Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jane Smiley: Goodbye, Cruel World

In terms of contemporary politics, there are five writers that I consider the best of the best, the most enlightened and articulate. These are Paul Krugman of the New York Times, syndicated political writer and cartoonist Ted Rall, William Pfaff of the International Herald Tribune and the man who singlehandedly broke the story of Katherine Harris and the purged Florida 2000 Presidential election voter rolls, BBC journalist Greg Palast. Also in that bunch is Pulitzer prizewinner Jane Smiley, with whom I feel exactly in alignment in terms of a moral compass. This week she once again brilliantly lays bare the truth:

The world would be a better place if the American right wing had never existed. Thousands of Americans and Iraqis would still be alive, tens of thousands or Iraqis would still be living in their own homes. The American economy would not have hopped from bubble to bubble if the right wing had not put all of their faith in deregulation, and American jobs would not have been sent abroad. Our tax dollars would not have flowed upward into the coffers of the rich, and the war machine would not comprise such a large part of our economy. We would have retained the respect of other nations, and not aroused the absolute hatred of those we have attempted to bomb into submission. We would get along better with one another if the right wing had not used tribal hatreds to arouse their base against black people, immigrants, liberals, and the well-educated. Our infrastructure, health care, and schools would be better if the billions spent on futile wars had been spent on domestic needs. The planet would be a better place if our addiction to oil had been broken 25 years ago.

But the issue goes deeper even that these practical matters. We would, in fact, be happier people if the right wing had not terrorized us with their horror-filled systems of belief. The Friedmanites are bad enough -- in their world, there are only winners and losers. Everyone deserves what they get, and if a child who gets melamine in his milk is a victim of "creative destruction", well, too bad, because some rich person is getting a little bit more money. In the capitalist world, you are not just supposed to starve, you are supposed to deserve starving -- insult added to injury, humiliation added pain. Of course, as Naomi Klein has shown, the "free market" is never free at all, it is fixed, by dictators and armies and oligarchs. But the thrust of the propaganda stands. We may call this the "Phil Gramm Position".

As bad as this is, far worse has been the effect of religious fundamentalism on the individual spirit and the national mood. By now, we all know some child (or former child) who has been terrorized by "the Rapture" -- who has come home after school to an empty house, only to panic because he or she is convinced that everyone else has been "raptured up." The left behind one has to reckon with the idea that not only is everyone he or she loves gone, he or she has done something wrong according to Jesus, and failed to deserve salvation. I call this child abuse. The religious right has been determined to enforce the unhappiness of others, no doubt so that that unhappiness will match their own. After all, they want to make sure that gay people understand that no matter how much they pay in taxes, they are second class citizens. They also want to make sure that every woman in the world understands that her interests are secondary to those of any embryo, any man, even, indeed, any sperm cell. This would be the "James Dobson Position".

The God of the right wing, and of the Bible, is a pretty arbitrary guy. He lays down the rules, but you can get those boils or those locusts even if you didn't knowingly do anything wrong, in fact, even if you didn't do anything wrong at all. Your personal God could punish you for something someone else did, as in the Bible he frequently punishes the enemies of Israel, men, women, children, dogs, cats, goats, etc., just for being the enemies of Israel. I love how right wing preachers pray away hurricanes, sending them to places like Bermuda. If your God is arbitrary, then of course you are always anxious and depressed -- your adrenaline is always pumping. And you are never motivated to understand how the world works. But locusts and boils and hurricanes have causes -- physical, medical, and ecological. Society can avoid locusts and boils and even mitigate the effects of hurricanes if it understands cause and effect, but if your God is an arbitrary authoritarian, and your father was an arbitrary authoritarian, then you never truly understand cause and effect in the world we live in. As we all know, no religion has ever successfully answered the problems raised by the issue of an omnipotent God. The best they offer is to forbid questioning, and to punish those who do. Because the right wing experiences the world as cruel and arbitrary, they have no inhibitions about enhancing that cruelty -- as in "Hurricane Katrina", as in "Iraq War", and in "Abu Ghraib".

This is the world we have been living in for the past thirty years.

In a week, we have a chance to leave this world behind. If we look at our two candidates, the differences between them are stark. John McCain, who was raised by and accepts the authoritarian model, is evidently never at peace. He is hot-headed, erratic, and has been remarkably cruel. He claims to have principles, but his principles change every time he loses his cool. The more he is pushed, the more it becomes evident that he lives by his own selfish desires -- for money, for power, for women. He's is a classic avoider, who can't even answer the simplest question -- if something "unpleasant" comes up, he changes the subject. Barack Obama rarely changes the subject, because he is fully capable of looking at an issue and considering it. He seems to have been reared in a non-authoritarian household, by a loving mother and loving grandparents. He thinks that the world is a rational place that can be understood and modified. His own family seems happy and loving. Right wingers think he is shallow, but he isn't shallow -- he's well-adjusted. And we've had two whole years to poke him and prod him and discover this. Obama has grown through campaigning because he has learned from it. McCain gets ever smaller and more weird as he campaigns because he doesn't understand what is happening to him. When we choose between these two men, we are choosing between two worlds -- the world of ignorance, fear, manipulation, and cruelty, and the world of rational investigation, weighing of options, and planning. This world is a world where sexual preference is not such a big deal, salvation is not an eternal mystery, and life goes on. It's a world where bad things happen, but there is no malign Godly intention behind them. It is world that understands the temptations of human nature and attempts to deal with them rationally and systematically. Some of these attempts will fail, but on balance, not as many as have failed in the last twenty-five years.

Most of my friends see the coming election as the most important we have known. The right wing has damaged our country, our livelihoods, our national honor, and our planet, but not yet fatally. If McCain gets elected, that could change.


