The Path of Peace and Liberty
"There is no path to peace.
"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is
The Non-Aggression Principle
This site is about a simple yet powerful idea called the
By the Light of Liberty..
"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light." - Plato
Advocates for peace and liberty often say that they have "taken the red pill". Borrowed from the movie The Matrix, the phrase encapsulates the idea of choosing to see the world as it actually is. Earlier generations would likely have made reference to The Wizard of Oz and "seeing behind the curtain" while even earlier generations may well have referenced Plato's Allegory of the Cave. In that story people are chained in darkness and can only discern shadows of the truth until freed to see in the full light of day.
As one unravels the meaning and implications of the
..We Will Heal Our Culture
"Violence is a disease. You don't cure a disease by spreading it to more people." - The Game of Thrones
Whether it be the war on terrorism, the war on drugs, or multiple wars against other countries, it is obvious that the State is addicted to violence.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that Western culture, and the United States in particular, has been gravely infected by
Because war thrives on
For those who are either new to the
Tales from the Trail
January 6: Charity
"Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance." - Francis of Assisi
An old man suckles at the breast of a young woman. How should we view this image? Is it a dirty picture? What does that even mean? Should we be squeamish or outraged with regard to the act it depicts, or can we charitably think of a situation where such an act would be appropriate?
The image shown is from a centuries-old painting by Johan Carl Loth. Completed in the second half of the 17th century, the title of the work is "Caritas Romana", or "Roman Charity". The painting portrays a scene from a popular story that goes back millenia, all the way back to ancient Rome.
The story is about an elder man named Cimon who is imprisoned for illegally burying his father. Sentenced to death by starvation, his daughter Pero visits him in prison and secretly feeds her father from her bosom. Eventually spotted by a guard, the sentry is moved to tears by the charitable act. In the end, both the father and daughter are freed.
Generations ago the deed depicted in the painting was considered to be an excellent example of familial piety and a noble act of charity. The scene has been depicted numerous times in classical European art. The story likely originates from an even older version featuring an elderly mother as the prisoner.
The presumption of innocence
There is a concept in philosophy called
In our current time there seems to be a rising number of people primed to be offended, who mistakenly believe that the smallest verbal mis-queues are grounds for punishment. This is not a new phenomenon but one that seems to be intensifying.
Perhaps this is because we are losing our connections to each other. Part of this may be technological. Studies have shown that feelings of isolation and depression increase with time spent on social media. Part of it may be educational. The teaching and promotion of victimhood seems to be increasing in intensity as students are taught to see oppression from everything but the State. It is certainly political. The ruling class loves it when the public is distracted by arguments over microaggressions as the State wages war against people at home and overseas.
Viewing others in a positive light
Are these people in need because of misfortune, or are they there as a natural consequence of their own negative actions?
The truth is that no one can fully know the journey that another has traveled.
One characteristic of charity is kindness in judging others. The Apostle Paul said it well:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
It is said that charity begins at home. This is probably true because all charity must begin with a connection. It can be an empathetic connection like the emotional pull of family and friends or a logical connection based on an understanding of the benefits of cooperation and mutual aid. When connections are very strong giving is not a sacrifice but a necessity. Truly, with the closest connections it can feel like one's own heart will break if one cannot give generously and help others when they are in need.
The puritanical willingness to use the violence of the State to enforce one's own view of morality has long existed in the U.S., to the misfortune of many. More information on this phenomenon can be found in the chapter Losing the Way in our free online book Beginner's Guide to Peace.
* Principle of Charity - Definition is from the book "The Coddling of the American Mind" by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.
Caritas Romana (Roman Charity). Painting by Johan Carl Loth (1632-1698). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
A Portrait of a Tyrolean Girl. Painting by Knaus Ludwig (1874). Public domain image downloaded from ClassicArtPaintings.com.
Charity. A woman with three children huddled in front of the church of the Madeleine in Paris. Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1865). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Christmas: Inns and Outs
"Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." - Jesus of Nazareth.
