Tracking ID UA-126977798-1
"30 days hath September, April, June and November..." These are the opening lines of a verse penned in English back in 1562, appearing in a book by Richard Grafton. A poem to remember the number of days in each month of the year. Today is the last day of April and the last day of "National Poetry Month" in the United States. From the beginning of recorded history, we have "poems" written in various meters and styles from all over the planet. Originally, the word "poet" was Greek, transcribed into Latin and translated as "a maker" or sometimes as "a creator" in the English language. There are poets of all races, nationalities, religions and economic status. Though, by far males are published more than females; we don't really know how many women are writing or have written poetry but were/are never formally published. I imagine there are more women poets in the world than men, it's just so many have to hide their passion and talent because of their circumstances.
The American poet EE Cummings wrote in a letter to a young poet in 1955, "My advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world-unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die."
Among other descriptions of who I am, I am a published poet. I think in poetry, view the world as a "warrior poet", and applaud those other "warrior poets" wherever they may be writing anywhere in the world. This week I write about two "warrior poets" I know who are still alive and still writing in some of the world's most challenging locations. In many countries even now, to be a poet, especially as a female, is a dangerous venture. To some, the pen or keyboard of a poet is mightier than the 'sword' or gun of a soldier.
There is no "best" poet in any society or in the world. Poetry is a personal preference, no matter what academics may decide to teach or media may promote. There are "classics" which most know in their own native language and which others have translated especially if the poem somehow touched onto elements common in our human condition: grief, love, joy, loss, doubt, betrayal, children, growing older, giving birth, war, oppression, freedom....death and so forth. Often you are considered to be "educated well" if you know poetry from writers such as Homer, Shakespeare, Dante, Lorca, Pushkin, Pasternik, Rumi, Hafez, Emerson, Kahil Gibran, William Blake, T.S. Eliot, Walt Whitman, Baudelaire, Victor Hugo, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jane Wilde, Pascal, Emily Dickinson, Sappho, Gwendolyn Brooks, Anais Nin, Wilfred Owen, Meng Jiao, Stefan Zary and so many more. Each of these writers has their own voice and style. Poetry is dependent upon understanding the language and even the metaphors specific to the culture written about. Poetry can be a code.
Certain nations value their poets more than most-Russia, Italy, Greece, Persia (Iran), Ireland, South Africa, the Gulf States, Spain, the United States, Iceland, Australia, India and Iraq. All these countries have national prizes, national organizations and media platforms for poets. The Arab countries of Kuwait and the UAE host poetry "idol" on national television in Arabic, China features "Classical Poetry Reciting" shows, America traditionally has a poet read during the Presidential Inauguration ceremony, the "Read Russia" prizes are highly competitive, broadcast nationally and have many categories for poets and poet readers to perform for the cameras.
Most countries require poetry by their ordained "national poets" to be in school curriculum. Poetry and poets are often used by those in power to sway, persuade and inculcate the feelings, values and points of view they want to indoctrinate in their citizenry. Poets, throughout history, have also been arrested, imprisoned and executed just for their words, or for their lack of complicity in a regime. Poets have been proven to be right in their predictions, their observations of human nature and their ability to understand the landscapes of human emotions. This ability often scares people and a common response to fear is suppression and/or denial.
Mystical and religious poets open the doors of perception with different handles than artists, dancers or musicians. Poets can transform a place of poverty, brutality, ugliness and terror into an atmosphere infused with beauty, sensuality, exquisite hope, originality and peace...simply with words. Poets may possess insights and articulate perceptions that non-poets can never match. Poets have gifts money cannot buy or destroy.
True poets will write even if no one reads or publishes their poems. They write because they "must", be it in a stream of consciousness, considered labor or ephemeral inspiration. The quantity is not important. Haiku are considered for their brevity and quality, for example. Touching the spirit or the skin of another human by words, igniting them to action, holding them in comfort with verse after verse, sustaining them through struggle, is part of what the mission of poets is; no matter where they live or how much 'schooling' they may have had.
One small country which recognizes it's native poets and also provided shelter for refugee poets is Aotearoa/New Zealand. Two poets who escaped the wrath of Saddam Hussein, then arrived in New Zealand before the war of 2003, are Najat Abdullah and Basim Furat. Wellington, New Zealand was their home for a few years and Aotearoa gave them a safe place to start to heal and gain strength to travel out and continue their writing.
Above is a photo of Najat Abdullah. I knew Najat in Wellington. She is a powerful poet and courageous human being. After being in exile from Iraq, she returned a few years ago to Baghdad. Fortunately, Najat never stopped writing. She is sought after as a speaker, reader and teacher in many parts of the world. She has five books of poetry published in Arabic and some poems are translated into English. We were able to reconnect while I was in Kurdistan last year.
Basim Furat is still writing. After serving in the Iraqi army as a conscript, then imprisoned under Sadam's rule, he was finally able to flee to New Zealand. He married a Kiwi woman. We met in Wellington where he was one of my patients as well as a fellow writer and reader with the New Zealand International Writers Group. He worked in Wellington in various jobs until he decided to travel, write and work abroad. In 2014, Basim Furat went to Sudan and decided to stay. His latest book of poetry is called, "The Herdsmen's Inkpot" published by Almusawwarat Publishers based in Khartoum.
