Ideas & Short Essays
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Election day and how is your stomach?

Trump is hitting the campaign trail, hitting it hard in the way that Trumpty Dumpty sort of way he has, and one of his repeated platitudes is some variation of “I’m not on the ballot, but I’m on the ballot,” also taking the form of “think of yourself as voting for me.”

I haven’t been following this election as carefully as I should. I haven’t been well. I’ve been struggling with digestive/gut issues since last spring, and it’s taken its toll. My energy levels have been pretty low. 

I turned forty this summer, and the I suppose it’s befitting on a birthday such as this to have some sort of reminder of one’s mortality, but the universe has gotten a bit carried away, methinks. My energy levels have pretty much plummeted to that of someone at least twice my age. The other day I caught myself envying the old dude shuffling along the sidewalk in his walker, thinking to myself that it sure would save precious energy if I could just lean on something a little while I walk. I had plenty of time to size up his situation, of course, because I wasn’t walking much faster than he.

In any event, I’m feeling hopeful, feeling like I’m on the upswing. I’ve at least been able to eat solid foods again and in enough quantities to give me energy to write this post. (For those into food/gut stuff, I’m on the low FODMAP diet and avoiding high FODMAP foods has panned out well for me these last five days.)

Figuring out digestive stuff can take a while. There’s a lot going on down there and sorting out what ails ya takes time, time and money. The time took much longer, in my case, because I was living in bush Alaska until recently, and the nearest reputable clinic would have been about 6 hours away.

(This would be Valdez. Glennallen is only 4 hours away, and they have a clinic, but I don’t consider it “reputable.” It’s a little sketch, since they have Sunday School pictures of Jesus hanging on the walls of the clinic. If this was some sort of hipster irony, I’d dig it, but given the fundamentalist evangelical influence in the area, I have no doubt that the images of white European Jesus kneeling in prayer, surrounded by light, are meant as part of a broader “mission field” that they see themselves a part of. Anchorage would be ideal, the place with the most options, but Anchorage is 7 hours from McCarthy.)

It’s been good for the soul, though, this deprivation of appetite. I have a fairly healthy appetite and love to eat. In fact, just tonight I was at the table with the family at dinner, and my skinny 8 year-old nephew took a massive plate full of spaghetti, for which he was immediately given the Your-Eyes-Are-Bigger-than-Your-Stomach speech that all parents learn as part of the How-To-Parent 101 Class.

“Look,” they said to me. “Look at his plate!”

“Well,” I said, “It looks like a plate I would have had, when I was his age.”

But I haven’t had plates that size in a while, and my gut woes have reduced me to a more monk-like existence, which has been a good learning experience. I think that living a bit more like a monk has given me a bit more of a monk-like perspective, that is to say I feel I’m a bit more removed than normal, sort of standing at a distance. I have less a sense of being a part of the action or of investing in the action, because I just don’t have the energy. I don’t have the stomach for it, so to speak.

So perhaps that’s why I am thinking more in terms of the bigger picture on election day, when it comes to the Trump referendum, where he is not on the ballot but on the ballot. He is there, but not there. Probably Trump is more there than not. This round of voting is pretty much all about Trump, so I think that by tomorrow we’ll have a little better sense of where we are going, politically, in the future, in terms of how much political strength the Trump movement will have within the Republican Party, and of course within the United States.

With my monk-like distance, I think about where we’ve come from, and that takes my mind back to the Cold War, to the Cold War mentality and Cold War politics. The Cold War was a war between the ideologies of capitalism and communism. For my money (limited funds, to be sure, with my tummy troubles), I’d reckon that future historians will see these competing ideologies as two sides of the same coin, but for the generations that lived through them, the ideological struggle was defined in terms of communism versus capitalism. The differences between the two seemed stark, and the stakes were definitely high.

Television Eichmann trial in Jerusalem - Holocaust TV - NAZI Germany

But the Cold War is over. Capitalism won, and love it or hate it, capitalism won in a convincing fashion. It helps that capitalism has no moral center or moral accountability; being amoral always makes it easier to win a war. In any event, we’ve shifted from fighting between capitalism and communism to a struggle about globalization.

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This is nothing new, though. Prior to the Cold War, in fact, globalism was the dominant geopolitical issue. Capitalism and socialism were important, but the central issues of power revolved around globalism, and globalism took the form of Imperialism, which was sort of a global-scale Game of Thrones played out by white males.

The Young Karl Marx

So in some ways it seems that we are shifting back into some of the same debates and arguments that existed prior to the Cold War. This involves arguments about the manner and method and extent to which we want to be connected as a human species. We have very different ideas on how this should look, and it taps into people’s deepest held beliefs about the nature of humankind, our place in the world. It raises questions of human nature itself.

And it isn’t just theoretical. These are issues that have the potential, in my mind, to release far more emotion, because people tend to be protective of their space.

In any event, here’s the doodle that I did the other day, to sort of illustrate to myself the political shift that I’ve been ruminating about whilst lying around with low energy:

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We’re used to thinking about politics strictly in terms of “right” and “left,” which usually means that we think of it in terms of a line and a continuum. There’s the center, the left and the right. But this is based on thinking about politics based solely on where one stands in relation to capitalism and socialism. This is Cold War thinking. Most of us don’t think at all about the issue that has eclipsed the struggle between capitalism and socialism.

