Rough Meditation

My mind is muddled.  I cannot think clearly and so I am spending time watching The Wireinstead of thinking too hard on what is real.  It works but it doesn’t because the Baltimore of fiction is all too real a depiction of the underbelly that is of overt consequence for the way life is lived in this America that our ancestors created.  We could have done better with what we were given but we have given in to a modernity that is unhealthy, inhumane, and never wise, never wise unless clever forms of deceit are counted wisdom.  And, really, that is our society, our wise those who make the heist appear as public service, who do what they have to get with the power and then use the power to get more of it.  The Wireshows both the legal and illegal forms of clawing, both unprincipled, both deadly in consequence for those who have no power to change the rules of the game, who get along by accepting things as they are, ducking and hiding if they can when the bullets, real and metaphorical, fly, lawfully and unlawfully.

I imagine there are better ways to escape than to indulge The Wire, better fictions around that do not try to heighten the sting of the current reality but for me these are so insubstantial as to be meaningless.  I have tried comedies, but they have no calories, nothing to burn to keep things sane.  The best I do is maybe a western or something science fiction but then, these too often carry reference to the reality I think I want to escape.  I cannot get away from the greed and the disregard for life as something enough worth living that depriving another of it is truly an impossible sin.  Love stories compassionate moments rarely convey much that my mind can understand to be compassion.  Always the angle and rarely whatever it is that really gets to what is of heart.

I do now sense profound desolation and feel myself to be a being too free and alien to the world in which I live to any longer think in terms of substance and meaningful movement. I float above it, maybe below it, only occasionally now bumped by something that makes sense, to which I can cling for a moment for the sake of getting a better reading.  I do not read well anymore.  I cannot get through the distortion and my suspicion of distortion causes me to linger too long for pleasure, for any kind of satisfaction on any single element long enough to get a hold, to grasp.  I am wandering aimlessly looking for anchors that, for the sake of some sanity, I have to make up as I go along.

I would like to find the grain of hope, something large enough and of good enough nutrient to fuel a campaign of some kind, of the kind that comes from hope that something meaningful can be achieved.  I do have an ephemeral repository of sustenance that is in those experiences I have had where human genius has been used to good ends, to create what is good for the world, so good as to rattle the mind and remind of capacities, the human capacities that allow for the shaping and reshaping of reality, in music, in art, in science, in politics and philosophies, in invention and the production of things that work.  I can dwell on symphonies or electricity or, occasionally, a poet, and inventor, or a song. Delight is possible but it too momentary amidst the ongoing that is hardly at all pleasant.

If I have a quest left in me, it is for more delight—that bright kid face lit by a bee just above a flower—and less unpleasant.  But it has to be real, the scale untipped for the sake of delusion.  The better cannot be won through self-deceit.

No Biden

When Joe Biden Collaborated With Segregationists

The candidate’s years as an anti-busing crusader cannot be forgotten—or readily forgiven.

Oh, Joe!  You will do your best to keep the good old going and those who have suffered by it will continue to suffer.

Kozol has written books that try the soul by depicting the lives of students in inner city schools.  He has worked in such schools and he knows these schools and that no child should have to attend such schools.  Brown v the Board was based on sound research that showed that separate could not be equal and the Coleman report explained why it was that school integration was a requisite for any system that could provide meaningfully equal opportunity.  That people like Biden would work to undermine school integration projects says much about who the man, someone who should not be president if we are going to ever move on toward a fair and just society.

America needs radical change just to be fair.  The “centrist” candidates the democratic party sends us are sent so that the system can be protected against those who would try to make it more humane.  Humane people will reject such candidates and a party that consistently wants to support them.

Mike is so brilliant

“Societies reorganize, we move to different places, we develop technology and innovation,” he added. “I am convinced, I am convinced that we will do the things necessary as the climate changes.” When asked about a potential technological solution, Pompeo replied that “it’s not just technological” and cited the Netherlands, which are partially below sea level, as an example of a successful response. “We’ll fix it by the way organize. There’s lots of ways that one can address,” he said. “If waters rise, I was just in the Netherlands, all below sea level, right? Living a wonderful, thriving economic situation. The world will be successful. I’m convinced. We will figure out responses to this that address these issues in important and fundamental ways.”

Accepting Abomination as “culture.”

 

 

He was arrested at 13. Now Saudi Arabia wants to execute him

CNN article on Saudi boy who may be executed under sharia law.

