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 "
To embrace the
It is hoped that, by exposing and opposing
..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 the 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
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 before I knew much about the event. Over the years, having watched and heard the concert footage and music and having 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 tribulations 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.
"Never underestimate the power of bad ideas. They must be refuted again and again" - Lew Rockwell.
Ants, members of one of the most wildly successful families of animals ever to inhabit the planet, are remarkably humble creatures. Normally staying close to the ground, when not borrowing under it, their typical behavior is to be as inconspicuous as possible. It is in their best interest to remain hidden, and that is usually what they do.
Occasionally, though, something very strange occurs. Sometimes carpenter ants get hijacked by a parasite and, rather than staying close to the ground, they instead act like zombies. With their brains surrounded and controlled by an alien invader they climb to the top of the nearest plant and clasp to the bottom of a high-up leaf with a deathlike grip. Exposing themselves to the world, the ants soon find their typically short lives cut even shorter as their bodies are liquidated and consumed by the parasite.
Amazingly, the parasite causing this behavioral change is a deceptively simple-looking life form known as the "zombie-ant fungus", a member of an ancient kingdom of organisms that are neither plant nor animal. By controlling the ant's brain and muscles, the fungus drives the ant from the safety of the ground to a height more conducive to the distribution of fungal spores. Having reached its desired destination, the invader then feeds on the ant's body, growing the spores that will propagate its own genetic code at the cost of the ant's life.
Losing Their Minds
Tragically, our culture has also been hijacked by a lethal and invisible killer, and I am not talking about the coronavirus. Like the parasitic fungus that plagues the poor carpenter ant, the destructive force infecting our society is also deceptively simple in appearance yet is driving human behavior in an utterly destructive direction.
The parasite that has infected human society is not an organism in the typical sense but is instead an idea, a seemingly benign but ultimately destructive idea. It is an idea that has been around for centuries, one that has infected many cultures and has been called by many names. Often it is referred to as
Very Bad Endings
This idea has been used to excuse all nature of evil, from experiments on unsuspecting citizens to the caging and killing of humans for the expression of an unpopular idea. Unknown thousands of captives, without trial or counsel, have been tortured in American run black-op sites across the globe and millions of citizens in the U.S. alone have been imprisoned for the possession and distribution of plants and compounds used by humans for millennia. The necessary evil argument has been used to justify the starvation of hundreds of thousands of children and the invasion and destruction of dozens of countries and cultures. The idea that
As has been shown by history, if you make the "end" grand enough, whether it be a promised paradise in heaven or a heaven on earth,
All actions have consequences, and the means one chooses creates the ends. To suggest that war is the path to peace or that the torture of human beings is the road to knowledge is to torture the meaning of words and to make war on the English language. A careful study of history shows that the promised ends rarely are what were promoted and the means are often much more costly and destructive then described. In the end, evil is not necessary and the ends rarely, if ever, justify the means, particularly when practiced by the State. It is time to rid our minds, and our culture, of this truly terrible and destructive idea.
Those interested in a scientific explanation of how a fungus can turn an ant into a zombie can find an excellent research article at the Journal of Experimental Biology. Those interested in a literary discription of how power can turn humans into zombies should read the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. Nonfictional examples can be found in nearly any history book.
Carpenter Ant. Photo by Judy Gallagher, April 19, 2015. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Zombies. Photo by Joel Friesen. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Hitler Youth. Berlin, Germany, May 1, 1933. Photo by unknown photographer. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Like our modern era, the 1960s was a time of great change and turmoil. It was also a very idealistic time, and if one were to choose three words that embodied that idealism they would likely be
In contemporary times
When I was 16 I thought a lot about love. A big fan of The Beatles, I really embraced their positivity. "I love you, yeah, yeah, yeah" and "I want to hold your hand" were hooks that had captured me when I was 12, and as I grew older I began to exam the decade from which they arose. Tracing the Beatles' history and then the history of other musicians, I learned about the
Unfortunately much of the rest of that turbulent decade is more remembered for its violence and rage, in the U.S. and across the globe. Without a doubt, in the midst of the riotous violence at home and the
What do we really mean by love, though? It certainly seems that love has something to do with a strong attraction or affinity for something, or someone. We talk about loving a song, loving our mates, and loving our brothers. Christians will tell you that
The most primal type of love considered by the Greeks is
Eros certainly commands a lot of attention from most sixteen-year-olds, but it is not the only type of love experienced by youth. Brotherly love, or
Parental love can be a powerfully strong form of love. On the surface the parent\child bond may seem to be a particularly imbalanced type of relationship, but those who have been parents know otherwise, for the power that a child can have over a parent is beyond description.
Indeed, the depth to which parents are willing to sacrifice for the children can be breathtaking and profound, and it may very well be that demonstrations of this inspired the ancient Greeks to define yet another type of love, that of
Agape was considered by the Greeks to be the highest form of love. It is a powerful and unwavering attraction to the good, the divine, the transcendent. It is a state in which the very self may seem to disappear. It is a love beyond which all words transpire. It is love without desire.
As can be seen,
What is the source of this destruction? What is the force that would destroy the very foundations of love? What is this power that seeks to divide us, that pits man against woman, child against parent, brother against brother? It is not hard to discover, for those that have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Over the centuries it has become clear that only the State has the coercive power necessary to weaken and destroy the natural bonds of family and friends.
In the U.S. it was the State, in its various manifestations of federal and local power, that passed and enforced the racist laws that mandated segregation in government offices and places of commerce.
In the U.S. and other countries it was the State that passed laws prohibiting marriage between members of different ethnic and ancestral groups.
In modern times it is the State that destroys the charitable impulse, muting our natural empathy through fear mongering, destroying our natural desire to cooperate through trade barriers and tariffs.
And it is the State that starts and wages the wars that destroy homes, demolish families and create countless widows, orphans and refugees.
It should be obvious that
A more detailed look at the true nature of the State can be found in the chapter Treacherous Roads.
The Ecstasy of Saint Francis of Assisi. Public domain image of an original painting by El Greco circa 1580. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
The Kiss. Public domain image of a sculpture by Auguste Rodin circa 1882. Downloaded from Musée Rodin, Paris, web site.
"Brothers on the Beach", from a photograph by Andrew Lesko.
Domestic Happiness. Public domain image of a painting by Lilly Martin Spencer, circa 1849. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
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. Composition by Andrew Lesko.
“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.
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 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.
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.
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.
"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:
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.
"Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality." - Edgar Allan Poe
The penultimate episode of the Game of Thrones left millions of viewers horrified. They witnessed the senseless and utter destruction of a beautiful city occupied by hundreds of thousands of civilians. The Queen, it seems, had lost her mind in
As much of any fantasy movie or series can, the Game of Thrones revealed a historic reality often ignored. That reality is that civilians are not just the "collateral damage" of brutal wars but are very often the targets.
The included picture shows what was left of the German city of Dresden after a massive firebombing by Allied forces. In a series of four raids, from February 13 to the 15th, 1945, the "good guys" carpeted the city with bombs and incendiary devices. They did so with the intent of utterly destroying the city, and its largely civilian population, by fire and suffocation. After waves of bombing the city was engulfed in
The targeting of civilians did not end with
The reality is, as insane as the actions of the Dragon Queen were, the fantasy world of the Game of Thrones cannot compete with the real world, a world where criminals such as Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton walk free with little or any hint that they might someday pay for the war and other crimes they have committed.
A more detailed look at how the war makers deceive us can be found in the chapter Dead Ends.
Photograph of Dresden by Richard Peter, 1945. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. Downloaded from Wikimedia.org
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 visit Antiwar.com for daily updates.