Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Post Truth Era.....


Some of the pundits on various sites are using this catchy term to describe the fact that we are now living in a time when the Truth has been effectively rendered irrelevant.  Some of them are belatedly grieving for the past, when Truth did still matter.  And, some of them are actually supposing that we can make the transition away from a slavish devotion to the idea that facts matter....and further arguing that this is both appropriate and alright.

America's Liar in Chief


These particular pundits are all of the hard-right conservative persuasion, as you might expect they would be.  I mean, after all, Fox News is a media monster built on the premise that truth is merely an inconvenience that gets in the way of furthering their sicko ideas.  Fox is very successful, having six of the top ten most watched 'news' shows.  The idea of leaving the Truth twisting in the breeze is very appealing when your agenda is to achieve political and then social dominance.  If you crave being in charge--as, of course, old white men have been for many generations--impediments that hold your feet to the fire in a test of whether or not your viewpoints actually have factual gravitas are not welcome. It's so much easier to simply make-up your points of contention and to argue them on the basis of how they appeal to the lowest instincts of your audience.

So, here we are. We have a president in the oval office who lies all the time and never even gives any indication that what is coming out of his mouth is based on stuff he just makes up according to how he would LIKE THINGS TO BE...instead of how they really are.  For Donald J. Trump, the Truth is not something to be honored or valued.  It is merely an inconvenient pain in his ass. This is carried almost to the point of becoming an art-form, a performance on a daily basis in which he believes he can re-shape reality according to his personal needs and desires. He lies to get his way, to pad his own wealth and to maintain control over the strange party that used to be one of Honor and integrity....way back when my parents were devoted to it, and Eisenhower was their poster-child.  We did actually 'LIKE IKE' and it was inconceivable that this war-hero turned politician would intentionally stand in front of the press corps and lie his ass off.  Trump does it several times a day.

I suppose the underlying question and primary concern should be: how does this impact our society as we move into the future?  Well, the answer to that is that it will destroy us.  Straight-up.  Yes, and that is not hyperbole.  Any society that comes to this point...of having lost its respect for what is actually and factually TRUE, is terminal.  Bold words, eh.  But, true.

Here's the reason such a society cannot survive for long: When people feel permission to lie anytime it will help them get what they want for themselves--which is what the Donald is all about--everything quickly becomes adversarial.  It is all about 'Me, Myself, and I' and to hell with your needs.  In fact, people pursuing this path are practicing selfishness on a level Ayn Rand would find admirable.  Her pseudo-philosophy, Objectivism, was all about, "I've got mine, and it sucks to be you."  So, here we have a segment of society that has risen to positions of power and wealth, based on the principle that each person is in it just for themselves.  And, they are more than happy to see you fail if it means more for them, or makes their path to dominance just a tiny bit easier.

In a society where a class of people are determined to get the upper hand, and are willing to cause endless harm and suffering to do so.....nothing good is going to happen in the long run.  This is precisely because you have an entire segment that feels disenfranchised, rejected, passed-by and even subjugated....by the lack of opportunities, lack of access to decent and affordable education, living under conditions that destroy a large number of lives, violence, drugs, and gangs all in the mix.

Once a society turns its back on the less fortunate,  the eventual result becomes like that newly bulging mound in a Mexican farmer's field, with a smoking fumarole, and that soon grows into an active volcano of mounting rage.  History clearly indicates that the population will eventually get fed-up and erupt.  When an entire segment of a society loses hope of a better future, or that they can at least live a decent life, then violence is going to happen sooner than later. It has happened too many times to think that it won't happen now.  When people feel truly oppressed and subjugated it will boil-over and explode into revolution.  That is just human nature.

There are exceptions, of course.  Once the mechanisms of terror are in place, it may be too late and futile for a successful revolution to gain any momentum.  In Nazi Germany, people only realized what was happening when it was really too late to do anything effective. The price of resisting was immediate arrest and a quick trip to Dachau, or similar.

