Friday, November 9, 2018

Opposition to trump cannot stop with voting.. pressure on elected officials needed now


How does one respond to the mid-term vote held on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in the United States, a mere 5 days prior to the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of 1918? And while there have been multiple homages paid to the many years of relative peace following the Second World War, the notion of military danger, enhanced significantly by the $74 billion expansion to the budget of the Pentagon, the U.S. withdrawal from the Medium nuclear weapons treaty, the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Iran Accord, the huge arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and the threats posed to NATO by that same administration, remains unabated. There are many pieces of evidence that enhance the prospect for military violence, including:

·        the $61 billion expansion, totalling $700 billion, to the budget of the Pentagon,
·        the U.S. withdrawal from the Medium nuclear weapons treaty,
·        the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Iran Accord,
·        the huge arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and
·        the threats posed to NATO by that same administration,

Add to this list, the underlying and dramatic shift in the culture of the American society favouring and emboldening of “white supremacy”, the explosion of incidents of mass murder 12 killed just last night in a bar in Thousand Oaks, Ventura County, California) and threats to the lives of political enemies of trump, the inflated presidential rhetoric of violence, intimidation, and even threats to the newly elected Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, (“if they investigate me, I will investigate them: two can play this game and we are much better at it than they are”), the confirmation of trump-lackey Kavanaugh, and yesterday the firing of Attorney General Sessions and the appointment of another lackey in Matthew Whittaker as his replacement, the world knows that a constitutional crisis has already broken through the horizon of the American political landscape. None of these developments bodes well either for global or domestic peace and civility, given that each is dependent on the other.

Clearly, with 30% of the population (primarily rural) of the United States represented by 70% of the Senators, while 70% of the population (primarily urban and suburban) is represented by only 30% of the Senators, there is a serious imbalance of political power reducing the influence of urban and suburban voters while inordinately inflating that of rural voters, portraying and foreshadowing continuing deadlock between the House and Senate. Built into the constitution is the stipulation that each state must have the same number of senators (2), and with. trump’s stampeding rallies in those states calculated to sustain a Republican majority in the Senate (another three-dimensional chess move to protect trump from the potential damage of the Mueller report), he has effectively “bought” himself an insurance policy against ultimate impeachment. After all, the only kind of transaction known to and practiced by this president is “buy-sell” because, for him, the only things that matter is his personal/familial growth in power, wealth, influence, and indeed dominance.

“Embracing” those candidates willing to accept his “embrace”, in his mind, leads to their electoral victory, and his self-inflated chest-thumping as the primary reason for their election. Those who “gave me no love” on the other hand, are publicly disdained even scorned, as “public enemies” of the president. The only possible ‘take’ from this performance in yesterday’s press briefing is that the president divides the world into those who have drunk his koolaid, and from whom he now expects and demands unsullied loyalty, and those who have chosen to reject him and his coat-tails. In the end, everyone, whether Republican, Democratic, of Independent, is useful so long as s/he is a public sycophant to the president, and dispensable if and when that dependence is cracked or worse, shattered.

Similarly, in geopolitics, this president has neither authentic allies nor friends, in other chief executive offices, only items on a chess-board, for his personal (certainly not national or international) ambitions, needs, whims and headlines. If the ‘other’ leader buys/accepts American arms, steel, aluminum, coal with tonnes of carbon emissions and trade deals, and complies with the threats and the imposition of tariffs issuing from the Oval Office, he walks under the radar of the president’s wrath. If not, then s/he instantly becomes a public target. And within the nation, those who bear the burden of being black, Latino, are in even more danger. Dubbed as “unable” and “unfit” and “uneducated” (see the references to both Stacey Abrams, and Andrew Gillum, candidates for Governor in Georgia and Florida respectively), they are thrown under the bus for their person, race and identity.

And so, while the public debate so conventionally focuses on the “bread and butter” issues of health, education and social safety net, justifiably, and trump wants the world to measure his success in stock prices, unemployment figures and conservative judges to the Supreme Court, there are, under trump, two other deep, destabilizing and converging political cruise missiles ripping through the United States political culture:white racist supremacy and shredding the legal framework of the constitution!
Charlottesville is the historic metaphor for the rise and triumph of White Supremacy, and even yesterday, another white supremacist was welcomed to the White House.

It is the shredding of the legal framework that underpins the governmental structure, creating what Neal Katyal, former Solicitor General under the Obama administration, and Geoffrey Conway (spouse of Kelly Anne Conway, and himself a constitutional scholar) writing in the New York Times, call a constitutional crisis that is no longer on the horizon, it has become a full-blown sun in the political sky of the United States. The “appointment” of Wittaker to the Attorney General’s post in the Department of Justice, according to Katyal and Conway, is unconstitutional, given the clear legal requirement that all who serve in such a position must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The “line of succession” from the Deputy Attorney General, to the Assistant Deputy Attorney General would be the “legal” path to a replacement for fired Attorney General Sessions.

It could well be, according to Katyal, appearing this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, that Whittaker has already turned over Mueller’s files to trump. It could also be that he has followed through on his public declaration on CNN, recorded and replayed for posterity, to vacuum all funding out of the Mueller investigation thereby foreclosing on the biggest thorn in the president’s side. These public declarations, linked to his denial of any Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, and now his appointment as interim Attorney General that, taken individually and/or collectively, provide empirical evidence for those seeking more proof of the “obstruction of justice” charge into which Mueller is delving.

·        Profiting from the spoils of presidential victory through the tidal wave of slush funds pouring into the trump hotel in Washington from geopolitical and national political sycophants seeking the pleasures of the trump administration (contravening the emoluments clause),
·        appointing his son-in-law to a full national security clearance,
·        padding the investment accounts of the most affluent men and women in the nation,
·        de-stabilizing the EPA,
·        gutting the department of Education,
·        firing James Comey,

·    firing of Sessions and plunking an obviously protective of presidential immunity to subpoena, prosecution and all other legal impinging constraints including impeachment…..**

And all of these items do not encompass the 307 (that is not a typo!) mass shootings in the last year in the United States, the voter suppression of minority voters by elected officials, the flaunting of all historic and traditional norms of governance.
How much more evidence do the people of the United States need to call, write, email, text or confront face-to-face their representatives in Washington, current and newly elected, to shout from the roof-tops, “We have had enough!”

