Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Liberal as Warmonger

The liberal will tell us that no one wants to slaughter innocents but that it happens nonetheless as a side-effect of war. The liberal will also tell us that the lesser of two evils is the political candidate who will kill fewer innocents. Within the narrow confines of this discussion certain premises are off the table. War, for instance, is considered to be inevitable. At no time are the acts of war seen as avoidable or preventable, unless the regime currently in power is of another political persuasion. Then that party is a handy scapegoat for starting the war(s).

But totally unallowable is the idea that these wars launched by both parties are criminal enterprises that keep us invested in a war economy enriching the merchants of death. The liberal may personally hate the idea of war, but tacitly accepts it as part of the operation of the government. The liberal may even know that these wars are wasteful, futile, stupid, and pose a greater threat to liberal values than anything else. The liberal will still vote for a war candidate believing that the greater damage comes from the opposition. The liberal actually believes there is such a thing as "the opposition".

But there is no opposition to war from either political party. The scope, breadth, and intensity of war may be debated but war itself is firmly supported within the platforms of so-called competing parties. Only outside of the mainstream parties can we find people committed to bringing peace to humanity.
And the media does an admirable job (Hitler and Goebbels would admire it anyway) of keeping these people invisible and unheard. As a facebook friend said, "Esmond, you are so far out in left field you're not even in the ballpark." Indeed I am, and more's the pity for my friend who prides himself on "being realistic".

Much as some would like to relegate me to irrelevance for taking a moral stance against war, I can't help but feel that the onus is lifted from my shoulders. The minute we say no to a system which practices brutality on such a massive scale as the modern military machine does, when we give voice to a greater desire for peace than for the illusion of security, then and only then will we see that our rebellion is necessary if humanity is ever going to achieve peace, freedom, and justice. And the more the liberal resists that call to arms, the more the liberal chastises the revolutionary, the more the liberal proffers specious arguments rationalizing the deaths of innocents, the deeper the complicity becomes, revealing who is the real warmonger.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Epitaph to Bertrand

It's been four years since Bertrand died. About a month before he died he was over for dinner stuffing himself on his mom's incredible lasagna.
After supper he said to Danielle, "Mom, I don't really know how to tell you this other than to say you're a grandmother."
She looked up and smiled, "When did this happen?"
He shrugged, "About 18 years ago when I was in high school."
"And? she smiled again.
"My girl friend got pregnant, usual story, her parents found some people who adopted the baby. Anyway the reason I'm telling you this now is I heard from Elisa, the mother, that the girl, Fran, wants to know her birth parents and she already tracked Elisa down."
Danielle smiled again, "So I will have a chance to meet this grand-daughter."
Bert said, "There's a possibilty."

The day after Bert died the phone rang. I picked up and a young woman's voice asked to speak to Danielle. I asked her name and she said "Fran".  I asked her if she had gotten the news about her father. She said yes she had and that's why she was calling. So I looked at Danielle and said, "You're going to want to take this call."

I've lost friends and family to crashes, diseases and drugs. But to lose a child just shatters your world like nothing else can. Danielle accepted the loss of her first-born child with grace. And then almost as a gift the Universe (or whatever you want to call it) sent comfort to her in the form of a hitherto unknown child.

Life moves along like a great river through the lands of joy and sorrow. We drift with the current knowing our destination is that great ocean of bliss or oblivion - take your pick.

Monday, June 11, 2012

World of Esmond: Rehabilitation and the Power of Love

World of Esmond: Rehabilitation and the Power of Love: Several years ago my good friend, Marcel, got a call about a dog needing rescue. He and his wife drove a hundred miles to pick up the dog, a...

Rehabilitation and the Power of Love

Several years ago my good friend, Marcel, got a call about a dog needing rescue. He and his wife drove a hundred miles to pick up the dog, an action that they had performed numerous times over the years for an assortment of dogs and cats. This dog, a female Pekinese, proved to be a great challenge. She growled at and bit anyone who got near her. The veterinarian told them that the dog had gone completely psychotic as a result of abuse and needed to be put down. Another visit to another vet produced the same prognosis.  The dog continued to bite, drawing blood and charging at anyone who got close to her.

Marcel's marriage dissolved and he was left with the dog. Over the next two years the dog gradually began to accept Marcel allowing him to touch her and even pet her. The dog continued to growl and tried to bite anyone else who came near.

It's been four years and Marcel and Baba just spent a weekend with us. Baba let me pet her, she didn't growl at anyone not even our two cats who did their best to enrage her. Marcel put it succinctly, "I believe anyone can be rehabilitated."

