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    Tuesday
    Mar032015

    Carl Sagan, Alan Watts, and Martin Luther King, Jr. MP3s

                     In periods of historic enlightenment and revolution, a key factor for successful progress was spreading the word of those who proposed solutions to the most severe problems afflicting humanity and the world.  Carl Sagan, Alan Watts, and Martin Luther King, Jr. are three men who did exactly that, and I believe that is important for one to listen to what they had to say in order to galvanize a process of brainstorming and action amongst those who care to make the world a better place.  Divided Core is finally doing something useful by embarking on a project to distribute the word of these three wise men (and others, including women, to come) via MP3 discs.  The discs are audio files of Martin Luther King (Speeches and Sermons), Alan Watts (a series of lectures entitled Out of Your Mind), and Carl Sagan (the Cosmos series). If you want them, please let me know and I’ll send them to you (I can’t promise soon, but eventually, I will do it.  Contact: aarondames84@gmail.com).  I’ll also try to figure out how to post these files as downloadable files on my blog.  Thanks. 

     

    How it's done:

    Sunday
    Dec212014

    Martin Luther King - Loving Your Enemies

            In times of human rage and dangerous political brinkmanship, I can think of no wiser head to turn to than Martin Luther King, Jr.  Throughout volumes of speeches and sermons, Martin Luther King offers practical solutions to some of the most pressing issues of his time – war, poverty, tyranny, nuclear proliferation, and racism.  Though his assassination took place forty-six years ago, many of the problems he spoke of persist today.  Thus, his messages are just as valuable as they were during the Civil Rights Movement, and his diagnoses of former problems, as well as his proscribed solutions can be applied to society’s current maladies.  Below are some great excerpts from a 1957 MLK sermon titled, Loving Your Enemies.   Click here to listen to an audio recording of the speech.

     

    Democracy is the greatest form of government to my mind that man has ever conceived, but the weakness is that we have never touched it. Isn’t it true that we have often taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes? Isn’t it true that we have often in our democracy trampled over individuals and races with the iron feet of oppression? Isn’t it true that through our Western powers we have perpetuated colonialism and imperialism? And all of these things must be taken under consideration as we look at Russia. We must face the fact that the rhythmic beat of the deep rumblings of discontent from Asia and Africa is at bottom a revolt against the imperialism and colonialism perpetuated by Western civilization all these many years. The success of communism in the world today is due to the failure of democracy to live up to the noble ideals and principles inherent in its system.

    File:Cole Thomas The Course of Empire The Savage State 1836.jpg
    Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire, The Savage State

    And this is what Jesus means when he said: "How is it that you can see the mote in your brother’s eye and not see the beam in your own eye?" Or to put it in Moffatt’s translation: "How is it that you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and fail to see the plank in your own eye?" And this is one of the tragedies of human nature. So we begin to love our enemies and love those persons that hate us whether in collective life or individual life by looking at ourselves.

    A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and everytime you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points.

    I’ve said to you on many occasions that each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality. We’re split up and divided against ourselves. And there is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives. There is a recalcitrant South of our soul revolting against the North of our soul. And there is this continual struggle within the very structure of every individual life. There is something within all of us that causes us to cry out with Ovid, the Latin poet, "I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do." There is something within all of us that causes us to cry out with Plato that the human personality is like a charioteer with two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in different directions. There is something within each of us that causes us to cry out with Goethe, "There is enough stuff in me to make both a gentleman and a rogue." There is something within each of us that causes us to cry out with Apostle Paul, "I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do."

    File:Cole Thomas The Course of Empire The Arcadian or Pastoral State 1836.jpgThomas Cole, The Course of Empire, The Arcadian State

    So somehow the "isness" of our present nature is out of harmony with the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts us. And this simply means this: That within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good. When we come to see this, we take a different attitude toward individuals. The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it. And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls "the image of God," you begin to love him in spite of. No matter what he does, you see God’s image there. There is an element of goodness that he can never sluff off. Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude.

    File:Cole Thomas The Consummation The Course of the Empire 1836.jpgThomas Cole, The Course of Empire, The Consummation

    Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

    And this is what Jesus means, I think, in this very passage when he says, "Love your enemy." And it’s significant that he does not say, "Like your enemy." Like is a sentimental something, an affectionate something. There are a lot of people that I find it difficult to like. I don’t like what they do to me. I don’t like what they say about me and other people. I don’t like their attitudes. I don’t like some of the things they’re doing. I don’t like them. But Jesus says love them. And love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all men, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape in your soul. And here you come to the point that you love the individual who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does. This is what Jesus means when he says, "Love your enemy." This is the way to do it. When the opportunity presents itself when you can defeat your enemy, you must not do it.