One of the most popular parables of the New Testament is the tale of the
In the parable, Jesus tells the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who is robbed and left for dead. Two members of the priestly class see the suffering man but do nothing to help, not wishing to become "ritually impure". Eventually a Samaritan comes upon the man and, with a compassionate heart, binds the man's wounds, transports him to an inn and provides payment for his care. Through his actions the Samaritan shows that he is the one who is truly doing the work of God.
The origins of kindness
All that we are, this very life we have, flows from an extended family that reaches deep into the distant past. We all come into this life through the efforts of our parents, and they by their parents, and their parents' parents, helped through the ages by supportive brothers and sisters, caring aunts and uncles, and wise elder relatives.
Our family is our earliest connection to others. These are our kin, the very origin of kindness, both the word and the act. From our family we learn to look beyond ourselves, to share, to care and to consider the needs of others.
Trace any family tree back several generations and you quickly find connections to dozens, hundreds, and eventually unknown thousands of other families. We are truly one human family, all linked together and dependent on one another, and increasingly so.
Poets, prophets and sages through the ages have commented on the connections among all peoples and even among all things. John Donne expressed this idea beautifully in the following poem:
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,
As well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were.
Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind;
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Healing the divisions
Politicians rule by dividing. Wise men heal by uniting.
We live in a world artificially divided into us versus them. Unnecessary destruction, cruelty and death are tragedies whether they happen in foreign lands or in one's own home. Instead of division, let us be guided by the
The Good Samaritan. Detail from a painting by Balthasar van Cortbemde (1647). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Fifty-fifty. Photo by Herbert E. French (1922). Public domain photo downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Cosmic connections. Top left image shows distribution of galaxies, bottom right shows neurons. Image of galaxies is from the Max Planck Society's Supercomputing Center in Garching, Germany. Image of neurons is from Paul De Koninck, Cervo Brain Research Center. Images compined and edited by Andrew Lesko.
August 15-16-17: Lessons from Woodstock
"Three days of Peace and Music." - From a 1969 promotional poster for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.
The Woodstock Nation
That was quite a party they had back there in '69. Some 400,000 young people made it to the
The actual event took place some 60 miles southwest of the town of Woodstock, an artist colony that was home to Bob Dylan, Richie Havens and a number of other musicians at the time. The concert promoters had originally hoped to have the festival at a site close to Woodstock but politicians intervened and the promoters had to scramble to find another location.
From the reports I have read it was a remarkable event, the largest gathering of youth for peaceful purposes in the history of humanity up to that time. For many it was a life changing experience, not only for those in attendance but for those there in spirit.
I was but a small tyke at the time, not quite seven, so it was a number of years after that I even knew anything about the event. Over the years, having watched the concert footage, listened to the music and read numerous interviews from those who were there and those that made it happen, I myself have drawn a number of useful lessons from the "gathering of the tribes".
Peace is possible
While the documentary of the festival features a number of beautiful young women in various styles and states of dress, photos show that the audience was predominantly male, and the Vietnam War was undoubtedly on the minds of most of those men. The Vietnam War was running full throttle and, while it was not known at the time, the year 1969 would mark the peak of U.S. troop levels in Vietnam. Over half a million men were stationed there, with over a third of the U.S. troops in Vietnam being there non-voluntarily as draftees.
In contrast to southeast Asia, where young men were being forced to inflict horrific violence,
..but politicians often prefer war
Unfortunately, despite its relatively benign nature, the ever paranoid Nixon demonized the use of cannabis in the years following the festival. Associating it with the antiwar movement, Nixon dramatically increased the criminal penalties for its use, igniting a war on drugs that would escalate through the Reagan and Clinton administrations to the point that the U.S. would eventually have the highest incarceration rate in the world. By 2013, with less then 5% of the world's people, the United States had 22% of the world's prisoners.
