Two Flowers, Two Thoughts

“The fact that your talents and contributions go unrecognized does not mean they lack merit. Many excellent accomplishments and worthy actions by individuals go unnoticed, because neither awareness nor gratitude are as common among the population as one could wish. If what you achieve and what you do causes no harm and does some good, however limited and unnoticed, then you can be heartened by a justifiable and realistic self-esteem.”

— Albert B. Coutras

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“As the bee takes the essence of a flower and flies away without destroying its beauty and perfume, so let the sage wander in this life.”

— The Dhammapada, 49 (translation by Juan Mascaró)

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School Trolls and Choice Schools

Multi-culturalism doesn’t work. Every ethnicity wants to promote its own and win “success” over all others. That is why there is a visceral preference for segregation by every ethnicity everywhere. On the idea of integration, American schools have proved that: if they are public and separate they cannot be equal; if they are integrated and public they cannot be excellent; if they are private and selective they can be integrated and good. “Excellent” means every student graduates with a good education. “Selective” means expensive for the average student, and free for cherry-picked exceptional talent in poverty.

To be excellent, a school must be staffed with educators, those who enable each student to succeed at learning how to become a motivated critical thinker who proceeds to carry on their own career. Being an educator requires talent and awareness that can deliver teaching suited to each individual student’s needs. American schools are too rigid and disorganized, and have too few educators and too many bureaucratic gatekeepers and trolls (as in the story “Three Billy Goats Gruff”). These trolls maintain the barriers students are supposed to overcome on their own “to prepare them for college.”

These barriers are quite simply a lack of teaching: a lack of clear specific answers to individual students’ questions about assigned work (“see my blog”), substituting “homework” as self-learning by students in place of “the teacher” actually presenting informative classroom instruction, and an obsessive rigidity about grades and schedules (on which public school income is now based). The consequence of these barriers and the “preparation” they provide is to frustrate natural talent and to inculcate onto succeeding generations the intellectual mediocrity that the school trolls embody.

Mandala Jesus

Mandala Jesus

Jesus was an old man when he died.
What were his kids like?, his wife?, his girlfriends?
What kind of love and gratitude
brought Mary Magdalene to his feet?
Is there any way left of recapturing
the humanity of Jesus,
or are we stuck with the mummified wrappings
of religion, fantasy and cult?
How did it feel
to sit with Jesus drinking at night
meditating on the course of human events?
The dreams and visions of Jesus were those of a man.
Perhaps we deify him
to avoid the burdens of paradise.
“The kingdom of heaven is within you.”

11 January 1983

Russian-Hacked USA, and Other Follies

Tonight (10 January 2017, President Barack H. Obama delivers his televised farewell address. In 10 days, Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States of America. Below are some of my thoughts at this juncture.

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On “Russians hacked the election making the USA have Donald Trump as president, and not Hillary Clinton”:

Reading the commentary and all the comments here (on Juan Cole’s blog, “Informed Comment,” on 6-9 January 2017), I think your consensus is:

#1, that the public exposure of the Podesta (Clinton, DNC) e-mails did sway the election “to Trump,” specifically away from Clinton; and

#2, that this was a bad thing, a cause for anger, and that the perpetrators of these leaks should suffer retribution from the US Government.

On point #1: there has been no doubt cast on the veracity of the leaked e-mails, therefore if a portion of the public was swayed to vote “away from Clinton” because of these e-mails then they were swayed by truthful information that had previously been hidden from them: “transparency.” I favor transparency, and believe it serves the public interest.

On point #2: If voters being swayed by the exposure of truthful information of public interest is “a bad thing,” then those who believe this prefer voters being fooled and “guided” by powerful insiders (Orwell called them the Inner Party).

Those angry that insider (mainly DNC) plans went awry are angry at the workings of democracy with better informed voters. Why not be angry at the betrayal of fair-play and democratic principles that thwarted the Sanders campaign (the most popular option nationally)? Why not be angry that such a monumental betrayal of public trust was done for the benefit of extremely corrupt and deceitful insiders (H. Clinton and associates)?

