Hermit's Weblog
everything your mother never taught you about how the world really works.

Wed, 26 Nov 2003

Once more the Democrats practice Cannibalism.

The Democratic Party has a history of self destruction during the Presidential primaries. What happens is that their internal dissension, coupled with the ambition of individual candidates, causes those who are not doing as well as the front runner to circle around that person like a pack of rabid dogs. More and more criticism is heaped upon the leading contender, all mostly for the purpose of making the candidates that are lagging behind look good.

It never really has anything to do with who the leading candidate is, which in this case is Dean. It is all about a lack of discipline, an excess of ambition, and a complete absence of statesmanship. The People need for Bush and Company to be removed from office, and he is very vulnerable to a smart and organized campaign. But the trailing candidates (Kerry, Gephart etc) have forgotten that very real need in their hunger for fame and power - what amounts to a basically naked desire to win at any cost.

The Republican Party loves this. Totally free negative campaigning, which is all the more sweet because it can't be laid at their doorstep. Right now the Republicans must be in ecstasy.

Neither Party deserves to continue to be in power, because neither Party seems to understand and appreciate the real depth of the danger to the Republic (which hangs by a tread). Nor do the Greens offer anything. The reality is that it is going to be up to the People themselves to pick up the pieces after the two conventions and swallow their disgust with the Democrats, so as to support what ever lame candidate they produce, and vote that person in as the only way to get the disease of neo-conservatism out.

The World very much needs for the United States to be strong and wise, and the best we can manage is a government so depraved in its loss of real statesmanship that it borders on fascism, and an opposition Party so self centered that it once again turns to cannibalism as its favorite sport.

The Founding Fathers must be weeping in shame.

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Fri, 14 Nov 2003

Waiting for Courage

Everyone knows there is a War going on in Iraq. Many also know there is a War going on in Washington. To me, the War in Washington is the most crucial, and it is just here that the American People now need heros.

Bush Administration II is about as bad a sequel as as any ever to come out of our Hollywood inspired, media controlled, and image intoxicated political strategies, and the effects on the Country of this ill-prepared and arrogant generation of politicians could not be worse. Both political parties have failed us, and continue to do so with their excessive partisanship, and general inability to understand what it really means to be a public servant and a statesman. The current crop of politicians of all stripes are far too much interested in power and its uses, than in service to the Republic. Because of this tragic hubris, they are killing our Nation.

At the same time, this really being a War for the future of our People, there are some very significant deeds that could be done by ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. For example, much that Bush Administration II gets away with is dependent upon secrecy. As long as they can hide their real agenda and motives, and yet maintain a false public face, however hypocritical and duplicitous, our Republic will continue to fail. Yet, just here they are vulnerable to those one, two or three persons, who living on the inside find that they can no longer stomach what is being done, and what is being kept hidden. This is what our Republic needs - insiders to stand up and speak the truth.

In the War in Iraq, everyone understands that sacrifice even unto death is called for, but it is time to understand that for the War in Washington, this need for sacrifice has just as much meaning. We don't ordinarily think of civil servants, and low level administrative political appointees as soldiers in a War, but perhaps it is time we did.

Already there are chinks in the amour of secrecy surround Bush Administration II. Someone leaked Secretary Rumsfeld's memo on his honest appraisal of the future of the War in Iraq. Someone leaked the CIA's latest evaluation of their own evaluation on this future. But these, could well have been leaks for a more mundane purpose - a purpose not necessarily with the future of the Republic at heart. In the War in Washington, it is hard to tell why anonymous leaks get done.

What kind of leaks the People of our Nation need is leaks that spoil the plans of ambitious power hungry men - leaks with a face on them where the leaker had the Courage to stand up and say, I have seen the dark face seeking to rule instead of serve our Republic, and this is what it looks like.

It wouldn't take too many such heros to turn the tide of battle, and bring the People a win in the War in Washington.

written November 14th, 2003 our our

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Tue, 04 Nov 2003

Here is a letter I wrote recently to Michael Albert of Z-Net, after reading an essay of his about gun ownership.

