The Nicer Americans

38362398 - flag of canada“Every Canadian has a complicated relationship with the United States, whereas Americans think of Canada as the place where weather comes from.” (Margaret Atwood)

“Canada is not a melting pot. Canada is an association of people who have, and cherish, great differences but who work together because they can respect themselves and each other”. (Vincent Massey)

Culture is a fluid thing, and as history has shown, attempts to define an airtight cultural character are usually projects of delusion and denial.” (Murtaza Hussain, Toronto)

On my way North to spend the New Year’s holiday with friends and colleagues in Canada, images from Michael Moore’s 1995 American comedy film, Canadian Bacon, satirizing international relations along our shared borderland territories, came to mind. The plot revolves around an American president’s need to boost his popularity by launching a cold war with our neighbors: Operation Canadian Bacon: A Line in theSnow. A newscaster appears early on with a map of the United States with maple syrup dripping down over Minnesota and Montana as evidence of the evil seeping across our border, along with dark speculation as to how their metric system is actually a conspiracy designed to undermine and destroy our way of life. The familiar Canadian moniker “Canucks” was conflated to imply something like “sinister commie”.

My favorite scene is probably one where a bumbling American sheriff, on his way to Toronto, which he mistakenly believes to be the country’s capital, is stopped by an overly polite policeman who noticed the graffiti on the sheriff’s truck “Canucks are dog meat”. This, the policeman observes, is against the law since Canada is officially bi-lingual and therefore all graffiti and other slogans must be printed in both French and English. In reality, of course, there is no border war and Americans leaving Calgary will discover a fully operational USA customs service right there on Canadian soil. As far as I am aware, we have no such arrangements with Mexico.

While there is no cold war up there it was definitely a cold winter with average daily temperatures far below zero. For Americans visiting Canada for the first time, it can be a somewhat confusing place. While their citizens both look and sound much like we do, there are important differences; including differences about those differences. While it seems that Americans will tell all the ways in which we are similar to our northern cousins on the other side of the 49th parallel, they will likely tell all of the ways that they are different. Canada is a monarchy and citizens have the option to use their government services in either English or French and; they have far fewer enemies than our ever expanding, militaristic, global empire. We also tend to differ along certain political topics, such as gun control, abortion, death penalty, religion and universal health care.

Yet, for me as a visitor to the Great White North, I was soon aware of how very different we are in our respective attitudes toward the subject of immigration. This is an ongoing, highly flammable topic here in Arizona, given that we are a southwestern border state; as well as a deeply divisive issue throughout our nationwide mainstream and alternative media outlets. Overall, the tendency here seems to be of an increasing xenophobia along with calls for draconian measures, such as rounding up illegals, massive deportations, a mandatory Muslim registry and confinement camps for suspicious and unwanted “others”. Some Americans fear that our political dissidents, and others critical of the current regime will be labeled as “domestic terrorists” and possibly faced with charges of treason. Small wonder then, that the Canadian, Citizen and Immigration web-site, received a sudden influx of visitors during our 2016 election night, causing their overwhelmed system to temporarily crash.

In contrast to our harsh stances, with talk of building walls and defending borders, the mood in Canada is much less fear based, with a greater sense of interpersonal trust and an almost cheerful commitment to tolerance and inclusion. In contrast to the rising, angry anti-immigration political parties in the US and Europe, Canada may be one of the last immigrant nations left standing. The government and a majority of citizens firmly believe in the value of immigration. In the city of Toronto, for example, now among the most diverse cities on the planet, over half of its residents were born outside of the country, and Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa are not far behind.

Among the practical reasons for Canada keeping the doors open, is low fertility and an aging population; and as their statistics confirm, diversity aids prosperity. Theirs is an ongoing experiment in filling a continent-wide, mostly empty landmass, with the diversity of the world’s cultures, who must learn to survive and thrive amid multiple identities and allegiances. (Charles Foran, https://www.theguardian.com/us, January 4, 2017).

While one could say that this experiment is incomplete, Canada still offers a haven of opportunity for many, and at this time all that is asked of newcomers is social amiability, respect for their laws and institutions and contribution, maintenance and improvements in public life. In some provinces Muslim women were welcomed with the message: “We don’t care what is on your head, we care what’s in it”. Given that Canadians believe that immigration creates jobs rather than stealing them, instances of immigrant doctors and engineers driving taxis are the exception rather than the rule, and Chinese surgeons and Syrian architects are not waiting tables. Even those who don’t welcome immigration mostly accept it as a fact of life.

No human society is perfect, and racism remains as a significant thread throughout Canada’s history, and as has been the case with all white colonial settlers, the indigenous peoples suffered greatly at the hands of the newcomers. Not until the nineteen seventies, were policies formalized to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. While racism has not completely disappeared, progress was initiated during the nineteen-sixties, as Canada began accepting increasing numbers of non-white immigrants and many previous policies of racial discrimination were rescinded; and since the nineteen-seventies the majority of immigrants are of non-European ancestry.

For now, at least, our northern neighbor’s strong capacity for mutual accommodation bodes well and offers a sane and sustainable model for social-cultural strength and stability, in our increasingly stressed and overcrowded world. Canada’s ability to collaborate with others, with flexibility in the face of complex situations, will likely serve them well as climate changes indicate that they will soon be surrounded by three oceans. 

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Thanksgiving at Standing Rock

thansgiving“Illegal immigration is not a new problem. Native Americans call it `White People´.”

“Thanksgiving celebrates all that we have and the genocide it took to get it” (Irwin Osborne, historian)

When all the trees have been cut down, when all of the animals have been hunted, when all the waters have been polluted, when the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover that you cannot eat money”. (Cree Prophesy)

While most experienced professionals who work with individual and collective traumas, as well as others who are seriously engaged with overwhelming life events are aware that these events often occur on the anniversary of previous and unresolved traumas, as well as other iconic dates and holidays. Terrorists, politicians, novelists and our corporate-controlled media make use of this knowledge according to their own overt or covert agendas. In 2012 I wrote an entire book about this phenomenon: Trauma: Time, Space and Fractals, whichincluded a measure of speculation as to why some events continue to replicate and re-enact throughout time and space, often for generations. As a result of my own experiences as both historian and clinician, I have come to understand that self-replicating traumatic patterns tend to originate and then continue indefinitely when something of importance has remained unacknowledged, lied about, covered up, denied or minimalized through some version of media-spin. As a result, through the reality of what might be understood as the timeless informational field; that which is unresolved will continue to manifest; often on iconic dates and holidays such as Thanksgiving.

From this perspective, current events taking place in North Dakota, now highlighted by the media during our Thanksgiving holiday season, serve to reveal a long standing, self-replicating historical fractal still in search of resolution. As Americans gather for family dinners and communal blessings, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, together with over 300 representatives from other tribes, and their non-native supporters, were brutally attacked by law enforcement and militarized protectors of the energy industries. Rubber bullets, volleys of tear gas, batons, beanbag rounds, high pitched sound generators, concussion grenades, police dogs and high pressure water cannons laced with pepper spray, in sub-freezing temperatures, were unleashed upon this peaceful gathering of unarmed citizens. In addition, these peaceful defenders were subjected to mass arrests, strip-searches and felony charges levied against photographers and journalists covering the ongoing events.