Appearing in Toronto only last week, in a debate framed, safely under Canadian parameters, about the future prospects of populism throughout the world, Steve Bannon trumped his proud declaration that trump is an historic and transformative president who will be in our lives for decades. Already proven true, given the appointments of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh (and potentially a third, should Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s recent fall and breaking of three ribs), conservative strict constructionist opinion will dominate Supreme Court decisions for decades, Bannon fears no forceful contradiction. However, it is the demise of the American pursuit and achievement of many of the better cornerstone foundations of democracy, and the atrophy of the American reputation on the world stage, and the removal of the American potential to lead international efforts to spare the environment, all of them included in the costs already accumulated under this administration.

Tom Steyer, whether or not he is running for president in 2020, is not wasting his millions on advertisements calling for public support for the removal of this chief executive.

Will the public demand the termination of this political, social, cultural, legal and historic rampage? The world cannot wait for the Electoral College to be eliminated, nor for the Senate representation imbalance to be levelled, nor for the multiple state laws that repress and impede voting rights to be removed from the law books. The crisis, no matter how we frame it, demands reining in now!

**another heinous and illegal and deplorable culpability of the administration: the separation of families of refugees and asylum-seekers, and the incarceration of separated children from their families

Monday, November 5, 2018

Anger, the mask of fear (Chuck Lorre)


Appearing on CBS’s Sunday Morning, yesterday, Chuck Lorre, the creator of The Big Bang Theory, uttered words that merit echoing reverberating, vibrating and pulsating across the globe. Commenting on his reputation of being “quick to anger” Lorre said:

But fear for me exhibits as anger," Lorre said. "'Cause I'm not gonna show you fear. I'm gonna show you anger because that's just how I grew up. And that's what you present to the world. And that maybe becomes your reputation." 

Men, for decades have been stereotyped as “angry” in a judgemental interpretation of something we are not (also stereotypically) permitted to show, vulnerability of any kind, and that includes “fear”. Identifying with Lorre, along with millions of other males, I am confident that if we peel back the layers of emotion that erupt when we display anger, will we undoubtedly discover that at its root is our deepest fear.
A bill is overdue, and we raise our voice in “anger” because we fear that our credit rating will be eroded.
A situation is so inhumane, so degrading and so demeaning that we shout, “I cannot take this any more!” at three a.m. into a phone to the head office of our community development organization, because we fear for the loss of our sanity.
A relationship founders on pettiness, into which net we become enmeshed, and our anger erupts because we fear the loss of the relationship into which we have already invested years of commitment.

A penetrating insult crosses the table at an elegant restaurant, and we immediately go silent, this time in disappointment and ultimately fear, although we are unable  to grasp the significance of that emotional element at the moment. Instantly, we feel hurt, and only later, upon reflection are we able to discern our anger that someone we previously believed was trustworthy and “safe” has betrayed that previous trust. And then the fullness of the implications of the biting criticism unfolds into the “fear” that somehow both partners in that other relationship do not share a common acceptance and support of the relationship we have with one of them.

A family member forwards an email forbidding further contact on the pretext that the initial overture to build a bridge over the many degrees of separation was merely a manipulation on some other issue, to compel their joining a conspiracy completely and totally unimagined. And we become enraged because we fear that, not only will the bridge never be begin, but the reality being characterized as a conspirator undermines an identity, and additional relationships.

While tidying up an estate, a family member proffers an item, as an act of apparent kindness and generosity, only to discover that a similar item, of far greater significance and value has already been placed on the pile of her “inheritance” and anger erupts in the veins, not because the original offer was so desired or desireable, but because the blatant narcissism and hypocrisy of the “offer”  seriously erode previous placed trust in the family member. And the “fear” that is operative is that of shame that a family member is so blatantly crass and opportunistic.

When confronted by a former colleague who has become aware of a rift in the relationship and who wants to seek revenge for the rift by offering, “put all your arguments on the table and I will combat each of them”….only to hear from my voice, “For God’s sake, this is not about winning an argument; it is about trust, and I no longer trust you!” Anger, then, is the fear that a long-standing professional relationship was all along really hollow, vapid and based exclusively on power, essentially exposing the emptiness of any previous perception of collegiality, and the innocence and naivety of my perspective.

All experiences of loss of innocence, it would seem, fall into a similar experience category, exposing anger both at the other and ultimately at the self, for having been so trusting, so na├»ve and so “uncanny”. And the anger (read fear) can at times be overwhelming.

Near death a very elderly woman declares to her daughter, “Your brother would never have care for me as you have!” in a deeply penetrating statement of anger and resentment. Obviously fearful that long ago, without perhaps fully grasping the import, she had already shredded the relationship with the brother, her son, and had been extremely jealous of the time spent by the brother/son during the father’s palliative stage prior to his death. Now, near the end of her own life, she feels free to utter her vindictive truth.

Projections, too, carry the weight of deep and profound anger, coming as they do from our unconscious, as we portray our individual Shadow, the storage vault for our deepest fears. And, it is not incidental to wonder how the contemporary culture would shift if what we hear as anger were to be recognized as fear. The angry “cover-up” is so much more destructive, not to mention demeaning, and so regularly dismissed as unprofessional, when, recognizing it as fear would connote a very different meaning, prompt a very different response and attitude.

Think of the workplaces that have literally sanitized “anger” from their premises, in all forms. Would they be so eager and determined to spend the same dollars, energy, policy-writing and enforcing efforts if they came to the position Lorre already has, that the anger they witness is much more likely a deep expression of fear? Would the corporate establishment that governs these large organizations, including governments and social agencies, be so quick to outlaw all expressions of anger if they came to the realization that most, if not all of the anger were really a cover-up for fear, both superficial and deep-seated?

Another question, “Is anger a trait more fundamental and basic to the DNA of the male species, as compared with the female? How far removed from the Lorre perspective is the women’s movement that anger is really an expression of repressed, vaulted and hidden, fear?

And as the public discourse becomes replete with anger, on all sides on all issues, are we ready to listen to Lorre’s personal story, that he is not “going to show you fear” but resorts to anger instead, and pays the price of an angry reputation?
Trump incarnates the same deep and profound fear(s) and covers it/them with his persistent anger, obviously riding a wave of similarly repressed fear, screamed out as anger over anything and everything from his frightened cult.

