Musings: A Bugle Horn Sounds for Solidarity of Purpose
An Earth Manifesto publication
by Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
Unbuttoning the Prelude to a Fugue
Colossal quandaries confront humankind in the
world today. Economic turbulence and
fiscally risky levels of public debt have combined with growing extremes of
inequality and intense strife between a multitude of competing interests,
creating a distinctly dangerous tinderbox of civil unrest. Reactionary conservatism, extreme
partisanship, religious fundamentalism and terrorist violence are causing
severe political and social problems.
The stability and sustainability of economic activities and hopes for
peaceful coexistence of people around the globe are being threatened by this
state of affairs. Mounting demands on
natural resources and increasing harm to the environmental commons are making
these risks ever more pronounced.
we are before is like a strait, a tricky road, a passage where we need courage
and reason. The courage to go on, not to
try to turn back; and the reason to use
reason; not fear, not jealousy, not envy, but reason. We must steer by reason, and jettison --
because much must go -- by reason."
--- John Fowles, The Aristos (1970)
An enlightened understanding of both individual
purposes and social responsibility is becoming crucial to the well-being of our
societies. The need is growing for us to
gain a clearer comprehension of the moral philosophy known as
“consequentialism” so that we will gain better perspective, and thus be able to
more properly prioritize and sensibly solve the overarching challenges facing
us. These concepts and issues are
evaluated from a series of surprising angles here in these Transcendental Musings.
To more fully understand the complex nature of
these quandaries, a wide variety of related ideas is explored in this
essay. An evocative introspection is
made into many imaginative myths of ancient and modern cultures, and a
provocative exploration is directed at human psychological drives and
“complementary opposite” aspects of our nature.
Heightened scrutiny is given to the relative roles of males and females
in our societies, and a meditation is made on human rights with special
attention given to the specific prerogatives of the “fairer sex”. An assessment is made of child development
philosophies and two primary constellations of beliefs, the conservative Strict
Father worldviews and the contrasting progressive Nurturant Parent
worldviews. The genesis and character of
intense political struggles that some observers characterize as a “war on women”
is quizzically contemplated. And the
unquestionably impactful and sensational Population Connection between all
these matters is carefully considered.
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung believed that the
most important task in every individual’s life is to discover and fulfill his
or her own deep innate potentials. Jung
called this developmental process individuation. He felt that this journey of
self-exploration and transformation is at the mystical heart of all
religions. This essay delves into the
nature of this journey, and a vital new concept of collective individuation is proposed. This is a kind of healthy assimilation
process by which the diverse expression of all people’s motivations,
experiences, personalities, activities and belief systems could be integrated
into a more harmonious and smoothly functioning whole. The hallmarks of this more holistic society
would be a manner of organization that is fairer and saner for everyone,
particularly including all people in future generations.
Broad Themes Emerge from the Headwaters of
a Stream of Consciousness
A confluence of conscious thoughts flows freely
across the internal landscape of our minds like the waters of Old Man River at
flood stage during a period long ago before Procrustean levees channelized the
many marauding torrents of this stream into narrowly proscribed courses. One can almost imagine John McPhee sneezing
“Atchafalaya” while he was writing his bestselling book The Control of Nature, and then hearing a chorus of well-wishers
heartily ringing out “gesundheit”.
The inspiration for this concatenation of ideas
has been a series of developments and insights that arose in the Spring of
2012. In ancient Greece, the source of
inspiration was thought to be the gods Apollo and Dionysus, or alternatively
the nine divine Muses, daughters of fickle Mnemosyne, the Titan goddess of
memory, and powerful Zeus, the Olympian ruler of the gods. The word inspiration literally means
“breathed upon”. Inspiration in
Christianity is said to be a gift of the Holy Spirit. In Islam, the Prophet Muhammad said that his
divine inspiration came from Allah in the form of dreams, and perhaps THERE,
deep in the inner sanctum of our minds, would be the best place for us to look
for a greater degree of enlightenment.
Inspiration by a muse can be richly rewarding. In many episodes in recorded history, inspiration by a muse has
provided a remarkably prolific well of creativity for intellectuals and
artists, especially including poets, writers, musicians and composers. The life of Clara Wieck Schumann provides a
wonderful testament to the passionate influence of a muse in inspiring
others. Clara was a young piano virtuosa
who came to be deeply loved by both the classical music composers Robert
Mendelssohn and Johannes Brahms, and she was a source of great inspiration as a
muse to both of them. Clara herself was
a child prodigy who faced numerous personal hardships, but she managed to
transmute them into virtuosic musical accomplishments.
The Austrian “talking-cure” psychotherapist
Sigmund Freud asserted that inspiration, both creative and artistic, comes from
our inner psyches. Carl Jung expressed
the opinion that inspiration springs forth from our “collective unconscious”,
as is intriguingly revealed in dreams, free associations, symbols and cogent
imagery. Jung formulated theories about
archetypal “racial memories” within every person that are unique to human
beings and have been inherited as aspects of our genetic instincts, ancestral
legacies, persona, shadow self, and inner anima or animus. These “racial memories” are contained in the
very structure and functioning of our brains, and they are manifested and
recognized by human beings across all cultures.
These ideas are explored in detail below.
I slice a large navel orange into two perfect
demi-spheres, seeking both reason and rhyme.
There is an admirable natural beauty in the orange’s segmentation, and
it inspires me to invite readers to visualize the light, symmetry and elegance
of this image, and to honor it; and
simultaneously to envision the interconnected and interdependent polar
opposites of this vision, which are found in irregularity, contrariety,
dissonance and darkness. Hold both these
yin and yang aspects of nature -- “and never leave the middle.” Let us for a moment emulate an old Chinese
sage who dwells on a high spiritual plane, but is equally concerned with
ethical fairness in worldly affairs. Let
us unify in ourselves the two sides of human nature that are found in the
complementary opposite poles of intuitive wisdom and practical knowledge, of
calmly detached meditation and intense involvement, of feminine and masculine
propensities, of quiet contemplation and courageous social action.
Wallace Stevens, the
Pulitzer Prize winning “Dean of Western Writers”, once poetically expressed the
speculation, “Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around a lake”. Breathe deep, relax, and set forth with me on
this mental circumambulation around a crucially vital body of water -- our
inner selves. The mythological story of
Psyche and Eros will soon be related to provide illumination to this quest for
meaning and truth and purpose and guidance.
Harpsichords Reverberate in the Background:
Let’s Examine Our Minds
unconscious occupies up to 97% of our brain functions.”
It is stunning to realize the implications of the
fact that almost all our thinking operates at the level of the
subconscious. Thank God that each one of
us has an autonomic nervous system that works without our needing to
consciously attend to its functions.
Otherwise, more of us would likely fail to keep our heart beating, our
lungs breathing, our blood circulating, our immune systems functioning, our
memories adequately well-organized, our digestion and waste disposal systems in
good working order, and our saliva, perspiration, and either eggs or sperm
issuing forth. If each of us had to pay
attention to these functions at every moment, more people would likely fall
into a stupor and forget, that’s for sure.
What was I saying, again?
"Here is my secret. It is very simple: one sees well only with the heart. The essential is invisible
to the eyes."
--- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The
Bolts, Thunderclaps, and Smoldering Trees
Two titanic struggles
are taking place in our communities and civilizations today. The first has been a feature for thousands of
generations, beginning way back in the days of small human clans of hunters and
gatherers. This struggle is
interpersonal, and it involves the roles of females and males in their
relationships with each other, and within their families and clans and
communities. The relative roles of women
and men have evolved over the ages, and a far-reaching power struggle has taken
place between the genders for dominance of influence. These relationships are provocative to
“It’s still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
Time Goes By, famous lines from the film Casablanca, lyrics by Herman Hupfeld
The age-old strife
between males and females can be better understood by looking into the
fascinating evolutionary origins of human behaviors. Dr. Leonard Shlain did exactly this in Sex, Time and Power: How Women’s Sexuality
Shaped Human Evolution. Gender
conflicts can also be examined through game theory, a modern scientific study
of rational interactive decision-making that can provide startling insights
into endeavors in which people compete or cooperate. A good comprehension of game theory is
important because it has become an invaluable tool for economists. Game theory has, in fact, been the
underpinning of the theories of at least five Nobel Prize winners in economics.
“Woman begins by resisting a man’s advances,
and ends by blocking his retreat.”
--- Oscar Wilde
The yin and yang of
relationships are quite profoundly influenced by the counterpoles of the other,
so envy and victimhood are often juxtaposed against jealousy and contempt. Sometimes the “games people play” in
relationships erupt into unnecessarily brutal and unjust eventualities that can
include disrespectful hostility, psychological torment, domestic violence,
sexual exploitation, or various other forms of interpersonal injustices. So let’s make no mistake about it: finding balance and mutually respectful
harmony in any relationship is the essence of healthy and wholesome
Find out what it means to me
-- Aretha Franklin
lyrics in Respect, written by Otis
The title of this essay
as it evolved, until it exceeded about half its current length, was Women of the World, Unite! This title was chosen in response to the
political battle that is taking place between the sexes today. The most popular “conservative” radio
talk-show political commentator has repeatedly called American women “sluts”
and “prostitutes” and “feminazis”. And
social conservatives are working tirelessly to undermine women’s healthcare
options and their rights to use various forms of contraceptives to prevent
unwanted pregnancies, or to exercise fair degrees of self-determination in
their lives by choosing to have an abortion in the early months of an unwanted
“The battle for the
individual rights of women is one of long standing, and none of us should
countenance anything which undermines
Eleanor Roosevelt, Chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human
Rights, in 1950
John Fowles points out
in his Preface to The Aristos that
people are not born equal, and they never will be, but that when each of us is
born, all should be accorded equal human rights. A group of female and male
psychologists, relying on their professional experiences, noted that equal
treatment under the law is crucial to women’s physical and mental health, so
they formed a fair-minded organization known as Psychiatrists for the Equal
Rights Amendment. Recall that this
proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution simply states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not
be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of
sex.” Despite the apparent basic decency
and fairness of this proposal, it has languished in Congress every year since
it was first introduced in 1923 without quite having been able to get the
required ratification of 3/4 of the states.
The most staunch opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment exists, revealingly,
in the fundamentally religious and traditionalist cultures of the Deep South.
Let us trust our intuitions in recognizing that
improvements in the physical and mental health and personal security of mothers
and daughters and wives and girlfriends would be good for almost everybody on
earth, male and female alike. As Mark Twain wisely observed in his Notebook in
“We easily perceive that
the peoples furthest from civilization are the ones where equality between man
and woman are furthest apart -- and we consider this one of the signs of
savagery. But we are so stupid that we can’t see that we thus plainly
admit that no civilization can be perfect until exact equality between man and
woman is included.”
A “polar view of life” reveals that individuals,
groups and nations are far more dependent for strength and energy on their
opposites or enemies or contrary poles than people generally expect. The same is true for ideas. In this embattled state of affairs, both
healthy and unhealthy outcomes arise.
“But if one word could sum up all that is wrong with our world, it is
surely inequality,” wrote John
Fowles. Hazard always infects life with
far-reaching degrees of inequality and inequities, so it seems quite mad for
humanity to make people’s fates even more challenging by allowing power-abusing
segments of society to dramatically increase inequalities between themselves
and the majority. Since every person faces hazard, we should make more
concerted efforts to mitigate the hardships that affect the unluckier ones
among us. Who is to be unlucky next, no
one can know, and everyone is a
A Declaration of
"Be bold, be bold, and
everywhere be bold" -- but "be not too bold".
--- English poet Edmund Spenser (16th
Olympe de Gouges
was the author of a manifesto titled Declaration
of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen. In this manifesto, she honorably echoed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, the fundamental
document formulated after the French Revolution in 1789. Olympe de Gouges sensibly
“Women, wake up! The tocsin of reason resounds through the
whole universe: recognize your rights!”
Gouges was a French playwright
and political activist who had become
an outspoken advocate for
improving the condition of slaves in the colonies several years before the
French Revolution. She famously denounced the customary treatment of women as objects who could be
taken advantage of and then easily abandoned.
She asked the provocative question, in essence, “Men, why have you chosen to subjugate women as a lesser sex?” I guess the rationalization in the Garden of
Eden for female subordination was beginning to run pretty thin by 1791, when
Olympe penned these reverberating words.
enumerating 17 specific rights in her Declaration of the Rights of
Woman and the Female Citizen, she stated that this declaration was made “in the presence and under
the auspices of the Supreme Being”. Then she added a scathing
postscript, asking: “Oh, women!
Women, when will you cease to be blind?
… Whatever the barriers set up against you, it is in your power to
overcome them; you only have to want
it.” And then she calls on “wise
legislators” to think about sanely providing for the fair-minded education of
women. Let these ideas resound in living
rooms worldwide in these more modern times, and let them reverberate ceaselessly
in the halls of power!
In the aftermath
of the French Revolution, a French Constitution of 1793 was created. Olympe de Gouges was alarmed that this legal framework included
a provision giving the right to vote to all men but did not even consider
women’s suffrage. The Constitution also
failed to address key issues such as fair legal rights in marriage, or the
right of a woman to divorce her spouse if he abused her, or a woman’s right to
property and custody of her children.
These omissions were a motivating spark for de Gouges to create her Declaration of
the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen.
The manuscript was
written to provide the
missing part of the proposed Constitution, and thus to give women the equal
rights they deserve as legitimate human beings.
Throughout the document, it is apparent that Ms. de Gouges had been influenced by the philosophy of the Enlightenment,
whose thinkers used "scientific reasoning" to critically examine
traditional morals and institutions.
the French Constitution of 1793 was ratified by a public referendum but was
never put into force because political upheaval continued and radical Jacobins
led by Maximilien
de Robespierre were busy
implementing the widespread
injustices and extensive program of executions known as the Reign of
Terror. Robespierre was a great figure in French history, curiously
known to his supporters as “The Incorruptible”, though his many adversaries
understandably saw him as being more like a bloodthirsty dictator. He was, according to Wikipedia, “an eloquent spokesman for the poor and
oppressed, an enemy of royalist intrigues, a vigilant adversary of dishonest
and corrupt politicians, a guardian of the French Republic, an intrepid leader
of the French Revolutionary government, and a prophet of a socially responsible
recent decades his reputation has suffered from his association with radical
purification of politics by killing his enemies.”
always two sides to every story, I suppose, and fair-minded balance in
perspective and action is generally the best course.
revolution has made me feel the full force of the axiom that history is
fiction, and I am convinced that chance and intrigue have produced more heroes
than genius and virtue.”
--- Maximilien de Robespierre
Gong Sounds to Summons Us to Attention
A second struggle has
been taking place for centuries, and this strife involves deep-seated conflicts
between capitalists and workers. This
struggle has been particularly intense since the beginning of the Industrial
Revolution some 250 years ago. It is a
profound and intractable conflict between people who work for a living and
those who feel entitled to gain the preponderance of profits from business
activities and the exploitation of Earth’s resources for themselves.
“Justice cannot be for one side alone, but
must be for both.”
This intense strife has
a complex combination of economic, political and social causes. It has pitted a really ruthless Goliath --
Capital -- against a much less powerful David -- Labor. This conflict has been intense because
Goliath is powerfully motivated to triumph over working people by continuously
striving to increase its advantages. The
scene is getting more ugly as Goliath flexes its muscle and abuses the power of
its influence, and extends its dominion around the globe. Skirmishes between Goliath Capital and David
Labor play out in the arena of labor relations that pit giant corporations
Capital has usurped the
upper hand in recent decades, resulting in declining real wages for workers,
after the effects of inflation are taken into account. At the same time, corporate profits in total
are at or near record highs, and the proportion of the total tax bill paid by
corporations is near the lowest in generations,
In Wisconsin, an
attempt to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker took place in June
2012. Walker had stripped public
employee unions of their collective bargaining rights the previous year,
further undermining the power of workers in this long-running battle. He also endorsed an anti-environmental agenda
to give big corporations an expanded ability to profit by foisting costs onto
society as a whole. The stakes were high
in this contest because Goliath has such a strong motivation to destroy the
power of labor by using “divide and conquer” tactics to gain ascendancy over
labor unions and the Democratic Party.
Thirteen billionaires from outside Wisconsin’s borders contributed money
to convince the public to reject this recall effort, which they did by a vote
of 53% to 47%. This outcome was bought,
as Walker raised $30 million compared to his opponent’s $4 million. Of Walker’s $30 million haul, two-thirds of
it came from outside the state, so it can clearly be seen that outside
interference with the affairs of the state of Wisconsin were a big factor in
this detrimental outcome for workers.
The specter of the Citizen’s United decision by the Supreme
Court can thus be seen to be having highly unfair impacts on our democratic
process. This contest in Wisconsin featured record amounts of spending by rich
people and corporations and unions, and clearly the contributions from deep
pockets and corporate profits heavily outweighed contributions from workers’
wages. The Citizens United ruling effectively invalidated a century-old ban on
independent expenditures by wealthy people and corporations, and this
development is having a negative impact on the people of Wisconsin and many
other states in our great land. A
measure of the vibrancy of our democracy will be revealed by how long it will
take Congress, the Supreme Court and the people to root out this provision for
The Supreme Court made
a possibly even worse break with precedent in April 2014 when it rendered a
decision in the case McCutcheon vs.
Federal Election Commission. This
ruling struck down sensible aggregate limits on the amount any individual can
contribute to federal election campaigns.
The ruling was also made by the five conservative Justices against the
four more liberal Justices, revealing the extreme politicization of the
supposedly impartial and theoretically fair-minded Supreme Court.
already decimated labor unions in the private sector in the U.S. It is stunning to realize that worker
participation in unions in the private arena has declined from a peak of 36% of
all employees in the 1950s to less than 7% today. Companies have grown more ideologically
opposed to unions in recent years, and they are increasingly aggressive about
resisting employee organizing drives and trying to eliminate collective
In striking contrast,
unions in the public sector remain strong, and the interests of taxpayers are
not adequately represented in controlling liabilities related to long-term
benefits for public employees. This has resulted
in high costs for overly generous public employee retirement benefits, together
with exceedingly large unfunded liabilities, so taxpayer opposition to unions
in the public sector is strengthening across the country. We should find fair ways to deal with all
these issues. Pension-spiking scams
should be outlawed, retroactively for the past 10 years, and sensible reforms
of public employee pension plans should be made.
Simultaneous with this
conflict between corporations and unions, greedy Wall Street bankers and the
Federal Reserve and Congress and the powerful military-industrial complex are
driving our economy into risky straits.
These interest groups are promoting growth-addicted bubble economic
policies and helping facilitate a highly undesirable externalization of costs
onto society. Extremely shortsighted and
inter-generationally unfair amounts of borrowed money are being used to
stimulate consumerism and increase corporate profits, and to give additional
perks to the wealthiest people in our country and around the world.
An overarching perspective reveals that the
fairest approach would be to make reasonable commitments in the form of a Bill
of Rights for Future Generations to assure people in the future that we will
not leave them a calamitous legacy. The
odds are good that the best investments we could collectively make for the
greater good would be those made in resource conservation and more efficient
uses of non-renewable natural resources.
This would surely be a fairer way to treat our descendants than using up
resources at the fastest possible rate to stoke growth of consumption and
A proper assessment of
these issues must include consequentialist judgments. Consequentialism is a philosophical theory
that judges the consequences of conduct as the determining basis for the
relative rightness or wrongness of that conduct. The moral good of any action, in other words,
is directly correlated to the degree of positive or negative outcomes
associated with it.
A contrasting theory of
ethics is known as deontology.
Deontological ethics simplistically assert that acts themselves are
inherently good or evil, no matter what their consequences. After a bit of reading about
consequentialism, it seems crystal clear that consequential ethical
perspectives constitute a much more socially-sensible and reality-based
understanding of true morality than absolutist deontological ethics. After all, judgments about people who cause
physical and financial harm to others have a much different quality to them
than dogmatic judgments about someone else’s private sex life or their personal
choices or eccentricities or indulgences.
Think about this, and
feel these words. Be suspicious about
deontological ethics when you see they involve fervent moralizing judgments by
those who demand orthodox conformity to rigid doctrines and traditionalism and
antediluvian Holy Book commandments.
True morality is not black and white, and it is not absolute. True morality is not a deontological set of rights
and wrongs, but instead a relative, consequentialist set of rights and wrongs
that evaluates a crime with numerous victims more harshly than an offense with
no victims. True morality is not a
categorical imperative, independent of context, but a golden rule ethic
measured by what is consistent with the greater good of a group.
It is far more immoral
to kill 100 strangers at random than one person by accident. It is more immoral to cheat a thousand people
out of their life savings than to steal a dollar out of the collection plate in
church. A true understanding of what is
right and what is wrong, relative to one’s community or nation or humanity as a
whole, is valuable. Every assessment of
ethical propriety should be made in proportion to its positive or negative
effect on others.
Think about the
concluding paragraph of Existence, Economics, and Ecological Intelligence,
for it makes a clear consequential
statement: “We would be wise to always measure public policy
choices in the context of an awareness of the impact these actions will have on
people today as well as in the future -- to our children and theirs, and
theirs, and theirs, and theirs, and theirs, and theirs, not just to the fabled
Seventh Generation, but indefinitely!“
This perspective is one of honest social and
ecological sanity. Malcolm Gladwell, who
articulated the idea of a “stickiness factor” in The Tipping Point, might say that some of the ideas and social
policies and actions advocated in the Earth Manifesto may well prove to be
salubriously sticky. Let it be! -- for
that would be providentially consistent with the greater good.
A Triumphalist Trumpet Paradoxically Sounds
a Clarion Call
These two titanic struggles -- one about gender
politics and the other about money -- turn out to be skirmishes that distract
our attention from the real battle developing in the world today. This is the contest for the domination of our
economy and political systems and societies by wealthy people, and their abuse
of the outsized influence of their money.
Every time I think about it, I am stunned to
recall the surprising studies that found out people who earn more than $75,000
per year do not profess to be any happier than people who earn annual incomes
of $50,000 to $75,000. In review, people
in the latter category definitely express greater satisfaction than people who
earn less than $50,000 in every category assessed, including employment,
housing, security, nutrition, health, relationships, spiritual life, and
community involvements. Here is a
powerful and convincing reason why our national system of income taxes should
be made more steeply graduated.
Instead of continuing to pander so exclusively to
rich people by allowing them to corrupt our national tax policies, we should
strive to maximize the happiness of the majority of Americans by ensuring that
our national policies share wealth more broadly. It is high time for us to stop allowing the
super-rich to implement national policies that concentrate wealth increasingly
in the hands of the few.
