24 December 2010

Poets and Connectivity

Victor Jara
Theater director and folk singer
murdered during 1973 coup in Chile
For his communist beliefs
Artists get it. Musicians get it. Poets and writers get it. Societies that value art, music, poetry and literature get it. Progressives of all shapes and colors get it. We are all connected.

It seems like it is such a no-brainer. Yet, there are so many who do not get it, who do not believe in empathy as life’s primary principle, as more important that personal happiness, salvation, or bliss. They see the world as a battleground, where everyone must fight for limited resources. Everyone is a potential enemy. What’s mine is mine, or my family is inherently entitled, or my spiritual self is separate from the suffering of others.

This is what Connectivity is. Intuiting that my iPod and my clothes and my child’s toys and my out-of-season fruits are themselves the fruits of the labor of people in far away places who are struggling just to feed their families, whose humble dreams are that their children will not have to struggle this hard.

Connectivity is the Continuum of Time and Space and Meaning. It is the joining of All That Is into One – all thoughts, all memories, all experiences, all emotions, all motions, all energies, all occurrences, all forces, all knowledge, all expressions, all processes, all things. Connectivity is Engagement with all of the world, the entire universe, the universe of multiple universes, and beyond.

Connectivity “widens the boundaries of our being,” as Pablo Neruda said of empathy. He said that empathy “unites all living things.” I am saying that Connectivity is what many think of as God, and that Empathy is the Meaning of Life. I am saying that the reproductive drive of all living things is not a selfish act, but an empathetic passion, a desire to create, the need to share, to love – to connect.

Connectivity has no beginning or end, and no divisive dichotomy. Darkness and light are not in opposition, rather, they are a dance of light energy, absorbencies and reflections and refractions, as miraculous as a sun shower’s rainbow or a fireworks display. Night and day are not symbolic of evil and good, but daily stages of a larger process of a spinning earth’s motion in relation to its sun. Male and female are how we humans try to understand ourselves, but even this dichotomy is by no means universal.
Connectivity as applied to politics means that there is no defined “right” and “left.” There is conservative ideology and progressive ideology, but they are not polar opposites, as conservatives would like everyone to believe. And this is was the whole point of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive, the whole point of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Colbert Report, and the whole point of Barack Obama’s presidency. The whole point is that Empathy has no Boundaries. The problem is that progressive ideology is essentially the breaking down of boundaries, of barriers, of division, and to conservatives who live behind their walls of separation, be it religious, economic, or cultural seclusion, this is a frightening thing.

What conservatives want to conserve are such institutions as the division that entitlement imposes, the secrecy that power uses as a crutch, the righteousness that religion often assumes, the selfishness that Randian capitalism upholds. What progressives want is to change the system to allow access to power, to engage in real dialogue and real diplomacy, to ensure real freedom of religion and expression, to have government work for everyone in society, and of course, to give peace a chance. One set of principles are based on exclusion, while the other is based on connectivity.

As so often happens in life, it all boils down to Pink Floyd. “Us and Them.” “The Wall.” “Breathe.” Roger Waters’ “Amused to Death.” And so many others. These songs are beloved throughout the world, in all languages, and not just because they have a good beat and you can dance to them. It is because they are connective. They express ideas that are so much larger than what their titles proclaim. There is no “Us and Them.” “The Wall” is just a mental construct, built for protection, but its protection only brings dehumanizing isolation and insanity. To breathe is to care. And the idea of the human race amusing itself to death is so astute, in these times when overstimulation drives extreme living that also seeks to break down boundaries, yet, it is a kind of mental blockage that keeps people from connecting and being truly engaged.

Connectivity is complicated. It is expansive. It is inclusive. It is expansive and inclusive music and art and poetry and literature. And societies that move more slowly, whose internet connections don’t always work, whose daily lives function at a slower pace, whose art and music and poetry and literature are treasured, and appreciated, and they lay as a foundation for the appreciation of other art and music and poetry and literature that is expansive and inclusive, like Pink Floyd, and the Beatles – these societies pay close attention to art and music and poetry and literature. They take to heart the love for those who they don’t even know that Pablo Neruda was expressing in his writings. They are engaged, not in simple dichotomies, not in simple thinking, not always peacefully, but they do not let pain and fear and a past where artists and musicians and poets and writers were persecuted for their expansive and inclusive politics stop them from caring.

10 December 2010

Ann Woolner on the Indecency of the Culture War

Jim Morrison Memorial in Berlin-Baumschulen
photo by Jürgen Schuschkeweg
What’s this I hear about Jim Morrison being posthumously pardoned by the Florida clemency board, at the behest of Florida Governor Charlie Crist? It’s been 40 years since Morrison was convicted of two misdemeanors, indecent exposure and open profanity, stemming from his drunken antics on a stage in Miami on 1 March 1969. When he died at the tender age of 27, his case was pending appeal. So the point would be moot, at least to those who act like they are but in reality are not actually interested in justice.

04 December 2010

Secrecy, Democracy, and WikiLeaks

Julian Assange
Adapted from flickr image by Espen Moe
used under a Creative Commons licence 

In the aftermath of the WikiLeaks document dump, the most important thing to realize is that it is not the leaks, nor the leakers, that are the problem, here. The problem is the secrecy and the US State Department’s haughty attitude, which is only encouraged by the institutionalized system of spies and infiltrators in the ranks of the US “diplomatic” corps.

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