So, in my head, I bent the line, curved it into a circle. This gives me two continuums to work with, and as it so happens, I can plop both issues onto one graph. Very handy. And as it turns out, it makes sense when you start to fill it in with the various politics positions that people hold these days.

One of the interesting things, to me, is that the alliances are shifting, and they will continue to shift. We are shifting away from defining our politics in Cold War terms (capitalism versus socialism) and back toward the struggle between Globalism and all of those whose allegiances are local or national. But, of course, the tension between capitalism and socialism isn’t going away.

As we shift, though, many on the far right and the far left will start to see that they have common goals…at least if my graph is to be believed….Those on the far right/left might begin to see allies in folk that they believed were their enemies, which feel a bit awkward at first, but alliances will shift. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

We all know about how those on the far right tend toward Nationalism, which is an anti-globalist position. That movement gets plenty of press right now, and of course we’ve heard a good bit about Brexit, but many on the far left have always been motivated more by local issues than by Cold War ideological conflicts. To be specific, these leftist include the Mayberry sort, the salt-of-the-earth-back-to-the-landers who bring in trucks of veggies to the local farmer’s market as well as the more aggressive eco-terrorist crowd, and a host of folks that fall in between. It’s a spectrum, but they are all reacting against globalism. The far left has always been motivated to preserve specific bioregions (environmentalists) or defend traditional indigenous cultures (various Native Rights organizations and even many New Age spiritualities) or  protect forests and non-human species (think Greenpeace).

So globalism is back on the table, and I think that the MAGA movement reflects that, confused as it is about what it believes or why. It’s understandable, in a sense, because this shift has created a bit of a political clusterfuck that we’re all still sorting out.

It’s kind of all a clusterfuck for me, these days, so I’m taking my ques from the old monks from the Zen tradition, the classic old dudes, contrarian as they were yet with a sense of humor that’s good for the soul. The world takes its course. We do our best, we do what we think is right, but history has a mind of its own, moving from one clusterfuck to the next.

 

28 Comments

  1. Like I tell people: in a Capitalistic society you don’t vote at the ballet box, you vote daily with your dollars; you vote for the local coffeeshop instead of Starbucks since you agree with their business model moreso and since you want to empower a local businessperson rather than some corporation somewhere else. If you walk into a Wal-Mart, you’re voting for political slave labor in China as a business model. If you use Google as your default search engine, you’re voting for selling out Chinese citizens to their own government. I vote many times a day, if you think about it. I do it consciously with the decisions I make and you can, too.

    Liked by 4 people

    • You’ve definitely got something there. I hear people articulate that perspective from time to time, and I think you are expressing the perspective of most Americans, even though they may not necessarily be able to so concisely state it, in the way that you’re able to do. I think it helps explain the lack of interest in participation in the democratic process. Historically, Americans have taken their right to vote far more seriously and actually excercised that right, viewing it as a privilege, but that seemed to have shifted and changed, which I think correlated with the advent of mass marketing (cf. Don Draper of Mad Men) and the superabundance of consumer goods. For many, many decades, voting turnout has been extremely low. There are other reasons, of course, including a sense of cynicism and the general feeling that “everything is rigged” or that there’s no real choices, to speak of, on the ballot, all of which have some kernel of truth.

      Most Americans seem to expect politicians simply to keep the economy running. “It’s the economy, stupid.” The general idea seems to be: keep the economy humming and then we’ll vote with our dollars.

      In a certain very important sense, you could say that we’ve morphed democracy into consumerism. The question I have is this: does it actually empower people?

      Personally, I don’t see that it has, because in a capitalist economy corporations still create the framework for this exercise in consumeristic democracy, and we have to play by their rules. In a capitalist economy, the house always wins. Walmart has been around a long time. I haven’t shopped there for a decade or so, but my personal boycott — impressive as it may be — hasn’t stopped Walmart from exploiting workers, the world over, and harming the planet by flooding the land and seas with plastic. And when Walmart calls it quits, Amazon will be there to pick up where they left off.

      My favorite indie coffee shop in Santa Cruz was pushed out of business by a Starbucks, even though this is northern coastal California, one of the more progressive areas of the nation.

      But Americans feel like their consumer choices matter, and that has great power over the mind. Add to the fact that participating in democracy is a tedious and difficult process (to actually take the time to be informed about events on a local, national and international level). It’s just more fun to vote with your dollars: you can have the joys of consumerism while at the same time participating in democracy.

      So, I think you’ve put your finger on something pretty profound here, in terms of the zeitgeist of our culture.

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  2. I wouldn’t say that *we* have morphed democracy… This morphing began with the Act of 1871. Heavy in civil war debt, Congress took a Faustian bargain with banking families (Rothchild, Rockefeller, …), gambling that they could pay off the loan in perhaps 20 years. In doing so, they incorporated the U.S., replaced our constitution with a corporate constitution (removing the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery) and sold its real estate, properties to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) but most importantly, they converted its former citizens into “chattel property”.

