Wednesday, November 21, 2012

THE REAL THANKSGIVING: The Hidden History of Massachusetts

As we enter into the Holiday Season, first up is Thanksgiving. Although I thouroughly enjoy getting together with my family, eating, drinking and fellowshipping, I am always cognizant of the true history of the Holidays we have been brainwashed to celebrate. Being 50% Narragansett Indian, I feel it my duty to educate people as to the true story and history involved. Please enjoy your family; food and coming together but know what the underlying history is. Ask yourself where have I seen or heard this story before. History continues to repeat itself because we are not being given history as it really takes place. We are given a whitewashed version tailored to keep us in the dark and totally asleep. HAPPY THANKSGIVING and I give to you,

THE REAL THANKSGIVING: The Hidden History of Massachusetts

Much of America's understanding of the early relationship between the Indian and the European is conveyed through the story of Thanksgiving. Proclaimed a holiday in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, this fairy tale of a feast was allowed to exist in the American imagination pretty much untouched until 1970, the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims. That is when Frank B. James, president of the Federated Eastern Indian League, prepared a speech for a Plymouth banquet that exposed the Pilgrims for having committed, among other crimes, the robbery of the graves of the Wampanoag’s. He wrote:

"We welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people."

But white Massachusetts officials told him he could not deliver such a speech and offered to write him another. Instead, James declined to speak, and on Thanksgiving Day hundreds of Indians from around the country came to protest. It was the first National Day of Mourning, a day to mark the losses Native Americans suffered as the early settlers prospered. This true story of "Thanksgiving" is what whites did not want Mr. James to tell.

What Really Happened in Plymouth in 1621?

According to a single-paragraph account in the writings of one Pilgrim, a harvest feast did take place in Plymouth in 1621, probably in mid-October, but the Indians who attended were not even invited. Though it later became known as "Thanksgiving," the Pilgrims never called it that. And amidst the imagery of a picnic of interracial harmony is some of the most terrifying bloodshed in New World history.

The Pilgrim crop had failed miserably that year, but the agricultural expertise of the Indians had produced twenty acres of corn, without which the Pilgrims would have surely perished. The Indians often brought food to the Pilgrims, who came from England ridiculously unprepared to survive and hence relied almost exclusively on handouts from the overly generous Indians-thus making the Pilgrims the western hemisphere's first class of welfare recipients. The Pilgrims invited the Indian sachem Massasoit to their feast, and it was Massasoit, engaging in the tribal tradition of equal sharing, who then invited ninety or more of his Indian brothers and sisters-to the annoyance of the 50 or so ungrateful Europeans. No turkey, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie was served; they likely ate duck or geese and the venison from the 5 deer brought by Massasoit. In fact, most, if not all, of the food was most likely brought and prepared by the Indians, whose 10,000-year familiarity with the cuisine of the region had kept the whites alive up to that point.

The Pilgrims wore no black hats or buckled shoes-these were the silly inventions of artists hundreds of years since that time. These lower-class Englishmen wore brightly colored clothing, with one of their church leaders recording among his possessions "1 paire of greene drawers." Contrary to the fabricated lore of storyteller’s generations since, no Pilgrims prayed at the meal, and the supposed good cheer and fellowship must have dissipated quickly once the Pilgrims brandished their weaponry in a primitive display of intimidation. What's more, the Pilgrims consumed a good deal of home brew. In fact, each Pilgrim drank at least a half-gallon of beer a day, which they preferred even to water. This daily inebriation led their governor, William Bradford, to comment on his people's "notorious sin," which included their "drunkenness and uncleanliness" and rampant "sodomy"...

The Pilgrims of Plymouth, the Original Scalpers

Contrary to popular mythology the Pilgrims were no friends to the local Indians. They were engaged in a ruthless war of extermination against their hosts, even as they falsely posed as friends. Just days before the alleged Thanksgiving love-fest, a company of Pilgrims led by Myles Standish actively sought to chop off the head of a local chief. They deliberately caused a rivalry between two friendly Indians, pitting one against the other in an attempt to obtain "better intelligence and make them both more diligent." An 11-foot-high wall was erected around the entire settlement for the purpose of keeping the Indians out.

Any Indian who came within the vicinity of the Pilgrim settlement was subject to robbery, enslavement, or even murder. The Pilgrims further advertised their evil intentions and white racial hostility, when they mounted five cannons on a hill around their settlement, constructed a platform for artillery, and then organized their soldiers into four companies-all in preparation for the military destruction of their friends the Indians.

Pilgrim Myles Standish eventually got his bloody prize. He went to the Indians, pretended to be a trader, and then beheaded an Indian man named Wituwamat. He brought the head to Plymouth, where it was displayed on a wooden spike for many years, according to Gary B. Nash, "as a symbol of white power." Standish had the Indian man's young brother hanged from the rafters for good measure. From that time on, the whites were known to the Indians of Massachusetts by the name "Wotowquenange," which in their tongue meant cutthroats and stabbers.

Who Were the "Savages"?

The myth of the fierce, ruthless Indian savage lusting after the blood of innocent Europeans must be vigorously dispelled at this point. In actuality, the historical record shows that the very opposite was true.

Once the European settlements stabilized, the whites turned on their hosts in a brutal way. The once amicable relationship was breeched again and again by the whites, who lusted over the riches of Indian land. A combination of the Pilgrims' demonization of the Indians, the concocted mythology of Eurocentric historians, and standard Hollywood propaganda has served to paint the gentle Indian as a tomahawk-swinging savage endlessly on the warpath, lusting for the blood of the God-fearing whites.

But the Pilgrims' own testimony obliterates that fallacy. The Indians engaged each other in military contests from time to time, but the causes of "war," the methods, and the resulting damage differed profoundly from the European variety:

Indian "wars" were largely symbolic and were about honor, not about territory or extermination.

"Wars" were fought as domestic correction for a specific act and were ended when correction was achieved. Such action might better be described as internal policing. The conquest or destruction of whole territories was a European concept.