“Man-up, rich people -- the gig is up.” Marginal tax rates that are near the lowest
since the late 1920s for the highest income earners, coupled with growing debt
and “austerity economics”, are not sustainable from either an economic or
social point of view. Professor Robert
Reich points out that such policies “…are not sustainable economically because
when most of the gains from productivity growth go to people at the top, the
vast middle class doesn’t have the purchasing power to buy the goods and
services an ever-more-productive economy can generate. It’s not sustainable socially because high
unemployment and widening inequality results in rising frustration over the
inability of most people to get ahead.”
Robert Reich continues: “Increasing productivity, widening inequality
and high unemployment create tinderbox societies. History tells us that public anger and
frustration can ignite in two very different ways. One is toward reforms that more broadly share
the productivity gains. The other is
toward demagogues who turn people against one another. Demagogues use fear and frustration to
advance themselves and their own narrow political agendas by scapegoating
immigrants, foreigners, refugees, ethnic minorities, labor unions, government
workers, the poor, the rich, and ‘enemies within’ such as communists,
terrorists or other conspirators.”
Partisan divisions prevent reforms and stalemate
progress and undermine the common good.
Stubborn refusals to compromise can lead to worsening conflicts,
increasing alienation, social instability, violence and impulses toward
revolution. A safer and more sensible
course would be for our leaders to work together to create a fairer society,
instead of an increasingly unfair society.
The outlandish increase in our national debt in
the past 35 years from less than $1 trillion to more than $19 trillion today
has been coupled by an increase in the net worth of the top 1% of Americans
from under $3 trillion to over $24 trillion.
How could we have in effect mortgaged the prospects of all people in
future generations merely to enrich people who are already wealthy? How could we possibly have allowed such heavy
indebtedness to be incurred? And, when
it turns out that these people are no
happier for being the big beneficiaries of this absurdly misguided national
priority, it should give us pause for reflection -- and bold remedial action!
“Don’t you miss the days when America was
just MORALLY bankrupt?”
Political satirist Bill Maher
A Tintinnabulation of Bells Chimes a Second
Dozens of pages of idea are jostling for
expression here that contain interesting insights into formative understandings
of the cosmology and religion of the people in ancient Greece at the
intellectual height of their great civilization. These insights are competing for primacy of
attention with an important evaluation of initiatives that have frequently been
characterized as a “Republican war on women”.
But Dionysus, the god of epiphany, insists that another topic should
take precedence over these two, right here, and right now.
fact that the population of human beings alive on Earth now exceeds 7.4 billion
should give us pause for serious thought.
Think about the fact that global human numbers have had a net increase
of more than 70 million people each and every year since 1965. This net increase of more than 70 million
people every year for 50 years is staggering when considered from the
standpoint of the rapidly increasing aggregate demands we are making on natural
ecosystems like rivers, wetlands, forests and oceans, and on resources like
fisheries, wildlife, fertile topsoil and fresh water.
The more people there are, the more damage we
collectively cause to the vitality and health of the ecosystems that support
us. We are thus diminishing the carrying
capacity of our home planet for our species at the same time that we are
failing to take steps to reduce either the growth in human numbers or the per
capita demands we are making on global resources. This uninterrupted trend of increasing
numbers of both needy and greedy human beings does not bode well for women or
men or children, and certainly not for anyone in future generations.
Meanwhile, the number of vehicles on Earth has
been disturbingly increasing at an even faster rate than the number of
people. There were 500 million vehicles
in 1990, one billion in 2000, and 1.5 billion in 2010. Projections indicate there will be more than
2 billion by 2020. This trend is ominous
when considered from the standpoint of the insidiously increasing amounts of
greenhouse gas accumulations in the atmosphere and the destabilizing impacts of
global warming on weather patterns everywhere.
Let no one deny the implications of our refusals
to take effective steps to deal with these dilemmas. Polluted air, poisoned waterways, clear-cut
forests, overfished seas, damaged ecosystems, disruptions of global weather
patterns, an increasing acidification of the oceans, and an on-going reduction
in biological diversity are environmental problems that must be addressed with
much greater concern and national commitments.
Alors, the increasing traffic
and noise alone are warnings and adversity enough! Intensifying strife associated with the
stimulated depletion of natural resources is dangerous. Think of the negative impacts of
ever-increasing crowds on the health of agricultural lands that are cultivated
and never allowed to lie fallow, and on open spaces, public parks, wilderness
areas, oceans, waterways and the atmosphere. Think of the direct and indirect
adversities the growing human hordes are inflicting on almost every other form
of life on Earth.
We clearly should give a higher priority to the
quality of life for people alive at this moment, and at the same time, we
should act to ensure a reasonable quality of life for people in future
generations. We need to recognize the threat
posed by policies that encourage population growth to the health of natural
ecosystems and hopes for sustainable uses of natural resources. A mindfulness revolution needs to materialize
that recognizes the quality of life as being much more important than the
quantity of people we can cram onto the planet.
All fair-minded folks should reject the gambits for ideological
supremacy being made by social conservatives in our patriarchal societies. We cannot afford to let the basic healthcare
options of women be harshly limited, or access to contraceptives be restricted,
or the ability to choose to have an abortion in the first trimester of a
pregnancy be denied.
A valid new CONSEQUENTIALIST perspective
arises; and we can now pass
judgment. It will not be possible for us
to collectively prosper into the future by disregarding the individual and
aggregate consequences of harmful actions.
We simply cannot afford to artificially stimulate the number of people
being born by limiting family planning options and restricting contraception,
or by prohibiting abortions. Nobody
should be allowed to force a woman to have a child when she doesn’t want
one. We should guarantee every woman the
prerogative to terminate a pregnancy in its early stages if she will be unable
to give the child a decent life. If a
woman gets pregnant as a result of a rapist’s vile actions, or as a victim of
incest, there should be no question as to her right to terminate the
pregnancy. And it’s morally wrong to
force a woman to continue a pregnancy when her doctors say she is likely to die
because of specific risk circumstances of her health and pregnancy.
Every year, women in
the world have an estimated 21 million abortions that are unsafe, resulting in
approximately 47,000 deaths, according to Population Connection, and over half
a million women have died in the last decade alone, and millions more have been
injured. Fairer and more sensible U.S.
policies could reduce the terrible scope of this tragedy.
These are matters of fundamental human rights for
women, and of decency and common sense fairness. Let’s leave such decisions to women and their
families and doctors! Let’s shame
Republican politicians to stop them from pandering so obsequiously to social
conservatives who want federal and state governments to interfere in such
Bass Bassoons Bellow as Cymbals Clash
“Nothing so needs reforming as other
--- Mark Twain
Right-wing radio personality Rush Limbaugh has
repeated slandered women who use contraceptives, calling them “sluts” and
“prostitutes”. This grotesquely sexist
attitude is outrageously reprehensible.
Limbaugh is a man who has long indulged in spewing vitriol at women, and
yet he continues to be an opinion leader of the conservative movement and a
prominent voice of the Republican Party.
The former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum once stated
that if a woman is raped and becomes pregnant, she should “accept what God has given to you.” Mitt Romney stated: “Planned Parenthood -- we’re going to get rid
of that.” Legislatures dominated by
Republicans in many states are eliminating women’s basic reproductive rights
and imposing constraints on their basic healthcare options, and reducing public
financing of preventative cancer screenings, and trying to make abortions
The country really is in
need of a good therapist. Fairer
governance would feature females having much more influence over determining
what rights and prerogatives women have regarding family planning issues, and
males would have less power to impose their domineering restrictions on women’s
personal healthcare decisions or shrewd and sanctimonious new “undue burdens”
on women’s reproductive choices.
Twain once sardonically pointed out the obvious fact that familiarity may breed
contempt, but it also breeds children.
Sometimes females do not want to be sexually familiar with males, so it
is very unfair for conservatives to impose their punishment-oriented dictates
on women who become pregnant. THAT is a real "undue burden"!
a bit of what's-good-for-the-goose-is-good-for-the-gander news, Ohio State
Senator Nina Turner is not happy with laws that seek to control women's access
to contraception and abortion. She has joined a hopefully growing trend
across the nation by introducing a bill that would require men seeking a
prescription for erectile dysfunction drugs to see a sex therapist and receive
a cardiac stress test, and to "get a notarized affidavit signed by a
sexual partner affirming impotency." Sex therapists would be
required to present the option to men of "celibacy as a viable lifestyle
Billionaire Foster Friess is a born-again
evangelical Christian and a supporter of conservative Christian causes who gave
millions of dollars in 2012 to support religious fundamentalist Rick Santorum
in his effort to gain the power of the presidency. Friess expressed the bone-headed opinion that
this “contraception thing” should not be expensive: “… You know, back in my days, they used Bayer
Aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put
it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
Oh, did they now?
Archaic sexist attitudes like this, along with staunch opposition to
family planning, are pathetically subversive of women’s prerogatives. Such attitudes evade the issue that many
males in our society are fixated on having sex with females no matter what the
consequences. Besides, an aspirin between the knees is extremely ineffective against
the heinous violations of woman that are involved in rapes. If a rape victim gets pregnant? Many Republicans staunchly believe that our
nation’s laws should be changed to prohibit every abortion under any
circumstances, even if a woman’s life is endangered. With regard to rape victims, Rick Santorum
once said: “I believe and I think the
right approach is to accept this horribly created -- in the sense of rape --
but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and
accept what God has given to you.” Huh?
God does not get women pregnant. Males do.
No woman should vote for any politician who espouses such insensitive,
hypocritical, and male-supremacist attitudes.
“Sometimes when you shoot from the hip, you end up shooting yourself in
the foot,” a spokesperson for Mitt Romney almost poetically opined, referring
to a clash with Rick Santorum over the nature of a government bailout of the
2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, which Romney had presided over as the head of its
Rick Santorum shot from the hip when he asserted
that President Obama has “… some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.” Is that so, Rick? He and his ideological brethren should try to
remember that we live in a democracy, not a theocracy, and it’s extremely
doubtful that any political candidate can get elected by promoting the
intolerant, repressive, patriarchal Taliban wing of their faiths. Opposition to birth control choices for women
and men? That position is a relic of an
antiquated attitude that should have no chance for political dominance in our
These efforts and
demeaning attitudes are one aspect of an on-going Republican opposition to
women’s rights and prerogatives. Most
conservative partisans deny that there is a “war on women”. Of course, they say, there’s the traditional
status quo of male prerogative, but that’s just a normal biblically-sanctioned
aspect of the age-old struggle between the sexes. The cast from Fiddler on the Roof chimes in:
“Tradition, tradition! Tradition!
… Who has the right, as master of the house, to have the final word at
home? The Papa, the Papa! Tradition!”
once declared that contraception is “not okay”.
Yet if a religious person is strongly opposed to abortions, they should
be enthusiastic about supporting contraception.
Colorado has undertaken a Family Planning Initiative that gave free or
reduced-price IUDs or birth control implants to more than 30,000 women, and
during that period, births to teen mothers dropped by 40 percent and abortions
dropped by 35 percent. Colorado
officials say the program saved taxpayers $80 million in Medicaid costs that
they would have otherwise paid to care for new mothers and their children. Many fewer abortions and saving money, to
boot. How could conservatives oppose
this? Yet Republican lawmakers in
Colorado are obstructing efforts to provide a fraction of this amount of
taxpayer dollars to keep this national award-winning program going.
Traditional family values put men in the
lord-and-master position in their families.
In this patriarchal family model, many males expect obedience to their
authority and are jealous of their prerogatives. This tradition, however, has highly unfair
consequences. The Bureau of Labor
Statistics shows that the median weekly wage for full-time female workers in
2013 was only 82% as much as the wages for men who do the same jobs, in the
most common occupations in the U.S.
Eighty-two cents! Yes, this is
more than the three-fifths proportion that black slaves were accorded for
purposes of representation in the U.S. Constitution, but this is a sadly small
consolation for women here in the 21st century!
Eighty-two cents is one result of a very real skirmish against fair
treatment of women!
quo is even worse for minority women:
African American women earned only 69% of what men made in 2011, and
Latinas earned just 58%. This is the
case when all other factors are equal, including work experience and education.
As an aside, it is revealing that
militaristic frames of reference are used so frequently in our culture, and in
the mass media, and in our national dialogue.
We have a war on terror, a war on drugs, a war on poverty, a war on religion,
and even “a war on Christmas”. This
martial rhetoric seems to have invaded our consciousness, and is often used
today as a metaphor and even a cliché.
The use of emotionally-charged buzz phrases is generally dishonest, and
it does a disservice to civil discourse and accurate understandings of
issues. Let this insight serve as a
disclaimer to my occasional use of the phrase “war on women” to characterize
brazen initiatives designed to restrict women’s rights and prerogatives and
pay. The fight against equal
compensation for women for equal work goes on, no matter what it is called, and
the status quo is unacceptable to the extent that women are denied respectfully
fair treatment and greater economic security and more dignity and expanded
A woman on average receives only 78 percent
of what a man makes for comparable work.
This means that, on average, a woman must work a full year and then all
the way into April of the next year to earn as much as a man makes in a year
for the same work. Equal Pay Day was
commemorated in 2016 on April 12.
President Obama laudably designated the historic Sewall-Belmont
House in Washington, D.C. as America's newest national monument on Equal
Pay Day. Understand the great symbolism of what this means. This
house is the place where women suffragists retreated to, in 1917, after their
silent protests in front of the White House for the right of women to
vote was met with spectators who yelled at them, kicked them, spit on them
and ripped the banners from their hands.
"Undaunted, these women brought those
tattered banners back to a house across town. They cleaned them --
sometimes carefully re-stitching them -- and carried them back out the next
day, and the next, and the next."
The designation of this historic abode as a
national monument will preserve those same banners, along with an extensive
collection of other artifacts that showcase the struggle and accomplishments of
the movement for women’s equality. And
it will help highlight the extreme inequities that still remain. Black women are even more poorly paid than
white women -- 64 percent, on average, of what
white men were paid in 2014. And Latino
women? They get only 54 percent. Grotesque!
In a larger perspective,
while the set of discriminatory attitudes and policies related to women in the
U.S. is deep-seated, there is an even more serious global assault in the form
of far-reaching repression of females in countries worldwide. In Saudi Arabia, it is a crime for a woman to
drive a car, and girls are banned from gym classes. Women are prohibited from competing in sports
because male Saudi rulers deem these activities to be “steps of the devil”
toward immorality. These prohibitions
are only one part of a broad pattern of systematic violations of girls’ and
women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, and it is symptomatic of domineering male
chauvinist attitudes in many other places.
Meanwhile, when Pope
Benedict was the head of the Catholic Church, he acted like “God’s Rottweiler”
in his staunch obstruction to allowing females to be Catholic priests, or
allowing priests to get married, or allowing American nuns to express their
deepest feelings. Confirmation of this contention
was found in a June 2012 newspaper headline:
“Vatican intensifying crackdown on American nuns”.
I am always stunned when realizing that official
Vatican doctrines oppose artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization and
surrogate motherhood, while also prohibiting contraception and abortion.
Think what this means! The Catholic
Church essentially forbids fertility to many women who WANT to bear
children, but aren’t able to; AND it makes motherhood mandatory
for those who are able to conceive, but DON’T WANT to!
Bizarre!!! Read that paragraph
again. This is ridiculous -- surely, if
there were a Supreme Being, such a God would not be so illogical and
cold-hearted! This is a political control issue. Women should be given greater power in this
stodgy old highly undemocratic church establishment. Mark Twain was astute
when he sagely observed: “The church is
always trying to get other people to reform;
it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example.”
A glimmer of hope
salubrious lay surfaced in this regard in April 2016, one week before Good
Friday, when Pope Francis released a 256-page proclamation on family
life. The Pope called for the Roman Catholic Church to be more
welcoming and less judgmental. Advocating greater acceptance
of single parents and gay people and unmarried straight couples who are
living together, these open-minded sentiments came in a document
known as an apostolic exhortation, which is titled “Amoris Laetitia,” Latin for
“The Joy of Love”.
The Pope made it clear
that no top-down rule changes or far-reaching edicts will be forthcoming in the
near future in the Church, probably because of the extent to which the Church
embodies such a markedly fractious global network of bishops and priests.
He did, however, clarify the vision he wants local bishops and
priests to follow: "as a church that greets families with empathy
and comfort rather than with unbending rules and rigid codes of conduct."
Pope Francis called
for governments to provide better support for families in the form of health
care, education and employment, and he described families as under siege by the
pressures of modern life. "In many cases, parents come home
exhausted, not wanting to talk, and many families no longer even share a common
meal,” Francis wrote. He described “severe stress” on families “who often
seem more caught up with securing their future than with enjoying the present.”
Hey, if the leader of
one of the biggest religious establishments in the world can be more flexible
in his attitudes towards people that it has previously condemned, maybe all
religious folks can do the truly spiritual thing and act in a more civilized
manner by both altering their judgmental biases against others and supporting
institutional changes to overturn laws that discriminate against classes of
people like women and gays and unmarried males and females.
another hot-button issue. Francis’
exhortation says that “every person regardless of sexual orientation” should be
treated with respect and consideration, while “every sign of unjust
discrimination is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression
The Pope also dedicated several passages to
the importance of women’s rights, in a pronounced contrast to his predecessor,
Pope Benedict XVI, who was criticized for his accusations against women who
There is only one really fair idea with regard to
religious beliefs. Hark back to the year
313 CE. Constantine the Great had just
become the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity, and when he did so,
he wisely collaborated with his “co-Emperor” Licinius to issue an Edict of
Milan that proclaimed there would be religious tolerance of all religions
throughout the empire. Good move!!
Imagine the context of those times. Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest
European city of the Middle Ages. It was
founded in 330 CE by Constantine as a Christian city that would be the new capital
of the Roman Empire. After more than
1,000 years as a Christian city, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman
Turks, and they made it their capital in 1453.
Today it is known as Istanbul. In
the grand scope of changing times, religious tolerance should be seen as a
crucial aspect of fair-minded governance everywhere.
Nations and peoples struggle, and we sure don’t
need any additional goad of fervent religious conflicts over doctrinal
righteousness and the question of whose God is the one and only true Supreme
Being, or which set of holy book stories is the absolute right one. None of these stories are factually true, and
above all, we are transcendentally in need of religious tolerance of all
“Dogmas thrive”, said Lemuel K. Washburn, “in soil where
the truth could not get root.” Agnostics
and atheists believe in one fewer god than ‘true believers’. Notably, true believers themselves dismiss
all other gods. Since evangelical
believers tend to deny all gods other than their own, they should easily be
able to understand why other people might dismiss their god. An atheist is not someone who believes that God does not exist,
but someone who sensibly believes that it is improbable that any specific
declared version of ‘God’ does exist as
conceived and claimed.
Further, a fair modicum of doubt is a well merited
attitude with regard to all the preachers in the world who tell us absolutely
how God wants us to behave, especially when these eminences rationalize biases
against people like gays or females or poor folks. In any case, “Religious tolerance of all religions”
should include “pagans”, too! Virgil,
Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, who lived centuries before Christ, were
naturally pagans, and retroactive condemnation of them is completely absurd.
“The easy confidence
with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that
my own is also.”
--- Mark Twain
a Little Bit of Whistling Goin’ on Here
principles are at stake in the arena of traditionalism and oppressive attitudes
toward women. Every person should be
assured the freedom to believe what they like, but when their beliefs have
negative impacts on others, or infringe on the freedoms of others, or harm
other people in significant ways, then those who hold such beliefs should not
be allowed to dominate national policy-making.
The principle of a separation between church and state should override
any argument against it. No religion or
church should have the freedom to force its views on the entire populace. One of the most basic freedoms in any
person’s life is to be allowed to exert some control over events in their
lives. For a woman, this means to be
able to choose whether or not to have children, and with whom, or how many; and it means that others should not be able
to interfere in her personal health and family planning and reproductive
Hundreds of laws have been enacted to limit women’s rights in the past
few years in states across the nation that have Republican-dominated
legislatures. Thanks, guys! You may be calculating that it is a winning
stance to be so abjectly obedient to Tea Party fanatics and patriarchal
ideologies. Women, and all fair-minded
voters, I urge you to prove them resoundingly wrong!
What is the underlying
cause of this mass male-driven psychosis?
It’s as if an Acorn Protection Society has decided to outlaw the
protection of oak woodlands, and to deceive its members about the motives for
this ruthless assault, not realizing that these edicts are like carvings on the
tender bark of a young oak that will enlarge as the tree grows, and thus
inevitably reveal to posterity the indictment that these acts represent of a
deficiency of fairness in law-making by “conservatives”.
Hundreds of thousands of women are raped
every year across the U.S. by acquaintances, date rapists, family members or
strangers. Many women are traumatized by
rape violence, and by threats on their lives for resisting this violation of
their bodies, dignity, liberties and personal security. One might expect that Republican leaders
would be committed to enacting new laws to deter and punish men who rape, but
instead they continue to focus in Congress and state legislatures on
effectively penalizing female victims of rape.
This must stop!
It amazes me that such a coordinated and concerted
effort to undermine women’s prerogatives
and rights could be taking place in the U.S. here in the 21st
century. These actions are blatantly
unjust and insidious forms of oppression.
Social conservatives are giving
conservatism a bad name, and the extreme disrespect for women and their rights
by domineering male authorities is reprehensible.
Many Republicans act
like they have received a revelation direct from God telling them that life
begins at conception, and that an incipient clump of cells proliferating in the
womb of a woman after sexual intercourse deserves more protection and respect
than the woman herself. This dogmatic
presumption seems to rely on a supposition that God is so proud that a sperm
has found its way up a fallopian tube to a single monthly-generated egg that
‘He’ is damning the entire female gender throughout all their years of
fertility in favor of tiny clumps of proliferating cells.
may in actuality merely be delivering on campaign promises they have made to social
conservatives as a crass electoral expediency.
They have been pandering in recent years to angry Tea Party males and
religious fundamentalists who demand to have their way. Why else would these coldly-calculating
politicians suddenly strive so righteously to slash funding for healthcare for
women? Why would they put up roadblocks
to affordable access to family planning options, and strive to outlaw
abortion? Why would they so rashly
choose to force pregnant women to have invasive vaginal probes, and require
them to pay for all these violations of their dignity and well-being?
A political cartoon made this issue particularly
cogent in a newspaper in 2012: In the
first frame, an elephant declares: “There is no war on women.” In the second frame, the elephant
continues: “Just the sluts who use
contraception.” The attitude summarized
in this political cartoon sets up a curious conundrum: are the elephants in our political system
really the ones who have long memories, or will it prove to be female voters
themselves, so disrespected, devalued disparaged, demeaned and disenfranchised,
who will have the longest memories at the polling booth?