    Of course they defaulted on the debt. Any of the alphabetic zoo of organizations which you think are part of our government reports directly to the IMF. The Federal Reserve is run by the IMF. Your SSN is nothing more than a serialized brand on a cow. Members of Congress and the President are merely executives in that corporation. They do the bidding of the stockholders, not ours as *chattel*. Even so, I’m convinced that the whole two-party system with the Electoral College as combined with Diebold voting machines is a rigged game anyway and the outcome doesn’t really matter. It’s all an elaborate play for the cattle to make sure that they keep eating their grass.

    Cynical? Yes. But the more you know, the angrier you should be. If you feel like making a change: inform, educate, stir the pot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish it were that simple, but from what I can tell, events are far more of a clusterfuck of forces than simply boiling it down to one entity that pulls the strings. I don’t mean to take away from your indictment of the IMF and the history of banking in manipulating and controlling the United States government, I just see things are being infinitely more complex.

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      • More complex… how so? I would have thought that a façade of federal government in front of bankers-in-control would have seemed complicated enough. Certainly the oil industry prevents change from happening in the way that cars are fueled. And only a handful of corporations control the food which is distributed here in the states. The Bilderberg Group, the Bohemian Grove, Skull and Bones, crypto-eugenics societies and thinktanks, take your pick.

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      • Yes. It is complicated enough, but there’s so many more forces competing for power and money. There are international players. There are new technologies that change the nature of power. And in the modern era, it is necessary that people in developed nation’s have an illusion of freedom. (One way to achieve the illusion of freedom is by way of consumer choices, I would suggest, a less effective way is by a limited democracy, i.e., only give the people two political parties, both of which represent corporate interests.)

        I mean what we are discussing is power, the nature of how power works, and that’s a far more complicated discussion than drilling it down to one or two puppet masters. Perhaps it used to be more simple in the days of kings and queens, but having watched and read Game of Thrones, I’m not even sure if say it was all that simple, even in the days of the monarchs.

        The respected sociologist Michael Mann discussed power in four ways: ideological, economic, military, and political. Within that mix, the nature and structure of power is constantly shifting and changing. This isn’t to say that there are not powerful entities like the IMF and that they do not cooperate with oil companies and politicians, forming evil alliances to fuck us over, it’s just there’s always a lot more happening at a given time. Furthermore, what revolutionaries have always understood so well is that when power gets uber concentrated in the possession of the few, this will inevitably open certain opportunities and lay bear vulnerability. When power funnels to the top, power becomes top heavy and can easily topple, for lack of a solid base/foundation. Revolutionaries and Reformers have always had a keen eye to spot these vulnerabilities.

        Again, I don’t mean to invalidate your points. I just see the workings of power as being extraordinarily complex…which I suppose is what makes it all so goddam fascinating to me. =)

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  3. I know I am just a simpleton here, and the world is full of complexities I will never master.

    So, I appreciate the observations about Oil executives, Food distribution conglomerates Skull and Bones and thinktanks. (I will probably have a firmer grasp of all of those once I watch the Netfix documentary on it (which I am sure will be a fair and balanced assessment by “disinterested” parties.)

    But I am one of those who sees what I think is good insight going both ways here.

    Meanwhile MAGA!

    While I am sitting around waiting to be informed, my country is taking to the very simple, pithy, message of Make American Great Again.

    I am sure I could psychoanalyze and do social studies about why and how that seems to win the day while my attention is turned, but it is clear to me that pithy statements are really helpful!

    “Guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill people.” (Wow! That’s not really even that pithy, but Wow!)

    Where is the pithy comeback that shuts it down??? (“Bye Felicia!”)

    “I keep thinking and working with … “Yeah, so lets keep those guns out of the hands of PEOPLE!”

    Of course that issue is not so simple by a long stretch. But this is the level at which it is fought. And it is fought.

    I don’t vote at the ballot box. I have my complex religious and personal reasons. And anyway, I don’t like the choices. I mean Hillary and Trump??? These were the best we had to choose from? My God! Even “Jeb!” is better than that. (Only Cruz was in that third ring of hell, but these are the choices at the end of the line, and I was not going to be a WINNER anyway. And our nation has not been a winner anyway. We are deeply in this mess and would have been if Hillary had won – just slightly different flavor.)

    But I do vote with my money and where I spend it. And that vote counts just as much as the ballot vote. (not much, but its what I got.) And I vote wrong a lot of the time.

    Things are so complex that usually its a matter of picking the lesser of two evils and hoping that we narrowed them down to the lesser of other evils.

    But whatever else, I think this discussion needs to find a path to better simplicity, or else it doesn’t stand a chance. My pea pickin brain is exploding.

    Just sayin…

    Thnx for the place to say it.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, man!

        Yeah. I am glad youre back. This is getting rich.

        Sorry, I am busy off line a bunch and so I will have to simmer with this and try to catch up with the state of the argument. Assuming I can.

        No. I have not read or watched Game of Thrones. But I have read a bit of Ancient Roman history. Does that count?

        As for secular history, its been a few years now, but I read Ferguson’s Civilization: The West and the Rest. A fascinating book. He took me on quite a journey through the toolies alright, and I loved it. Really made me think. And I almost swallowed it all. Maybe I should have. But I just couldn’t quite get it all boiled down to the idea that the reason why the West (USA chief among the players) would prove to be the real power brokers in both the past and the future head and shoulders above the rest because Russian teenagers and Chinese dissidents are just enamored with Levis jeans and Coca Cola.

