Sunday, April 30, 2006

The evil in the world

The Evil:

Not long after the election in 2004 I had a dream where I had been locked up in a mental facility. While I was there something fundamental in the moral/spiritual fabric of the universe changed. It flipped so that what used to be normal no longer existed. The basic goodness at the core of existence disappeared leaving only those things we call evil.

There was once a morality that permeated society in an Andy Griffith or Dick Van Dyke Show kind of way where people greeting each other in fellowship rather than being fearful, averting one's gaze, and clutching one's purse or children lest they be snatched. Of course these shows were idealized, sanitized versions of white suburban or rural life, but in general, even in the heyday of jazz in the heart of New Orleans there was a basic norm in the fabric of society where the very idea of children taking guns to school and killing their fellow students would have been impossible to imagine. There is something very wrong in America today. Oddly, within days of this dream I came across an online article about a soldier transfered from Iraq to Ramstein under heavy sedation with the ruse that he was psychotic for speaking out against the atrocities he saw commited by soldiers in his own unit.

This topic came up in a conversation just this morning. Three very insightful things were said to me.

1) In a cartoon of Bush a number of things were listed (lying to go war, commiting a war of naked aggression, torturing people against the Geneva Conventions, etc) but because he committed no sexual indiscretion he was not impeachable and that Clinton's indiscretion was between him and his wife and should never have become public business and certainly did not meet the test of high crimes and misdemeanors.

2) The real rot in America began when Reagan invited the Evangelicals into the Republican Party.

3) It is evil to bring an unwanted child into the world.

There is something fundamentally wrong when the whole of morality is based purely on the sexual acts of human beings. There is far more to knowing right from wrong than this alone. Being obsessed about such acts is the product of a diseased mind and threatens to overrun what remains of the fabric of our society. That this element is running amok in America today is evidence of the tattered state of our society and the diseased state of our collective mind.

Re-establishing the Good:

The place to begin is to re-establish right from wrong. Sexual behavior alone is not the measure of all morality. It is but one aspect of the totality of moral behavior and must be put back in its proper context. It does no good to insist on sexual chastity and purity when our government lies to its people to start a war of aggression, and, detains, tortures, and kills innocent people. Abortion and gay marriage as threats to our country rank pretty low against these atrocities.

And in the grand scale of rampant poverty, slave wages, exporting jobs, the denial of medical care to millions, and the malpractice of medicine for profit renders the entire "culture of life" movement morally bankrupt.

At the heart of this moral bankruptcy is the utter failure to know the difference between humanity and inhumanity. The most absolutely necessary quality that distinguishes a human being from a two-legged monster is the feeling of commiseration, the ability to put oneself in another's place and walk a mile in their shoes. Those who lack this empathy are capable of the most heinous, depraved, and evil acts imaginable, not to mention those unthinkable. Who could have ever predicted the cold efficiency of the Nazi death camps with the cries of the suffering people falling on deaf ears and dead hearts?

Anyone claiming to be the only source of universal or absolute moral truth is a cult. All cults are despotic and totalitarian by nature because they short-circuit the individual's own moral conscience and replace it with delusional dogma. How else can denying the simplest medical care to a child and expecting faith alone to effect a cure be explained? If my house were on fire I would throw water on it or get an extinguisher rather than fall on my knees and expect prayer alone to put it out. Moreover, it was through religious and racial zealotry that the greatest crimes against humanity were carried out. We can never let that happen again.

If we are to ensure that America is safe for all people of the world to live here, then we must stand up to anyone, especially the religious zealots and their cults masquerading as Christians, and put a stop to their designs to remake America and the world in their image. They put us all in mortal danger by pretending to play God and judge who is fit to live and who is not. These organizations must be recognized as a real threat to our country and utterly discredited as cults.

But first, we must be clear on knowing right from wrong based on our ability to commiserate with the sufferings of others and from that determine what is fair and humane for all.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The war for peace: mulitple fronts

Despite what Cindy Sheehan thinks, we are at war. I am not talking about Iraq. I am talking about America. This war is not being fought with guns, bombs, and artillery. It is fought with words and ideas. It also being fought with a highly organized and well coordinated strategy on multiple fronts.

The two major fronts are:
1) the neo-cons, PNAC, Pox Americana, Karl Rove
2) the religious zealots

The zealots are the horse and the neo-cons are riding them for all they are worth.

The Rove machine is winding up for this fall's elections. Get ready once again for all the hot button social "ills" of our day that are ruining our country as the neo-cons make war on the world.

I'm not sure what to do about the insane. But we are going to have to restore humanity and sanity in this country or we are at serious risk for losing our republic altogether.

I really hope Cindy Sheehan and the rest of the left wing is ready for that eventuality. Otherwise they cannot call themselves members of the reality-based community.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The war to end all wars: winning the war for peace

Scott Ritter wrote an article posted at The most important part:
In short, the anti-war movement has come face to face with the reality that in the ongoing war of ideologies that is being waged in America today, their cause is not just losing, but is in fact on the verge of complete collapse. Many in the anti-war movement would take exception to such a characterization of the situation, given the fact that there seems to be a growing change in the mood among Americans against the ongoing war in Iraq. But one only has to scratch at the surface of this public discontent to realize how shallow and superficial it is. Americans aren't against the war in Iraq because it is wrong; they are against it because we are losing.

