Saturday, June 2, 2018

An Open Letter to the FBI

Dear Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

There have been articles on the web in recent weeks claiming that morale is at an all-time low in your esteemed agency.  I am hoping that is hyperbole and not true.  Clearly, your agency, and, one might argue, all that you stand for is under attack.  President Trump is doing everything in his power to make the Bureau sound like it is corrupt, unfair and incapable of doing its job of pursuing justice for the American people. It couldn't be more obvious that he is attempting to render impotent the investigation into his involvement with the Russians. 

Aside: when I was growing-up, in the 50s and 60s, the FBI was admired and held in very high esteem. Ask any kid my age what he wanted to do when he grew-up and the response was likely to be, "I want to be an FBI special agent", which was probably just ahead of, "I want to be an engineer." or a fireman, etc. FBI special agents were indeed 'special' and regarded as the pinnacle of the law enforcement community.  The intro to the t-v series, "Superman" included these lines: "...faster than a speeding bullet, stronger than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound," and the announcer ended by saying that Superman fought for, "....truth, justice and the American way."
Many of my peers would have said that that last part was precisely what the FBI did. 

The word that still pops out at me is, "truth".  It is one of the pillars upon which our society rests, and without it, things get real mushy, real quick.  I have written several blog entries about the whys and wherefores of Truth and what happens to a society where it is no longer a core value. In short, that society breaks down.  History is our teacher if we allow it to be.

Please know that there are legions of Americans who both know who you are and believe that your goal is still and always to seek out the truth in any given situation and thereby achieve justice for those who have suffered an injustice. In the service of justice, it's impossible to abandon the fact that truth is and always will remain pivotal.  There will not ever come a time when lies can compete with truth for credibility.  And, as Trump and his cronies continue their assault on the truth, it becomes as vitally important as it ever has been.

The Founding Fathers, and every generation since theirs, knew this, and despite attempts to render truth somehow suspect...just by saying it is, and by attempting to counteract its vital importance with a steady stream of falsehoods....the facts of a situation such as we are facing now are still solid, and grounded in provable events. The TRUTH is the truth, and no amount of lying or sleazy manipulation can change that.

The American people need you now, as they have perhaps never needed you before. You can stand as a source of rock-solid counter proofs, based on demonstrable truths, against this war on honesty and, indeed, Honor itself.  If the lies are allowed to become 'normalized' and used to substantiate the Trump agenda, our democracy will, at the very least, be shaken to its roots, and possibly even devolve into some kind of autocratic and fascist nightmare.

We are teetering on the brink of a precipice, and a single misstep could lead to another very dark period in the history of the planet.  We need to focus our attention like a laser-beam on the people who are doing everything they can think of to bring this about....all the while posing as bringers of prosperity and security. They are here to loot and plunder, and to gain control over the masses via unprecedented amassing of wealth.

Many political scientists, historians and scholars in related fields have pointed out that we could lose our democracy.  Yes, it could actually be subverted and become an authoritarian and despotic form of government.  Hitler and Goebbels knew exactly how to manipulate the German people and to make them so afraid of their chosen scapegoat, the Jews, that they went along with draconian methods of stabilizing their society.  Of course, when the smoke cleared they began to realize the huge mistake they'd made, and it was already too late; people were being hauled off in the middle of the night by the Gestapo to places like Dachau, often for simply having made a careless remark that was overheard and reported.

It would be a terrible mistake to assume that could never happen here. The first vestiges of it are already happening: attacks on the media as an untruthful enemy of the people, attacks on the rule of law, attacks on the very notion of Truth being of critical importance, scapegoating Hispanics and all people of color, violent police killing citizens and not being held accountable for it....all of the steps outlined by historians who have studied and written about how the Nazis came to power are in their early stages....RIGHT NOW.

So, to all the men and women of the FBI, I say, please keep the faith that what you are doing is of boundless and crucial importance to the survival of our democracy.  Do NOT let the lies and innuendo get you down.  We need you and we need you to believe in yourselves and your mission.

thank you for your service

Murad Sayen, in Maine

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Letter to My Descendants

This is intended for my descendants....should there be any....five generations from now.  Of course, there is no way to know if there will be such people, but on the outside chance that you do exist, I am writing to let you know some things from our perspective here in the early 21st century that I am hoping will be helpful to you.

First of all, I believe my generation, and myself, in particular...owes you an apology.  Are you surprised?  Perhaps you have wondered if we knew how badly we were treating our blue jewel of a planet, and if we realized that it would have such catastrophic results.

Short answer:  yes we did.  At least, a majority of us did. And, we pretty much stood by and let the oligarchs have sway and make a host of terrible decisions, most of them driven, pure and simple, by GREED.  They felt it was our planet to do with what we wanted, even if that meant being destructive and intentionally unaware of what that would mean down the road.

