“MODERATION IN ALL THINGS” // ADDICTION

Photo by Dylan de Jonge (fair use)

Balance is delicate — a Goldilocks concept :  just right.  Early Greek philosophers articulated it well :  moderation in all things.  German designers of the Bauhaus school borrowed the concept, observing that less is more.  Yet so many humans, especially in youth, tend to subscribe to a risky  position by arguing that, if some is fun or good,  more is better.  

We can become addicted to substances, to pleasures, to self.  But we can also become addicted to nonsense, making a god out of purity, abstinence — resulting in holier than thou positions, and judgementalism.  (Yes, I get it, that some people simply have problems maintaining balance, and their only practical resort is abstinence — and I do not judge that position.)  Whatever works to attain balance is wise, even if it may appear to be immoderately severe to other folks.  Jesus said judge not, lest ye be judged.  And that’s a delicate and difficult instruction.

Presently I’m located in a state which has banned all alcohol sales, again. (I’ve written on this topic before.)  Said state also insists that people wear masks — a wise policy, brilliantly enforced by traffic laws.  They even insist that everyone smear alcoholic sanitizer on their hands upon entering a store — a practice which I find bizarre.  Hey, the world is dirty, and as soon as I touch anything, so am I.  There is even some evidence that hand sanitizer is unhealthy, if it has been made with methanol, which is toxic, and can be absorbed thru the skin.  ¿ Is such a state poisoning citizens?

But the inconsistency about alcohol is odd.  On one hand (yeah, on both) the state advocates using alcohol to prevent cv-19 infection, and on the other it bans alcohol consumption where it could be considered medicinal to the throat — the main entry portal of the plague.  Drinking a little alcohol might actually be beneficial, as long as it is done moderately.  

Of course, no state can legislate moderation.  Yet they continue to try.  And people continue to drink hand sanitizer when they can’t buy booze, and then die.  Together we can get thru this pandemic if we think carefully.

 

UPDATED — ¿¿ MY HERITAGE ??

The justification for displaying treasonous symbols based upon family history, “heritage” – is indefensible.  For example, in my own case I have some German-American ancestry, and some southern ancestry.  One of my paternal ancestors was born in southern Germany, arriving in the USA at age three.  He was seriously wounded in our civil war, fighting to defend the union of states, and our national Constitution, as a foot soldier. 

 My Dad’s elder brother was a paratrooper in the US Army during WW2 who served in Europe, fighting against the German reich.  (On my maternal, Irish, southern side, a history of any Confederate service is unknown to me.)  I simply cannot imagine anyone in our family justifying the display of the nazi swastika for “pride of our German heritage”!  

Here’s a well-argued essay suggesting that neither symbol above should be displayed by loyal Americans.  In the case of the stars and bars of the confederacy, that flag represents the ownership and abuse of other human beings.  (Thomas Jefferson reportedly claimed the children he fathered with his slave, Sally Hemings, as “property”.)   It is shameful to celebrate and defend such a heritage by flying that rebel banner.  

I ask, from the flip side of the Golden Rule :  If you were “owned” rather than “owner” would you be displaying this symbol?  The words of George Santayana come to mind :  Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.  Remembering is one thing; prideful celebration and display is something altogether different.  Humility requires, nay, demands that we put away such artifacts.

Independence Day is a day humbly to celebrate unity, equality, liberty.  Like Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which immediately became law but did not instantly become practice, these words ring true :  Love hath one race, one realm, one power.  ~MB Eddy.   The human race knows this in its heart, and will come to see that it is practiced naturally.  We have an internal and eternal sense of justice, and an innate ability to recognize the ideal.  This is our destiny.  

Philosopher John Rawls (in my retelling) invites us to a game of musical chairs at a table where the constitution of the land is being drafted. While we deliberate over what is just for various classes of people, we don’t know what chair we will occupy — a wheelchair? – a throne? – a beggar’s pallet on a sidewalk? – that of a bank CEO? — yes, true justice must truly be blind.  Nobody knows where one will sit tomorrow, which is true today.  Disregard our future seating at your own peril.