Politics divides, music can unite
Prior to the festival, many people had feared, or had been encouraged to fear, that the violence that had occurred the previous year at the Democratic Party convention in Chicago would reignite amidst such a large gathering. What was missed at the time was a full understanding of the divisive nature of politics and
During the campaign leading up to the 1968 presidential election, candidates Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy had both strongly spoken out against the Vietnam War. Tragically, in the midst of his rising popularity and on the very eve of his primary victory in California, RFK was silenced by a gunman. Incredibly, although the overwhelming majority of Democratic Party voters had voted for an antiwar candidate, at the convention in Chicago it became clear that the apparatchiks of the Not-So-Democratic Party were going to choose the pro war Humphrey, demoralizing the antiwar community and escalating tensions already heighten by the assassinations of RFK and Martin Luther King Jr. the previous year.
While the festival received overwhelmingly positive reviews regarding its peaceful nature afterwards, the organizers had to deal with an unexpected threat before the concert even began.
The Yippies (Youth International Party) were an anarchistic political group that was largely focused on opposing the Vietnam War and decriminalizing cannabis and other drugs. They often used street theater and pranks to draw attention to their cause. While generally nonviolent and having no official hierarchy of leadership, one of its founders, Abbie Hoffman, seemed inordinately attracted to the spotlight. Drawn into the political circus that was the Democratic convention the year before, Hoffman and seven others had been arrested and charged with inciting a riot, a riot which many believed was actually initiated by the police.
While awaiting his trial prior to the festival, Hoffman made a spectacularly ham-fisted attempt to insert himself into the festivities. Joel Rosenman, one of the organizers of the fair, describes what went down:
"I went to see Abbie on his request-an invitation one doesn't refuse. I said, 'Look Abbie, I know you'd like to make a kind of big presentation at Woodstock, but it isn't that kind of a show, it's rock 'n' roll and it's really a weekend of peace and music,' and he said, 'I don't give a damn about that, you guys write a big check to my organization, and we're cool.' 'What are you talkin' about?' 'Here's what I'm talkin' about-$10,000.'"
To ward off disruption the organizers cut the check. I find this episode particularly appalling as I am actually very sympathetic to much of what the Yippies tried to do. By embracing the growing mass media and using art and street theater, the Yippies had attempted to bridge the gap between the flower children, perceived by many as self centered and hedonistic, with the hard core antiwar and anti-government movements.
Unfortunately the Ring of Power, in this case attention and fame, proved too difficult for Mr. Hoffman to resist. Apparently not content with the coerced payoff, Hoffman further disgraced himself by jumping onto the stage during The Who's set to harangue the audience for enjoying the festival while a friend of his was in jail for two joints of weed. Displeased by the interruption, Pete Townsend, who later expressed his sympathy for Hoffman's cause, knocked the usurper off the stage for violating, in Townsend's words, "the sanctity of the stage".
The world is not black and white
While the first Woodstock festival has been called "a gathering of the tribes", some critics over the years have complained that the audience was overwhelmingly white, insinuating that racism was somehow at play. This is a ridiculous notion. While the audience was generally light in complexion, that largely reflected the ethnicity of those in the immediate and surrounding areas. Additionally, the musicians they had come to see and hear were a diverse lot representing a number of different musical styles and heritages. The music portion of the fair was bookended by acoustic guitarist Richie Havens and electric guitar marvel Jimi Hendrix, with stellar performances from Sly and the Family Stone and Carlos Santana. The first day of the concert featured classical Indian music by Ravi Shanker, interspersed among a number of folk acts such as Joan Baez whose husband had recently been jailed for resisting the draft.
In contrast to that time, the recent outrage over cultural appropriation is puzzling. Musicians, painters, writers and other artists have long borrowed bits and pieces from numerous cultures. In the 1960's George Harrison became intrigued by a musical instrument, the sitar, while on the set of the movie "Help" and ultimately introduced millions of Beatles fans to Indian music. Likewise members of the Rolling Stones, the Animals and numerous other bands in the U.K. were huge fans of African American blues music and integrated elements of that music into their style of play. This in turn generated a greater audience for a number of older blues players in the United States.
