Fearless Reason

Fearless reason in an age of frightened absurdity.

Category: Politics

A Quick Death

In a reasonable world Hillary and Trump would never have occupied the same stage. In a reasonable world, someone as grossly unqualified as Donald J. Trump would never have won a major party’s nomination to be President. But we don’t live in a reasonable world. We live in a world on the brink of self-destruction, either by climate change or nuclear war. We live in a world committing suicide, and we are all on a slow moving train driving us off a cliff. Trump cannot be understood with conventional wisdom or the analytical mind. He is our collective id, he is a death impulse encouraging us to jump off the train and dance madly over the cliff.

The status quo is killing us, but Trump gives us the prospect of a quick death. That is the only way I know how to describe the state of this race.

Kind Hearts and Sweet Dispositions

My visits to Buddhist and Unitarian spiritual communities over the past month have served as a much needed boost to my faith in humanity. Trump and his followers are on everyone’s mind, even as we reach for that which is most sacred. The reactions are uniformly quite horror and confusion. “I don’t understand, they seem to live in a different world,” is a frequent refrain.

Trump is an avatar of a mindset and spiritual disposition that is diametrically opposed to these sweet seekers. He embodies fear, hate, and ignorance; whereas they cultivate love, grace, and empathy. He seeks to build walls, where they seek to build bridges between themselves and their fellow beings. We all awaken this life or the next, and must sometimes wonder in darkness to know and love the light.

While I strive to love and understand by brothers and sisters lost in fear, hate, and ignorance; I am eternally grateful for the kind hearts and sweet dispositions of those fellow seekers for whom darkness is an unfathomable affliction.

Not Just a Game

I am a native of Kentucky, and today my state swore in as governor a tea party darling who has vowed to wage war on my home. I know several gay and lesbian men and women serving in state government, who wept the night Matt Bevin was elected. They wept for their state, and for their own safety and livelihoods. I also know many environmentalists, myself included, who are heartbroken by the appointment of a coal executive to the Energy and Environment cabinet. We fear for the land, water, and air; we fear for humanity’s survival and the future of this state and the world outside of it. As a native of eastern Kentucky, I am also mournful. My heart goes out to those who barely get by, and will likely lose access to healthcare and other meager social services keeping them from the brink of the abyss. I also hurt for the miners in eastern Kentucky, who have been sold false tales of a war on coal, as the coal seams that fed my family for generations reach exhaustion, and gas prices make coal mining a losing proposition. They have been sold a false narrative, and will not get the assistance and retraining they need for a post coal economy. They will continue living in a fantasy-land of yesteryear, as jobs continue to diminish and they grow ever more poor and unprepared for a changing economy.

I know it isn’t polite to pretend politics is anything other than a game, where political offices are points on the board. But for the thousands of lives negatively affected by this election, I cannot treat this like a game. This was a triumph of fear, hate, and ignorance over decency and reason, so today I mourn for my old Kentucky home, and for those who must now live with the consequences.

Common Madness

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In the wake of the Paris attacks I have thought a lot about the madmen waging war on humanity. Many have adopted the mantra, do unto others as they do unto you. These warmongers in the West have made bellicose calls for war and vengeance, urging us to meet death with death, and terror with terror. These same voices call us to turn our backs on the refugees fleeing terror, choosing to paint victim and madman alike.

My heart breaks for humanity. My pain is for Paris, the refugees, warmongers, and madmen. We are one people, sharing a common humanity. We are citizens of Earth, and the problems of one are the problems of all. The same evil animates terrorists and right wing warmongers. I see the same lack of empathy and compassion. The same disregard and vilification of other-self. Both possess the erroneous notion that it is ever justifiable to kill, maim, and terrorize others. Both degrade the other to an object or demon, that must be exterminated and wiped from the face of the Earth. Never realizing they make war upon self.

The warmonger and terrorist are twin souls, infected by the same delusions. Neither will be exterminated until the delusion that justifies their behavior dies. War and terror will end when we start treating others as we would have them treat us, and recognize that harm to others is harm to self.

There are madmen among us waging war on humanity. They are terrorists waging jihad, and Western politicians making bellicose calls for war and vengeance. It is a common madness, that will end only when we recognize our selves in others. It will end, when we stop meeting violence and death in kind.

I Pray the World Out Lives Me

I pray the world out lives me, and strive to make it a place worth living if it does. I was born before the wall fell, when Great Powers threatened mutual destruction. I survived the apocalypse, though I only learned about it in school.  I grew up with terrorists, first domestic then foreign. All trying to kill me, all punishing my government and hating my liberty. I survived the terrorists, though I had to learn about them on the news. Then as a young man, I was assaulted by poison in food and water, overpopulation, a kleptocratic oligarchy, global warming, and ancient aliens if what some say is true. I survived these things, though I had to learn about them in somber documentaries and videos on youtube.