Cultural sensitivity. Multiculturalism, the recognition of the legitimacy of different cultures and cultural practices, the acceptance of those cultures and practices different from one’s own, the celebration of cultures; all of this is good until it isn’t.

 

I was asked several months ago to edit a volume of a journal and I agreed to do so if I were allowed to call for articles that would serve the cause of cultural criticism, investigations into the effects of culture on real human beings as they live their lives under the influence of culture.  I wrote a very long call for papers that was meant to serve as the lead article of the edition.  I tried to encourage writers to think more deeply than I think most do about the real consequences of culture on human beings and their societies and I did emphasize my preference for articles that would investigate the negative effects of culture.  I had read in and knew there to be thousands of articles celebrating the goodness of culture and calling upon people to excuse some of the problematic aspects of cultures other than their own.

 

I knew that those involved in multiculturalism as an academic area of study were very much prone to find ways to be supportive of culture, defenders of cultural diversity and the acceptance of cultures and cultural practices because that is what the field of study called upon them to do, this because multicultural studies came into being as a response to cross cultural ignorance and the prevalence of sociocentric beliefs and attitudes, particularly in the “advanced” western societies—culturally valued beliefs and attitudes, by the way—that were so terribly biased as to allow for the ill-treatment of those whose cultural beliefs and practices were different.  Slavery and genocide had historically been made justifiable by the inculcation of cultural beliefs that made others lesser and so worthless as to excuse their exploitation, mutilation, torture, and execution.

 

The multicultural movement sprung from truly humane motives and a good amount of the work that came of multicultural studies served to change the way in which cultural, as an aspect of the human condition, was treated.  Acceptance of difference was what it encouraged and greater acceptance of difference did take place.

 

At some point, the question has to arise as to what, within the broad range of cultural belief and cultural practice is unacceptable.  No one willing to be properly open minded and humane could deny that there exist beliefs that led to and excuse practices that were patently wrong, patently inhumane.

 

The papers I received for the journal failed to address the question I asked, failed to examine with depth and blunt honesty the problematic nature of culture.  I, in my call, had made the claim that culture is constraining and a force for conformity.  I said that it caused most human beings to kept from discovering their own minds, disallowed the quest for the development of unique individual perspectives, this for the sake of the preservation of the culture, to indemnify culture from the kind of criticism that could expose faults and lead to positive change.

 

I have never advocated against any movement aimed at improving intercultural understanding, that worked to ensure fair treatment of all no matter what the beliefs held are or the behavior those beliefs inspired, or adherents enforced.  Fair treatment, though, I have always believed, is treatment of individuals as individuals who deserve respect for who they are as individuals, this meaning that any act that impedes their development as individuals, that deprives them of individual freedom, particularly freedom of mind, must be understood to be inhumane.  There is much that is approved and sanctioned by culture that is exactly this and, if the process of humanization that Paulo Freire speaks of is to be allowed to go on and change the world for the better, than honest discussion of culture needs to take place even if this is offensive to some, particularly those using cultural to do harm to others.

And this says what about whom?

If it wasn’t for Snowden, the American people would never have learned the NSA was collecting phone records and spying on Americans. As president, I will protect whistle-blowers who expose threats to our freedom and liberty.

So true and then there is the way that Julian is being treated our liberal press and liberal politicians (in name).

The deception and the fall

Trump has turned the world bizarre and not only because of his way with the world and the politics over which he has come to preside. Trump has turned the world bizarre by shifting alliances and refocusing scrutiny so that those hired to pry who were once under the scrutiny of those of liberal persuasion are now being scrutinized by those least liberal and that scrutiny argued against by not so liberal anymore liberals.  Good liberals wish for a state that serves the people and not one that controls them. Agencies like the CIA and the FBI have historically acted to control people and there is considerable good evidence that proves this.  Recall the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover and the Church Committee’s damning report on the CIA or, if that is thought old history, consider the Wikileaks release of all of those documents showing the extent of domestic spying and the role of the CIA in George Bush and Dick Cheney’s war in Iraq, it supported by a good number of those who still want to be considered liberal in their thinking. The CIA and the FBI have been distrusted by liberals historically and for very good reason, their work too often for truly dark purposes and often against liberal causes.  Remember the FBI and the job they did on Martin Luther King.

