The Conversation: Making Sense of These Times
A Mighty Companions Project
"WHAT DO WE MAKE OF OURSELVES AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001?"



Toward a Sea Change



Toward a Sea Change Suzanne Taylor
October 1, 2001

As I resonate with all the intelligent cries of alarm about making war, the question always remains about how to make peace. Nothing I've heard sounds radical enough.

In the face of our fundamental helplessness to defend ourselves effectively or to win the war, it seems to me that we have to add to our fingers in the dyke, as immediate and necessary responses, something to create a sea change. Everything needs to change for the world to become a place in which terrorism would not exist. Since it breeds where people are oppressed, removing oppression would be the sea change goal. Would it not be possible to declare that the United States from this day forward is committed to the well being of all human beings on earth? And then we'd have to live up that pledge. Everyone would have to become the kind of custodian that the rescue workers were. They were there to help. Period. We would need to be there to help. Period. America helps. Who else? Get everyone. Everyone helps. Can't we see that that would be a seed bed for a different world, and that anything short of a different world is intolerable? If we get blasted over and over, I bet we come to that, after much loss. Can we cut the loss by making this proclamation and immediately implementing it with visible relief for all oppressed peoples everywhere? This is a situation in which our corporate presidents and our movie stars would be coming down to human scale. Everyone would come down to human scale. There still would be elites, but they would not be ostentatiously so. They don't need to be. For God's sake, being rich in hell is poor indeed. This would have to be an everyone pitch in sort of thing, like happened in New York.

I can just feel a world in which we were at this fever pitch of goodness, so different from the everyday terror in which we all live now. Then, what happened in New York would become the blast by which we got to a higher state of consciousness where our oneness supersedes our separation, and the 6,000 lives would not have been snuffed out in vain. Those we lost would be our cherished heroes who turned out to have given their lives for the salvation and the flowering of our world.

"I agree completely with everything you wrote in Toward a Sea Change. 'Those we lost would be our cherished heroes who turned out to have given their lives for the salvation and the flowering of our world.' The article was inspired. Thank you."
Dave Haith, U.K.
"Excellent article. Well done. Everyone should read it."
Arthur Kanegis
Founder of W.A.V.E.: Working for Alternatives to Violence Through Entertainment
"Here ! here ! Suzanne. My words exactly. The things you said are the things that are helping me get through all of this.I, like you, cannot really get on with my life and I hate that as I, too, am a 'get up and get out there' type of gal."
Kerri Blower, U.K.
What follows is a conversation about this. Chime in via email and let's figure this out together. More posts will be added as the conversation continues...

This was chilling. CNN invites opinions to be posted, and when I put up mine, this was the first response. The other smattering of responses echoed this. The CNN bulletin board is seething with retaliatory energy. I have gotten lulled at some level, by the thinking that circulates in my email, to a sense that it we are a more tender world now. At some level, I'm sure that is the case, but at another level, not so. I pass this along to open our eyes, in case they are not open, so that we can be most effective in meeting the reality at hand...Suzanne Calvin Headley - Friday, 10/05/01

In an idyllic world, we all sit in green fields and read poetry, too! Your whole premise assumes that if the United States does as you suggest, then the "terrorists" will see our benevolence and say, "Oh, look. They want to be peaceful and not harm us any more. We should stop hating them now!"

In the real world, the only way to keep our families safe is not to return violence with violence. But with "Overwhelming" violence. We hit the terrorist, we hit their camps, we hit their leaders and we keep hitting them, where ever they are found. We make them run and run until there is no other place on earth for them to run to. And then we make them run some more. When they are running for their lives, they cannot threaten My family, your family or anyone's family. And when every man's hand is turned against them, you kill them. They will never commit murder against us again.

Gail Bates, Founder of the Human Being Society, says:

We knew terrorism was out there. But it's always a surprise when it comes close. Now, here's a question. Given the extremes of opinion, and given the high state of emotion, what do we do next?

I've been thinking of what to do next because the intense emotion I've been feeling is so volatile, and I've been very conscious of its instability and potential for explosion. And I'm just a part of the volatile energy of now.

So I've been consciously calming myself to keep myself balanced and within a range of intensity that is effective for me. I'd suggest that to God if he asked me what he should do with the world next.
Suzanne replies:

"How are you coping?" could be one question here in our ongoing conversation. Think about the different points of view we could share, from some people staying light and focusing on the awakening going on, to others who are letting the horror galvanize insight. Another question could be about radical visions and actions.

The more we engage, the more potency we have. There is a giant learning going on. An organism is developing. This is the cauldron for the who-knows-what mystery that life is – the force of the divine in some way. That question is, "How do we develop a new reality?" The good part about that is that it's already going on.

This is what I've been thinking about, trying to figure out how to do anything that matters at a time when everything matters so much.

Gail replies:

I am obsessed. I don't sleep. I can't think of anything else. I'm impatient with everything else.

I want to connect and integrate with the psyche of this world. I want its energy to move and be healthy. I want to stimulate its movement. I want to help it develop a momentum of well being. And I want there to be a recognition of what well being is – fluidity in the movement of energy in the body as well as in the psyche.

Ultimate fluidity is in oneness, when an entire network is connected, integrated, and moving freely. That's health. And that's what the Human Being Society means to me. And that's the action I'm impelled to do. It feels imperative for me to keep my attention close to the origination of words and actions.

I like your suggestions. Your passion has always been a magnet for me (and others too, I think). Everyone would benefit. Even those of us who mostly listen.

I'm with you...proceed.
Suzanne replies:

Thanks, Gail. I feel like a voice in the wilderness. Every once in a while I get a strong chirp back, which at least lets me know I'm not crazy.

