Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New ways of thinking: The essence of presence

When I reflect on those things that are important to me, my perspective most often will evolve from my experiences as a musician or a concept evolved from that experience.

So, when I read a posting by Trevor Harden entitled “Rant and Reflection: Unless You Feel It” at, I was motivated to respond; not in disagreement, but essentially in agreement.

For me there are qualities in just being present in real time. Those qualities and values cannot be imparted in photography, TV, video conferencing, music video, or any recording, in any manner, of any human activity.

There is so much spiritual value in just being in the “here and now,” yours and your participation in the “here and now” of others -- “The Spirit of Now.”

My perspective of the essence of presence in music, and my response to Trevor’s posting is as follows:

When the chemistry that takes place in a live performance between musicians, and between musicians and their audience, the soul of that interaction vanishes by limiting the music to a recording, quality is reduced. A recording that utilizes basically deception to please the listening only audience by multi-track recording of the musical elements that make up the recording, or utilizing backing tracks for the artist, or auto-tune techniques to disguise the artist lack of skill and technique by correcting pitch, and disguising inaccuracies and mistakes, the recording will always lack the sense of any feeling, inspiration, and intuition. Recordings will always lack authenticity, essence, and possess diminished musical value.

No matter how good the engineering or electronics, every recording will lack the qualities of live performances. Singers and musicians who utilize backing tracks rather than live backup musicianship also lack the same qualities of feeling, inspiration, intuition, authenticity and essence.

It seems musicians and those who buy the recordings have more interest in the electronics and engineering than they do in real talent and musicianship.

For me, it is analogous to looking at a two dimensional portrait as opposed to seeing what is depicted in real time three dimensional view, with all the other sentient and sensual dimensions that are imbued.

In being present in real time to live music one becomes a part of that performance – you are a participant.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Ways of Thinking: Terrorism

America and other nations are quick to universally and unequivocally condemn Islamic terrorism as radical, barbaric, atheistic, and label it the work of absolute evil. We make these assertions, perhaps, because we don’t understand the definition of terrorism; perhaps it’s because we don’t understand its causes; perhaps it’s because we don’t recognize our own acts as acts of terrorism; perhaps it’s because we don’t believe or have confidence in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “...the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85) In short, terrorism is simply the use of force to intimidate and coerce when it is perceived that all other options, if other options are considered at all, are hopeless: the reason for all violence.

Terrorism is as old as prostitution, is ubiquitous, and it has been the primary tool of all warfare for all-time. It is domestic and international, state and non-state, but regardless of its classification terrorism is always utilized to instill fear, and on the larger scale, divisiveness

Nation states have the unmitigated gall and national arrogance to sanction war by declaring it a lawful use of force. Therefore, hypocritically, terrorism is therefore legal if it is employed by nation states, but illegal if it’s employed by non-nation states.

Militaries use the euphemistic term “collateral damage” to describe the death and destruction caused to civilian populations by their terrorist attacks; they call the same acts by others as murder.

Terrorism takes its form in everything from domestic violence in the home to dropping bombs on civilian populations from 35,000 feet. It’s the “shock and awe” of Bush’s Iraq war. It takes it form in the combat units patrolling Iraq and Afghanistan, or the Apache helicopter overhead. It involves the use of napalm bombs, cluster bombs, land and sea minds, and a terrorist is the military sniper. It takes its form in assassination. Terrorist are groups using the infamous IED, and executions by any means. It takes its form in the IRS, the bully at school, at home or in the street, or the man or woman who threatens you if you don’t comply with their demands. It takes the form in child abuse. It’s the Ku Klux Klan, and other white supremacy groups. It takes its form in authoritarianism: absolutism, autocracy, despotism, dictatorship, or totalitarianism. It takes up its form in the workplace. Terrorism is hard to define because it is so all inclusive, but it is always fermented from feelings of hopelessness, and at some level is always meant to coerce, intimidate, instill fear, and create chaos and divisiveness.

There are a variety of causes for terrorism: jingoistic nationalism, religious justifications, environment and poverty, psychological and pathological determinants, narcissistic rage, national liberation, political ideology, race, and hopelessness.

One reason that is not often identified is that those who feel threatened and hopeless, who do not have an army, navy or air force, resort to terrorism simply because it is the only weapon they have. For example, the tactics of the American colonists at Concord, Massachusetts, utilized terrorism against the British: making a kill, or creating injury and chaos, and always instilling fear by sniping from the tree line or stone hedge and then disappear to do it all again; guerilla warfare was the only option they had.