Dear Michael Albert,

You ask a good question, but like many today you don't really quite follow out, to its conclusion, your own train of thought. I suspect this is because the conclusion means more mystery, and like many you want to have answers, and easy ones at that.

Modern political and social existence makes us confront the fact that what lies at the root of human behavior is trans-rational. I use the term trans-rational, rather than irrational or similar terms, because my own investigations suggest that what is involved is not irrational, but rather has a rationality that eludes us due to the fact that our thinking is missing certain fundamental factors. We see the problems, but since we don't fully understand human behavior, we can't quite put our finger on the whys and wherefores.

Clearly, as you observe, the relationship of the People of the United States of America to guns does not easily fit any normal rational analysis. But this is not the only fact of this kind with which modern life confronts us. The roots of terrorism are also trans-rational, as are the arrogance and ignorance of many national and corporate leaders.

Something other than obvious rationality is driving human behavior.

For a long time in human history this driving trans-rational reality has been called Evil. But in the age of science, with its tendency to a kind of neo-determinism based on genetic and evolutionary theories, our investigations of the problem of Evil have fallen away, left really only to traditional religious thinkers, and perhaps to artists with their imaginative exploration of human nature (e.g. George Lucas and his simplistic, but acute, meditations on the "dark side of the force").

What we really confront here is a limitation to the discipline of science. Our civilization derives its current understanding of rationality from the practices of science (evidence, abstract and cause and effect thinking, and so forth). Science, having banished "spirit" from rational consideration, has also effectively banished any wise understanding of the meaning of Good and Evil in the appreciation of human nature, and human affairs.

This is what I meant above, when I wrote: "Something other than obvious rationality is driving human behavior."

Scientific materialism, which is a paradigm that limits the understanding of reality to matter and material causes, is now seeking to explain Evil, or trans-rational human behavior, by finding in genetics, micro-biology and evolutionary psychology, especially as applied in neurophysiology and cognitive science, all manner of "rational" explanations for trans-rational behavior, which essentially leave out the idea that human beings make moral choices, choices between Good and Evil.

This is a particularly odd behavior (trans-rational behavior) on the part of scientists themselves, because in order to do this you have to completely disregard your own experience of life, and the dynamics of your own inwardness (thinking, feeling etc). The scientist looks out onto the world of the senses, finding matter and its complexities as the explanation of everything, meanwhile in complete denial of his inner life, which is entirely similar to everyone else's with all those nasty and troublesome worries and moral struggles we all share as modern human beings.

What we really have, which you notice with your questions about guns, is the absence of a common and shared language of inwardness, such that we could think and feel with clarity about the trans-rational aspects of human existence. Science has torn us away from the traditional views - namely Good and Evil, and left us essentially with nothing. Brain waves and chemical happenings in neurons do not really offer us any understanding of what we all know, and experience, that lies within our own inner natures.

The mystery then of trans-rational behavior will elude us until we take our highly developed scientific thinking and apply it in unbiased self observation (introspection). Once we do that, once we look inward with right objectivity and brutal self honesty, then and only then will we begin to understand trans-rational behavior. The secret, so to speak, is right there in front of us, within our own inwardness.

If there is a major problem, it has to do with the fact that this act of objective introspection will lead us back to the spirit, which is a conclusion about reality from which many people want to run. Having eliminated God from our rational (scientific) paradigm, there are all kinds of (trans-rational) motives for not bringing Him back. The whole thing is one of those very amusing human paradoxes that have delighted seekers of wisdom for all of human history, and which is why in the spiritual traditions of the East, the wise man (the enlightened human being) is often seen just sitting and smiling. It isn't that he is laughing at us, or his students, or even at life - he is laughing at himself for sitting there and playing the I know something you don't game, when the fact is that everyone has all that they need right there in front of them.

In the West, this same problem ends up leading back to Christ of all people, for all the same answers the East peddles via its conceptions about enlightenment, Christ speaks of in His parables, and with respect to the whole problem of Good and Evil, and the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven (the kingdom of heaven is at hand, the kingdom of heaven is within you etc.).

The fear of the trans-rational rationalist, that this will lead to submission to religious authorities, is understandable, but false. Christ never taught such a view, and neither did Gautama Buddha. The individual self is entirely capable of standing on its own intuitions in this regard - that is moral determinations lie completely within the grace given capacities of modern human beings as individuals, they need nothing from authorities.