How can anyone think of anything else? Is this country going to be willing to live like Israel, under constant terrorist attack? Yesterday Ashcroft said it was an OK thing for people to buy gas masks. How the hell do we get out of this? Why aren't people thinking about having to get out rather than concentrating on ever increasing fortification? How can we help make the thinking smarter?

Kim McDonald, our WebDesigner, says:

I wonder if the conversation is about how we "be" in the midst of the instability we swim in now? How are we creating a new world in the midst of all this? What about how we live and love each other in the midst of chaos and – god forbid – daily bombings like so many other people in the world have to live with?

Boiling it all down even further, I am feeling the necessity to FEEL and deeply appreciate more moments than usual. Life is a blessing. We don't know why we're here or how we'll go...it may be soon...it may not...how do we want to SPEND that time? The simple girl in me just wants it to be with family and dogs and cats and friends. I guess you want to spend yours trying to have an effect on the whole system of things...yes...that's what you're always about...so why change now?

I've been praying for gratitude in my heart today because I woke up with such dread. If I focus on gratitude, I can feel the love start to trickle into my heart. But then a distraction and the dread is back again... I must say my main worry isn't terrorism or war – it is getting my kids through high school and hopefully a good start in life...whatever we have left of it...
Suzanne replies:

How we be is essential inquiry. But we are at different times of life, you and I, where the focus naturally would be different. The family in our conversation would be concerned with both inner and outer, being and doing.

The key isn't where people's concern rests but who I'm talking to. I don't want to talk to that 90% who are pleased with the choices being made. I want to put my head together with others who could be creative to the max about what to do and how to be. Those are the people I'm drawn to, whose pieces I flag or quote. They have a flavor. I feel comforted when I am listening to them – even when they speak of horrors, they are such cogent truth tellers that they help guide our thoughts and our actions. This smaller comfort is all we can have now. There is no gentleness, no sweetness in the public arena now, and the eye of the needle where insight and wisdom and truth get through must be enough.

Georgia Lambert, writes:

Hi Lady!

Interesting times, eh?

I loved that piece from David Spangler. Would it be possible for you to e-mail it to me again? It got deleted, and I'd really like to have it.

Drop me a line and tell me what you're up to.

OH!! I finally got my website up for my masks. Please take a look and pass it along to whomever you think might be intested.
Suzanne replies:

Who would have expected anything this dire? Even though we talked about what trouble the world was in, the reality of it still is unbelievable. I can't imagine that America will stand for life going on in this ever escalating danger. Why aren't we looking for radical alternatives, instead of contenting ourselves with improving our defenses?

The larger forces seem to me to have a clarity about them, where what is occurring is in the course of learning our humanness. We are embedded in war consciousness now, but someday, if we ultimately make it through, war will be primitive. War will be unthinkable when everyone in the world has a sense of oneness, like the United States as defined by the Founding Fathers. Imperfect as we are, where we still operate in the war matrix, it would be a move for humanity if the world were held in the same light as our citizens hold the United States. A world of United Stateses wouldn't use weapons.

What would it take to bring the world to this sense of oneness? How can we go about enrolling the planet in equanimity? That should be our main objective. Like a war drive, where everyone becomes patriotic and pitches in, we should have a peace drive now.

The US needs to grow up. We've just had an initiation into the adulthood of our country. We need to take on the world in the humanitarian way we take on everything at the World Trade Center. The death toll in other countries, from preventable causes like diarrhea and malnutrition, is staggering – UNICEF says 35,000 children each day. If they were our children, we wouldn't think of letting this go on. They are our children.

Georgia, do you see a value in some sort of conversation or alignment process we could have here in email? The Government is a big machine, and we are gadflies individually as we try to impress it. Something coordinated could be more of a match for it. The deluge of opposition seems to have tempered our government's proclivity for making war, but there's no collective voice for our side to keep the thinking getting smarter. Do you want to pursue this with me? Is there anything else you think we can do?

Your website is wonderful! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Gil Friend, founder of Natural Logic, wrote:

The ever-thoughtful Michael Shuman has written the message I've been wanting to write for the last two weeks. I think it is well worth your attention: Why I Won't Sign.
Suzanne replies:

Re, Why I Won't Sign, there is a goodwill that the left is all about, and it would be horrible to see it fractured, where we not only have a common enemy but we become enemies to one another. The many points of view held by the left – and I like this one very much – are subjects for conversation, not argument. Let Shuman guide rather than castigate "those who believe 'my country is always wrong,'" which is a more simplistic anti-war stance than does justice to the nuanced anti-war opinions that are being expressed.

There's a piece I got, "The Family," that asks, "Does the alignment of like-minded souls really have power? How much power? Enough to pierce the veil of hate, revenge, retaliation, control, manipulation? Enough to create an outcome of peace, forgiveness and understanding?"

I keep thinking about an overt alignment. My hope is as we bounce off each other in email, we can give rise to ever more intelligence and potency in a shared field.

Suzanne writes:

Check out this point of view!

More Shock and Horror
Kim McDonald replies:

I love this! This is what I've been thinking, too, about how every single single player in this drama is male. Now, maybe it is that they are all going to kill each other and then there will be just us girls to carry on...

Great line: "Many of us women like many of you men far more than is probably good for us."

And my favorite part: "Go home, clean the house, make love, plant a tree, fix the faucet, write a song, invent something useful, watch the game, say a prayer with your kids, and vote for women. If all that can't make you happy, there's something seriously wrong with you!"

Gosh, I don't want to be seen as a male-basher! I LOVE men! But they better not go and get us all killed!!

Simon Peter Fuller, founder of Wholistic World Vision, says:

There is no doubt whatever that sinister forces are planning a series of terror events (especially in the USA) to frighten people into submission, maximum surveillance and control. Anthrax was foreseen long ago as the next stage and more bombings, etc. are likely to follow. Bin Laden and motley Muslim hotheads? I DON'T THINK SO, though the "controllers" would love us to believe it as they deliberately ignite a third world war by unnecessarily inflaming Islam.

