Monday, April 6, 2020

Stephen King on Pandemic Tragedy: (THE STAND) How Humans Ought to Respond...and Not

Looking back now, King's famous story, a mini-series and 1,141-page science-fiction opus seems prophetic,
especially in how such a crisis brings out

the Moral Best
and Immoral worst
in humankind
(Of course,
The Stand's
fictional flu pandemic
is far worse
than the Corona Virus Crisis).

Before we look at the outstanding themes in The Stand, here's a brief plot summary
of the powerful story to remind everyone of the basics and the main characters.

The central plot shows us how a pandemic could easily start, because of human negligence and immoral priorities. In the miniseries, most humans quickly catch the weaponized flu and suffer horrific deaths. The unwalking dead.

A few remaining humans--who somehow are immune--unite in two contrary groups:
One is led by a 104-year-old Black lady, Mother Abigail Freemantle, who seeks to lead them to the Good, the Just, the Right, the Kind.

The other led by Randal Flagg, a demonically inspired sociopath, sets up his kingdom of the world to bring about Evil, Injustice, and all that is Wrong.

From the first scene/opening page, the narrative hooks readers with the epic story.

For those who haven't seen the miniseries or read the long tome, I recommend the former, mainly because in the movie version some obscene minor parts not central to the plot are cut out.

Central Themes of How We Ought to Respond to Pandemic Tragedies:

#1 Don't spend trillions of dollars on weapons of mass destruction (biological, chemical, and atomic weapons) like the U.S. and many other nations do, and have done in the past. (Are you aware that President Obama, and now President Trump have committed more than 11 billion dollars for maintaining and upgrading U.S. weapons of mass slaughter?! The total cost will be almost 1.7 trillion dollars according to the Arms Control Association.)

#2 Set priorities putting humanistic spending first.

#3 Listen and observe what humans DO, not what they say. For instance, NIck Andros, when confronted by Mother Abigail to choose the Right and the Good, says to her, "I don't believe in God."

Mother Abigail bursts out laughing, "That don't matter! God believes in you."

Nick is a caring, compassionate, conscientious individual. Those actions are what matter, not abstract notions.

#4 TO BE CONTINUED...time to grandkid sit:-)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

What if Americans had spent 6.4 trillion on ending poverty, injustice, refugees, the homeless, building infrastructure, helping impoverished countries?

Instead, the U.S. spent, according to a new study,* 6.4 trillion on wars in the last 19 years!

Even worse, in none of those places is the situation better than before the U.S. invaded.

“Even if the United States withdraws completely from the major war zones by the end of FY2020 and halts its other Global War on Terror operations, in the Philippines and Africa for example, the total budgetary burden of the post-9/11 wars will continue to rise as the U.S. pays the on-going costs of veterans’ care and for interest on borrowing to pay for the wars,” Crawford writes.

Even worse, there are other war expenditures such as new billions for nuclear weapons that President Obama started and President Trump is continuing:

"A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report in February estimates that the United States will spend $400 billion on nuclear weapons from fiscal years 2017 through 2026. (See ACT, March 2017.) That is an increase of $52 billion, or 15 percent, from the CBO’s previous 10-year estimate of $348 billion, which was published in January 2015."

Please work for a shift by the U.S. away from invasion wars, civilian killings, and the supporting of unjust regimes to INSTEAD spend trillions on ending poverty, injustice, inequality and to promoting human rights and well-being.

In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

Saturday, January 25, 2020

How to Oppose War and Other Forms of Violence--to Not Violate

Peaceful Becoming

from Ahimsa: The Path of Harmlessness by Thich Nhat Hanh

[to not violate—literally means “non-harming” or “harmlessness.”

“...first of all we have to practice it within ourselves.

“In each of us, there is a certain amount of violence and a certain amount of nonviolence...Even if we take pride in being vegetarian...we cannot be completely nonviolent, but by being vegetarian, we are going in the direction of non­violence...
“Anyone can practice some nonviolence, even soldiers. Some army generals, for example, conduct their operations in ways that avoid killing innocent people; this is a kind of nonviolence.

“To help soldiers move in the nonviolent direction, we have to be in touch with them. If we divide reality into two camps-the violent and the nonviolent-and stand in one camp while attacking the other, the world will never have peace. We will always blame and condemn those we feel are responsible for wars and social injustice, without recognizing the degree of violence in ourselves.

“We must work on ourselves and also work with those we condemn if we want to have a real impact.