For those of us who stood by and watched in horror as the planet was raped and plundered, there can be no excuse.  We saw with our own eyes what was happening as it unfolded......and we did far too little and too late.  Somehow, we couldn't really grasp that it was as bad as it was, or that it would lead to even worse.  We were, as our expression that river in Egypt, the Nile.  Denial is a powerful cop-out.  It enabled us to shrug and constantly repeat to ourselves, "Nothing I can do about it."  And, for what it's worth, by the time we realized that we COULD do something, it was mostly way too late. It's like putting out a house-fire: if you catch it early, it's easy.  If you don't, it's impossible.

You might be wondering if we felt badly about the insoluble mess we would be leaving for 'future generations'.  I can only speak for myself and my wife, Abigail: yes.  We felt sick about it, and we were fully aware that it was quite likely that your generations could end-up living inside a hellish nightmare, if you survived at all.

But, somehow, that was never enough to make us take the dramatic steps....even violent revolution in the end....that would have been required to change the heading our ship was on, and avoid going on the rocks.  The entire process of slow and then faster degradation was imbued with a feeling of inevitability.  We were not merely passive.....our passivity was driven by copious amounts of APATHY.  Because so many people believed there was nothing to be done...that the ship was essentially just became more and more possible to accept the unacceptable.

So......we did. And, I want you to know how sorry I am that we did this.

We should have fought with every means at our disposal.  We should have resisted right down to our last breaths. But...for the most part.............................we just shrugged.

Perhaps you are wondering if we were weak and cowardly.  Fair answer:  in hindsight, it appears that, yes, a lack of courage and determination was a part of what determined how we reacted to this greatest threat to humanity and all sentient creatures.  It feels tragic, abysmally sad, that this was what we chose to do, all the while mumbling to ourselves that we were helpless.

No, we were NOT HELPLESS.  We just told ourselves that we were to let ourselves off the hook. From your perspective, perhaps it's easier to see how it all came about.  The fatal flaw--if one can pin-point a single leak that really sank our ship, when there were many--was the all too human trait of GREED.

Of course you must be familiar with it.  It's what happens when humans begin to believe that we are all just out for ourselves, and the struggle is to get as much of anything as possible, even if it means others go with less....or none.  Greed is a by-product of people feeling disconnected from each other and from society at large.  They come to believe that looking out for oneself is all that matters.  And, greed has a built-in aspect that causes it to just get more and more virulent....until it has the features of a form of insanity.  And, indeed, it is exactly that.  People afflicted with greed, the disease, eventually come to believe that amassing whatever it is they crave--clearly money is the most popular choice--is all that matters.  And, proof that this behavior is insane comes in the realization that they will continue to amass resources...even when it is clear that doing so will result in a situation in which life will cease.

That's right. It's reminiscent of an animal that keeps on eating even though they are already so full that continuing to eat will KILL THEM.  An, animal might do this out of ignorance of consequences.  A human being, however, may well know that the outcome is lethal....but, keep right on stuffing themselves.  It reminds me of a scene in Monty Python's 1983 movie: "The Meaning of Life".  There is a man, Mr. Creosote, who is vastly obese, way beyond morbidity.  He's huge.  And, he keeps on eating, and eating, and eating......and finally he explodes. It's a riotous scene, but it's also uncomfortably gross because the viewer knows he's going to explode and, he just won't slow down.

Well,dear descendants, that is about how we were.  We just refused to stop consuming...everything. Whether it be carbon fuels, crops raised with nasty--i.e. unfriendly to living things--chemicals, over-the-top luxury that re-defined the term, 'decadent.  We wanted it all.  If it strikes you that this entire scenario is saturated with irony, yes, you are absolutely right.  And, most of that is the result of knowing what we were doing was wrong, and choosing to do it anyway, regardless of the consequences.  This is greed in action. This is the human trait of selfishness hard at work destroying any possibility of creating harmony or of transcending challenges by working together for the common good.  All of that goes right out the window when greed comes in the front door. did. Hell, we opened the door and invited it in, not the least put-off by the big teeth and leering yellow eyes that should have told us to not let the wolf past the threshold.

Please do not think for a minute that I am arguing that we weren't wholly responsible for our choices.  Oh, no. We did our choosing with our collective eyes wide open.  Well, yes, okay...there were a lot of people who were clueless, but, in some ways, that was a choice too.  Many people at the time I am writing this are refusing to accept that a fact is something that, in order to qualify for the term 'fact', must be TRUE....demonstrably so,  and able to pass any and all tests proving otherwise.  Not anymore.  Now, there are many people....not a majority, but enough to fuck things up for the majority....who have decided that a fact is whatever they make up and want it to be.  Amazing, isn't it?

