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Thoughts on Individuality and Guns

After some reflection, it occurred to me that there might be some “holes” in Mark Ames’ arguments that needed to be addressed.  He seems to be making the argument that it is in the best interests of the ruling elite to have the serfs arguing amongst themselves while the elites run off with all of the loot.  I can’t really argue with that – it sure seems to me to be the truth!  But how do we square those who profess a belief in egalitarianism and social justice and also belong to the NRA – like my friend who refuses to look at this issue? What kind of coping mechanism exists in these kinds of people so that they can hold two opposing beliefs at the same time?  I was most curious …

So off I went, looking for more information.  I found a most interesting academic paper that is written for well-educated but not academic readers.  That is, people who don’t work in academia – there isn’t as much professional jargon in the article and statistical research terms are explained in a perfunctory manner.  

The paper, More Statistics, Less Persuasion: A Cultural Theory of Gun-Risk Perceptions, states that “individuals’ positions on gun control derive from their cultural world views: individuals of an egalitarian or solidaristic orientation tend to support gun control, those of a hierarchical or individualist orientation oppose it.”  They go on to say that no amount of data compiled to support or oppose gun control will resolve the debate until the issue of cultural world views are addressed because it is an individual’s cultural world view that determines her/his position on gun control.

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Another Take on Newtown

I actually found this piece before the one that I posted portions of in my last post, but now that I’ve read Mark Ames’ essay and re-read this one, I see that this one is tightly related to Ames’ piece.  How are they related?  Here, read this excerpt:

“This points us to a set of deeper and far more disturbing issues, ones that will circle us back to the ‘bad guy’ vs. ‘good guy’ mentality and the problems it creates. It’s not just access to our mental health care that’s at issue, but what we think of as mentally healthy to begin with. We believe that it’s mentally healthy to be paranoid enough to want to tote a gun everywhere. We believe that it’s mentally healthy to want to solve all of our problems with violence. We believe that it is mentally healthy to place people in the ‘good guy’ or the ‘bad guy’ category when not much thinking at all reveals to us that we’re all in both those categories at some time, sometimes in both at once, and that there’s a huge variety of moral categories on every axis in between, too numerous to mention or even to name.”

I italicized those two sentences because they point to the central point of Ames’ essay – the cult of individualism in this country and the problems that it creates.  Individualism is healthy, to a point, but when it is carried to extremes, as it is amongst those who subscribe to Ayn Rand and right-wing libertarian thought, tragedies like what occurred in Newtown are the result.  I exchanged thoughts with a friend about the Ames piece and she wasn’t interested in discussing it – she was more interested in focusing on hierarchy.  I haven’t responded, but what is hierarchy except individualism carried to an extreme?  Hierarchical systems are diametrically opposed to community-oriented systems, are they not?  And can’t we expect to find gun crazies amongst extremely hierarchical systems as exist in this country?  I maintain that there is a direct connection between hierarchy and gun violence, a point of view that is entirely unwelcome amongst many on the Left, no doubt.  Sigh …

Anyway, here is the entire piece.  It was posted on the PostModern Village blog and it was written by EW Wilder.

“When Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association, said recently that ‘the only solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,’ he uttered not only a patent absurdity; he also revealed the incredible lack of mental health that is a major stumbling block America faces when dealing with its systemic political and cultural problems.

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Guns and Politics

I haven’t posted since December 4th of last year for several reasons.  The first is that I got a new Mac mini on December 16 and it took me three weeks to get most of the bugs worked out so that it was useable.  I’ll not buy another Apple product, that much I can tell you.  Ubuntu Linux is on the horizon for me.  But that is another story.  The second reason is that I was on vacation for three weeks and during that time, besides fighting with the computer, I was doing a very serious top-to-bottom house cleaning.  It was quite rewarding – I found lots of things that I had “lost” for several years and got rid of a lot of junk, too! And I got a preview of what retirement might be like – I think I’m going to love it!!

So I’ve only recently put my thinking cap back on and started delving into areas of interest.  The Newtown shooting incident got my attention, as it did so many others, but for me, it got my attention in a different way.  I don’t own a TV, so I was spared the endless gnashing of teeth by the spin-meisters who want to divert our attention from the real issues involved.  I wasn’t entirely sure what those “real issues” were, but I was quite sure it had nothing to do with body counts or gun control.  The key to solving the puzzle, for me, was when I read a comment on Ian Welsh’s blog that said, “Impotence comes in many forms; obsession with guns and weapons is just one form.”  That definitely caught my eye and prompted me to do a little bit of research.  I hit the proverbial pot of gold tonight, which is why I’m posting these thoughts.  On the blog Not Safe for Work, I found a “fellow traveler” in the person of Mark Ames.  I’m posting a few of his thoughtful ideas here – if you are interested in the whole post, you may click on the link.

