I have taken some planned, and some unplanned, time off since completing (read: finishing) Ironman Florida. In that time, I have had time to reflect on what I want to explore in this blog. My focus isn’t going to change so much as it is going to narrow. Heretofore, my focus has been on Warriorship, and in the past 12-18 months or so, specifically on the training aspect of Warriorship. However, it has occurred to me that all of that really begs the question.
The question seems to be more accurately–How do we actually make things happen? or What is the mechanism of Manifestation? These seem to be the questions that go the heart of Warriorship. The Warrior’s key role is to act. The question then is, What does it mean to Act? How does one actually Act? What is it to transform a Thought, Concept, Idea to an Action? and What is involved in Action impacting the larger Reality?
Training and Warriorship remain ideal forums for exploring these questions.
Join me on this new leg of exploration.
I found this video on Joe Tapias’s Blog.
Inspiration and Motivation can literally be found anywhere. Be sparked by the most mudane thing. And when they are, they are powerful.
The Obama administration, through the TSA, recently went live with full-body scanners (x-ray machines) and full-body pat downs. There has been much uproar regarding the invasiveness of these measures. There has also been so much discussion regarding the true effectiveness of our airport security measures. What has been lacking is any mainstream discussion of the real implications of this newest degradation of the Constitution & Bill of Rights.
There has been a steady degradation of the Bill of Rights by the federal government, and Presidential administrations virtually since they’re ratification. However, in the last 25 years and particularly since the World Trade Center Bombing, the acceleration has been extreme. This recent TSA full body scan procedure is another chink in that process.
When asked, many people state they are willing to give up some freedom for increased safety, and that this is in fact necessary. However, that assumes three things. First that we have much freedom to give up. Second, that there is any real security to be had. And, perhaps most importantly, that there is any end to the giving up of freedoms. When looking at the powers of the executive branch with executive orders, command of the military, and its unelected regulatory agencies, there is not really much freedom left in the United States. The fact that you may not feel violated, doesn’t mean you’re free.
All the security measures we’ve taken have not really increased our real security. Hijacker take over a plane with box cutters because passengers didn’t understand that they were doomed to die. Once passengers understand that hijackers are not going to land the plane, box cutters no longer are effective. Thus, the best measures against box cutters become, reinforced cock pit doors, and passenger education. Scanning each and every passenger each and every time for every possible implement is ridiculous and inherently doomed to failure. Thus, what does taking away my nail clippers accomplish? It doesn’t make anybody any safer. What it does do is encroach on my freedom.
Similarly with taking off shoes. While TSA is seizing my nail clippers, a guy tries to ignite a shoe bomb. So now each and every American must take off their shoes each and every time the go through a security gate. Any more shoe bombers? No. Does it mean we have now deterred shoe bombs? No. It only means that there was one guy with a shoe bomb, and now American citizens are subject to the demeaning and useless process of taking off their shoes over and over again.
What is the point, really? These are the types of techniques used in controlling prison populations. Subject and condition them to accept humiliating direction from their controllers. This most recent TSA screening measure is no different. The administration cannot possibly have any expectation that this will make us any safer. They can bet it will be another blow in the process of beating us into submission.
Bomb sniffing dogs are your best bomb detection method. This is how we clear mine fields, when the stakes are hard and real. Why don’t we employ the best detection method? Body scanners and mass pat downs are only effective against a narrow class of attacks. They are massively expensive. Why are we using the extremely expensive, less effective method?
There are so many vulnerabilities to terrorist attack, that the idea of the government restricting our freedom to protect us is an unending process. The question then becomes, What is the point?
Boiling a Frog. We’ve all heard of the boiling frog. The idea goes (I have not personally verified the scientific accuracy) that you can boil a frog to death, and have it not jump out of the pot, if you first set it in a pot of cold water. Then turn on the flame and increase the water temperature slowly, incrementally. The frog will adjust to each incremental increase, not noticing one degree difference at a time. However, when taken together the 212 individual degrees will not have been noticed, yet the frog is boiling just the same.
Another brick in the wall. The latest TSA measures are just another brick in the wall of the prison that the United States is becoming.
- “TSA S&M: All this airport groping doesn’t make anyone safer. But that may not be the point.” — http://nymag.com/news/politics/powergrid/69779/
- Slow boiled frog — http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/frogboil.asp
- Majority agree on giving up rights for “safety” — http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=664_1263493736&c=1
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The xenophobic wave of fear I see sweeping through the United States is quite stunning. The latest manifestation is the protest against the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”. The moniker (in it’s inaccuracy) itself yields much grounds for illustration. Regardless of how one feels about the building of the mosque/center itself, the rhetoric and hyperbole surrounding this issue are undeniably inflammatory and down-right scary. However, this is just one on a growing list of examples of how Americans, who consider themselves the core American demographic, are reacting against those “others”. I hesitate to label the wave racist, because I sense it’s actually something more sinister.