Here are a few lines from his poem "Here and There" published by HeadWorX, a New Zealand publishing company which published a few of Basim's poetry books.
HERE AND THERE
by Basim Furat
Translated from the Arabic by Abdul Monem Nasser
Edited by Mark Pirie
My sweet refuge!
Your streets are lean like the waists of women
Flanked by dancing trees
Your gardens take me to the Hanging Gardens
Which always lie in my memory
Your rivers are unlike the Euphrates:
I see them starting to sweat
Before the glamour of the Tigris
Your mountains bring me to Assyria and to the Four Deities
They astound me and sneak into my dreams
Poetry doesn't have to rhyme or be in any particular form in the 21st century, but children are often first introduced to poetry by the musicality, rhythm and the ease of rhyming verses. Many song lyrics rhyme making them easier to remember and repeat. Poetry can be commercialized and this is one way poets can earn some extra income-by writing for advertising, marketing and even for political slogans and special events.
Would the world be diminished without poets? Would our human lives be lessened without poetry? Can you recall lines from any poem you learned or heard? Have you ever written a poem to a family member, a romantic interest, to make someone laugh or blush? Have you used a poem to express sympathy, condolences or cheer? Do you remember the words to songs you like by their rhymes? I reckon you have answered more "yes" than "no" to my queries. If so, then you know that poets lives do matter, did matter, in your own life...true?!
The better writers, poets especially, are people who know themselves and have their own permission to express and create without fear of inner or outer censorship. If you are continually worried about choosing words that are going to be considered 'politically correct' and pander to those ever changing modes of "cool"; or deliberately 'dumb down' your verse and message to be 'popular/publishable'- then you are not one of the "Warrior Poets".
Be bold enough to read poetry aloud sometime. Cherish those poems and poets who move you. Read poetry to your children, to any children who like to listen . Don't be afraid to write poetry...hand written poems...to someone you love. Encourage others to write poetry. You can do this anytime of the year, not just during a 'National Poetry Day' or 'Poetry Month'.
Closing this week with a photo of me reading a book of poetry, verses for children to my own children, when they were very young. Both my children continued writing and sometimes wrote poems in cards, to their loved ones and simply for expressing their moods. It is taking courage to share this memory with you, yet I feel the image itself could be viewed as a poem, maybe even a sweet haiku recalling a happy time when we were all still alive, still a family and full of hopes for our futures. I did write a poem inspired by this photo. You can read it if you like, since it is published online. The title is: "What I Miss" allpoetry.com/poem/14123494-What-I-Miss-by-Jo-Patti
Until next week I leave you with a blessing which could also be seen and read as a poem. Originally written in Gaellic, the native Irish language, the author is unknown. In the verse, the reference to wind is thought to be a reference to the Holy Spirit, who came as a “mighty wind” at Pentecost.
For Christians everywhere, Pentecost is seven weeks after Easter Sunday.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
What do you seek in life? I am not speaking of financial or material gain or outward physical fitness or attractiveness or credentials granted by other individuals or organizations? What do you, or would you devote your time and passion toward...regardless of the obstacles? Who would you willingly serve in life, no matter the hardships and danger?
Philosophers, theologians and psychologists in the last few thousand years of human existence, have surmised that human beings are driven by quests for love, for pleasure, for glory and for power. These are temporal, secular searches with the exception of 'love' which can be expanded to: "service above oneself for others" and may include "loving God with all your heart and soul" and therefore serving God as a holy quest and purpose. One defining difference of our species is the capacity to reason. We can choose what to do by making decisions based on our thinking, be they minor or major judgments. We can decide to reject or avoid going on a quest, or distract ourselves from the request (note the root "quest") to seek, as well as accepting the challenge of a quest.
A "quest" may be undertaken on behalf of others or one's family, community or nation; or as a search to find out who one is in the world and or for what tasks and purpose they are living. These are significant questions. (again, note the root "quest") To go on a quest implies there is risk and courage needed to follow through on a route which diverges from most other paths in ordinary life. For most it also includes faith in powers higher than human beings for guidance, protection and clarity on a quest.
If you are fortunate, you may have read, seen or heard about great quests. The stories brought from European and British lore (Arthurian Knights, Parsifal) from the East (stories from Hindu and Buddhist literature, 1001 Arabian Nights) or Native American ceremonial stories (Vision quests and battles) and reports of the explorers may have inspired you to one day pursue your own quest. One may never go on a such a quest in their lifetime, or one may be called for a number of quests at various times in their life.
Throughout written and oral history, quests have been recounted by those who witnessed the return of the seeker or were the seeker themselves. Important quests require preparation, usually involve suffering, sacrifice and the individual undergoes changes which may "break" him/her or forge a stronger, more capable and possibly wiser person afterwards. Quests into nature and the outside world may be concurrent with quests on the inner landscapes and between the "realms" of time, space and consciousness. Venturing into deep forests, down dark caves, climbing up hills and mountains, bearing physical pain, freezing, sweating, bleeding, crying, praying, meditating, hallucinating, ecstatic joy-even dying-may be part of an individual's quest. There are no templates or guarantees for authentic quests. Each one may appear "classic" yet each one is unique.