Indian "wars" were often engaged in by family groups, not by whole tribal groups, and would involve only the family members.

A lengthy negotiation was engaged in between the aggrieved parties before escalation to physical confrontation would be sanctioned. Surprise attacks were unknown to the Indians.

It was regarded as evidence of bravery for a man to go into "battle" carrying no weapon that would do any harm at a distance-not even bows and arrows. The bravest act in war in some Indian cultures was to touch their adversary and escape before he could do physical harm.

The targeting of non-combatants like women, children, and the elderly was never contemplated. Indians expressed shock and repugnance when the Europeans told, and then showed, them that they considered women and children fair game in their style of warfare.

A major Indian "war" might end with less than a dozen casualties on both sides. Often, when the arrows had been expended the "war" would be halted. The European practice of wiping out whole nations in bloody massacres was incomprehensible to the Indian.

According to one scholar, "The most notable feature of Indian warfare was its relative innocuity." European observers of Indian wars often expressed surprise at how little harm they actually inflicted. "Their wars are far less bloody and devouring than the cruel wars of Europe," commented settler Roger Williams in 1643. Even Puritan warmonger and professional soldier Capt. John Mason scoffed at Indian warfare: "[Their] feeble manner...did hardly deserve the name of fighting." Fellow warmonger John Underhill spoke of the Narragansett’s, after having spent a day "burning and spoiling" their country: "no Indians would come near us, but run from us, as the deer from the dogs." He concluded that the Indians might fight seven years and not kill seven men. Their fighting style, he wrote, "is more for pastime, than to conquer and subdue enemies."

All this describes a people for whom war is a deeply regrettable last resort. An agrarian people, the American Indians had devised a civilization that provided dozens of options all designed to avoid conflict--the very opposite of Europeans, for whom all-out war, a ferocious bloodlust, and systematic genocide are their apparent life force. Thomas Jefferson--who himself advocated the physical extermination of the American Indian--said of Europe, "They [Europeans] are nations of eternal war. All their energies are expended in the destruction of labor, property and lives of their people."

Puritan Holocaust

By the mid-1630s, a new group of 700 even holier Europeans calling themselves Puritans had arrived on 11 ships and settled in Boston-which only served to accelerate the brutality against the Indians.

In one incident around 1637, a force of whites trapped some seven hundred Pequot Indians, mostly women, children, and the elderly, near the mouth of the Mystic River. Englishman John Mason attacked the Indian camp with "fire, sword, blunderbuss, and tomahawk." Only a handful escaped and few prisoners were taken-to the apparent delight of the Europeans:

To see them frying in the fire, and the streams of their blood quenching the same, and the stench was horrible; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave praise thereof to God.

This event marked the first actual Thanksgiving. In just 10 years 12,000 whites had invaded New England, and as their numbers grew they pressed for all-out extermination of the Indian. Euro-diseases had reduced the population of the Massachusetts nation from over 24,000 to less than 750; meanwhile, the number of European settlers in Massachusetts rose to more than 20,000 by 1646.

By 1675, the Massachusetts Englishmen were in a full-scale war with the great Indian chief of the Wampanoag’s, Metacomet. Renamed "King Philip" by the white man, Metacomet watched the steady erosion of the lifestyle and culture of his people as European-imposed laws and values engulfed them.

In 1671, the white man had ordered Metacomet to come to Plymouth to enforce upon him a new treaty, which included the humiliating rule that he could no longer sell his own land without prior approval from whites. They also demanded that he turn in his community's firearms. Marked for extermination by the merciless power of a distant king and his ruthless subjects, Metacomet retaliated in 1675 with raids on several isolated frontier towns. Eventually, the Indians attacked 52 of the 90 New England towns, destroying 13 of them. The Englishmen ultimately regrouped, and after much bloodletting defeated the great Indian nation, just half a century after their arrival on Massachusetts soil. Historian Douglas Edward Leach describes the bitter end:

The ruthless executions, the cruel sentences...were all aimed at the same goal-unchallengeable white supremacy in southern New England. That the program succeeded is convincingly demonstrated by the almost complete docility of the local native ever since.

When Captain Benjamin Church tracked down and murdered Metacomet in 1676, his body was quartered and parts were "left for the wolves." The great Indian chief's hands were cut off and sent to Boston and his head went to Plymouth, where it was set upon a pole on the real first "day of public Thanksgiving for the beginning of revenge upon the enemy." Metacomet's nine-year-old son was destined for execution because, the whites reasoned, the offspring of the devil must pay for the sins of their father. The child was instead shipped to the Caribbean to spend his life in slavery.

As the Holocaust continued, several official Thanksgiving Days were proclaimed. Governor Joseph Dudley declared in 1704 a "General Thanksgiving"-not in celebration of the brotherhood of man-but for [God's] infinite Goodness to extend His Favors...In defeating and disappointing... the Expeditions of the Enemy [Indians] against us, And the good Success given us against them, by delivering so many of them into our hands...

Just two years later one could reap a$ 50 reward in Massachusetts for the scalp of an Indian-demonstrating that the practice of scalping was a European tradition. According to one scholar, "Hunting redskins became...a popular sport in New England, especially since prisoners were worth good money..." . I hope this clears up a lot of the misconceptions we have been fed about the fellowship and enjoyment this Holiday represents. This is the true history and I for one will never forget.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The New Face of American Racism

There is a “liberals are hypocrites” post that is going viral among right-wing zealots on Facebook, with thousands of shares and hundreds of comments on some of them, in which a news story about two African Americans who committed a violent crime against a white is, once again, proffered as proof that 1) George Zimmerman was right to pursue and shoot Trayvon Martin, 2) “Stand Your Ground” laws are good and necessary, 3) those who oppose them are trying to turn good, law-abiding (i.e., “white”) folks into unarmed innocent victims of bad, law-breaking (i.e., “black”) folks, and 4) Liberals are hypocrites because we aren’t concerned enough about black-on-white violence.

