Friday, November 17, 2017

Light and Rearranging Chairs in the Midst of Multiple Hurricanes

Again, and again...rearranging deck chairs in the midst of multiple hurricanes...
one discouraging image that comes to mind when reflecting-ruminating-contemplating
on the recent breakups of two more Friends Yearly Meetings (NCYM and NWYM)
while the world suffers endless severe crises,
millions are destitute,
many persecuted, abused, and slaughtered.

And on the current absurd political wranglings--leftovers and rightwrongs...

Been there:

Was a member and leader in California Yearly Meeting shortly before it broke from Friends United Meeting, back when the Yearly Meeting opposed freezing nuclear weapons. In fact, many members defended nuclear weapons, though their Faith and Practice clearly condemned ALL war.

Instead most time was focused on lesser doctrinal points and the danger of possible uncontrolled behavior during open worship...

Attended a local Arizona meeting of Intermountain Yearly Meeting with my wife, where to our bafflement and shock, some Friends followed forms closely, yet defended killing...

Was a member of Pacific Yearly Meeting where some members opposed support and involvement in peacemaking in Iraq because the word "Christian" was part of the name, even though Friend Tom Fox, as a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams, had already been died witnessing for and working for peace in Iraq.

Instead, we spent considerable time on plans to get a peace pole erected....:-(

And worse...

Since I'm an extremely liberal Friend far out on the edge and have plenty of my own shortcomings and failures,
no doubt, other Friends could point out many ways that I, too, don't live up to the Light.


Think about this: What is the Friends/Quakers beyond an empty form?

Even back in the 19th century, social activist Friends were opposed by their meetings because of their abolition work.
Most Friends instead focused on their religious forms.

Modern Friends insert totally contrary, contradictory views,
advocate opposing ethics,
even deny that the Light exists,
or insist that only a doctrinaire understanding of God is the Light.

At times, as a UU-leaning Friend, I'm tempted to jump ship.

Only the Unitarian-Universalists are also rearranging chairs, still order their services like traditional churches! And are caught down in a severe controversy right now, too (including opposition to their UU president).

And, strangely, like some Friends, many UU's claim the lifestance of Pagan!

Huh? How could any rational, contemplative members of Quakers and UU ever think that the cosmos is polytheistic?

Furthermore, such a worldview--Paganism--is completely contrary to everything that is essential to being a Friend (and a UU).

If you think differently, please comment on why you believe my observation is incorrect.

What if instead of inserting almost any and all contrary ethics and philosophies into the empty-bucket called Quakers...

What if instead of acting like lawyers arguing over minutia and forms...

What if all of us, instead, centered,
stood up against all war, inequality, injustice
and focused on seeking
the True, the Good, the Just, the Beautiful?

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox


Infidel753 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Infidel753 said...

In fact, many members defended nuclear weapons, though their Faith and Practice clearly condemned ALL war.

I'm not sure what actual arguments they were making, but I see no inconsistency there, since the H-bomb is the most effective war-prevention device ever created. By making all-out wars between superpowers unthinkable, it has prevented more war deaths than all the treaties and protests in history put together. If you condemn war, you should give thanks daily for the existence of the H-bomb.

Daniel Wilcox said...

Wow! I thought we had some views in common. We probably do, BUT we completely disagree on this to an extreme degree. I've lived where civilians are slaughtered:-(
#1 For many years during my teaching of American literature-history, we covered most of the views of human violence including the many cases of the actual slaughter of civilians. The use of nuclear weapons was one of the worst terrorist actions ever committed. Of course, it wasn't nearly as unethical as the intentional slaughter of over 1/2 million civilians by the firebombing of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, etc. (And, of course, the much worse slaughter of civilians by the Nazis and the communists.)
#2 Even if one could justify doing evil to obtain good, according to some scholars the atom bomb wasn't nearly the preventive that some think.

