Journalists still held in ND

While Amy Goodman and Shailene Woodley have been released after their arrests in ND for the Standing Rock protests, several other filmmakers are still being held and are facing serious charges:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/20/north-dakota-oil-pipeline-protest-film-makers-face-prison

This assault on freedom of the press is clearly motivated by the pressure to stop the protests and keep us in the dark about what’s happening with this pipeline. I feel ready to scream.

Trump as baba

A quite insightful little article from Patricia Pearce, Your Spiritual Teacher in Disguise, portrays the T-man as a symbol of ego, and contains this wonderful paragraph:

In the world’s dream, the United States is the Donald Trump of nations, and our spiritual teacher is helping us see how we must appear to others—believing we are better than they are, and that our wealth, influence, and military force make us great. Is it any wonder that such bravado would evoke attack from others who are caught up in the ego’s inverted world of hatred, division and violence?*

Clearly, there are lessons we need to learn from the ascendance of a fascistic leader in American politics, and none is more important than that one! We will continue to be the victim of terrorist attacks as long as we go around in the world in this way.

(Thanks to my friend Don at www.remember-to-breathe.org for sharing this article!)

Loving the world

Well into my second week being mostly off the media grid, I’m feeling a recovery of the feelings of beauty and wonder that constitute love for the world… at least most of the time!

Finding that beauty, wonder and love in all the grit and grime is the real challenge. I am working on building my strength, working on being able to engage fully without losing that sense of the worth intrinsic in life.

The universe gave me a little nudge in that direction a few days ago when I came across this beautiful passage written by a friend, Sonya Huber:

A concrete loading dock doesn’t ask anything of you, doesn’t demand that you agree with its crazy stories or its lies–and that is love, after all. It will wrap you in the baked-cookie smell of rain on warm asphalt, the earth as industrial rows of monocrop corn stretching on either side of the highway. It will give you billboard-sized abstract paintings in layers of faded paint and chipped brick and colors that haven’t been named yet. You can read a philosophy on those surfaces, can vaguely make out the palimpsest of hope in the foreign language of a splash of yellow that somehow survived around those lovely pockmarked metal walls.

Ah yes, finding beauty, love, philosophy, hope even, in industrial concrete! What a gift!

This is practice in its highest form.

The paragraph is from Love and Industry, Sonya’s winning entry in the Terrain.org Non-fiction writing contest from back in 2013, which I had missed, probably because I was going to really need to hear it in August of 2016, and would not likely have gone back to read it had I already done so. The universe is clever like that. At least it comforts me to think so.

However, why ever, it happened, it happened. I read it. And it was very meaningful for me… helpful in those little ways friends and writers have of supporting us through the dark moments when all seems lost. Reminding us that love doesn’t always come with hearts and flowers and pink lace doilies.

It’s a great piece, still so perfect for these times three years later.

I must confess, I had to look up palimpsest – tho I had an inkling of its meaning, the full definition is instructive: “a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.”

It’s a wonderful image. An image true to so much of life, especially in these times. So much of what we have thought for some time to be true and unalterable has been scraped away by the edges of life’s movement, and perhaps it is yet just the flailing about of our crushed longings, but something new is being written on the old forms, something perhaps better and more true.

If we keep our eyes and our hearts open, maybe we’ll survive these latest insanities and move on to create that more beautiful world, one that is easier to love, but in the meantime, we have to keep loving the world as it is.

As Sonya says, “What else is there to love?”

Perspective on the scene

A few days of ignoring the news, especially the political news, has done wonders for my attitude! I feel lighter, and much more relaxed. Of course, I’m not advocating an ostrich approach to the tenor of the times, but dropping back for a bit seems to have the added advantage of giving me a better perspective on the current scene.

And this year, perspective is everything.

My blogger friend Rosie, a British ex-pat of sorts – she and her husband are both retired from some executive-type jobs and live in Spain somewhere – brings such amazing perspective on the current American political sideshow, as well as having a right proper insight into the British insanity of the moment, Brexit. She’s been a bit too busy with life lately to do much blogging, but she shares her commentary with me from time to time, and I find it quite enlightening.