My following response, which is an expression of sheer disgust at continuing to see this ugly bigotry repeated over and over again, apparently resonating with far too many people, only addresses the first three of these issues. (The fourth can be summed up as follows: There is virtually no one defending black-on-white violence, and no laws bringing into question whether some incidents of it –or, more precisely, acts of violence by those you DON’T identify with against those you DO identify with– can be prosecuted or not. The reason the white-on-black violence of the Trayvon Martin shooting is a larger issue is because there are people defending it as a non-issue and advocating laws that make it more likely to occur more often.)

The news story (about an incident of black-on-white violence), used in this way, highlights the fundamental difference between almost all variations of right-wing ideology and almost all variations of left-wing ideology: The former is firmly rooted in fear and hatred, while the latter aspires to hope and humanity. Those on the right scoff that those on the left would be so naive, though, in reality, hope and humanity is not only a more positive orientation, but, when leavened with reason and information, is also more pragmatic, better serves one’s own self-interest, than the fear and hatred that informs those on the right.

Those on the far-right are blithely indifferent to the death of an unarmed black teen at the hands of an armed white vigilante, because the armed white vigilante, in their mind, had every right to defend himself against any and all potential or perceived dangers, while the unarmed black teen lacked even the right to life, as long as it is one of them rather than the government that deprives him of it. One rationalization that is used is the presumption of guilt laid on the teen due to the possibility that he reacted violently to being pursued, something that these ideologues should respect rather than condemn, if we each have a right to protect ourselves against perceived threats! Ironically, however, they only defend the armed pursuer’s right to “defend” himself, and not the unarmed pursued’s right to do so!

If these right-wing ideologues had any integrity, any consistency, were anything other than implicitly racist hypocrites, they would not point to the possibility that Martin was beating Zimmerman before he (Martin) was shot as justification for the shooting, but rather with approval that Martin was defending himself against the armed individual pursuing him! Why aren’t they chanting that it’s a shame Martin didn’t kill Zimmerman before Zimmerman killed Martin, since it was Zimmerman who was the armed pursuer, and Martin who was the unarmed pursued?

But, of course, that’s not the way their little minds work, because it’s all about whom they identify with, and who they identify as their implicit enemy. The armed vigilante is LIKE THEM, and that’s all that counts. The unarmed victim is THE OTHER that they fear and hate, and so his innocence, the fact that he had his life taken away unjustly, is just no big deal. They excuse the armed pursuer, because they identify with him (racially, and ideologically as an armed pursuer of someone he thought was a criminal); they implicitly condemn the unarmed teen to a death sentence without a trial because they don’t identify with him (racially, and as someone who someone like them was inclined to suspect of being up to no good). It’s the very nature of their way of thinking, and the reason why it should be odious to all rational people of goodwill.

What an amazingly convoluted ideology it is that does such contortions to be indignant that anyone would raise any objections to an armed pursuer shooting to death an unarmed teen apparently doing absolutely nothing illegal at the time the pursuit began, but spares no indignation whatsoever on behalf of the unarmed teen who was shot to death! The imagined threat to Zimmerman, who was both the pursuer and the wielder of deadly force in this instance, is more salient to them than the real danger to Martin, who was the pursued and unarmed victim of a shooting death!

What gets me most about this is what it indicates about how far we’ve sunk as a nation. This isn’t just a fringe ideology that a few grease-painted jack-asses adhere to. This has become a mainstream ideology, a cult of implicit violence and hatred justified by fear and generalized enmity.

It goes beyond the rationalization of offensive deadly violence by an armed pursuer against an unarmed victim, justified only by the pursuers “reasonable” fear of crime in general (!), essentially legalizing paranoid racist violence. It goes beyond conveniently targeting those “scary blacks” (as the news story used to stoke the right-wing indignation so poignantly illustrates) whose crimes justify Zimmerman acting as police, judge, jury, and executioner at the sight of a black kid in his neighborhood. It even goes beyond their assertion that there is no racism in America, that their now oft-invoked fear and hatred of those blacks who have not proven that they are not a threat isn’t racism at all, but rather merely the rational response to the “racism” of those who think that laws that facilitate killing unarmed black teens due to a generalized fear of crime are a bad idea.

It includes and goes beyond all of this. It extends to and is fed by the delusion that there is no social injustice in America, that people fare well or poorly primarily by virtue of their own merit, a notion that is not only absurd on the face of it, but is also thoroughly disproved by statistical evidence. It combines a blithe indifference to the legacies of history that relegate people to sharply unequal opportunity structures at birth, with the equally blithe willingness to subtly loathe the entire categories of people who, born into such opportunity structures, are overrepresented among the poor. But irrational bigots are not swayed by such things as fact and reason and human decency.

The fact that such a belligerent, inhumane, and just generally dysfunctional ideology can survive as a major ideological strain in American culture is scary beyond belief. This cultural virus has always been with us, but never before in my memory so virulent and widespread as it is today. Anyone who has any desire for us to remain or become a rational and humane people needs to take stock of this, to repudiate it, and to oppose it, passionately and constantly, because it is truly ugly and destructive insanity.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Response to Mindless Belligerence

This post is inspired by a recent interaction on Facebook, far too similar to far too many other interactions, in which someone appalled by the fact that human beings are capable of thinking and acting like human beings (or what human beings should be) responds with a spittle-laden string of childish pejoratives, including such timeless gems as “retard.”It is a stock post, to be linked to each time, thus saving me both the time and tedium of actually responding to these creatures.

I prefer to be neither the person who initiates such mindless belligerence, nor the person who responds to it in kind, because both are unappealing and assertively unimpressive. If I respond by, for instance, noting that my detractor appears to be a bit of troglodyte, my detractor is likely to note that while he merely “referenced” the empirically demonstrable fact that I’m a “retard,” I engaged in “typical liberal name calling” in response, which is “pathetic.” (True story.)