The people of North Korea, have suffered under Kim and his father and grandfather endlessly.  The means of their subjugation have been in place for three generations and the dictator.....really a nice fellow with a good sense of humor, if you listen to Trump.....has a good handle on how to keep them down.  It's nothing new, really: send any dissenters away to concentration camps and kill them by forced labor and starvation. Result: not enough people are willing to stand up and be whacked down as in the Whack-a-Mole game.  Terror is undeniably effective, and dictators of all flavors, including Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam, etc, have all known this.

But, here's the take-away: all that dictators do to subjugate their people and to maintain order and control............depends on weaving a web of LIES.  Destroying the ability of a population to know what is really going on is critical, so attacking any and all sources of the actual TRUTH is necessary.  When Trump reiterates his disdain for the press, as he does many times each day, via Twitter, by calling them 'fake news' and any other pejoratives he happens to think of at that moment, he is accomplishing something critical to his ongoing success.  He is casting doubt on everything....yes, literally EVERYTHING. Once facts are given the same status as lies, it is possible to get people to think that anything you put in front of them is 'true'.  It doesn't take a vivid imagination to see how much easier it becomes then to manipulate the majority of people into believing whatever serves your purposes.

LIES ARE THE TOOLS OF DICTATORS.  If you allow them to become 'normal' then the means of knowing what is really happening to our society are GONE!

It matters.  In fact, it is pivotal and crucial that we not accept this wannabe dictator's attempts to blur the lines of fact and fiction.  He lies with no consequences at present.  He does it right in our faces, and is not the slightest bit hesitant to do so.  He tells lies that are easily debunked...and is not apparently concerned that his lying is so easily recognized.  In fact, as Obama said in his recent speech in South Africa, he just 'doubles down' and lies some more.

So......America......WHAT THE F**KING HELL ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS???




Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Bankruptcy....of the Moral Kind




It is common knowledge that Trump has gone bankrupt in his business adventures, repeatedly...six times to be precise. Ever since he announced his run for the oval office we have been hearing stories about how either good or bad he is at business....depending on the source you are reading/watching.

The fact is he is very adept at using the laws around bankruptcy to lose money for his investors and to wind up with more money...much more.....himself.  He knows, or at least, his coterie of legal eagles knows, how to 're-arrange' financial dealings so that he comes out the other end smelling like a rose, and, more often than not, his investors are stuck with the losses.  He brags about this as a way of bolstering his reputation for making great deals and for being the most clever weasel in the woods.

All these months into his term as president, we are becoming almost inured to his lies and his attacks on anybody whom he perceives as not on his side.  There is considerable discussion about the dangers of allowing his behavior to become perceived as 'normal', even as acceptable. It, most assuredly, is NOT either one of those.

Fact is, I don't really give a fig about his finances.  He's just another greedy pig who is frantically scrambling to amass far more wealth than any person needs.....all to serve the continual aggrandizing of his pathetic ego. In literature there is a term for people like Trump:  picaroon.  A picaroon is a pirate, a rogue, a person who is just out for him/herself, and has no scruples that might stand in their way.  Whatever you need to do, is just fine.  Never mind morality, integrity, compassion...oh BLECH....or any redeeming quality that would seem to support the notion that we are all operating in a society of souls and that common decency is one of the tenets that makes this possible, even more tolerable.

There is another kind of bankruptcy that Donald J. Trump is apparently unfamiliar with: moral bankruptcy.  It is an umbrella term that captures the essence of a person who has no problem telling lies, stealing money by deception (think Trump University), and in a pinch, a truly bankrupt person is even willing to kill to achieve what they perceive as their goals.  The Orange One has intimated numerous times that he'll take whatever sadistic action is necessary to top whatever he perceives as opposition...not to the United States, as much as to him, his personal goals. Torture?  Not a problem.  Calling strikes where collateral damage is unavoidable? Hell, we were already doing this under the last two presidents.  It's a no-brainer for Trump.  His ideal form of government would be himself as permanent dictator for life.  He has said this in so many ways that it is clear he'd have no problem at all destroying our democracy in favor of his lifetime in charge.