The effort to pin blame on “the Russians” for spoiling the insider’s succession gambit is just a poor and cowardly excuse to deflect attention from the Inner Party’s colossal failures:

– to devise an economy that serves the public (the major grievance of Trump voters, also Sanders voters), and

– to maintain (not corrupt) the institutions and mechanisms of democracy (the popular will having an influence through voting, the major grievance of Bernie, 3rd party and anybody-but-Clinton voters).

If killing the messenger (Assange, “the Russians,” mystery hackers, or whoever you most want to hate) is your reaction for being shown the truth, then you are condemned to be the victim of your own follies for a long time.

Trump was elected because the public consensus is that voting now has no influence on public policy — so real people can’t get what they need and want from it — but it still can sometimes be used to throw a Molotov-cocktail-by-ballots into the cozy connivances of the Inner Party.

Who is responsible for letting it get to this point? The Russians?

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My view of the significance of President Obama’s administration (2009-20016) to American history is linked below. I wrote it in 2008.

Obama and the Psychic Auto-Shrink-Wrapping Called Race in America
http://www.counterpunch.org/2008/03/20/obama-and-the-psychic-auto-shrink-wrapping-called-race-in-america/

Here is Cornel West’s summation of the Obama Administration:

Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama
9 January 2017
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency

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It is as likely that American capitalists will preserve the Social Security Trust Fund and Publicly Funded Education, as that the Chinese will end trading in rhino horn, elephant tusk and bear liver. These are the Golden Cities of Cibola and the Fountains of Youth, which the obsessed conquistadores of temporal power can never refrain from lusting after.

Climate Change is the still wet graffiti of collective world greed pressed within the geological strata of the future.

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Bajo El Sol — Español-English

Bajo El Sol is a song published in 2016 by Diana Gameros, a Mexican woman presently living in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, USA. Diana Gameros is an independent musical artist (she produces her own recordings), who accompanies her singing with her classical guitar. This song is a nice example of Diana Gameros’s style of music and performance, which I would classify as trova mexicana (Mexican troubadour). Diana Gameros’s published comments about this song are as follows:

“A love letter to the homeland. A song dedicated to all those who have left their country of origin and who, despite of how dark things can be back home, are counting the days until they can see it again.”

“I miss you. I know your body is gray but I can see the little light that still shines on, my dear and wounded lightning bug. I am coming to you soon and when I do, we will help each other heal our wounds, we will bathe in the sun of your truth”

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Bajo El Sol
Diana Gameros
https://youtu.be/b_VE8N46LC8

entre nosotros hay un río
y novecientos días más
de mi memoria el olvido
quiere arrancarte
pero no podrá
quiere arrancarte
pero no podrá

traigo debajo del brazo
un libro llenito de historias
te las ofrezco toditas, todas!
hoy que la vida no sobra (*)

traigo debajo del brazo
un libro llenito de historias
buenas, malas, largas, cortas
te las ofrezco toditas
gritan mi pena y mi gloria
hoy te las canto toditas, todas!
hoy que la vida nos sobra
bajo el sol de tu verdad

quiero en mis ojos recuerdos
que me hablen de tu querer
mares y valles de sobra
y yo sin poderlos ver

quiero en mi oído un susurro
vientos que vengan de Uxmal
cantos de aves al aire, libres
que no he podido escuchar
bajo el sol de tu verdad

ni todas las flores marchitas
que abundan en tu jardín
ni el rojo de tu piel quemándose viva
harán que me olvide de ti

y aunque tu cuerpo sea gris
mis ojos distinguen tu luz
tierna luciérnaga herida
quiero brillar donde brillas tu

y aunque tu cuerpo sea gris
mis ojos distinguen la luz que te queda
tierna luciérnaga mía
juntas nos curaremos la vida
bajo el sol de tu verdad

bajo el sol de tu verdad
bajo el sol de tu verdad

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(Lyrics above as posted by Diana Gameros on her YouTube page for “Bajo El Sol.”)

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Under Your Sun
(“Bajo el Sol” by Diana Gameros, English translation by MG,Jr.)