    Now for the few moments left, let us move from the practical how to the theoretical why. It’s not only necessary to know how to go about loving your enemies, but also to go down into the question of why we should love our enemies. I think the first reason that we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus’ thinking, is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. [tapping on pulpit] It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.

    I think I mentioned before that sometime ago my brother and I were driving one evening to Chattanooga, Tennessee, from Atlanta. He was driving the car. And for some reason the drivers were very discourteous that night. They didn’t dim their lights; hardly any driver that passed by dimmed his lights. And I remember very vividly, my brother A. D. looked over and in a tone of anger said: "I know what I’m going to do. The next car that comes along here and refuses to dim the lights, I’m going to fail to dim mine and pour them on in all of their power." And I looked at him right quick and said: "Oh no, don’t do that. There’d be too much light on this highway, and it will end up in mutual destruction for all. Somebody got to have some sense on this highway."

    Somebody must have sense enough to dim the lights, and that is the trouble, isn’t it? That as all of the civilizations of the world move up the highway of history, so many civilizations, having looked at other civilizations that refused to dim the lights, and they decided to refuse to dim theirs. And Toynbee tells that out of the twenty-two civilizations that have risen up, all but about seven have found themselves in the junkheap of destruction. It is because civilizations fail to have sense enough to dim the lights. And if somebody doesn’t have sense enough to turn on the dim and beautiful and powerful lights of love in this world, the whole of our civilization will be plunged into the abyss of destruction. And we will all end up destroyed because nobody had any sense on the highway of history. Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/Cole_Thomas_The_Course_of_Empire_Destruction_1836.jpgThomas Cole, The Course of Empire, Destruction


    There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates. You just begin hating somebody, and you will begin to do irrational things. You can’t see straight when you hate. You can’t walk straight when you hate. You can’t stand upright. Your vision is distorted. There is nothing more tragic than to see an individual whose heart is filled with hate. He comes to the point that he becomes a pathological case. For the person who hates, you can stand up and see a person and that person can be beautiful, and you will call them ugly. For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. For the person who hates, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good. For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does. You can’t see right. The symbol of objectivity is lost. Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater. And this is why Jesus says hate [recording interrupted]

    . . . that you want to be integrated with yourself, and the way to be integrated with yourself is be sure that you meet every situation of life with an abounding love. Never hate, because it ends up in tragic, neurotic responses. Psychologists and psychiatrists are telling us today that the more we hate, the more we develop guilt feelings and we begin to subconsciously repress or consciously suppress certain emotions, and they all stack up in our subconscious selves and make for tragic, neurotic responses. And may this not be the neuroses of many individuals as they confront life that that is an element of hate there. And modern psychology is calling on us now to love. But long before modern psychology came into being, the world’s greatest psychologist who walked around the hills of Galilee told us to love. He looked at men and said: "Love your enemies; don’t hate anybody." It’s not enough for us to hate your friends because—to to love your friends—because when you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody. Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life. So Jesus says love, because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.

    History unfortunately leaves some people oppressed and some people oppressors. And there are three ways that individuals who are oppressed can deal with their oppression. One of them is to rise up against their oppressors with physical violence and corroding hatred. But oh this isn’t the way. For the danger and the weakness of this method is its futility. Violence creates many more social problems than it solves. And I’ve said, in so many instances, that as the Negro, in particular, and colored peoples all over the world struggle for freedom, if they succumb to the temptation of using violence in their struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. Violence isn’t the way.

    But there is another way. And that is to organize mass non-violent resistance based on the principle of love. It seems to me that this is the only way as our eyes look to the future. As we look out across the years and across the generations, let us develop and move right here. We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way. Jesus discovered that.

    File:Cole Thomas The Course of Empire Desolation 1836.jpgThomas Cole, The Course of Empire, Desolation

    Wednesday
    Sep172014

    The Fate of the Earth

    If you're looking for a wonderful and informative non-fiction book to read, I suggest you read The Fate of the Earth by Jonathan Schell (1943 - 2014); you'll learn more than you ever wanted to know about nuclear weapons (Although Terminator 2 is a good start).  Here's a excerpt:

