Thursday, July 31, 2014

A glimmer of hope in Middle East, from Qatar, Jordan and there more sunlight the new world order?

After a fortnight of horrible news out of Gaza and Israel, with too many lives lost and too much blood, in order to blow up underground tunnels built to sabotage both the people and the state of Israel, with material designated for humanitarian purposes in Gaza, it was David Fitzgerald, writing in The New York Times, republished in The Globe and Mail, this morning that  removed the scowl from my brow and replaced it with a glimmer of hope.
Essentially, Fitzgerald reported that Egypt under new president Sisi, along with Qatar and Jordan have adopted the position, at least in the background, of not coming to the defence of Hamas in the current war with Israel, preferring Netanyahu and Israel to Iran under the Ayatollah. This is a very significant development, given the potential for increased violence under the auspices and the design and the support of Iran, both for Hamas and for Hezbollah. Perhaps, just perhaps, voices of moderation from within the Islamic world have begun to accept responsibility for taming the loose political super-bug, whose tentacles reach into every continent and every country on the planet, under the guise of an all-out Islamic jihad of extremism of terror and of the vision of imposing a radical Islamic caliphate whenever and wherever they can. And for this super-bug, the most effective antidote is located deeply within the Islamic community itself. And that antidote is and can only be the moderate voices with in Islam.
Bringing together the voices of Egypt, Qatar, and Jordan, potentially along with Turkey a country which has made an attempt to separate religion from state politics, while remaining a Muslim country, we can hope, might have the potential to bring other voices like Saudi Arabia to their national state "senses" and resist, repress and even foreclose on continuing unofficial support for the Sunni terrorists.
If Iran is now embroiled in an internecine war within the Islamic community, along with terrorist forces like Hamas and Hezbollah, and those forces have commandeered large sections of both Iraq and Syria, who knows what their short, medium and long-term picture is of their goals for their religious ideology or their religious brand. And who knows, also, how seriously this threat is viewed among other  Islamic countries, both long established and long respected within the world community, like Jordan for example, and how much energy, funding and political will those countries are willing and able to spend in invoking the wrath of their Islamic brothers in other countries who sympathize with the Hamas/Hezbollah/Iranian faction?
A seismic, tectonic shift, like those that generate tidal waves and tsunamis from under the oceans, is occurring right on the front pages, within the Islamic world, which now obviously includes the whole world, in some manner or other. There are no oceanic studies to equip contemporary political leaders in their estimate of the potential damage this tidal wave can and will do. There are no historic records, unless we go back to the days of Alexander the Great, or perhaps Stalin, or Napoleon in search of models of political turbulence that engulfed much of the known geography and the people of the world. We are, in short, flying blind, without a flight plan, without a compass and without a preferred and known destination, as a world community to shift our metaphors from war to global flight.
There will be micro-biologists who study deadly enzymes and the methods of their control who will be called on to intervene in our discussion of how to cope. There will also be radiologists and nuclear medicine specialists who will be asked to bring their perspective on the effective deployment of radioactive energy on tumors in the human body. There will be military and intelligence experts whose scholarship, experience and intuition will be sought. And there will also be profession academics whose background in diplomacy, intense negotiating and bringing conflicts to heel whose brains will be picked for their counsel.
And then there will be the rest of us whose guts are roiling with the winds and the daily reports of what appear to be both climate change of significant proportions and political shifts also of monumental size. And we will be asked, either formally or informally, either publicly or privately, to discern the validity of whatever combat methods and procedures our political leaders select, through our expressions of public opinion, through our treks to our various national polls at election time, and through the increasing use of our bodies as political instruments in protest marches, silent vigils on behalf of the silent and the voiceless and of political and military incursions (like Putin's into Ukraine) that simply appall the sentient human being, and that collectively shout rage at the Kremlin on behalf of the Ukrainian people, whose country is in danger of dismemberment by Putin, for his and Russia's political and psychological aggrandizement.
Turbulence requires, even demands, that we pay attention to those who offer their names for public office, especially in those countries where a modicum of responsible government is established tradition and convention. Turbulence requires a degree of vigilance, from the top of the old sailing mast, using all the current technologies to scan the horizon for signs both of danger and of potential support, so that no important evidence is missed, ignored or dissed by those in power. If ever the democratizing of political activity through technology were important, never has it been more so than today, and the increased need for all citizens of all countries to maintain a vigilance, not only of the local watering holes, the water coolers, the bus shelters and the airports, but also of the skies teeming into a pregnant flood of information, so overwhelming that more and more will the world turn to curators, as well as reporters for some kind of "measured discernment" of the meaning of the flood of individual rain drops of data, long before those drops accumulate into a "ground flood" that engulfs us all, as we "slept".
Turbulence, while requiring citizens who are responsible, and who are vigilant, also requires more sleep, better nourishment and more reflection and rest from the storms that now can no longer be restricted to the office or the kitchen, or the mall, but now extend, in the lives of all of us, to our imprint on the future shape, size and sustainability of both the environmental planet, and the geopolitical planet.
Are we ready for the challenge and the risks of this new and highly experimental ride?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hamas v. Israel...not a confined skirmish, not even a proxy war...but the beginning of an all-out struggle to preserve western culture, history and future

Anyone who may have been holding out hope that the Israel-Hamas war is confined to the two warring parties must now be disabused of his naivety, following the most revered and most powerful leader in Iran, Ayatollah Komeini's appearance on Iranian television yesterday openly recruiting Muslims from around the world to join Hamas in the fight against Israel. Just this weekend, the official leader of Hamas, when asked by Charlie Rose in a PBS interview if he and his group would accept a two-state solution and live in peace with the state of Israel, replied in the negative: "We will not live in peace with occupiers!" was his adamantine and final answer.
Can there be any doubt that Israel is in an existential war, a fight for her literal survival in what could easily devolve into an all-out conflict with the many anti-Semitic, Islamic terrorists now operating in the Middle East, under a variety of names, guises and banners, all of them still hiding behind their signature "masks" never daring to declare their personal identity, hiding behind the shield of their ideology? Immediately after 9/11, few people living in the west were familiar with Al Qaeda, and the nuanced differences between Sunni and Shia. The last dozen years + have given us ample evidence, and opportunity, to discern that, deep down, Islamic jihad is united in its pursuit of the eradication of the state of Israel, and that jihad includes all stripes of Islam from all corners of the globe.
Iran's leader is not only calling for recruits from around the globe, while protests among Islamists in major world capitals are growing in world capitals, she is openly and brazenly providing weapons, intelligence and support for the Hamas thugs. As sanctions against Putin and the Kremlin for the brazen take-over of Crimea and the equally brazen downing of the Malaysian airline, MH17, and the even more brazen restriction of international observers and investigators from access to the crash site, and the nose-thumbing and public decisions of the BRICS, Putin will be even more interested in allying with Iran in her provision of arms to both Hamas and Hezbollah, as he joins in what could easily and responsibly be considered a joint attempt at confusion, obfuscation, violence and the pursuit of a new world order, including not only new Islamic states in Syria, Iraq, and several hot-spots in Africa, but more importantly the removal of Israel from the planet.
And let's not kid ourselves, those opposed to the continuing existence of Israel will use whatever words, arguments, characterizations and deceptions to propagandize their efforts. Calling Israel an "occupier" or the "new apartheid" or "prosecutor, judge, jury and prison warden" in Gaza and the West Bank, the "Siamese cousin" of the United States, also dubbed the Satan of the world by the same forces who seek Israel's eradication.
Let's take the 'kid gloves' off our language and our perception of the importance and the dangers implicit in the Israeli-Hamas war. Of course, dozens of innocents, now well over 1000 on the Gaza side, are being killed as we pound these keys. just this morning another UN school, supposedly a refuge for fleeing citizens of Gaza, was struck, allegedly by Israeli missiles or rockets (who really cares about the differences?) yet Hamas continues to rebuff even attempts by the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas for a negotiated cease-fire, a pause to the killing, and time for a moment of both reflection and restoration of needed humanitarian supplies including medical supplies.
  • While not being privy to any of the intelligence to which Harper, Obama, Cameron and Holland and Merkel have access, and not being educated in foreign policy as people like Madelaine Albright and Condolesa Rice and schooled through experience as people like Hillary Clinton and Colin Powell, we are nevertheless, appalled at the situation which currently confronts all people of the planet. Illegitimate, non-state actors threaten the legitimate and legal and even economic and political order which have taken centuries to construct. Theirs is a campaign of what could be termed "epic post-modernism" or "epic-deconstructionism"....and not in the intellectual meaning of those words, but in the geopolitical scope of those words. Theirs is an all-out assault on the way the world has evolved over the last two thousand years, especially an assault on the institutions that conceived, gestated and delivered democracy, human rights, the rule of law, access to education and opportunity for all, freedom from religious persecution for all faiths and for those with no faith, gender equality, respect and even honouring of diversity, and yes, modernity, including the less attractive and less 'moral' aspects of western culture that include such black marks as prostitution, child pregnancies, alcoholism and drug dependency, the largest military establishment in history. However, just as their "reading" of the Koran is both narrow and misguided in the extreme, so too is their "reading" of the health and the value of western civilization reductionistic, insultingly so, simplistic, embarrassingly so to themselves, and arbitrary. Their compulsive obsession with the 'sins' of the west, and they are openly displayed every day in every newspaper and on every television screen for the world to watch and to scorn, demonstrates an extreme reductionism in the relationship between a deity and the human race. Inflexibility, extreme self-righteousness to the point of insanity and violent elimination of anything and anyone who disagrees or opposes, in short a perfectionism that is supposed to honour a commitment to the deity that includes martyrdom, through the force of whatever arms are available (and this danger is growing as loose nukes, discarded American weapons by the hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan, unleashed missiles and rockets from failed states like Lybia, and increasing access to countries like Iran willing to openly supply the terrorists make their way into the hands of the Islamic terrorists)...these are not only signs of serious instability, but also signs of serious danger. The danger to themselves is not an issue for the perpetrators; they believe their are going to a "heavenly reward" for their efforts. However, the danger, not only to Israel, but to the rest of the world is threatened. And that includes:
  • the freedom to worship in all countries as one chooses,
  • the freedom to access a complete education (based on ability) in all countries for all children
  • the freedom to trust one's human rights will be respected in all countries,
  • the freedom to contest the abuse of power through sanctioned, open, transparent and accountable legal systems,
  • the access to the protection of stable governments premised on the equality and dignity and respect for all of its citizens through access to instruments of selection available to all (the right to vote, and the right to have all votes counted equally, without contamination, bribery, or illicit interference)
  • the specific human rights of all women, for which much ink and even more blood has been spilled over the centuries
So let's not hide our heads, nor our hearts, not our minds and consciences in the sand, especially right now. This current geopolitical "climate" forecast contains threats of very large and very dangerous political and human storms, for which we are all wondering if the world is even as prepared as it is (isn't) for global warming and climate change. Israel may have been God's chosen, in the Old Testament, but her people are now on the front lines of what can and must be seen as a much larger conflict from which none of us is exempt, immune or excluded.
In this battle, the "free world" (even with all of its admitted blemishes, warts, cancers and brokenness) must consider itself aligned with Israel; we might even want to go so far as to acknowledge that "we are all Jews" in the fight to preserve a way of life, a culture and a future over which we do not relinquish our opportunity to guide its direction. And, that means recruiting all the best minds, hearts spirits and bodies in a conflict whose end today cannot be envisaged...the Islamic terrorists really have given us no other choice, just as Hamas has given Israel's IDF (Israeli Defence Force) no other choice but to kill innocent children and women.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The principle of the heart of all political disputes....Sanford Doctoral student, Amanda Greene

