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My conservative friends would insist it is rightly all our responsibility because we all rely, to a great extent, on corporations for our livelihoods. We either work for them directly or work for those who work for them. We rely on them for nearly all our services from utilities, groceries, and gas to our mortgages.

So who better to foot the bill? Corporations are only doing their jobs right—making profits for their shareholders? They are designed to make profit any way they can and if atrocity is what is needed, well atrocity is what we get. Perhaps we could do two things to change this egregious situation:

  1. Change the primary goal of corporations from profit to the greater good.
  2. Make it illegal for corporations to influence politicians with contributions of any kind including job offers.

The first just means to put general human welfare above profit-making, obviously a corporation needs to make a profit but not at everyone’s expense.

The second would change our oligarchy2 back to a government of the people. Media time could be provided free on a percentage basis for all viable candidates—after all, we the people own the airwaves.

Campaigns have gotten so expensive that politicians by necessity need to sell their souls to be in the game. The cost of campaigning not only takes our “leaders” away from their jobs, which should be what they’re assessed on, but also dumps billions of dollars down a dark hole from which there is no return.

The Ego

 Where does this greed come from? It seems that these CEOs and Wall Street traders (traitors?) with their millions and billions still do not have enough. They apparently want the money so badly that they either blind themselves to the harm they are doing to the rest of the world or feel, as the kings of old, that they have a divine right to this wealth, and that the misery they cause is deserved by those who suffer it.

I know that I want more money. Everyone I know is striving to make more money to better their situation.

It seems to me that this is the nature of the ego. The ego always wants more even at the expense of others. We people of this world seem immersed in egoic consciousness. However, many of us find a way to rise above those self-interested, self-preserving tendencies.

Enlightened self-interest lies in the realization that there are no others—We are all interconnected. To care about the welfare of others is not so big a stretch once it is realized that helping and caring for others is helping and caring for ourselves, and that if I hurt another, I will suffer too.

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  1. Worse than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, which was, up to now, the greatest environmental disaster in US history. Mobil has so far managed to fight paying the punitive damages going all the way to the Supreme Court where they were whittled down to a tenth of the original. Of those, Exxon hasn’t even paid all the interest and is trying to get the victims to pay the $70,000,000 in court costs.
  2. Governance by a small group.
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When I was in high school, I held a war poetry reading. It was during the Vietnam War. I liked poetry, but not the war.

I put up signs to meet in a classroom during lunch period. I also talked to my friends—many were onboard with the idea and said they would read.

When the time came for the meeting, who shows up besides my friends but all the pretty girls in the class. In particular one I had a crush on—most every guy did, she was beautiful. She even did some modeling.

These girls didn’t show up to help put on the poetry reading, they came because they thought someone was going to read some poetry to them. There I was standing on the dais with all these admiring females (or at least I thought so) looking up at me, expecting to hear some poetry. So I obliged them. I recited my favorite poem, Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty“. A poem that I’d hand copied and sent anonymously to the girl I had a crush on.

It was well received by the group, but less than nothing came of it. The girls were disappointed that this was not going to be a reading, but only was an organizational meeting. While some agreed to read, none turned up for the rehearsal. And, because these “popular” girls even evinced an interest in the production, my antiestablishment friends refused to have anything to do with it.

On the day of the actual poetry reading, none of the girls showed up to read or even listen, only a few students attended and one faculty member, Mr. Brown, the band director.

The six of us guys sat onstage on stools and took our turns reading the poetry I’d selected to a nearly empty auditorium. One of my friends, since he was for the war, read Richard Lovelace’s “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars” whose final line is “I could not love thee, dear, so much, Loved I not honor more.”

I read Randall Jarrell’s, “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” in a deadpan. It is a hypnotic epitaph by a soldier who in the last line gets washed out of the turret with a hose.

At the end, Mr. Brown told us he found the reading moving. Then he asked us how it made us feel. I was taken aback. I was against the war; I liked reading poetry; I thought what we’d done there was pretty cool, but I didn’t have any real feelings about it. I looked at him with my mouth open. I’d been so wrapped up in the production; I’d lost sight of why I was doing it in the first place, which was to move people about the war. And here I was, unmoved. “I don’t know,” is all I said. The irony of the situation left me feeling hollow.