It is high time for the anti-war movement to take a collective look in the mirror, and be honest about what they see. A poorly organized, chaotic, and indeed often anarchic conglomeration of egos, pet projects and idealism that barely constitutes a "movement," let alone a winning cause. I have yet to observe an anti-war demonstration that has a focus on anti-war. It often seemed that every left-wing cause took advantage of the event to promote its own particular agenda, so that "No War in Iraq" shared the stage with the environment, ecology, animal rights, pro-choice, and numerous other causes which not only diluted the anti-war message which was supposed to be sent, but also guaranteed that the demonstration itself would be seen as something hijacked by the left, inclusive of only progressive ideologues, [emphasis mine] and exclusive of the vast majority of moderate (and even conservative) Americans who might have wanted to share the stage with their fellow Americans from the left when it comes to opposing war with Iraq (or even Iran), but do not want to be associated with any other theme.

The anti-war movement, first and foremost, needs to develop a laser-like focus on being nothing more or less than anti-war.
[emphasis in original]

The anti-war movement lacks any notion of strategic thinking, operational planning, or sense of sound tactics. So much energy is wasted because of this failure to centrally plan and organize. As a result, when the anti-war movement does get it right (and on occasion it does), the success is frittered away by a failure to have planned effective follow-up efforts, failure to have implemented any supporting operations, an inability to recognize opportunities as they emerge and a lack of resources to exploit such opportunities if in fact they were recognized to begin with. In short, the anti-war movement is little more than a walk-on squad of high school football players drawing plays in the sand, taking on the National Football League Super Bowl Champions.

In order to even have a chance of prevailing with the American people, the anti-war movement is going to need much more than just good ideals and values. It needs to start thinking like a warrior would, in full recognition that we as a nation are engaged in a life-or-death struggle of competing ideologies with those who promote war as an American value and virtue.
To which Cindy Sheehan rebuts in part with:
The anti-war movement is not on the "verge of collapse" because we are not organized, or because we don't take a "warriors" view of attacking the neocons and the war machine using the tactics of Napoleon, or Sun Tzu—but because the two-thirds of Americans who philosophically agree that the war is wrong, BushCo lied, and the troops should come home, will not get off of their collective, complacent, and comfortable behinds to demonstrate their dissent with our government.
Apparently Cindy Sheehan missed Ritter's point that those now opposing the war are NOT in fact against it for philosophical reasons. They are against it because we are losing. As the saying goes, "victory has many fathers, defeat is an orphan."

Sheehan's entire response is emblematic of Ritter's critique about the left being poorly organized and chaotic. What she failed to understand most of all is that waging peace also requires strategic thinking, operational planning, and a sense of sound tactics in order to win against those who wage war.

Like most people I didn't know the real story behind Rosa Parks and her arrest for not giving up her seat. The Anti-Defamation League sets the record straight.
The portrayal of Rosa Parks as a poor, tired and frail woman who “snapped” is not only false; it disregards the years of strategic planning by Civil Rights Movement activists and misrepresents the way in which meaningful social change actually occurs.

Though Rosa Parks became the focal point of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the idea for a boycott was conceived at least six years before her arrest. In 1949, Jo Ann Gibson Robinson, an English professor and head of the Women’s Political Council (WPC), was ejected from a bus for refusing to move seats and resolved to do something about bus segregation. During the ensuing years, the WPC prepared to stage a bus boycott “when the time was ripe and the people were ready.” In the months prior to Parks’ arrest, at least three other African American people had been arrested for refusing to give up their bus seats to white people. When Rosa Parks was arrested, movement leaders made a strategic decision to launch the boycott because they felt Mrs. Parks had the respect and support of her community as well as the fortitude to withstand the racism and publicity that the boycott would generate.
In fact, in Rosa Parks and the lessons of the civil rights movement (<--be warned, this is the World Socialist Web Site):
Rosa Parks’s struggle did not begin in 1955, or even in 1943. She and her husband became active in the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in the 1930s. Among her activities during this period was raising funds for the defense of the Scottsboro Boys, the nine black teenagers framed for rape in 1931, whose persecution sparked an international defense campaign.
And from The Challenge of Rosa Parks at Peace and Environment News:
Rosa Parks' act of defiance was neither staged nor spontaneous, but rather something in between. Activists had been working on the issue of bus segregation for years and the matter had gone to the courts in various times and places. Those who would emerge as the leadership of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were in many cases already veterans of the civil rights struggle in 1955. Parks herself had been acting as an advisor to Claudette Colvin, who refused to give up her bus seat earlier that same year.

