Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Random Thoughts

“Anger at a fool for harming others is like anger at a fire for burning things.”

Last week I went to my first study group at the local Buddhist temple. This group of laypersons (not monks, just enthusiasts of Buddhism) meets every two weeks to discuss various tenets of Buddhist philosophy. Incidentally, last week they were reading from and discussing chapter six of An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics: War and Peace.

When I read the quote above, my mind leapt to Cheney. The “Pre-emptive strike doctrine” was also mentioned a couple of times. It would seem that taking this thought to its logical conclusion would mean that anyone who harms others is a fool, and therefore anger is unnecessary. Buddhism just so happens to provide direction for those who come to that conclusion: Conquer anger by love, conquer evil by good, conquer the stingy by giving, conquer the liar by truth.

So how does that apply to Cheney as I sit here wearing a baseball cap embroidered with “IMPEACH CHENEY”? Naturally, we had to discuss the just murder idea, or the idea that you could justify killing someone to save lives. There were even a couple of historical incidents with notable Buddhist monks who had murdered someone on this justification, but in the end, I think we ruled against the idea. Cheney’s policies based on ignorance are dependent on the ignorance of a lot of other people. You don’t actually have to fight Cheney himself to defeat his policies. Conquer the liar by truth, and the ignorant with knowledge.

When I give a speech, people always ask me “What can I do?” Aside from the normal stuff, like conventional activism, supporting IVAW and war resistors, and counter-recruiting, I tell them to share their passions. “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Well, if you’re outraged (not angry, but passionate) then share that passion. Live that passion. After you’ve realized what’s going on in this country and the state of things in the world, you’d have to be crazy to sit down next to someone and strike up a conversation about the weather or about Britney Spears’ new haircut.

One Third of America

One third of America still thinks that, contrary to the 9/11 Commission report, and despite a complete lack of evidence, Saddam was personally involved in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. One third of America is not living in cabins in the mountains, shitting in a ditch, making moonshine, and oblivious to the world around them. THESE ARE PEOPLE YOU KNOW! They may be oblivious to the world around them, but if so, it’s deliberate, either on their part, or by those that have deliberately misled us.

ignoraholism: noun, pathology
The compulsive dependence upon (addiction to) distraction, a Socially Transmitted Disease.

Special thanks to Greg Wierzbicki for coming up with this. I’ve been railing against the broader social trends of ignorance and apathy for a while now, but putting the ignorance in this context gives us an interesting take on things. It’s easy to blame people for being ignorant when it is largely by choice, but it’s even easier for a vet to get angry talking to someone on the street who asks shit like, “Did Iraqis appreciate you being there?” “Well, except for the ones that were shooting at us!”

But when you put it into the context of a disease, it makes more sense to place blame on the person’s environment, the government, and the society that conditions them rather than the individual. But then, we as a people are ultimately responsible for those factors too.

One of my professor’s has a favorite joke that is relevant here: ”Do you know the difference between ignorance and apathy?” ”I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Welcome to 21st century America.

Hurray! We’ll only be in Iraq for another 12 YEARS!

US officials are celebrating the latest numbers to come from the UNHCR: approximately one thousand Iraqi refugees are returning every day! While this is a big improvement from previous levels, it is a fairly meaningless statistic. We still don’t know how many are LEAVING every day. Assuming it’s zero, given the 4.2 million refugees including the internally displaced, it will only take 12 years for them all to get home. But that assumes that they’re coming back to their original homes, which I will bet they’re not.

According to Lauren Frayer of the AP, it is “declining violence” that prompted the return of 46,030 refugees in October. “Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the Iraqi spokesman for a U.S.-Iraqi military push to pacify Baghdad, said border authorities recorded 46,030 people returning to Iraq in October and attributed the large number to the "improving security situation."” Wow, Lauren automatically agrees with a puppet General’s assessment! What a surprise!

This number of 46K has been questioned (actually, it’s bullshit) because it is only a count of border crossings in one direction and does not discriminate returning refugees from visitors and businessmen. But this all might have something to do with Syria not renewing visas and tightening restrictions at the border. And according to the NYT, “The U.N. refugee agency has yet to update its own figures, which maintain that more Iraqis are fleeing than returning in most areas of the country.” “It seems likely that at least some refugees are returning, and their number may well be increasing. But the decline in violence in the capital is not the only factor that could be driving the trend. The A.P. said that visa-rule changes in Syria seem to be a leading contributor” So, the AP contradicts itself, and the NYT sets things straight, albeit on Mike Nizza’s blog.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This might be of interest to you Adam (edit as you see fit):

http://www.chris-floyd.com/Articles/Articles/Desolation_Row%3A_The_Peace_of_the_Grave_in_Fallujah/

Desolation Row: The Peace of the Grave in Fallujah

Written by Chris Floyd

Thursday, 22 November 2007

In the land of peace and plenty that Iraq has miraculously become in the pages of the corporate media during the past few weeks, Fallujah is often touted as one of the great success stories of the just-about, almost-there, any-minute-now American victory.

