The former Republican vice presidential nominee told reporters in Anchorage that a recent Fox News report — which cited unnamed campaign sources as saying she did not know Africa was a continent and could not name the countries involved in the North American Free Trade Agreement — was false, and that her comments were taken out of context.
“That’s cruel. It’s mean-spirited. It’s immature. It’s unprofessional, and those guys are jerks if they came away with it, taking things out of context, and then tried to spread something on national news. It’s not fair and not right,” Palin told CNN in an interview.
Elections are a good opportunity to explore what it means to have a personality 🙂
This personality supports Obama wholeheartedly, and others see him as a threat and a danger to Americans.
Why is that? Of course, it is easy to say that we are at different developmental stages. Or that conservatives are more – or differently – caught up in fear than liberals are. Or that we have more of an either adventurous or cautious personality based on evolution and biology. All of that may be true in its own way.
But from a practice perspective, there are other ways of looking at it that may be more interesting.
For instance, what happens when I identify with the personality? It naturally has preferences, which it should. What happens when these are solidified into beliefs? What happens when they are recognized as preferences only, and practical tools for functioning in the world?
Also, what do I find when I explore where these preferences come from?
In my case, I find that my political preferences come from my culture. I grew up in a culture with universal health care, free education through PhD, a low difference between those with highest and lowest income compared to almost all other countries. I have seen – and lived with – all of this working very well, so I naturally think it is a good idea. I got the values of solidarity through my culture, and I got to see it working well through experience.
Seeing this, I can more easily appreciate how others, who may come from a radically different background and experiences, have quite different preferences.
My preferences come from my background and my experiences. And the preferences of others come from their background and experiences.
It is not personal. And recognizing that, I don’t have to take it personally. I will of course continue to live from my own preferences – and act and vote from them – but I don’t need to take it as an absolute truth, or as something personal.
And I can explore how to express these preferences in a healthy and mature way. That is my task.
No matter what we may think about Obama’s policies, it is hard to deny that Obama is as iconic as only a few others… JFK, Lincoln, MLK, Gandhi, Che Guevara. (Obama was my favorite from the beginning.) And no other candidate has generated nearly as much art work.
There is an inherent occupational risk in being so iconic – when the man becomes mixed up with such a powerful image – but that is another topic.
The disturbing discrepancies between the exit polls and the official results for the last presidential election have been widely publicized and discussed, although never received attention at the level it deserved. See this wikipedia article, as well as this book and article.
As Homer reminds us, it may be a good idea to watch out for the same this time – and push for giving it the attention it deserves.
Looking at this aggregate of polls, the overall trend is pretty clear. Anything can of course happen between now and the election, and – as we know – there is a difference between winning the popular vote and getting elected.
Britain’s Sir John Sulston says that profits are taking precedence over the needs of patients, particularly in the developing world. ….
Sir John shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for medicine for his work on the genetics controlling cell division.
He is well known for his commitment to public medicine and his opposition to the privatisation of scientific information.
Eight years ago he led the fight to keep the data being derived from the Human Genome Project open and free to any scientist who wanted to use it.
If there is any field where free access to and use of information is obviously of value, medicine is it.
And if there is one question that is important in health care, it is this: Do we want a medical system that is primarily aimed at profit, or service? Of course, it is not necessarily one or the other, but the way it functions globally today, it is far too often narrowly in the service of profit, at the expense of people.
It is also good to keep in mind that what has the most substantial positive effect on health for groups and individuals is the quite simple things: Clean water. Healthy food. Enough sleep to feel rested. Basic exercise. Psychological well-being. And basic medicines and surgery for the most common diseases and problems.
And that too shows how skewed the current medical field is today, with an enormous amount of resources spent on research and treatment of illness that benefit only a few percent among the richest of the world’s population, while large number of people globally suffer from illnesses can easily be prevented and treated with simple means – if only resources were directed to it. And in some cases, if there was a free access to and use of current proprietary information.
I have gone to the Olympic track & field trails a couple of evenings and it was fun to experience the atmosphere there.
It also brought up a couple of (mildly attached to) stories for inquiry.
One is how the big money interests seems to trump anything else, such as free speech. Visitors are not allowed to bring in banners and signs, and no citizen groups are allowed to have a booth, so that leaves only corporate signs, banners and booths with the exception of the military promo and recruiting area. The organizers have set up a few small “free speech zones” away from the event, at locations very few will happen upon. This makes the event itself seem somewhat sterile and corporate, and less interesting.
The other is the usual security game they are playing, with a long list of things that are illegal to bring into the event, searches of any bags visitors have, and body scans with wands and patting down. It may seem impressive at first. But noticing how low the fence around the area is, and how easy it would be for anyone to pass something over or under it to someone on the inside, it becomes a little comical.
So in both cases, there is a game of doing it – at least partly – for appearances. There are a few free speech zones few ever sees. And a thorough security check that has no impact if someone really wanted to bring in something illegal.
I wrote a post last year on a Salem News story on Charles Schwab. If there is some truth to this story, it deserves far more attention than it has received so far. If you know something about this case, contact Tim King with Salem News.
The reporter just sent this message to me:
This is Tim King from Salem-News.com. We have generated another story on Schwab and Wayne Pierce and some slightly strange things have transpired since then. Let’s just say there is a relationship between Wayne’s email hacking and what we have experienced. I do not want to elaborate as we are investigating, but this is the tip of an iceberg from the way it appears and any agencies or individuals that have anything to offer on this are encouraged to send me an email at newsroom. FYI, we are TV and newspaper professionals with many years under our belts as mainstream reporters. Salem-News.com is independently owned and operated and that is the only reason we were able to get these stories off the ground in the first place. Thanks, Tim King
Take a look at the new Salem News story and interview with Wayne Pierce, and also this video interview:
[…] Based on more than 50,000 interviews conducted between 2001 and 2007 with residents of more than 35 nations that are predominantly Muslim or have sizable Muslim populations, the poll surveyed more than 90% of the world’s Muslim community, making it the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind.
