this new year, humans are playing a high stakes game for the world’s
future. In the current social and intellectual climate, Americans only
hear promises of easy fixes from political, corporate, educational,
religious, and scientific institutions. Unvarnished facts indicate it is
time to shed wishful thinking and embrace realism. Read here about the myths we must deal with.
"Another reader has already commented on the irony that a Sharia-type law is acceptable to some Christians, as long as it is a Christian version. I would also suggest that the same existential fears that energize a Sharia fundamentalism among Muslims exist in Christian would-be theocrats. When people intuitively know that their extreme supernatural beliefs cannot withstand ordinary scrutiny, regardless of their religious label, they try to defend them and force them on others through the oxymoron of religious civil law. The American Constitution was crafted to protect the rest of us from the bullying through government by people who sense their beliefs may be self-delusional and want to avoid revealing their "feet of clay." Paul Von Ward Letter-to-the-Editor in response to Maureen Dowd's Op-Ed on Mormonism and Politics
"Maureen Dowd's October 19 piece challenges several "odd" aspects of Mormonism from the perspective of Christianity and Judaism. And the views of an atheist. What surprises me is the absence in the press of challenges to the whole notion of supernatural concepts like anthropomorphic god figures, holy ghosts, divine sons, heavenly rewards, and hellish punishment. The history of Western Civilization demonstrates such concepts are concoctions invented by power-hungry priests during the period of cults from about 3500 BCE to 500 CE. They were used in efforts to gain followers and resources to maintain the power of "royal" families in face of growing secular movements. The current versions of those cults (the religions mentioned in the piece) still use the tools of fear and dependence on alleged heavenly support to manipulate human psychology, particularly for voting in political campaigns. This issue — using the charade of any man-made religious beliefs to control political outcomes — should be in the forefront of public discussion about our nation's future viability as a democratic, humanistic model for the world."
Sunday Sharing With Minister, Educator, and Social Activist Friends (8/21/11)
I empathize with ____, and _____, in the sense that I, too, feel that our present societal zeitgeist inhibits truly free soul-searching among ourselves, even within what we feel to be enlightened circles. With so much confusion about the cause of our present "hunkering down," instead of offering any bold new initiatives that might lift our collective vision of possibilities, we fear raising our heads above the crowd.
For those of a certain age, including myself, we may feel that decades of working for a new level of social comity has left us far short of the mark we had hoped for by 2000. Like deer blinded by the headlights, we are intellectually immobilized by the breakdown of our most important institutions. With this sense of failure and confusion, we realize that our idealistic solutions are no longer the answer.
Perhaps instead of preaching to others, we could reveal our deepest, most personal aspirations to them. It might help us all, inside and outside our respective spiritual centers, to begin anew what it means to be human.
I know that I need such an inner cleansing, Paul
WHO OWNS THE WATERS?
According to the Hebrew book of Genesis, "God created the heavens and the earth ... the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters." Whether you believe that text is literally true or not, it reflects the universal principle that the waters of the Earth belong equally to all of God's creatures. In our democratic republic, we the citizens have created our various levels of government to insure that all of our natural resources are shared fairly and justly.
With increasing population and spreading drought, the Earth's waters produced and distributed by nature are becoming a scarce resource. We citizens must depend on our elected representatives to guard such a treasure and insure that we have equal access to it. However, profit-driven capitalism is mounting a campaign to over-ride each citizen's birthright to what nature produces for all of us.
This was exemplified by the proposal made to the Dahlonega City Council and the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners last Thursday afternoon by the businessmen behind the Calhoun Creek Reservoir project reported on elsewhere in this paper. This group of investors sought to convince these elected officials to use the recently signed SB-122 bill to provide government support for their private, water-grab scheme.
Their proposal was couched in glowing terms of how our local governments could insure the best future price for the water that we citizens will be paying for in the coming decades. We just have to sign onto their plan, give them a "Good Housekeeping Seal," and ask out local officials to serve up the taxpayers state and local funds so they can corner the water market in our county.
While their approach was the first salvo of a slick, public relations campaign, it will be followed by all sorts of entreaties to the citizens of Lumpkin County to grease the skids for a private take-over of our common water resource. Our local elected officials are to be commended for making sure this campaign is a transparent one.
There is nothing wrong with private businesses offering their services to be used for the common good. But it is up to concerned citizens to learn the details and insure that our local governments provide for the security of and fair access to our future waters.
(Letter-to-the-Editor to the Lumpkin County Georgia newspaper The Nugget August 12, 2011.)
A Response to NY Times Op-Ed David Brooks on President Obama Themes in Tucson Memorial Speech (1/12/11)
"Tree of Failure" By David on 1/13/11: President Obama gave
a wonderful speech in Tucson on Wednesday night. He didn’t try to
explain the rampage that occurred there. Instead, he used the occasion
as a national Sabbath — as a chance to step out of the torrent of events
and reflect. He did it with an uplifting spirit. He not only expressed
the country’s sense of loss but also celebrated the lives of the victims
and the possibility for renewal.
Of course, even a great speech won’t
usher in a period of civility. Speeches about civility will be taken to
heart most by those people whose good character renders them
unnecessary. Meanwhile, those who are inclined to intellectual thuggery
and partisan one-sidedness will temporarily resolve to do better but
then slip back to old habits the next time their pride feels threatened.
Civility is a tree with deep roots, and
without the roots, it can’t last. So what are those roots? They are
failure, sin, weakness and ignorance. Read rest of his opinion piece...