When Trump came to office—before this, actually, when they were in the hands of democratic presidents, for instance–these agencies and their agents, for liberals, became entities to defend because they were seen to be using their investigative tools–many of these criticized vociferously for their intrusiveness on liberty by liberals–to good purpose, to get at Trump and his allies in what, rightly, yes, should be seen as crimes, crimes against democracy and crimes against humanity.  Righteous dislike for Trump, has led to a profoundly troubling kind of forgetfulness that allows for the championing of members of the spy organizations and former leaders of the agencies to be seen as not only as good but as heroes,  many of these individuals who for their entire careers engaged in secret acts that were ugly, really ugly and for purposes that were not liberal at all, often not humane and often criminal for any court that would dare to bring them to justice. Consider the response by our country to calls for the World Court to bring to trial those government officials who did indeed inspire and often order inhumane, crimes against humanity, to insure that the USA got its way no matter how wrong the intended results might be.

So many of these people have been given a pass by now liberals, not only cleansed of their sins but those sins washed away and the sinners not only made good but allowed to become spokespeople for the liberal cause even though there is really nothing liberal about them.  They have been hired in bunches to inform us on our politics, on right and wrong, on morality even and their voices tell great numbers of once liberal people how to think and how to vote, CIA officials, FBI officials, military officials.  Will headshops soon be selling John Brennen tee shirts and baseball caps?  Comey sweatshirts, McCabe bongs?

Central to the problem this hug fest with delinquents creates is the hypocrisy, it of a kind that destroys not only the possibility for honest conversation but also and more importantly, the possibility for truth. The effect on history as a source of lesson to inform decisions and set precedence by is undermined when it is made possible to revise whenever convenient to a cause, any cause no matter right or wrong. Consider how well washed away are the real history of the agencies, their work against civil right activists and war protesters, their work to overthrow democratically elected governments and put down liberation movements.  Horrific and devastating and inhumane and most always for purposes other than what is good for the people affected but almost always good for the cause of capitalism and continued exploitation of other nations, their resources and their people.

It would be good to reflect, to rethink how to think about these agencies and the people who lead them and do the work.  It does seem to me that a very bizarre kind of propaganda has won over far too many who think themselves liberal minded, who allow themselves to be schooled by those known to have worked for purposes of deceit and against meaningful liberation of human beings.

Not all serve the children well

I have been reading a lot of material published by the teachers’ unions and they are beginning to convince me of their ineffectiveness, ineffective because they do not do much to tear down those who manage work. They do not critique the system by which work and tiers of work are defined or the relationships that are enforced within that system. They are about employment and issues of employment but have little to say about what work is, what it means, what it should accomplish, what it should mean.  They focus on pay and benefits and, to some extent, the conditions of work–work place safety, for example–but never much on such things as meaningfulness of work or joy from work, these truly critical to quality of life.  They do not concern themselves with how work defines position in society and, because they do not, workers too often accept themselves to be politically impotent, people who take orders from bosses who, because of this perceived impotence, have authority that extends beyond the workplace, sometimes into the political choice a worker is allowed to make.

In education, the teacher, who serves as a role model of an educated person, their servitude communicates that educated people obey and do not advocate even when what they are forced to agree to do they know to be wrong.  There is very little that comes from the unions that works to properly define teachers’ proper role within schools systems that exist in democratic societies as model citizens of democracy, people who understand the issues and actively participate in the democratic decision making process.

The consequences are highly meaningful and understood when one looks at how citizens in America go about dealing with issues of power, issues of authority, and how they go about making their choices, these critical, ironically, to how schools operate, whether it be school funding, the hiring of faculty and administrators, the curriculum and methods of instruction, the manner in which learning is evaluated, the kind of learning that is allowed.

If schools operated well, for the purpose of developing effective citizenship, unions would not be necessary because the people who work would be a force in defining the rules of work.  Those who teach and belong to unions would do the cause of their unions well by teaching thoughtfulness rather than the content that inevitably, in American schools, carries the propaganda of the capitalist because it is capitalists who, for all practical purposes, run the society, hold power in the society.

The agenda of a decent educational association would be to force truth into the system and help students, and, by doing so, the society, understand the nature of humane society, the worth of human beings, and how to go about removing from society all aspects that are inhumane.  Decent pay, decent benefits, decent life, would be understood as natural to the decent society, no unions needed to fight for that decency.