The research suggests that conflict between Muslims and the West is not inevitable and, in fact, is more about policy than principles. “However,” caution Esposito and Mogahed, “until and unless decision makers listen directly to the people and gain an accurate understanding of this conflict, extremists on all sides will continue to gain ground.” […]
Some of the key findings of the research include:
Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustifiable.
Large majorities of Muslims would guarantee free speech if it were up to them to write a new constitution and they say religious leaders should have no direct role in drafting that constitution.
Muslims around the world say that what they least admire about the West is its perceived moral decay and breakdown of traditional values — the same answers that Americans themselves give when asked this question.
When asked about their dreams for the future, Muslims say they want better jobs and security, not conflict and violence.
Muslims say the most important thing Westerners can do to improve relations with their societies is to change their negative views toward Muslims and respect Islam.
It is well known that torture doesn’t work. All it does is breed resentment and make people say whatever they think you want to hear.
Yet, is it true that torture doesn’t work?
It seems that torture works well if what you want is that feeling of revenge and to vent frustration rather than useful information.
In the same way, the Iraq war is a success if the aim is to establish an US foothold in the middle east, and keep a large army there for a long time.
It can be helpful to look at politics and one’s own life in this way.
If there is support for a policy that doesn’t seem to work, in what way does it work? What do we get from supporting that policy?
Similarly, on a personal level, when I keep on doing something that doesn’t seem to work, in what ways does it work for me? What desirable results do I get? Maybe I can find another way to meet those needs?
It can help us understand the dynamics a little better, while keeping in mind that these are just assumptions. Questions rather than answers. A what if that may yield insights and suggest different strategies/solutions to try out.
It goes without saying that in conversation or public discourse, assigning views and motivations to others they themselves don’t admit to is a recipe for disaster. It too easily derails the discussion and fuels defensiveness.
Much better then to stay on topic, informed by the new perspectives we may have found through these explorations.
From the outside, it is pretty clear that Turkey wants to uphold a certain identity, and that this identity does not have room for genocide. It is limited, which means it is at odds with life, and fragile. It is something that has to be vigorously defended.
Seeing that, the question is: What types of identities do we, on collective and individual levels, cling to that are too narrow, too exclusive, at odds with life, precarious, and triggering the same blind reactiveness we see from Turkey?
For instance, the US is founded on genocide. If we are US citizens, is our identity large enough to comfortably include that? Or the habitual interference in the internal affairs of other countries, including active support of the toppling of democratically elected governments and of brutal dictatorships?
Being from Norway, is my identity for my country of birth large enough to include what happened to the indigenous people there? The tremendous amounts of fossil fuels extracted and burnt due to our oil industry, and its effects locally on people’s health and globally on the climate? The way the jews were left on their own when the Nazi’s invaded? The way gypsies were treated? They way the enormous wealth of the country is used mainly on its own citizens, leaving only a small amount for people around the world that have almost nothing? The petty focus on minor problems when people live in better conditions than nearly everyone any time and everywhere?
And in my personal life, where are the limits of my identity? What is left out? What can I not include yet? And how does it impact my life to constantly have to work on excluding it? Where do I feel I need to defend a precarious and limited identity? What would happen if I let go of defending it, and allowed whatever I tried to keep out?
It my experience, it may be disorienting for a while. Free up attention and energy for something else than defending an imaginary identity. And uncover what is already there, temporarily hidden by the drama of defending an identity, including a decisive engagement coming from clarity and an open heart.
A delegation of British MPs visited the Pentagon, and got to see for themselves the level of intellectual and emotional maturity that makes the current administration stand out.
The six MPs were taken aback by the hardline approach of the Pentagon and in particular Ms Cagan, one of Mr Bush’s foreign policy advisers.
She made it clear that although the US had no plans to attack Iran, it did not rule out doing so if the Iranians ignored warnings not to develop a nuclear bomb.
It was her tone when they met her on September 11 that shocked them most.
The MPs say that at one point she said: “In any case, I hate all Iranians.”
Although it was an aside, it was not out of keeping with her general demeanour.
“She seemed more keen on saying she didn’t like Iranians than that the US had no plans to attack Iran,” said one MP. “She did say there were no plans for an attack but the tone did not fit the words.”
Another MP said: “I formed the impression that some in America are looking for an excuse to attack Iran. It was very alarming.”
I find it interesting how many talk about the Iraq war as a mistake when it from the beginning was pretty clear why the Bush administration wanted to invade: to gain a solid military foothold in the Middle East outside of Israel. From that perspective, it has been a great success.
It was the perfect target: A dictatorship which gave them an excuse to go in (as long as they ignored the UN and Middle East experts all saying the situation was contained.) And a precarious internal situation – an ethnic and religious powder keg – giving them a reason to bring in more troops and stay for the long term, at least for several decades.
And they are now dying to expand into Iran, if they can. Debra Cagan’s comments may well just be an expression of the general atmosphere of the Bush administration, and at the very least not out of line with it.
In their mind, no cost is too great for a strong foothold in the middle east, and they are not the ones paying for it anyway. Their reputation may be a little tarnished, but they are still respected by their own.
I see that government officials in India are now banned from wearing the tilak, which may be another drop in the ocean of post-911 silliness. (Of course, I don’t know if there is a real connection, but it fits into a pattern of attitudes and behaviors that have turned legitimate in the world following 911.)
Some random, onesided and relatively uninformed thoughts about the banning of burkas, turbans, dots and other signs of religious (or ethnic) affiliations…
It serves mainly to polarize. Both sides tend to get more entrenched and oppositional.
It target the symbol/symptom more than anything else. If you want to target what you see as oppression and so on, do that directly rather than targeting something as silly as what people wear. (For god’s sake…!)
