The world will one day move to a model of Total Transparency. All highly evolved societies do. We are told this in Conversations with God. The question is how, and when?
There are those who say that transparency will never work unless and until all elements, all segments, of society are operating on the same model. I agree that this would be the most effective implementation of the idea. Yet it is clear to me that waiting for all cultures, organizations, institutions, governments, corporations, and individuals on our planet to embrace this notion simultaneously would be a waste of time. Such a shift in global consciousness is never going to happen all at once, with the snap of a finger. How, then, will it be produced? By people, organizations, and governments demonstrating leadership through showing the way.
This will take great courage. Masses of people do not like individual people who show the way to a new lifestyle. We like followers, not leaders.
We accuse leaders of making us “wrong,” of putting down our current way of being, of tearing apart our society with their “new ideas” and their “new rules,” and with their exposing of our foibles and of the non-beneficial outcomes of our present behaviors.
My favorite (and saddest) story about this is the account of Ignaz Semmelweis, described in Wikipedia as a Hungarian physician of German extraction and now known as an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures.
According to the Wikipedia article, Dr. Semmelweis “discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics. Puerperal fever was common in mid-19th-century hospitals and often fatal, with mortality at 10%–35%. Semmelweis postulated the theory of washing with chlorinated lime solutions in 1847 while working in Vienna General Hospital’s First Obstetrical Clinic, where doctors’ wards had three times the mortality of midwives’ wards. He published a book of his findings in Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever.
“Despite various publications of results where hand-washing reduced mortality to below 1%, Semmelweis’s observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community. Some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and Semmelweis could offer no acceptable scientific explanation for his findings.
“Semmelweis’s practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory and Joseph Lister, acting on the French micropbiologissst’s research, practiced and operated, using hygienic methods, with great success. In 1865, Semmelweis was committed to an asylum, where he died at age 47 after being beaten by the guards as he tried to escape, only 14 days after he was committed.”
Four of the latest people to show us our foibles and the non-beneficial outcomes of our behaviors have been Julian Assange, the Australian Internet activist who is created with having created WikiLeaks; Bradley Manning, a United States Army soldier arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of having passed diplomatic cables and other classified material to WikiLeaks — much of which is said by some to have generated many of the uprisings of what has come to be called the Arab Spring; William Binney, described by Wikipedia as “a former highly placed intelligence official with the United States National Security Agency turned whistleblower,” who has repeatedly claimed that the NSA regularly engages in warrantless eavesdropping, including surveillance of email, phone records, and other data; and Edward J. Snowden, the latest whistleblower, who recently unveiled information about U.S. Government surveillance of phone records and other data from millions of Americans.
All are considered by many to be traitors and criminals, who some believe should be punished by death or by life imprisonment for revealing the military, diplomatic, and security secrets of governments (chiefly, the U.S. Government) to the world.
Whether these men are “traitors” or “heroes” is a matter for history to decide. But they certainly do illustrate the danger of some people practicing transparency while others do not. Lives can be at stake — as those who argue for severe punishment of these men point out. Yet it has also been argued by others that many lives have been saved as a result of their whistleblowing.
Whatever the outcome of their cases and of their lives, there is no question that they and others have placed high on the public agenda the topic of just how open human society should be and can be. And the invitation in Conversations with God is for all of us, on an individual level, to practice complete and utter transparency in our daily lives, personal and business interactions, and intimate relationships — whether or not others are doing so also.
In this, as in all things that produce revolutionary and evolutionary shifts in our global society, somebody has to go first.
Conversations with God spoke many years ago of humans living life in total transparency, and it said that this would be the chosen and preferred lifestyle of every truly evolved society.
There is, among people who are living at the highest level of integrity, among those who are moving through their days and nights and in accordance with the purpose and agenda of their soul, no reason for any secrets to be kept from anyone.
Not a telephone record, not a purchase receipt, not list of books ordered online or a credit card statement or a bank account balance or a tax filing or any data about us whatsoever need be kept from the public eye — nor would anyone want it to be unavailable to anyone else.
There is no reason for everyone not to know everything about us, unless we have something to hide.
The reason that giant corporations, major institutions, and governments hate it when things like WikiLeaks press releases happen, or revelations like the Guardian newspaper stories about telephone records occur, is that they all have something to hide.
Recently, news reports all over the Internet have been telling of a top secret court order that allegedly required the giant Verizon telephone service provider to release the private phone records of Americans to the U.S. Government’s National Security Agency every day until the 19th of July.
