Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Very Unexpected Defense

Life is very strange sometimes, especially when we find ourselves defending views which we so vehemently oppose.

Consider the whole simplistic, hypocritical damning of the flag...

Wait a moment, where are you going with this lightwaveseeker?

Well, consider all these terrible actions of white Southerners--

On the sign of one city in Dixie:

N---, "Don't Let The Sun Set on YOU in----"

Wait a minute, that was a sign posted at the edge of Hawthorne, California in the 20th century! Hawthorne was one of those "sundown towns" including Goshen, Indiana. And then there were racist signs also in Colorado, Conneticut, Nevada, and many other places in the 20th century.

Notice none of those are in the Deep South, and none of them displayed the Confederate Flag.

Or what about all those horrific lynchings that white Southerners committed such
as the time the mob strangled Negroes from street lights!

Wait a minute, that was in New York City and done by Northerners.

Or consider these racist words by one of the Confederate leaders who opposed the freeing of slaves in Northern states:

"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races...nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together...and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race..."

No that wasn't a Confederate racist waving the Confederate Battle Flag,
Abraham Lincoln.

And even when Lincoln declared slaves in the Confederacy to be free in 1863, he intentionally kept slaves in the Northern states enslaved.

He also wanted Negroes to leave the U.S. and move to Africa or South America!

Lincoln even said that if he could keep the Union together, he would keep slavery legal in the states where it already existed.

Hmm, sounds racist. Oh, but he is our kind of racist, not as bad as those evil white Southerners with their despicable flags.

How about a few million other examples of the hatred, racism, violent and lethal injustice by Northerners...?

No, that's probably enough for a short blog post, enough to help us get beyond simplistic, hypocritical social and political correctness.

Read up on the 1800's from scholarly tomes and discover that the Civil War (which wasn't really a civil war at all, but rather a secession and an invasion by the North)...

That the Stars and Stripes--the American flag at the time of of the war--was a symbol of slavery and its support and had been since the very beginning in 1776!

That it was the British flag in the the American Revolution and the War of 1812 (not the American Stars and Stripes) which offered freedom from slavery to American slaves!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Keep in mind, I am not normally a defender of the South or flags which have been used by racists. I strongly oppose all violations of human rights, strongly support equality for all humans. Even when I was only about 13, I was drastically opposed to the Bible's support of slavery. Scripture should emphasize that slavery is one of the worst forms of evil.

Instead the Bible claims a slave owner may beat his slave so badly that the slave dies in a couple of days. As for the slave owner? NO PENALTY says the Bible, because a slave is the owner's property!

So ought we to ban the Bible along with flags?

HOWEVER, the Confederate Flag as bad as it was in that it represented war and racism and slavery, it ALSO emphasized other values as well such as independence and heritage and the Bible and Christianity!

The Confederates were correct when they emphasized they had Bible verses, Christian history, and the Founding Fathers on their side.

Four of the first five American presidents were slave owners while they were president!

Four of the next five presidents also were slave owners!

Two of the next presidents had been slave owners.

Zachary Taylor, president in 1849-50 owned slaves while president.

Even Ulysses S. Grant had owned slaves!

So let's now damn the South and one of the Confederate flags because they and it represent the evil of slavery, racism, etc.
unlike us good Americans...

Whew, talk about self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and a superficial understanding of American history and the Bible.

Nothing new under the sun when it comes to social, religious, and political soundbites.

This odd post is not in any way to cast doubt on the horrific slavery, racism, persecution, abuse, and murder of black, brown, and yellow people by racist whites in the 19th and 20 century.

For a tragic understanding of the horrific nature of Southern racism, read Reconstruction: 1863-1877 by the famous historian Eric Foner. In some ways, African-Americans were treated worse after the Civil War. In many states, the end of slavery was only a legal fact, not a living, social reality.

And often in southern states, the Black Codes, the murderous white organizations like the White League founded in 1874, the Redeemers who took over all governments only 5-10 years after the war, etc.
were as racist or more racist
than many white slave owners of the past.

