Archive for October, 2008

The Form Of The Revolution

I’ve been thinking about anarchism for the last couple months. Thoreau captures my basic thought with the quote:

“That government is best which governs not at all” and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

My interest is primarily the second part of that statement: “when men are prepared for it.”

This is essentially the question I asked about TI’s Whatever You Like: why do some people, like Singer not eat at restaurants so they can give their money to the poor while other people pay thousands of dollars for jeweled teeth?

How do those people come to be so different?

A life where no one tries to coerce me into doing something with the threat of jail or unemployment or violence sounds pretty nice. One where I wake up in the morning and think to myself “what would I like to do today?” and then I do that.

A world full of Singers (or Ghandis or Dali Lamas or whatever) could be that way. They’d probably like some general rules like traffic lights to avoid accidents, but these are people though who, when given absolute freedom, would still do the right thing. Some mornings they would wake up and want to do things to help the less fortunate simply because they’re moral people and the suffering of others bothers them.

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Awareness — We’re Crazy

Meer DeMello

We’re All Crazy

The poor psychologists, they’re doing a good job. They really are. There are times when psychotherapy is a tremendous help, because when you’re on the verge of going insane, raving mad, you’re about to become either a psychotic or a mystic. That’s what the mystic is, the opposite of the lunatic.

Do you know one sign that you’ve woken up? It’s when you are asking yourself, “Am I crazy, or are all of them crazy?” It really is. Because we are crazy. The whole world is crazy. Certifiable lunatics! The only reason we’re not locked up in an institution is that there are so many of us.

So we’re crazy. We’re living on crazy ideas about love, about relationships, about happiness, about joy, about everything. We’re crazy to the point, I’ve come to believe, that if everybody agrees on something, you can be sure it’s wrong! Every new idea, every great idea, when it first began was in a minority of one.

That man called Jesus Christ — minority of one. Everybody was saying something different from what he was saying. The Buddha — minority of one. Everybody was saying something different from what he was saying.

I think it was Bertrand Russell who said, “Every great idea starts out as a blasphemy.” That’s well and accurately put. You’re going to hear lots of blasphemies during these days. “He hath blasphemed!” Because people are crazy, they’re lunatics, and the sooner you see this, the better for your mental and spiritual health.

Don’t trust them. Don’t trust your best friends. Get disillusioned with your best friends. They’re very clever. As you are in your dealings with everybody else, though you probably don’t know it. Ah, you’re so wily, and subtle, and clever. You’re putting on a great act.

I’m not being very complimentary here, am I? But I repeat: you want to wake up. You’re putting on a great act. And you don’t even know it. You think you’re being so loving. Ha! Whom are you loving? Even your self-sacrifice gives you a good feeling, doesn’t it? “I’m sacrificing myself! I’m living up to my ideal.” But you’re getting something out of it, aren’t you? You’re always getting something out of everything you do, until you wake up.

So there it is: step one. Realize that you don’t want to wake up. It’s pretty difficult to wake up when you have been hypnotized into thinking that a scrap of old newspaper is a check for a million dollars. How difficult it is to tear yourself away from that scrap of old newspaper.

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Getting Out Of Grad School

Brother B sent me a link to a quirky comic, Jim Monroe and Marc Ngui‘s Time Management for Anarchists that helped me give me the last 5% of certainty I needed to know that getting out of graduate school is the right decision for me.

The ideas are pretty close to my own in many ways, but there is one section in particular that was pretty much dead-on for the question of what to do about grad school:

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Don’t Talk To The Police

Something that many people never consider until it is perhaps too late is what to do when questioned by the police. I happened upon an interesting presentation by James Duane; J.D. and Officer George Bruch.

The first half is Duane describing the variety of situations where an innocent person can complicate their case by cooperating with the police:

The second half is Officer Bruch describing the power dynamics of police interrogation and how it is unlikely talking to an officer is to help you.

The description of the role of the police was similar to Busted. We tend to think of the police and the courts as separate entities: police keep the peace and courts dispense justice. That’s not the case though, one of the primary roles of the police is to collect evidence so that you can be convicted.

As Duane points out, anything you say can be used against you in a court of law, but anything that you say that helps your case is hearsay. You literally can’t do anything but hurt yourself in interacting with the police.

I’m certainly not advising anyone to be adversarial with law enforcement. While police make mistakes, the average police officer generally wants to uphold the law and make the world a better place. I just think it is important to understand the game you’re involved in before you start playing.

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Awareness — Are We Talking About Psychology?

Plus de DeMello:

Are We Talking About Psychology In This Spirituality Course?

Is psychology more practical than spirituality? Nothing is more practical than spirituality. What can the poor psychologist do? He can only relieve the pressure. I’m a psychologist myself, and I practice psychotherapy, and I have this great conflict within me when I have to choose sometimes between psychology and spirituality. I wonder if that makes sense to anybody here. It didn’t make sense to me for many years.

