Tuesday, July 24, 2012

To Find Lost Manhood

I'm often told my posts are positive and optimistic.  This one might seem cynical and dark.  But it's about truth we must face, and I hope you see the optimism behind all truth.


I made it to Denver from Vermont.  I'm staying at the house of my friends, Joan, Sokha, and their daughter Charya.  Now I have to find a ride to my friend Stephanie's in Pagosa Springs in southwestern Colorado.  She plans to take me to our Peace Corps reunion in San Diego at the beginning of August.

My new friends, Sara and Torri, with their children, Ian and Marta, brought me to Denver from Vermont.  Ian (age 9) and Marta (age 7) were a joy to me.

I've gotten to see my friends Cody and Jesse, and Tim and Cherry and their son Daniel, while in Denver.  (Cody, Jesse and Tim are in the book).  Cody just had a dread-cutting party, which I missed, and is now bald.  He had me cut off one of his dreads beforehand, though.

Cambodian Abode

It's interesting staying with Sokha.  Sokha's native Cambodia was devastated by Pol Pot's genocide, on the one hand, and Henry Kissinger's genocide, on the other.  Sokha lost his entire immediate family and many friends to the ravages of genocide and starvation caused by politics.  He keeps telling me about the joyful simplicity of his native Cambodian culture, and can't help but see how ridiculous the rampant materialism and absurd complexity of life in the US has become, even as he is grateful to be here.  He tells me of the generosity and hospitality of Cambodian culture, how anybody can drop in at anybody's house un-announced and be fed, no matter how poor.  And here, in this nation of wealth, you often go away hungry after visiting somebody.  And you can't visit many folks in the US without calling ahead of time to make an appointment, as if you're dealing with a business, not people.  He observes, also, the irony that the more people have, the less they can share. He says, in his Cambodian culture, people don't need accountants, because "never go in debt, spend only what you have only on what you need, and keep only possessions you need, and work only as much as you need" are all you need to know.  

Que Mall 

Joan and I got into a heated discussion about mega churches in Denver - a whole franchise of them - which we've both visited several times.  The churches look like malls - because they are malls, with coffee shops and bookshops in foyers, cash registers and all.  You can't get into the sanctuary without walking through this merchandise department.  And, once you're in the sanctuary, you get to see high tech video screens everywhere with hip bands playing hip music.  To me it's a no-brainer, "Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!", you know, what Jesus said as he wielded his whip.  No matter from what angle I look at this, and whatever argument for it I hear, I simply can't help but feel utter disgust.  But there are really nice people in those churches, doing good things, donating lots of money on really nice programs helping lots of people. And the preachers give good, insightful sermons (which, surprise, never ever happen to include Jesus' basic teachings, like about money and possessions, except on rare, rare, rare occasions, only for the sake of explaining them away).  Nice people and nice programs and nice words and the "Gospel" make the pill go down smooth.  I hope to write a full-fledged essay about this for the website.  This is very important, because we're talking a big political force here, not an inane, offbeat religion.  We're talking about a force behind American world policy.

Book Readings I Missed

Mark Sundeen is doing book readings in Albuquerque (Monday the 23rd) and Santa Fe (Tuesday) and invited me to participate, but I couldn't get my act together to hitch hike in the heat out of Denver, which would mean hitching back to Colorado again for my ride to San Diego.  Too much traveling is getting to wear on me.  

mass grave of massacred Cambodians
Which Mass Homicide Do You Prefer?

Most folks have heard about the next mass shooting that happened in the Denver area since I've been here.  We keep thinking these killings are isolated, random, freak events.  But they keep happening.  And they will keep happening, more and more, as certainly as the cause-and-effect laws of physics.  

Mass killings are a guaranteed symptom of a sick society.  

The President with his
future Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
proving their lost manhood
Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize, even after he and Richard Nixon master-minded the mass bombings of millions of innocent men, women, and children in Cambodia and Vietnam.  What if the whole nation looked on in horror over Kissinger's acts as it does over James Holmes' killing of 12 people and wounding 58?

"How Many Mass Killers Were Women?"

Columbus' first project on Hispaniola:
proving lost manhood.
The founding seed of America.
My friend Whitney brought out a glaring fact in Facebook: "How many mass killers were women?" She asks. "And violence is overwhelmingly male (both perpetrators and victims). Time to start talking about how to reach young men and help them learn to stop this cycle."  And she references this article by Erika Christakis: 

Some men brought up the fact there are isolated instances of women serial and mass murderers, too.  But that doesn't erase the obvious, that the overwhelming majority of killers have been males.

