Through My Lens, Clearly

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Through My Lens, Clearly

For me, the 1950s ended in 1962 with the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the 1960s began in 1959 with the Cuban Revolution. I remember the elation in my family, in New York City’s Upper West Side (136th Street, and Broadway), when the Batista Regime in Cuba collapsed in January 1959; and I remember our dumbstruck terror in October 1962, listening to President John Kennedy speaking on our black-and-white TV, wondering if my grandparents would be radioactively incinerated in Havana before we were similarly dematerialized in New York City, or vice versa.

That is how my political consciousness was born; its coming-of-age and definitive molding was done later by the Vietnam War, and the many insistent demands by my government that I sacrifice myself to it. I escaped by dumb luck, for which I am eternally grateful. With the particular curvature and polish of my own idiosyncratic lens for political consciousness, I have come to resolve images of our collective reality that I sometimes feel a need to project, as here today.

People can’t be changed, they either evolve on their own, or they persist as they are to the death. The best you can do, for the rare few, is tell them the truth if they ask.

We live in a world rich in its diversity of intolerance of independent thought and self-directed living. Expressions of personal independence and creativity are threats to the slavish conformity of the mass of fearful repressed people hiding in their submissiveness to traditional ideologies that give them status in social hierarchies that limit the full human potential of the individual. This maintains, without merit, the elevation of patriarchs and power-hungry mediocrities who clip the wings of the human spirit and direct the enforcement of their systems of mental and physical imprisonment of the masses serving them.

Bigotry is popular because it makes stupid people feel intelligent, and weak people feel strong. President (sic!) Donald Trump’s popularity rests on people’s desire to be bigoted and respected for it. Bigotry will exist as long as there are ignorant people who are fearful. Such bigoted people love fascism because under it they can stay bigoted and be proud of it. Fascist bigots, like Trump, don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want to be made to feel ashamed. That is why publicly recognized fascist power-seekers always try to silence their critics: first by ignoring them, then by ridiculing them, then by judicial attacks against them, or by veiled calls to their followers to sprout proxies who will make illegal attacks on their critics, and ultimately if they gain dictatorial power they have their critics killed.

Evangelical Christianity is a cult of fear, and for its men also a cult of patriarchy. Politically, it is irrational Republicanism; socially, it is white supremacy and the subjugation of women. Why do such Republican women remain Republican? Because their bigotry, which is fear, is so embedded that it overpowers their self-respect, which is courage. Evangelical Christianity sees Islam as its reflection and its rival, which is why it hates Islam. In practice, their religion is a hate crime. Heraclitus was so perceptive to write, in about 500 BC, that “bigotry is the disease of the religious.”

The problem of race bigotry in America is like the problem of climate change. It is of our making, and we know how to fix it, but we never will. People are too invested in their ignorance for that to ever happen, and afraid if they let it go they will be weak in a changed world.

Arresting climate change would require the universal application of human intelligence, indiscriminate compassion, worldwide solidarity instead of personal selfishness, and thoughtful discipline instead of thoughtless waste. We are doomed. Climate Change is only a problem for the young, bequeathed to them by the old, who won’t notice it anyway because they’re comfortably done, and will be gone soon (geologically speaking).

I probably should not bother writing about the Climate Change Crisis anymore. Everyone everywhere now knows that it is real, and most have felt its first unpleasant effects. So, some Green Energy actions will now happen in response, probably too few, too weak and too late, but at least a start now that the Global Mind has opened to the truth.

Also, I really don’t need to write any more Jeremiads against Republican Party partisans (there are plenty of others to do that nicely), because it is now obvious to everyone everywhere — even the U.S. corporate media (though it puckers their sphincters to mouth it) — that the Republican Party is just a fascist conspiracy to eliminate democracy in the United States of America, and replace it with an authoritarian corporatized xenophobic bigoted Fundamentalist Christian White Supremacy theocratic oligarchy, to drive us all expeditiously to extinction under their self-satisfied obsessively avaricious command. Thieves lie, and liars steal. For them, it is better for humanity to die out badly than for the stupid, bigoted and greedy to be bypassed. Capitalism is fossil-fueled greed with a total lack of imagination, and a bodacious military. Capitalism is the ideology of parasites.

Who built the United States of America into the richest country in world history?: enslaved and exterminated Native Americans, enslaved Africans, dispossessed Mexicans, and exploited European and Asian immigrant laborers. Who produces American wealth today?: the wage-slave descendants of all of these, who only gain a pittance from their harvested labors. What salve are these squeezed working people given for the bruising sacrifices they make of their humanity into the endlessly grinding engines of obsessive greed?: a patriotism deficient in human solidarity but voracious for taxes. But, don’t think of it as taxes, think of it as tithing to the War Religion.