It started with the burka, in the anti-muslim frenzy following 911, and then expanded to other symbols of religion to make it appear fair. As with so much else post-911 legitimized behavior, it has also been used by different groups as an excuse to target traditional enemies.
Even the burka is not necessarily a symbol of, for instance, oppression of women. Many women apparently experience it as liberating, as a protection.
It is another example of those with a more rational/worldcentric view adopting a flawed strategy in trying to deal with the more absolutist/ethnocentric (orange vs. blue in Spiral Dynamics terms). They are confused, don’t know how to deal with it, and feel threatened, so try this silliness which only muddles and polarizes the situation further. (Or, as maybe in this case, someone wants to be seen as rational and worldcentric, so adopt this strategy without thinking too much.)
Finally, by adopting a strategy of banning symbols of religions affiliation, we do exactly what we say we try to remove. We ourselves act in ways experienced as intolerant and oppressive. It is OK when I do it but not when you do it, because I am right and you are wrong. How is that for teaching people tolerance and western values?
The “collected works” of Bin Laden (aka speeches and letters) is recently published in Norwegian, and its been interesting to read the responses from the public…!
I assume most see the value in knowing the workings of the mind of Bin Laden, and gain some insight into where he is coming from. But as usual, some equal understanding with approval: if we try to understand where he is coming from, we approve of what he is doing.
To most of us, it is an obviously a naive view coming from emotional reactiveness, and indefensible intellectually.
At the same time, it is a mirror for all of us. It is what we all do, at least until there is a full release from identification with any story and identity (and then, there is the full receptivity to the possibility of it happening anyway).
Where do I equal understanding with approval? Where do I want to silence someone because I hold onto an opposing and fixed view? Where do I experience my identity being threatened, and seek to avoid what appears to threaten it?
For myself, I find this most easily in daily life and with (apparently) smaller things. She should do her dishes. He should be more considerate. They should quiet down. They shouldn’t be so naive and reactive. I should have made a different choice back then. I am wasting my time. My health should be better.
In each of these cases, there is an identification with a particular view and identity, which creates a boundary where on the other side I find the reversals to these stories and identities, and the world when it arises outside of these shoulds created by identifications with stories.
Back to the book with writings and speeches by Bin Laden, I can see several gifts in publishing it…
It helps us understand where he is coming from, which can only be helpful.
It may help us (a) deal with the threats from his supporters, and (b) find ways to diffuse the tension between the modern western world and the many that sympathizes to some degree with his views.
He may even have some good points, and we can acknowledge those without agreeing with his conclusions, strategies or actions. Again, this may help bridge the gap and diffuse tensions between those in the modern western world and the many who sympathize, to some degree, with him. (For me, I find that I agree with his concerns about traditional cultures being run over by globalization, and I think his descriptions of Bush is often right on.)
It helps us see him and his supporters as more human and reduce the dehumanization of them. A dehumanization of them only leads to ugliness in our own behavior, making our own actions into mirrors of what we see in them (the US government’s wars and treatment of suspects are a couple examples.)
It helps us find in ourselves what we see in him and his supporters. What, specifically, about them triggers reactivity in me? And then, how are we doing the same, collectively? How am I doing the same, in my own life? This leads to more clarity, which in turn leads to more effective and appropriate actions, including using international collaboration and laws to prevent violence and diffuse threats. (Acting from being blindly caught up in projections, and specifically the shadow, tends to only fuel resistance and aversion, which we see clearly in the international responses to the Bush administration. When we act from more clarity, it instead tends to attract sympathy and support.)
It helps us notice what comes up in us when others, or we ourselves, try to sincerely understand where he is coming from. Which beliefs and identities appear threatened? What are we afraid of? Is what we are afraid of likely to happen? What are our patterns of defense?
Now, this is all coming from a more worldcentric view, one where our circle of care, concern and compassion is universal and even includes those whose actions clearly triggers suffering in others. And many are not at worldcentric, or this far into worldcentric.
So, to be practical, we need to be sure to include responses that makes sense to people at the different levels, whether egocentric, ethnocentric or worldcentric. Obviously, this means including acting decisively to prevent and diffuse violence and threats (makes us more comfortable at egocentric and ethnocentric levels) while also following and supporting international cooperation and laws, including human rights (makes us more comfortable at worldcentric levels).
And as the European governments (at least in the west and north) are more solidly at, and further into, worldcentric, that is exactly what we see in their responses (with the possible exception of the UK).
A documentary which shows the journey of Christianity from flavored by amber (fundamentalist, authoritarian, ethnocentric) and earlier to orange (science, rationality, early worldcentric) and beyond.
For someone like me who grew up in a culture that is heavily orange, green and beyond, and where the church is mostly the same, there is nothing new in the approach of this documentary. We learned mostly about the historical aspects of the Bible and Christianity in school, including the authoring of the various parts of the Bible, the politics of selecting the final books, translation issues, and so on.
And since the culture is at orange/green+, this approach was taken for granted… maybe too much so, since there is now an influx of people there who has more of an amber minus background, which creates conflicts and problems they were – and are – not prepared to deal with.
It is still interesting to watch, and maybe especially because it is also a personal journey for the presenter, from amber to orange+ Christianity.
I am catching up with watching documentaries I missed when they played in the theaters, or that didn’t play around here (Theremin, Derrida, Fog of War).
The most recent one was Keep the River on the Right, about a New York artist and anthropologist who lived with tribes in New Guinea and Peru.
As with all of these movies, it is the human story that is most touching and interesting to me.
And then other things coming up as well.
Fog of War and parallels to Iraq
For instance in Fog of War, some of the parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq wars.
(a) In both cases, the US got into it partly through a serious lack of understanding the historical and cultural background and filters of the Other. In Vietnam, reading into a civil war something far beyond just that: as one more body falling victim to the virus of communism, ready to spread everywhere if not stopped there. In Iraq, not taking into account its history with the British empire, and how a destabilized Iraq inevitably would go in the direction of civil war.