There are also no shortcuts on authentic quests. In some cultures, initiation ceremonies are part of a life quest. The rituals for these are passed down through generations. Ancient languages are often used during these rites and various "tests" of bravery, fortitude, perseverance, discipline, knowledge and commitment are given by members of the tribe/society in the presence of others. When they have successfully completed all the tasks demanded of them, the individual is presented as an "adult" or a "wise one" or a "messenger" to the tribe and/or community. 'Hazing' in the military, in university clubs, in secret societies and sports groups are a washed down version of these ancient rites of passage. Showing the group administering the "rites" that you are able to perform and complete all actions asked of you, means you have the pre-requisite qualities and capabilities to join them and the resilience to 'bounce back' after difficulties, struggle, humiliation, fatigue and pain. Questing for profound love can also compel you to experience all the aforementioned challenges and rewards. Yet all gains are temporary.
You may lose your hard won love, victory or enlightenment then life may re-direct you to chose another direction, fight more battles, follow another quest or repeat one again. All these pursuits and exertion have one common element-they are undertaken of one's own free will. The labors and searches are done with volition. Motivation must be self generated as well as supported by others. Quests are voluntary journeys...be they quests for knowledge, power, service or romance. If you choose to quest, you must achieve the goals, complete the mission(s), summit those peaks - or die trying.
Some who are bold, competent and brave never make it back from their quest. This past week another three intrepid alpinists and world class climbers died while attempting a treacherous route (MI-6) in the Canadian mountains. One of these young men was an American named Jess Roskelley of Spokane, Washington, USA. He came from a mountain climbing family, and his mother was an educator - like ours. His father, John Roskelley was a renown high altitude climber who took Jess when he was only 19, to climb with him on his 4th attempt to summit Mt. Everest. They both summited making international news. Jess Roskelley was the youngest American to successfully climb, summit and safely return by the time he was 20. His mother, Joyce Roskelley, was a teacher, traveler and capable trekker, among her other talents and skills. His sister Jordan, was a college athlete, who then attained her Masters in Sports Science, and is now at 29 years old, a yoga/meditation teacher for university sports teams.
Jess was a professional welder as well as labelled, "The second most adventurous person in the world...". https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/may/08/spokane-alpinist-jess-roskelley-named-second-most-/ Jess Roskelley married a woman in 2015, he described as his soulmate, Allison (32). They did not have any children.
Although it was Jess and his mates choice-(two Austrian young men-one, David Lama, whose father was a Nepalese mountain guide and his mother a nurse) to attempt a very risky route on the ice in those mountains; the ones who need the strength and courage for resilience now are those they left behind.
I know only too well how hard a climb through life will continue to be for them. My own son, Denali would have been 31years old later this week. He was born on April 27, 1988 in Macksville, Australia and was killed on K-2 along with his father, Marty Schmidt, who was attempting his personal quest of trying to summit K2 for the third time, in July 2013. He took our son with him on his quest...all the way to their deaths.
It is haunting to see the prophetic painting Denali did entitled: "Buried" and the photo of Jess in a red outer jacket and black frame goggles shortly before his death where he likely was "buried in an avalanche" this past week. In addition to their mothers, they both left grieving sisters behind, too. (see photos below) At least Jordan Roskelley has both her parents and her older sister, Dawn still living. John Roskelley is now 70 years old.
There are holy grails in many forms as quests.
My thoughts and prayers extend to the Roskelley, Lama and Auer families and those who know them. I truly hope that now they have found the bodies of their family members, as well as some personal items including phones/photos of their last hours, this will help with the agonizing grieving that is sure to come after the shock wears off. www.khq.com/news/family-of-spokane-climber-jess-roskelley-issue-statement-after-his/article_0b42c8a6-6467-11e9-bed2-531c0a1e2f79.html
Now that Easter and Passover have been celebrated around the world and the message of survival, resurrection, Spring and re-birth has been proclaimed; I hope each of you will continue or begin your quest, if you so choose. Even if you decide not to proceed, perhaps you can support those who choose to endeavor or continue on their quest.
This week I include music from the Wagnerian opera, Parsifal. This was Richard Wagner's final opera and he wrote it when he was quite desperate having experienced death in his own family, poverty, brutal reviews of his work and scorn. As a person, Richard Wagner was very controversial and unfortunately others appropriated his music for their own nefarious and brutal aims, after his death. However his music is sublime. Wagner's compositions stand the test of time.
The person who posted this music/video (linked below) included photos of mountains-including K2 and Mt. Everest-in the video. It seems a fitting tribute to all those who have crossed the threshold this week and to remember those who crossed over before, and their impact on the living.
Other reference sites about the remarkable Alexandra David-Neel and about Richard Wagner, are included this week for a number of reasons. Alexandra David-Neel's books and Wagner's music inspired me when I was a teenager. They either wrote about, composed or hiked themselves in the mountains of the world.