As "movers and shakers" I feel we need to stay emotionally detached from the unfolding drama, but nonetheless be open to all possibilities including the behind the scenes manipulations and media conditioning. In the end we each have to find our own way!
Suzanne replies:

It's good just to share our thoughts these days. Thanks for yours. I feel like there is a giant learning going on, and each of us is part of it, all looking to shape the world that is to come if we ever get there. I am soaking in points of view from people I admire.

There is something about feeling this fully that is a choice – there are no rules at a time like this, and all we have are coping strategies. Mine is to let the reality affect me. Something outside the box is in order, and being in it and of it helps impel me to change it. I like thinking that an organism is emerging that is all for the good. At the same time, the grimmest of possibilities is so unthinkable and the course we are on is so dangerous.

I wonder if ingesting the conspiracy stuff accomplishes anything. What do you think? It fills me with revulsion, and, in fact, revulsion is a good catalyst for breaking out of the box of the thinking that got us here. But it is so dark, beyond pitch black, to see a world being manipulated for profit at the scale of atrocity that would have to be in the hearts of respectable people, that I cannot bring myself to dwell there. I can't see it being a more productive resting place than the revulsion I already feel at what we all can see before our eyes. It's like watching our country commit suicide, feeling like the good friend whom after such a fact thinks how they should have anticipated the event and done something. So I watch and feel helpless and search for what can ward this off so that the play has another ending. I can feel the pulse of greater intelligence – my email bursts with it. And it has not gone totally unheeded. The voices of reason seem to have tempered those of annihilation somewhat. But not enough. Why are we not apologizing profusely for anything in our past action that contributed to this – our blindness, our stupidity, our greed, anything that contributed to a world of people enraged at us, that we wish we had not done? We did our best. We were not thoughtful enough. We have learned. We cannot have a world where there is so much suffering and have any stability. Oh God, we know that now. Let it not be too late. All our policies and actions should be built on this foundation. It does not hurt us. It is so much more propitious a stance than the big stick we are wielding, showing our enemies how unflappable we are. What bravado. What folly.

Simon Peter responds:

Yes, inspiring response.

And facing the unthinkable about those behind the scenes manipulations is certainly tough. Wholistic World Vision is a partnership with well respected and proven Spirit guides as you know – so when they all warn us not to ignore this scenario, then I pay attention. Those shadowy forces "get away" with it ALL the time because decent people can't bring themselves to believe that the human species could be SO despicable. All will be revealed in these times and it won't be pretty as the human shadow is exposed.

Michael Mandel, author of Say What You Want, But This War Is Illegal on our quotes page writes:

[My quotes are in] good company indeed. Thank you so much for putting me in it and notifying me about your site. It's an inspirational resource.
Suzanne replies:

I read your piece again. It is so good.

What you wrote is so clear, and you are such an authority, that one would have thought your point of view would have carried the day. Is there an argument with what you say, or was it simply a usurping of power? And do you have any idea what to do about it? This time all the legislators are in on it – it isn't even a partisan issue. I'd love to get an idea of what happened after you wrote your piece – I'm building this conversation page out of my email exchanges, so that it will track the intelligent thoughts in these unthinkable times.

Critt Jarvis writes:

I like your page here. Robert Bly would say, "This must be the place."

Applied to war, the principle of reciprocity assures the continuum of violence. Is that what we want? I don't think so. Better to discover alignments with folks who want to work towards reciprocal, interactive peace proposals.

You've asked how we solve problems with a different consciousness than brought the challenge to us.

What if we mobilized on this thought from the President? (Excerpted from President Asks American Children to Help Afghan Children)

"And some important things about our culture seem to be shifting. After the attacks, moms and dads held their children closer. And maybe for a moment longer. Millions have gone to synagogues and churches and mosques to renew their faith, to find perspective, to be reminded of the true values of life."

"As Americans, we've mourned together, felt the same outrage and resolve, and we've helped our neighbors, even when they're strangers. People are looking to things that are precious and permanent, things like family and faith, community, love of country, and love of one another."

"Late in life, Eleanor Roosevelt was asked what her husband had learned from the experience of polio. She said that Franklin had gained strength and courage he had not had before. He had to think out the fundamentals of living, she said, and learn the greatest of all lessons: infinite patience, and never-ending persistence."

Talk to me, friend. What do you see here?
Suzanne replies:

I don't think we have to mobilize on this thought because blessedly this is what is happening. There is a huge pay-off from our situation, a massive shift of consciousness, if we survive. But we would not want just to focus on the rosy future, even if we think it likely, because of what horror we could go through to get there.

I think we should be looking for a radical alternative. That 10% who oppose war should huddle. The road our government has us on could go to hell. Why aren't we telling the truth about that? The truth is the place to stand. The other part of the truth is that we have done horrible things, and we should be on our knees begging forgiveness of people who hate us. We should shower all of them with our largesse, and our pledge that genuine helping for all peoples in need will henceforth be our overriding national policy.

I don't know how we excise terrorists, which must be done. Who knows but that an America humble and determined might in fact make the opposition lose the support it needs to stay in business. But, even if not, and the fighters continue to be ferocious, I'd call it a police action and not a war – finding criminals rather than bombarding countries. War is about enemies, but criminal justice can be the oneness of all good people ferreting out the deviants in their midst.

My thought is to be a pole of that conversation with the 10%. My Los Angeles living room has been a meeting place for years, where people have been very comfortable in serious exchanges, and I'm going to invite those people to talk for starters. I can feel a resonance when I'm talking to someone in my groove. It is what I can do, and God knows I want to do what I can.