“So what’s really going on here? Why the crazy? It’s not exactly a revelation to learn that the NRA is run by hick fascist nutjobs, although we quickly forget just how toxic they are without constant reminding. But each time you peel off a layer, it’s more shocking than you expected it be.

“But what’s the purpose, what are the deeper ideological politics of that sort of gun-cult fanaticism?

“Looking back at Big Business’ violent reaction against the New Deal and the political culture that it created: a more ‘collectivist’ political culture, as the libertarians derisively call it, where people were more deeply involved with each other and their communities, and with that involvement in their politics and communities came greater trust in their communities. That political culture — where people were more involved in their politics and trusted government more than they trusted business — was a big problem, according to pollsters and PR experts hired by business lobby groups in the postwar era, groups like the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce.

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Why I Refuse to Vote Any Longer

I’ve been thinking about my refusal to vote and why I made that decision. It has to do with my growing realization that the entire deck of cards is stacked against ordinary mortals and I simply refuse to have anything more to do with that stack of cards. I voted for Jill Stein as a way of stating that I do not believe in the system any longer.

I’m very disappointed that so few people shared my thoughts. Today, I came across a book that I ought to read but that I probably won’t: Crack Capitalism, by John Holloway. I’ve been a contrarian all of my life and what John proposes in his book rings true to me – I’ve never believed that violence achieves anything – the violent revolutions of the 20th century achieved nothing. Perhaps I’m returning to the view of Karl Hess, who wrote, I think, “revolution, like charity, starts at home.” I’ve never been able to find the source of those words, so perhaps I’m putting words into Karl’s mouth, so to speak. But I do think that his journey through life reflected the truth of those words. John Holloway apparently thinks the same. I’m posting here a small portion of his book, to remind me to read it one day. Perhaps when I retire. It’s a free download from Libcom and it can be purchased from Amazon (speaking of refusing to cooperate with capitalism!).

Stop making capitalism

How I wish I could write a book with a happy ending. That I could offer all the answers. That the good would triumph over evil. That we could close the dialectic, end with a synthesis, arrive Home. That we could say with certainty that history is on our side. That, sure as eggs is eggs, communism will take the place of capitalism. That the darkest hour is just before dawn. That our cracks, for sure and certain, are the harbingers of a new society.

But no, it is not like that. There is no certainty. The dialectic is open, negative, full of danger. The hour is dark, but it may be followed by a darker one, and dawn may never come. And we, the fools who live in the cracks, may be just that: fools.

And yet, fools that we are, we think we can see something new emerging. We are standing in the dark shade of a threshold and trying to see and understand that which is opening in front of us. We do not understand it very well, but we can hear, especially in the previous theses, fragments of new melodies of struggle emerging, see glimpses of a new direction in the flow of revolt. When we look over the threshold and examine these fragments, we look through a lens that is the centre of the argument presented here. In the centre of this book, there is
what I like to think of as an eriugenic somersault, but which a good friend likens more prosaically to turning a sock inside out. The somersault (let us put the sock to one side) consists in seeing that all the forms of social relations are form-processes, that all categories are swollen ecstatically with their own negation, or simply, that each obedience contains a disobedience which it cannot contain. We put at the centre a doing that opens, a doing that breaks through abstract labour and its abstract time. The theoretical somersault is not an academic invention but simply part of a shift in the flow of anti-capitalist struggle: the emergence and growth of the fight against labour as the essence of the fight against capital. In this almost-final thesis of the book, we single out some of the emerging elements of the new poetry of struggle, as suggestions, as provocations.

Stop making capitalism: This is the pivot of our somersault, its centre of levity. The doing that we pitch against labour is the struggle to open each moment, to assert our own determination against all pre-determination, against all objective laws of development. We are presented with a pre-existing capitalism that dictates that we must act in certain ways, and to this we reply ‘no, there is no pre-existing capitalism, there is only the capitalism that we make today, or do not make’. And we choose not to make it. Our struggle is to open every moment and fill it with an activity that does not contribute to the reproduction of capital. Stop making capitalism and do something else, something sensible, something beautiful and enjoyable. Stop creating the system that is destroying us. We only live once: why use our time to destroy our own existence? Surely we can do something better with our lives.