The truly scary thing about this notion is that we are beginning to see signs that he could actually pull it off.  Yes, he could manage a way to end up on the throne of a thoroughly subjugated United States of America.  You may feel some skepticism of that idea.  I certainly did when I first encountered it.  I came up with all kinds of reasons why that would not be possible.  The genius of our constitution was supposed to be at least partially due to its deep insight into the potential pitfalls and foibles of the democracy it was creating.  Checks and balances were strongly positioned to stop just such a corrupt leader as Trump.  The Founding Fathers clearly were aware of the possibility that bad actors could try to subvert and otherwise render impotent the rule of law for nefarious purposes.  So, they included measures such as dividing the government into three branches that would serve to balance and counter-balance the power of a large centralized government.

But, there are some glitches.  That's the bad news.  A corrupt gang of operators....yes, just like those presently in office.....could find ways to gain power and to hold onto it.  One of the most obvious of these is what happens when an emergency occurs that directly threatens the safety and security of our country.  The government is suddenly in a position to start suspending constitutional rights by any number of means.  The most dire would be a declaration of 'martial law', under which we would suddenly find ourselves living in a totalitarian police state....for our own good, of course.  Remarkably, many Americans would see that as justified, as long as they feel safer.  Martial law supposes that maintaining the peace and the safety of all citizens is the highest priority...well above the mere freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.  Those 'rights' are apparently subject to being quickly set aside when things become a little dicey.  And, just what that means is subject to a broad spectrum of interpretation, depending on what party and even what sector of that party is being asked....or has the self-assigned right to make such decisions.

It is not a novel thought that we could instantly find ourselves in a situation where the administration would declare a state of martial law to be necessary.  Any event on the order of 9-11, or even one not as large or as egregious, would be sufficient.  I have been saying this for many years now, and I am not alone in this concern. Recovering from such a period of upheaval would be much slower than its onset.  In fact, due to the nature of having such a commanding grip on the power of our government, it might not happen at all.  There might be changes put in place that make it well nigh impossible to get back to the levels of freedom we have now and have had for over two and a half centuries.  Once a country has fallen over that cliff it is no longer a matter of just climbing back to the top.  No, no.

Studying the many autocracies that exist now and that have appeared in the last century or more, reveals a distinct pattern.  Perhaps the most singular factor that presages the onset of a totalitarian state is economic disarray.  When a country's economy goes in the shitter, people experience new and often terrible hardships.  Any person who cannot put food on the table for their family or maintain a roof over their heads rapidly becomes a desperate person.  Under such circumstances, it's not a surprise that they will opt for the politician and political party that holds the most apparent promise of being able to make rapid and substantial changes happen.  Hitler's early campaign slogan was: "Hitler, Arbeit, Brot", i.e. "Hitler, Work, Bread" and it was addressing the dire economic circumstances of the Weimar Republic where runaway inflation literally had people paying billions of marks for simple items of sustenance.  It was a bitter joke that one needed a wheelbarrow to haul enough cash to the market to buy groceries.  In 1923, a loaf of bread cost 100 billion marks.  It was a terrifying situation for most people and more than enough to get them on board with a radical strongman who was promising an end to all the enemies and policies that had gotten them to that point.  Oh, yes, Hitler had the answers.  And, we all know how that went down.

So, here we are with a man in the Oval Office who has repeatedly admired Xi Jinping for his now cemented status as 'leader for life' of China.  He has heaped praise on Kim Jong Un, one of the most sadistic dictators currently in power.  His fawning admiration of Vladimir Putin is legend. Comedians constantly speculate on what Putin must have over Trump....the most obvious guess being the 'pee tape'. Who knows?