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I did a little research when I wrote the last post. I wanted to be able to say that the Allies, after the Second World War, followed the Geneva Conventions at the Nuremberg trials. To my dismay, I discovered that the trials did not follow international law. Another item I found dismaying was that American treatment of German POWs immediately following the war, was not up to very high standards either. A disputed but excessively high number, by some accounts up to 20%, of German prisoners died during internment in American camps in Europe. In spite of the fact that there were plenty of supplies and accommodations, prisoners were extremely undernourished and were kept in camps where there was barely enough room for them. Apparently Eisenhower wanted them punished with some of the same harsh conditions the Germans inflicted on others. Oddly enough, 98% of American prisoners returned alive from German prison camps (See paper).

War brings about atrocities from all sides. This is not to exonerate the Germans or Japanese whose behavior was hideous; the Allies had every reason to seek revenge. It’s just that war brings out the worst in all of us and should be a last resort. The Second World War had to be fought to save the world. WWI and the Korean, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars seem to have given us nothing but death, dismemberment, paralyzing grief, and mental anguish.

I like the idea of a Nonviolent Peace Force  that can go into volatile areas to help deal with problems at their root before they erupt into violence. We spend just the tiniest fraction of our budget on prevention as compared to our military budget (by some accounts, over 50% of the total national budget) solely for putting out fires after they’ve already started or paying for the consequences of our past wars. If what we want is world peace, this is a tad backwards.

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The very entertaining movie, Inglorious Basterds, seems to condone the worst sort of brutality when it is done to the Nazis.

I must say, I liked seeing the Nazis brutalized; after all, they deserved it, right?  Revenge is sweet, even if it is only fictional.

I’ve watched the movie several times and enjoyed it immensely each time.  The only part I closed my eyes for was the baseball bat head-bashing scene.

It’s especially gratifying to see Hitler and all the top ranking Nazis killed as they stampede and scream in terror—the terror that they inflicted on millions of people.

History has condemned the Nazis and rightly so.  I’m just wondering about the Nazis that were merely pawns of the regime, like the young soldier in the film who said that when the war was over the first thing he would do was hug his mother, and that he was going to burn the Nazi uniform.  Did the soldier deserve to have a swastika carved on his forehead?  Or young Willie, whose wife just bore him his first child; he in his trusting naïveté was deceived and then shot.

Now, you may be wondering, am I out of my mind?  It was just a comedy.  We aren’t meant to take this stuff seriously.  The things that happen to those two soldiers are meant to be ironic like what happens to the seemingly sweet but exceedingly evil (and funny) Colonel Landa.

We are not really meant to admire the Brad Pitt character; he is not a shining example of humanity either.

But what I’d like to point out in all this is the subtext, the underlying assumptions about the brutality we see here and also the torture we see now being inflicted by good cops on bad guys on TV or the dubious treatment of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo.

We have the overwhelming historical record to prove that the Nazis committed atrocity upon atrocity on both a small and large scale.

Do we have that for our current enemies?  And do they have that for us?  Even having undeniable proof of inhumanity, are we justified in using brutal means against them?  Is not the same reasoning being used against us to justify equally terrible things?

In many ways, we are what we do.  Do we want to be inglorious bastards too?

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This is an addendum to my previous post. After releasing my anger in that post, anger that I have towards our beloved congressmen, particularly the Republican ones, I realized the cause goes deeper than just the bad behavior in Congress. Granted, that behavior jeopardizes the survival of what’s left of our democracy.* However, it’s really just a trigger for me. What’s being triggered is parental imprinting from childhood. In addition, I have many friends and acquaintances who, being loyal Republicans may feel offended when I’m criticizing the people they elected. That is not my intention. I think most people, who are not politicians, act out of a place of sincerity. 