From time to time many people of colour had refused to cooperate, and of course many of the organizers were themselves black and could challenge the segregation any time. The organizers were already trying to use an act of defiance to challenge segregation, but they were strategic about it. It was not enough to challenge the injustice—they were determined to win.

So it was within this context that Rosa Parks took her stand. It was not planned, but it did fit within a broader plan. She knew that it would not be an isolated and lone act, but she also knew that it might be just another act of no particular significance beyond itself. That didn't matter. She had had enough, and resistance itself filled it with significance. As Xanana Gusmao said, "To resist is to win." The resistance by Rosa Parks caught the public imagination, and the rest is history.

Except that popular history skips the fact that the only reason we know about it at all is that it occurred within the context of an active and organized resistance movement. Not only was there a core of people already active on the issue, they had planned out their strategy and response once the appropriate event occurred. No, they did not "stage" the trigger event—that would have been politically suicidal. Rather they were strategic in their thinking, planning and organizing.
So, while Sheehan says "we will use the tactics of our heroes: Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.," she seems to think all they did was take to the streets with no plan, no strategy, no focus, no discipline, no training in non-violent civil disobedience, and no understanding of how to gain actual power and then use it to change the way things are. I could be wrong, these things could be happening in the anti-war movement. But if Sheehan's rebuttal to Ritter is how the anti-war protesters intend to follow in the footsteps of Gandhi and MLK Jr. then Ritter's assessment of the "movement" is right on the mark.

And while Cindy Sheehan has no interest in understanding what Sun-tsu said, she may find it interesting that the first thing he lists to know before ever going to war is the Moral Law. This is what gave Gandhi, MLK Jr., and the Civil Rights Movement the ability to win against white supremicist aggressors, along with having a unified and coherent organization, a strategy, tactical planning, and singular message.

Scott Ritter's criticism of the anti-war "movement" is the same as my own criticism of the lefty/liberal groups generally, and of the Democratic Party in particular. Cindy Sheehan's response indicates to me that the left wing extremists are as much a danger to America as are the right wing extremists. They have both been so well classically conditioned to respond to certain words and phrases that anything and everything else is completely lost on them. Her reaction to the term warrior and a poo-pooing of learning military strategy merely because they relate to war--and she is "anti-war," means that these things are to be avoided at all costs. I call this cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

The anti-war folks and all the other groups need to get a deep understanding that every cause they fight for has a single root in the inalienable right of all people to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This isn't just about women's rights or gay rights or labor rights or even civil rights. It's about human rights. If all the groups could get on board and fight for that, then their own rights will win too. But this requires rolling up and subsuming all the splintered groups into a single force like a snowball rolling downhill, not just to protest in the streets or write letters, but to actually wrest power from those who would dare push the button to use nuclear bombs and risk all of humanity for eons to come.

What does it matter if women keep their right of choice or gays win the right to marry if those in power succeed in releasing the holocaust of nuclear war. Where will all their rights be then? Even the right to life will be questionable. So what's it going to be? Are the anti-war and other liberal groups going to put their particular agenda aside to join together and learn to do what it takes to actually make change happen or will they continue to plead for mercy from those who just don't care.

Turn on, tune in, and go local

We all know that profit and greed (whether for wealth or power) is driving government and policy in America today. What we don't know is why it is so ingrained or how to change it.

The place to begin is facing the reality of peak oil and the high cost of living it will create. The only way out is to "turn on, tune in, and drop out" of the global economy and return to a local/regional based economy. Not only will that deal a mortal blow to global corporations and the governments they control, but it will return sovereignty to the people to control their own destiny.

It is imperative that people begin working at the local level to ensure they will have food, clothing, heat, and electricity, and to make sure that local government is under local, democratic control, so that it can muster the community's human, natural, and financial resources for its own needs and resist the pressure of the federal government to do anything stupid.

This means getting involved with local politics and elections and running people for city council. For the truly ambitious, add in finding people to run for state and federal office. Ultimately tho, the federal government is making itself less and less relevant as a representative democracy and needs to be drowned in the bathtub while the little people go about the business of taking back their sovereignty and getting off the global treadmill that leads to death and destruct.

This is one time when doing for yourself and your family and community is what is needed instead of looking for some knight in shining armor to set the world right. Resistence to corporatocracy is NOT futile.

For references see:
The Renaissance of Cooperative Democracy and

The Twilight of Capitalism

Thursday, April 20, 2006

How to govern

The way to govern (for good or ill) is to know your values, know your goals, and then maintain a consistency from top to bottom and beginning to end. To govern humanely requires having humane values and humane goals. America is supposed to be humane, just in case anyone wonders.

To wit, the overall values and goals for our government are stated in the Preamble of the Contsitution of the United States of America:
  • We the People (this means everyone)
  • form a more perfect union (come together and understand each other better)
  • establish justice (have fairness and equity for everyone)
  • insure domestic tranquility (resolve conflicts and get along with one another)
  • provide for the common defense (protect our country and its people)
  • promote the general welfare (everyone benefits, no one left out)
  • secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity (protect our rights and freedoms against any who would take them away from us or any who come after us)
These are the values universally binding that define us as a country and a people. These are the things we are pledging allegiance to when pledging to the flag and the republic for which it stands. These are also the things every elected official and military personnel take an oath to uphold and defend.

