Economic Strangulation

It was Jean-Paul Sartre who wrote, “When the rich wage war it’s the poor who die.” This quote comes to mind as mariner reads no less than four sources writing simultaneously about the effect of oligarchical and plutocratic forces on American society. The common thread is the loss of the ‘American Dream’ – the dream that says anyone who works hard and believes in guaranteed freedom will live a fulfilling life as an American citizen.

Terms:

  • Oligarchy – a form of government where power rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family or military influence.
  • Plutocracy – literally ‘rule by the rich’.
  • Meritocracy – a social system in which people get opportunities and succeed based primarily on their talent (Merit) and effort.
  • Democracy – a government wherein citizens elect officials to represent their interests.

The original vision was a meritocracy; successful citizens are based on performance measured through examination and demonstrated achievement. Politics completely trashed this vision by the Civil War. Further, the economy shifted in a way that more profit multiplies the ability to make even more profit without ever tying growth to production of goods or services. This form of investment has no trickle-down effect – a convenient myth proffered by the wealthy. The excess wealth is never redistributed to the population; rather, wealth is locked into families through trusts, real estate and investments. This economic arrangement draws more and more profit to the wealthy few and literally deprives working citizens from sharing the national wealth.

Obviously, the wealthy have the resources to enjoy a fulfilling life but the national culture increasingly loses any opportunity for fulfillment of any kind. The absence of fulfillment in life is a major reason for class stultification; it is at the root of several clashes between citizens, for example racial tension, indifferent commitment to moral values, and jobs leading to even lower salaries and job dissatisfaction across all industries; even more insidious is the effect on family life. The bottom line is that without meritocracy (and a functioning democracy), there is little motivation to achieve or to be accountable for the nation. Mariner believes that low voter turnout is tied directly to a belief that whatever happens in the plutocracy won’t change anything in the voter’s unfulfilled daily life.

It is common knowledge that the Federal Government and most state governments are plutocracies. Those elected to represent the citizenry actually represent special interests that are wealthy in nature or stand to increase profits unfairly by manipulating legislation through elected representatives. It was in the general news a few months ago that Congress spends its first five hours every day soliciting donations from lobbyist sources. There is no doubt in any corner that plutocracy has replaced representative government.

The final thread, perhaps the most damaging in the long term, is the inability of the United States to remain the leading influence and economy of the world’s nations. What was new in the original documents creating the US was the power of the citizens striving in a meritocracy governed by a democracy. Today, education, science, reinvestment in jobs and technical advancement – all and more are cast aside in favor of sustaining an oligarchy and plutocracy. Overwhelming evidence can be seen in dozens of national oligarchies around the globe.

There’s an old slogan that has come to represent the energy of populist and other uprisings but the core truth is universal:

“Power to the People.”

Ancient Mariner

God’s Christmas Garden Redux

Such a noise! Mariner is accused of intended obfuscation. Apparently, today’s readers do not need a theistic justification for the powerful mandates of the universe. Nevertheless, mariner used the logic model of theology, dogma and ritual to link the unavoidable influences of evolution and environmental dependency to our indifferent acceptance of history.

As reparation, mariner provides a series of statements that make the intended points of the post.

  • Change will always exist and will occur in ways that may not be expected.
  • Evolution is a phenomenon of the universe beyond our control.
  • Nothing escapes evolution – stars, moons, animals or people.
  • Homo sapiens continues to evolve; given the extreme difference between the standard mammalian creature called ‘Gorilla’ and the surrealistic perceptions of our intelligence (Smart), H. sapiens is in for a dramatic shift from Gorilla’s needs and environment.
  • The most important point made by the post is that the electrical phenomena we are creating are, in fact, evolution at work. Smart’s environment has little to do with Gorilla’s environment.
  • Readers did not have difficulty with the last part of the post where mariner interviews Smart to provide examples of evolution at work. Ancient Mariner

In Irons

Mariner knew the whole of US reality is a circus when the press made fun of how Donald held his water bottle. Funny thing, mariner holds his water bottle exactly the same way. The reason is familial palsy.