Tiffani Ellis said...

Wow. I think that just about sums it up.
I like the quote, "...if your God is an arbitrary authoritarian, and your father was an arbitrary authoritarian, then you never truly understand cause and effect in the world we live in."
I thought, yeah, you may never understand cause and effect, but you can become president, and drag us all along with you down your personal path of unhappiness.

New American Patriot said...


Yup. You've gotta rockin' blog, BTW, And thanks for introducing me to "Missy Higgins" on your Myspace - great stuff.

ElderChild said...

Taking the bait! And The LIE is swallowed, hook, line and sinker ;-(

Someone had written: "When I talk about people buying or being sold 'absolute crap' I'm not only talking about the material but also about the ideological. We are 'sold' on consumerism, the wars (Iraq), elections (the presidency), all manner of things. Unfortunately, so few people see that just because these ideas are on sale, that they don't actually have to buy them!"

Sadly, the multitudes have bought The LIE ;-(

The multitudes have taken the bait which is "ease of life", so-called, and The LIE was swallowed(believed),

and sinker(technology) ;-(

This place they call the u.s. of a. is the "bait"master and they catch their "fish" in every nation of this world ;-( Yet in england, france, germany, japan, etc, in all nations of this wicked world, there are those who have become disciples of the "bait"master and they also have found other "waters" in which to catch their "fish" ;-(

And so it is that today there are multitudes in every nation under the sun that have taken the bait(ease of life), and swallowed(believed) the hook(money), the line(education/religion) and the sinker(technology) ;-(

Tempted, hooked, reeled in, and held captive as they but serve "time" in the
prison that is this wicked world ;-(

Simply, they could not withstand the media blitz(krieg), and their "imag"ination got the best of them ;-(

Some two thousand years past The Truth bore witness to the fact that, "the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one"! (1John5:19) Yet, the "fish" continue to seek out that "good" place in the world, when in Truth the world today is but the product of mankind's "imag"ination, a dry and thirsty land of mirages, nothing but shadows ;-(

And in this wicked world, "image"s abound and are worshipped ;-(

So why receive that which is of mankind's "imag"ination?

Even when such is supposedly "free" there will always be a price to pay, for mankind's "imag"ination is destroying the earth(land, air, water, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is Spirit(Light, Life, Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Grace, Faith, etc.) ;-(

Consider the time when there were no radio's, no tv's, no movies, no newspapers, a time when there was no way yet "imag"ined and then manufactured, that would allow someone to publish or display the vain "imag"inations of mankind to the "masses". Sadly those who rule in this wicked world, and who control the "media", consider the "masses" to be but the M in E=MC(squared);-(

And yet today, here i am publishing(sharing) that which i believe to be from the heart, The Spirit within, not the vain "imag"inations of my fleshly mind. i can but hope that which i share is from The ONE whose voice i have heard and whose Power i have experienced in The Miracles of deliverance that set me free, free from the "I" in me!

The ONE who revealed the lies that are of this world, it's 'god', and it's systems of religion, as i received evermore "a love of The Truth". The ONE WHOM i know and believe is the Giver of Life, The Only True GOD and Father(Creator) of ALL!

Father Help! and HE does.......

Do you feel as i feel?
Do you wonder just what's real?

Do you see the little child?
Do you see them running wild?

i see their doubts and i see their fears,
i see their hurts and i see their tears.

Now could be that's what i look to see,
Yet what i see is real to me.

Now am i alone to care and cry?
Or must i close these eyes and surely die?

Sadly, the children, or those who once were called children, today are referred to as "kids" ;-(

Sadder yet, the reference is true ;-(

Baby goats abound because their 'parents' feed them all sorts of "trash", and so it is that as they grow, they "eat" any and all things, no matter the dis-eases(no-peace) that causes them to be pill pushers, peer pleasers, or worse yet slaves of the media ;-(

"Where have all the children gone? long time pa-as-sing" ;-(

Progress? Yes things are getting progressively worse and worse ;-(

The Hopi people of AZ once believed "A Simple and Spiritual Life is the only Life that will survive".

Sadly, not long ago, it seems the last "hostile" Hopi, "hostile" meaning against "progress" so-called! The last "hostile" Hopi passed away a short time ago, and the remaining hopi, remain in name only, for it seems they have given up and given in to "progress" ;-(

Hope is there are yet Hopi who still believe they will once again "see" their "True White Brother", Whom i believe to be The Messiah.

Thankfully Hope IS Alive!

For Miracles do happen!

Hope is there would be those who would take heed unto The Call of Our Father(Creator) and "Come Out" of this wicked world(babylon) and it's systems of religion, for they will no longer have their portion with those who are destroying the earth(land, air, water, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is Spirit(Light, Life, Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Grace, Faith, etc.) ;-(

Truth testified more than 1900 years ago,“Pure religion and undefiled before GOD The Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the world.” (James 1:27)

Simply, all other “religion” is impure and defiled”!

And “religion”, so-called, has deceived the multitudes and perverted Truth ;-(

Faith will not create a system of religion!

And for those who have seen the destructiveness of this world and it's systems of religion and have embraced “mother earth", and the oneness that is the natural Creation?

Hope is they would also experience and embrace the ONEness that is a common union with their Brother, The Messiah, and Their Father, The Only True GOD(Great Spirit), HE WHO is Creator(Father) of ALL!

Family! indeed and Truth.......


Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this wicked world and it's systems of religion, for "the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one"(1John5:19) indeed and Truth.......

Truth is never ending.......

Ronaldus Magnus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
New American Patriot said...

Speaking of Republicans, look at what FORTY-SIX of your great, moral, upstanding Republican activists and politicians did - went to jail for boning little kids!

What a God-loving party....