64

Looking Through the Screen at the World’s Suffering

Edward Curtin

Image source: Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash.

If you are really going to be free, you have to overcome the love of wealth and the fear of death.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. as quoted by Andrew Young in the documentary “King in the Wilderness”

Most people on this earth live on the edge of an abyss. Life is a daily struggle to stay alive, to acquire enough to eat and drink, rudimentary health care, housing, and protection from murderous government forces, their various death-squads, and their economic vultures. The gap between the rich and poor, while always great, has grown even more obscenely vast, and lies at the core of what so many face daily.

Their perilous conditions are sustained by imperial nations, led by the United States, who, together with its minions, buy and bribe and butcher overtly and covertly all around the world. The love of wealth and the fear of death drive these power-mad marauders and divert the gazes of their citizens from the slaughter. It’s an old story.

If you are reading this, I am probably not telling you anything new. You know this, as do I, as I sit safely behind a screened-in table on a beautiful spring day in the hills of western Massachusetts. I have had some soup and bread for lunch and there are no bombers overhead or death-squads cruising the roads here.

While my family and I live a simple life, compared to the world’s poor and persecuted, we are privileged. One does not have to be rich to be privileged. The advantages granted to those like me who can securely sit and pen words about the fate of the poor and persecuted victims of my country’s endless violence weighs heavy on my conscience, as they have done since I was young.

I am ashamed to say that in the early morning of May 1, as I lay in bed musing, I thought I would like to stay in bed all day, a depressed feeling that I had never had before. Discouragement enveloped me: I was being forced out of my teaching job; I felt that my dissident writing and teaching made no difference in a world where injustice and violence are endemic and without end; and the forces of evil seemed to be triumphing everywhere. Self-pity mixed with an angry sadness that disgusted me. I disgusted myself. So I jumped out of bed and prepared to go and teach some of my last classes. But I was lost in gloom as I drove along the winding roads.

When I arrived at the college and checked my mail, there was a package waiting for me. It was a review copy of the poet Carolyn Forché’s startling new memoir (What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance) about her youthful transformative experiences in El Salvador in the late 1970s as U.S. trained and supported death-squads brutally murdered poor peasants and priests, and guerrilla resistance was growing prior to the outbreak of civil war. I opened the book to the epigraph, which reads:

Hope also nourishes us. Not the hope of fools. The other kind. Hope, when everything is clear.

Awareness.

The quotation is from the Salvadorian writer Manlio Argueta, whose deeply moving novel, One Day of Life (1980), banned by the Salvadorian government, takes the reader through one terrifying and bloodstained day in the life of peasants struggling to stay alive as they are tortured and slaughtered with impunity. We hear the voices of the poor tell a story of the growth of conscience (“God is conscience. And conscience is we, the ones forgotten now, the poor.”), the discovery of rights, and the awareness of exploitation.

Despite the terrifying evil that pervades this book – now considered one of the greatest Latin American novels of the 20th century – there is a luminous spirit of hope and resistance that miraculously prevails that is passed on from person to person despite death, torture, and immense suffering. Argueta fulfills the words of the tortured Jose to Lupe: “Don’t worry, if those of us with understanding failed to act, we would all be in real trouble.”

I remembered that I had reviewed this book in the early 1980s at a time when 100 or more very poor campesinos were being murdered every week, a few years after Archbishop Oscar Romero, the courageous defender of the poor who spoke out against the killers, had been gunned down while saying Mass. The Roman Catholic Church has subsequently declared him a saint.

Yet decades later, despite the extraordinary efforts of awakened souls like Carolyn Forché, it still seems true that Americans can’t visualize, no less believe in or care about, the death and suffering their government is inflicting on innocent people all around the world.

Today’s screen culture – I Phone therefore I Am – while seemingly allowing for the visualization of the suffering of the world’s poor, has rendered all reality more abstract and unreal, while inducing a collective hallucination sustained by media and machines that divorces us from flesh and blood, our own and others. All the disembodied data that is daily disgorged through these screens seems to me to have rendered the world disincarnate through the metastasizing of a digital dementia tied to death denial.

I think of Galway Kinnell’s poem, he Fundamental Project of Technology:

To de-animalize human mentality, to purge it of obsolete,
Evolutionary characteristics, in particular of death,
Which foreknowledge terrorizes the content of skulls with,
Is the fundamental project of technology; however,
pseudologica fantastica’s mechanisms require:
to establish deathlessness it is necessary to eliminate those who die;
a task attempted when a white light flashed.

Awareness? I sit here looking through the screen that encloses the little porch where my table rests. MLK’s words reverberate in my mind as I watch a grey fox slink across the grass in search of prey. What is it about the love of money and the fear of death that so cripples people’s care and compassion? I know I don’t want to see that fox seize a screaming rabbit and worry (to kill by biting and shaking the throat; strangle) it to death.

Unlike Forché, I have not physically seen the dead and mutilated bodies of Salvadorian victims of death squads, nor been threatened by them, as she was. Nevertheless, thanks to her and others like Manlio Argueta, I have seen them in my imagination and heard the screams, and they have haunted me. Ghosts.

But why are some so haunted and others not?

The foreknowledge that terrorizes the contents of skulls, as Kinnell puts it – our ultimate powerlessness – overwhelms humans from childhood unless they can find a way forward that discovers power in powerlessness. When one’s “well-being” is dependent on the death of others, as is the case for most Americans and others in the so-called first world, people tend to repress the terror of death by building various types of culturally induced defenses that allow them to shakily believe they are in control of life and death.

One’s natural impotence is then hidden within what Ernest Becker called “the vital lie of character,” and in what, by extension, is the lie of American character that rests on money and military might. One lives within the manageable cultural world that helps blot out existential awareness by offering various social games, agreed forms of “madness” that narcotize. One learns to adjust, to use all sorts of techniques to blot out the awareness that each of us is essentially exposed and mortal, flesh and blood.

The aim is clearly to cut life down to manageable proportions, domesticate terror, and learn to think we are captains of our fate. Inevitably, however, not all these social “tricks” work equally well. Life’s terrors have a way of breaking through to dim awareness, and therefore more drastic measures are needed. So after having lived the cultural lie uncritically, one tries to blot out awareness itself. If shopping to forget doesn’t work, if obsessive work doesn’t do it, one turns to drugs or drink, anything to forget, anything to assuage our fears, anything to deny our need for courage. Anything to help us refuse the truth that our lives are built on the blood of others.

The ineluctable reality of uncertainty is our fate. I have always known that, but I forget. I have also long known that we live by faith of one kind or another, and whatever name we give it, it is by faith we enter into the holy mystery of existence. We are carried forward by the spirit that binds us in solidarity to all human struggles for freedom and dignity, for bread and justice. The day I wished to stay in bed and wallow in self-pity and depression came as a shock to me. It revealed to me my hubris, my sense of self-importance, as if my efforts were not just a drop in the sea, seeds scattered that may or may not take root. I was afraid to accept possible defeat, despite my best efforts. I was afraid of death and lacked courage. Like those I criticize for turning their faces away from the suffering faces of America’s victims, I lost my courage that morning in bed. And hope.