“In the UK, sadly, it’s those who are desperate to turn back the clock who will suffer most as Brexit unfolds,” she said to me soon after the exit vote. She blames the leaders for not bothering to really explain things to the English voters. “It’s difficult to explain that the world has moved on, especially when you have the likes of Trump and Boris Johnson trying to further their own personal positions regardless of the rest of us. Hillary and her supporters need to show understanding of and empathy with the disenchanted, whilst demonstrating that Trump could never deliver what they hope for. The intellectual superiority and patronising attitude lost the referendum for the Remain campaign in Britain. I only hope Hillary does better…”

Rosie (that’s not her name, but she said I could call her that, as she blogs under the name Ramblinrosemaryann!) sees lots of similarities between the Brexit vote and the support for Trump. “Both sides in the [Brexit] campaign lied and/or exaggerated, but that apart, it seems there is a significant section of UK society that feels ‘left behind.’ Generally older, male and blue collar, their traditional occupations (mining, steel, heavy industry) have all but disappeared,” she said.

“They feel they have lost their place in society and their communities have been left to decline. Even if they and their children get service sector work, they can’t feel pride in it. The gap between them and the progressive, pluralist multi-culture grows wider daily. It’s been happening over decades, but the EU referendum gave them a chance to exercise a protest vote. They genuinely believed the clock could be turned back to the 1970s.”

This seems to me to be just what is happening in the US – just the same motivation. People who feel indignant, left out, economically side-tracked and culturally abandoned have turned to Trump without much real analysis of what it would mean for them should he actually be elected. Of course, that seems a more and more remote possibility, but these people aren’t going away and their feelings are not going to change unless Hillary really jumps into a progressive agenda, which seems unlikely.

“It’s too easy to say, ‘tough, the world has moved on’ – manufacturing isn’t coming back from China anytime soon!” Rosie said. “Something has to be done for the genuine concerns of these people. Building walls across the English Channel and the Mexican border might sound attractive to some, but can never be the answer.”

Though the British have begun to revisit the vote and some suggest it should be re-voted, while others say the implementation still can be avoided, it seems to be going forward. Let’s hope we don’t get into that here. I do understand those who can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary, but I’m still feeling the risk is too great to support a full-scale third party movement in this election.

But as many are beginning to suggest, including Bernie, we must begin to build a true progressive alliance on the ground in the US, and we must address the issues that are driving the fascist appeal. Otherwise we’ll be facing some other, probably slicker and more palatable, authoritarian candidate in the next election.

And then it will be too late to do anything about it.

¡No Pasaran!

They shall not pass!

This is my new motto, borrowed from Nadia (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, now Nadya) of the Russian fem-punk band Pussy Riot, who borrowed it from Dolores Ibarruri, a popular anti-fascist icon of Spanish Civil War fame.

Dolores gave a famous radio speech in July of 1936 that ended with the statement, “The fascists shall not pass! No pasaran!” It became the motto of the Spanish anti-fascist Republican, and this song was used in their campaigns:

¡NO PASARÁN!
Ahí van marchando los milicianos
Van para el frente con gran valor.
A dar sus vidas se van cantando
Antes que triunfe Franco el traidor.
En el espacio van los fascistas
Bombas aéreas destrozarán
La bella urbe capitalina
Pero a Madrid . . . ¡No PASARÁN!
Matan mujeres, niños, y ancianos
Que por las calles suelen andar.
Esta es la hazaña de los fascistas
Que allá en la historia se ha de grabar
Si sangre de héroes regó los campos
Bellas simientes resurgirán
El cañón ruje, tiembla la tierra
Pero a Madrid . . . ¡NO PASARÁN!
THEY SHALL NOT PASS!
There march the militiamen
With great valor to the front.
They go singing to give their lives
Lest Franco, the traitor. triumph.
The fascists are in the skies
Their aerial bombs may destroy
Our beautiful capital city
But to Madrid . . . They Shall Not Pass!
They kill women, children, and the elderly
Who are out and about on the streets
This is the deed of the fascists
Which will be inscribed in history.
Where heroes’ blood watered the fields
Beautiful seedlings will flourish.
The cannon roars, the earth trembles
But to Madrid . . . They Shall Not Pass!