(b) Apparently believing in each case, or at least pretending to believe, that they can “win the heart and minds” of the people they slaughter and who’s country they illegally invade and (try to) occupy.
(c) The US going into it, in both cases, with very little support from the international community. As McNamara said, if even your friends and allies don’t think it is a good idea, maybe you should cool down and see if they have a good point. They are most likely seeing something you don’t.
(d) And finally, how an obviously very intelligent and well-intentioned person can get into trouble through setting loyalty over his own judgment.
The draw of primitivism
At some point in Keep the River on Your Right, the topic of a draw to primitivism came up, and I got curious about what it is about.
For me, what is in the foreground now when watching these types of anthropologically themed movies is just the diversity of human cultures, world views, experiences and filters. But I also remember that in my childhood and early teens, the primitive was fascinating to me in itself. What is it about?
Two things came up for me…
:: Free from beliefs
The first is a draw to a natural, unhindered state of mind. A freedom from the shoulds and rules of civilization and culture. A more open and receptive way of being, more spacious, just doing what comes up next to do.
This is of course a projection.
All cultures have believes, norms, shoulds, rules, unquestioned assumptions, including tribes living in New Guinea and Peru.
And the freedom we are looking for is available right here, by allowing the shoulds to fall into the background for a moment through dance, ritual, nature, mystical experiences, drugs, sex and so on, or more stably and deeply through questioning beliefs and allowing them to fall away.
It is not only available right here, it is here right now. It is the awake emptiness right here, which we usually don’t even notice, or just take for granted, or don’t explore enough to see what is about – how it can transform what we take ourselves to be and how we live in the world as human beings.
:: Meeting and getting to know the shadow
The other aspect is meeting and getting familiar with the shadow.
In our civilized culture, the “primitivism” we project onto these tribes is not allowed, not OK, held at bay by our shoulds, outside of our conscious or ideal identity.
Yet, we yearn to be more whole, to allow all of us into our identity, to be OK with all of who we are, so we seek out the shadow in many ways. We want to meet it, get to know it, become familiar with it, befriend it. Some of the more acceptable ways of doing this is through stories, such as movies, books, dreams, fantasies, and more consciously through active imagination.
We all pretend that something is true, whether consciously or not.
We pretend to believe in thoughts, including the core one of “I” and then all the other ones as well that create a sense of a particular identity. And by interpreting and filtering the world through this belief, and by acting as if it was true, we make it look true for ourselves.
We believe in something because we want it to be true, even if it creates stress for us.
Pretending something to be true about what Kerry said
Bush is a good mirror for me here, since pretending something to be true is one of his main strategies for him to get his way, just like a little child. It seems unbelievable to outsiders, especially to Europeans. It seems amazingly silly, stupid and childish. Yet enough people in the US are willing to play the game and also pretend it to be true. (Which seems even more unbelievable and bizarre to many outsiders.)
Bush of course did it to get maximum mileage out of 911, and he did it again when he wanted to invade Iraq. Now, he is doing it with this innocent remark by Kerry:
You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t you get stuck in Iraq.
So it seems clear that he is saying that if you don’t do your homework, you’ll get into situations like Iraq, just as Bush did.
Yet, Bush and company take this and pretend that he is talking about the troops in Iraq…! It is clearly an absurd distortion as Kerry is a war veteran himself, and is smart enough to not disparage the troops. And again, some people pretend the same as Bush, and portions of the US media – in their typical fashion, take the distortion and present it as fact. The real story here is the distortion.
Ethnocentric and worldcentric
One very general way of looking at the differences between the US and Europe is through the ethnocentric and worldcentric lens.
Bush is coming from a more ethnocentric view of the world, as is many of his followers, while a majority in Western Europe are at various levels of worldcentric views.
Bush’s version of ethnocentric includes absolutism and black-and-white views (you are with us or against us, we are right you are wrong, we are doing it our way not yours.) Strong we-other boundaries, including in the moral/ethical area (human rights for us – not for them, protection for us – not for them, safety for us – not for them.) Strong right-wrong boundaries (something is absolutely right or absolutely wrong, there is little or no room for nuances.) Reactiveness (we act on emotions, less on reason.) Use of fear to motivate oneself and others. A more narrow horizon in general, including short-term and local perspectives (not looking at history, culture, long-term consequences.) Simplistic views (if we kill the terrorists, they will be gone (!))
At worldcentric, we find an ability to hold more and more diverse views and types of information, and arrive at more nuanced views and strategies. Instead of us and them, our circle of awareness and concern widens and include “all of us”. Nothing is inherently right or wrong, it depends on the context, and there is a grain of truth in any perspective. Acting more from reason than blind emotions. Fear is recognized as not a good place to make decisions from. A wider and more inclusive horizon, embracing history, culture, longer-term and international perspectives. More complex views, including an understanding that if we act with brutality and without regard for the lives and rights of innocent people, it will come back to haunt us. Disregarding human rights and international agreements, acting unilaterally, killing off large number of civilians, and so on, only fuels resentment against us and is the most effective recruiting tool for terrorists.
With Iraq, it seems that a majority of those supporting a war – including Bush, came from a more ethnocentric view – both cognitively and morally. And especially in today’s world, it is not a good idea to make international (or national) policy decisions from ethnocentric views. It comes back to haunt us.
Those opposing the war typically came from a more worldcentric view, and an ability to look at the larger picture and make decisions form a more reasoned place.
One of the things that astonished me in the leadup to the Iraq war was the blatant lies from the Bush administration (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell), and how the US media supported it with little or no questions asked.
The contrast between the US and the international media was dramatic.
