In this issue, as promised, we will take up the theme: Bypassing the so-called Free Press.
Obviously, given what we understand about the control of matters by the semi-conscious tyranny of concentrated wealth, media is corrupted as well. This is denied, of course, by a great deal of the Press (newspapers, radio, TV, etc.). But the denials don't work, especially if you look at how things change over time.
For example, TV news has since its inception, more and more been warped in the direction of entertainment. Informing is no longer its purpose, as much as keeping our attention so that the commercial time can be sold. Major network anchors now receive incomes only appropriate if one considers these newsreaders to be entertainers (they have little to do with developing any of the stories anymore - that is they are no longer true reporters).
Recently, I had the opportunity to read the New York Times newspaper every day and, as well, a local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle. Most of the news in the Chronicle was direct copies of articles in the Times, and seldom was the major national or international story different, in general content and emphasis, from what was on the front page of the Times. This is true all over this country. All the little papers follow the majors as to interpretation of the significance of the news. We really only have two or three major newspapers, and the rest use the news services that derive from these dominating news organizations.
If one gets on the Internet and regularly looks at websites that provide news outside the narrow views of the majors as to what is important, it is clear that a great deal goes on in the world that never, ever, gets mentioned in our papers and on the TV news. The result as the our so-called free press, is mainly free to make money and create a picture of the world which is free of those realities that the dominating commercial interests would find uncomfortable.
Then of course there are the media circuses. Certain stories overwhelm all the other news. The press then is again free to indulge us in our apparent desire for the most despicable and useless concerns, but for which they have to invent all kinds of reasons as to their importance, in order to justify the abnormal time spent on the them.
We could still have had reports on these matters, without them dominating what is introduced into the public mind, by our press, which is free to serve itself, but which basically does not serve us.
There is another way in which news provides more of a diservice, then a service. This is done by leaving out the context in which the story takes place. This context would vary according to the kind of story, and in some cases would involve providing historical background. Nevertheless, news media distort the picture created by leaving out all the contextual matters, through which one would normally be able to form a more complete judgment concerning the importance and significance of the piece of news.
The local TV news is a good example of news without context. But, at the same time it uses a formula, which has got at least minor relevance to our lives. They give the local weather, which we need to know, and sports fans can use the updates, but the lead stories are all the same. Whatever car accident, fire or murder has the best visuals is the lead story. This is a distorted view of our local communities.
Consider this alternative. Suppose the lead story was as follows: "There were no murders today in our area, only two fatal accidents, and no fires destroying family residences. This is a decline (or increase) over the normal rate of such occurences, according to the usual risk analysis. Details can be found on the Internet at:" (this gives us some context in which to view whether something needs being paid attention to, and then some way to follow up if we wish). Takes all of thirty seconds to read and gives us all the information we need.
What the Press does that is really a major disservice to the public mind is that it paints an essentially dark picture of the state of the world, the nation and our local area. All that is reported is the bad things that happen. This is not news, this is propaganda, however unconsciously done or arrived at. What is perhaps worse, is that the media also leaves out other, more terrible things we should know about. At the same time, information can be presented in a summary fashion, with references, should we wish to pursue matters. The main thing to remember is that Media is driven by commercial motives and not by a motive to inform the public mind. Media seeking to do the latter would be completely different from what we have today.
Given the wide variety of possible resources, one thing the Renewal Meetings can do is to see how many different magazines, internet sites, news programs etc. the members of each meeting watch or read. Part of the meeting time can be devoted to brief summaries of what is being said about a subject in this great variety of resources. This saves the individuals from having to check everything out themselves.
Basically, news media are unreliable sources for a picture of the real state of the world. If you want to know, you have to find out for yourself. If you are participating in a Renewal Meeting, then everyone can play a part and the total picture gathered will be all the more richer.
Moreover, these meetings can take an interest in a particular issue or theme, investigate it deeply and create then reports to share with other meetings. It is in this last activity (remember, Renewal needs our activity), that we begin to bypass the sterile commercial nature of Media, by taking the gathering of information, knowledge and reflection into our own hands. Next Issue: What do we try to change?
