The war is in us

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Padraic Rohan’s Column

Padraic Rohan was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has taught elementary school and started an outdoor adventure not-for-profit organization.

Padraic Rohan’s Column

Who are we? Ultimately, an inquiry into the self is the only path that heals this war. Primitive religions and sophisticated power structures are a hindrance along this path.

 

Is it possible for suffering to end? To live completely, fully? Our day-to-day personal struggles and the large-scale environmental, social, economic and military oppression are in direct relationship.

 

Today, we live in symbiotic relationship with a massive bureaucracy and have a weak connection to the earth. Our food, clothes, shelter, toolséwhere were they made and by whom? We exist in a very complicated web of dependency, admittedly giving many of us a level of convenience and efficiency. But at what cost? Government and business at this massive level inevitably subject people to subhuman conditions. If the infrastructure and individual were suddenly separated, most people would stand the same chance of survival as a purse dog in the rainforest.

 

Fidel Castro spoke in Havana in April 2000, to heads of state from 133 3rd World countries. The mainstream U.S. press did not cover it, presumably because the propaganda of democracy and development doesn’t intersect in the slightest with his message.

Never before has has humankind had such a formidable scientific and technological potential, such extraordinary capacity to produce riches and well-being, but never before have disparity and inequity been so profound in the world.

Never before has has humankind had such a formidable scientific and technological potential, such extraordinary capacity to produce riches and well-being, but never before have disparity and inequity been so profound in the world.

 

 

Technological wonders that have been shrinking the planet in terms of distances and communications coexist today with the increasingly wider gap separating wealth and poverty, development and underdevelopment.

Technological wonders that have been shrinking the planet in terms of distances and communications coexist today with the increasingly wider gap separating wealth and poverty, development and underdevelopment.

Globalization is an objective reality underlining the fact that we are all passengers on the same vessel: this planet where we all live. But passengers on this vessel are traveling in many different conditions.

Globalization is an objective reality underlining the fact that we are all passengers on the same vessel: this planet where we all live. But passengers on this vessel are traveling in many different conditions.

 

 

éThe Heads of State meeting here, who represent the overwhelming and hurting majorities, have not only the right but the obligation to take our rightful place at the helm to ensure that all passengers can travel in conditions of solidarity, equity, and justice.

éThe Heads of State meeting here, who represent the overwhelming and hurting majorities, have not only the right but the obligation to take our rightful place at the helm to ensure that all passengers can travel in conditions of solidarity, equity, and justice.

 

 

For two decades, the Third World has been repeatedly listening to only one simplistic discourse, and one single policy has prevailed. We have been told that deregulated markets, maximum privatization, and the state’s withdrawal from economic activity are the infallible principles conducive to economic and social development. The developed counties, particularly the United States, the big transnationals benefiting from such policies, and the International Monetary Fund have designed in the last two decades a world economic order that is hostile to poor countries’ progress and that is not sustainable in terms of the preservation of society and the environment.

For two decades, the Third World has been repeatedly listening to only one simplistic discourse, and one single policy has prevailed. We have been told that deregulated markets, maximum privatization, and the state’s withdrawal from economic activity are the infallible principles conducive to economic and social development. The developed counties, particularly the United States, the big transnationals benefiting from such policies, and the International Monetary Fund have designed in the last two decades a world economic order that is hostile to poor countries’ progress and that is not sustainable in terms of the preservation of society and the environment.

 

 

éPresently, $727 billion from the world Central Banks’ reserves are in the United States. This leads to the paradox that with their reserves the poor countries are offering cheap long-term financing to the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world while such reserves could be better invested in economic and social development.

éPresently, $727 billion from the world Central Banks’ reserves are in the United States. This leads to the paradox that with their reserves the poor countries are offering cheap long-term financing to the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world while such reserves could be better invested in economic and social development.

 

 

éWe simply cannot accept to enter the next century as the backward, poor, and exploited rearguard; the victims of racism and xenophobia prevented from access to knowledge, and suffering the alienation of our cultures due to the foreign consumer-oriented message globalized by the mediaéthis is not the time for begging from the developed countries or for submission, defeatism, or internecine divisions. This is the time to recover our fighting spirit, our unity and cohesion in defending our demands.

éWe simply cannot accept to enter the next century as the backward, poor, and exploited rearguard; the victims of racism and xenophobia prevented from access to knowledge, and suffering the alienation of our cultures due to the foreign consumer-oriented message globalized by the mediaéthis is not the time for begging from the developed countries or for submission, defeatism, or internecine divisions. This is the time to recover our fighting spirit, our unity and cohesion in defending our demands.