Donald is the ringmaster. Worse is that the entire news industry has joined the circus. So has Congress. So has forty percent of the electorate. The President’s cabinet is a group of foolish clowns worthy of eighteenth century British cartoonists. If Donald actually had the powers of a Roman Emperor, he would be Nero fiddling while Rome burned. As it is, he is Don Quixote fighting with windmills. Meanwhile, the United States dwindles in morality, international power and cultural meaning – noticeable on a daily basis.

The nation is a ship in irons. Its sails flap uselessly while the future blows by. Meanwhile, China has a global effort fully active on every continent and in every important nation – including our neighbors; China soon will be the international force that defines world markets – including the US role in those markets. But Donald Q is chasing the windmill of isolationism.

Night after night, news media focuses on Donald’s affair with a whore. That the viewers of news accept both the behavior and the coverage as de rigueur is frightening; morality has become a rubber band stretched by entertainment value. Can the reader hear the calliope?

Racism has been welcomed back to the circus by Donald. Immigration is a global issue as economies, cultural abuse and war force human families to leave what they know, what they own, and likely, what they love. In Donald’s US circus, add religious intolerance to the show. Quietly, the Attorney General removes laws protecting any disadvantaged person regardless of their plight.

There are some good acts; the Me Too movement, California’s defiance of many of Donald’s efforts at disassembling the fabric of American ethics. But it is a disrespectful circus we watch. There are menacing shadows.

Mariner has decided to leave the circus tent. There is solace in silence. Mariner retrieves news from foreign press and other websites that are not taken in by the music. This savage time will pass as it always has throughout history – but at what cost?

Ancient Mariner

Coming of Age Past 60

Of all the disruptive suggestions offered by mariner to make life equitable in the coming artificial intelligence age, setting an age limit of 60 rather than setting a limit on elected terms received the most comment. Mariner responds to these comments in today’s post.

֎ Genetic Disposition. As Homo sapiens grows up, lives life, and grows old, both the mind and the body go through distinct changes we are familiar with and about which we compensate in some way. The body certainly is subject to age else professional sports would be filled with old athletes and tenure would become a union issue. Only the most dedicated, ascetic athletes maintain energy levels past 50; mariner suspects few of these few athletes serve in elected government positions. The mind follows a similar path, becoming more pragmatic and less adventuresome in its thoughts.
֎ Role in Culture. Mariner remembers studying the Japanese custom of elevating its esteemed leaders and thinkers to a supernumerary status in their later lives. They were called upon in special situations when their acumen helped with solving problems. Here in the US after notable careers, many US leaders and thinkers continue to shape the direction of politics and other disciplines by belonging to think tanks and consulting with active leaders. Many return to professional careers, continuing to shape the dynamics of society. Many leverage their political influence by becoming lobbyists – perhaps not a best choice from the electorate point of view; some even become university presidents.

The point is this: Codgers (cf. last post) have a jaundiced view. It is jaundiced because times change; the values codgers learned in life are passé or have context that no longer applies. Two examples will suffice:
First example – Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was at one point the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. This committee was responsible for, among other things, developing legislation and regulations related to technology which at the time oversaw the growth of the Internet, computerization and telecommunications. One can research his career on Wikipedia. He passed few communications bills and virtually no meaningful technology bills. Upon his retirement, he confessed he did not understand how computer networks worked. After long instruction by staffers, he grasped the idea that wires transmitting data were comprised of tubes through which data was transmitted – similar to department stores. Senator Stevens was born on November 18, 1923; he was 86 when he left the Senate in 2009. Because the Senate Chair had no comprehension of modern telecommunications or its social ramifications, Silicon Valley runs unimpeded to this very day – allowing abusive data practices similar to Facebook.
Second example – Senator Strom Thurman was born on December 5, 1902. He represented the state of South Carolina from 1954 (age 52) until he retired in 2003 at the age of 101. Notorious for his resistance to civil rights legislation, he was able to prevent universal civil rights in everything from public schools to restaurants. When he stepped down at the end of his career, he had singlehandedly kept states right rule and segregation in the Dixie states even to today when racism is not an idea but a function of daily life. His opinions on race always were 40 years behind that of the general public.