In remembering those who have crossed over I want to mention a teacher who also had an deep impact on my life. Dr. Dobson, taught a year long course on Wagner and music drama my first year at university. He played all the Wagnerian lietmotivs on the piano and required we knew every one by ear and heart. He would have his back to us sitting at the piano with his long white hair, as we entered class. He always began with at least one musical phrase before he ever uttered a word. Dr. Dobson created a reverence in his classroom seldom achieved anywhere. He demanded exact listening and memory skills and instilled in us a love for expressive music and story telling. Dr. Dobson could separate the genius of Wagner from the flaws he had as a human being. www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/symbolismproject/symbolism.html/Teutonic_Mythology/wagleit.html
Please take a few minutes to read of their extraordinary lives and contribution to all of humankind. The links are posted below.
Please also take a moment to hold those who have been killed by terrorists, accidents, illness or other means this week, in your prayers. Hold those left behind in your thoughts as well. The struggle of those who survive requires enormous resolve, restraint and resilience.
From central Texas until next Tuesday, may God bless you and yours,
Mountains of the World:
Music by Wagner from "Parsifal": www.youtube.com/watch?v=f841xVf39KA
Before the 1990's there was a movement both in the social and economic sectors in most western countries to promote "Family Friendly" policies, places and products. In previous decades children were not often taken or permitted to be by themselves in public spaces such as restaurants, airports, political demonstrations, workplaces, or establishments where there was "adult entertainment". Businesses would advertise, "family friendly" meaning children were 'welcome' to accompany adults. Then in a shift in tactic, and a not so subtle pivot from incorporating and promoting "families" to emphasis only on "the children" - advertising/media focused their message to be simply, "child friendly" locations, policies and consumer goods.
In fact in 1996, the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) came out with an ambitious program and numerous research papers on a project they titled: Child Friendly Cities Initiative. This was under a larger more ambitious world wide design they had created for the entire planet called: "The 2030 Agenda".
Based on research indicating that by 2015, over four billion of the world's population would be living in urban areas, and of those one third or approximately 1,333,333,333 would be/are children; and reviewing data that projected by 2050, 70% of the planet's population would be living in urban areas/cities and if the current trends continued, at least half of those children would be living below the poverty line and many would be living in slums; UNICEF proposed an initiative which supports municipal governments through funding and "advising" to work toward a number of goals for improving their cities with a focus on the needs of children.
One of the first countries to sign on to this initiative was Italy in 1996. Italy had been known as one of the more "child oriented and child friendly" countries in the world at that point. Part of the "child friendly" programs centered on safe spaces for sports and recreation. (see photo below) Securing areas so they are protected from traffic, (by barriers, fences, walls, tunnels) as well as providing access to clean water and clean air, are/were priorities for Italy. These were ideal aims to motivate other countries signing on to the program.
The project includes "youth councils" connected to UNICEF where children are "encouraged to participate in activities and report on violations or problem areas in their cities, which affect children". There are apps children can download to their phones to send information/evidence into a UNICEF cluster. For a more in depth analysis of the 2030 goals/endgames, click on this link: www.activistpost.com/2015/09/agenda-2030-translator.html
UNICEF sponsors conferences and forums for "youth in cities" and provides funding for attending workshops for youth from different parts of the world. UNICEF collects data from their "youth ambassadors" in "child friendly cities" projects which conduct surveys, compile photos, documents, present policy actions for analysis by United Nations and UNICEF staff. "To promote child participation, the National Committee of UNICEF's Child Friendly City Initiative is also working on an innovative project with the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT). The project’s aim is to include adolescents in the development of the next national survey (2019) to help collect information on the behaviour of boys and girls aged between 10 and 19 years living in Italy. The data will be aggregated to show the situation of children living at the city level." childfriendlycities.org/italy/
While on the surface, all these activities appear positive and proactive, the underlying and concurrent schemes involve directing children's attention (and allegiance) from their families, primary caregivers, community members, teachers, religious elders and authorities to a "global organization" for reporting, confiding and addressing their individual and local concerns. It does not mention privacy, bias, respect for traditional customs/culture, or age appropriate tasks and responsibilities sensitive to local beliefs. Is this really so different from countries or movements whose leaders use technology to command reporting and allegiance to the state and/or their form of government/dictatorship/theocracy? www.wired.co.uk/article/china-study-the-great-nation-app
The deliberate shift from family or local community connections to a much larger, complex and impersonal organization actually diminishes the voice and individuality and unique significance of a child. The child is early on regarded as an "asset"...or not. There can be thousands or millions just like her/him. This is not "child friendly" this is global new world order friendly-programming children to their needs while disregarding developmental stages. The child's needs are viewed to be subordinate to their data industrial complex (DIC) priorities. This is not done from a basis of caring, responsiveness or love. Children are used as agents of the United Nations through UNICEF. Their mission is advertised and disseminated as a worthwhile and even an "urgent" objective. Who dares oppose or object to an international, multicultural initiative?! There is considerable pressure, especially on children, to "go with the flow", conform and passively consent to the strongest narratives. But, this is fundamentally "anti child" in a move to condition children to respond first to a multinational organization for challenges in their local communities. The "change agent" here is the United Nations via children.