Revolution is not about destroying capitalism, but about refusing to create it. To pose revolution as the destruction of capitalism is to reproduce the abstraction of time that is so central to the reproduction of capitalism: it is self-defeating. To think of destroying capitalism is to erect a great monster in front of us, so terrifying that we either give up in despair or else conclude that the only way in which we can slay the monster is by constructing a great party with heroic leaders who sacrifice themselves (and everyone around them) for the sake of the revolution. We defeat ourselves again, this time by constructing a great fable of heroism and leadership and sacrifice and discipline and authority and patience, a fable peopled by saints – Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa, Mao, Che, Marcos, whoever you like – we reproduce that which we want to destroy. To pose revolution as the destruction of capitalism is to distance it from ourselves, to put it off into the future. The question of revolution is not in the future. It is here and now: how do we stop producing the system by which we are destroying humanity?

Rephrasing the question of revolution as stop making capitalism does not give us the answers. There are very real pressures (repression, starvation) that push us to reproduce capitalism each day. What the rephrasing does is to redirect our attention. It makes us focus first on ourselves as the creators and potential non-creators of capitalism. Secondly, it brings our attention to bear on the ecstatic tension between doing and labour which is both a matter of everyday experience and the space within which our capacity to create another world remains entrapped. This is a sort of glass bubble of bewitchment. If we could look from outside we would see ourselves performing (happily or unhappily) actions that are destroying humanity. We look at ourselves in our own daily routines and our eyes open wide with child-like amazement: we want to knock on the glass and scream ‘stop doing it, stop destroying humanity, stop making capitalism! ‘ But we are not outside, we are inside and participating in the destruction of humanity, aware-and-not-aware of what we are doing. How do we light up our eyes with amazement, how do we touch that half-awareness, that tension, that ecstatic distance, how do we bring it clearly into focus, how do we magnify it, how do we open it up, how do we strengthen and expand and multiply all those rebellions in which one pole of the ecstatic relation (doing) repudiates with all its force the other pole (labour)? That is the question of revolution.

Ambushed by Confirmation Bias

It was good to go to Floyd – I got to take a break from the intellectual journey that I’ve been on and about which I wrote the post How Far I’ve Journeyed. The break allowed what I’d read to bounce around my brain and led me in a new direction. Perhaps I should say that it is a re-discovery of paths that I’d taken in my younger years. I started re-examining the idea of indigenous knowledge and, dissatisfied with the mystical New Age co-optation of Native American wisdom, I found a partial answer in the following essay, written for the magazine Chain Reaction by Brian Martin back in February, 1993. There is no version available that can be linked to, so I’m posting a transcription that I laboriously made by running the original through an OCR converter and then editing it extensively. I guess my contrarian nature led me to believe that all of the hype over quantum theory was just that and I think this article lends support to that belief. Essentially, Martin is saying that if we want a new kind of society, then we have to just go out and build it, one household at a time. This course of action takes a long time, but I think it is ultimately going to be far more productive than wasting time with political activism. What I found most interesting about the article is how it shows how confirmation bias and a deference to hierarchy works. First, you pick and choose to support your bias and then you appeal to hierarchy to give your position strength. Even if confirmation bias and the appeal to hierarchy are completely unnecessary.

Here is the essay:

Is the ‘new paradigm’ of physics inherently ecological?

“A new age is coming,
right? The old days were
the days of mechanistic
Newtonian physics, rigid
social frameworks and
brutal attacks on an alien
environment. But that’s
been superseded by quantum
theory with its
indeterminacy, where
everything interacts with
everything else in the
universe. The coming
perspective is a holistic
world view: interaction,
wholes, none of that old,
hateful possessive
individualism. The new
world view is inherently
ecological. After all,
ecologists tell us, nature is
interdependent. Humans
should fit in with nature,
not dominate it. Nature
really is holistic, and that
means society should
develop in that direction
too.”

Many environmentalists think they are part of an emerging new age, encompassing everything from the ‘new physics’ of quantum theory to a holistic ecological consciousness. But does it all really fit together so nicely? Ex-physicist and sceptic Brian Martin punctures a few balloons.