Think about what it means to leap from a firmly grounded, truth-based reality into a swamp where the 'truth' no longer has any meaning and we're unable to know what is real and what is false.  Reality becomes like a 'hall of mirrors' in an amusement park. Confusion rules the day, and this allows the picaroons to go about their looting and plundering unimpeded.  I have a hunch that you will have read historical accounts of our current president, yes, the one who is such a vivid shade of orange, but, sadly, not as intelligent as a typical orangutan.  If you have read about this sad and despicable man.....assuming that this flight away from factual information didn't take permanent root, leaving you adrift in a sea of "Who Knows?"....then you know that he was a kind of court jester, always making up facts to suit his greedy purposes and to preen his pathetically weak ego.  He became the band-leader as we proceeded to march off down the road to oblivion.

I so wish that I could reverse this communicative process and hear from you.  Did you manage to cobble together a livable society out of the rubble we left you?  I pray for you, even though you are not yet born--far from it--as I write.

I pray that your generation(s) will have not just suffered from the stupidity and greed of ours, but that you will have learned from it, and that you have had the courage to put together a society wherein you care about each other, where the color of a person's skin is irrelevant, and the name of the deity, if any, one prays to is equally unimportant, a society fully aware that the suffering of its least capable and impoverished souls is centrally relevant and that caring for all humans--and other species too--is one of the pillars in creating a society where there is less suffering and more joy.....not just for a debauched elite who want to bathe themselves in endless, degenerate luxuries at any cost, but for EVERYBODY.

Please try to forgive how stupid and selfish we were, and know that it was apparent to many of us even as it was happening.  We have had much struggle and pain here ourselves.  And, despite knowing that we brought it on ourselves....many of us desperately wanted to make changes that would move humanity toward an enlightened society.

Clearly we failed to do that.  And, thus you may understand and accept my apology as above.

I wish upon you the Grace and Intelligence of the Heart necessary to do better than we did.

God bless all Sentient Beings

Murad Sayen, in western Maine, USA, the year 2018

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Real Enemy Lies Within.....

     Well, it's been a wild ride hasn't it? It seems like there is something in the news every time we look at it that just makes one wince, or feel angry, or saddened.  This is not just a matter of the fact that there is a mentally-ill man in the Oval Office, and all the damage he is inflicting on the lower and middle class of America, not to mention the environment, immigrants, people of all minorities....and, perhaps worst of all, the collective American  psyche...our sense of who we are and whence we came.  In the world community at large, we are now causing other nations to ask,"What the hell is going on in America?" And, unless you have been snookered by all the lies, particularly those coming out of Fox News, you know that there is a full-on assault on our democracy in progress.
     Most Americans have grown-up in a society that has seemed so grounded in individual choice and personal freedom that it is inconceivable that it could ever go away.....just 'Poof!!!' and it's gone! But, we are suddenly and steadily becoming aware that it can.  In a series of well understood and previously recognized steps, the freedoms and the quality of life that we have taken so for granted....are being abrogated, destroyed, eliminated.....set aside.  What is coming at the hands of not just the Orange Fool, but the GOP at large, is something altogether different.  The term, 'autocracy' has been used a lot recently, but there is also 'kleptocracy' (rule by thieves) and 'oligarchy', as well as 'plutocracy'.  They all mean one thing: that a tiny number of uber-rich manipulators are getting the control of us that they have craved for so long.  They have created the means of not just generating affluence, but of funneling the vast majority of it to the very uppermost strata of society, i.e. big energy, big finance, big pharma, higher education, big medicine, and they are using this astonishing inequality of wealth to complete the process of gaining control of our society. With the onset of our national tragedy, i.e. the Trump presidency, one would have to say that the kleptocrats are not far short of obtaining their goal of total dominance.
     This bears little similarity to some kind of a 'coup d'etat'....far from it.  It's more like a slow burning fire in a seam of coal beneath the ground that we're standing on. And it is slowly destroying any semblance of the democratic process by which people have a role to play in deciding how our lives are affected by both government and business.  Even prisons are now making billions for these faceless rulers, and we watch all of this as it is happening with a sense of both disbelief and outrage.  WE KNOW IT IS HAPPENING.  And, yet, we are mostly feeling powerless to stop it.
     In his small booklet, "On Tyranny", Timothy Snyder lays out how a tyranny comes into power, and how clearly this is happening right now.  He also tells his readers that we have only a very limited time frame in which to resist this, and if we fail to do so, that it will be hell to pay trying to overthrow it once it is firmly ensconced in the halls of power.  This is so because the processes of control will all be managed/manipulated by the plutocrats, and once they have control of the congress, the executive branch and the justice system, nothing short of a full-on national emergency and revolt will make a dent in their ability to remove or destroy any resistance.
     We watched as they brought in a panoply of thugs, military and police to deal with the people who were resisting the Keystone pipeline.  Nouth Dakota even passed a law that made running down a protester with your car more or less okay; Tennessee and North Carolina are doing the same thing. This is what tyranny does; it eliminates it's opponents by the most stern and violent means it can get away with at that time. Partially, this is to discourage further resistance, and partially it is because these are people who have no room for compassion or compromise in their methods. They want what they want, and by God you'd better not stand in their way. And, as the laws and policies are modified to suit their plans (by the legislators they have bought and paid for, of course) these means of elimination become all the more terrifying and draconian.  Ultimately, tyrants rely on terror to maintain their iron grip on a society. Think 'Gestapo' here.  If you want to see this in action, you have to look no further than Turkey, Syria, Iran, North Korea...oh, hell, there's a list of them.
     Once a tyranny is well and truly ensconced in power, it has the means to maintain long as it has either the actual support, or at least the acquiescence, of  a significant segment of the population. If it cannot use it's well-developed propaganda machine, i.e. LIE GENERATOR, to flummox the population at large into thinking this is what they both want, and need, then it will come tumbling down.....but, perhaps not before it has inflicted great pain and suffering.
     I once interviewed an elderly man who had been a Luftwaffe fighter-pilot during WWII.  He had been in the SA, 'Brownshirts' and had a clear sense of how it had all come to pass.  His comment that stuck with me, even years later, was that, "....there were 15% who resisted in some usually subtle manner, 70% who went along to get along, and another 15% who were devout Nazis."  In other words Hitler maintained his terror state with only a small minority of the people fully behind him.
     The Orange Fool is still obsessing about how big his inaugural crowd-size was.  Some part of him knows that he's not there with a mandate to rule America as if he was a bannana-republic dictator, but that he needs to constantly lie and manipulate so that least some of them....think he's the most popular and effective president since Old Hickory.  It's no coincidence that his presidential culture-hero is Andrew Jackson....a deeply commited racist and a man who didn't hesitate to inflict pain and suffering on whomever he identified as standing in his way.  This is the driving force behind the so-called, "Trail of Tears".
     So, here we are.  It's about to become 2018, and The Idiot's agenda is gaining some traction.  The congress passed a 'tax reform' bill without any of the trappings of consideration or negotiation that most such important laws would need.  They just shoved it through because they had the votes to do it, and it will take some weeks and months before the American people realize that--once again--they've been had. Initial indications are that it is a big windfall for corporations and the uber rich. Jeezum, didn't see that one comin', eh.