Much of the international media emphasized the following:
The situation was stable and well contained by the UN. There was no indications of any links with terrorism, and Hussein did not want anything to do with religious fanatics. Given the history of Iraq, it is impossible to imagine that the Iraqi population would welcome a British/US led invasion and occupation. Given the history and ethnic composition of Iraq, civil war was a very likely outcome of an invasion and occupation. And it would likely be a long lasting and very expensive operation.
All of this was repeated over and over in the international media before the invasion.
Yet Bush insisted on pretending something else was true, and – amazingly – the US media tended to support him, and many in the US (ill informed as they often are) believed him.
(Of course, we see a similar pattern with climate change and other serious issues.)
Day One of the new Iraq war. More than 80% of the people of the world oppose the war against Iraq, including a majority of the nations on the UN security council. This again shows how the US verbally promote democracy within nations (although even that is questionable) while acting in a blatantly un-democratic way on an international level. Some thoughts:
Iraq posed no immediate threat towards the US or any other nation, according to their neighboring countries, the UN weapons inspectors and the CIA. There was no reason to not allow the UN weapons inspectors to continue their inspections for a few more months, as they asked for. With more than 200 weapons inspectors in Iraq, and a close scrutiny by the world community, the situation was well contained.
The US government has systematically misled the public and lied about the Iraq situation. They have insinuated that there is a link between the Iraqi government and past, current or future terrorism, and there is none (again according to CIA and other intelligence sources). There is also no indication that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, according to among others the UN weapons inspectors. Hans Blix has expressed it clearly, and the Norwegian weapons inspector Jørn Siljeholm, said that the US systematically lied on this topic. (“Asked if the Americans lied, Siljeholm said: “Lie is a strong word – but yes, the information Powell presented about Iraq’s nuclear program was simply incorrect,” Siljeholm said.”)
There are strong indications that the war against Iraq is violating international law . Blair, Aznar, and other leaders actively supporting the war may well be tried before the International Criminal Court. The US opposed the creation of this court, saying that it could be used against them for political reasons. The reality may be that it could be used against them for systematically violating international law.
The war on Iraq, and subsequent “nation building”, is estimated to cost each US citizen $1700 ($500 billion divided on 290 million citizens – source). It will also cost lives and suffering on a massive scale.
War and violence can never quell terrorism. War has a specific geographical focus, while terrorism thrive in loosely organized international networks. War, invasion, and occupation can only fuel resentment, anger and despair leading to further terrorism. It is profoundly irrational to assume that war will prevent terrorism. The situation in the Middle East is especially volatile, and further violence may lead it to spiral out of control.
It is likely that the invasion and occupation of Iraq will run into a number of problems. The main one may be a persistent guerrilla warfare. The history of the Iraqi people gives them strong reasons for resenting and opposing an invasion and occupation by the US and the UK. Some examples: (a) Great Britain invaded Iraq during WW1 and occupied the country for several years. (b) The US supported and created Saddam Hussein and supported and encouraged the Iraq-Iran war where large numbers of Iraqis were killed. (c) The US was responsible for a large number of civilian causalities during the first Gulf War. (d) During the first Gulf War, they destroyed the infrastructure (including water treatment plants) which led to massive suffering among the civilian population. (e) George Bush the First encouraging a failed upraising against Saddam Hussein, which led to thousands of Iraqis killed by Saddam Hussein’s government. The US did nothing to help them. (f) The sanctions has lead to massive suffering among the Iraqi population, while Saddam Hussein and his government have not been harmed. (g) The current invasion and war is again bringing massive suffering to the civilian population. (h) They plan to dictate and control the creation of the new Iraqi government. To believe that the Iraqi population will welcome them with open arms is remarkably naive, and publicly expressing that assumption must be a willful deception or coming from a surprising lack of insight in human nature in general and the Iraqi history in particular. The Iraqis, no matter their view of Saddam Hussein, will most likely defend their country with any means available against what they see as an illegitimate invasion and occupation.
Occupation and new government
Any attempt to install a US controlled government in Iraq is likely to run into massive problems, for some of the same reasons as mentioned above. The invasion, occupation and “nation building” process is likely to be long, tortuous, and expensive (in terms of dollars, lives, suffering, and loss of goodwill).
Democracy in the Middle East
It is ironic that the US (a) wants to control the Middle East, and (b) express a desire to see democratic governments in the Middle East. They must realize that truly democratic governments, responsive to the views of their citizens, would strongly oppose US interference.
I watched Good Evening, Mr Wallenberg last night, and was struck by some of the parallels with our current situation. During WW2, the Nazis saw Jews (and others) as not quite human, and disposable for the purpose of reaching a higher goal. Today, the US government is saying that a certain number of Iraqi civilian causalities is acceptable for the purpose of reaching a higher goal. (“An estimated 3,500 civilians were killed during the 1991 Gulf War. Crowder said the U.S. military weighs what level of civilian casualties would be “acceptable” depending upon the importance of a given target.” source)
I see that most of what I wrote then, unfortunately, turned out to be quite accurate. I knew of course that Bush and Blair would most likely never be made accountable for their crimes, so that was mostly wishful thinking on my part. I also see that the predictions of the monetary cost of the war was clearly a little low. Today, the estimate is closer to one trillion (!), and may well exceed that number as well.
This is an Orange (and beyond) response to certain amber views, and pretty funny too.
It is clearly aimed at people already at orange+, and it can help relieve some of the tension many experience faced with these amber views, and also create a sense of community.
Bigoted against the bigots?
It is of course important to deal with homophobic views and behavior in all the many ways available to us, through speaking out, education, law against discrimination, and so on.
But there is also some questions here for mysef: Am I bigoted against those I see as bigots? Am I treating them as they are treating others?
Homophilic views may indeed be more enlightened than homophobic views, but there are certainly other areas where I am as blind and unenlightened as anything I see in them.
Homophobia at amber and elsewhere
When homophobia is set in system, through for instance certain religious views, it may mostly be amber (ethnocentric, absolutist). But homophobia certainly is alive and well elsewhere in the spiral as well.
