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Posts Tagged ‘war’

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

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

Thoughts from outside the box

Saturday, May 20th, 2006
Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Galeano

“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own.”
Wangari Maathai – Winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace 2004

Another excellent interview by journalist Amy Goodman for Democracy Now featuring Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano.

Some excerpts:

On immigration: “t’s a sad story. A daily sad story. I wonder if our time will be remembered as a period, a terrible period in human history, in which money was free to go and come and come back and go again. But people, not.”

On recent developments in Latin America: “… I think that all these recent events, elections won by progressive forces and a lot of different movings, is like something that’s moving on and expressing a need, a will of change, but we are carrying a very heavy burden on our backs, which is what I call “the traditional culture of impotence,” which is something condemning you, dooming you to be eternally crippled, because there is a cultural saying and repeating, “You can’t.” You can’t walk with your own legs. You are not able to think with your own head. You cannot feel with your own heart, and so you’re obliged to buy legs, heart, mind, outside as import products. This is our worst enemy, I think.”

On the terrorist threat: “… I think it’s true when President Bush tells us each day that we are suffering the high risks of being attacked by terrorism. It’s true. And terrorism made the Iraq war, and they perhaps may — today or tomorrow, I don’t know — invade some Latin American country. It’s a tradition of the terrorist, imperialist power in the world. Who knows? We are not safe. You are not safe. Nobody is safe from a possible attack from this machine of war, this big structure we have built — they have built, in a global dimension. This $2,600 million spent each day to kill other people, this machine of killing peoples, devouring the world resources, eating the world resources each day. So this is a terrorist structure indeed, and we are in danger, so President Bush is right, I think. We are suffering a terrorist menace.”

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