What’s next, one might
wonder? Will Republicans try to turn
back the clock to 1919, before the enactment of the Nineteenth Amendment, and
try to deprive women of the right to vote altogether? That would be thinking really big, and not
just limiting themselves to weakly suppressing the votes of millions of poor
people and students and blacks and Latinos, and to staunchly opposing
gerrymandering reforms, like Republicans are doing right now in numerous states
and congressional districts across the nation.
Passionate calls for
far-reaching social action are made repeatedly in this manifesto. It is not enough to wait for salvation in the
next life. Now is the time to take care
of important business and effect positive changes, like all the proposals
adduced in the Common Sense Revival. Confidence
like that of the basketball wizard Steph Curry when he releases a long
three-point shot after some adroit dribbling is needed. Let’s not carp and cavil. Let’s not resign ourselves to pathological
aspects of the status quo. Let’s not be
paralyzed by worry. Let’s “Just Do It”.
once said, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” There is not a lot of value
in worry, but deep and insightful concern is another matter. The difference between worry and concern is
that a worried person sees and frets about problems, while a concerned person
makes honorable efforts to solve them. A
respectable concern for good ways to improve the prospects of humanity is a
central feature of integrity-filled public service. Politicians, take note!
A Solitary Bugle Plays a
Solemn, Lonely and Mournful Version of “Taps”
Another evaluation of whether a “war on
women” is being waged in the U.S. can be found in the eye-opening investigative
documentary film The Invisible War. This film reveals that numerous sexual
assaults on women have been taking place in the military in recent years. This issue of assaults on women in the
military has not been adequately addressed because of the inflexibly
hierarchical chain of command and male-dominant culture in the armed forces. Lax recruiting standards, a tendency to
victimize female service members who are raped, and shameful cover-ups by
superior officers of men who commit rapes are further facets of this disgusting
state of affairs in the military.
The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and
Coast Guard have caused severe traumas for tens of thousands of women in the
past few decades by their permissive policies on sex crimes in the armed
forces. The Invisible War turns a glaring spotlight on this issue, and on
the inadequate sensitivity of the military establishment in dealing with it. The Defense Department should be required to
act much more effectively to prevent sexual abuses in the military, and the
Veterans Administration should treat victims with greater dignity and fairness.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s Miss Representation is a great film
that highlights the negative effects that the mass media in the U.S. is having
on women in our culture. Check it
out! Demeaning attitudes toward women,
and portrayals of them in sexualized and trivialized contexts by advertisers
and people in the entertainment industry also contribute to this state of
affairs. Men in leadership positions in
politics, government, churches, businesses, the military, and the mass media
are also generally reinforcing undesirable outcomes in gender issues. Change must come! See Huckleberry
Finn, the California Gold Rush, and Sensational Related Reflections for
more detailed insights into the film Miss
Representation and its compelling perspectives.
Guitar Jangles Out In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
We clearly need to find ways to work
together better to achieve greater solidarity of purpose. Can we find any better example in the world
of what the best course might be for us to chart? Can we find an instance of actions that
dramatically improved a society? The
answer is a resounding YES! We need look
no further than the United States during the period from 1945 to 1980.
During this period after the end of World
War II, Americans managed to pull together enough to help build a strong middle
class, desegregate the military, fight communism, rescue war-ravaged Europe
through the Marshall Plan, and give expanded civil rights to working people and
women and racial minorities. They also
enacted far-reaching protections of clean air, clean water, wilderness areas,
the environment, wildlife and endangered species. Wealthy people allowed the tax system to be
structured in a dramatically-graduated way;
in fact, the marginal tax rate on the highest income levels was 70% or
higher every year from 1936 to 1980, and it actually was more than 90% for the
highest levels of income from 1944 to 1963.
The funds from this national tax policy financed a hyper-expensive Cold
War, and politicians resisted the temptation to add the costs of these bold
initiatives to the national debt. These
funds also helped build a top-notch national infrastructure of highways, and a
triumphant space program that eventually landed men on the Moon in 1969.
During this era of high marginal tax rates,
mainstream churches sought common ground and greater good goals by helping
build schools, universities, orphanages and hospitals. Catholic and Protestant churches helped many
generations of immigrants to assimilate, and black churches and white churches
alike found common ground to help end desegregation and repeal discriminatory
Jim Crow laws.
This solidarity of purpose began to be
eroded with the election of Ronald Reagan as President in November 1980. Not only did Reagan slash marginal tax rates
on the highest incomes from 70% to 28% by 1988, but he also simultaneously
increased federal spending on the military, thus ushering in an imprudent era
of rapid increases in national budget deficits.
Reagan also worked to radically undermine the rights of workers, and to
reduce the regulation of banks. He began
to dismantle the New Deal social safety net, and to reduce protections of the
environment. The theological center gave
way to religious polarization, hardcore extremes, and staunchly orthodox
It is noteworthy that almost all
established churches have members who span the entire continuum from liberal to
conservative, and today the divisions between the two “can seem as distant from
one another as Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher.”
Unfortunately, the right wing of religious faiths always seems to
dominate in the U.S., often in countersupporting opposition to the right wing
in other religions and nations. Faith
itself seems to have been hijacked by people for partisan purposes, and
political intrigue has rendered many religious influences distinctly
disadvantageous. The foremost goal of
conservatives is to gain supremacy, using any means possible, so this is not a
fair fight, and the outcome of this battle tends to be highly negative for
humanity as a whole.
The states of the South reacted with racist
animosity to federal mandates to desegregate schools and housing and public
transportation. The angry response of
white leaders to laws aimed at ending racial discrimination against African
Americans essentially caused the South to switch political allegiances. Since the Civil War when Republican president
Abraham Lincoln had freed black slaves, Southern whites had voted primarily
Democratic for almost 100 years, but then they changed their tune and have endorsed
Republican conservatism ever since. They
thus joined a coalition of wealthy people and energized white supremacists and
the Religious Right to strengthen the conservative movement. This sadly has served to heighten inequality
and create ever-more divisive partisan rancor.
Commentator David Sirota noted the
surprising fact that religious people in Britain tend to be the opposite of
those in the U.S. in their political leanings.
Steeped in the propensities of religious folks here, it is amazing to us
that religious people in Britain are more likely to be politically progressive
than those who are non-religious, and they tend to put a greater value on
equality and fairness. In contrast,
religious establishments in the U.S. are generally dominated by conservatives
who oppose progressive economic values and eminently fair-minded initiatives
that would reduce inequality and discrimination and injustices. Jesus would be profoundly perplexed at this
paradox! And the American people should
be deeply chagrined.
American evangelicals often support Tea
Party conservatism and hard-line political positions. When we see that religious people in Britain
are less hypocritical in their interpretation of holy book ideas than people in
the U.S., it provides hope that churches in America may see the light and
support more moderate or even liberal attitudes of caring about the common
people and the general welfare.
A bugle horn has sounded, and the way
forward is clear. We should champion
solidarity of purpose, religious moderation and bold commitments to fair-minded
policies and the greater good. We cannot
continue to allow good governance plans to be derailed by domination-demanding
social conservatives, wealthy people, male supremacists, right-wing
politicians, and selfish billionaires who oppose common sense environmental
protections. Any ideologues who oppose
fairer policies for women and racial minorities and people in the lower and
middle classes should be rejected, not supported.
Since the Republican Party has become a
political organization that is on the wrong side of history in these regards, I
strongly recommend that all women, Latinos, blacks, and forward-thinking people
refrain from voting for any Republican candidates until these politicians
choose to refute their misguiding, divisive, inegalitarian, discriminatory and
A YouTube Video Reveals Sexy Shania Twain
Crooning “Man, I Feel Like a Woman”
Jungian psychologists say that each of us has a
shadow self. This is the part of our
unconscious mind that contains dark motives, deep instinctual insecurities,
feelings of shortcomings, and repressed suspicions of personal weaknesses. This shadow self is instinctive and
irrational, so it is prone to a curious defense mechanism phenomenon known as projection.
Think about this concept with regard to Rush Limbaugh’s seemingly
crazed “feminazi” diatribes against women.
When people blame others for perceived moral deficiencies, it is often a
projection of feelings of insecurity or inferiority. These are reflections of personality
disorders that tend to cripple people psychologically and insulate individuals
by forming an ever-thicker fog of illusion between their egos and the real
world. Denial and projection are the two
most primitive types of defense mechanisms, according to Sigmund Freud.
Rush Limbaugh’s bully pulpit on the airwaves earns
big profits because his ranting tirades are popular with conservatives. The bonanza that his buffoonery earns allows
him to continue to propagate his distorted spin into the minds of susceptible
people, even though his sick perspectives are often unhealthy for the national
“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of
men? The Shadow knows.”
Shadow radio program in the 1930s
Parenthetically, these words introducing The Shadow were intoned by actor Frank
Readisk, Jr., and were accompanied by an ominous laugh and a piece of music by
French composer Camille Saint-Saens titled Omphale’s
Spinning Wheel. At the end of each
episode, The Shadow reminded listeners, “The weed of crime bears bitter
fruit. Crime does not pay. … The Shadow
As I reflect on these ideas in the context of the
main message to be communicated in Transcendental Musings, I
want to clarify what Jung meant when he referred to racial memories. He simply meant a kind of
genetically-inherited archetypal memory that is specific to our Homo sapiens race. I casually wonder whether any of the deep
prejudices in our societies are somehow actually transmitted to us in these
genetic propensities. Alternatively, are
all deep biases conditioned into us from our parents, peer groups, experiences,
propagandists, mass media and cultures?
Many prejudices exist among peoples in nations
worldwide. There are plenty of
nationalistic biases and narrow ethnocentric prejudices. There are also entire subsets of racist or
sexist biases that are directed against groups of people like blacks, Latinos,
Asians, Jews, immigrants, foreigners, the poor, lesbian women, gay men or the
entire female gender.
Pride and prejudice can lead to many harsh
judgments and emotional hijackings. They can also make people blind to more
honest, clear-minded, civil, empathetic and fair relationships. Fictional
character Elizabeth Bennet discovered this in the famous Jane Austin novel, Pride and Prejudice, and people would be
wise to heed this valuable understanding by cultivating healing attitudes and
ignoring more ignoble, vain, wounded, or piously sanctimonious aspects of
selves that harbor prejudice and hate.
It does not really matter what the secret
well-spring of people’s discriminatory biases may be. Regardless, our national policies should be
made fairer and less discriminatory. One
of the primary goals of Earth Manifesto understandings is to help formulate and
advance policies that are as fair and moral as possible to all people today AND
in future generations. This is
consistent with a Live and Let Live philosophy and real fair-minded principles
like the “ethic of reciprocity” embodied in the Golden Rule. It is easy to agree with this ethic because
it is eminently sensible to treat others the way we ourselves would like to be
treated. The Golden Rule has been a
central concept in the prevention and resolution of many conflicts in various
cultures throughout history, and its importance is increasing dramatically as
the population of human beings on Earth increases and increases.
Love, compassion, empathy, acceptance and
forgiveness may be hard to practice in our dramatically stress-afflicted
world. It is challenging enough to
maintain such wholesome attitudes toward oneself; and it can be even harder to
love thy neighbor. And to practice loving-kindness toward strangers, or to
forgive one’s “enemies”, is a degree more difficult. But the ethic of reciprocity embodied in the
Golden Rule is personally practical, socially sensible, intergenerationally
wise, and eminently responsible.
I roll my eyes and sigh
with perplexed disgust at the brazen double standard of males who chastise
women for having sex for purposes other than reproduction. Hello!
The most powerful biological drive of males in our mammalian Homo sapiens species is to be
titillated, to be given carnal permission, “to score”, to find someone to
satisfy their strong hormonal drives. To
tell women to hold an aspirin between their knees and keep their legs closed is
a cartoonishly hypocritical, preposterous and simplistic recommendation to women,
especially in light of the fact that tens of millions of American males are
lusting after many of them with carnal intent and hormonal intensity at every
To blame females for
giving in to the wiles, powerful compulsions and manipulative maneuvers of
males is ridiculous. Come on! A new feminist revolution is needed to reject
this discriminatory double standard.
This new flow of feminism should be a broad-based cultural movement that
is also strongly supported by fair-minded men.
Access to contraceptives and family planning options
are as basic to women’s well-being and the overall health of a society as clean
water, proper sanitation, public education, good governance and widely-shared
Women have been
exercising Original Choice ever since they figured out a correlation between
the animal act of sexual intercourse and the time that presto! -- a little baby
popped out of their wombs nine months later, a baby that had an appearance or
behavioral propensities that curiously resembled a male with whom they had had sex
around the time of a full moon many months before.
This Original Choice is
made by females to select a desirable mate and a good provider, just as it has
been throughout the evolutionary history of most mammals. Human females seek a trustworthy and honest
and committed male who will provide credible assurances that he will sublimate
his biological desire to spread his seed far and wide, and will instead devote
his energies and resources to helping nurture and support the children he
fathers. This freedom for females to choose who they want to have a child with
cannot now be taken away by self-righteous social conservatives who want to
abuse the domineering power of their influence.
Males who fervently profess the existence of a Supreme Being that must be obeyed should be regarded with
skepticism, especially when this God is made in their own strict father image,
insistent upon female surrender and obedience in the strife between the sexes.
It is ironic that many Republicans claim to want
less intrusion by the government into people’s lives, but when it comes to
issues of contraception and sex education, they want the government to teach
abstinence and legislate a puritan morality and force women to endure
indignities. In 1964, Republican Barry
Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act because, he stated, “You can’t
legislate morality.” Now Republicans
with right-wing leanings are striving, like persons possessed by a male
chauvinist devil, to legislate their narrow vision of morality. They want to legislate a strict form of
morality that is highly discriminatory against women. Hypocrisy knows no bounds!
If we are going to legislate morality, it should
be an attempt to increase fairness, not to defend discriminatory biases that
force females into being second-class citizens.
The idea that prerogatives of women should be more restricted than they
already are, in this arena of reproductive choice and access to healthcare,
violates our nation’s founding principles of support for personal freedoms,
self-determination, the general welfare and the reasonable pursuit of
happiness. We should be able to agree to
let churches have their ways in their sanctums, but to require that churches
stay out of the bedrooms of the American people; AND out of their doctor’s offices, too. Tax exemptions for any churches that
interfere in politics should be revoked!
There was once a very calm and isolated
church high in the mountains where celibate priests dedicated their lives to
contemplation and study. One day, loud
cries of angst began issuing from the rectory below. Religious compatriots rushed to the cellar,
and there, standing aghast over a tattered old manuscript, a religious devotee
was exclaiming, “Oh, my God, no! No!
No! The Bible says GO CELEBRATE,
not BE CELIBATE!”
I heartily encourage religious fundamentalists to
put aside their Holy Scriptures for a moment, and to stop blaming women for
having opened a Pandora’s Box that revealed the Knowledge of Good and Evil in
human interactions and released evils into the world. It is not God that wants women to be
subservient to men, it is the religion-exploiting males who concocted
manipulative Biblical stories and have kept them alive for so many centuries. These authority-demanding males have
staunchly strived to suppress the divine feminine, apparently as a ploy to
repress Dionysian impulses of the heart and emotions and sensations, and to
simultaneously keep the roles and prerogatives of women inferior in our
A feminist perspective would declare that socially-domineering
male supremacists have thrust these issues into the forefront of the fray of
our dysfunctional national political discourse for a reason that seems
indisputable: to mold our nation in
conformity with their own narrow biases.
The culprits in these efforts are shrewd and prudish males who champion
patriarchal privilege and believe in a need for right-wing social engineering
and uncivil re-engineering in which their will is mercilessly imposed on
Double standards run deep. Especially
objectionable is when politicians make prostitution illegal and prosecute women
who try to make a living selling sexual favors, but neglect to prosecute men
who drive the activity. In this regard, France has a much more civilized
approach than the U.S., for they make it legal to sell sex but illegal for
males to buy it. It should be a goal of all countries to find fairer ways
to treat disadvantaged women, and to crack down on pimping, sex trafficking,
violence against women, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Dionysus, the god of epiphany, struggles to
attention, his red robes flowing, with a characteristic look of disheveled
nonchalance. He has an almost sublime
and beatific smile, a smile that is slightly quizzical like Mona Lisa’s, and
yet inscrutably crooked, and there is a fire burning in his eyes, a flame that
gives imaginative observers the impression that this god deserves more
Later in this essay, an incisive introspection is
made into socio-political observations concerning four specific arenas: (1) An
assessment of how and why our political system has become so dysfunctional and
corrupt that we are unable to put fair-minded common sense national policies
into effect; (2) An investigation into
the relative merits of the competing constellations of values associated with Strict Father worldviews and the
complementary opposites found in Nurturant Parent worldviews; (3) An examination of social
attitudes toward the obnoxiously repetitive promotion of the availability of
erectile-dysfunction drugs and the distinctly contrasting attitudes toward
contraceptives; and (4) An exposé of the five primary ways that the “Grand Old
Party” is undermining democracy itself by attempting to disenfranchise millions
of people while expanding the perks and privileges of giant corporations and
rich people at the expense of the vast majority of Americans. But right here, now, it is time for this:
A Musical Ode to the Power of Positive
“You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative …”
--- Lyrics of a Johnny Mercer song
Among the most
intriguing of complementary opposites is the tension between people who see the
world with glass-half-full optimism and those who view the world with
glass-half-empty pessimism. This
contrast is largely a matter of innate disposition, and is surprisingly
independent of circumstances. This is a
tension between sunny, major-key Apollonian worldviews and darker minor-key
Dionysian worldviews. An explanation of
these concepts will follow in the course of these meandering observations.
Optimism can be very valuable, though
cynics say optimists simply don’t fully comprehend the human predicament. Optimism can be both a blessing and a risk,
so optimists should be happy with their temperamental propensities, while at
the same time being sensibly wary. People who are endowed with an
optimistic bias hardly need be told that they are lucky -- they feel fortunate
almost as a matter of personal disposition. Daniel Kahneman points out in
his excellent book Thinking, Fast and Slow:
"An optimistic attitude
is largely inherited, and it is part of a general disposition for well-being,
which may also include a preference for seeing the bright side of
everything. If you were allowed one wish
for your child, seriously consider wishing him or her optimism. Optimists
are normally cheerful and happy, and therefore popular; they are resilient in adapting to failures
and hardships, their chances of clinical depression are reduced, their immune
systems are stronger, they take better care of their health, they feel
healthier than others, and are in fact likely to live longer." Have faith! "Of course, the blessings of optimism
are offered only to individuals who are only mildly biased, and who are able to
accentuate the positive without losing track of reality." When action is needed, optimism is often a
good thing, even if it happens to be of a mildly delusional variety.
Researchers and scientists studying human
brains and behaviors are finding that people who regularly cultivate gratitude
in their lives generally experience measurable benefits in senses psychological
and spiritual, and in physical and social well-being. Three fundamental traits of grateful persons
are adduced. One is the maintenance of a
sense of abundance in life. The second
is a respectful appreciation of others.
The third is the enjoyment of simple pleasures. Mindful practice is required! Bravo for the spirit underlying our national
day of Thanks Giving!
Superstitious thought and studied ignorance
are often regarded as foolish.
Fascinatingly, however, a kind of superstition known as “magical
thinking” can actually sometimes be advantageous, even when it misrepresents
reality. Positive psychological benefits
can result, like a sense of control, a sense of meaning, or reduced feelings of
anxiety. A belief in destiny, like the
belief that everything takes place according to “God’s plan”, can provide
people with a coherent narrative and infuse a person’s goals with a sense of
purpose -- and it can even help someone who is experiencing adversities to
become more persistent in their efforts to overcome challenges.
In May 2010, the commendable Tiffany Shlain
gave an excellent Commencement Speech in Berkeley at a University of California
graduation ceremony. She provided
students with a number of honorably wise observations and ideas. Ms. Shlain is a filmmaker and daughter of the
late polymath Dr. Leonard Shlain, and a philosophical soul mate and champion of
those who embrace bold social activism.
She told her audience that to make our lives and the world better, we
should “invoke a little moxie”. To
accomplish great things, she insightfully indicated, a salubrious combination
is needed of farsighted vision, courageous commitments, patient persistence,
and a good sense of humor. She honors
Goethe’s famous quote, "Whatever you think or dream you can do, begin
it. Boldness has genius, power and magic
Let’s embrace this perspective with a
moment of silence.
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel Sing A Lovely
Sonata Enveloped in Silence
Hello darkness, my old
I’ve come to talk with you again.
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my
brain Still remains
Within the sound of silence.
… My eyes were stabbed
by the flash of a neon light
People hearing without listening
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the
prophets are written on the subway walls
And the tenement halls”
And whispered in the sounds of
--- Simon and Garfunkel, The
Sounds of Silence
Cue the Cymbals and Trumpets and a Chorus
Carl Jung was famous for his concepts concerning
the collective unconscious. He was the
first person to articulate profound insights about the fascinating
universally-recognized archetypes in the human mind. Jung hypothesized that all of mythology could
be taken as a type of projection of these archetypes onto deities in our
collective unconscious minds. All human
beings share these archetypes as part of our genetic inheritance, and we all
recognize archetypal patterns of prototypical human behaviors and roles and
character types and symbols.
Prime examples of these archetypes are revealed in
Greek mythology. Marvelous mythical
stories like these contain provocatively revealing and juicy projections of
human qualities onto the characters of gods and goddesses in the Greek pantheon
of deities. These personifications of
deities are much more appealing and enlightening than the dominating image of a
Son of God crucified on a cross almost 2,000 years ago. This image carries with it a supposition that
each and every one of us is guilty of ‘Original Sin’, and that we have no
chance of being proven innocent. We are
lucky in the U.S. that those who fervently believe such doctrines aren’t in
authoritarian charge. Societies are
better off when they are fairer in their rendering of judgments. Cosmological conceptions that entail fewer
guilt-engendering condemnations would be healthier ones!
The American people are fortunate to live in a
democracy rather than a religious theocracy like the ones in Iran and Saudi
Arabia. Let’s all work together to keep
it this way! I find it quite curious
that, according to the Pew Research Center, America is among the most religious
of the world’s developed nations, and that evangelical people in America’s
religious establishments are much more conservative than in other nations of
the developed world. In this regard, the
U.S. is more similar to Iran and Saudi Arabia than to Britain, France, Germany
or Scandinavian countries.