Additionally, like music, science and technology progresses from new discoveries and inventions from people all over the world. The Apollo moon landing that had taken place just weeks before the Woodstock festival had benefited greatly from contributions by German and other European scientists. To criticize someone for embracing positive elements of another culture seems unnecessarily belligerent, intentionally provocative and contrary to a spirit of peace and brotherhood.
The producers of the show had hoped that more than a hundred thousand people would show up for the festival but told the locals they only expected 50,000. In the end more than a half million people either made it to the site or got stuck in traffic trying to get there. Needless to say, food, water, sanitation and other services were quickly overwhelmed. Torrential rains added to the discomfort.
"Be Prepared" is the Boy Scout motto. While I was never a fan of the uniforms and other paramilitary elements of the organization during the years I was a member, there were a number of useful skills and values that I either learned or had reinforced by that group. Being self-sufficient was one of those skills, and it is something that can be a benefit not just to oneself but to others as well. Those that arrived early with tents, sleeping bags and supplies likely faired far better then later arrivals. Not only were they better prepared for the rain, they were in a much better position to help others in need, to share a blanket and a meal.
No, I don't mean join the military. In fact, I prefer you not do that. What I am talking about is extending a hand to help others in need, whether they be your neighbors or cold hungry strangers.
During the course of the festival there were numerous examples of people pitching in to help. In an interfaith effort a number of ladies from the Jewish Community Center of Monticello joined together to pay for and assemble 30,000 sandwiches which were then distributed by the Sisters of the Convent of St. Thomas. Meanwhile members of the Hog Farm commune, relying on numerous volunteers and funds from the concert promoters, did their best to provide "breakfast in bed for 400,000". In addition to staffing the kitchen and distributing food, other volunteers helped to staff the medical tents, providing basic first aid and calming those tripping for the first time.
I should make a distinction at this point between volunteering as a charitable act and
There is no free lunch
While many of the multitude received free food, medical attention and other services, it still had to be paid for. This was done through the generous donations of labor by thousands of volunteers and by financial contributions from hundreds of supportive townspeople. Additionally, while hundreds of thousands of concert goers were pleased when the promoters declared it a free concert, John Roberts, the chief financial backer of the festival, found himself $1.5 million in debt at the end of the festivities. In addition to all of the unexpected costs and the lost revenue from not charging for tickets, the backers faced dozens of lawsuits from surrounding dairy farms for the interruption to their milking and delivery schedules. In the end, although it took eleven years, Mr. Roberts made sure that all debts were paid in full.
I love Gravy, as long as it is Wavy
"We must be in heaven man! - Wavy Gravy at the Woodstock festival
While Abbie Hoffman had seized the microphone at center stage to berate the audience, co-emcee Wavy Gravy, member of the Hog Farm and the "Please Force", embodied the spirit of the festival and projected a feeling of harmony, cooperation and happiness. He made people understand that we are all in this together, and that we can all benefit by helping each other out. While preparation is certainly important, being able to appreciate and enjoy the present, no matter what the conditions, is vital to living fully. We should always make now the best possible now.
An excellent book on the trials and tribulation of the medical staff charged with keeping 400,000 people healthy can be found in the book Woodstock '69: Three Days of Peace, Music, and Medical Care.
The book Woodstock: Three Days that Rocked the World by Mike Evans and Paul Kingsury, provides a great summary and set lists for each of the artists that performed at the festival along with historical context and a discussion of the impact of the festival on later events.
Quote from Joel Rosenman, page 139 of the book Woodstock: Three Days that Rocked the World by Mike Evans and Paul Kingsury, forward by Martin Scorsese.
Woodstock promotional poster at the Museum at Bethel Woods, photographed by Andrew Lesko
The crowd at Woodstock. Photo by Derek Redmond and Paul Campbell, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
"US Justice" - image by Andrew Lesko.
1960's era buttons on display at the Museum at Bethel Woods, photographed by Andrew Lesko.
Chicago Democratic Convention riot, 1968. Original source unknown.
Yippie! button.Photo by victorgrigas, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
The Who. Photograph by Heinrich Klaffs. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution- ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Ring of Power. Composition by Andrew Lesko.