My life is lived on the cusp of destruction, but I die from squinting at screens, poking at keys, shuffling papers, and listening half heartedly to the chattering of strangers. I die every moment of every day, as the present becomes the past or is lost to abstractions about a future I may never see.

I survived the apocalypse, only to die of decay.

A Millennial in Early Adulthood

I was a toddler during the Reagan presidency, a child when Bush, Sr. took office, and a teenager and young adult under Clinton and Bush, Jr. By the time Obama took office I was transitioning from being an undergraduate to a law student, and have spent my young professional life under his Presidency. I am a millennial. That word used to describe the generation born between 1982 and 2000, and sometimes used as an epithet by our elders.

I am socially progressive by default, but read Ayn Rand in college and thought Ron Paul had some good ideas. I was ideologically mixed for most of my teenage years and early adulthood, abhorring war, craving liberty, fearing climate change, and struggling daily to pay student loans and make my way in an economy that lacks human purpose.

I am a millennial in early adulthood, hoping the world outlives me, and trying to make it a place I want to live if it does.  I grew up under Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton and Obama, but this election cycle is defining who I am and wish to be. In stark relief I see two political parties I once thought not different enough to matter, battling for the soul of our country. I see a Republican party that denies science, reason, and human dignity, and worships at the alter of money; and a Democratic party that is not perfect, but is willing to face reality on climate change, respects human dignity and human rights, and wishes to restore human purpose to an economy that reduces us to human chattel.

The Republicans terrify me, and the Democrats have convinced me they are worth my time, money, and vote. I am one voice amongst many, but my story is not uncommon. The Republicans have lost my generation, but the Democrats are earning our respect.

A Fearful Journey

What follows is an account of my fearful journey, which in patchwork fashion can be found in the posts of this blog. For better or worse I am a political creature. I feel compelled to play a part, no matter how small, in the conversations and policies that shape our world. So I read avidly, share and post excessively on social media, and participate as much as I can in party politics and campaigns.

I have always been socially progressive, and registered as a Democrat when I turned 18 due to my disgust with the Bush administration and the wars – but I didn’t have any strong convictions about economic policy. While in college I found myself drawn to philosophical materialism, which lead me to a rather libertarian, survival of the fittest, economic philosophy. But I remained somewhat muddled through law school, still a Democrat because I believed in science, reason, and human rights – but increasingly seduced by the libertarian Republican movement lead by Ron and Rand Paul.

Fast forward to graduation, and my first job out of law school was representing the business of a former RNC chairmen. He made it clear when I accepted the job that I needed to be involved in Republican politics. I needed a job and was economically conservative, so I registered and became active in the party. Not long after that I had a rather abrupt spiritual awakening that is documented in this blog, which lead me to a panpsychic/pantheist view of the world, and ultimately to Buddhism. Since that time my economic libertarian leanings have been under constant assault. First transforming into a more moderate position, and ultimately to my current full flown progressive/democratic socialist philosophy. Economic libertarianism is incompatible with a moral philosophy that cultivates empathy and postulates that harm to others is harm to self.

Throughout these spiritual, moral, and philosophical transformations I remained active in the Republican party, in part because of professional/career pressures, but also because I naively or arrogantly thought I might serve as a voice of reason. Then this election cycle started and the procession of clowns running for President took stage and a tea party darling won the Republican bid for Governor. At that point I knew I was not a voice of reason, I was a whisper in a caucus of fools, and had become complicit in their hateful, ignorant, and misguided ideology.

So I went back to the Democratic party, knowing the futility of third party movements, now a fully formed progressive in every sense. As I become active in the party I see some of the things I disliked about the Republicans. I see some conservatives, some cynics and careerists, but I also see the burning light of people truly dedicated to progressive values and a better world. For me that is enough reason to stand and fight with them.

So I continue my journey, perhaps a bit less fearful than before, still striving to live a life of fearless reason.

Modern Denial: Medieval Unreason

The dark horse of Islamic fundamentalism has struck again. The Bastard Sons of Muhammad continue to wage their war on infidels, disbelievers, and those who simply do not agree with them enough. I mourn the 12 dead, who in their own way, fought and died for the principles of Western liberalism. They were profane in equal measure to Muslims, Jews, and Christians. No one was given quarter, because no one should be above critique, even when that critique takes the form of a juvenile cartoon.

In the West we not only have a right to free speech, but we have a duty to criticize. When a God, man, or people are elevated beyond criticism, a tyrant is born, and critical thought is clad in shackles. The Bastard Sons of Muhammad would make themselves emperors and the world their slaves. Their ideology is that of the totalitarian, who wants not only the mind and body of the world, but will have its soul as well. Such an ideology cannot settle for self determination in a country or region, its most basic nature demands world domination, because the mere existence of an opposing point of view is an unbearable insult to their tyrant God. They will have our submission, or they will have our death. The Bastard Sons of Muhammad will settle for nothing less than a world in shackles.

