Inner activism

This simple  comment from Charles Eisenstein seems to express clearly much of why his approach to the situation we find ourselves in here well into the 21st Century so well complements my understandings of Buddhism and authentic living:

With few exceptions, anyone who has grown up in the dominant civilization is deeply programmed with the same story of self, theory of change, and habits of perception that are also responsible for ecocide and social injustice. That is why simply trying harder, putting more effort into doing what we have been doing, is unlikely to produce different results. After doing that for a while, we burn out. That is when the deeper inquiry begins; that is when invisible programming comes visible and is available to be changed.

The culture of war

From Chris Hedges, who has seen a lot of war:

The culture of war banishes the capacity for pity. It glorifies self-sacrifice and death. It sees pain, ritual humiliation and violence as part of an initiation into manhood. Brutal hazing, as Kyle noted in his book, was an integral part of becoming a Navy SEAL. New SEALs would be held down and choked by senior members of the platoon until they passed out. The culture of war idealizes only the warrior. It belittles those who do not exhibit the warrior’s “manly” virtues. It places a premium on obedience and loyalty. It punishes those who engage in independent thought and demands total conformity. It elevates cruelty and killing to a virtue. This culture, once it infects wider society, destroys all that makes the heights of human civilization and democracy possible. The capacity for empathy, the cultivation of wisdom and understanding, the tolerance and respect for difference and even love are ruthlessly crushed. The innate barbarity that war and violence breed is justified by a saccharine sentimentality about the nation, the flag and a perverted Christianity that blesses its armed crusaders. This sentimentality, as Baldwin wrote, masks a terrifying numbness. It fosters an unchecked narcissism. Facts and historical truths, when they do not fit into the mythic vision of the nation and the tribe, are discarded. Dissent becomes treason. All opponents are godless and subhuman. “American Sniper” caters to a deep sickness rippling through our society. It holds up the dangerous belief that we can recover our equilibrium and our lost glory by embracing an American fascism.

[American Sniper article at Truthdig]

We are (also) terrorists

Who are the terrorists?

If you ask most people this question, it seems that the near-universal response is “Islamic jihadists” or some variation of this. This is wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to summarize it. But let me try.

First, the facts show that jihadists are responsible for a tiny percentage of terrorism in the world. In fact, most terrorism – somewhere in the range of 90%+ – is carried out by by ethnic separatists rather than religiously motivated folks of any stripe. Think Progress details some of the data on this here. I have read other accounts of this with the same clear message: we have been duped into thinking of terrorism as an Islamic extremist thing since 9-11.

Second, even the jihadists are likely motivated more by the economic and social conditions of their lives than by Islam, even in its extreme versions. Chris Hedges expresses the radical notion that terrorism is:

…a harbinger of an emerging dystopia where the wretched of the earth, deprived of resources to survive, devoid of hope, brutally controlled, belittled and mocked by the privileged who live in the splendor and indolence of the industrial West, lash out in nihilistic fury.

We have engineered the rage of the dispossessed. The evil of predatory global capitalism and empire has spawned the evil of terrorism. And rather than understand the roots of that rage and attempt to ameliorate it, we have built sophisticated mechanisms of security and surveillance, passed laws that permit the targeted assassinations and torture of the weak, and amassed modern armies and the machines of industrial warfare to dominate the world by force. This is not about justice. It is not about the war on terror. It is not about liberty or democracy. It is not about the freedom of expression. It is about the mad scramble by the privileged to survive at the expense of the poor. And the poor know it.

Third, nearly everything the US and other wealthy developed nations are doing is making terrorism worse: more desperate, thus more likely and more extreme in nature. This is complex, but essentially our imperialism and our media sensationalism work together to create the conditions in which terrorism thrives.

For a more detailed, and nuanced, discussion of this, read my friend Gareth’s insightful new post, We’re Fueling Terrorism. Gareth also makes the important point that Muslim leaders are speaking out against Islamic terrorism, and includes a great essay from Rabbi Josh Lesser illustrating that much-ignored truth.

In addition to these ways in which we are creating terrorism on the mundane level, it is also true at the deeper level – what might be thought of as the quantum spiritual level – that we are the terrorists.

As Buddhist teachers (especially Thich Nhat Hanh) have been saying for many years, we are one with all that exists. We are the victim, we are the perpetrator. It is only our ignorance – born of the dualistic conditioning to which we are all subjected – that leads us to see ourselves as separate from the other.

We are the victims, we are the bombers; we are the imperialists, we are the dispossessed. The deeper we are able to sink into that realization, the greater our understanding of reality.

Living in the Gift…

If you have any interest in the ideas of a “sacred economy” or “gift economy” and what it means to be “living in the Gift”, this is an essential essay.

Eisenstein, as usual, has delved into the deeps, the subtleties, the complexities and hidden aspects of this idea and lays it all out for us in clear, understandable ways. You do need to be willing to explore it in detail to really get it, as It’s not reducible to a simple formula. But this essay will definitely open up the issue…. along with illuminating a few other intriguing concepts along the way.

Happy Holidays from Oz: My new Narnia.

A friend’s account of christmas down under…

Becoming Waldo

About one year after I packed my bags and ventured into the colorful abyss that is our world, I noticed a comment on one of my Instagram photos asking, “Cass, are you still in Narnia?”

For a moment, I thought my friend Kelly had simply been duped by the snickering rascal that is auto-correct while attempting to write Bosnia; but then I realized, she was sincerely asking if I was still in my whimsical world of fictional animals and Turkish Delight.

It never really occurred to me until that moment, that most of my friends and family have no fathomable idea of where I am in the world. My inability to commit to plans whilst traveling means my GPS check-in on social media could land anywhere on a map, at any hour of the day. I write about goulash and black squid pasta, Delhi shopping bazaars and Indonesian volcanoes. I may as well…

View original post 988 more words

Returning to the Sanity of Our Hunter Gatherer Origins (Pt 1)

Returning to the Sanity of Our Hunter Gatherer Origins (Pt 1).

Humanity has seemingly wandered up a blind canyon.

The process of human evolution, cultural development, and technological advancement seems to have led us to the point where our crowning accomplishment is that we can destroy the earth, and seem hell-bent on doing so. Wars, cruelty, competition and environmental degradation of our own making threaten to destroy human life, if not all life, on the earth.

But what if this whole process has been one of learning the lessons we need to move forward into a more wonderful, beautiful world where the values of compassion and cooperation, sharing and creativity are dominant?

Is it possible to see through the miasma of our current world to a world where humans live together in peace, security, and abundance? The post linked above and parts 2 and 3 of the series present a case for that future, and present at least a glimpse of how it may be possible to get there.

As 2015 begins, it seems we all need to be willing to look at new ideas, new ways of understanding the human condition, and open ourselves to the possibilities that a new vision of human nature – one based on a very old and very successful model of living – can present.

These three essays are an invitation to do that. Do yourself and the future a favor and read them. Give a new way of living a chance in your mind.

As has famously been said, we have only our chains to lose.