= from  Women in World History, Primary Sources

http://chnm.gmu.edu/wwh/p/247.html

http://chnm.gmu.edu/wwh/p/248.html

Nadya and her fellow Rioter, Maria Alyokhina, have recently been speaking out on the American fascist tendencies revealed in the Trump campaign – particularly since Trump has been expressing admiration for their arch-nemisis Vladimir Putin – and warning the American people of what may happen.  “Here, all who are in opposition to Putin are in the security services’ sights. Our mail is read, our phones tapped and we are watched. And that is not the limit — some of us have been killed,” Alyokhina said in an interview, referencing the murder of former deputy prime minister Boris Nemstov, who was killed last year.

Nadya released a potent graphic last month aimed at the Trump campaign:

NadyaT

[Nadya’s comments indicate that this is an electric chair!]

Alyokhina also made this amazing statement, which seems to speak so directly to our situation: “Artists should make more powerful statements than politicians. We must change the world and its ways so that politics breathlessly runs after art.”

Maybe we are in the post-political period. Maybe politics are truly meaningless, just an anachronistic facade in America now. Maybe that’s why I feel so depressed and unable to relate to the whole thing in a positive way.

Maybe that’s why my strongest feelings are !No pasaran!

Not a political essay

This is not a political essay. This is an effort to see beyond what’s happening on the surface and align my intentions with a clearer perspective. I begin with the political only because the moment is so full of the political.

The DNC is over and the expected outcome manifested. Some of it was good, some of it was really inspiring, but taking a moment to reflect on all the rhetoric, it is clear that though there’s a huge difference in the perspective of the two parties, there is not a lot of real understanding in either of them. While I clearly will do all I can to ensure the election of Clinton, given the alternative, I kinda admit to the clothespin analogy the Bernie supporter invoked last night. But let me be clear on that: I don’t really think even Bernie would be that much different.

I know, there are  “yuge”, even VAST, differences, and significant impacts on millions of people, but I’m taking a longer view here. What all of it, including the fascist impulses rampant in our society today, arises from is a profound disconnect that has buried itself in our consciousness so deeply that we are generally unaware of it.

As many of the speakers pounded home in the last few nights, ‘this is about more than party differences, it’s about people’! Yes, it’s about people, how people live and think, this dualistic mindset that insists on breaking everything down into a “battle” that must be “won”. Like Merle Haggard’s “White Line Fever”, it’s a sickness born down deep within our souls.

Beneath all the philosophical and religious views and all our notions of right vs. wrong, there’s this one thing we agree on, and that is that there is such a thing as right and wrong, us and them, good and bad. It’s only in the definitions that we differ, only in the who is what, which usually means “they” are wrong and “we” are right.

And therein lies our essential problem.

Although in Buddhism as a religion there is as much dualism and right vs. wrong as most anywhere else, somehow there’s a core there, somehow the process of meditation itself – and this core is probably to be found in many other places as well, it’s just that Buddhism is where I found it – helps one break through the surface and experience things that make it clear – in a way that words can’t truly express and ideas can’t negate – that this ongoing process that I identify as “me” or “us” is just a point of light in great explosion that has likely been going on forever and will continue forever, because that’s really all there is is –forever.

This deeper level of experience (wherever one finds it), replicated and deepened throughout life, tends to snap all this political/social bullshit into some kind of relief. Tends to reveal it all as a transparent, shimmering facade.

Because really, in some way that’s impossible for me to explain or show outside of the experiencing of it, everything is all connected to everything else. Truly. Deeply. All the things we do in denial, or ignorance, or in spite of, this connectedness — all the insanity, the delusion, is the real reason for human suffering and ecosystem destruction, the real reason for all the fucked-uped-ness of this world.

Thus the great, egregious monstrosity that is American Empire and all that entails is built on the foundation of the monstrous way that human have constructed “civilization” on top of the ruins of billions of lives, and that edifice itself is built on the notion that each individual human is somehow discrete. Separate. Disconnected.

Until we find ways to help everyone heal from that profound disconnect, born in the illusion that “I” am a real, discrete separate individual and what I do only affects, we will go on making war on ourselves, on the rest of life, and on the entire inanimate cosmos.

