Water Man Spouts

Monday, July 18, 2005

My Trip to the Land of Wovoka

Part One: Awake"AwakeShake dreams from your hair My pretty child, my sweet oneChoose the day and choose the sign of your dayThe day's divinityFirst thing youe see.A vast radiant beach in a cool jeweled moonCouples naked race down by its quiet sideAnd we laugh like soft, mad childrenSmug in the wooly cotton brains of infancy.The music and voices are all around us.Choose, they croon, the Ancient OnesThe time has come again.Choose now, they croonBeneath the moonBeside an ancient lake.Enter again the sweet forest,Enter the hot dream,Come with us.Everything is broken up and dances.Indians scattered on dawn's highway bleedingGhosts crowd the young child's fragile eggshell mind.Indian, Indian what did you die for?Indian says nothing at all.Gently they stir, gently rise.The dead are newborn awakeningWith ravaged limbs and wet soulsGently they sigh in rapt funeral amazementWho called these souls to dance?"-- James Douglas Morrison; An Amrican PrayerIn the past two weeks, DUers have been witness to significant changes in the political & social landscape. Good and bad. Encouraging and discouraging. The Supreme Court; the Plame case; violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and London. The death of a voice in the wilderness who found community on DU.The roller coaster of emotions has been evident on a number of threads that have been on General Discussion in the past 48 hours. Everyone reacts in an individual way. I have spent some time in the woods behind my home: it's too wet to heat rocks for a sweat lodge, but it has been pleasant to sit and listen to the rain.I surrounded myself with thoughts on one topic. There had been a discussion about the advantages of either considering -- or ignoring -- what the militant Islamists who may be responsible for the London bombings think. We could expand that to include what goes on in the minds of others who advocate violence to advance their goals. Do we ignore them? Decide that they are too evil to examine, except in death?Or, would it be possible to examine, however briefly, what they think? Could it help us in war? In peace? I thought of two quotes that we might consider.Part Two: A World's View"If you wish to conduct offensive war you must know the men employed by the enemy. Are they wise or stupid, clever or clumsy? Having assessed their qualities, you prepare appropriate measures."-- "The Art of War"; Sun Tzu; Oxford Press;1963 (translation); p.148"Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition."-- "A Time to Break Silence": Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.; 4-4-67In both war and peace, it is important to understand the thinking of your opposition or enemy. It is equally important in attempting to utterly destroy that enemy, or to find some form of resolution to those problems which divide you from that enemy.It is not my goal to say that as individuals we must seek in every case to make peace with our enemies. Nor would I claim that war is never warrented. One would have to suffer from delusions to assume, for example, that Usama bin Laden will ever sit opposite an American president and discuss making the world a better place. Yet it would seem that as Americans, we are capable of sitting down with people we describe as radical Islamists, and potentially reducing tensions between our countries. If Rumsfeld could shake hands with Saddam, and President Bush can kiss a Saudi "prince," it is not unpatriotic to at least consider the thoughts of those who identify themselves as the enemies of America.I note that it is the Usama bin Ladens and George W. Bushes who take -- like Hitler -- what Thomas Merton called a stance of "the unforgivableness of sin" built upon "the central dogma of the irreversibility of evil." It is not just the "top leader" who reflects this belief in a sick society: Merton points out that Eichmann, by pleading obedience to the Nazi system, reflects a "deep faith in an irreversible order which could not be changed but only obeyed."Merton compares this lack of individual responsibility in thinking to the wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas, who recognized "evil" as not only reversible, but as possessing the potential to be turned into good. Aquinas taught that "sin" is in and of itself "punishment." He noted that those who "consider themselves happy and whose sense of power depends on the idea that they are beyong suffering any evil are not able to have mercy on others." I believe that he was describing "leaders" who send individuals and armies to crush other enemies, without ever considering the possibility that there is another way that is potentially available.Part Three: The Way to Gandhi"The awakening of the Indian mind in Gandhi was not simply the awakening of his own spirit to the the possibilities of a distinctly Hindu form of 'interior life.' ... Gandhi realized that the people of India were awakening in him. The masses who had been totally silent for thousands of years had now found a voice in him. It was the spiritual consciousness of a people that awakened in the spirit of one person. But the message of the Indian spirit, of the Indian wisdom, was not for India alone It was for the entire world. Hence Gandhi's message was valid for India and for himself in so far as it represented the awaking of a new world."Yet this renewed spiritual consciousness of India was entirely different from the totalitarian and nationalist consciousness