Psychedelic bus display at the Museum at Bethel Woods, photographed by Andrew Lesko
B.B. King. Public domain photo of B.B. King in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1972. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Earth from Apollo 11. Public domain photo. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Sharing a blanket. Public domain photo by Mark Goff, August 15 1969. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Voluntaryist banner. Public domain image by Marpescz. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Woodstock tickets. Public domain image anonymous. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Image of Wavy Gravy speaking at the Woodstock festival, 1969.
August 6-9: Witnessing
“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.” - Elie Wiesel
The denial of history
Near the end of
It seems cruelly ironic to collectively pass guilt on all the German people for
In the end we do not know what responsibility any individual townsperson had in the incarceration of thousands of lives and the incineration of many thousands more. As a group, however, they did have have a singular responsibility in the aftermath. Having laid eyes on
A history of denial
August 6 marks the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb. On that date in 1945, within a matter of seconds,
Throughout the war the United States government was quick to publicize German and Japanese atrocities but worked overtime to hide its own barbarism. Shortly after assuming the role of Viceroy of Japan, General McAuthor imposed total censorship on journalists wishing to report the aftermath of the atomic bombs, either confiscating or destroying nearly all photographic evidence taken at the two sites. We now know that, by a single act,
While we have long been told that the use of nuclear weapons was necessary to end the war, a number of high ranking officers, including General Eisenhower and Admirals Halsey and Leahy, thought that they were not needed. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of allied forces in Europe, had in fact advised the Truman administration against using the new weapon.
Unfortunately, here in the United States we continue to live under a veil of ignorance, both with regard to World War II and to the seven or more current wars that the U.S. is either leading or participating in. In this hyper-connected world that provides billions with the access to instant information, there seems to be little knowledge in this country of the damage and suffering caused by decades of war and political and economic interference by the U.S. government.
Worth the price?
In 1991, after a massive 42 day bombing campaign that resulted in the death of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, in part due to the targeting of water treatment plants, George H.W. Bush proudly proclaimed that the U.S. had
The cost of ignorance
Ignorance is not bliss.
Buchenwald survivors, including Elie Wiesel, quoted above. Instead of piles of bodies, I choose this picture of the survivors of the Buchenwald death camp to illustrate not just the horrors of the State but also the dignity and strength of the human spirit. Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Nuclear cloud over Nagasaki. Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons, with modifications.
Is the price worth it? Screen capture of Iraqi victims of U.S. economic sanctions, from Leslie Stahl interview of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on the 60 Minutes news program, May 12, 1996. The dialog is as follows - Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it."
July 25: Bodhisattvas
“We are the authors of our own destiny; and being the authors, we are ultimately, perhaps frighteningly, free.” - Śāntideva
Waking up to the NAP
I recall first learning about
I found both the concept and the statues beautiful. I do not completely understand
Rather than living in ignorance and fear, we libertarians embrace knowledge and compassion.
Guanyin-Bodhisattva: Baltimore Museum of Art; Padmasambhava, Demon-Taming Teacher: Freer Museum, Washington D.C. Photos by Andrew Lesko, with modifications.
May 28: Memorial Day - Remembering and Forgetting
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
I have visited the
Of course, like most memorials, the site tells only part of the story. While it provides a powerful memorial to the U.S. veterans that lost their lives, they were but a small fraction of the total deaths caused by that atrocity. The toll of Vietnamese fatalities, both military and civilian, was far greater and would require another 20, 30 or even 40 more trenches to commemorate. Using conservative estimates we find that over 440,000 Vietnamese servicemen died on both sides of that conflagration along with
In addition to the costs in human lives there were the financial costs. At least
As strongly as
Photos of soldiers at the entrance the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Women's Memorial, and names of deceased U.S. Vietnam war vets by Andrew Lesko, with modifications.
May 13: Motherhood - Love, Life and Loss
"In times of peace the young bury the old. In times of war the old bury the young." - From Herodotus*
I came of age during
During the depths of that senseless war my mother discovered that she had Multiple Sclerosis. It hit her young and it hit her hard. Within days of her 37th birthday, she was gone.
