Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dreams of Ego, Nightmares of History

When I speak of the “culture war,” no one should be offended, because I am not speaking of this or that individual person, nor of this or that particular policy. There are many decent (although I believe misguided) people on the left, just as there are many a-holes on the right, especially among politicians, who, for a variety of reasons, are a special kind of a-hole.

As a brief aside, this is why I am never surprised when any politician, left or right, is involved in scandal or corruption. I expect it. As I may have mentioned last week, I see the world of “professions” in a very Darwinian manner, as a field of occupational “environments” that selects certain personality types. Politics, as much as any other field (including show business, which is merely politics for the attractive), attracts narcissistic, insecure, vain, and power-seeking individuals. Therefore, I am hardly shocked at the sexual misconduct of a Mark Foley, Gary Condit, Bill Clinton, Gerry Studds, James McGreevey, Barney Frank, or JFK. Rather, I am shocked by a James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill or Ronald Reagan.

I might add that the field of psychology also generally selects for a certain type of personality, which is why I have never related to the great majority of my peers, with obvious and profound exceptions. Take Dr. Sanity, for example. I’m very glad she lives halfway across the country, in Michigan. Being that she is two time zones ahead of me in hyperspace, when I’m out of ideas, I can always count on her post to inspire me and get me off the dime. This morning’s meditation on the evils of multiculturalism is no exception.

Dr. Sanity gets to the heart of the primordial battle of our day, which is not just against Islamic jihad, but our own culture war between left and right. She notes that the “politically correct road which the left has taken us all down--billed as the path to peace and harmony--has instead led to a land dominated by emotions; a place where barbarism of the most primal sort is tolerated and excused.”

But why should anyone be surprised at where this unenlightened ideology has led us? “Multiculturalism after all celebrates--not belonging to the family of humanity--but to one's sexual, racial, ethnic, or religious identity above all else.... Like many ideas of the left, it should now be apparent to anyone with a brain, that--in the case of multiculturalism--the exact opposite of what was promised ends up being delivered.”

“Just as the false promises of socialism and communism were found to lead to misery instead of happiness; poverty instead of wealth; enslavement instead of freedom--so too, have multiculturalism and political correctness, instead of harmony, brought lethal discord.”

Thus, just as Dr. Sanity is a couple of hours ahead of me in her wisdom, Europe is perhaps a generation ahead of America in its folly. Thanks to the useful idiots of Europe, we can see exactly where the idiotic road of leftism leads. The French are like the frogs in slowly boiling water who have no idea that their goose pate is cooked. They took the wrong fork in the historical road, which we may now stick in them. They are history.

This is what I am referring to when I write about the unbridgeable chasm between left and right. Half of our country has already gone the way of Europe. If a significant portion of the other half goes, then I am not at all optimistic about the future of mankind. The stakes are that high.

I am a psychologist. I carry a badge. I diagnose individuals. But it is said that a prophet diagnoses mankind. Thus, if you look at the DSM, there are, I don’t know, a couple hundred different diagnoses. But if you look at the Bible, or the Upanishads, or the Tao Te Ching, there is only one diagnosis, which is that human beings live in falsehood, alienated from reality. They habitually confuse what is ephemeral and valueless with what is transcendent and of eternal value. His consciousness exteriorized, hypnotized by the parade of images, the spiritually untutored man wanders from sensation to sensation until falling into the abyss at the end of his daze, wishes to ashes, lust to dust.

The “dream of ego” is a dream by the ego and of itself. This, in my view, is why revelation is so important, because--if it is what it purports to be--it is the only way human beings may truly look at themselves from outside themselves, through a non-manmade source that is uncorrupted by the ego. In my own lifetime, I have been shocked to discover that religion, properly understood, is both the shield and the corrective for certain inevitable metaphysical delusions to which humans are heir. I neither looked for this wisdom nor expected to find it.

Left to itself, the dream of ego, which is embedded in the wider dream of culture, eventually displaces our true self, and becomes a sort of second nature. This is what it means to be a fallen being in a fallen world. According to Schuon, the fallen ego "is woven of images and of tendencies” which “are our responses to the world around us; as we exteriorise ourselves, we create a world in the image of our dream, and the dream thus objectivized flows back upon us, and so on and on, until we are enclosed in a tissue, sometimes inextricable, of dreams exteriorized or materialized and of materializations interiorised.”

The more primitive or "sophisticated" the culture, the more it lives not in the world but in its dream of the world. Obviously this is the problem we face in the Islamists. They live in a dream, which wouldn’t concern us in the least if we weren’t being asked to play such a vital role in it. On the other hand, sophisticated multiculturalists have for so long asked us to honor the dreams and fantasies of other cultures, that we no longer have the means or the will to speak truth to these powerful delusions, as the Pope attempted to do a few weeks ago. It would be like a psychologist who attempts to heal a patient by “honoring” his neurosis as just another beautiful way to live. (There was actually a school of therapy which attempted to do just this in the 1960's, the Rogerians, who perfected the vacuous technique of "unconditional positive regard.")

One of the perennial delusions of the left is their naiveté about human evil. In their ahistorical view of history, they regard war as the exception rather than the rule. Thus, they see our struggle with Islamic jihad as some kind of aberration. In fact, many on the left won’t acknowledge that we are even in a war. Rather, it is a phony war, a quote-unquote “war on terror,” "blood for oil," "contracts for Haliburton," blah blah blah.