OVER THE YEARS, I’ve heard quite a few people say things like this. I usually listen politely. I agree with many of their ideas about society. But I can’t agree that their ideas are justified by some new ‘holistic’ paradigm of subatomic particles and ecology.

Ideas about links between physics have been popularised by some talented writers. Fritjof Capra, with his book The Tao of Physics, which argued that there is a strong link between conceptions of nature found in quantum theory and strands of eastern mysticism, specifically Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. Capra suggested that scientists are finding out that nature really works the way that mystics have long realised: it is interactive, indeterminate and doesn’t distinguish between subject and object. A similar picture of the ‘new physics’ and mysticism is painted by Gary Zukav in The Dancing Wu Li Masters.

Sociologist Sal Restivo decided to examine these claims: He found that the alleged link between physics and mysticism can’t be sustained. Capra picked out certain features of physics and certain features of Eastern traditions and found similarities. But, Restivo argues, if you picked out different features of quantum theory or different features of mysticism, or both, quite the opposite conclusions could be reached.

In fact, by picking examples appropriately, you could find similarities between mysticism and old-style, billiard-ball, Newtonian physics.

Whose arguments should you believe, Capra’s or Restivo’s? Ideally, people should make up their own minds after carefully studying both sets of arguments. But very few do this. Capra’s work is widely known but Restivo’s is virtually unknown. Why? One reason is that Restivo only published his ideas in a densely written academic tome entitled The Social Relations of Physics, Mysticism and Mathematics. But there is another reason. Many people want to believe what Capra has to say. They want to believe that nature is on their side. Many environmentalists want to believe that nature – nuclear processes as well as forests and oceans really is interactive, holistic, non-hierarchical and mysterious. If nature is this way, then society should be too.

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To Hell With It All

I took off for Floyd on October 31 and returned on November 7. Got a lot done and got a break from the intellectual journey that I’ve been on. That partly explains why I didn’t post the previous piece sooner – I got side-tracked by the election and its repercussions. I strongly supported Jill Stein and I was more than a little dismayed that she got so little support – 3 tenths of one percent of the total vote! Wow, people – you really are afraid of the big bad wolf, aren’t you? The elite played you people like a violin and it worked wonderfully. Obama is the lesser of two evils. Right. Mark my words – you will live to regret your choice. Fear has worked for centuries – Niccolo Machiavelli wrote about it in the The Prince in the 16th century – so why should it not continue to work today?

“This gives rise to an argument: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the opposite. The answer is that one would like to be both, but since it is difficult to combine the two it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to make way. For generally speaking, one can say the following about men: they are ungrateful, inconsistent, feigners and dissimulators, avoiders of danger, eager for gain, and whilst it profits them they are all yours. They will offer you their blood, their property, their life and their offspring when your need for them is remote. But when your needs are pressing, they turn away. The prince who depends entirely on their words perishes when he finds he has not taken any other precautions. This is because friendships purchased with money and not by greatness and nobility of spirit are paid for, but not collected, and when you need them they cannot be used. Men are less worried about harming somebody who makes himself loved than someone who makes himself feared, for love is held by a chain of obligation which, since men are bad, is broken at every opportunity for personal gain. Fear, on the other hand, is maintained by a dread of punishment which will never desert you. ”

So the hell with it. I’m turning my back on the political process. I’ll never vote again, for any candidate. As Emma Goldman once famously said, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” So right. Screw it – I’m done with voting.

How Far I’ve Journeyed

Is there such a thing as a “pre-script”? After all, there is such a thing as a post-script! I’ve not fired up MarsEdit, my blogging software, for almost a month, as you can see by the dates in the following post. I obviously meant to post it, but I didn’t. So here it is, Thanksgiving Day (I’ve a lot to be thankful for!) and I’m posting it.

I’m glad that I write a blog – it reminds me of what I’ve accomplished (or not). My last blog post was on September 9 and it is now October 23. During that time, I’ve read Eric Havelock’s When the Muse Learns to Write, Walter J. Ong’s classic, Orality and Literacy, David Abram’s new book, Becoming Human: An Earthly Cosmology, and two books by Richard Nelson, The Island Within, and Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of the Northern Forest. I’ve also done a huge amount of reading on the Internet on related themes and have purchased Robert N. Bellah’s magesterial work, Religion in Human Evolution, Merlin Donald’s Origins of the Modern Mind and am reading Denise Arnold’s The Metamorphosis of Heads: Textual Struggles, Education, and Land in the Andes. The last book is particularly fascinating, as it presents the story of the struggle between the non-alphabetic written culture, based on weavings, of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia and the alphabetically written culture of the Spaniards. Her book echoes Havelock’s discussion of the dialog between Plato and Socrates in the Phaedrus.