Paul's Comments on 1/14/11 in New Your Times on-line: As usual, David forces us to look at ourselves. Not just our public selves, but the psychological aspect of personality that is all too often hidden from our own daily awareness. An aspect composed of implicit assumptions about the nature of reality, this worldview includes what we believe about the laws of nature, God, the meaning of life, the connections (or not) among all of us, and our responsibilities to others and the life of the whole web of life. We believe we have The Truth in our personal repository of wisdom and take it for granted. Until we are willing to expose our own deep beliefs in public dialogue the chance of finding a broader common ground is nil. (URL link to Paul's comments posted on line by New York Times follows: http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2011/01/14/opinion/14brooks.html?permid=274#comment274.)
Government For the People From the People
My blogs have become scarce due to more
time researching than reporting. But the current U.S. situation weighs
heavily on my mind. With our nation's economic difficulties (including
the Herculean challenge of avoiding a national bankruptcy), political
deadlocks at many levels, and questions about the integrity of major
institutions, I believe everyone, regardless of profession or job,
should should apply some intellect and social skills to the solutions.
Most readers of this site know me for my interdisciplinary,
historical/scientific/spiritual books and articles over the past 15
years. But some know about my first book (Dismantling the Pyramid: Government by the People)
30 years ago, and now out of print, and have asked if it's still
relevant. So we have made a PDF file of the entire book available here.
This piece is an abbreviated story of how that
book came about and why many of its conclusions are still relevant
today. I want to describe the personal part of the story not because I'm
proud of it (in fact, I failed to use for the common good many of the
opportunities I had), but because I believe all of us gain insights
along the way that can be useful later on.
More than 50 years ago I became a part of our
government and political system. As young Congressional interns in
Washington, Bob Graham (later Governor and U.S. Senator) and I
represented Florida in a new, 1959 training program. We met President
Eisenhower and Senator John Kennedy among others. We interns learned how
our Congressmen responded to their constituents needs, at least enough
to insure their re-election. We also witnessed the early stages of a
growing, pernicious cadre of corporate and special-interest-group
lobbyists arriving in Washington (and had dinner with some).
(Today that cadre is literally the 4th branch of
the American government. This "institution" is crucial to the success or
failure of a bipartisan deficit reduction strategy to keep the United
States from going bankrupt. The leaders of the President's commission
confronting the challenge released their draft ideas last weeks. The
resulting furor stimulated in all parts of society motivated me to write
about my view that the problem cannot be solved by those who created
it.) Read more......
Experiencing Memorial Day 2010
As a veteran I
participated in my small town's Memorial Day ceremony, but with very
mixed feelings. I felt an imperative to honor those who serve, but I was
also compelled to challenge all Americans to question our society's
propensity to choose war as a first solution. Go to the text of my
letter to the editor of our local paper. A Reader Comment: I enjoyed (and agreed with) your comments regarding the problem of supporting those who serve in the military (for legitimate reasons) while being realistic about our reasons for getting into wars. ... Glorifying veterans (and I am one, a retiree) simply makes it more likely that we will get into additional military difficulties. ... Likewise I agree with your [article] in 9/11 plus 5. What we are [now] doing is counterproductive. Dwight Connelly (Former editor of MUFON UFO Journal)
Responding to a Local Church Request for a "This I Believe" Statement
THIS I BELIEVE — AS OF TODAY! by Paul Von Ward (February 2010)
Beliefs are like slippery eels; they slither around like threads of luminescence in dark waters, sometimes made more clear and whole when beams of external light pierce the darkness.
Beliefs are like fragments of dreams that stand out so clearly in the fog of sleep, but for only a quick second, then escape our awareness to reappear in a different form as we turn in bed. The same dream on a later night teases us with subtle variations.
One’s consciously expressed beliefs comprise a soup of many ingredients: personal inner experiences, ideas from others that we except as truth, and concrete facts that cannot be denied. Read More....
Birthday Memories and Subsequent Assessments of 9/11 Attack on America
anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I celebrate my own passing birthdays,
but always in the context of this act of horror on America's citizens,
land, and institutions. That was a pivotal point in United States
history (and one can also argue, the history of the world). We have not
yet found the behind-the-scenes perpetrators of these acts, but our
nation's reactions to them have dramatically changed the international
community of nations for the worse, and wrought deep changes in the
fabric of the United States' society (and the world community's) and
its links to our own government. Periodically, I try to reflect on this
state of affairs and share my thoughts with others.
I shared the notes
I wrote during and just after the attacks. I sent them to friends and
colleagues. They found their way around the world and were selected by
news organizations among the most wrenching, yet inspirational comments
of the day. For the fifth anniversary of the attacks, I wrote an assessment for individuals and news organization. For this year's comments, read more. Unfortunately, along with all the world's people, I will be struggling with its aftermath for the rest of my life. Hear a poignant song by Tom Hanson about the cover-up of much evidence related to 9/11.
On the Fort Hood Killings
Paul Von Ward adds historical
depth to David Brooks November 10, 2009 Op-Ed piece in the New York
Times on Major Hasan's killing of his U. S. military colleagues.
(David and I share the sense of horror of last week's, Ft. Hood
killings of 13 people by a U.S. Army soldier of the Islamic faith.
Tragedies of this kind wrench the souls of practically all humans,
regardless of faith, or not. We both seek to understand the cause of
such psychological distortions that result in a member of our species
slaughtering his own kind.)
article (to follow) is well written, but lacks the historical depth necessary
to understand the psychological power of extreme interpretations of the
egocentric "narratives" of supernatural religions. History has
demonstrated that all world religions have at one time or the other
sanctioned "divinely-guided" killings. Unfortunately, the "war on the
infidel" theme now significantly (but by no means universally) present
in Islam is not unlike "death-to-non-believer" themes characterizing
Judaism and Christianity at different periods in their history. Read more....