Are You Political ?

politics This post is a huge departure for me. I normally use news clips, personal commentary, and spiritual quotes to address the issues of our culture.

I work hard to keep the discussion valid for a global audience even though I live in the United States of America.


Well, today, in America, the news is all political, all presidential, all pervasive…

I’m sitting in my favorite café and will attempt to do some “live” blogging—writing without forethought, as events unfold. I’m not going to cover what’s happening on the TV but what’s happening with the people around me…

Here goes!

It’s quarter to six and the only people in the café are me, a woman getting ready for a Mary Kay meeting in the back room, and Sam, the owner. Sam just said he hopes to finish his work soon so he can sit on the couch, in front of the big-screen TV, and “get involved”…

Another patron arrives and promptly settles on the couch and begins working on his personal letter-writing…

Five till six: Two more patrons, getting ready to play a war-game…

Five after six: Talk is starting to percolate—”when will the pundits start projecting a winner…?”

Sam just made a personal pronouncement about why this election will be a nail-biter: the candidates are so radically different—not politically but as far as their characters are concerned.

{ personal aside: I hope readers in countries other than America will make comments on this post ! }

Five till Seven: Sam is on the couch!

Five after seven: The war-game is heating up and Sam looks happy with the first projections.

{personal aside: the confrontational, partisan rhetoric from the television is starting to get to me…}

Seven-thirty: Both couches inhabited; it’s starting to warm up…

Eight-fifteen: Laptop in use on the couch; spirited discussion begins; the couples playing games start a new one…

Eight-thirty-five: Cell phones in use; discussion tones down…

Nine-ten: Some folks are heading home to sleep; willing to see what happened in the morning…

Nine-thirty: Much discussion of the difference between the various projections of the winner—MSNBC, Fox, Google…

{personal aside: Amazing how excited people can get over media projections…}

Eleven o’clock: Obama projected as winner; one women running outside, cell phone to ear; the rest of the folks look a bit shocked; then, most everyone leaves the cafe…

McCain concedes with impeccable grace while his followers shout rude comments, Jesse Jackson in tears, and three people remain in the café…

Obama gives acceptance speech…

My enduring impression will be the blending of skin color on the stage and the hope of human harmony as Joe Biden joins him and the two families stream in while Mr. Obama clearly shows how humbled he feels to be elevated to a position of leadership in our crisis-riddled world…

Spiritual Quote:

“…the breeding-ground of all these tragedies is prejudice: prejudice of race and nation, of religion, of political opinion; and the root cause of prejudice is blind imitation of the past—imitation in religion, in racial attitudes, in national bias, in politics. So long as this aping of the past persisteth, just so long will the foundations of the social order be blown to the four winds, just so long will humanity be continually exposed to direst peril.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 247

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Games That Can Kill Us . . .

So many dangerously childish actions in the world political drama. For sheer silliness (which could blossom into rank trauma) the American Presidential campaign is a sad example.

From AlterNet: Top 10 Idiocies of the General Election … So Far

From the Los Angeles Times: John McCain, Barack Obama spar over ‘celebrity’

From CNN: McCain, Obama ad wars heat up

So, with all this dangerous silliness, why has the American public not used its Constitutional power to elect sane and sober leaders?

* Attachment to materialistic living and not caring too much what happens?

* Not being sufficiently educated about the issues?

* In a state of cultural shock?

Well, even if every malady of the American electorate were healed, their vote would still not guarantee that their political wishes came true. Ever heard of the Electoral College? This institution separates the popular vote from the election results. Plus, it has happened that the voice of the people was overridden by the electoral process . . .

Still, even if the people had their say, who are the people? Are they exemplary citizens, educated and compassionate?

I’m afraid I’m veering off into a rant so I’ll close this discussion {still hoping for your comments!} with today’s spiritual quotes:

“How incalculable have been the negative results of ill-directed criticism: in the catastrophic divergences it has created in religion, in the equally contentious factions it has spawned in political systems, which have dignified conflict by institutionalizing such concepts as the “loyal opposition” which attach to one or another of the various categories of political opinion —conservative, liberal, progressive, reactionary, and so forth.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1988 Dec 29, Individual Rights and Freedoms, p. 9

“The aggressiveness and competitiveness which animate a dominantly capitalist culture; the partisanship inherent in a fervidly democratic system; the suspicion of public-policy institutions and the skepticism towards established authority ingrained in the political attitude of the people and which trace their origins to the genesis of American society; the cynical disregard of the moderating principles and rules of civilized human relationships resulting from an excessive liberalism and its immoral consequences—such unsavory characteristics inform entrenched habits of American life…”
The Universal House of Justice, 1994 May 19, response to US NSA

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The Search For Truth

I search for news that I can comment on while raising the issues to the level of Principle—reaching the truth by climbing out of the mud…

Most media and almost all politics are miring swamps.