Amanda Greene is a political philosopher working at Stanford. She is very interested in the question of political legitimacy whether it be the legitimacy of a nation, a state, a province, an international organization. In fact she believes that "disputes about political legitimacy actually underlie the deepest political problems of our time." From her website, the following introduction:
Welcome. I'm a philosophy Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University.   My research focuses on political philosophy, ethics, and ancient philosophy. 

Before graduate school I worked as a strategy consultant in the private and non-profit sectors in the United States, India, and Australia.

In 2014-2015, I will be the Law and Philosophy Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School.  In the autumn of 2015, I will join the philosophy department at University College London. 

As a philosopher, I became unsatisfied with the following prominent answers: A political order is legitimate because it is democratic, because it respects freedom and equality, because it leads to the best welfare outcomes, because it arises from a hypothetical social contract, etc. None of these seemed like the right kind of answer to the difficult problem of why some people have significant power to direct and limit the actions of others in the name of the common good. Instead, I develop a new account of political legitimacy based on quality consent. It combines a concern for quality governance outcomes with an emphasis on the free consent of individual subjects. (From Stanford philosopher examines the legitimacy of political power, by Veronica Marian, Stanford Report, July 28, 2014)
Disputes about political legitimacy actually underlie the deepest political problems of our time. Domestically, we can see that debates about health care, surveillance and mass incarceration all rely on implicit presumptions about the rightful exercise of state power. Movements such as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street claim to fight against injustice, but they also challenge the fundamental legitimacy of the current political order in the United States.
Internationally, the debates about intervention and human rights, for example, in Syria, must wrestle head-on with unresolved problems about when the sovereign status of a state can be overridden for moral reasons. Regional organizations such as the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations continue to hear the legitimacy of their economic decisions challenged by member states. Around the world, all political leaders claim to rule with legitimacy. Often those claims are challenged, but without a clear idea of what counts as legitimate and what counts as illegitimate. Certain parties could afford to be clearer about this, including policymakers, investors, aid agencies, etc. Companies seeking to do business in a country, diplomats seeking to negotiate an armistice and policymakers seeking to negotiate global standards for trade need to know what standards a state must meet in order to be legitimate. (Ibid)
 I have been closely examining the political thought of Plato at the end of his life, when he seems to have shifted away from his argument in the Republic that only those who truly possess knowledge are fit to rule. I have come to think that in his final and unfinished treatise, the Laws, Plato elevates a new dimension to establishing a good political order: respecting the freedom of individual subjects. (Ibid)
I focus on the question of what makes political power legitimate, across a wide range of contexts. I am concerned with the power exercised by various entities, such as national governments, local governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations. I am less interested in why certain laws are constitutional – though this is important – than in whether the entire political order is morally legitimate in the first place. (Ibid)
What is especially interesting in  Greene's work is her insightful discernment of the multiple claims to political legitimacy simply assumed and appropriated by various "groups" once termed special interest groups, like the Tea Party, or "Wall Street" or the "moral majority" (names like Falwell  and Dobson come to mind), "while they simultaneously challenge the fundamental legitimacy of the United S tates political order."
What is interesting also, is that the various media outlets, reporters and pundits, merely report on the statements, activities especially fund-raising and the political positions of these "groups" without challenging their legitimacy. One of the most obvious implications of this dynamic is a fragmentation of what defines the "public good" the "body politic" and the common good". In fact, it could be argued that the fragmentation is so complete as to render those concepts nearly irrelevant in the public debate. And, into a vacuum, abhorred by nature, rush the deep pockets of rich men, women and estates, including corporations, seeking to claim the agenda, and the power to implement (impose, enable, force) that agenda, over the will of the "common good".
And while political "action committees" like the  Tea Party, or Wall Street, or "the Christian Right" are deeply and profoundly engaged in achieving their political ideological agenda, for their own purposes, (while also likely holding to the view that their goals are "good for the country") they are not generally engaged in overtly violent methods to achieve their political goals.
On the other hand, in many countries, increasing numbers of terrorist groups are injecting violence and chaos into what were previously legitimate "states" and in the ensuing acts of their pre-designed and highly scripted drama (many would term it a tragedy) they are seeking to assume the mantle of legitimacy, (ISIS, ISIL, Boko Haram, Al Shabab along with others jump to the front of our mind) without accomplishing anything more than devastation, destruction, death and dismemberment on their fascistic march to power.  Non-state actors, including the "separatists" who have invaded Crimea, and the Eastern Ukraine as puppets of Putin, seek to supplant what previously were generally regarded as legitimate state actors, not all of which were favourably aligned with those countries considering themselves to occupy leadership in the world community of nations.
International organizations too, NATO, the IMF, World Bank, United Nations, International Criminal Court....these depend on a degree of accepted legitimacy in each of their 'interventions' in their respective domains. And more recently, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have joined to create a parallel (competing) bank, and Monetary Fund, of some $50 and $150 billion respectively.
Relative claims to legitimacy will become a potential point of friction should countries make application to both the established institutions and those newly-formed, given the contingencies required for co-operation by each respective institution. Over-riding these issues of potential competition is a question of the innate legitimacy of all international organizations, dependent as they are on the surrender of some aspects of national jurisdiction for the larger "common good" simply in order for these institutions to continue to exist. For example, the United States has never signed on to the International Criminal Court, fearing the incursion of the court's mandate on her personnel serving in regions outside the borders of the United States, and losing "control" of the legal proceedings that any actions of those people might incur.
Political legitimacy is also at the heart of the chaos surrounding the formal and independent investigation of the downing of the MH17 Airbus over Ukraine. Who is in charge of the crash site? The Russian-backed terrorist thugs, the Ukrainian government, the international police forces from Australia and Holland both of which countries bore the burden of most casualties in the tragedy or perhaps even the Kremlin? Clearly, the official observers/investigators have been prevented from carrying out their task of cataloguing the crash site, removing the remains and beginning the investigation of the evidence that might point to the cause. It is the sheer force of arms and rhetorical threats and counter-threats that form the basis of the Putin position that calls for an independent investigation, after much of the evidence has been removed surreptitiously by his thug-puppets.
Political legitimacy, too, is at the heart of the public debate over the Affordable Care Act. Is the government legitimately providing a framework for the people of the United States to acquire health care insurance, especially those people who previously were denied by a pre-existing condition, or were unable to gain access because the cost of premiums were too high? Did the president act within the legitimate limits of presidential power when he delayed the imposition of the mandate to co-operate with the terms of the act on small business? What legitimate claim to the exclusive provision of health care insurance is attached to the large corporate insurance companies? Is that claim merely based on history and tradition, or because it incarnates the capitalist economic system, does that criterion give the whole field to their unrestricted profit-seeking?
What legitimacy does Hamas really have to subvert the provision of concrete and other materials slated for construction of public facilities for the people of Gaza into the construction of tunnels providing surreptitious access into the state of Israel for the purpose of killing Jews and destabilizing the state of Israel?
What legitimacy does the new president of Egypt, General Sisi, have in seeking a cease-fire with the leaders of Hamas, given his government's declaration of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization?
What degree of legitimacy do the people of Gaza and the West Bank grant to Secretary of State John Kerry, in his pursuit of a halt to the violence being inflicted by both the Israeli military and Hamas militants on the people of Gaza and Israel respectively? (We would likely believe very little!)
Legitimacy is the defining quality or principle that contains within its offering from one party to another, a belief and a trust that the one receiving will conduct himself/themselves in a manner that the one offering confidently predicts will be generally acceptable and consistent with the goals of the majority of those offering legitimacy. Unless and until that reciprocity is sustained, the one(s) in power no longer warrant their continuing holding of that power.
As this principle is more well known and recognized as the legitimate fulcrum around which all power relationships operate, those holding positions of power and influence will necessarily become more acquainted with and more favourably disposed to the notion that their positions and their influence truly do depend on the compliance and the consent of those for whom they assume leadership and influence.
There can be no doubt that Ms Greene's work will attract the attention, critical reviews and instructional implementation that it deserves, as she continues her professional career, honing her insights, applying those insights and disseminating those insights among her growing numbers of students.
Chester Barnard, in his early work on leadership, wrote in The  Functions of the Executive (1938), that that consent of the governed is the sine qua non of all leadership roles and functions.
Barnard emphasizes that formal organizations are “organic and evolving social
systems” (1945: 178), and that management’s main challenge is achieving cooperation
among the groups and individuals within this social system, in the interests of achieving
organizational goals. The magnitude of the cooperative challenge is such that “successful
cooperation in or by formal organizations is the abnormal, not the normal condition.
What are observed from day to day are the successful survivors among innumerable
failures … Failure to cooperate, failure of cooperation, failure of organization, disorganization,
disintegration, destruction of organization – and reorganization – are characteristic
facts of human history” (1938:5). Barnard also recognized the link between authority
and legitimacy. (From
Chester Barnard and the Systems Approach to Nurturing
Andrea Gabor Joseph T. Mahoney, 2010, Illinois Business, working paper