Charles Eisenstein lays out this case much better than I, and in a recent essay – Of Horseshoe Crabs and Empathy – makes a brilliant argument that the implications of all this are that our energies are better directed toward the development of love for the world and action at local levels than great political or even environmental battles.

It’s in those experiences of love for the particulars of the world that we know the truth about the whole of the cosmos, he argues, and only in those kinds of “seeing” do we come to understand the connection we have lost. Feeling those losses, rather than following some set of rules or beliefs, is what can motivate and guide us to authentic action.

He says:

If everyone focused their love, care, and commitment on protecting and regenerating their local places, while respecting the local places of others, then a side effect would be the resolution of the climate crisis. If we strove to restore every estuary, every forest, every wetlands, every piece of damaged and desertified land, every coral reef, every lake, and every mountain, not only would most drilling, fracking, and pipelining have to stop, but the biosphere would become far more resilient too.

—- Charles Eisenstein – Of Horseshoe Crabs and Empathy

 

Trumpism = More of the Same…

After Nixon defeated McGovern in ’68 or whenever that was, James Taylor said that Nixon won because “he offered the American people a lie, a fairy tale of what life is really like, that America could continue living the way they have been, that our society is valid, that for all practical purposes the point of view of the average American citizen is true, when just the opposite is the case.”

Seems a lot of people still want to believe that lie. People want to believe that individualism, competition, consumption, empire-building, war, reductionist pseudo-science – on and on, are true and valid ways to be a people in the world today, when, as James says, just the opposite it true.

Breathing thru the pain

My dharma friend Maia Duerr has a beautiful perspective on the recent horrors of hatred and violence rife in our world: it’s all the pain of birthing a new life.

In her July Full Moon newsletter, Maia shared her thoughts and a wonderful new video from India.Arie, “Breathe”, which led me to a good cry that I knew I had been needing! Maia says she believes “we are in the throes of some tremendous birthing process.”

With every bone in my body I believe we are on our way to living into a more awakened way of being with each other and being on the Earth. But we are not there yet. Like any birthing process, the going can get very rough and it would be delusional for me to not recognize that things will likely get ‘worse’ before they get better. Those who are entrapped by fear and ignorance are acting out in ever-more terrifying ways. But always remember this is not the truth of who we are as human beings. 

As some in the #blacklivesmatter movement have pointed out, things are not necessarily worse now, they’re just getting uncovered. What we’re seeing is the karmic fruit of centuries of injustice and a mindless, grasping social and economic order. Maia says, “This brutally honest recognition of “what is,” painful as it may be, is a necessary step toward transformation.”

We can only continue to live our lives if we maintain some kind of confidence that this transformation, this world-wide awakening, is possible and is happening despite our difficulty seeing it.

Maia’s words, and India.Arie’s video, are helping me get through this week.

#blacklivesmatter

A different perspective on crisis

Charles Eisenstein, my go-to guy for understanding what’s happening in this crazy world, for making sense of it – at least the sense of seeing clearly what the causes and implications of it all are – has written another gem. Whatever he writes about, it seems that he’s able to clarify everything and bring a beautiful, open perspective to the world as he explicates the question at hand.

This one is on ‘Brexit’ – and by extension Trumpism.

He says that the conventional interpretations of the motives of the anti-elitist sentiment as expressed in both these current phenomena are flawed and patronizing to the extreme, blaming it all on the ignorant xenophobia and racist attitudes of the ‘yahoos’. He notes that there are deep and legitimate reasons behind both the anti-EU vote and Trump supporters’ anger.

We don’t agree on what to do, but more and more of us have lost faith in the system and its stewards. When right-wing populists blame our problems on dark-skinned people or immigrants, the response they arouse draws its power from real and justifiable dissatisfaction. Racism is its symptom, not its cause.

It’s the underlying assumptions and attitudes that are creating all of these problems, the ideas that drive people to fear, anger and hatred against someone – who depending on one’s social analysis.