New Hampshire Constitution, Article 10 [right of revolution]: Government
being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the
whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one
man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of the government
are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other
means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to
reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance
against arbitrary power and oppression , is absurd, slavish and destructive
of the good and happiness of mankind. (June 2, 1784)
Before the Sergeant began to speak, President McHenry noticed something. He thought he recognized the man.
"Do I know you?", he said.
Owen Manning III, NSA chief, sighed behind his hand, and looked away. He had hoped this wouldn't happen, that no one in the room would notice that among the fruit salad on Morrison's uniform was one very special medal.
"Yes sir, Mr. President. We've met before."
"Well, don't just stand there," McHenry said, displayed his temper again, "Explain yourself."
Quietly Morrison raised his hand to his chest and pointed to small blue and white bar, nestled among a couple dozen others. Everyone could see it was a Medal of Honor.
"You gave me this, sir, about six years ago. For the Gulf War sir."
The room grew even more silent then before, except everyone could hear Archer say "shit" under his breath. The whole situation changed now. In this room of powerful men, their authority, their power, had just been topped by a kind of moral authority that usually these men could ignore. Morrison had earned the right to speak here as an equal, and no one would be able to deny it.
A slight smile spread over Morrison's face. He'd never even thought
about this happening, it wasn't in his nature. The nervousness fell away
as if by the act of some kind of heavenly grace.
He sat in his cruiser quietly, a hand on the call button. Did he need back up to go into his own home? It didn't make sense. If someone dangerous was waiting for him, the house would be dark, and there would be no car that he could see. Then he remembered whose car it was. Ethan James, head of the local militia. A good man, but quiet, self contained. You didn't know what he was thinking, if he didn't want you to know. Whatever this was about, it would sure be a topper on the day.
A few moments later, the two men were sitting in the kitchen. James had a cup of coffee in front of him, the Sheriff had a stiff drink. They'd skipped the small talk, and the ball was in James' court now.
"Sheriff, I'll come straight to the point. Over the next few days militia leaders all over this country are going to be talking to local law enforcement, just like I'm talking to you."
James paused, letting the significance of that sink in. Both men sipped at their respective drinks.
"We're in basic agreement on something. We want the evictions stopped. No more people thrown out of their homes, or their businesses shut down."
He paused again. The two stared at each other. Measuring the man they saw. Deciding whether they wanted the other as an enemy.
"Why", said the Sheriff. He wanted more, he wanted the whole justification for this.
James sighed. He looked around the room.
"Put yourself in their place, Dick," he said, leaning closer in toward the Sheriff, making the matter as personal as possible.
"You lose your home in this time of chaos and there is no where to go. All the service agencies are overwhelmed. If your lucky, you have relatives, but taking on more people strains their means. And, what's the point. The house isn't going to be sold at auction to anyone that will use it. There is no housing market anymore. People are losing where they live, but once they are empty the houses never get filled again. You drive around here. You've seen the boarded up houses and commercial buildings, that is if squatters haven't moved in.
"The only reason there is pressure on you to evict is because people with money are trying to take advantage, trying to get more for themselves at the cheapest cost."
The Sheriff nodded at this. He'd been at a luncheon of the Rotary Club today, and afterwards had been invited to have a drink with two bankers, a lawyer and two developers. They had wanted to know if he needed more men to process the evictions. They wanted to help him out, see that the Town provided more funds for more deputies.
"I'll put it to you straight, Dick. Everybody's got to make choices. Its basically property rights versus human needs. The militias are backing human needs over property rights. We don't Consent anymore."
Finally the Sheriff responded.
"It isn't as easy as you seem to think, Ethan. Not at all. I'm the law here, and if I start picking and choosing which laws I'll enforce then where do we go then, huh? The property people control the Board of Supervisors. They can fire me and find someone else to do the dirty work, if that's what it really is."
"You're right, Dick, absolutely right. But it isn't that simple is it? I can see it in your face. You don't like the evictions. I understand one of your deputies is not making his house payment. What are you going to do then?"
James reached out an poured himself some more coffee and the Sheriff some more bourbon.