So much for the dire state of the nation.

Now, we need to ask ourselves,"Well, what are we going to do about all this?"  And, recently, I have been bumping into people who answer this question with a shrug and,"Nothing I can do will make any difference.  So, why bother?"

OUCH!!!!!  Feeling beset by all that is happening is very understandable, and a lot of Americans are indeed feeling helpless in the face of all of this.  But, to toss one's hands up and decide to just become apathetic.....well, that is exactly the response that the robber barons would prefer you to have, i.e. NOTHING.  Just sit back and let it all go down, because, hell, what can we do anyway?

WHAT WE CAN DO.....AND MUST DO IS TO RESIST!   I do not care if you feel discouraged, or hopeless, or angry, or just lazy.  It is not about you now; it is about America, and if you would like to feel good about being an American again, NOW is the time to get off your chair and let your feelings be known. Yes, of course, it feels impotent to stand outside an office holding a sign,"Do the right thing senator."But, staying home, avoiding looking the situation in the eye and pretending that you are ever so much worse.  You have no right to complain if you're not willing to make an effort to let the elected representatives know that what is happening is in no way acceptable.

The Womens' March, last January is a perfect example of making a difference.  My wife experienced it first hand in Boston.....175, 000 people turned out and let the world and the new president know that all of this is NOT ACCEPTABLE.  What she was a part of in Boston, was simultaneously happening all around THE GLOBE, not just here in America.  Millions of people turned out to make sure that The Orange Fool knew he wasn't going to have hands-off smooth sailing ahead.  It changed her understanding of what people can accomplish once they make up their minds to do it.

And......we're not done yet.  Vote, March, call and write your elected whatever comes to mind, just do it and do it soon.

Because the real enemy is the APATHY INSIDE YOU.  If you surrender to it, you have just given away the only thing that can and will make a difference.  You have let the kleptocrats and the Orange Idiot win without putting up a fight.

Please don't do that.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Truth About Who a Person Written in Their Face.

Mystics have known this for thousands of years.  You can perceive the salient qualities of a person's individuality in the physiognomy of their face.  For decades I knew this before I discovered that it is common knowledge in mystical circles.

But, first, let's clear up a common mis-understanding:  mysticism is not what most people think it is.  The popular view is that all things mystical are mysterious and kind of 'out there'.  We tend to think of 'mystics' as airy-fairy individuals who see things that aren't there.  The reality is that mysticism is a means of learning about the presence of God by direct experience.  It turns its back on 'belief' or dogma, theory and scriptures,  in favor of actual experience.  In the early stages of mystical training the need is to give up all of one's beliefs. And, when you think about it, 'belief' is something that one holds to be true...on faith. A True Believer is one who doesn't know God in the first person, but is willing to take what any particular religion offers as an article of faith. A mystic is one who, via the practice of various exercises and such means as meditation, mantra or wazifa, and led to their own personal experience of God's Presence.  This is not a 'belief' but rather a 'conviction' because one is not taking anything on faith....but basing what they 'know' on actual experience.

