Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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I have been watching the HBO John Adams series about the American Revolution and the first American continental congress in Philly. It helps me see that our politicians are not in the worst situation in our history. Neither are they less favorably aligned than in the nation’s past. This congress we have today is about the same as all ruling bodies have always been, since the Roman Senate. The use of power by humans on earth has been punctuated with misery and cruelty. Conquest, political or military, has been imposed on nations, colonies, and entire continents. War and Peace have hung in the balance more times than we know, but always for the same reasons. War is an archetypal situation that repeats itself.
When we say history repeats itself we mean that archetypal events continue to occur. In the arch of recorded history we have seen the pendulum of power swing from feudalism to anarchy. Leaders have been both born and created in the struggle to survive. We think of those leaders as the representatives of the entire culture, but they may merely be the most famous. We know less about how the common person lived than we do about the fancy and well born. I know this very well from my study of my own ancestry. I learn more all the time about America by studying my ancestors’ lives. None of my forefathers was famous during the American Revolution, but many did fight in it. Power does flow through the events of man, but my religious ancestors would all say that fate is sealed by divine providence. Man is just a player on the eternal stage.
I am hearing the same message from all the books and posts I read these days. In a world that conforms all too easily it is essential to be particularly true to one’s self. My teacher Chris Brogan just hit me this morning with some excellent thoughts on what is lost when one fits in with the crowd these days. Popularity and authenticity are not the same thing, and sometimes are completely opposed to each other. Our politics reflect a chaos and lack of discipline that runs through society. Mob mentality seems to be taking over our thinking in America.
I wonder if we can step back and take individual action to change the crazy status quo in our country. I wonder if we can stand up for law and order and for justice at the same time. We have reached a tipping point that demands we be awake and aware of the reality we are creating. What do you think, gentle reader? Obviously vote. What else can we do?
I have watched with interest the specials PBS aired last week about police and gun violence in America. The problems are even worse for law enforcement professionals than I thought they were. The panel discussion of police chiefs and victims of SWAT team violence revealed a shocking systemic practice of lying to the public to protect officers who make deadly mistakes on duty. A lively discussion on-line took place at the hashtag #PBSPeaceOfficer.
Both sides are heavily polarized on the issue, as we might expect. The police chiefs stressed that the problem needs to be addressed to the mayors and councils to find solutions. The cops themselves are following orders and protocol and strategies set by those in command. Hiring, training, and supervision are needed by the agencies to correct the current problems. In most cases they lack the funding to buy enough essential training and adequate supervisory personnel to equip and supervise recruits. The officers lack the skills they need to both protect themselves and the public. This seems to be the case across the country. While the citizens arm up and carry guns everywhere the cities refuse to provide enough funding to operate functional law enforcement agencies. This is an obvious recipe for more violence.
When the government declared war on drugs and terror, they began to distribute military surplus to police departments to fight these “wars”. Included in this discussion is the tendency to use this military equipment to occupy neighborhoods rather than protect them. The police chiefs were quick to point out that much of the surplus they receive is office equipment and other non lethal much-needed supplies. The police professionals also agreed they needed the military weapons because their own communities failed to arm the force adequately. There is now a new policy against militarized police forces, but they already have plenty of gear to continue the heavily occupation of America. The NRA has a strong lobby in support of arming the entire population. This is escalating an already terrible problem. We need disarmament negotiations between the cops and the citizens, apparently.
I have seen the TPD employ the SWAT team in my neighborhood. They came in the middle of the night to bust some dope dealers who had been operating boldly in the open for years, right on the street. I could have busted them myself any day during the previous couple of years, either making drive by deliveries from the front yard, or by busting the group of youngsters on tiny bikes that fanned out to deliver drugs throughout the hood before dawn daily. Some of the bike delivery guys were able to stay in the apartment and have a yard sale after the SWAT bust which I found to be amazing. I know for sure that one of my neighbors reported this obvious ongoing dealing but was told by a group of cops who had answered a call at his house that they were not interested. About 6 months after Russ told them about the dealing they showed up with flash bombs. This was evidence to me that they enjoy this use of force too much to be safe with all that fire power.
More of a concern to me than the use of force is the use of mendacity. They use statistics to tell us about themselves, yet they compile these statistics. If they are willfully blind to their own errors the law enforcement agency becomes a dangerous street gang. If they are encouraged by municipal authorities to hide mistakes rather than learn from them they become the villain rather than the hero in our society. This trend is very dangerous to our public health.
I recently gave thought to the question “What is the opposite of gratitude?” I decided it is entitlement. This exercise works well for all kinds of grand concepts and world events. Our violent world is punctuated with opinions and some bravery, but the violence itself looks more powerful all the time. I am a believer in Chinese medicine and the power of understanding opposite forces. I go to acupuncture every week for my health to balance the chi in my body. There are macro and microcosms of chi as well, like the environment, social order, etc. Energy balances energy and life continuously flows. Balance depends on constant movement and exchange, like inhale and exhale.
With the bigger picture in mind I wonder what is the opposite energy to contradict and balance violence. I don’t own weapons or use them. My life is easy, comfortable, and fun. I don’t think about encountering violence even though there is plenty of it right in my neighborhood as well as across the globe. I agree with the sentiment of the Parisians who believe that fear to go out and live it up is what terrorists want to see in their victims. Caving in to fear may be the worst reaction, but what is the best one? I live in Tucson where we were shaken by mass shooting early in the game. Our city is plenty violent all the time with the full time smuggling at work here. Most people go about our business without any thought of the crime and violence we know happens. I have started to wonder if this is unrealistic or healthy.