Nor is my odd defense of American flags (all of them, despite their support of slavery, racism, and killing) any kind of ridiculous defense of red-neckism or thugs with Confederate flags on their cars, and least of all of mass murderers. Hey, even right-wing northern Christians always emphasize that "guns don't kill, people do."
Ditto for flags it would seem.

As they say, "Let's keep it honest folks."

Every day, trying to swim out of all this hypocrisy, racism, political and social posturing, despair and darkness...

Every day, remembering Langston Hughes' famous words: "I've known rivers...my soul has grown deep like the rivers." Langston Hughes

And Martin's powerful words: "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him.

But I am here to say to you this morning that some things are right and some things are wrong. Eternally so, absolutely so. It's wrong to hate, Its always been wrong and it always will be wrong." (from speech by Martin Luther King Jr., Rediscovering Lost Values, February, 1954)

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Ways of War

Syrian Civil War

Consider the motivations and ways of and for war:

1. War for Excitement and Profit
(Allegedly the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the Great War,)

2. War is Our Nature
(War according to Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, Realpolitik, etc.)

3. War for Revenge
(The Trojan War, Nazi War,)

4. War over Land
(Palestine/Israel, U.S. War Between the States, usually called the American Civil War though it really wasn't a civil war, Mexican War of Conquest by the United States, Attacks against Indian lands by U.S., Seven Years War at least in its North American part--the French and Indian War, a battle between Britain and France of which will own North America.)

5. War for Duty, Honor, and Patriotism
(Robert E. Lee, etc.)

6. War for Victory
(General George Patton, General Curtis LeMay, General Ulysses Grant, etc.)

7. War for Liberation
(American Revolution, French Revolution, Marxist Wars of Latin and South American countries against despotic rulers of the late 20th century)

8. War for Peace and Justice
(Acclaimed by nearly all opposing participants in all wars such as the current one in Syria.)

9. Total War
(Another name for total war is terrorism; a government intentionally attacks, plunders, harms, destroys, and usually slaughters many thousands of civilians including children, firefighters, doctors, etc. Examples include the French Religious Wars, the 30 Years War Sack of Magdeburg by the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic League, General Sherman's "March to the Sea" in the American War Between the States, the French Revolution, the Blitz against Britain and many other civilian attacks by Nazi Germany, the bombing of Dresden by the Allies, the firebombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities by the United States.
"There are no innocent civilians. It is their government and you are fighting a people, you are not trying to fight an armed force anymore. So it doesn't bother me so much to be killing the so-called innocent bystanders." General Curtis LeMay)

10. Holy War, War for God, Crusade, Jihad
(HAMAS, ISIS, the Crusades of the 1000 to 1200's, the Muslim Conquests from 623 to 1683 C.E., etc.)

11. War as Self-Defense

12. Limited War for Justice
(Examples include the famous rules of war organized by Augustine of the Roman Catholic Church; another is the Geneva Conventions of War, 1864, 1906, 1929, 1949.)

13.Opposition to Particular War
(Barack Obama is the best current example of this. He strongly opposed the Iraq War, but in contrast supports war in general, even 'first-strike' war.)

14.Non-violence within War
(Medic, Non-combatant; examples include many Seventh Day Adventist such as the WW 11 medic Desmond Doss, who received the Medal of Honor for rescuing over 70 wounded Americans from a cliff.)

15.Vocational Non-violence to War
(Some conservative Mennonites and other religious groups take this view. They themselves oppose participation in war, yet they think other humans are to soldier because war by the government has been instituted by God.)

16.Non-violence for Peace, Love, and Justice
(Conscientious Objection, Civil Disobedience, Protecting Enemies, Protesting; Desmond Tutu, Thich Nhat Hanh, Badshah Khan,)

17.Non-resistance for Religious Belief
(Some say they aren't pacifists, but that they don't participate in human wars; Jehovah Witnesses.)

18.Removal from War (Many thousands of young men immigrated to other countries such as the United States to avoid serving in various European wars for various reasons.)

19. Passive Response to War
(For instance, many civilians neither support a war nor resist it, but just try and avoid the belligerents of both sides. Even when attacked, passive civilians sometimes don't fight back--the Amish, many Jewish people in the 1930-40's, etc.)