Entertaining this anger may be; it is certainly is not illuminating of anything resembling a serious public debate about the issues, their implications and their gasping voracious appetite for address. And if the most “powerful” nation on earth is drowning in the anger of its public “leaders” (while masking both personal and national fear) can the rest of us trust any crumb of hope for creative, responsible collaborative and pro-active resolutions to the serious problems of race, military conflict, environmental protection, immigration, and income disparity?

In a word, NO!

And that NO expresses both fear and anger, on the part of this scribe!  

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Scratching the surface of misandry and other insecurities


Paul Morel, the young man in D.H. Lawrence’s novel, Sons and Lovers, caught between his mother’s possessiveness and fear of losing him to Miriam and his own feelings of inadequacy, struggles mightily with his feelings and his decision about whether or not to marry Miriam.

Lawrence writes these words:

With the spring came again the old madness and battle. Now he knew he would have to go to Miriam. But what was his reluctance? He told himself it was only a sort of overstrong virginity in her and him which neither could break through. He might have married her; but his circumstances at home made it difficult, and moreover, he did not want to marry. Marriage was for life, and because they had become close companions, he and she, he did not see that it should inevitably follow they should be man and wife. He did not feel that he wanted marriage with Miriam. He wished he did. He would have given his head to have felt a joyous desire to marry her and to have her. Then why couldn’t he bring it off? There was some obstacle; and what was that obstacle? It lay in the physical bondage. He shrank from the physical contact. But why? With her he felt bound up inside himself. He could not go out to her. Something struggled in him but he could not get to her. Why? She loved him….Why , when she put her arm in his timidly, as they walked, did he feel he would burst forth in brutality and recoil? He owed himself to her; he wanted to belong to her. Perhaps the recoil and the shrinking from her was love in its first fierce modesty. He had no aversion for her. No, it was the opposite; it was a strong desire battling with a still stronger shyness and virginity. It seemed as if virginity were a positive force, which fought and won in both of them. And with her he felt it so hard to overcome; yet he was nearest to her, and with her alone could he deliberately break through. And he owed himself to her. Then, if they could get things right, they could marry; but he would not marry unless he could feel strong in the joy of it---never. He could not have faced his mother. It seemed to him that to sacrifice himself in a marriage he did not want would be degrading, and would undo all his life, make it a nullity. He would try what he could do.

And he had a great tenderness for Miriam. Always, she was sad dreaming her religion; and he was nearly a religion for her. He could not bear to fail her. It would come out alright if they tried.

He looked round. A good many of the nicest men he knew were like himself, bound in by their own virginity, which they could not break out of. They were so sensitive to their women that they would go without them for ever rather than do them a hurt, an injustice. Being the sons of mothers whose husbands had blundered rather brutally through their feminine sanctities, they were themselves too diffident and shy. They could easier deny themselves than incur any reproach from a woman; for a woman was like their mother, and they were full of the sense of their mother. They preferred themselves to suffer the misery of celibacy, rather than risk the other person. ( D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, from three great novels, JG Press, 1933p. 703-4)

The ‘Oedipus Complex’ constitutes a psychological problem and this forms the nucleus of the novels, Sons and Lovers. The possessive character of Mrs. Morel was great stumbling block in the life of Paul, the hero of the piece. She was terribly dissatisfied with her married life and then subsequently. She exerted her influence on the life of Paul who could not liberate himself from the mother-fixation. Mother’s influence was so preponderant and so overweening assertive that Paul could not get a balanced emotional life. He failed to establish a becoming relationship both with Miriam and Clara. The mother-image was deterrent to the emotional life of Paul who himself was also a highly sensitive person and in his attachment with mother we notice the warmth and passion of a lover. This complex psychological problem has been treated or delineated by Lawrence with the consummate art of a poet and an unfailing observation and insight of a true psychologist.  (From A.D.’s Literature website)

It is not a physical attraction of Paul to his mother that is at issue in this novel, although that may have been one of the interpretations emerging from the novel. It is the overweening influence of the despondent, dependent and even desperate mother on the son that blocks his achievement of a balanced emotional life. And the resulting dependence on the mother’s tyrannical emotional imprint leaves the young son wallowing, if not actually drowning in the murky waters of his mother’s own imbalance and unfinished emotional work. Wrestling with what seems like a spider’s web of enmeshment with the mother, Paul vacillates between a healthy impulse of “wanting” and moving toward Miriam, and an unhealthy impulse of avoiding and withdrawing from Miriam, in his early twenties. His vacillation signals a kind of impotence, powerlessness, indecision and emotional limbo. Others, caught in a similar web might, and often do, fall into the trap of over-compensating violence and bullying. Excessive deference and/or excessive bullying, two inappropriate emotional and psychological impulses on the part of men, in their relationship with women, play an inordinate role in contemporary culture, to the detriment of both genders, and certainly to the demise of many relationships.

For twenty-first century readers, this whole story may seem as if it belongs in the ash-heap of ancient history. After all, there is no mother of sons today whose dependence on her son, given her desperation in her own unfulfilled, and unfulfilling marriage, distorts the son’s capacity to understand his own complex emotions, and to penetrate them into an enlightened and confident sense of his self! 

Right?

Wrong!

There is, today, a mountain of narrative evidence of women who complain, justifiably, about the abuse they experience at the hands of inappropriate men. And there is a concomitantly inordinate number of men whose imbalance in their emotional development, especially as it regards the complexities of choosing a female life partner, impedes their healthy emotional development.

Are these the men who are and have been perpetrating injustices on women? Is Paul a clairvoyant, if fictional, canary in the coal mine of gender issues? Is his mother, while never mentioned in the front-page stories that saturate the current debate over relationships between men and women, casting a dark shadow over these fractured and fractious, debilitating and demeaning encounters of powerlessness/overpowering among men and their women colleagues and former friends, especially of those men in the public telescope?

While the #MeToo and the #Time’sUp initiatives are diagnosing and exposing the experiences of demeaned women, much of it outside the bounds of a legal framework, men continue to refuse (not merely refrain!) to seek help in the conundrum of their emotional and professional and domestic vortex. Who, after all, would contest that emotional eunuchs, especially those who do not, or cannot, comprehend their emotional DNA, would be the most likely perpetrators of sexual abuse?