Critt replies:

I'm uneasy this morning. I think the world is in a graver state of danger than our actions show. Alternative propositions need a public stage. Alternative actions need vigorous public support. We need public support, period.

Kim McDonald says:

I just heard on CNN that Russia was the first country to call President Bush after the 9-11 attacks. It was reported that they suspended all military actions and exercises so as not to send the wrong message until we "figured out what was happening."

I am listening to Colin Powell (God bless HIM in that position right now) at the House International Relations Committee Hearing.

How can one not feel the hope and see the brilliance of these times? Am I a pollyana?

Maybe we waste time when we use our energy to be AGAINST anything – even this war. Maybe we better use our energy to be FOR humanity and the advancement of it. The phrase "anti-war" made me wince this morning when I read it. Why is that? I really want to know.

I am a heartful, intelligent person. And just as those who are against the war action get blasted almost before they open their mouths by 90% of the US population, I feel reluctant with the 10% to open my mouth about the possible benefits of this action. Is someone is going to shoot me down for daring to type those words? Call me unevolved or misguided or uneducated? Presume I am a redneck? I want to be able to talk about it that.

I feel patriotic. I feel the swell of National Pride. As Rep. Dana Rohrabacher says: "We're entering a new era with Russia and Turkey. And we can build a new world on the ashes of the World Trade Center."

What an opportunity this is – even as we live through the groans of labor pains – to look forward to the birth. Maybe the labor will last longer than my lifetime – or the lifetime of my children. But that doesn't make our lives any less meaningful. I am feeling so happy to be a part – however small – of this wonderfully messy, seething organic blob called humanity. It is finding its way, moving along as an organism with some intelligent design that comes from somewhere. What a privilege to be a part of this!

There is hope for humanity, even as the bombs are falling...
Suzanne replies:

It always was said that it would take some kind of disaster to kick us out of our paradigm. The efforts of people like us has been somehow to create that change without the horror. So now we have what could be that horror. We are in the middle of it. However it will turn out, that could be a lifetime away from ours. Our improvement as a species is a beautiful thought, but life in this hellish scenario is me, too. And as I, too, am for humanity, that relates to those fleeing bombs and living in refugee camps. How can I be for them?

If your opinions are worthwhile, you can educate us. Or we'll talk you out of them. You are worth listening to, and whatever you are feeling is interesting. Thinking in rights and wrongs puts us in a set-up that could be troublesome. It's all grist.

Suzanne writes to George Bishop, Vice President of the Center for Crop Circle Studies in the U.K.:

I have ideas about what to do. It starts with the U.S. being remorseful for whatever has been done that contributed to getting us attacked. This is a rude awakening, showing a need to reexamine priorities and policies so that there's no repetition of the behaviors that have made so many people in the world hate America. And there can be a pledge by our government that its policy is to make a decent life possible for every human being. The awakening was to all being brothers and sisters, and millions dying of starvation and preventable diseases is not OK. After apologizing in true humility, I'd call what we are doing a police action and not a war. A war creates an enemy. We fight in separation rather than act in oneness. So first I'd move to the right position. From that, action would follow. It would be necessary to get criminals. Terrorists are not up for negotiating, and must be treated like murderers – dangerous people who are chased to the ends of the earth. But once they are caught there no longer would be a breeding ground for more of them.

It is unthinkable to live with this instability. We here in America haven't experienced that, and I personally feel enraged at that prospect. It makes me think about solution. We must find solution. Waving a big stick, vowing to not let our lifestyle be disrupted, the government smug as shit about being so great without acknowledging its transgressions figures to get us smacked back good. Oh God, this could get beyond all of us living in terror to us not living at all.

Don't you think the circlemakers could have a place in this? If the world were to know what croppies know, there would have to be some awe that might lift us all to another level.
George replies:

I think the major differences between the US attitude and the UK attitude is that we seem to differentiate between all colors of the rainbow and the US seems to see things as black or white...

Personally, I feel 'annoyed' enough about the September 11th events to go along with the current campaign, but my cautious side suggests that this will not solve the basic problem. I accept that the UK/US is in a no-win situation and the only possible current solution is, seemingly, to resort to gunboat diplomacy. I also think that my own sense of security will be damaged by the events in NY and inevitably even my freedom and privacy will suffer in the long term. The main danger is that we will all be dragged into a war with the Muslim nations. The US may not be aware that in order to 'punish' Bin Laden, they need to carry out a lightning campaign, one that is successful in its outcome and clinically clean in its selection of 'legitimate' targets. There is no great scope for collateral damage. Perhaps they should have waited a little longer before declaring their intentions – too late for recriminations. Infiltration would seem to be the better route to ridding the world of this destabilising element.

I would love to believe that the World Justice System could deal with this problem and arrest Bin Laden and his ilk, put them on trial and dispense whatever justice was necessary. Unfortunately terrorists tend not to play by the rules. This makes the US a super-terrorist and moves us all back a few decades to a time when the winner was always the one with the biggest stick.

What is missing in this scenario is that Bin Laden is painted as the ogre and few of us question his motives. It seems to be enough that he is a 'terrorist' and possibly the mastermind behind the embassy bombings and the NY tragedy, but why? How did he get to be where he is?

...in the section of the world I consider sane and civilized, there are 350 million more people who now know what it is like to live under the cloud of terrorism. Terrorism is nothing new – the problem is to differentiate between 'freedom fighters' and 'terrorists'. Personally I see no distinction. They both use undemocratic means to impose the views of the minority upon the majority. Unfortunately there is only one solution: education. Good food and hygiene would help. But the price to the first world is to live in the third. Are we all prepared to go without so that all have an equal share in whatever the world has to offer?...I doubt the West has the courage or even the wherewithal to pay that price. Kyoto proved that the US was definitely NOT prepared to pay that price - now the choice may be about to be removed involuntarily...