As long as homosexual, or even remotely similar, impulses arise in me, and there is a thought that this can’t possibly be me, I will see it out there. It is, at least partially, a blind and unrecognized projection there.
And if there is an idea that these impulses are not good, for whatever reason, there is homophobia, which in turn can be rationalized any number of ways. Whenever there is a belief, there is usually no lack of evidence to find for it.
This can happen wherever we are in the spiral. It is only that at orange+, we are a little more sophisticated about it, a little less blunt.
The Earth is a living system, a seamless fluid whole (of nature and culture, ecology and civilization)
Earth’s climate can shift between attractor states relatively quickly. Major changes in the climate can happen over a few decades, or even within just one.
If, or rather when, the icecaps of Greenland and Antarctica melts, sea levels will rise about 30 meter. A large portion of the world’s population, including most of the major cities, are at and close to current sea levels.
Denial is not only a river in Egypt: It is amazing to me that people still invest in property near the ocean and close to current sea levels. Only a few places has the geography and capacity to protect these through dikes and dams. At most locations, buildings near sea level will have to be abandoned to the ocean, most likely within just a few decades. Why do people still invest and build there? It is not as if we don’t know what is going to happen.
Much of the CO2 released since the beginning of the industrial revolution has been absorbed by the oceans, gradually making them less alkaline and more acidic. Bone, shell and choral formation is dependent on alkaline oceans. If it gets too acidic, it means the end of fish, shells and coral reefs, which is the end of the oceans as a supply of human food.
There are innumerable positive feedback loops at play, amplifying warming trends. The albedo is one: Current icecaps reflect light back into space. As they retreat, revealing darker land or ocean beneath them, more heat is absorbed, speeding the melting of the remaining icecaps.
The tropics are likely to get dryer, making currently fertile lands into deserts. This, and the rising sea levels, are likely to migrations of people at a scale beyond anything we have seen so far.
The global ocean currents, including the conveyor belt is likely to be disrupted, and this includes changes to the golf stream – possibly plunging Europe into a new ice age.
Global food production will be disrupted by rising sea levels (flooding land now used for food production), drought in equatorial regions, and whatever else may happen such as disruption to ocean life, European ice age, and crops destroyed by more extreme and unpredictable weather.
Mass migrations and disruptions to water and food supplies leads to issues of their own, including the potential for large scale violence in the form of wars and civil unrest. Even people at world-centric levels may revert to ethno- and ego-centric ways of operating.
If the shifts are at the extreme end of what is presently predicted, the main human population – vastly reduced from current numbers, may be found on Antarctica.
Due to lag effects, these changes cannot be stopped. Even if no more climate gasses were released, starting today, the effects of what has already been release will continue for 50 to 200 years into the future.
We need rapid and massive changes in how we organize our lives globally and individually to offset some of the future effects of climate gasses, going far beyond anything we see or talk about today.
We need to prepare – globally, regionally and locally, for the changes to come. What do we do if regional and global food production is disrupted? What do we do with massive migrations of people within and across continents? What do we do with epidemics due to changes in climate and moving populations?
And did I mention that phase transitions are rapid, and that all this may happen much faster than we imagine today?
And then there is peak oil, with its own issues (which, by the way, will not be the solution to climate change).
Earth talking to us
Climate chaos and peak oil are some of the ways the Earth talks to us.
We act, and there are consequences. We try an experiment, and get the data. We behave and there is feedback.
We have experimented with releasing massive amounts of climate gasses, and now reap the effects of that experiment.
We experiment with creating a civilization dependent on petroleum, and get to see what happens when the age of cheap petroleum rapidly is over.
The Earth talks to us. The question is how we listen, and what we do with what we hear.
American Blackout is a documentary outlining the disenfranchisement of legitimate black voters during the 2000 and 2004 elections.
American Blackout chronicles the recurring patterns of disenfranchisement witnessed from 2000 to 2004 while following the story of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who not only took an active role in investigating these election debacles but also found herself in the middle of one after publicly questioning the Bush Administration about the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Some call Cynthia McKinney a civil rights leader among the ranks of Shirley Chisholm and Malcolm X. Others call her a conspiracy theorist and a ‘looney.’ American Blackout gains unprecedented access to one of the most controversial and dangerous politicians in America and examines the contemporary tactics used to control our democratic process and silence political dissent.
Clinton Eugene Curtis; a former programmer for NASA and Exxon has finally come forward to testify before the US Judiciary that he was enlisted by Republicans to create a program which could guarantee Bush’s presidential election victory.
A partial transcript:
Q: Are there computer programs that can be used to secretly fix elections?
Q: How do you know that to be the case?
Because in October of 2000, I wrote a prototype for Congressman Tom Feeney [R-FL]…
Q: It would rig an election?
It would flip the vote, 51-49. Whoever you wanted it to go to and whichever race you wanted to win.
Q: And would that program that you designed, be something that elections officials… could detect?
They’d never see it.
Additional election fraud indications
And then there is the almost impossible discrepancy between exit poll data and the actual outcome during the 2004 election (all in Bush’s favor), strongly pointing to election fraud right there.
It shows a transition that many of us would like to see in our own communities, peak oil or not. And it shows how a potentially scary situation can be revealed, and made into, a gift, if nudged in the right direction. (Of course, in Cuba they have a – somewhat enlightened – dictatorship, which may make those transitions easier in times of crisis.)
Will it happen? Well, we don’t know. But it sure is more fun to be a part of nudging us towards it, whether it happens or not.
Carrots and whips
We all know some of the whips…
Climate change, or climate chaos as some folks more accurately call it.