As you may recall, the city was once regarded as a festering hotbed of terrorist insurgency, site of the infamous "Black Hawk Down" moment, when four Blackwater operatives were killed and despoiled in the streets (after a number of incidents where civilians had been killed by occupation forces, but one never heard too much about that uninteresting background to the incident.) George W. Bush ordered an all-out assault on the city in the spring of 2004, but when the civilian-killing savagery of the attack began to generate bad press – as well as large numbers of American casualties – the White House called off the assault…until after the 2004 election, when neither civilian or U.S soldier deaths would pose a PR probmen.

Thus, just days after Bush once again skulked into the Oval Officee under a murky electoral cloud, Fallujah was offered up on the altar of Mars as a mass human sacrifice to the gods for the Dear Leader's victory. Even though the months of noisy build-up to the final attack allowed hundreds of insurgents to escape and ply their trade elsewhere (a cynic might suspect that was part of the plan), the city was turned into a free-fire zone, hit with chemical weapons, and essentially razed to the ground. Hundreds of civilians were killed, hundreds of thousands of people were driven from their homes, and the city's medical services were left in ruins – deliberately targeted, American officials admitted, to prevent any unseemly stories about wounded and dying civiilans from leaking out during the assault. As a proud feat of arms, it can only be compared to such glorious triumphs as Guernica or Grozny.

But there sure enough weren't any more "Black Hawk Down" monkeyshines from Fallujah after that. In fact, as ABC's Miguel Marquez recently reported during a quick, helmeted, flak-jacketed drop-in, Fallujah is now "an extraordinary comeback story," where markets bustle, streetlights sparkle, and kids play with Marines.

However, Ali al-Fadhily, the Inter-Press correspondent who actually lives in Iraq (and frequently collaborates with the unembedded U.S. reporter Dahr Jamail), found a somewhat different picture emerging from his extensive interviews with Fallujah residents. As he reports in the Asia Times:

"You, people of the media, say things in Fallujah are good," Mohammad Sammy, an aid worker for the Iraqi Red Crescent in Fallujah, told Inter Press Service (IPS). "Then why don't you come and live in this paradise with us? It is so easy to say things for you, isn't it?"

His anger is due to the fact that the embattled city is still completely closed and surrounded by military checkpoints to make it look like an isolated island. Those who are not genuine residents of the city are not granted the biometric identification badge from the US Marines, and are thus not allowed to enter the city.

Since the November 2004 US-led attack on the city, named Operation Phantom Fury, which left approximately 70% of the city destroyed, the US military has required residents to undergo retina scans and finger-printing to gain a bar-code for identification.

"This isolation has destroyed the economy of the city that was once one the best in Iraq," Professor Mohammad al-Dulaymi of al-Anbar University told IPS. "All of the other cities in the province used to do their wholesale shopping in Fallujah, but now they have to find alternatives, leaving the city's businesses to starve," he explained..

Many residents told IPS that US-backed Iraqi police and army personnel have detained people who have spoken to the media. "I am not going to tell you whether it is good or bad to be a Fallujah resident," 55-year-old lawyer, Shakir Naji, told IPS. "Why don't you just ask what the prices of essential materials are and judge for yourself? Kerosene for heating is almost $1 per liter, a jar of propane gas is $15, and it is not winter yet when the prices will definitely be doubled."

Since the November 2004 siege, entire neighborhoods remain totally destroyed, and with no water or electricity. Most of the businesses in Fallujah remain closed…Fallujah General Hospital, situated across the Euphrates River from the city, is still functioning, but with a minimal number of specialist doctors and medical supplies. The only doctor who would speak to IPS did not want his name published… "We do not have enough medicines, and the equipment brought to us by contractors is still in boxes and seems to be part of the corrupt contracts of the province. It is impossible to work under such conditions."