Jean Shinoda Bolen has written a number of
fascinating books, including Goddesses in
Everywoman, and Gods in
Everyman. In these books, she
explores the complex feminine and masculine archetypes within each and every
person. Her understandings go far beyond
simple-minded dichotomies found in patriarchal societies in which women are regarded
as virgins or whores, mothers or lovers, Madonnas or vixens. Greek myths contain a wide range of female
roles, from women whose identities are fully established in the context of
their relationships with men to those who place their primary emphasis on their
own accomplishments, autonomy and independence.
Jean Shinoda Bolen contends that a clearer understanding of these
archetypes, as revealed in anthropomorphic projections upon Greek deities, can
help each and every one of us understand and heal and grow.
One would be well-justified in wondering how
insights into the nature of mythological deities from a “pagan” religion of the
past could help us understand current realities that affect us all. Such insights are said to offer the potential
to help us create a fairer and more egalitarian future, so we should sit up,
lean forward, and look more closely. The
potential for better understanding, both personal and interpersonal, and for
win/win social betterment to boot, is a prospect that we should all seek, hail,
celebrate and welcome!
Jean Shinoda Bolen dedicated Goddesses in Everywoman to her mother, “who was determined to help
me grow up -- as she hadn’t -- feeling that I was fortunate to be a girl, and
could do whatever I aspired to as a woman.”
Hurrah for such sentiments!
Actually being fortunate to be a female would be significantly more
salubrious and likely if people were to choose more women as their legislative
and judicial representatives. Vote
Women living in patriarchal societies are faced
with the situation that men disproportionately decide what the roles and
prerogatives of women will be. In
patriarchal cultures, males have a domineering influence in formulating what
choices women have in their lives. Men
tend to strive obstinately to limit women’s choices and their rights. Tradition serves to put women’s options
subordinate to the prerogatives of men, and to restrict women to roles of being
mothers, housewives, social facilitators, mistresses in the bedroom and
kitchen, and seekers in male-dominated churches.
Roles of both men and women in American society
have evolved dramatically in the last fifty years since the invention of “the
pill”. This revolutionary birth control
innovation energized the beginnings of the feminist movement of the 1960s, a
movement that resulted in a relative empowerment of women. This trend has stoked a powerful reaction
against it. Today, religious
fundamentalists are doubling down in their efforts to turn back the clock to a
time when women were more complacent with their subjugated roles.
Open-hearted and forward-thinking attitudes are
needed to truly actualize the egalitarian ideals upon which our nation was
founded. This means greater fairness
toward girls and women. It also means a
more enlightened embrace of the anima, that archetype of the feminine inner
personality that resides within each man.
The anima has been rudely repressed for millennia in human societies,
and this has caused wide-ranging dysfunctional consequences for all.
A Lovely Vocalist Sings an Aria,
Accompanied by the Sounds of a Soaring Symphony
The ancient Greek extended family of
deities embodies some of the greatest stories ever told. In the beginning, Gaea the feminine-gendered
earth emerged from the primordial force Chaos and gave birth to a son, Uranus,
a primal god who personified the sky.
Gaea then repeatedly mated with Uranus to create 12 first-generation
Titans, who were gods and goddesses personifying primeval nature powers that
had been worshipped and feared from time immemorial.
Uranus was the first patriarchal father
figure in Greek mythology. He grew
resentful of some of the children he had parented with Gaea, like the Cyclopes
and the Hecatoncheires, so he hid them in the earth. This angered their mother Gaea, so she sought
revenge. Cronus, the youngest Titan, was
the only one willing to come to his mother’s aid. Conspiring with Gaea, Cronus boldly lopped
off his father’s genitals with a sickle and threw them into the sea. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty,
pleasure and procreation, sprung from the spermy foam. Wow -- what a spectacle!
Cronus thus became the most powerful god in
the universe, at his father’s terrible expense.
He and his powerful Titan siblings then ruled the world as a dynasty of
deities during a Golden Age. They in
turn were the parents of second-generation Titans like the sun god Helios, the
moon goddess Selene, the god Atlas who supported the heavens, and the brothers
Prometheus and Epimetheus. These Titans
became the parents and grandparents of first-generation Olympians like Zeus,
the supreme ruler of the gods, and Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Hestia and Demeter
who ruled, respectively, the sky, the sea, the underworld and the affairs of
Cronus had become wary when his parents warned him
that one of his children would someday overthrow him. He, after all, had castrated his own father,
so treachery may have run in the family’s genes. What to do?
Cronus decided to swallow his children as they were born. He swallowed the first five of his offspring,
but then his wife Rhea became angry about this, so she tricked Cronus when Zeus
was born and gave him a stone wrapped in clothing to swallow. Cronus fell for
the deception, and Rhea hid Zeus on the island of Crete until he was full
grown. Then Zeus devised a plan with his
mother to free his five siblings, and together they waged a ten-year war
against Cronus in which the Olympians were finally triumphant, and sure enough
Cronus was indeed overthrown by his son Zeus, as prophesied.
This is how Zeus became king of the gods and the
father figure of the Olympians. In a
prototypical male style, he turned out to be a real philanderer. He married his sister Hera after she had
refused him for 300 years. Some episode
of trickery was involved, as I recall.
Hera was the supreme goddess of marriage and childbirth, and she was
Zeus’ devoted but extremely jealous wife.
Imagine yourself alive some 2,500 years ago
in Classical Greece. These myths of
creation and early genealogies were the dominant spiritual, religious and
cosmological explanations of existence at that time in the most advanced
civilization in Europe. A rich,
well-developed trove of stories surrounded these deities and enveloped the
Greeks in a mythical connection to their world.
Sometimes, naturally, the behavior of deities was monstrous,
personifying evil or dangers that seemed to lurk everywhere. Note that this was long before Satan monotheistically
arrived on the scene to be blamed for evil, and to influence humankind in their
obvious enthusiasms to commit “sins” of indulgence and pleasure.
These myths are “family stories” that cast
light on our patriarchal genealogy, and on the considerable influence these
archetypal stories have on our personal lives.
Any student of mythology will discover that the myths of ancient Greece
and Rome often included several versions of stories and genealogies. These stories were never severely pruned into
a single dogmatic version. Many
centuries later, Christianity was faced with a similar problem of having many
conflicting gospels and creeds, so Christian bishops convened the First Council
of Nicaea in the fourth century CE to judge which of the hundreds of existing
gospels was officially true, and then they suppressed all other testimonies and
"History does not repeat itself, but it
--- Mark Twain
A Symphony Conductor
Conducts a Sympathetic Survey
Think about the story of Prometheus, the
clever Titan god whose Greek name means forethought. Prometheus was regarded as a champion of
mankind who had a wily intelligence. He
was said to have stolen fire from Zeus and given it to mortals. His brother Epimetheus, whose name means
“hindsight”, was regarded as foolish.
These Titan god brothers were said to have been entrusted with the
responsibility of giving traits to each of the newly created animals. “Epimetheus was responsible for giving a
positive trait to every animal, but when it was time to give man a positive
trait, since he lacked foresight, he found that there was nothing left.” That myth not only puts backward-looking
Epimetheus in a harsh light, but casts mankind in an oddly negative mold. No positive traits at all?!
Prometheus, in his turn, decided to give
mankind the positive attribute of the civilizing arts, as well as the gift of
fire. The civilizing arts provide great
depth and hope for our kind. Since
Prometheus had stolen fire from Zeus, this made the ruler of the gods
colossally angry. Zeus punished
Prometheus with terrible torment for his transgression by binding him to a rock and having an eagle
feed on his liver every day.
Zeus then set out to punish mankind.
The punishment, oddly enough, was to have all the Olympian gods help
fashion Pandora, the first mortal woman, to give to Epimetheus as a wife.
Pandora’s name means “all gifts”, and sure
enough, she received a wonderful range of marvelous traits from the various
Olympian gods and goddesses. She was
also given some distinct character flaws that were not so fabulous. Aphrodite gave her beauty. Apollo gave her musical talent and an ability
to heal others. Zeus gave her
mischievousness. Hera gave her
curiosity. Hermes, a god known for
trickery, gave her cunning, boldness, charm -- and a mysterious box. The stage was set. Epimetheus foolishly made the mistake of
letting his beautiful wife keep the box, though he did supposedly forbid her
from opening it. Since Pandora had been given exceptional curiosity, she of
course eventually opened the box, and dang if it didn’t contain all manner of
evils and mistrust that were thereby released into the world!
This is how the first woman was blamed for
having released horrors into the world, and for being responsible for having
condemned all of humanity to suffer the consequences forever thereafter. This was one early rationalization for the
subjugation of women in patriarchal societies of old, and it is sure proving to
be a stubborn trait in societies worldwide.
The Pandora cataclysm did contain a shard
of good news, however. When Pandora had
looked in the bottom of the emptied box, she found that there was one thing
left: Hope. Curiously, we still have hope, so we see once
again that all curses contain some measure of blessing. The visionary plagiarists who wrote the Bible
found this story too good to pass up, so they incorporated it right up front on
the third page of their holy book. Eve,
the first woman, disobeyed the male LORD God in the Garden of Eden by consuming
the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden, which opened her eyes and
allowed her and Adam to know good and evil.
So God reacted just as Zeus had, by condemning humankind to terrible
troubles and unending grief. This is how
the legendary Greek mythological story of Pandora was assimilated into the
Consider the story of Prometheus in the
context of the vital importance of critical thinking and foresight to our human
existence. The true nature of
evolutionary change that has led to our extraordinary biological success is one
of the most important understandings that we have ever realized. The true dynamics of our evolutionary
adaptation is that we evolved as a social species, and not merely as the
fittest surviving individuals, “red in tooth and claw”. As Edward O. Wilson points out in The Social Conquest of Earth, our
species has been subject to the selective survival of individuals and their
closest kin, and also to the survival of the groups to which they
belonged. Wilson writes: “Every human and every human society has to
learn how to manage adroitly the perpetual ambiguity and conflict between
individual needs and group needs.”
Politicians today are too often less than adroit in negotiating this
In the conflict between individual
motivations and community needs, I subscribe to the Optimum Balance
Theory. I believe that we need to find a
much better balance than letting wealthy people maximize their advantages while
trying to foist austerity on all others.
A cut in food stamp funding in November 2013 reinforced this
conviction. Conservatives are ostensibly
quite worried that poor people may try to make too comfortable a hammock out of
this humanitarian social safety net program, the lazy bums. I myself am cynical about this self-serving
and unempathetic attitude.
The biggest-picture story is one that emphasizes
the natural selection of groups of individuals who have been able to
cooperate together well enough to put the survival of the group ahead of the
survival of ruthlessly competitive individuals.
All our ancestors who survived were from the clans that natural
selection had favored because cooperative commitments are truly the best for
any group as a whole. The nature of the
human propensity to embrace religious beliefs is, in itself, a characteristic
that has given significant survival advantages to clans and tribes who
manifested these tendencies.
It is noteworthy that the entire civilizing
process of the past 10,000 years has been one in which the size of the groups
to which we belong has grown larger.
While early human groups selectively survived by having individuals make
ultimate commitments to their clans alone, it later became important for
individuals to subsume some of their success and advantage-taking to the best
interests of the tribe, the community, the town, the city, the region, the
city-state, and then the nation. The
reason these understandings are so important is that they point to the next
necessary breakthrough required of us to ensure our survival and
prosperity: we must begin to regard our
social group as ever larger, so that we see the need for our entire species to
cooperate together enough to make sure we do not destroy the global commons, or
exterminate a sizable proportion of the biological diversity of life on Earth,
or engage in destructive wars around the planet. This holistic realization recognizes the
precious truth that interrelationships and interdependencies of all life are
deep and inextricable.
The better angels of our nature, along with the
profound civilizing effects of modernity, help control dark human impulses
toward sexual aggression and violence.
These better angels are a part of the civilizing process and
humanitarian revolution articulated by Daniel Kahneman in his brilliant book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. These civilizing forces involve a keen
ability to anticipate longer-term consequences of actions, and an increasing
willingness to take other people’s thoughts and feelings and perspectives into
consideration. The worser angels of our
instincts lurk in voracious greedy appetites, extreme ruthlessness in
competition, poorly controlled drives, wanton sexuality, uncontrolled
addictions, and powerful drives to assert hegemony over others.
The exchange of pleasantries, and even of barbed
witticisms, is ever so preferable to the exchange of blows, or of feathered
poison arrows, just as the indulgence in a little flirtatious fun is much
better than the unleashing of crudely presumptuous and unwanted sexual
advances. The consequences of actions,
and their proportional importance, should guide our actions, laws and
“In studying the history of the human mind, one is
impressed again and again by the fact that the growth of the mind is the
widening of the range of consciousness, and that each step forward has been a
most painful and laborious achievement.”
--- Carl Jung
A Contrapuntal Flute Sounds a Cry from the Heart
Some of the most significant stories in
Greek mythology are the ones concerning Apollo and Dionysus. These are real good stories. Apollo was the son of Leto, a goddess born of
two Titans, and of that inveterate philanderer Zeus. A visit to Leto’s birthplace, the island of
Kos in the beautiful Greek archipelago, would be magical, for it lies just a
few miles off the coast of Bodrum, Turkey, and the clarity of the air there can
be like a veritable vision of revelation.
Apollo is the god of light and the Sun. He represents cool detached elegance, grace, symmetry,
order, control, logic, balance, clarity, light, simplicity, moderation,
emotional containment, and sunny refinement.
Physically, as reflected in art and sculpture, Apollo was depicted as
the ideal of the kouros -- a
handsome, beardless, well-proportioned athletic male similar to Adonis, the god
of beauty and desire, who was considered the veritable prototype of graceful
and youthful male beauty.
Carl Jung’s insights into complementary opposites
give us forewarning: there is much more
to human nature than these noble characteristics of Apollo. And sure enough, the god Dionysus now arrives
on the scene to embody this contrast.
Dionysus was Apollo’s half-brother, the son of Zeus and a mortal
princess named Semele. Let’s give an
enthusiastic salute to Dionysus! As the
next paragraph materializes into your consciousness, imagine the complementary
opposite qualities of yin and yang, feminine and masculine, the moon and the
sun, dark and light, the hidden and the manifest, the passive and the aggressive,
cold and hot, water and fire.
Zeus was the powerful god of sky and thunder. With the power of his stature and influence,
he had easy access to the females of the world.
He took full advantage of it, let me tell you! It was well known that his power as a supreme
god made him difficult to resist.
Nonetheless, the wily sex maniac Zeus disguised himself as a handsome
mortal male in order to deceive Semele and get her to fall in love with him. He scored, and Semele became pregnant with
The story of Dionysus’ birth, related below, is
interesting. But here’s the important
part that should be emphasized. In real
life, there is always a wide continuum of complementary opposites in human
nature, and a healthy balance is generally the best. Since noble Apollonian characteristics simply
do not typify all of life, and are inadequate to encompass its full expression,
the positive aspects of Dionysian characteristics should be allowed fair rein,
rather than being harshly suppressed.
Dionysus was the god of wine and the grape
harvest, and of ritual madness and ecstasy and wild abandon. Dionysus represents open-heartedness,
passion, intensity, depth of emotion, improvisation, drama, tragedy and comedy,
wildness, darkness, moonlight, extremes, dissonance, and general “too
muchness”. His story is juicy, and not
at all fuddy duddy. Picture an
androgynous youth, half naked, making a dramatic and triumphant appearance in a
somewhat disorderly and disheveled manner.
Dionysus was brought up by nymphs and was
surrounded by nature, so he grew up unrestrained. What good fortune! His most symbolic role came to be his
association with wild festivals, revelry, and wine and women and song. In Dionysian rituals, ancient Greeks and
Romans danced, listened to music, and indulged in intoxicants to reduce
inhibitions and social constraints. This
was known to make them feel liberated and free to enjoy and express
themselves. Many Romans abused these
indulgences, which alarmed the authorities at the time. So numerous were those who participated in
bacchanalia festivals that Roman authorities declared a national danger of
crimes and political conspiracies being planned at these events, and they
repressed these darker aspects of humanity by officially banning all bacchanalia
gatherings in 186 BCE.
There are lessons to be learned in the tension
between the complementary opposites of Apollonian and Dionysian temperaments
and propensities, and a good personal and society-wide balance would be a very
positive goal to pursue. A wise woman who is a professor of myth, music and
philosophy, states that one good mark of maturity is the ability to hold joy in
one hand and suffering in the other, and to balance the Apollonian virtues of
clarity, lightness, order and moderation with the Dionysian virtues of emotion,
depth of feeling, and creative expression.
In the parlance of Freud’s ideas about our psyches, we should strive to
find a fair balance between our id, our ego, and our superego. In doing so, hearty respect should be given
to the fairness principles of the Golden Rule in every situation where our
actions affect others.
Complementary opposition can be seen to be a
fabric that is woven through all of existence.
Every current condition is a temporary balance point, a stasis that
represents competing natural forces of mind and body, masculine and feminine,
life and death, chaos and order, matter and energy, space and time, and many
other forces of complementary opposition.
“Yeah, no, it’s generally a good idea to
think proactively, and to sensibly control one’s impulses.
Long live the Golden Mean.”
--- An Apollonian pronouncement of a modern
incarnation of the Priestess Oracle of Delphi
The story of Dionysus’ birth is fabulous. Hera jealously wanted to exact revenge when
she found out that her husband Zeus had had an affair with Semele, a daughter
of King Cadmus and princess of Thebes.
So Hera disguised herself as a mortal girl. What’s good for the goose is good for the
gander, eh Zeus? Remember that Semele
was pregnant at that moment. The
disguised Hera became a maidservant to Semele, and one can just anticipate the
The disguised goddess tells Semele that her
handsome lover is really the King of Gods in disguise. She convinces Semele to ask Zeus to abandon
his disguise and reveal his glory to prove that he really was the macho dude
Master of the Olympian universe. So
Semele gullibly asked for one wish from Zeus.
He nobly and loyally promised to grant it, no matter what the request
might be. She then asked him to reveal
his glory to her, and he was bound to comply, having so agreed, even though he
knew it would be disastrous to her mortal being. When he revealed himself, Semele was engulfed
in the flames of his radiance.
What a story!
And it gets even better. As
Semele was being burned to death by the flames, Zeus ordered Hermes, the
messenger god and incidental trickster, to save her fetus. Hermes snapped to it, and creatively put the
developing Dionysus into Zeus’ own thigh.
Three months later, Dionysus was born.
The rest is history, as they say.
The Lovely Goddess Artemis Appears
Dionysus had a divine stepsister named Artemis,
who was Apollo’s twin sister. She was
the goddess of the hunt and wild animals, wilderness, the Moon, childbirth,
virginity and young girls. Artemis is
one of my favorite goddesses. Homer referred to her as “Artemis of the Wild
Land and Mistress of Animals.” She was
depicted as a huntress, confidently carrying a bow and arrows, as one might
well imagine in trying to conjure up a fuller image of her from one of many
Greek and Roman marble sculptures carved in her image.
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of
the ancient Greek deities. Her mother
Leto was a daughter of two of the twelve first-generation Titans, as were Zeus
and Hera, so she was actually a close relative of them both. The Bible talks about many generations after
Adam and Eve, making all people blood relatives, so what the heck!
Hera was naturally furious at her husband Zeus
when she found out that he’d had sex with Leto and gotten her pregnant. Hera cursed Leto so that she would be unable
to find a solid ground or island on Earth where she could give birth to her
children. Zeus cleverly caused a floating
island, surrounded by swans, to emerge from the Aegean Sea, and Leto found
refuge there and gave birth to Artemis.
Artemis then helped deliver her twin brother Apollo. What a nifty goddess move that was, to
achieve such an amazing feat so soon after having emerged from the womb
herself! Artemis was said to have
thereafter had an uncanny ability to help women in the pains of
childbirth. She believed that the Fates,
those white-robed incarnations of destiny, had chosen her to be a helpful
the heroine character from The Clan of
the Cave Bear would say “Yay for Artemis!”, for she herself had been an
early expert of a rock-and-sling hunting method in cave man days. If you haven’t read The Clan of the Cave Bear, here’s another thing to add to your list
of interesting things to do. As
described in Recommended
Reading for a Broader Understanding and Appreciation of the World:
(15) The Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean M.
Auel --- The first in a series of richly imagined narratives about Ayla, a girl
who lived 30,000 years ago in Ice Age Europe.
Ayla’s story is that of a heroine who dealt with great challenges in an
epic saga of early humans and their relationships during prehistoric times.
The Clan of the Cave Bear
provokes images in our imagination of a world long ago. It entertains us with a marvelous saga, while
it simultaneously provides provocative insights into how different the
relationships and cultures of prehistoric peoples may have been. Imagine facing the primordial world that Ayla
lived in, with its pre-literate social ties and communication hurdles and cave
lions and saber-toothed tigers and huge cave bears. Try to place yourself in those times and
those contexts, and imagine the worldviews that may have accompanied those human
beings at the time. As descendants of
such people, this flight of imagination provides us with a compelling way of
looking at our selves and our early associations with the Earth and its
Honoring the Greek
To continue the story of the religious
pantheon in ancient Greece, here’s a quote from Comprehensive Global Perspective - An Illuminating Worldview:
This Creation story of Uranus and Cronus
has a bit of a patriarchal slant to it, eh?
Wow -- lots of testosterone! The
father’s genitals were lopped off by his son!!
It makes one yearn for the good old days when the Great Goddess ruled
humankind’s beliefs -- and when much greater appreciation was given to the
health and beneficence of the natural world.
In those times, more respect was likely accorded to Mother Earth, since
people held a more personalized vision of the impersonal powers of cause and
The Great Goddess Mother Earth had been
revered in ancient Europe and Asia for thousands of years before barbarian
invasions led to the subjugation of these early civilizations by peoples whose
deities were dominated by male warrior gods.
These invasions fractured and suppressed the prior mother-based
religions, and father-based theologies became dominant. Patriarchal religions not only consigned
feminine deities to inferior positions in the pantheon, but they profoundly
affected the cultures of the peoples in which they germinated and found
expression. Women were increasingly
oppressed in those societies, and harsh laws like the eye-for-an-eye
Hammurabi’s Code gained force. The new
myths demoted the value of the female life force, with its deep connections to
fertility and nature. And the men, like
modern-day born–again Texan evangelicals, made sure to demote the status of women. In Texas, they are going a step further and
trying to mandate fertility by prohibiting access to abortions, and they are
trying to justify aggressive oil-well-pumping assaults on nature.
Read the Da Vinci Code for an enigmatic, thrilling and entertaining
perspective on issues like this. Fie on
the extreme conservatism of Opus Dei!
