Conflict Resolution: within and without

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Cicero argued that a good orator needed also to be a good man, a person enlightened on a variety of civic topics.

At Truthdig.org, Chris Hedges says we must overthrow the existing political and power structures : “there will be no genuine democratic, social, economic or political reform until we destroy our permanent war machine.” According to Hedges, we live in a ‘managed democracy’ – a political form in which governments are legitimated by elections that they have learned to control

Before we run for the pitchforks, let’s think about this: can’t we slow down and come up with a way to get the money out of politics? Am I just naïve and there’s no point in a making the effort? I saw a bumper sticker that said, “you can’t buy my vote” – OK, but your vote can’t buy anything except more of the same– so there’s that – the “that” being that there is a job to be done: educating ourselves and each other. It’s not easy, but what are the alternatives?

Hedge’s mentor, Sheldon Wollin, says we vastly underestimate the essential role propaganda plays– that it is the mechanism of control – and that in spite of alternative media, propaganda keeps the corporate interests in their hegemonic vise grip.

Martin Luther King was a master at cutting through the prevailing propaganda to reflect the ludicrous nature of poverty in the richest country in the world and the embedded racism in the ‘home of the free.’

King’s biggest threat to the establishment (IMHO) was his ability to communicate the potential within each of us for self-empowerment and direct action…to use “ grace, humor and intelligence to “confront the other party with a list of injustices and a plan for addressing and resolving these injustices… Do not seek to humiliate the opponent but to call forth the good in the opponent.”

Each person lives in a kind of solitary confinement – even  so-called bad guys will like children or dogs so how can penetrate the isolation and humanity and use propaganda to our advantage –  to break out the latent action heroes within each of us?

Cynicism is easy, you just turn away…but wouldn’t it be cool to stand, see and live our potential…and
A) get the money out of politics and
B) End poverty and provide a Living Income Guaranteed for all?

Notes:

http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy#sthash.pmEpmyjg.dpuf

Torture Report

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I saw it on a TV show called 24. And they were able to save lives!

Yesterday’s report on the CIA’s use of torture was not a surprise, but it was still shocking…“interrogations that lasted for days on end. Detainees forced to stand on broken legs, or go 180 hours in a row without sleep. A prison so cold, one suspect essentially froze to death…the Senate Intelligence Committee is finally releasing it’s review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs and it is brutual.” (the Daily Beast)

State power using torture has been justified as a method of extracting information from potential psychopaths.  What if those administering the torture are themselves psychopathic? And what happens when we look in the mirror and see we’re the same because we allow it?

The aim of torture is to manipulate the human body. There are infinite ways torture of the bodies of this world exists: one is the withholding of food from those who,  just because they lack money, are unable to get it.

Writing about the Nazi system of torture in The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt wrote, “This new mechanized system [the Nazi prison system] eased the feeling of responsibility as much as was humanly possible. When, for instance, the order came to kill every day several hundred Russian prisoners, the slaughter was performed by shooting through a hole without seeing the victim.”

Allowing torture of any kind, especially the torture of children who do not have enough food, [nearly 37 percent of residents in  the South Bronx of New York  said they lacked money to buy food at some point in the past 12 months (1)],  makes us all complicit in “shooting through a hole without seeing the victim.”

The belief that one person cannot create a solution is perhaps the link to how we have come to accept a world in which torture is allowed. It’s OK as long as we don’t see it.

The Living Income Guaranteed can be a refuge – our commitment to humanity – and a way to rebuild our relationship with and for one another; for how can anyone say it is not torture to be hungry?

 

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/nyregion/14hunger.html

The Bill Cosby Syndrome

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In varying degrees we all live in imaginary worlds – fantasy worlds not in alignment with reality – but that doesn’t stop us from trying to make them real.

It appears (based on all the women coming forward) that Bill Cosby lived in an imaginary world. He wanted to have sex with lots of women. None of these women wanted have sex with him. But [evidently] this ‘reality check’ did not stop him. He was able to convince himself that he had the right to use force, drugs, or whatever means he saw fit, to make his imaginings become real.

The (alleged) evidence that the women did not want to have sex with him was not an obstacle. He was unconcerned with the consequences, the harm he was doing. His fulfillment of his imaginary reality was more important, more real, than … reality.

Whenever I make a choice that does not consider the needs of what is best for everyone, I abuse ‘free choice’ and I enter into an alternate reality – of consequence.  Even if I have ‘good intentions’ but I do not consider how my actions will affect the whole, I will face consequences and regret. Regret is not polite – it comes too late – after a slap in the face, a court order, an ecosystem destroyed or a loved one disappeared.

Regret shows us the obviousness of the illusion – the illusion that we can have a singular pursuit of happiness – my right within “free choice.” But is real happiness something we can have alone? Can anyone really be happy knowing millions of children do not have a home, a shower, a meal, or a clean towel?

That’s why I support a Living Income Guaranteed.

 

 

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