These “water protectors” gathered in order to protest the final portion of a 3.7 billion dollar Dakota Access Pipeline which would span four states, and cross hundred of waterways and wetlands. Nevertheless, the government maintains that this is the safest and most efficient method for transport of filthy, hydro-fracked, crude oil from North Dakota to a refinery in Illinois, and destined for export to China. However, the Native Americans are objecting on the grounds that this oil-mongering “Black Snake “would cut under the Missouri River, the longest on our continent, within a mile of their reservation, disrupting sacred sites, contaminating the local tribes’ fresh water source. According to Lakota prophecy, if the Black Snake crosses the river into the land, the waters will be poisoned and it will mark off the end of the world. This pipeline proposal is also in violation of a government treaty that set this land aside for them in 1851. Beginning on December 4th, over a thousand military veterans from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard plan to gather in support of the water protectors. One of their main organizers is Wes Clark, son of Four Star General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces Europe (S.H.A.P.E)

In a gesture of support and in keeping with the holiday spirit, Navajo chef Brian Yazzie gathered donations of food for the Standing Rock Water Protectors where he prepared three meals a day for 3,000-4,000 folks. Being aware of the historical trauma, Chef Yazzie focused on indigenous foods in keeping with his belief that re-introducing an indigenous diet helps by feeding the people and keeping them healthy. While the gesture was appreciated among the indigenous, Thanksgiving holiday is not a cause for celebration given the long legacy of abuse and disempowerment as Native Americans were not granted citizenship until 1924 and many were taken away from families and forced to live in government boarding schools.

Along with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, the American myth of pious pilgrims and native Wampanoags sharing a harvest meal together with brotherly love and appreciation, still persists with school and local community pageants along this sanitized theme. Perhaps you remember the nursery rhyme “Ten Little Indians”, the Pocahontas love story, the term “Indian Giver”; and those Hollywood Westerns where heroic, gun slinging, always handsome cowboys saved our country from hostile savages? A reality check reveals that Native Americans do not accept these stories and for many of them Thanksgiving is a day of mourning which some refer to as “Thankstaking”. On Thanksgiving day in 1970, on the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims, a descendant of the Wampanoags spoke:

“Today is a day of celebration for you, a time of looking back to the first days of white people in America. But it is not a time of celebration for me. It is with heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my people. When the Pilgrims arrived, we Wampanoags welcomed them with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end. Before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoags would no longer be a tribe. and that we and other Indians living near the settlers would be killed by their guns or dead from diseases we caught from them. Let us always remember, the Indian is just as human as the white people”. (Irwin Oborne, wakeupworld.com, November 25, 2016.)

For the go-along to get-along majority, the issues at stake at Standing Rock are not on the radar, especially for those who do not want to complicate their lives with concerns for human dignity, human rights or survival. Yet, for the awake and aware, Standing Rock represents the epicenter of the attempt to save our ecosystem from the fossil-fuel industries and the hegemonic powers of the trans-national corporations. This conflict is likely to escalate under the Trump administration, especially given that the President elect owns 2 million dollars worth of shares in this pipeline project. (R.F. Kennedy Jr. RT, November 16, 2016) As they continue to expand, events at Standing Rock have come to represent something much larger than a struggle between a disenfranchised people and a government that backs gazillion-dollar corporations. This is a battle to save humanity from itself, and winter is coming. (Adam Lindman, taskandpurpose.com, November 21, 2016).

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Coulrophobia: Creepy Clown Craze

clownClowns hold a mirror to society so that we can see the absurd in ourselves. So, to be afraid of them is ultimately to be afraid of yourself”. (David Riser, Ringling Brothers Circus Company)

“Sometimes its better to watch the mob rather than to try and reason with it “. (Commenticus )

“I have a bad feeling about this”. (Harrison Ford)

Its October again, and our nights are drawing in, shadows lengthen, early mornings are darker and the trees are slipping into their autumn colors. Halloween is coming right up as we near the nightmare end of this beyond freakish, dark carnival that has been America’s 2016 Presidential election season. It appears that the Deep State social engineers who use fear for social, economic and political gain, that use our compliant media to continually bombard us with alarm stimulants, have gone overboard this year with claims that our country is being menaced by an epidemic of killer clown sightings. And no, I am not making this up. This latest psy-ops divide and conquer, strategy of tension was likely launched with confidence that panic and paranoia would soon ensue following mass media reports of scary clowns jumping out of bushes to abduct children and terrify ordinary citizens. Better still, multiple, moronic ,copy-cat incidents of prowling clowns would surely follow.

As predicted, uproar ensued and along with a “public safety crisis” generated by multiple clown sightings, which in turn gave rise to a sinister clown jamboree of clown- related threats gone viral on social media sites. While there was some concern expressed that this new threat of “clownism” was just another case of easily terrified middle-class white people getting all worked up over the fear of anyone or anything that is not a middle class white person, school districts announced lock downs, closings and concerned parents kept their children at home. Some schools, now moving beyond those good old fashioned bomb threat scenarios, and being determined to remain open, have nevertheless, called upon police in order to make sure that their “perimeters were secured” = (clown-free ) Yes, really.

Throughout the country, sheriffs’ departments talk of canceling Halloween during this clown generated “stranger-danger ” previously presented in the guise of razor blades in apples ,poison candy and LSD laced cartoon stickers handed out to young children. Never mind there have been no verified cases of any such nefarious activities. Draconian anti-holiday measures are strongly supported by legions of backwoods evangelicals who believe that all costumed merrymakers are rightly and surely destined for Hell. As a result of these multiple concerns, many schools, churches and communities have banned clown- wear along with scary- vampire, witches, demons, and evil space-alien outfits for festivities surrounding October 31st.

At this point, one wonders if this matrix generated mass hysteria is nothing more than a pile of steaming click bait or if there might actually be some reality to this Killer Clown phenomenon. A much needed reality check with the Center for Disease Control provides us with the following facts concerning the leading causes of death in the USA.: ( Rachel Vorona Cote, jezelbel.com)

Heart disease: 614,348

Cancer: 591,699

Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease: 147,101

Accidents: (unintentional injuries) 136,053

Stroke: (Cerebral vascular Disease)133,103

Alzheimer’s Disease: 93,541

Clowns: 0

So, what’s really going on with this current outbreak of Coulrophobia (fear of clowns)? As you may well imagine the ongoing spate of Killer Clown articles, popping up throughout mainstream media, has provoked something like a riot in the comment sections. Here at last, some truth may be found in the near consensus among multi-national contributors that this phenomenon has something to do with our current presidential election. These perceptive readers maintain that there is, in fact, a boorish, crypto-fascist clown in orange face paint and fright wig comb-over, menacing America, who seems to be everywhere on TV. This observation makes real sense since politicians are viewed by many as clowns wearing disguises, while displaying artificial emotions that likely hide their true feelings and you can’t tell who they really are and what all that means behind the mask. (Rami Nader, NBC news, com, April 20, 2012)