The original quote from Herodotus, referenced above, is "In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons". War in modern times does not limit itself to destroying the lives of brave young men, however.
Disease and Destruction
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is
In the United States today we have the equivalent of a broken immune system.
It seems that suffering can either make you more sensitive to pain or make you more callous. The sorrow I experienced and shared with my father and brother certainly made me more aware of the pain of others. That awareness, along with a lifetime’s investigation into
Mom, photographed by my dad in 1967; Vietnam refugees (1963) - Photo provided to Wikimedia Commons by the German Federal Archive and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.
April 4, 2018: A Vision for Peace
This does not need to be. There are millions of good Christians in the world, perhaps even hundreds of millions, who seek to live the words of Jesus.
With regards to war, I have no doubt the Christians will play an important and perhaps even decisive role in ending that plague as well. As with abolition, it will no doubt require sustained and unyielding effort.
A Time for Action
The time has come to end the wars, and to end them now. On this there can be no compromise. Just as "Who will pick the cotton?" was not a valid argument to support slavery, "How can we protect ourselves without military interventions?" is not a rational argument to support US military involvement in at least
Ending the wars will require strength. Unfortunately there is weakness within the Christian community.
Jesus said that one cannot serve two masters. Unfortunately it seems that many churches have forgotten this lesson,
It is time to recognize that the State is not our master. It is time for Christians and secularists, Jews and Gentiles, to break free of the State and join together to support peace, liberty and the end of all wars. We must stop being seen as willing participants or even promoters of the State's wars of death and destruction. I believe this is something we can and must agree on.
NOTE: A more detailed discussion of these topics can be found in the Beginner's Guide to Peace referenced at the top of this page. An explanation of how the State hijacks religion can be found in the chapter called Losing the Way while a discussion of how to repair the damage to our culture can be found at Going Off Road.
Detail from "Sermon on the Mount" by Carl Bloch, c. 1877; Roman coins c. 225-212 BC, provided by Classical Numismatic Group and used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.
March 30, 2018: Good Friday?
Note: This is a reprise of an article written last year. Not much has changed.. – A.L.
A ritualized killing that is still recalled after many centuries, it was a
Has much changed in the past two millennia? It certainly seems today that
Yet, as powerful as it is, the Empire is cracking.
February 8, 2018: A Matter of Perspective
One beautiful example is Raphael's
In contrast to that time,
The people in power, in turn, seem incapable of seeing beyond a single dimension. Lacking any depth of understanding regarding
Finally there are the citizens. Often misinformed but nonetheless willing participants in the political process, they flail back and forth within the narrow confines of left and right, seemingly distracted by the smallest of issues and unable to see the bigger picture. Blocked in their desire for peace and prosperity by forces they cannot see, they fixate on small obstacles but perceive them as an insurmountable barriers. Lacking perspective, they are unable to see alternate paths forward.
As long as people are locked into the false dichotomy of left and right, they will forever be unable to see the fuller, richer reality.
"School of Athens" by Raphael, c. 1509-1511; "Where Did We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" by Paul Gauguin, c. 1897; "Return of the Bucentoro to the Molo on Ascension Day" by Canaletto, c. 1733-4; "The Nolan Chart", from a diagram created by David Nolan in 1969.
November 16, 2017: Failure to Communicate
A recent survey of Americans revealed that 69% would skip holiday gift giving if their friends and family would agree. Most of those surveyed opined that they would have more time with loved ones if they weren’t so busy shopping.
To quote the movie Cool Hand Luke, “What we got here is failure to communicate.” Over two thirds of Americans are doing something they do not want to do yet they could easily remedy it by openly talking to those they are closest with. What is the cause of this communication breakdown? Is it possible that there are other things that people are not talking about, but should?