Mariner deliberately cleansed the examples from party inclinations in order to clarify the effect of codgerism. One may challenge mariner for selecting two seemingly extreme examples. Mariner challenges back for the reader to take a list of age 60+ legislators and compare their later advocacies to the needs of the day.

֎ Taking Measure of Priorities. Psychology and pop psychology sources are full of models, comparisons and timelines reflecting the stages humans pass through in a lifetime. Mariner truncates abundant references into five stages of life:

0-20: An age of learning the rules of life; imprinting mores and behaviors that are meaningful for personal integration into society; acquiring identity and role in society.

20-40: The age of the warrior; passion, energy and commitment focus on growth and achievement; establishing family and challenging society are prominent.
40-60: The age of the expert; seasoned experience translates to power in society; peak of insight to mitigate conflict and procedure.

60-80: An age of withdrawal; wisdom replaces achievement; acquiescence replaces challenge; tolerance replaces discipline; physical presence wanes.

80-?: The age of the self; reflection; personal necessities; physical and mental decline.

Mariner acknowledges that moving from one stage to the next or even transitioning within a stage is not driven by toggle switches; the change of weather seasons more closely fits. However, searching for representatives among 350 million citizens, the stages are a stable rule.

֎ Energy to Burn. A marvel we experience is watching very young children burn energy through constant movement, gesturing, animated conversation and otherwise consuming an endless supply of energy. The amount of energy we have, not only at hand but in reserve, dwindles steadily through life. For adults, there comes a time when the energy required for determination just isn’t there. We acquiesce to ‘going along’ rather than pressing our opinion forward. Genuine statesmanship in behalf of others suffers the most as we approach the age of withdrawal.

Given the four conditions outlined above, mariner believes older age is the cause of more dysfunction across a legislative body than having one extremist hang around too long. Mariner suspects that older voters, sharing the transition into withdrawal, are more comfortable with their own kind as a representative. Certainly don’t want those brash youngsters changing everything.

To show magnanimity, mariner will yield on age 60 and replace it with age 65 – if only to match Medicare policy. In return, he submits that cabinet members, too, be subject to the age rule.

Ancient Mariner

Coming of Age

Mariner has mentioned a number of times that he is an old codger. He is aware that his age has constrained his point of view regarding many of the social, political, economic, ethical and technological changes that are dragging us kicking and screaming into the future. While he considers himself educated, perceptive, and acceptably compassionate, still he suffers from ideological and social isolation in these turbulent times. The most significant indicator of withdrawal is a growing lack of interest in news – world, US, political or otherwise. Even his Scientific American Magazine, subscribed to since 1964, occasionally goes unread.

Another indicator of ‘codgerism’ is a growing lack of interest with groups who identify with causes and community activities. Mind you, this is not absolute in nature; mariner could no more be a hermit than could a herring. It isn’t that mariner disdains the efforts of these groups, some of which are quite wholesome; it’s more that the context for individual participation has changed.

A few examples may enlighten the reader as to the subtle shift in perception that seems to underlie codgerism. (Mariner dare not apply a euphemism to the lovely women of his generation.)

Mariner has older friends who make his age seem juvenile. They remain traditionally religious and struggle just a little with the new role of the church and the ‘loose’ attitude of parishioners. When the friends were growing up and well into their adulthood, the church was the center of theological meaning, morality, politics, social identity, and the center of collaboration with others. In rural areas this was especially true. His older friends are more gracious toward parishioners than mariner; they suffer their current church mates amicably while mariner carries a mild prejudice against do-nothing pew Christians. Another friend is a professed Taoist; today there is no difference in behavior between the faiths.

Another example of attitude isolation or codgerism demonstrates how technology can leave whole segments of a society isolated in their social understanding. The example, well known, is the invention of the automobile, electricity, and steam engines. In the 1960’s mariner was blessed to meet a very few old timers (codgers?) who spent most of their lives on farms with horses for transportation and kerosene for light. This example illustrates well how the speed of life, the confrontation with new technically driven habits and new life priorities can leave a senior person in a quandary about behavior and morality. One fellow mariner spoke with was proud of the fact that even in 1964 he had never been more than 54 miles from his home. So much for modern travel opportunity (How many of us disdain that damned smartphone – talk about a technically driven change in social behavior!).