Our societies are still paying the price
for the sometimes subtle, sometimes ruthless subjugation of the divine
feminine. Our patriarchal cultures tend
to stunt the basic needs of both women and men, and to thereby inhibit personal
growth and the fulfillment of our human potentials. Cultural constructs compel males to repress
their inner anima selves and their emotions and vulnerabilities, contributing
to a variety of morbid symptoms. And
they repress females, and make sure women earn less pay for equal work, and
they act to impose restrictions on their freedoms and prerogatives.
In larger ecological terms, domineering
masculine god conceptions facilitate the rash exploitation of Mother
Earth. We should instead give greater
appreciation and respect to our home planet by being willing to boldly protect
it with far-reaching commitments.
Protections of wildlife habitats should be strengthened! We should recognize and honor the intrinsic
values of Earth’s ecosystems in a healthy condition, and we should stop
pretending with mindless myopia that we will be able to continue exploiting and
abusing them indefinitely, or with impunity.
I highly recommend Dr. Leonard Shlain’s book
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: the
Conflict between Word and Image for its provocative perspective on the
curious transition of early civilizations from Mother Goddess worship to the
worship of male Gods. Dr. Shlain makes a
compelling case for deeper causes for this rude transformation. His brilliant insights involve the
neurological workings of our brains and the physical shift to a dominance of
the left hemisphere that occurred when analytical literacy became
widespread. Lenny asserted that there is
a very strong correlation between this change and a diminishing of the status
and prerogatives of women in societies back then, and a reduction in levels of
respect for them, and far-reaching restrictions on their freedoms and rights.
The study of mythology can provide us with
enlightening insights. Powerful images
are expressed in story-telling, myths, legends, rituals and holy book
stories. These tales resemble Rorschach
revelations of our inner selves and the drives that affect us. We are all acted upon from within by the
universal archetypes that reside in our collective unconscious, such as those
richly embodied in the characteristics attributed to the gods and goddesses of
Classical Greece. Zeus!
At the same time that archetypes strongly
influence our behaviors, we are profoundly affected by forces from without, in
the form of cultural stereotypes and expectations and acculturated
opinions. A better knowledge of all the
forces that influence us can give us the power to re-shape our lives in ways
that will be more meaningful and fulfilling.
Read the intriguing book, Goddesses
in Everywoman: A New Psychology of Women by Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen for a
deeper and more personal framework of this topic, and of important
a Better Mythology!
and belief systems help us define ourselves.
They create identity and a sense of meaning and belonging in our
lives. Every culture throughout history
has had its own unique creation myths in response to the strong human need for
trying to explain existence and to feel more secure in believing that we are
significant in the world. How could it
be otherwise that we are at the center of the universe? Could it be?
Isn’t it? Surely every child
feels, in any case, “It’s all about me!”
we seem to have a basic need for a creation myth, there could scarcely be a
more solid, fact-supported, adaptive and unifying one than the narrative
unfolding through understandings of deep ecology and related scientific
disciplines. This reveals a grand saga
of an eons-long physical evolution of the universe and our solar system and
home planet. Within this backdrop,
science presents a magnificent conception of the genetic evolution of all life
on Earth, including every species of life in a billions-of-years-long epic of
continuous change along a multifaceted branching of the tree of life. Our
own species evolved from earlier predecessors some 150,000 to 200,000 years
ago, and then a Big Bang of the Mind brought us to the threshold of being able
to conceive of abstract ideas, like the ones expansively explored in this
and psychology have broadened these understandings. How can we contribute to a rapid
transformation of these greater understandings into a vital new overarching
myth that will be awe-inspiring, moral, life affirming, purposeful, and
emotionally satisfying? This question is
important, for the need is great!
would be salubrious for us all if a reconciling balance could be re-established
between masculine and feminine cosmologies and theologies and worldviews and
politics. By yielding a bit of the drive
for domination, the masculine divine could allow the vital feminine divine and
its corollary positive attributes to gain proper and healthier influence in our
societies. Women could be empowered and
accorded fairer treatment and greater equality of opportunity. By choosing more women to represent the best
interests of families and communities, we would improve our societies. We should commit collectively to females that
a universal healthcare system will be implemented that will include care for
mothers and all females without meddlesome vaginal probes or purity pledges or
sexist double standards!
women accorded more respect, more of them might run for office and help reform
our political and economic systems. We
might discover that better cooperation would be cultivated in our national
decision-making, and there would be a greater probability we would succeed in
achieving common good goals. This would
be preferable to rigidly sticking with the same old sad story of uncompromising
competition, extreme partisanship, and the squandering of resources on the
military and wars.
A Trumpet Sounds, and a Haunting Flute
Trills like a Nightingale
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
--- Dorothy Parker
Let’s look in on Mark Twain. This great author was a real character! He gave strict instructions that his
autobiography should not be published until 100 years after he died. That’s planning ahead! This idea seems a bit presumptuous to me, but
then again, he had wryly once noted
that he was “born modest, but it didn’t last”, and he had
bragged that he had became so
famous that he was “the most conspicuous person on the planet”. Sure enough, the first of a
3-volume set of The Autobiography of Mark
Twain was published in 2010 by the University of California Press, just 100
years after he died.
Mark Twain died in 1910, almost exactly when Halley’s Comet, in its highly
elliptical 75-year-long orbit, made its closest approach to the Sun since the
day he had been born. Read all about it
Quite Curious and Illuminating Biography of Mark Twain.
Carl Jung would
have had a field day delving into the psychological, cultural, sociological,
psychic and personal ramifications of illustrious Mark Twain’s ideas and
thoughts. Carl Jung, who died in 1961
actually did delve incredibly deeply into the inner psyche of one of the most
well-known people in world history: Jung
himself! It turns out that, almost 50
years after he died, a record was finally published of his
provocatively-intriguing original artworks, along with a fascinating
accompaniment of his thoughts, emotions and introspections that had motivated
their creation. This is The Red Book.
Mark Twain’s Autobiography is middling interesting, but it is not overly
enlightening. If, on the other hand, you
have great curiosity and an extra lifetime or so, here’s a much more compelling
suggestion: Study The Red Book, because as Carl Jung observes:
“He who looks outside dreams; he who looks
Dionysus, the Greek god of epiphany,
suddenly snaps to an uncharacteristically attentive focus. He appears to be hung-over, as if disheveled
from some intoxicated late-night debauch.
Readers are well-advised to be alert themselves in perusing these
words. The swelling sound of an
orchestra with 121 instruments should accompany this Red Book disclosure, with wind instruments and stringed instruments
intertwining harmoniously, punctuated upon occasion by percussion and a wealth
of suggestive dissonance.
Anyone who studies The Red Book will find it to be almost breathtaking in its depth
and scope. In addition to Jung’s
extraordinary art, the book contains original calligraphy and inscriptions in
German and Latin, along with translations and a synthesis of the profound
meanings he intended to convey. It is a
colossal achievement in the history of human ideas, delving into the conscious
and subconscious ideas of a man with a brilliant intellect and a fascinating
compulsion to better understand the complex concatenations of thoughts,
feelings, motivations, memories and influences that lie deep in our brains.
“An opus is needed, that
one can squander decades on, and do it out of necessity. I must catch up with a piece of the Middle
Ages within myself … The touchstone is being alone with oneself. This is the way.”
Red Book, Carl Jung
The Red Book is a revelation, a
“numinous beginning”. It was written and
illustrated by Jung during an intense period of self-reflection between 1914
and 1930. This was a time following the
disruption of his close friendship with Sigmund Freud after an intense break in
their relationship. It was during this
period that Jung developed his enlightening theories of archetypes in our
collective unconscious, and of the process of psychological integration known
as individuation. He also explored the
twin concepts of introversion and extraversion in different personality
I look forward to reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet: the Power of
Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, because I want to find out
more about her insights into the nature of introspective individuals, having
been exceedingly shy in my younger years.
In this book, Susan Cain talks about an interesting concept involving a
“culture of character” as compared to today’s “culture of personality.”
I repeat the
observation in the opening paragraphs of this epistle that Carl Jung believed
the discovery and fulfillment of our deep innate potential is our main task in
life, and that such journeys of transformation are at the mystical heart of all
religions. When speaking of The Red Book, Jung later asserted: “My entire life consisted in elaborating what
had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream
and threatened to break me.” Jung was
suffering during this period from a kind of psychotic “metanoia” (literally, a
radical “changing of one’s mind”). This
process is not a closing down like some conversion to born-again beliefs in
fixed dogmas. No! This is a spontaneous process of a psyche
that is trying to heal itself and recover from unbearable conflict by embracing
thoughts and perspectives that lie beyond previous limitations and thought
patterns. An intense metanoia episode
can transform an existential crisis into a healthier and more adaptive way of
seeing the world, and it can thereby help a person cope with a challenging
“This is no social crisis
Just another tricky day for you.”
--- Lyrics from Another Tricky
Day, The Who
Good Vibrations and Excitations
I love trying to array in my mind the grand sweep
of history and the overlap of famous people, epic events, and evolving ideas
and trends. Let us harken back to the
dawn of psychoanalysis and “the talking cure”, for example, and give
consideration to the medical condition known as hysteria. Hysteria had been diagnosed for at least two
thousand years as a medical condition particular to women. Hysteria was characterized by a state of
unmanageable emotional turmoil. A book
titled Studies on Hysteria was
published in 1895, co-written by a then-prominent Austrian physician named
Josef Breuer and a young Sigmund Freud.
The two of them had been working with women to help them deal with
nervous afflictions by using hydrotherapy, electro-therapy, massage, rest-cures
on Hysteria was the first book in history to contain
psychoanalytic case studies. These two
pioneers of the field of verbal psychotherapy essentially discovered for the
first time that we all have an unconscious
mind. (Duh! Fish discover water!) They found that women who had hysterical
attacks sometimes manifested amnesia of their actions during these episodes, so
Freud and Breuer used hypnosis as a tool to explore these neuroses and the deep
influences of the unconscious mind.
on Hysteria delved into the new field that became known as
psychoanalysis, and with this undertaking, Freud began to explore “free
associations” and psychological interpretations and dream analysis to gain
insights into the inner workings of the mind.
Breuer and Freud attributed nervous symptoms associated with “hysteria”
to unconscious early traumatic experiences.
They theorized that repressed memories associated with sexual feelings
were primarily to blame for the condition.
Some men claimed that hysteria was caused by
“disturbances of the uterus”. Oh,
sure! One treatment for hysteria in the
1890s that was not atypical was for a physician to massage a female patient’s
genitalia. The extraordinary film Hysteria provides a rich visualization
of this story. A challenge for the
doctors engaging in this kind of sex therapy was that they often suffered from
fatigued hands and wrists due to the prolonged energetic efforts required. This led to the invention of mechanical
vibrators. Vibrators were used to
erotically stimulate women and relieve them of the symptoms of their hysteria
by means of a “hysterical paroxysm” -- an orgasm!
“In 1902, the American company Hamilton Beach
patented the first electric vibrator available for retail sale, making the
vibrator the fifth domestic appliance to be electrified, after the sewing
machine, fan, tea kettle and toaster, and about a decade before the vacuum
cleaner and electric iron.” Home
versions of the vibrator reputedly soon became extremely popular. I’ll bet!
During the sexual revolution of the 1960s, cordless electric vibrators
for use on the human body became popular, according to bits of illumination in
Conservative Christians tend to believe that the
use of vibrators is immoral, and even that the Bible prohibits the use of
vibrators. It’s almost as if Biblical
prophecy was omniscient, anticipating the evolution of innovations that would
provide women with pleasure and “relief”, and that the devices would be judged
to be contrary to puritanical beliefs.
Does the Bible really preemptively prohibit such activities and devices,
or is this just another way that prudish control-freak males are trying to
restrict women’s prerogatives? One
puritanical preacher inveighed against such devices because “they are conducive
to promiscuity, because they promote loose morals and because they entice
improper and potentially deadly behaviors.”
Other more liberal-minded people argue that
vibrators are “marital substitutes” that actually provide a “social good” by
playing “an important role in the emotional lives of millions of
Americans.” Yes! I recommend that people watch the highly entertaining
2011 film Hysteria for an
enlightening look back at the Victorian Era when Mortimer Granville invented
the first vibrator for medical science.
Hysteria, in any case, is now considered a
catch-all “junk diagnosis”. The
terminology hasn’t been used to denote a specific medical condition for many
decades. Curiously, women who were
thought to be suffering from hysteria exhibited a wide array of symptoms that
included insomnia, faintness, nervousness, irritability, heaviness in the
abdomen, muscle spasms, shortness of breath, loss of appetite for food or sex,
and even “a tendency to cause trouble.”
Ha! It appears to me that those
who diagnosed these conditions might themselves have been in distinct
need of psychoanalysis!
An Obscene Device Law in Texas banned the sales of
vibrators from 1973 until 2008. Leave it
to Texas! The law was finally overturned
in a flurry of court cases in 2008, when the law was finally deemed
unconstitutional because it violated an Amendment to the Constitution that
stipulated individuals have a right to privacy.
One might wonder what really happened to the
medical condition known as hysteria. I
veritably swoon to contemplate it. As
better understandings of how the human brain works have come into being, and as
neuroscientists have come to grips with effects of hormones on human behaviors,
people have come to realize that hysteria was often merely a convenient
catch-all diagnosis for a wide range of judgmental projections, puzzling
behaviors, eccentricities, chemical malfunctions and related neuroses and
psychoses -- and even of many normal behaviors.
The Nemo Chimes in to Make Its Presence
Many women have long bridled at the deep-seated
sexism of Sigmund Freud’s seminal studies in psychoanalysis and his
scintillatingly inventive theories on subjects like penis envy, oedipal
complexes and dark inner sexual drives.
The nature of Freud’s theories on the battles within our unconscious
minds is worth the price of admission alone.
This struggle within each person pits the “gimme now” infantilism of the
“id” against the “whoa, baby” internalized strict-father conscience of the
“superego”, and both of them negotiate with the opportunistic “Let’s make this
work” pragmatism of the facilitating “ego”.
Sigmund Freud had formulated these profound
insights into the human psyche. Another
way of seeing and understanding his three provinces of the psyche is to see the
ego as the province of conscious
desires and the id as the more
obscure province of the myriad motivations that reside in the subconscious, and
the superego as governing the
emotional intelligence that strives to balance, control or repress these two
powerful mental forces.
Fugues are contrapuntal musical
compositions that begin with an exposition then undergo an episode of
development before returning to the original subject. A bell now chimes, signaling another
developing theme and bringing forth an observation that there is a fourth
dimension in the human psyche that happens to be a tangential counterpoint to
narcissism. Philosopher John Fowles called
it the nemo. The nemo is an aspect of the psyche that has
developed more distinctly in modern times, compared to Freud’s concepts of the id, the ego and the super-ego. The nemo
is ‘nobodiness’, a “supreme source of anguish”, a vaguely (or acutely)
desperate feeling of being a nobody. The
lyrics play of the Beatles’ Nowhere Man drift
into my consciousness.
He's a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody.
Sigmund Freud neglected this aspect of our minds
in his tripartite analysis of the human psyche.
Ponder this, from Comprehensive
John Fowles insightfully
realized that there is also a more subtle force that is growing deep in the
modern soul. This is the ‘nemo’, which
represents the psychic force that motivates us to try to be somebody, to
be remembered, and to thwart our profound fear of being an insignificant
nobody. The nemo is strengthened by the
knowledge that there are myriad inequalities in life, and by such haunting
anxieties as feelings of psychological emptiness, ephemerality, futility and
Why did Mark
David Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon, kill the man he so
respected? The nemo! Chapman was presumably a pathetic nobody,
tormented by inner demons; and yet his
name will be remembered forever in conjunction with the great Beatles’ singer,
songwriter, lyricist and champion of peace.
(Imagine the irony --- “All we need is love”!).
novel Home Is the Sailor conjures up
a classic tale of a man who shouldn’t have had a care in the world, and yet he
was troubled and unhappy in his life.
The main character felt that he was a nobody, and that he sorely needed
to get a title, like Doctor or Admiral, to feel better about himself. His friends conspired through a bit of nifty
corruption to get him qualified for the title of a Captain in the Merchant
Marine. The sublime joy, braggadocio,
comic misadventures, jealousy, circumstantial downfall, mortifying
embarrassment, and triumphant denouement of the story are richly entertaining.
Two tales are told in Home Is the Sailor, “both taking place over a half-century before
the narrator has taken up the case. It
is a marvelous joke that the mutually exclusive lines are both presented by the
narrator as objective fact.” … “Both of the tales are told by a dull-witted
narrator who has trouble deciphering truths in the present tense, much less
those which are fifty years in the past.”
Jorge Amado succeeds in this book in
“showing the humanity of unpleasant people, but saves the glory as always for
the truth and the poor.” Like John
Steinbeck, Jorge Amado always tried “to give dignity to the people that society
tries hardest to strip it from.”
my readers now, with their learning and their experience, tell me what is the
truth, the whole truth? Does truth lie
in the everyday events, the daily incidents, in the pettiness and vulgarity
most people’s lives are compounded of, or does the truth have its abode in the
dream it is given us to dream to flee our sad human condition?”
--- Jorge Amado, Home Is The Sailor
speculate in Comprehensive Global
Perspective that the nemo impulses of extreme conservatives are driving
humankind headlong in the direction of calamity. Conservative convictions of God-appointed
self-righteousness are impelling us down an ignominious conflict-engendering
path on which unfair special privilege is championed for the well heeled. Religious fanaticism is leading many people
to support white supremacy, social repression, misogynistic male
authoritarianism, puritanical domestic policies, and theocratic Christian
hegemony. By allying itself with
right-wing politicians, the Religious Right is also strengthening impulses toward
military aggression, irresponsible profiteering, and unfettered laissez-faire
capitalistic rule by the wealthy. I call
once again for conservatives to help return America to sanity -- and the world
to better hopes of fairness and peace!
The sound of Taiko drummers pounding in the
distance brings my attention back to the here and now. Where was I?
An Auditory Kaleidoscope of Emotional
Themes Resonates in Anima Voice
I love discovering a new word. Consider syzygy. The name alone is inscrutable, evocative,
scintillating, snappy and mysterious. Syzygy, according to the New World
Encyclopedia online, is the divine pair of both anima and animus together,
consisting of three elements:
~ the femininity pertaining to men (anima)
and the masculinity pertaining to women (animus);
~ the actual experience women have of men,
and that men have of women; and,
masculine and feminine archetypal images.
How can we holistically make sense of such an
arcane concept? How can we rise up to a
balanced level of both specificity and generality that will allow us
enlightenment and spiritual transformation that will make our world a better
one? Perhaps a more enlightened attitude
toward the syzygy is needed.
Here is an interesting story, and one of the most
revealing ones in the mythologies of ancient Greece. A princess named Psyche lived in a kingdom in
Greece more than 3,000 years ago, long before humankind came to monotheistic
convictions that there is only one true God or Allah or Brahman or Jehovah or
Elohim. Psyche was beautiful, stunning
really, and this made Aphrodite, the goddess of love, just as jealous as one
can divinely be, which is supreme jealousy indeed. So Aphrodite asked her son Eros, the god of
love (his Roman counterpart was Cupid), to put a spell on Psyche. Obediently, Eros flew down to Earth and
sprinkled a potion on the sleeping beauty that would prevent any man from
wanting to marry her. But Eros
accidentally pricked Psyche with one of his arrows (which, as many people know,
make someone fall in love instantly), and she startled awake to see him. Her beauty, in turn, so surprised Eros that
he accidentally pricked himself with his arrow and he fell head over heels in
love with her.
Later, Psyche, still being stricken by Eros’
potion, found that despite her beauty, she felt alone and was tired of being
sensationally attractive and capable of inspiring plenty of flattery but unable
to find love and a husband. Her parents
consulted the High Priestess Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, and received an
answer: “The virgin is destined to be the bride of no mortal lover. Her future husband awaits her on the top of
After much heartrending debate within her family,
Psyche proceeded to the top of the mountain.
There, the gentle west wind Zephyr raised her from the earth and bore
her into a flowery dale. She took a nap,
and then discovered a nearby magnificent palace. She soon found herself feasting on delicious
food and listening to harmonious lute music accompanied by a full chorus of
handsome and beautiful singers. Then her
destined husband arrived in the night, invisible, and had his way with her,
full of passion and love. She was quite
happy for a while, but her sisters sowed the suspicion that her unseen husband
was a monster, so one night she took an oil lamp and silently rose while he was
sleeping to find out what he really looked like. She beheld a beautiful and charming god, not
a monster; but a drop of hot oil from
the lamp fell on the shoulder of Eros, startling him awake and angering him
because of this outrageous breach of trust, so he abandoned her.
Psyche thought of killing herself in despair, then
tried to find help in the temples of divine goddesses, but finally realized she
had to approach her antagonist, Eros’ mother Aphrodite, the goddess of love, so
as to locate her husband and be reunited with him once again. Eros, it turned out, had kept it a secret
from his jealous mother that he had married Psyche. Aphrodite reluctantly gave Psyche four tasks,
each in sequence, that she had to accomplish before she could be rejoined with
her husband. Aphrodite made sure that
each task was more risky and nearly impossible than the previous one.
The myth of Psyche turns out to be a profound
metaphor for the struggle for love and trust in every interpersonal relationship. All four of the tasks forced Psyche to
grow. Her first task was to sort out a
large pile of sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, and pine nuts that were jumbled
together. She was able to succeed in
this task only with the help of supernatural intervention. The symbolic meaning of this task is that a
woman who is faced with making a crucial decision must first sort out a jumble
of conflicting feelings and competing loyalties. She must honestly sift through her values and
motives and feelings, and make sure she is able to separate what is truly
meaningful from what is relatively insignificant. In this task, a woman recognizes that it is
beneficial to trust her intuitions while also consciously striving to assess priorities
between the many elements involved in making good decisions.
Aphrodite next ordered Psyche to acquire some
golden fleece from the terrible rams of the sun. Though the task is dangerous, she receives
supernatural advice on how to accomplish it.
She waits until the gathering of rams retired for the night, and then
successfully picks some of the golden fleece from sharp brambles. The golden fleece represented power, and this
task symbolizes the risks and undesirable aspects of trying to gain personal
power that are found in associated tendencies to become hardened, cynical or
The third task was even more daunting. Aphrodite tells Psyche to fill a small
crystal flask with water from a forbidding stream that cascades from a spring
at the summit of the highest cliff to the lowest depth of the underworld. Dragons guarded this stream, so the task
seemed impossible. But an eagle comes to
her aid to help fill the flask. The
eagle symbolically stands for the ability to see the situation from a distant
perspective and to swoop down to grasp what is needed. The lesson is to gain some emotional distance
in relationships or decision-making, and to use this insight to best assess
what is significant and what course of action to take.
