Sunday, January 22, 2023

PULL


Pull yourself together,

they said.

As if I were yarn,
loose-stretched, ragged
at the edges;
a shapeless form
on life's hard block.
But the tears had knitted
in my soul, with needles
piercing deep;
a shimmering sheet
of memories
to shawl my troubled sleep.
Pull yourself together,
they said.
As if I could take
the strands, taut-tattered,
tired and torn,
and thread them through
again, on life's hard block -
so I did.
83 (c)

Monday, November 14, 2022

Madness rules when there are no boundaries

 

A society without boundaries is madness

13 November 2022

5:08 PM

Until we know the shape of something, we cannot begin to understand what it might be or what it might mean. It is in the boundaries, the borders, and the identity of something that we find meaning, purpose, and structure. When the mind has no such boundaries the result is madness. The same applies to societies.

We know that children, particularly teenagers – despite huge resistance – require boundaries in order to feel safe enough to explore the process of their becoming. Societies, systems, and nations are the same because without the basis of order nothing is certain and in the madness of all things being possible, things become impossible.

This is not to say that boundaries (which are our beliefs, traditions, practices) should not change or be redrawn, but that removing them quickly is disorienting and dangerous. Where do we fall when there is nothing to fall against? What stops us from tumbling into some abyss when there is no defined border?

The famous poem by Yeats touches upon the need for the centre to hold. Yeats reminds us why it is important that some things hold fast in order to retain a semblance of order, without which there is chaos. The poem reflects our age where we are tearing down the structures of the past at a sickening pace, leaving individuals and society vulnerable, like some crab that has discarded its shell and now creeps, soft, weak, piteously defenceless until a new carapace can be grown; until a defined, protective border is in place.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

The Second Coming – William Butler Yeats


We may not value many things which we have inherited from the past, but we should recognise that the fact they have been handed down means they are important in ways we do not understand.

In every act of destruction of the past, whether statues, gender roles, political systems, traditions, we are removing the borders which have helped keep our world in place. Defined beliefs like armour which preserve and protect, and which can be removed slowly, in small steps. But, where if too much is discarded too quickly, we risk everything.

And when we tinker with things we do not understand we unleash demons beyond imagining and believe that anything can and should be possible, or acceptable then we open ourselves and our world to much we may not have imagined. As the maxim has it – be careful what you wish for.

Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds’ are the words from ancient Hindu scripture, which Robert Oppenheimer quoted when he realised what had been created. There are more ways to create an atomic bomb than the literal.

The pace of change in the Western world, in particular over the past century, has been faster than ever before. We humans have evolved over many thousands of years with certain beliefs that have underpinned our societies. While there can and should be variations on those themes, there are basics that form the glue holding society together. One of which is that there are males and females and they come together in committed unions and create life so humanity may endure. Another is that there is more to this world than the merely material and that we have spiritual needs which demand attention. The Ten Commandments, not surprisingly, reflect the basic rules which have enabled humans to not just survive but to thrive.

A healthy society respects and preserves at least half of these rules for life – honour your father and mother; do not kill but protect life; honour the sacrament of marriage; do not steal; do not lie and do not envy others and covet what they have.

The first four rules pertain to religion and in the past century, at least in the Western world, religion has declined and been demonised and mocked, by the new Mammon which is Science. We no longer believe in honouring our parents and certainly do not honour the sacrament of marriage between a man and a woman. Even telling lies is not condemned in this age, but at times, applauded. As to coveting what others have- all too often that is deemed to be a requirement and not a failing.

So, out of the ten rules for life, or commandments as they have been called, we really only still hold to two – do not kill and do not steal. Although even here, the bed in which they lie is rotting because we do kill with abortion and euthanasia, and even stealing can be justified it seems. The Greens recently defended an article that argued it was justifiable for people on low incomes to steal from supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles. No more of this transported to the colonies for stealing a sandwich stuff.

This means the protective shell of such traditions which have held for millennia is pretty much in tatters. Which also means that ‘anything goes’ and that means absolutely anything. We already have people talking publicly in support of adults having sexual relationships with children; of men becoming women and vice-versa; of children being chemically and surgically altered; of sperm, egg, and womb being purchased so two men or two women can have a child – anything is possible, everything is accepted, and there are no rules to hold society together.

Not only does the centre not hold but nothing is held in place, in shape, in form and we barely conceive of the monster we have created, so well described by Yeats:

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, 

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it 

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. 