And while it seems paradoxical, and to the women complainants irrelevant, to attempt to parse the male’s emotional DNA, especially as it can deliver only inappropriate attitudes and behaviour (see pornography, strip clubs, locker room talk, and the current U.S. president) we can most likely also agree that powerlessness, and the feeling of impotence, no matter how it is incarnated or seeded, will very likely generate inappropriate behaviour, both for the agent and the victim. Mothers of young boys clearly have a responsibility for their own emotional health, including the management of their marriages, and the culture of the family in which they are attempting to raise, educate and launch a healthy son.

Any notion of beginning from the point of view that it is “pointless” for a wife/mother to begin a conversation with a male spouse who is not living up to the expectations of his wife, on any matter, be it fiscal, physical, sexual, intellectual, social, parental or even spiritual, is a non-starter, sabotaging itself from the get-go! “He won’t (doesn’t) get it!” is a phrase uttered at this moment in thousands of rooms across this continent. And the voices in that choir are exclusively female!

Misandry, a dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men or boys, unfortunately takes many shapes and forms. And while the contemporary culture is fixated on the empirical, the physical evidence in any matter, there are other signs and “substantial” pieces of evidence of misandry in the debate. Emotional withdrawal, that “passive aggressive” charge for which men are infamous, can and is also a potential attitude from disaffected women. Even an emotional “stance” that positions the woman as “knowing” and “discerning” and  having “superior, emotional intelligence” as compared with men is a mean-spirited face, voice, arms and heart of misandry. Even hugs engaged in such a mental state are meaningless, for both the man and the woman. And anything beyond hugs, under an umbrella of female “emotional superiority,” is merely another play-acting, with ultimately dire consequences.

And men, whether they come from emotionally domineering mothers, or cheer-leading mothers, or insecure mothers of any sort, and also whether they come from dominating fathers, emotionally frozen and/or absent fathers, or ‘driven’ fathers, or other forms of male insecurity, will in too many cases be unable (that is very different from unwilling!) to discern their complex emotions, and how they impact their female partners, especially when those relationships get “serious” and “intimate”.

Is it not past time for this century’s enlightened and sophisticated, educated and informed, sensitive and sensible men and women to remove the mask of fear and insecurity, in whatever form it manifests itself,  and to acknowledge our vulnerability as individual human beings, to open to the possibility that we are deeper, more worthy, more open to see new insights even if they might be at first threatening and frightening (to both genders)?

Perhaps a re-reading of Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers might help even those who hate reading, in a century in which (reading) literacy is another of those species threatened into extinction (along with emotional literacy), like the 60% of the animal world that has disappeared, according to the World Wildlife Fund.


  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Religious "right" the supporting cast(e) to the trump cult


In his most recent column in truthdig.com , Chris Hedges points out that removing trump from power would leave the “yearning of millions of people, many conditioned by the Christian right for a cult leader.” Let’s look at the evidence of a close and causal link between the Christian “right” and the trump cult, making no mistake that the followers of the current president comprise a full-blown cult.

The most obvious link is the massive and charismatic composition of the two leaders. Even with specific names (Swaggart et al) we can all point to times and places in our lives when such captivating public speakers held sway over crowds of almost literally mesmerized fans. In my own life, such an evangelist came to our little town from the Northern Ireland town of Balleymena, near Belfast. Evoking, and undoubtedly mimicking his own idol, Ian Paisley, this little man, clad in his black Nehru jacket framing his clergy collar and bands, filled the pews for several years in a previously modest, quiet, reflective, warm and friendly church with his homiletic rhetoric. Always outlined in three pivotal points, (evoking the Trinity to make what he said seem more holy), this man spewed venom against the Roman Catholic church, (just as Paisley did for decades in Northern Ireland), spurned make-up for women, dancing for adolescents, movies for all, and wine and alcohol for adults.

Impeccably combed neat grey-black curls lay on his rubric forehead, while “ten-dollar” words poured from his silver tongue, as he glided from behind the large pulpit raised on a six-foot dias elevated above another two-foot raised platform from which he served communion, first to his right in full view, and alternatively to his left. His five-foot frame was a commanding presence with a presentation style that vacuumed cheques from wallets and purses, clarion chimes from one affluent newcomer, fresh paint from a cadre of willing volunteers, dock-side fleets of cars for Sunday summer evening theatrics and testimonials. “Saved,” “born-again” and “turning your life over to Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour” were his three rallying cries….and the muscle and larynx he interjected into his conversion “calls” were intimidating to some, shaming to others, spiritual medication to others for the pain of “sin” in whatever form it had been committed.

Little did he know, or more tellingly, would he have cared, to learn that Roman Catholic adolescent boys hurled stones at the heads of the youth who attended his church as they swan at the town beach, so penetrating and denigrating was his religious bigotry, in the name of Jesus Christ, as he understood Him. It would have been impossible for anyone, young or old, living in the town at that time, mid-fifties to late sixties, not to be fully aware of the division this little martinet was sewing in our little town. He very quickly magnetized four men to his Session, the church council’s designation at the time, where they joined others, including my father, who had served for decades previously.

In the only incidence in memory in which my father ever uttered an unkind word about another person, I once heard him quietly strip the spiritual, holy garments from those four men, calling them, “The Four Just Men!” in his dry and biting ironic sarcasm. Who knows their motives for rallying around this cult leader, but clearly, church growth in both dollars and adherents had to be one of their primary impulses; all four were (are?) engaged in business in the little town and were building those empires as the cornerstones of their legacy. Others, also private businessmen, joined later, underlining the strong enmeshment between the business culture and the church model.

Charismatic leaders, no matter what they are peddling, are renowned for their magnetic presence before a crowd. And when they are peddling a theology of sin, fear, hate and a kind of righteousness that wreaks of superiority and perfectionism, setting the “Saved” apart and above the “unsaved,” they are dangerous not only to those “saved” but also to all the rest. “Cult” wears a few faces, all of them smelling of the abuse of power:
·        a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object
·        a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing, a cult of personality surrounding the leader(s)