For her fourth task, Aphrodite tells Psyche to
descend into Hades, the underworld province of the dead, and to take a box with
her to get some beauty cream from Persephone, the Queen of Hades. Persephone was a goddess of spring growth and
natural cycles of birth, death and resurrection. Once again a supernatural advisor helps
Psyche on this hazardous journey by telling her what she must do to go to Hades
and get the beauty ointment and return safely from the underworld.
Psyche was very curious by nature, and as she
returned from Hades with the box, she thought a little touch-up of her beauty
using the fabled cream would be a good thing.
So she opened the box of magic makeup, even though she had been warned
not to do so. The box contained nothing
but darkness, and it put her into a deep, deep sleep. The lesson in this development was that it is
important for women to learn how to exercise sound judgment in their life
choices, and to be able to resist temptations.
These four tasks also highlighted the need for
women to be a bit more assertive and to refuse to be exploited or treated in
demeaning ways, or to allow others to divert their attention from doing
important things for themselves. Having
successfully completed the ordeal of the four tasks, Psyche still had to be
rescued by Eros from the spell of the sleeping potion. Eros brought her to Zeus in the heavens and
asked him to intervene. Zeus gave Psyche
a cup of divine ambrosia, which is the pure food of the Titans and Olympians,
and this made her immortal, so she was able to live happily ever after with her
husband Eros in a blissful state of marriage.
The story of Psyche turns out to be a wonderful
one of a woman who grows psychologically and evolves by developing capabilities
and strengths through courage and determination. Despite all the challenges she
had to endure, however, she remained true to her basic nature of valuing a love
relationship and risking everything for it, and she eventually thereby achieved
her desired goal.
Psyche and Eros later had a beautiful daughter named
Voluptas, the goddess of sensual pleasure, also known as Hedone. She loved to hang out in the company of the
Three Graces. In an ironic perversion of
reputation and meaning, the word “hedonism” carries with it a modern
implication of wanton pursuit of pleasure without regard for consequences. It’s possible that religious conservative
sensibilities are the ones mostly responsible for this denigration of a
potentially beautiful aspect of being alive.
The ancient Greek
philosopher Epicurus (341 BCE - 270 BCE) proclaimed that the proper purpose of
life and philosophy was to attain happiness and tranquility, and to feel free
from fear by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. Epicurus regarded the quest for pleasure as a
search for the simple things in life, like delicious food and leisurely meals
shared with good friends. He taught that
pleasure and pain are measures of what is good and bad, and he warned against
worldly pleasures and overindulgence and lavish consumption because these things
could lead to disappointment, pain, suffering or other negative outcomes. His philosophy is laudable, so it is too bad
that it has been perverted by commercial promoters into a rousing cry for
consumerism, and by hell-and-damnation preachers into a suspect and ostensibly
immoral libidinous Epicureanism. Some
people just seem to hate the pleasures and enjoyments of others, or to regard
stoicism and puritan denial as primary virtues.
Sensual pleasure can be a sublime source of satisfaction in
the moment, and it is sad to taint such experiences with the critical judgments
of an overly rigorous asceticism. On the
other hand, there are plenty of instances in Dante’s Second and Third Circles
of Hell where an obsessively disordered love of pleasure can become a corrupt
vice of lust and gluttony. Balance and
moderation in all things, I say, and let’s give a greater modicum of acceptance
and respect to others!
Epicurus was also known for having asserted that
gods do not reward or punish humans. He
believed that death is the definitive end of the body and the soul, and that it
therefore should not be feared. These
seem like reasonable probabilities and healthy attitudes. On the day he died, Epicurus wrote a letter
in which he said he was suffering severe pain, “But the cheerfulness of my
mind, which comes from the recollection of all my philosophical contemplation,
counterbalances all these afflictions.”
Bravo for Epicurus! In commemoration of healthy aspects of his
spirit, check out Tiffany Twain Entertains:
A Philosophic Cookbook, and Twelve
Delicious Recipes for Good Health and Gourmet Appreciation. Readers will find some great recipes therein,
along with an enthusiastic sense of appreciation for simple pleasures and an
introspection into ideas on how we could better “cook our lives” and improve
our health, and even possibly make our individual and common destinies a bit
better. These reflections
make me think of another good story in Greek mythology.
Catchy Rock-and-Roll Music Transitions into
a Hard Rock Reprise
Narcissus was a
hunter who was renowned for his handsome appearance. A beautiful mountain nymph named Echo fell in
love with him. As much as anything, Echo
loved to talk and hear her own voice.
Since Zeus really enjoyed consorting with beautiful nymphs, he often
came down from the heavens above to visit them on earth, and his jealous wife
Hera came down from the abode of the gods on Mt. Olympus to catch Zeus as he
flirted and philandered with the nymphs.
Echo amused and distracted Hera with long entertaining stories while
Zeus took advantage of the subterfuge to ravish the other mountain nymphs. When Hera finally discovered this treachery,
she was so angry with Echo that she punished her by taking away her voice
completely, other than in fading repetitions of another’s shouted words. As was the propensity of Narcissus, and as
fate would have it, Narcissus spurned lovely Echo and she spent the rest of her
days in lonely glens and canyons pining away for the lover she would never
Narcissus was an
exceptionally proud youth, but he had the sad foible of disdaining all who
loved him. This characteristic offended
Nemesis, the goddess of poetic justice and the remorseless spirit of divine
retribution. Nemesis was known for
wreaking vengeance on those who were filled with hubris. Nemesis fatefully made sure that Narcissus
was attracted to a pool where he saw his own reflection in the waters. He fell in love with his image, not realizing
that it was merely a reflection, and he was unable to leave the beauty of his
own reflection, so he consequently died.
Or, in some versions of the story, he stabbed himself in the heart in
despair upon realizing that his reflection would never give him the fulfillment
of love in return. As his blood fell to
the ground, the drops spurred the first growth of the daffodil or another kind
of lovely narcissus flower in the Amaryllis
The entire human
race is acting today with obtusely self-centered narcissistic habits and
behaviors that are contributing to a wholesale destruction of living habitats
through forest clear-cutting, fisheries depletion, wasteful usages of fossil
fuels, and the degradation of the quality of water resources and agricultural
lands and wild places. Recall this date:
April 15, 1912. Just over a century ago
on this date, the huge passenger liner RMS Titanic
sank on its maiden voyage across the North Atlantic. The Captain of the Titanic is reputed to have
figuratively said, “Damn the icebergs, full speed ahead!” while steaming through
treacherous waters, and the ship’s passengers and crew suffered the terrible
consequences. Some 1,500 people died and
only 705 people survived. We would be
well advised today to stop going full-speed-ahead in these “Years of Living
Dangerously” by failing to take bold steps to limit emissions of greenhouse
gases into the atmosphere.
of animals exist in a dynamic state of natural balance. These populations are in effect controlled by
limiting factors such as predation, disease, competitive pressures, and
available supplies of food. Humanity is
not exempt from these influences. For
this reason it is foolhardy for the human race to continue acting in ways that
wipe out wildlife, damage ecosystems, waste resources, and upset the equilibrium
of natural systems. These are myopically
misguided things to do. This is not
merely a value judgment -- it is a quintessential consequential conclusion.
Our actions today are creating a dangerous
and unsettled situation that will probably be restored to balance only after
our severe human equilibrium-disturbing impacts are ancient history, hundreds
or thousands of years from now -- or tens of thousands of years, to those who
are real optimists.
Beautiful Music Evokes Broader Associations
Much of the focus of these thoughts is centered on
perspectives in Western civilization.
Any study of mythology would, however, be incomplete without looking
into other cultures around the world.
Consider the rich mythology of Hinduism.
Recorded documents of the Hindu religion date from about 1700 BCE during
the times of the Vedic civilization on the Indian subcontinent. This was roughly the time when the earliest
alphabets were invented. One observer
pointed out that there is a dramatic contrast between female archetypes in
western mythology and those of Hindu deities.
Almost all goddesses in western myths, and in Judeo-Christian stories,
have female traits that are generally virginal, motherly, manipulative,
gossipy, weak or evil. These stories
feature damsels in distress, fairy godmothers, evil stepmothers, or women like
those in the Bible who act with subordination, like Eve, or with undisciplined
character, like the wife of Lot.
In contrast, earlier Indian and Hindu mythology
features many positive female characters and very powerful females like Kali,
the creator and destroyer who is foremost among the ten fierce Tantric wisdom
goddesses. The character of females in
various mythologies reflects the roles that women have in the cultures in which
the myths originated, so myths reveal the way women were perceived and treated
in those times. It is a sad commentary
that Western religions feature female goddesses and mortals that are less
heroic, noble or powerful than those in ancient cultures of India’s subcontinent.
In the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, certain
specific rights were granted to women that they didn’t have in pre-Islamic
Arabia, like the rights to own property in their names or to inherit some of
their husband’s estate when he died.
Laws that sprung from Prophet Muhammad’s beliefs had some interesting
effects on societies in which Islam became dominant in its early years. There were some salubrious effects for women,
particularly mothers, in patriarchal Arabic cultures when the Qur’an enhanced
the status of women a little bit. Women
had, after all, been previously considered to be merely chattel.
But the Qur’an did not establish equality of
rights for men and women. Polygamy was
accepted, with men being allowed to have one wife, two, three, four, whatever! The superior prerogatives of males were left
fundamentally intact. Cultural change is
difficult to effect in broad-based ways, and cultural changes take time to
develop because traditionalist biases are so hard to overcome. Adaptive changes come slowly in most
societies, as can be seen in the slow pace of changing attitudes toward women’s
rights and those of lesbian women and gay men in most countries in the world
The ideals of the Muslim Qur’an, and the example
set by Muhammad, were more favorable to women than has been practiced since
then in Arab and Muslim societies. Women
have, in this regard, slipped back in status and rights in Islamic nations
since Muhammad’s time in the 7th century CE.
Male supremacism is ostensibly far too entrenched to easily alter.
Women’s rights have a long way to go to achieve
any fair semblance of parity. This is
particularly true in repressive male-dominated societies like those in the
Middle East. One chapter of the Qur’an
specifically concerns women; it
stipulates that they should be devout, obedient and submissive. It specifies that a male can beat a woman if
she displeases him in any way. The
veiling and seclusion of women are one consequence of this male-dominated
religion and culture. Meanwhile,
socially conservative Islam continues to cling tenaciously to patriarchal
dogmas and traditions and restrictive gender roles for females.
The Prophet Muhammad claimed that Allah had
commanded him to publish his revelations after he had suffered three years of
angst at the prospect. “When I make my
message known to them I will meet with great unpleasantness, so I have kept
The first converts to Muhammad’s teachings, after
his wife Khadija and a few friends, were poor men and members of weak clans,
and rootless migrants, and younger generations -- “those people most
dissatisfied with the changing moral and social climate of Mecca, for whom the
Prophet’s message proved a vital alternative.”
Muhammad felt justified in his teachings against
the status quo because he said “he was sent by God to rescue his people from
ignorance and guide them on the path to righteousness.” Initial strong resistance to Muhammad’s
teachings made it clear that people would not be moved by ideas alone, but that
commanding prestige was needed to advance new religious precepts. As it turned out, this prestige was to be
gained by the conquering force of the sword.
A power struggle played out in Muhammad’s early
years, and he denounced Jews and slaughtered Jewish clans. He began to win over people who had held more
peaceable beliefs. “In the years that
followed, Muhammad worked to create a community based on shared religious
beliefs, ceremonies, ethics and laws -- a community that would transcend the
traditional social structure based on families, clans and tribes, and would
unite disparate groups into a new Arabian society.”
By 624 CE, Muhammad began to achieve glorious
prestige everywhere in Arabia through military victories. Such militant triumphs were seen as a sign of
divine favor, so they led to more widespread support and a consolidation of
power. In 630 CE, Muhammad finally
triumphed over the people of Mecca. “By
the end of his life, Muhammad had created, for the first time in centuries, a
large-scale Arabian federation of oases and tribes, and had provided a solution
to the destructive anarchy of Arabian life.”
As usual, a relativity of good and bad generally accompanies all
Societal bonds based on common religious beliefs
became more important in those times than kinship in clans. Before Muhammad, clans were often feuding and
there were no common laws or government in Arab societies. The highest authority until then was found in
chiefs of individual clans. Wisdom and
common sense, upon occasion, would prevail over bloodshed, and conflicting
clans would select someone to be their arbitrator, or hakam. This was a person
reputed to have honorable religious vision and to be just, politic, tactful and
impartial. Because such persons had no means of
enforcing their decisions, it was common practice for them to interview the
disputants and assure themselves that their decisions would be accepted.
Today, a violently destabilizing era is
materializing that began as an “Arab Spring”, and the unfolding implications
reach far beyond the impetus for change that has manifested itself to
date. This dangerous sectarian strife
involves a revolution of youth against repression, and women in those societies
are hoping for greater freedoms. Brutal
strife is getting worse in Syria, and tribal religious extremism is
proliferating as I pen these words. An
estimated 250,000 people have been killed in Syria, and hunger stalks the
land. The conflict has spilled over into
Iraq and Turkey, and the U.S. has been bombing the ruthlessly militant
self-proclaimed Islamic State since September 2014. I appeal to any shred of humanity remaining
in the heart of the President of Syria, Bashar Assad, to seek fairer strategies
and to strive to heal the turmoil in his land. Violence and brutal repression of the Syrian
uprising has exacerbated the conflict, spawning the brutal Islamic State, and
terrorist fervor is returning with foreign fighters to Western nations. Revolutionarily fairer reforms and peace
initiatives are needed NOW. Let the
Syrian people create a process of moving forward toward greater security,
fairer democratic governance, and a more stable civil society!
Guitars Strum, One Weeping, and A Member of
the Audience Unaccountably Snores
We Americans love the idea of freedom and
assured liberties and democratic representation. Think about the ideas in this excerpt from Comprehensive Global Perspective: An
The original great philosopher Plato spent
twelve years traveling around the Mediterranean world, “imbibing wisdom from
every source.” He had embarked on his
travels at a propitious time, because he had been affiliated with the Athenian
aristocracy and was therefore considered a threat to the democratic
Establishment that had come to power in his native Greece. In that era, Athens was ruled alternately by
either elite oligarchs or democratic majorities. Neither form of rule was ideal. The oligarchs had their own selfish interests
in mind, so when they were in power they went to terrible lengths to defend the
advantages of the few against the majority of ordinary people.
Democracy is no better, according to Plato,
because the people sometimes killed the rich in violent revolutions, and they
were easily swayed by emotional and deceptive rhetoric that was propagated by
ambitious politicians. Democratic
societies back then were often socially unstable, and were often afflicted by disastrous wars, numerous atrocities and
Democracy in America today is not all that
different, despite revolutionary changes in cultures, technological innovation,
communications, industrialization and demographics. This is because the basic nature of human
drives does not change much, so we are all mired in politics that give us forms
of governance that fall far short of ideal.
Plato advocated letting ‘philosopher kings’ rule. It unfortunately seems to be quite hard to
find any benevolent Philosopher Kings these days! Besides, any such individuals would probably
never get elected to office; they would
be lost in the feuding of electoral politics and fund-raising and
While human nature essentially doesn’t
change, human behaviors are highly adaptable.
This is true especially when there are powerfully effective incentives and disincentives involved. As I point out in examining the perspectives
of the British economist Arthur Cecil Pigou in Existence, Economics, and
Ecological Intelligence, an intelligently
prioritized system of “extraordinary encouragements” and “extraordinary
restraints” helps to properly reflect both social goods and social costs that
are not accounted for in private transactions.
Such incentives are needed because deep interdependencies exist between
people, and there are many “spillover effects” of one person’s actions onto the
well-being of others, and of activities of businesses onto individuals and
society as a whole.
The need for transformation in our
societies is growing greater every year as our materialistic focus and myopic
willingness to plunder and harm the natural world is causing circumstances to
deteriorate. I am sticking to my belief
and hope that Thomas Jefferson was right when he said “I believe that the people, when properly armed with the facts, will
come to the right conclusion.”
A Musical Measure of
Harmonic Emphasis Arises in These Words
Freedom is the magnetic true north of human
beings. Americans tend to know little of
the history of other nations, but there are good lessons to be learned from
understanding the struggles of other peoples to achieve freedom. The true hero in the history of Corsica, for
example, was Pasquale Paoli, who lived from 1725 to 1807. Paoli was a patriot, freedom fighter, effective
administrator and great leader who helped throw off the hegemony of Genoese
rule after the Italian city-state of Genoa had occupied the island of Corsica
for 450 years. In the course of the long
and bloody struggle, the Genovese had used intrigue to exploit the Corsican
tradition of retributive “vendetta”.
This practice divided clan against clan, and the Genovese had taken
advantage of internecine feuds to keep the Corsican people repressed under the
heavy thumb of Genoese military dominance.
The Corsican resistance finally strengthened and united under Pasquale
Paoli, and the Genovese were finally forced to leave Corsica and secretly sell
the island to the French in 1764. French
military troops then occupied the coastal cities to restore order, and the
English later played a significant role in Corsican struggles for independence.
Under Pasquale Paoli’s moderate leadership,
it was recognized that freedom could best be assured by creating a sound
economic plan and by reforming corrupt governing institutions. Paoli made sure that a liberal new Constitution
was written, fair rules of law were enacted, the vendetta was outlawed, and
shame overcame pride in stopping vendetta murders. He also brought great transformative change
to Corsica in the years just prior to the influence of Napoleon, another famous
Corsican, whose glorious story is a much more notorious one.
Think of those words, “a sound economic
plan”. Pasquale Paoli had worked to
stimulate the production of commodities for export in Corsica, including
chestnuts, cork, olives, cheeses, citrus fruit, grapes, and both granite and
marble. Note that he did not create
gambling casinos, speculative hedge funds or tax shelters, but instead worked
to create a legitimate and fair-minded economic plan that balanced taxes with
government spending on greater good goals and national security. By the time the French Revolution took place
in 1789, Pasquale Paoli had become regarded as a hero of liberty and democracy
in Europe. His example should be remembered
today for his far-sighted thinking and honorably patriotic actions.
Arrangements of Popular Music Play in an Elevator Shaft
Here is a curious digression to investigate
another colorful character in Corsican history.
It was a man who Voltaire used as a model for the Baron in his famous
short story, Candide. Theodor von Neuhoff was a real-life
adventurer from the Westphalia region of Germany who had made the acquaintance
of some Corsican rebels and exiles in Genoa.
Theodor persuaded them that he could free their country from Genoese
tyranny if they made him the king of the island, and it was thus that he landed
a military expedition in Corsica in March 1736 and had himself crowned “King
Theodore I of Corsica”. He issued edicts
and waged war on the powerful Genoese, but was actually somewhat of a bumbling
personality who had to flee and was later arrested in Amsterdam for large
In the beginning of Candide, the protagonist Candide was a simple young man, the
illegitimate son of the sister of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh. Candide was living in the Baron’s castle in
Westphalia and was being taught by Dr. Pangloss, who declared that “all is for
the best … in this best of all worlds”.
At first, Candide accepted this philosophy as true, but as he
experienced the horrors of war and poverty and treachery and the general
maliciousness of mankind, and the hypocrisy of the church, he began to doubt
the veracity of the good Doctor’s philosophic proclamation.
I myself have my doubts. Candide
was written during the Age of Enlightenment, which was basically a period of
intellectual reaction against the stagnation of official approved thought in
the late 17th century. This was at the
twilight of rigid orthodoxy during the reign of Louis XIV in France. This great Age opposed the domineering
influence of the Church, though it was not necessarily an anti-religious
movement. It was anti-clerical because,
throughout history, when the Church and the established order have collaborated
to support each other, it has often been gravely detrimental to the people.
Antonio Genovesi was an eighteenth century
Italian writer on political economy and philosophy who passionately believed in
the free play of the intellect.
Benedetto Croce once called him “the evangelist of reason”. Genovesi abhorred dogmas and fixed systems,
sharing with all prominent men of the Age of Reason (as the Age of
Enlightenment is also known) a robust belief in the virtues of common sense,
and of the superior force of a rational and scientific approach to any
problem. Let’s think about this, and
turn our attention back to the skirmishes against the prerogatives of females.
Sounds of an Aeolian Harp and Twelve Lutes Swell in the Antechamber
expressed my astonishment about the seeming commitment of “conservatives” to
constrain the options of women in their lives and to limit their access to
contraceptives, so now I turn my attention to giant drug companies that promote
erectile dysfunction drugs with inordinately frequent and offensively
repetitious advertising on television. Advertisements
for drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra present sex as romance, and challenge
men: “come on, be a man, get it up!” And
then conservatives demean women for giving in, or being seduced by cunning men,
or being plied with alcohol and taken advantage of, or even for being
The American Academy of
Pediatricians has come out with very good reasons suggesting that erectile
dysfunction drug ads should not be shown on television until after 10pm. Young people are vulnerable to being influenced
by advertisements because their brains have not yet developed the
sophistication to understand the manipulative nature of advertising. Repeated viewing of these ads tends to make
young people think everybody wants sex all the time, or that there is no risk
to having sex, or that men should be ready for sex whenever possible. No mention is made in these ads about
sexually-transmitted diseases, or about the costs and risks of getting
pregnant, or the dangers of childbirth, or the long-term costs of bearing
unwanted children, or any eminently sensible family planning options.
How can we even consider
denying women good access to basic healthcare services like those provided by
Planned Parenthood? The idea of denying
millions of women access to health care needs, as many Republicans suggest with
their plans to eliminate all federal funding of Planned Parenthood clinics, is
shortsighted, cynical and misguided, and it is also a form of class oppression
because Planned Parenthood primarily helps women who are poor.
represented people on the Religious Right who are eager to deny reproductive
choices to women because they think God wants women to get pregnant, no matter
how happy or vile the circumstances may be that result in a woman’s insemination. Santorum should not have had a chance in hell
of being elected to lead our democratic republic, but conservatives and
religious evangelicals nonetheless did a surprisingly effective job of
promoting his candidacy for a while in 2012.
By opposing contraception, extreme religious
conservatives appear to favor Unplanned Parenthood. Many of them seem to be opposed to people
having sex unless it is for the purpose of making babies. In a classic case of hypocrisy, they oppose
family planning and contraceptives at the same time they are pleased that
recreational “lifestyle drugs” like Viagra are available to help men get
erections. The fact that contraceptives
help prevent unwanted pregnancies, while erectile dysfunction drugs contribute
to more of them -- and to more need for abortions -- makes this a bizarrely
hypocritical and rather reprehensible position.
