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Posts Tagged ‘war on terror’

My chalice runneth over

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest…a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in it’s beauty.”
Albert Einstein

This blog has been horribly neglected over the last few months. Real life has just been too busy to find time to sit down to write it. This state of affairs doesn’t show any sign of changing over the next while either. However I really wanted to find time to write about a recent experience because its poignancy and relevance are begging to be shared.

I was recently at a conference in Glastonbury on the phenomenon of the ‘orbs’ which have been appearing in people’s digital photographs. During his presentation, William Bloom highlighted an observation that really resonated with me. He said that we humans seem to have (relatively) little difficulty relating to the natural world on the one hand, or the transpersonal dimensions on the other. We could even intellectually appreciate the oneness of humanity. But taking that intellectual appreciation to a feeling level presented the single greatest challenge to us all. At the close of his presentation he led a meditation where we were asked to experience what itfelt like, to the extent we could each allow, to accept the entirety of humanity into ourselves, and allow ourselves to enter into the beings of others. Not just our nearest and dearest, but people we disliked or disagreed with. Groups of people we harboured prejudices against. Victims and oppressors alike. Try it some time. It’s extraordinarily powerful, and to me felt something like being repeatedly punched in the solar plexus as I contemplated accepting the people I’ve happily railed against and ranted about in this blog from time to time.

Being somewhat sceptical and suspecting that the vast majority of ‘orbs’ (though not all) are artifacts of the digital photography process, I took time out from the conference the next morning to visit the Chalice Well.

Chalice Well, Glastonbury

“I tell you; we are here on earth to fart around; and don’t let anybody tell you different.”
Kurt Vonnegut Jr

The sense of peace, tranquility and the oneness of existence that pervades this amazing garden is incredible and I sat for a while at the well head thinking about William Bloom’s meditation. It was so easy to contemplate accepting humanity in this place, but then, as if to order, the peace of the garden was abruptly shattered by the shouting of a man walking up the path onto Chalice Hill just outside the gardens. Visitors to the garden exchanged frightened glances and communicated in barely audible whispers, eyes constantly roving to see where the shouting was coming from; worried in case the sanctity of the garden itself had been violated.

As a British soldier, the angry man had clearly done a tour or more of duty in Iraq and seemed deeply traumatised by the experience, as well as feeling an immense anger. Whether he’d been drinking or not I don’t know, but his speech was clear and unslurred even if its content was all slur. His anger was directed at the people in Glastonbury and the whole of British society who were “worse than the f—ing Iraqis”. Glastonbury needed “a squad of 500 British soldiers to clean this town up”. (Imagine what it must be like to live life on the edge of death, witness your friends and colleagues lose their lives suddenly, loudly and messily, and come back to a complacent society which seems largely oblivious to the sacrifice you and they have made in its name. How much more unbearable when that same society seems obsessed by the airy fairy, the intangible and immaterial, when it’s blood and gore that haunts your nightmares.) What really came from the heart and conveyed his pain was the exasperated plea “What’s it all for? What’s it all f—ing FOR?”.

Indeed. War, the complete antithesis to the peace of the gardens, in stark and glaring contrast. And what is it all for?

Again it was easy to step back; to intellectualise and rationalise the soldier’s pain and appreciate what he was suffering. Far less easy to feel sympathy and compassion for both him and those who sent him to war when half of you feels frightened and intimidated by his aggression and anger and the other half furious and raging at the inhumanity and arrogance of those who sent him to war on the basis of a lie. The sheer enormity of the task of bringing humanity to accept all of humanity became depressingly clear. I walked away from the gardens and back to the High Street wondering if such a thing could ever be possible.

I wandered into one of the many “new age” shops which was just opening. There was a tape playing of someone speaking. It was a man with an Indian accent. I’ve no idea who. Maybe Deepak Chopra because it sounded like the sort of thing he’d say, but that’s just a wild guess. He said something along the lines of “The only solution to war is for each individual to cease the war in their own hearts. When this happens, war will become impossible.” I was delighted at this bit of synchronicity. Then, as if to doubly underline its profound message, the shopkeeper stopped the tape, rewound it a bit, and played the same section again.