Politicians have been scrambling to take sides in the aftermath of the revelation, which has been the source of much commentary (such as this one) on blogs and talk radio and television news networks like CNN, which began one of its online reports with this lead paragraph…
“Frightening government overreach or valuable law enforcement tool? That’s the question politicians in Washington, and millions of citizens around the United States, asked on Thursday thanks to an explosive report suggesting that the government has been collecting millions of Americans’ phone records.”
U.S. President Obama sought to soothe the nerves of his nation’s electorate by saying at a press conference that no one’s personal phone calls had been listened to, and that only records of numbers called, the time logs of when numbers were called, the length of conversations and the like were among the data gathered.
A number of U.S. lawmakers, including U.S. Senators and members of Congress, rose to say that such data gathering had saved their country from at least one major terrorist attack that they know of — and could avert many more, if only by making it more difficult for persons around the world to use major U.S. calling networks as a communication means by which to lay plans for their assaults.
Others have loudly protested the data gathering as a Big Brother Is Watching You intrusion in private lives. Yet this raises an interesting question: Why does one need a private life? What information is so secret, or would be so embarrassing, that we have a need to keep it private? What if everyone knew everything about everyone? What would happen?
One thing that would happen is that we would find out that we are all not so very different from each other. The other thing we would discover is that most people are pretty accepting of others — and that those who aren’t would soon, in a completely transparent society, find themselves among the tiniest minority…and have a hard time explaining what they are doing there. The third thing we would find out is that Total Transparency does not work unless everyone is playing by the same rules. That includes government, corporations, organizations, and every individual.
Can or will that day ever come? It seems a long way off. And yet, we are told in Conversations with God that this is the most wonderful and mutually beneficial way to live — and that human society will, indeed, one day move to this model. How to get everyone to embrace the model simultaneously…that is the question.
More on the world’s “move to transparency” in the days ahead. Your comments below invited. We will in the days ahead also be continuing with Part III of our series of News Analysis articles on eruptions of violence in our society. We invite you to return to this location on the Internet for ongoing and lively discussion.
I don’t mind when people use the Bible as their Source and Authority on matters of spiritual consequence, but I do have a problem with people who use the Bible “buffet style,” choosing only those verses that suit their purpose or personal opinion, then ignoring anything and everything that does not—or that they think might make them, as staunch believers in the Bible, “look bad.”
The Rev. Tim Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge in Jacksonville, Arkansas may not be a Buffet Bible Believer, but I would like to ask him some questions, just to make sure.
Rev. Reed was quoted in a news story the other day as saying that his church has no choice but to terminate its charter with Boy Scout Troop 542 because the Boy Scouts of America has lifted its ban on openly gay youths. Reed told one of the major television news networks that “it’s not a hate thing.” He said it is a “moral stance we must take as a Southern Baptist Church.”
The Christian minister was quoted by the network as saying: “God’s word explicitly says homosexuality is a choice, a sin.” Others likewise use “God’s word” as their authority in this matter, most often pointing to the Bible’s book of Leviticus at Chapter 18, Verse 22. As found in the King James Version that verse says: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”
Many Buffet Bible Believers also cite Leviticus 20:13, which offers this: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
And still others often point to 1 Corinthians 6:9, which says, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind…”
Using the Bible in this way may seem to provide righteous authority to some Southern Baptist churches, most of which are predicted to end their charters with Scouting in the weeks ahead. That could amount to nearly 4,000 Boy Scout troops soon without a sponsor. Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, was quoted in the news story mentioned above as saying that “Southern Baptists are going to be leaving the Boy Scouts en masse.”
Okay. Now. Fair Question time. Which verses of the Bible should be operative in our lives if we are to live up to its moral injunctions, as the Southern Baptists feel that are doing in response to the Boy Scouts’ decision to admit gay youths?
Do you suppose it might be the verse in the Book of Deuteronomy where it says that if a man marries a woman and finds that she is not a virgin, and if her family cannot prove that she was a virgin before her marriage, “she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death”? Or perhaps it would be the verse that says that if found to be in an adulterous relationship, both the man and the woman are to be taken to the city gates and also stoned to death. (Before deciding, please keep in mind that if this were to be applied, some churches would have to stone to death their own ministers.)
Or perhaps it’s the verse that says that only certain people are welcome in God’s house of worship. If you happen to be a child born out of wedlock, or the great-great-great-grandchild of a person born out of wedlock, God says you may not set foot inside a church. The Bible makes this very clear. It says that no illegitimate child, “nor any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation.”
And, did you know this? If a certain part of a man’s body happens to be injured in an accident or as a result of war, he may likewise not join with other worshippers of God in a House of the Lord. The Bible says: “If a man’s testicles are crushed or his penis is cut off, he may not be included in the assembly of the Lord.”