Excerpted from a powerful essay by Robin Wright at The New Yorker :  The statue [of Liberty] was the brainchild of Edouard de Laboulaye, a prominent French expert on the U.S. Constitution who also headed the French Anti-Slavery Society. After the Civil War, in 1865, he wanted to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S., enshrined in the new Thirteenth Amendment, which, in theory, reaffirmed the ideals of freedom—this time for all people—first embodied in the Declaration of Independence.

++ UPDATED : : MURAL ART : : MÉRIDA : : YUCATÁN : : MÉXICO : : BUFFALO : :

La casa de Yul, c.62, a bit north of Av. Cùpules, Merida.

++ UPDATE :  There are two new images below, shared by another friend. I’m open to receiving photos of Mexican mural art, with details of location, (and author, if possible).   Perhaps this space, or a new entry, could become a point of documenting these works.  Send me a comment to discuss arranging receipt of images. ++

Friend Pat shared an article with me this morning (++last week) which has inspired me to dig thru my photos of street art seen around town.  That sharing linked me to a digital magazine I was unaware of,  featuring local cultural aspects, Memorias de Nómada (my rough translation:  recollections from wandering).  While I daily read the Mexican press online at sites such as LaJornadaMaya.mx , DiarioDeYucatan, and HeraldoDeMexico.com.mx ,  I had not known of this magazine.  Pleased ta meet’cha!   The story linked above, telling of an artist named Yul who lives at the depicted building on c.62 between Estadio Alvarado and Avenida Cúpules, is all in Spanish, which introduced me to some fun new words; if you don’t read the idiom, you might enjoy browsing the photos and events at their Home /Inicio.

 

 Next up we have a building being painted in a style reminiscent of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian.  If you look closely at the photo you can see the artist, Samual Barrera, working on a section of yellow, wearing a blue shirt.  His ladder is around the corner.  The owner sold the building, and the side with circles in black, gray, red and white, near his ladder, has been covered over.

Two blocks north of Av.Colon, near c.6 and c.33-d, in Garcia Gineres, near Slow Food Market

 There is a long tradition of mural painting in Mexico, preceding the golden age of Mexican muralists, such as Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. Below we see a replica of a mural done by the ancient Maya, at a home in Izamal.

Replica of a Mayan mural in Izamal.

 

A dynamic work, visible on the east side of c60 x c21 y c19, “Plan de Ayala” enroute to Costco

 

Near the old train depot in Mejorada neighborhood of centro Merida.  Photo by S.B.

 

Corn goddess gives birth to maize, inside old train station, c55 y c48, Mejorada, Merida. Photo: SB

 

Many of the items below are near Estadio Salvador Alvarado, on C.60 or 62.

Mural across from estadio Alvarado, on c.60

 

Mural across from Yul’s house. on c.62, near estadio Alvarado.

 

 

 

Fachada de jardín, c.64 x41y39, near central police station and Plaza de Toros, the bull ring.

 

c.64 near c.41, near central police station and bull ring.

 

The one below is a favorite.  It is too long to share completely, as the detail would be so tiny.  I’ve titled it “Launching Mayan women”.    They’re wearing huipiles, the classic embroidered house dress.  The mural is near a favorite coffee shop, Pan & Kaffe (c.43, x60 y 58).

“Launching Mayan women” (my title) on c.43, x64y62.

 

Mural painted by Mario Quiñones, on c.55 near c.74, centro.

 

Home of muralist Mario Quiñones, in centro, whose wife is a good seamstress.

 

Urban art from Buffalo NY (sharing the universal appeal of urban art). An abandoned department store on Broadway at Filmore, dressed in fabric.

 

MASKED ENFORCEMENT

 

Photo by Suriyan Buntiam, ShutterStock (fair use)

The State of Yucatán has done a very wise thing by merging the wearing of masks with the operation of motor vehicles.  This act allows for enforcement by traffic cops.  All drivers must wear a mask while operating a vehicle.  Men, especially, are widely known to resist wearing masks.  But how many would risk a traffic infraction for the “liberty” of not wearing one? — the liberty to infect others.   Yucatecos should be proud of this law.  It is one of the wiser policies enacted anywhere.  (eg: The effectiveness of wearing masks is established as reasonable for reducing the spread of cv-19.)