But later that day I would awaken and see through the screen of my self-importance when I leafed through Carolyn Forché’s book and chanced upon her quoting Fr. Romero’s words: “We must hope without hoping. We must hope when we have no hope.”

Then her poem Ourselves or Nothing bubbled up in memory:

There is a cyclone fence between
Ourselves and the slaughter and behind it
We hover in a calm protected world like
Netted fish, exactly like netted fish.
It is either the beginning or the end
Of the world, and the choice is ourselves or nothing.

Priest and poet reminding us to fight lucidly on. Hope when everything is clear. Awareness.

Edward Curtin writes, and his writing on varied topics has appeared widely over many years. He writes as a public intellectual for the general public, not as a specialist for a narrow readership. He believes a non-committal sociology is an impossibility and therefore sees all his work as an effort to enhance human freedom through understanding. His website is edwardcurtin.com

Filed under: Arts and Entertainment, featured, latest, Philosophy & Abstract Thoughts

by

Edward Curtin writes, and his writing on varied topics has appeared widely over many years. He writes as a public intellectual for the general public, not as a specialist for a narrow readership. He believes a non-committal sociology is an impossibility and therefore sees all his work as an effort to enhance human freedom through understanding. His website is edwardcurtin.com

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Question-This
Reader
Question-This

Hope, is just delayed disappointment, whilst the powerless look to the system to solve the problems caused by the very system that creates them!

Liberals are the greatest to all life on earth…

mark
Reader
mark

Ed’s pessimism is misplaced. The Yew Ess Ayy and its endless sprees of murder and mayhem is going into the dustbin of history. Probably a lot sooner than anybody realises. Then everyone will wonder why it didn’t happen a lot sooner.

eagle eye
Reader
eagle eye

The bigger problem is that it will almost inevitably be replaced by something equally nasty.
What to do about that is the question, and where the real opportunity lies. The most vital work is to educate our fellow humans about the power of acting cooperatively against the very small number of psychopaths among us. Select our representatives carefully, don’t let them group together, and fire them with ruthless regularity just to keep them from getting complacent and corrupted.

comite espartac
Reader

After this disgustingly soapy and cheesy piece of unmitigated shit, that exploits all the trite cliches of the thirdworldist agenda and depraved sentimentality, there is only one solution for the author and that is to ‘exit’ his guilty and accommodated life with grace by means of a 45… The ‘poor’, the ‘peasants’, the ‘persecuted’… the usual Christian FAKE message trying to blame the ‘privileged’ and ‘undeserving’ Westerners, those evil ‘rich’ nations, that is, the ‘organised workers of the world’, that selfish ‘commies’…!!!

Fair dinkum
Reader
Fair dinkum

A mega dose of laxatives should clear that up sport.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

One shouldn’t feed the troll but that is egregiously vicious. You’re a tosser.

tonyopmoc
Reader
tonyopmoc

Wonderful piece of writing. I would like the author, Edward Curtin to expand on “Discouragement enveloped me: I was being forced out of my teaching job”

He may be having a similar experience to me. I loved my job, and had been promoted to a Senior level, and was very well paid. Then overnight everything changed. In early 2003, I had one of these moments, that, I can only compare to Saint Paul, on the Road to Damascus. I felt I had literally been kicked very hard in the stomach. Whilst at work, I now had conclusive proof, that the Official US Government Story of 9/11 was impossible, because it did not comply with the fundamental laws of physics and maths. I was doing a technical job, with some highly intelligent people. I told absolutely everyone. I said just look at this evidence.

No one wanted to know. Almost everyone thought I was having a nervous breakdown. They thought I had gone mad. So now, instead of being further promoted, I was effectively demoted, and ostracised by almost everyone, especially the very senior management. They were doing their very best, to make me, just resign and walk away. Yet, I still continued doing my job, to the best of my ability. I had responsibility, not to my management, who I seriously disliked (the feeling was mutual), but to thousands of other people.

Nearly two years later, after I had trained the technical staff, to do my job, to the best of my ability, they finally agreed to me leaving on mutually agreed terms.

I was now a free man, and didn’t have to work for these bastards any more.

I was so elated, at the decision, that I went to the barbers, for the first time, in 10 years at lunch time, and told him to cut off all my hair. I went back to work in the afternoon with a big smile on my face.

Tony

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

I’m glad for you Tony, and agree that Edwards words are very beautiful.

They encapsulate the essence of the suffering that accompanies even lives of privilege. An endless samsaric whirl between such binaries as bhava tanha – the hunger for being, vibhava tanha – the urge toward annihilation/non-being.

BigB
Reader
BigB

Death anxiety is the primary driver of all human behaviour. Death salience is the ever-present subconscious experience of our own mortality. To be reminded of our mortality is to engage fear-first self-defences of our own particular worldview – in psychological defence of our own particular mortality alleviating projects and the invested ersatz immortality (safe tribal) cults we consent to. The fear of death causes us to invest blind faith in the absolute validity of our received dominant cultural worldviews – space/time; causality; duality; individuality; birth; death; ageing; etc – in order to construct a reality that offsets the inevitability of death.

So goes the work of anthropologist Ernest Becker: as developed into Terror Management Theory by psychologists Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, and Tom Pyszczynski. It is also pure Zen. The understanding of birth and death becomes the very interface of the cultural aporia separating the experiential reality, and the abstract conceptual reality. The differing views stand in ontological confrontation to each other – there is no middle ground. Either death exists or it does not – according to the binary linguistic-function and the binary logic-function of abstract conceptual reality. In ultimate reality, the answer is both and neither. That requires an alterity of consciousness beyond the purely conceptual. Which requires a switch of consciousness into the existential experiential life continuum. That which cannot be conceived of.

Writing such normally gets me some sort of rebuke. But you have to consider this: the views I express may seem confrontational. But the common view of life and death is no more understandable to me than my view that, in ultimate reality, no one dies. Abstract conceptual death is not real. Reality cannot be adequately expressed in linguistic terms. Reality is nondual: language and logic dualises the nondual …never to be interpreted as nondual again (language is self-referential and infinitely recursive). Nonduality is experiential, not abstract conceptual …therein lies the cultural aporia and anomie …the antimonies of realism.

Birth and death are a pair of key correlational abstract concepts. They cannot be physically separated: they can only be metaphysically separated – by psycholinguistic abstract spatialisation and temporalisation. That means that they are separated in abstract space and time – which is real, right? There is nothing wrong with this as a convention (samvrtti satya): but when it becomes hypostatised as a falsely concretised reality (Whitehead’s ‘fallacy of misplaced concreteness’) – it becomes the world-as-it-presents. This is nothing more, nor anything less, than the way language falsely patterns our perception. In absolute reality (paramartha satya): birth and death are synchronic and inseparable …pratitya samutpada – co-dependently originated. The moment of my birth is the moment of my death, and vice-versa.