The darkness drops again; but now I know 

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, 

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, 

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

https://www.spectator.com.au/2022/11/a-society-without-boundaries-is-madness/
 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The theory behind conspiracy


Roslyn Ross
30 August 2022
There is a lot of talk about fake news and conspiracy theories which, in the past, we would have called ‘rumours’. This is where the art of ‘cherry-picking’ becomes useful, because in rumours or conspiracy theories the ‘cherries’ are the fruit you must find.
There have always been rumours in the news cycle. They are stories that generally come to life because someone who ‘knows something’ says something to someone else – and on and on it goes. The jungle drums begin beating. It has ever been thus for humans. Social media is simply the modern version that has replaced pub gossip and chatting over the neighbour’s fence. The medium is as old as humanity.
Rumours also tap into that great human survival mechanism, intuition. Humans are connected beyond mere words. We communicate with each other at unseen and generally unacknowledged levels. Like bees in a hive, humans know things because other humans know something… That is why ‘word spreads’ so easily.
Word of mouth is not necessarily reliable, but that doesn’t mean it is completely wrong either. There are often elements of fact, truth, and reality scattered noisily between these whispers.
Social media works very hard to censor the ‘drums’ and limit the rapid exchange of information, rumour, and what we now call ‘conspiracy theories’. They have even created a new label for it: Fake News.
There are plenty of conspiracy theories running around – some more believable than others.
A few crowd-pleasing favourites that will almost certainly get you dragged off by the fact-checking police include:
Covid is a bioweapon.
A cabal of powerful people want to reset the world.
There is a shadowy plot to solve over-population.
Microchips in vaccines to track society.
Covid vaccines, in one way or another, alter human DNA.
There are probably more, but let us consider which, if any, hold a grain of truth.
The idea of vaccines as a bioweapon is one of the top trending conspiracies in 2022 riding off the Covid pandemic. It is the subject of endless videos on unrestricted sites and has spawned a whole sub-class of conspiracies.
There is no doubt that controversial ‘gain of function’ research into viruses goes on in various labs around the world. While it is claimed that gain of function research is done with the best of intentions, any student of history knows that the ‘best of intentions’ can lead to the worst possible outcomes. It occupies the same space as ‘for the greater good’, ‘a better world’, ‘for your own sake’, and ‘no good deed goes unpunished’.
Gain of function research is dangerous. It involves deliberately adding functionality to a virus or organism. It is both a natural and artificial process. For example, scientists have sought to modify E. coli to covert plastic waste to tackle environmental problems.
Could it be used as a bioweapon? Absolutely. Even more likely are the dangerous unintended consequences, which is why the subject remains controversial. Given it is widely believed that Covid escaped from the Wuhan viral lab, the next question is, does China pursue bioweapon technology? Almost certainly, despite denials. The fact is, many nations pursue bioweapon technology, and deny it.
However, it does not follow that Covid is a bioweapon.
To quote Thomas Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins:
‘I haven’t seen any of the vaccine companies say that they need to do this work in order to make vaccines.’ He pointed out. ‘I have not seen evidence that the information people are pursuing could be put into widespread use in the field.’
‘Gain of function’ research could certainly be part of the development process in a bioweapon. Is the belief, rumour, or conspiracy theory therefore so silly? Not at all.
There is plenty of room for speculation, particularly when Covid centres around the highly secretive Chinese communist regime which locked the world out from conducting a proper and legal investigation for nearly a year. What they were up to, we may never know – although the answer will likely be ‘an accident’. At the same time, it could simply be another pandemic wave the likes of which humanity has experienced every century.
As a conspiracy, ‘Great Reset’ has an advantage over the others in that it is backed by the largest and most powerful closed-door lobbying group in the world – the World Economic Forum.
How logical or sensible is it for people to believe that a powerful group wishes to re-organise the world, reset societies, make massive changes to how we live?
Actually, it’s perfectly valid. The difference here is not ‘denial’, it’s an open debate about whether this proposed great reset – done for the ‘sake of the environment’ – is good or terrifying. It is a question of ethics, not existence.
There remains a great deal of scepticism, particularly in the press, regarding the ability of these global institutions to enact their printed wish to initiate a great reset (most news organisations have given up denying its existence). However, World Economic Forum’s projects continue to end up as domestic policy and so, like it or not, governments are falling under the influence of this organisation.