However, terrorism comes down to one fundamental cause: an unquenchable feeling of hopelessness. Murders are committed because the murderer, other than pathological murderers, perceives that any other way of achieving their goals are useless; Governments and militaries believe winning can be only be achieved with violence because they feel any other way is hopeless -- such as in negotiation and diplomacy -- and not achievable.

Terrorism will never be eliminated; it can only be reduced. Terrorism will never be marginalized until we recognize that all acts of violence are terroristic, and that all nations use military intervention to coerce others to do or see things their way, or to take from someone else what is not theirs to have.

The “War on Terror” is an oxymoronic designation, since violence or terror is being used to combat terror.

We will not gain the upper-hand over terrorism until we clearly see and understand that in our personal and national lives setting the best ethical and moral example is the best way to mold others in our likeness. It means that terrorism will continue until our unacceptable example of war, “shock and awe,” and hypocrisy in supporting nations who employ terror, is changed by better example of what we as a people stand for, transformed by new ways of thinking about violence and terrorism, and leadership with probity. Violence will always beget violence, and if we do not change our attitudes and our ways of thinking, in our world the normalcy of violence will pursue even more extraordinary means of committing terror, beyond even nuclear weapons, and then the normalcy of violence will have a new and even more deadly configuration.

We will not gain the upper-hand over terrorism until we individually, at work, and in our homes and communities, nationally and internationally understand that violence is everybody’s problem; it will take all of us individually and collectively in unity to solve it by always providing the best ethical and moral example in what we say, write, and in our actions; and, understand it will not be a quick fix.

As James Carroll wrote in his article, "Jesus and the promise of Christmas”: “Humans have an inbuilt tendency to find the solution of violence in yet more violence, with the result that it spirals on forever. The victory of coercive force is inevitably the cause of the next outbreak of coercive force. Jesus proposed that the answer to violence is not more violence, but is forgiveness and righteousness - or, as we would put it, peace and justice. For 2,000 years, this program has been able to be dismissed as piety's dream. But something new is afoot. Since 1945, the normalcy of violence is armed with weapons that will surely render the human species extinct unless a different [new] way of thinking of violence is found.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Ways of Thinking are required

I recently received from a friend this very good, short essay, “Knowledge for a Revolution,” which speaks the language of my thought.

“Immense changes are rapidly underway, but unfortunately in order for lasting change to occur the old way of thinking and being must cease to exist. As Thomas Paine once said, ‘We have in our power to begin the world over again.’”

Nothing truer has ever been said: "If it's to be, it's up to me." We truly can be the change we want to see in the world. This is my message, the message of Barack Obama, and of Dr. Gregory Damato.

New ways of thinking are required.

Knowledge for a Revolution: Unity Vs. Divisiveness
by Dr. Gregory Damato, Ph.D., citizen journalist

One of the most efficient ways to rule a populace has been through the surreptitious and unconscious creation of dissension amongst its people. Modern society has been inherently established and subsequently reinforced to create an us versus them mentality which continually focuses on individual differences at the expense of individual similarities. Historically, dividing a population has been a very potent and successful psychological weapon as many nations subsequently use this tactic to justify war, malnutrition and death through the inculcation of fear and divisiveness.

In order to create a sound revolution, one based on love and unity, we must come together and begin to see fellow humans not as a threat, but simply as brothers and sisters, fellow earthlings with similar values, beliefs and motives. We must learn that we are much more similar than we are different; in fact we are the same. This belief goes against all of our established patriotic teachings and inculcations of nation versus nation, regardless of where we are in the world. The Olympics is the quintessential example of how a near uncanny test of physical skill, endurance and psychological mastery can be turned into a medal counting competition among nations. Instead of marvelling at how each athlete has physically practiced over 10,000 hours for such a competition, we are programmed to only seek out and praise winning athletes from our own nation. In order to revolutionize the minds of the world this psychological distinctiveness needs to be consciously transformed into a marriage of individuals on earth based on true similarities instead of fallacious misrepresentations, unfounded teachings and distortions. Realizing how our attitudes and beliefs have been unconsciously wired from birth is an epiphany for the masses who have been asleep and opens the door for immense changes to occur. For it is knowledge that acts as the true catalyst for change, a proverbial powder keg awaiting a match of information to ignite the suppressed majority to action.

Ways to facilitate change through unity include: seeing the good in all people instead of the negative because darkness is only an absence of light; educate the masses, regardless if they are ready for the inherent truth of the information, stay true to your self and your beliefs, spread love and light to earth and manifest the change you wish to see in others, help others in need as one day you too will be in need, learn to respect and love all unique creations on earth and understand that no population has the right to dominate or own any other living creature on earth. We are all in this world together, we can choose to live a life full of fear, greed and hostility towards others or we can choose to live a life of love, gratitude and passion for all living creatures on this planet.