To finish this line of thought, from 1890 to 1964 was a disruption of morality, social upheaval, human value, technically driven lifestyle changes (telephone, radio, TV, computers, commercial flight, and interstate highways just to mention a few totally new influences on daily priorities) that happened faster and more completely than any era shift in history. The entire shift, unlike the Reformation or the Industrial Revolution, happened well within a single lifetime. If one were alive between 1900 and 1964, there were a lot of lifestyle issues that had to be reinvented several times. Folks who lived through those years, were they still alive, could help today’s generations cope. Yes, we are in the midst of another era change – at the speed of light.

Today’s new era shift began in 1980. As happens so frequently with the birth of a new age, entrepreneurs and profiteers leverage newly turned fiscal opportunities. The entire economic ethic shifted toward corporatism and toward investment profit more than direct business profit. Today, of course, we struggle with a growing oligarchy. From 1980 to today, workers have not participated in GDP; salaries generally are only 40 percent of what they should be if adjusted for inflation. Further, the age of oil has affected the environment and weather; it is not under control. Again further, the Internet has abolished privacy and individuality. Finally, artificial intelligence will completely redefine the meaning of work, income, individual security in all its manifestations and even the international politics we are familiar with today – all in the reader’s lifetime.

So. Mariner’s disdain for the electorate, the pew Christians, and all the nation’s elected officials is the result of codgerism. This is not his era. Where are Nat King Cole, Patsy Cline and Elvis? They sang in English. What happened to union negotiations? What happened to salaries? Want to know why it takes two income producers to sustain a family? They’ve been robbed of their share of income from their nation’s economy. Want to know why an eight-year old narcissist was elected President? The country is screwed up. What all old codgers have in common is the wisdom of living a lifetime, finally absorbing some decent cultural values, and not easily swayed by gimmickry. True, these merits may not take us to the future but they just may help with fairness and grace; factors that aren’t dependent on economic opportunity.

The ancient codger offers some issues the disadvantaged electorate may want to tackle to make life in the new AI age friendlier:

֎ The US will continue to falter until, above all else, we first celebrate our commonality rather than our differences.

֎ Make the redistricting process politician-free and base it on simple geographic and population formulas.

֎ Automate voting to eliminate voting suppression schemes. Anyone should be able to vote at the drop of a hat. Some nations fine voters for not participating and pay them when they do.

֎ Forget term limitations. In times of great change, our leaders must have grown up in the age at hand. The current legislative bodies are full of codgers. Set an age limit for running for office; perhaps 60.

֎ It will require extreme effort but success is crucial. Remove money from elections and governance by imposing caps and limiting contributions to the districts in question. While we’re at it, put heavy penalties on lobby contributions.

֎ Remove the banks from their role of dominating the economy and its profits. Profit must come from the work of the people, not the wealth of the autocrats.

 ֎ The great abuse of the AI era will be discounting humanness. Today, AI already has made major moves to eliminate human individuality as a legitimate factor in the evolution of society.

Mariner understands the resistance caused by his age. But he ain’t stupid. The electorate shouldn’t be stupid either.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Deep State

Mariner bought a black jacket recently and had the words ‘Deep State’ painted in large black letters across the back. The effect was an appropriately discreet appearance which would be apropos for a hidden operation within a government bureaucracy. With anticipation, mariner wore the jacket to a family dinner last night only to be disillusioned because the family did not know what ‘Deep State’ meant. Mariner determined immediately to write a post about Deep State.

Generally, the term deep state is defined as a government within a government – an unofficial and discreet operation that defies the overt policies and operations of elected leaders who attempt to derail traditional government functions. Mariner learned of the term reading news articles about the Turkey situation where a fascist is attempting to dismember the democratically functioning government.