It has become painfully obvious that many in Hollywood knew of the sexual predations of producers and others with power but remained silent for years. Perhaps some of the victims and witnesses saw what happened to Sinead O’Connor. In the early 90’s the young singer tried to kick start a conversation about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church through a song and strong symbolic gesture but was instead harassed mercilessly by those who were either ignorant of the facts or wished not to know.
As serious as these past and current sexual abuse accusations are, there are even more disturbing things afoot. In what is perhaps the most stunning silence of our modern times, there has been a near total absence of discussion regarding the out of control militarization of American culture and its brutal effects on nations across the globe. From Bush to Clinton to Bush Jr and Obama, this moral outrage has remained largely unspoken, and perhaps unknown, by the majority of Americans as the number of wars has continued to grow, costing trillions of dollars and inflicting untold misery.
In this holiday time, in the spirit of those speaking out against sexual aggression, we call on all good people to voice their opposition now to the endless wars abroad and the coinciding attacks against personal freedom at home.
We must work together to be heard. Politicians are masters at silencing the peaceful through evasion, intimidation and fear. They are practiced deflectors, able to distract people with heated discussions of flag burning and arguments over whether to stand for a war anthem. They are merciless against any that would blow the whistle. It is unfortunate that the compliant mainstream media continues to provide them cover, finding it much easier to sell ads by not opposing the State. Ratings do go up, after all, at the start of each big new war while old wars continue to smolder and destroy, largely without notice.
The time for fearlessness is now. We have long been told to never let down our guard yet failed to notice our gradual enslavement to the State. Let’s be brave and be willing to stand together now and endure whatever repercussions come from quickly exiting these wars.
Let’s also be honest. The United States did not end when it withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, and the world will not come to an end when the US inevitably withdraws from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. This is not isolationism. We do not need to withdraw from the world but can instead, by withdrawing from militarism, embrace it through the promotion of travel, trade and shared good will.
"Freedom from Want" by Norman Rockwell, Sinead O'Connor on "Saturday Night Live", October 3, 1992.
November 12, 2017: Can we agree on this?
Look, we all want Peace, right?
Why, then, don’t we have it?
Perhaps we are afraid of appearing foolish to want it so much..
Perhaps we are afraid of being perceived as naïve children or uninhibited hippies from the sixties..
The truth is that Peace is a thing to be desired by mature adults as well as children and dreamers. We don’t necessarily need to be covered with Peace signs or wear flowers in our hair to show how much we want it. We just need to live our lives as people who have fully embraced it.
One thing we can surely do is to stop participating in the partisan bickering. We need to escape the deadlock of the two-party duopoly that has tried to silence diverse voices, from Ralph Nader to Ron Paul, that challenge the system and debunk the false narratives. We need to stop pretending there is a real choice between the Democrats and Republicans. We need to recognize that they are dividing us, pitting clan against tribe, city against country, women against men and men against women.
What we need to do instead is to embrace those things that unite us, and surely one of these must be the desire for Peace. Over the course of the coming weeks, I will be reaching out to both natural and unexpected allies, revealing the common elements that unite us through our opposition to war and embrace of the
November 2, 2017: Fragile Democracy
Democracy must be a delicate thing to be so easily damaged by the mere possibly of fake news from foreigners. The mainstream media is all in a tither over the possibility of Russian interference in U.S. elections. As usual I suspect they are probably missing the real story. Let’s take a look for ourselves at some of the electronic ads “the Russians” reportedly paid to promote during the last election cycle.
Electronic Ad #1
Other than a small grammatical error, what is wrong with this ad? It is a fact, after all, that guns are used as deterrents from crime tens of thousands of times each year in the United States alone. And it is no secret that many in the Democratic party are quite open about their desire to increase gun control. Considering these facts, I think it is clear that the people attracted to this ad would not likely have been supporters of Hilary Clinton.
By the way, I think I should start putting quotes around the “Democratic” party brand to emphasize the irony of the name, especially considering how the DNC short circuited the democratic process internally to bend the election towards HRC in the last primary.
Electronic Ad #2
Is this ad considered dangerous because it is factually inaccurate?