So, when I say that you can see the qualities of a person's inner being in the features of their face, I am not asking you, dear reader, to believe that but rather to begin--if you haven't already--noticing how this is true.  An example might be: you meet a person whose features are open and express a certain lightness, happiness and perhaps they even seem luminous.  Really....have you not noticed that some people do seem this way?  And, as you begin getting to know them, you realize that this is really the essence of 'who they are'.

I had this experience just last week...again.  Some weeks ago, I was told about a young woman that it sounded like I might want to meet.  I am a painter who often paints people who are uniquely themselves.  She is a seventeen year-old who works in a local country store.  I reached out to her via her employer and made contact by leaving a copy of my portfolio for her to look at.  She expressed an openness to meet, and at the appointed day and time I went to the farm where she has grown-up and met her parents, many siblings, a grand-father and did indeed take some images of her.

Her face absolutely beams with positivity and projects a sense of joyous appreciation of life. I am not going to publish her image or tell you her name out of respect for her privacy, but, I will tell you that this is a remarkable person.  Just being around her makes a person feel 'light' and happy.  If she can hold onto this essence as she undergoes the challenges of living in these times, she has a wonderful life ahead of her. She will doubtless touch many people that she comes into contact with. She radiates an energy that I must refer to as 'light'. This is an indication of the condition of her soul.

Likewise, you might meet a person who is 'tight-lipped', their mouth forming a thin line on their face, and who appears to be 'wincing' and holding tension in their features.  I can almost guarantee you that if you have the opportunity to spend a little time getting to know them, you will come away realizing that the sum total of their life experience has rendered them at least somewhat bitter and even angry. This has happened to me far too many times to doubt that what I am offering you is true. Angry people become angry looking people, their features make you almost afraid to speak to them because they look like they might snap at you. It's not always fair to avoid contact with such people, but it is helpful to prepare yourself and not take it personally if they are unpleasant.

So, why am I telling you this?  Well, I am inviting you to begin looking at the people who are now front and center in our lives via the 24/7 news cycle, and who are playing somewhat pivotal roles in determining how our country and even our own lives are conducted.  Watch peoples' faces as they speak, and notice their facial gestures. Listen to what they're saying and notice from the viewpoint of a neutral observer what qualities this particular person is putting forward.  I am trying very hard here to not single out the most obvious players.....but, I will bet that you have already guessed who would be the most interesting and revealing to watch in this manner.

You can learn a lot more about who a person really is by watching them speak and observing their features as they do, than you ever can by listening to what is coming out of their mouth....especially now that we live in the land of 'alternative facts'.  Take a look at the following images and ask yourself what qualities are there in these faces and their expressions. I have tried to select images of each person that caught them in a moment of being un-posed, and not stylin' for the cameras.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

So, What's a Nazi......Really?

A surprising number of people don't know that 'Nazi' is an acronym for "Nationalsozialistiche Deutche Arbeiterpartei".  Translation: National Socialist German Worker's Party.  So, even the name it started with was a cynical lie.  It was always a fascist party, based on the principle that the state is supreme, including the elite who run it, and as workers in the Third Reich quickly found out, you toed the line or you got scooped up by the Gestapo, i.e. The Geheime Staatspolizei, secret police.  If this happened it was likely your family would not even be informed of your status, and you would very possibly end up in a concentration camp.  Dachau was created very shortly after the Nazis came to power in '33.  People who were sent there, if they came home at all, would not even speak about it.

The NSDAP (Nazi Party) was founded on goals of becoming a totalitarian terror state....and, it was, from it's early days, intent on elimination of all those who either stood in its way, or were considered undesirable or inferior, i.e. Jews, gays, pacifists, social democrats, communists, dissenters of any kind and simply the entire rest of humanity beyond the boundaries of the Aryan race.  If the inferior peoples were not to be outright exterminated, they were to be enslaved and their labors used for the benefit of the Nazi state.

Most people do know that Adolf Hitler was the leader of the Nazi Party and of the German state, was called Der Fuerher, The Leader, and led the Axis powers into World War II and orchestrated the Holocaust.  But, I don't believe that many people actually realize what life was like in Nazi Germany or in the countries and territories that the Germans occupied. Life in a totalitarian terror state is being modeled in various countries around the globe today, particularly, in North Korea, but also numerous other third world countries where people live in a state of knowing that they could be arrested and even murdered at any time, if they are perceived as being 'out of line', or if someone even accuses them of being so. Hence the term 'terror state'.  Duterte is doing a fair job of creating a terror state in the Philippines. Because he is largely focused on murdering anybody who is involved with drugs, many Filipinos are going along with his agenda.  History shows, however, that people like Duterte often have broader ambitions for their power and once they have become firmly entrenched it is very difficult to stop or even hinder them.  Kim Jong Un is a good example of this.

