Thursday, May 12, 2011

Beyond Nationalism

"Al vero filosofo ogni terreno e patria" --Giordano Bruno.
("For the true philosopher, every land is his country.")

"The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."
--Thomas Paine

"Everything that lives is holy." --William Blake.

Bruno, Paine, and Blake are all historical role models for me; all are what I like to call "proto-Gaians"--that is, people who, though they lived long before our present global crisis necessitated Gaian consciousness, were already there--aware of themselves as citizens of a planet, in which the Sacred is imminent in all life, human and otherwise, and aware, above all, that reason--clear and critical thinking--is the only known antidote to ignorance, superstition, and prejudice. As Blake also said, "Truth cannot be spoken so as to be understood, and not believed."

I mention this because, here in the USA, toxic nationalism, which most call "patriotism," is currently undergoing an upsurge, as Republicans position themselves as the true (white, Christian) "Americans" poised to "take back our country" from the "furriner" (i.e. negro) Obama, while Obama himself has recently stooped to toxic nationalism himself in exulting in the murder of Osama Bin Laden as "justice"--though extrajudicial murder for revenge has no rational relationship to justice whatsoever.

It is, perhaps, an interesting archetypal sign of the times that in the latest installments of the Superman comics, Superman, that Herculean icon of messianic Americanism ("Truth, Justice, and the American Way") has renounced his American citizenship in disgust (signifying, symbolically, that the American Way no longer has anything much to do with either truth or justice.) Another indication of the subconscious revolt of popular culture to this new, blatantly militaristic "Americanism" may be the enormous popularity of the recent blockbuster film "Avatar," a kind of Gaian fantasy romance, in which the US Marines--or a fictional facsimile thereof--become, not the good guys, but the bad guys, blowing up the very Tree of Life itself and wasting a whole planet and its peace-loving indigenous people in pursuit of a priceless mineral resource called, appropriately, "unobtainium."

But still, for now, the Corporate Party--that is, the Republicans--are firmly in control, and are using the full resources of the corporate media to brainwash the average American people into this new, militaristic, America-against-the-world toxic nationalism--so that several of my neighbors, including the two immediately adjacent to the north, now fly big American flags all the time. I am on good terms with these neighbors, who are ordinary, simple folk, getting through life, and addicted to television like most of the other ordinary, simple folk--but we maintain these neighborly relations in large part by never going anywhere near politics in our occasional chit-chat.

But I want no part of this nationalism, at all--so I continue to sport a license plate that says "GAIAN" along with bumper stickers to help other drivers interpret what to them is a strange, and possibly (perish the thought!) homosexual reference: "Celebrate Diversity;" "Loving Kindness is my Religion"--the Dalai Lama; "Buy Fresh, Buy Local;" "Earth;" and "Green is Good." That, and I wear an Earth lapel pin, as a subtly ironic commentary on the proliferation of flag lapel pins.

But do I dare get any more explicit than this about my upward shift of loyalty to the whole planet and all of life? I live, after all, in a military-dominated community where people strongly identify with "the Flag" and "Our Boys" who are "fighting for freedom" in the Middle East. And as my father, in his gently sardonic wisdom, used to say, "If you want to be a martyr, don't be surprised if you are a martyr."

It has to do with what Ken Wilber refers to as levels of awareness; there is no point in trying to get people at one level of awareness (i.e. identification with nation and religion) to see things from a higher level of awareness (i.e. identification with the planet, and with the Sacred as manifested in all religions and all life), unless they have reached a kind of crisis in their own inner development, where they are ready to do so. Otherwise, they will simply feel threatened, and see you as an enemy, whether of "America" or of "God." It is possible, indeed, that my two neighbors displayed their big flags precisely because they felt unconsciously threatened by my bright red car with its "anti-American" (i.e. Gaian) bumper-stickers.