Since we are a republic, meaning a representative democracy where the general population elect people to be their voice and represent them in discussions of policy, we need to be clear about how policy-making should be done.

Policy-making begins with knowing our priorities. Our guide is the Preamble. It establishes the things that are most important for the country and its people as a whole. It sets the criteria by which all policies, laws, and decisions are to be made and sets the standard by which they are to be judged.

This means everyone has a duty to know and uphold the Preamble in their lives, and, to ensure that those we elect will do the same. If the elected do not seek to hear the people and do not honor the fiduciary trust they have been given, it is the duty of the people to remove them and find others who will. This is how consistency is maintained from top to bottom and beginning to end.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How to create a war where none exists

I want people to remember this. Iran is seeking talks with America, but we have no interest in doing that. This is a pattern of behavior we have had for a very long time. There is something incredibly fragile about America's self-image, something akin to early adolescence. At some point I hope this country manages to grow up without killing itself and a whole lot of other people with it.

Senior Iranian aide irks Washington with US visit

By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As the United States tries to push other nations to impose a travel ban on Iranian government officials over Tehran's nuclear program, a senior Iranian official has created embarrassment in Washington by slipping into the country for a visit this month.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Tuesday he had heard that Mohammad Nahavandian, a senior aide to Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, was in Washington but he had not met U.S. officials and his presence was being looked into.

"It's a matter of interest for us and if I have any other information to share on the matter today or in the days ahead, I'll do so," McCormack told reporters.

Nahavandian's successful entry into the United States is embarrassing for Washington, which is pushing hard for other countries to impose travel restrictions on Iranian officials in talks in Moscow this week.

The talks follow Iran's announcement last week that it had enriched uranium for use in fueling power stations for the first time in defiance of a March 29 U.N. Security Council demand that it halt its enrichment program.

McCormack declined to say how Nahavandian got into the United States, where strict restrictions are in place on Iranian officials wanting to visit.

Nahavandian was in the United States legally, but not enter with a visa. This could mean he holds legal permanent residency in the United States or be traveling on the passport of a country where visas were not needed, said McCormack.

"We have no record of issuing a visa to a person with this name," he said, noting that the United States does not have diplomatic ties with Tehran and there are clear restrictions on travel by Iranian officials.

For example, Iranian diplomats at the United Nations in New York can travel only within a limited area.

The Financial Times quoted an Iranian advisor this month as saying Nahavandian was in Washington to float the idea of direct talks between the two countries.

But McCormack ruled out any possibility of U.S. officials meeting Nahavandian and reiterated the United States would not hold direct talks with Iran over its nuclear program.
[emphasis added]

"We have not issued an invitation to any such individual and at this point have no plans to do so," he said.

While rejecting any talks over Tehran's nuclear program, the Bush administration has given its ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, permission to meet Iranian officials. However, those talks will be limited to Iraq.

Leading Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has urged the Bush administration to hold direct talks with Tehran, a suggestion U.S. officials have rejected.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Don't bomb Iran

From True Majority:

Thank you for signing the petition urging Democrats to get some
backbone against the President's Iran threats.

It's important to get this word out to as many people as
possible; Democratic leaders should see a groundswell of
grassroots messages urging them to stand up against an Iran
attack NOW, before it's too late. Please forward this on to
others who don't want to see recent history repeated:

Dear Friend,

I'm sending this because I think you're probably as alarmed as I
am about these news reports that the administration is willing
to seriously consider bombing Iran -- possibly with nuclear
weapons -- while once again cranking up the fear machine. I
signed on to this TrueMajority petition insisting that this
time, the Democrats speak out now, before the public is
stampeded into another Middle East mistake.

See what you think:
Don't bomb Iran petition.

Our Educational Curriculum

Our educational system needs a major paradigm shift to include the socio-ethical-spiritual develop of children as they grow into adulthood. Right now we are churning out socially, emotionally, and spiritually arrested human beings. Oh, and many of them remain as intellectually ignorant as when they began pre-school too. It is my belief that education should teach not just the ABCs and 123s, but also provide the structure and training needed to become people who will lead lives of service, discipline, and compassion rather than greedy, ignorant, and selfish.

Yes, there are many who escape the current paradigm. But the conditions we find ourselves in today is testimony to how well the current system is failing to raise a wise and learned people who know their own sovereignty that no despot can take away.

Wes Clark weighs in

Ex-Nato commander Gen Wesley Clark, who ran for the Democrat presidential nomination in 2004, backed calls for Mr Rumsfeld to resign.

Click here for the whole BBC article.

East and West

[Something else I thought I had lost.]