But wherever human beigs are, war follows. In his book Constant Battles, archaeologist Steven LeBlanc writes that the “cruel and ugly” truth is that in traditional societies, an average of twenty-five percent of the men died from warfare. Anthropologist Lawrence Keeley, in his War Before Civilization, notes that whenever Homo sapiens "appears on the scene, definitive evidence of homicidal violence becomes more common.... If anything, peace was a scarcer commodity... than for the average citizen of a civilized state.”

Indeed, LeBlanc writes that the homicide rate of some prehistoric villages would have been 1400 times that of modern Britain and about 70 times that of the United States in 1980. Although roughly 100 million people died from all war-related causes in the twentieth century, Keeley estimates that this figure is twenty times smaller than the losses that might have resulted if the world’s population were still organized into bands, tribes and chiefdoms.

Keep that last figure in mind in considering the nature of World War IV--or what I believe is the denouement of Cosmic War I. At the moment, our enemies are limited to killing only as many as they can. But what if they were only limited by how many they wanted to kill? The primitives with whom we are at war are limited only by the means, not the will. We, on the other hand, are not limited by our means, but by our will. If the sophisticated dreamers of the left continue to conspire with the primitive dreamers of Islam, the result can only be more nightmares.

*****

Related on LGF: John Howard Blasts Left-Wing Elites

44 Comments:

Anonymous idigscotch&scotchburiesme said...

Gagdad Bob, What a pleasant suprise to read your article that you directed me to from LGF. I'm waiting for my left leaning Phd brother's e-mail address so i can forward this to him. Now I understand your LGF quips even better.

10/03/2006 09:50:00 AM  
Anonymous jbw said...

What can we do? I have always wished for some way to kick people out of their self-imposed prisons. I am now slowly waking up and emerging from mine. Your earlier post about faith being a crack in the wall that allows light to shine in is True. Even with a little light my life is completely different. I've almost finished reading Meditations on the Tarot. I never imagined Christianity could have such depth. I was a practicing Wicca for many years. It is quite a colorful and fun belief system, but there is nothing beyond the candles and rituals. Christianity, on the other hand, seems, well, bland, but beneath the surface the water is deep. I could spend the rest of my life diving those depths, and I probably will. I picked up the Meditations after you mentioned it in your blog. Its funny, I don't think I could talk about this in any other forum, but I felt drawn to this book, and reading it has been one surprise after another. I have never read anything like it before. I feel like every word is True, and it is true in a way that is completely beyond reasoning. I don't have to think about it. I just know its True. Frankly, it’s a little scary. I have been mucking around in the dark now for a long time. Imagine my surprise when I find out the answer was in front of me the whole time. Bob, you have my sincere gratitude. I'll admit I didn't understand much of what you were talking about early on, but once I started to experience it for myself, well it all made sense.

10/03/2006 09:55:00 AM  
Anonymous dilys said...

"Like many ideas of the left, ... the exact opposite of what was promised ends up being delivered.”

This has driven my Cassandra-identity wild for years. You, or I, could see the outcome ab initio, but criticizing the policies of the Left was dismissed as "greedy" and "unfeeling." No, it was an effort to keep those policies from gear-stripping the "beneficiaries."

So.

What is going on? Is it the narcissist's denial of time and process? The famous immaturity of inability to postpone gratification as inability to imagine a future. Mr Mind-Virus Guy, inquiring Bobbleheads want to know.

"...revelation is so important, because--if it is what it purports to be--it is the only way human beings may truly look at themselves from outside themselves, through a non-manmade source that is uncorrupted by the ego."

This other point is one of the most telling ones that links philosophy and perceptual insight. The philosopher Levinas points out that only when the Other goes against our expectations, do we know that we are not alone. Self-constructed deities, like pedestrian computer games, can only produce what the programming world-view builds in. GIGO, no matter how high-sounding. It is the Revealed Deity, past what we could have imagined, that lays claim to our non-idolatrous reverence. Which doesn't eliminate up-front running away from faith communities or doctrinal systems that prove exploitative or really foolish. John Henry Newman has good essays on the subject of using one's brain and scepticism to choose where to place one's faith.

Thus the meaning of The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked is not that man is basically bad, but that he is caught in the Cave, if he remains without an Outside Guide. Au contraire, he is/we are worth saving, whatever it takes.

10/03/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading your blog over the past several months, I find so many big points to agree with that some of the smaller ones that I disagree with seem to take on an added significance. Today I agreed with everything you said, most noteably the idea that we need to find ways to communicate on a broad perspective.
In contrast, yesterday you made a point of excusing (to my way of thinking) female sexual explotation of minors and even moonbatted the media interviewer questioning a light sentence. Your justification seemed to be that men are sexual predators and women are not, in general. I agree but suspect that women are narrowing the perversion gap now that they are less sexually inhibited. To justify the sexual explotation by a woman on the grounds that they do less of it and/or it is not in their psychological makeup is akin to excuing serial killing by women on the basis that it is rare. The only other defense of your position might be that the "victim" enjoyed the crime, hence it was not a crime. This does wash with a minor victim who by legal difinition is inccapable of making such a judgement.
In general, I see a hiving of the blog and its regular readers, rejecting any outiders not sharing the views of the insiders 100%. I would just move on if some of your essential points were not so important and valid. To prevail, I suggest you need to "seek to understand, then be understood."