In the past few years, in mostly western "developed" nations, there has been pressure exerted on families, schools, societies to accept completely unscientific or medically proved concepts regarding gender biology. Children are being deliberately "cross dressed", pumped full of pharmaceutical drugs to alter their behavior and physiology, paraded on media as eroticized, created, "intersectional" creatures, flaunted in adult entertainment clubs, bars and lounges and exploited for political, economic and adult egocentric motives. They are being used as "assets" for commercial, political, economic and some might say, for "satanic" purposes. "Leftist ideology regarding transgenderism not only contradicts existing progressive doctrines (feminism), but is also literally false. Do not ever apologize for rejecting their unscientific hogwash. This noisy .001% of the population is sick and should not be allowed to dictate to the rest of us. You are being ordered to believe in a fairy tale—the idea that a dog can transform into a cat if it just wishes for it hard enough—and this is where the danger lies." www.reaxxion.com/10078/why-we-need-to-fight-against-transgender-acceptance
Their individuality, natural developmental stages, normal curiosity, observational skills and privacy have been twisted to make them into unwitting "change agents" for the interests and investments of those who plot to disrupt and confuse the next generations by forcing "acceptance" of this anti-child agenda including an imposed censorship on speech and critical thinking. No matter if the predominant indoctrination includes racism (Black Lives Matter movement), Islamic caliphate extremism,(Jihad) Neo Nazism or gang credos-children are the most vulnerable to be victims and purveyors of the presiding belief systems they are brought up and surrounded with, by the society they are born into. www.wnd.com/2016/05/whats-really-behind-americas-transgender-mania/
As parents, children are our most precious and treasured loved ones. As societies one would hope children would be considered our most important "resource", yet increasingly, nations are devaluing children as children. More and more, countries are transforming into "anti child" nations. In this regard it is important to re-read Ayn Rand's prophetic observations and warnings: “The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by precedent, by implication, by erosion, by default, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other—until the day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.”
Fortunately, there are some societies and countries which encourage children to be individual, strong and resourceful as they go through the stages of human development. These countries are working on different initiatives for children. The "Forest Schools" were founded in the 1950s in Scandinavia. These schools have spread to a few other countries. Here is a short video report about this true "child friendly" initiative in education. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jkiij9dJfcw
Certainly it is easier to care for and educate children in rural areas outside crowded cities, in countries which have a robust economy and a literate citizenry; but it is also imperative that a society or nation value healthy and capable children. There are diverse ways of viewing children in our world. Not all societies see children as a national treasure, or feel a noble and moral duty to cherish them, to view them as irreplaceable rather than as commodities, cogs, cannon fodder or slaves in their ever expanding empire. (see map below) Values are not global or immutable.
For those of you, dear readers, who have, love and/or work with children, I salute you and urge you to be alert to these "programs", social engineering agendas and "global initiatives"-the cons and the pros-for the sake of our next generations. Included is a link to a video I highly recommend which discusses one of the more powerful psychological operations conducted on children and therefore all of society: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_RtHctpV1A
From the Lone Star State until next week,
Keeping careful watch over others or over your own actions, speech and thoughts requires practiced discipline and the ability to stay alert. This is not easy. Much of western culture and social life is designed to distract you and seduce you into comfort, somnolence, compromise and submission to consumerism, materialism and physical desires. What many never realize is they are being led into "obedience" and controlled under the guise of "freedom" and ease. Remember the companies who pressed their brand with catchy ads urging you to "Just Do It!", "Get A Mac", "Take the Plunge", "Shop Now" or "Because You're Worth It!" - spend your money on their products. Don't think just buy, or just "go" or just "get some". Consequences? Alternatives? Don't bother to think too much is the aim of all these companies,organizations,social media personalities and online platforms. They want to convince you, convert you and hook you until you automatically respond....mindlessly. They are not hiding their motives. They use words such as "captivate" or "reel in" to describe their marketing goals or mission statements. It is left up to us to resist their hard sells and to beware of their ploys, lures and tactics. Advertising as well as brainwashing/propaganda techniques, are persistent, pervasive and relentless; likewise we must counter with the same fortitude and vigilance to protect our values, budgets, principles, freedoms and our individual spirits.
The more precious and expansive our territories are-both internally and externally-the greater the need for support and protection. Life is in a process of constant change therefore we need to be constantly vigilant. Although we may have fought for and achieved certain goals such as skills, relationships, property, understanding and "freedoms"-we cannot maintain these without "vigilance". When we become too comfortable with what our ancestors and with what we have achieved, or we witness a slackening in our own communities, societies or in ourselves-we need to re-group and re-commit to strengthening. This effort may be met with resistance and push back. It is harder to go from an ease of being to a bounded, more disciplined and seemingly more restricted way of working and/or living. However, it is vital we initiate the movements toward boundaries again rather than have outside forces lean in and impose their own restrictions and control. Those individuals and societies who lack cohesiveness, organization, discipline and effective protection in place, make easy targets for those with more power and avaricious aims. I am speaking on both a metaphysical/spiritual plane and a material/physical plane.
There is a continuing struggle we need to be aware of, especially now with the complex technological advances invading our lives, imposed on us by governments (surveillance, mandatory digital registries, medical interventions,etc.) by companies (utilities, communications, financial instruments, food delivery, hospitality services, etc.) and media (controlled by powerful individuals, multinational corporations and in many countries by the state and theocracies).