Monday, July 28, 2014

Canadians are starved for geopolitical news coverage including in depth interviews and debates by our national news networks

Geopolitical turbulence and western media coverage....
Just when the world seems to be imploding, in so many hot spots, the western media, especially the Canadian media, including both CBC and CTV, are providing almost no background analysis, from those experts who could shed some intelligent light on these highly murky circumstances.
A press conference with John Kerry, followed or preceded by another with Ban Ki-Moon, followed by an "on-the-spot" report from Paul Hunter may satisfy some news room editors, and some audience demographers, but this method certainly does not satisfy anyone interested in more than a 'hot headline'....
Yesterday, by comparison, Charlie Rose, of both PBS and CBS networks, hosted and aired an interview with the leader of the Hamas terrorist movement, from Doha Quatar. Highly provocative, the Hamas spokesman demonstrated his groups determination never to live in harmony with the State of Israel, while all the while proclaiming his groups' support of people from all religious persuasions.
We will not live in harmony with "occupiers".....was his screaming headline.
Nevertheless, Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on practically all network talk shows in the United States yesterday morning, declaring his country's determination to disarm Hamas, and to render inoperable the dozens of tunnels constructed allegedly from the concrete that has been brought into Gaza for the purpose of building schools, hospitals and supportive infrastructure for the people. Hiding Iranian missiles in United Nations safe havens, in hospitals, in schools and in residences, thereby using Palestinian people as human shields is a sure-fire method of achieving mounting death tolls, designed to enrage public opinion in all the major capitals of the world, as it did over this past weekend.
Bob Shieffer, quoting former Israeli Prime Minsiter, Golda Meir, on CBC's Face the Nation, declared, "We can forgive you (the Palestinians) for killing our children, but we can never forgive you for making it necessary for us to kill your children!"
The media's addiction to some kind of horse race, "who is winning today?" and/or "which side is losing today?" renders those very important public voices emasculated by their own design. It is not about the daily death count; it is not about the hundreds of missiles or rockets that have been fired. It is about the existential threat to Israel posed by Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al-Shabab.
Late last week, News One, from New Zealand reported on what is happening under ISIS in Mosul. According to those reports, the terrorist forces are painting letters on each house in the city, designating those Muslims who support ISIS, those who are not in support of the Sunni radical interpretations of Islam, and thirdly, those who are Christians or atheists. For the latter two groups, ISIS has issued directives that including: pay a fine, convert to Sunni Islam, leave the country or face death. If these reports are reliable, then we in the west need to know more about these tactics. While Mosul is in northern Iraq, and may seem to many to be far distant from our homes, Norway is already investigating live and responsible reports that Norwegian nationalists who have been trained in the terrorist camps are about to return home to inflict their devastating vengeance Norway delivering a public speech on the dangers of the threat which could obviously be coming to a strip mall, a subway train, or a train or airplane near each one of us.
It was Mike Rogers, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives who, when also speaking to Bob Shieffer on Face the Nation, pointedly remarked, "While Sunni and Shia Muslims do not agree on everything; there is one thing on which they are absolutely agreed, and that is the destruction of Israel.
Christians, too, as well as atheists, agnostics and "wrong-believing' Muslims cannot and will not be tolerated in the world dominated by Sunni Islamic terrorists, determined to wreak their havoc on that part of the world that does not subscribe to their ideology. And it clearly is an ideology and not a faith!
We need to hear from the Peter Bergen's and the Canadian international relations scholars from many universities, as more a regular fare on the menu of our national broadcasting networks. We need to have an op-ed piece in every daily and weekly across the land, dedicated to geopolitics, and we need to have a blizzard of letters to the editors of all media outlets, including television's deployment of viewer opinion that has not been squeezed into 140 characters, as a political burp, while the CBC declares there are no longer any "outsiders" in the political debate, because we have the capacity to join through the social media. Sorry, to the copy writers and the editors and the marketers who conceived such a simplistic does not meet the smell test of reality.
The At Issue Panel, too, while competent and articulate, is not focused on international affairs, and while Janice Stein, and one or two colleagues from the Monk School of International Affairs, do appear intermittently on CBC News Network, Canada is suffering from an unfilled appetite for foreign affairs coverage, including a variety of insightful opinions, backgrounders and debates, of the kind presented weekly by Fareed Zakaria on CNN's GPS.
Is is long past time for our national broadcasting networks to pull their collective heads out of the sand and to accept their responsibility for more in depth and more analytical and more informed coverage of the history, the background and the connections between these aspects of international developments and the headlines.