Joined: 15 Jul 2004
Posts: 6
Location: Quantum space

Posted: Fri Jul 16, 2004 8:59 pm Post subject: Roger Ames on East & West

Below is an excerpt from my master's thesis. --NeoConfucius

The Western Heritage

The single most outstanding feature of Western civilization, then and now, is its dualistic view and the kind of thinking it generates in its conceptions and assumptions about the nature of the world and existence. Roger Ames gives the clearest description of it in his introduction to his translation of Sun-tzu: The Art of Warfare (1993):

A significant concern among the most influential Greek thinkers and later the Christian Church Fathers was to dis­cover and distinguish the world of reality from the world of change, a distinction that fostered both a ‘two-world theory’ and a dualistic way of thinking about it. These thinkers sought that permanent and unchanging first prin­ciple that had overcome initial chaos to give unity, order, and design to a changing world, and which they believed makes experience of this changing world intelligible to the human mind. They sought the ‘real’ structure behind change—called variously Platonic Ideas, natural or Divine Law, moral principle, God, and so on—which, when un­derstood, made life predictable and secure. The centrality of ‘metaphysics’ in classical Greek philosophy, the ‘science’ of these first principles, reflects a presumption that there is some originative and independent source of order that, when discovered and understood, will provide coherent explanation for the human experience.

There were many diverse answers to the basic question: What is the One behind the many? What is the unity that brings everything together as a ‘universe’? What—or Who—has set the agenda that makes human life coherent, and thus meaningful? For the Jewish prophets and scribes, and later for the Christian Church Fathers, it was the existence of the one transcendent Deity who through Divine Will overcame the formless void and created the world, and in whom truth, beauty, and goodness reside. It is this One who is the permanence behind change, and who unifies our world as a single-ordered ‘universe.’ It is this One who allows for objective and universal knowledge, and guarantees the truth of our understanding. Because this One is permanent and unchanging, it is more real than the chaotic world of change and appearances that it disciplines and informs. The highest kind of knowledge, then, is the discovery and contemplation (theoria) of what is in itself perfect, self-evi­dent, and infallible. It is on the basis of this fundamental and pervasive distinction between a permanently real world and a changing world of appearance, then, that our classical tradition can be said to be dominated by a ‘two-world theory.’ …


It is because the first world determines the second that the first world is generally construed as the originative source—a creative, determinative principle, easily translatable into the Judeo-Christian Deity, that brings both natural and moral order out of chaos. Hence, our early tradition tends to be cosmogonic, meaning it assumes some original act of creation and initial beginning, and teleological, meaning it assumes some final purpose or goal, some design to which initial creation aspires. God created the world, and human life is made meaningful by the fact that God’s creation has some design and purpose. It is from this notion of determinative principle that we tend to take explanation of events in the world to be linear and causal, entailing the identification of a premise behind a conclusion, a cause behind an effect, some agency behind an activity [45-48].

The Eastern World

As the oldest living civilization, China, and its influence on the Far East, continues to operate from a wholistic, organic view. Not only does this view permeate their history, it permeates the very nature of their culture, society, and social relations. Jacques Gernet in A History of Chinese Civilization (English trans. 1982) wrote that the unique view of the Chinese philosophers and literati between 500-300 B.C. was derived from the shamanistic divinations of the early Chou dynasty circa 1027 B.C. with antecedents as well as a writing system reaching as far back as 2200 B.C. According to Gernet,

the specialists in divination by yarrow[1] were to define the first elements in a conception of the world as a totality of opposing and complementary forces and virtues, and contribute to the first developments of mathematics (85). …

The manipulation of numbers and the combination of signs suited to translate the correct values of space-time were to serve as the basis of philosophical theories and of the sciences. Less irrational[2] than many others, this mode of apprehending the world was to demonstrate its heuristic worth down the years in many fields (chemistry, magnetism, medicine, and so on). …These theories correlate and reassemble in spatio-temporal groups fundamental properties or forces that are both in opposition and complementary to each other (yin and yang, male and female powers, Five Elements). The growth and decline of these forces, as well as their succession, make it possible to interpret both the natural order and history. They explain the birth, zenith, and decline of political power [98].

This cultural legacy formed the basis of later philosophies, notably, the teachings of Lao-tzu, Confucius, and Mencius, among others. Unlike the dualistic and abstract logic systems of the Greeks, the religious dualism between spirit and matter of the Persians, and the mix of the two in later European philosophers, the Chinese philosophers remained trenchantly pragmatic. According to Gernet this was, in part, based on “a language that could not distinguish between singular and plural, abstract and concrete” [98]. As a result, their pragmatism was quite firmly planted in a concrete “this-world” orientation in which there is no reference to an abstraction that cannot be discerned in the workings of the natural world itself (Ames, 1993).

The workings to be discerned is called Ti’en, Heaven. In Chinese philosophy, Ti'en is not a transcendence that stands prior to or apart from the material world of experience. Rather, Heaven is an indwelling principle within the very structure of the universe itself and is found in the ordered workings and relations of everything in it. “The Classical Chinese believed that the power of creativity resides in the world itself, and that the order and regularity this world evidences is not derived from or imposed upon it by some independent, activating power, but inheres in the world. Change and continuity are equally ‘real’” (Ames, p50).