Yes, these are words right out of the Bible. Turn to Deuteronomy 23:1-2, New Living Translation. “Oh,” you might say, “one of those modern Bibles.” Yes. The King James Version has it this way: “He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord,” but it means the same thing.
And the Bible has some startling news for women who take some of those self-defense classes that are offered these days. They can find themselves in a lot of trouble because of some of what they might learn in those classes. The Bible says: “If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.”
God’s Word also provides us clear guidance on what to do about children who don’t obey their parents. These are probably not thoughts that many mothers would have—maybe even not Southern Baptist mothers, but we have no choice but to obey. As Rev. Reed would say, “God’s word explicitly tells us” how we are to respond. And what does God’s Word instruct us to do with rebellious children?
Now you might not believe that, but it’s right there, plain as day, and you can’t deny God’s Word: “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you.”
I guess that would do it, all right…
So with respect, I ask you to excuse me, Pastor Reed, if I am not totally convinced that humanity’s infallible answers will be found in the Bible. You may not agree with all of the above verses, either. But if we are going to be Buffet Bible Believers, rather than a Literal Word of God Believer, then might you please tell us which verses of the Bible we are advised to ignore, and which we should apply to the letter?
Thank you, sir. That would be very helpful. We would not want to be called hypocrites for citing some verses of God’s Word when they support our personal prejudices, and ignoring others when they do not, now would we…?
The great challenge facing Humanity, if it wishes to evolve to the next level, is finding a way to release negative emotions without harming ourselves and others.
In the first installment in this series–found here–we discussed the problem and the presence of violence in our world—as well as the source of it. Much of it, we said, has to do with sudden eruptions of unwanted data in one’s mind.
We said that you can shove your unwanted data (bad memories, traumatic events) into your personal “trash bin” (the subconscious), but can never get it completely out of your mind. You can “overwrite” it with dozens of newer and better memories, and soon the bitter memories can begin to fade, but they will never be deleted.
Unlike computers, however, there seems to be no way to control if or when this “unwelcome data” shows up in our lives, triggered by something that causes it to spontaneously arise out of the subconscious and take over the conscious mind.
I believe that this is precisely explains the state of human affairs on this planet today. Yet there some ways open to us through which humans can release these negative emotions without harming others or themselves.
Now, in Part II of this series, a look at what psychology offers around all of this.
Because such spontaneous eruptions can apparently be stimulated, and thus occur, at any time—nearly always temporarily controlling, and sometimes severely warping, our behaviors—mind scientists such as Arthur Janov and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross spent years looking at ways that this reservoir of emotional content could be emptied on command, at will, under controlled conditions, so that people took control of them, rather than they taking control of people.
Their idea was to engage in deliberate triggering of the subconscious to release the buried pain through the voluntary expression of it even before it is actually felt. The theory is that expressing emotion does just that: express it. That is, push it out.
PART TWO OF A THREE- PART NEWS ANALYSIS
Processes such as Janov’s tool (which he called Primary Therapy) and Kübler-Ross’ device (which she termed the Externalization of Repressed Emotions)—to cite two examples—involved top-of-the-voice screaming, or beating a set of old telephone books on a mattress, using a rubber compressor hose. Persons were encouraged to begin the screaming or the banging even when no negative emotion was being experienced in their present moment.
The result was in many cases remarkable, if surprising to the participants: the spontaneous “appearance” on the surface, a bringing forward to a place of present-moment consciousness, of intensively negative and apparently deeply-held feelings about another person or a long-past event—negative emotions that shocked many participants with their intensity, with many swearing that while they certainly understood that they held “bad feelings” about some things, they never knew they had such mountains of anger within them.
As Janov and Kübler-Ross suspected it might, the expression of these negative energies in such a dramatic way turned into the expulsion of them, releasing them from their captivity in the subconscious, where they had been held in some cases for many years, and allowing patients to “let go” of them permanently.
The idea, once again, is to release these long and deeply held emotions on purpose, under controlled conditions, rather than have them overtake us, becoming an episodic (or, worse yet, a chronic) aspect of our personality, behavior, and experience. (As in the case of the man who shot people in a Colorado movie theatre, or the person who kidnapped, beat, raped, and imprisoned three women in Cleveland over the past ten years.)
What can possibly cause such repugnant and repulsive deviant behaviors? Clearly, mental aberration, abnormality, anomalousness. Yet what causes this? Is it possible that there is a pain even more deep-seated than that caused by obvious childhood traumas or life-impacting tragedies? Or there be something along the lines of a “primal pain” that precedes all the others, and actually gives weight and substance to them?
