Sunday, June 14, 2015

Accepting the gift of unknowing, uncertainty and our shared humility

Speaking at today's Countering Violent Extremism summit in Sydney, Mr Abbott said the threat posed by IS, also known as Daesh, was global.
"Daesh is coming, if it can, for every person and for every government with a simple message: 'Submit or die'," Mr Abbott said.
"The declaration of a caliphate, preposterous though it seems, is a brazen claim to universal dominion.
"You can't negotiate with an entity like this, you can only fight it." (From ABC online, Thursday, June 11, 2015)
Countering the Abbott outburst,
Abdul-Rehman Malik is the programs manager at Radical Middle Way, an outreach group for young Muslims.
"I think to call [Islamic State] a death cult, as the Australian Prime Minister does, is a complete misnomer and it actually feeds in to IS propaganda," he told the ABC's Lateline program.
"The propagandists of the Islamic State, when they hear themselves referred to as a death cult hell bent on global domination, are patting themselves on the back because you know what?
"You've bought in to their narrative." (ABC online, June 11, 2015)
Even a conference called by Abbott to deal with the threat posed by radical Islam is not generating a practical and coherent position on how to go about destroying the movement. One of the most virulent political/military epidemics to erupt on the world's horizon, radical Islam, while not a legitimate or credible expression of Islam, nevertheless excites deep passions, even among those who seek a Middle Way, a compromise that does not capitulate to the propaganda, nor to the fear that haunts the halls of power in many world capitals.
Of course, the Abbott primal political scream would garner headlines among the western media. It succinctly expresses the most basic fear of Daesh, without having to put compelling policies and actions behind the sentiment. Does the statement risk a backlash of hubris among Daesh participants, and perhaps more desperate and misguided recruits for the terrorists? Probably.
Moderate positions, on the other hand, do not generate the kind of headlines that sell papers, or secure television ratings. It is violence, verbal, digital, military, domestic, and certainly both political and journalistic that dominates our contemporary consciousness.
A long-term friendship in Edmonton between a businessman and another hired to perform services for the businessman, even extended to shared family camping excursions, suddenly takes a very violent turn the moment the hired "friend" learns that the businessman is a Jew. The Jew now lives under police protection, fearing for his own life and for that of his family. A policeman and the 'friend' are now dead.
Built on a sometime latent anti-Semitism now unleashed, fueled by a pathology of adventure, risk and even chosen martyrdom in service of some faux deity, Allah, advanced by  a sophisticated social media campaign, and numerous medieval beheadings all of them captured on video and broadcast around the planet, Daesh is like a bacterial enemy for which conventional 'medicine' in terms of military antibiotics has hardly resulted in a 'cure'.
As in so many instances, medical, legal, economic, political and even environmental, we have glimpses of the issues that confront our individual and collective consciousness, and also glimpses of how we would like the narratives to play out. However, we are all, if and when we are sufficiently confident and honest with ourselves and each other, living in a blinding darkness, probing, stabbing and even stumbling in search of correctives, or even remediatives, or even retardants for the fires that threaten us.
We do not know, for example, how kidney stones form, or why or when or when or if they will pass. We do not know why some people contract the big C, cancer, and others who appear to follow a similar lifestyle, diet and exercise program do not.
We do not know if a seriously deprived young person, following what some would call a 'curdled' childhood, will turn to outstanding cultural achievements, or slide further into crime, imprisonment and violence.
We do not know why the greed of Wall Street operatives catapulted the world economy into collapse in 2008-9, nor do we know if those responsible will ever be fully prosecuted, and our grandchildren will not have to face a similar catastrophe.
We do not know if global trade deals will, in fact, stabilize both the world economy and balance the inequities in income between the extremely rich and the extremely poor.
We do not know how to bring about a meeting of minds among business and environmental advocates on fossil fuel resource extraction and environmental protection.
We do not know how to develop a balanced approach to national security and personal freedoms.
We do not know how to re-establish a balanced tax code that levels the playing field by demanding more from the rich and provide more opportunities for the disadvantaged.
We do not know how to reduce or even to manage our "power needs" with our capacity for empathy and compassion....and we are not even paying much attention to the learning curve that would set us on a path to mediate those power needs and drives, and enhance our willingness to share authentic empathy especially for those in our circles of influence who need a hand-up, not a hand-out.
We do not know whom to trust, among the many voices in world leadership, as capable of garnering enough sustainable support for healthy shared goals among peers, so that Daesh will be defanged, Ukraine will be freed, Syria Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Yemen will be disarmed, and willing to come to a table of negotiation and peace.
We do not know if or when the corporate moguls who have already amassed so much wealth and corporate ownership will awaken to their own greed, their own shallow and hollow pursuit of narcissistic goals and methods and their potential to change.
We do not know the myriad of motives that undergird all expressions of human abuse, violence, libel, extortion, and hopelessness...nor do we know anything that could or would help to alleviate the numerous expressions of inhumanity, in all social and economic classes, in all cultures, in all geographies and climates and in all periods of history.
And in the midst of our unknowing, we perpetuate the illusion, even some would say delusion, that we are the most knowledgeable, the most educated, the most ethical and the most visionary creatures to dwell on the planet in history,
To some of us, it seems we are prisoners of our own hubris, and accompanying self-deception and deceit, and certainly conceit. And, our path to a humility and a healthy identification with all 'the other' creatures of our species, will more likely be paved with sweat lodges, and spiritual retreats, and humanitarian projects and openness to our own need that will help to move us all, both individually and collectively, from the extrinsic acquisition of power and status to the intrinsic awareness of our shared needs, our shared powerlessness and our shared and limited access to the necessities of life: love, acceptance, an embrace of the transcendant and the unknown as gift and not as scarcity.
It is our sense of scarcity, no matter its source, that confines and limits our consciousness of our own truths and our own opportunities to make the world a more habitable and humane place for all succeeding generations.





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