The tao is the pathway, the “Way” of Heaven, and is the discernable pattern of the ordered workings and relations of everything in the universe. The rising and setting of the sun, the changing of the seasons, weather patterns, the migration of animals, the flow of water, the movement of stars, and birth and death, all indicate the most fundamental rhythm of active and passive, work and rest, young and old, yang and yin, and the forces of male and female, aggression and acquiescence, strength and weakness. The symbol of the circle with a curved line bisecting it into light and dark halves with each appearing to chase each other is the summation of this understanding of the essential rhythm of the universe and all of life. In mathematics it is represented by a circle in the form of a sine wave. Added to this fundamental rhythm are the more complex patterns created by living things according to their nature and governed by their interrelationships like the veins in a leaf, the branches of trees, the course of a river, the habits of insects and animals, and extends to the moral workings of human beings. The way Ames puts it: “within the world is tao—a ‘pathway’ that can, in varying degrees, be traced out to make one’s place and one’s context coherent. Tao is, at any given time, both what the world is, and how it is” [emphasis in original] (50). All things have a pattern of behavior, a pattern of relations. This includes the workings of moral virtue, or its lack, in human society and in government.

Given this view, the workings of society are to follow the tao, the Way of Heaven so that society will accord with the most appropriate pattern for its harmonious functioning—the same as with any healthy ecosystem. Thus for the Chinese, and by extension the Far East, the perspective of social order is intimately bound up with discerning the principles at work in human relations and then culturally embedding the most appropriate modes of behavior so that the pattern thus established will conform to what is most natural to humans. This creates a genuine social harmony rather than a mere balancing of competing interests or a rejection of differences to achieve a banal sameness.

Ames relates the Chinese view that,

The human being is not shaped by some given design that underlies natural and moral order in the cosmos and that stands as the ultimate objective of human growth and experience. Rather, the ‘purpose’ of the human experience, if it can be so described, is more immediate: to coordinate the various ingredients that constitute one’s particular world here and now, and to negotiate the most productive harmony out of them [58].

In this view, there is no ultimate end for humans to achieve at some future, ever-receding point in time. Human perfection is not an objective reality we try, but often fail, to match. In the Chinese and East Asian world, human perfection is the development of wisdom and moral virtue derived from the subjective experience of living.

The Confucian concept of harmony does not mean lack of differences. It means to blend but not homogenize. In Confucianism, “the exemplary person pursues harmony, not sameness” (Ames, p59). An extended passage by Ames will give clarity:

The Confucian distinction between an inclusive harmony and an exclusive sameness has an obvious social and political application. There is a passage in the Discourses of the States (Kuo-yü), a collection of historical narratives probably compiled around the fourth century B.C., which underscores the kind of harmony that maximizes difference:

When harmony is fecund, sameness is barren. Things accommodating each other on equal terms is called blending in harmony, and in so doing they are able to flourish and grow, and other things are drawn to them. But when same is added to same, once it is used up, there is no more. Hence, the Former Kings blended earth with metal, wood, fire, and water to make their products. They thereby harmonized the five flavors to satisfy their palate, strengthened the four limbs to protect the body, attuned the six notes to please the ear, integrated their various senses to nourish their hearts and minds, coordinated the various sectors of the body to complete their persons, established the nine main visceral meridians to situate their pure potency, instituted the ten official ranks to organize and evaluate their bureaucracy … and harmony and pleasure prevailed to make them as one. To be like this is to attain the utmost in harmony. In all of this, the Former Kings took their consorts from other clans, required as tribute those products which distinguished each region, and selected ministers and counselors who would express a variety of opinions on issues, and made every effort to bring things into harmony … There is no music in a single note, no decoration in a single item, no relish in a single taste (60-61).

In Eastern culture, their understanding of life and the universe forms a singular continuity embracing everything from the structure of the cosmos to the changing of the seasons to the workings of human relations. To borrow a passage from the Great Learning, “Things have their root and their branches. Affairs have their end and their beginning. To know what is first and what is last will lead near to what is taught in the Great Learning” (Chen p6). The differences between East and West show how the influence of culture (the root) shapes a society (the branch). According to Richard Nisbett, professor of social psychology at the University of Michigan in a NY Times on the Web article “How Culture Molds Habits of Thought,” he and his colleagues said that they “have found that people who grow up in different cultures do not just think about different things: they think differently” (Goode, 2000). Roger Ames descriptions of the differences between Eastern and Western style thinking not only bears this out but also explains how and why it is different.
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have virtue because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
- Aristotle

All Hallow's Eve 2003

[This is old but I'm posting it here and now because I found something I had lost (twice) and so it's going up now that I've found it. It's from a message board that used to exist, but now only the cached (ghost) pages exist. At least they lasted long enough for me to snatch them out of the ethernet and save them from oblivion.]