Peak oil, which is happening as we speak. It means the end of cheap oil and big changes to our petroleum dependent civilization. It may well also mean the end of globalization as we see it today, and may be one of the factors that (probably sooner than most think) brings down the US empire. And it is likely to mean a new emphasis on local communities, on more complete and compact communities, more efficient use of energy, and renewable energy in its many forms.
Human-made toxins everywhere: in the air we breathe, the food we eat, in the tissue and blood stream of every living creature.
And some of the carrots…
The joy of living in a more life-centered way. We all know that many aspects of our current lives in industrialized countries are not life-supporting and life-enhancing, and that takes its toll on us, whether we are aware of it or not. Living in a more life-enhancing way is inherently joyful.
The joy of stronger and more vibrant local communities, where tools, time and resources are shared, whether by necessity or otherwise. Where we know our neighbors. Where we know the people who grow our food. Where we know the people who make some or many of the things we use daily.
The health benefits of walking and biking more. Of eating locally grown, fresh, organic produce. Of being more outdoors, maybe even growing some of our own food at our own plot, a community garden, or from a few hours work-exchange at a local CSA farm.
Diversity of outcomes
Most likely, the changes brought about by peak oil and other whips and carrots will be quite different in different regions.
In areas that are already poor, and where most of the population may be at ego- and ethno-centric levels of development, it may easily mean even more devastation.
In places like Iceland the situation is quite different. They are already doing a lot. They are shifting away from petroleum dependency and towards being mostly or completely self-reliant with essentials such as energy and food – and they can do this due to easily accessible thermal energy. Most of the population is at world-centric levels of development (orange or green in the integral model).
Among all the countries and regions of the world, Iceland is maybe the one that has the best chance to look more like the sustainable, life-centered paradise that some envision.
Although not even Iceland is immune to what is happening in the rest of the world socially, and ecologically – rising sea levels will stronlgy impact Iceland too.
The situation in the US may be more shaky. Larger segments are here at ethno-centric levels of development which in a crisis can get ugly. Just look at Iraq. At the same time, many are at world-centric levels of development which may offset some of the havoc. And many of the leading-edge developments in sustainability and local self-reliance is happening right here. The knowledge is available, if it is made use of. Still, as we are heading further into the ecological bottle-neck, the US is not the place where I would choose to be.
What could happen in Europe? It is difficult to say. Larger segments are at world-centric areas of development, at least in western Europe, so that may make for an easier transition. Their mindset is already more aligned with sustainability and an emphasis on local communities. And they have the resources to allow for a softer transition.
At the same time, Europe shares land-mass with areas less fortunate, and this can lead to mass migrations, the prevention of these mass migrations, and quite a lot of ugliness. We are seeing some of this already. And we’ll probably see more of it, not only in Europe.
What can I do on a personal level?
What can we do on a personal level?
For me, the answer is in several areas, and it is found in that which is enjoyable and rewarding right now, in itself, and is also likely to be useful in more difficult times.
What can I do to be part of the Great Turning? What is my role there? For me right now, it is mainly nurturing culture change through my involvement with NWEI, starting up local groups at businesses, churches, other organizations, neighborhoods, and open groups in the community.
What types of skills can I learn now that may be of particular use in the future, and is enjoyable and useful even now? Growing food is one. Learning to repair and make things is another. And exploring whole systems design skills, for instance through permaculture, yet another.
How can I strengthen my connections with my local community? I can do this through getting to know people, share resources, barter, and so on. The more ties, the more likely that we’ll stay together during more difficult times as well.
These are all at the outer and interpersonal levels, quadrants two, three and four in the aqal model.
What about quadrant one? What can I do there that is rewarding and enjoyable right now, while also useful in more testing times?
By far the most useful and practical tool I have found is The Work. It allows the charge in thoughts and ideas – including those inducing fear, panic and the like – to fall away. And this frees up clarity and energy so I can respond a little more sanely to whatever situation I find myself in, from a place of more compassion and wisdom.
Other forms of self-inquiry, and forms of mediation and yoga, are also very useful here.
I watched the movie Munich last night, and found it far more interesting and engaging than I had expected.
For one, it allowed me to see my own reactivity surface around some of the issues in the movie.
My personality reacts to any form of blind and stupid revenge, retaliation and use of violence, especially when it is very likely to just fuel more bloodshed, so there was a wish there for the main characters to be taken out early – knowing that would not happen.
It is actually interesting how my personality tends to have reverse sympathies, often for those others don’t have much sympathy for. I guess it is the sympathy for the underdog, whomever or whatever that may be in the situation.
And of course, as the movie set the stage for, there was also sympathy coming up for the main characters since we got to see at least two of them (the main character and his wife) in a more relaxed universally human setting.
In the beginning, they were set up as the good guys fighting the bad guys, in the familiar way. Yet, as the movie went along, it all got more complex.
In the safehouse conversations, we got a glimpse into the views of the Others, and they turned out to be human and having some good points as well. They may even be acting exactly as I would in their situation.
And we – the audience along with the main character – started to see that maybe this strategy of killing off opponents left and right may lead to more opposition, hatred and bloodshed on both sides.
Going beyond the polarity
I thought this was one of the strengths of the movie, and where it went further than most – at least US made – movies out there. It took us from the usual polarity of us versus them, and into a place where we see the similarities between us and them.
We are not so different. If I were in their situation, I would probably do exactly what they are doing. And if they were in my situation, they would probably do what I am doing.
Similarly, in the way Israel and Mossad responded to the Munich situation, they were exactly mirroring the terrorists, their opponents. They became the mirror image of their opponents.
This is a given these days, when people are a little more psychologically savvy: We become what we hate. Or rather, I have it in me anyway, and by shutting it off in myself, seeing it just in others, and blindly reacting to it in others, I set myself up to blindly live it in myself.
And we see it all around.