As a record of where I’ve been, more than anything else, I’m posting a very important interview of David Abram, conducted by David Boulton, who is with the website Children of the Code, which promotes literacy. Read on, if you are intrigued …

David Boulton: One aspect of our work has to do with understanding the roots of the confusion involved in learning to read. That of course leads to exploring the
relationship between the code and the brain and the uniquely artificial challenge to the brain that processing the code involves – a challenge that depending on how well children come through it, can be all but fating to their lives.

So, we’ve got to understand the code. The influence of the code has been staggering, on both the infrastructure of civilization and the infrastructure in our brains that generates our awareness, as well as on a great many of the different dimensions that grow out of both. And yet, the code is something that most of us take for granted. As you know we interviewed Dr. Robert Logan in Canada. His book, The Alphabet Effect basically extends the paper he and Marshal McLuhan co-wrote called Alphabet Mother of Invention, and in some ways dovetails with your work. We would like to hear from you about your understanding of the code and its affects on humanity. With that as a backdrop, we then want to look at what’s happened to this code because the earliest code is radically different than the English code we read today – different in terms of the levels of ambiguity that have to be processed, faster than the speed of thought, in order to construct the virtual reality stream we call reading.

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The Beauty of Questions

Since I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions lately, I found this article to be most intriguing. It was sent to me by the Daily Good website.

The Beauty of Questions

Karen Horneffer-Ginter

Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
–Rainer Maria Rilke

I love the idea of loving questions — seeing the potential beauty that they contain. I don’t think we always give questions the time and attention they deserve, often mistaking them as being mere stepping stones to an answer. We also abuse questions in our everyday way of relating to them, presenting words under the guise of an inquiry when in fact we’re only trying to make a point. I know I’m guilty of this in my own home — asking my children if they’ve brushed their teeth or finished their homework or eaten all their dinner before moving on to dessert. Asking the dog if he shredded the paper towel in hopes that he’ll admit his guilt. All these moments of undercover policing… But who am I really kidding?

When used properly, questions have the potential to connect us to the world of another. A heartfelt “How are you?” or “How was your day?” can become the bridge that keeps us in relationship to the lives of those we love. Sometimes, too, questions create a bridge within ourselves, allowing us to hear what’s going on at a deeper level. We know when we’ve encountered a question that has this potential because it stays with us — maybe for the day, maybe for our whole lives. It taps us on the shoulder to wake us up, or it wiggles its way in more deeply, opening us up to seeing things in a new way.

I still recall first encountering Judith Duerk’s chorus of questions about how my life might have been different if there had been a sacred circle to step into. Mary Oliver asking me about my plans for this one wild and precious life, Oriah Mountain Dreamer wanting to know what I ache for and if I dare to dream of meeting my heart’s longing, and Angeles Arrien reminding me of the questions asked in some indigenous cultures: When did you stop singing? When did you stop dancing? I think of my friend Ming,asking me at lunch one day if I thought writing was my fullest and truest expression. All these questions have remained close companions across the years.

When I was in graduate school, I had the good fortune of being invited to roll around in the world of questions. We would inspect them from various angles, almost like a statue on a gallery pedestal, being apprenticed to recognize their power — to see how the words we choose or don’t choose guide research projects and treatment outcomes. How we should think carefully about whether or not we want to ask people what’s wrong with their lives or what’s right, about their flaws or their strengths or both — if we were planning to study pathology or resiliency, knowing that in reality, the answers we find are often based on the questions we ask.

Of course the same is true in everyday life. Waking up and asking ourselves, “What do I have to do today?” is different than asking, “What do I get to do today?” or “What do I want to do today?” Given that questions have the capacity to open or close possibilities, it’s worth thinking about what questions we want to ponder and which ones we’re tired of asking ourselves. For many of us, there comes a time when we’re ready to retire the “what if” and “why” questions that have haunted us.