In all fairness to Mr. Trump, who has opened the door for many other clowns to take center stage in politics, the dangerous clown is an ages-old figure dating back to the jester, fool and more sinister trickster figures. Our contemporary Evil Clown archetype came to the fore during the 1980s, popularized by Stephen King’s novel IT, in which a terrifying demon attacks in the guise of Pennywise the clown. This now classic horror was perhaps inspired by the infamous real life case of serial killer John Wayne Gacy (1942-1994) dubbed ” The Killer Clown”, a genuine registered clown, who entertained under the name Pogo. King’s novel was soon followed by “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” (1988) as well as the Joker character in a Batman movie representing a terrifying force of unpredictable anarchy. The Simpson’s TV episode ” I Can’t Sleep. The Clown Will Eat Me” also gained popularity. Web sites dedicated to evil clowns began to appear during the 1990s and then appeared a cult horror film “Clownhouse” featuring escaped mental patients masquerading as circus clowns. (smithsonian.com, July)

At this stage of life, clowns now count among the fears that I don’t have, and rumors of clowns kidnapping children fail to convince; given that anyone intent on abducting children is not likely to do so wearing something as conspicuous as a colorful clown costume. And yet, upon reflection it has been my experience that there may be risks in getting too close to a clown since they have been known to sport water spouting artificial flowers and may be armed with paint ball ammunition. Custard pies are out of fashion. Logic suggests that in the event that you are actually attacked by a clown, you should immediately go for the juggler. However, personal safety experts advise that your best option is to simply run away, since clowns cannot run very fast in those floppy shoes and their vehicular reliability is not the best. Bonus tip: concerned citizens should carry a bag of banana skins, just in case, and just to be sure you can also carry one of those giant cork guns that when you pull the trigger, shoots out a small flag with the words “Bang! ” written on it. Bear in mind that this news is not all bad, and there are always those who will profit from crises. Vulture capitalists might take note that if these evil clown concerns continue there will likely be a lucrative market for expensive, defensive “clown spray”, although consumers might soon realize that generic seltzer water works just as well, at least until a mandatory anti-clown vaccine is ready for market.

Hyperventilating conspiracy theorists, probably driven mad by loud calliope music, together with distant honking sounds, fear that this rampant clownism may be only Phase II of Mc Donald’s world domination project. While concerned citizens have called upon Federal Agents, and local police have been dispatched to investigate phantom clown sightings, their searches for clown-related evidence report no real red rubber noses left behind at the scene; nor were their oversize footprints, over sized shoes, silly string or buckets of rainbow glitter, for their forensic teams to analyze. (Kali Holloway, alternet.org, October 10, 2016).

Nevertheless, a number of community organizers, and neighborhood action groups , not reassured by these lack of findings, are demanding legislation to round up all suspected, potential and actual clowns, their family members and accomplices for deportation. In the interim, measures should be taken to build a wall around their tents for which the circus is made to pay.

These are tough times for bewildered and upset clowns and these highly skilled performers and inheritors of a time honored profession are asking “Why do they hate our troupes?” As one disheartened professional explained: “It’s not easy being a clown. You get kicked by kids, bit by dogs and only admired by the dyspeptic elderly”. This sad plight has touched the hearts of sympathizers and pro-clown activists in Tucson, Arizona, who have organized a “Clown Lives Matter”, October march where participants are encouraged to dress in circus costumes , meet a clown , get a hug and the message that clowns are people of all colors, and these harmless fun-loving entertainers are not monsters to be feared. (azcentral.com).

All in all, it is likely that this Halloween season hysteria will pass, and clown costumes will soon become passé. After November, Brown Shirts will be the new now, while those wearing bed sheets and burning crosses will retain their timeless appeal. Enough for now and I will probably continue to sleep with the light on, at least until this election is over. 

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End of the Trail or a New Cycle for Mankind ?

Man is part of a wholeness. He is a unity of body, mind and soul. In addition he belongs to his family of origin, to his people, to mankind to Nature, Mother Earth and the Universe. Every problem, every crisis, every illness reminds us that we are not yet whole”. (Dr. med. Karl-Heinz Rauscher, The Principle of Unity , 2015)

Human beings have always looked to Nature and the complex surroundings of our physical world in search of meaningful patterns, and early on discovered many overhead designs within the apparent chaos of our gloriously star-filled, night-sky firmament. From ancient times forward, astrological observers, astronomers and medicine-people have discerned archetypal images and patterns within the movements and star pattern constellations, which may reveal the deep, hidden orders of our world. Some believe that movements of these celestial patterns might even control our individual and collective destinty. From primordial times onward, we have observed and recorded the rising and setting of our Sun, phases of our Moon, and turning of the seasons; in an attempt to understand, predict and quantify the elusive nature of time.

Despite our various linear attempts to measure and divide time into Earthbound clocks and calendars (Chronos); we have eventually found our way back around to the ancient wisdom-keepers understanding that, in essence, Cheiros or Sacred Time, is something immutable and infinite that one cannot measure or divide. While we may intuit interconnections between chronological time and sacred time, it is not always obvious exactly how, why and/or when this comes about. At this stage of understanding, I have come to believe that among the many potential containers and opportunities for the intersection of Chronos and Cheiroswe find both systemic constellation work and sacred ceremony which can and do sometimes overlap.

As both trauma specialist and cultural historian, my own fascination with pattern was one of the many reasons that drew me to systemic constellation work. Bert Hellinger’s first visit to the USA in Boulder, Colorado in 1997, was a life changing event for me personally and also for my work; as I immediately realized that he was actively working in concert with something that had long been a missing piece for me: a timeless, sacred, informational field. At that time, I still understood the Hellinger vision to be simply an innovative method of Family Constellation Work, and as such, was just beginning to understand individual trauma work, within a larger family and trans-generation context.

Nevertheless, a profound shift gradually occurred during a series of discussions about the nature of trauma and the future of Family Constellation Work with my German colleague Dr. med. Karl-Heinz Rauscher, who was well into the process of exploring a potential for systemic work beyond the boundaries of family issues. He was already entertaining a concept that “ trauma and relationship ” also extends into the broken connections to our collective humanity, as well as our responsibility to all other life forms; Mother Earth and her place within a mysterious and infinite cosmos, all of which have been ages-old concerns intrinsic to universal, shamanic and indigenous medicine traditions.

Some years later, Karl-Heinz gave me a German language transcript of a constellation that he had done involving a Medicine Wheel installation which had been carefully laid out on the ground by German shaman Tacansina, who has a Native American great-grandfather and practices within the Native American tradition. At that time, in my own work, I was just coming to understand that underlying the seeming chaos of traumatic events involving both single persons and groups, one could often observe self-similar repetitive patterns.

It was also becoming increasingly evident that these patterns can manifest throughout many layers of family and social systems over time. While I read through Dr. Rauscher’s account with interest and sensed that it was very important, I had no idea at that early time why this was true. As he had then explained, at the end of a training group for Systemic Constellation Work, Karl-Heinz felt called upon to set up a constellation within this Medicine Wheelstone-circle. And, as he further explained at that time, his intention was to simply listen deeply to what the various qualities incorporated by the stones might be willing to say to us now; as humans. “What might we learn from the Medicine Wheel for a better and wiser life? ”

The term Medicine Wheel has many meanings as well as many different manifestations; and perhaps some close and also distant cosmic connections with pattern-oriented Navajo and Tibetan Mandala Sand-Paintings, African, Asian and Pre-Colombian rituals, and so on throughout our imperfect and still incomplete understanding of our complex human history.

