Socrates, a flight, and the world turns anew

Socrates, a philosopher I admire greatly, is credited as having said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” These are words I have taken to heart; and I know I am not alone, especially here in the blogosphere. However there is an addition I feel should be made, if one can be so bold as to propose wisdom to such a giant: While the unexamined life is indeed not worth living, a life dedicated to examination has not been lived. In all of my spiritual, intellectual and emotional journeys, this counts among my most valued lessons. It builds a circle, a healthy one, in which the Fool in the tarot cards starts with as much wisdom as he ends with … the idea here being not an accumulation of wisdom; but through experience, a transformation of wisdom. Thus ends the Major Arcana quite wisely with the World card.

For me, the World has turned anew, and this sable-feathered Fool is now focused on living and experiencing wisdom, rather than constantly examining it. Many thanks to all who have taken part in this journey, for sharing your wisdom with me along the way ,-)

A random thought

Earlier, while looking over some tarot cards, a random thought crept quietly into my mind and took up residence, as I’ve not really been able to shake it loose. That thought is a comparison between religion and spirituality, where I saw Spirit / spirituality as involving the substance, and religion being the way we package it. It’s a simple enough thought that seems to lead to a lot of other thoughts; so while I’m not entirely certain I agree with the comparison, I have enjoyed the thinking it has triggered, and I thought I would share it here :-)

A question about US politics

Since the beginning of the Democrats’ national convention in the US, I have read a fair amount about the disruptions caused by angry supporters of Bernie Sanders. My question, then, is why are only the Sanders supporters angry? Yes, Clinton supporters got the candidate they voted for; but they got her under a rigged contest. Why isn’t every Democrat in the country outraged at an overt manipulation of its democracy? One that enables leaders of corrupt countries to say, “See, they call us corrupt, but their democracy isn’t so clean, either!” I don’t see why the emphasis is on the Russians – while they might have hacked a server and exposed a rigged system, they didn’t rig the system.

Bernie Sanders fans wanted change in the government and the economy – they by and large seem to have wanted more fairness in the whole system. Instead they got a rigged system, more unfair than previously thought; their candidate, a symbol for the fairness they were hoping for, stood on a stage and endorsed a candidate who was not fairly elected, while distancing himself from his supporters because they weren’t willing to stand down? I can understand both their outrage and their desire to disrupt an unfair process through peaceful (if loud) protest. What I do not understand is why they seem to stand alone. Anyone who loves democracy, as well as any politician who claims to champion it, should be protesting this entire election. 

Odin

Following up on my previous post, titled ‘Madness,’ I thought I would take a few paragraphs to write about Odin. There are some, believers and non-believers alike, who confuse the Allfather with some sort of All-hater, and I thought I would take the opportunity to clarify for anyone interested. Continue reading

Madness

I have been planning to post my condolences for those who were in any way connected to the shooting in München a few days ago; but I had difficulties finding the words, as I was also still trying to find the words to express my condolences for those who were in any way connected to the ax-wielding attacker on the train near Würzburg. These words were already long-overdue, in part because I was still trying to collect my thoughts regarding the truck-driving murderer in France. As it would turn out, the words I would offer now are not so different from words I have offered before.

As seems the go-to reaction, I watched the news as people immediately started looking for connections to the murderous militants in the Middle East; and in each case, shook my head as I still feel like we are missing the bigger picture: we can blame militant organizations all we want, for whatever we want; but the truth remains that at the heart of all of this is a yawning pit of hatred that seeks to swell itself by drawing in as many as it can. I wrote about this last year, in a post titled, “When hatred takes and takes.” I feel like while it’s important to mount a strong defense against such people and their organizations, more important is to cut off their supply of willing fighters by addressing the situations that make people vulnerable to supporting such organizations or causes in the first place.

As well, as I wrote in another post, “Speaking out against ‘religious hatred’,” I feel like religious people, representing the moderate mainstream from all walks should be doing more to make it clear that our beliefs and our gods aren’t about hatred. We need to be explaining why this is the case, as well as pointing out exactly where we and the hate mongers split. If this involves challenging certain aspects of religious tradition, then so be it: the gods do not change just because we say one thing today and another tomorrow; but our religions, having been created by us, can change according to our priorities and choices.

We can fight fire with fire, as the saying goes – and I certainly have no issue with the idea of using violent force as a means of self-defense – but at some point, we have to remember that fire is traditionally fought best by depriving it of its fuel, and by confronting it with water. Violent force as a means of self-defense against hate-filled people intent on doing harm is one thing, relying on violent force as a solution to this kind of hatred is madness. Allowing the enemies of freedom and a democratic way of life to succeed by accepting a reduction of our freedoms and democratic processes is madness. Forgetting who we are and what we stand for, and thus trading in our very identity as a culture while getting caught up in the currents of intolerance and retribution isn’t just madness, it transforms us into our own enemies at the same time.

What has happened in France, in Belgium, in Germany and other places around the world, to include the United States, is madness. It represents an attempt by hatred to sustain itself. The question I think we need to be asking ourselves at this point is just how mad we would allow ourselves to become in our response, or would we instead choose a path of sanity? My condolences to anyone and everyone who has ever become a victim of such attacks – such things are not fair, they are not just, and there is no way to replace a life that has been extinguished. I regret as well for those who have allowed themselves to become consumed by hatred … these people made a choice, no matter what their circumstances; and in doing so, failed to remember that even in anger and sadness, life is worth loving and living. Instead, they allowed themselves to be seduced by the notion that life is best-lived by taking the lives of others. My prayer then, for the survivors of such attacks, from the individual to the cultural level, is that we keep this failure on the part of our attackers in mind; and that we have the strength to hold onto our values and our identities, as well as our ways of life, in resisting the urge to succumb to the same kind of hatred that we have been attacked by. May the souls of those who have lost their lives as a result of such hatred find peace – and may those of us who have survived stand together, remember who we are, and eventually find and spread peace throughout this world.

Ah, telemarketing 

I’ve written before about this subject, outlining my participation in the anti-telemarketing game. This morning, while reading an old book, my tranquil pond was disturbed by a telemarketer using a tactic I hadn’t been confronted with before. A new tactic deserves a new response; and I thought I would relate this information to my other teammates in this wonderful game we play ….

When I answered my phone, a young man promptly asked for my consent to record the conversation, “for the usual reasons.” I did not give my consent. Instead, after a few moments of pause, I asked, “What is this call about?” The man responded, with a slight note of agitation (or was it urgency? It’s so hard to know for certain with a stranger on the phone sometimes), “Mr. Stormwise, before I can tell you anything, I must have your consent to record our conversation.” This time, mildly perturbed, I paused a few moments longer before asking, “Let me understand: you want my consent to record my voice in a conversation with someone I do not know, over a topic that I have not been informed about, and for reasons that have not been explained to me?” Young Mr. Imprudent must have believed he had an advantage here for some reason, as with noticeably less patience in his voice than before, he informed me that he needed a yes or no response. So I simply remained silent, set my phone down, and went back to my book, determined to finish the page I was reading before I was interrupted by the phone ringing. After a few seconds, I heard his voice on the phone – since I had set the phone off to the side, I couldn’t really make out what he was saying. I’m sure it was important to him, though, as he kept at it until shortly before I was finished with the page I was reading; then he hung up. The timing was fortuitous, as I was able to turn the page and continue reading, the ripples in my tranquil pond having disappeared.