10/03/2006 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

>>Half of our country has already gone the way of Europe. If a significant portion of the other half goes, then I am not at all optimistic about the future of mankind. The stakes are that high.<<

Yes, I don't think the Cosmos/Infinite Spirit can long tolerate a species that has forgotten the very purpose of its existence and is, in fact, actively working against it.

I suspect that there's a few who are carrying the Light for the many. How long that's going to obtain, I have no idea.

10/03/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Big Possum said...

It is easy to talk about this "family of humanity", to say we "celebrate" THIS membership above our association with a particular "tribe", but how many people who talk like this are actually expressing this celebration in their lives? Here are some questions worth considering.

How many people have you enjoyed a social dining experience with in the last year who are of a different race/ethnicity or socioeconomic class?

How many children have you hugged in the last 3 months that are not blood relatives?

Celebration of the human family connotes action, not some passive belief about how much we really do thing it would be swell if everyone got along. To "celebrate" the human family means that we partake in it beyond our comfort zones, making a deliberate effort to connect and build relationships with people of difference. Furthermore, if we want to be taken seriously when talking about the human family as more than just a concept, then this calls us to embrace the fact that we have responsibilities to engage in the lives of children other than just our own.

Speaking for myself, I know that while I might have liked hearing terms like "human family" and imaginging that I be in right relationship with it, for the first decade of my adult life I was very much resigned to exploit every ounce of the privilege of my upbringing to distance myself from the plight of the common man. My "tribe" was whatever you want to call those of us who attended small private schools, grew up glofing and swimming at the country club, and then drank our way through a fine University's Greek scene. And so while I could rightfully express consternation at "dark" cultural expressions of more "colorful" tribes, I have experienced the game (and pressures) of trying to leverage every advantage to "hit the big ball", to be a "Bad Ass, and to escape the terrible weight, once and for all, of trying to fill a successful father's shoes.

From my experiences of myself, and knowledge of the similar experiences of others, I understand something very important very well. When you combine all the subtle sacrifices of "soul integrity" that occur among the PWM's (privileged white males) stuck in the same game, they add up to at least as destructive an impact upon the "family of humanity" as that of the expressions of any other single "tribe". Furthermore, from new experiences of building relations with "others", I have discovered that the moment I acknowledge and articulate the unique pressures I experienced, and how they informed so many of my behaviors, I open a door no new relationship possibilities with people who have never known anything other than resentment toward the tribe/culture I represent. We are all, indeed, just people, dealing with a lot of different pressures that people from beyond our respective tribes cannot understand......until we are willing to make ourselves vulnerable enough to help them.

As for how I sense we should see and respond to reality of God's perspective on the human family, I will simply share what emerged in my writing one day as I expressed how God, in the role of a loving Father, might look upon the situation of coming home to a family that is in the condition that this "human family" exists in now.

Imagine yourself a father with twelve children you love very, very much. Imagine now that you have had to leave the family for some reason for a period of a few years and that upon returning you learn that their mother has died and that the "Big Brother" who assumed responsibility for the household has not managed it with LOVE. When you return several of the smartest, prettiest kids run up to you excitedly to brag of all their "achievements". Nodding graciously you ask them where their siblings are, others of your children, and they lower their heads in shame before standing aside to allow you to proceed to the home's back porch. On that porch you find a couple of them huddled together trying to stay warm. They look ematiated and by all indication have been living off of dog food. Then you look to into the backyard to see that another child is chained to a pole. Apparently, when she started having to fight for food she developed quite a temper and kept trying to come into the house. As the "talented" children tell you they didn't want her in the house because she embarassed them around their talented friends........so they chained her to a pole to keep her from causing trouble. Well, next you hear some noise coming from out of the dog pen. There are three kids in there, two of whom are huddled frightfully together inside the dog house itself. How about we stop there.

I'll ask everyone, in a general sense, again. How much effort have you made to connect on a menaningful level with people different from yourselves? How many people of different cultures and social classes have you had in your home, or vice versa? How many children are you sharing love and life lessons with other than your own? What do your answers to these questions suggest about how serious you take the idea of the "human family" and how you relate to it?

10/03/2006 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Jacob C. said...

How many children have you hugged in the last 3 months that are not blood relatives?

Well, this goes back to what we talked about yesterday. I CAN'T hug any kid that's not related to me without being considered a potential Child Molester by at least one onlooker. And it's a little iffy to hug your own kids, in fact; it's almost as though the whole idea of intimacy between children and adults has been irretrievably sexualized, and I don't know when or how THAT happened.

10/03/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Interlocutor said...

Anonymous has point there about the "hiving'" of blog participants. I think an attitude comes from the top down, from Bob to his readers, that Bob "can't be wrong."

I have never witnessed Bob conceding to a mistake, or retracting an assertion in the face of evidence to the contrary. He seems to suffer from "LMCBW" (little miss can't-be-wrong)syndrome.

The bottom line is, Bob, "winning" every controversy that you participate in erodes your credibility. Give us something to believe in; give us an example of when you have been wrong in the last six months so we can breathe easy that you are not some rigid ego that can't tolerate any dissent.

10/03/2006 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

Without a doubt, one of your best posts.

Thank you.