There is a chipping away at the accomplishments and liberties fought for and labored over for centuries. The value of being a human being is being denigrated and diminished. We have to be vigilant in order for standards to be kept and humans to be valued. The number of industries which provide jobs that used to be done by human beings (now done by robots or automation) is decreasing every year. "The World Economic Forum, predicts a “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” characterized by unprecedented 'developments in genetics, artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, and biotechnology.' And while previous industrial revolutions have catapulted the human workforce forward, this one may set us back — at least in the short term. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) researchers reported that, “current trends could lead to a net employment impact of more than 5.1 million jobs lost to disruptive labor market changes over the period 2015–2020.” The Forum estimates that a grand total of 7.1 million jobs will be lost as a direct result of many of our proudest innovations, and that two-thirds of these jobs will be “concentrated in the Office and Administrative job family.” www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/robots-replace-5-million-jobs-2020/
Others will point to more dire predictions: "Overall, the MGI report guesses that automation will displace the jobs of 400 million to 800 million people between now and 2030." www.wired.com/story/robots-threaten-bigger-slice-of-jobs-in-us-other-rich-nations/ The profit motive, in addition to less need for human resources, benefits, pastoral care for machines which can work 24/7 with no breaks, no unions, no healthcare needs, et al means businesses and industries are willing to invest more in technology than in people.
“It’s the great paradox of our era, productivity is at record levels, innovation has never been faster, and yet at the same time, we have a falling median income and we have fewer jobs." www.technologyreview.com/s/515926/how-technology-is-destroying-jobs/
"What was once created to make our lives easier could very well “threaten our existence” in the span of a few years. This grim warning comes from the experts featured in the two-episode documentary series “Hyper Evolution: Rise of the Robots”. Presented by teaching fellow at Anglia Ruskin University and evolutionary biologist Dr. Ben Garrod and University of Manchester electronics engineer Danielle George, the documentary aims to the answer the question whether or not automation could one day become our greatest enemy. Though according to Garrod himself, that could very well be the case." www.naturalnews.com/2017-07-28-stronger-than-human-terminator-robots-are-now-a-reality-warn-analysts-and-should-be-classified-as-an-invasive-species.html
Often, for the sake of ease, human interaction is replaced by screens and/or machines. One glaring example is in the fields of childcare and care for the elderly. Japan is the country most advanced in the "carebots" industry. Japan has the world's oldest population. They have trialed robot teachers and elder assist robots since 2010. These robots include special adaptations such as having 24 fingers for special tasks including hair washing, massaging, holding. www.bbc.com/news/technology-24949081 They invented a special "pet robot" to ease loneliness and isolation. They named the seal like furry "companion robot", Paro, and it is growing in popularity. Media is promoting this shift. Movies such as "AI", "Frank and I", "Her" (with Joaquin Phoenix) and even the Star Wars series promote the idea that robots/tech voices are capable, trustworthy, friendly and worthy companions. There are a few movies which present the darker side of human nature in robots and AI, "Blade Runner"-the "Terminator" series are some of the most popular. These present "child robots", "sex robots" and "robocops".
Even language is transforming to include robots. Articles applauding the use of robots as "co workers", "robonauts" and "cobots" making them sound as if they are "almost human" and just "colleagues of steel" or "part of our team", abound.
In a strange turnabout we already have media posing questions such as: "Can humans work with robots?" Note the word order of this query and the flattering descriptions of robots in various professions: "Robot surgeons and doctors aren’t affected by external influences like stress or tiredness and so make fewer mistakes. Having an operation under a robot surgeon may even make patients feel more comfortable, which is fantastic for healthcare." Or this assertion: "Robots can now perform at and above human levels in creative and highly skilled professions. Using robots in the workplace is a smart move for companies, because robots are more cost effective and time efficient than humans." disruptionhub.com/10-jobs-robots-replacing-humans/
Yes, it may seem easier and trendy to have machines do our work and be our "companions" rather than put in human effort, time and emotional investment but the ramifications of concentrating on technologies or substituting AI for human interaction and perceptions, is ultimately to our peril. Machines will never have a spirit or a soul or be connected to other living beings and the natural world.
As "flawed" as human nature may be...we are unique and part of the universe for reasons we may not be able to fathom but which are significant in the design of the Divine. Strive for self discipline as well as genuine human contact. Be vigilant and discerning about the proposed changes in products, media and society. This is my viewpoint as we near the end of the Lenten season.
Until next Tuesday,
* Some music created by human beings and human beings marching to it, appropo of this week's post-there is also forceful movement to create robotic "super soldiers" Can you imagine their replacements in this parade? Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRVS4XxSn9Q
The sign for "delta" originated in ancient Phoenicia. It was brought to Greece by the Phoenician Kadmus in the 8th century B.C., from an area of the world known as "the Levant" in English. The geographical area is now where Lebanon, Syria and the northern part of Israel are located. The images for "delta" are on shown below on the left. You can see both the formal/capital letter and the small letter representations. The delta "sign" has been used in mathematics (see right side image) and in the US military to designate the elite special operations force (CAG-combat operations group) unit. The delta sign is also shorthand for "change" or difference in quantity. In math, science and the military-delta signifies quantifiable change agents-whether for velocity, ratios, codes, data, gap size, strategies or for navigation purposes to designate a specific low flat land shape where a river divides. In social sciences the delta is used as shorthand for convenience, when citing a difference or change. In some circles, "change agents" and/or "influencers" are referred to as "delta factors".