Baba is intensely attached to Marcel in the ordinary way that dogs become attached to their humans. And for Marcel this once "psychotic" dog is a loving and loyal companion. During Baba's recovery he never once raised his voice to her. It goes without saying that he never struck her. He just gave her an endless stream of love and patience never asking for anything in return. I witnessed this transformation and I am in awe of it. For me it is proof that the power of love resides in each of us and it can accomplish the impossible.

Maybe saving one little dog is no big deal. But when you see Baba wag her tail and jump you sure feel like it is.

Monday, June 4, 2012

On the Blessings of Happiness

A man in Pakistan labors at the train terminal loading and unloading bundles which sometimes weigh more than he does. He and his family live a subsistence life-style. No running water, a few simple possessions in a single room dwelling with a ceiling fan but otherwise devoid of electronics and almost no furniture. A woman in upstate New York works for a marketing company, lives in a 3200 square foot house with all the amenities, drives a new luxury car, and vacations in the islands. Who's happier?

The man in Pakistan makes daily devotions in which he thanks Allah for all he has; enough to eat (though barely), his healthy children, his loving and dutiful wife, the fact that he has work, grueling as it is. The woman in New York wakes each day her mind racing with all the tasks before her, the meetings, the presentations, the phone calls. She barely has time to remember the grief she carries with her for her youngest child killed a year ago by a speeding motorist. Again, who's happier.

We do a lot of focusing here in America on income inequalities. And rightfully so. Too much suffering stems from these inequalities. But in our anger at the lack of justice in this world we forget too easily the real search for happiness that can make it or break it for us. Yes, it is our duty to relieve suffering as much as we can and not just for humanity but also for all sentient beings. But as we do this we often go begging the question of happiness. We often condemn the greed, arrogance, and lack of moral fiber in an entire class of people without understanding that we are really just feeding our egos. Do it out of love. Do it out of compassion. But to do it out of hatred and self-righteousness takes us right back to the essential problem. Which is the human ego. The ego sees the other as separate not connected. It never sees itself in the other. The ego assigns a value to others based on how congruent their beliefs are with the ego's beliefs. The ego wants to perpetuate conflict because it supplies the the distraction which the ego craves. The distraction from contemplating our inevitable demise. And the ego is never happy.

Happiness is a choice. If you make the choice to be happy then happiness will come to you. Once that happens the crises of the world fall away. There will always be crises in the world. And if you are one of those who would lift the human spirit and seek to bring Peace, Love, and Happiness to the planet you have the wonderful opportunity to start with yourself. Yes, you can and should feel anger at the injustices of this world. But recognize that anger is the turmoil at the surface of the ocean and deep within it is calm and quiet. Keep the core of your being in a state of gratitude and service. Then no matter what happens you will be happy.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Can't Judge a Book by its Political Cover

What do we really know about  people's personal lives from studying their politics? Ever been cheated by a liberal? Know any generous Republicans? Some of the kindest people I've ever met watch Fox News regularly and include it as the chief source of their information about the world. At least a few of the most deceptive, back-stabbing, and dishonest people I've ever had the misfortune to deal with have been avowed liberals. One was a "socialist", or so he said just before he disappeared with our rent money.

Recently I read a study that determined that Republicans were more uncomfortable looking at depictions of human suffering than Democrats. What does this mean? Are Republicans more sensitive to the plight of their fellow humans than Democrats. If so, then why are Republicans so big on building the world's largest arsenal?

We humans are a tricky lot. Ultimately, I've learned that a person's political beliefs seem to have little bearing on how that person conducts his/her private matters. Do visionary leaders of egalitarian movements cheat on their wives? Are most war criminals faithful? The human character remains an enigma.

Recently I had an interesting conversation with a friend who is a self-declared liberal and plans to vote for Obama in the coming election. It went something like this:
Me: So you plan to vote for the war criminal, eh?
Friend: I'm not looking to get a huge change because I know that's impossible right now. I'll be happy with even an incremental change for the better.
Me: I doubt the families of children blown to bits by Obama's drone attacks agree with you.
Friend: Look, it's a matter of being realistic. No third party candidate is electable. You gotta take what you can get. He then hands me a check for part of what he owes me.

Now here's another one with my conservative friend.

Me: So you're going to vote for the guy who wants to bomb Iran?
Friend: That's right. We can't let these crazy religious zealots get ahold of nuclear weapons.
Me: Are you talking about Israel or the USA?
Friend: I'm talking about being on top and staying on top. If you want to make an omelette you've got to crack a few eggs. Oh, here's a check for the work you did for me. (It includes a sizable tip. )

A wise man once said, "Everything your mind tells you is a lie." The changes we would affect in this world are all scripted. We are all players in a play. We are all wrapped in illusions. We will continue to fight for what we think is right even with this knowledge because to live on this earth is to experience these illusions. But if we're lucky or blessed, or otherwise "enlightened" we can go about our work with a bit of detachment knowing that in some vast mysterious place all is as it should be.