 

¿¿ WHAT IS LEADERSHIP ??

“Washing of feet” by Duccio, ~1308 (WikiArt)

Whether you’re an Atheist, a Buddhist, a Christian, a Daoist, a High-Flyer, a Hindu, or a Jew; a Shia, a Sufi or Sunni or Zoroastrian — whoever you might be — asking the question What does real leadership look like? has some currency today.   

No, those halos seen above are not required of leaders.  But a deeply humble sense of leading-by-example is still a key to success — which is well-illustrated in the exchange depicted above, of an “originalist” leading and teaching a dozen salt-of-the-earth followers, two of whom were either climbing the career ladder, or were naively aspiring to restore sanctity and ethical practice to their national theocratic system of worship.  So he seized this teachable moment.  Here’s a snippet quoting that teacher, by an unknown author simply called Mark.

43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant* of all.

[And then their leader proceeded to wash their feet, as a household slave could not be compelled to do in ancient Palestine at that time, but might do willingly, for a highly-esteemed family member. ~John.]  Of course, said leader’s name is Jesus, of Nazareth, but his lesson is universal, and is still valid, although increasingly rare. Those who would lead, as well as those who vote, or might be wage slaves today, might think on this lesson.

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*Note: the King James translators intentionally mistranslated the word slave – as servant, as they did not want the ranks of British “attendants” to hear themselves described by such a destabilizing term as chattel, or personal property.  
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Leading by example seems almost a forgotten discipline, yet it is highly effective, and respected and memorable to those who may have been  instructed thereby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEEP  [CORPORATE]  STATE : : book review

 

Photo by Änhliche Bilder, Getty Images (FAIR USE)

YOU’RE BUSTED !!!   SO SORRY to do this to you, dear Reader, but the click which brought you here has now been added to your suspicious behavior file, stored in Utah, by Uncle Sam.  It’s been 1984 for a long time, but it didn’t have to be this way.  You see, Congress made a deal with the devil, mostly outlawing internet encryption, after the towers fell in 2001, so that every detail of our digital lives could be collected and stored, forever > > smile for the camera above your monitor > > Why did they do that?  Glad you asked.  

Here to tell us is a masterful storyteller, and a great American hero, who sacrificed his career and his personal comfort to blow the whistle on this corporate power grab :  Ed Snowden. (Yes, it looks like the intelligence community did it, but who might that be?)  Follow the money.  It mostly leads to the monetization of our every click, so we have no more privacy, and corporate America knows us better than we know ourselves.  Elected officials on both sides of the aisle are struggling to put the genie back in the bottle, sorta.  But corporate democrats are resisting, while progressives and many republicans want government surveillance to end, or at least to be restrained.  

 

PERMANENT RECORD, by Edward Snowden

Rarely have I encountered an autobiography of a more principled person.  Mr Snowden calls to mind that powerful statement No greater love has anyone than this: that a person lay down their life for their friends. ~Jesus.   Yet the intelligence community has hounded this man, threatening to imprison him for life; if they ever get their hands on him they will virtually crucify him.  Those who argue that he should face a trial have no clue what they are talking about, as, by law, he cannot get a fair trial for divulging state secrets to the American public, as he explains carefully in the book.  And the big, big secret which he risked his life to share is that the state has utterly violated and cancelled our right to privacy, guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, by harvesting and storing every single communication and detail of our lives.  Yes, every selfie, every sly cheat or dark secret you (or any elected official) has ever done, every rant, every phone call.   No, “they” didn’t ask our permission.  Nor was any attempt made to amend the Constitution.  “They” just did it as  “a matter of national security”.  Case closed.  