Friday, July 25, 2014

An apology for Israel, the Jewish people and a larger world perspective

"An open-air prison" is the term used by an advocate for and ally of the Palestinians in Gaza on Andrea Mitchell's television show on MSNBC yesterday.
"Drop all connections with Hamas" chimed in his Israeli counterpart....'Israel has the right to defend herself."
The "blockade" of Gaza, apparently, is Israel's answer to the continuing flow of arms into Gaza, a flow which, under the Hamas terrorists, is aimed and if possible fired into Israeli towns and cities.
Even the current leader in Egypt, Sisi, has denounced the Muslim Brotherhood and his country has taken some would say extreme steps to outlaw and even to imprison large numbers of the Islamic movement, banned and virtually silenced under Mubarak. Consequently, Egypt's manoeuvring room in attempts to design, negotiate and implement a cease-fire is limited with Hamas.
Iran conspicuously remains silent on the conflict between Hamas and Israel, yet everyone knows that she too, officially as a country, if not the people of Iran, wishes to eradicate the state of Israel from the world map while Iran continues to supply arms and intelligence and training for the Hamas "proxy".
Only this morning, former Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, Michael Chertoff, commenting on  Morning Joe on MSNBC, indicated that the danger to western countries from an increasing number of western recruits to the Islamic terrorist camps continues to grow. The thinking is that they will likely, after their training, return to their home countries, from which they have already acquired travel visas, to inflict harm. Norway, for starters, has already public declared her warning about the potential of such developments.
So in Gaza and in Israel we are watching a conflict whose initial causes, on the surface, are based on both the Islamic terrorists' determination to destroy Israel, and the Israeli people and government's self-defence response. However, from a larger and now increasingly dangerous perspective, there is already a much larger and stronger and more geographically diverse cluster of Islamic terrorist  cells, in many regions of the globe, linked to the shared and stated purpose of destroying the west and its liberal education and culture, along with its shared  profound contempt for Israel and her people.
And while most Muslims denounce Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, Al-Shabab, ISIS, and most other 'affiliates' of the AlQaeda origin, along with their continuing reprehensible and horrific acts against humans, there is no doubt that the "movement" is continuing to acquire weapons, strategy, tactics and recruits around the globe, all of them brain-washed into the conviction that theirs is a holy war, a jihad, against the infidels.
It is from this perspective, and not from the more localized perspective of the closed borders and the blockade and the increasing humanitarian crisis that besets the crowded strip of land known as Gaza, and the Israeli agency in generating those conditions in Gaza, that we assert unequivocally, that in this crisis, and those that will inevitably ensue, the west has to consider itself, individually and collectively "Jewish" for the purpose of confronting all of the various faces of the cancer that is Islamic terrorism. The world can no longer reject or deny the proposition that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a microcosm of the larger and much more dangerous Islamic terrorism threat to the stability of the world, its governance, its economy, its treaties and alliances, its international organizations, including the United Nations.
The determination to eradicate an existing state, because of historic contempt and hatred of the people of that state must not and cannot be permitted, no matter the nature of the threat to that principle and those people. We have to see the long-term objective of the Islamic terrorist insurgence, not merely from the lens of their current capacity to achieve that objective, a world caliphate dominated by Sharia Law, but from the implications to all of us, everywhere, who are not Muslims, and particularly Muslims of the "correct brand" against whom the larger jihad is directed.
We may not appreciate the manner in which the United States has "mid-wifed" Israel and has supported her with nuclear weapons, long before the Iron Dome, nor the specific tactics of the killing of women and children even in hospitals and schools where they have fled, even under Israeli warnings, nor the imbalance of weaponry (never to be exempted from the Iranian contributions) between Hamas and Israel, nor the deplorable conditions under which the people of Gaza, most of whom wish to live in peace in a separate state along with Israel (following the two-state solution model) have to exist even prior to the commencement of this round of hostilities. We may also not understand why the people of Gaza even "elected" Hamas, nor why the people of Lebanon have surrendered some political power to Hezbollah nor why the moderate Islamic community cannot (will not) bring their radical monster "brothers" to heel. We may also decry the inordinate power that has been acquired by non-state actors in the world's current dilemma, as well as the over-reach of many of the counter-approaches in intelligence, and the restriction of personal freedom that have resulted from the threat imposed by those same Islamic terrorists.
We do not have to attempt to justify Israel's over-reach, the over-compensation of a people whose history (too often denied by her most misguided enemies!) has told her that the world will go to dangerous lengths, and has, to eradicate her people. Yet we do have to attempt to understand her deeply held fears, linked as they are inextricably to the remnants of Buchenwald, Auschwitz, and the internment camps, the railway cars and the stories of both the lost and the survivors of the Holocaust. If God meant, by the Old Testament assertion (written also by humans with their own perspective) that the people of Israel were His Chosen People, that they were to be history's eternal targets for the contempt, the trickery, the deception and the consuming need for a targeted victim, as a human archetype, without which the human condition would not exist in its current and established form, then there is little doubt that that "naming" has been more than fulfilled, and continues to fulfill and incarnate those words.
Little wonder, is it, that by far more than any other single ethnic entity, the Jewish people have individually and collectively resisted and survived more than any other people, have risen and disproved through their own magnificent accomplishments in all human endeavours, their resilience and their commitment "to their tribe" and to the  enhancement of the human condition, and they have done all of these things while suffering the indecencies, the injustices and the wounds of all conceivable types, forms and methods, almost as a testament to the concept that the more suffering a people has to undergo, the more resilient, creative and courageous they will inevitably become.
It is not a denial, or an avoidance of any of the many platinum achievements of the Muslim people to assert the Jewish ones. In fact, over the centuries, the world has benefited from the gifts of both faith communities, in many fields of human activity. We are and will continue to be grateful for the many gifts of both faith communities. As for the merging of Zionism and the Jewish faith and religion, and the manner by which many of Israel's opponents declare their contempt "for Zionism" and for the Zionists, without having to take responsibility for their anti-Semitic bigotry, there is little reason to doubt that there would not be an Israel without Zionism, and there would not be Zionism without Israel. However, whether one is a practicing Jew (in the religious sense) or a secular Jew, is a matter for the people and the scholars and the leaders of that faith to study, to discern and to manage. It is not a matter which inflicts itself on a purpose to eradicate any other state or people, simply because they bear a specific ethnicity.
Israel, and the Jewish people themselves, have demonstrated a commitment to the pursuit of democracy, to the pursuit of justice (Jewish legal scholars and scholarship abound), the pursuit of equality of the genders, the pursuit of the development of talent, scholarship and innovation including some of the most profound scientific discoveries, and the pursuit of reasonable accommodation of their people and their state with those who would have them erased from history.
Rather than falling prey to the pleadings of the people suffering the current humanitarian crisis, and picturing the rising death and injury toll on the screens of every television set around the world (most of them among the Palestinians) it would behoove the world to learn about the fallacy of the Islamic threat to Israel, its history, its many institutional agencies of spreading the dogma of hatred as a primary religious value, and in turn submit to a re-thinking of the Israeli history, situation and potential as a contributor to the human development both of states, and of international agencies, from the perspective of the most maligned and the most hated tribe in the history of mankind.
Their voice, it seems to us, is one that can, if we permit its hearing, can lead us to a more compassionate and a more integrated and a more collegial and humane series of decisions and we all know that the world need such a voice.
It is not that Muslims and Christians are unable to participate in offering a human and compassionate voice to human relationship, but that the Jewish voice has a unique perspective maintained with great care and determination, not to mention considerable generous funding from all quarters of the planet, through many programs that seek to keep memory, and possibility fervently alive, while rejecting the loss of those memories and their meaning.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Putin: the trumpet blast in a room full of whispering and hollow voices?

Listening to the "red-line" demands by western leaders, of both Putin and his Russian "thugs," one grows increasingly despondent, no matter which country one lives in. If ever T.S. Eliot's Hollow Men applied to the sound bytes that jump out of our woofers and our tweeters, not to mention off our facebook and twitter feeds, it is the current tone-deaf drum-beat of "Putin must do"..."We call on Putin to"..."Russia must face the consequences"...."We hope European leaders will"... while in the background from the skies, more missiles fired from Russian firing devices take down more Ukrainian fighter jets, as Putin thumbs his nose, his aparatchiks and his political machine at the world. Here are the opening lines of the Eliot poem:

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Naturally and predictably, ranged over against the elected leaders in many countries, are those voices like U.S. Senators McCain and Graham, calling Obama "feckless," "weak," "responsible for Putin's moves," "unmanly," almost as if to question whether or not the president is a self-respecting male.
Arming, training and provoking the terrorists in Eastern Ukraine, while claiming no influence among them and simultaneously calling for an unimpeded, independent and authentic investigation of the crash site of MH17, after the cock-pit and fuselage have been deliberately cut apart by the chain saws of his thugs and the personal affects of the passengers have been looted and much of the forensic evidence removed by those same thugs, while laughable as a matter of credible evidence and leadership, is tragic and indicative of the kind of duplicity, mendacity, outright lies Putin is not only telling but seems committed to hitching his nation's wagon to, on the world stage.

  • Ownership of the very companies that peg his domestic approval rating above 80%,
  • recognizing his dominance of the energy supply to many of the central countries in the European Union,
  • purchasing and having paid for two amphibious war ships from France thereby snookering Holland,
  • blaming the Ukraines for the downing of MH17,
  •  factoring into his calculus the war-weary populace and budgetary emaciation of the United States, 
  • factoring also into his calculus the more specific German and Dutch dependence on the Russian economy for most of their trade, thereby muting their motives to impose deep and cutting sanctions
  • recognizing that energy and petro-dollars are the engine that drives the global economy and that his country's positioning on both fronts provides cover
  • enmeshing himself with the most powerful and most wealthy in his country, while encouraging them by his own example to invest in the west, thereby spreading his fiscal and political influence abroad like dirty ink that saturates the world's blotting mat
  • cozying up to the other countries in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in support of a $50 billion fund to parallel and to compete with the World Bank and another $150 fund to parallel and to compete with the International Monetary Fund, both of which institutions are led by the EU and the US respectively thereby silencing the most harsh of their potential barbs against his latest and most dangerous moves
  • supplying arms, intelligence and training to the Assad regime in Syria, and to the Maliki "government" (if it can be called one) in Baghdad, while supporting Iran in her pursuit of nuclear power, and even potentially nuclear weapons, thereby playing another off-stage role in the current negotiations between Iran and the Group of Five + 1, while
  • participating knowingly in the Iranian flow of missiles to Hamas, currently engaged in one of the more heated and murderous exchanges with Israel, in an all-out attempt to protect her people from terrorist attacks from Gaza and the "tunnels" inside her borders
these are just some of the notations in the Putin calculus that we know about, when, taken together paint a picture of a man whose intellectual machinery is verging on the capability of IBM's Watson, while his capacity for truth-telling, open and honest engagement, incorporating the long-term impact of his quixotic adventures, all of them calculated to burnish his legacy and presumably his eventual statue in the Kremlin Square in Moscow, along with his 'heroic' predecessors Lenin and Stalin, is evidently and demonstrably hovering around "zero"...
Is Putin the most visible and most active symbol/archetype of the kind of leader whose regime, built on lies, chicanery and deception (the sine qua non of all war, as we are reminded by Sun Tzu in his aprocryphal book, The Art of War), yet sustained by a new and complex system of detection, infiltration and cyberspying and a geo-political tsunami of flux, change and turbulence that makes everyone, all leaders in every country and the people for whom they are responsible, anxious, nervous, frightened and to a degree that worries many, paralyzed by their own fear of "going too far" into provoking the enemy, in this case, the Russian bear?
Have we collectively created a geopolitical culture dotted with some of the following developments:
  • strategic nuclear weapons (although a reduced number of tactical nukes),
  •  the capacity of money to flow in nano-seconds to every corner of the world,
  • the ratio of 1:22 millionaires among the residents of the city of New York, a simply astounding piece of non-trivia!)
  • the capacity of multi-national corporations to hide their profits from taxation in what were generally considered the countries that housed and serviced their head offices,
  • the erosion of public confidence in and respect for all large institutions including banks, universities, and even religious organizations,
  •  the rise of divergent armies of terrorist recruits committed to the destruction of the 'western' culture, laws and economy whose infiltration of 'hot-spots' provides adequate obfuscation and confusion about who is friend and who is foe, thereby destabilizing all conventional attempts to influence the situation,
  • the headlining of sexism to match, if not surpass, racism, as a blight on the world's consciousness and conscience, generating a canyon-like divide between 'liberal' countries and cultures and those whose contempt for diverse sexual orientation is monumental (Russia, for example)
  • the capacity to produce, with both its immediate benefits and its potential long-term anaesthatizing impact on the viewers, of 24-7 news, concentrating as it does on the micro headlines to the detriment of insightful and relevant analysis (numbers of deaths in various war zones crawl, like stock reports, in numbing fashion across the bottom of our television screens, rendering them increasingly irrelevant by the moment)
  • war's new weapons, through the new and dramatically different technologies, becoming energy and information, thereby enhancing the role and significance of disinformation and propaganda
  • new anti-biotic resistant diseases, thereby endangering the health security of people everywhere
  • rising temperatures that threaten the sustainability of human life on the planet
these are just some of the destabilizing factors to which we are all attempting to adjust, to accommodate and to reconcile into our daily diet of workplace frenzy, in which more production is being demanded from depleting resources along with the erosion of all collective supports for individuals working for large companies.
Is there anyone else out there who is feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the compounding of these factors, over which we seem to have less and less influence...rendering each of us with shorter fuses, shorter breaths, decreased oxygen and increasing dependence on anything that will reduce the anxiety?
Let's all hope and pray that we are not authoring the conditions required for a "perfect storm" from which we are ill-prepared to recover.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Acknowleding fear as the cornerstone of evil....a first step to reducing the power of that evil