As long as I stay aware of the shadow of violence I think it is healthy to be happy and free of fear. The only thing that has worked in my life as a cure for big and little violence is patience. Patience must be the opposite of violence. Patience develops into empathy if practiced for a long enough time. When you restrain your emotions long enough to see the bigger overview you always find ignorance was the cause of all problems. Ignorance continues to cause trouble, but if I sincerely practice patience I can stop myself from adding my own portion of violence to the boiling pot of trouble. What do you think, gentle reader? Have you found any new truths by observing all the horror lately?
I spend a lot of time studying history, usually by learning about my own ancestry. The knowledge of my own family in different time periods has really helped me to get a better understanding of significant events and political movements. I began with some curiosity about how my own parents developed their ideas and culture, and now I can’t stop. I guess I don’t think about my own place in history, but a visit to the University I attended when I was 17 has given me both flash backs and chills. The anti-war movement and what was known as the free speech movement were obvious choices for me as a teen. I disagreed with all forms of violence, and my parents not only practiced violence in their personal lives, but firmly believed that military might and hatred were American privileges. I see now that my own reaction to their way of thinking not only changed my life, but changed history.
Now we find ourselves in a highly militaristic and war torn world. Racism has not disappeared, but has gone underground. Poverty and lack of education and health care are in about the same situation as the 1950’s. The effects of the laws, the programs, and the ideals that lifted America to a better place have virtually vanished into thin air. We have more descent about politics then I have seen in my lifetime. Our people are addicted to debt and squandering resources mindlessly. Greed has replaced most other motives, and corporations can buy any government they want. I will not form any philosophy around this decay and lowering of standards for the greater good because it has been happening since the dawn of time. Our recurrent situation, fighting in wars in foreign lands for no logical purpose is no different from the Crusades, or the devastation of Native America. Power may not beget evil, but the cycles of tragedy follow the cycles of power. We can only analyze the past after time has passed and those cycles become clear. In my youth I thought that ending the Vietnam War would end all wars. I have to wonder if this feeling also has occurred in young people forever. The idea that when we finally have power we will change the world to make it better for everyone could not possibly have been originated by hippies. I am sure there have always been those who wanted to give peace a chance. Things have to hit bottom before they bounce, just like real estate. I can only hope that bottom is once again in sight, and that the end of my life will resemble the beginning, with an attitude of hope and conviction that we can do better.
Tomorrow, 5 March, 2014, use #VenezuelaMuereTuCallas to share concern for the violence in Venezuela. Brutality has broken out all around the globe lately, and none of it was spontaneous. The seeds of ugly war have been planted long before they bear fruit this bitter and horrid. It is hard to know if violence has been reduced or increased as a result of YouTube, twitter, and all digital formats. What is surely true is that we are exposed to it in direct ways that were not possible in the past. We shall know the truth and the truth will set us free…That is what I learned from reading the University of Texas tower, and I believe it.
The call to action bringing attention to the expanding crisis in this Caribbean nation with petroleum and a history of corruption is close to my heart. I still have friends who live there. With the violence heating up I am concerned for their safety. It is the least I can do to spend some time tomorrow tweeting leaders in Washington. You can use hash tags now on Facebook too, for those of you who don’t tweet. You just type it all as one word #VenezuelaMuereTuCallas. It means Venezuela is dying and you are mute. Please speak up and become informed, gentle readers.
Today we watch another mass shooting unfold in DC like the reality show that it is. The constant reminder of violence must have something to do with the growth and spread of violence. Lovingkindnessis the remedy for our growing epidemic of right and wrong. If everyone is busy deciding to be right and seek vengeance from those who are wrong who will get in touch with reality? Have we given up reality to watch it on television and tweet it live? How riveting will it be to live tweet the IPO of twitter? While some see gun control or calorie control as the way to solve of cultural problems, I believe we are highly delusional as a society. The guns and the health issues are symptoms of systems that do not work. Our distraction is killing us as individuals and as a culture.
Numb and nihilistic as we witness weather and violent torrents of human hatred wash over our land, we twist the truth by looking for the single issue or party on which to place blame. The events in the world must blur for those who play computer games as well as absorb world tragedy as it unfolds. The digital distance we have from other other humans and the truth is dragging us in a downward spiral of delusion. I wonder if people can wake up and think they are in the World of Warcraft…or some variation on it. We are cultivating violence and maya, when our only hope is in truth and lovingkindness. Each of us generates energy that fuels the hatred; none of us is perfect. On an individual basis we must take responsibility to feed and care for the soul of the world until al beings are free. This will require centering. This will require a shift in focus and a pivot in the direction of our thinking.
Historical enemies, sagas of war, and the tragic impact violent thoughts have on society today are harsh reminders of human disorder. We can not look back to find a perfect time in history or a completely noble story of our ancestors’ survival. The mixed bag has always existed, known and unknown, true and false. When evil rocks the world we are all quick to isolate culprits and round up perps in our own minds. It does not matter which demon we blame, even if we never mention it out loud. The very act of deciding who is to blame will be a process to eliminate knowledge of one’s own part in building a more hateful world. The question of the moment is “Who started this?”, but we all know intuitively the answer to that eternal question.
The prostitute archetype in each of our dramas will test and be tested to discover ethics and limits. The question will be answered in this lifetime about how blind you are to others in order to enhance your own comfort. This story will star your prostitute archetype. Your storyboard will be repeated in different costumes and sets until the line has been firmly established between your soul and what you are willing to do for physical comfort. You may find it is an opera one time and a comedy the next, but if you look back you can identify the segments like vignettes on the Twilight Zone. You created and produced these stories to find your limits. Your own unconscious mind has written, directed, and been in charge of casting the stars. There are sometimes entire decades of reruns. I feel that our nation has been rerunning an unfortunate version of our best selves with less than admirable results.