(His full speech, including many telling statistics, can be found at www.G77.org.)

 

I’m filled with foreboding. Intellectual knowledge of this state of affairs is not enough. I desire to be free of the power structure, of business and government and religion, not by escaping or creating something new, but by relating responsibly to what is.

 

The Middle East is a very important barometer for the state of human affairs today. The role of the U.S., the oil interests, the media campaigns, the colonial past, the continuing struggle of empire, resistance, and the inevitable religious justificationséit makes my head spin.

 

So Sharon came to Washington this week, with a stack of documents proving that Arafat and the Palestinians engage in terrorism. !? And don’t forget Bush’s condemnation of “illegal” Palestinian arms shipments a few months back. The social and political climate that allows this to not get laughed out of town is stupid and shocking. The lies and half-truths are swallowed by the American populace for the simple reason that the current state of affairs benefits the American populace.

 

Let’s examine: Shell shock has evolved (devolved?) into post-traumatic-stress-disorder, soldiers have become peacekeepers, war has become terrorism, capitalism has become democracy, and humans have accepted slavery. Mental slavery for the comfortable minority, and a brutal oppression of the poor masses; is this someone else’s fault?

 

Sharon responds to a suicide attack killing 16: “There is no way to move forward in a political process with a terrorist and corrupt entityétoday in all of our sincere efforts to move forward on the political path, we received another proof of the true intentions of person leading the Palestinian Authority.”

 

I ask, does Palestine have real leadership? Arafat is playing a two-faced game, as a diplomat on one hand, and on the other as the figurehead of armed resistance against Israel. And what kind of leader has he been as a prisoner in Ramallah for the past month?

Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice, Bush is sending CIA director George Tenet to Palestine to “initiate reform” within the Palestinian Authority. Powell has described long-term reforms as the development of democratic institutions and a market-based economy in the Palestinian territories.

 

This would be laughable if it didn’t involve real human lives. Ask Malaysia what happens to independence in a market-based economy. And if the U.S. isn’t a democracy, then how can we possibly expect democracy to develop in the colonies?

 

The answer is very simple. Because most people don’t have the first clue what their government does in their name, much less possess a historical context for the present state of human affairs; much less understand their relationship to the power structure.

 

What is the relationship between the 1st and 3rd world? It doesn’t take a bunch of geniuses working around the clock to see that power is the name of this game. Bush, Ashcroft, Powell, Sharon, the owners and operators of major corporationséthey don’t understand. They are prostituting themselves for power, and are major contributors to environmental destruction, cultural extinction, and the loss of self-sufficiency.

 

And whose fault is this? We all face a daunting, daunting prospect. We face extinction, ignominious self-destruction. Are these merely ideas I’m talking about? Is this just my perspective? If so, then go back to your stupid, pathetic life and do whatever it is you do to just forget.

 

But this is truth, not some wild concept. It describes human nature, the relationship between you and I, and the nature of the human community. These power plays and greed and stupidity are not aberrations. They are aspects of human nature, evident in our day-to-day lives. And as I come to understand myself, the large-scale madness becomes clearer.

 

Because what is the self? I am a physical form that eats, sleeps, grows, decays. I am a tremendously complex system of systems of systems. I have many desires: to reproduce, to be comfortable, to share with others, to survive. I seek security, pleasure, and power. I am curious, I dream, I manipulate, explore, learn, and judge. I exist in a myriad of relationships: sight, feeling, hearing, tasting and so forth relate individual to environment; food, air, and community are a part of me, and I’m a part of it. I have a tremendously complex process of mind, including imagination, memory, logic, and pattern searching of all kinds. I am heir to behavior patterned in my genes, cells, muscles, brain and all the rest. I can create and destroy. I am the convergence of infinite conditions and the divergence of infinite unknown.

 

There is no clear distinction between self and environment. There is a continuum of systems, within, without, all around. The self is illusory. And yet we continue to cling to beliefs of God and the restéan illusion of an illusion. This vast, wide, deep life goes on, as we compartmentalize ourselves into some infinitesimal box where we feel safe. How sick and sad.

 

This doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Do we see how religion, culture, and media play on our desires and influence our lifestyles and beliefs? The degree to which I am controlled is the degree to which someone else lives off my productivity.

 

We all need to get a clue. Urgently. And while intellectual knowledge of history, politics, and the rest is vital, so too is an awareness of the mind’s limitations. We must come to an understanding of this animal nature that is us.

Padraic Rohan was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has taught elementary school and started an outdoor adventure not-for-profit organization.

Padraic Rohan was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has taught elementary school and started an outdoor adventure not-for-profit organization.

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