So, having observed so very many traits and having witnessed his actions over the last year and a half....I don't think it's much of a stretch to conclude that Ol' Donny Boy is morally broke.  There is nothing in his under-developed sense of how the world works and what it takes to be a decent human being that would indicate that he not only knows what compassion is, but that it is one of the key ingredients that separates us from being just another predatory species.  And, it should be noted that when we humans are in our most potent predatory mode.....we are FAR WORSE than any animal predators on the planet.  We have raised predation to a level that outstrips the ability of any other species to compete for the title of most vicious.  We are it, and people like Trump are leading the way in acting out our worst inclinations and tendencies.

All of this should serve as a dire warning.....that if we do not rise up and get every possible citizen out to vote him out of office, we will have a future in front of us that is light years away from the utopian society that humans have only dared to dream of throughout history.  We have all of the assets, tools and traits that are needed to actually make such a dream become a reality.  But, as long as we let the people who think Trump's ongoing push toward a situation where he becomes the Supreme Leader is okay....we are in for a terrible shock and a whole lot of pain to follow. 

We have a chance to avoid this dark scenario.  But, it will never amount to anything if people remain disengaged, apathetic and passive.  The people who think Trump's stunning lack of compassion, his frequent sadistic impulses toward any who resist his will, and his despicable dishonesty are all just fine....will be in charge and the rest of us will have only ourselves to blame.








Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Great Big 'Ol Train Wreck....



   As a kid, I used to watch as my paternal grandfather recited dramatic performances of poetry: Gunga Din, Casey at the Bat, and The Ballad of Casey Jones were his favorites.  His crowning moment came when the mighty Casey took that last great swing....and struck out....for there was no joy in Mudville that night.  But, he seemed to enjoy Casey Jones imminent demise at the throttle of his locomotive almost as much. I never stopped to think about the fact that what these tales are focused on is failure.  They seem to make failing almost heroic and just a little glamorous. German culture has long esteemed the concept of noble failure, the 'Heldentot' or 'Hero's Death'. Samurai culture is also embedded with the same idea, that to fail is noble if it is done with great courage and self-sacrifice.

Having just re-read Casey Jones for the first time in many decades, it strikes me how this widely acclaimed engineer seemed so intent on wrecking his train.....all because the 'southern mail' was two hours late. As I read it now, it makes no sense at all.  The point of carrying the mail is to get it to its destination.  Yet, here is this 'man among men' who has been told that the tracks are somewhat unsafe....washed out road-bed....and his fireman (the poor bloke who shovels coal into the boiler) has warned him they would leave the tracks if they don't slow down.  And, the great engineer's response is to peg the throttle and go as fast as the locomotive can go. Wha?!!!

Well, here we are, in the early decades of the 21st century, and we have another mad engineer at the throttle. None of what is going on now makes sense when any reasonable criteria of 'normality' are applied.  It is all tinged with the stomach churning feeling of un-grounded insanity.  This latest debacle of separating children from their parents--a crazy-making, melding of lies, cruelty, and deflecting of any responsibility--is just one more warning....a 'red' block-signal, saying, "Stop the train."  But, just as Casey ran the last four block signals so does the madman in the White House ignore any idea that there are rules and guidelines for decency and that his job requires the frequent and skillful application of both wisdom and compassion.  We don't elect a president to be a constantly lying buffoon, a bully, a gangstah, a self-aggrandizing peacock of a figurehead who wishes he could have adoring subjects....just like his new BFF, one of the most despicable dictators on the planet.  At least, we never did UNTIL NOW.   [ASIDE: Anyone with even a small brain knows that Kim's 'adoring' subjects are so terrified of being hauled off to a concentration camp that paying homage to their 'Dear Leader' is just a survival strategy.]  It is another one of those 'red block signals' that Trump aspires to be like Kim......or Putin.

So, one minute he says he is powerless to stop the implementation of a policy that not only did he create and put in place, but which he did by simply telling his staff what he wanted. For all I know, he did it while he was tweeting on the toilet at 3 a.m..  And, the next minute he blames it all on the Democrats, saying it's the result of their foolish (read Obama's) policies and laws.....which the merest effort at fact-checking proves to be just one more of his lies.  And another minute later, he makes a big show of his magically returned power by rescinding the policy, signing another 'executive order' with his childishly out-sized signature, like a kid would do on the refrigerator with a magic marker.