Far be it from me to knowingly engage in such “typical liberal name calling” (as opposed to the more respectable conservative preference for calling those they disagree with “retards,” of something similar, over and over again, in this case always in all caps…). Instead, I offer this one word response: Really?

It’s telling what you focus on most about my posts: their length. Not their content, but their length. Those long posts, that discuss economics, history, law, demography, and numerous other lenses that are relevant to the political and social issues discussed on these threads, err by having any substance, by failing to be shallow expressions of blind and reactionary bigotry.

To you, economics is irrelevant to economic arguments, history irrelevant to historical ones, an understanding of how law works irrelevant to an argument about legality, reality irrelevant in general. The realization that good public policy isn’t defined by legality but that we must continue to refine legality in service to good public policy is completely beyond your grasp. The notion that one must use their minds to understand their world is completely foreign to you. The possibility that your arbitrary and unconsidered beliefs could possibly be anything but the absolute truth is as beyond your reach as it has been to Inquisitors and Jihadists, who share with you the same destructive modality of blind ideological certainty, expressed more in terms of hatred than of hope, more antagonistic toward humanity than constructively in its service. That’s what defines you.

You often assure me that I wasted my time, that there’s no way I could ever change your minds. Of course I know that: Changing the minds of the mindless is beyond the reach of the best formed arguments; appealing to human decency a joke to those steeped in the toxin of belligerence and bigotry. But juxtaposing what reason in service to humanity looks like with what you represent is a lesson for any others who are not as far gone as yourselves. These threads are read by an unknown number of silent lurkers, who have the chance to choose to be reasonable and decent human beings.

So, my spittle-spattering spokespeople for the far-right rejection of reason and civility, of concern for humanity, may you enjoy the elongated reach of your pre-human limbs to all the more effectively pat yourselves on the back for such wit and wisdom. Such simian sophistication deserves only praise, and certainly a treat from one another as mutual trainers, for it far surpasses the prowess of, say, single celled invertebrates. And, truly, how much higher do any of us expect you to aim at this point?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Realizing Our Potential

Of the many wonders that happily impose themselves on a curious and observant mind, there is one that relentlessly taunts my imagination and tries my patience: The degree to which we fail, as a people, as a species, in our communities and on our own to take what seems to me to be, even more than that taken by the late Neil Armstrong 43 years ago, one small step for us as individuals, but one giant leap for our nation and for humanity. In this case, the small step is a step forward in thought and habit, in perception, and the giant leap is what it would yield in terms of our ability to govern ourselves in a way more conducive to the liberation and mobilization of our collective genius in service to our collective welfare.

Even as I write, I know that, for reasons that defy reason, those words grate on the ears of a large and vocal political faction. The word “collective” scares them, as if there is nothing collective about our existence, as if, despite the manifest absurdity of it, we exist as mutually exclusive entities. Lost in a caricature of reality, anything that smacks of the least recognition of human interdependence, of an existence not only as individuals but also as members of a society and citizens of a nation, resonates in their tortured minds as an affront to something holy and inviolable.

As is often the case, such folly results from the drawing of the wrong lesson from a set of failed applications (and the refusal to notice the larger set of successful applications) of a sound and inevitable principle. But the sound and inevitable principle must be acknowledged and addressed: We are not only individuals whose individual liberty must be protected and preserved, but also members of a society whose interdependence must be recognized and negotiated.

Our Founding Fathers did not fail to know this, and frequently explicitly and implicitly emphasized it: “United we stand, divided we fall;” “e pluribus unum,” “We must all hang together or we will surely hang apart,” The Constitution itself, the arguments in The Federalist Papers (which were overwhelmingly about our interdependence and the mutual responsibilities as members of a society that it imposes on us), “The General Welfare.” So much a part of the fundamental assumption of human existence was it, such an essential pillar of their Enlightenment doctrine (committed to the application of Reason to the improvement of Society), that they could neither have intended nor foreseen that some of the heirs to their political experiment would manage to erase it from their consciousness.

But reality has frequently reasserted itself, revealed the complexities and subtleties, highlighted the need to articulate two views of the nature of human existence that are simultaneously in mutual tension and two sides of a single coin. Without our fundamental interdependence, our existence as members of a society, we have no existence as conscious human beings. The very languages we think in are expressions of generations of coexistence, concepts and symbols growing not in isolated minds but in interlinked minds. Our technologies, our social institutions, the physical products of our labors, everything that makes us human, are never incubated in a single mind or created by the labor of a single pair of hands, but always in the communication of the members of a society and in the articulation of individual efforts.

The man who builds his own house did not mine his own ores to forge his own nails, and, if he did, did not learn the techniques for doing so only through his own trial and error without reference to any knowledge that preceded him. The current political debate over whether our individual achievements and creations are solely the product of one individual’s efforts, or are always in myriad ways a product of our social contract, is one based on an absurd blurring of reality: Of course they are a product of a social process, brought to fruition, frequently, by the focused efforts of one individual working on the margins of that larger process. We want neither to denigrate that individual effort, nor pretend that the contributions of an entire society were not also involved.

We’ve discovered, through our lived history, that individual rights can rarely be absolute. The right to freedom of religion does not mean that you have the right to sacrifice human beings on an alter if that is something that your religion requires of you. The right to freedom of speech does not mean that you have the right to slander another, or to incite others to violence, or to maliciously ignite a panic. The right to dispose of your property as you see fit does not mean that you have the right to dump toxic waste on your own land in a way which poisons others’ water. The tension between individual rights and mutual responsibilities is not just an occasional anomaly; it is a part of the fabric of our existence.