The blurring of “veneration” for a saint, for example, with the excessive enmeshment (admiration, adulation, sycophancy) with another person illustrates the complexity and the ambiguity and the “cover” implicit in many words in our language. And it is to the elimination, avoidance, denial and betrayal of all ambiguities that this evangelist dedicated his professional ministry, all in the name of “saving” the heathens in our little town. At sixteen, after what I then considered his most odious homily (bigoted and narrow, without any supporting evidence from scripture) I departed, and never returned, except for a wedding to my first wife. (My parents had struggled to remain!)
Whether this decade-plus long experience when I was especially impressionable was designed to equip me for a later chapter inside the church or not, it clearly shaped my attitudes, perceptions, beliefs and practice of ministry. My “DNA” has been in a conflict with all of the hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of Christian “born-again’s,” if for no other reason than I never have accepted the notion that God, in and through His Son, Jesus Christ Resurrected, never wanted, expected, demanded or rewarded a permanent infantilizing of those who choose to worship as disciples. Uncertainty, acceptance of ambiguity, puzzling over meanings, both textual and experiential, reading, praying, reflecting, conversing, singing, weeping, rejoicing, learning and growing in all of the ways that we are capable of developing…..these seem a more grounded, perplexing, challenging, and loving set of guideposts for anyone searching for God. And without any cognitive, atmospheric, metaphysic, philosophic, psychologic, political, historic or liturgical mapping to “point” the way into the mind and the heart of God, I prefer the process, and the accompanying humility and even desperation of the search in and through the dark nights of the soul, the dark caves of the Shadow, the dark wounds of inevitable, persistent and toxic enemies, and the unbelievable joys that surprise us at every turn in our pilgrimage to a relationship with the ineffable.

Jonestown, and the massacre there, was devoid of uncertainty, ambiguity, puzzling. Similarly, the trump iteration of “cult” is devoid of uncertainty, ambiguity, puzzling, reflection and collaboration, not to mention the humility that necessarily and inevitably accompanies the approaches the spring from such uncertainty. Similarly, a loud voice, perhaps charismatic to some, singularly ‘convicted’ of the righteousness of its pontifications, totally immune to and alienated from all sensibilities of others, especially those others who do not ‘drink the kool-aid’ being served, or who do not advance the “cause,” narcissistic in the extreme, of its high priest strides the globe like a colossus, exclusively in its own mind.

And for every cult, there is the essential component of a willing, compliant, child-like and ignorant (in the ignosco, I do not know, sense) army of followers. So easy and almost facile to depict a “cult” leader; the army of followers, on the other hand, is not so readily captured. Idealistic, aspiring, often angry, unconscious of their Shadow and its projection onto the leader, disdainful of all opponents who cannot and do not see the world “as we do” and therefore are almost to be pitied, certainly scorned, and often shown little more than contempt. How else could a cluster of alienated outsiders, willing to shed all vestiges of their scepticism, while burying themselves in their contempt for the “other,” manage to agree on membership in the cult? Requiring little if any “supportive” dogma, ideological pillars, or theological tenets, these people are more like moths to a lamp, effervescently eager to rush to the “light” whereupon they almost immediately “die” in the dark below. Their’s is not so much a conscious sacrifice as a blind devotion to an image. Like Tristan and Isolde, two lovers addicted to the idea of love, cult conscripts have fallen in “love” with the idea of the power they believe they have inherited through their joining. Not knowing of the concept of enmeshment, they are vulnerable to their own blindness and the magnetism of their chosen leader.

 Some might call them desperate, each in their unique and individual way for their own emptiness to be filled, they are satisfied by their coherence and membership, their shared activities, and their constant and repeated exposure to their leader who is above reproach, in their eyes.

Having lived in the shadow of their own self-loathing, they emerge into the light of the leader, believing that he (and history is almost, if not totally, devoid of female cult leaders) provides the missing light, hope, promise and deliverance they crave. The complex causes, reasons and cultural themes that put them in their own darkness remain outside both their understanding and their curiosity. Immediate gratification of the kind that collapses time in their search for a kind of panacea, or nirvana, is a compelling force that drives them into the fold of the cult. New recruits to a new movement, gang, group of specially saved or newly protective club, too, have a frenzy about their devotion to the cult. And they want to evangelize their friends and colleagues with an energy and an enthusiasm that overwhelms many of their prospective convert.

Ironically, given the feeling of strength and conviction of their membership in the cult, they are paradoxically anxious, insecure and defensive when they are challenged, and especially when their leader is defamed. It is as if the centrifuge of the criticism’s pull draws them even closer to the leader and to an even deeper and firmer commitment to the cult, unless and until…

Like the frog in the boiling water, unaware of the danger it faces, until it is too late, they often “come to their senses” in that they see how hollow are the cult culture and code and even the depth of character of their leader. And as history discloses, they eventually unravel, sometimes after prolonged propping by the leader and the resources he can command, also often quite prodigious, given the desire of benefactors to be part of something “big” and different and successful, at least on the surface.
Similar to a diet craze, there is an initial loss of weight, accompanied by exuberance, or in the case of the religious cult, an emotional high, a spiritual rebirth of sorts, leading to the “born-again” application and the commitment to recruit new converts. In the case of the trump cult, there is an entertaining fascination with how unscripted and out of the box his rhetoric, his defiance, his disdain for the establishment, the power of the his person and a kind of euphoria that seems to be “freeing”. And in the American context, where “freedom” is the license plate on every car, (although only New Hampshire’s reads, “Life Free or Die”), there is a desperate consuming aspiration (really an hollow emptiness) for throwing off all vestiges of constraint, government control, and hot-button words that epitomize such body-constraints like socialism, globalism, scientific evidence, and filing the void with a wild-west frontier-like lawlessness. And if the leader is prepared to appear to be promising an archetypal freeing from the “Egypt” of their enslavement (especially and ironically with the demographic numbers turning their white history into a brown future) millions are more than willing and eager to climb aboard the freedom train.

“Manifest Destiny” is one of the more notable memes in American history, needing both a new frontier and a willing army of seekers, whether it be to the west coast, originally, to the moon, or to the promised land, dependent on the latest Barnum and Bailey huckster. Just like that Balleymena evangelist, trump epitomizes the latest iteration of the huckster, propped up by a new band of “just men” (and a cadre of women) who need him as much or more then he needs them.

And unless and until their respective needs atrophy, dissipate morph into a new mature individuation, their enmeshment will only drag both leader and cult further into the slough of personal and, in this case, national, history.

The religious ‘right’ is ironically named, given its venal and heinous toxicity, in its own name and in its profound influence on the trump cult. It is not now, and never was ‘right’ in the righteous sense, except in its own mind. Pat Robertson’s recent prioritizing of the $110 billion immediately and $350 billion over ten years in arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the deliberate and premeditated murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi-defected opponent by the Saudi regime, is only the latest manifestation of the vacuity of their faith.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

RAGE unleashed and unbridled


If trump’s rage is the personification of his rampant ID, it has unleashed the individual and the collective ID upon a nation drowning in narcissistic RAGE.