All Hallows Eve 2003

If the Children of Abraham wish to live in the Holy Land, then they must approach Abraham's grandchildren, the Children of Jesus and the Children of Mohammed with an open heart, a faithful hand, and truthful speech and humbly ask to dwell among the faithful in the Holy Land of God. To make war in the sacred land is a desecration of God's creation and a sacrilege to His teachings. If there can be no way to find a peace among God's Children, then how can you possibly claim to have a place by His side?

Children of Jesus, you must open your hearts and your arms to all of God's Children in order to open the way to Heaven for all. Only by following in the Way of Jesus can the Truth and the Light of God's love be known.

Children of Mohammed, you are a tolerant people, wise and noble, fair and just. Cleanse the blinding hatred from your hearts, cleanse the impurities from your souls, and cleanse war and oppression from your lands. Let the will of Allah cleanse the rest. Keep to the Shariah and let it not perish from among you.

Children of the Devil, the peoples of this world will no longer tolerate the evil you bring through lust, temptation, and greed. You have wreaked enough havoc on this planet. You have poisoned our air, water, food, land, and most of all, you have poisoned our hearts. You have divided the Children of the Faithful of every walk of life and set us to make war upon each other while you laugh and mock us as you snatch our souls and bring us under your oppression. Take heed, your day is at an end.


Brains count first. Making judgements without intellectual justification is prejudice.

We do not act rightly because we have virture, we have virtue because we act rightly.

I am asked:

Who are the children of the devil?

To identify the Children of the Devil, ask yourself:

Who brings evil by using lust, temptation, and greed?

Who wreaks havoc on this planet by destroying our relationships with each other, with the land, and in the very way we live and get on with life? Do you not feel that life has become fractured, fragmented, disconnected, and incoherent?

Who poisons our air, water, food, and land?

Who poisons our hearts with hate?

Who divides the Children of the Faithful of every walk of life and sets us to make war upon each other? In other words, who uses rhetoric to "label" people and then set them up to be the enemy? The enemy is not those who are labeled, but those who do the labeling.

Who laughs and mocks us as it snatches our souls and brings us under its oppression? Do you not feel oppressed by something hard to identify? Can you name the name of the oppressor? Is it a dictator? Or is it a tyrannical mindset that enslaves us to a system we seem to have no choice about?

For me, the Children of the Devil are those who have no mercy in their hearts. An excellent example is Ebenezer Scrooge.

But, as the story of "A Christmas Carol" indicates, it is the hardness and coldness of Scrooge's heart that does the evil. It is only in the softening and melting of the heart that brings forth goodness.

To have no empathy for others, and therefore no mercy in one's heart, is how evil does it work in the world.


Brains count first. Making judgements without intellectual justification is prejudice.

We do not act rightly because we have virture, we have virtue because we act rightly.

Friday, April 14, 2006

In search of lost humanity

Mencius said,
'Benevolence is man's mind, and righteousness is man's path.
How lamentable is it to neglect the path and not pursue it, to lose this mind and not know to seek it again!
When men's fowls and dogs are lost, they know to seek for them again, but they lose their mind, and do not know to seek for it.
The great end of learning is nothing else but to seek for the lost mind.'

Just watched a National Geographic presentation " The Lost Treasure of Afghanistan" on PBS.

I remember the day when the Taliban blew up the giant statue of Buddha carved into the rock in the side of a cliff. I am a Buddhist and though I know only a tiny bit of the history of Buddhism's transmission along the Silk Road from India to China, I do know that one of the most well-known translators of Buddhist sutras was from central Asia, perhaps even modern day Afghanistan. The Taliban showed themselves to be truly evil that day. Not because I am a Buddhist, but because they have so little respect for humanity. I consider the burning of the Library at Alexandria to be another such crime against humanity. Although that act was done by a different religious group.

If there is one thing these two groups share it is a penchant for insanity, though the one more than the other.

Just as the 1930s was a time of fascism, it seems we have re-entered a time of religious fundamentalism which tends to heave like an earthquake when cultural techtonic plates shift from time to time.

While watching the program, seeing and listening to the men involved with either saving, destroying, or re-discovering Afghanistan's cultural treasures, I wish I had the power to make it and Iraq and all the world a hate-free no-war zone.

I am so sick of hate, war, intolerance, superstition, zenophobia, unreasoning closed-mindedness, and just plain stupidity. I am also tired of all the debasing of culture and humanity that goes on in our art, literature, performing arts, architecture, and music. [There is such as a thing as good and bad taste in art.]

I want an end to these things. I want humans to see the divine spark that is in all of us and appreciate each other's expressions of the miracle of life we have been granted in our time on earth. I want a real peace and a real culture of life that celebrates life rather than seeks to destroy it and stamp out all its sweet joys. I know I am asking for a lot. But I too have a dream, the same dream as Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and all who have come before me and all who will come after me of life as human beings who are neither gods nor animals but divine nonetheless.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Worker's Rights

From over at Steve Gilliard's blog is a discussion about immigration. In the comments is this gem:
The way to protect working people (native-born, naturalized and undocumented) is to protect working people!