10/03/2006 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Interlocuter--

Why don't you save me some time you tell me what I've been wrong about? Blogging everyday--not to mention working and raising a family--I don't really have time to look back and keep score.

Anynomous--

You missed my point about the Florida teacher. I was not attempting to make a point of law, but a point of archetypal psychology.

10/03/2006 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Eeevil Right Wing Nut said...

Resistance is futile.

/Borg off

10/03/2006 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous julieC said...

Anonymous (at 12:31),

I spent a great deal of time yesterday "watching" the conversation unfold, but added nothing as I didn't feel there was anything I could add. From my perspective, there were points that seemed rather muddy, such as the issue of female sexual exploitation of minors. The impression that I got was that nobody was giving a pass to women who prey on teenagers, but rather that it is such a tiny percentage - perhaps 1 to 2 percent, if I recall somebody's numbers from yesterday - that to focus on what is essentially such an extreme deviation from the norm was distracting from the overall point of the conversation. In dealing with understanding generalities, it does not help the big picture to focus on that tiny bit in the corner that is a different shade from all the rest.

The "hiving" behavior you mentioned, which I also noticed, struck me more as major frustration based on the fact that several commentors kept trying to turn the conversation into a discussion of female deviant behavior by citing specific and unsual cases of women behaving badly. That is a discussion which would have relevance somewhere/ when else, but not perhaps in yesterday's thread, hence the dismissive attitude, or so it seemed to me.

10/03/2006 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Bob--it's 97-3. I've been keeping track for awhile.

10/03/2006 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

My big mistake was not catching Osama. But at least I tried, unlike some bloggers.

10/03/2006 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And don't forget, even if I am more or less infallible, I take no credit for it, since I have source of metaphysical certitude in Petey.

10/03/2006 03:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Well the bounty alone was enough to make most of us try.

I recently came across an name you probably already know--Stephen Schwartz, a frequent contributor to the National Review, Weekly Standard, and the like--an this interview, which I thought you and your sycophants (that's a joke) might find interesting: http://www.nationalreview.com/interrogatory/interrogatory111802.asp

Cards up 5-0 in the 6th.

10/03/2006 03:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Connecticut Yankee said...

Big Possum--

Thank you for your post--my experience of a "privileged" education is that it's left me without full membership in any "tribe." I was one of those bright kids from the lower middle class who went through an elite Eastern college on a scholarship and then on to graduate school. Problem was that my family (one of my parents and most of the extended family) then began to call me a "snob" and similar names. As far as I know, I never did or said anything that most people would consider evidence of snobbery. I've spent most of the last three decades as an outsider as far as the rest of the family is concerned. So I understand what you mean by resentment-- I've had to live with it for years. On the other hand, I certainly don't belong to the charmed circle of the economically privileged and often feel a little "out of it" at alumni get-togethers. What I've tried to do is reach out to others who feel like they've been kicked out of their respective "tribes," if that makes any sense to you.

To answer your question about hugging or spending time with folks from different economic, ethnic, or racial groups-- that happens for me every Sunday at church. (Bob will appreciate this-- I even hug Mets and Yankees fans).

10/03/2006 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

I like that description of infallibility--"more or less infallible". That's kind of how I access God, too--"more of less ommipotent". No full-on omnipotent God would allow so many damned alligators to run around in Florida. And then, what about armadillos?---"more or less" is the only way to describe it.

10/03/2006 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Connecticut Yankee said...

Joseph--

I agree. No fully omnipotent God would allow the Mets to sit on top of the NL East.

10/03/2006 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

God weeps every day over the DH.

10/03/2006 03:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

Hah. The more Gators, the better, sez I.

10/03/2006 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Kahntheroad said...

Bob, you might want to get around to that disclaimer sidebar you mentioned a while back. ;)

Interlocuter-

I understand you're observation of "hiving," but I think it's important to keep in mind that this is not a news site or a debating. It's Bob's space for meditating on his beliefs, and he allows that to overflow into further discussion.

Considering the nature of Bob's posts I don't really see where he can be "proven" wrong - although you may disagree with him. But I'm sure Bob would be happy to concede if he mis-stated, say, the year the Magna Carta was signed. Otherwise your criticism sounds a lot like the absurd howls of outrage that come when The Pope dares to proclaim that he's biased toward Catholicism.

This weekend alone I went to Jewish Synagogue, Catholic Mass and a Buddhist meditation session. I don't resonate with every aspect of these faiths and/or practices. However, I focus on what I find helpful in terms of my own practice. It would be silly for me to willingly walk into The Shrine of St. Francis and complain it's poppycock that a man should rise from the dead. No, I simply take what rings true and try to understand what doesn't. Now, I might be inclined to discuss a topic with one of the faithful, but it wouldn't occur to me to be upset that the congregation of a Catholic Church is somewhat biased towards a belief in Jesus.

10/03/2006 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Big Possum said... "How many people have you enjoyed a social dining experience with in the last year who are of a different race/ethnicity or socioeconomic class?"

Sorry, your criterion for Family membership is one I've never been able to go along with. I'd be interested to hear if anyone thinks I'm off base on this, and I don't mean it in an accusatory way, but it's always seemed to me that validating 'membership in the family' by how many other appearance/status members you've interacted with only affirms that you consider them to be somehow fundamentally different (lesser), and that you have a need to show that you care about them even if they're different.

