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 starfilled, nightsky firmament. From ancient times forward, astrological observers, astronomers and medicinepeople 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 wisdomkeepers 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 Wheelstonecircle. 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 patternoriented Navajo and Tibetan Mandala SandPaintings, 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 longcount 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 fractalrealities. 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 manmade 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 5050. 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 Germanlanguage 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 Austrianborn 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 twovolume, 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 rightwing 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 Germanborn 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 forcefed 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, warmongering, 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, celebritychatter, 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 controlmatrix 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 controlmatrix 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, fearporn, 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 squirrelfueled 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 Californiabased 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 zombiesquirrel 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 treerat 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 furperson 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, applebobbing, 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 tightlywrapped 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 “AllAmerican 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 outsiderinduced, 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 scarestories 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, shadowdenying, “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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Svetlana Alexievich

Chernobyl

Chernobyl

To bear witness is an aggressive act. It is born out of refusal to bow to outside pressures to revise or repress experience, a decision to embrace conflict rather than conformity, to endure a lifetime of anger and pain rather than submit to the seductive pull of revision and repression. It’s goal is change. It’s survivors retain control over their trauma – and they can sometimes force a shift in social and political structures. (Kali Tal, World of Hurt, 1996)

Not knowing doesn’t hurt anyone except those who get hurt because nobody knows”. (Eric Fried, Austrian poet)

There are moments when you just have to walk away and cry”. (Lou Angeli)

This year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature is Belorussian investigative journalist and non-fiction prose writer, Svetlana Alexievich (b.1948). The Swedish Academy cited the author for inventing “a new kind of literary genre”, described as polyphonic writings, a monument to courage and suffering in our time… “a history of emotions, – a history of the soul…an oral history by excavation”. Alexievich, a Russian language writer who has never lived in Russia, was born in Soviet Ukraine and grew up in Soviet Belarus and through her books and her life now offers the world’s most profound and eloquent understanding of the post-Soviet societies. (Philip Gourevitch, nytimes.com, October 8, 2015).

Her work has held a special significance for me since I began my social trauma education and recovery work in the former USSR in 1992. (St Just, Relative Balance in an Unstable World, 2006). I arrived in Russia just six years after a series of explosions destroyed Reactor Building Four, soon followed by a catastrophic meltdown on April 26, 1986, at Ukraine’s Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station, standing near the newly built city of Pripyat. According to the data published by Dr. Alexey Yablokov et.al, in Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment (New York Academy of Sciences, 2010), the death toll, mostly due to cancer, was in excess of 985,000. This does not include the unborn, stillborn and those who died shortly after birth; and it is expected to continue to rise, since this remains an ongoing global disaster now compounded by the triple meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi reactors. (St. Just, Trauma: Time, Space and Fractals, 2012).

Cynical,(bought and paid for) nuclear shills, who continue to insist that nuclear power is a clean, green, cheap, and a safe alternative to fossil fuels and “global warming”, and that “nobody died at Chernobyl” together with any and all who attempt to minimize the human and environmental consequences of this ongoing nuclear accident, should be required to read Alexievich’sVoices from Chernobyl : An Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (2005). During her Nobel lecture she spoke of how in Chernobyl one couldn’t see, touch or smell the radiation; the world around was both familiar and unfamiliar. As soon as she arrived within the exclusion zone, the author was immediately instructed to not pick any flowers, warned to never sit on any grass nor drink water from any well. Death was everywhere and now posed a very different sort of death. Immersed within this nightmare, she added: “For me the world parted: inside this zone I didn’t feel Belorussian, or Russian or Ukrainian, but a representative of a biological species that could be destroyed”. And, while we are on the subject,I would also suggest that nuclear disaster deniers and disinformation agents be required to view the documentary film, “Children of Chernobyl”filmed in Belaruswhich is freely available to all through YouTube.com.

In this book focusing upon the Chernobyl disaster, composed of a collage of carefully constructed interviews, Alexievich opens with an account of a newly wed and newly pregnant woman, watching her beloved husband, a firefighter, physically disintegrate in his hastily arranged hospital bed. Doctors maintained that he and his gravely ill comrades had been poisoned by gas; no one said anything about radiation. He perished, 14 days after the nuclear explosions; she was evacuated, and their daughter Natashenka, riddled with multiple birth defects, died soon after birth. The childless widow was given a two room apartment in Kiev in a building known as Chernobylskaya, where people from the Chernobyl station are housed. Some are still working at the crippled power facility although most of the surviving residents are invalids and struggle with serious diseases, and are prone to suddenly, without warning, just drop dead.

I am interested in the little people, Alexievich explains, the little great people,…because suffering expands people. “In my books”, she continues, “these people tell their own, little histories, and big history is told along the way”. (Alison Flood, theguardian.com, December 8, 2015). Another story from her Chernobyl book was adapted for film by Juanita Wilson asThe Door (2009) which won many awards including an Academy Award nomination. (YouTube.com).