No birth; no death; no imaginary interregnum between.

So no one take it personally: but we are destroying the world for imaginary reasons. And we cannot come up with solutions because we are entangled with the imaginary dualised world. Every aspect of the hegemonic acculturated world is false. These amount to the Cartesian Error Protocols that pattern our thinking and conception. They are becoming increasingly disassociated from reality by the extremisation of power and wealth facilitated by competitive carnivore hierarchies resulting in a cognitive elite top down administration of power-knowledge regimes. The political imaginary based on perpetual accumulative growth is particularly prototypical of the fabrication of a disassociated and increasingly psychotic reality. One that is a hyper-violence enacted on all life on earth. The cognitive elite are dragging the collective consciousness into evermore disjointed and decoupled unrealities: and attempting to normalise them as ‘real’. To resist entails anomie and alienation and existential sorrow for the systemic destruction of beauty. Well, it does for me.

“Moral Injury”? It is just a moral injury to be in anyway alive anymore. As Krishnamurti put it: it is impossible to be adjusted to a sick world. And this world cannot get much sicker. But it will: so long as we defer reality conceptually in order to compensate for death anxiety. Which does not exist. Not if you don’t think about it. Which cannot be adequately explained without becoming part of the metaphysical linguistification that spawns the imaginary reasons for destruction.

AAAAARRRRGGGGHHH!

But, a world of deathlessness can be experienced. I coin this phrase not as an ontological absolute, for it is falsely written to. But the experience is neither true nor false; both real and unreal…

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

Nicely put BigB. I made my shorter interjection before reading yours, which is rather more elegant. Same point I believe.

Ramdan
Reader
Ramdan

“(…) we are destroying the world for imaginary reasons.”…. Indeed.

crank
Reader
crank

It is also pure Zen
I thought that Becker was a critic of Zen.
His accompanying Jewish thinkers in the TMT paradigm expand Freud’s Thanatos model.
If Judaism is the ‘materialist religion’ whose Yahweh only ever promises worldly reward in exchange for following the byzantine set of laws and psychopathic commandments, then might this colour the culture and the thinking of its academic descendants?
TMT describes the mind of the lower self. It is blind to the Light.
You seem to adhere to a bleak and negating vision of human existence/ culture.
There are other traditions in the West (as well as the East) that make much more affirmative and straight forward sense to me.

BigB
Reader
BigB

Becker was a post-Freudian as you point out – but his framing is pure Zen too. You do not have to look beyond the mythology of the Buddha’s enlightenment to see the parallels of encountering old age, sickness, and death (the Four Sights: the fourth being a ascetic representing magga – the Path beyond suffering). And though Freud may now be discredited: if Western culture is not a psychosexualised death cult in honour of Thanatos – what the fuck is it?

If it seems I have a bleak vision of human conceptual existence …you’re damn right I do. What part of the political imaginary destroying the world are we no longer in agreement about? Or the plans to privatise nature in order to create just enough of a financial base to debt-fund the cannibalisation of what little is left …so we can have neoliberal climate colonial pseudo-socialism for a few more years. Then what? The arrogance and hidden hatred in using the last of humanities resources is beyond reprehensible …it is a fucking downright evil perpetrated on the Unborn. And the rationality behind this can be nothing but imaginary. Reality and sanity would prevent such wanton destruction.

So, yes …I’m a bit peeved about the imaginary political myth-making we are doing. The human nature and dualist culture that dictates that we must do this needs negating. Which its own internal contradictions mean will happen soon enough. You cannot negate reality, or entropy, that is why culture is imaginary …and that is why it will come into conflict with reality sooner or later. We cannot debt-fund our imaginary economic and social false conceptions forever. Something has to give, and when it does …it will be brutal.

I personally cannot think of anything more bleak and negating than what humanity has set itself up for. For imaginary ideals of fake-prosperity and techno-theological progress …leading us straight off the net energy cliff at speed. Blinding plan humanity, absolutely fucking blinding.

So why should I have the slightest faith at all in such a culture of materialistic greed, ultra-exploitation, hyper-violence, and fucking death worship? It has nothing for me. It has nothing for anyone. The only entanglement is in the imagination. I can see exactly where that is leading, and the death and suffering that this world is normalised to achieve this appalls me.

Compared to the Samsaric cyclical insanity: the experiential world (same world; different perception) is a blissful Nirvanic refuge. It cannot be explained: but nothing is negated except that which already did not exist. Not in the concretised way that it is taken to exist: which is the basis of the imaginary.

The most salient point being that there is no differentiation between subject and object. All those desiring-dream realities and political imaginaries everyone is chasing are already true and extant. No need for globalisation. No need for capitalisation. No need for token symbolic (monetised debt) exchange. No need for private property rights. No need for instrumental rationality, Otherisation, racism, sexism …it is all just a fucking bigload of bollocks. The belief of which is killing the planet. Which is a bittersweet tragic imaginary: if you get where I am coming from?

The negation is not mine, I do not own it. Mine is an affirmation of life. Life that begins when the imaginary ends. It is the difference between being alive and thinking about being alive. It is only the thinking that is negated: but it was never really real anyway.

crank
Reader
crank

Is all that not conflating ‘human culture’ with ‘Western culture’.
I think you know that we are in close agreement about the symptoms of this death culture, but less so on the causes.
I have read you link to Freudian theorists, to the Frankfurt School theorists and now to Becker, Greenberg et al.
Have you read the Old Testament BigB?
I am confident that you would agree that it is a pretty weird and disturbing set of stories. Would you go so far, I wonder, in agreeing that in it is a blueprint for a psychopathic society?
You can evoke the ‘imaginary’ and say that all religion is in essence the same prop against our own fear of death, but then the implication is that there is no qualitative difference between, say, the religion of the First Nation Americans and that of the ultra orthodox Jewish residents of somewhere like Bnei Brak.
There clearly is.
I am more and more convinced that this is all quite simple. Or maybe it’s just me that is.
If ‘Group J’ pray to a God that says, ‘everyone else is your enemy, annihilate or ensalve all your enemies, you shall have divine blessing to rule the whole world’, then, it turns out members of Group J seem to run the first ever global empire, it kind of makes you think…or not…

BigB
Reader
BigB

We do have deep agreement on many points. Causality is duality: as any student of Zen will attest to. The scientific notions of causality we have – stemming from Aristotle (particularly material and efficient causality) – becoming ‘mechanised’ by Newtonian mechanics (transmission of force to mass; isolated chains of ‘billiard ball’ dynamics) – already suppose an isolated, individuated, substantive entity or being. Such thinking negates nonduality: reducing it to isolated, non-interactive events and processes. I do not see things like that.

Have you read Joe Cambell? He studied world mythology and found it remarkably consistent. He termed it the ‘monomyth’ and developed the idea of the ‘Hero’s Journey’ – which encapsulates the major elements of all world mythology. So there might be a difference in metaphors: but “qualitative difference” – not according to Cambell. The Masks of God was his collated masterpiece.