If we can find the answer to that question—or at least one answer—we could go a long way toward eliminating eruptive anger, malevolence, violence, and killing from the collective human experience. We could create a society in which, at last, its members were much more safe, much more secure, and much more free from fear.
Will we, can we, ever completely eliminate every cause or source of attack, one human upon another? Perhaps not. Can we enormously reduce the number of such events occurring in our communal lives? I believe we can. Yet the solution I propose will come from the spiritual, not the psychological, community of healers.
And that’s where you come in.
(In the final installment: The source of the original pain—and the way to get rid of it. A surprising description of what you can do as an average, ordinary person to offer a non-psychological solution that, if it swept the planet, could change the world.)
We began here in our column last week a three-part series of New Analysis articles on the fact that we are doing little to address the cause of violence in our world, and looking at some of the tools our global society might use with which to do so.
That series was scheduled to continue in this entry, but I am going to take the liberty of interrupting the series with my present post, because it seems in appropriate for me to simply continue in that vein here without a single mention of the horrific events in Oklahoma. I cannot — and we cannot — ignore what has happened there and just move on with our lives without at least asking how the concepts of the New Spirituality apply in this situation, and where those of us who were not immediately affected by it may fit into all of this.
The first principle of The New Spirituality, as most readers here know, is: We Are All One. If this is true (and it is), then what occurred in Moore, Oklahoma (a near suburb of Oklahoma City) is part of all of our lives. If we are practicing The New Spirituality then, we will be immediately looking for ways to help that part of Ourselves that has been impacted or hurt by the huge level EF5 tornado that hit there.
Alia E. Dastagir, staff writer for USAToday, has offered a terrific rundown of ways in which people can do that immediately. Her story can be found here:
Here, from her story, is a list of helping opportunities. I hope and trust that you will respond with an open heart as soon and as hugely as you can.
The American Red Cross has several shelters open in Oklahoma and Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles have begun delivering hot meals throughout the affected areas. The Red Cross is also working to link loved ones in Moore who are OK through a website called Safe and Well. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, donate online or by phone at 1-800-RED CROSS.
The Salvation Army is activating disaster response teams and mobile feeding units to help residents and rescuers in Moore, as well as in other locations in the Plains and the Midwest that were impacted by tornadoes. Donate online or text STORM to 80888 to contribute $10 to the Salvation Army’s relief efforts or make a donation by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY. If you’re sending a check make sure you put the words “Oklahoma Tornado Relief” on the check, and mail it to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK 73157.
AmeriCares has a disaster relief team working with first responders and local health care organizations on the ground in hard-hit Oklahoma City suburbs. Shipments of water, medicines and emergency aid have been sent, with more shipments underway. You can help by donating through the AmeriCares website or by phone at 1-800-486-HELP. Text LIVE to 25383 to make a $10 donation. You can also mail a check or money order to: AmeriCares, 88 Hamilton Ave., Stamford, CT 06902.
Operation USA announced it’s providing emergency aid where needed to community-based health organizations across Oklahoma. Donate online, by phone at 1-800-678-7255, or by check made out to Operation USA, 7421 Beverly Blvd., PH, Los Angeles, CA 90036. You can also donate $10 by texting AID to 50555. Corporate donations of bulk quantities of disaster-appropriate supplies are also being requested.
Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief says it has deployed at least 80 volunteers to respond to severe weather in Oklahoma. Those interested in helping can make a tax-deductible donation to the BGCO’s Disaster Relief ministry online or call (405) 942-3800. You may also send checks to: BGCO Attn: Disaster Relief 3800 N. May Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73112.
Feed the Children, which is headquartered in Oklahoma City, has transported bottled water and food to the impacted area. The organization is accepting diapers, canned goods, non-perishable food, snack items, water, sports drinks, and cash donations. Text “Disaster” to 80888 to make a $10 donation. After receiving a confirmation message you must type “yes” to complete the donation. Cash and corporate donations can be made online or by phone at 1-800-627-4556.
Samaritan’s Purse, which provided relief to residents of Moore after the devastating tornado in 1999, deployed two Disaster Relief Units from their North Carolina headquarters before dawn on Tuesday. One will be based in Moore, and the other in Shawnee. Samaritan’s Purse is looking for volunteers to help with the relief effort. You can donate online or by phone at 1-800-528-1980. To give by mail, please send donations to: Samaritan’s Purse, P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607-3000.