In the countries and territories that the Nazis overran before and during World War II, the people were subjected to brutal oppression at a level that most people who live in democratic and free societies cannot really comprehend.  You could be arrested for reasons that were never even made clear, and you had no rights....none.  Your life was subject to the whim of local SS and Gestapo commanders, whose brutality became infamous.  You might be tortured, or sent off to a slave labor concentration camp, or simply be shot...all because you came to the attention of the Gestapo, perhaps because a fellow citizen accused you of just about anything at all that the Nazis didn't tolerate.

In any discussion of 'Good and Evil' when one of the participants wants to clearly define 'evil', it is often easiest to use the Nazis as an indisputable example of what constitutes evil behavior. And, this brings us to trying to understand who the people are--and what they really believe--who are marching in the streets of America, and in Europe too, carrying the swastika flag of the Nazis.

They claim that they just want 'white power'.  They often make statements that white people are now endangered and that the growing diversity in our society poses a lethal threat to Caucasians.  The people who have dominated the globe for many hundreds of years, enslaving and wiping out untold legions of indigenous people, carrying on as if it is their 'right' to be the dominant and domineering race on the planet, as if God put them in charge somehow, are now on the run.  Right?  Riiiight...

The neo-Nazi agenda espouses a 'race war' fought for the very survival of the white race. It is merely a continuation of what the original Nazis wanted: to either subjugate or exterminate all other races. Nobody in their right mind would claim that they are either 'harmless' or well-intended.  Their plan is lethal to all but conforming white people....notice I said, 'conforming', because they would also exterminate whites who are not going along with the planned hegemony.

For any of the current Nazis to claim that they are less odious, less malevolent, less dangerous, than their predecessors is simply to put up a smoke-screen.  The most famous Nazi smoke-screen was on the iron-work gates over Dachau and Auschwitz, and perhaps other camps:  "Arbeit Macht Frei". This must at least be a leading contender for the most cynical statement of all time.  It means, "Work Will Set You Free"......over the gates that led toward the gas chambers and the ovens beyond.  In the minds of the craven sub-humans who created these gates, it was likely a way of getting the prisoners passing underneath them to cling to some faint hope that they were not really on their way to their doom....and therefore they might remain more they were 'processed'.

If you want to give yourself a first-hand perception of  the notion of 'Pure Evil', look-up some film footage of Reinhard Heydrich...and glimpse Mephistopheles himself.  There is one particular clip where he is leaving a meeting and comes toward the camera, looking directly into the lens as he passes.  It makes my skin crawl.  Here's a link to one short.  And, here's another, longer, viewing of just exactly who the original Nazis were.

Reinhard Heydrich. One Evil S.O.B.

And, here we are, in 2017, with a man in the White House, who says things that seem intended to mollify, reduce or otherwise disguise the fact that anybody who considers themselves to be 'a Nazi' has embraced evil on a massive scale.  People at large are reacting to this with vehemence and disgust.  It is wholly unacceptable that Nazism should emerge as a legitimate political orientation once again.  As the enraged man shouted at Peter and me: "I have seen too many good men die fighting that!"

It is not enough to turn your eyes away.  It is insufficient to simply shake your head and mumble about what the world is coming to. It is an egregious avoidance of responsibility to say, "But, what can I do about it?" You can....AND MUST.....make your voice heard, even as one of millions--in fact, particularly as one of millions--who refuse to accept that Nazis and Klansmen and all others who espouse 'white supremacy' should have any say whatsoever in the political and societal conversation about what America needs to do to become a country that we can feel good about again.

Because, as of this date, it has some real problems and we need to get involved with working them out.  The rest of the world is watching us with some valid and deep concerns.  We need to be the people our parents' and grandparents' generations believed we were.....and, we need to do it soon.

Friday, August 18, 2017

On Symbols: What's in a Swastika?

I'm not going to honor the 'Hooked Cross' as it is called in German--Der Hakenkeuz--by reproducing it on these pages.  But, I am going to make the argument that it qualifies as a symbol for the ages that will always carry a level of potency that cannot be either morphed into something good or minimized to mean less than it really does. Here's a story from my boyhood that I believe will make this point:

My friend, Peter, and I spent a lot of time on his family's farm outside of Princeton NJ.  They were neighbors and raised about 150 Shropshire sheep. The dad was an executive who commuted into Manhattan during the week and the mom was a wonderful woman who just loved the earthiness of their country lifestyle and ran the farm. It was about 1957,so I would have been 11 or 12, and all the kids I knew had fathers who had fought in World War II.  After only twelve years, 'the war', as our parents always referred to it, was still hanging in the background of our lives.

There was also a profusion of 'war trophies', souvenirs, that had been brought back from the Pacific and Europe. My own uncle had brought back sundry souvenirs from Europe, Nazi uniform hats and medals mostly. And, I had come into possession of a Nazi flag at some point. It was one of the banners that festooned Nazi Germany from one end to the other during those dark times, part of a campaign to completely saturate Germans' visual surroundings with the vivid scarlet and the bold black swastika on its white field.