The step of which I spoke at the beginning of this essay is one which, like Neil Armstrong’s, requires first this vast journey across a daunting expanse of untraversed space. It requires the voyage from the ideological delusion that individual liberty is a value that stands unqualified and without countervailing recognition of our social contract, to recognition of the reality of our interdependence. We must stop referring to individual liberty without also, simultaneously, implicitly or explicitly, recognizing our mutual responsibilities to one another. This isn’t socialism or communism; it isn’t a rejection of the values incorporated into our nation at its founding; it isn’t rejection of capitalism or a presumption of the answers to the questions that it poses. It’s simply a journey of consciousness we absolutely must take.

Once we take that journey together, once larger numbers of us follow that voyage across space to something that has always been shining in our sky and recognize it to be something other than a mirage, we can step from that vessel of consciousness onto the otherworldly realization that we can and should and must work together as members of a society to confront the challenges and seize the opportunities that this world and this life present to us.

On that lunar surface, freed to leap a little higher in the lighter gravity, we can rediscover it as common ground that belongs to all parties and nations. Taking that step is not a partisan agenda, it is a human one. It does not resolve all partisan disputes, but rather frames them in more functional ways. It narrows the conversation to that which is minimally required by reason and lucidity. It ends the reign of an ideological folly and partisan cold war that did violence to humanity.

Obviously, not everyone will take this journey of consciousness, will believe that we could land on that distant moon and take that momentous step. Some will refuse to recognize the fundamental truth of human interdependence. There will always be such denial. Ignorance and folly are not things we can banish from the human condition. But we can diminish their degree, sometimes in small ways that have dramatic effects.

I have argued frequently and passionately for others to join me in the formation of a social movement that is not for the promotion of an ideological or partisan agenda, not to affect election outcomes or influence policy positions, but rather to take as many of us as possible as far on this journey as possible. We need to travel to the moon before we can walk on its surface. We need to cultivate our consciousness before we can act under its influence.

Of course, we will continue to act under the influence of the consciousness that we have, even while we devote just a little more effort to cultivating one more conducive to more functional and humane public policies. These are not mutually exclusive. Nor am I speaking only of us each cultivating our own consciousness (though that is, as always, absolutely vital); I’m speaking of us organizing in service to the cultivation of our collective consciousness.

My purpose in life is not to promote the Progressive agenda. My purpose is to promote wise self-governance in service to human consciousness and well-being. I think it’s important that we continue to remind ourselves of the distinction, because we cannot move humanity forward until we can appeal to people who are not in the market for a partisan identity. And if we can appeal to people who already have one, especially those who would recoil at the thought of working to advance any liberal or progressive agenda, all the better.

It is not a subterfuge: it is a refocusing of all of our minds on what is truly essential and truly important. It is the commitment to look past competing blind ideologies shored up by shallow platitudes toward ultimate purposes and deep underlying values. And getting past these rigid ideological camps into which we have relegated ourselves is one of the necessary steps toward real progress.

It depends on robust discourse among people of differing views. It flourishes when more of us recognize that there’s only one ideology to which any of us should adhere: That of striving to be reasonable people of goodwill, wise enough to know that we don’t know much, responsible enough to try to understand and see the merit in opposing views, compassionate enough to recognize that the goal of these efforts should be a commitment to humanity, working together with all others willing and able to embrace such an ideology to do the best we can in a complex and subtle world.

This is my mission in life: To promote this simple ideology, encourage as many as possible to work toward encouraging as many others as possible to adopt it to the greatest extent possible, always as a work in progress, more focused on our procedures for arriving at the truth than on what we currently think is the truth, always open to the possibility that we are dramatically wrong on one or more crucial points. This is something we should do independently of what we do regarding electoral politics and issue advocacy, diverting some small portion of our time and effort and passion into the long-term investment in a deeper political paradigm shift, into traversing the space between here and that distant moon where we recognize that we are interdependent, that we are fallible, and that we are all in this story together.

It’s not the first time such spaces have been traversed, such thresholds have been reached. We’ve had a Renaissance and a Reformation, a Scientific Revolution and an Enlightenment and the political revolutions based on it, an industrial revolution and now an information technology revolution, a confluence of globalizing forces and a movement to recapture some of the wisdom and beauty of the cultures that were trampled underfoot by modernity’s advance, and human history is still accelerating in amazing ways full of both promise and danger. We are a part of that process, participants in it, with an opportunity to plant the seeds for a future that could be one of ever-more rapidly growing human consciousness and an ever-wiser realization of our role on this wonderful planet of ours.

We are a work in progress, and maybe the word “Progressive” needs to be understood by those who bear it to mean “still a work in progress,” because once people fall into the trap of thinking they have all the answers, they forget how to ask the right questions.

Here’s to us! I believe in our potential, but I’m also keenly aware of the obstacles that stand in our way of realizing it, obstacles that, for the most part, we create ourselves, and throw up in front of us, seemingly determined to perennially condemn ourselves to live in interesting times….

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Reason and Compromise

Today’s writings will be A statement on the tension between a commitment to Reason and a practical need for joining organized efforts that are rarely if ever in perfect alignment with Reason:

When I consider what I’ll call Cultural Politics, which is the competition of narratives in the population at large, and which is what I consider the more fundamental arena in which the poltical contest takes place, I am all for non-partisanship: We should dump all of our ideological and partisan baggage, and merely strive to be reasonable and humane people, knowing that we don’t know, working with others in a disciplined and pragmatic way to do the best we can in a complex and subtle world. But when I consider what I’ll call Politics Proper, which is the competition over electoral victories and specific policies enacted through the political process in real time, I feel no choice but to become more partisan, because those more superficial but still significant and vital battles are determined by superior organization and mobilization of resources, and too much disintegration of efforts into divergent emphases undermines the ability of those so inclined to pass their preferred laws and policies.

I prefer Obama to Romney, a Democratic controlled Congress to a Republican controlled Congress, the passage of gay rights legislation, and humane immigration reform, and the preservation of our social welfare system, and more proactive investment in the extension of opportunity and the reduction of social injustice, and more attention to environmental and public health and safety issues. The reality is, in current election cycles, except very rarely at the more local levels, we are faced with an effective choice between two broad alternatives, and I will and feel that I must dedicate what effort I dedicate to Politics Proper working to see that my preference among those two choices prevails.