From the Bahá’í World News Service: Iranian media attacks on Baha’is and Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi seek to stir “irrational fears and prejudices”

From The Huffington Post: The Media’s Problem Of “False Balance” Showing Itself In Electoral Map Analyses

From the Lancaster Eagle Gazette: Candidates taking low road: Dirty politics is never helpful

From the Tampa Tribune: Truth, Please

Often, I find refuge from the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” in fiction. I am a poet and many would claim that poetry is fiction, along with myth and tradition . . . Contemplate these quotes:

“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”
Stephen King

My favorite author, C. J. Cherryh, spins beautiful tales, taking media, politics, poetry, fiction, and myth to realms that reveal truth more clearly than most any media or political source available.

Consider these quotes from this multiple award-winning author:

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”

“Deal with the Devil if the Devil has a constituency – and don’t complain about the heat.”

“Trade isn’t about goods. Trade is about information. Goods sit in the warehouse until information moves them.”

“We’re in the hands of lunatics.”
“Of financiers. Far worse”

“The interests of all humans are interlocked…and politics is no more than a temporal expression of social mathematics.”

“Ignorance killed the cat, sir. Curiosity was framed.”

Want to join a community that honors and discusses this author’s work? Travel to the Realm of Shon’jir !

Today’s Spiritual Quote:

“Oh! why will man, the disobedient child of God, who should be an example of the power of the spiritual law, turn his face away from the Divine Teaching and put all his effort into destruction and war?
“My hope is that in this enlightened century the Divine Light of love will shed its radiance over the whole world, seeking out the responsive heart’s intelligence of every human being; that the light of the Sun of Truth will lead politicians to shake off all the claims of prejudice and superstition…”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 150

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The Crisis of Faith

Things seem so gruesomely glum—so downright dour—so freakishly forbidding . . . Yet, there is Potent Hope. If you can accept it . . .

From the Washington Post: Credit Crisis Triggers Unprecedented U.S. Response
From China View: Former UN chief expresses concern over global food, fuel crisis in Ghana
From the New York Times: 1,500 Reported Killed in Georgia Battle
From the Boston Globe: Early retirement plans can be short-circuited by a crisis of one kind or another
From the Irish Times: Testimonies of atomic terror: lest we forget
From Nehanda Radio: Thousands face starvation as food crisis deepens in rural Zimbabwe

Pretty bad, eh? Probably gonna get worse…

I’m not being morose or sullen; not even pessimistic. I’m making a strong point.

What can extricate our Family from the multitude of crises assailing it?

Where is hope?

It sure isn’t in the things that have been tried for many years—the failed strategies, the materialistic grand-schemes, the corporate “solutions”, the political fantasies.

Something related to God, then?

“Oh, my, there he goes again. Poor Alex is flying in his nirvana of spirituality.”

Valid point. Just look at all the fine people, deeply spiritual, who’ve been slaughtered by the present system of managing human affairs.

Still, is dying for a cause proof that the cause isn’t valid? Is the apparent power of the politicians, corporations, and greedy-onslaughts-abounding any proof that a spiritual solution is not the best way to face such a sorry Mess?

Try this quote on for size:

“It behoveth everyone to traverse this brief span of life with sincerity and fairness. Should one fail to attain unto the recognition of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, let him at least conduct himself with reason and justice. Erelong these outward trappings, these visible treasures, these earthly vanities, these arrayed armies, these adorned vestures, these proud and overweening souls, all shall pass into the confines of the grave, as though into that box. In the eyes of those possessed of insight, all this conflict, contention and vainglory hath ever been, and will ever be, like unto the play and pastimes of children. Take heed, and be not of them that see and yet deny.”

Bahá’u’lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, 3.17

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Language That Deceives

No particular news focus today except the language it uses. I scanned Google News at 11:50 p.m. GMT. Bold/Underlines are the language in question.

Unsubstantiated statements given as if they’re quotes:
From the Daily Times of Pakistan: Musharraf’s impeachment dominates PA session “PML-Q’s Amir Sultan Cheema said the president had the right to defend himself against the impeachment motion. He praised Nawaz Sharif as a humble man, but added that Nawaz seemed to be under the influence of Asif Zardari.”

Unsubstantiated statements given as if they’re quotes/facts:
From the Telegraph of the United Kingdom: John Edwards admits to lying about affairHe stated he had not been in love with Ms Hunter, an obscure film-maker”

Words commonly used to make unsubstantiated statements sound true while not referencing sources:
From the Associated Press: Security tightens more as Olympics get under way “On Thursday, a videotape purportedly made by the Turkistan Islamic Party, a militant group seeking independence for Xinjiang, was released with threats of attacks during the Olympics. The group is believed to be based across the border in Pakistan, where security experts say core members have received training from al-Qaida.”