There came a day when Peter and I were messing around and we decided it would be fun to fly this 'bad guy' flag from a fence-post near the end of the farm's driveway. So we put it up and it fairly over-hung the road. We had no sooner gotten it up, when a passing car came screaming to a halt, all four tires leaving great black stripes on the road as it did so.  A man jumped from the driver's seat, leaving the door flung open and started screaming at us: "You take that goddamn thing down right now!  I saw too many good men die fighting against that! Take it DOWN!!!"  We couldn't move fast enough and it was down in a matter of seconds.

All these years later, I can still see his face, and hear his outrage. Peter and I both knew that something had just happened that transformed how we felt about this piece of cloth....and we never 'played' with it again.

Now, we have Americans who think that they can parade this symbol through American towns and cities and claim it's their constitutionally protected right to do so, and they want us to let them do if it were any other symbol from history. IT IS NOT!!  It will never just mean, "Hey, we're white and we want some respect."  It will never mean, "White people have rights too."

It WILL always mean, "Evil is our creed."  "We believe in hatred and cruelty."  "Death is what we want for all those unlike us."  "We believe that the white race is superior and we would like to kill, or enslave, all others."

So, we're going to sit back and let this message proliferate under the protections afforded by the Constitution of the United States?  It is my profound wish that we could travel back in time and interview all of the individuals who signed the Declaration  of Independence. I would be talking to my great grandfather, six generations removed: Richard Stockton.  His blood flows in my veins, so I get to hazard a guess, with some attached 'gravitas', as to how he might feel, and I am telling you that he would find the idea of protecting people who want to commit mass murder unacceptable.

After all these generations since the Declaration was signed, we now know that the right to free speech is not without some limitations.  Of course, the most cited of these is that you cannot be free to yell 'fire!' in a crowded theater.  It would directly cause harm and even death as the panic ensued.

So, how in the world is it any different, walking through the middle of an American city carrying a banner that says, "I would be pleased to murder you if you aren't like me"?  You cannot argue with any credibility whatsoever that the Swastika flag means less than that.  It is impossible to separate it from that legacy and claim that it means something else or something less.  It is no more a harmless symbol of 'white power' than a rattlesnake is a cuddly little pet that you'd like to have wrapped around your neck.
That is the SS Death's Head, and the SS slogan, "Blut und Ehre"...
Just in case you have any doubts what their 'message' is.

The evil power--and it is 'power', make no mistake-- of the swastika is also embodied in the Hitler salute. When you extend your right arm and shout, "White Power!" or "Sieg Heil!" you are invoking the entire Nazi legacy....and all that comes with it, including the Holocaust, and the murder of five million people beyond even the six million Jews: Slavs, gays, pacifists, dissenters of all ilks...eleven million souls in total.  You are making an aggressive statement that you are aligning yourself with ALL OF IT.  You cannot pick and choose.  It's a package deal.

So,when our very own 'Dear Leader', aka the president, tries to say that there is 'evil' on both sides and there are good people on both sides, he's either astonishingly obtuse and ignorant, or he's just lying as he so often prefers to do.  The Germans long ago realized the inherent evil embodied in all the symbols of the Third Reich, and they outlawed them....all of them.  In view of what they went through, and, especially, in recognition of what they inflicted on the rest of humanity, it was a sensible and important choice to do that.

Americans who think the freedoms protected by the Constitution are always so sacred that there can be no exceptions.....are going to find out that when you protect pure evil, you give it power that is going to proliferate and eventually it will take away all of those rights that the starry-eyed idealists hold so sacred.

Johnny Rivers, and a few other singers, recorded a song about a young woman who rescues a half-frozen snake....she cares for it and ultimately gets rewarded by being bitten, along with the admonishment:"But you knew I was a snake...when you took me in."

Ask yourself this: would you be willing to extend the protection of the Constitution to a throng of marching people who were flying the banner of ISIS, and were chanting,"Death to the Infidels"?

No?  Then why is it okay for another band of armed and dangerous thugs to be shouting 'Sieg Heil' and giving the Hitler salute?

What is the difference?

And, we haven't even gotten to the symbols of the Confederacy......

Friday, July 14, 2017

On Compassion, Part One

We are living in a time when some basic assumptions about the condition of 'being human' are being called into question.  And, in some quarters, qualities that had once been taken pretty much as basic to what makes us 'human' are even being shunned and abandoned.  Foremost among these is the quality referred to as 'compassion'.  Just so we are clear about what the term refers to, here is a dictionary definition:" A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering."

That is pretty straight-forward. It means you care. When you begin to look at the world at large, and political realities in particular, you will notice that this is increasingly uncommon.  It is certainly not an integral part of how people look at the suffering of others in these times.  One might even say it is the stuff of the saintly souls among us, whereas it was once assumed that a person who was lacking compassion was somehow lacking, not complete, not a 'whole' human being. Whatever else they might have, if they didn't have a degree of compassion they were less than human. Compassion has been regarded by some as one of the defining characteristics that indeed makes one human.  The term, 'inhumane' refers to this very deficit.