Literally trillions of gallons of ink have been spilled over the last two millennia, attempting to define, describe, defuse, deflect, absorb, and even deny human fear. All thinking people, from all backgrounds, professions, religions and cultures have thought deeply and written about fear.
We all have residual resonances of words like:
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of holiness" (Psalm 111:10)
"Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." (FDR, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933)
Nevertheless, fear is a creature that marches through our darkest nights, our worst imaginings, our deepest and most profound confessions, and our most horrible outcomes. This is true in our individual personal lives; it is also true in our family lives, the lives of our schools, colleges, universities, corporations and, most importantly, our churches and the many teachings propagated by those agencies, whether through overt "education principles" or the propaganda of the private enterprise system. We all know young children who will not sit in a family room watching television with the room's door closed, so 'frightened' are they of some intrusion, however they may imagine such an event. We have all been strongly warned about the dangers of falling, hot stoves, fire, speeding autos as we begin to cross town and city streets. We have also been warned, both openly and inferentially, about the fear of failure on our first school "tests", and later on our driving test, our graduation examinations, our failure to graduate from university, our failure to attract a partner, our failure to produce "grandchildren", our failure to "live up to our potential" through the acquisition of employment commensurate with our ability, training and interest. It is no surprise, and qualifies almost as truism, that fear is deeply embedded in our psyches, and reinforced by the expression of fear of some supreme being, some afterlife of some kind of 'heaven' or 'hell'.
When schools incarnate their fears, they are waging a public relations campaign to gain public acceptance and confidence in the job their are doing, through any and all benchmarks that seem relevant: graduation rates, scholarship winners, athletic trophies. In an overt demonstration of change in my first few months as a senior elementary school vice-principal, I documented the drop in recidivism among the 400 student population, as compared with the previous year, as a sign that my approach to the issue was working, an important piece of evidence that I delivered to the local service club who had invited me to speak to them about contemporary education. There is a very fine line separating the motive and the task of "generating public confidence" and "avoiding public condemnation," both on the part of the school organization, and on the part of those individuals responsible for its leadership. Public confidence is essential to retain credibility for the school board, its elected officials and the school administration. Nothing more quickly and more seriously undermines the work of educating young boys and girls, especially in small towns and villages, than a gestalt perception widely circulated in the coffee shops and restaurants, at the church socials and in the service clubs that "things are out of control in that school".
Similarly, in corporation board rooms, nothing is more toxic, frightening and thereby paralyzing, than confirmation of, for example, the recent spate of recalls (over 3 million) by General Motors. Heads will roll, recriminations will erupt and the fallout will cloud the corporate culture for decades. In universities, as we have witnessed, public reputations have to exclude stories of deaths of students by overdosing on alcohol and/or drugs, stories of professors or officials who sexually abuse students, or of stories of treasury officials found with their hands in the till.
And yet these are "little" dramas compared with the perception of the ultimate "judgement" that haunts the dogma, theory and praxis of ministry in the church, given that however God is portrayed, the Supreme Being has strings to pull over the eternal destiny of people, so the story is presented.
First, all humans are going to die, and in the west, most humans live in a culture in which death is the elephant in the room, avoided, rejected, denied and never talked about, given its finality, non-negotiability, and potential to divide, and even destroy human relationships even among the most loving.
I have attended funerals during which the clergy posited the theology that death was evil, a contradiction to the "theology" of the sanctity of live that inhabits many Christian teachings. How that clergy and others who hold a similar view square the notion of death as being outside 'natural law' given its universality, ubiquity and predictability through all living organisms on the planet seems somewhat incomprehensible.
Nevertheless, there is a western cultural, Christian conventional nugget that connects what we do not understand and fear with evil. In our dramatic presentations we use specific eye posturing, dark make-up and a sinister face to portray the villain, that character in the drama whose motives and actions we tend to follow with intense interest, almost as much if not more interest than we demonstrate in the "good" character whom we suspect will overcome the trickery and chicanery of the evil character, unless the drama is defined as a tragedy. Waging open and defiant conflict with the forces of evil, and especially defeating those forces, or at least putting them into an inactive state, has been for centuries defined the hero's character and role in most dramas. The Shakespearean tragedy, Othello, for example, includes one of the most sinister characters in English literature, Iago, whose motive of revenge following his rejection for a promotion from his superior, Othello, energizes the narrative development of the play. Turning the "good" of the most pure characters, including Desdemona and Othello, into their own undoing, is central to Iago's perverse tactics. Generating suspicion among the least suspecting leads to their personal tragic unravelling and eventual death.
In this tragedy, the evil motive and character (revenge and Iago) combine to create a heinous force of evil, seemingly untainted by Iago's fear of being found out, so compulsive is his need for vengeance.
Nevertheless, would it not be reasonable to speculate that it was Iago's deep-seated fear of not being successful, his own need for 'status and power' and the his fear of not acquiring those percs that drives his actions and his words.
Fear of not being "successful" however that word may be defined, fear of failure, fear of being "no good" both in moral and in religious terms, fear of not providing, fear of being rejected, fear of not being accepted, fear of derisive and even bigoted bullying based on traits as primitive as body shape and size, intellectual capacity, family history and reputation, parenting competence through the lives of one's children, economic status, religious affiliation, acceptance by a deity into some form of an afterlife....these are just a few of the many incarnations of the kinds of fear that stampede the psyches of unsuspecting young boys and girls from a very early age. These fears, naturally, take on a mask of varying design, colour and intensity, depending on the depth of the fear, the conventional language in the family, the access to paths leading to accomplishment and overt success, in the public perception, that will keep these "voices" quiet until they find reason to re-emerge, upon the most recent reversal.
How individuals perceive and address their own fears, including their projection of those fears onto others, (that unconscious and perverse habit that finds voice, look and "power" over others, while holding in abeyance the 'projector's own vulnerability) will have a profound influence on the relative impact of fear in each family, in each classroom, and in the larger world.
Neophytes, in all spheres, generally tend to overcompensate for their lack of "history" through exaggerated efforts that can and often do offend their colleagues, especially those whose footprints are overturned in the overcompensation. Two fears, that of the neophyte's not being accepted, and that of his predecessors' being forgotten and denigrated, hook in a dance of neurosis that too often occurs without either party ever giving voice in public to the dynamic. A nation, like the United States, once a neophyte on the North American continent, needed to prove its worth as a new, different and appealing nation, especially when compared with the Monarchy and State Church in England from which the republicans were escaping. Perhaps the bravado of those 'fathers of the constitution' pushed their words into the "all men are created equal and given inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" phrasing, based on the "vote" expanding the power of the citizen (still considerably restricted, as history would prove) in a zealous pursuit of unique and special nationhood, that continues to haunt the republic nearly three hundred years later.
More recently, fear of Russia, Communism, not being number ONE, has generated the largest and most deeply funded military establishment, the first landing on the moon, the archetype of the international police force and the over-reach into Iraq and Afghanistan, doubling down on the vengeance following the attack on 9/11 and the consequential draining of the federal budget, now and for decades, paying for both the conflicts and their aftermath in both lost diplomatic influence on the world stage and veteran rehabilitation costs.
Fear of being attacked, a vestige to some degree, of the revolutionary gestation of the nation, and then the divide over the moral and ethical issue of slavery and the military attempt to settle the differences through killing and maiming 'the other side'...demonstrates a degree of fear on both sides. On the union side, fear of the perpetuation of a social/political/cultural and religious model of owning human beings as if they were "shovels" or cooking pots, or brooms and mops motivated those considered today "liberal" whereas the fear of losing those slaves and the living conditions they made possible, including the deeply held belief of black inferiority in all aspects of human definition brought the union to the brink of an irreparable rupture, while leaving some 600,000 dead in the wake of the conflict.
In the United Sates, with some two-thirds of the economy dependent on consumer spending, and by far the largest amount of the advertising budgets spent to seduce those purchases and purchasers basing its presentation on playing to the fears of those who will make those purchases, including the fear of not having the friends that will come through and with the acquisition of product X, or service Y, the fear of lack of acceptance, or lack of status, or lack of health or power or influence, or good health, or fear of not 'fitting in' (one of the most seductive selling techniques!)...these are all subtly and almost imperceptibly underpinning the messages that saturate the airwaves on television and more recently on the internet. And they are, once again, the messages supporting and sustaining a culture of fear (no matter how ignored, denied, rejected or even championed). And their impact is to render the culture immune to its own participation in its own sabotage.
No culture can successfully champion "being number one" on the back of a belief system that is founded on the fear of failure. These are simply two irreconcilable and mutually exclusive notions.
Any initiative that seeks to reduce or eliminate the power of evil in all cultures must take into account the depth and ubiquity of human, organizational, governmental, ecclesial and even national fear, neurosis. And no conception of a world in which evil is not the dominant force, on the streets of Chicago where shootings kill dozens every weekend, on the streets of Gaza city, Baghdad, Damascus, or in the forests of Nigeria where hundreds of young girls are being held, as hostage for the return of Islamist terrorist prisoners, can even begin to show a glimmer of light on the planet's horizon, unless and until we all, individually and collectively, take responsibility for our personal, familial and organizational participation in a culture that is dependent on the manipulation of fear, as one of the most foundational principles of evil.
We have to acknowledge our appetite for fear and our deployment of fear in our daily pursuit of our lives, in our careers, and in our spiritual lives, acknowledging our fear of our truth's capacity to engulf our consciousness as well as our consciences. We have to examine critically our dependence on fear as an instrument of control in our relationships in our families, our schools and our workplaces. And having looked squarely in our individual mirror, we have to begin to speak courageously about the existence of fear as an intimate component in all of our conflicted situations, domestic, professional and geopolitical...
And the time for this reflection is long past due!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A modest proposal to reduce or perhaps eliminate our addiction to the eradication of evil