If we all do our best to promote crop circle images, news and research - that will go a long way towards re-stabilising the current situation. Beauty will always succeed over ugliness...

Kim McDonald writes:

Oh, my...I just read this news report:

"Giant, illuminated images of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington are drawing huge crowds in eastern India. The pictures are being displayed during an annual Hindu festival celebrating the victory of good over evil."

"Each display houses a statue of Durga in a triumphant pose as she kills Asura, who, according to Hindu mythology, could not be tamed or defeated by anyone else."

You know how you feel when you find out something about yourself that everyone else already knew...that sort of embarrassed, somewhat shameful feeling? I sorta feel like that. And like the whole world knows about the US...the whole world besides us...her citizens... Yikes.
Suzanne replies:

Our image in the world is a shocker for all of us. But we're not blind to it anymore, as something the government can do behind our backs. Actually it's a funny construct to speak as if there is an us and a them when we're talking about the citizenry and the government, but indeed that is the way we think and speak. I was very aware of it in the Bush presidential campaign, like when he kept repeating a mantra about the surplus that "it's your money not the government's money." I kept experiencing how weird that was – including that he was the government and he was pointing at it as the enemy. This was all part of some really simplistic thinking in black and white and good and evil that keeps manifesting in one way or another, with war being the natural activity in such a thought form.

This world image of the U.S. it seems to me is what is vital to address – to do things on a worldwide visible scale to demonstrate how giving we are. Let what we become supercede what we have been in the world's imagination.

Gil Friend writes:

I'm impressed that you've put all this together. Good for you!

The "conversation" would be richer, though, with more diversity of viewpoint – e.g., would be interesting to contrast Jensen's Why I Will Not Rally Around the President with Shuman's Why I Won't Sign.
Suzanne replies:

Indeed, I am not interested in providing an interchange for all diverse points of view. There are other arenas for that. I am campaigning for my point of view. I believe wholeheartedly in it. I am looking for people who agree with me. I want to huddle with people of like mind.

Why I Won't Sign looks to me like it sets up a straw dog. I don't hear any pacifism expressed where we naively expect to get to the bargaining table with terrorists. Almost everything I've read that is anti-war says we should do what it takes to capture criminals. The pieces I cite talk about alternatives to war, like a police action and forces the UN could rally. Actually, I was very moved by one pacifist piece, that I have posted, that speaks of taking Jesus seriously. Even though I'm Jewish, I recognize profound truths of spirit David Diggs expresses.

Gil responds:

Well, Suzanne, I just haven't seen that straw dog. All of the anti-war stuff I've seen (maybe you've seen different stuff) has definitely tried to pose a "military action VS police action" choice... as if police action somehow wouldn't require force of arms. But of course it would, unless you expect Al Qaeda to just stroll into The Hague and give themselves up.

So perhaps the dispute is whether you get a subpoena first, and go after them with a UN-directed force under international law, or whether, under international law, the US has the direct right of self-defense. I'm not expert enough to know the fine points there. I generally prefer UN action to unilateral; but in this case I think moving with all deliberate speed to confound the Al Qaeda network and disrupt any possible next events was paramount requirement for public safety.

The Jesus piece was moving, but I've found that I'm not a pacifist. Nor was Ghandhi, by the way, who was clear that the non-violent resistance to the British would not have worked against the Nazis, who did not have the same moral core as the Brits, whose ethical contradictions couldn't be resonated by Satyagraha in quite the same way.

I am a peace guy (though you probably doubt me by now). My martial art of choice is Aikido, but one of the things about Aikido is that while it is relatively non-violent, the level of violence is ultimately determined by the attacker.

I believe that one of the most useful things I can do – in the face of a situation so unprecedented, so difficult to fathom, so hard to see a path out of – is to think way outside the box, and to help other smart friends and colleagues do the same. I have found the traditional thinking on both right and left to be wholly inadequate on this one. (Rabbi Arthur Waskow observed that the right says "stop them" and the left says "understand the causes" but that it's crazy to assume you have to choose one or the other. Maybe we need to do both.)

As for the More Shock and Horror piece you have posed, I find a gender-based response interesting, not irrelevant, but completely insufficient. Doesn't address the Muslim mothers proud of their suicide bomber sons. Or the American mothers proud of their US Air Force bomber sons. Or the many US women so eager to express their equal rights by going into combat.
Suzanne replies:

Strange we see so differently when we are essentially so much the same. Being the reader you must be to send all those pieces that you send out, perhaps you can go through my five star pieces – some of which you've actually sent out – and see what I mean about the intelligent voice that doesn't choose between "stop them" and "understand the causes." The situation here is so much more nuanced and complex than this simplistic either/or. No offense, but it really puzzles me. Even the funny feminist piece isn't a stand, but a statement that is true enough to be an aspect of things worth being aware of.

War is about hard and fast enmities, countries against each other, winners and losers as peoples. Police action the UN would undertake involves one world of good people ferreting out deviants in its midst – some suggest it even could involve hiring armies. As you think, so you are. It's not an issue of whether we're entitled to attack, but whether it is wise to. And the other thing about our war is the fact that we are pounding on what may not even be the right target. When we argue about whether war itself is a good idea, even if it is OK in principle it's ridiculous in practice if we're not attacking the real enemy, which in great likelihood is the case. It reminds me of the old joke about the drunkard looking for his keys under the lamppost because the light's better there.

George Bishop says:

I wonder if there would be any support for a United Nations Protectorate of Jerusalem?

One of the more passive ways of successfully combating terrorism is for the target to do exactly the opposite of the wishes of the terrorist.