I find it hard to believe that Hilary Rodham Clinton only had a 69% disapproval rating among veterans during the last election cycle. I would have thought it was much higher than that, considering how she contributed heavily towards getting U.S. troops involved in new wars, this time with the Libyan and Syrian peoples. HRC also had a bad reputation among veterans for minimizing issues being reported by injured vets and their families at US VA hospitals. I doubt the people who identified with this ad would need much reminding to not vote for Hillary.
With regards to the picture in the ad, it seems odd that Social Justice Warriors, among HRC’s biggest supporters, seem more concerned with perceived social slights to a rotating selection of victim groups within the U.S. than with the wholesale assault and destruction of families, tribes and entire nations across Asia and Africa caused by a militarized U.S. foreign policy, one that HRC seemed quite comfortable with.
Electronic Ad #3
Was Bernie Sander’s misquoted? If not, what is the “problem” with this ad?
There is certainly plenty of published evidence of “pay to play” deals and the use of Clinton Foundation funds to help pay for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.
Perhaps this ad was produced to remind Bernie Sanders supporters of what was done to their candidate by the HRC dominated “Democratic” Party during the 2016 primaries.
Were these and other ads enough to tip the balance towards Trump? Was the will of the people denied by interference from the Russians? Did any of this have any measurable effect at all on the last U.S. election?
The Russians certainly didn’t interfere with my "democratic rights". I was appalled by both major candidates, and finding no anti-war candidates among the other parties who were also committed to economic and social freedom, I decided to once again stay home on election day.
April 1, 2017: Good News or Bad?
~ Were the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election good news or bad news for lovers of peace and liberty?
When the 2016 US presidential election results were finally revealed there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Some less experienced survivors of the election process decried the results as the “worst thing ever”, conveniently ignoring two world wars, the bubonic plague and other minor occurrences.
The youth, of course, can be forgiven for their tendency towards hyperbole. Wiser, more traveled folk, however, must observe these things with
There was once an old Chinese farmer who had the apparent misfortune of having his best stallion run off. His neighbor came over to express his regrets, but the farmer just said, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.” The next day the stallion returned bringing with him three wild mares. The neighbor rushed back to celebrate with the farmer, but the old farmer simply said, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.” The following day, the farmer’s son fell from one of the wild mares while trying to break her in and broke his arm and injured his leg. The neighbor came by to check on the son and give his condolences, but the old farmer just said, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.” The next day the army came to the farm to conscript the farmer’s son for the war, but found him invalid and left him with his father. The neighbor thought to himself, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.”
So was the election of Donald Trump good or bad? For someone with a libertarian perspective, the past election cycle was just another repetition of an endless process where the most vile and power-hungry gnaw their way to the top. There was certainly no peace and liberty candidate amongst the two major parties, with both the Republican and the Democratic nominees trying to outdo each other with their blatant militarism. At best, Trump was perhaps 4% less belligerent with respect to foreign policy, offering some skepticism of the Iraq war and making some overtures towards improving relations with Russia.
The Green party candidate at least got points for proposing a position for Edward Snowden in her cabinet. Unfortunately, her economic proposals were the typical socialist nostrums that have proved a failure in countries throughout Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment, though, was the Libertarian party candidate. The candidate and his running mate may very well have confused and turned off perspective libertarians for a generation. With a seeming disregard or misunderstanding of property rights, their proposals, other than the legalization of marijuana, had seemingly little connection to the
Was the election of Donald Trump good or bad?
If more people have awoken to the enormity of state power and its ability to disrupt the lives of people throughout the world, it may be a good thing. If more of us are willing to push back, reclaiming the right of all people to liberty and peace, it may be an even better thing. And if more people can see past the artificial divisions created by partisan politics and unite to press for both a containment of and rapid halt to the spreading flames of war, it may be the best news of all.
War is threatening to become pandemic across several large regions of the globe and there are signs that we are on the verge of a world wide epidemic. Careful planning and extreme caution are advised.
The war disease continues to shorten the lives of hundreds of thousands each year, both directly and through destruction of basic social services.
Please check back for additional information.