An example of the right way to attribute statements:
From Agence France-Presse: Hundreds attend anti-coup rally in Mauritania “Abdahalli’s daughter said Friday she was concerned about her father’s safety and security.
“I am worried about my father’s health and safety given that he has not been freed,” Amal Mint Cheikh Abdallahi told AFP from her family home.”

I’m not trying to say these stories are completely devoid of truth. I’m pointing out that, even in a story with a lot of research behind it, there can be subtle (or not so subtle) traps for an unwary reader. Politics has taken this twisted art to unbelievably unrefined heights !

Today’s spiritual quote, concerning newspapers and written in the 19 Century, is completely valid for the swift transmission of news on the Internet:

“The pages of swiftly-appearing newspapers are indeed the mirror of the world. They reflect the deeds and the pursuits of divers peoples and kindreds. They both reflect them and make them known. They are a mirror endowed with hearing, sight and speech. This is an amazing and potent phenomenon. However, it behoveth the writers thereof to be purged from the promptings of evil passions and desires and to be attired with the raiment of justice and equity. They should enquire into situations as much as possible and ascertain the facts, then set them down in writing.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 39

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Money and Value

Money doesn’t always equal value.

These news items are about the United States but what’s happening there is impacting the global economy . . .

From The New York Times: Worried Banks Sharply Reduce Business Loans “Banks struggling to recover from multibillion-dollar losses on real estate are curtailing loans to American businesses, depriving even healthy companies of money for expansion and hiring.”

From the Economist: Inflation or deflation? “The markets have become incredibly volatile as investors vacillate between these outcomes.”

From the BBC: Record deficit for next president “The next US president is expected to face a record federal budget deficit of almost half a trillion dollars.”

Economics used to seem as opaque as metaphysics to me. Then, as I hit the middle of middle-age, it became apparent I was studying the economics that businesses use, that nations use, that politicians manipulate.

The economics that has squandered vast quantities of non-renewable resources.

The economics that keeps certain people away from creativity, away from a decent livelihood.

The economics that spawns wars and utterly brutal treatment of innocent civilians !

I don’t want to start ranting so here are some spiritual quotes to ponder:

“The repudiation of national right and power to make war represents the first step toward mutual wealth and sound economy. Short of a world economy mankind will not achieve the fruits of civilization.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1947 Feb, A Bahá’í Declaration of Human Obligations and Rights

“Widespread uncertainty about the condition of the economy indicates a deep disorder in the management of the material affairs of the planet, a condition which can only exacerbate the sense of frustration and futility affecting the political realm.”
The Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 102

“…participants in the informal sector of the economy, women in particular, must be involved in reconceptualizing economics altogether, both theory and practice. If women have a unique approach to economic activity, it would most likely be apparent in the largely unstructured informal sector of the economy. For example, preliminary findings in an on-going study of women industrial sub-contractors in Malaysia, show that the business objectives of the majority of women sub-contractors are defined not so much in monetary terms as in terms of values.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Aug 26, Women in the Informal Sector in Malaysia

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Freedom ! ? !

Today is the United States of America’s premier celebration of liberty and freedom.

Had a discussion in my neighborhood coffee shop today about how America is binding it’s citizens into materialistic and corporate and short-sighted captivities—just imagine the poor folk “chained” to their televisions and believing what they see…

Of course, “freedom” and “liberty” can be perceived from the material plane or the spiritual plane.

First, just today, from a New Zealand news source, there’s a story of the joyous liberation of French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt—six years in captivity:

“She bathed fully dressed to shield herself from her watchful male captors.

“Asked if they raped her, she said: ‘I have had painful experiences . . . but I don’t want to talk about this here, now at this time of happiness.'”

“Her attempts to escape captivity brought punishments – being chained at the neck, deprived of food and made to trek between camps barefoot.

“In the letter to her mother released last year, she wrote: ‘I’ve tried to keep my head above water, but Mom, I have given up. . . Your daily suffering, and the suffering of everyone, makes death seems like a sweet option.'”

And, on this Western holiday of liberty and freedom, I give you the words of an Eastern man, held captive for 40 years:

“Materially, man is the prisoner of nature; the least wind disturbs him, the cold hurts him, the heat incommodes him, a mosquito irritates him; but when we consider the intelligence of man, an elephant is powerless before him, a lion is his prisoner, and a boy of twelve can lead twelve hundred animals. Man dries up the sea, inundates the desert, circumnavigates the globe, discovers what is under the earth, rides upon the air and creates new sciences. These are the signs of the crowning spiritual power of man—that power which can make nature his prisoner.

“Reflect on the divine forces. What has assembled us together? It is not a material but a spiritual force which has created this bond between our hearts, this attraction and affection for one another—a power stronger than reason, a power which founds nations, creates human unity and makes us renounce the world to discover sciences and organize laws which work through all creatures. Man, the victim of a mosquito, by his spiritual intelligence is conqueror, for by spirit he is completed; he stands upright and gives well-being to humanity.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 95

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