How do we calculate the speed of change? The time it takes from a base line (for example ten years ago) to the present, and the quantifiable differences we note and specify - is one method. Let's look at the way language is transforming in the past decade as one "delta" factor or change agent. Case in point: "Hate Speech".
The initial laws stipulating what constitutes "hate speech" in the USA were first introduced in the 1940s. Promoted, taught and indoctrinated ideologies in the last decades in America, and other countries, have led to a society preoccupied with policing speech through "political correctness." In a recent article entitled: Western Culture Has Died A Politically Correct Death" by Paul Craig Roberts, he states- "When a people are afraid to use the words and terms of their forefathers, you know they have been intimidated to abandon even their own language and ways of speaking."
"The political correctness people are the most alienated and emotionally weak element in the society. Yet they dominate in the media, entertainment, universities, and art world." https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2019/03/30/western-culture-has-died-a-politically-correct-death/
There has been a continuous push, especially by "the Left" in the United States, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia (FVEY)* to add more restrictions, definitions and laws against certain types of speech and expression. Seeping into our language of discourse through directed media, is the manipulation of words and usage. *https://vpnveteran.com/five-eyes-countries-what-you-need-to-know/
The word "phobia", for instance-means "an irrational fear of" - therefore to be "homophobic" technically means to be "irrationally afraid of homosexuals". It is now used as a substitute for the more accurate word, "prejudiced against" or simply, prejudice-meaning to "pre judge" or judge before knowing fully, or an idea or opinion not based on reason or experience. We all have prejudices and fears whether we are conscious of them or not. However, it does not necessarily or statistically follow that if you are "afraid" or even "pre judging" someone or a group of people, that you will follow on with violence or harm to that individual or group.
Anticipating a crime because of "phobias" or "judging" is akin to "thought crime". Someone calling another a hurtful or prejudice based word may hurt their feelings but not do actual physical harm. Exactly what words will hurt feelings or actually prompt action are not completely predictable. It depends on the person, group they are directed at, the time and the place as well as their choice to respond or not. Were you ever advised to follow the truism/advice in this children's sing song?
"Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words will never hurt me."
Other countries have more rigorous laws, policies and punishments for expression of certain ideas, use of certain words and speech. Examples include: Canada which has already passed laws in the last three years (since 2015): "Section of 319, in turn, defines an “identifiable group” as “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability.” (“Gender identity or expression” is a new flourish added by Prime Minister Trudeau’s infamous bill C-16, the controversial legislation that helped make Jordan Peterson a global celebrity for taking issue with it.) Canadian Code Section 320(8) proceeds to classify “any writing, sign or visible representation” that would constitute a section 319 offense as “Hate Propaganda.” As a criminal good, such propaganda can be confiscated with a warrant of seizure, and Ottawa is obligated to prevent its import from foreign lands." (Censorship laws) www.nationalreview.com/2018/04/canada-laws-crack-down-on-hate-speech/
This statement is one of the justifications for censorship-can you spot the irrationality of this "logical progression" they try on the public?
“Censorship helps to promote tolerance and thus, diversity, while simultaneously protecting us from hate speech and bigotry, therefore creating a safer, less offensive world for all.”
Who decides what "tolerance" is, and what is more or less "offensive" for "all" of us? A platform for all viewpoints, including ones critical of governing bodies, leaders, and/or corporations or other organizations; is integral to real freedom of speech and expression. Restricting or censoring certain "intolerable" or "offensive" speech/words/text as determined by presiding government officials or corporations, is no longer "free speech" no matter what their national legal charters may state. "Tolerance" does not necessarily promote "diversity" either. How does it follow that "censorship will "promote diversity"? Quite a leap presuming that censorship will "create a safer... world....for all".