It is of no bother to him, apparently, that he just demonstrably lied multiple times. And, if that stops being important to us....we will have surrendered to a world where the truth no longer matters and lies become true simply because 'he said so'.  Oh, dear God!!! Where is reality in that kind of a society? Suddenly, everything becomes a vast grey miasma of half-truths and lies.  There is no longer any firm ground in an endless swamp of misery.

We now find out that this big show of 'compassion' on his part, does nothing to solve the terrible situation of 2300 children who have already been taken from their families.  Some of them have already been flown as far away as New York state, even as Kristjen Nielsen, the DHS Secretary, denies that the kids are suffering.  She has developed the same ability to tell bold-faced and disprovable lies as her boss.  And, she was apparently raked over the coals by him when she was seen as being somewhat less than 'all in' on this policy to begin with.  The fool made sure she would act with the indifference and cold-hearted efficiency that he so admires.  That is his version of being 'strong'.

Here's the thing: it is beginning to appear....at least to me....that we might indeed have another Casey Jones at the throttle.  I believe he has and continues to paint himself into a corner, an untenable position from which there is no easy exit.  Yes, of course, he has his much vaunted 'base' of those sad souls who will support him all the way to the end.  But, I seriously doubt if many of them understand that so much of what he is doing is aimed at either his becoming another world-class dictator, on the throne of a thoroughly subjugated state.....or a good ol' fashioned TRAIN WRECK. Just before the trains are about to collide head-on, Casey Jones tells his fireman to jump for his life and to tell Casey's wife and kids that he loves them.  When I read that an hour ago, it finally struck me: some people need tragedy, feed on failure, are drawn to it like the proverbial moth to a flame.

I think he's absolutely capable of running this whole thing right off the rails and...should it come to that....blaming everybody else for sabotaging him and his sick goals.  Hmmmm...why does that sound so familiar?  No, not the crazy engineer, oh, of course....it is exactly what Adolf Hitler did as the Third Reich descended into chaos and rubble.  He blamed his generals, called them traitors, and he blamed the German people, said they deserved to die in the flames of the Twilight of the Gods, the Gotterdamerung....despite the fact that millions of them had already died, and/or committed murder and mayhem for him as he pursued his insane destiny.

It boggles the hopeful mind to even consider the possibility of what will happen when Donald J. Trump runs the whole kit-and-kaboodle smack-dab into an oncoming train.  That could take the form of starting a nuclear conflict, pushing for trade wars that lead to economic collapse...or a variety of other scenarios.  I have this impending sense that he may actually be more drawn to that kind of tragic scenario than he is to seeing America actually thrive by being a country and a people who practice the ideals of compassion, love and kindness.  In his feverish mind, such a country would be too weak and vulnerable to survive. Never mind that we have survived for all these generations being the country that people admired and could count on for support....and I don't mean just do-re-mi....when needed.  We are the people who died on Normandy beach, Iwo Jima, Belleau Wood, and way too many more battlefields to list here. And, we did it for all people, not just to serve our own goals and needs.  Don't believe it?  Ask any older resident of Normandy....or so many other places.

We have a chance to stop this train, however.

If every single American who cares about our country, who cares about human lives and even the planet at large, and who sees clearly that Trump is indeed going to run the train off the tracks.....GETS OUT AND VOTES....then we may have a chance at avoiding what is beginning to look and feel like our very own Gotterdamerung.

OUT OF LOVE FOR HUMANS EVERYWHERE, AND ALL CREATURES........ 

VOTE!!!!!




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 goes....like 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 unsteerable....it 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.  And..........it 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.
https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2017-02-13/common-sense-legislation-would-shield-drivers-who-run-over-protesters 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 itself......as 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 people....at 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 helpless.....is 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 officials....do 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 is.....is 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 prayer...is 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.