Save the Children is mobilizing staff to provide support, relief and recovery services to communities and families in Oklahoma. The organization is prepared to deploy their Child Friendly Space kits in shelters, creating safe play areas for kids. They are also ready to deploy infant and toddler hygiene materials to support young children displaced from their homes. Text TWISTER to 20222 to donate $10 to Save the Children and help the response effort. You can donate online or call 1-800-728-3843.
Operation Blessing International, a Virginia-based humanitarian group, is deploying to Moore, after working on tornado relief in Granbury, Texas, following last week’s storm there. A caravan of OBI emergency equipment was sent to Moore, including a construction unit, mobile command center, trucks full of tools and supplies, and a team of construction foremen. You can donate to the group online or donate by phone at 1-800-730-2537.
Could it be that all that is going on in our world right now—Syria, New Orleans, Boston, Iraq, Iran—is the result of a very young species of sentient beings undergoing the pains of its own evolutionary process?
The violence, the unending assaults of one group of humans upon another, the loathing and hatred which fuels it, the struggles of the rest of the world to overcome all of this while living alongside it…I believe that all of this could be, in part at least, the fallout of a fundamental condition in the human psyche—one might even call it a “psychological injury”—from which humanity must recover if we are ever to take our place as highly evolved life forms within the cosmic community of sentient beings.
Any animal, backed into a corner, will attack. When people are in pain—pain they cannot seem to find a way to end—they can react and respond in painful ways. They plunder, they injure, they rape, they kill. They go to war with each other, and in not a few cases they go to war with themselves.
What is not understood as widely as I wish it were among the people of the world is that this is a spiritual problem, not merely or simply a psychological one. It is because I understand this that I know the messages of the New Spirituality to be of such importance.
PART ONE OF A THREE- PART NEWS ANALYSIS
Humanity’s deepest pain is felt collectively by the species at varying levels among its members. Yet no single human being seems immune to it. The secret of ending humanity’s deepest pain may be found in a simple four-word statement that leads off a nine-book series of spiritual texts spanning more than 3,000 pages, called Conversations with God.
To see how this could be true, we need first to identify humanity’s deepest pain. That can be done with one word: Separation.
World famous psychologists and psychiatrists, such as Arthur Janov and Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, have suggested for years that deep emotional pain that has been repressed by the mind is at the root of many of the psychological challenges faced by human beings, and nearly all of their dysfunctions, including violent behavior.
It is the mind’s job to push such pain deep into the subconscious, so to allow each person to go on with life in a reasonably well-adjusted way. So when bad things happen to us, we automatically and quickly submerge them—not actually forgetting them (although is rare cases we do even that), but removing ourselves (sort of, “stepping away from”) the emotional content of them.
Yet when you step away from something, you do not cause it to cease to exist. You merely put some distance between you and it. It still exists, it’s simply not right in front of your face.
Negative emotions are never deleted from our memory. They are simply stored in a different place: the subconscious; the layer beneath our conscious mind. Thus, our mind holds the data of our emotional pain forever.
Today’s computers work very much the same way. It is virtually impossible to actually delete data from a computer. You can send a document to TRASH, but that does not delete it from the computer’s memory bank. It merely moves it to another location on the hard drive—a place that is not “seen” on the desktop or in any of the user’s folders or files.
The data still resides in the computer’s memory, however—as persons with criminal intent have learned to their chagrin the moment that sophisticated law enforcement investigative techniques are used to examine their laptops.
You can now purchase software for your computer called, by some companies, a “shredder” (which inspires images of a paper-shredder-kind-of-program in your computer), but even this software does not remove any data from your machine. It merely overwrites it. Overwriting a file multiple times renders the data within it virtually indecipherable, and that is said to be one sure way to “trash” the data. Yet, technically, it is still there.
So it is with your mind. You can shove your unwanted data (bad memories, traumatic events) into your personal “trash bin” (the subconscious), but can never get it completely out of your mind. You can “overwrite” it with dozens of newer and better memories, and soon the bitter memories can begin to fade, but they will never be deleted.
Unlike computers, however, there seems to be no way to control if or when this “unwelcome data” shows up in our lives, triggered by something that causes it to spontaneously arise out of the subconscious and take over the conscious mind.
I believe that this is precisely explains the state of human affairs on this planet today. It explains Syria and Boston, Iraq and Cleveland, and all that is going on in between. Yet there some ways open to us by means of which humans can release these negative emotions without harming others or themselves.
(Next: A look at what psychology offers around all of this—then, a surprising description of what you can do as an average, ordinary person to offer a non-psychological solution that, if it swept the planet, could change the world.)
It was a miracle that three young women in Cleveland escaped from the home in which they were kept imprisoned and were physically abused for years, allegedly by a man named Ariel Castro.
Today we are left wondering how any person could do a such a thing.