But there are many points of intersection between Cultural Politics and Politics Proper, in which the demands of both become more blended. While working, on the Cultural Politics side, for a less ideological and more imaginative and analytical approach to self-governance, I also work to move the political party I favor more in that direction (and often get as much flak from my own fellow Democrats for doing so as I get from Republicans for opposing them more broadly). And, if promising third parties emerge that seem better positioned to incorporate more of what I favor on the Cultural Politics side into their approach to Politics Proper, I will certainly work to raise their profile and viability so that at some point in the future they might actually become a reasonable investment in the electoral competitions that define Politics Proper.

But I will not relinquish the present to the party which I consider the less desirable of the two currently viable choices in service to some personal commitment to some dysfunctional purity of my own. We have to blend the pragmatic and idealistic and long-term and immediate demands that confront us, to articulate with the world in the most effective and beneficial way possible.

However, the demands of compromise move us toward reason in the next stage, after arguably moving it away from reason in the stage described above: Once we’ve organized in support of our preferred policies, we must compromise with those who have organized in support of theirs with which we disagree, in order to govern ourselves effectively and functionally. And, as a general rule, over the long-term, this requirement increases rather than decreases the rationality of our policies, and the quality of analysis and human consciousness that has gone into their design and implementation.

In theory, this process continues into the global arena, with nations that have hopefully developed to be more inclusive internally also developing in the direction of being more pacified and cooperative externally. There will always be divergent interests and orientations in play in this dynamic, within political parties, within nations, and throughout the world, nested and overlapping organizations of divergent and convergent interests, competing and compromising and moving toward arrangements that better serve humanity’s interests. The more we can rationalize and realize this process, the better off we all will be.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Why It Is So Important To Vote

To be a citizen of this country we have certain rights and privileges. We also have certain responsibilities to be active in positive change. Society is a form of extended family. We all contribute to society, either in a positive way or a negative way. To vote is to give a voice in playing a role in positive change. Many men died for our right to vote, as well as the other rights we now take for granted. Women could not vote for many years because they were not considered an important part of decision making. Now we all have a responsibility to make the world a better place and we now have the right to do so. Women more than ever now should exercise their right to vote. All policies are made by the elected officials we get into office. All policies affect each and every citizen. Each one of us has a duty to leave the world a better place for the next generations because we lived. We can and should be aware of policies and officials. We should read the news and understand the direction our country is going in. Many important, critical issues are at hand currently. Healthcare issues are among the top of the list. Social Security for the aging and the disabled is in jeopardy. Even though these issues may not affect you right now, the day will come that they will affect you. Also, the issues are not just about us but about doing the best we can do for all citizens. The elderly should be our responsibility to care for them the best we can. They have worked all of their lives to make the world better for us and it is now our turn to see that they are properly cared for with issues such as Medicare, Social Security etc. Our children are also equally important and the primary education system is at risk for falling behind. We need to be proactive to make change for our children and future generations to come. Education is critical, many other countries are way ahead of us and we are falling behind. Legislation is where it all begins. We have had many devastating disasters recently and have seen many of our citizens not receiving the help needed, such as with Katrina. Federal funds are determined by legislation. We have many poor relations with many countries right now; we desperately need politicians in office who can work for peaceful relations with other countries. We have rising educational costs with colleges, which require effective solutions to ensure that we have educated adults entering the work force, without the funds available many will not get the education and the country will suffer. Crime is rising nationwide, prisons are failing and we need better solutions to deviant behavior. Mental health population is suffering due to lack of funds and interest from our leaders. Jobs are being outsourced to other countries mainly China. Immigration controversies are a huge issue now. We, as a people should stand together instead of being divided. The government represents the people and they are employed by the people. The people are made up by each and every citizen. The government and politicians have taken over our country and fail to listen to the people. We need to remind Washington DC that they do not dictate policy but assert the policies the people want.

Drug use, abuse, and addiction are at an all-time high. The drug situation is a host of multiple problems. Every time a person buys illegal drugs the money goes towards terrorism, which we are fighting a war against. We have addiction centers popping up all over the country, leading to increased medical costs that society absorbs due to most of the addicts not working and welfare footing the bill. WE have AID's which is leading to many other diseases to be on the rise. We have science looking for cures to diseases such as cancer. We still have issues like abortion, which are very controversial. We have a society at risk for losing the leadership status with the world. The list goes on and on. Watch the news and see all of the problems and think about the root of the problem, how we can solve the problems, and what it will take to get the job done. Many citizens today want the benefits of society but do not want to do their part in making good things happen. Life is not about taking, it is about giving. The old wise saying rings true today, "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country" by JFK. We need to be a strong country once can happen but each and every one of us must do our part. We are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

Why is it important to participate in the democratic process by voting? That's an interesting question with several different ways in which to answer it. Voting is the foremost way to exhibit good citizenship and civil responsibility.

First, voting in free elections is a right that should not be taken lightly. Millions of people in the United States and around the world have fought and even died for the seemingly simple right to vote. Should their sacrifices just fade away into some distant memory? Voting is a patriotic act and everyone should participate. By voting, a person conveys that sense of patriotism that he/she cares enough about the direction of the country to exercise the power available to millions and millions of people to make their voices heard.

Second, no matter how much a person feels their single vote does not count, they are dead wrong. In the mayoral election in Ann Arbor in 1977, the outcome was decided by a single, solitary vote. As another example, John F. Kennedy won the Presidential election of 1960 by as small a margin as one vote per election district in 12 states. If every person believes that his or her vote doesn't matter, the sheer volume of non-voters will destroy the democratic process.

Third, voting is the principle means of a representative government. The Framers left the future of the country in the hands of its citizens. How can a government be representative if roughly 45-50 percent of eligible voters don't vote? This makes a government only representative to half of the country.