One still has to face one's self, however. The brutal self honesty that leads to success in 12 Step programs is really essential to all of us who might want to appreciate our own trans-rational reality and nature.

This is easier than it seems. I have written about the basic problem in a little short story Bicycles: A Children's Christmas Story for Adults ; and with a bit more detail in pragmatic moral psychology all of which can be found on my website Shapes in the Fire where the social and political implications of the trans-rational nature of human beings is explored in depth.

written November 4th, 2003

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Sun, 02 Nov 2003

What's so hard about love?

I suppose I say little, for the same reason most of us say little...fear of rejection.

When we were kids, making a connection with another child was often very easy. There was a little dance in the beginning, and then...zip/bang...we fell in love and started to play.

Depending upon the total environment (parents, siblings, neighborhood etc), this was more or less hard for each of us. But we soon passed out of this angelic realm of childhood, and into places where being open and spontaneous with our natural love led too soon to hurt, or rejection.

So we forgot how to love, in its easy way, the way we knew as children.

Well, I don't think we forget it, we just become too scared, too edgy to go there. For some its called growing up - to lose or forget our original nature. But Christ told us something in Matthew 18:1-4:

"At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?". And Jesus called a little child to him, set him in their midst, and said, "Amen I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whoever, therefore, humbles himself as this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Now "the kingdom of heaven" does refer to where we go when we die, but in the teachings of the Gospels, it generally refers to direct and personal experience of the world of the spirit. Again, we assume that this is something difficult and far away, but that too is false. Christ tells us...the kingdom of heaven is at hand...the kingdom of heaven is within you. Sometimes He speaks of the kingdom of God instead of the kingdom of heaven. In the Gospel of Thomas, the matter is more explicit.

We also are taught to pray: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven."

So, if the kingdom comes on Earth, what is that?

Love, like the children do, - humble, spontaneous, carefree - each and everyone.

So, how you say?

Well, practice makes perfect we have been told.

Start with the eyes, and with the song in your speech. Love everyone you meet. Remember the cheer we feel at Christmas, and then make it Christmas everyday.

Yea, it's hardest with those we know most intimately. So many habits, and fixed ways of being and thinking. Think of being "grown up" as a kind of addiction, something pasted over our hearts. So you don't have to make a big deal of it, like you have to love fully, now and forever. Rather, just one day at a time, a little bit at a time. In bits in pieces people really won't notice and then think you are being strange.

Not sure what love is? Well, there's always St Paul and 1 Corinthians 13...

"If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a tinkling symbol.

And if I have prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

And if I dole out all my goods, and if I deliver my body that I may boast but have not love, nothing I am profited.

Love is long suffering, love is kind, it is not jealous, love does not boast, it is not inflated.

It is not discourteous, it is not selfish, it is not irritable, it does not enumerate the evil. It does not rejoice over the wrong, but rejoices in the truth.

It covers all things, it has faith for all things, it hopes in all things, it endures in all things.

Love never falls in ruins; but whether prophecies, they will be abolished; or tongues, they will cease; or knowledge, it will be superseded.

For we know in part and we prophecy in part.

But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will be superseded.

When I was an infant, I spoke as an infant, I reckoned as an infant; when I became [an adult], I abolished the things of the infant.

For now we see through a mirror in an enigma, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know as also I was fully known.

But now remains faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

There are mysteries in this passage, and we could discuss them if some folks want. When you get up in the morning, pray out loud the Lord's Prayer (but privately - even in the shower), keeping in mind that it is not a personal prayer, but one that includes all of us, for it uses our and we, but nowhere says I.

Having a difficult moment, sing. Nothing lightens the heart as does song.

Someone giving you a hard time, look them straight in the eye and ask them to try harder. You'd be surprised how that feels to both of you.

One last item from the great teacher of Love: Matthew 11: 28-30: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. "Take my yoke upon, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." posted November 1st, 2003.

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Joel Wendt


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some thoughts on the nature of public life
Celebration and Theater: a People's Art of Statecraft

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