According to the Mayan calendar, Mankind now finds itself in the beginning of another long-count cycle which stretches ahead some 26,000 years. Looking back now on these patterns of circles and cycles, I wonder if our ancestors, without access to computers, did somehow intuit the self-replicating manifestations of both sacred and profane fractal-realities. For those who have the will to see, these universal patterns are evident throughout our own bodies, our natural world and our Universe as well.

In Blackfoot Physics, David Peat explains that the Medicine Wheel is more than just a pattern of rocks, it is rather a representation of the relationship between the Earth and the Cosmos … a circular movement and process of healing, ceremony and teaching .A Medicine Wheel pattern looks something like a wagon wheel lying on its side and is often constructed by laying stone patterns on the ground. Originally a Native American tradition, this construct has been more recently employed in sacred technologies throughout the world. Medicine Wheels can represent the Sacred Circle of Life; four cardinal directions with elements and animal totems, serving as guardians. These four directions can be said to represent the cardinal points on the compass, as well as the seasons, colors, and animating spirits or energies that bring about maturity, continuation, renewal and refreshment; and also seem to have the power to concentrate and bring focus.

Within the Medicine Wheel constellation set up by Dr. Rauscher and his training group, a figure representing Man enters as an embodiment of our species which exists beyond the dictates of race, tribe, politics or religion. Man’s entrance into this circular configuration signals a dawn of our new anthropocene era. As a newly arrived creature, he appears to be overwhelmed by his task at hand, which might be briefly described as accepting the embodiment and responsibilities of both finding and taking his place within a larger pattern. When asked by the Creator if he agrees to engage, Man answers in the affirmative. While his spirit foresees the coming pain of this Earthly world, he feels unable to accomplish anything by himself and feels the deepest wells of grief, helplessness and sorrow. A measure of relief appears with a representative for Love; a very touching moment for him and others within this constellation, but even this is not enough. Man also realizes that he does not know or understand love. And although it is clear that Man is loved by Nature and Spirit, he himself needs to learn how to love. Yet, he remains blind to seeing this as necessary medicine.

Father Sun, Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon, the totem animals of Bison, Eagle, Coyote, and Grizzly Bear; together with representatives for other qualities of support; both observe and comment. A number of the elements within the Medicine Wheel also recognize that Humans are still missing a respect for Mother Earth and that this still arrogant, self-serving species is only one part of the greater whole. Humans lack humility, gratitude and modesty. As guardians and other elements offer wisdom, caution and advice, Man’s inherent imperfections render it difficult to accept their well-intended messages. As this sacred circle moves toward closure, it becomes clear that Man is in need of more wisdom and less arrogance in order to transform himself ”. The message is clear: “ Mankind, turn around and find the new wayotherwise you will vanish from this Earth ”. The Creator says: “ Raise your hearts”. This is the final word.

In a way, the Medicine Wheel Constellation ceremony stands as a many-layered , timeless template within which anyone can explore the ways toward a new beginning of relationship to self, others and beyond. And now, some decades after the original installation, Karl-Heinz and I decided to have another look into this Medicine Wheel constellation ceremony; as we are now beginning another cycle of our systemically oriented trauma and relationship work. During this process I noticed an absolutely key element that I had previously overlooked: the prescient choice of a date for this constellation inquiry: September 1st, 2001. He felt moved to set up this constellation of inquiry just 10 days before the events of 9/11 when the specter of abrupt change was already present in the global Informational Field. With this in mind, the statement of Element Fire during this constellation, at this time, draws special attention: “ It will still take awhile for purification of Earth and of Man, probably by fire.”

In retrospect, we can now see that indeed, at the time of this sacred ceremony, a cataclysmic change was about to close one era and begin another of crisis; from which we have yet to emerge - and the message of the stones still resonates. This now totemic date, marks the inception of our third millennium. September 11, 2001, which has also been dubbed, “the day the world changed”, is also the most recent iteration of long historical September 11th fractal having to do with conflict and “clash of civilizations ” which I set forth in some detail in: A Question of Balance (2008). In our post 9/11 world, we have yet to recover from the shock , spiritual disarray and deep damage to the fabric of American life; as well as the unfortunate and ongoing conflict and destruction generated throughout other parts of our world. This new cycle of endless wars has overridden human and environmental concerns, contributed to climate change; and deeply disrupted the interrelationships within our delicate web of life. The lingering miasma of our so-called “war on terror”, continues to justify and promulgate the draconian policies of an oppressive and increasingly intrusive global surveillance state.

End of the TrailMoreover, the hubris of our technological misadventures have launched a second crisis pointIn March 2011 a combination of natural and man-made disasters resulted in an ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan, involving three reactors in meltdown, which are currently poisoning the Pacific Ocean and our entire Northern hemisphere. Scientists warn that we are now in the midst of a sixth extinction. If there is any good news in that, it might be that abundant life has survived and thrived after the previous five extinctions. And, while we are on the subject of extinction, Sir Martin Reese, Britain’s most distinguished theoretical astrophysicist has made clear that we live in a Universe teeming with supernova gamma rays, cannibal galaxies, rogue asteroids and other cosmological events far beyond our control. His last estimate is that the chances of current human civilization coming to an end at about 50-50. Nevertheless, this is also a special time when we still have an opportunity to enact life-positive changes to ourselves and to our planetary home world.

During these admittedly dark and turbulent times, a healing image comes to mind as offered by Francesca Mason Boring in Connecting to Our Ancestral Past (2012)In her most recent book she contemplates End of the Trail, an iconic sculpture by James Earle Fraser (1876-1953), which depicts a Native American man, bent over on his horse; exhausted and beaten, which has come to represent the destruction of native peoples in the United States. As a young woman, Francesca remembers being saddened by this image, yet in time, she came to see that this man was not defeated. He was tired, he and his horse were stopped and they were waiting. Looking again, she could see that he was listening. He could hear the voices of his ancestors singing to him and giving him strength. And while he sat upon his horse, he knew that if he listened to his ancestors, he would be able to continue. To this vision one might add a hope and prayer that this man, as well as all of humankind, will listen and heed the urgent and very timely message from the sacred stones: Mankind must change his ways or vanish from the Earth.

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Europa and The Bull

The problem with rape groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape”. (Kurt Cobain)

Collective fear stimulates the herd instinct and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd”. (Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays)

… when you take fright and add to it ignorance, you get hatred. That‘s a very unattractive equation”. (Ann M. Martin, Here Today)

Earlier in the week I received an email link to a segment from an Andre Rieu concert on youtube which came highly recommended as “hilarious“. From time to time I have enjoyed his music, often accompanied by extravagant spectacles for global, overflow audiences, now in the millions. This Dutch virtuoso violinist and the conductor of his “Johann Strauss orchestra”, has been criticized as a feel-good populist who mixes classical music with modern song; which doesn’t concern me as a non-musician, and I applaud his commitment to featuring extraordinary, young, as-yet unknown talent.