        As to the bit about metanarrative and religion…

        Bravo! Good insight.

        However, I sense it only goes so far. What good is a metanarrative about God (assuming we all share it (which the Renaissance and the Englightment called the bluff on)) if we use it to iron out the stubborn bits of unneighborliness in a post -Darwinian worldview?

        Don’t we need to be true believers all together on the same page, submissive to this god/God all in harmony with him/it/her, with each other, and from the heart, mind, and soul?

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    • Agent X,

      I believe I have that Ferguson book. It’s been on my reading list for a while. I’m sure I’ll disagree with his pro-Western Civ position, as you can probably imagine, but I’ve been meaning to read it, nonetheless.

      You said: “What good is a metanarrative about God (assuming we all share it (which the Renaissance and the Englightment called the bluff on)) if we use it to iron out the stubborn bits of unneighborliness in a post -Darwinian worldview? Don’t we need to be true believers all together on the same page, submissive to this god/God all in harmony with him/it/her, with each other, and from the heart, mind, and soul?”

      That was probably THE central question around which the entire pre-Jesus Hebrew scriptures revolves. It’s certainly the question that animated the prophets, their raison d’être. They weren’t just calling a few people to repent, they recognized that a functional society required that “the people,” as a whole, dedicate themselves entirely to holy observation of the Mosaic Law.

      There’s much in that law code that is anachronistic, but a lot of it is pretty basic human stuff: if you treat people well, if you respect your neighbors, if you uphold justice, then you can build a decent society. When you start to cut corners, favor the rich, despise the poor and broken, and stop looking out for the other guy, then your culture is going to go down the shitter pretty quick. The latter, of course, is where we are in America, obsessed as we are with the individual and blinded by consumerism and the succeed-at-any-cost mentality of capitalism.

      But your question isn’t just about the basics of human society, you’re also bringing in the theological and spiritual, and that’s a good deal more complicated. It’s complicated because, as you suggest, we live in a post-Christian era. It’s a worldview that would have been (literally) unfathomable to the old prophets and most anyone else living in ancient society.

      I started reading Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age. I didn’t finish it — at least not yet — but he develops this with a depth and honesty that I’ve never seen. Just thinking about it makes me want to get back into it and finish it. I think you’d enjoy it.

      I don’t know how much you engaged this stuff a decade or two ago, but back in the 00’s I was quite intensely engaged with the Emerging Church movement and the discussions regarding the place of the church in a post-Christian era. The discussions were mostly composed of evangelicals, but there were some from Catholicism (Richard Rohr) as well as mainline demoninations (Marcus Borg, Diana Butler Bass, et al).

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      • The thing is… I don’t think I can argue you into my views. Let me say that again with emphasis: I don’t think I CAN argue you into my views.

        On the one hand, I am just not that good at presenting; on the other I see this as a phenom typical of most people most of the time.

        I still find it a worthwhile exercise, but I don’t think it gets that much traction – at least not the traction that it would seem to have.

        If I was 18 and sitting in a lecture at a big northern, liberal college delivered by a liberal prof, odds are good I would swallow everything said (or a good deal of it) and maybe even start shaping my life, habits, politics and so forth on it. Yet, if I was 18 and sitting in a lecture in a small southern conservative college delivered by a conservative prof, I would swallow most of that too.

        In fact… (I think I have shared this with you before, but cant remember specifically)… when I was in my early 20’s I moved to AZ, and I took a job where both me and my coworkers listened to A LOT of conservative talk radio. And even now, one of the things I appreciate about that experience (though I have gone back and changed my views about maybe 85% of the stuff I formerly swallowed), I am glad that I have a much better sense of taking personal responsibility for myself than I did before that.

        But I began voting like what I was hearing, and looking back I think I was far more impressionable than it seemed.

        When I was a teen, I didn’t vote, but I believed in abortion. It just made too much sense to me that if a human is unwanted in this world then we should spare a life of pain with a quick snuff rather than some idealistically saving the life so they can endure maybe 100 years of pain and bewilderment.

        Yeah, I used to hold to such a view. I was very young.

        I really think that line from Freddie Mercury “Wish I never been born at all” just made a lot of sense to me.

        Mercury never made an argument that persuaded me. I just latched on to this sentiment and tried to work out good reasoning.

        And I did!

        That is really strong reasoning. And if I found you stuck in a burning car, and I was unable to get you out, I might make Hawkeye’s choice too (last of the mohicans) and put you out of more misery. Some fates are worse than death!

        So, I have all these good reasons playing against each other. And I appeal to you for reason and shared values all the time. You with me. But this rarely sways any of us, and when it does… not with lasting change.

        We (all of us, no notable exceptions) really take Spock-like logical approaches to our beliefs and values, and all of us fail to live up to even our own standards somewhere sometime. Most of us make big, deep decisions about such matters either entirely based on emotions or influenced by them. We don’t escape this. There is not some pure logic vacuum where we all go and shape our lives, opinions, politics etc.