Awareness to unconscious societal pressures and false ideologies is a major step towards true change. Society is beginning to understand that we are in this world together and fighting each other is the same as fighting ourselves. As we think of the earth as separate from ourselves we can rationalize its poisoning and looting, and then wonder why we too are poisoned and robbed of our health and well-being. Immense changes are rapidly underway, but unfortunately in order for lasting change to occur the old way of thinking and being must cease to exist. As Thomas Paine once said, "We have in our power to begin the world over again".

Saturday, December 6, 2008

New Ways of Thinking: Libertarianism; reaching out to one another

The common definition of a Libertarian is one who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state; a believer in free will. Libertarians believe in independence, emancipation, and autonomy. Libertarians believe that freedom is inherent in all humans and must be preserved; a belief in non-violence, with the exception that the only legitimate use of force is in self-defense. This is the basis for my libertarian-leaning philosophy. However, I do have concerns of libertarianism’s compassion, libertarianism’s commitment to those who do not have the mental, physical, or financial “wherewithal” to help themselves. I have a concern with libertarianism’s ideology in regard to capitalism and free market, for without regulation or setting boundaries, how do we harness avarice?

The online Advocates for Self Government published the following quote by Michael Novak in regard to a free society, "No better weapon against poverty, disease, illiteracy, and tyranny has yet been found . . . Capitalism's compassion for the material needs of humankind has not in history, yet, had a peer."

There is no such thing as “Capitalism’s compassion.” To say a free society is a compassionate society by virtue of it being free does not mean that in-and-of-itself it has an inherent compassion. The wheelers and dealers within capitalism are not compassionate and therefore the system of capitalism will never be compassionate. Our current economic crisis is evidence of that. The unbridled drive for profit is the major force, and in it there is no concern for the well-being of others.

Everyone serves their own self-interest first in all things. If you are a compassionate person, it’s because it serves your own self-interest to be so. That self-interest does not have to be material benefit, but it can be philosophical, heart felt, or spiritual benefit as well. It’s what motivates.

Capitalist serve their own self-interest, which in their cupidity is to make as much money with the least cost that provides the desired or needed material goods for society; however if you do not have the money to purchase those goods, whether you desire them or need them, accommodations will not be made for you, even if it means saving a life. If you are mentally or physically handicapped no one is going to come to your assistance unless it is in their self-interest to do so.

NGO’s, faith based initiatives, local community initiatives, philanthropies, and organizations such as the United Nations serve their collective self-interest. The profit motive is non-existent in these entities. Their collective self-interest lays in the understanding that the mental, physical, and financial stability and well-being of all benefits all of the world’s people. They understand that the condition of our environment is important to maintaining these goals. In a libertarian society this is the system desired in assisting the poor, handicapped, or otherwise indigent. However, until we fully understanding the importance of non-government initiatives, until “we the people” understand that we have the power of “overwhelming force” to achieve change, we must rely on forms of socialism.

All of us need to change our way of thinking. We must promote and do all we can to evolve from hierarchical to heterarchial models of organization. Heterarchy is the operating paradigm of the aforementioned organizations. Until we change our way of thinking that someone or something (as in government) from above will descend to assist us -- as in the hierarchy model -- to each one of us reaching out to one another -- as in the hetararchy model -- we will not evolve to the place where we need to be. That place may not be libertarianism per se; but a transformation of libertarian, liberal, conservative, and “outside the box” thinking.

President elect Obama’s thinking is on the right track. He said: “In order for us to reform our health care system, we must first begin reforming how government communicates with the American people. These Health Care Community Discussions are a great way for the American people to have a direct say in our health reform efforts." This is a heterarchial way of thinking. Universal health care initiatives are intrinsically socialistic, but for now it may be the only way to solve this progressively dire problem of costly and inefficient healthcare.

Free markets, as so clearly revealed in our current economic quagmire, are a disaster without regulation, without setting operating boundaries in which free markets sell their products. The operators within markets and consumers need protections against monopoly and avarice.

The minimal role of the state must provide assistance for the indigent in our society; regulation and operating boundaries in a free market; regulation and operating boundaries surrounding gun ownership; regulation and operating boundaries for using only the amount of force necessary to defend one's self and property; a military only for self-defense, operating in a foreign policy environment of inclusion, non-belligerence, continuous reaching out to nations for consultation and honest debate on issues, negotiation, and using military soft power versus hard power.

Change is a process, but that change will only come from you and me. That is the message I read into the libertarian view. That’s precisely the message of Barack Obama.