#3 Furthermore, murdering any number of children, the elderly, doctors, patients, firefighters, etc. now in order hypothetically prevent the murder of future humans is one of the worst forms of ethics.
This exactly the sort of justifying of slaughter that HAMAS and other Muslim organizations use in the Middle East. They emphasize that they kill civilians now to prevent civilians from being killed in the future.
I lived there. Muslim soldiers came over the Jordan River a little over a mile away from us, attacked an apartment building, and shot down civilians:-(

Were they justified in fighting against the Israeli government? Yes.
Were they justified in intentionally shooting civilians? NO.
This was the same sort of wrong thinking that most Americans held about our warring in Vietnam, Nicaragua, etc.
I COMPLETELY disagree.

#4 Even some major military leaders opposed the use of nuclear weapons, including General Dwight Eisenhower. Later, Senator Mark Hatfield, when a young Navy man was one of the first Americans to observe the result of Little Boy:-( He forever after strongly opposed any sort of such slaughter, including being one of the only 2 senators to oppose the Vietnam War. I recommend you read his article against such killing, or one of his books.
Also, Hiroshima by John Hersey shows the obscenity of killing civilians, including all the kids whose eyes melted:-(

#5 You wrote, "the H-bomb is the most effective war-prevention device ever created."
On the contrary, there has been a lot of war slaughter since WW11, millions killed in numerous wars. The major powers just shoved the death down by proxy to places such as Laos, Cambodia, Latin America, and so forth. It's true that the death toll hasn't been as horrible as WW11. Steven Pinker's brilliant tome on human violence, The Better Angels of Our Nature is a powerful study.

#6 The human species doesn't deserve to exist if it bases its existence on the killing of civilians including children. In this I TOTALLY identify with the character in The Brothers Karamazov who said that the death of even ONE innocent child wouldn't be worth it.

There is so much more I could write. But I'll stop.

Infidel753 said...

Did you read the post I linked to? I was talking about H-bombs, not atomic bombs (they're both nuclear weapons, but very different).

I've lived where civilians are slaughtered:-(

Then you should support the existence of the H-bomb, which has prevented the slaughter of, probably, hundreds of millions of civilians since it was invented.

The H-bomb has never been used in war; it has been used only to prevent war. Atomic bombs such as those used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki couldn't have achieved the same thing; they're not powerful enough. Only the H-bomb, in arsenals of a size feasible to construct, can provide the guarantee of mutual annihilation which truly prevents war between superpowers.

Of course it hasn't prevented all wars, but it has prevented any recurrence of global superpower conflicts like World War II. If the H-bomb had not existed, it's almost certain that we would have seen at least one more such war since the 1950s (NATO vs. Warsaw Pact), and likely two or three. Hundreds of millions of lives were saved.

And some non-superpower conflicts have been averted. In the Arab-Israel conflict, for example, there were four major wars (1947, 1956, 1967, and 1974), but in the 43 years since 1974, despite some terrorist attacks, there have been no further wars. That's because Israel built an arsenal of about 200 submarine-based H-bombs. There was no point in starting a war in which even total victory over Israel would have meant annihilation. Again, the H-bomb achieved peace, something which all the conferences and negotiations and protests marches of the years before had been unable to do.

I'm not certain, but I don't think anyone has ever been killed by an H-bomb. Certainly nothing like the immense numbers it has saved.

Daniel Wilcox said...

Oops, Sorry for my term error. I wrote my response in the at 2:30 am when I got up because of insomnia.

I ought to have typed nuclear weapons, because I do know that the H-bomb is a different nuclear weapon from the A-bomb.

As for Israel, I lived there on a kibbutz in 1974, taught Exodus and Night for many years, and go to Israeli news via the Internet several times a day.

I have no illusions about Muslim governments, secular or dictatorial. They would annihilate Israel if they could. Heck, recently they praised a Muslim teen for murdering a 13-year-old in her bedroom. Suddenly, this thug was hailed as a "martyr" and a Palestinian "hero" by HAMAS and Fatah. Something like 75% of Palestinians support the killing of civilians.