        Being informed?

        Yeah. That plays a part, sure. But We are always behind the curve – at least on some matters, we all resist what we know about something, we get misinformed all the time, and so that is not a magic bullet either.

        I am a Christian. Very conservative (mostly) about it. I am an American Christian, no less.

        I happen to look at other American Christians and think: Wow! You idiots taught me to value what Jesus commands as more important than ANY OTHER authority! But I look at the monkey business you promote in political circles and think: You didn’t get that from Jesus!

        But I, like nearly all the others from my generation, grew up going to public school where there was a rather firm separation between church and academia.

        In school, I learned about evolution, about logic, about science and the scientific method for gaining knowledge.

        In church I learned about creation, about miracles, about faith, about respect for my elders and so forth.

        These messages did not fit together. They found conflict with each other. But they found resting places in ME. How could I function in this?

        I looked around and watched the others around me. You couldn’t pray in school, and you couldn’t teach about creation. But you could in church – a safe place for little enclaves of like minded people to lay claim to things that were funneled into my heart while my ass belonged to the empire. I learned when to say what and where.

        Who is really in charge in this?

        The school was the winner.

        So I held private, personal, pious views and values safely kept in check and devoted all that stuff to a pie-in-the-sky utopia that this world couldn’t touch. None of this was reasonable.

        Meanwhile, my ass belonged to a world shaped by a survival-of-the-fittest world-order. There is no LOVE in that world. Trust is severely lacking and untrustable. But it makes sense of things a lot better. We can appeal to REASON, and we all have a shared value of SURVIVAL. (Nevermind that this worldview requires its own kind of faith (a very corrupt faith) and somehow makes allowances for any manner of exceptions that rarely if ever get challenged in the debates.)

        Meanwhile, politics.

        Politics makes room for so much unreasonableness for a shared value – tradeoffs for this and that at every turn that keep kicking the payback down the road another day. This is strange bedfellows!

        When did the Christians ever get so enthused about a PUSSY GRABBER??? Isnt that what we impeached Clinton for? And don’t split hairs about cigars with me on this, there is a strong case categorically here, but NO ONE is making it! The Christians are turning out in droves to champion a jerk! A man who cant behave himself to save his life! He is NOTHING like the ideal Christian that I can see – certainly not what I was raised to revere. He is 90% everything that would have got me in trouble at church when I was a kid!

        But you wouldn’t know that today by listning to my brothers and sisters!

        Even the Christians aren’t seeking a shared story. We were fitting our “important” story into private, personal piety and aiming it at pie in the sky so that we could really join the evolutionists in their world – a world that gives us electric light bulbs, cars, and telephones. And what can I say, Pharaoh’s wise men can throw their staffs on the ground and make snakes too! It’s a 666 instead of a 777, but that’s close enough for the modern, American “Christian” it seems.

        I agree we need to tell the same story, but I don’t think we can engineer it. I think we can only be engineered by it.

        And I think by even attempting to draw all these elements together in a simple response on a blog is like putting it all in a blender and saying, here… drink this.

        Perhaps a better disciplined mind would present it better, but like I say above, even they are subject to other principalities and powers at work here inhibiting their effectiveness too.

        Meanwhile, as I was responding to all this… MAGA was still running rampant, and I have done practically nothing to slow it down.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X: “I agree we need to tell the same story, but I don’t think we can engineer it. I think we can only be engineered by it.”

        I think you’re right. When it comes to the stories that will shape our lives, we don’t want to outsource the job to a marketing agency. Yet, on the other hand, we are quite trusting, by nature, of the stories that are embeded within the culture and tradition that we are born into, and often these are either “engineered” or else they develop as a result of a process, over time. The stories passed down by oral tradition were changed and tweeked for a while, but when everyone in your community accepts them as authentic, we are most likely to simply accept them.

        We trust our tribe, and that’s natural, but what happens in 21st century America when there are no local tribes? Even basic/immediate family units (as in two parents) are unstable. Then what? Do we grow up putting some of that innate trust into Disney, to the stories we watch on the screen? Or do we just mostly grow up without a sense of tradition and without stories to guide our lives? Does that leave us with an inner emptiness, a void were guiding stories and narratives used to reside?

        I grew up with biblical stories as foundations, so I had an object for my innate trust to latch onto. These were stories that my imagination could run with, and they were also stories to guide my life. Much of it was mixed up with weird fundamentalist balogne, but even so, I value the stories themselves.

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  4. With respect to solutions or possibly just coping strategies then, I tend to group things into:

    1. what’s good for myself and the people I care about
    2. what’s good for our country
    3. what’s good for the world

    For the first, it feels like the best approach to take is to be informed, to understand the mechanisms and players involved and to attempt as best as possible to live an enjoyable existence. Educate others to what’s really taking place, abandon the credit-living American dream and find some peace.

    For the second, it feels like some sort of revolution is required in order to fix this. I would guess that the only feasible solution would look like a military coup.

    It’s clear to me that climate change and the ecology isn’t going to fix itself unless something drastic occurs. World population continues past 6 billion, 7 billion and well on the way to 8 billion now (est. in five years). All the while, honey bee populations are a small fraction of what they were sixty years ago; without pollination there are no crops. How do we suggest a fix for the planet when there’s so much wrong?