20. Cowardice in War



Take your pick. What way will save people from suffering and destruction and death? What is the most humanistic way to respond?

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, June 22, 2015

Our Human Culture of Violence and Future Choice

Though the horrors of war and lethal violence occur much less now in the world than 70 years ago,*
there are still so many innocent victims
and far too many misguided victors, and not a few sociopaths.

How ought a human being--just one of your average "I"s--respond to all the urgent calls for war?

How should I respond?
Take a brief trip down into memory hell...

What is the best way to respond to injustice, inequality, aggressive attack, and terrorism?

1. Like many Jewish people in the Holocaust?

2. Like the Deists in the American Revolutionary War?

3. Like the Girondins and Jacobins during the French Revolution?

4. Like Howard Gilmore, the Medal of Honor submarine captain fighting the Japanese?

5. Like Desmond Doss, the Medal of Honor medic?

6. Like the Allies using carpet bombing on German cities ending with the firebombing of Dresden?

7. Like American sniper Chris Kyle in the American first strike war in Iraq?

8. Like General Sherman in his "March to the Sea" in the American Civil War?

9. Like Gandhi in his nonviolent struggle against colonialism?

10.Like Muslims such as HAMAS and Islamic Jihad in their religious fight for land?

from Liberty Magazine

11.Like the Israeli military bombing of Gaza after Palestinians murdered 3 Israeli teens and shot rockets into Israel?

12.Like the Greeks in the Trojan War?

13.Like Krishna who ordered Arjuna in 3,000 B.C. India to kill his own relatives in war because that is a soldier's duty?

14.Like 19th century Europeans who escaped being drafted into their countries' wars by immigrating to the United States?

15.Like the Crusaders when they conquered Jerusalem in 1099?

16.Like Viet Cong soldiers against other Vietnamese, the French colonists, and American soldiers?

17.Like General Santa Ana in fighting invading Americans in the Mexican War? And the leaders of the Mexican Revolution against each other in the early 20th century?

18.Like Emperor Qin when he conquered Zhao in China about 220 B.C.?

19.Like John Woolman, the famous abolitionist and Friend to the Indians in the 1700's?

20.Like the fictional character in the movie Collateral Damage who emphasizes only the killer ought to be killed, not any innocent bystanders?

21.Like American leaders in the killing of about 450,000 civilians in the bombing of Japanese cities?

22. Like Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Muslim community activist and nonviolent warrior in the 1920's who opposed the British?

23.Like Napoleon against the European countries that opposed the government of Revolutionary France?

24.Like Joshua and the armies of Israel who killed everyone for Yahweh--"both men and women, young and old" living in the cities they attacked? And David and his band who robbed villages and then massacred everyone so that there would be no one to report their attacks?

23.Like the Prophet Muhammad who beheaded 600 to 900 Jewish men and older teens and then had their women and children sold into slavery? And like Muhammad when he had a Jewish poet executed because she wrote a poem against him?

24.Like the Confederate army which sometimes executed Union army troops after they surrendered?

ETC. (Come up with your own variations on how to deal with war.)

*The Fallen of World War 11: https://vimeo.com/128373915 and http://www.fallen.io/ww2/

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Of the Next Generation--Caring, Helpful, Smart, and Diligent:-)

Thought I would take a break today from writing about the nature of existence and trying to help solve the world's problems.

Instead, I'll share an event from my family.
Here's two of the smartest, hardworking people I know.:-)

Congrats to our son who just graduated summa cum laude from Cal Poly in computer science and is headed up Silicon Valley way to a new high tech job.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox, a thankful father

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Reasons for Hope

With the daily constant negative news from around the world and here at home, hope seems to have become extinct like a winged flyer whose beauty is no more.

But brilliant thinkers despite the cruelty of nature and the ravages of human history have emphasized ultimate hope: from Plato to Erasmus, from the seeker George Fox to the skeptic Martin Gardner, from the Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant to the modern mathematician and process philosopher Alfred Lord Whitehead, from Gandhi to Martin Luther King, and so on…

Photo by J.J. Harrison

There, too, is a 'the perennial philosophy' in ethics. While we ought to be seeking for more clarity in ethics, always needing to be careful of confirmation bias, in many issues we don’t need to reinvent the moral wheel.