Similarly with language: the core of all languages is remarkably similar. There is a core group of common cultural words and concepts that appear to be universal. These are ’embodied’: which relates our core ideas to our physical morphology. Our basic actions and interactions can be said to have ‘grammar’: even if seemingly different cultural norms and values are built out from there.

Similarly with our genetics: we share a common bio-geographical ancestry and heritage. We are more alike than we are different: and our diversity should be equally as celebrated as our commonality. Especially as now we are all in the same global dilemma due to our previous, let’s face it – racist and imperialist sectarian choices that got us here. Underneath the imaginary differences: we are all Universally Human.

Spiritually, we are all flat out equal …with no one – absolutely no one …standing even a millimetre above anyone else.

So, “Group J” are definitely in my imaginary category. And their delusion needs no vindication as to having any power whatsoever …except the power of deception and self-delusion over its adherents. But this is not exceptional. Are you not watching the outbreak of religious fundamentalism in SW America? Or the fundamentalism of ‘Group A’ – which contains the adherents of Americanism …the world’s fourth great religion? There are plenty of death cults vying for attention.

Religion and spirituality are separated by hierarchical, canonical, dogmatism …that can easily manifest as fundamentalism and ethnocentric exceptionalism. But this is devoid of all spirituality and would also qualify as ‘imaginary’.

Spirituality is the actualised experiential: it cannot be moderated, mediated, or displaced. It can only be embodied now. Relative to this: everything else is imaginary. But surely you get that I am not negating normal, conventional reality totally (not least as I introduced the ‘Two Truths’ to make this clear). What is really imaginary are all the things we have deep agreement about. The exponentially disassociative political myth-making imaginary that is predicated on eternal growth absolutism …which I cannot find another word for. That this is still the basis of socio-political discourse leaves me speechless. And that takes some doing!

crank
Reader
crank

I have read little Campbell.
I do note though that he has been labelled as an ‘anti-semite’ for pointing out the very things mentioned above : that many Jewish ‘myths’ can only be interpreted as presenting a moral drive counter to that of the rest of humanity. Tribalist religiosity is not unique to this group, but circumstance and the timing of the emergence of monotheism and writing have combined to make their situation exceptional.
Jung -who also devoted his time to studying myth, basically said the same thing. Neitzsche too maybe ?
American protestantism, as indeed all Christianity to differing degrees, quite often raises the Old Testament as its sword and shield. It is after all half the Bible, even if its message is the opposite to the teaching of Christ.

It is, in truth, the religious formulation of materialism (that attempts a nonduality of a perverse kind), there is no other way of interpreting it. and we are all trapped into its manifestations. None more so than the Jewish people themselves.

BigB
Reader
BigB

The thing about the archaeology of cultural beliefs is that they are lost in deep ontological time. Jeremy Lent tried to recreate the dominant metaphors of a given era: but all he was doing is projecting a modern mind backwards, and literally imagining. We cannot accurately dissect what beliefs influence modernity …and even if we could – the doxa of belief is belief (belief is predicated on belief in infinite recursion).

Which is why I propose going back to the basics – the foundationalism and essentialism of language and belief. The foundation is a mind-independent external reality – that is our temporal and spatial container. The essential is that there is a separate Being that occupies objective reality.

These are the subject/object and self/other fundamental faultlines in modernity – and they are rooted in the foundations of language. ALL beliefs predicated on misplaced foundations are naturally FALSE.

To reclaim language, and thus conception: we have to go back to the very start. It is not necesarilly true that faulty abstract premises cannot highly approximate reality – they can and do. Think of physics – highly verified down to 23 decimal points (mathematics is an abstract metaphoric self-representational language too). So language has meaning and can accurately describe the world around us, despite it being flawed conceptually.

Because of this verificationism, ALL language and culture is taken as proved – which is the analytical ‘correspondence theory of truth’. Language is a scientific, objective reality in its own right.

Except, clearly it is not. The Cobb/Douglass function at the heart of NCE is bullshit – as Steve Keen has shown. This is but a single example of all the pseudo-verified beliefs modernity takes for granted. It is these that I am classifying as imaginary. Because it can be reasoned and conceived in languge, doesn’t necesarilly mean it has a corresponding verifiable truth in reality.

Unfortunately, the main thing we have misconceived of – from the start of languge (and language and mind are developmentally synergetic) – is us. Our worldview is a monomyth without us in it. Our perceptions of nature being ‘red in tooth and claw’ are in fact, our own repressions. Mans animality is in fact objectivities repressed and projected Shadow. And this is pretty much the basis of all conflict. And it is imaginary.

Modernities ontology is expanding all these flawed, outdated, cultural worldviews into a psychotic episode – rapidly decoupling from reality. The only solution is a recoupling with the Real – which is what ‘Zen’ is a metaphor for.

I did try to explain before: but Zen is the pre-ontological experiential ‘mind’. Modernity has supervened this with the objectively rational ontological mind. Zen is the return to reality, reversing the hierarchy of the ontological and the experiential pre-ontological. If it does not exist in experience; it cannot be affirmed in reality. It is a call to stop making things up, things that may seem real …but the reality is the destruction of all life …at least in potentiality.

That is why the reasons are imaginary. They are conceptual unrealities based on uncritical acceptance of millennia of logically flawed rationality. Rationality that has empowered a ‘cognitive elite’ who further distort reality to their own self-maximising ends. If we do not somehow break this chain of logically flawed self-absorbed, self-maximising irrationality …it will destroy us. Or make life very, very difficult indeed …perhaps barbaric. No one, not even the greediest and most self-absorbed want that. That is the small glimmer of hope we have, that a modicum of sanity will prevail.

We can even see a modicum of sanity in the proposals of the ‘climate emergency’. Completely spurious, but an attempt to reign in the worst excesses of neoliberalism. Given the lack of numbers, its down to the likes of you and me to make a very big noise about why this will not work. Maybe we can strike a spark that can ignite the true perspective of what will work to save us from the worst excesses of our irrational imagination?

crank
Reader
crank
KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

Please label links so we know what we’re about to look at. It’s netiquette.

This is an extract from The Men Who Stare At Goats which if i remember rightly is kind of about MKUltra. This bit has a real Lynchean feel to it.

Robbobbobin
Reader
Robbobbobin

I’ve now viewed it, having overcome the anxiety you delineate and, even though I haven’t seen the film in referential question, I would venture to suggest, from that clip alone, that his mistake was to break into an inertia-accumulating run as he approached the wall. What good could that possibly do? Prove that anyone can lie on beds of nails? Well, duh… Common beginners error.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

I don’t remember it well but I think he’d been dosed with some experimental chemical and sincerely believed he could make it thru that wall. Though clearly not enough.

Robbobbobin
Reader
Robbobbobin

“Please label links so we know what we’re about to look at.”

In my book, that’s a double-edged sword of a request if ever I saw one.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

You’re not wrong 😜

BigB
Reader
BigB

Or, as Nafeez Ahmed put it last weekend:

A bit like running into an ontological brick wall. Moral injury caused by retaining a modicum of sanity in an increasingly psychotic world.