So in my lens’s focus today I find the following: For the world: Capitalism must die for the World to live. For my country: Tribalism is America’s fatal flaw. Resentment, envy and a fanatical sense of entitlement are its corrosive agents. A generational overturning led by socialist youth is its only hope. For myself and every other person: It’s not what happens to you that determines whether you are a success or failure at life, but how you deal with it. As Thucydides quoted Pericles: “Honor is the only thing that does not grow old.”

And now, back to the bread and circuses.

<><><><><><><>

Transcending Climate Change

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Transcending Climate Change

CLIMATE CHANGE / ENERGY TRANSFORMATION is a great challenge for us all. Approached with gusto, solidarity and creativity, it could be an exhilarating rebirth of everything and everyone we know – we can create Paradise if we choose to. If, instead, we shrink from this challenge, in denial, fear, timidly, submissiveness, without any spirit or confidence, then, yes, this formidable Earth-changing realty could drift into a long, enveloping, tedious, glacially-paced catastrophe for us, leading – who knows when – to our unglamorous individually unnoticed and lonely demise.

You have to realize that whether or when we “go extinct” is really beyond our control at any time; that rests in the hands of the greater geophysical, cosmic and chaotic power of Nature (which on Earth is certainly being prodded annoyingly by our puny yet persistent and mindless thermodynamic wastefulness). But, how we live as a species, and how we collectively express our awareness – and appreciation – of being alive, of being conscious, of being a human society: that is something we have complete control over for however long our species is graced with life.

So, really, the challenge is far beyond just finding exclusive escape routes from our deteriorating here-and-now to some minimally bearable new climatic future, for classes of today’s people who are favored by luck and wealth, and are anxious to gain comfortable personal salvations without having to undergo personal change. The actual challenge is to achieve our full human potential – individually and as a species – to transcend who we are today so as to make the rest of our indeterminate collective existence worthy of our finest enduring aspirations.

<><><><><><><>

A Woman’s Voice From Palestine Stirred Me

Yesterday (28 September 2018) Nadia Harhash subscribed to my blog. So, I looked into her blog to find out who “Nadia Harhash” is. I found out she is a woman (obviously), Palestinian, a scholar, a mother of four children, a Muslim, a divorcée, and oppressed, suppressed and persecuted for each of her physical, intellectual, political and social attributes.

Her story (a documentary, not a novel) resonated with my still fresh indignation over the oppression, suppression and persecution of women in the United States, as vividly exposed in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings (on 27 September 2018) on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, which hearing included the explosive, courageous, inspiring and maddening testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, of the attempted rape perpetrated on her by Brett Kavanaugh 36 years ago.

The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee and Republican-controlled Congress are in a big hot hurry to confirm Kavanaugh’s nomination, because they want his bought-and-paid-for judicial activism at the pinnacle of the US judicial system, to continue and advance the domination of American life by corporate power, rather than popular democracy; and they want his devotion to the cause of white supremacy to continue the Trump Administration’s strident reactionary efforts to reverse the continuing demographic dilution of the “white race” (and the fundamentalist Christian cult) in America (which dilution I just wrote about, at https://manuelgarciajr.com/2018/09/26/the-changing-american-population-1610-2010/).

So, I have put together this collection of new comments and older articles, for the benefit of Nadia Harhash. I don’t know if she will agree with all I say here, in the totality of the texts cited, or even if she will agree with any of it! Regardless, here it is.

Living In The Shoes Of A Woman is Nadia Harhash’s own searing story about her struggle for personal freedom. For me, it is a cry of universal urgency from the Female Voice Of The Earth.

Living In The Shoes Of A Woman
https://nadiaharhash.com/living-in-the-shoes-of-a-woman/

Nadia Harhash
nadiaharhash@yahoo.com

The following items are my own, and are for the possible benefit of Nadia Harhash, as mentioned above (they almost all include some degree of mention of Palestine).

I wrote (on 28 September 2017) the paragraph that will follow, after seeing this short news story:

48% Of White Evangelicals Would Support Kavanaugh Even If He Sexually Assaulted Ford
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2018/09/48-of-white-evangelicals-would-support-kavanaugh-even-if-he-sexually-assaulted-ford/

Evangelical Christianity is a cult of fear, and for its men also a cult of patriarchy. Politically, it is irrational Republicanism; socially, it is white supremacy and the subjugation of women. Why do such Republican women remain Republican? Because their bigotry, which is fear, is so embedded that it overpowers their self-respect, which is courage. Evangelical Christianity sees Islam as its reflection and its rival, which is why it hates Islam.
— (written 28 September 2018, before I was aware of Nadia Harhash)

Six older items in reverse chronological order; the last one is sweet:

Kill For Peace, Bomb For Justice, Behead For Nookie
15 April 2018
[includes a map of the Levant]
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2018/04/15/kill-for-peace-bomb-for-justice-behead-for-nookie/
<>
16 April 2018
[the publication of my essay at Counterpunch.org]
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/04/16/kill-for-peace-bomb-for-justice-behead-for-nookie/

Zionism’s Palestinian Problem, and Ours
8 April 2018
[includes the web-link to the Mehdi Hasan article that prompted my essay]
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2018/04/08/zionisms-palestinian-problem-and-ours/
<>
9 April 2018
[the publication of my essay at Counterpunch.org]
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/04/09/zionisms-palestinian-problem-and-ours/

Explaining ISIS Terrorism to an American Teenager
19 November 2015
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2015/11/19/explaining-isis-terrorism-to-an-american-teenager/

No Regrets On Libya
4 November 2013
http://www.swans.com/library/art19/mgarci74.html

Attacking Iran Will Save The World
26 March 2012
http://www.swans.com/library/art18/mgarci44.html

Palestine’s Gift Of Christmas
22 December 2015
[a slightly edited improved version with added music video]
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2015/12/22/palestines-gift-of-christmas/
<>
22 December 2009
[the originally published version]
https://www.counterpunch.org/2009/12/22/palestine-s-gift-of-christmas/

To Nadia Harhash: I sincerely hope the rest of your life unfolds with beauty, fulfillment and peace.

<><><><><><><>

<><><><><><><>

My Friend Stan

Natural Images of a Partial Annular Eclipse

Natural Images of a Partial Annular Eclipse, 20 May 2012

Today (5 July 2018) was an interesting day for me. The part I will share here is the following:

An Abundance Of Love
(song by Ella Solana García)
5 July 2018
https://soundcloud.com/ellasolanagarcia/an-abundance-of-love

I first heard this song in the morning, and liked it. By late evening, the words took on a deeper meaning that seemed designed just for me. Between morning and evening, I was gifted with the help from one of the few friends I have. Acquaintances I have many, critics I can have legion, but friends are very few. Let me explain. This man (my friend Stan), older than I, survived three helicopter crashes during the Vietnam War, as well as the siege known as the First Battle of Khe Sanh (greater than 72 incoming artillery barrages – he lost hearing in one ear). Between that and his subsequent career in the tree business – also the falling out of tree business (80 ft.) – he has managed to break just about every bone in his body. With advancing age all those breaks are becoming more arthritic and consequently nearly continuously painful. He’s one of the most cheerful, even-tempered people I’ve ever met, and a gnarly anti-war feral cat rescuer. It is from him that I learned the essence of a true friend: “someone you’d be glad to share a foxhole with.” I can’t think of a higher aspiration for one’s own personal character development. I’ll make sure to rate as one of his foxhole friends. That’s my definition of socialism. I (we) had a spot of car trouble today, and I called Stan from the side of the road (on my antique cellular communicator) to inquire about a lift. We were lucky, he had his car out of the shop and it was sort-of working, and he was actually driving home to his apartment (in a decaying building but nicely located) from the laundromat with the clean clothes for both he and his wife (who was probably at work), and detoured to get us. He pulled up, with his low-key wisecracking way brightening up my mood, with his mostly salt with pepper bushy hair and craggy face, and a soprano’s lush opera aria gushing out of the dashboard, and a big laundry basket full of folded clothes, which he tossed in the trunk to make room for me and my gals (I’ll get two lectures later for “gals”). This was not the first time Stan and I have gotten and given rides to each other, and there will undoubtedly be more such exchanges in our futures. Sometimes it’s the little things that are everything. I have few friends by choice, because I don’t want distractions from the real thing. Not that I ever want to be in a foxhole, but it’s good to know who I would rather share one with. “An abundance of love…”

I also described Stan in an earlier post

https://manuelgarciajr.com/2015/02/22/haunted-by-the-vietnam-war/

in the section that begins with “For Ella’s benefit.”

Songs by Ella Solana García
(at Soundcloud)
https://soundcloud.com/ellasolanagarcia

Enjoy,

“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

Why I Am Leftist (Vietnam War)

Tet Offensive
Phase 1: 30 January – 28 March, 1968
Phase 2: 5 May – 15 June, 1968
Phase 3: 17 August – 23 September 1968.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
assassinated in Memphis, TN
4 April 1968
Riots broke out in about 100 US cities and towns over many weeks.

Robert F. Kennedy
assassinated in Los Angeles, CA
6 June 1968
RFK had won the CA primary election for DP presidential nominee that day.

Richard M. Nixon
elected US president
5 November 1968

In the fall (October-November) of 1968 during his election campaign as the Republican Party’s nominee for US president, Richard Nixon sabotaged the Paris Peace Talks between the Johnson Administration and the Communist Party of Vietnam (“North Vietnam”), by using Anna Chennault (of the deposed Nationalist Chinese regime) as a secret agent to contact the South Vietnamese regime of Nguyen Van Thieu and have him renege on his commitment to send a delegation to the scheduled Paris peace negotiations (Nixon promised Thieu a better deal, if Nixon became President), so the peace talks failed by not even starting.