“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
Eugene V Debs

Fairford Two acquitted!

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

“You do not become a ‘dissident’ just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.”
Václav Havel

From last Saturday’s Guardian newspaper:

“If they were to do it over again, Phil Pritchard says, they would bring less stuff. He and Toby Olditch were carrying “silly amounts” when they broke into RAF Fairford on the eve of the Iraq war: bolts and screws to be placed inside the B-52s’ engines, pictures of smiling Iraqi children to be stuck on to the payload doors, toothbrushes and stamps to be used in prison, and flashing headbands in the hope that they would look too ridiculous to be shot.

“Somewhat inevitably, they were arrested before they got anywhere near one of the bombers. “At that stage,” says Mr Pritchard, “I think the word that went through our heads was: arse.” Instead of preventing the jets from taking off for Iraq, the two men were charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage, remanded in custody for three months, and told to expect a jail sentence of up to 10 years.

“But while their mission may have been, in Mr Olditch’s words, “a bit Keystone Cops”, it was not criminal. That was the remarkable verdict of a jury at Bristol crown court this week, which unanimously acquitted the two men, having accepted their defence that they were acting to prevent the US air force planes from committing war crimes.”

More …

A time to break silence

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

“Since it is now physically and metaphysically demonstrable that the chemical elements resources of Earth already mined or in recirculation, plus the knowledge we now have, are adequate to the support of all humanity and can be feasibly redesign-employed […] to support all humanity at a higher standard of living than ever before enjoyed by any human, war is now and henceforth murder. All weapons are invalid. Lying is intolerable. All politics are not only obsolete but lethal.”
R Buckminster Fuller

“At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in [the country we are fighting] and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in [the country we are fighting] is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among [the people of the country we are fighting], and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

“Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of [my deity] and brother to the suffering poor of [the country we are fighting]. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of [this country] who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in [the country we are fighting]. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves [this country], to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.

“This is the message of the great [religious] leaders of [the country we are fighting]. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote:

“”Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of [our people] and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. [The country invading us is] forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that [their leaders], who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of [the country invading us] will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.”

“If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in [the country we are fighting]. If we do not stop our war against the people of [the country we are fighting] immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of [this country] that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in [the country we are fighting], that we have been detrimental to the life of the [people of the country we are fighting]. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in [the country we are fighting], we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.”

Incidental and largely irrelevant contextual details of this speech:
Date of delivery – April 4 1967
Spoken by – Martin Luther King Jr
[the country we are fighting] – Vietnam
[this country] – America
[religion (of country we are fighting)] – Buddhism
[my deity] – God

“You do not become a ‘dissident’ just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.”
Václav Havel

1984 in 2006

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

Big Brother

“It is becoming ever more obvious that it is not famine, not earthquakes, not microbes, not cancer but man himself who is man’s greatest danger to man, for the simple reason that there is no adequate protection against psychic epidemics which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes.”
C G Jung, ‘The Undiscovered Self’

What a seriously depressing past 24 hours! Having taken a long and deliberate break from it, I made the mistake of paying some attention to the daily news. There should be a government health warning attached to it. Perhaps we could even get vaccinated against it?

First we have the leaders of both main political parties in the UK falling over each other to instigate the repeal of what little human rights legislation we have left. Apparently this is all in the interests of protecting us from “terrorists”. That excuse is wearing dreadfully thin these days. The simple fact is there would be no “terrorists” if our government weren’t meddling in business it’s no business trying to make business out of in the first place. So who are the real terrorists? The governments who blithely march into other countries as if they had the god-given right to do so on the basis of a lie, or the people of those countries who quite rightly object to being invaded for no good reason?

Then we have a piece in the Daily Telegraph – for those that don’t know it, a paper with rather right wing viewpoints and not one I usually find much sympathy with – by Social Affairs correspondent Sarah Womack on “the biggest state intrusion in history into the role of parents”. We are told that, subsequent to the provisions of the 2004 Children’s Act, the government is to maintain a database on the nation’s 11-12 million children, monitoring everything from their educational performance against state targets to whether or not they’re eating their five portions of fruit and veg a day, and that transgressions on more than 2 counts will automatically spark an investigation. (Quite how they propose to action this is anyone’s guess, given the startling incompetence habitually displayed by state bureaucracy at all levels of organisation, but it’s the thought that counts.)

