Sunday, September 23, 2007

Shooting Ourselves in the Foot

Michael Kinsley has a pithy piece in the current issue of Time, also found on It's about the "outrage" over the ad; how the "meanest of hombres" are suddenly "feeling faint" in their shock over that ad.

I won't be surprised if he has a follow-up piece on the Iranian President Ahmadinejab's invitation to speak at Columbia University in New York tomorrow.

Of course the guy deserves all the negative adjectives and opprobrium one could heap upon anyone of ilk. Of course he's to be despised for mouthing off about wiping Israel off the map. (Two Offs don't make an On) Of course he's to be vilified for denying the Holocaust.

But, though perhaps we might like to shut him up, by the very fact that he is scheduled to address the UN and has been invited to speak at Columbia, he is in fact a player. Whether we like it or not, this foul mouthed man, who exhibits all the classic behaviors of Narcissus, is a person who has managed somehow to get a significant role in a play on Broadway, bypassing Hartford and the Actors Studio. To discount this is classic denial.

Senator Chuck Hagel R-NE said something like, we as a country continue to act in ways not ourselves. That's from a decorated Vietnam vet.

I know, I know, all my right wing friends and family will ridicule me for writing this. They might say things like I was never the same since going to a liberal New England college, and later on deciding to live in Massachusetts. Funny it's now called a blue state, when once it was viewed by the right as very pink. Isn't pink a pale form of red?

I wish to point out to my right wing friends and family that one of the tenets of the so-called Iraq Study Commission, which was headed in part by James Baker, not one known as a lefty, called for having dialogues with those who oppose us.

Here's the real problem. I think whoever said that Hitler would have been invited(was it the president or dean of the university?) got too caught up in a perceived need to provide a defensive response. Talk about pouring fuel on the fire!!! But then maybe that's what he or she wanted to do.

If so he or she hasn't earned, nor deserve, any more respect or less flack than the guy invited to speak. Invoking the name of Hitler as someone who also would have been invited went too far over the top for most reasonable and sensitive, objective and subjective, thinking and feeling and regular, normal and common people. That is as bad a mouthing off as the little guy from Iran. It's designed to stir and turn up the heat under the pot.

By virtue of zeal, they have positioned themselves on the fringe of thought, equal to and opposite of those who position themselves on the opposite fringe. The result, usually by design, is those positions are guaranteed to block consensus.

I've long thought that the pendulum is an apt symbol of life. It represents the reality that life depends on its swings. Even though they encompass extremes, it's those swings which provide the energy for life.

There is a phrase associated with those who feel stressed; "Stop the world, I want to get off."

All of us have felt that way from time to time. The poem Desiderata advises us that most fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Our wish that everything would stop is actually a death wish. When the pendulum stops at the mid point of its swing, it exhibits the ultimate lack, and depletion, of energy; the end of motion, full stop. Entropy. Death.

Physics has it that the pendulum, when swinging, makes two other stops in its cycle; at the extremes in the equal but opposite ends. It has to stop in order for it to begin swinging in the opposite direction. This a vastly different kind of stop though. The one in the middle is the result of total depletion of energy, whereas the two stops at the extremes exhibit a quite different level of energy. It's known as potential energy and its potential is at its peak when the pendulum stops at those extremes.

Those who object to the Iranian president's invitation to speak at Columbia University might ask themselves why. Is their need for the lack of tension in their lives so strong that they are fearful of opposing views and the energy inherent in them? Have they forgotten that often the audience of the speaker can have a significant impact on the speaker? Have they forgotten that sometimes the critics of our culture and ways of living find themselves questioning their criticism and might actually become advocates of our culture and ways of living, having actually experienced them.?

If that is too much pie in the sky, at least consider that there is a possibility that by hearing what this guy has to say might help us understand better what motivates him to oppose us and what we stand for.

In spite of what George W. Bush says he believes, that all are God's children are the same in what they believe and hope for, it's still just his belief. Believing doesn't make it so.

Had W even audited an introductory survey course in Cultural Anthropology 101 he might have paused awhile before he acted upon his either /or, black or white, good or evil simplistic needs.

George W. Bush was took office by appointment of the Supreme Court. At that time was support by well meaning people who think of themselves as conservative, small "c". That is a fine philosophy and worthy of respect. That was before 9/11 and before the neo-cons, as opposed to traditional conservatives, let the dogs out.

I've asked myself over and over again how it came to be that this adult child was re- elected to the highest office of our land.

The best I've come up with is at least depressing. Garrison Keillor called George W. "that small dim man". Either more small dim people voted in 2004 than large bright ones, or, as it has been suspected, especially in Ohio, the election was in fact stolen.

Lighthouse Keeper

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