We protect existing jobs by eliminating the incentive to hire cheap replacement labor. We eliminate that incentive by making sure that every worker has the same rights. If undocumented workers have the same protections as all other workers, they will not have to accept slave wages, and will, therefore, be less attractive as replacements for native born and naturalized labor. -roxtar

Bingo! there is the Democratic Response to all of this in a nutshell... logical and persuasive... plus it goes back to fundamental Democratic Principles. Throw in an increase in employer fines for hiring undocumented workers and we have a good response to the jongoist Republicans. -amuseinc

I really think this is an excellent way to go.

Battle of the Sexes

Over at Stayin' Alive, Cervantes blogged about an article mentioning that women now live longer than men. He wasn't too happy at the news but couldn't really say why. I left a comment but found I had more to say about it. Here is it.

I am female. But first, I am a human being, and before that, I am a living being no more and no less miraculous than the myriad other living things on the planet.

When I was about 8 or 9 I came to the conclusion that although boys were bigger, stronger, and faster than me, they were not better, and therefore, we were equal, each with our own strengths and weaknesses. So, when Lt. Saavik in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan was addressed as Mr. Saavik, I yelled "yeah!" I considered this a mark of true equality. Not because I think men are the measure, but because they are most sensitive to the differences and stopped making an issue of it.

Unfortunately, some women decided to take up the issue and "women's lib" was born. But rather than act like the equals they are, they cram their "gender differences" down the throats of men and then wonder why they get no respect. Or worse, make timid sqeaky noises about it in strange places such as the article Cervantes cites.

I recognize that there are indeed some profound differences between men and women. Some of them are immutable but others are not. I think the way out of this identity crisis is to begin understanding these differences and as a result develop some genuine respect for the opposite sex as human beings.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Illegal tax evasion

I heard Lou Dobbs in passing mention the "high cost of illegal immigration." From what I've read immigrants aren't costing as much as is thought, and certainly not as must as "illegal" tax evasion. Anyone got any info on this?

Found this Dec. 19, 2003 WaPo ditty from the cheating culture:
IRS documents cited by the GAO indicated that these tax-evasion techniques and others are depriving the Treasury of up to $40 billion in unrealized taxes per year, more than the annual budget for the Department of Homeland Security.

Tax fraud is estimated at $311 billion this year, more than the entire budget for Medicare, and more than last year's revenues at Walmart or General Electric. Most cheaters go unpunished. What’s worse, the legal tax system is rigged to favor rich people and large corporations at the expense of ordinary citizens and small businesses. Even when everybody abides by the law, middle-income households pay more taxes than rich ones. And politicians keep handing out tax favors to their campaign contributors – at our expense.

Which of the two is more correct, $40B or $311B I leave to others to sort out.

On the other side, the cost of illegal immigration is discussed here stating that illegal immigration is "creating a net fiscal deficit of almost $10.4 billion, or $2,700 per illegal household."

So, six of one and half a dozen of the other, except that it is citizen doing the cheating rather than immigrants seeking a better life that I find the more reprehensible.

Barak Obama

Barak Obama came to Minnesota and gave a nice speech.
Barak Obama hit the right buttons and said the right things.
Very nice stories and high flying words.
But when he was done, he'd said nothing of any real worth.

No, I wasn't in the audience for his speech.
Yes, I listened to the audio feed, though I kept tuning out.
No, I wasn't impressed, hence the tuning out.
Yes, NeoLotus expects a great deal more from those who run the country.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The nuclear option

349 days ago I wrote this post for THIS reason. The Iranians don't care about our filibuster. And apparently we don't care that they will need 1,000,000 SPF sunblock.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What Do Democrats Stand For?

This Democrat stands for people. The people must come first in every decision and policy. This is what it means in the Declaration of Independence when Jefferson wrote:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men [people], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

It is with these principles that the Preamble of the Constitution begins with "We the People..." and then spells out the duties that the government "of the people, by the people, for the people" are to be carried out. The legitimacy of that government is determined by how well it exercises "just powers" "to secure these rights" and achieves "a decent respect to the opinions of [hu]mankind."

Jefferson tells us, knowing that some people lust after power out of greed, selfishness, self-aggrandizement, or sheer insanity:
That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends [life, liberty, and happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

It is with these words that Jefferson gave humankind not just the right but the duty "to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." This is the great light of hope and the beacon of democracy that shines forth to people everywhere on the planet.

But like any lighthouse, it is darkest at its base. America is in crisis. It is a constitutional crisis. Even deeper, it is an identity crisis about who we are and what we stand for. Which way this country goes depends on the candidates and the political parties understanding this crisis and speaking out for We the People who suffer at the hands of an illegimate and criminal government. They must show themselves to be new guards for our future security, safety, and happiness. They can only do this by returning to the People First principle.

Every issue (the war in Iraq, medical care and costs, jobs, children, poverty, pollution, etc.) is derived from and is secondary to this principle. It cannot be, when the root is neglected, that what should spring from it will be well ordered.* In other words, we would not have these issues if those elected to public office actually put the People First.