While working on Voices from ChernobylAlexievich realized that she was actually engaged in writing a fourth volume in the cycle which she now calls, “The Red Man”; the Soviet person. This five volume series began with the Great Patriotic War (World War I), and ends with the collapse of the former USSR in 1991. Her fifth and final volume is about the loss of Soviet ideals and the aftermath of state sponsored terrorism, the gulags and multiple ethnic wars. “We are surrounded by victims”, she maintains, and who did this to them?

Now engaged in her latest projects involving oldage, dying and love; she has discovered a problem. During her inquiries, it seems that older Soviet generations have difficulty talking about themselves since they have had no experience in doing so. If asked about love, they would respond about how they built Minsk, while inquiries about oldage would bring forth stories of hardships during the war; as if they never really had a life of their own. (Masha Gessen,newyorker.com, October 26, 2015).

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Bombs Without Borders : Smoke and Mirrors in Afghanistan

Fracture by Philip Edmondson

Fracture by Philip Edmondson

In war, truth is often the first casualty”. (Aeschylus)

War is peace” (George Orwell, 1984)

War in one form or another appeared with the first man. … The capacity of human beings to think up new ways of killing one another has proved inexhaustible, as has our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. (Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech)

Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problems. It merely creates new and more complicated ones.” (Dr. Martin Luther King)

So, here and now within our increasingly upside down (“war is peace“) corporate owned, media-driven Orwellian world, we learn that one recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize has just bombed another recipient of the same Nobel Peace Prize; resulting in a disastrous number of casualties, as well as a predictable aftermath of shame, blame and confusion. So far, the basic story is that early Saturday morning on October 3, 2015, US/NATO aircraft unleashed a deadly airstrike on an essential care hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, operated by the humanitarian association, Doctors Without Borders.They are a medical charity, established in 1971 and known internationally in French as Médecins Sans Frontiers or by the acronym, MSF. This volunteer organization is widely known for its courage, compassion and its “first in, last out” approach to saving lives, and easing the suffering of people caught in acute crises; thereby restoring their ability to rebuild their lives and communities. (doctorswithoutborders.org)

This murderous attack continued, in 15 minute waves, for over an hour despite frantic calls to both pre-arranged NATO and Washington contacts, to plead for them to make it stop. These appeals were to no avail, even though MSF had long since given these “authorities” their GPS coordinates, and as a result, their attackers knew very well both the exact nature and location of their medical-surgical trauma hospital established in 2011; and the only facility of this kind for the entire province of Northeastern Afghanistan. Our officially sanctioned bombing attack succeeded in killing at least 22 people; 12 medical workers, and 10 patients, three of them children. Currently, 24 staff and 9 patients are still unaccounted for, so the death toll, euphemistically known as “collateral damage”, is likely to rise. (Dave Lindorff, thiscantbehappening.net, October 8,2015).

The first of many of the bombing waves targeted an intensive care unit where a horrified nurse reported that “patients were burning in their beds”, while another hospital worker said that he heard women and children crying out for help while the entire facility was consumed in flames and reduced to rubble. This unconscionable aerial atrocity carried out by AC-130, huge ,slow flying, fixed wing aircraft nicknamed “Angel of Death”, involved not only bombs, but rockets, as well as deadly spraying of intense fire by low altitude gunships, designed to annihilate anything within range of a target. While these aircraft are required to employ both audio and visual records of their attacks, we can only expect that this crucial forensic evidence will disappear into some designated black hole of documents; highly classified in the interest of “ national security”.

Doctors Without Borders won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999 and then, newly elected U.S. President, Barack Obama, was awarded this honor in 2009 during the time when he was preparing to expand the war in Afghanistan. While one could surmise that as Commander in Chief of the Joint Armed Forces, who bombed this hospital , Obama could hold the dubious distinction of being the first recipient of the Peace Prize to bomb another recipient of the same award. However, as journalist Dan Sanchez points out, this has actually happened before. In 1973, Dr. Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which prompted humorist Tom Lehrer to quip; “Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize”. Perhaps some of you may remember that as U.S. Secretary of State, Kissinger masterminded and reportedly ordered the bombing of Cambodia and Laos, during which hospitals were routinely targeted for B-52 bombing. On another occasion, Red Cross buildings were also targeted for annihilation.

Since then, the Red Cross has also been awarded three Nobel Peace Prizes. Those interested in a thoroughly documented account of Nobel Laureate Kissinger’s multiple war crimes and human rights violations, will find abundant material in the documentary film, The Trials of Henry Kissinger (2002) based upon the 2001 book by Christopher Hitchens, which maintains that Kissinger should be prosecuted for warcrimes against humanity.