(https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/escaping-extinction-through-paradigm-shift-83e33d4cb548)

BigB
Reader
BigB

“Watching the news has become like entering a psychological boxing ring where you get the shit punched out of you repeatedly until you drop to the floor, broken, bloodied, and inert: helpless.”

Not sure what happened: but the blockquote disappeared on posting. That’s Nafeez’s take.

Gezzah Potts
Reader

Thank you Edward for your powerful, and at times poignant words. My conscience does not allow me to look away from the immense suffering in the World; Palestine, Yemen, Venezuela, anywhere the Empire targets for plunder or regime change or sanctions. I recall Madeleine Albright sitting in her chair stating the deaths of 500000 children was ‘worth it’, I recall Hillary Clinton cackling at the news of Gaddafi’s horrific murder, I recall George Bush stating “you are either with us or with the terrorists”, I recall Colin Powell’s lies at the UN. Many more examples. I learnt how truly evil the United States Govt was back in the 1980s early 90s when I was involved in a Central American solidarity group. Thats what woke me from my slumber, even tho I was still in my 20s back then. My eyes have stayed open since. I cannot close them. I met people whose family members had been murdered by death squads, I met people who had been tortured, I saw photos of massacre’s, I read accounts of the murders of anyone considered even slightly left wing, I also remember reading a book on Archbishop Romero. Harold Pinter got it so right about the United States; about the Empire. I struggle at times with my sense of helplessness, I struggle at what the World has become, that most people refuse to open their eyes, who don’t want to know, even when you inform them of places like Yemen and Palestine. They don’t want to hear it. Are we all not human beings regardless of our race or skin colour or religion or gender or sexuality? Margaret Thatcher said “there is no such thing as society”. It seems most now bow at the altar of mammon while being hypnotised by their digital gadgets.

Robbobbobin
Reader
Robbobbobin

We are all The Empire. Whoever you emp for, the ire always wins.

crank
Reader
crank

I don’t want to sully the comment section under this fine writing by including a link, but if anyone looks at youtube for the Madonna performance at Eurovision, they will see a lot symbolism in her terrible performance.
‘X’ seems to be a prominent motif.
Now, where else have I seen that recently ?
Put 3 Dagaz runes together and what do you get?
Power is about more than money and weapons.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

Interesting but I’m not going to search out a clip if you don’t mind 😜

The SocialJusticeWarrian predictably quotes some odious Israeli politician who castigates Madge for some mild display of a Palestine flag 🇵🇸 because, you see, Eurovision is supposed to be apolitical and a celebration of the brotherhood of man or some such bullshit. My aching sides: as if ANYTHING is apolitical!

mark
Reader
mark

What is Eurovision doing in Israel? Since when was the Middle East part of Europe?

Robbobbobin
Reader
Robbobbobin

“Since when was the Middle East part of Europe?”

Since the formation of the EMEA.

Harry Stotle
Reader
Harry Stotle

I hear Madge wore an eye patch – was it because a trigger happy IDF sniper made another ‘mistake’?

crank
Reader
crank

Atzmon thinks she was channelling Moshe Dayan.
Either that or some ‘X rated’ nod to the religion of the all (not) seeing eye.

BigB
Reader
BigB

As a technical aside, which does not really detract from Ed’s beautiful and important message – America is not the centre of globalised dollar imperialism. Because they have the “exorbitant privilege” they can afford all the penis-extending big military toys – it certainly looks that way. What confuses the hell out of people is that privilege is based not solely on the dollar – but on the subsidy of the ‘eurodollar’ (euro$).

Eurodollars are dollars created ‘elsewhere’ and ‘offshore’ – outside the jurisdiction and regulation by the Fed. By anyone – i.e. trade is not limited by nationality, but by capital accumulation requirements. The centre of global trade in euro$ – which can be created in bourses anywhere (HK, Macau, Tokyo – not limited to Europe) – is London …that is the City of London Corporation.

Essentially there is a deregulated globalised black market in dollars that EVERYONE (once at an elite qualifying level) uses (there goes the East/West contrafactual theory again). It is the existence of this market that distorts world trade and keeps the poor resource cursed nations in poverty. It was by relocating to London that Wall St grew to own US politics and the Pentagon. I’m sure you have read Nick Shaxson’s “Treasure Islands” or watched the “Spider’s Web” which details this.

The euro$ markets strongly infer a supranational control of global trade – by the billionaire possessing class and their TNCs. The offshore euro$ markets are their unaccountable private banking system – for legal and illegal ends. There are obvious intra-capitalist contradictions and rivalries at the nation state level – but above and beyond these are fully integrated supranational interflows and interbank lending – mediated primarily in unregulated, unaccountable euro$. Conflicts – real and exaggerated – keep prices and profits artificially high. The business of capital accumulation continues despite the hybrid-wars it creates …in fact, global immiseration and conflict resources are good for business. Think BCCI.

There is no academic study of this, and it plays no part in any political science or any analytical framework (except mine!). Politicians never mention it, maintaining the illusion that all capital is created onshore, denominated in local currencies, in nation states which rival each other. This is only partially true. The engine of globalisation, imposed peripheralisation and world poverty is primarily the offshore euro$. America is breaking bad: the rest of the world …not much better. It is the entire unregulated globalised euro$ system (accounting for >90% of international capital loans – according to Shaxson) that is slow-genocidal and biodiversity omnicidal …driving permanent expansionism, endless extractivism (the whole system is underpinned by illicit and licit petro-pillage); and the dehumanising hyper-exploitation of humanity for the affordance of ultra-freedom to 0.01% of the globalised supranational suprasociety. Not just ‘America’ – the whole globalised integrated system is sociopathic and slow-genocidal. The euro$ is the globalised synarchical primary financier of humanities inhumanity and ultra-violence to humanity and nature.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

Hadn’t heard of it but three quid on evil eBay, how can I resist. Thank you for the tip BigB.

Fair dinkum
Reader
Fair dinkum

We’ve become possessed by the things we own and that possession oils the wheels of capital$chi$m.
Tracy Chapman says it best>>
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-8WYfHQ-Njk

Toby Russell
Reader
Toby Russell

Thank you for your clear writing and honesty.

I have long felt that the palpable hollowness of modern life and its attendant need for distractions is as clear evidence as we can ever hope to have of the non-mechanical nature of reality. Surely we are not dead automata in a machine universe magically fooled by dead bio-chemical processes that we are conscious. And if we are not complex machines, surely we are something like expressions of consciousness, and what we call matter is in fact an extension of consciousness as experienced information. For me, this is a logical deduction that the content and intent of this article support. The very resonance of hope expressed in: “Hope also nourishes us. Not the hope of fools. The other kind. Hope, when everything is clear.” cannot possibly be experienced by a machine. Indeed, machines cannot experience at all, by definition. And if there is one certain thing, it is that we experience.