Born in revolution, nurtured in civil war, fed a diet over-stuffed with competition, individualism, and the meme of success or failure in all conflicts, personal, athletic, corporate, academic, political, religious and moral/ethical, the United States is reaping the harvest of their own history. There is no putting this “toothpaste” back into the tube. It is a social, cultural, psychological and even religious substance that is designed to inflame all whose ears and eyes are confronted by its malignant toxicity. Violence, no matter how thickly “masked” in professional civility, legal debate decorum, lecture hall professionalism, has a deeply embedded tomb in the soul of the American history and culture.

While it is true that trump exceeds all previous presidents in his abandon of civility and his excessive reliance on blame and invective of anything and anyone who utters a whisper of criticism and

·        the nation itself tolerates hate speech, under the guise of liberty,
·        tolerates racism under the guise of free speech,
·        tolerates poverty in the guise of “pull up your socks and get with the program,”
·        tolerates and even endorses the largest and most heinous military killing machine in the history of the world under the guise of “protecting the national security of the nation and its people,”
·        tolerates and enhances the growing number of billionaires under the guise of the “American Dream” that shining beacon on a hill of private, for-profit cannibalism that “eats” all competitors weak enough to be victimized,
·        tolerates the charging, arresting, imprisoning and shooting of minority males at a rate exceeding the rate in all other countries combined, under the guise of “sending a message of warning and deterrence to other miscreants
·        tolerates a definition of human beings without wealth as “sad, unfortunate, misguided, unworthy, dismissive, and a monstrous toll on civic, state and national budgets”
·        tolerates the strategies and tactics of white supremacists, including the current president, under the guise of “free speech” and the unleashing of rage heretofore repressed under the previous neoliberal administrations of both parties.

It is rage that is the ubiquitous venom of the dragon viper haunting the psyches of each of us, ready to erupt and shower volcanic fire and ash on whatever perpetrator happens to provide a trigger. And a national history surrounded by the picket-fence of rifles, AK-47’s, cruise missiles, A and H-Bombs and the air and water-borne vehicles and vessels that launch them, emboldened by a narcissistic “bar” of “being special” and the pressures that come with that built-in parental expectation, and an ethic that calls “greed good”, is unlikely to move beyond that latest round of “ten” (at 10:00 a.m. EST, October 25/18) Improvised Explosive Devices designed, crafted and sent by American agent(s) either quickly or easily.

trump’s cult rages against all people who are concerned about the devastation of the planet
they rage against the nuanced “eunuch-like” approach of Obama to the use of chemical weapons by the leader of Syria
they rage against the consulate burning and loss of life under then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s watch in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 in the midst of the Arab Spring
they rage against the regulations that impeded the profits of coal mines, and other mammoth polluters imposed by the Obama administration
they rage against the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) because it imposed a “government-controlled” “socialist” regime on personal health insurance and access
they rage against the Clinton ambition to write and to speak, for fees, and to fundraise for the Clinton Global Foundation, following their two respective terms of public service
they rage against the right to vote being extended to minority groups of blacks and Latino’s,
they rage against all forms of the social safety net, as a monster that impedes the freedom of the individual to “make it” on their own
they rage against the rise in undergraduate and graduate degrees that have been earned by students previously barred from access to higher education through their own poverty and family history
they rage against the loss of jobs under the devil, “globalization” that has resulted in labour, technology and income disparities, while also eliminating extreme poverty for millions around the world
they rage against the “snobbery” and the sophistication of “Harvard” (or Yale, of Columbia, or Princeton) educated politicians, presidents, writers, thinkers and leaders including Senators
they rage against the international agreements and treaties like the Medium Nuclear Treaty of 1989, NATO, World Bank, The International Criminal Court, the TPP, the former NAFTA, and all forms of “Foreign Aid”
they rage against the “caravan” of refugees and asylum-seekers crossing from Central America’s dangerous threats to family and life itself into Mexico as evidence of the march of terrorism from “Muslims” and MI-13 gangs

they rage…and they rage….and they rage….

And the primary megaphone of their rage is the very larynx of the occupant of the Oval Office on twitter, on the campaign trail, on Fox and when and wherever he can attract a network microphone and a camera.

And when the enemies of this rage, this ubiquitous rage, this vacuous rage, this haunting and savage rage, this uncivilized and uncivilizing rage speak out in their own chorus of protest, then the lives, families, and communities of these Democratic opponents are threatened with Improvised Explosive Devices reminiscent of the hundreds of American and allied soldiers who have lost life and limbs in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq/Syria/Libya/Yemen.

Destabilizing and deconstructing the “established order” as the state goal of the Breitbart gang, and their prophet, Bannon, now includes the violent threats to pillars of a former “Washington inside” political class. Ironically, the world was much more civilized, and moving toward a more just and equal sharing of the resources and rewards of a mixed economy under those perceived as “dangerous” by the most dangerous gang in the American history.

Projection explodes in any psyche(s) in denial, in a state of intoxication brought on by the aphrodisiac of political power….and the trump gang is the most vulnerable to and needy of that drug in memory.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

MASKS of money, faith, intellect and entitlement defame us individually and culturally


Chris Hedges writes a scathing indictment of the uber-rich in his latest column in truthdig.com. Referencing Aristotle, Hedges predicts that when the uber-rich gain control, either tyranny or revolution are the only options remaining.

Citing his experience as a scholarship student from the ages of ten through eighteen to a private New England school for the uber-rich, Hedges points to the blind insouciance of the ‘breed’ to the pain of any other, locked as they are in the bubble of their own narcissism. “What’s in it for me?” for them is not merely a selfish slogan, but a guiding principle in any and all relationships. Evidencing the trump administration’s gutting of all government programs than support and give hope to those in the ghetto’s, while padding the pockets of their uber-rich clones, Hedges convincingly trumpets the consciousness-raising cry for the rest of us to “wake up” before it is too late.

Excess wealth clearly does have a profound impact on the degree of entitlement that is the birthright of the uber-rich. Power, status, privilege and superiority are the traits emblazoned on their social and political DNA, and by inference, those incarnated traits render all others as worker drones in the service of this super class. This class does no wrong, in its own mind, as that would be incongruent  their in light of their impenetrable mask of perfection, a mask embedded in the consciousness of their families, their colleagues, and their inherited status.