Whitney's comment:  "I'd like to see a much more open attitude toward mental illness. We should make it not only possible, but acceptable to say 'hey, I'm hearing voices in my head]' or 'Mom, Dad, I'm really pissed off and want to shoot someone' and know that while these things are not normal, they're nothing to be ashamed of, and that there are ways to help and feel better."

"Hmm... I'm dazed and confused...
after all that,
I still can't find my manhood!
I guess, to be a man, you have to
be like Kissinger & Columbus,
and massacre thousands or millions!

Another fb person explained it by saying it's due to lowered levels of testosterone, brought on by bad diet, lack of exercise, and environmental toxins.

I agree with both the above, and add my own observation as a male who went through suicidal clinical depression. Self destruction.  I'll dare find the rage that I felt in myself and shed some light on this.  Here was my response to the conversation.  This is not about excusing the mass murderers.  We're each responsible for ourselves.  Yet we can never be responsible until we realize the whole society is ourselves:  

"It's pretty damned obvious males don't feel useful and feel emasculated in a control-freak society obsessed with security and fear. Boys don't play in the woods any more, don't explore, don't experience the natural dangers of life that we all need (yes need, like we need air) and learn how to cope with challenges. 

It's a principle of biology. Don't allow your body to naturally deal with illness and pain, popping antibiotics & painkillers at the drop of a hat, and our immune systems get weak, and our bodies start attacking themselves. Auto-immune diseases, cancer and mental illness are more rampant than ever before. 

"I have no doubt about my masculinity,
and I'm  not even a man!
Maybe if I stop cockfighting petty individuals
and dabble in massacre,
I'll become a man!"
Socially, this is true. History and biology show us males are, generally speaking, the antibodies of society. It's in their genetics to protect, and this is repressed. Is a rooster stupid for being "cocky," or is this its biology? Now they begin attacking their own selves, own societies. The more males get bashed for being male, the more their repressed anger boils. How long does a cap stay on a pressure cooker that has no release? 

In physics this is true. Can we eliminate negatives when for every positive there is an equal and opposite negative? Won't the negatives backlash in violence? Instead of fighting and denying what will never, ever, ever go away (night, winter, violence, anger, aging, death) why not just accept it all as natural and then finally live with it in balance?"

I often hear how it's such a wonderful thing how civilized we are from our barbaric tribal days, and how we continue to civilize barbaric tribes the world over.  But does the barbarism of the Yanomamo and head-hunting Juarani in the Amazon even begin to hole a candle to to the incessant mass genocide and perpetual, prolonged suffering promoted by commercial civilization?  But we wrap our mass murders in methodical, civilized morality, even as we are appalled at splinters in the eyes of "barbarians." And what a pretty wrapping it is, huh?

How can we be happy dealing only with the symptoms when our system itself is flawed to its very foundation?  There's often no better way to see a system for what it is than to step outside of it.  To find a real man, that is the manly challenge. 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

El Padrino

I stayed in this
Teepee in Michael's
back yard

I'm Looking for a Ride from VT to CA!

I've been in Vermont for two weeks so far.  Now I'm looking to go from Vermont to San Diego, California, or at least to the Colorado/Utah area (where a friend can take me to San Diego).  Anybody know of a ride going that way?  I have a Peace Corps reunion August 2nd in San Diego, the first time I'll have seen most those Peace Corps friends in 25 years.  

I take rides already going, not special trips for me.  The point is to not create more commerce, but to use what's already running and existing.

Road Trip with Leslie

My friend Leslie came from LA and swung through Fruita, Colorado to pick me up and bring me to Vermont on her way to see her father in New Hampshire.  If you read that book about me, Leslie is the same friend who took Mel and me to Alaska in her van 14 years ago.  This time around, I felt Leslie and I passed a critical point and our friendship became even more special to me.  When friends travel together, it can be more intimate than romantic relationships in some ways, because you're with the person 24 hours a day.  We started getting on each others' nerves after the third day and got into a heated quarrel.  Then we talked it through and a new light of understanding went on for me.  After getting over that hump, I realized a bond had happened.  I feel a deep love for Leslie now that I hadn't realized before.

Godfather to the World's Cutest Baby!