I’m not sure where it came from, but all of a sudden John McEnroe’s voice sounded loud and clear in my head (I guess it must be about Wimbledon time again?). “You cannot be serious!” At least the leader in the same paper had the sense to highlight the sheer insanity of giving more power to state intervention in children’s lives when it was the failure of every single existing state intervention that was largely responsible for the incident that supposedly sparked off this entire initiative!

And lastly – things always seem to come in threes – there are 30 members of the medical profession attempting to cajole the population into greater uptake of the MMR vaccination, claiming there are no proven associations with autism and that the risk of not having the vaccine is far greater than having it. If these people are to be taken seriously, it really is little short of a miracle how the human race has managed to survive for so long against the onslaught of so many dangerous diseases without the benefit of modern pharmaceutical interventions. The reason we have is that we possess immune systems which, like muscles, need to be exercised if they’re to build up any strength. Childhood diseases were traditionally (and still are in many cultures) regarded as an essential part of the maturation of a healthy immune system. In some parts of India, measles is regarded as a visitation from a goddess for the developmental leap that children frequently take after a bout. And yes, there are casualities, but there will always be casualties. Sickness and death is an inescapable part of life, and survival of the fittest is nature’s way of ensuring the health of all species.

Ultimately, it all seems to be about a need to feel in control. It’s apparently acceptable for there to be casualties from vaccination, because it’s being done under human control, ostensibly for the benefit of all (leaving aside the pharmaceutical industry agenda for the moment). But it’s not acceptable to leave it up to nature to do the same thing for the same reasons, because it’s not under human control. Western society’s distrust of what created us, what we’re part of and what we’re evolving within is almost incomprehensible from any objective standpoint. Personally, I’ll take my chances with nature any time. Not least because in trying to reduce the relatively few casualties of relatively minor childhood diseases by supplanting the role of the immune system rather than supporting it, it would appear that what is being sacrificed is the immune system’s long-term strength and integrity. Is it any accident that the rise in immune-deficiency conditions and syndromes is almost an entirely post-vaccination phenomenon, and that the more pharmaceutical interventions a person is subject to, the weaker their immune system becomes?

We have naturally evolved to be cooperative but predominantly self-supporting organisms, and the ability to exist as such might be considered a partial definition of health, not least in the freedom it gives us to pursue our own paths, our own genius in life, whether that be a solitary path or one dedicated to working with others. The more dependence we place on external agencies – pharmaceuticals, bureaucracies or governments, for instance – the less ablility we have to be self-supporting, the more subject we become to the vagaries and agendas of those external agencies on which we depend, and the less freedom we have as individuals. It seems somewhat illogical that we should so willingly give up our freedoms just because some external agency claims it’s “on our side”, and continue to do so even when its actions frequently contradict its claims, while another which dosn’t make such claims we will fight tooth and claw. Giving up freedom is, after all, giving up freedom, whoever it’s given to.

Of course we need to cooperate as a species to survive and build our societies. But the willing cooperation of free individuals (government by the people for the people) is a long long way from the situation that presently obtains pretty much anywhere. It’s what we hold as our ideal. It’s what we think we’re fighting for. But it’s not what we’ve got. Isn’t it time we woke up and noticed the difference? And realised that the main repositories of power in our societies are on an express train headed in precisely the opposite direction? Western society is firmly in the grip of the oldest mafiosi trick in the book; a protection racket of global proportions.

Thanks to the current insanity revolving around homeopathy in this country, in both media and blogosphere, it's become necessary to insult your intelligence by explicitly drawing your attention to the obvious fact that any views or advice in this weblog/website are, unless stated otherwise, the opinions of the author alone and should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you choose to take anything from here that might be construed as advice, you do so entirely under your own recognisance and responsibility.

smeddum.net - Blog: Confessions of a Serial Prover. Weblog on homeopathy, health and related subjects by homeopathic practitioner Wendy Howard