“It never helps to draw a line and dismiss some people as enemies, even those who act violently. We have to approach them with love in our hearts and do our best to help them move in a direction of nonviolence. If we work for peace out of anger, we will never succeed. Peace is not an end. It can never come about through non-peaceful means.

“When we protest against a war, we may assume that we are a peaceful person, a representative of peace, but this might not be the case...
With this insight, we can see clearly and help our government see clearly. Then we can go to a demonstration and say, "This war is unjust, destructive, and not worthy of our great nation." This is far more effective than angrily condemning others. Anger al­ways accelerates the damage.
“You may think that the way to change the world is to elect a new President, but a government is only a reflection of society, which is a reflection of our own consciousness. To create fundamental change, we, the members of society, have to transform ourselves. If we want real peace, we have to demonstrate our love and understanding so that those responsible for making decisions can learn from us.

“When we see social injustice, if we practice non-action, we may cause harm. When people need us to say or do something, if we don't, we can kill by our inaction or our silence.

“To practice ahimsa, we need gentleness, loving kindness, compassion, joy...[to ourselves] and other people.

“Real peace must be based on insight and understanding, and for this we must practice deep reflection-looking deeply into each act and each thought of our daily lives.

“To prevent war, to prevent the next crisis, we must begin right now. When a war or a crisis has begun, it is already too late.

From Love in Action by Thich Nhat Hanh
Read the whole book of powerful insightful articles.
Parallas Press

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Hymn for the 81% who voted for Trump


"In 2016, 81% of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump after (among other things) hearing an audio recording of him bragging about sexually assaulting women.

Maya Angelou famously said, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

In the years since, even after enacting deliberately cruel policies to rip families apart and put children in cages at the southern border, evangelical support is as fervent as ever.

I was raised in the Evangelical world. It shaped me. I learned to take the words of Jesus seriously - love God, love your neighbor, feed the hungry, fight for justice for the oppressed. I thought that things like love, kindness, gentleness, and self-control MATTERED. I have been so confused and deeply saddened by the unflinching loyalty to a man who so clearly embodies the opposite of these values.

This song is a lament. It's a loving rebuke. It's a plea for the 81%, to come home to the way of Jesus."

Songwriter Daniel Deitrich

A Good Book of Leaves Composts Through Our Winters

BOOKS--the wonder of humankind's written heritage, a treasure (though in some cases a horror).

A good book of leaves composts through our winters.
"decayed organic material (as of leaves and grass) used to improve soil especially for growing crops."
"to convert (a material, such as plant debris) to compost...
a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing"
"We compost leaves in our backyard."
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary

"...of Latin compositus, past participle of componere "to put together,"

Literature is a record of how humans come to terms with our own mortality and the meaning of time itself.
Alfred Kazan

To push back the darkness a little bit at a time, in the same flighty manner as lightening bugs.
David Thornbrugh

Writing [and reading and chewing on] a book is like taking a journey. You know where you want to go but you don’t always know who you might meet or what you might experience along the way.
Road Dahl

Reading a book often takes one far from one's own shores and locality.

Where has a great or good book taken you?

Has its leaves of meaning, story, characters and themes composted through difficult times in your life?

Book Reflections:

There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.
Ursula Le Guin

[Reading is a way to be part of the family of humanity] Costa Ricans felt compassion for Kosovo refugees because they had read The Diary of Anne Frank.
Robert Probst

Literature is a journey, not something to finish.
Robert Probst

[What about rereading stories and books?]
Do we say we don’t plan to ‘do summer’ this year since we’ve done it before?
Robert Probst

A book helps me make sense of my experience.
Robert Probst

Characters in the plot connect us with the vastness of our secret life, which is endlessly explorable.
Eudora Welty

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Part 4: Commune in Awe in the Light, rather than "worship" since that has become an ambiguous term

Part 4: Realistic Hope

1.Begin with Reason
2.Humbly Seek and Search

3.Base Your Actions on Moral Realism
4.Don't Start with Ancient Scriptures

5.Study Cosmology, Astronomy, and Other Sciences
6.Be Open to Discovery, but Cautious of Speculative Claims

7.Keep an Informed Mind and Hopeful Outlook
8.Avoid Confirmation Bias, In-Group Dynamics,
Ideological Claims,Reductionism,
Fallacies,and 'Anecdotal Evidence.'

9.Speak Truth to Power; Work for Peace and Justice
10.Commune with Others in Awe in the Light

Live Oak Meeting House