In this case, Americans ought to be buying up property in Saudi Arabia. (with the FULL co-operation of the Saudi's I might add!) Perhaps a Las Vegas on the Red Sea, and a Disney Land Park in the Gulf. After all, there must be enough derelict and virgin land for all of these objectives to be achieved, without treading on any religious toes.

Give it some thought!
Suzanne replies:

Gosh, George, I wish I knew more about the politics around Jerusalem – I always am confused by it. However, I think we should be thinking in off the wall ways. My fundamental advocacy is for the US to be a joyful presence, making people's lives better all over the world – that that should be our over-riding intention. Your Saudi Arabian idea feels like it could be part of that.

One of my outside the box ideas is to give ecstasy to the people we have in custody who won't talk. We consider drugging prisoners cruel and unusual, when in fact there's nothing cruel at all about this gentling, heart-connecting substance. We'd have to rethink about mind altering substances, and recognize their healing and enlightening powers, which could be a good thing to come out of all this. I'm thinking paradigm shifts here, but this is what the moment offers, and, for our very survival, perhaps demands. Wouldn't it be something if we turned the evil ones into heart connected people? This calls to mind a rethinking of our criminal justice system, which punishes rather than rehabilitates – better retribution then Life. This is a very deep place to look for new paradigm thinking.

Manuel Erickson writes:

I wish to thank you for including my tiny contribution on your quotation page. It is satisfying to be in good company with such moral people as Barbara Kingsolver and Bill Moyers.

In the quote you used, I was voicing what hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – could have been feeling, but could not elucidate, for one reason or another.

I know that what I wrote is basically negative, but that is how I feel. For most of my 67 years I have participated in and observed the human race. The conclusion that I've come to is that I was wrong about the masses of people. I used to think they could lead the leaders. I don't, now. Now, I believe they only want to be led by those who fight their way to leadership. While there are good leaders, they are very few.

In the musical work, "Ballad For Americans," Abraham Lincoln is given these words: "I think god must have loved the common people; he made so many of them." But Lincoln lived in a totally different era. Maybe he thought he was being led by them, doing their will. At that time, perhaps he was. Today, the people simply do what their government says they should do. From what I've seen so far, that is true in both the United States and in Canada. Example: Canadians didn't want free trade, but they got it anyway. It has been an unmitigated disaster for thousands of communities, but apart from a few letters to the editor and some to the prime minister, none rebel. Mexico is better that way.

Some of my friends have suggested that the human race will be hard put to survive another 15 years. At first, I was skeptical of that assessment, but now I wonder if they don't have a point. Most of those who surround us where we live put up gaudy Christmas lights. When they drive they tailgate, speed and don't look where they're going. They spend money as if there won't be a tomorrow. At my age, one would think I'd have become hardened to the wanton hypocrisy around us, but I haven't. I am still appalled by it.

Most people here start their vehicles in the morning and idle them for up to 30 minutes before driving off, as if they have never heard of air pollution. People here can do what they like on their own properties, including murdering the few remaining trees that are left, as if they never heard that trees give off oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. Every tree killed adds to the greenhouse effect, something they either don't know or don't care about. We all suffer from the stupidity of such folk, but is no by-law here controlling their killing activities.

Tell me, Suzanne, if you can: wouldn't it be better for this planet – the only one we know of that is capable of supporting life – if humans had never evolved here? Since they have, wouldn't it be better if they simply disappeared and left the planet to evolve a race of perhaps truly intelligent and morally just beings?

Of course, I cannot answer that, if anyone can. Since we are here, and since there is a sense that humanity should continue, we must consider ways to eliminate the greed for power that is so manifest in the United States' business and government leadership. And not only in that country, but also in Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Japan.

Above all, we need to search for ways to unite Earth under a single, highly democratic world government. Is this even remotely possible?

Well, the World Postal Union has been a reality for well over 100 years, as has standard time, initiated by the Scots-Canadian, Sanford Fleming, who was knighted for his achievement of spanning the globe with undersea cable.

I also like the Sharif Abdullah quote you have on your Quotes page. I don't think what he wrote is possible, as long as separate so-called "sovereign" nations continue to exist and the United Nations is powerless to step into crises and put out the fires, and as long as there are multi-billion-dollar corporations running everything. Monsanto, with its poisonous genetically modified organisms, comes to mind. It is running rampant over the world.

But Sharif is absolutely correct that "the choice is ours." As Raymond Massey's character said at the end of the film, "Things To Come," "Which shall it be? Which shall it be?"
Suzanne replies:

Many thanks for such a substantive communication. I am appreciative. When I read this, I feel like we beat with one heart. You express yourself eloquently, and your caring soul is unmistakable.

It is like the world has two races – one is conscious, and the other hasn't woken up yet. It used to suffice to understand that in time the journey will be taken by all of humanity, as its nature. Now the imbalance has become deadly. Our science has outstripped our consciousness. And we could perish. Or perhaps many will, and that will awaken the others. But still, here we are – you and I and others, and the world at the brink is in our laps.

What could those of us with understanding do? One thing is for us to join forces. Separately, we are gadflies who rail against an entrenched system, but linkage would have power in it to change what is so. A council of the intelligentsia could not be denied – the rightness of it would be inescapable. That there is no such thing reflects an astonishing blindness on the part of those who have the resources and are in positions to make it happen.

One thing that mitigates against total despair is the great intelligence that reverberates on the Net now. If any of us felt ourselves to be totally alone, then I can't imagine keeping on. But as long as there's a mirroring of the higher vision, at least there is a possibility of sparking something greater for the rest of humanity. I keep cheerleading for that council. The glimmer of hope that I can see in it keeps me going in this dark time.