To me it's always had the whiff of how I interpreted Ahminijihads statement at the UN as "I have nothing against Jews or Americans, in fact some of my best friends are Apes, Pigs, Dogs & Devils"

10/03/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Connecticut Yankee said...

Bob-- The entire AL is organized baseball heresy. The outcomes of the last 10 All-Star games are only God's way of testing the orthodox NL faithful. I attach spiritual significance to the fact that the last time the NL won, it was in Philadelphia.

10/03/2006 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Khantheroad--

I like how you put that. It's like trying to argue with a poem or song. I just put it out there for people's enjoyment, to take what they find useful and leave the rest. It is absurd to say that I could have "followers," when my whole point is that people need to discover spiritual truths on a first hand basis.

10/03/2006 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Big Possum said...

Van,

My question was not posed as a formal criterion. Sorry if it seems that way. From my perspective, the important thing is that we make a real effort to learn about and connect in meaningful relationships with people who are different from us. Dining experiences, acts of breaking bread together in a social context in which equality is conveyed, are particularly meaningful expressions of our common humanity. They also serve to alleviate many of the resentment energies people experience from the sense that they are looked down on by my more fortunate others. "Christians" who deny the importance of moving beyond comfort zones and learning about others as an important step in the emergence of the "Kingdom" are taking cues from a different Jesus than I AM. I do honor the point you are making about forced interaction. In fact, I do not think it one should force it. To the contrary, I think it better to take a real hard look at why one is not attracted to social experiences with "others". What energies exist, and what tapes are running in one's head, that would make such interaction uncomfortable? For me personally, I had nothing to do with African American in my 20's for reasons related to a combination of things that included a voice in the back of my head that reminded me of how I was weak and caved to my "good-old boy" fraternity peer pressure in using the "n word" on occassion. I could not be in the presence of African Americans for long without my conscience calling me out, and pointing out that despite my affection for MLK in highschool, I was willing to sacrifice my integrity by adopting speech that helped me be "cool" in particular surroundings as I was beginning my young-adult, "Bad Ass" climb. Since then, I have stood and faced a group of about 10 African American friends, addressed them by name, and apologized for the weakness in my character that resulted in my using the "n word" in college, something that I acknowledged to them as a blight my soul. Now, free from the demon that stood on my shoulder and shouted out my weakness, I AM also free from the energies that presented obstacles to my experience of healthy relationships with African Americans. And since that time I have created many relationships with African Americans, and enjoyed fellowship in my and their homes, not because I feel I have to but because I AM attracted to the unique relationship joys that can only be afforded by heart-level connections with diverse others.

Connecticut yankee,

I hear you on the snob dilemma relative to your family, and on the sense of never quite fitting in with much of the blueblood crowd you attended school with. My wife comes from a lower-middle class "country" background and since marrying me, and moving into a privileged enclave of a city, she has had family members play the same game with her. At the same time, she has never really embraced or been embraced by the social surroundings I grew up in, surroundings in which most of the other wives either grew up together, were in the same sorority, or can compare notes about their debutante balls. It is kind of tough being caught in that middle. I think it is cool though that you are finding a niche in relating to people who have experienced ejection from their tribes. I never had to totally leave my tribe, per se, but I did experience some sense of rejection in the process of breaking out of my attachments to an identity that was rooted in my compliance with its norms. My sense is that if you are serious about your spiritual journey you will find progress easier to come by as an "independent", if that expression works for you. Upon becoming fully available to my divine winds, I have experienced greater joy from connecting with different spices of life than I did when I was resigned to, and to worried about, hanging out with the "right people" behind my enclave's wall.

10/03/2006 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger lazlong said...

"How many people have you enjoyed a social dining experience with in the last year who are of a different race/ethnicity or socioeconomic class?

How many children have you hugged in the last 3 months that are not blood relatives?"

Well, possum, I would have to say that I hugged a child, not blood related, and not of my same race, just yesterday (and I had dinner with them, and I help the oldest with his homework). And, in the past year, I have definatly had social contact with people who are not of my race, some not even American citizens.
You seem to be trying a bit too hard to say that you are open minded. Being open to other people, and other cultures, doesn't come easily. In my experience, there must be a basis of similarity between people to get along, be it living in the same area, having the same values, or, in my case, serving on a submarine in Guam. The people that I served with, white, black, asian, hispanic, and middle eastern, are all my family. Their kids are my kids, their problems are my problems. We even fight like a family, and we call each other names, however, that bond is still there.
I wonder if you have the same bonds as the "other" people that you claim to socialize with.
But in the end, it really isn't a contest to see how many "other" people we have in our little circle of friends, is it? It is about having people that you care about, and that care about you, who you would trust with your life.
Believe me, if you are ever in a life or death situation, you will know who your friends are, because they will be the ones who are there with you, no matter what race, creed, religion or economic status is.

10/03/2006 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger Chip said...

If you simply convert the word "multicultural" to its non-PC eqivalent it's obvious why it leads to trouble: tribalism.

The nation-state is the real "new world order" and the notion of a global superstate could not seem any more distant if we planted it on Mars. By dividing the world into race, gender, and class the Left has Balkanized every nation on Earth with access to their loopy ideas.

I was raised to be a good American. My father in particular made me study our founding documents, the Founding Fathers, and even the philosphers who the FF's used to derive their ideas. I actually thought all American kids had a similar background because it seemed to make so much sense. As it turns out, our schools don't even properly perform that function.