News reports now have it that Ariel Castro had apparently written a suicide note in 2004 questioning himself on exactly that, and making references to wanting to die.
In the note — which reporter Scott Taylor of Cleveland’s WOIO-TV “19 Action News” says police found in Castro’s home, and of which Taylor says he obtained a copy — Castro allegedly wrote: “I am a sexual predator. I need help.”
The sadness is that he did not call for help outside of his own mind. TV journalist Taylor also reports that Castro’s note goes on to question why he grabbed a third young lady off the streets in 2004: “I don’t know why I kept looking for another. I already had 2 in my possession,” the note allegedly said.
He also supposedly writes about wanting to kill himself and “give all the money I saved to my victims.” Castro is also said to have written that he was surprised by how young one of his victims was (14 at the time of the kidnapping). The note he allegedly wrote he says he thought she was a lot older.
According to the online news source Slate, another media outlet, CBS News, “reports that Castro wrote about his whole life in the letter, at one point ‘saying that he was abused by his parents as a child and that he was raped by an uncle’.”
If this is true, it becomes a little easier to understand how a man could have perpetrated such crimes. None of this, we are all clear, excuses anything that Mr. Castro is charged with. It could, however, help explain it. It could open a window onto the life history of the accused, and his state of mind.
Conversations with God invites us to ask a remarkable question of people who would do things such as Mr. Castro is accused of doing. The question: “What hurts you so bad that you feel you have to hurt others in order to heal it?” I am deeply, deeply sorry that these terrible events occurred in the lives of those young women and their families. I am also terribly sorry that any human being could hurt so bad as to hurt others in this reprehensible way. I pray for the day when all members of our human society treat all other members with honor and respect, with caring and compassion, with pure and good and undistorted love.
Everyone in the world knows there is a civil war going on in Syria. But not everyone knows what is going on behind the scenes in that struggle.
At its root, much of the animosity between the people in Syria is fueled by ancient disagreements about humanity’s Deity — called in Arabic “Allah”, or literally, “the God.”
Yes, once again we are killing each other in a rage expanded by differences over the Source of All Love.
Officially, the revolution is said to be about too many years of minority rule, oppressive government, and economic disparity, those fighting in the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) will say. The FSA is a rebel group that has been struggling for just over two years, asserting that what they—and the majority of the Syrian people—want is a free and democratic country.
There is no doubt that these matters carry huge weight in the struggle, as the government of Syrian President Bashad al-Assad has — like his father’s government before him — strictly prohibited most forms of political dissent in the country, and outlawed all political parties except one—the Ba-’ath Party that has ruled the nation since the early Sixties.
But underneath the political-social issues is a raging underground stream of religious turmoil, those familiar with the Syrian situation say. President al-Assad is a member of the Alawite sect, which is a non-conformist branch of Shia Islam.
The Religious Divide
The vast majority of Syria’s people are Sunni, not Shia — which accounts for less than 20 per cent of Muslims worldwide — and even fewer belong to the Alawite faction (only about 12 per cent of Syrians, by most accounts).
Even as in Christianity there are numerous sects or belief systems (Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, etc.), so, too, is it within the Islamic faith tradition. Sunni Islam is the largest branch of that tradition, and is considered to be the orthodox version of the religion. The smaller, separatist groups in the religion emerged as a result of historical and doctrinal differences.
In Syria — as in many other nations in the Arab world — Sunnis are in the vast majority, but have been ruled for decades by Shi’ites, and in Syria in particular, its Alawite faction. Since ruling parties generally look after their own, the result is that throughout much of the Arab world Shi’ites have favored far better economically and politically (more power over their own affairs and future) than Sunni’s, who tend to be at the lower end of the scale in terms of economic and political power and influence.
News Analysis — Part Two
Throughout the region, Sunnis have been saying “enough is enough.” This is what created what has been called the Arab Spring, a region-wide uprising begun in December 201 in which, to date, “rulers have been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain, and Syria, major protests have broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan, and minor protests have occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, and Western Sahara,” according to the free-source online reference Wikipedia.
The Syrian revolt has been the most violent, with estimates that over 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting—with the number increasing daily. As recently as May 3 it was alleged by the government’s opposition that more than 40 people had been executed in al-Bayda, a village near the port of Baniyas in northwestern Syria, by forces loyal to the Assad regime. The government says the incident was caused by what it labels “terrorists” in the village.