The organization Planned Parenthood provides many
vitally important health services to women in the U.S., especially women in
lower socioeconomic classes. A full 97%
of Planned Parenthood’s funding is dedicated to non-abortion-related services,
which include contraception services, cancer screenings and the prevention and
testing for and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. So, when
Republicans oppose Planned Parenthood, they are indeed assaulting women’s
Mitt Romney egregiously declared a sexist plan to
“get rid of Planned Parenthood” when he ran for president in 2012, and many
Republicans in Congress opposed a required re-authorization of the Violence
Against Women Act. These facts are truly
revealing facets of a real assault on the dignity, personal security and
well-being of women. I feel that all
Americans should support more enlightened attitudes and fairer public policies,
and refuse to support any politicians who refuse to adopt more respectful and
less discriminatory approaches.
Party has been increasingly championing the interests of the political far
right, and of narrow-minded social conservatives and religious
fundamentalists. The highest value of
these groups is to gain power and dominion, and to have their narrow views
forced on all others. In this regard,
and many others, the Republican Party has become markedly more radical than it
was during the years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The Party is so determined to get more power
that its top goal has been to make President Obama fail, no matter how negative
the consequences may be for the American people. It has become obstinately uncompromising in
obstruction, serving to sabotage sensible policies and harm millions of people.
after these paragraphs were first written, the Republican Party has gotten even
more extreme by favoring Donald Trump and Ted Cruz as their standard bearers in
the unfolding Republican presidential primaries, and Trump talks of outlawing
abortions and punishing women who have an abortion and their doctors. These are times that try women’s souls.
The Grand Old
Party seems to have made a Faustian bargain with the devil by pandering to the
Religious Right. A national newspaper
contained a story in late March 2012 about Rick Santorum’s visit to a Jelly
Belly candy factory where this genial face of religious extremism evoked an
affiliation with the icon of Republicanism, Ronald Reagan. Santorum made a speech to those assembled,
lambasting President Obama for being “weak” and “unprincipled”, and he verbally
attacked Mitt Romney for lacking core convictions. He preached like a Crusading minister,
alleging that the most serious threat to America today is the “evil regime” of
radical Islam. In many ways, it can be
seen that extremism begets extremism.
this means. The power of Christian
fanatics has been strengthened in the U.S. by the opposition of Islamic
extremists, who they resemble in curious ways.
This phenomenon is called countersupporting. When we see Iranian ayatollahs and their
brainwashed followers inveighing against “the Great Satan” -- that’s us, folks!
-- we should see the mirrored reflection of that mindless antagonism,
intolerance, self-righteousness and stimulated fear right here in the Religious
Right in America. Deep psychological and
political motives are involved in this state of affairs. This is the dark underbelly of evangelists
who are supposedly “spreading the Good News.”
deprive women of dignity and rights are ridiculous. This issue will be a losing fight for social
conservatives. Too much aggression,
boys! Many proposals and laws that have
been enacted in states like Virginia, Arizona and Texas in recent years are too
extreme to pass the muster of populist and fair-minded sensibilities, and a
well-justified backlash is arising to this male chauvinism. No one wants harshly prohibitive Shariah-like
laws in the U.S., so it is wrong for conservatives to deem repressive
legislation acceptable when it comes to women’s rights. Some of these laws are completely contrary to
the ideals and spirit of fairness embodied in our Constitution.
The “optics” looked very bad when a group of
Republican Congressmen refused to allow any woman to testify during a February
2012 hearing about women’s access to contraceptives. In addition, many outright lies have been
told about women and their bodies and their private health matters and Plan B
contraceptives. No matter what spin men
use to justify the rigidity of their positions, when they are dishonest, their
arguments ring hollow and undermine any legitimacy of their position. The refusal of these retrogressive “leaders”
to allow a woman to provide perspective on healthcare issues that affect them
is jarring and offensive. Change course,
The days are coming to an end when the public
sphere of law-making, commerce, breadwinning and commerce are so exclusively
the domain of men, and when women are relegated to inferior roles. Women can no longer be kept in submissive
roles and restricted to the private realm of domestic life, housekeeping,
child-rearing and pleasing men. A Cult
of Domesticity once held that true womanly virtues reside only in piety,
purity, domesticity and submissiveness.
Times have changed, and males should begin to courageously support
fairer treatment for females.
Equal pay should be given for equal work, and
fairer treatment should be accorded to women in nations worldwide with regard
to parenting, property ownership, contracts, and marriage. There should be fairer sexual attitudes and
reproductive and economic rights, and sexual harassment, domestic violence
against women, and gender discrimination should not be tolerated. Women should no longer be treated as inferior
beings. The personal IS political.
All the 2012 Republican Presidential hopefuls,
especially including Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney blatantly
pandered to extreme conservatives. They
disparaged options for birth control and family planning choices, and called
piously for a reversal of the pragmatic 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision by the Supreme Court that allowed American
women the right to make a choice to get a legal abortion in the first trimester
of a pregnancy. The Roe vs. Wade decision fairly gave women the liberty to have some
control over this important, far-reaching and impactful aspect of their lives.
The 2016 Republican primary competition is shaping
up to be even more extreme than the one in 2012, with Donald “we have stupid
people” Trump attracting support for his inflammatory characterizations of
Mexicans. Remember the 2012 race, when
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and even Ron Paul engaged in “a
tireless fight to see that American women have the same rights as Saudi Arabia
women.” This is completely contrary to
any fair notion of a proverbial ‘good fight’.
American women value individual rights and freedom much more than Saudi
Arabian women, who live in an Islamic theocracy that imposes very strict and
repressive laws on them. In the Saudi
kingdom, for instance, conversion by a Muslim to another religion can be
punished by death. That is beyond
outrageous, and completely antithetical to respectful freedom of choice, that’s
In their internecine fight for the GOP nomination,
all the candidates battle for the support of hard-core right wing factions of
the Republican Party. Some of them like
Mitt Romney in 2012 stated support for positions they probably didn’t honestly
believe in. Flip-floppers! In this regard, they were emulating the
evasions of John Roberts and Samuel Alito during their confirmation hearings in
the Senate for lifelong appointments to the Supreme Court. It might be remembered that these two
judicial eminences both claimed a profound respect for precedents in the law,
but then after succeeding in getting their nominations confirmed, they have
showed their true colors by acting to overturn decades of Supreme Court precedents. They have consistently ruled in favor of
corporations against the people, especially in the corruption enabling Citizens United decision that has had
such god-awful effects on politics ever since.
Anyone who is a billionaire or has one supporting them can now stay in
the presidential race without actually needing a large number of American
citizens to provide financial and popular support for their ideas, positions
Once Mitt Romney finally got enough support to win
the 2012 Republican nomination, he then began to face the need to fight for the
presidency against incumbent Barack Obama.
This naturally forced him to reset his positions and lurch toward
somewhat more moderate political stances. A top Romney advisor had made a
revealing gaffe by telling this truth during the primaries, stating that
Romney’s positions on issues would be reset like an Etch A Sketch screen after he succeeded in getting the Republican
nomination. Conservatives, especially in
the Tea Party, were already unhappy with the Republican field, thinking that it
was just not extremely conservative enough, so the idea that Mitt Romney would
repudiate positions they hold dear made them frustrated and angry. They were particularly concerned that Romney
would support views that are more moderate during the general election campaign
because they want representatives whose positions are etched in stone. Since many
Tea Party types are angry white males, this reinforcement of anger is a potent
force -- and a powerful impulse backwards!
With so many
Republican politicians asserting that they want Roe vs. Wade to be overturned, it would be a disastrous development
for women to elect more of them in future elections. Such an outcome could send our society back
to the days when tens of thousands of women tragically died every year while
getting dangerous backroom coat-hanger abortions.
Dissonant Droning Sounds of Monotonous
Music Emanate from Within
The values of
conservatives have been perverted, corrupted and hijacked by their overarching
goal of prevailing over all others at any cost, almost without regard for the
degree of negative impacts on others.
The prominent linguist George Lakoff writes about the constellations of
values associated with Strict Father worldviews and the complementary opposite
worldviews found in Nurturant Parent paradigms.
Neither worldview is absolutely right or wrong, but the extreme focus by
Strict Father adherents on achieving supremacy, and their willingness to wreak
harm on others to achieve this goal, make these male domineering attitudes
distinctly short of fair-minded. Purity,
in this pathetic regard, is distinctly dirty.
specific confirmation of this assertion.
The Republican Party has been pandering to narrowly self-interested rich
people, social conservatives and religious fundamentalists in its zeal to gain
more power. In making these appeals to
people who oppose the Democratic Party, they are simultaneously opposing the
fairness principles of democracy itself.
Consider the five primary means by which conservatives are shamefully
pursuing the nefarious end of winning at any cost:
Republicans are trumping up reasons to disenfranchise millions of
American voters by enacting new requirements that basically violate the Voting
Rights Act of 1965. Republican
legislators in many states are indulging in a variety of efforts designed to
suppress voting by students and poor people and racial minorities, who
typically vote for Democrats. At the
same time, Republicans are betraying the trust of the people in the legitimacy
of our political system by refusing to support measures to rigorously ensure
that voting machines and the processes of counting the votes themselves are not
rigged. And they oppose smart, fair and
vitally needed gerrymandering reform.
(2) The Republican Party opposes governance for
the people, insisting instead on governance that mainly benefits giant
corporations. It claims that these
organizational entities are actually people that deserve equal protections under
the law. Such calls for equal rights for
corporate entities inevitably mean less protection for the vast majority of
real people. Corporations are run by
executives who are very undemocratic, serving their own interests and those of
shareholders with a narrow focus on profits and the evasion of legal, social
and environmental responsibilities.
(3) The Republican Party opposes egalitarian
measures that involve more progressively graduated tax rates. Instead, they champion regressive changes in
tax laws that would serve to even further concentrate the nation’s wealth in
the hands of the wealthiest 1%.
(4) The Republican Party refuses to ensure the
general welfare of the people or champion greater good goals. It does this by embracing short-term oriented,
deficit-financed policies that harm Earth’s ecosystems in order to benefit the
Few in a classic “social trap” of irresponsible governance. While they controlled the White House from
2001 to 2009, they enacted highly regressive tax cuts and significantly
increased military spending and ramped up spending on a new entitlement program
for pharmaceutical drugs that was designed to give big drug companies maximized
profits. These actions have contributed to huge budget deficits in recent
years, and Republican politicians now dishonestly decry these shortfalls and
disingenuously and dishonestly blame Democrats for them.
(5) Republicans consistently oppose fairer rights
for women, gay people, blacks, Latinos and working people.
These five categories
of political ploys, dirty tricks and retrogressive initiatives are wrong-headed
and generally mean-spirited. The
winner-takes-all character of our political system is making wealthy people
vastly richer at the expense of the well-being and security of the vast majority
of Americans. The corrupting influence
of Big Money in our political system has managed to structure the economy to
give the lion’s share of the wealth to rich people, and to shift costs to all
other Americans and all people in future generations. Both political parties are culpable in
allowing this to happen, but especially Republicans with their ruthless
ends-justify-any-means pursuit of power.
According to the satiric Bill Maher, Democrats
essentially say: “Elect us. We’re lame, but the other guys are
nuts.” There are deep elements of truth
in this amusing characterization.
George Harrison’s Guitar Hauntingly Weeps a
Before concluding these ideas, it is essential to
evaluate the impact that Rush Limbaugh has had on our country and people. In addition to his “highest-rated talk-radio
program in the United States”, Limbaugh hosted a half-hour syndicated talk show
on television from 1992 to 1996. This
program was produced by Roger Ailes, the Republican operative who later became
the founding CEO of Fox News. Limbaugh’s
TV show was so rudely outrageous that it inspired political satirist Al Franken
(now Senator Franken of Minnesota) to write a funny book entitled Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot.
Al Franken pointed out in this book that those who
listen to Rush Limbaugh, or who watched him on TV, think they are the
best-informed Americans, yet a study of people done at the time of the 1995
healthcare reform debate demonstrated that Limbaugh’s followers turned out to
be the least well-informed. Franken satirically opined: “Social scientists call this phenomenon
‘pseudo-certainty’. I call it being a
fucking moron”. LOL. Can’t we all just get along?
Today, Rush Limbaugh has an audience of many
millions of people who seem to believe his every word. They absorb all his toxic and misleading
disinformation as if it were gospel truth.
They do so with a kind of mindless absorption, and sometimes with rabid
enthusiasm. As Al Franken wrote, these
Limbaugh fans “voluntarily -- hell, gleefully -- call themselves ‘dittoheads’
in honor of their ability to blindly and uncritically agree with everything
that comes out of Limbaugh’s mouth”. Cue
up some righteous exclamations and obnoxiously wild applause!
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde, 1895
Large amounts of money are being made by
“conservative” talk radio personalities and radio stations that are appealing
to people who are angry, insecure, suspicious, paranoid or highly
prejudiced. Many of these listeners
harbor intolerant sexist, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-liberal,
anti-government, anti-gay and anti-environmental sentiments. So presto! -- Rush Limbaugh has become a
shadowy reflection of these darker sides of human nature. Rush “I’m proud to be an entertainer”
Limbaugh mines the veins of narrow-mindedness like the owner of an insidiously
destructive mining operation.
Rush Limbaugh has been working this vein for more
than 30 years. The fact that this vein
is more profitable than the veins of liberal views is a curious aspect of
American society. Limbaugh seems, in
particular, to relish making fun of women’s contentions that they are often
victims of discrimination. His attitude,
though deplorable and rather reprehensible, has been so profitable for Limbaugh
that he has made more than $30 million every year for more than a decade on his
One might wonder how Limbaugh got his start. Revealingly, it involves the repeal of the
Fairness Doctrine, an official policy of the Federal Communication Commission
from 1949 until 1987. The purpose of the
Fairness Doctrine was to ensure that all radio and television broadcast
stations provided a diversity of viewpoints to listeners and viewers. The Fairness Doctrine stipulated that radio
and TV stations must present controversial issues of public importance in a
manner that was honest, equitable and balanced.
Ronald Reagan and Republicans decided that the repeal of the Fairness
Doctrine would suit their political interests best, being astute in areas of
linguistic framing and targeted political messaging and manipulative
propaganda. Limbaugh exploited the
repeal of this fairness doctrine better than any other media personality. Freed
from requirements to provide rebuttals to provocative opinions, Rush Limbaugh’s
reactionary and confrontational style became sensationally profitable, and he
soon signed with ABC Radio Networks.
Subsequently he became syndicated by Clear Channel Communications, a
radio network now owned by Bain Capital LLC and another private equity
firm. (As of 2014, Clear Channel did a make-over and
officially changed its name to iHeartMedia.)
Follow this closely. Clear Channel started as a Texas company in
1972 with one radio station in San Antonio.
The company benefitted from an Act of Congress in 1996 that deregulated
media ownership and allowed a consolidation of media into the hands of large
corporate entities. Not long thereafter,
the presence of giant corporations in radio and television broadcasting became
overwhelming. Today Clear Channel owns
more than 800 broadcast radio stations, and it wears its conservative biases on
its sleeve. Most of its talk-radio
stations feature right-wing personalities like Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn
Beck, and the Savage Nation’s hyper-rude Michael Savage, all of whom seem to
practically rant and rave with ill will and pander to a low common denominator
of insecurity, paranoia, anger, bigotry and prejudice. In recent years, crippling debt associated
with leveraged acquisitions forced Clear Channel to lay off thousands of
employees in what was described as an employment “bloodbath”, and their radio
stations have moved to more centralized programming with less local content.
In 2006, Clear Channel was taken private in a
leveraged buyout by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners. Bain Capital is the private equity company
that Mitt Romney and two other partners formed in 1984. These partners made huge profits from this
enterprise, and the money was taxed at historically low rates. These profits then helped fuel a presidential
candidacy that was intent on reducing taxes on rich people even further.
Meanwhile, the conservative media mogul Rupert
Murdoch from Australia created Fox News Channel, and Fox News has become an
astonishingly opinion-manipulative media presence in Britain and the U.S. Rupert Murdoch, like Limbaugh, exploited the
deregulation of media ownership and the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. The president of Fox News is the staunch and
influential Republican Roger Ailes, whose partisanship has affiliated him with
Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and other conservatives. A documentary film titled Outfoxed makes a convincing case that
Fox News is very far from being accurate or honest, in brash contradiction to
its self-characterization as being “Fair and Balanced”. Nonetheless, it has adopted this slogan to
imply it actually fairly presents news stories and issues.
I felt in 2012 that a new “Game Change” was
taking place that involved a resurgence of more liberal ways of seeing the
world, and greater respect for women’s rights.
One of our Founding Fathers,
Patrick Henry once said: "United we stand; divided we
fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon
which our existence hangs.” These are
perceptive words, on many levels. Finding common ground is unquestionably
better than allowing ourselves to fall prey to divisive partisanship and
intransigent conflicts of interest. The
control of the Senate by Republicans that was won in the November 2014
elections sadly makes this hope much harder to be achieved.
The biggest picture
understanding of this real state of affairs is that united, as a species, we
can survive, prosper and flourish, while divided by ideology, economic
fundamentalism, religious conflicts, fear, hatred and violence, we will be more
susceptible to an ignominious and calamitous fall.
Expansive ideas and forward-thinking
fair-mindedness are unfortunately forced to fight an intense rear-guard action
against small-mindedness, retrogressive impulses, narrowly focused
profit-making, exploitive forces, Super PAC-funded propaganda, and stoked Tea
Party fervor. These forces are hindering our success in uniting
to foster greater good goals, and in properly prioritizing them, and in making
sure we take into account wisdom, common sense, fair-mindedness and
A Crooning Vocalist Wails Provocative
My shadow side slouches in a barely-glimpsed inner
sanctum, hiding behind a carefully constructed and well-balanced natural
cheerfulness. I apparently took a story
my father used to tell to heart: “Cheer
up, things could be worse”. Or perhaps
it’s just that I’ve generally enjoyed a natural surplus of serotonin, the
hormone that contributes to feelings of well-being. I have definitely enjoyed an unusual amount
of good fortune and have thus successfully managed to avoid traumatic “metanoia
events” in my life.
My father’s story about cheering up was always
followed by the punch line, “So I cheered up, and sure enough, things got
worse!” Ha! Life is, after all, a terminal condition. Nonetheless, we should in no uncertain terms
strive to feel gratitude and appreciation at the potential joys of being alive
and the beauty of the natural world.
Sing a song of sixpence!
Think about this concept of metanoia events, which
are like mental breakdowns followed by a spontaneous healing process of the
psyche. In this process, the mind
strives to get itself together after a traumatic setback, and unbearable
conflicts can thus be resolved by embracing feelings that lie beyond previous
limitations and stultifying thought patterns.
Those who suddenly convert to another religion often do so because they
experience a kind of metanoia when some calamitous trauma or psychological
travail befalls them, causing them to be “born again” with a sudden vision of
God as a savior. Thereafter, they are
often evangelical in wanting to share their religious beliefs with others,
whether the others want to hear about it or not, and whether others want to be
affected by the zeal of newfound convictions of sometimes fanatical believers.
A metanoia can turn out to be personally positive
to the extent that it transforms an existential crisis into a healthier and
more adaptive mindset of perspectives and agendas for action. A collective metanoia -- a social breakdown
-- could, however, be socially catastrophic, because it could lead to serious
survival problems for millions of people.
A violent revolution is, in a sense, an instance of collective
metanoia. History shows that during a
revolution, wealth is often destroyed rather than being created. Traumatic events that accompany periods of
revolutionary change can be severe for a populace when organizations and
relationships break down. We should thus
commit our countries to preventing collective metanoia events by enacting
fairer and more farsighted national policies.
On the other hand, a crisis is generally needed to
upset established ways of living and behaving, so a collective period of
reevaluation is often needed to bring significant changes. It seems clear that looming demographic and
ecological crises are approaching, so we should use our foresight to find the
will to champion farsighted changes in our habits and behaviors and
politics. A new regime of smarter
incentives is needed to motivate people to alter the aggregate trajectory of
our activities. If we fail to implement
these new incentives, we may be faced with a far worse outcome of collective
Perhaps the largest such challenge will emanate
from our growing impacts on the global climate.
The month of March 2012 witnessed warm spells that broke 15,000 hot
temperature records in the U.S. The average
temperature was almost 9 degrees Fahrenheit above the twentieth century average
for March. The summer of 2012 proved to
be unusually hot and drought-like in many locales. Then 2014 and 2015 became two of the warmest
years ever recorded. These developments
should motivate us to come together to implement new policies targeted to
mitigate the extent of global warming being caused by our aggregate activities.
Dramatically beautiful Glacier National Park is
estimated to have had 150 glaciers in 1850.
Today, there are only 25 glaciers, and they will likely all be gone
within 25 years. New Mexico not long ago
suffered the biggest wildfire in the history of the state. There is a strong correlation of these facts,
and a thousand others, to a global warming trend that is accelerating as this
century unfolds. This trend is being
caused by two anthropogenic mega-activities:
rash cutting of forests and profligate emissions of greenhouse gases
created by the burning of fossil fuels.
Leaders in island nations like Kiribati and the
Maldives are extremely concerned about rising sea levels associated with the
current long-term warming trend. In the
Pacific island nation of Kiribati, leaders are considering moving all 103,000
of their people to higher terrain in the Fijian Islands. Intruding seawater has already contaminated
some of Kiribati’s underground freshwater supplies and forced some villagers to
move. The writing is figuratively on the
Just 15,000 years ago, sensationally, the level of
the world’s oceans was 300 feet lower than today. This was due to a tremendous amount of water
being locked up in vast ice sheets during the last ice age. The average global temperature 15,000 years
ago was about 14 degrees Fahrenheit colder than today. The fact that an increase of 300 feet in sea
level has been caused by such an increase in global temperatures should provoke
us into more boldly striving to mitigate our impacts today.
Corporate apologists and defenders of do-nothing
politics and “conservatives” tend to vigorously deny that climate changes are
being caused by the global-warming impacts of burning fossil fuels. It is as if they believe that spewing more
than 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year might
have no impact, or may not be a problem at all.
These folks generally oppose any measures to mitigate the adverse
effects of climate change, even including sensible support for precautionary
actions. Just ask Donald “we need global
Humankind is myopically treating planet Earth like
a business in liquidation, instead of acting more intelligently and responsibly
by treating it as a going concern. Where
money can be made from cultivated ignorance and staunch denials of scientific
facts, a long line has formed.