The point being, nations are held together by shared ideas, or not held together at all. Worst of all is emphasizing skin color. Our dead white guys get a bad rap, but many of them saw the trouble brewing on the horizon.

In antiquity through the medieval period people were remarkably color blind. Racism became popular during the 16th-19th Century along with the pseudo-science used to explain conquered peoples and rationalize their subjegation. "Progressives" have made permanent the most primitive of all belief systems found in the modern era. Irony, you kick ass.

10/03/2006 05:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Connecticut Yankee said...

Big Possum--

Thank you for understanding; your second post is a real gift to me. This is for Lazlong too-- I think you are right about the importance of a shared bond. In addition to the Church, the other setting in which I found that the usual tribal labels break down was in an Al-Anon meeting for adult children of alcoholics. The group I attended most often included folks from a wide variety of racial, ethnic, educational, economic, and religious backgrounds-- but there was a definite bond among the members related to a common experience-- in this case, coping with a chemically dependent parent or step-parent. Most had felt for some while that they were the only person in the world with this problem. But in addition to learning better ways to cope with family and personal problems related to a parent's alcoholism, just about everyone in the group commented somewhere along the way that they were making new friendships across racial, political, and other lines, and that they enjoyed this new experience. And yes, I'd say that I made (and still have) friends from that group that I'd trust more than most of my biological relatives.

10/03/2006 05:55:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

Love that sidebar: "It's Bob's space for meditating on his beliefs, and he allows that to overflow into further discussion [that he deems fruitful.]"

No argument, no appeal.

Shortcuts a lot of Biter Bits.

10/03/2006 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Big Possum & Connecticut yankee...

I feel ashamed that I've... I've been passing...as from English heritage, hiding the fact that I have ... some...(I'm so ashamed) French ancestry. There. I've said it... I'm so relieved.

I'm sorry, I know that this is a bit too mocking of a serious issue, but when these issues come up, it always astounds me... that they are serious issues to people. I've always figured that you begin evaluating people on sight - not by something as intellectually irrelevant as their hair color, etc, but by the manner they present themselves, the clothes they choose to wear (not quality, but style such as do their pants expose a quarter moon standing up straight). What manners do they practice, are they upfront or sneaky, and so on and on and on. You're always evaluating, and reevaluating as new behavior is displayed.

I feel as silly noting this as I would drawing attention to how many of my friends had size 10 shoes, and how many wore 13's (nudge, nudge, wink, wink - mine were only 12.5's). My lead guitarist and partner in the band, Ray was (shh...'black') - we both snickered the first time we heard African-American, and I still think it as silly as referring to myself as Scots-Irish-Swiss-Dutch-French and refuse to knuckle to it. Kevin, our Lighting Dir (and sometimes Rhythm Guitarist) who was with us most of the 80's was Korean, there were 40 other members that circulated in and out of the band, from different parts of the country, and various race, etc, all of which is just pointless to mention.

Some of them were dependable, some weren't, some started out being dependable, but then dissolved before our eyes, succumbing to ego puffing fans and their free drug or drink supplies, at which point we'd have to find a replacement, and the show went on. At NO point did anything but personality, ability and dependability come into play. Ludicrous to think it would or should.

Did we run into people who didn't see things that way? Sure, sometimes it was difficult. Sometimes we would have to throw people into (or through) walls [guitars and fists don't mix, much more effective to throw them], a couple times we took to our heels (a little town in Idaho comes to mind) and got out of Dodge, but at no point did such thoughts seem worth thinking about any further than it took to note that said thought thinker's mental processing was defective, and we should not rely on their thinkability from that point out.

I realize that I'm damn lucky to live in a time and country where such 'thoughts' can be dismissed, but I think making any effort - for or against someone (adult), based on anything other than the 'Content of their Character' is not only a waste of time, but counter productive as well.

10/03/2006 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

lazlong,
Well said, hit the target far better than I did.

10/03/2006 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Chip, hat tip to you too

10/03/2006 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Big Possum said...

lazlong

In opening my question with the words "how many", I did not intend to cast the matter as something to be kept score of. I do see, however, how it could be interpreted that way. The questions are meant only as catalysts to serious thought about whether or not our lives express our relatedness to a diverse humanity as a "family". For a lot of people growing up in sheltered "tribes", or tucked within the comfort zons of any tribe for that matter, such questions can prompt explorations that reveal a lot about mindsets, patterns, etc. that are blocks to spiritual growth and thus to the quality of our citizenship in the larger communities of which we are all integral parts. I concur with you about the "basis of similarity", about its importance to the opportunities for relationships among diverse people to flourish. Also, thank you for sharing your experience of serving on a submarine with so many different people. I wish I could point to something similar. My situation is one in which I have had to make a deliberate effort to reach out beyond the cocoon of my upbringing, so no matter how great my effort is, it is hard to create the experiences through which lasting bonds are formed. I do take pride in being able to connect with different others but that pride is mostly a measure of how far I have come in my own journey, not a "scorecard" thing.

Thanks for your challenge.


dilys,

The last words on the back cover of Bob's book refer to him as "specializing in treatment of psychological barriers to spiritual growth." To the extent that he is using this forum to collect information/anecdotes/inputs that support his evolving expertize, my sense is that this discussion is fair game.