Then, here in the United States of all places, Donald raised the specter of a Deep State run by Barack Obama using the intelligence agencies to spy on him with the intent of removing him from the campaign and then from his Presidency. Donald still claims that a Deep State operation is causing him problems, blaming it for everything from White House leaks to the information obtained by Robert Mueller.

It is a conspiracy theory, of course. During the campaign, Obama (who read his intelligence briefings) learned that the Russians were attempting to interfere with the US election. Barack ordered the FBI to open an investigation. As we have learned in endless news broadcasts, the investigation began to discover links between Russians, WikiLeaks, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, which Donald hired to influence voters. Many of Donald’s coterie were communicating with Russian operatives. Consequently, what began as a legitimate investigation into Russian tampering eventually involved Donald.

We shan’t engage in an analysis of Donald’s ineptitude but to him, the world is either trustworthy lieutenants or a conspiracy against him. Add this to his permanent vendetta to erase anything barackian, and he believes there is a Deep State operating within government intelligence perhaps still run by Barack.

Mariner enjoys wearing his jacket.

Ancient Mariner

 

Science

֎Scientific American printed an issue that introduces the reader to new advances related to humans. For example, a Japanese scientist has successfully raised mice using skin cells that were reengineered to be egg cells. Mixed with normal mouse sperm, healthy mice were born. In the near future Japanese scientists hope to resolve human egg cell issues with this technology.

The overall genetic technology related to this feat is the discovery that any cell can be turned into any other type cell by turning on certain genes and turning off others.

֎On the other end of the spectrum is creating faux humans from robots. Scientists fully expect to create robots with compassion, common sense, and reasoning identical to humans who may possess the same attributes. Today, scientists are experimenting with robots (AKA androids) that learn the same way children learn; already the sex toy industry is close to matching the Stepford Wives and Stepford Men as well.

֎Today, scientists can capture brain images. Whatever image is occurring in the brain can be captured and reproduced by a special machine connected to the scalp. Scientists proved the principle by showing a volunteer a picture of a face. The machine captured the same face from brain activity.

֎The Atlantic has an article questioning how the World will feed the middle class in the future (as soon as 2050). The common attitude is “science and technology will improve crops.” In fact, scientists have discovered that the biggest issue is affluence. As populations become successful, consumption increases algebraically compared to increases in population – the expected 25% increase in global population by 2050 will require a 100% increase in food production. On the negative side, fertilizers, insecticides and genetically modified organisms (GMO) have an increasingly destructive effect on the environment. In other words, farmers can’t produce much more than they do today. Further, many scientists have taken the position that arable land is too crowded, overused and, in fact, should be reduced to sustain a healthy ecology.

֎From Livescience.com: “A flip in Earth’s magnetic field may be brewing. And if it is, an electromagnetic blob deep under southern Africa is likely to be ground zero for the change.

New research using clays burned in cleansing rituals by Iron Age farmers finds that over the past 1,500 years, an electromagnetic anomaly in the Southern Hemisphere has waxed and waned, with the magnetic field in the region weakening and strengthening. This weirdness may presage a gradual reversal in the magnetic field, so that magnetic north moves to the South Pole and vice versa. (A flip-flop of this sort last occurred 780,000 years ago.)”

Besides sending geese and whales in odd directions, the real issue is radiation from the Sun. The Earth’s magnetic field deflects most of the radiation but during a flip of the poles, the magnetic field will be very weak and for a short time, will not exist. Unblocked solar radiation would be deadly to living things on Earth.

֎Global warming is all the rage right now but the planet has other patterns that may be interesting. Major ice ages last for about 100,000 years with a gap of about 10,000 years in between. It has been 12,000 years since the last ice age; are we heading toward another ice age in the next few centuries? What obscures predictions is man-made global warming, which has raised global temperatures in a century or two that otherwise would take a few thousand years.

The primary cause of major ice ages is the influence of Jupiter and Saturn. In certain configurations of their orbits, they tilt the Earth just a tiny bit – altering the declination of the Earth about 2°. Other causes include wavering radiation from the Sun.

CULTURAL FOOTNOTE

The mariner is truly perplexed that governments accept solutions to the issue of too many guns by agreeing with Donald, Florida legislators and the gun lobby that more guns are needed – in spite of a large majority of citizens disagreeing. Is there any better evidence that a democratic republic is a farce? Maybe things will be better when androids take over.