Does anyone else ever wonder about the premise of our medical, legal, and organizational foundations, based as they are on the notion that something is "wrong" and has to be "fixed"?
Have we, unconsciously albeit, fallen into a trap of many centuries that finds us chasing ourselves in an ever decreasing centricity of circles, like the uroborus snake, deepening the outline of our path, with our head stuck firmly in our tails, unable to change course.
Let's begin a little unpacking of this notion.
In western medicine, the patient has a complaint, a pain, an illness, a growth.....something that s/he is finding uncomfortable, restrictive, embarrassing, or functionally impeding normal body functions. Whatever "it" is, western medicine has historically and even somewhat heroically, attempted to find a "response" that reduces or eliminates the pain, however that pain is calibrated. Research labs around the world are devouring billions in experiments that uncover mysteries previously considered beyond our comprehension. Just recently, David Suzuki's and CBC's "The Nature of Things" documented considerable progress in the relationship between insulin and altzheimers disease as well as other parallel research into the application of nasal ingestion of insulin to counter the potential impact of the build-up of plaques on the nerves in the brain. We watch such tutorials with awe and amazement, as some of our best brains drill down into their respective 'disciplines' on our behalf.
This kind of progress, and the promise of more of the same, drives many philanthropic initiatives, as well as governmental projects in many countries. Simultaneously, in another lab, scientists are uncovering a potential link between our intake of processed foods and the development of altzheimers. The legal profession, too, is based on the notion that laws can and will protect human beings from the "harm" that can and will come from the abuses of the "other". So, the "other," the one designated as the "wrong-doer," becomes analogous to the "disease of the human body, in medicine.
Similarly, in our accounting and reporting systems that glue many of the disparate parts of our organizations together, we are looking for the "wrong-doer," the miscreant, the disease, whether that applies to the individual or, naturally in our cultural mindset, to the society and culture generally.
We are collectively and individually engaged in a process of discovering and as far as possible eliminating those "things,"....whether they be people, relationships, organisms, or incidents that do not conform with our previous ways of perceiving what is "right and natural" as opposed to "wrong and unnatural".
So, while considerable money and intellectual resources are being poured into research that peels the layers of ambiguity and uncertainty from our many disturbing and somewhat dramatic 'issues,' we are also engaged in a process of business development that permits corporations, for the single purpose of generating profit on the backs of innocent, naïve and even  blind-sided consumers, from the manufacture, sale and distribution of various products, services and experiences, in many instances, without regard to their long-term impact on human health, considered individually or collectively.
And although these potentially mutually exclusive patterns are playing out, with the flow of economic activity and profits accruing to the business world (long before the scientific community has determined the impacts of the business activity), millions of lives are being negatively impacted without a trace of accountability or responsibility. The cases of both cigarette smoking and sugar consumption are only two of the many tragic dramas of our own making.
Accommodating human ambitions, needs and predilections, as a social and political experiment, within the boundaries of reasonable and sustainable respect for each other, ("all men are created equal") has been one of the more perplexing goals of human pursuits for centuries. However, most experiments have been built on the over-reactions to other "experiments" that were found to be less than congruent with our human natures. Relations between church and state have found their way into many debates about how we configure our social and political structures. Relations between military power and the generation of laws is another meme in the architecture of social and political organization. Good versus evil, another of those guiding principles of both individual belief systems and social and political organization, is and has always been integral to any debate and constitutional agreements over national and international political organization.
In fact, how humans perceive, or deny, portray or repress our darkest inclinations, our most painful memories and our most heinous ink blots on the carpet of time, whether that evil is indigenous, or learned, has driven many of the debates in all cultures and faith expressions, since words and symbols began to be inscribed in the sands of our deserts, and on the papyrus of our feathers, and finally on the screens of our digital imaging devices.
What if, just for a few moments on a Monday morning in July 2014, a month and week that many observers are calling the worst time in historic memory, with regard to the number and the severity of violent clashes we are all witnessing and bemoaning, we stopped our frenetic pursuit of the wrong-doer, the evil one, the perpetrator and the culprit, since in the fog of many enigmas, the pursuit of that "truth" is so complicated as to be doomed from the beginning, and started to look within at the premises that are guiding, in fact even driving our frenzy....and not parking our investigation and our reflection in Pogo's correct yet simplistic aphorism, "we have met the enemy and it is us!"...and pushed farther into our capacity to see things differently...
And then what if we were to ask ourselves, "What if we are collectively, if blindly, complicit in an unsustainable structure of portraying "the good" as our goal while consistently and predictably falling short, and spending our very limited resources on punishing all of those we are pursuing, in our vain and unachievable attempt to eradicate evil from our world?"
What if, in the process of elevating medicine, law, scientific research and corporate profiteering based on a competitive model, not to mention our very own brand of defining both God and "the good" we are neglecting what is also right in front of our eyes, ears and all around us, the very good we are attempting to achieve, it  too being intimately and integrally entwined in our very natures, and reinforced by a nature that wraps itself around us, benignly each and every day?
Are we potentially reaching the point in human "civilization" when we have already proven, beyond a shadow of doubt, the futility of hard power, of "fixing" what is wrong, as compared with creating a set of circumstances, structures, laws and intellectual under-pinnings that start from the Rousseavian premise that we each, all humans in every culture, language, religion and ethnicity, want to be and do the "good" and that through the passage from the womb to the cradle, to the playground, to the church school and the schoolyard to the college and university and then into the "work-world" continually learn how and when to be more fully engaged with our less than admirable selves...all the while cognizant that there is an "establishment" ready willing and able to find us "out" should we deviate from their prescribed path.
Have we not, just possibly, elevated evil to a status and power and influence that it does not deserve nor can we sustain the various complex systems designed and engineered to prevent, to derail and to punish those who select its many and complex attitudes, beliefs and behaviours? Have we, just possibly, fallen into the trance that we are inevitably and predictably going to be engaged in conflict as an integral component of our narrow, narcissistic and even religious perceptions of our pursuit of the "good life" and that preparation, education, competition, failure and hardening of the "skin" and the "sensibilities" for that conflict is the sine qua non of human maturity, and then defined that conflict as extrinsic, external and driven by other human beings who find us and our pursuit of our ambitions, passions and interests, less than acceptable. Have we, just possibly, set up a structure that is itself self-sabotaging through its persistent pursuit of wrong, evil, disease, and even eccentricity in order to eradicate all evidence of their respective existences?
Even those institutions, including schools, governments, universities, churches, banks and corporations that have operated "successfully" under the current system, if prodded and poked through deep and persistent interrogation, would acknowledge that much of their effort to achieve and sustain "success" is dependent on an overlooking, or a denial, or an uncertainty about their activities, when viewed through an ethical, moral and sustainable lens. We are all searching, in our private lives, and in our working and relational lives, and in and through our organizational activities, for more conscious awareness of those 'things' we have not yet learned, not yet discerned, not yet grasped and are yet to be disclosed. In that process, we are complicit through our blindness, our hubris and our addiction to our past "trophies" and accomplishments (many of them at the expense and even the destruction of an opponent) that we parade in front of our children, as "education" when we all know, on all sides of the ideological spectrum, that such activities constitute propaganda for our way of life, for our belief system, for our ancestors and not so much for our children and offspring.
We have, collectively and complicitly constructed idols to human accomplishment, including a private enterprise system of trading and making money, including world banks, and monetary funds for those large entities that default, as they inevitably will, over which we have less and less control, given our corresponding thrusts into ways of 'spying' into the activities of others, including both individuals and corporations, as well as 'other' governments and religions and ideologies. In that process, of painting the "lighted" items on our canvas of human civilization, we have simultaneously ignored, dismissed, disdained and even denied those darker spaces, shadows, on our individual and collective human canvases that, given our current circumstances, merit much more attention, as we attempt to transition from the "prevention or eradication of evil" to a more sustainable and integral integration of our individual and our collective shadows. We were never meant to, nor designed to, nor inspired to chase our evil tails. No God ever proposed that, as a prescribed path to salvation, redemption and any form of perfect "afterlife," humans were to become so enmeshed in the eradication of evil, that it became an obsession, an addiction and a futile definition of both the human purpose and a healthy relationship with a Supreme Being.
Both human health and well-being in and of itself, as well as any human relationship with a Divine entity, depend on an open, honest and socially, culturally and even spiritually inspired and perceived acknowledgement that evil is not our enemy, to be eliminated, to be imprisoned, to be "choked" to death (as happened on the streets of New York this past week!) but rather requires much less obsessive and compulsive addiction to its elimination and much more "love and acceptance" as an instructive and yes painful ally.
We need more agencies and services, like the midwife, the pastoral counsellor and the "coach and mentor" who seek and find the 'best' in each of us, including our capacity to contribute to the 'good' of all the people, and make that pursuit more the norm than the exception. We need, correspondingly and simultaneously, to cease our worship at the altar of power, including all of the many and varied symbols of "success", power, influence, status and domination....those easily recognizable perks like BMW's and yachts and scales of measurement that place the rich and the famous at the top of our ideological totems, and the poor the uneducated, and the desperate in the gutters of our conscious and our consciences, out of which swamp, we know that most future acts of desperation, including most forms of criminality, most attempts at the abuse of military power, most initiatives to subvert others, regardless of their methods will emerge.
Our superficial analysis of the widening gap between the 'have's' and the 'have-not's' is merely the tip of a much larger iceberg that contains within it the seeds of our own demise. We are all complicit in simultaneously pursuing those 'goals' that society has presented as "achievement" while we deny, ignore and even denigrate our vulnerabilities, our blindnesses and our complicity in the 'march of the ants' towards a shared and potentially tragic demise.
Would it not prove at least worth an experimental design to test the null-hypothesis that "human pursuit of the eradication of evil is unsustainable"....through a transformation of experimental neighbourhoods of collaboration, negotiation, mediation, and a system of rewards and sanctions that are premised on the notion that no one seeks to harm another, that all persons are truly equal, that all individual and collective efforts at enhancing the lives of both the initiators and the beneficiaries are to be supported, and that measurement of the short, medium and long-term implications of such an experiment are worthy of both public and private dollars of support.
It is not merely
  •  the reduction of green-house gases, nor
  • the reduction of the arms sales from the powerful to those seeking enhanced power, nor
  •  the reduction of racism, bigotry, sexism and ageism, nor
  • the reduction of terrorism and violence against human beings based on religious beliefs and righteousness, nor
  • the reduction of the gap between those who have human rights and those whose lives wreak of neither rights nor advocacy for their attainment, nor
  • the reduction of poverty and disease and hunger, nor
  • the elimination of the many plagues of super-bugs and microbes resistant to known forms of antibiotics, nor
  • the enhancement of access to education by all young men and women everywhere, nor
  • the reduction of barriers of pride, hubris and the pursuit of power "over" others that defines the most neurotic among us everywhere, nor
  • the production of treaties that command respect and honour from all, that find peaceful methods of conflict resolution, and rehabilitative methods of inclusion of those who have harmed others, and trading practices that have as their goal and purpose not the acquisition of personal wealth and greed but the collective attainment of shared resources and opportunities for all human beings everywhere, and
  • nor foundational debates and documents of common understanding and practice among the various faith communities....
that the world needs.
 It is a transformation of our attitudes to one another, to the evils that we witness every day in all countries based on the same scarcity, and the same over-compensations, and the same futile attempts to "control" and to "eradicate" and to "blame" the other for his/her/their "evil acts, beliefs, attitudes, through commission and through omission that the world community needs.  Only through such a transformation will the achievement of many of these worthy goals become feasible.
And, while this proposal is not specifically tied to a political ideology (although many would condemn it as socialist or communist), it seeks to provide a wake-up call to help us shift our path from heading for several of the many ditches, cliffs and mountainsides that we seem determined to seek and to find, because we refused to change course, speed and driving habits.
Insanity, we have been told, is doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results.
Is it time for us to intimately and courageously accept that truth, and begin to forge a different set of principles to guide the futures of our children and our grandchildren? Perhaps!