Snowden tells us how different things are for citizens of the European Union.  How they are treated as citizens, as  “data subjects –that is, people who generate personally identifiable data.  In the US, data is usually regarded as the property of whoever collects it.”   The intelligence community has perpetrated a coup on our nation, seizing our data and our Constitutional right to privacy, without our permission — without even a national discussion.  Congress has allowed this, without protest, when they could have allowed for encryption of the internet, instead.  My iPhone is encrypted, as are most smartphones today.  But the google’s and apple’s and amazon’s and facebook’s are laughing all the way to the bank, as they are able to resell our every detail.  And that’s why I  inserted that word “[corporate]” in my headline.

Recently I attempted to become a digital subscriber to The Washington Post, owned by Jeff Bezos, of Amazon.  Upon learning of the terms – WaPo claiming the right to sell all my clicks – I cancelled the very next day.  Same with The Atlantic, owned by the widow of Steve Jobs.  Unless I agreed to allow their profiling of me, it was no sale, as neither of them would even allow an opportunity to opt out.  I even went by VPN to Switzerland which has very protective regulations and attempted to subscribe from there.  No deal.  Both publications insisted that I surrender to the corporate state-of-things in USA.  Wake up America!  We’re being auctioned to the highest bidders.

This book is the most gripping spy thriller I’ve ever read.  And it’s nonfiction. The one thing I wish the publishers had done was provide an index, as there is so much good information here.  It is my sincere hope that Donald Trump, who detests the deep state so much, might pardon Edward Snowden, and restore his US passport.  (Trump’s stock would go up with me, as my view of his leadership couldn’t go much lower.)  Maybe he could even give Snowden The Medal of Honor (or Medal of Freedow, as he’s no longer military).  Snowden truly is a national hero.  Read his story.  You might agree.  

In signing off, I will type these letters XKEYSCORE, while asking you to smile into the camera above your monitor, at the technologist who is tucking our names into that gigantic bunker of vaults in Utah.  <RASPBERRY>.  

 

Breathing the same air as Socrates and Jesus

Photo from Marquette Magazine (fair use)

. . . and while we’re at it, take another breath which also includes air exhaled by da Vinci and Edison (the story is told well in YOUR ATOMIC SELF). 

Equilibrium.  Right now this principle is at work helping inoculate us with tiny aerosol particles of cv-19 which hang in the air in still spaces for hours, in varying concentrations.  Our immune system is continually sampling and fortifying our defenses against such invaders, so we are presently developing skill at defeating this unwelcome visitor.  We might even individually become immune before a vaccine arrives.  A key is to avoid inhaling too many such aerosols at once. (Handling fear helps, too.)  So, wear a good mask (not just a bandana); don’t touch nasty stuff, and then put fingers in eyes, nose, mouth.  (Hint: use a knuckle at the ATM, instead of a finger.) And learn to recognize risk, from this tragic choir rehearsal. 

Practice safe breathing.  Keep the community healthy.  Avoid ignorant people who won’t wear a mask, while we all work at developing immunity..  (There is a scientific report that suggests mask wearers may develop natural immunity quicker than non-wearers.) The human race will survive.  We can all participate.

 

 

 

 

LEY SECA // PROHIBITION ALWAYS FAILS

Destroying illegal liquor.  Reuters photo, via HindustanTimes (fair use)

Churchmen and politicians seem to be slow learners.  When they attempt to modify human behavior the result is : full prisons, underworld vendors replacing taxpaying businesses, and blood on their hands for those who consumed toxic homemade booze.  Prohibiting transactions which people want is simply not effective.  Yet the beer can gets kicked down the road, and the problems grow.  “Forbidden fruit” has not been successfully removed since “the beginning”.  And yet authorities still think they can do so by writing laws and arresting people? Yes, slow learners.

Jesus knew better.  He advised that the weeds and the wheat should be allowed to grow together, rather than attempting to uproot them prematurely.  (English version.)

Ten countries around the globe have decriminalized drugs. (Alcohol is a drug.)  Those ten have enjoyed significant social improvements, and savings, by recognizing that desire for contraban is never removed by legislation.  And yet prohibitions of many vices still continue to fail in many ways, in many places, because authorities think they are wiser and more powerful than Jesus.