I’ll explain. It didn’t make sense to me for many years until I suddenly discovered that people have to suffer enough in a relationship so that they get disillusioned with all relationships. Isn’t that a terrible thing to think? They’ve got to suffer enough in a relationship before they wake up and say, “I’m sick of it! There must be a better way of living than depending on another human being.”

And what was I doing as a psychotherapist? People were coming to me with their relationship problems, with their communication problems, etc., and sometimes what I did was a help. But sometimes, I’m sorry to say, it wasn’t, because it kept people asleep.

Maybe they should have suffered a little more. Maybe they ought to touch rock bottom and say, “I’m sick of it all.” It’s only when you’re sick of your sickness that you’ll get out of it. Most people go to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to get relief. I repeat: to get relief. Not to get out of it.

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Mark Osborne’s More

I’ve been trying to write daily since I’m kinda disillusioned with academia and, should my current schemes fall through, I’d like other options than heading back to school. They say the only way to become a writer is to, well, write.

I, however, have a plane to catch to see my woman, so I’ll just show the work of someone better at creation than me: Mark Osborne’s More.

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Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day on the subject of poverty, apparently. I happened upon a post at MomGrind:

What if we could create a social system where no one is outrageously rich and no one is miserably poor?

No matter how smart or capable you were, you would not be able to accumulate more assets than a certain pre-determined amount.

No matter how bad you had it, you would always have a roof over your head, food on your table and access to basic health care.

In reading the discussion I was frustrated by the fact that most people really don’t understand economic disparity in the US.

My current favorite explanation is the L curve. It helps put the numbers into perspective with the ever-helpful football field analogy.

It starts off by lining everyone in the world up across the the field:

Then it shows the middle income family on the 50 yard line with their yearly income of $40,000 in $100 bills stacked at their feet an inch and a half high.

Then it pulls back to show the far end of the football field where Bill Gates’ stands beside his annual income as $100 bills, or at least by the base of the 30 mile high stack of it.

Money is freedom and the power to cause change in the world. I’m fine with the fact that some people work harder than others and should have more power. The thing about that is that Bill Gates is actually far more powerful than the already absurd disparity suggests. Not only does he have his huge pile of money, but people tend to hang out with the people close to them on the football field. Ideas within that group have amazing financial backing.

The other half of the problem is that the investor class expects returns on their money. In order for that to happen, managers of huge pools of capital are constantly seeking the best place to invest to bring in the largest returns.

One of the very fundamental problems with our economy is the fact that these huge quantities of investment capital are overwhelming markets that are simply insufficient to deal with the amazingly large sums of money involved. Ultimately, people either get greedy or stupid or both, and there’s yet another financial debacle.

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Awareness — On Wanting Happiness

Mas DeMello

On Wanting Happiness

I was saying that we don’t want to be happy. We want other things. Or let’s put it more accurately: We don’t want to be unconditionally happy. I’m ready to be happy provided I have this and that and the other thing. But this is really to say to our friend or to our God or to anyone, “You are my happiness. If I don’t get you, I refuse to be happy.”

It’s so important to understand that. We cannot imagine being happy without those conditions. That’s pretty accurate. We cannot conceive of being happy without them. We’ve been taught to place our happiness in them.

So that’s the first thing we need to do if we want to come awake, which is the same thing as saying: if we want to love, if we want freedom, if we want joy and peace and spirituality. In that sense, spirituality is the most practical thing in the whole wide world.

I challenge anyone to think of anything more practical than spirituality as I have defined it — not piety, not devotion, not religion, not worship, but spirituality — waking up, waking up! Look at the heartache everywhere, look at the loneliness, look at the fear, the confusion, the conflict in the hearts of people, inner conflict, outer conflict.

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Schweppe’s Films

I mentioned a while back liking films with a bit more of a grown-up feel. Interestingly, Schweppe’s Tonic Water sponsored a series of short films. They’ve all got the obligatory Schweppe’s bottle somewhere in them, but there’s some intriguing cinematic quality there as well.

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The Ethical Atheist

Stumble send me wandering into the ethical atheist’s questions for God.

It’s weird reading atheists argue with Christians. I feel like Gulliver in Lilliput listening to a vehement argument about which end of the egg to crack. This is what the atheists lead off with:

Why don’t you show yourself? You supposedly made us and want us to believe in you, right? Why the big mystery? You’re also omnipresent, right? Why don’t you show yourself to all of us at once and have a personal discussion with us? You can pick the date and time, we’ll all stop what we are doing, I’m sure.

I actually argued pretty much this question slightly drunk post-Oktoberfest this past weekend. I mentioned working on the Habitat House a couple weeks ago, and one of my friends told me that it was nice helping people who needed houses, but belief in God was silly.

I’ve been in a mood about the God thing in general. The only thing I seem to be sure of when I talk to other people is that they’re all wrong. ☺ Here’s where I stand on the subject of the divine at this point in life…

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