Becoming the terrorists
In the way the US reacted to 911, they themselves became the mirror image of the terrorist, although with one difference: Since they have far more resources and support around the world, they only do it at a far larger scale. Instead of less than 3,000 killed, they have killed – or been responsible for the killing of – tens of thousands, maybe hundred of thousands. In the process, they predictably and effectively erode whatever sympathy is left for the US, fuel resentment and hatred against the US, and recruit new terrorists worldwide – in far greater numbers and fueled by far more hostility. It is a suicidal approach.
There are of course situations where forceful measures, even war, is needed. But this was clearly not one of them.
This is where the movie led as well: All this blood will come back to us.
In the grips of irrationality
Why does it happen? Because we are in the grips of emotions. When there is a blind projection, we have little choice but to live out whatever would rather see in others than in ourselves.
And how to loosen it up and find release from it? Through taking a sober view at what is going on. If we support violence against those we perceive as our opponents, are we not doing excatly what they are doing? If our soldiers kill large number of civilians, are they much different from the original terrorists? How am I doing what I see in them? How am I living what they are living?
In seeing this more clearly, there is a release from blind reactivity and emotions. There is the space for a more rational approach, for more sane choices. They may still involve forceful tactics if that seems needed, but now at least from a different view and with more ability to let go.
Of course, it doens’t help that the US now has a government which systematically uses this form of irrationality for their own purposes, a government that uses fear as a strategy for getting their policies through. And that the US has a media that to a minimal extent question what is going on, and function more as stenographers than anything else.
It is with a great deal of surprise that I have watched the US invasion and occupation and Iraq, and now the Israeli attacks on Lebanon. The invasion and attacks were maybe not so surprising, but the official reasoning – and even more so the acceptance of this reasoning by many including the media, is surprising to me.
Their reasoning seems to assume that they (somehow) are not dealing with humans and ordinary human reactions and responses.
It seemed inconceivable that the Iraqi population would welcome a foreign invasion and occupation, especially considering their history. To oppose occupation is just human, it is what most of us would do. Yet, the US (officially) assumed otherwise. For every Iraqi civilian killed during the invasion and now during the occupation, the hostility towards the US and the west in general is bound to increase – for good reasons. And as the hostility and resentment deepens, the resistance – including the violent resistance, will too.
The same seems to be the case with the Israeli attacks on Lebanon. The official story is that they are attacking Hezbollah to weaken or eliminate them, yet again – it makes little or no sense. If a foreign country attacks yours, killing large numbers of civilians, isn’t that only going to fuel hostility and resentment? If anything, it will make Hezbollah and similar groups stronger. It only channels more sympathy, resources and people to them. Again, it is only human. It is simply how the vast majority of us would react if we were in their situation. At the same time, it weakens and erodes whatever sympathy is left for Israel around the world. They shoot themselves in the foot.
And the parallel seems clear in terms of how this plays out on an individual level. What I resist persist. As long as I deny its existence, or try to exterminate it, it will only (appear to) fight back with the same strength as I am putting into the fight. Only by meeting it where and as it is can there be any relief.
Of course, the conflict and war I see out there, is what I know from myself. I do the same things, daily, in my own life. Something happens that this personality does not like, there is an identification with and attachment to this dislike, and there is war. What I see in Iraq, Lebanon and other places is just a reminder of this. It is just a mirror. I clean it up here, and can also do whatever seems appropriate in the world.
I usually don’t mention current affairs here, but want to write something about the current atrocities in Lebanon. It is astonishing to me how the international community can watch, mainly in silence, as Israel is attacking, bombing and killing large numbers of civilians in a neighboring country – possibly even using chemical weapons in the process (hardly mentioned at all in the international media).
It is just another example of what we all do – justify or accept behavior by “friends” or “us” that we would never accept by “enemies” or “others”. In this case, the western world sees Israel as “us”, and watches in silence. While Muslims and Muslim countries are still “other”, so their lives are implicitly seen as less valuable and important, and their actions treated with far more skepticism and criticism, and far less patience and tolerance.
For me, one of the lights in this is seeing the reactions in Norway (my home country) which is far more critical to Israel’s actions than what I see in most of the western world. There seems to be a tradition in Norway to take a more deeply human view and also to side with the underdogs, relatively independent of who they are, and in this case the underdogs are Lebanese civilians.
So as I see this behavior of the Israelis – an almost insane cruelty and violence, and the behavior of the international community – complacency and silence, then the question is – how does this show up in my own life? How is this alive in me right now, as I see this, and how is it alive in my life in other situations?
As I watch and see my own reaction to the behavior of the Israelis, I see the same violence and cruelty in me as I see in them. For me, it is directed towards the actions of the Israelis, and for them, it is directed towards Lebanese civilians. I relate to the Israelis as I see them relate to the Lebanese.
As I watch and see my own reaction to the behavior of the international community, I again see in me what I see in them. I find the same complacency in myself as in them. After all, what am I doing about it? Hardly anything. I am passively watching as I see them passively watch. On another level, I see myself sometimes passively watch my own reactions, without investigating them. There is war right here, created by my beliefs and their clash with reality, and I am passively watching without examining what is really going on.
And I can just note this. Just see it. Take it in. It is information. There is no need to add an additional layer of drama to it, by adding stories about what I see in myself. And if I do, then that is just something else to see, to take note of.
Fight to the bitter end, even while we are loosing.
They did it a couple of times, in Afghanistan and Iraq. I do it daily, within myself.
I perceive the world from a sense of I and Other. See my interests threatened in various situations, through the actions of various people. Fabricate evidence to support my position. Go to war often before anyone else strike. And fight to the bitter end, no matter what the costs are and how it is going.
I see this over and over, through inquiry.
And I see how I am no different from Bush & company. I do exactly what they do, it only appears different to the outside world. I even get the same media coverage, only that this media coverage is in my own mind – playing the current news reels over and over.
In seeing this, I am actually more able to do something about it – when it appears in me and in the outer world. Doing something, without the charge that comes from seeing it only in them, and seeing them as different from me.
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