Ancient Mariner

 

On Being Lost

Have you ever been lost? It’s a sense that one has lost touch with the perimeter or edge that provides definition to a person’s situation. One feels adrift and even afraid because there is no meaningful ‘here’ or ‘there;’ there is no ‘over there.’ It is then that we realize how important it is to know where we’ve been, where we’re going, and where we are relative to our start and finish.

This sensation of being lost can be induced in many different situations. For example, trying to solve a puzzle with too many variables like the ones that offer “Jane is 4 years old; John is 12 years old and their brother is 20 years younger than Aunt Joy who is six years younger than their mother. . .” Another example is the experience that college freshmen have when trying to identify one’s proper role in a completely unknown environment. Sometimes the unknowns are so vast and complex, we don’t realize we’re lost!

That brings us to today’s example of being lost. Who is lost? The entire world of people is lost. The world’s cultures are eroding like sand blown by the desert wind. Mariner can provide indicators that suggest we don’t know where we are or where we’re going in the future:

֎ Authoritarian governments are increasing while democratic countries are decreasing. The imbalance has accelerated since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The latest example is China which voted only a day or two ago to grant President Xi Jinping the status of President for Life. Even old standbys like Turkey, Greece, and the Balkan nations are struggling and show signs of increasing authoritarianism. The map shows where authoritarianism has emerged (the orange and yellow states – apologies for the blurred image).

Since the early 1500’s the bluer nations have ruled the world. It is likely that blue rule will fade in the 2000’s. In its third iteration since the 1940’s, China has grown up economically and has improved culturally. It is so huge in national presence that it is likely to dominate world economy and culture much as the United States has since the 1800’s.

Typically, authoritarianism evolves in nations with failed economies or oligarchical cultures. In the case of China, a nation with an average ten percent growth for decades, it will become authoritarian. The question with China is whether one man’s vision will comprehend change well enough to sustain global leadership as the world changes dramatically over the next 50 years. While authoritarian governments can take charge of confusion more quickly than messy democracies, their weakness is the inability to manage cultural change.

֎ If authoritarianism is at one end of the spectrum, the United States (and the less influential Nordic States) is at the other end. Unfortunately, the founding fathers wanted a nation ruled by the people – no monarchy here – but also wanted government to control the economy and the military. Hence, a democratic republic; something like a duckbilled platypus. While touting democracy as the guiding force, the republic side has dominated society and is no better at managing culture than authoritarianism (current studies show that over time the voting public has influenced one percent of legislation while moneyed sources have influenced ninety-nine percent, which explains the growing problem of oligarchy and corporatism in the US since the 1850’s). It is the case with any government philosophy that a hot, expanding economy forgives many sins but the US economy isn’t ‘hot’ anymore.

The US culture has become ragged without good social leadership. As the 1990’s rolled into the 2000’s, fringe conservatism and shifting liberalism crumbled national unity. Further, every country in the world is exposed to lightning-speed changes in culture because of the Internet and Artificial Intelligence. Who knew the morning coffee-klatch would meet on Facebook?

Global economics is changing as well. Old natural resources, old technologies and old political liaisons are up in the air at the moment and do not fit the new world economy in a technology-led world.

֎ Technology has been a puzzle piece for decades. Remember when a generation quietly passed on as it handed the torch to the next generation? Now folks have to live through the next generation as well and maybe the one after that. Never mind that joblessness, financial security, really old parents and feelings of uselessness are left to you to manage. Does that obnoxious voice box in the living room (Alexa or Google Assistant) look like its growing arms and legs? Even today, it knows you’re pregnant before you do; be careful if it starts to rearrange your investments and insurance – it knows when it’s your time to go. If you thought your spouse nags all the time, wait until the voice box follows you around giving you advice about everything and, dangerously, not telling you things you should know. Further, lawyers beware; there are legal bots online that can provide legal services for any need a client may have including the forms to process the issue.