 : 42 :   APPREHENDING SATAN   : 42 :

 

   : 42 :   APPREHENDING SATAN   : 42 :

~ some thoughts about prophecy ~

Device to Root Out Evil installation by Dennis Oppenheimer 1997  ~ photo from WikiArt~

 (I wonder if a patent has been granted?)

Many decades ago I studied in a graduate program at a nondenominational divinity school, but left before finishing.  Back then, I thought that what America needed was a better sense of business ethics.  After dropping out, I began a business career, and eventually partnered to start a business, from which I later retired.  Along the way, I made over 500 visits behind bars on Saturdays, volunteering as a nondenominational prison minister at two prisons (one, of maximum security) conducting what I term a “biblically-based stealth-ethics ministry”.  None of this has made me ethical, but it was a good workout, both commercially and, especially, with the prisoners.  They taught me much.  I was able to look into their eyes, their souls, and (I hope) help them understand their stories.  Perhaps I’ve learned something about temptation, bad choices, and criminal behavior.

Looking back, what perplexes me today is the leadership choices Americans have made lately. Why has a diverse community of  “believers” elected such self-dealing, selfish, leaders?  How can values voters be so easily duped?  (Yes, our federal and state election systems have been severely gamed and gerrymandered to suppress honest results.)  Yet I want to believe that the wisdom of crowds should be able to surmount such deception. Nevertheless, “he who snoozes, loses.”  By electing many of our current leaders, has America swallowed the “prosperity gospel” which suggests that “success” is proof of God’s favor?  (Was Jesus initially seen to be successful, on the cross?)  Even Malcolm Forbes poked fun at himself saying he who dies with the most toys wins. 

Well, I went looking for a history of the oldest deceiver ever, and may have learned something useful.  (My sense is that many believers don’t want to know anything about this topic, preferring rather to whistle past the graveyard, and the hoodlums hanging out there.)  

The flipside of Know thyself  is  Know thine enemy.  My gleanings from the book below persuade me that satan (which I refuse to capitalize) is not so much an entity or force, as a story told to explain “the other” in human communities. (We could call it tribalism, or fear of otherness: xenophobia.)

Yet Jesus himself ministered to whores and debt collectors, all the while skewering the preacher boys who ran the national temple/ government/ treasury.  What don’t we get about his example?  He didn’t flinch at criticizing high-end thievery and power-politics, even while knowing the cost, bluntly telling us that the tree is known by its fruit.  And yet we’ve elected a brash-talking, “pussy-grabbing”, casino-owning liar as our leader.  What’s wrong with this picture?  What’s wrong with “the church” in its many iterations, that it would support such allegiance?  What don’t we get about recognizing satanic behavior?  Have we allowed ourselves to be charmed by an entertainer, a false talker?

Author, historian, and scholar, Elaine Pagels, is a superb storyteller who is very accessible for the reading public.  If you’re troubled about the condition of spiritual studies today, especially on this topic, you will be gently introduced to how we got where we are regarding satan, in this excellent volume.  (Another author, M.Scott Peck, wrote People of the Lie, which might be helpful at detecting our dark side).

The last book of the New Testament, Revelation, predicts war in heaven and on earth in a final contest between God and His angels of light, and the angels of darkness, led by God’s adversary, ha satan, (Hebrew: “the accuser”).  Does God have an opposite?  Have you ever found it necessary to push darkness out of a room after turning on the light?  

We become what we love – or, what we love to hate.  Choose carefully.

Jesus told of false christs and false prophets that would be arising (see v.24). But when?  He told followers that neither he nor the angels knew when (see especially v.32, here).  Yet the visions and predictions of John of Patmos were canonized into that final book of the New Testament, after much controversy (see Pagels);  meanwhile moderns continue to speculate.

When?  Well, don’t expect me to tell you!   People love to read ahead, peering into the final chapters, especially when tribulation arrives on the world stage.  End times can be a tail chase, as anyone might notice.  Why would we want to know what even Jesus says he could not know?