And while Hedges’ critique is socially, politically, intellectually and culturally valid and appropriate, there is a wider application of the notion of superiority. Such self-applied diagnosis as special and superior is not applicable only to the uber-rich; it also applies to those who consider themselves “chosen by God” as the “saved” and thereby the exclusive inheritors of the ‘Kingdom of God” in their vision of a promised after-life. Of course, the marriage of the uber-rich and the ultra-righteous inflicts an almost unstoppable political force dedicated to the achievement of goals including the absolute control of the U.S. Supreme Court. And through that tactic, they will extend their control into the demise, whether incrementally or by a single axe-stroke, of Roe v Wade, the construction of a legal and impenetrable moat around the RNA’s power over the right to carry arms, to inflict arms on schools, public offices and even private pockets and glove boxes. They will also vote for all tax measures that build the nuclear arsenal of the United States, as their black-and-white perception of their own “morally superior and absolutely correct” vision of the universe inhabited by their “own kind” of superior species, and the rest of us. They will also chant choruses of laud and honour whenever their cult leader trump demonizes his political opponents as dangerous, morally corrupt, hypocritical, and a “mob”….the very description that they themselves can only find, of themselves, if they were ever to stoop so low as to peer into their own mirror.

“Projection” is an unconscious psychological phenomenon that paints the other with the brush and colour of the self that is so intolerable that they cannot bear its pain. If I hate myself, I project that self-loathing onto whomever I can find who seems to merit that self-loathing. If I lie and deceive, I project that trait onto my opponents in the faux belief, perception or conviction that I might thereby shed all responsibility for my own lies and deception.

The capacity to see ourselves fully, honestly and caringly is, if not thwarted, at least partially blocked by our own Shadow. And the mask we build, grow, learn, practice and permit others to see only impedes our capacity to be honest and open to our own darknesses. It is the degree to which we are open to investigating and accepting and then peeling off layers of our own Shadow that permits and enhances our growth and maturity into an authentic individual self. Social insults that cut deeply, with or without obvious intent on the part of the initiator, bring us face to face with our own Shadow. “Why does that statement, criticism, question hurt so much, when the person uttering it has not demonstrated such an attitude or belief previously?” “What is it about me that makes that “X” factor so toxic, debilitating, infuriating and provocative of anger, revenge and hurtfulness?”

In a world in which only a “perfect” Mask (Persona) is acceptable, of course, the power of the Shadow only grows exponentially, given the high degree of repression to which it is subjected. And when the Mask of the political theatre actors, on all sides, becomes the dominant voice, without tolerance for the pause and the self-reflection needed to peel the Shadow’s layers to expose what is really going on, then there is another iteration of a shouting match of the Mask. Masks, by their nature, serve to protect and to cover up the fears, insecurities and the blindnesses we all have. And whether those Masks are constructed of truck-loads of cash and dividends, an absolute conviction of faith in one’s own moral purity or perfection, some kind of “star” heroism and the concomitant adulation, or a belief in the superiority of one’s family, heritage, legacy and “identity”….they are all part of a psychological dynamic which, given the current cultural ethos in North America, demeans self-critical examination, acceptance of responsibility, collaboration and compassion in favour of narcissistic “transactionalism”. Nationalism, and infantilism, cover-ups and deceptions of everything that spells trouble and denials of painful reality are all exposed as willing symptoms of the obsession deference to the public appearance of perfection.

It is at the altar of absolute perfection (The MASK) that this cultural epoch is worshipping. And the high priests of the new religion are, at this moment, stampeding the trading floors in Wall Street, grabbing the microphones and cameras of the networks, pulling the political balance from the middle to the far right, closing the borders and the minds of their citizens to the plight of the truly endangered, sending dangerous packages to public figures as threats to their person, denying their complicity in the erosion of the planet’s climate norms, and busily counting their dividends in fossil fuel stocks.

The uber-rich need none of the supporting complicity of the religious right, the mega-corporations including the media, nor the elected political class. And the sooner the cabal of the current “power-addicts” is broken, (and only by ordinary people can or will that happen) the sooner will some semblance of accountability, integrity, authenticity and responsibility in the “public interest” return.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The struggle for truth in a tornado of dissembling...where are the Solzhenitsyn consciences?


The Counter Extremism Project reports today that convicted ISIS propagandist Anjem Choudary is to be released from a British prison. He was convicted and sentenced to five and a half years in 2016 after having pledged allegiance to ISIS and encouraging others to do the same. A British law that allows prisoners with non-life sentences to be released on probation after completing half of their sentence.

Neither Choudary’s propagandist activities nor his sentence are FAKE news! In fact, evidence of his success in recruiting innocents for ISIS flows in the ink of the British press. The CEP report states:

“Choudary is a founding member of extremist group al-Muhajiroun which was subsequently banned in the United Kingdom. Choudary has been linked to many extremists and multiple terrorist-related cases in the United Kingdom and Europe, including the 2017 London Bridge attack and the 2013 murder of British soldier Lee Rigby.”

Furthermore, according to the CEP, U.K. expert and CEP Advisor Ian Acheson, in a recent op-ed wrote: “It is likely that Choudary will continue to represent a serious threat to public safety and order when he is released. It seems inconceivable that any of the processes available to assist with the reintegration of offenders in he community will be applicable in his case.”

It is not a stretch to wonder out loud how long it will take for a public campaign of dissembling will erupt declaring all of this merely another of the lies propagated by the establishment. After all, to some, Choudary is an iconic hero, and propaganda machines are not the exclusive property and means of the establishments. Nor has propaganda been the exclusive invention and device of the trump administration although the extent to which it has been deployed by that administration seems to top the degree of deployment resorted to by previous administrations.

Today, Secretary of State Pompeo is in Riyadh allegedly on a mission from trump to learn the “facts” surrounding the death of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen living in the United States, contributing columnist to the Washington Post. Reputed to be a moderate critic of the Saudi royal family’s rule, and clearly not a revolutionary, Khashoggi, nevertheless, has not emerged from the Saudi Consulate in Ankara, Turkey, after being videoed while entering. Cooking up some story of an “interrogation gone wrong” as trump would have us think, only adds to the deceit and the growing distrust among ordinary people everywhere with how dictators regard the public and our capacity to discern truth behind the headlines.