A river flows between us two
streaming past nine hundred days
of memories holding you
that forgetfulness wants to yank
but won’t be able,
that forgetfulness wants to yank
but won’t be able.

Beneath my arm I’m bringing you
a book full to brimming with stories.
I offer every one to you, all yours!,
today with no living to spare. (*)

Beneath my arm I’m bringing you
a book full to brimming with stories,
good ones, bad ones, long ones, short ones,
I offer every one to you, all yours!
They cry out my pains and my glories.
Today I will sing them all to you,
today we have living to spare
under the sun of your truth.

In my eyes I want remembrances
that speak to me of your caring
with oceans and valleys to spare
that now I’ll not be seeing.

In my ear I want to have whispers
of breezes that come from Uxmal,
of songs by birds on the wing, and free,
as I’ve not been able to listen
under the sun of your truth.

Neither all of the faded flowers
that mound up in your garden,
nor your reddening skin burning itself alive,
are able to make me forget you.

And even if your body were gray
my eyes could distinguish your light
you tender and wounded firefly.
I want to shine wherever you’re bright.

And even if your body were gray
my eyes could distinguish your light remaining,
my tender firefly, shining.
Together, we’ll cure ourselves living
under the sun of your truth.

Under the sun of your truth,
under the sun of your truth.

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(*) If the “no” in “hoy que la vida no sobra” was actually supposed to be “nos”, then the English translation should read: “today we have living to spare.”

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My Best Friends Are Strangers

My Best Friends Are Strangers

My best friends are strangers
who find my quirks to their taste.
Unknown by me they read my thoughts,
unseen by me they share my visions,
unheard by me they speak my words,
out of time with me they live my lives:
present, past and yet-to-be.
An atomized mass of shared understanding
dispersed irrelevant for evolution,
sunlit grains of sand sinking under
rising seas of cold extinction,
dancing sparkles of consciousness
flickering across the surface ripples
of unknowning, dark and fathomless.

2 January 2016

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Winter Reflections (recycled)

My end-or-the-year thoughts about our world have been similar for some years now, and are summarized as follows.

It seems the major themes of my year were: the political yin-yang of popular equality versus privileged freedom in the U.S., climate change, and philosophies of eternity.

The United States today is a society in which power is allocated on the basis of accumulated and organized wealth, which imposes a social structure of inequitable freedom against the popular desire for a compassionate and just equalization of benefits and responsibilities. This situation will continue because neither the power and selfishness of accumulation nor the distractibility and ignorance of the masses show any signs of diminishing.

Climate change will proceed unhindered, as will the uninterrupted rush by humanity to exploit all sources of fossil fuels. The moral choice between restraint for the good of all life versus gaining an immediate boost to private power will always be won by the latter.

Can the nearly 200 nation-states of the world each develop into a multi-cultural democracy? That is the portal to the next level of social evolution. One significant barrier here is the obsession to rule theocratically or with major ethnic, racial, sexist, and religion-based prejudices, and with archaic and stunting restrictions on the scope of human thought and on benign natural behaviors. To achieve the kinds of peaceful modern states many can envision and few have experienced, it is necessary to have religions of all types fade from public affairs and become exclusively matters of the private thinking of individuals. Peace will come in proportion of the secularity and inclusivity of governance.

The dream of would-be benevolent monarchs, theocrats, and authoritarian ideologues, of peaceful rule under their supervision, stifles the full potential of the humanity trapped underneath it. The ultimate solution to the thorny political problems in many parts of the world is to nurture the human potential there by liberating it from the restrictions heaped upon it by factions seeking to control the lives of others through religion and mental coercion, physical force, economic enslavement, and political exclusion.

I think the eight major problems facing humanity in regard to experiencing a fulfilling standard of living everywhere, as measured by the Human Development Index, are as follows (listed from most urgent to relatively less urgent).

1. Corruption and Authoritarianism

Corruption is ubiquitous around the world, being a massive aggregate of individual failures of moral character, which is aptly named since its collective effect is the hollowing out of governance, the delegitimizing of governments. Authoritarianism and corruption naturally accompany one another, with authoritarianism being the structure of corruption at the apex of the political hierarchy.

