What does Peace ask of us?

One hundred years ago today, an armistice was signed to end the War to End All Wars.  Unaware, the troops went right on killing, raping, and plundering.  But the Great War led to an up-wising, as people the world over figured out that they had been snookered into a murderous, devastating, tragic and pointless world war.  Numerous bills limiting war profits were introduced and narrowly defeated, and in 1934, Congress passed the Vinson-Trammell Act, which capped some war profits at 10%.  In 1928, the US led the world in outlawing all future war, with the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  This treaty remains in force today, and all acts of war are criminal, by US law and by international law.

After decades of lending money and supplying technology to Hitler, FDR taunted the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor, and had his excuse for drawing the US once again into a World War. Temptation to profit from Nazism had finally created a situation in which war could be put forward as the only option.

The myth of a global communist plot was used to drag the American public into pointless, horrific wars in Korea and Vietnam.  After Vietnam, the American public was once again energized and passionately dedicated to peace, but a decade later Reagan was once again slick-talking the American people into sanctioned murder and plunder, this time invoking the Existential Threat to our Republic that came from the political choices made by people on the 15-mile-long Caribbean isle of Grenada.

The people have never demanded war of their government.  There has never been a popular war.  Every war has been justified with lies and authoritarian coercion.   Hence the rise of war in the 21st Century has been heralded by a suppression of democratic rule.  Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine all warned us that the Constitution was no lasting guarantee that We the People would control our government.  It is demanded of every generation that we rein in our own government.  Electoral politics today offers us no candidates for peace—even Sanders would not call out the American military machines for the criminal enterprise it has become.  (Jill Stein did that, but she was denied a seat at the table and a place in the debates.)

Hence it is our job to cultivate peace within our own hearts, to meditate on peace and visualize a peaceful future, to practice non-violence in our every interaction with humans and with nature, to engage in acts of protest and non-violence as necessary to end the perennial holocaust.

— Josh Mitteldorf

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How I Became a Madman

You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen — the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives, — I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the curséd thieves.”

Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me.

And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.”

Thus I became a madman.

And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.

But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief.

— Khalil Gibran

It comes as naturally as sleep

I sat down in the middle of the garden…and leaned my back against a warm yellow pumpkin. There were some ground-cherry bushes growing along the furrows, full of fruit. I turned back the papery triangular sheaths that protected the berries and ate a few. All about me giant grasshoppers, twice as big as any I had ever seen, were doing acrobatic feats among the dried vines. The gophers scurried up and down the ploughed ground. There in the sheltered draw-bottom the wind did not blow very hard, but I could hear it singing its humming tune up on the level, and I could see the tall grasses wave. The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers. Queer little red bugs came out and moved in slow squadrons around me. Their backs were polished vermilion, with black spots. I kept as still as I could.

Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

Willa Cather

I Live My Life In Growing Orbits

Ich lebe mein Leben in wachsenden Ringen,
die sich über die Dinge ziehn.
Ich werde den letzten vielleicht nicht vollbringen,
aber versuchen will ich ihn.

Ich kreise um Gott, um den uralten Turm,
und ich kreise jahrtausendelang;
und ich weiß noch nicht: bin ich ein Falke, ein Sturm
oder ein großer Gesang.

— Rainer Maria Rilke


I live my life in growing orbits
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower.
I have been circling for a thousand years,
and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm,
or a great song.

— tr Robert Bly

Day of the Animals

Everyone agrees that humans are more important than other living beings. It’s because we are more complex, more intelligent, more sentient, capable of more complex behaviors and kinds of experiences than any of them.Study: Bonobos may be better representation of last common ancestor with humans

You can easily confirm these statements by asking anyone, any of us.

Traditionally, we don’t ask them, but maybe we’re beginning to do so.  They don’t answer with words, but their meaning is clear enough for those of us who are interested in reading it.

 

 

In honor of St Francis, today has been dedicated to the animals.

MISSION OF WORLD ANIMAL DAY 
To raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe. Building the celebration of World Animal Day unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals.  It’s celebrated in different ways in every country, irrespective of nationality, religion, faith or political ideology.  Through increased awareness and education we can create a world where animals are always recognised as sentient beings and full regard is always paid to their welfare.

Tortoise 100 years old - he looks like an old man sitting on the curb. What a wise, beautiful soul!

For day-to-day

For day to day, a lucid logic serves—
Analysis of fact be my best guide.
But when there’s more at stake, I’ve been misled,
And destiny was quick to vanquish pride.
It’s thus I’ve learned to doubt my brain’s own nerves,
And trust my body rather than my head.

— Josh Mitteldorf

body-intelligence

Spite

In evolutionary theory, spite has a meaning not too distant from the everyday meaning of the word.  Classical evolutionary theory says that natural selection works only between individuals, only locally, only short-term.  The name of the game is to get more of your genes proportionately into the next generation, which means that keeping others in the same community from thriving is just as important as thriving yourself. Therefore, don’t just grab more than your share of the community resources, eat all that you can eat, and when you’re done stuffing yourself, destroy as much as you can of the remaining food so your neighbors don’t get it.  Cannibalism is a twofer.

This is the prediction of classical (neo-Darwinist) evolutionary theory, but it is not the way most animals behave in nature.  Spite and even cannibalism can be observed in nature, but far more common is wide-spread cooperation, altruism that goes across families and communities, even crossing species lines.

Among humans, sociopathic behaviors exist, and they have devastating effects for all of us, but most people—like most animals—behave generously.

In my opinion, the greatest danger to humans is not from this handful of sociopaths but from an ideology that grows out of Social Darwinism and laissez-faire capitalism of the invisible hand.  They tell us we should behave selfishly because everyone else is behaving selfishly, and this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.  They tell us that universal selfishness is the foundation of the harmonious ecosystems that we find in nature, while, in fact, ecosystems are stable only to the extent that individual animals and animal species behave unselfishly.

Worst of all, they tell us that when corporations behave like sociopaths that this is normal, and that our collective prosperity is somehow supported by their rapacious greed.  They warn us not to interfere with ‘free markets’ lest we undermine our own prosperity, but we look around us and we ask, ‘What prosperity?’, and a little light goes on and we begin to ask ‘Who is served by this ideology of unrestrained greed?’