10/03/2006 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Big Possum said...

Van

"At NO point did anything but personality, ability and dependability come into play."

The invisible lines, or lack thereof, that you have encountered have been very different than mine. Accordingly, I can see why you would not have much interest in or see much value in the points raised in my posts. If you do not have instances of running up against such lines or protecting tribal territory in your own experience of "being", however, then you will have difficulty recognizing the energies that are most in play in many of the world events that you assess in conversations here and on your own blog. While it would be nice if it were just so easy to say to everyone to ignore skin color and, as Dr. King espoused, treat others and create relationships out of considerations for "content of character", in most parts of the world, including the American South where I grew up, it is not that easy. This means that some people must engage in deliberate efforts to address the invisible lines, including deliberate efforts to connect with people beyond our own "tribes".

Take Care.

10/03/2006 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

And lest my last comment put me in to fine a light, on to a portion of Gagdad's post, rather than just each other’s comments.

We've all enjoyed the ability to gasp and be shocked that people use to have to ride on segregated buses, water fountains, treat people as property, or gas them because of their religion. Or to shake our heads at those who towed the party line in the USSR in order to keep their jobs and food.

From our vantage point, that is extremely easy to do, to shake our heads, mutter "tsk, tsk" and let the conversation move on, confident in our superiority - I found myself doing that at work yesterday, as a co-worker told of darker times in the south.

We in America feel at confident in our ability to sniff at the reticence of other times to stand up and say "That is Wrong!". Now I realize that there are still places here today where prejudice is a problem, but in most places, it is not a problem, or take particular guts to stand up and say "Down with Bigots!" or some such thing. We take pride in our ability to speak our minds, and can't imagine not doing so.

But do we deserve such self congratulations? What comments have you made concerning the superiority of Western Culture in the face of 'Columbus (Invasion) Day' at your kids school? Or about Environmental-Friendly stories denouncing greedy (white male) business people told in your kindergarten/grade school classes? Counselors speaking to your kids about why some kids make bad choices because of their under-privileged homes? Or that the great majority of sensible characters in stories and cartoons are minorities, and the whites are lazy, slow and need much help from the sensible minorities? When it becomes obvious that those traits are given to characters based on their race, shouldn't we be crying out that this is idiocy, and must stop?

I have made a couple comments, but mostly I've let it go by & deprogram my kids later at home. Why? It's easier, it's easier on the kids, and easier for me - I like to say that I let it slide so that my wife doesn't get upset at my saying something. Isn't that convenient.

Isn't this the very thing that the evil of previous ages grew out of and thrived on?

I don't have a problem speaking out in conversation, but in a public setting? I've done precious little.

If we think this PC stuff is nothing to compare to the evil of previous ages... maybe so, but I fear that we are... fooling ourselves, that we, I, am ducking the issue hoping that it will go away on it's own.

Dangerous, very dangerous indeed.

"the dream of ego, which is embedded in the wider dream of culture, eventually displaces our true self, and becomes a sort of second nature. "

That is so true. When we let a lie breed because it is easier to, that lie corrodes those other truths we supposedly hold dear. Those truths we do hold to become shields which we hide behind, and that is to let those truths, and our selves, fall.

Culture is not fooled, civilization is not fooled, history is not fooled, and those who wait for 'The Right TIme' to strike are not fooled.

War will come to grin over our bones - the more we seek to avoid it by avoiding the falsehood lurking behind our truths, the harsher and more devasting that War will be.

(Gagdad, I hope you don't mind my space eating with this)
The Gods of the Copybook Headings - Rudyard Kipling

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.

10/03/2006 07:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Ben USN (Ret) said...

I concur with Lazlong and Van.
The left is obsessed with race, color, MC, PC, sex, and diversity.
I get pissed off when someone says that we can't be color-blind.
It may be difficult for some, but it can be done.
You have to quit looking at what the left says to look at.
The left divides and conquers with short-sighted ideals, and it will lead to 1984 if we let them.
As Van said, it's strong character that counts, and that's what I look for.
You can say that my tribe is composed of seekers of Truth, believers in Justice, honorable, trustworthy, defenders of right,
humble yet Fortiter In Re, who Semper Fi.
They hold these truths to be self-evident.
My bond with strong character driven men and women is stronger than the foolishness of class, race, color, victim status, MCPC, diversity, or even blood, or any other divide that the left can nurture.
My tribe is a culture of truth by Truth, and is character-driven.

10/03/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Big Possum said...
" I can see why you would not have much interest in or see much value in the points raised in my posts. If you do not have instances of running up against such lines or protecting tribal territory in your own experience of "being","

I'm afraid I'm not a good enough writer to say this without sounding too swell for my own hat, or as if 'dissing' your comments. I don't intend to, and I'm fascinated seeing how others view life, have dealt with their lot in it, and try to improve it.

I'm not unfamiliar with what you are describing. My Dad was a stock broker, one of those people who aren't consciously or overly outgoing, but just enjoyed talking with people, and didn't mind asking questions that most would feel too foolish to ask. As a result he was successful - our income level was mainly upper middle class, but was always socializing with & bringing people from all walks of life home, or taking us to be with - Members of Parliament, Psychologists’, WWII Fighter Aces, Truck Drivers, Billionaires, Cops, Actors, Professors, CEO's, Chefs, Politicians and so on. I grew up with exposure to a lot of differing views, priorities, values and competitive natures.

