into account--as well as his substance--he has both style and substance--he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming into the world--onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.”

Former Massachusetts Republican Gov. William Weld has endorsed Barack Obama saying, “It’s not often you get a guy with his combination of qualities, chief among which I would say is the deep sense of calm he displays, and I think that’s a product of his equally deep intelligence.”

Scott McClellan, President Bush's former press secretary said, “he's always planned to support the candidate that has the best chance for changing the way Washington works and getting things done.”

Warren Buffet said, "I don't think McCain is going to change his views to be in accord with mine. I admire him a lot. I think he's an absolutely first-class human being, and if the Republicans are going to elect somebody I hope it's John McCain.” "But he has too many ideas that are different than I do, particular in terms of what I would call social justice."

With a President Barack Obama I believe there is hope for a better America and world: “A World that Stands as One.” I believe he will bring probity to the White House. I believe his election will put America on a beneficial and more productive national and international standing.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

“The Meaning in the Music”

The meaning in the music, for me, comes from the subjective values associated with its composition and instrumentation, and not the object value of lyrics.

The meaning in the music comes from its interpretation. What was the composer’s musical intent in writing the score? What did the composer intend to communicate? A music composition is a painting in sound with many different brushes, brush strokes, and colors. Ones interpretation and musical view may be different from another’s. That is what makes good music interesting and of value.

The affixations that are added, such as its lyrics, performance lighting, light shows, glistening and colorful instruments, psychedelic appendages, costuming, stagecraft, dancing, and acrobatics, distracts the listener from the essence of the music. The music then becomes entertainment, which is the only value of most of today’s music, which in fact are only musical performances. For example, “American Idol” maybe an entertaining exposition, it is entertainment and has object value, the search for a superstar, but not an exploration for meaningful good music.

The meaning in the music comes into fruition when I listen, and only listen, to the music, free of any detraction or other influences. Music with meaning is like good art, or a good book, something you can listen, view, or read over and over again, and each time find some additional nuance.

Within a jazz performance, when the musicians know their instruments and are not encumbered by technique, but are free to simply play anything that comes to mind (getting in the groove, as they say), there is always musically something different and new. This cannot be achieved without improvisation, and it certainly cannot be achieved when lyrics are added.

The indispensible consciousness of listening to live music performances is non-existent when it’s viewed in any two-dimensional format of a non-live performance as in musical video, a film strip, or in a sound manipulated recording.

Music of high quality is transcendent; its value is beyond the ordinary range of perception; it embraces other dimensions. A live performance at Boston’s Symphony Hall, either by the BSO, the Boston Pops, or a jazz performer, when one closes their eyes and just listens, is surreal. It’s spiritual; there is a real connection one has with oneself and the music; and for those who are acutely conscious there is a soul connection between you and others in the audience, just as there is that connection between the performer and the audience.

There are many compositions performed live, not a particular song or album, in which the meaning for me is in the music in-and-of itself, and never of other adornments, such as lyrics. All of the dimensions of participating in a live performance can never be captured in an album, CD, or DVD.

Copyright © 2014 Horatio Green

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A New Way of Thinking: What spirituality means to me

Our universe, all matter and energy, including the earth, the galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space, is complex. In the dimension we live involvedness is in everything that is existential as well as transcendent. Fundamental reality, its essence, is unknowable.

Life’s sophistication is more than what is material, or what is existential. We have an interconnected and interwoven kinship with all life, with all matter and energy, with all the stuff not knowable outside of our sentient capabilities, outside of our knowledge or our capabilities to perceive. There is a connection, a threading, of which humans do not have an adequate vocabulary to explain, between us and everything else.

We have knowledge of some of that microscopic phenomenon and quanta I call stuff, such as it contains certain identifiable particles, and some we are striving to know such as the Higgs boson particle, colloquially referred to as the “God particle,” of which scientist are in hot pursuit. Better knowledge of that stuff will happen when we find the link that will bring together a confluent understanding between macro and micro worlds with a possible theory of everything. I have labeled it’s qualification as possible because I don’t believe we will ever achieve all knowledge necessary to achieve it. The analogy I favor using: it’s analogous to one taking a step toward a wall with each consecutive step being half of the last; we will always get closer and closer, but we will never fully reach the wall. It cannot be achieved because then there would be an end to our evolution, and our purpose in life would end. Similar to, in relativity theory, if one were to reach the speed of light, time and therefore life, comes to a stop.

We exist in one dimension without understanding all dimensions. Some of these dimensions are knowable and some are not. To bounce off of physicist Dr. Michio Kaku’s analogy of a family of gold fish and his analogy of a carp, one day his analogies became more comprehensible to me as I observed a crayfish lying at the bottom of a water inlet. Here is a freshwater crustacean existing at the bottom of a stream, breathing through feather-like gills, knowing only two-dimensional space. From where it lay it was completely oblivious to my presence, yet it could be seen clearly by me; this little creature clearly exists in another dimension. Figuratively, it was Dr. Kaku’s carp. There are numerous other examples of living things clearly living in other dimensions, but not observable by them of us. Could there be other dimensions outside of ours by which others could observe us, but we in turn would not have the capability to observe them?