As it turned out, this segment filmed in November 2015, featured a Spanish theme “Espana cani”, meaning Gypsy Spain. Soon after the orchestra struck up the famous, if not iconic, Paso Doble instrumental piece by Pascual Marquina Narro (1873-1943) c.1921 – also known as “Spanish Gypsy Dance”, two players in a bull costume appeared and jauntily danced their way down an aisle toward the stage. In Spanish culture, the bull has been long revered as a symbol of a fierce power, stability, courage and the ability to fight; as well the essence of potent male fertility. While the concert crowd warmed to the appearance of the bull and his gentle antics, nuzzling a lady here and there…the energies soon changed as he spied a well-fed lady, wearing a flowing ensemble in flaming red chiffon.

This “lady in red”, (a well paid actress), pantomimed a response of shock and fear as the bull approached, gestured a helpless shriek, then turned and ran, arms and legs flailing, on up the aisle toward an exit with the bull in avid pursuit . Amid riotous laughter, the pair soon re-appeared upon a bullring stage set behind the orchestra while the “terrified” lady in red dashed for safety into a darkened arch of a bullring portal … Soon thereafter, the festive bull gaily emerged, cavorting about while sporting her bright red bra dangling from one of his horns …which clearly implied : rape. The beast’s shamelessly satisfied, pleased with himself and triumphant display, evoked more laughter and applause…all in good fun in this carnival atmosphere. And yet, for me, as a social traumatologist, the image of her trophy-bra dangling from his horn, struck a very deep nerve, especially in view of recent events in Europe where the subject of rape is definitely up, and not without controversy.

As a cultural historian, I have been long familiar with the importance of bull imagery in Western art and culture from classical times up to and beyond Picasso’s Tauromachia (Bullfight series) and his sexually explicit, often ambiguously complex, erotic depictions of woman and bull; provocative, angry and tender. Yet, upon seeing this rather burlesque episode at the Rieu concert, the image that flashed forward into my mind was not Picasso, as I might have expected, but rather Titian’s timeless masterpiece: “The Rape of Europa” (1560-1562) .

The 16th century Venetian artist drew upon this long-standing theme in Western art, which dates back to classical times as described in Ovid’s Metamorphoses where the lustful Zeus, in the guise of a bull, abducts Princess Europa in a manner which celebrates aggressive force in pursuit of erotic fulfillment. In Titian’s bold diagonal composition, Europa is depicted in a posture of near abandon. Her disordered drapery, rendered in vibrant colors as though painted with fingers rather than brush strokes, shimmers and swirls just above her opening thighs and the bull’s long and quivery tail extends, in reference to the sexual violence to come. Interestingly, the myth of the Rape of Europa has been adopted by the European Union and the image has become a semi-official symbol of the institution, and a supranational personification of the European region. (Charles Fitzroy, The Rape of Europa, 2015).

Although the Rieu concert triggered some nearly timeless rape imagery, with or without the bull, it’s not so surprising that Titian’s masterpiece came to mind in light of the quasi-apocalyptic hysteria sweeping the continent with fears of a Europe-wide “epidemic of rape”. While this subject had been in the air since the recent arrival of huge numbers of immigrants and refugees from war-torn Middle Eastern countries, along with fears of disease, displacement, political and economic stability; the events that erupted on New Year’s Eve in the west German city of Cologne brought fears of rape and sexual assault to a new level of crisis. According to Der Spiegel, a lot happened on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, much of it contradictory, much of it real – both exaggerated and horrifying.

Politicians, community leaders and the media, fearful of igniting anti-refugee and anti-immigrant sentiment, were accused of first ignoring and then downplaying an ethnically, racially and ideologically motivated, mass sexual assault upon hundreds of women by a mob of nearly a thousand North African and Arab men.; including three alleged rapes specifically designed to terrorize. Adding to the confusion, German police were apparently and inexplicably powerless in the midst of these massive violations.

This picture is further complicated by the fact that there was an explosion of violence that same night in five countries and a dozen cities, which opens the way to speculation that these attacks were coordinated. If so by whom and to what end ? Suspicion abounds that right wing, and neo- Nazi populist elements may have been involved, at least at some level, in an effort to discredit foreigners and strengthen their agenda for stronger police and government controls against unwanted non-European “invaders”. This bears some consideration given media reports of the behavior of several “attackers” that seems consistent with professional agent-provocateurs. In one instance an Arab man allegedly waved asylum papers in front of police and then tore them up while taunting that he could just get new ones tomorrow. Others supposedly shouted things like, “You can’t touch us. Mother Merkel invited us here” and, “We’re Syrian and so you have to be nice to us.” Indeed, many Syrian refugees have reported that others were claiming to be Syrian in order to gain certain privileges.

Feminist reactions to the New Year’s Eve attacks were mixed and somewhat contradictory. While some have remained silent about Islamic provocations out of fear of being seen as racist, others call out the massive hypocrisy of such public concern, given that sexual violence against women was a long standing problem before the refugees arrived. Other concerned citizens wonder if there might be a contrived over-reaction by the media and others, in the guise of a concern for women’s safety, that conceals their underlying racism.

Given Germany’s and the Germanic people’s long history of threat from Islamic invaders dating at least as far back as 17th century, with battles between the forces of the Christian West and the Islamic Ottoman Empire; it is not surprising that many are experiencing this current influx of refugees from Islamic countries as yet another invasion of the West. From time immemorial, rape and sexual humiliation have been a feared and fearful weapon of invaders everywhere as a tool of domination.

In Germany, there are many who still remember the multiple horrors brought by the “hoards from the East”, towards the end of World War II, when battle-crazed Russian soldiers overran the country and raped thousands of German women.

Adding to this unspeakable nightmare was the humiliation of men who could not protect their women as well as a targeted humiliation of Third Reich racial hygiene laws which legislated Slavs as sub-human, inferior races not fit to breed or sexually engage with Aryans in any way whatsoever.

Whatever the facts of what exactly did or did not happen on New Year’s Eve in Cologne and other European cities, there remains an urgent reality that there are vast cross-cultural and potentially painful differences between immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, and their host countries; especially in regard to men, women, sexuality and the law. This potentially explosive state of affairs must be immediately and compassionately addressed in the interest and safety of all concerned. 

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Mein Kampf: The Sequel

There is nothing more terrible in all the world, than ignorance in action.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Fascism is a religious concept”. (Benito Mussolini)

Fascism is like a hydra – you can cut off its head in the Germany of the 30’s and 40’s, but it will turn up on your back doorstep in a slightly altered guise”. (Alan Moore, V for Vendetta)

On January 8th 2016, a controversial and critical German-language edition of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle), immediately sold out with orders received for four times the print run after becoming available in German bookstores for the first time in 70 years. Long regarded as one of Nazism’s major propaganda tools, this exposition of murderous ideology was written in 1923 while the Austrian-born socialist was imprisoned as a firebrand, following his ignominious Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler was released in 1924 and his first volume was published in 1925 and the second in 1926. Now in 2016, this two-volume, 1,948 page, annotated, academic edition, contains a side-by-side commentary on Hitler’s prose, and over three thousand footnotes. As soon as the copyright expired, Mein Kampf was published by the Munich Institute of Contemporary History over objections that it would be offensive to Jewish groups as well as feed the flames of rising right-wing extremist groups. (telegraph, uk, January 10, 2016), I applaud this courageous decision, given my conviction that censorship has no place within a free and open society.