ISIS and its progeny pose an existential threat to the West and our culture. Yes, there are moderate Muslims just as there are moderate Christians, and Jews. All of the “great religions” have adherents who have reconciled a measure of modern liberalism with the medieval unreason of their religions. But the fundamentalist of any creed is a tyrant. Their truth is the only truth, and their identity is intrinsically linked to their beliefs. To assault their belief is to assault their very person, and such a tyrant will have your submission or your death, but cannot bear your disagreement.

The West has already suffered one Dark Age at the hands of Middle Eastern fundamentalism. It was the tyrant Christ who commanded his legions to burn the great libraries of Alexandria. It was he who commanded the death of millions for holy war and inquisition. But eventually we broke free of the tyrant Christ, and his monopoly on truth. As Martin Luther penned his 95 Theses, he began the process of loosing the shackles of tyranny in the West, and made room for reason to be reconciled with the unreason of fundamentalism.

The tyrant Mohammad has reduced the Middle East to its own Dark Age of fundamentalism, that will not be lifted until they have their own Martin Luther, and a breaking of the monopoly on truth. Until that time the West must recognize the Bastard Sons of Mohammad for what they are, tyrants born of medieval unreason who will settle for nothing less than our submission or death.

I firmly believe in the principles of Western liberalism. I believe in the rule of law, the right to self-determination, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, and freedom of speech. I believe in the individual right to do as one pleases so long as it hurts no one else. These principles have given birth to a great industrial and technological civilization that is unrivaled for its prosperity, stability, and advancement. The only flaw is that many politicians who carry the flag of Western liberalism, have interpreted Western tolerance of differing opinions to mean the West has no identity worth preserving.

They would fling wide the city gates, and let in the barbarian hordes, in the name of progressive values and love of their fellow man. Racism is a medieval unreason of which I will have no part. But I am a proud cultural chauvinist. Western values are worth preserving, and Western liberalism does not mean that all cultures and values are created equal. I am critical of my country and culture, but I denounce anyone who advocates tyranny, and implore those who guard our gates to close them against those with an unrepentant eye towards conquest and murder.

The Muslim world will not be civilized and democratized with our intervention, nor by allowing replacement levels of Muslim immigration into our own lands as they flee the devastation of Mohammad’s tyranny. We must shutter our gates against this medieval unreason, and protect our culture and values. We survived one Dark Age, we do not need another.

Millennial Manifesto

1.     The Democratic process in this country is broken. A choice between pre-approved candidates backed by the corporate media, plutocracy, and party insiders is a false choice we will not continue to legitimize with our consent.

2.     We are at the end of a 50 year coup, and our government is no longer our own. The United States has become an instrument of the military industrial complex and corporate interests. Our government wages war to further the interests of an economy predicated on the destructive delusion that we can achieve infinite consumption and infinite growth on a planet with finite resources.

3.     We place our hope (and yes, we are hopeful despite living in this world with eyes wide open), in technology and private enterprise. We see that the function of government is to maintain the status quo, and the status quo is killing us and our planet. We seek change through disruptive technologies and private industry. We engage in business and innovation not to maximize profit, our fiduciary duty is to save the world.

Heartless Folly

 “Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.”

-Winston Churchill

I often wonder whether the partisan warfare in America is mere post-modern tribalism, or the result of a deeper metaphysical divide. For the most part, Conservatives respect tradition and are guided primarily by reason, while Liberals hold more respect for ideas and are primarily guided by passion. I will be the first to admit this line is often blurred, but at its core this seems to be the primary difference between the factions, and the divide is as old as civilization itself. 

Since childhood I have tended more towards reason than passion. My earliest proclivities were towards dispassionate analysis of problems and events, with an equal tendency towards ruthlessly oppressing emotional considerations. I don’t know whether these early tendencies were the result of genetics, environment, or karma; but with age I have come to realize wisdom without passion is as cruel and destructive as passion run amok. 

The divide between passion and wisdom seems to have reached a polarized crescendo in American politics, with both sides becoming foolish and callous in turn. We must recognize that true wisdom requires compassion, because only when we see the inherent connectivity of all things do we see a clear picture of reality. Wisdom without compassion is reason based on a faulty premise. It assumes we are disparate atomized beings with clear winners and losers, and the losers be damned. Similarly, compassion without wisdom forgets that we are at once connected and separate beings. If there is any point to our individuated experience of the universe it is to learn and grow, and our instructor is often pain and suffering. Passion uninformed by wisdom tends towards trying to eliminate pain and suffering, often at the cost of individual liberty and the freedom to make bad decisions and bear the consequences.

The partisans in America must recall that we need both wisdom and compassion, and that when one prevails over the other only dysfunction can ensue. As individuals and a civilization we must strive towards being wise and loving, balancing the passion and wisdom in ourselves; learning, growing, and evolving towards more perfect and integrated beings.