2. Political Violence

Military occupations, repressions, insurrections, terrorism, and coup attempts all disrupt, destabilize, and dispirit civil society. Political violence is the ultimate expression of selfishness by the factional perpetrators intent to gain political power at the expense of the entire society. Politics at every level from that of the village to the international scene will never be perfect, but until our political processes are universally seen to admit all concerns and produce timely, just, and reasonable resolutions, or at a minimum move along that direction, we will not curb the excess of political violence we suffer today.

3. Food Production

Reducing the toil of food production and increasing the environmental sustainability of the production methods are essential tasks for the improvement of the health and security of all life. For many populations, the toil of producing food is being made worse by climate change, environmental degradation, predatory financing, and political strife.

4. Healthcare and Education

Two fundamental steps to boosting the standard of living of presently impoverished, disadvantaged, or under-developed societies are: to ensure people have sound bodies through extensive public health programs and a sufficiency of adequate doctoring, and to ensure that these sound bodies house sound minds, strengthened and enlightened by widely available basic and honest education. Programs of public hygiene disinfect the physical body of a society from the germs and parasites that can cause bodily disease, and programs of public education disinfect the intellects of the people from the most damaging parasites to critical thinking: ignorance, prejudice, and superstition including archaic religious restrictions.

5. Environmental Attitudes

Every man and woman is something nature is doing (paraphrasing Alan Watts). While it is convenient to many human endeavors aimed at gaining profits or advantages of temporal power to imagine that humans are separate from and even opposed to nature, in fact our lives are entwined with the many cycles and processes that we see in aggregate as “the environment.” We are like fish in a bowl, moving within an environment that we alternately imagine as approaching food to be swallowed, and receding wastes we have ejected. What we do to the environment returns to us as the karma of pollution, environmental degradation, and climate change. In today’s world, exploitative attitudes toward nature and the environment can no longer be ascribed to ignorance; they are sometimes excused as desperation and are often a matter of simple greed. Social stability requires an enduring healthy environment, and thus an attitude of environmental stewardship with sustainable uses of energy and natural resources.

6. Financial Aggression

The exploitation of the poor by the wealthy through financial methods is a hemorrhage to the effort of elevating and equalizing the standard of living of a targeted society. Such parasitism includes the predatory financing by a wealthy elite exploiting the lower economic classes within one nation, as well as the financial aggression by capitalists in wealthy nations against nations with less economic development, and perhaps with inviting potential wealth in the form of natural resources. Such exploitation can include “free trade” agreements, loans by foreign extractors that gain them significant economic control over indebted nations, and the exploitation of domestic labor by foreign corporations producing for export.

7. Political Freedom

Political freedom is a human right. Exclusion of “the poor” from effective political participation is a fundamental barrier to their efforts to improve their standard of living. Ethnic groups and economic classes with greater wealth and political power can gain control of the government, the military, commerce, and financial systems, and use these to maintain an unrepresentative governance, one which politically excludes a large part of the society they rule over and extract labor and wealth from. While problems 1 and 7 are not identical, they can often be closely related.

8. Energy for Human Development

Every human on earth deserves access to sufficient energy from sustainable sources for a just and decent standard of living. We each need energy to cook food and purify water, preserve food and drugs (refrigeration), heat homes, provide light after sundown to enable reading and study, power communications devices, power essential tools like well pumps, and power public transportation networks.

Problems 1, 2, 6 and 7 are political and economic, while problems 3, 4, 5 and 8 are social and environmental (of course we realize that politics and economics influence society and the environment, and vice versa).

Family and the arts are refuges to the spirit in times of political exclusion and economic exhaustion.

Happy New Year, World, best wishes for the NEW YEAR.

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Originally published at Swans.com on December 17, 2012. The three changes to this article are: after the first two words of the title, a different first sentence, everything after “the” in the last sentence.

Winter Reflections, 2012
http://www.swans.com/library/art18/mgarci59.html

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