Take Sweden as an example of focus on "hate speech" online as a "terrible crime" instead of focus on the physical crimes of rape, attack, theft. The "hate speech" however is only prosecuted if it is against muslims or Islam and not vice versa. www.breitbart.com/europe/2019/03/31/91-year-old-swede-convicted-anti-islam-hate-speech/
New Zealand has quickly expanded it's surveillance and punitive consequences to include online "speech, images, video" which they have determined by their "Chief Censor" Mr. David Shanks and their Prime Minister, Ms. Jacinda Ardern to be "offensive". The penalty for distributing or even "watching" the online video of the Christchurch shooting is now, years in prison. www.nytimes.com/2019/03/21/world/asia/new-zealand-attacks-social-media.html
The British have instituted severe laws regarding "hate crime". This was a country which once prided itself on permitting open platforms for freedom of speech. Hyde Park pundits, alternative press, biting comedic satire, etc. - no more. If it is not the government it is the corporations that now control media which the government(s) permit to continue censorship with impunity. "...corporate censorship is out of control. It speaks to a new kind of tyranny: the tyranny of unaccountable capitalist oligarchs in Silicon Valley getting to decide who is allowed to speak in the new public square that is the internet." www.spiked-online.com/2019/02/27/why-tommy-robinson-should-not-be-banned/
Germany is considered to have the most restrictive laws of any western democracy with fines for social media posts running into the millions of Euros per offence. techcrunch.com/2017/08/21/online-hate-crime-to-be-treated-the-same-as-face-to-face-crime-in-the-uk/
The first amendment to the Constitution (law of the land) of the United States includes "Freedom of Speech". There have been numerous legal challenges to redefine what those freedoms include and what consequences there would be to go beyond the scope of what the first amendment protects. "In Brandenburg v. Ohio, the Supreme Court held that the government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless it intentionally and effectively provokes a crowd to immediately carry out violent and unlawful action. This is a very high bar, and for good reason." www.aclu.org/other/speech-campus
Under the Bill of Rights, adopted and passed in 1791, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Currently, it appears to be one sided in terms who is actually permitted freedom of speech to say/write that someone or some group is "offensive" or "intolerant", "racist" or phobic. The definition of religious 'phobias' keeps expanding these days, in that we continually hear and read about "Islamaphobia", but the truth is, in terms of violent attacks and numbers killed and injured in the world due to prejudice against a religion; is really because of "Judeophobia" and "Christianphobia" which has resulted in actual physical violence, terrorism and death against Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Druze and peoples who are not Islamic followers (apostates), by those who believe in "jihad" and sharia law dictates. Hundreds of thousands have been killed in the name of "Allah" since 2014, more graves are discovered weekly in places in the Levant, Iraq and Africa. This begs the question-which group/belief system is "intolerant" and phobic not only in speech, text and propaganda but in actions? www.counterextremism.com/content/isiss-persecution-religions
Why isn't the text which urges jihad considered "hate speech" and why isn't sharia law text which rejects women's rights considered to be "discriminatory" and "gender biased" hate 'propaganda' ?! Think about it. Quite one sided, really. Is just mentioning the name of the Divinity you believe in "Islamaphobic" if the generic "God" is not used?
What if you pray in public and say the name "Jesus" or "Yahweh" or "Tunkashila" (Lakota-Indigenous language in the USA) or Dios? Councilman Curtis Jones introduced a resolution accusing Clinton County Rep. Stephanie Borowicz of being inappropriate and Islamophobic on the day that Movita Johnson-Harrell (a Muslim woman) took office after winning a special election to represent West Philadelphia. Rep. Stephanie Borowicz said a prayer which invoked the name of Jesus more than once in the opening of the assembly. Ms. Movita (Muslim) expressed outrage at the text of the prayer and the continuous mention of "Jesus".
Why are media and certain organizations conducting a campaign to malign businesses, public figures and government appointees/employees and their families, simply because of their Christian based religious beliefs? www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/03/29/texas-ag-to-investigate-san-antonio-ban-on-chick-fil-a-for-christian-values/
Why are public schools in the USA allowed to conduct classes on Islam but not Christianity or other religions? Why is anti Israel and anti Jewish propaganda permitted as part of curriculum in US public middle and high schools?
Who are the change agents, the delta factors navigating this direction regarding freedom (or restriction) of speech and expression? One bold Prime Minister decided to speak and his speech was edited in most of the media, but I urge you to read it yourself. Here is one short excerpt: “Europe is the community of Christian, free, and independent nations. Mass migration is a slow stream of water persistently eroding the shores. It is masquerading as a humanitarian cause, but its true nature is the occupation of territory. And what is gaining territory for them is losing territory for us.”
Many of the change agents, the delta factors, are/were in the arts/entertainment industries, not just the political, military or tech realms. In the USA, April is designated as "National Poetry Month". Poets, throughout the ages and in many parts of the world are/were hailed as harbingers of change. They could write in layers and thereby (often) subvert the censors of "political correctness" under various regimes. They wrote, sung and spoke "truth to power" in ways ordinary writers/speakers could not.
Perhaps the greatest living American poet, lyricist, musician, painter and world famous singer/composer is: Bob Dylan - born Robert Allen Zimmerman in 1941. He was called "the voice of a generation" but that should be amended to "generations" now he is 77 years old and still composing. Bob Dylan has been on a deeply spiritual quest for most of his life with a foundation from his Jewish family and his personal conversion to Christianity. He has sung his expression, his pro peace politics and his incisive observations about humanity and uniquely American experiences, for many decades. Bob Dylan sings about Jesus in many of his songs...would you call him an "Islamaphobe" for doing so? I absolutely would not. I call him a genius and a national treasure. He was and is a force to reckoned with. He was an agent of change-musical change, mind change, commercial and cultural change.
This week I will end this post with music & lyrics written by Bob Dylan for a song entitled: "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall". He wrote and performed this song when he was only 21, which is over 55 years ago. You can review his words and see how prophetic a poet he is in the youtube video linked below.
Enjoy your freedom of expression if you are still fortunate enough to live in a country where the cyber and legal clamp downs have not made you self censor...or scared you into silence. I urge you to listen and read carefully-delta factors are spreading.
From Yun Tai mountain-until next Tuesday,