So my best approach is to treat all such people with loving kindness, compassion, shared joy, and equanimity--just as I would have others treat me. For--levels of awareness notwithstanding--we are all, as Jack Kerouac said in his wonderful mantra, "Equally empty, equally to be loved, and equally a coming Buddha." If they ask about my license plate or bumper stickers, I will tell them, as patiently and compassionately as ever, what they mean. If not, I won't mention it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Osama, Obama, and the Dalai Lama

Over the last few days, we have all witnessed a rather appalling spectacle of media-induced mass schadenfreude, as television-addled Americans cheered and gloated over the murder of the unarmed Osama Bin Laden by US special forces in Pakistan. But the worst insult of all came with the headline from the LA times: that the Dalai Lama had justified this murder. Well--not quite. What the Dalai Lama actually said was the following:

"Forgiveness doesn't mean forget what happened. … If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures."

This is, at best, the DL's effort to remain diplomatically above the fray--not to justify a gangster-style hit job. There is a big "if'" here.

"But what about 9-11" people will say, if I object to this murder.

There are two answers to this.

First let us assume (though it has never been proven) that Osama Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. If so, and if he was unarmed, he could easily have been captured and brought to justice, like any other criminal--presented with evidence, and given the opportunity to defend himself. This would not have appeased the testosterone-crazed multitudes in our degraded country, but it would have preserved something far more valuable: the rule of law, and the principle of due process. Instead, Obama (and all those who are cheering for him) lowered himself to the same level as the terrorists, by opting for an extrajudicial murder--something every terrorist longs to do to his enemies, real or imagined.

The Dalai Lama's response--that sometimes countermeasures are necessary--is absolutely true, but only in those instances where violence is the last possible resort to prevent further violence against one's own--like defending one's wife and children against an armed and murderous marauder invading the house. But in this case, Osama was minding his own business, and we were the armed and murderous marauders--not he.

My second response is more to the point, however: What ABOUT 9/11? Much as our government and corporate media maintain a common front of silence and denial about it, there is no getting around the fact that the official story of 9/11--that the Twin Towers and Building 7 collapsed as a consequence of the impact and resulting fires from the jet crashes--simply does not hold any water, scientifically. It violates both laws of thermodynamics, egregiously.

For example, we are told (again and again) that the Twin Towers underwent a "pancake collapse" in which the weight and force of the collapsing upper stories created a chain reaction that brought down all the others at freefall rate (without encountering any resistance at all from the intact 60-80 floors beneath them, nor the 47 steel girders that were specifically designed to support the structure as a whole. ) If so, where ARE all these collapsing stories? Look at this photo:

What do you see here? I see no upper floors at all crushing those beneath them (which is not surprising, since those lower floors had always supported them before. What I do see is something a lot more like a Roman Candle--a sequence of powerful explosions, symmetrically pulverizing the building, floor by floor, and blowing the debris upward and outward as it falls. This is no gravitational collapse, but a controlled demolition.

And there is, besides, a peer-reviewed scientific study by Dr. Niels Harrit of the University of Copenhagen and eight equally qualified colleagues, all with Ph.D.s in chemical physics, that found direct evidence of iron microspheres and particles of unexploded nanothermite in the dust from the immediately surrounding area: all prima facie evidence of controlled demolition. For further evidence and information on the real story of 9/11, the best source I know of is that of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth

In short, you can now count me among the growing multitudes who simply no longer believe the official story--and therefore have no reason to believe that Osama Bin Laden had anything to do with the horrors of that day.

In which case, what Americans and all their media outlets are celebrating with such noxious fervor is simply a gangster-style murder of a man who, while far from innocent (since he apparently was the mastermind behind the attack on the USS Cole and the African embassy bombings), was nevertheless entitled to the same rights to due process, under a just legal order, as you or me or anyone else.

And this is why I no longer even like to call myself an American, but rather a Gaian--that is, a citizen of the world, like my role model Thomas Paine, who originally coined the concept of "The United States of America," but whose legacy of enlightened democracy and justice we have now abandoned, in favor of brute force and bread and circuses. As Paine himself once put it, "The world is my country; all mankind are my brethren; and to do good is my religion." The Dalai Lama himself could scarcely have said it better!