Surely the sort of nobility of spirit achieved by the Salvadorians described here and our admiration thereof are not mechanical or biological, surely they are qualities of consciousness. And wherever we see this spirit, whether in other animals, distant societies or those closer to home, we are seeing good reasons to let go of our love of ‘wealth’ and to develop our courage. There’s far more to existence than our ‘physical’ lives. There is the quality of how we live them.

Harry Stotle
Reader
Harry Stotle

‘The day I wished to stay in bed and wallow in self-pity and depression came as a shock to me’ – that can happen when ideals meet the real world, in fact I would go so far as to say it is almost invitable.

You may be experiencing ‘moral injury’ rather than depression: the two are linked especially when duration and severity of moral injury results in the kind of psychological overwhelm associated with conditions such as PTSD.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

It’s not in common use but the Power Threat Meaning paradigm explaining the triggers for unhappiness is worth googling. Whatever its faults (and prolixity is certainly one) it offers way more than the DM.V (Diagnostic Manual, 5th iteration) in explaining how the world is driving us mad. (“The world” being a mental construct too, of course, but a highly convincing one…)

Loverat
Reader
Loverat

I see there has been some study of moral injury in terms of soldiers in combat. Perhaps from the point of view of a soldier the issue is not the mission as stated from the outset and the combat itself. Rather a gradual realisation that the leadership and the true purpose of the mission is against all the principles of that soldier. You do wonder why so many US and UK soldiers in particular are diagnosed with PTSD and other conditions. In my area homelessness is a big problem as most places, but the amount of ex-soldiers on the streets with mental health conditions is staggering.

I guess more in terms of this article perhaps people might suffer this if they realise perhaps after years of believing otherwise, that their government is doing everything against what values they stand for and a feeling of betrayal and shame they were lied to for years. The next stage being a feeling of powerlessness to change that.

I have often wondered how real journalists like Vanessa Beeley, Andre Vitchek, Carla Ortiz, Eva Bartlett cope with what they see, and then see the cowardly, over-paid mainstream hacks in Beirut churning out the garbage.

I suppose for many of the general public, they have a sense things are far different to the lies they are told. But their defence mechanism comes in to play – ie they don’t what to know so don’t explore further. Its a kind of ignorance is bliss thing I suppose.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

Amen to that

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

Because of my complete disgust at the immoral behaviour of TPTB and a significant number of servicemen I used to tar them all with the same brush in my disdain for them. It was only relatively recently after seeing old videos of veteran US corporal Ethan McCord give his witness accounts at various forums (available on YouTube) about his time in Iraq, and in particular his experiences at and after the infamous “collateral murder” event, that I had to acknowledge that my generalised judgement was grossly unfair; there are some decent servicemen out there deserving of our compassion.

“…in particular the leadership and the true purpose of the mission is against all the principles of that soldier”

This was very much the message that McCord was conveying. He said at one point in his presentations that he reached a point in Iraq that he “realised that [he] had more in common [morally] with the Iraqi people than with those who had sent [him] there”. And he added that he wasn’t alone amongst disillusioned servicemen. But the US commanders just told him to ‘grow up’ (their words were actually more crude but that was the underlying message) and get on with the job.

When he and many others before and since were diagnosed with PTSD the commanders contrived to ensure that their claims that their service period was the cause were dismissed. The official response was that they must have already been suffering from the underlying condition before they came into service so weren’t entitled to any official medical or emotional support. Essentially they were abandoned to face whatever life might throw at them alone. This is one reason why so many end up alone on the streets or unable to move on, and are often driven to suicide.

Even several years after his time in Iraq, McCord was still clearly struggling to cope with the damaging experience and the aftermath. As is often the case, his marriage broke down. He also received death threats directed at him and his family from soldiers who had served with him who felt he was letting the side down. I do wonder what became of him as he just seems to have disappeared from the public eye in recent years. But I can only hope he may be one of the “lucky” ones and has been able to move on.

Harry Stotle
Reader
Harry Stotle

Some ex-servicemen come to be seen as ‘the enemy’ because the reveal the reality of American occupation, which of course is very different to the ‘liberation’ or ‘bringing democracy’ myths spun by the neocons.

Just watching Ethan McCord now – very eloquent guy.

The journey from naive nationalism, a key factor driving military recruitment to disillusionment is described by Vince Emanuele – he is clearly another vet’ right out of the McCord school.

Respect to both of them.

Francis Lee
Reader
Francis Lee

Ah, the problem of consciousness. It should be common knowledge that most ordinary folk are aware that capitalism is a racket; this could hardly be otherwise as it is confirmed in their daily lived experience. The same, as Smedley Butler pointed out some time ago, goes for war. I suppose that WW2 might have been a necessary war, but as for the rest they were merely conflicts between competing national oligarchies or colonial wars against the hapless peoples of the global periphery. And yet the whole murderous spectacle continues without abate. This historical farce-cum-horror is for some reason viewed as a natural calamity. Orwell’s proles seem resigned to their fate; a stoic acceptance of the inevitable catastrophe whipped up by the party (establishment) and its apparatchiks in the media and political classes. However mass consciousness leaps forward when the war psychosis wears off as the casualty figures and experience of modern warfare makes its inevitable mark. There is a marvellous quote from Trotsky which succinctly expresses this process:

”Only idealists imagine that the world is moved forward through the free initiative of human thought. In actual fact the thought of society or of a class does not take a single step forward except when there is extreme need to do so. Where is is at all possible, the old familiar ideas are adapted to new facts. We speak frankly if we say that classes and peoples have hitherto not shown decisive initiative when history has thrashed them with its decisive crop. Had things been different, would people have allowed the imperialist war (1914-18) to happen? After all the war drew nearer under the eyes of everyone, like two trains hurtling towards each other on the same track. But the peoples’ remained silent, waited, and watched, and went on living their daily, familiar and conservative lives. The fearful upheavals of the imperialist war were needed for certain changes to be introduced into consciousness and into social life. The working pe0ple of Russia overthrow the Romanovs, drove out the bourgeoisie and took power. In Germany they got rid of the Hohenzollern but stopped halfway … The war was needed for these changes to take place, the war with its tens of thousands of deaths, wounded and maimed. What clear proof this is of how conservative and slow to move is human consciousness and conservative is and slow to move is human thought, how stubbornly it clings to the past and everything that is known, familiar and ancestral – until the next blow of the scourge.”

Yep, sounds about right to me. The world is at an historical conjuncture and a crisis seems imminent. The process is seemingly taking on a momentum of its own. ”All that is solid melts into air.” Deep-going and fundamental change is going to take place; the outlines of this process are clearly visible today. Whether this will be good or bad remains unclear, but the old order is being subjected to increasingly powerful tectonic shifts. This was very much the case in the lead up to WW1. The early jingo-patriotism of the war did not survive trench warfare and the mass killings on both the western and eastern fronts. This process was best summed up by the character of George Bowling in Orwell’s novel ‘Coming up for Air’.