Is it by force? Probably not. This seems to be a genuine choice made by our leaders who are using the excuse of the Covid pandemic to enact Great Reset goals centred around the rise of militant environmentalism. It is a foolish act by politicians, given the soul of the Great Reset is the desire to end capitalist democracies and replace them with ‘more sustainable’ socialist states controlled by a mixture of bureaucrats and businesses.
The most powerful ideas are those proclaiming to have good intentions. It is easier to drag people along if you can convince them and yourself that this is in the best interests of everyone and that ultimately it is for the greater good.
According to Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of WEF:
‘The pandemic represents a rare but narrow opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.’
Is the Great Reset a conspiracy or international policy? It is probably leaning toward the latter.
Population reduction holds the bizarre twin existence as both a demand from concerned eco-groups and a conspiracy by their opposition. It begins with the question, would the world benefit from reduced population? For the Climate Change alarmists (and their more rational environmental predecessors) there might be some gristle in this one. Too many humans, like too much of anything, creates a strain on global resources.
As for whether anyone is ‘actively doing something about it’, that’s where the conspiracy runs thin – unless it was coming from a secretive consortium of funeral parlours.
If not killing humans, is anyone stopping them from reproducing? Overwhelmingly the answer is ‘the cost of living’. This is not so much of a plot as a natural reaction to changing circumstance.
Global populations are at their highest point in history, so it is unsurprising that even in China and India, there has been a shift. Both have fallen below replacement level (which is normal, considering eternal growth is not possible or advisable for any species). Access to contraceptives will naturally reduce population levels, but the conspiracy goes much further to claim it is part of some plot by the elites. It is the perfect example of an observable fact being co-opted into a grand conspiracy that doesn’t exist.
The fear over microchip implants is a logical fear given the rise (and celebration) of transhumanism (which is not a conspiracy). There are companies in Sweden that already microchip their staff as part of an experiment in augmented reality and during Covid, it was discussed whether governments should look at adding vaccine passports to these chips for ‘ease’.
Microchips in vaccines can easily be dismissed as nonsense, but the underlying fear of surgical implants linked to government systems is a genuine ethical debate – so it’s no wonder the conspiracy gained traction.
This conspiracy theory might be fiction right now, but it hasn’t been ruled out as a probable future.
Lastly, if you really want to get yourself banned from social media, casually suggest that Covid vaccines ‘change your DNA’.
Interestingly, this conspiracy hinges on definitions. It is this confusion that is expanded on to turn a grain of truth into something more sinister. mRNA vaccines do manipulate the human body into producing the Spike protein to trigger an immune response. Whether this is a good thing or not remains in question, but what the vaccine does not do is permanently alter human DNA in a manner that gets passed down through the generations – which is the suggestion of most conspiracies.
The conspiracy is given extra weight when the question is changed to, can human DNA be altered? Yes. It was only a few years ago that a Chinese scientist went to jail for splicing the DNA of children (who were born) in an attempt to make them immune to certain diseases.
Could a new genetic treatment change your DNA in some way? Yes, it could. Is it likely? We don’t know. Is it possible? Yes, it is. Are the scientific answers offered to this fear a bit fluffy? Yes.
As evidenced by this selection of conspiracy theories, most revolve around a grain of truth. In essence, the most sensible thing to do in the face of what is called a ‘conspiracy theory’ is to not summarily reject it, but do a bit of work and have a good, long, hard think about whether or not it is possible, if it is likely, and decide whether these outcomes are something you would support and defend.
One thing is certain, the human capacity to be suspicious, to exercise scepticism, and to communicate feelings, thoughts, theories, doubts, fears, hopes, facts is what has enabled us to survive and generally thrive for millennia.
There is also such a thing as gut instinct and we need to remember that. Humans lie and never more so than when they have powerful vested agendas. They lie even more when there are profits at risk and when they know they can ‘sell their story’ to the public in the name of good intentions. These realities are recorded throughout our human history and we ignore and forget their truths at our peril.
When we stop asking questions, stop thinking for ourselves, and censor those who try, we are betraying the freedoms for which so many fought and died and squandering the future and hopes of our children.
Scepticism is needed more than ever in times like this. Not cynicism, but healthy, questioning, open-minded, clear-headed scepticism. Your government does not have your best interests at heart. It has its own. Become a questioner. Carpe Diem! https://spectator.com.au/2022/08/the-theory-behind-conspiracy/
The theory behind conspiracy | The Spectator Australia

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Breaking

 

We are breaking into pieces,

without Soul’s backbone,

to hold it all together.