In conclusion, everyone should recognize the importance of voting and act accordingly. Rather than just sit back and complain when something the government does isn't in your best interest, get out and vote and make a difference. Eligible voters who refuse to do so have absolutely no right to complain when they did nothing at all to protect their interests when they have that exact power.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Discussion On Self Esteem

We are living in a society today where due to bad economics, lack of jobs, people losing their jobs, young adults graduating and finding out there are no jobs available, music degrading our woman, bullying in our school and my all time favorite, the way we allow others to treat us badly and somehow draw the conclusion that we deserve to be treated that way. Because of the above issues, I have chosen to speak today on a very important subject.  That subject is Self Esteem

You can't touch it, but it affects how you feel. You can't see it, but it might be there when you look at yourself in the mirror. You can't hear it, but it's there when you talk about yourself or when you think about yourself.

What is this important but mysterious thing?   It's your self-esteem!

What Is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem can have a big part to play in how you feel about yourself and also how much you enjoy things or worry about things.

To understand self-esteem, it helps to break the term into two words. Let's first take a look at the word esteem (say: ess-teem), which means that someone or something is important, special, or valuable. For example, if you really admire your friend's dad because he volunteers at the fire department, it means you hold him in high esteem. And the special trophy for the most valuable player on a team is often called an esteemed trophy. This means the trophy stands for an important accomplishment.

And self means, well, yourself! So put the two words together and it's easier to see what self-esteem is. It's how much you value yourself and how important you think you are. It's how you see yourself and how you feel about the things you can do.

Self-esteem isn't about bragging, it’s about getting to know what you are good at and not so good at. A lot of us think about how much we like other people or things, but don't really think much about whether we like ourselves.

It's not about thinking you're perfect, because nobody is perfect. Even if you think some other people are good at everything, you can be sure they have things they're good at and things that are difficult for them.

The most important thing to know about self-esteem is that it means seeing yourself in a positive way that's realistic, which means that it's the truth.

Why Self-Esteem Is Important

Self-esteem isn't like a cool item you really want but can wait to get. All people have self-esteem, and having healthy or positive self-esteem is really important. It can help you hold your head high and feel proud of yourself and what you can do, even when things don't seem to be going so well.

Self-esteem gives you the courage to try new things and the power to believe in yourself. It lets you respect yourself, even when you make mistakes. And when you respect yourself, other people usually respect you, too.

Having positive self-esteem can also help you can learn to make healthy choices about your mind and body. If you think you're important, you'll be less likely to follow the crowd if your friends are doing something wrong or dangerous. If you have positive self-esteem, you know you're smart enough to make your own decisions. You value your safety, your feelings, your health — your whole self! Positive self-esteem helps you know that every part of you is worth caring for and protecting.

How Kids Get Self-Esteem

Babies don't see themselves in a good or bad way. They don't think "I'm great!" when they let out a big burp or worry "Oh, no, this diaper makes my legs look weird!" Instead, people around a baby help him or her develop self-esteem. How? By encouraging the baby when he or she learns to crawl, walk, or talk. They often say, "Good job. Good for you!" Or, they might just smile and look proud. When people take good care of a baby, that also helps him or her feel loved and valuable.

As kids get older, they can have a bigger role in developing their own self-esteem. Working hard to finish a project or assignment, getting a higher grade on a math test, or trying out for a new sport are all things kids can be proud of for trying. Some kids are not very athletic, but they might be good readers or know how to do magic tricks or are really good friends or help other people out — these are all accomplishments that help kids feel good about themselves.

A kid's family and other people in his or her life — like coaches, teachers, and classmates — also can boost self-esteem. They can help a kid figure out how to do things or notice his or her good qualities. They can believe in the kid and encourage him or her to try again when something doesn't go right the first time. It's all part of kids learning to see themselves in a positive way, to feel proud of what they've done, and to be confident that there's a lot more they can do.

Maybe you know people with low self-esteem who don't think very highly of themselves or seem to criticize themselves too much. This can also be called negative self-esteem, and it's the opposite of positive self-esteem. Maybe you have low self-esteem sometimes and don't always feel very good about yourself or think you're important.
Of course it's OK to have ups and downs in your feelings, but having low self-esteem isn't OK. Feeling like you're not important can make you sad and can keep you from trying new things. It can keep you from making friends or affect how hard you try at school.

Having strong self-esteem is also a very big part of growing up. As you get older and face tough decisions — especially under peer pressure — the more self-esteem you have, the better. It's important to like yourself.

Self-esteem can improve when you start trying things you thought were too hard and then do well at them, or when a parent, family member, or other adult encourages you, is patient, and helps you get back on track. When you start to do well, self-esteem will skyrocket!

Here are a few other things that you can try to increase your self-esteem:

•Give yourself three compliments every day. Don't just say, "I'm so great." Be specific about something good about yourself, like, "I was a good friend to Jill today" or "I did better on that test than I thought I would." While you're at it, before you go to bed every night, list three things in your day that really made you happy or that you feel thankful for.

•Remember that your body is your own, no matter what shape, size, or color it is. If you are worried about your weight or size, you can check with your doctor to make sure you're healthy. Remind yourself of things about your body that are cool, like, "My legs are strong and I can skate really well."

•Remember that there are things about yourself you can't change. You should accept and love these things — such as skin color and shoe size — because they are part of you.

•When you hear negative comments in your head, tell yourself to stop. Remind yourself of things you're good at and if you can't think of anything, ask someone else! You can also learn a new skill (for example, karate, dance, a musical instrument) so you can feel good about that!

By focusing on the good things you do and all your great qualities, you learn to love and accept yourself — the main ingredients for strong self-esteem! Even if you've got room for improvement (and who doesn't?), knowing what you're good at and that you're valuable and special to the people that care about you can really help you deal with growing up.