”Why had I joined the army in 1914? Or the million other idiots who joined up before conscription came in. Partly for a lark and partly because of England my England and Britons never shall be slaves and all of that stuff. But how long did that last. Most of the chaps I knew had forgotten all about it long before they had even got as far as France. The men in the trenches were not patriotic, didn’t hate the Kaiser, didn’t give a damn about gallant little Belgium, and the Germans raping nuns on tables (it was always ‘on tables’ as though that made a difference) in the streets of Brussels.”

So, we shall see what we shall see. What we do know is that the new world, when it comes, is going to be very different to the old one.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

Nice to see a less celebrated Orwell novel being name checked. For all his faults he nailed false consciousness pretty well. I recommend his essay Shooting An Elephant.

Loverat
Reader
Loverat

Excellent words Edward. There is a great deal I expect many of us can relate to.

I certainly have had those days where I could not function out of a feeling of powerlessness and fear for the future. That’s largely gone but still get days, where something bad in the world happens or out of built up frustration with other people. But I can deal with this by a simple reset .

An example: the build up of anger in the last few days has been reading about the murder of children in a town in Syria by terrorists. A mother who has lost her two young children. Not reported and then in response to the OPCW bombshell, reading the garbage on Twitter from people who still can’t get it. A new possibility of a staged chemical attack in Idlib imminent. The Eliot Higgins, Scott Lucas etc coming back out of their box saying white is black – people lapping up their paid lies. The feeling you want to wring someone’s neck! But that has passed, I have reset my thoughts and fighting fit again today. And this article has reinforced that, so thank you.

For me, my turnaround came through the total feeling of being vindicated – getting that final confirmation my views on what’s really going on in the world, while shocking were by and large spot on. In a way, like the truth setting me free. A focus away from selfish things and money towards helping others. Volunteering (for the right cause) really is uplifting.

We should all hope and be confident and proud of our abilities – the truth can either be a burden or set you free. Get to the latter and there’s no looking back. Things can and often do turn out well in the end – its not all doom and gloom. It takes sacrifice (many with their lives in Syria) but we can help them and humanity generally by battling on, knowing truth and good is on our side.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

Beautifully put Ratty, if I may garble your handle slightly

Harry Stotle
Reader
Harry Stotle

‘For me, my turnaround came through the total feeling of being vindicated’ – yes, there is something rather satisfying about saying, ‘I told you so’ (a perk most Off-G aficionados must have experienced from time to time)

Mind you, take the Guardian, they are wrong most of the time.
Of course they are in absolute denial about this, or censor commentators BTL who gently try to point out their output is little more than corporate fodder designed to appease advertisers or the US war machine.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

Are they getting even more hysterical and shrill lately or is it just me? It’s relentless.

Harry Stotle
Reader
Harry Stotle

Wrong on most things that matter from Venezuela, to Julian, Assange, Syria, antisemitism, Russia, etc.

Of course its impossible to defend the Washington consensus which is more or less what the Guardian does nowadays, so it’s no wonder they rely so heavily on censorship, sorry, I meant ‘moderation’ (for not abiding by ‘community standards’) as their lies, and half truths are called out time and again below the line.

Philip Roddis
Reader

Exquisite, as ever. Your writing reminds this Marxist not to let (necessary) focus on the material drivers of the criminal insanity blind me to its psychic consequences. Nor to the ineffable, austere beauty of life.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

Two different perspectives on the same thing, ithink.

Philip Roddis
Reader

Yes!

crank
Reader
crank

‘The wisest of Ancients held that what is least explicit is fittest for instruction, for it rouses the faculties to act.’ -Blake
We seem to live in a time of inverse relationship, with political awareness rising, but real political engagement in equal decline.
People seem less and less ‘here’.
Me too.
This article dances on the boundary between politics and religion : one that is fading. (Maybe liberalism itself could be defined as that boundary?).
Our ‘religion’ has changed. That, I would say, is why so many fear death and cling to wealth, with the effect of lessening life and love. The question is, how did that happen? How does a ‘religion’ emerge/ replace another?
The preists of the Liberation Theology movement posed a threat to empire not just in a political/ economic sense, but in a religious one too.
Now, more clearly, we are engaged in a religious war, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. ‘It is an old story’, writes Curtin. Yes it is. We need to understand the old stories (i.e. The Old Testament) and only there will we see the conflict between a materialistic martial ‘God’ and a forgiving, spiritually uplifting One that has played out in our culture over millenia.

Rhys Jaggar
Reader
Rhys Jaggar

Religions currently are ultimately conservative constructs: they eulogise prophets at a certain point in history and effectively pickle morality from that era, blithely ignoring that the real world evolves.

Religions die when the construct has such a dissonance with daily experience that its usefulness is increasingly discarded. Turning the other cheek to Hitler turned out well, did it not? Women working the factories in WWI destroyed the myth of men working and women staying at home. The two world wars of the 20th did for Christianity in its traditional formulations.

Islam is a more warring- and overtly racist/sexist religion. Men can have three wives, but a woman showing her face can be stoned. What a load of nonsense! But until the obscenely wealthy Middle Eastern Wahhabi are beaten in war by other Muslims rather than Western imperislists, Islam will remain a stain on the world. Whether the more peaceful sects of Islam will also shrivel when Muslim vs Muslim wars eliminate the nutcases is up for grabs.

The west is in a buffer zone with no modern religions having taken from Christianity. Football has delusions about it: they are excellent drug suppliers to willing addicts, but football morality simply does not exist.

My view is that worshipping Gods is the problem. Taking responsibility is the answer. Learning to communicate, to compromise, to reinvingorate local communities are the replacements for being a moral child.

Whether others see things that way will tell you whether we have exited the time of mans innocence and now stride the earth with some measure of humility based on awareness.

In a world of continuum, we will not all be the same, after all…

Robbobbobin
Reader
Robbobbobin

Baby, bathwater.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

Though I see your point I think that atheistic religions ought not to be discounted. But I realise how near this veers to “my god is bigger than yours” and the thrust of what you say is fair criticism Rhys

crank
Reader
crank

Religions currently are ultimately conservative constructs: they eulogise prophets at a certain point in history and effectively pickle morality from that era, blithely ignoring that the real world evolves.
Sometimes religions are conservative, sometimes they are reformist, sometimes revolutionary. What passes for ‘Christianity’ in 21st century America would be unrecognisable in terms of professed ‘morality’ to a Christian of centuries past.
The ‘real world’ evolves, but seeing as religions are part of that world, they also change, and new religious sentiments come along whilst others fade and die.
Turning the other cheek to Hitler turned out well, did it not?
I wasn’t aware that anyone did. (Not saying that anyone should have).
Women working the factories in WWI destroyed the myth of men working and women staying at home. The two world wars of the 20th did for Christianity in its traditional formulations.
I think it was a blow, yes. There is an argument that other religions gained ground…
There are a growing number of emancipated women who are now questioning what they have gained by chosing the capitalist workplace over the domestic one. Men too were reactionary to the process that drove a wedge between work and home. Things turn back sometimes. Are there not eternal components to the human experience (the joy of children, sexual love, natural wonders, the profundity of death) ?
My view is that worshiping Gods is the problem. Taking responsibility is the answer. Learning to communicate, to compromise, to reinvingorate local communities are the replacements for being a moral child.
Can we escape the ‘worship of Gods’ though? Humans seem to be in need of ultimate answers to questions of meaning. I say that secularism is a false position. Materialism is a certain religious disposition, even if many who subscribe deny it or don’t recognise it. To declare the ultimate meanigless of a random universe is an attempted answer to the question of meaning. Football or Communism do not fully answer to this need, for they do not address the conundrum of human existence but rather reduce it to entertainment or materialistic formulation.
‘Taking responsibility’ is one way of expressing the key message of the prophets and teachers (pickled or fresh). The politics of religious institutions and their relations to states and monarchs is where responsibility gets waved away. (Only to come back in a law of return).