Overarching question: Once they get done with the Mexicans, Muslims and gays, do you think you’ll be safe?
I am arguing that there is a deep seated psychosis in the American psyche that America wants to pretend doesn’t exist. This psychosis has reared its head in horrible ways in the past. Genocide of the Native Americans, interment of Japanese Americans, enslavement of Africans, McCarthyism & the Red Scare, internment & torture of “enemy combatants”. The current round of “anti-otherism,” bears all the earmarks of the beginning of another ugly episode of this psychosis.
Let’s look at the current list of “others”: Mexicans, Muslims, gays. Some corresponding examples are anti-immigration laws, the daily barrage of inflammatory statements against Muslims, anti-gay marriage campaign, and anti-affirmative action movement (“reverse racism”). What I find most interesting about this list, is that in the current election cycle there are candidates with every one of these items on their platforms.
Conservative talking-heads address these issues, and others, as encroachments on our freedoms. Irony of ironies: their solutions to these encroachments, are to take away the freedom of others. Their solutions of the past have served to take away our freedoms general (Patriot Act), in the name of safety.
Focusing again on the “Ground Zero Mosque”. Let me state quickly that it is neither at Ground Zero, nor is it a mosque. These are at once technical, but also very real distinctions. Because the question quickly arises, how far from Ground Zero would it be acceptable to build a mosque (or in this case, and Islamic center)? Some opponents state that its fine, just not in lower Manhattan. However their rhetoric suggests, that it would be fine, just not in the United States.
As an aside New Gingrich seems to have a penchant for comparing people and groups to Nazis. First he compared President Obama and Democrats in general, most recently he compared Muslims to Nazis. The irony of course, is that such demagoguery is straight from the Adolph Hitler/Joseph Goebbels playbook. If you doubt, you can read the words for Gingrich’s pen (so to speak) here: Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.
The vehemence against building a mosque also reveals the myopic vision of many Americans. The people who attacked us on September 11th were Muslim. They professed primarily political grounds for attacking us. It is an extreme leap to then say Islam is evil. To suggest that human rights violations and murder by Isreal then condemns Judaism would be met with vehemence. Suggesting that the Catholic Church protecting and enabling child predators for centuries, condemns all Christians everywhere would be ridiculous. Yet this is what we have done with Islam.
Or, I can quote Ron Paul: “This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservative’s aggressive wars.” Read the full piece.
Lets be clear, Muslims died in the towers that day. American Muslims have fought, bled and died in the war against Al Quaida, the Taliban, and Sadam’s Iraq. It is a disgrace and tragedy to then assert that these Muslims are in the same class as the extreme minority that comprises Al-Quaida or the Taliban.
I’ve written about similar divide & control techniques used in America.
The questions then are:
- Why the need to demonize Muslims in general?
- Who really stands to gain?
- Once their done with the Mexicans, Muslims, and gays, do you think you’ll be safe?
If you think that because your Christian, you’re safe, think again. Are you a member of any “other” group? Do you think Sarah Palin’s version of Christianity has much tolerance in it? Perhaps you or a loved one will be in need of a life-saving abortion. Do you think that Sarah Palin’s Christianity has any room in it for that.
Or maybe you’re not Mexican. Do you really think the anti-immigration push is about a love of the law? Why do we have our immigration quotas in the first place? Talking heads speak of Ellis Island like that was the infallible implementation of abiding by immigration law. Only a small minority of immigrants passed through Ellis Island. Ellis Island was not about overseeing the implementation of immigration laws.
What difference does it really make whether a gay couple can be recognized as married or not? How does the governmental recognition of this affect anything but the administrative issues of insurance, healthcare, probate, etc.? Why does the small government crowd want the government to interfere in the lives of gay people? Not gay, you say? Do you really think that your lifestyle choices & personal preferences are safe from the same small-but-ever-encroaching-government people?
Do not miss my larger point. I’m not advocating for or against the building of a mosque. I am pointing out that the vehemence is not about Islam, or September 11th, it is about a deep-seated psychosis deeply rooted in the American psyche that nobody wants to deal with. The ostensible objective is to extend the demonization from terrorists to Islam in general. What reason? One can only guess. But the most obvious is to distract from the ongoing, progessless, nine year war going on in Afghanistan and Iraq, the millions of lives ruined and lost along the way. There are other more sinister motives, I’m sure.