Some of the more memorable quotes of propaganda from George Orwell’s novel, 1984 are worth repeating:
“Who controls the past controls the future”
“War is peace”
“The best books…are those that tell you what you know already”
“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself”
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen”
Also, from the Orwellian lexicon, “doublethink” is the ability to hold two completely contradictory thoughts simultaneously while believing both of them to be true. “Doublespeak” is saying one thing and meaning another, usually its opposite. “thoughtcrime” is the criminal act of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question Ingsoc, the ruling party.

And it is not only to Orwell that “fake news” and dissembling, and outright propaganda owes its roots. Writing in A Jew Today, Elie Wiesel notes in a 1977 essay entitled,  What did happen to the Six Million?:

“Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last” is the name of one brochure. Austin J,. App, former associate professor of English at LaSalle college, Philadelphia, spells it out: “The Six Million Swindle: blackmailing the German people for hard Marks with fabricated corpses.” French author Paul Rassinier, a pioneer of this revisionist approach, speaks of “The lie of Auschwitz,” Northwestern Professor Arthur Butz calls it “The hoax of the century.” If that is not enough, we recently hear a Nazi spokesman in California declare on national television that “all those stories about death camps and mass murder aren’t true, But…I wish they were.” (p. 51)

Wiesel goes on: Though obscene, this attempt to deprive the victims of their past is not new. Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl was termed a forgery by an ambassador at the United Nations. We find on monument for Jewish victims at Babi Yar, as there is none at Buchenwald. There were no Jews gassed anywhere, claims Sorbonne Professor Robert Faurisson. No Jew was ever burned in Auschwitz, says a former S.S. judge in a recently published book in Germany. The chimneys? Bakers, he explains, there were the chimneys of bakeries.

Enemies of the Jews, then and now, continue to utter such contemptible garbage. And, while silence is not the answer, refuting with evidence does not necessarily gag these purveyors of lies.

Just this past Sunday, John Dickerson, subbing for Margaret Brennan on CBS’s Face the Nation, noted that there is a new wrinkle in political propaganda: insert obviously untrue information into a story in order to extend the length of the story, through the enhanced efforts of “fact checkers”. So now, the official publications of the state, especially under this administration, are morphing into a hybrid version of the facts and the non-facts, as a way of injecting the steroids of longevity into a news/public relations/propaganda piece.

Does it seem timely and appropriate to reflect on the concept of “what is true” in light of the Kavanaugh/Blassy Ford Senate Confirmation Hearings? Public opinion polls from Kansas, where Democrat Claire McCaskill is locked in a tight race with Josh Howley, Republican, she has a substantial lead among women, while Howley has a similar substantial lead among men. Is one to conclude that women have placed more confidence and trust in Blassy-Ford, while men have given their confidence and trust to Kavanaugh-trump? Was Susan Collins duped by Kavanaugh into believing that he would not have the temper to commit an act of sexual assault? Or had she cast her commitment to the Kavanaugh nomination long before the hearing? Was Warren Hatch colouring Blassy-Ford as “mixed-up” because his version of reality and truth could not countenance Blassy-Ford’s testimony? trump himself declared, when questioned by Lesley Stahl on CBC’s 60 Minutes, about whether he mocked Blassy-Ford, “It doesn’t matter; we won!” So the end justifies the means, and winning is the ultimate “end” of his zero-sum transactional game.

Is donald trump’s life-long immersion in lies and deception a hold-over from the Holocaust-denier ghetto? Are men and women becoming enmeshed in a tug-of-war about the truth regarding the sexual encounters of specific men with choirs of women? Does this kind of “denial” of truth erupt in our daily conversations about work, about family history, about school grades, about medical diagnoses, about paternity or about the way we go about pushing back if and when we are “outed” on an injustice? Is credibility the new litmus test for all public figures, including corporate CEO’s, candidates for elected office, professionals of all stripes? Or, more likely, we have slid so far below that standard that whatever statements reach our consciousness in the public arena are so fraught with “spin” and “torqueing” that the truth is now no more than a mere residual precipitate in the bottom of a long-forgotten test-tube on the shelf of an abandoned chemistry lab.? Or have we become so careless and disengaged that we no longer require ourselves to be fact-checking, scrupulously uncovering motive from stated purpose? Or have we surrendered our power so unconsciously and so completely to those who depend on propaganda to survive in their own narcissism that we have made ourselves victims of our own insouciance?

A NASA plane flew over the Antarctic this week, and disclosed some frightening information. Just one example is that the ice sheets are shedding the equivalent of two Olympic swimming pools of water every second! That is not “fake news” either, although there are plenty of people, including trump himself, who doubt whether or not man is contributing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, suggesting that ‘nature’ may be simply doing its thing. Of course, such a truth and reality does not fit into trump’s military/industrial/transactional/sales equation of putting a price on everything (everything literally) and then counting only the sales, the profits and the dividends, without regard to the lost lives, families, reputation, ethics and morality and relationships that have sustained the nation and the world for nearly three quarters of a century.

If Elie Wiesel is right in this statement, then the world has to be joining his fear;
The world is indifferent to our (Jews) death, as, in fact, it is to its own. (p.47)

Confronting Holocaust deniers is only one of Wiesel’s commitments. However, that commitment, and our shame, responsibility and repentance for our direct and/or indirect participation in such crimes, then, previous to the Holocaust, or since and into the future, depends on our willingness, courage and openness to the facts. It also depends on a vociferous, steadfast and united rejection of all forms of propaganda, seduction and skirting of responsibility, in our own lives.

I recall, after reading a letter from my aunt, my father’s sister, learning that my grandfather became ill and attempted to take his own life. However, when I inquired of my father about the veracity of her report, he quickly and summarily denied it ever happened. Reminding us that we cannot tolerate too much reality, T.S. Eliot, nevertheless, keeps the issue at the front of our consciousness, in the hope that our capacity to accept the fullness of the truth, even and especially when that truth is less than friendly, will continue to expand, as will the number of us who continue to strive to mature in that way. Our individual and shared survival depends on that!

Are we like Solzhenitsyn in his Gulag Archipelago, another powerless witness, who (living) through the experience of shame and hopelessness, now want to be heard?
If that turns out to be true, the hope for humanity will not merely survive; it will endure! The poets, prophets and shamans voice could save us once again from ourselves!