Where Ideas About God Come In
The religious “angle” is not insignificant in all this. Members of the Alawite sect were long persecuted for their beliefs by the various rulers of Syria, until Hafez al-Assad took power there in 1970, a Wikipedia article asserts. When Hafez al-Assad died in 2000, his son Bashad al-Assad assumed the presidency much as a king’s son would assume the throne in a typical monarchy. Any opposition to this maneuver was systematically squelched. And so, for the past 50 years the political system has been dominated by an elite led by the Alawite Assad family.
Now the Free Syrian Army says al-Assad must go. It wants democratic free elections. But now, into the country are coming radical Islamic jihadists. They are flooding the towns and villages, entering by the thousands from elsewhere in the region, well financed by the broader Islamic jihadist movement.
These incoming revolutionaries are not nearly as concerned with the economic, social, and political issues in Syria as they are with the religious aspect of daily life there. They see the Syrian conflict as a battle for the survival of traditional, conservative Islam. Because bitterness has long simmered between Sunnis and Alawites, it is not difficult to find on-the-ground support in the poorer villages and towns of Syria as radical Islamists from other countries seek to turn the civil war in that nation into a religious jihad.
Interviewed by international media outlets, some of these mostly youthful jihadists are not reluctant to make it clear that their desire is to create an Islamic nation regionally — and that they are prepared to die in that effort. They see this as dying for Allah, whose traditional followers have been downtrodden and marginalized and warred against for decades, in their view.
A relatively new group of such jihadists has formed, calling itself Jabhat al-Nusra (“Support Front for the People”). It is said to be officially allied with al Qaeda in Iraq. A second group, the Syrian Islamic Front, is described by media outlets as an overarching body of divergent groups with an extremely conservative religious philosophy, not unlike the ideology of the Taliban.
Can outside radical Muslims turn Syria’s civil war — a battle for economic, social, and political equality — into a religious war, leading to the creation by fiat of a regional “Nation of Islam”?
So long as human beings insist on arguing about God, and about whose teachings with regard to God are the most “valid” and the most “sacred,” battles ignited by religion will continue to be waged across the Earth.
Might it be time for a New Spirituality to be explored across our planet? Might it be time for us to inspire such an exploration? Is it time for an Evolution Revolution?
My Dear Companions on the Journey…
Today’s “Are We Done Yet?” headline: U.S. SAYS SYRIAN GOVERNMENT MAY HAVE USED CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST ITS CITIZENS.
That headline follows by days the news of the Boston bombing, and the weeks of endless threats by North Korea of atomic warfare. Every morning humanity awakens to another in an endless succession of stories of violence or threats of violence by one group of human beings upon another.
As this continues, a central question looms larger and larger every day: How much longer must this go on before our species realizes that a fundamental shift in its ideas about itself is the only thing that will stop this endless slide toward our own self-destruction?
A report from National Public Radio says that “multiple reports in recent days have cited the possible use of chemical weapons around the Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo last month and an earlier one in Homs. Victims reportedly suffered burns, blisters, breathing problems, severe irritation to the eyes and even blindness.”
The NPR report was careful in noting that such symptoms may also be caused by conventional weapons of war. White phosphorus, for instance, is “a component in some artillery shells that is not a chemical weapon. It produces large clouds of smoke and can cause the types of injuries that have been reported,” the NPR report said.
Nevertheless, the assessment of other nations, not just the U.S. (among them, France, Great Britain, and Israel) is that some from of chemical weapon has likely been employed against the Syrian rebels by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
What will be the “Are We Done Yet?” headline tomorrow?
NEWS ANALYSIS – Part One
Are we done yet? Have we had enough yet? Are we ready now, at last, to do something about humanity’s inhumanity? What will it take for the human race to stand up en masse and say, “No more. We are done with this.”
Can we bring about the Miracle of the Ages? Is our species capable of creating a new world headline?
HUMANITY RENOUNCES SEPARATION
Human beings can split the atom, create a cure for disease, send a man to the moon and crack the genetic code of life itself. Yet, sadly, many people, perhaps the largest number, cannot do the simplest thing.
Why is this, do you imagine? Do you think it may have anything to do with the fact that we do not see ourselves as Family, but, rather, insist on telling ourselves a Story of Separation? Right now we are embracing a Separation Theology on this planet. Separation Theology is a way of looking at God that insists that we are “over here” and God is “over there.”
The problem with a Separation Theology is that it produces a Separation Cosmology. That is, a way of looking at all of life that says that everything is separate from everything else. And a Separation Cosmology produces a Separation Psychology. That is, a psychological viewpoint that says that I am over here and you are over there. And a Separation Psychology produces a Separation Sociology. That is, a way of socializing with each other that encourages the entire human society to act as separate entities serving their own separate interests. And a Separation Sociology produces a Separation Pathology. That is, pathological behaviors of self-destruction, engaged in individually and collectively, and producing suffering, conflict, violence, and death by our own hands—as evidenced everywhere on our planet throughout human history.