that came alive in the West and in the East (Japan) to the point of furious and warlike vitality. The Indian mind that was awakening in Gandhi was inclusive, not exclusive. It was at once Indian and universal. It was not a mind of hate, of intolerance, of accusation, or rejection, of division. It was a mind of love, of understanding, of infinite capaciousness. Where the extreme nationalisms of Western Fascism and of Japan were symptoms of paranoid fury, exploding into alienation, division, and destruction, the spirit which Gandhi discovered in himself was reaching out to unity, love, and peace. It was a spirit which was, he believed, strong enough to heal every division."In Gandhi's mind, non-violence was not simply a political tactic which was supremely useful and efficacious in liberating his people from foreign rule, in order that India might then concentrate on realizing its own national identity. On the contrary, the spirit of non-violence sprang from an inner realization of spiritual unity in himself. The whole Gandhian concept of non-violent action and satyagraha is incomprehsible if it is thought to be a means of unity rather than as the fruit of inner unity already achieved."-- "Gandhi and the One-Eyed Giant"; Thomas Merton; New Directions; 1964.Part Four: Why Do They Hate Us? And What Do They Want?Michael Scheuer is a retired senior U.S. intelligence official, with nearly 20 years with the CIA. He studied Afghanistan, South Asia, and Usama bin Laden. He authored two important books: "Through Our Enemies' Eyes," and "Imperial Hubris."Scheuer contests President Bush's saying that militant Islamists hate us "for our freedoms." Rather, he notes, that "while there may be a few militant Muslims out there who would blow up themselves and others because they are offended by McDonald's restaurants, Iowa's early presidential primary, and the seminude, fully pregnant Demi Moore on Esquire's cover, they are exactly that: few, and no threat at all to U.S. national security. The focused and lethal threat posed to U.S. national security arises not from Muslims being offended by what America is, but rather from their plausible perception that the things they most love and value -- God, Islam, their brethern, and Muslim lands -- are being attacked by America. What we as a nation do, then, is the key casual factor in our confrontation with Islam. It is, I believe, the Muslim perception that the things they love are being intentionally destroyed by America that engenders Islamic hatred toward the United States, and that simultaneously motivates a few Muslims to act alone and attack U.S. interests; a great many more to join organizations like al Qaeda and its allies; and massive numbers to support those organizations ..."--"Imperial Hubris"; Michael Scheuer; 2004; pages 9-10Scheuer lists on page 241 the six U.S. policies that Usama bin Laden has repeatedly identified as anti-Muslim, and which can only lead to more death and destruction on all sides. They are:1- US support for Israel that keeps Palestinians oppressed.2- US (and allies') troops on the Arabian Peninsula.3- US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq.4- US support for China, India, and Russia in their fight against Muslim militants.5- US pressure on Arab energy "sources" to keep prices low for maximum US consumption.6- US support for the most corrupt, apostate Muslim governments.Scheuer makes clear that our nation has two choices: either engage in a war that leads to the total destruction of them or us; or try to find some resolutions to the problems caused by US policies in the Middle East. The choices are between Sun Tzu's military, or Martin Luther King's militancy.Part Five: A New World"We will either have a new world, or a new world war." -- GandhiIn his 1968 book, "Earth House Hold," Gary Snyder wrote of the "memories of a Golden Age -- the Garden of Eden -- the Age of the Yellow Ancestor -- (which) were genuine expressions of civilization and its discontents. Harking back to societies where men and women were more free with each other; where there was more singing and dancing; where there were no serfs and priests and kings."Projected into the future time in Christian culture, this dream of the Millennium became the soil of many heresies. It is a dream handed down right to our own time -- of ecological balance, classless society, social and economic freedom. It is actually one of the possible futures open to us. To those who stubbornly argue 'it's against human nature,' we can only patiently reply that you must know your own nature before you can say this. Those who have gone into their own natures deeply have, for several thousand years now, been reporting that we have nothing to fear if we are willing to train ourselves, to open up, explore and grow."It is important that we love and not hate. Just as people like Gandhi and King rode the energy of the masses' love and positive energy, people like Bush and bin Laden ride hatred and negative energy. Do not hate. Do not seek revenge. Look for opportunities to create unity. Look for the Gandhi and the Martin Luther King inside you. Use that strength to oppose the Bush war in Iraq. Let's send a message to the world.

2 Comments:

At November 4, 2005 at 8:34 AM, Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

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At December 25, 2005 at 9:28 PM, Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

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