I feel another glimmer in my knowledge about crop circles – humanity becoming aware that it is not the only intelligent species would shift consciousness. I keep sounding that note. Each time I do, perhaps I am speaking to the person or the auspice that could get attention to be paid. And that is all it would take. Proof abounds, but the media still gives us Doug and Dave (do you know what I'm talking about?), despite the fact that Dave has been dead since 1995 and the phenomenon has gloriously and spectacularly improved on itself ever since.

I'll pass this along to Sharif, who also looks to making connections. We've been in communication and I've posted it here on the site. And stay tuned in – I put up TheConversation.org as a place for people like us. It's what I can do in the spirit of the council we could be. The conversations I have posted I think are fine examples of the sparks that fly when we interchange. Who knows, but perhaps this little effort could grow to matter – there is a tradition of small groups of thoughtful people changing the world, a la what Margaret Mead said.

Manuel responds:

I WANT my messages to be "substantive," and I want my heart to beat as one with those who think and feel in ways similar to me. Living up here in British Columbia, not far from Vancouver, I do feel alone. It's not the location that makes me feel like this, but the supposedly thinking people who surround me, both here in our mobile home park and in the larger community.

I am not entirely alone, however: my wife and I are thoroughly compatible on the issues I discussed in my last email and on most other issues. Thank goodness! She is my soul mate and Life Partner, and I consider myself to be very, very fortunate. My day starts when Martha walks through the door at the end of her teaching day. These 21 years together have zipped past for both of us.

I had been thinking about the start of the 21st century and comparing it in my mind to 100 years ago. Back then, the Boer War was in full swing, with Britain and her "dominions" in the process of putting down those who had established semi-independent states inside South Africa – the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. That seemed to be the only hiccup on a global scene that was otherwise at peace. (I'm not a history expert, so please correct me if I'm wrong about that.)

Not so today. There are wars all over the globe now. You know where they are, so I won't list them. Suffice to say that, with about 165 independent states (compared to 26 a century ago), we seem to be in a worse situation. Yet we have fast travel, satellites, rockets, computers and the Internet, giving us instantaneous communication with virtually anyone who also happens to have access to the Internet. It's not doing us any real good, I think, because, as you have said, our technology has out-distanced our social and moral development.

I'm not saying that there should be fewer independent nations. My goodness, no! In fact, there are those here in Canada (including me) who are actively struggling against various hidden agendas that would see my country absorbed into the United States. Be an American? No offense, Suzanne, but I cannot bear the thought. We have our own culture and we think – it's probably not true – that we are more caring than the "average" American.

I do think, however, that there should be a world government of some kind, democratically elected at the grass-roots level around the world. Ideally, I would like to see the United Nations transformed into that kind of body, but there are too many forces leagued against it: the many nation-states jealously guarding their "sovereignty," and corporatism, with its power-hungry moguls, are at fault, here. The UN itself is top-heavy and badly organized, with the vetoes on the Security Council, and it is poorly financed. As a result, it has no teeth; it cannot make laws, only "resolutions."

I don't know what to do about it or what can be done, but humanity cannot continue like this, divided. "A house divided cannot stand." (Lincoln)

What really worries me (goodness! I'm ranting again) is that most people don't (or can't) take the time or make the effort to think for themselves. They work, go home, eat supper, watch television, go to be bed, make love, sleep, rise the next morning and go to work. They shop on Saturdays. This leaves only Sundays for any kind of introspection, but it's a family day. Those who live alone, the homeless and unemployed, would seem to have lots of time for thought, but I don't blame them for being pre-occupied by more mundane things, such as finding the next meal, the next shelter or digging up someone to talk to. A vicious pattern, it leaves no room for thought. That, in my simplified opinion, is why Bush is the president: people are apathetic.

There is an elite in most, if not all, countries. In the U.S. and Canada, it is mainly those in "important" positions at the various government levels or in large corporations. Presidents, secretaries, prime ministers, ministers of the Crown, CEOs and such ilk control far too much of society; they control life itself.

I agree that joining forces is something we can do. We should do this (provided that what takes shape is not religious, or is, at most, non-denominational). But who would do it? I am not a charismatic person and so I feel I cannot offer leadership. But I will say this: whatever is done in this regard should result in an organization or group or polity (or some other who-knows-what name) that is not only grass-roots but that takes its instructions from a consensus of those participating – similar to what Green parties do around the world.

I also agree with you: "That there is no such thing [as a council of the intelligentsia] reflects an astonishing blindness on the part of those who have the resources and are in positions to make it happen." There are individuals who control so much money and power that it is grossly indecent. Bill Gates comes to mind, a person who, if he could get his mind out of Microsoft for a little while, could shower humanity with gifts of goodness. But he doesn't. He hordes his billions to himself and his corporation. But a billion dollars could bring potable water to every person in the world! Another billion could lead to the eradication of AIDS or cancer or to a plan for the humane reduction of the human population (birth control), because it is the over-population of humans that is creating problems such as deforestation, pollution, hunger, disease. Gates could do this and still have billions left.

This leads to another problem: the problem of ethics. We have a philosopher here in Canada named John Ralston Saul, who is married to the Governor-General, Adrienne Clarkson (the Queen's official representative). Mr. Saul is a renowned author. His newest book has just been issued, "On Equilibrium." I haven't yet read the book, but there is an article on today's front page of The Vancouver Sun in which the writer mentions Saul's premise that "corporations are not ethical. That is, they are not meant to be ethical. They are meant to be self-interested." Corporations can be led by ethical people but, in the end, they themselves do not have ethics. Only humans have ethics.

Along with a discussion of ethics, Saul also discusses five other peculiarly human qualities: common sense, imagination, intuition, memory and reason. I shall borrow this book from the library as soon as it gets there.

