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Sat Jul 19, 2014, 06:42 PM

Moby Dick

“This world and yonder world are incessantly giving birth;
Every cause is a mother, its effect the child.
When the effect is born, it too becomes a cause
And gives birth to wonderous effects.
These causes are generation on generation, but it needs
A very well lighted eye to see the links in their chain.”
-- Jalal-ad-din Rumi (Persian Sufi poet)


Yesterday, I engaged in what might politely be termed a “debate” on the internet site known as “Face Book,” against a half-dozen gentlemen who were attempting to place blame on President Obama for two tragic crises. I normally do not engage in such nonsense, but for some reason I found their rants particularly toxic. Let me explain, briefly, how I was exposed to their “opinions.”

Decades ago, as a college student, I had a close group of friends, all of whom were fairly like-minded liberals and progressives. Along with social-political activism, our group of young men and women would engage in recreational activities, such as basketball and partying. One friend would morph into a rather rigid thinking, right-wing minister. Several of our friends attribute this to the massive quantities of LSD that he had ingested in those semesters of old (I am unwilling to rule out his missing a free-throw in a hotly contested game).

As ancient citizens, we all communicate on FB, to plan reunions and the like. Our days of listening to Revolution 9 backwards, and staying up until dawn while dancing with wild abdomen are past, yet we still enjoy talking about politics. Besides our alumni group, most of us are “friends” on that internet site. And so I was not surprised to read a series of baseless rants from the minister of madness.

My old friend generally avoids debating things political with me, for a reason similar to why PeeWee Herman wouldn’t start a fight with Mike Tyson. On biblical debates, I respect his right to his own misinterpretations and misperceptions. But yesterday’s scat -- blaming Barack Obama for the violence in Palestine and the Ukraine -- annoyed me.

Since I do not like annoying things, I opted to dissect his asinine claims (agreeing only that President Obama is “no Ronald Reagan”). Immediately, his followers flocked to his defense. I enjoyed exposing several of the falsehoods they were investing their beliefs in. They got upset when I noted that they were worshipping at the alter of Dick Cheney. Oh, well.

But that isn’t why I’m writing this. Not really.

The events in Palestine and Ukraine can only be understood properly, when placed within the context of the above Rumi quote. President Obama can only be considered to be “the cause” in the most poisoned of minds. Indeed, when one places the presidency in the Rumi context, in order to appreciate what “good” and/or “bad” options that President Obama has, to influence the potential outcomes of the current crises, it seems evident that his ability to exercise much in the way of wholesome control is limited.

Last week, I had suggested that James Carroll’s “House of War” is a beneficial read for those seeking to make sense of current events global. The former Jesuit’s history of the Pentagon would be beyond my friend’s understanding at this point. Yet, even those as intellectually limited as myself should read it -- including reading it again, for those of us who bought it when published some eight years ago.

Although Carroll doesn’t quote Rumi, his book documents the reality of cause and effect over the years. He writes in terms of Karl Marx’s “The traditions of all dead generations weigh like a nightmare on the minds of the living,” and adds the impact of the talented politicians who sought to make meaningful change; those, he notes, experience Marcel Proust’s frustration -- “I try to correct it, but I cannot root it out” (In Search of Lost Time).

Carroll identifies President Kennedy as unique in his eventual understanding of the momentum of history -- yet JFK would experience the very fate that other enlightened active thinkers would (Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy included).

What, if any, actions can a President of the United States take in 2014 to de-escalate the horrors that are taking place around the earth? How can an individual citizen keep from being carried away by the momentum of ignorance, paranoia, fear, and hatred that demands violent action in today’s world? Can any human being opposing the negative forces of humanity keep from being Ahab, addicted to a fruitless search for Moby Dick (the personification of the evil of humanity)?

We are in a strange and dangerous time in human history. I believe that we must become more, in order to do more. Our tactics must, of course, be nonviolent -- in the manner of Gandhi and King -- and surely must be as confrontational in opposition to the beast that threatens our being today. But I am not sure that this generation has the strength and discipline necessary to conduct a meaningful campaign.

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply Moby Dick (Original post)
H2O Man Jul 2014 OP
Scuba Jul 2014 #1
postulater Jul 2014 #2
H2O Man Jul 2014 #10
H2O Man Jul 2014 #7
brer cat Jul 2014 #3
H2O Man Jul 2014 #8
GeorgeGist Jul 2014 #4
MannyGoldstein Jul 2014 #6
MannyGoldstein Jul 2014 #5
H2O Man Jul 2014 #9

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 06:47 PM

1. I'd like to see some of that dancing with wild abdomen!

 

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Response to Scuba (Reply #1)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 06:52 PM

2. It's called Belly Dancing.

In not so sure I'd want to see a bunch of old guys jiggling that much.

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Response to postulater (Reply #2)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 07:32 PM

10. For the past three days,

my younger son has visited me, in part to work out in the gym. (He is the hardest-hitting, most powerful young heavyweight that I've seen in 50+ years.)

We were working on his movement in the ring. He said that he recently read an article on Ali's footwork, and how it took an average fighter about 8 years to learn to imitate it; he asked how I had become so good at it? I attempted to demonstrate a couple of the basic steps, and realized that some other body parts had begun "bouncing" now that I'm old and weigh a few more pounds.

Not a pretty sight!

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Response to Scuba (Reply #1)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 07:06 PM

7. Be careful

what you ask for!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 06:52 PM

3. Interest read, H2O Man.

Thanks for posting.

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Response to brer cat (Reply #3)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 07:06 PM

8. Thanks!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 06:57 PM

4. Moby Dick was not my cup of tedium.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 07:04 PM

5. Oil, bankers

 

The root of most of today's awfulness lies, I believe, in oil and banking. Ultimately these are symptoms of the larger problems of greed and sociopathy, but those aren't as actionable.

I don't think there's much debate that the Middle East is a dysfunctional as it is because of oil. If the world moved to renewable resources, as Germany is doing, there'd be an opportunity to begin repairing the Middle East.

Let's look at Ukraine. Why is there a war? First off, the austerity con:

1. Banker-governments lend money to corrupt government
2. Corrupt government puts much of it in their personal bank accounts
3. Borrowing country's debt load eventually builds to risky levels.
4. Because of the increased risk, interest on loans to corrupt government shoots up, so now the country can't pay its debts... Unless...
5. Borrowing country agrees to austerity and all sorts of other awful stuff in exchange for the privilege of paying back all of its loans to the banker-governments at non-usurious interest rates.
6. The corrupt government flees with billions, invests it with bankers.
7. The austeritized nation sells their services and possessions to banker-governments really cheaply because they desperately need the cash.
8. The bankers effectively resell what they've purchased cheaply, at a huge profit.

In the case of Ukraine, the US and Russian oligarchs, each fronted by their respective governments, fought over who was going to take over at step 5. Each side ended up grabbing part of the country although that's not totally clear yet, so we have a war. So bankers can make more money.

There's also an "oil" issue with Ukraine, namely the natural gas pipeline from Russia to Europe which makes things all the more perilous.

So what can a president do? A president can lead the charge to renewable energy resources, and get the bankers under control. Until that's done, disaster and misery will continue to abound.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #5)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 07:10 PM

9. Good points.

Our nation is an oil-industrial complex, even if much of the industrial base has been shut down. It's interesting to consider that the most famous American intelligence agency was formed, during WW@, from members of the oil industry's private intelligence groups.

Today, of course, private groups (such as Blackwater) are back in style. Yet few citizens understand the extent of their participation in foreign conflicts.

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