I also stand against all the injustices and inequality that the Israeli government does.
I know the history. This is too complicated to explain in a comment, however.

My view of nuclear weapons is the same for both the A-bomb and the H-bomb.

And you wrote, "If the H-bomb had not existed, it's almost certain..."

I disagree. It seems to me based on my own reading of history books, etc., that what mostly hindered the Soviet Union from launching an horrendous war that would slaughter millions is that they were cognizant--extremely so--of the many millions of loved ones they lost in WW11.

They like the U.S. didn't want that sort of war, so did minor wars by proxy. I don't think the H-bomb, or other nuclear weapons was the deciding factor.

MADD may have had some restriction on the Soviet Union versus the U.S. because, Soviet leaders in the 70's and 80's weren't as irrationally fanatical as earlier Soviet leaders.

I could write endlessly about this. But I'll let what I've already stated suffice.

Oh, one last point on the criminal intent: When you argue "the H-bomb achieved peace," what I hear is that the real threat (and multi-billions of dollars) of intentionally planning to torture and murder many hundreds of thousands of families including little kids' "achieved peace."

Not only is the action of intentionally killing civilians horrifically wrong, even the intent to do such injustice is very wrong.

Thanks for the dialog.

Infidel753 said...

Again, there was no "intent to do such injustice". H-bombs were built as a deterrent -- not intended to be used, but rather to serve as a threat to prevent attack. I'd rather have peace achieved through deterrence than have war. Preventing war is an exercise in regulating human behavior. Threats and fear are very effective ways of regulating human behavior. That's the reality.

And yes, we would have had another world war if the H-bomb hadn't prevented it. During the Cold War there were just too many incidents that could have played the Archduke Ferdinand role. Without the threat of mutual annihilation, one or another of them would eventually have set something off. The memory of the horrors of World War I didn't prevent World War II.

Daniel Wilcox said...

As I understand the H-bomb, it was created, like the A-bomb, for the purpose of mass slaughter. Yes, it's a threat, but a threat is only a threat if it is real and possible.

If a nation threatens to rape all the children of another nation, their threat has to be real, or it won't be threatening.
Since the U.S. has already dropped nukes on civilians, including over an elementary school, wiping out many thousands,
and since many, probably most, Americans still think the U.S. is always right, and they still think that America is "blessed" to have hundreds of nuclear weapons,
it seems to me, that eventually the U.S. if it ever got desperate would, again, slaughter civilians.

The ONLY reason we condemn HAMAS and other "terrorist" groups for their terrorism is because we are strong enough that we don't think we need terrorism.

If a new situation came up, where the U.S. was an underdog, it appears likely that the U.S. would again justify the slaughter of civilians.

See, it's like torture. The U.S. tortures BUT it doesn't call it torture, because it's only torture when the enemy does it; when we do it, it's justice. Sheesh.

When enemies kill civilians they are terrorists, but when we kill civilians we aren't terrorists.

I realize there are some nuclear weapons that are designed only for killing enemy soldiers.

As a follower of of Martin Luther King, Thich Nhat Hanh, etc. who is opposed to all war, I still do recognize that humans, for whatever reason, no matter how cultured and how educated still,
in every generation do descend into wars, always justifying them, that the wars are always the enemy's fault, never the U.S.'s,
SO I do recognize that given the extreme selfish, hypocritical nature of nations (group egotism),
there will probably always be a national DEFENSE. But that is soldier to soldier.

If Muslim-Christian soldiers aim their guns at Jewish soldiers, then Jewish soldiers have the right to defend themselves and their nation. And vice versa.

That is entirely different from weapons of mass destruction, which are primarily for threatening countless civilians.

Hopefully, WMD will never be used again. But I guess I am more pessimistic than you. Humans almost always use the weapons they have created if they can get away with it, especially if they are the underdog.