    : 42 :    Prediction    : 42 :

But If you believe in literalism and its approach to prophecy, you might want to take a look at this prediction from Revelation 13:5, which involves the number 42.  Come July or August, roughly 42 months from January 21, 2016 (inauguration day) we might learn something about prophecy.  Mark your calendar!  (No, I do not believe that Donald Trump is the anti-Christ.)  But history repeats itself, as encountered in this verse from Ecclesiastes 3:15 : That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

The accuser says we’re a mess.  What can we do about this? The challenge of understanding prophecy is vexing.  The empirical mind has long wanted to reject the very idea of prophecy.  Yet, as moderns, we’ve all had premonitions that surprised us when they came to pass.  Even physicists are today recognizing this skillset as worthy of scientific research.  We’ve spent much of human history trying to guess what is in the other guy’s head.  Have we acquired some skill to see into the future?

“Am I ok for the next ten minutes?” (Seriously, ask yourself that powerful question, in the first person, often; it can help quiet the mind.)   ¿Does tomorrow even exist? ~Jesus.

“But” you say, “aren’t we supposed to be alert?”  Good question, as alertness might commonly seem to require thought.  Yet, believers seem wary of rigorous thought, preferring stories and dogma over research. Well, curb your dogma, maybe!  Awareness of now can displace regret for yesterday and stress about tomorrow, (which doesn’t exist). 

Good detectives notice patterns – “m.o.’s” [modi operandi] – modes of operations, thru studied attention.  Behavior is but an extension of thought put into action, by choosing, some say.  While others, the “determinists,” like Richard Dawkins, insist that we have no choice, no free will at all – everything is genetic brain-chemistry, and is pre-determined.

Careful readers should recognize the importance of reading between the lines, rather than taking every word literally.  Indeed, literalism can be a curse which interferes with disciplined observation. (I had an epiphany in early 2003 which persuades me that literalism is the great red dragon of Revelation.)

Of course, satan is a famous Biblical character.  But this character is a late import into the text, not arriving in the Bible or Hebrew theology until well after the exodus from Egypt.  “Nah” you say, “my pastor told me satan was present in the Garden of Eden, as the serpent.”  Well then, I guess God created the devil, and we’re all utterly jammed.  Literalism!  Writing 2+2=5 on the chalkboard does not make it so.

If you swallowed that bait, serpent = satan, you’ve clearly attended a literalist Bible study, declining to do your own thinking, preferring pastor-priest-rabbi-or-immam ‘s ‘“voice of authority” rather than showing up for a one-on-one tutorial with the Holy Spirit.  (Arguments from authority are notoriously weak, which we noticed as children, answering back at our parents, why should I? — because I said so.)  

God is the Teacher!  Literalism and authoritarianism are tools of mind control, famous even in early Christianity. “Don’t think; don’t question; just have faith.”  ¿Perhaps you’ve been thumped on the head with a Bible by a cleric, professor, or fellow student, more than once?  (The Divine Teacher never does that, but is patient with those who show up for their tutorial with honest questions, yearning to listen, inquire, and learn.)  

The serpent, nachash in Hebrew, whispers : psst,  hacking its voice into our think-er, in the first person  :   “I’m ignorant”   “I’m insecure”   “I’m lonely // s-he’s cute”, while satan is a brash talker, a blasphemer, a bully, a liar: the accuser.  Notice that this hacker steals God’s name: I AM !!!  — the very first instance of identity theft!

Pastors and priests are taught that literalism is an electrified “third rail”, potentially causing the loss of jobs or even careers.  Questioning the text is risky, like a politician proposing to modify social security > >  X CHURCH  FIGHT AHEAD X !   Some Bible students don’t want to fight, but want to contemplate at the feet of the Teacher. Thus we have the social movement toward “spirituality” and away from “religion”.   Dare to listen for that still small voice!  Our ability to recognize voices is sublime.  Read John 10, if you distrust your abilities — also considering that satan’s voice is always accusatory, gruff, rude, angry.  Tone is telling.  Yes, this path may seem lonely and rugged.  But we are assured of God-with-us !  Immanuel.

God has faith in us, in our ability to discern divine love, divine guidance, divine government.   Got appetite?