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    • I probably have a similar approach, in general terms. I tend to think that a violent revolution is the last resort and perhaps not what is called for at this moment in time.

      As a writer, I tend to think in terms of shared stories. My reading of Yuval Harari’s book Sapiens was very influential. Harari makes the point that humankind was able to catapult to the top of the food chain due primarily to our ability to cooperate, and our ability to cooperate on a mass scale comes from sharing a common story. Stories inspire us and move us to act in ways we otherwise would not. Religion is an example in that religions are based on a shared story (or multiple stories) and strangers in far removed parts of the globe can work together if they share a common story and perspective.

      The trouble now is that we have no shared story, to work toward the contemporary problems that we face. Our stories are mostly outdated and often counterproductive, i.e., most religions and most national narratives.

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  5. How’s *this* for a common story…? Most of the world’s religions are historically/metaphorically accurate if you just accept that aliens are real and have been around as protagonists to our story. I believe in evolution, I just think that—in its unadulterated form—it happened somewhere else. It feels like what we’re seeing here on our planet is a combination of what was likely four seeded populations by four geographically-separated teams, great expanses of evolutionary time in between and occasional monitoring as the years go by.

    Add to this some sort of 4000-year cycle in which we undergo rapid injections of technology followed by regression from these advancements. This might be explained if ours is a binary star system (rather than just the sun).

    And finally, suggest that telepathy is real science and you have all the makings of a holistic description of the world we experience.

    I would be interested to know if Sapiens talked at all about homo capensis and Tuthankamon.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Speaking of complicated, I’d suggest that we’re dealing with lots of these alien protagonists. I would guess that the original activity’s goal was to create a new race and the most likely reason would be to have slaves. I’m guessing that they were larger than ourselves, perhaps they created us to be about 2/3rd their size. So these “gods” would always seem impressive in our eyes.

        This would reasonably explain biblical stories of involving giants and Nephilim, the size of the Roman/Greek gods, giant skeletons turning up in archeological sites and the grand scaling of Egyptian statues of their gods as well.

        It’s entirely possible that the Earth is something like a software development venue, the software here being DNA. If so—and based upon the effort put into all this—we could assert that really awesome DNA is worth it’s weight in… well, it probably tops the chart for value-per-gram if you think about it. Imagine selling frozen vials of the stuff along with photos of Olivia Wilde, Bruce Lee, etc. Imagine that you’re another race who’s sufficiently advanced that you could take these genes and add them to your race or even to yourself. Wouldn’t this be the ultimate galactic cosmetic product, if you think about it?

        And then again, slavery is probably and unfortunately the galactic norm. It’s not just about “fixing me with better DNA”, imagine now having a strong slave race for mining operations or what-have-you.

        Earth has a fair amount of gold, copper, silver as well as uranium, for example. I would guess that some of the aliens aren’t here to interact with us; they’d just be here to rape our planet’s resources. From here, you could then deduce that most of the world’s religions when they talk about demons underground, they’re really talking about anecdotes where someone ran into these types and lived to tell the tale.

        As usual, you then get the alien races who are akin to the Jehovah’s Witness or the LDS type where they spend a fair amount of their existence interested in the spiritual growth of others. I’m sure that then some of the recurring spiritual/telepathic presence by these would explain most of the “god spoke to me…”, “answered my prayers…” sorts of stories which you hear.

        And finally, you get other less-beneficent telepathic types who get off on messing with humans. Now you have a ready explanation for all the homeless people who are actively having conversations with nobody, seemingly.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Your page always has the best comments section! I relate to much of your new perspective and distance and Zen approach. I am sorry that you have had health problems, I hope you continue to feel better. All the best, sending healing wishes from Pushkar!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes. I love Jonathan’s discussions. I think THIS is blogging! My blog shuts down discussions but I would prefer to have them.

      Thanx for allowing me to participate here. I try to listen (get a little lost sometimes) but I try, and I enjoy the open mindedness here. AND I enjoy being taken seriously too.

      Respect resides here.

      X

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    • Thanks! And wow. You’re in Pushkar! Very cool. I have very fond memories of my few days in that town. I think I mentioned it on your blog, but I did a Vipassana retreat at the center that’s not far from Pushkar and spent a few days before and after the retreat in the town with the holy lake. I hope your time there goes well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I remember, that’s why I mentioned it. It is wonderful, we leave Thu next week and will have had a month here: wonderful cows, Babas, The Holy Lake, and meeting people from around the world and hanging out with them and lovely staff at the guesthouse.
        I also wanted to say I loved your circle continuum and your observations on left and right. My husband and I had a similar converstation just before I saw your blog post, noting that some family of his are ‘right wing’ voters but we all were against Iraq war, for example. Splitting people apart along right and left (or Brexit), is sad and divisive and may be part of a plan to separate us, as well as not accurate and overly simplistic. Your ideas allow for bridges and understanding and are a lot more hopeful and realistic.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Its been a few days since I heard anything new from you. I hope you are still mending…

    Meanwhile, I have new/fresh thoughts about your post and the conversation. Basically, my mind is still on the same path I was before, pretty much, but with a new dimension I was not looking at before.