"Look. I'm not here to make demands. I'm here to tell you that the militias are united on this. It's a place we are willing to make a stand. If you go with us, then we are with you. Do you understand that? We will back you up. We used to have only fifteen men in this town, now we have eighty. Not all of them are well trained, but they are coming to us all the time. They're taking sides and getting ready.
"Think about it a minute. You're a member of the American Association of County Sheriffs, right? Use your contacts. Check out which way the wind is blowing. The more of us that act together, the less confrontational it will be. Plus, we aren't trying to decide property rights, we're just after getting the evictions to stop, keeping people in their homes and in their communities, until things settle down again. When they do we can use legal means, new elections, new laws, whatever, to solve the problem."
He paused and then his face grew very serious, very grim and determined.
"Dick, I don't want violence in our community like in the cities. But
you have to understand. We don't Consent anymore, we don't Consent." (Continued
in GMG #6)
In the world of modern science there is clearly the belief among many that the physical material world can be explained without recourse to any idea of a Divine Being. Unfortunately, anyone who really understands social existence has not that pleasure. It is impossible to explain the order in social life without acknowledging the Divine.
I do not expect that others will necessarily accept this merely because I assert it. Few people actually see the real dynamics of social existence, because it is not visible without a certain kind of cultivation of the capacities of mind and heart. Many people of faith, assume it to be true, they will speak easily of what they will call "God's plan" or "God's will". It becomes a bit more difficult to appreciated just how that works in life, in a practical down to earth fashion.
Nor am I suggesting that the readers of this newsheet should believe what I have asserted. Let me make the statement again: "It is impossible to explain the order in social life without acknowledgeing the Divine."
That is an entirely supportable statement, but it is not possible in this forum to develop all the related and necessary ideas. It has to be said, however, in order to proceed in this examination of the root causes of the events in social existence. It would be like trying to explain modern physics without gravity. The physical world clearly has force centers around which objects revolve. Likewise the social world, has moral force centers around which its dynamics unfold.
If one forms inner pictures backwards into history, and then brings them forwards again, thinking can begin to perceive that the great religious forces of history, vast movements in time, that have tended in the past to work on human beings from the outside, used social forces, community conformance forces, in order to enliven moral behavior within the individual human being. The community creates religiously cohesive moral expectations, according to its religious traditions, and the individual, to greater or lesser degree, conforms his or her behavior accordingly.
In our age this conforming social power is at its weakest - traditional ways have lost much of their power (the "family values crisis" is upon us). Within this chaos, as we have seen, the individual seeks for his or her own moral center. A struggle arises between animality and appetite (genes and brain chemistry) and the potential for nobility - the possibility of living under the guidence of one's own active conscience.
This is a reach for spiritual freedom. The human soul and spirit, the heart and the mind, seek after moral autonomy. What is right is to be what "I" understand as what is right.
But this capacity is newly born. It is like a baby. And, like all infants, it has wants and needs, as well as not at all being what it will be when it is mature.
The state of modern civilization is the motherly womb in which this newly emerging capacity is being developed. But everywhere there are disagreements about what is true. Few would accept as correct, what I have written here. Some will say that only a Holy Book can say what is right. Another will look to a priest. A third to a philosophy. Others will not bother at all.
As these people all have to live in proximity with each other, their different approaches will come into conflict. This conflict itself also serves the living necessity of moral choice that is being thrust on each individual.
This needs to be more clearly appreciated, as its dilemmas are at the center of everyday social existence.
Maybe we work in an office. On the weekends we have family activities, perhaps some time at church. Yet, we are required, by the necessities of life, to encounter others who do not think, feel, or believe as we do. Everywhere in the world this problem is worked out in different ways.
In parts of Ireland, Catholics and Protestants make war (at least some do). In much of the Islamic middle East, a powerful fundamentalist backlash has arisen against the incursion of so-called Western values. In America, a political movement accurately described as the Christian Right, seeks control of local school boards in order to further its personal agenda. The battle between those who want to maintain a dying traditional value and those impelled by inner necessity to free moral choice is not only not receeding, but in almost rhythmic waves it returns at ever and ever higher level of intensity.