Part of growing up is learning to focus on your strengths and to accept and work on your weaknesses — and that, in a nutshell, is self-esteem

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I would like to open today by saying THANK YOU to all of the readers who reached out yesterday in concern for me based on my writing yesterday. It was very heartfelt that there are genuine people reading my Blogs. I must say though that you will almost never read a Blog I write where I will include personal life information, that is not what this is about. What I attempt to do is make my writing palatable and easily understood by readers of all ages and levels of comprehension which sometimes requires me to set up a scenario by which the reader can then read my message and say "Thats what he meant by that" if it happens to be the type of read. I try to write about current events, things that are of concern to me and should be to you as well, and sometimes life experience to impart some wisdom to our youth and those that may need guidance. I will sometimes write in the first person if that helps to get my message across but please understand, I am almost never writing about my personal life although there may be bits of personal experience intertwined in the body of text.

Once again, THANK YOU all for the Love and Concern but no one loves themselves more than I love me and you all, I am good with me, with mine and I am truly God Blessed so I try to pass the Blessings on to you thru my Blog. Peace, God Bless and Love Someone Today!!!

I Think Romney Has a Christie Problem and a FEMA Problem

Like many others—though not the weather forecasters or the political authorities—I underestimated the scope of the storm. Now that at least thirty-eight people are dead, thousands have been driven from their homes, and millions are without power, the election campaign looks like something of a side show. But the fact remains that voting will go ahead next Tuesday, and the politicking continues, albeit in a different manner.

On the Democratic side, the devastation that Sandy has wreaked more than justifies President Obama’s decision to return to Washington on Sunday and to declare a pre-disaster state of emergency in a number of states. On Tuesday morning, he followed up these edicts by signing major disaster declarations for New York and New Jersey, which will make it easier for them to access federal assistance. First thing this morning, the White House let it be known that the President had been monitoring the storm’s progress throughout the night, and that he had spoken to a number of local officials, including Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, and Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey.

Appearing on the networks this morning, Christie, for the third day in a row, heaped praise on Obama’s handling of the storm. “The President has been outstanding in this,” he told the “Today” show. On “Morning Joe,” he said, “It’s been very good working with the President. He and his Administration have been coördinating with us. It’s been wonderful.” Speaking on CNN, Christie said that he had been mightily impressed by Obama’s accessibility throughout the crisis. “He gave me his number at the White House, told me to call him if I needed anything, and he absolutely means it.” Christie also pointed out that Obama didn’t once bring up politics in their conversations, and added, “If he’s not bringing it up, you can be sure that people in New Jersey are not worried about that, primarily if one of the guys running isn’t.”

Can you imagine what the strategists, flaks, and bagmen at Romney’s campaign HQ must have been thinking when they woke up to this stuff? Deleting the expletives, it probably went something along the lines of: Isn’t this guy ever going to shut up? Evidently, the answer is no. Appearing on Fox News—yes, Fox—Christie scoffed at the idea of Romney making a visit to New Jersey in order to inspect the damage. “I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested,” he said. “I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than Presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff.”

Good for Christie, you might say. He’s just doing his job as the governor of New Jersey and saying what he thinks. The President was there when his state needed help, and it’s only right for him to acknowledge this publicly. O.K., I’m with you. But three days in a row? On practically every network in the country? Republicans could be forgiven for getting a bit apoplectic. Doesn’t Christie have other things to be doing, such as inspecting the damage, rescuing the stranded, and trying to get the power restored? Right about now, Romney must be feeling like calling him up and giving him the same advice that Clement Attlee, the postwar Labour Prime Minister of Great Britain gave to Harold Laski, the left-wing London School of Economics professor: “A period of silence from you would be welcome.”

The Mittster is unlikely to get much relief on this front, and he’s also got some self-inflicted damage to deal with: the fallout from his suggestion during the G.O.P. primaries that he was in favor of dismantling federal emergency management and privatizing relief efforts. At a CNN debate in June, 2011, the moderator John King engaged the candidates in a discussion about the role of government. When he got to Romney, the exchange went like this:

KING: What else, Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut—we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

KING: Including disaster relief, though?

ROMNEY: We cannot—we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

That seems pretty clear cut: FEMA and other federal disaster-relief efforts should be on list of things that should be eliminated in order to reduce the national debt. Not surprisingly, in the past few days the Romney campaign has been busy rowing back from that position. When a reporter from the National Journal asked the Romney campaign about the candidate’s stance on disaster relief, a press spokeswoman e-mailed back: “Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions. As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.”

So Romney is in favor of keeping FEMA, after all—or is he? On Monday afternoon, even before Sandy had hit, the editorial page of the Times invoked Romney’s 2011 comments in the debate and asked, “Does Mr. Romney really believe that financially strapped states would do a better job than a properly functioning federal agency? Who would make decisions about where to send federal aid? Or perhaps there would be no federal aid, and every state would bear the burden of billions of dollars in damages.” So far, the Obama campaign hasn’t adopted this mode of attack, probably because it doesn’t need to. With the President sticking to the line that the election is the furthest thing from his mind, it can rely on the media to make life even more difficult for Team Romney, which is clearly struggling to come up with a post-Sandy strategy.

As of early Tuesday afternoon, the only mention of the storm on the home page of Romney’s Web site was a link to the Red Cross. The Mittster was scheduled to resume campaigning on Wednesday, in Florida. Paul Ryan, his running mate, is scheduled to be in his home state of Wisconsin. Before leaving for Florida, Romney attended a rally in Kettering, Ohio, which had hastily been converted to a storm-relief benefit: attendees were asked to bring non-perishable food, flashlights, and other items that could be sent to the victims of Sandy. Speaking for about five minutes, the G.O.P. candidate confined himself to the storm, saying, “We have heavy hearts, as you know, with all the suffering going on. There are a lot of people who were hurting this morning, who were hurting last night.”

There’s no reason to doubt the sincerity of what Romney said, or the usefulness of his efforts to help the victims. But six days before the election, this was just what he didn’t need.

Be Blessed, Be Safe and Pray for those still suffering in the wake of SuperStorm Sandy.