    I keep thinking about metanarrative on the one hand… how I totally agree that who ever tells the truly big story of the world thus runs the world (which means its a story about how that one came to run it and how it is then run – I think). Anyway, I am certain that you don’t come to this view of things haphazardly, by accident, and not with simple thoughts. It’s a complex thing – narrative and metanarrative. Its even more complicated to analyze the relation of it to running the world/ordering the world and politics etc.

    Just the fact that I can discuss it with you means you and I have given much thought to the topic. We may see it the same; we may not. But any mutual understanding we have between each other means we have thought about it in depth.

    Meanwhile MAGA!

    The thing is… MAGA is pithy! It doesn’t require nearly as much thought and not nearly the depth. Some, sure, but not nearly as much.

    Yet, despite it being pithy and relatively thoughtless, it too taps into A STORY. In fact, the “A” at the end of MAGA (AGAIN) points right to the fact that this is a story we already know… it does not have to be invented from scratch. You don’t have to think too hard about it. You merely need to recognize it and give it your allegiance. And the story is quite attractive to a lot of us – even if not terribly well defined.

    I mean, for the story of MAGA is attractive alright, but then I tend to think of it as 1950’s, White/middle-class Americana. Picket fences, suburbs, GM/Ford/Dodge cars-n-trucks. Lot’s of good jobs to go around. Plenty of oil and gas and food. This is all the peaceful, tranquil side of the story.

    The other side is just as bright, if not brighter! Let’s talk about military hegemony!!! We had just dropped two atomic bombs on the world and ended the war that was bigger than the war to end all wars. Americans could walk anywhere in the world with their heads held high and get total respect. So we did. And we did. And it FELT GOOD!

    Yeah. I think of all of that. And it’s rather easy and simple to think about. BOOM! BOOM! and all this is ours!

    It’s only when I begin to ask nosey questions and scratch those irritating little itches at the edges that I begin to see cracks in this story.

    Jim Crow and back woods lynch mobs… Japanese internment camps… Native American poverty and injustice… Hmmm the race problem…

    Women had just flooded the workforce in the war effort, and had proven themselves as major contributors to workforce solutions… the horse had already busted loose on that, but here we were trying to put it back in the barn.

    The White, Middle-class MALE didn’t have to concern himself with this. And my grandparents lived it and passed on the values of it to me. To me, this is the primordial mythology of my life and of the last 3 generations. How can I look at that and not FEEL the pull of it? And you don’t strictly speaking have to be white and male to appreciate it in part or whole.

    MAGA… meanwhile…

    And once I go to talking about metanarrative, my MAGA infatuated friends either start to yawn or feel suspicious that I am undermining their story (which I am).

    Nevertheless, it helps to get a name for the demon. His name is LEGION.

    But I know a story where LEGION runs to the boat where Jesus just CROSSED OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE and he bows down to him begging mercy. I may not get many to listen to this story, and even fewer to sign on with this Jesus, but I will stick with it/him. The two are locked into a fight for my imagination. and as far as mine is concerned, Jesus wins.

    The one thing I think my liberal friends (even the secular and otherwise NONChristian ones too) can do is challenge those of us who claim Jesus with our lips but who betray him with our votes and politics. A Two Corinthians quotin’, self-professed PUSSY GRABBER is not Jesus and does not represent him.

    Call us out for that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent thoughts, X. I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments. I crinkled my brow a bit, though, when I read your last few paragraphs. Not the part about LEGION. I agree with that. Personally, I think of MAGA as a demonic movement. (Have you ever read theologican Walter Wink, as regards “The Powers”? Absolutely brilliant reading.)

      At the end, you talk about fighting the story with a moral and spiritual call to arms, so to speak. I mean, I get you on that. In fact, I can direct you to my old blog (100% theological) where I pretty much do that exact thing, in pretty much every post. So, I get you. In light of Christians endorsing and enthusiastically supporting a degenerate leader who tramples on everything and everyone that Jesus found sacred and holy, it’s an easy target for moral indignation and scriptural rebuff. However, I’m not sure that it will work.

      Trump-supporting Christians are held rapt by the story of MAGA — as we are discussing. MAGA has nothing to do with scripture (even though folk will find scriptural support). It isn’t about right or wrong (even though people will debate the morality of it until red in the face….I almost said “blue in the face” but that would imply a connection with the Democrats, lol). It isn’t about “values” even though people talk about values with pious reverence. It isn’t even about ideas or policy, despite how much folk talk about ideas and policy. It isn’t about God or Jesus or anything moral, not at all. It’s not truly about any of the above, not at the core of it all.

      At bottom, it’s the story that people are in love with. They are motivated and inspired by MAGA because MAGA makes sense of their lives and justifies their purpose in life (as well as their prejudices). They can see themselves IN the story of MAGA, a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s about a damn good story (a metanarrative) that makes sense of their own, personal stories (the narrative of their lives), and that’s what I latch on to, as a writer: the stories.