For those of us who study social trauma and other historical events and look for patterns that connect within apparently random, anomalous, or simply ironic phenomena, Nobel Peace recipients being involved in attacks involving war, as either victims or perpetrators, is not so surprising. Consider, if you will, that the founder of this award, ostensibly established for an “outstanding contribution to peace”, was the Swedish industrialist and inventor, Alfred Nobel (1833 –1896),who was a highly successful global armaments manufacturer. Further ironies become apparent in the identity of many recipients of this Peace Prize, other than warmongers Obama and Kissinger, there was Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzak Rabin, and Menachem Begin. (“war is peace”). Mohandas Gandhi apparently never qualified as a recipient for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Dan Sanchez, activistpost.com,October 6, 2015).

Given the world wide support and prestige of the MSF, and the horrific imagery and eyewitness accounts which soon went viral on the internet; our U.S. fact-challenged chain of command scrambled to find a way to contain the international outrage. No surprise, therefore, that their resident cabinet of spin-meisters soon came up with at least four shapeshifting and conflicting accounts of what actually happened, as well as spurious justifications for yet another warcrime against humanity.

While harsh criticism and skepticism continues to surround speculation as to the motivation for what clearly is emerging as a deliberate attack upon an MSF humanitarian facility, targeted for destruction; there remains some credible speculation that MSF has been targeted as especially vocal critics of an impending, secretive and controversial Trans-Pacific-Partnership. MSF has expressed deep concern as to the potential for increasing the cost of life saving drugs, since this “partnership” would limit access to generic pharmaceuticals and would present an immediate threat to the health of millions. This compassionbased objection placed MSF in direct conflict and opposition to the White House, (trans-national), profit-oriented TPP agenda.

At this juncture within a still unfolding narrative, we can expect online conspiracy theorists to speculate that some all powerful trans-national cabal will pressure MSF into accepting a generous “offer that they can’t refuse”, in exchange for compromise geared toward either accepting spin or silence in regard to their accusations that they have been victims of a politically motivated war crime. For the rest of us, less complicated and still concerned citizens, we might consider Medea Benjamin’s perspective which argues that this Kundoz incident offers an opportunity to reflect upon the fact that this and many other inhumane,violent, incidents are an integral part of our endless air wars; raging across an increasing number of supposedly sovereign countries, during 14 years of our U.S. “intervention” fully sanctioned by our supposedly Democratically elected (trans-national, corporate and military controlled), Congress. (Medea Benjamin, opednews. October 8, 2015).

Our “intervention” in Afghanistan now stands, unopposed, as the longest war in U.S. history, costing the precious lives and well-being of at least 2,350 of our own service personnel, in addition to the lives and health of thousands of participants from our NATO partners, as well as untold levels of trauma and heartbreak for families and other loved ones,which will likely continue on down throughout any number of subsequent generations. (epigenetics) .

To any sane person, this tragic foreign and farflung fiasco, initially launched as a result of hysterical and Machiavellian calls for 9/11 vengeance, (based upon seriously dubious pretexts), has cost our American tax payers over a trillion tax dollars, which would have been much more wisely spent in the service of our own crumbling infra-structure and other urgently needed, socially oriented, domestic issues. At this point, I am with Glen Greenwald and his summation as to the war crime in Kundoz as follows: “The question is whether that’s something we want to continue to tolerate; that our own government is singularly exempt and permitted to commit war crimes?” (CNN, October 8, 2015)

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Separation Consciousness

raft-medusala

Who are all these people ?” (Robert C. Koehler)

The children of our empires are now coming ‘home’ to Europe ”. (Bert Hellinger)

Don’t just talk about it. Do something”. (His Holiness, The Dalai Lama)

Once in awhile, an image breaks through the noisy, cluttered global culture and hits people in the heart and not the head”. (Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History, Rice University)

Over the years, during my many visits to the Louvre Museum in Paris I have paused to marvel at Theodore Gericault’s monumental (5mx7m) and terrifying masterpieceThe Raft of the Medusa (1818-1819). As an art historian, I saw this painting as an icon of French Romanticism, depicting the aftermath of the wreck of a poorly navigated French naval frigateMedusawhich ran aground off the west coast of Africa on July 2, 1816.

An international scandal erupted as soon as the public became aware that as the vessel foundered, the fortunate were off-loaded into lifeboats and at least 147 of those considered to be less worthy were cast adrift upon a hastily constructed, barely seaworthy, makeshift raft.

Empathetic outrage ensued, as it became known that all but 15 of those unfortunates, literally cast off because they existed at the lower echelons of society, died from exposure, were killed or threw themselves into the sea from despair, during the 13 agonizing days before their chance rescue by the Argus. The French government had made no specific effort to rescue the raft. Gericault chose to depict the moment when the remaining survivors spotted the approaching ship in the far distance. By this time, these wretched survivors had endured starvation, dehydration and cannibalism; as deep and terrible waves relentlessly buffeted their partially submerged raft. Societal uproar escalated as the tragedy was determined to have been caused, at least in part, by the blatantly political appointment of an incompetent aristocratic captain who had barely sailed in 20 years.