֎ The environment, the puzzle piece still run by the planet whether we acknowledge that or not, already has plans to change the weather, coastlines, atmosphere, food resources and the diversity of nature itself. Did you know that when the last great ice age melted it created the Great Lakes? The water level of the oceans rose 300 feet. Today, if you live on the seashore, a long term mortgage may not be a good idea. You may want to sell soon – just ask folks who live in Bali, Miami or New Orleans.

So – if Jane is 4 years old, China is the new global power, your great-great grandparents live in the basement, you meet for coffee on Facebook, your job is gone or your boss is a nagging robot, giraffes and tigers are gone, the ocean creeps under the door twice each day, where are we going?

Ancient Mariner

One is the Magic Number

Mariner has been pondering what magic word will lead to a successful campaign for candidates in November 2008. What came to mind quite intuitively is the refrain from John Lennon’s song Imagine:

 You may say that I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one

 The song is a spiritual appeal for everyone around the world to diminish the importance of worldly possessions and the abuses of imbalance and separation and make the most important issue oneness – even above religious and economic interests. Being one is the supreme value of existence.

Imagine is a lovely, romantic song both lyrically and musically. However, in the practical world of US politics there is no oneness. No oneness of nation; no oneness of culture; no oneness of citizenry; no oneness of economy; no oneness of responsibility; no oneness of sharing a common life together. The spoken phrase “I am an American” was almost surreal in the twentieth Century but since has begun to plummet rapidly in value.

There is no single definition that covers all US citizens. The population is a collection of splintered priorities every one of which is more important than national identity. We can no longer say, quite literally, “One nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” We can’t even claim to be a nation under ‘God’ – an implication that there is one supreme spirit, however defined. Abortion, race, sexuality, fundamentalism, Islam among many other issues are more important than the holistic virtues of associating with a supreme being.

The unfairness and violence alluded to in ‘Imagine’ runs rampant in the American culture. The absence of oneness and unity in many sectors of life are why we have a virtual antichrist as President. It is why we have dysfunctional governments across the nation. It is why other nations are looking elsewhere for leadership. It is why Putin can so easily disrupt our democratic ideals. In sailor terms, the boat has no ballast – any wave can topple the boat.

The cure to our ailments, nationally and internationally, is to restore the ballast we had in the last century. Oneness. Unity. Togetherness. Cultural responsibility. One is the magic word. If a candidate can engage the electorate in the joy of oneness, that candidate will win by a landslide. It isn’t “Make America Great Again,” it is “Make America One Again.”

Ancient Mariner

 

The Apocalypse is Nigh

Mariner often has touted the joy of being married to a professional librarian, serious poet, and bibliophile of the first order. Yet again, reading through the many books by her bedside, his wife came across this amazing likeness in C.S. Lewis’s book, “The Problem of Pain”, published in 1940. The quote below is found in the chapter on hell:

“. . . . Picture to yourself a man who has risen to wealth or power by a continued course of treachery and cruelty, by exploiting for purely selfish ends the noble motions of his victims, laughing the while at their simplicity; who, having thus attained success, uses it for the gratification of lust and hatred and finally parts with the last rag of honor among thieves by betraying his own accomplices and jeering at their last moments of bewildered disillusionment. Suppose further, that he does all this, not (as we like to imagine) tormented by remorse or even misgiving, but eating like a schoolboy and sleeping like a healthy infant – a jolly ruddy-cheeked man, without a care in the world, unshakably confident to the very end that he alone has found the answer to the riddle of life, that God and man are fools whom he has got the better of, that his way of life is utterly successful, satisfactory, unassailable. . . .

“. . . . Even mercy can hardly wish to such a man his eternal, contented continuance in such ghastly illusion.”

– – – –

In Apostle Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, he describes the antichrist:

“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.” [Thessalonians 2]

Is who we think we’re talking about the antichrist? Is his base the nonbelievers deceived by his message? He is eager to use nuclear war. Is the Apocalypse nigh?

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the Earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The Sun shall be turned into darkness,  and the Moon into blood, before the coming great and awesome Day of the Lord, and it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the Name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Joel 2:30-32)

Ancient Mariner