With all the excitement and various and incendiary controversies surrounding this publishing event, we might now expect a renewed interest in the contents of Adolf Hitler’s lesser known, second book. While there had been rumors that such a work existed (at least in manuscript form), emanating from several sources including a former employee of the Nazi party’s publishing house.He recalled a manuscript on foreign policy that Hitler had dictated in 1928, just prior to his rise to power, but never published. Hitler himself also mentioned this in 1942. And still, there was no confirmation until German-born Jewish refugee and American historian, Gerhard Weinberg, discovered a mislabeled folder. His workplace was a post-war, remodeled building that had been a torpedo factory, along the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia. There were stored thousands and thousands of linear feet of confiscated documents from the Third Reich, considered to be just as incendiary as their other weapons.

Then, on an average day during the summer of 1958, while looking through his files, Weinberg opened a thick folder erroneously labeled as a partial draft for Mein Kampf. As he carefully read the opening lines … “Politics is history in the making. History itself represents the progression of a people’s struggle for survival”. Weinberg recognized the twisted logic of the writer but not of this document. As Weinberg recognized that this manuscript was not Mein Kampfhe followed along as the author continued on with his argument that foreign policy helps a people’s struggle preserve itself; self-preservation requires war. The text continued on with explicit warnings as to exactly what the world could expect from Der Führer. While there were the familiar accusations of Jewish conspiracies, there were also new elementssuch as early predictions of an eventual war with the USA .

In an interesting synchronicity, Weinberg soon thereafter received a communication from Munich’s Institute of Contemporary History wanting to know if he had knowledge of a sequel to Mein Kampf. He wrote them back and told them “Yes, and I just found it !”. The Institute of Contemporary History then published the “Zweites Buch” (Second Book) in 1961, along with Weinberg’s commentary. Then while he was showing this manuscript to academic publishers in the USA, an unofficial pirated edition appeared with a dubious translation; and after this he was turned down. At that time, “nobody wanted to be Hitler’s publisher”.In this respect the history of the “Second Book” parallels that of Mein Kampf. Nazi copyrights were seized by the USA in 1945 and then quickly reverted back to the government of Bavaria.

In keeping with the policies of post-war “de-nazification”, Mein Kampf was kept strictly out of print, as this work was considered too dangerous for the general public.

As Weinberg points out, the problem with this approach, was that millions of copies of this now forbidden book already existed in 1945. What was needed therefore, was a copy that provided both context and commentary that a critical edition could provide. In his introduction to Hitler’s Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Main Kampf,which was finally published in 2003, Weinberg wrote, “Germany and the rest of the world have not yet come close to coming to terms with Hitler as a person, as leader of a great nation, and as a symbol.” Banning and refusing to publish Hitler’s books did little to prevent people from accessing his ideas. It served only to prevent historians from contributing to an understanding of how these books are to be remembered. Despite the claims of Holocaust deniers that any book involving Jewish authors or translators cannot be trusted and is not worth reading, Dr. Weinberg’s new edition provides a valuable reference for any serious student of modern European history, the Third Reich, World War II and the Holocaust. (Daniel A. Gross, “A Historian Who Fled the Nazis and Still Wants Us To Read Hitler, NewYorker, December 30, 2015).

While Hitler may be long dead, fascist ideology is alive and well throughout our modern world. Only the naive would continue to believe that this was some German aberration. Here in America we have the sad and increasingly grotesque spectacle of our own right wing, racist and war mongering presidential candidates advocating a national registry for Muslims along with internment camps; and who knows what else they have in mind. How many honestly say, here and elsewhere: “It can’t happen here”?

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Our Brave New Year

Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley

Great is the truth, but from a practical point of view, still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth” .

One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”

If one’s different, one is bound to be lonely … Well, I’d rather be unhappy than have the false happiness you were having here”.

(Aldous Huxley, Brave New World)

On January 12th, President Barack Obama, considered by pollsters to be the most polarizing Chief Executive in recent history, delivered his sixth and final, State of the Union Address, which by tradition is delivered to a joint session of the United States Congress. Perhaps you can understand that many who voted for him as the candidate for “Hope and Change”, were soon confronted with the reality of “more of the same”; and even worse, as well as a stark realization that even with a change of personalities or even political parties, the overall agenda remains the same. Even the mainstream Boston Globe has acknowledged this reality: “Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change”. (October 19, 2014). At the beginning of this new year I don’t need to tune into to President Obama in order to know the state of our union … All is not well, the state of our union is not good and is unlikely to improve any time soon. While the same could be said for the state of our war ravaged planet; and increasingly endangered biosphere, for now my focus will remain on our situation here in 21st century America.

Isaac Asimov(1920-1980), former Professor of Biochemistry at Boston University School of Medicine, and the author of 212 books on mostly scientific subjects, maintained that there has always been, among our many other challenges, a cult of ignorance in the United States; and that this strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life.It has been nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”. (http://media.aphelis.net).

In “The Great Forgetting”, prize winning journalist Chris Hedges sees this as one among other causes for our current situation given that ignorance and illiteracy come at a cost; as does obsequious worship of technology, hedonism, and power, as well as the primacy of emotion and spectacle over wisdom and rational thought. Hedges laments that a decades-long assault on the arts, humanities, journalism and civic literacy, that once helped us to interpret who we were, and are, and our place in the world, have been either corrupted or relegated to the margins. As a result we have surrendered judgment for prejudice and created a binary universe of “good us versus evil others”. Hedges continues to lament our surrender of judgment for prejudice as we have unleashed our colossal capacity for violence around the globe and into the city streets of our own poorest communities. Moreover, he warns, any marriage of ignorance and force always generates unfathomable evil; unseen by perpetrators who mistake their own stupidity for blindness and innocence. (opednews.com, January 11, 2016).

Stanford University science historian Robert Proctor, delivers a similar message. “We live in a world of radical ignorance and the marvel is that any kind of truth cuts through the noise.” Even though knowledge is accessible, it doesn’t mean that it is accessed. As he was delving into the practices of the tobacco industry and how they spread confusion about the carcinogenic and other lethal potentials of their products, Proctor created a neo-logism for the study of the deliberate propagation of ignorance: agnotology. Derived from agnosis, the neo-classical Greek word for ignorance or not knowing, and ontology, a branch of metaphysics which concerns the nature of being. So, agnotology is now understood as “the study of willful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or to win favor”. Ignorance is power, Proctor explains, and agnotology is about the deliberate creation of ignorance; and also a political ploy by powerful entities who want us “not to know.

As an example of agnotology in action, Proctor offers the issue of climate change. The fight, he maintains, is not over the existence of climate change but whether God has created the Earth for us to exploit, whether government has the right to regulate industry, whether environmentalists should be empowered or imprisoned and so on. This fight is not just about the facts but rather what is imagined to flow from and into such facts. As Proctor and others have clearly discerned, deceit and deception is rampant throughout both sides and even the middle of our political spectrum and this reality portends a very tumultuous year ahead. (BBC Future: January 6, 2016).