Perhaps the noticeable retrograde of compassion in our society has something to do with the constant bombardment of the news, and its ever improving ability to put high-definition images of great suffering in front of us...and to do it with 24/7 regularity.  We see clips and photos of starving babies, drowned refugees, innocents being blown-up by militants...and on and on...on a daily basis.  Obviously, there is plenty of suffering--heart-rending, dramatic, violent and mind-numbing--to go around.  We are a species in extremis, by any reasonable definition.  So, it is understandable that we do shut-out much of what is happening.  War, famine and disease, extreme poverty are all happening on a world-wide scale that should tell us that we are not okay, as individuals or as a species.

Then you pile-on the news about what we are doing to our host planet. Unless you are an idiot or an ostrich, you know that the thousands of scientists who are monitoring, analyzing and documenting, the physical state of the planet are not all involved in a grand conspiracy to deceive us.  If you are not a self-deceiver you know that we are well on the way to destroying earth's ability to support life as we know it, and because of our deep dependency on carbon-based energy sources, we are headed for a series of changes that are now widely understood and being referred to as The Sixth Great Extinction.  And, it has the further distinction of being the only such scenario to be created by one of the species that will be extinguished: us.

ASIDE: If you are one of the people who still don't believe that science is 'factual' and that climate change is being caused by human activity....then you are probably not going to agree with or accept anything in this blog, and you might as well stop reading here. If you are inclined to troll me, don't bother; your words will have no audience here. 

On top of all of this, we now look out on a political landscape in which the opposing sides are at each others' throats, and our elected president is being identified by some very authoritative sources as being 'unstable' and even 'mentally ill'.  At the very least, his behavior is bizarre, immature and a source of morbid embarrassment to millions of Americans. So, is it any wonder that people are feeling negative and put upon by the sum total of what they observe around them these days?

Here's the thing, however: the worse things get, the more we need to make conscious decisions about how to conduct our lives.  Otherwise, our most painful complaint will be a feeling of floating down a stream like an autumn leaf...helpless and out of control.  As all of these factors interact to create deepening feelings of insecurity and fear, it becomes critically important to take control of not only our own lives, but to consider how others are getting along in their lives and make decisions about how to be a part of this community of souls we call a society.  If we give in to our inclination to withdraw and to isolate ourselves.....we begin to slowly die inside.  We are social creatures, whether we cop to it or not.  Isolation is a form of punishment, even torture. (And we use it as such in the penal system, don't we?) When we decide--either consciously, or by default--to ignore the suffering of others, and take on the attitude of somebody like Ayn Rand, which says, essentially,  "I've got mine, and it sucks to be you", we have begun the process of creating our own hell.

If you look at situations where pain and suffering were/are extreme and ubiquitous....for example, London during the Blitz in have people not care about each other and just operate on some kind of self-preservation auto-pilot would multiply the misery and deepen the pain of being in such terrible circumstances. To take the position that "I'm okay...and I really don't give a tinker's damn about you." would be unconscionable.  What actually happened in London was the exact opposite: people, with few exceptions, felt like they were all in it together and caring and kindness became commonplace.  I had an aunt who was there with the Red Cross during the Blitz and her dominant memory in later years was of how heroic ordinary people were. Instead of destroying their spirits, it deepened their determination to survive and a part of that was the certainty born of knowing that they were in it together.

So, here we are in 2017, and it's beginning to look like it has the potential to become a Blitz of our own.  Things are pretty good for most people as I write this, but in 2008 we learned that the idea of a stable economy and a predictable and rosy future is ephemeral.  One major terrorist attack, one major financial hiccup, one earth-based disaster....the 'big one', as Californians call it, or a tsunami, or you name it....and all of this apparent stability is gone, gone, gone.  And, as we saw, it can happen almost overnight.

And, despite the absence of some over-arching disaster, there are plenty of people who are already suffering. Do you need me to really explain how it feels to live in an inner-city neighborhood that has nightly gang shootings?  Or what it is like to have a serious illness and not have adequate health care?
Do you want me to tell you how being extremely poor and without hope of changing that for your kids...grinds at your soul, day in and day out?  Do you really want to live in a society where a large segment of the people are just written off as, unworthy of living decent lives....or of LIVING AT ALL?

For a society to succeed in the long term, it needs to have an awareness of itself as a whole. If a small part of it becomes isolated by means of having extreme affluence....and extreme poverty is the condition of an entire population, the formula for self-destruction is in place. Don't take my word for it, read the history books.  When an elite part of society loves only itself and ceases to care about the base of the pyramid....compassion is no longer in the mix, and its counter-part is going to grow strong: hatred, resentment...and eventually violence.  Because people who do not have a sense of meaning in their lives, and who find themselves without HOPE.....will not ever just fade away.  They will not go quietly into the night.

Bastille Day, 2017