 The right-wing populists incite hatred and anger at the blacks, the immigrants, the Muslims, the gays, the transgender, the “libtards,” etc. The mainstream liberals stir up outrage against the bigots, the nationalists, the contemptible narrow-minded over-entitled “crazy” (a common adjective) climate-change-denying Bible-thumpers. Further left, the critics of neoliberal imperialism follow the same formula by invoking images of heartless corporate executives, greedy bankers, cowardly political elites, and drone-like bureaucrats and technocrats who should surely know better.

Understanding the causes of all this – and then communicating with each other about how to solve it – is the only way our world will come to find a way through all this that leads to a livable world for all.

Charles says the underlying issue is the mindset of modernity, the belief that we as humans are separate and set apart from the rest of life, and from each other.

 …it is part of a mindset that is integral to modernity and has roots going back to the first mass societies. It is fundamentally the mindset of war, in which progress consists in defeating the enemy: weeds or locusts, barbarians or communists; germs or cholesterol; gun nuts or traitors. And that mindset rests on a foundation more basic still: the Story of Separation that holds us as discrete, separate individuals in a world of other, in opposition to random forces and arbitrary events of nature, and in competition with the rest of life. Well-being comes, in this story, through domination and control: glyphosate, antibiotics, GMOs, SSRIs, surveillance systems, border fences, kill lists, prisons, curfews…

–Which pretty much describes most of the nasty stuff going on around us!

It is from this story too that neoliberal capitalism sources its power. It depends on the idealization of competition, encoded in “free markets,” as a law of nature and primary driver of progress; on the sanctity of private property (which is a primal form of domination) and, most of all, on exercising control over others through the creation and enforcement of debt.

At some point, Brexit, Trump, or worse will shake us out of our trance, break our fascination with this world story, and force us to confront the beliefs that underpin it all. Maybe then humanity will embrace the interbeing that is our true home, and we can all live in this world together.

Coal Karma

There is a certain degree of karmic fruiting involved in the whole threat of toxic coal ash dumping in this little southern community.

I say this with trepidation and apologies to friends and neighbors involved, as I don’t mean to make light of the threat or the struggle to prevent it, but only to put it in the larger context. And certainly I’m not saying it in the sense that this county, this community, has done something to specifically deserve this fate. (Though our leaders could have been more astute!)

No, the choice of spots to dump on is pretty random in the rolling engine of destruction, the Leviathan that is big-coal/big-utility/big-disposal.

In the bigger picture, however, the cultural context of late-stage capitalism in the U.S., we all have brought this on ourselves, gorging ourselves on the material world without thought of the consequences for the past several centuries. In a capitalist system ruled by profit, if we want cheap energy for the vast array of “labor-saving devices”, entertainment, recreation, travel, business – and all in air-conditioned comfort – then we must burn coal, split atoms, dam rivers, drill and mine. All those things that are insult to the Earth and anathema to life.

Why have we done this?

As Ta-Nehisi Coates explains in his recent work Between the World and Me, [see my post], the same mentality that created and perpetuated the plunder of colonialism, slavery, and racism is behind our current ecological crisis:

Once, the Dream’s parameters were caged by technology and by the limits of horsepower and wind. But the Dreamers have improved themselves, and the damming of seas for voltage, the extraction of coal, the transmuting of oil into food, have enabled an expansion in plunder with no known precedent. And this revolution has freed the Dreamers to plunder not just the bodies of human beings but the body of the Earth itself.” [p. 150]

In another post, I noted:

Both [Coates and James Baldwin] maintain that the same forces that have driven black people into slavery have created the degraded forms of life now ruling the ghettos and the suburbs alike, and promise to destroy all that is lovable in human life as well as threaten the very biosphere – at least the parts of it that we depend on. Baldwin sees our only salvation in “transcendence of the realities of color, of nations, and of altars.” [p. 81]

So this threat of toxic destruction looming over small rural communities throughout the southern U.S. could be seen as the ultimate karmic retribution for our sins of racism, consumerism, plunder.

I believe that only as we can rise above these past divisions and join together will we be able to avoid this immediate threat and the long-term threat our way of life poses to life on the planet.

Related posts:

https://shunyatasapprentice.com/2015/09/30/the-fire-next-time/

https://shunyatasapprentice.com/2015/09/18/as-though-she-were-normal/

https://shunyatasapprentice.com/2015/09/29/on-between-the-world-and-me/