Predictably, the line extends far far back, to the right.
Conservatives like Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe
have ramped up anti-science propaganda to benefit their fossil fuel industry
supporters and contributors. Inhofe
published a tome titled The Greatest
Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. I would be curious to see if the book
makes any objective sense, and to see if the Senator gives fair consideration
to the many ways that high costs will result from denials of the impacts of our
stubborn adherence to the status quo in our national energy policies. I wonder if Senator Inhofe has given any
consideration to the long-term impacts of refusing to take precautionary steps
to prevent ecological disasters, or if he provides any assessment of the risks
associated with overarching threats like that of natural disasters and species
extinctions related to climate disruptions and associated habitat damages.
In any case, the fact that Senator Inhofe receives
many millions of dollars from Big Oil interests makes his conflict-of-interest
opinions seriously suspect. Inhofe became chairman of the Senate's
Environment and Public Works Committee in January 2015, a disturbing fact
because he denies human exacerbated climate change. He actually asserts that God is in complete
control, having once stated: "God's still up there. The arrogance of
people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing
in the climate is to me outrageous."
Such denial is preposterous, to me, and to almost every scientist and
person who thinks critically and objectively.
Truly moral behaviors are those that are
consistent with the greater social good.
They are not divine decrees. To
the extent that the consequences of a behavior are more harmful to society as a
whole than another behavior, the most harmful behavior is ethically and morally
the worst one.
“Moral right action should not merely be a function
of theological dogma, or of fear, or of political ideology. Instead, it should be a function of
sociology: what is right for society depends on the well-being of the
majority AND of future generations. What is right and proper is what is
best in the long run. It is not right to neglect the interests of our
heirs in future generations by pandering principally to greedy shortsighted
--- Comprehensive Global Perspective: An
Our worldviews are crucial in understanding
ourselves, and they are pivotal in affecting the course of our lives and our
relationships with others. The way we
see the world also strongly influences the health of the natural world’s
ecosystems upon which we depend, so it is valuable to cultivate the best
The Sounds of Silence Echo with the
Crooning of a Passionate Vocalist
The following observation appears in Tall Tales, Provocative Parables, Luminous
Clarity and Evocative Truths - A Modern Log from the Sea of Cortez:
There is a story in John Steinbeck’s Log from the Sea of Cortez about a poor
Indian boy in the Baja town of La Paz who found a large, valuable and nearly
perfect pearl. This story is a great
parable about greed and materialism and false salvation and evil -- AND about
the woes that are attendant upon these traits.
In 1945, Steinbeck amplified this Mexican legend into a more complex
short story, a novella titled The Pearl,
which was published in 1945 and made into a compelling film, La Perla, in 1947.
In this story, John Steinbeck uses the literary
device of an evocative song heard in the minds of Kino, a Mexican Indian pearl
diver, and his wife. Kino and his family
are so poor that they live near La Paz in a small house made of brush. Kino’s people, long ago, “had been great
makers of songs so that everything they saw, or thought, or did, or heard,
became a song.” Kino had a personal
song, one of warmth and security and well-being and hope. Had Kino been able to speak of it, he would
have called it the Song of the Family.
Not long after finding ‘the greatest pearl in the world’, Kino and his
good wife Juana began to hear a Song of the Enemy, a song that grew as the sad
story unfolds, a story of materialism, deception, cheating, disillusionment,
racism, and fateful pursuit.
Curiously, songs upon
occasion also spring fully formed into the head of yours truly, Tiffany
Twain. It’s like the elusive ‘race
memory’ thing that young Ayla and elders of her tribe experienced in The Clan of the Cave Bear. The songs that come to me are at times subtle
and indistinct. At other times they are
as clear and bold as Beethoven’s symphonies, some of which the great composer
imagined into existence even after he had gone deaf. I recognize haunting passages in these songs
from my dream states, and understand the music to be a Song of Everywoman. The tune begins with a soaring orchestral
sound, and swells to a crescendo. A
lovely flute trills happily, and a solo vocalist chants a Song of the
Family. In the background, a rhythm beat
includes a full range of bass notes, making me think of a Song of
Everyman. Different segments of the song
ring out with sounds of children, of communities, of all human beings, and of
the ecological harmony of all life. It
is a song for the ages, with a catchy beat of natural balance. A cyclical riff of alto sax comes and goes,
emphasizing the song’s inclusion of respect for our ancestors, while a tenor
sax harmonically intertwines, honoring our descendants. Let it be!
A Sliding-Horn Trombone
Carries Us toward a Near-Term Conclusion
None of the ideas in this essay should be tied in
with that dastardly Communist Manifesto and its political slogan, “Workers of
the World, Unite!” That manifesto was a
dangerous ideological proclamation that caused terrible grief in the world, and
culminated in a real scary and costly Cold War of hyper-militarized,
nuclear-armed superpowers that vied for supremacy. The economic, social and psychological costs
of the Cold War were so high between 1945 and 1990 that they cannot be fully
fathomed. The opportunity costs of this
misguided military spending are even higher.
Our political representatives are using the
shortsighted and irresponsible expediency of rampant borrowing from future
generations to finance on-going high levels of military spending. The Federal Reserve and speculators in our
crony capitalist economic system are also culpable in facilitating this
misguided gambit. The costs of this expedient
course of action are unconscionably large.
And the risk of destabilizing the world’s economic system grow year
after year as the Fed prints up trillions of dollars of new money to support
this risky game.
Karl Marx advocated economic justice with the
socialist credo, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his
needs.” Today, in capitalist USA, this
credo has a jarring sound. A new and
more responsible credo of a fairer capitalist system, according to Shann
Turnbull, would be: “From each according
to their interest, to each according to their contribution, provided the basic
needs of all are fulfilled.” Such a
principle would be much better than the dominant dogmatic “conservative” credo
in the U.S. today: “From all workers and
citizens according to their abilities, to each according to the amount of influence
they can wield using their position and money and power.”
Karl Marx also once expressed the opinion that it is a simple
sociological fact that “Social progress can be measured by the social position
of the female sex.” Considering this
plausible assertion, it seems clear that American culture has in many ways been
undergoing socially regressive changes in recent years. Domineering influence by males and
conservatives in Congress and the military, and on the Supreme Court, and in
male-dominated corporations in the media and entertainment worlds, has created
a backward-looking backlash against expanded women’s rights
that were gained since the beginning of the Women’s Liberation Movement of the
1960s. The time has come today for
a new feminist movement to take hold.
Let’s heartily support it!
As some of these thoughts materialized into my
consciousness, I was lying in a grassy clearing on a vividly green hillside
near a clear rushing stream in the springtime.
The character Rodman Ward
came to my mind from Wallace Stegner’s novel Angle of Repose. Rodman Ward
was a Berkeley radical of the
Sixties who aspired to save-the-world by creating a manifesto that would
contain forceful ideas and convincing arguments and even detailed blueprints
that would help bring into being the social and political institutions and systems of ethics needed for a more auspicious future.
imitates art! Upon occasion I myself
feel like a Berkeley radical from the late Sixties rather than an earnest and
thoughtful gal from Hannibal, Missouri.
This manifesto is, after all, a lofty, calmly ambitious and almost
quixotic endeavor designed to save the world and liberate our collective
thinking from the blinders of illusion, materialistic delusion, vested interest
propaganda, corporate apologists, self-serving politicians, right-wing
commentators, and religious fundamentalist authorities who insist on obedience
to the dictates of their all-too-often excessively rigid faiths.
When I think about the 97% of our brain functions
that operate at a subconscious level, I try to imagine the complexity involved
in the activities of the 100 billion cells in each of our minds. Hmmm … And then I regard my gently persistent
urge to express myself in this manifesto, and am pleased that I have been able
to achieve both good fortune and a fair balance in my life, and to do so, so
far, in treasured and well-appreciated anonymity. Once again I remember Leonard Shlain’s
observation that every great blessing contains a curse, just as every curse
contains a kernel of blessing. I feel
that these ideas are about to go viral, and that they will contribute to the
greater good when they do. These perspectives are too important to remain
closeted, or to be vulnerable to suppression before they blossom into the
Inspired by a quote from Mark Twain, I sail boldly
on: “Twenty years from now
you will be more disappointed with the things that you didn’t do than by the
ones you did. So throw off the
bowlines. Sail away from the safe
harbor. Catch the trade winds in your
sails. Explore. Dream.
The most famous voyage in literature is Homer’s
story about Odysseus, the Greek warrior who sailed for ten years on his epic
journey home from the Trojan War.
Odysseus had devised the stratagem of constructing a large wooden horse
to get into the city of Troy after a long and fruitless siege. Nikos Kazantzakis wrote his own modern
version of Homer’s epic Odyssey, and
reputedly rewrote it repeatedly to “broaden its scope, until it came to include
all he had ever seen and heard and thought.”
I myself love expansive understandings, so this
concept resonates with me. Kazantzakis
also wrote the great story of Zorba the Greek, a man with a voracious heart and
appetite and enthusiasm for life. The
narrator in that story struggles for understanding while he is writing a long
and evolving manuscript about Buddha, rationally exploring matters of the
intellect, and of feeling, and of the many predicaments of life. The Dionysian and the Apollonian, once again,
are manifested in this novel in a viscerally sinuous dance.
I conclude these
Musings by expressing the feeling that I am like a twenty-first century Anais
Nin, who observed in Volume One of her published diaries (1931 - 1934):
“There were always in
me, two women at least, one woman desperate and bewildered, who felt she was
drowning, and another who only wanted to bring beauty, grace and aliveness to
people and who would leap into a scene, as upon a stage, and conceal her true
emotions because they were weaknesses, helplessness, despair, and instead
present to the world only a smile, an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm,
I’ll be. I am. Thanks
Tiffany B. Twain
April 16, 2016 (Originally published in 2012)
Earth Manifesto appears to me to be one of the most expansive, inclusive,
fair-minded, and potentially transformative set of ideas ever compiled and
--- The Underground Mole
I went to confession in a magnificent
hilltop cathedral not long ago, and renounced all presumption, so readers can
rest assured that it is only the slow pace of my editorial efforts that allows
any of it to remain in the expression of these ideas. I’m a gal who sees herself as distinctly unlike the teachers
described by Christopher Hitchens
in his English countryside boarding school, who he described as micro-megalomaniacs, or "those who
are content to maintain absolute domination of a small sphere". LOL … !
I have also made
a commitment to my personal Muses to try and reduce the widespread redundancies
that pervade the various Earth Manifesto writings. I intend to scrutinize the tone and content
of my expressed opinions to make sure they are more scrupulously fair. Succinct, laconic and Spartan just do not
seem to be in my makeup! If it’s true
that “brevity is the soul of wit”, as William Shakespeare asserted it to be in Hamlet, I must be witless. Then again, Shakespeare’s character Polonius
in Hamlet, who proclaimed this
aphorism, had a personal propensity to give long and rambling speeches, so the joke may be on us all.
If brevity is the soul of wit, I’ll eat my hat!
Even more humbly I apologize for any tone or content that unfairly
maligns or mischaracterizes any of the protagonists or villains in this serious
and yet somewhat comedic farce. The
good news is that the natural selection of the passage of time is winnowing out
some of the superfluous chaff from the vital seed, and I imagine receiving
intelligent editorial feedback from readers someday that will allow a leap
forward in conciseness and right perspective that will providentially
strengthen the focus and force of these ideas.
Through the power of clarity and fair-mindedness, the transformative
power of reasonable ideas may be given wing.
That’s the theory of it, anyway.
(Any volunteers to assist in this?
Help make history!)
“Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea,
never regains its original dimensions.”
--- Oliver Wendell Holmes
Germinating Ideas for Inclusion Somewhere
“To deal with
radicalism and extremism, we need to deal with economic inequality. This is what I learned from my experience in
Solo and then in Jakarta.”
--- Joko Widodo
aspect of growing inequality in America is the relegating of black people to
inner city ghettos and the failure to provide good schools and fair
opportunities to underprivileged people.
in the 2016 national election are very high. Right now, women have a
constitutional right to choose to get an abortion under the Supreme
Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Donald Trump said he would take
away that right, thus criminalizing women's choosing to have an abortion and
punishing them for making personal reproductive health decisions. Trump sure seems to feel a deep level of
contempt for women, though it is revealing that he seems to have a great amount
of respect for sexy babes with alluring cleavage, like his wife Melania who is
24 years younger than him.
Angelou once said, "When someone shows you who they are, believe
them." When conservative Republicans say they plan on taking women’s
reproductive rights away, seriously, we should believe them!
abortion, as Trump suggests, would violate women’s rights and also come with
severe health consequences. A report from the Guttmacher Institute found
that highly restrictive abortion laws do not decrease abortion rates, but
instead they lead to higher rates of unsafe abortion, and this often has fatal
consequences. Trump admitted that
banning abortion would force some women to seek out abortions illegally, but he
still said, “We have to ban it.” The
truth is, we don’t have to ban abortions, and it would be in the best interests
of society to protect women’s rights to choose to have an abortion in the first
trimester of a pregnancy.
Trump has severely criticized the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe vs. Wade that allowed women to get
an abortion, implying that he would like to see abortions outlawed. And once abortions are illegal, he declared
that women getting an abortion should be subjected to “some form of
punishment”. When Trump was surprised at
the backlash to this statement even from hard-liner conservatives who have been
pretending that they care about women’s health, he backpedaled and said that it
is the doctors who perform abortions who are the ones that should be
punished. As to the males who get
females pregnant in the course of satisfying their sexual drives, Trump makes
no suggestion that they should face any consequences.
about this. Trump claims to believe in a
“culture of life”, but oddly enough females are not going to have reproductive
rights in this culture, for if they get pregnant and are not absolutely willing
to carry the embryo for nine months, he thinks they should be punished. What next?
Shall we condemn every woman that gets pregnant to be responsible for any
and every embryo conceived for the rest of her life?
Criminalizing abortion is about sending
women or doctors to jail. Defunding Planned Parenthood, and otherwise limiting
access to abortion and other health programs, is far worse. Because history proves that for a variety of
reasons, women sometimes will be so desperate to terminate pregnancies that
they will seek any available means. And
history proves that when they terminate pregnancies without having access to
medical professionals, many of them will die.
What Kasich signed into law, and what Republicans throughout the country
are trying to enact, is part of an overall effort to impose capital
punishment on women who seek abortions.
Trump has a bizarre history of preying on
people's prejudices and fears, and of sowing discord for personal gain.
He was involved in fanning racist fears in April 2009 after a woman was
raped in New York's Central Park, and he has a personal history of using
cultural suspicions to achieve narrow advantages. One victim of this
pathetic strategy was aghast at his grotesquely underhanded bullying actions,
called them "morally reprehensible".
According to one article in Time Magazine,
Trump "hasn't dragooned supporters into believing he's a conservative;
he's leading a willing rebellion against modern conservatism
itself." This is a rebellion against wrongheaded priorities of the
conservative establishment that have generally had negative impacts on the vast
majority of Americans. These anger-stoking and frustration-inducing
policies are topped by attempts to shred the social safety net to help
finance generous tax cuts for wealthy people, along with insidiously
harmful outcomes associated with globalization and free trade agreements that
have resulted in millions of jobs being shipped abroad. These and a
distasteful smorgasbord of other standard Republican Party policies have
angered the electorate, including their tough stands against universal
healthcare and contraception and abortion. Their excessively
business-friendly stances and obsequious deference to the banking industry and
Big Oil and giant drug companies have thrown sand in the gears of the public's
regard for conservative incumbent representatives, and their irresponsible
stands against climate action and stubborn opposition against even the most
fair-minded federal influence in populist governing are contributing
factors to this modern rebellion against the establishment.
recently said, "I think the big problem this country has is being
politically correct. I've been
challenged by so many people, and I don't frankly have time for total political
correctness. And to be honest with you, this
country doesn't have time either."
simplistic sound bites, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump characterize political
correctness as a danger to America. They basically advocate racial
profiling and harsh prisoner interrogation and no restrictions on Christian
hate speech. But in fact, we are not suffering from an excess of
political correctness, but rather a profound paucity of honorable civility and
an excessive disdain for Golden Rule fairness and a severe lack of respect for
the feelings and destinies of other people -- and of what should be a proper
vision of the inalienable rights of others.
presidential candidates are tapping into anger and frustration being felt by
millions of Americans left behind in our establishment-oriented economy, and
they have ginned up these emotions along with repressed racial prejudices and
anti-gay sentiments and white male supremacism and even hateful feelings.
conservatives apparently hate having an undue burden imposed on them that
prevents them from indulging in any untethered expression of religious
intolerance or sexist attitudes or hateful biases against others.
The term “civil religion” goes back to the
writings of French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who ruminated on the
tensions that arise when church and state become separate entities. In American discourse, the term is most
closely associated with sociologist Robert Bellah. In 1967, Bellah
characterized civil religion as “a set of beliefs, symbols, and rituals” that
was “neither sectarian nor in any specific sense Christian” but nonetheless
constituted a shared experience of being American that was inspired by
Christian notions of redemption and spiritual fulfillment. Civil religion casts America as a beacon of
secular and sacred hope in a fallen modern world. In this context, Bellah wrote, “Europe is
Egypt” and America was the Promised Land to which “God has led his people
to establish a new sort of social order that shall be a light unto all the nations.” And if this concept seems open-ended and ripe
for abuse, that’s because it is.
In his book God and War: American Civil Religion Since 1945, historian Raymond
Haberski Jr. observes that civil religion is a “strange beast” that can be
appropriated by anyone for any purpose.
“As a hybrid of nationalism and traditional religion, civil religion has
an ideological flexibility that is intoxicating because it is so evocative,
elastic, and deceptively complex,” Haberski writes. Moreover, civil religion is “not a set of
laws but a collection of myths” such as the idea that America is “the last best
hope for mankind,” and these myths can’t be empirically confirmed. Myths are indeed the key elements in American
civil religion. Religious scholar
Richard T. Hughes identifies six core myths that Americans live by: the
myth of the Chosen Nation, of Nature’s Nation, of the Christian Nation, of
Manifest Destiny, of the Capitalist Nation and of the Innocent Nation. These myths have been sources of American
strength and unity. But they’ve also
been abused by those who would “absolutize the righteousness of the United
States,” confuse the ideals of the American creed “with the realities of the
present moment” and stifle all dissent.
Enter Ted Cruz.
Ted Cruz packed the speech he gave when he
announced his candidacy for president at the extreme religious Liberty
University with simplistic and often historically
inaccurate myths that are emblematic of American conservatives’ approach
to civil religion. Of course, civil
religion isn’t the sole property of the right.
As sociologist Philip Gorski once pointed out, Barack Obama has always
filled his rhetoric with “the promise of America.” "However, just as they are wont to do
with Christianity, conservatives boil civil religion in a steaming pot of moral
absolutes, anti-intellectualism and redemptionist history until all nuance and
context is burned away, leaving a distilled political elixir of fundamentalist
dogma that absolves America of any of the human faults that plague other
Cruz had the myth of the Chosen Nation down
pat when he claimed that America is “an indispensable nation, a unique nation
in the history of the world.” As for the myth of Nature’s Nation, he evoked
America as the cultivated political garden of God Himself that, “from the
dawn of this country, at every stage… has enjoyed God’s providential blessing.”
The myth of the Christian Nation? Cruz parroted the now standard (but
historically bogus) right-wing claim that the U.S. “was founded upon” the idea
that rights come from a very
specific “God Almighty.” Cruz’s reference to the myth of
Manifest Destiny was more veiled, but he name-dropped key historical figures
such as Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (no doubt
for good bipartisan measure) and, of course, Ronald Reagan to reiterate his
point that God has blessed every step
in America’s development. The myth of the Capitalist Nation came via his
railing against standard conservative government bogeymen like “regulators,”
“tax collectors” and Obamacare that despoil the purity of the Free Market.
Finally, Cruz touted the myth of the Innocent Nation when he claimed that
political change will only come from “lovers of liberty” who realize that “God
isn’t done with America yet.” Bless their liberty-loving souls.
An America as defined by a future President
Cruz is an America that sees itself as blindingly perfect, naively innocent,
incapable of critical reflection over both its strengths and weaknesses and
utterly convinced of its capacity to shape the world in its own image.
Cruz’s version of civil religion is the ultimate example of how
conservatives “absolutize the righteousness of the United States.” When
you believe that God has blessed America from the beginning, you ignore the
times that Americans have invoked God to justify the evils of Indian removal,
slavery, racism, sexism and environmental destruction. More importantly,
you undervalue the times when Americans have overcome those sins to
demonstrate what Abraham Lincoln called “the
better angels of our nature.” When you worship capitalism and tout the
United States as the world’s only hope, you ignore the false idols that led to
the Great Recession and the bloody folly of the Iraq War that’s left the Middle
East in tatters. When you develop a false sense of American innocence,
you view national self-reflection as a weakness.
In the recent past, voters elected a
conservative Texas politician who genuflected at the altar of fundamentalist
American civil religion, who famously valued faith and ideology over critical
examinations of the world’s complexities — and they paid a stiff
price. Here’s hoping that the electorate
won’t repeat recent history by elevating Ted Cruz as High Priest of the
American civil religion temple.
Coral reefs are the crucial incubators of
the ocean’s ecosystem, providing food and shelter to a quarter of all marine
species, and they support fish stocks that feed more than one billion
people. They are made up of millions of tiny animals, called polyps, that
form symbiotic relationships with algae, which in turn capture sunlight and
carbon dioxide to make sugars that feed the polyps. An estimated 30 million small-scale fishermen
and women depend on reefs for their livelihoods, more than one million in the
Philippines alone. In Indonesia, fish supported by the reefs provide the
primary source of protein.
In recent years, bees have been dying at a
record pace in a phenomenon scientists are calling “colony collapse disorder.”
The situation is so bad that people have started to dub it the
Now it may be stretching the point to make
this observation, but we humans do not want our global population to collapse,
so we need to establish robust safeguards against any eventuality that leads in
The federal government and major energy
companies have lost a legal round in their effort to block a climate change
lawsuit by young plaintiffs who contend the U.S. is failing to protect them
from the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin in
Eugene, Oregon, rejected motions to dismiss the lawsuit by 21 plaintiffs ages 8
to 19. The youths contend the release of
dangerous carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere is a violation of their
constitutional rights. They are
demanding that the government be forced to create a plan that would cut the
The pope didn’t change church doctrine on
same-sex marriage, but was offering another sign that he’s pushing the church
away from cultural warfare and toward a focus on poverty, economic injustice,
immigration and the plight of refugees.