      So my suggestion is that what we need in America, at this moment, is a new story, and a better story. It isn’t about morality or ideas or values or policy, it’s about how to frame a new and deeply compelling story. There are leaders who are game-changers. They come along once or twice a century, but they change the paradigms because they can tell the story in a compelling way. Sounds easy, but if you’ve ever tried to write a novel (or even a good short story), you know how effing hard that is. (Note that I didn’t actually use the “f word” — aren’t you proud of me?)

      I’d say Reagan was a game-changer. He’s the original MAGA man, but he was able to frame MAGA in a way that inspired people, as opposed to Trump who is merely using MAGA to attack non-whites and women and folk who are economically disadvantaged in some way. But we really need a new story, and one of my big things is waiting to see if someone will step forward with a game-changing story in the near future.

      (As a side note, I’d say that the same thing applies to theology, as well. I think we’re due up for a new paradigm of biblical interpretation. If it doesn’t happen, the Christian faith will continue to decline.)

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      • Yes to Wink. His work on the POWERS was incredible. Some of his other work too, but I gotta say, I am conservative enough to cringe at one page of Wink only to be mystified on the next. A fascinating man.

        Honestly, I think you and I are off a cog in relation to our views. Which makes sense considering you are “out of religion” (to use your words) – which does not create a clear picture for me, actually, but leads me to think you do not consider yourself a “Christian brother”. I expect with your background, you can appreciate my use of those words.

        That said, you have, I believe, described yourself as formerly Evangelical (which I have a much better handle on) and that you once had an interest in Emergent Church (which, no, I don’t REALLY understand, but I have enough experience with to have a category in my mind). At any rate, I sense we hold similar views and have similar values that in the details, to the extent we want to relate them, are different – but even more than that different understandings of them at about that level too.

        Nevertheless, when you respond to me, you frequently reflect back to me enough of my own words and intent to see where my communications are a bit loose some places. And I appreciate it.

        So… with all those concerns about communique at least addressed (if not ironed out) I will say that I am an “INSIDER”. Strange to use that word for myself considering how much of an outsider I am functionally, but still, I am a critic from within. I didn’t chuck the faith, not even the church (though I have been more tempted that way this year than any before).

        At anyrate, when it comes to metanarrative, I believe we have one already, and I am exploring it and living within it best I can. As an insider, don’t believe other metanarratives, ultimately, are real. They are illusions. But, I believe other people, people who I respect no less, believe otherwise. I also don’t believe I can argue them into my worldview – maybe so, but with rare exception. And anyway, I don’t have it all figured out, so I wouldn’t be well prepared for it if I wanted to. And anyway, as I have stated before, the experts have been at it a long time, but they have not proved overly successful.. . at lest not since the 1950’s.

        I view our exchange as more of a taffy pull in a sense. Something casual… I try to be open minded and open to learn, but not willy nilly at the same time. I may be an insider, committed to it no less, but I am not a typical insider and I have been challenged to rethink A LOT of the standard insider stuff.

        I was raised to believe good people who have God’s favor go to heaven when they die, and this is the general goal of life… that bad people who do not have God’s favor go to Hell when they die, and that is the exact opposite of the goal of life. Heaven and Hell were both other worldly… not tangible to this universe except through morality. And of course when I was young the insider dispute among those of us inside was found on the fault line of God’s GRACE.

        According that that view we were all pretty much doomed to hell except for God’s Grace would save us. We couldn’t be good enough, moral enough to get into heaven. And anyway it couldn’t be earned either. The idea that you might earn your salvation (one wonders why it would be called salvation at that point) was “Pharisaical” and/or “legalistic”. But you could find God’s favor and thus his Grace if only you …

        The dot, dot, dot there is pretty much the point where I bet you and I differed all along. It kinda depends on which brand of protestant you are as to how you fill in the blank there, but we were all, with rare exception, playing the game by pretty much the same rules up until that point.

        My Baptist friends would “say the sinners prayer” and be saved. My Pentecostal friends would get the Spirit/speak in tongues or some charismatic formula, and they would find God’s grace. In my heritage, you had to get baptized, and it was important to do it according to a strict formula too.

        Sound familiar?

        I went to school and almost immediately my view on Hell was challenged. I didn’t become a universalist, but I did come to a view that the medieval picture of Dante’s Inferno was a category mistake. Soon after, I was challenged to see that HEAVEN is not a place I go to at all. Not that these words and ideas are irrelevant, but the categories in which we use them were deeply mistaken.

        Suddenly my view that a Great Day of Judgment in which God would destroy/annihilate the whole world and put the damned souls into a torturous existence for all of eternity changed. There is still a Judgment, even punishment, but its all re-ordered, and one of the key features is that the WORLD will be renewed and what we do with it now has bearing on both it in the future and on how we will live in that future. Suddenly ENVIRONMENTALSIM mattered to me AS A CHRISTIAN! And a whole lot more.

        Feel me yet?

        Now… as for metanarrative… This new found value for the environment suddenly puts me in a much more friendly position with atheists, pagans, wiccans, and anyone else who may or may not (but esp those who may) share this value. For different reasons, to be sure, but suddenly I have a lot in common with these people I formerly thought I had NOTHING in common with.

        Liked by 1 person

    • And…also…….thanks for asking about my health, my friend. =)

      I’m doing better, and eating again, and so am slowly getting some energy back. Hence a few blog posts and comments come trickling down.

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