Friday, July 18, 2014

We urge Obama to write an op-ed piece in Izvestia exposing Putin's lies

On September 12, 2013, Vladimir Putin wrote in the New York Times to the United States people and president, dissuading President Obama from launching a military strike against Syria, claiming that such action would do much to advance the cause of terrorists, and much to add to the devastation already extant in that country.
Today, it might seem to some of us, that it might be appropriate for President Obama to insert an op-ed piece in the equivalent news outlet in Moscow, addressing both Putin and the people of Russia.
All signs early in the investigation of MH17, the Malaysian commercial jet liner that was shot down over eastern Ukraine killing 298 people yesterday, indicate that the Buk missile that downed the plane came from the pro-Russian separations, under the tutelage of Putin, possibly having mistaken the commercial plane for a Ukrainian military aircraft.
The day before the tragedy, Washington had imposed sanctions on the same company that manufactures those missiles and their launchers in Russia. Immediately following the news of the plane crash, Putin first blamed the Ukrainians, then disavowed an responsibility for the incident, and then asked for an independent international investigation to determine where responsibility lies.
Who pulled the trigger, while a very complicated question in terms of determining the answer, remains open to speculation, and as the evidence mounts against pro-Russian separatists (really another form of non-state terrorist group with strong ties to Moscow and to Putin) it might behoove the United States president to take out that pen he so eagerly champions, along with his telephone, in his long-running Mexican stand-off with Congress, that make it possible for him to exercise some influence over American political actions, outside of the obstructionism from Boehner and his Republic cohorts in the House of Representatives.
In a public statement to the Russian people, Obama could unmask the details of his conversations with Putin, exposing the various forms and incidents of deception that are the stock and trade of Putin's diplomacy. Obama could also provide the kind of exculpatory evidence that would demonstrate the intimate enmeshment of Putin's government with the pro-Russian terrorists who serve as Putin's puppets in eastern Ukraine and the indisputable evidence that links both Putin and the terrorists to responsibility, both individually and collectively to the event.
Obama could also write in an op-ed in the Russian media, as outlined by the editor of The Interpreter on CNN just today, about the specific numbers and the balances held in the bank accounts held in western banks for, by or on behalf of Putin and his oligarchic cronies, and demonstrate the hypocrisy and the duplicity of the Russian leader who consistently argues in favour of bringing money into Russia, while simultaneously engaging in profiteering outside his own country. Trading activities of those accounts would also demonstrate Putin's hypocrisy and expose the chicanery with which he sells both his own political persona and his nation's strengths, both quite literally merely mists outlined in the imagination and the ego of the Russian president.
It is clearly an information war that is occurring before our eyes, in which Putin has demonstrated his capability to take the upper hand, while the White House, the Pentagon and the NSA and the FBI have so far preferred a more velvet or silk-like approach. Soft peddling on Putin's camouflaged truths, including his denial of any culpability in the downing of MH17, will only provide more time and space for the Russian propaganda machine to spread its disinformation whenever and wherever it chooses. Ramping up the muscle, the commitment and the determination of the United States government, under the leadership of President Obama can only enhance the reputation of the U.S. and the presidency, while at the same time limiting the strength and the resolve of the Russians to deceive and to obfuscate, and quite possibly generate an international theatre that represents a closer approximation to the truth than the one current being shown on global television screens.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Iran blows horn on BRIC announcement of support for her nuclear power program