            It is possible to picture a nuclear attack of any shape or size.  An attack might use all the weapons at the attacker’s disposal or any portion of them.  It might be aimed at military targets, at industry, at the population, or at all or some combination of these.  The attack might be mainly air-burst, and would increase the range of severe damage from the blast waves, or it might be mainly ground-burst, to destroy hard targets such as land-based nuclear missiles or command-and-control centers, or it might combine air bursts and ground bursts in any proportion.  It could be launched in the daytime or at night, in the summer or in winter, with warning or without warning.  The sequence of events once hostilities had begun also lies open.  For example, it seems quite possible that the leaders of a nation that had just suffered a nuclear attack would be sparing in their response, tailoring it to political objectives rather than to the vengeful aim of wiping out the society whose leaders had lunched the attack.  On the other hand, they night retaliate with all the forces at their disposal, as they say they will do.  Then again, the two sides might expend their forces gradually, in a series of ad-hoc “exchanges,” launched in an atmosphere of misinformation and intellectual and moral disorientation.  The state of mind of the decision-makers might be one of calm rationality, of hatred, of shock, of hysteria, or even of outright insanity.  They might follow coldly reasoned scenarios of destruction to the letter, and exterminate one another in that way.  Or, for all we are able to know now, having at first hardened their “resolve” to follow the scenarios through to the end, the might suddenly reverse themselves, and proceed to the negotiating table after only incompletely destroying one another.  Lacking any experience of what decisions human beings make under full-scale nuclear attack, we simply do know what they would do.

     
                                                                                                                                                       -Jonathan Schell, The Fate of the Earth

    5 minutes to midnight
    The Doomsday Clock.  It is 5 minutes to midnight.



     

    Saturday
    Sep132014

    Alan Watts on Destorying Someone

            In times of such escalating insanity and indiscriminate violence, it’s prudent to turn to the sensible voices of those who have consistently questioned the status-quo and drew attention to the fact that humanity will either go up together or go down together.  Alan Watts is one such person (Martin Luther King and Carl Sagan are among others); below is an excerpt from his lecture titled The Nature of Consciousness (the lecture sub-title is The Myth of the Automatic Universe), part of the Out of Your Mind Lecture series.

            We have been brought up, by reason of our two great myths – the ceramic and the fully-automatic – not to feel that we belong in the world.  So our popular speech reflects it, we say “I came into this world,” you didn’t, you came out of it.  We say, “face facts,” we talk about “encounters with reality,” as if it was head on meeting of completely alien agencies, and the average person has the sensation that he is a somewhat that exists inside a bag of skin – the center of consciousness which looks out at this thing, and what the hell’s it going to do to me?

    http://www.skyfactory.org/m31deep/m31deep_fullview.jpg
    The Andromeda Galaxy.  Image from: http://www.skyfactory.org/m31deep/m31deep_fullview.jpg

            You see?  “Uhh, I recognize you and you kind of look like me and uhh, I’ve seen myself in a mirror, and uhh, you look like you might be people…so maybe you’re intelligent, maybe you can love too.  And perhaps you’re alright, some of you are anyway, if you’ve got the right color of skin or you have the right religion or whatever it is then you’re okay, but there are all those people in Asia and Africa and they may not really be people.”  When you want to destroy someone you always define them as unpeople – not really human – monkeys maybe, idiots maybe, machines maybe, but not people.  But we have this hostility to the external world because of the superstition, the myth, the absolutely unfounded theory that you yourself exist only inside your skin.  Now I want to propose another idea altogether… 

    http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/72299001.jpg
    Victims of U.S drone strike in Pakistan.  Image from: http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/

     

    Friday
    Aug152014

    Alan Watts - A Place for the Hermit

    Below is the text (transcibed by yours truly) of a wonderful Alan Watts lecture titled, A Place for the Hermit.  The talk is part of the Out of Your Mind lecture series (click here to listen):

            Medieval society, in the west, comparable to Hindu society, allowed people to check out of the game – it revered and encouraged hermits, monks, nuns of various types of discipline.  There’s this difference, you see, for the west and India: you couldn’t join the Brahmana caste, the priest caste, from some other caste, but in the European caste system, by becoming a priest, or a cleric of any kind – you see a cleric means simply a literate person – you could familiarize with any other caste once you’re in that one, and so it was a wonderful way of rising in society.  You could, from being a serf, go to being a priest, to being an archbishop and consort with the nobility. It was the only way open to cross caste, you see, and because they were the literate people, it was through literacy and through universities founded by clerics that our caste system began to break, and we got the idea of choosing your own vocation, and not simply following what your parents did.