People coming for treatment or surgery in the hospital appeared desperate to get their essential needs met. "We have to buy cotton, bandages, medicines and all we need from private pharmacies," 35-year-old Muath Tahir, a teacher who had his appendix removed three days earlier, told IPS. "Those who can manage go to the private hospital for better treatment, but my $230 salary is not even enough for my daily needs."

In other words, Fallujah has become a vast open-air prison, accessible only through biometric scanning, patroled by the bristling military force that left it in ruins, with expressions of dissent tightly controlled and punished, its crippled economy at the mercy of exploiters, war profiteers and corrupt officials. The city is "calm" because it has been beaten into submission and kept under armed guard. Here one recalls the words that Tacitus attributes to Calgacus, the Caledonain chief who faced the Roman invasion of Scotland in the 1st century AD:

Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a desolation and call it peace.

Anonymous said...

"A glance at history, however, reveals that not all the many and widely varying forms of Buddhism have been free of doctrinal fanaticism, nor free of the violent and exploitative pursuits so characteristic of other religions. In Sri Lanka there is a legendary and almost sacred recorded history about the triumphant battles waged by Buddhist kings of yore. During the twentieth century, Buddhists clashed violently with each other and with non-Buddhists in Thailand, Burma, Korea, Japan, India, and elsewhere. In Sri Lanka, armed battles between Buddhist Sinhalese and Hindu Tamils have taken many lives on both sides. In 1998 the U.S. State Department listed thirty of the world’s most violent and dangerous extremist groups. Over half of them were religious, specifically Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist. 1A glance at history, however, reveals that not all the many and widely varying forms of Buddhism have been free of doctrinal fanaticism, nor free of the violent and exploitative pursuits so characteristic of other religions. In Sri Lanka there is a legendary and almost sacred recorded history about the triumphant battles waged by Buddhist kings of yore. During the twentieth century, Buddhists clashed violently with each other and with non-Buddhists in Thailand, Burma, Korea, Japan, India, and elsewhere. In Sri Lanka, armed battles between Buddhist Sinhalese and Hindu Tamils have taken many lives on both sides. In 1998 the U.S. State Department listed thirty of the world’s most violent and dangerous extremist groups. Over half of them were religious, specifically Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist.

Source: http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html

lightbringer said...

All the worlds religious philosophers, big and small advocated a practice of the "golden rule": do unto others as you would unto yourself...
Unfortunately, the simplicity of doing unto others is lost through "religions" and their "laws"; which galvanize humanity into mass herds of sheeple, whom are confused(apathy) by the laws made to justify outrageous acts(war,murder) against the principles adhered to by these various teachers whose movements became... "RELIGIONS".
The elites understand these "mysteries"; this is why things never change and the same families keep wearing titles and crowns: research Osiris, Mithras, and Philo...

Clifton Hicks said...

"... living in cabins in the mountains, shitting in a ditch, making moonshine, and oblivious to the world around them..."

You have just described the most anti-war, anti-government, and un-oblivious segment of the American populace!

Your pard,
Clif Hicks

TyWyzl said...

Your professor's funny, the funny thing is that people won't know what is happening in the world if they don't care and also won't care if they don't know something is wrong.

I talked about this ignorance/apathy issue with you at a party before the die in. i do believe the majority of us have been conditioned, indoctrinated, etc (not brainwashed, a poor choice of words although the meanings are similar) so well that the ability to make a real choice and have control over one's own mind, as in free will, is essentially disabled.

And I have a real problem with psychological manipulation through subliminal messaging. It seems people have become so mentally weak that all it takes it to repeat a message a few times for them to start accepting the message as true. These messages are so pervasive in society, and we're so bombarded constantly daily that we aren't even aware that our environment/society/gov't (and I believe corporations) are constructing our beliefs and behavior, which we aren't conscious of for the most part until someone or some information makes us aware of it.

If we are a product of our genes and environment, then where does free will come from? I can't help but believe there is free will because if not, that means we are just the end result of a chain of events, that we're just reacting to the environment and not making a choice to act. Maybe free will would be a reality if we were not constantly being conditioned to comply without question. It would also help if we were not being denied access to information, because how can we make prudent choices if we don't even have the right information?

Thanks for blogging (and everything else you do) and giving the right kind of information to the public so they can make better choices and form their beliefs based on real facts. I think that's our personal responsibility, is that once we realize the truth, that we take it upon ourselves to spread the truth and give people the information that they have an inalienable right to receive. It's hard to get them to care enough to act though, i'm still not sure how to do that yet

PeaCe & &hearts, TyWyzl =)