It was only this past Sunday that the Iranian Foreign Minister declared, on NBC's Meet the Press, that Iran did not need nor seek nuclear weapons, proudly declaring her strengths in the development of world class scientists and scholars, her increasing strength in the region of the Middle East, and the need 'for a new paradigm' that seeks to overturn the 'cold war' mindset of the importance and need for superior (nuclear) weapons. He pointed to 9/11 as an example of how the most militarily powerful nation on earth, the U.S., was nevertheless stricken in one of the most devastating attacks on her soil in history as another argument in favour of his 'new paradigm.'
Whether the Iranians, including their supreme Ayatollah, are preparing a public relations campaign that will attract nations outside the Group of Five + 1 with whom they are currently negotiating (with very limited success, demonstrating large "gaps" to use Secretary of State, John Kerry's word between the Iranian position and that of the other countries) or whether they are seeking even larger reach in their determination to become the dominant power in the Middle East, the public relationship campaign seems to be attracting interest from countries whose influence is only going to continue to rise over the next decade. And, of course, the Iranians are not restrained in their efforts to blow their own horn about any success to which they can point that might cause the U.S. especially, and the other negotiating partners some chagrin.
Today, from the Tehran Times, we find this piece of information that might generate a ripple of anxiety in the room where negotiations are being held:
The group of the five BRICS countries has thrown its support behind Iran’s nuclear energy program, saying the Islamic Republic has an inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
"We recognize Iran's inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy in a manner consistent with its international obligations," the leaders of the BRICS group said in a statement.
The BRICS group is an association of five major emerging national economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
In an official statement on Tuesday, the BRICS leaders who met in Fortaleza, Brazil, expressed hope that the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the world powers - Russia, U.S., China, Britain, France, and Germany – would achieve a long-lasting solution to the decade-old dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.
"While reiterating our view that there is no alternative to a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, we reaffirm our support to its resolution through political and diplomatic means and dialogue," the statement said. (Tehran Times, July 16, 2014)
As Chrystia Freedland reminded her colleagues from the United States, on GPS this past Sunday, the United States is going to have to become much more accustomed to a multilateral world in which her influence will  be less dominant and this announcement from Tehran is just another sign of the changing times in geopolitics. Notice, that both Russia and China are among the BRIC countries, something the United States will have to both ingest and digest as it continues to evolve foreign policy in a world in which the hard power of the Pentagon, long the insurance policy and the tranquillizing drug of American pride and security in being number one, no longer holds the same capacity or strength to cover the losses in U.S. confidence that have seen her manipulate, dominate and control (both for better and for worse) many of the geopolitical boiling pots of the last half century.
And in both recognition and acceptance of this new multilateral, multidimensional, evolving and potentially dangerous new world order, President Obama is almost too far out in front of the American people, especially those in the conservative flank of the Republican party, who continue to think and to talk as if solutions to major and minor conflicts can be imposed by the force of an AK47, or a U.S. drone strategically deployed, or an "air strike" on a delinquent regime like that of Assad in Syria, without having to both engage in and endure the seemingly interminable confusion, bloodshed and shifting allegiances of most of the parties, especially the terrorists, whose primary aim seems to be obfuscation, linked to the singular development and deployment of primitive weapons and sacrificial martyrs and the complexities of religious holy wars premised on radical and unholy interpretations of some holy book. And, of course, for his 'vision' of the complexity of the landscape that is both evolving and revolving faster than the exit door at Microsoft where some 18,000 jobs will be cut this year, Obama is pilloried as being too soft, too weak, too Carter-like, and too detached from the reality of too many situations.
Sanctions imposed on Iran, tougher than previous ones, seem to have brought Iran to the negotiating table at least, if they do not result in some agreement.
Sanctions imposed on Putin, and his cronies, are at least making the Russian 'bear' squirm and squeal about the "bully" Obama in one of the more memorable ironies of the pot calling the kettle black.
Obama's Secretary of State, however, seems to be whirling like some mad painter throwing a different colour of paint at each of the many canvases he is attempting to "cover" in too many capitals, almost simultaneously, without producing either 'art' or agreements, that would bring the temperature of international relations down a few degrees Celsius. And so, as the BRIC's rise, and the shadow grows on the military might of the United States, the world watches and crosses its fingers, legs, toes and arms, in what Bob Shieffer of CBS calls the "most dangerous moment in world affairs since the cold war" assessment that seems both reasonable and responsible.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In defence of collaboration, empathy, compassion and courageous and creative resolutions....for the whole people of the planet

Some commentators are referring to the Israel-Hamas "war" as a side-show, when compared to the Sunni-Shia fight that seems to be consuming the Middle East. However, we are provoked to ask, "Are the two not inextricably entwined?"
Is not Iran, a Shite state, supplying arms, intelligence and resources to both Hamas and to the Iraqi government in their push-back against ISIS?
Is not Russia supplying arms, intelligence and resources to both Assad in Syria as well as to the Iraqi government's resistance against ISIS?
Is America not futilely attempting to filter her billions of contributions of arms, intelligence and resources to the "good guys" among the some 1500 different terrorist/rebel groups in Syria while also attempting to shore up the Iraqi government against ISIS?
Has Saudi Arabia, if not her government officially, at least many of her wealthy individuals and organizations not been supplying cash and arms to AlQaeda and its many derivatives for years now?
Is there not as well as a Sunni-Shia conflict that provides excuses for Hamas, Hezbollah, Assad, Iran, Iraq, and even countries like Yemen, Tunisia and Egypt to keep their local "pot" boiling, as well as extending their unique and individual spheres of influence to the limit of its potential, regardless of the consequences not also a shared Islamic contempt, hatred and wish for annihilation of the state of Israel and the Jewish people?
Are Russia and the U.S. not on opposite sides in the negotiations over the development of Iran's nuclear weapons capability? Are Russia and the U.S. not also competing for influence in the Middle East, with Russia generally supporting both Iran and Assad, and America holding fast to her long-standing adopted nation, Israel? And is not the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons, regardless of the protests of her Foreign Minister on NBC's Meet the Press just this past Sunday that Iran does not need nuclear weapons given her many strengths, not directly comparable and relatable to the historic possession of such weapons by Israel, through the aegis of the United States?
With the breakdown of both the Iranian-Group of Five+1 negotiations over nuclear centrifruges and the breakdown of the recently Egyptian-proferred terms for a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, the continuing human devastation in  Syria, the barely surviving Lybia, the pressure from millions of refugees into countries like Jordan, Turkey and the enhanced determination of ISIS to take control of at least the eastern and central sections of Iraq, including the oil fields in Tikrit, among the largest on the planet and the complicated and over-thought resistance of many western countries either to  know how to intervene effectively, or to collaborate with a single voice amid the turbulence of this cauldron of multiple political, historic and religious "chemicals"....the mixing of which under these conditions is an experiment completely foreign to world history...are we not witnessing a high-risk potential for a single spark, like the one that leapt from the  grass-mowing machine in the tinder-box that comprises the parched grass and forest in the British Columbia interior yesterday spawning an instant forest fire, adding to the dozens already out of control?
Simple aphorisms like, "we live in complex times" uttered from the mouths of political pundits like Chris Matthews, normally a reliable left-leaning voice of moderation, seem so out of touch with the reality of failed states, migrant children, abducted girls, cancerous terrorist cells frenetically pursuing the will of Allah, arms and intelligence shipments from major powers seeking to restore their former political hegemony in a world now torrentially blowing toward a multilateralism of shared and competing alliances, preparations for which have not even been contemplated, in the strategic sense. At least in the west, we seem to have been fixated on the development of tactics, new robotic donkeys, new unmanned drones, iron shield defence systems like the one current blocking many of Hamas rockets from killing Israeli civilians, and even cyber defences like the "underground" internet, while ignoring the shifting sands of time, ideology, religion, fanaticism and the impact of globalization and social media on the lives, aspirations and capacity of the poorest, the least educated and the formerly deaf and dumb underclass, the victims of the many preying mantis cells of a different form of alienation, revenge and erupting power grabs...from terrorists, from militias seducing children to join their "gangs" from state leaders (like Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria) whose capacity to lead, through the recovery of some 200 abducted young girls is capped by his fear of Boko Haram.
The intellectual/academic history of the west is premised on the notion of the separation of files, economic matters are left to the economists, political matters to the political scientists, demographics to the demographers, nuclear power to the nuclear scientists, religion to the theology and ecclesial scholars, crime to the criminologists, medicine to the medical practitioners (divided many times into even more finely tuned specialties) legislation and law and order to the legal fraternity, climate to the climate scientists and sports to the physical education grads, while business is open to the entry of many intellectual disciplines all of them focused on the generation of profits....however, we do not have an academic discipline historically dedicated to the indentification, enhancement, and preservation of the voice of the public citizen, nor to the voice of the public good, nor to the voice of the common public interest.
And the more we witness the separation of the many files that overlap on all public issues, including the pursuit of illegitimate power, abusive power, based on human greed, avarice, and the need for control...all of them founded deeply in neurosis, whether of the individual, the organizational or the state variety, the more we will continue to witness the triumph of the forces that threaten the human race, at the same time as the we witness the demise of the voice of moderation, reason, humanity and compassion.
It is not only in our video games, nor only in our extreme sports, nor in our geopolitics, nor in our capitalistic pursuit of the greatest profit for the fewest insiders, that we are witnessing and also experiencing the fallout from these nefarious motives and behaviours; it is also in our complicit withdrawal from the "field of play" through refusing to vote, through efforts to bar access to the polling booth, through the atrophy of consumer power in the face of the mega-corporations, through the atrophy of the small local business enterprise resulting from the insatiable appetites of the largest and most powerful corporations, banks, financial services companies, linked in many cases to the power structures of too many struggling states, whose leaders depend on the rich and powerful to support their political campaigns....
We need a concerted rise of armies of informed and activist citizens even and especially in countries in which the public face bares signs of historic democracies, to confront the way power is being deployed on our behalf, by political forces with deep, special interest pockets, and the advisors who enable them to manipulate their "spin" over an unsuspecting, naïve and somnambulant body politic if we are to seek and to find our collective, collaborative way through the tangle of the amazon-like jungle of forces that are increasingly blocking out the light of hope, compassion, empathy and creativity, on the macro-scale. We admire those pin-point lights on individual creativity and imagination that pop up here and there among young and old, together seeking better ways of doing things, and propose that perhaps their micro-lights will gather enough energy to attract the divided and competitive political leadership that currently exhibits a fixation on its own retention of power, at the expense of the many serious and deeply entangled nerves, muscles, tendons and bones that constitute the anatomy of the body politic....and the result is a kind of dangerous paralysis that, if not untangled, could and likely will, sabotage all of humanity in one of many potential forms of hell, all of them having given clarion warning calls, and all of them preventable with a transformation of our perceptions of our indisputed interdependence.