Other questions, however, are worth keeping around — worthy of holding close and not replacing with an answer too quickly. Just as the expression goes, “only speak if you can improve on the silence” — maybe, too, we should be taught to offer an answer only if it improves on the question. Of course, such encouragement flies in the face of how we’re often taught as students and professionals to move down the limbs of various decision trees. It flies in the face of our human tendency to want to feel the senses of intelligence and rightness that often accompany certainty.

Maybe, too, it’s fair to say that we need to find our way to a certain number of answers before we can feel comfortable spending time in the somewhat groundless world of questions. We need to feel some certainty before we can appreciate that it’s this realm of questions that can pull us into places of greater truth — allowing us to see that seemingly contradictory ideas can both be right: that light is both wave and particular, that from an aerial perspective, various religious traditions all contain truth. I often encourage my children to stay with these sorts of questions because I don’t think it always serves them to land on final answers at such a young age. I’m not really sure they should be answering “Who is God?” or “What political party do I agree with?” I sense that they’re sometimes best off, in this life stage, merely gathering information with an open mind. I remind them, too, that there are some answers our human minds can never fully grasp — and that there may be times when claiming an answer actually moves us further from the truth.

I’ve noticed that such reflections have left me qualifying many of my hopes and requests and prayers, often including an “if it’s meant to be” or “if it’s in the highest good.” Such language feels humbling in moments and librating in others. More and more, though, I’ve come to see that often we’re best off keeping some space for question marks to be inserted, and possibly to remain — especially with the really juicy questions that, over time, begin to guide our way.

This article has been published with permission. Karen Horneffer Ginter is co-founder of the Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness and the author of ‘Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit: Nourishing the Soul When Life’s Just Too Much’.

Positive Deviance

As part of my on-going re-invention project, I’ve unsubscribed from a long list of political newsletters. I’m so, so tired of The Daily Atrocity. I’m so, so tired of the negativity, hatred, and finger-pointing. So I made those e-mails go away and have started subscribing to sites like The Daily Good and John Robb’s newsletter, Resilient Communities. The latest Daily Good post landed in my in-box this morning and, in reading through the comments on the article, I ended up at a site that goes into quite a bit of detail about a concept known as Positive Deviance. The model was “invented”, if you will, by Jerry and Monique Sternin, who worked for Save the Children, when they were invited by the Vietnamese government in the early 1990s to address the problem of child malnutrition. They had 6 months to demonstrate that they could achieve results. The details of their journey of discovery are at the Daily Good website.

What I most like about sites like these are that they encourage people of good will to do something, instead of just wringing their hands in despair and lashing out at their enemies. Have I suddenly turned into a Pollyanna? Not at all – I see the problems very clearly but I see no point in continuing business as usual. We will get exactly nowhere by continuing on as we have done in the past. And that includes voting for Obama because we fear that Romney is worse. I made a contribution to Jill Stein’s presidential campaign the other night and felt good about it. I support those who support positive change, not the business-as-usual behavior that has gotten us into the very serious trouble that we are only starting to discern.

It is time to re-learn that we, the people, do have the power to change our situations. We can no longer rely on The Experts, because they have led us down a path of failure. It is up to us to solve our problems. It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Well, now …

I subscribe to a few blogs that explore ideas, rather than engaging in political rants – I got rid of almost all of those a few weeks back. One of them, Systemic Disorder, has some really interesting posts. The other, Ian Welsh, tends more towards political rants, but there are some commenters there who offer acute insights into our predicaments.

Systemic Disorder recently posted a long article about cooperation and I made a comment, encouraging the blog readers to consider buying David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous, Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, and a book or two by Wendell Berry.

This morning, before leaving for work, I finished reading a very powerful interview of Wendell Berry, by Jordan Fisher Smith, which first appeared in the Autumn, 1993 issue of Orion Magazine. That interview was all about community. I was going to make a comment on Systemic Disorder in reaction to his reply to my comment, but instead I visited Ian Welsh’s blog to catch up on reader comments on a post and came across one, by Z, who used the words “self-righteous” and “moral superiority”. In the wake of the run-in with my friend, the subject of the previous post here, those words caught my attention. I put the words in a search engine and came up with an article by David Brin, from 2007, wondering if scientists would be bold enough to research how self-righteous moral superiority might mimic addiction. A totally fascinating article that goes a long, long way towards explaining all of the hatred and bigotry that has been on display for the last 20 years in this country. I urge anyone interested in civil society in this country to read Brin’s post.