All things come together for humans because of the dimension in which we live, and for all other organisms because of the dimensions in which they live, which is only possible within our particular laws of physics, chemistry, and biology. In other dimensions, beyond the universe’s living organisms and other existential things, there may be other dimensions, strange worlds if you will, with entirely different laws in play. Within all dimensions there is nothing that is not possible. The stuff, of which I have previously referred, the stuff of vibrating strings, is the essence of everything, the source of everything we will ever experience. Unconsciously, we pick and choose from that stuff that which can be utilized in our dimension.

To use a Peter Russell analogy, Mysterious Light: A Scientist's Odyssey, that stuff I speak of is similar to light. Just as we need light for vision, we need that omnipotent and omnipresent stuff for life as we know it. It simply is there all of the time and under all conditions. Just like light, that stuff has zero mass and charge, it is immaterial. From this stuff we construct what is existential. There is not one thing that has not been created by us, right down to 2 +2 = 4. We create the objects and the symbolic words to describe them: “We see the ground beneath our feet; we can pick up a rock, and throw it through the air; we feel the heat from a fire, and smell its burning wood. It feels as if we are in direct contact with the world ‘out there.’ But this is not so. The colors, textures, smells, and sounds we experience are not really ‘out there’; they are all images of reality constructed in the mind.” Peter Russell, “From Science to God.” Our world reality may even be based on a holographic universe in which “there are no limits to the extent to which we can alter the fabric of reality.” The Holographic Universe.

So, spirituality means to me the pursuit of subjectivity. It means acknowledging consciousness, and my inner world. It means striving to always look beneath the surface of all things for factual perspectives. It means looking at a flower and striving to go beyond its objective beauty and acknowledging all that is knowable about that flower, but in essence understanding that that flower comes from the very same place I was created, from all that stuff. It means, when someone says to you, “don’t ever forget where you came from,” it will have a different and more significant meaning. It means to strive to understand what is unknowable in all things with the knowledge that we will never completely understand. It means we are naturally free and unconditioned, that we are intrinsically enlightened, and that we lack nothing – all possibilities are within our grasp. It means always walking in another’s shoes. It means understanding that every other “here and now” is different than my own, and that every “here and now” contributes to another’s. It means that faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evidence of which has not been seen. It means, in order for us to move on, God has to take on a different meaning. It means that “Both science and spirituality are the search for truth. One is the search for the truths of the physical world; the other the search for the truth of the nature of consciousness. As such there is no conflict between them.”

Living in spirituality also means striving to achieve the right balance between objectivity and subjectivity. Understanding both is important to our evolution.

In our world of reality, within our laws of physics, biology, and chemistry, within our lexicon of words we use in our attempt to understand our world of reality, the symbolic word “love,” in its deepest, most profound meaning, is the essence of spirituality and with authentic love a balance will be achieved.

Friday, October 10, 2008

$700 billion for rescue and $700 billion for war.

James Carroll’s Boston Globe column of October 6, 2008, “Making some sense of $700b,” goes to the very heart of part of America’s problem: an unacceptable lack of compassion for the average Joe and Jane -- of whom Sarah Palin is referring to when she uses the disparaging term “Joe Six-pack”; an unfettered new American militarism; lack of character of American leadership; and a lack of understanding that we do need change, not change in Washington, but systemic change by Americans creating change in America and demanding it from Washington..

Carroll writes, "By a nice coincidence, though, the financial rescue package of $700 billion duplicates a number that was also in the news last week - the Pentagon budget. In the fiscal year just beginning, the Defense Department will spend $607 billion on normal military costs, and an additional $100 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (As of June 30, 2008, Congress had appropriated $859 billion for the wars; Congressional Budget Office projections assume further costs of $400 billion to $500 billion as the wars wind down). But for the coming year, $700 billion is the Pentagon's nice round number (this includes neither Homeland Security nor intelligence costs)."

He concludes his column: “That the majority of humans are in dire straits and that the planet itself is groaning are issues treated like givens of nature, yet they are results of the ways creativity is channeled and resources are shared. $700 billion for rescue. $700 billion for war. Something is wrong with this picture, and last week that coincidence of numbers told us what.

So, why should we be concerned over a measly $700 billion, or should I say $1.4 trillion?

Because, in a sense, it is a metaphor for America’s leadership attitude toward its citizens; a metaphor for the corporate oligarchy that in essence controls Washington; a metaphor for our belligerent attitude in foreign policy; a metaphor that says that government by the people, for the people, and of the people, simply is not working.