We can change all that. But the important element there is the word “we.” It will take many of us. Millions of us. But “we” can do it.
(In Part II of this analysis: No Fair. “The world is a better place than it has ever been.” Is this true?)
EDITOR’S NOTE: You may find it valuable and interesting to read two other articles on this Home Page. (1) OF ADDITIONAL INTEREST: One Possible Response to Violence in Our World; and (2) the article at the bottom on the right-hand column headlined And Finally…
My Dear and Wonderful Companions on the Journey…
As the world reflects on the events of these most recent days — from the bloodshed in Syria to the killing in Afghanistan to the bombing in Boston — and on all the terror and all the savagery and all the violence that has emerged from and through people of every race and creed during the course of its long history upon the Earth, the heart of humanity breaks, and the collective mind of humanity cries out…
“What will it take for us to stop ourselves from doing this? Are we truly primitives still, who have found no way to control our most barbaric impulses? Does our desperation remain so acute that we feel lashing out in murderous rage is justified, and is the only announcement of it we feel will be heard? Is there no way to ever, ever put an end to our species’ bestial behaviors?”
In fact, however, the question is larger than that. It is more pointed than that. The question of the day is: Even if there was a way, can we ever gather ourselves together in sufficient numbers to actually employ it? What, if anything, could cause us to unite at last in Singular Purpose?
So far, it has only been calamity.
News reports out of Boston have told of a whole city joining to bring comfort, aid, and succor to bombing victims and their families, and to heal the city itself from its shock and dismay. And so it is, everywhere on the planet where disaster strikes any community. Suddenly, our sense of community is given re-birth. Our humanity is reawakened.
Yet why must it take cataclysm and catastrophe to arouse our awareness of community? Is there nothing else that could cause us to relinquish our “story” of “separation” and embrace the truth of our oneness?
We could abandon our Story of Separation finally and forever. We could embrace the Story of Oneness at last and always.
All it would take would be numbers. Large numbers of people. All it would take would be a revolution on our planet. It would be the last revolution we would ever need. It would be the Evolution Revolution, and when it was complete, we would have civilized civilization.
I realize this is a big order. There have been massive social revolutions before. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led one for blacks. Gloria Steinem led one for women. Harvey Milk led one for gays. Mahatma Gandhi led one for an entire nation. Nelson Mandela did the same. And others have done so as well.
Yet now the time of individual revolutionaries has passed. It is the Moment of Movements, and movements are ignited by cohorts, cadres, corps. If a corps can be formed — a global cadre of inspired, motivated, engaged but gentle activists — humanity’s final great revolution, the Evolution Revolution, can and will sweep the planet.
How does such a revolution begin? By people sitting down together and talking about what it is they wish to change, and how they wish to change it. That is what The Conversation of the Century is all about.
Once again I should like to share something from Margaret J. Wheatley, author of Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future (2002).
This is a globally known consultant on organizational behavior. She received her doctorate from Harvard University, holds an M.A. in systems thinking from New York University, and has worked on every inhabited continent in virtually every type of organization.
In other words, Meg Wheatley knows her way around. Here’s what she says:
“There is no more powerful way to initiate significant social change than to start a conversation…We can take courage from the fact that this is a process we all know how to do. We can also take courage in the fact that many people are longing to converse again…Change doesn’t happen from someone announcing the plan. Change begins from deep inside a system, when a few people notice something they will no longer tolerate, or when they respond to someone’s dream of what’s possible.”
That is precisely, to the letter, what The Conversation of the Century is all about. And here is the Dream of What’s Possible: A new way of being human, arising from a New Cultural Story for Humanity: A Story of Oneness.
What is now being proposed is a global cohort — small groups of people meeting in their homes twice a month to, first, talk about, discuss, analyze and deeply explore the elements of Humanity’s New Cultural Story, and then, to place that story on the ground in cities, towns, and villages around the world, partly through a gentle but persistent brand of civic-social-spiritual activism that epitomizes the spirit of Victor Hugo’s immortal observation: All the armies of the world cannot stop an idea whose time has come.
Thus will be born the Evolution Revolution.
The Evolution Revolution is a spiritual activism outreach of Humanity’s Team, a global organization founded by Neale Donald Walsch, the author of the Conversations with God series of books and the creator of The Global Conversation internet newspaper. Information on joining the Evolution Revolution by initiating a Conversation of the Century action group may be had by writing to neale.donald.walsch@HumanitysTeam.org