In the foreground of the painting, a despondent father holds the body of his dead son, and to add to the drama of this tragedy, Gericault foreshortened the scene in such a way that the pallid, prostrate, crazed tangle of dead and dying bodies, appear as if the ocean is about to upend the doomed raft in our direction so that this horrifying mess will shortly be ours, as well.

Now, as a social traumatologist, I view this iconic painting from a new perspective. Here in 2015, I understand Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa as not only a masterful and groundbreaking depiction of a historical tragedy with profound political implications, but also as a nearly timeless depiction of the shipwrecked everywhere.(Michael Glover, independent.co.uk, February 4, 2011). The image of this Gericault masterpiece also came to mind in the human tragedy and political scandal surrounding “The Raft of Lamedusa”, along with a reminder of the power of such images to impact and shift public opinion. Last October’s tragedy off the coast of the Sicilian island of Lamedusa briefly hit the headlines as some 360 men, women and children drowned in the Mediterranean during a failed night crossing. While this incident drew international attention to the failure of the EU’s migration policy, there was not much impetus for change. (http://pes.cor.europa.eu, February 4,2014)

migrant-child

Then on September 2nd, 2015, the photo of a lifeless three year old boy named Aylan Kurdi went viral, igniting a global outpouring of outrage and sorrow. This photograph taken by Nilufer Demir shows little Aylan in his long shorts and red tee shirt, hiked above the waist, exposing his midriff, still wearing his black sneakers, without socks, lying face down in the rocky sand. Soon thereafter Nilufer spotted his five year older brother Galip, lying close by. Words are only that which reach one part of our brains, and this was exactly the image that was needed to break through the collective silence. During the past several years of warfare and flight, more than 200,000 Syrians have died with many having suffered horrible deaths in bombings and chemical weapon attacks, while attempting to flee their homeland …their bodies have been found in trucks, in the snow, and now along the beaches. At present, the number of displaced Syrians has mounted to more than 11 million. (Anne Barnard, Karam Shoumali, NY Times, September 3, 2015).

For an exorbitant fee, smugglers had promised Aylan’s father Abdullah Kurdi a motorboat trip from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos; and had instead provided only a 15 foot rubber raft for the group of twenty three desperate migrants. This raft tipped over in the high waves tossing out into the sea12 people who drowned along with Mr. Kurdi, his wife and two sons ….from the Kurdi family only Abdullah only survived. (Justin Wm Moger, Washingtonpost.com, September 3, 2015).

So what can done? No more silence, willful ignorance,lies and media spin. We’ve had enough of that, and this massive human tragedy is not going to go away. Conflicts that bring chaos, now spreading across the planet, continue to defy any easy solution; and yet a strong international, grassroots, humanitarian response, might succeed where military interventions, “clandestine aid to rebels “, nofly zones and “non-intervention policies” have failed. Truth is, that in our increasingly inter-connected world, nothing is very far away. Never before has John Donne’s meditation “ No Man is an Island “ rung more true… “… Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. Therefore, do not ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee”.

Compassion is needed and this can provide strong medicine for confronting social issues as well as cultivating and promoting an attitude that all others matter. While universal compassion sets a high standard, beyond the reach of most of us, we can nevertheless move in that direction by expanding our circle of caring. The challenge here is being able to overcome the, at least partially biologically determined and culturally conditioned, “tribal consciousness” which dictates loyalty only to “our own”… gender, family, race, tribe, class, political party,flag, religious affiliation and so on.

Dr. med. Karl-Heinz Rauscher offers a practical way, through which we can transcend our tribal limitations and aspire to a more universal and inclusive heart based consciousness. He reminds us that, as humans we are a unit, a large family, and with this basic attitude toward life we have a chance to solve the current refugee problem and also other major human questions confronting us today; by placing ourselves within the “circle of all.”

To be willing to place ourselves within the “circle of all” is to be willing to give up every devaluation and look at refugees as brothers and sisters…and from this inner attitude alone, our necessary actions will naturally follow. Our lives can become much richer through others, and within the “circle of all” everyone gives what they have, (talents, ideas, money) to the center of the circle for the benefit of all and in this way, everyone will be enriched. Dr. Rauscher’s recommended exercise is as follows :

Take whatever time you need and ask yourself: “Where in the world do I still consider another human being to be a stranger, as someone who does not belong to us?” If you find someone, take him or her into your “circle of all”; and by doing so, you are entering into the circle yourself by giving up devaluation and exclusion. Now, stay within this consciousness throughout your day and observe what is happening within you. Consider yourself a citizen of mankind. (http://www.dr-rauscher.de).

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