This was an act of treason by Nixon during a time of war.

Nixon used the “failure” of the Johnson Administration to either “win the war” (militarily) or bring the four combatants (North Vietnam and the ‘Viet Cong’ versus South Vietnam and the U.S.A.) into serious armistice and peace negotiations, as an electoral issue justifying voting for him. Nixon won (over the DP’s Hubert Humphrey) by less than 1% of the popular vote.

Nixon and Henry Kissinger (National Security Advisor, then Secretary of State) then expanded the war (into Laos and Cambodia), and only in 1973 – 5 years later – were they able to get the Hanoi government (the Communist government of North Vietnam, and their allied popular forces in South Vietnam: the ‘Viet Cong’) back to the negotiating table in Paris, with the Communists finally agreeing once again to the concessions they had originally made in 1968.

During the interim, 22,000 additional Americans had died in the war, and perhaps a million more people of Vietnam (north and south) as well as Laos and Cambodia. This is all described in Episode 7 of Ken Burns’ 10 episode TV series, “The Vietnam War” (2017).

It was 50 years ago this month (during Phase 1 of the Tet Offensive) that I registered for the draft. My college deferment was cancelled at the end of 1968, and I was 1-A all of 1969. Bureaucratic delaying tactics and luck kept me from being inducted, and I drew a very high number in the Draft Lottery of December 1969, and so was passed up.

A tense time, and one that ensured I would forever be some kind of leftist.

The Lyndon Johnson tapes: Richard Nixon’s ‘treason’
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21768668

<><><><><><><>

Old Songs of Youth’s Promise

Anthony Tarrant reminded me of Wooden Ships by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, from long ago, and it got me thinking of the past. I shared Anthony’s post (on Facebook) because it moved me, and commented on it. So, further below are two responses in kind: music of unadorned art and sincere feeling far, far beyond the simplistic garish bombast of corporate “music” today.

Wooden Ships – Crosby Stills Nash and Young
https://youtu.be/3Q3j-i7GLr0

Takes me back to a lost world, lost dreams, and a different kind of people, both men and women. There was still the same kind of superficiality, the same kind of selfishness and venality as today, but I remember a much greater sense of optimism and even brotherhood (prompted mainly by anti-war sentiment) than I see today. Back then, it seemed evident that society would continue to improve, perhaps too slowly but inexorably. For me, that dream died on election day, 1980 (and then December 8 of that year). That’s why I had such resurrected hope in 2016 with Bernie Sanders, and was so angered by the petty and ignorant criticisms of him by idiot right-wingers and effete self-important and disconnected boutique leftists. This, and songs like this were like the aroma and pleasurable smoke on the breezes wafting a lovely girl’s hair as we looked with dancing eyes and knowing smiles out a big open window onto the springtime of our Sentimental Education (Flaubert) not knowing of dark chapters and separating currents to come far later. And here I am, marooned on a island of memories none now knows the language for understanding.

Don McLean – Vincent ( Starry, Starry Night) With Lyrics
https://youtu.be/oxHnRfhDmrk

Soldier, We Love You (Rita Martinson)
https://youtu.be/7iMusPYq83g

<><><><><><><>

Anthony Tarrant
https://anthonytarrant.wordpress.com/

Anthony also maintains a presence on Facebook.

<><><><><><><>

ADDENDUM, 15 January 2018

I just took a trip back to 1969, here it is:

Crosby, Stills, & Nash, CSN (1969 Complete 1st L.P./Classic Vinyl)
https://youtu.be/fM8hpsrmUe0

I heard this album about 10,000 times back when. The first two songs in particular are icons, hits, and paint a sound picture of some of the living in those times. Actually all of the songs on this album blend into one complete work, like the movements of a symphony. Back then you could walk past a college dorm and hear this album pouring out of one open window after another. Quite a reality.

<><><><><><><>

Being Alive

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Being Alive

The most important parts of my life
are my ideas and my family.

The qualities of others most important to me are:
character, compassion, honor, and intelligence.

My ideal society is one where
unforced and equitable mutual caring
has triumphed over
selfish, exclusionary and heartless grasping.

The biological purpose of living organisms is
to transmit genetic patterns through time.

The metaphysical purposes of consciousness are
to enjoy being aware of being alive,
to enjoy being aware of nature, and
to care for one another.

Happiness in life grows out of appreciation for it,
despite its many disappointments and sorrows.

Never surrender your dignity
to advance your career.

Never devalue your character
to beg for approval.

Love is the compassionate expression
of creative appreciation.

29 December 2017

<><><><><><><>