For the vast majority of humans, the moral wheel--moral characteristics such as honesty, fidelity, rational discourse, compassion, and generosity are highly valued. And destructive behaviors such as the killing of innocent civilians, rape, theft, lying, inequality, racism, superstition, and cruelty are condemned.

Reason, consciousness, conscience, empathy, altruism can give us a fairly stable grounding for an objective ethics.

Consider the very similar moral views as expressed in the Buddha's Eightfold Path, in Jesus’ the Sermon on the Mount, in…

Mystical experiences of some humans such as Rumi the Persian poet, the abolitionist John Woolman, modern ethicists such as Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen also focus on hope.

While it is speculatively possible that all existence is only cosmic necessity as some famous atheists claim (that humans are “puppets” and that even if the universe started over a “trillion” times, everything bad would happen exactly the same),
there are other modern thinkers who strongly deny such hopeless views
and hold out the possibility of change. A prime example of this is Howard Zinn, the American historian.

A lesser cause for hope is "a priori." Deists such as Thomas Jefferson advocated this moral outlook as have more recent thinkers. “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” Admittedly, this concept seems weak since so many millions of humans don’t support “equality” for everyone, especially not for women and the impoverished. And Jefferson himself didn’t practice equality towards others but owned slaves all of his life. So much for "self-evident" when it came to his own life.

However, there does seem to be some sense of "fairness" innate in human consciousness from early childhood on. Even those who deny moral responsibility, claiming it doesn't exist will quickly get upset if treated unfairly.

Another hopeful sign is aesthetics. Years ago a rather bizarre book came out, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, where the author Robert M. Pirsig argued philosophically that human desire for Quality (meaning beauty, perfect design, amazing competence, etc.) is a sign of the
Universality of Aesthetics leaning toward ethical truth. It was a thought-provoking book. And other philosophers have argued this point as well.

To be continued,

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, June 8, 2015

Franklin Graham's Comments --How Such Hypocrisy of Christianity Seems to Know No Limit

The hypocrisy of Christianity seems to know no limit:-(

Read this statement by Franklin Graham and contrast it with the stated views of the Billy Graham Association and the leaders promoted in their magazine, Decision, each month!

Franklin Graham
June 5 at 9:04am ·
"Have you ever asked yourself–how can we fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community? Every day it is something else! Tiffany’s started advertising wedding rings for gay couples. Wells Fargo bank is using a same-sex couple in their advertising.

And there are more. But it has dawned on me that we don’t have to do business with them. At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are moving our accounts from Wells Fargo to another bank. And guess what—we don’t have to shop at Tiffany & Co., there are plenty of other jewelry stores.

This is one way we as Christians can speak out—we have the power of choice."

You say "we have the power of choice." Then why does your magazine, Decision, each month promote Christian leaders such as John Piper who claim NO human has any choice?

Who claim that most of the billions of us were foreordained to eternal damnation from before the creation of the universe. That God only loves to save a limited number of humans through a "limited atonement." That God only "unconditionally" elected a limited number of humans.

Why do leaders of the BGA claim that God only wills for a limited number of humans to be rescued?!

We used to support Billy Graham's ministry. Back in the "Good News" days, before the "Gospel" became horrific news for most people. I still remember being a counselor at one of the BGA crusades, still remember Billy Graham emphasizing in his sermons and conversations that God is love,
and that God loves every single human being
and wills for every single human being to saved.

But all that has changed.

We will never support the Billy Graham Association any more.

Fighting against such darkness,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, June 5, 2015

Lapping Ideas

Lapping Ideas

Backstroking across the ceiling
white gulls of light arcing
wing refraction

from the high intensity bulbs above
that shekel-flash on the blue body waves of the pool
bright incandescent—dare we say transcendent—lights

swimming in this liquid marble
strikes of lightening broken
then broken on the waves

like archetypes that shimmer in this cave
and electrify under water across the blue cement
chimeras of our mental synapses

After the swim, stepping out the glass door
into the brilliant sunlight--

Shades of Plato.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

First published in The Centrifugal Eye;
in Front Porch Review and
Psalms, Yawps, and Howls