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Our Year of Fear

No one can terrorize an entire nation unless we are all his accomplices”. (Edward R.Murrow, Broadcast Journalist)

To him who is in fear – everything rustles”. (Sophocles)

Sometimes you get the squirrel and sometimes the squirrel gets you”. (K. Storm)

Given that this is December already, and still, here at year’s end, I could find no words for the increasingly disturbing events of 2015. I turned to Ursula Le Guin’s wisdom for writers…who refers us to Virginia Woolf, who explained that an image or an emotion, creates, “a wave in the mind”, long before it makes words. In writing, she continued, one has to capture this, and set this working, which apparently has nothing to do with words…and then as this wave breaks and tumbles into the mind, it finally provides words. (Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wave in the Mind, 2004). While I could deeply resonate with her insight, the waves in my own mind were multiple, cumulative and approaching the level of a tsunami; in response to an unwelcome, somewhat surreal, increasingly sinister, Orwellian reality.

Truly now, who among our awake and aware community, would not be at risk of overwhelm, in the face of that which human right’s attorney John Whitehead has termed an epidemic of historic proportions. A contagion of fear, being spread like wildfire, has succeeded in turning our communities into populist, pitchfork battlegrounds, and setting our loyal American citizens against one another; tragic hallmarks of the post 9-11 reality within which we find ourselves at present. We are being force-fed a daily diet of fear, served up together with toxic doses of vitriol, paranoia, and intolerance; and everywhere one turns, left, right or center, internal and external forces continue to successfully foment distrust and division. For those willing to see, there exists an ongoing strategy to control a populace through dumb -down, anti-history; higher mathematical, science education, ongoingly hostile to the humanities at the university level,in favor of corporate agendas fostered by those very, war-mongering, military industrial complexes, of which President Eisenhower warned.

False flags, staged events, soap-opera trained crisis actors and rampant militarism are becoming almost daily fare. Evidence is now overwhelming, that a totalitarian agenda designed to confound the citizenry is a reality, along with campaigns to distract, with media controlled and complicit “news”, and mindless, narcissistic, celebrity-chatter, phantom opponents, and to turn local minor disagreements into major conflagrations. We are being maliciously manipulated, and fear and discord are promoted as a covert means of control and suppression . While our genuinely patriotic and well meaning citizens are busy screaming at each other, no notice will likely be taken of a lethal control-matrix swiftly closing in; until the final, virtual and actual, crushing curtain of the controller’s, “us versus them theater” inevitably descends. (John Whitehead, “Does Fear Lead to Fascism?, opednews.com, December 7, 2015) . With all due respect to John Whitehead, I would add that, from my perspective, this oppressive control-matrix is a globalist operation, not limited to any one culture, country or continent.

And then, mercifully indeed, my aphasic tsunami gradually receded when the multi-media, fear-porn, noise machine carried their campaign another bridge too far. Words and my much needed sense of humor returned when the following story of a terrorist squirrel went viral. While you may be tempted to think that what I am about to relate is fiction, I can assure you that the following events are very real and you can research this for yourselves through the multiple sources available on line. The first byline to catch my attention was: “WHAT’S GOING ON? Aggressive ‘attack squirrels’ are terrorizing small California town”. No really, I am not making this one up. (catholic.org, 12/07/2015).

As I understand it, the unvarnished facts have unfolded as follows: Richard Williams 87 and his wife Norma 83, required hospitalization in the wake of a vicious attack by a squirrel that had been terrorizing their Novato, California neighborhood. As they were peacefully attending to routine chores in their garage, the perpetrating squirrel allegedly slipped under the garage door, pounced on Williams, clawing and scratching his head, arms and legs and repeated the attack every time that it was pulled off and even smashed his glasses! Upon hearing William’s screams, Norma, wielding a broom, hastened to his aid as this furry missile also landed upon her and more scratches and cuts ensued. As the battle raged on, Williams was able to grab the critter by the tail, swing it down to the garage floor, and then, although briefly stunned,the squirrel managed to escape. A kindly neighbor brought the wounded couple to the hospital where they received dozens of shots for rabies,tetanus and other rodent borne illnesses. Soon thereafter, photos of the bloodied and duly hospitalized Wlliams went viral.

And, if such an anomalous incident wasn’t harrowing enough, the San Jose Mercury reports that this wasn’t the squirrel’s first strike. Furthermore, the Marin County Humane Society has warned that this very same gray fox squirrel has been responsible for attacks upon at least eight other citizens during the last three weeks. However, the Marin society also now reports that this purportedly identified squirrel is now believed to be dead (forensics evidence)? While this official-sounding announcement may provide some relief for potentially terrified Marin County residents, the question remains as to why this local story about a few people and a squirrel went viral and was even given prominence in the UK.Daily Mail? (“Beware the killer squirrel”, dailymail.co.uk, December 8, 2015).

As it turns out, I was not the only one wondering about this squirrel-fueled media blitz . And while I have compassion for the Williams and anyone else suffering fear and pain for whatever reason, I was also comforted to learn that I was not the only one experiencing more than one flashback to those iconic Monty Python comedy sketches featuring the ongoing battles between mankind and our fellow creatures. Soon after any number of these Northern California-based squirrel battle accounts appeared in various local, national and international media outlets, the internet comments sections also went viral, for the most part in a sane and comedic tone that categorically rejected any mass media intimations of any kind of genuine terror, whatsoever.

Some the more astute internet comments are summarized as follows: the attacker was likely a rodent-American of color (grey) recently radicalized by Muslim nuts, probably by his mate who is also a known member of ACORN, and this is why we need military grade weapons. Others warned, this latest confirmed terrorist attack augurs an oncoming zombie-squirrel apocalypse and that walls should be immediately erected around all of Marin County; and best to steer clear of Novato altogether. Some opined that this vicious attack was possibly provoked, as some neighbors suggested, when the varmit overheard some inflammatory anti-squirrel rhetoric emanating from the Williams’ household. Nevertheless, the squirrel had his apologists who maintain that this bushy tailed tree-rat should not give all squirrels (and squirrelism), a bad name; and refer sympathizers to their “squirrel lives matter ap#”. Others found some good news in the fact that the much maligned fur-person wasn’t seriously injured during the attack otherwise his elderly victims could have been jailed for life, without parole.

Here in Arizona there have been no reported squirrel attacks, at least none that I am aware of, and perhaps I am naive, but it still seems relatively safe to enjoy the antics of those furry terrorists cavorting around the Juniper tree outside my office window. 

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November 2015 Paris Attacks

philip-mondson

Flower with Rock by Philip Edmondson

“Truth is Everywhere” by Gary Lindorff

We poets take no responsibility

For the forms of civilization;

There are architects

To create the shells we leave behind.

It is our nose for truth

That makes us poets,

A requirement of human evolution

That civilization exploits,

Or straight out denies.

Truth does not build on truth.

Each generation may rightly lay claim to it !

It has to be experienced.

And truth is self-sufficient.

A good life can be built

Around some very simple truths.