To quote Ron Paul again:
“Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam–the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.” (emphasis mine)
What’s the motivation behind the anti-immigration stance? Maybe to distract from our leaders culpability in leading the United States down a road of consumerism, ballooning debt, and mediocrity. Let’s blame it on all these illegals coming across the border. Immigration, illegal or otherwise is a political problem. The immigrant nations are culpable in the process. If politicians really wanted to deal with Mexican immigrants, then they would deal with the Mexican federal government, which has a policy encouraging Mexican immigration north across our borders, but heavily discourages Central American immigration north into Mexico.
They won’t do this because they need illegal immigration to distract from their own ineptitude, culpability and corruption.
They’ll continue to demonize all Muslims everywhere, because they need to distract from their culpability in engaging in this never-ending war, and selling the last of our freedoms down the river (Patriot Act).
They’ll continue to implicate gays for the general demise of family units in America, because it distracts from the slight of hand of equating the American Dream with American Consumerism.
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The most recent coal mining tragedy in West Virginia is a metaphor for the real power divisions in America. The underclass, and the distracted middle class in America, spend so much time and energy being angry and fighting over different issues and power divisions. Unfortunately, very few of these distinctions represent the true division of power in the United States. Issues of race, political party, religion, economic philosophy are phantasms and fabrications which obscure the only real power distinction in America. That distinction is the difference between those who own stuff, and those who don’t. But even that distinction, as simple as it sounds, can be ephemeral if one doesn’t come to terms with the difference between owning stuff and membership in the ruling class.
The John Sayles movie “Matewan”, set in early 1900s Matewan, West Virginia coal mining town, illustrates how different underclass groups are pitted against each other in the United States, while the real oppressors press down on them all. When these groups come together, the Coal Field Wars breakout, which ultimately results in extreme loss of life, but considerably improved working conditions for miners. The rub, historically outside of the timeframe of the movie, is that the coal mines remain a dangerous place to work, that only those without other viable options opt for. The annual loss of life from accidents is down, however the chronic health issues resulting from a career of going down in the pits remains a killer.
The saying goes that men go down in the hole white, black, or brown, but they all come out black.
Early in the history of coal mining in the United States, the first miners were the white Appalachian mountain folk, who lived in the coal rich hollers of the Eastern Appalachian Mountain range. As social change occurred, and new immigrants found moved around the country, Blacks, Italian, Germans, a host of new ethnic groups found their way to the mines. The mining companies used racial divides to pit these ethnic groups against one another. This served to distract from the extreme abusive practices used by the mining companies against their workers, and the workers families. As long as the ethnic groups were pitted against each other, identified each other as the source and cause of their woes, they would not realize, or be able to organize against the true oppressor, the mining companies.
For those who may question the validity of calling the mining companies abusive or oppressors, I’d be glad to write a post dedicated to that issue. Just let me know. Suffice it to say, the “market” did not, was not, and would not take care of these problems.
At any rate, the movie “Matewan” chronicles the beginning of the Coal Field Wars, and how union organizers got the various ethnic groups to focus, not on the phantasmic differences of race and ethnicity, but on the oppression of the mining companies. When the mining companies met resistance from the miners, The Pinkerton Detective Agency was called in, at that point in time, basically a mercenary unit, armed with guns. The Pinkertons brought their guns and the miners and mountain folk met them. The Coal Field Wars began.
The end result was that President Roosevelt called in the National Guard to suppress the miners and put an end to the armed conflict. However, after much loss of life, attention was brought to the issue. Miners were unionized in many mines, and working conditions improved greatly. However, as we can see from recent mining accidents, and the persistant high mortality rate among miners, conditions are still very bad for that Class of Americans.
What are the take aways? First, conflicts and divisions between race and ethnicity in America are illusions and lies used by the ruling class to keep the people from disrupting power. Second, the only true division in America is between the ruling class and the people. Third, the only chance The United States has going forward, is for the people to rise above the current, and worsening state of racial, religious, ethnic, divide and directly address the abuses of the ruling class.
The question then becomes, who comprise the ruling class? This is a topic for another post, but suffice it to say being white and/or wealthy are not defining conditions. Plenty of white people are in the underclass, whom the ruling class would, and has, gladly sacrifice. Additionally, wealthy is neither a defining term, as plenty of wealthy individuals are utterly dependent on the good will of the Federal government and the corporations for whom they slave.
I think the GOP overplayed its hand. Forcing a filibuster proof vote on every issue forced the Dems to take a page from the George W. playbook, using reconciliation to push through major legislation. Tit-for-tat, and the dance goes on. There is no essential difference between the Dems and GOP because in the end, nobody wants to upset the applecart. Wildcard in the mix is Barack Obama. Neither Dems nor GOP quite know what to do with him. (same way they were equally mystified when Baye bowed out). Debate the merits, but Obama seems like he actually wants to get things done.