My Republican friends see things from a different perspective, and I respect this. However, I think they’ve been betrayed by their party. The party used to be conservative, hearkening back to traditional values, state’s rights and small government—nothing wrong with that. We need a balance between progressives idealistically looking to something new who tend to expand government and those that want to stick with what has worked in the past and wish to give business a free rein. The problem is that the party was hijacked by reactionaries; they pretend to be Republicans, but they’re really as far right as Mussolini. They want to allow corporations to run the country and marginalize anyone who opposes them. Of course they don’t come right out and say that; they just oppose anything that will take control out of the hands of the large corporations and give anything (like health insurance) to the little guy. They love threat levels orange and red, military tribunals, Homeland Security, and The Patriot Act. They love our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and would like to start one with Iran. And anybody who thinks otherwise is unpatriotic. I could go on, but what’s the point?

But as I said, my anger is only triggered by all this. My happiness is not really dependent on whether our country is safe from corporatism.** It depends on something else.

 Now you’re thinking, “Please don’t tell me what you think it depends on, you’ve said too much already.”

 “But,” I respond, “You don’t know what I’m going to say.”

 So what does my happiness depend on? Mostly me and my attitude towards what I’m experiencing. I don’t have to like what has happened over the last 10 years, to be happy, but I could trust in life and what it has in store for me.

 There are different words for this life in which I need to trust. One is God, but there are many others. It’s not a matter of naming that which cannot be adequately named or really known by the intellect. For me the word life points to a lot of it, but it goes way beyond form or the material constructs and manifestations. Enough said.


*Especially now that the Supreme Court has given corporations carte blanche.

** “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” – Benito Mussolini.

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I am angry. Angry, angry, angry. So angry I could cry like Glenn Beck. (Not for the same reasons, of course.) 

I’m so angry that it has made me sick. Not that anger necessarily gives one a bad cold, but since I do not want to feel all this anger, I’ve suppressed it and it has oozed out as a cold. 

What I’m angry about is not so important as is my unwillingness to let it go and my feeling of impotency due to the fact there’s not much I can do about the situation: 

The Republicans in Congress keep pursuing the tactic of preventing their opponents from passing any legislation good or ill, to help the country out of the hole it is in. By this they expect to win back the government.* (Despite the fact that they have no real solutions—their solutions to national and world problems during the previous eight-year debacle created the situation we are in now.)

 Their non-solution to all problems is to maintain the status quo—prop up the oligarchy that has been controlling our government and gradually ruining it over the years.**

 I’m not happy with the Democrats either. In their efforts to include the Republicans in the process, despite the Republican’s complete unwillingness to compromise and the Democrat’s concern over public opinion if they decide to play hardball: “Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!” they have given up their superiority both in numbers and their philosophical high ground. The Democrats need to point out, who created the mess we are in and if the perpetrators don’t want to help straighten it out, leave them out of the process. What are these Congressmen afraid of, taking responsibility for whatever outcomes their decisions produce? The outcomes certainly will be no worse than what we’ve got and the Republicans are going to point fingers, defame, holler, and scream, anyway, no matter what the Democrats do. If a toddler is having a tantrum, you don’t try to reason with him. You do what you need to do. Republicans, by their own doing, lost the presidency and Congress through their failed policies. They did not have, what they think was rightly theirs, taken away unjustly.

 But I have deviated from my main point. I’m angry. What am I going to do about it? I’ve written letters, made phone calls, and signed petitions to Congressmen, even written this post. I need to let it go; I’ve done what I can—I don’t have my own TV show, nor am I a celebrity, and hence can do little to influence public opinion.

There is the Sedona Method***, of course, a simple method, my younger son told me about, that embodies things that have been taught by all religions for thousands of years. It’s one option.

 Not that I need to sell  a practice or religious exercise. Just thought I’d mention what I’m doing about the main topic of this discussion.

 There…I feel better.

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*See Time article

 **See Atlantic article

***Example of Sedona Method: 1) Welcome the feelings as best I can. 2) Ask myself, “Could I let it go?” (Am I capable of letting the feelings go? Answer yes or no, either is okay.) 3) Ask myself, “Would I let it go?” (Am I willing to let it go? Answer yes or no.) 4) Ask myself, “When?” (Now, someday, tomorrow, never?) 5) Pause. 6) Repeat until the charge is satisfactorily reduced.

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