           Now I want to make an observation here about checking out of the game.  This is not encouraged in contemporary society, because the Catholic Church and the, say, the Episcopalian Church are very powerful minorities, they can still support monasteries and even hermits.  But you can’t be one on your own without great difficulty.  Firstly, because you’re a poor consumer.  See around here we have a number of hermits: there’s a guy out there building that boat and he’s essentially a nonjoinder, a poor consumer, and the community – they live a lot a along here, and they’re mostly…they’re not working-class people, they are people who dropped out of college because they saw it was stupid – and they’re that sort of people; we could call them perhaps beatniks.  But you see, the city doesn’t like it because they aren’t owning the right sort of cars and therefore the local car salesman isn’t doing business through them; they don’t have lawns and so nobody can sell them lawn mowers; they hardly use dishwashers, appliances of that kind – they don’t need them.  And also they wear blue jeans and things like that, and so the local dress shops feel a bit put out having these people around, and they live very simply.  Well…you mustn’t do that.  You’ve got to live in a complicated way.  You got to have the kind of car, you know, that identifies you as a person of substance and status and all that.  So there’s a great problem here in our society.  Now why is there this problem? There’s always a very inconsiderable minority of these nonjoinders or people who check-out of the game, but you will find that insecure societies are the most intolerant of those who are nonjoinders.  They are so unsure of the validity of their game rules that they say everyone must play.  Now that’s a double-bind; you can’t say to a person, “you must play,” because what you’re saying is: you are required to do something which will be acceptable only if you do it voluntarily, you see?  So everyone must play is the rule in the United States, and it’s the rule in almost all republican governments…I mean republican in the sense of democratic… Because they’re very uneasy, because everybody’s responsible; you mean you may try not to be and avoid it and say, oh let the senators take care of it or the president, but theoretically everyone’s responsible.  Now that’s terrifying.  See it’s…when you know what’s right, there is an aristocracy, their is the clergy and they know what should be done and they’re used to ruling you, you see.  But now it’s in your hands, you say, “What are we going to do?  Well, I think this way and you think that way and he thinks the other way.”  And so we’re all unsettled, and therefore we become more and more conformist.  Individualism, rugged individualism always leads to conformism, because people get scared, and so they herd together, and compounded with industrial society – mass production, etcetera – they all wear the same clothes, and they’re sensible clothes that don’t show the dirt too much, and we get duller and drabber, and – with the exception of the Californian Revolution… 

            So…what…the reason for this is, in a way, is that democracy as we have tried it started out on the wrong foot.  You see, in the scriptures, Christian scriptures it says everybody is equal in the sight of God.  Now that’s a mystical utterance.  That means that from the standpoint of God all people are divine and are playing their true function.  And that is something that is true on a certain plane of consciousness, but come down a step and try to apply the mystical insight in the practical affairs of everyday life and what do you get? You get a parody of mysticism.  You get the idea not that everybody is equal in the sight of God, but that all people are equally inferior.  And that’s why all bureaucracies are rude, why the police are rude, and why you’re made to wait in lines, and there are obstreperous income tax individuals and all that sort of person, because everybody’s a crook, everybody’s equally inferior, see that becomes the parody of democracy.  And that kind of society, watch out for it, it turns in a quick click into fascism, because of it’s terror of the outsider. 


    Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of St. Anthony.

            Now a free and easy society loves outsiders, in fact it’s a little bad for the outsiders integrity because he becomes a holy man, see, and people make salaams and give him food and all that; they really take care of the outsider, because they know that man is doing for us what we haven’t got the guts to do.  That outsider who lives up there in the mountain is at the highest peak of human evolution; his consciousness is one with the divine. And great, just there is someone like that around!  It makes you feel a little better; he has realized, he knows what it’s all about.  And so we need a number of those people.  Even though they don’t join our game, they tell us, you see: “What you’re doing’s only a game.  It’s okay, I’m not going to condemn you, but it is only a game, and we up on that mountaintop are watching you, we love you, we have compassion for you, but excuse us please we aren’t going to join.”  So that gives the community great strength, because it tells the government, in no uncertain terms, that there’s something more than government.  That’s why wise kings kept not only priests, but court fools.  The court fool is much more effective than the priest, to remind the king that after all he’s human, and…you know, how in Richard the Second, where the fool is called the antic, the king says:

    Within the hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of the king keeps Death his watch, and there the antic sits, scoffing at his state and griming at his pomp, allowing him a little time to monarchize be fear'd and kill with looks,  and then at last comes death, and with a pin bores through his castle wall, and farewell king…

            See always this reminder of the priest…or of the antic to the royalty, to the government: “You are going to die, you are mortal.  Don’t give yourselves heirs and graces as if you were a god.  As king, you are only a representative of God, and there is a force, there are domains way way beyond yours and way way higher.”  But it’s very difficult for a republican government to realize that, because it’s insecure.  And therefore, in our present world, you cannot abandon nationality without the greatest difficulty.  People who try to abandon nationality get constantly deported from one place to another.  You must belong to this thing, as Thoreau put it, “However far into the forest you may go, men will pursue you and compel you to belong to their desperate company of oddfellows.”

     

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