Mucho
Reader
Mucho

When Jesus was alive, so we are told, he spent a lot of his time dealing with the issues of the day. Christians today get together in church, and harp on relentlessly about what Jesus did. It goes on and on and on and it’s all worded in Ye Olde English which is actually quite difficult to truly comprehend, but leaves the worshippers 100% sure that their whole life must revolve around worshipping the life of Christ. They obsess over the small details, instead of seeing how they can adapt the message of Jesus into today’s society. I find this ridiculous. When you take into account the volume of people worldwide involved in the various Christian faiths, the church really could make a real resounding difference, in part down to people power, if only it focused on addressing and SPEAKING OUT about the evil being played out today right before our eyes. But they don’t. They’re too busy obsessing about Jesus and learning the Bible off by heart and adhering to the code of only ever playing it safe. They totally ignore that he addressed the issues of the day, and spend their whole lives trapped in the Jesus worshipping cocoon. When was the last time you heard the church making their voice heard in opposition to the UK’s murder rampage in the Middle East? Doesn’t happen.
Religion is an outdated, man-made system of control. I really don’t think God put us on this Earth to spend our whole lives obsessing about events which happened 200o years ago.
What is the point of the Church if it chooses to continually ignore the insane levels if evil and wrong doings happening in our world today? I’m not religious, but I believe in God and I am quite annoyed at the lack of voice from the supposed good faiths

Robbobbobin
Reader
Robbobbobin

“When Jesus was alive, so we are told,”

by the supreme guardians of the most impeccable spirituality in the Christian church, counciling themselves in and finessing the unpersecuted political pursuit of naked, state power at Nicea, et seq, ah believe…

—–

…so Eve asked Adam, “Anyway, what colour is God? Black or white?”
And Adam replied, “I’ve never asked Him. White like us, I expect. What else? But I’ll ask him next time we meet.”
“Did you ask God what colour He was?” queried Eve a month of Sundays later (time passes slowly when you’re not keen on gardening).
“I sure did,” replied Adam,”He’s white, just like us.”
“So you saw Him?!” quexclaimed Eve.
“Not exactly, I’ve already told you. Everything around Him always catches fire so all you can see is the smoke,” replied Adam.
“And mirrors?” asked Eve.
Adam ignored her, mostly because mirrors were a cognitive dissonance too far as well as being not invented yet. “I asked Him,” he said.
“And? What did It say?” asked Eve.
He“, said Adam. “He said, ‘אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה’.”
“What tf does that mean?” asked Eve, who had inadvertently spat out her last unchewed apple pip. “Does It know about The Tree?”
“I don’t think so,” replied Adam. “He didn’t say anything and I’ve been rinsing with Listerine like you said. He was in a hurry to get away and quiz my snake.”
Eve gulped and Adam, suddenly feeling the absence where his baculum used to be, made a little movement of the sort Elvis would exaggerate and Michael Jackson would obscenely OtT in millennia to come. “Anyway,” he said, it’s Hebrew. That’s the Lord’s language. It means “I am that I am,” said Adam.
“So that means It’s white like us??” aasskkeedd Eve.
“Sort of,” replied Adam. “It could mean ‘I was that I was’ or “I will be that I will be’ or ‘Che sarà, sarà’ or somefink like that. When you’re the Lord of All Eternity things like tense lose some of their impact. What is yet to be the Holy land of Israel and His holy Israelites, wasbe isbe and always willbe the Holy land of Israel and His holy Israelites, from ever and forever and ever. Or else. But yes: all things considered, taken together and over all it obviously means He’s white. Like us.”
“Somefink?” said Eve.
“It’s British patois from the 5700s, you ignorant wo-man,” said Adam, with a sly wink on the “wo-.”
Eve suddenly oestrogened. Adam was so strong and knowledgeable and–well–manly. “But I still don’t understand how that means He’s definitely white,” she said, distractedly.
“Because if He were black,” said Adam, with a slight smirk of intellectual superiority, “He would have said ‘Ah is that Ah is.'”

At that point Eve went forth to her bedroom to slip into the slinky burqa with the black lace trimmings and the “Notice to Quit” designer label that had mysteriously appeared in her wardrobe just the other Sunday, in anticipation of yet another evening of hot, steamy multiplication.

—–

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we seek to dictate what others believe.
— Paul McSauli, age 12½

Robbobbobin
Reader
Robbobbobin

P.S. G-d actually said to Adam: “[This My Good Self damned reply editor won’t type nikkud-littered RTL]”.

Me: “Sorry. I’m not too good on nikkud–too synagoguey–so I cut and pasted.”
G-d: “Here–eat this apple.”

Mucho
Reader
Mucho

The church does do good things on a local level, which I do not wish to play down, I just wish it did more in terms of addressing the kind of issues discussed on this site.

KarenEliot
Reader
KarenEliot

Some years ago I attended a talk by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche (a Tibetan monk of some renown) and he dealt very neatly with the question: “Youre a Buddhist and you preach harmlessness but isn’t turning the other cheek just letting the bad folks win?” I paraphrase of course.

His answer essentially was that if using violence against another being is inherently wrong then we should do what we can to prevent it. Turning the other cheek does not achieve this. Forcibly preventing the assailant may be the best action. Few would disagree and though he did not use the example, I would suggest those of you unfamiliar with it take a moment to read (I suggest you skim, it’s not very well written) this account of the tyrannicide of Langdarma: https://info-buddhism.com/Tibetan_Buddhism_Compassioate_Killing_King_Langdarma-Jens_Schlieter.html

It’s a myth of course but highly relevant I think in these days of such ascendant scum as John Bolton and Netanyahu. I know what I would do given the opportunity.

Toby Russell
Reader
Toby Russell

Perhaps an important point to remember is that we can never know everything around any decision, so can never make perfectly informed decisions. Always turning the other cheek would be obeying a prescription that would only be the right ‘choice’ some of the time. Ditto for never turning the other cheek. In the end, we do what we can with what we are and try to reach decisions that are the healthiest on the whole for the highest number of people. So yes, you can and must fight back – with love and compassion – in some circumstances. Precisely how we fight back should be shaped by considerations of how lastingly effective each considered strategy is thought to be.