Something new wants to emerge, but in the process the cocoon of its former existence (the old social order) must be destroyed.
What is this new thing and what is its nature.
At the threshold of this discussion it was described as a need for personal moral autonomy, arising in human hearts and minds, as a consequence of an "evolution" of consciousness. But that fact, as a psychological reality, is more complicated than these simple words might imply.
In most modern cultures, including emerging third world peoples, there is no habit or tradition of introspection. In America, for example, our language contains only a few words for inner life, but no deep understanding. As a consequence, we mostly look outside ourselves for self understanding -- to some authoritative source, rather than within.
There are of course many attempts, mostly in the psychological healing arts, to gain greater insight into the inner workings of the heart and the mind. But it is not toward this kind of knowledge that I am heading.
All over the world are various religions. Adjunct to these religions are certain disciplines, some more well known, at least by name. In the East there are religions centered on Buddha and on the complicated India cosmology which includeds, Brahmin, Vishnu and Shiva. We also know of Islam, Judism, and Christianity. There are others of course.
These religions have in common some kind of world view, and certain practices of worship, as well as social and moral codes of behavior. The details vary, but the basic structure (world view, worship and codes) remains the same.
Adjunct to these religions are inner disciplines: Tibetan Buddism, Zen Buddism, Yoga, Sufism, Kabbalhistic Mysticism, and not so well known, but Christian in orientation, Anthroposophy, Christian Hermeticism and so forth.
Each religion has an exoteric component (world view, worship and code), and a lesser known esoteric component (inner discipline).
The exoteric component is based upon faith and belief, and the esoteric component involves a search for direct knowledge, for some kind of gnosis. In one, God is an object of faith, and in the other God is an object of sought after direct experience.
Many believers in science will deny any reality to this whole scheme. Inner discipline to such as these will be "put down", and called "navel gazing" or some other derogatory term. Yet, these inner disciplines can be studied and individuals can, for themselves, determine if there is any validity to them.
With the loss of tradition in social life (more developed at present in the industrial West, than elsewhere), the hold of "religion" is weakened. Moreover, the success of science, as an explanation of the world, also serves to weaken religion. In fact, religion has retreated for many years before the advance of science. Here is another causal pattern in the demise of Western Civilization.
At one time human meaning was within the provence of religion to define. We were children of God living amidst a divinely ordered and created universe. God had a purpose in our creation.
For science, these ideas are pushed back, if not invalidated completely. The most "popular" view is that the human being is an accident, created by chance, in an uncaring Cosmos, which has no transcendental meaning whatsoever. In this sense, science is also like a religion.
This scientific "religion" is called scientism, and is the belief, that exists in most ordinary minds that are exposed to scientific ideas, that scientic theories are proven facts. Just like other religions, scientism has a world view (darwinian evolution, big-bang cosmology, genetic determinism, etc.). Psychologically there is also worship. Scientists are a kind of priesthood for the elaboration of human meaning as defined by popular conceptions of science; and if one argues with someone, who is unknowingly a believer in scientism, the intensity of their "faith" is readily apparent. Scientism also has codes, but just like in religions, these codes tend to vary according to the particular community and nature of individual world view and worship. One code may be that only the processes of science can lead to truth (i.e. that God must be proved according to scientific method and that gnosis is impossible). I could go on, but that would take us too far afield.
The point of the above discussion is to realize that there are many belief systems in the world, including scientism, and many types of inner discipline, including the so-called scientific method.
It is in this context that the individual is manifesting the need for moral autonomy, which includes, not only autonomy of values, but also autonomy of belief, of what is true.
Many are well aware of a reemergence of pagan beliefs, which is ongoing in what is sometimes called the "new age" movement. Some, in the scientific community, are concerned that science itself may be set aside as many people take up an interest in the older ways of seeking gnosis (witchcraft, shamanism, etc.).
The point here is to realize that, just as there is a social chaos, there is a corresponding chaos in the search for human meaning. In point of fact, you can't have one without the other.
So our next question is: What does this mean, this loss of social order
accompanied by a loss of coherence of meaning? (continued in GMG#6)