Crumbling into sad, small bits

of almost being, where we

can no longer identify the

shape of who we are, let

alone who we should be in

this pockmarked form of

creation without Self.

Where Spirit weeps dark 

tears, at the soft mound of

shredded becoming and we

wait, to touch, the outstretched

hand of love which is forever

held in offering to firm Spirit,

as eternal connectedness. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Living with uncertainty

 

A SPIRITUAL LIFE

 


The meaning of the Word

The earth, the sky, the sea..

the bird, the ant, the you, the me...

the rock, the fruit, the tree..

it's all God....

it's called to Be.

 

I use the word Spiritual a lot. I define myself as seeking to live a spiritual life.

By that I mean a life where I have a lot of time for God and little or no time for religion.

Religion can of course be spiritual but often it is not. And spirituality can be religious but it does not need to be.

 

 

 

 

For me reacting to life from a spiritual perspective means that I see everything, and I mean everything, as having purpose and meaning as part of my spiritual growth. Nothing happens by chance and good can come out of everything. It is of course far more complex than that. And yet, at the same time, incredibly simple.

 

 

Having explored many religions in my life I finally decided to stick with God and stay away from religion. Hence I began to use the word spiritual a lot. So what do I mean? I have started to ask myself that question.

 

 

We need to understand what we mean when we use words to describe who we are or how we live. We need to understand what we are saying for our own sake.

 

 

The dictionary definition of spiritual includes:

 

 

 

· religious: concerned with sacred matters or religion or the church; religious texts; a member of a religious order; lords temporal and ... (Yes, I am concerned with sacred matters but not religion)

· apparitional: resembling or characteristic of a phantom; a ghostly face at the window; a phantasmal presence in the room; spectral emanations; spiritual tappings at a seance (this is a part of what is defined as spiritual but not an important part for me. These are effects not substance.)

 

 

Everyone is different, every journey is different, every Soul is unique and that is why each and every spiritual journey is unique. We may learn from the experiences of others but we must always walk the spiritual path alone. Perhaps that is why spirituality and religion make such odd bed-fellows. A religious life demands that we obey rules, that we believe what others tell us, that we conform. While a spiritual life demands that we live by our own inner rules; that we question everything we are told by others and that we are guided by our own truth... a truth which emerges from our intuitive relationship with God.

 

With religion God is given to us - handed out on a patriarchal platter in the main. With a spiritual life we are called to search for God in every moment of our being. Religion hands God out in defined shapes and forms; spirituality offers God without shape or form.

A religious life is bounded and hounded by rules; a spiritual life has no boundaries and no urgency. A religious God is made in the image of man (mostly men with female support staff) while a spiritual God is in any and every image and yet without image for it is the source and being of all things.

 

It's interesting trying to define what one means by the use of a word and it makes me realise how inadequate words are to describe such things. No wonder the ancients decided that God was beyond words.

 

Carl Jung said, 'symbol is the lost language of the Soul,' and the spiritual journey is always symbolic. Within those images we find God without turning God into an image. It is not an easy journey because so much of it is solitary and their are no rules, except for the ones that you discover upon the way. But within that place of terror where you realise that at the end of the day, it is between you and God and your job is to do the hard work, there is freedom. When you depend upon others and the beliefs of others you remain dependent; when you depend upon yourself and your relationship with God, only then are you truly free.

 

And the beauty of the spiritual path is that you can find God in your own way. It requires a commitment to walk with open eyes ... most of the time anyway ... and to remain open to all that is, knowing that within any 'death' there is always 'rebirth.'

And there will be many 'deaths' along the path. It can be no other way. And that is why so few choose to walk the Spiritual Path for, as W.H. Auden so succintly wrote:

 

We would rather be ruined than changed.

We would rather die in our dread

than climb the cross of the moment

and let our illusions die.

 

This is actually the only quote I remember and I am sure there is a reason for that as well. Perhaps as a reminder of how hard it is to let our illusions die. And the most powerful illusion that we have and which most of us refuse to let die, is certainty. For it is such a comfortable illusion that we never cease striving to attain it. But illusion it is.

 

Living with uncertainty is the First Lesson on the Spiritual Path.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

We need religion and religion needs us