So then, why is it that corporations have been given the status of persons before the law if they have no ethics? The corporation exists for only one simple reason: to make a profit. Nothing else matters. A corporation is not a human being; it is a composite of many human beings. Why is it that, about 150 years ago, American law forbade a corporation to exist beyond a specific period of time? At the end of that time, usually about 25 years, the corporation just went out of existence. Then it would have to be re-formed.

I think the reason for that was to prevent corporations from taking over American lives. Furthermore, I think that is a very good reason for limiting corporations' existence. Could that be done today? Nope. Not a chance. Corporations like Monsanto, General Electric, General Motors, Wal Mart, etc., are so powerful that it could not happen, and you would be hard-pressed to find a single Congressman or woman who would support such a "revolutionary" idea. The people? Hah! The people be damned. (Sorry for the vituperation.)

You are right that this is "a dark time." But have you thought of why it is dark? Well, did you know that there is subterfuge at the highest levels in the governments of the so-called democracies? I bet you did. There was a plan (I forget where I read about it on the Net) to invade Afghanistan long before the WTC was destroyed. Osama bin Laden was a CIA agent provocateur not long ago. These things are scary, because in my mind they lead to the possibility that it was known the WTC would be attacked, but nothing was done about it. If there is any truth to that idea, then I must ask, why? What is it that the leaders of the U.S. and Britain are trying to do with the sacrifice of thousands of innocent lives? Is there are sinister plot here? If so, what is it? And more: why is it so hard to find bin Laden? Is it that he hides in caves? So what? There is technology that can ferret out the one with the best talent for hiding.

I hope that the Internet will stay the way it is. It is the closest thing we have now to a grass-roots movement of sorts, if we ignore the garbage and the almost overpowering ads.

I am sorry that I cannot share your enthusiasm for crop circles. Science has not been able to show that they were made by an extra-terrestrial intelligence that visited Earth in its dim past. In fact, as you no doubt know, we have not detected a planet capable of supporting life as we know it, let alone another intelligent species. I really wish that aliens would visit us. That would provide the shift in consciousness that you mentioned. But we humans, I'm afraid, will actually have to go into space and discover them, if they exist. I hope we will, and I hope they do.

And no, Suzanne, I don't know who Doug and Dave are (or were). Could you enlighten me?

Regarding what Margaret Mead said about changing the world, I have something that I got from a Unitarian church a very long time ago. Perhaps it's hers. It goes like this:

Who?
Who are you?
Who are you to think?
Who are you to think that?
Who are you to think that you can?
Who are you to think that you can change?
Who are you to think that you can change the world?

It was a challenge. I used to think I could change the world. Incredible. But I was young, and you know about the young, Suzanne. Well, here I am, in my late sixties now, still expecting the best from people – in fact, still mad at them. Most folks my age have long since become mellow. Not I, I'm afraid.

If I were asked, I would very seriously consider becoming a member of the council you speak of. I'm not sure what role I could play, but if the discussions showed the promise of leading to a better-informed populace, I would feel good about it. Perhaps I would even sense the good feelings of its other members.

You asked about my life. Now you know that I live in Canada. I was born here, in Toronto. I'm a pilot, a writer, a musician, and a sometime political beast. My degree is in political science (BA only).

Martha is my first love. My second love is flying. ("Next to my wife, flying is my life." That is my own little ditty.) I have my own little aeroplane. Being an aircraft owner does not mean that I'm rich. Far from it! It means simply that I love to fly. I wouldn't be so cash-strapped if I didn't own my own plane. I've had my license for over 20 years, now, and was once a flight instructor.

I'm working on a book about the romance of trains in British Columbia. I work in creative non-fiction and write stories and poems about real events in real places. Sometimes the stories have real characters, but most often I make them up. The book is roughly half-finished.

I've loved the piano since I was six. I have the baby grand on which I learned and compose my own music at times. I listen to the classics.

I've pretty well left politics. It's a very dirty business and I despise it, but I support and work for the Green Party of British Columbia.
Suzanne replies:

It makes me cry when I read what you write, and hardly anybody does that to me. Would that you were my hubby. Sometimes I feel pretty alone here in the big city, believe it or not, and my trusty right arm, Kim McDonald, who works for me and put up my Website, is what I've counted on for the last fourteen years to stay sane.

It's such a pleasure to read what you write, the teary parts and everything else. You are just the kind of person to sit at that round table to re-think the world. I keep that in my sights, relatively powerless though I am, and who knows but that the greater intelligence of having such a thing might just open something up in that Margaret Meadish sort of way. She wasn't writing about world leaders coming together, but about the convening of people like you and me. At some point, maybe I'll just invite a few people to come to my house. The Net is a wonderful way to find the players and put us in touch. In fact, before I'd invite "you all," I'd expose you to one another in cyberspace.

For someone as wide rangingly perceptive as you are, you need to bone up on crop circles. It is not possible to account for them by the hands of human beings. That's the starting place. This is not speculation, but fact. Then what? No one knows. All we have are the footprints of a vast intelligence. That makes me cry, too. It is so staggering that it remains invisible in plain sight. Doug and Dave were two old guys who ten years claimed to have made them all – a plot by some auspice that paid them to say that. The story satisfied the world, which at that point was agog at what had exploded in England, from simple shapes that had been occurring for centuries, to vastly complex ones in that summer before Doug and Dave came along, which had the world press printing front page stories. It is always more comfortable to stay in a paradigm and any excuse will do. Since then, there has been a steady disinformation campaign by some powers that be, so there is more Doug and Dave-like stuff that steadily has come down – but still the impression those geezers made so many years ago lingers. When you talk crop circles to many people, they still think they are all made by them – and Dave has been dead since 1995! Do yourself a favor and educate yourself. Start on my crop circle page and follow links.



 

 


Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
Rains from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts...they lie unquestioned, uncombined.
Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun, but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric...

-Edna St. Vincent Millay-

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