Some of those people had a way about them that impressed me, and some didn't & I noticed that the only constant among all of their diverse descriptions, was that particular Sense about them - a manner, nothing to do with accents, nationalities, class, cash or resume' not their appearance or position that they had - but something about their manner that seemed to kind of quietly self-sustain themselves no matter their circumstances. That's what caught my eye as being valuable, and what I've been interested in most ever since.

I've learned some from that manner, applied it to what interested me & seemed of value, and discarded the rest of that seemed just appearances, but not for any smug notions of my being above it all, or rebelling - I really had no interest in rebelling against my Parents; they were good Parents, but most of what you described just didn't interest me. My Brother would understand and relate to most of what you've said and probably compete with you over the "Bad Ass" title. I grew up around it, I've been around it in the Band world and the Corp world, and felt the "Ah, would you like to join Buffy & I aht the Club this weekend? You ahn't a membah? hmm", and from the other end those who saw who my parents circulated with and assumed we were rich & I'd get the "Rich Boy!" attitude from them - both camps made attempts to draw me to their camp, but for some reason it just didn't stick, didn't impress me. Probably just too sold on the power of positive rudeness.

I've had a pretty good life, I've been on private jets & billionaires estates, and I've panhandled for chicken franks & had to live out of my Van, and now I'm married & support a family. But I have loads of empathy for those who find themselves trapped on either side of those lines. They are always trying to draw their lines around you, and it's a tricky business to not allow it to happen.

10/03/2006 09:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Ben USN (Ret) said...

As one of my best friends says:
"I'm not African I'm American! I'm tired of politicians and various groups telling me to get in touch with my ancestors culture, or to act/be a certain way.
Their culture sucks,
for the most part, and my American culture is much better.
They are trying to water down patriotism".
Be very careful about what cultures and diversity you embrace.

10/03/2006 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Gaude said...

Ben -
or as the late lamented Redd Foxx said: "I hear all those activists telling us to go home to Africa. Go home? You want to send me home, you send me to St. Louis!"

Van, Possum, et al
C.S. Lewis, in "The Four Loves" points out that friendship can't exist for its own sake. It must be based on something outside the participants: a shared interest in the Cubs, or bird-watching or monster trucks or feeding the poor.

Forming societal bonds just to be doing so is sort of doomed to failure. Communities exist to 'do' something - not just to 'be'.

At the moment, I have an intense short-term job costuming the ensemble of "Les Mis", our local high school's fall musical.(Note to self - next time, let's read the script to see just how many people that is, m'kay?)

This is much like Van's example of his band - you get the part based on your ability. (In fact, high school musicals are chosen in view of the available cast - not vice versa, seeing as how hundreds will not be showing up to audition.)

So, the cast turns out pretty color-blind: our Eponine is of Chinese extraction, our Fantine is Afro-American, but our Cosette is a tiny strawberry blonde. Actually, our greatest problem is that our Javert is 6'4", but Valjean is only about 5'7", which gives their scenes an interesting Mutt and Jeff quality. It'll all come out fine, in the suspension of disbelief of theater.

My point: they're not doing this for diversity's sake - they have a purpose beyond that.

Bill Whittle's "Tribes" would be a good supplementary read for today's topic.

10/04/2006 04:38:00 AM  
Blogger Big Possum said...

Van,

Re your last comment, I don't feel dissed at all. Actually, I really appreciate you sharing a description of your upbringing, of the myriad of people you were exposed to through your father. That exposure was a great gift. Also, your description really helps me see your perspective when you counter my observations. I "get" where you are coming from much better now. Thanks.

In many respects I suppose that what I'm in the process of doing is broadening my comfort zone and creating a new orbit that will afford me greater connectivity and relationship opportunities than are available in the orbit of my upbringing. This process has been the path along which I have experienced a great deal of my personal growth. Over time, by exposing my children to a lot of different people, I intend to give them the same gift that you received from your dad, but in the setting and circumstances I live in, this is something I have to make a deliberate effort to do right now.

10/04/2006 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger J. Peden said...

"As a brief aside, this is why I am never surprised when any politician, left or right, is involved in scandal or corruption. I expect it." Gagdad

Exactly. My first response to Foley's antics was a good sarcastic laugh. [Not that I am immune from embarrassing defects, myself. "Can I get me a witness..Can I get a witness?"]

Imo, the Faux Liberal tout of multiculturalism logically leads to monoculturalism, blank slates bouncing around off each other in the not-so-happy state of Hobbesian Nature. Or as Bo Diddley remarked, "Looks like your process took a recess".

Great post, Gagdad.

10/04/2006 07:57:00 AM  
Anonymous rockninthefreeworld said...

As a first time reader, I really enjoyed your post. PC conciousness, like so many other iconic extensions of the modern left, is nothing more than an exercise in semantics and self-delusion, in lieu of logic and abstract thinking. Thanks for sharing!

10/06/2006 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger Canker said...

As Van brought it up, can I point him to a version of this with suitable links?
http://canker-canker.blogspot.com/
2006/09/gods-of-copybook-headings.html
I admit that I am inordinately proud of it.
It's funny, but a lot of people seem to be quoting this poem at the moment. I suspect that it represents an idea whose time has come (again?)

10/07/2006 05:59:00 AM  

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