Being pushed by the wind,

I once found myself caught up

In a storm of milkweed parachutes,

And truth was everywhere…

Architects are illusionists,

And we’re running out of toothpicks and tinsel !

Soon there will be cities built out of smoke

And reflections,

But before that happens

There may came a day

When we sit down to a dinner

Of artificial memories,

Choosing from a menu

Of long forgotten tastes.

I remember a cover

Of a science fiction thriller in the 50s,

Depicting an alien landscape:

In the foreground, a canyon

With the rusty hull

Of a spaceship leaning

Silhouetted on a rise,

And behind that, looming

Mirage-like in the distance,

Great mountainous hives of a super city,

Which, due to its remoteness I guess,

Enhances the incorruptible romance

Of an alien dusk.

There is our future, if we’re not careful !

Form, gargantuan, cosmic,

Posing as the last, unbuildable city.

But it’s always been there !

Like a screensaver on the inner eye

Of a species that never felt at home,

Showing us what we will look like

When simple truths are gone.

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Outrage of the Month : America’s War on Halloween

halloween

May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house”. (George Carlin)

Humans are nervous, touchy creatures and can be easily offended… They become focused and energized by taking offense; its makes them feel meaningful and important”. (Michael Leunig)

The farther we’ve gotten from the magic and mystery of our past, the more we’ve come to need Halloween”. (Paula Curan, October Dreams)

There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin”. (Linus Van Pelt, It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown)

Perhaps you remember a time when Halloween was a fun loving little holiday where folks enjoyed using their imaginations to don costumes, go around the neighborhood trick-or-treating, carve pumpkins; and decorate homes, schools, commercial buildings and public spaces with spooky themes and harvest time imagery.

Growing up in a Celtic household we understood that this was a time to enjoy caramel light, Autumn colors, apple-bobbing, scary ghost stories, community bonfires, masquerade balls; and to beware of mischief-making pranksters, while visiting haunted attractions. Halloween, a contraction of All Hallows Eve, is generally known as a celebration on October 31st, observed in a number of countries, that marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. In our Cornish family tradition, Halloween was regarded as a liminal time when the veil between this and other worlds, including the realm of the dead, was especially thin and an opportunity to connect with our ancestors.

Now, within our increasingly dystopian society, we find that Halloween has joined several other holidays which provide the occasion for our ongoing culture war flare-ups. Dedicated Christian, Michael Snyder is apparently secure in his belief that Halloween is nothing more than a pagan celebration of dark and dangerous supernatural forces . In a similar vein, he warns that, here in the USA , the number of self-identified witches, coming out of the broom closet, doubles every 30 months. Moreover, Snyder maintains that for the last eleven years, dressing up as a witch has been the premier costume choice for adults and that there may be as many as 8 million undeclared practitioners of “the craft” throughout our country. (endoftheamericandream.com, October 2015). To be fair, not all Christian Americans are tightly-wrapped Evangelicals, scared of their own shadow. And, a number of other faiths refuse to celebrate Halloween, for various reasons. Most simply choose to leave the rest of us costumed revelers in peace.

It seems however, that our ultra-conservative, Christian communities remain divided on this subject of Halloween. As part of their ongoing war on sanity, Fox News took this opportunity to promote Halloween as a force for “All-American Good” in need of defending against immigrants with cultural differences (mostly Muslims) . According to their ongoing noise machine, the real demons of October 31st are those schools and communities banning costumes and celebrations out of consideration for outsider-induced, political correctness. So, basically, this mainstream media “news” channel is devoting prime time to their message that Halloween fun is being canceled because of the immigrants, who, we are told are also responsible for climate change, economic collapse, epidemic diseases and more. Never mind, that Halloween was brought to our shores by immigrants (Hunter, thedailybeast.com, October 31st, 2015)

Contrary to what one might expect, even the Goth sub-culture has issues with Halloween; that one day of the year when their pale faces, and basic black wardrobe of vintage elements from another era actually blend in. As I understand it, their basic complaint is that, on this one day, the “normals” adapt their style; and then revert to ignoring them during the remaining 364 days of the year. (dailybeast.com, October 30, 2015 ).

While trick-or-treating excursions throughout the neighborhood in search of sweet treats used to be fun and a bit scary; paranoia now reigns. In many communities coercive types have banned this practice due to media-driven scare-stories about drug and razor blade laden fruits and candies, despite the reality that verified cases of strangers handing out anything that actually killed kids is practically zero.

Nevertheless, as a parent and grandparent, I support the idea that adult supervision is always advisable and that all candy bags be thoroughly inspected with a minimum of fear inducing fuss. Other vague concerns about safety and also food allergies have put the kibosh on kids enjoying Halloween treats and “responsible parents” have taken to handing out local notices encouraging people to hand out carrots on Halloween and have posted signs urging neighbors to avoid giving treats with nuts, gluten or dairy. As a celiac myself,with multiple allergies, I can understand the care and concern involved with this effort, however, I cannot quite imagine a child overjoyed to return home with a bag full of carrots, or even…apples only. We do need to remember that kids can choke on carrot sticks and many studies have proven that chocolate is actually beneficial for most of us. (salon.com, October, 29, 2015).

Evidence that the spirit of Halloween Grinch is alive and well, appears in schools which prefer to celebrate this holiday as an all inclusive, shadow-denying, “Fall Festival”. While I am all for inclusive Fall Festivals, I remain uncomfortable with these events being promoted as either inter-changeable or some sort of politically correct replacement for Halloween. Consider for example, the back-bending policy of elementary schools in Connecticut where students will be permitted to dress up as “literary characters”, as long as it is clearly understood that theirs is not a Halloween costume. Within this policy, a Frankenstein outfit is completely acceptable because he is a literary icon. Politically correct culture, also known as speech and thought control,continues on unabated. In everyday reality, this means that talking in any accent other than your own is politically incorrect, during Fall Festival or anytime, ever. (salon.com,10/29/2015)

As Katherine Timpf advises, if you dress as a sexy nurse or teacher, it becomes your fault that they are paid less, and sexy police and female film star costumes, actually make it more difficult for women to succeed in these careers. Black face and Hitler masks are not approved costume choices, nor are head-wraps, hi-jabs or Saudi bur-qua or pajamas. Those planning to don fangs or claws should presumably be downsized to within limits approved by local dentists and manicure specialists. With these caveats in mind, my plans to appear as a nudist, while sure to terrify, (me especially, if unauthorized photos surface on Facebook) for reasons other than political, are best postponed for some other lifetime.

If you are still unsure as to how to navigate the complexities involved with our Halloween season, or any closely related night-off for fun, many of our nation’s loftier colleges and universities, as long revered bastions of intelligence and wisdom, have issued flyers with telephone numbers of campus officials, also known as “sensitivity control experts” that those in doubt can consult. As expected, snarky political or topical news costumes are discouraged, and dressing like someone from another race or culture “carries on a deadly system of oppression”. Next we can anticipate legally appointed cultural sensitivity officers to bust into any location and round up anyone in a sombrero with fake drawn on mustache, Afro wig or Native American feathers and/or beads. Those already suffering white knuckle outrage fatigue will have little time to rest, given the predictable skirmishes that will soon be upon us with our upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

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