Baby Blessing at the Shao Shan Temple
Me on the far left, between the Zen priests.
Michael and Sarika (in blue dress) holding baby Satya 
Abbot Taihaku, and me
Reading from the Bible.
Scriptures, prayers, and blessings
were read from Hindu, Buddhist,
Jewish, and Christian
family traditions.
Now I'm staying at Michael and Sarika's place in Montepelier.  Michael is also in the book - my naturopathic physician friend I went to India with.  Michael and Sarika asked me to be the godfather of their baby, Satya Daisy, so I came here for her blessing ceremony.  I had no idea it would be such a big event.  Michael's mother is Huguenot from the Alsace region of France, and her brother, nieces, and nephews came all the way from France.  In France, a baby's baptism ceremony is right up there in importance with weddings and funerals.  Sarika's parents came, as well as Michael's father's brother, and many friends.  Michael's and my mutual old Oy friends, Eric, with his daughter Serena, and Gordon, with his wife Kay, came too.  There were about 50 people.  Michael's family spoke mostly French, and Sarika's family spoke Hindi half the time, meaning I didn't know what was going on 70% of the time!

In Michael's family's tradition, two godmothers and two godfathers are chosen, making me one of four.   

Baby Satya's "Baptism" was actually an inter-faith blessing, combining the family ancestral traditions.  It took place at the Shao Shan Soto Zen Buddhist temple near Montpelier.  Because Sarika's family is Hindu and Michael's is Jewish and Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Christian scriptures, blessings, and prayers were read, as well as a Zen Buddhist metta prayer.  

For the sake of the Guiness Book of World Records I must announce that it's unanimous by all here that Satya Daisy is the world's cutest baby.


Someone asked me again why I live without money, so I decided to post my answer here.  It's more concise than what you can glean from the website:

Why Should I Explain Why I Live Without Money? 

Why should snails or foxes or trees explain why they live without money?  But the very nature of both words and money is explanation of cause and effect: why.  It would be nice to live in a world where a tree doesn't have to explain itself.  But in the commercial world forests are clearcut and animals are going extinct because they can't validate themselves with words.  Silly, I know.  Hence, my words of "why" for a world that must know "why".  

Review of Why I Live Without Money:

1.  To be authentic.  To act expecting reward is ulterior motivation.  To act for the instinctual sake of acting is to be authentic, be real.  Doing is its own reward.  Money represents doing for reward, ulterior motivation.  Choose love or prostitution.  In Buddha's words, choose Nirvana or material wealth.  In Jesus' words:  choose God or mammon.  In other words, choose Reality or falsehood.

2. For fun.  It's fun to do for the sake of doing.  Why put it off for a future reward that will never come?  Why not enjoy every moment of life, rather than trade one moment for another?

3. For political reasons.  No good can ever come from being inauthentic.  Look at the world's politics & business and judge for yourself.  Are they functional?  Are those who participate being authentic?  Why participate in an inauthentic game?

Free Foraged Food
in Montpelier, VT
4. For economic reasons.  Nature is in balance, and it functions without money.  Is commercial civilization in balance?  Look around: what nation on earth can balance its budget?  What nation on earth lives in balance with its environment?  Nature functions on a pay-it-forward economy, not a barter or money economy.  I propose that our economy will never ever be functional until we practice pay-it-forward, which only happens by doing for the sake of doing, without being conscious of credit and debt.

5. For spiritual reasons.  Doing, not for the sake of reward, and giving up the illusion of possessions, is the essence of the world's religions, the one thing they all agree upon, yet most ignored by their own followers.  It's called faith, which is trust, trust in the natural law of the universe, that what goes around comes around.  What would happen if we practiced faith rather than just talked about it?   

This person also asked, 

"When do you find yourself most limited?"

Only when I'm limited by my mind, wanting what I don't have, being impatient, forgetting that everything I need and want exactly comes when I need it.  Limitation is only a thought in the mind.  Give it up, and limitation ceases.

Idolatry for Beginners (CBC Radio Interview)

Paul Kennedy interviews Stephen BatchelorLorna DueckMark Sundeen, and me about what idolatry means.  I keep thinking how we put inanimate objects and symbols (ideologies, words and money) above living things.  Most our wars and acts of violence are not about self-defence, not about reality, but about symbols, ideas in the head, including money.  We mistake symbol for the thing it symbolizes.  "The Name that can be named is not the Eternal Name" (Tao Te Ching 1).

What I like about this interview is it goes deep into both Buddhist and Christian thought.  When you eliminate the idolatry of symbol, go beyond symbol to Principle, you find that Buddhism and Christianity speak the same thing.  Only the mind trapped in idolatry cannot recognize this.