Author Archives: Paul Nyklicek

American Narcotic

America has a serious addiction problem.

I’m not talking about the usual suspects of alcohol, tobacco, heroin, cocaine or marijuana. I’m not even talking about the epidemic of legal drug addiction to prescription medications. I’m speaking of our addiction to the use of deadly force to, at best, attempt at solving real problems and, at worst, feed our egos with delusions of righteousness, dominance and superiority. As a nation, we have so bought into the idea that using lethal force is good and right and necessary that it has become a kind of secular religion. Indeed, for many this is the foundation of our national “Greatness”. “Greatness” becomes defined as our capacity to be physically overpowering in order to get what we want. Many of us worship at the altar of Military Power and make unholy communion with Police Brutality. As a nation, we “entertain” ourselves by watching countless murders at the movies and on television. We perpetrate countless more in the multitude of video games we play.

Violence is the American Narcotic. Whether we are witnesses or perpetrators, it is our drug of choice.

A narcotic is usually understood as particular type of drug that induces and reinforces repetitive, destructive behavior. In other words, active addiction. The addiction process operates from a very primitive part of the human brain and bypasses the part of the brain that is associated with compassion and rational thinking. This primitive part of the brain is associated with what could be called the “small self” or the ego. This is the “I-Me-Mine” part of each of us. It is the part of my brain that believes that the universe revolves around me. “I am all-important and you don’t matter.” Not surprisingly, that is why people react with such disbelief when they see or hear of an addict acting as if they just don’t care about anyone else. In this case the difference is that the addiction to Narcotic Violence is not based on putting some type of substance in our bodies. It is an addiction to a particular type of experience.

Our national “brain” is impacted by State-sanctioned violence in the same way an individual addict’s brain is effected by their drug of choice. This has major implications for how we “think” and act as a nation. When our National Ego gets hurt we look for a way to self-medicate. So we do what we know best: We lash out. We identify an enemy and we attack them. We hurt them and we do a lot of damage to their world. We give ourselves a “rush” by re-asserting our dominance and our sense of righteous power. Then we feel better. This is our “brain” on drugs.

America is addicted to feeling righteous, powerful and dominant.

There is a memorable scene in the film “Raiders of the Lost Ark” that illustrates this point very clearly. Indiana Jones, the American hero of the story, is confronted in a Middle Eastern marketplace by a man dressed in a dark robe.  The robed man laughs menacingly as he begins twirling a large sword in a threatening manner. Indy pauses briefly, looks mildly annoyed, and calmly pulls out his gun and kills the man with a single shot. There is enthusiastic applause when “our hero”, the character who is supposed to represent us “good-guy” Americans, commits murder without a hint of remorse or regret.

How did it come to this?

As a nation we were born in bloodshed.  Our very existence began with a revolution of violence that should not have succeeded and yet it did. We were Rocky Balboa knocking out Apollo Creed. Our national ancestors were the rebels that somehow defeated the far more powerful empire.

The irony is that America has become a much more powerful version of the very empire it once defeated.

Is God really on our side?

During the course of our nation’s history, we increasingly saw ourselves as the world’s best hope. How could it be otherwise?  How else could we have won our independence unless God was on our side?  Clearly ours must be a divinely-supported destiny.  When we believe that God is on our side we don’t question our authority and use of power. When the power of the State is beyond question the exercising of the power to intimidate, control and destroy is unrestricted.

Here begins our toxic mythology of so-called American Exceptionalism. This is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. This our narrative of how we are the “chosen ones” to lead the world to a better way of life. Sadly, it is also a mythology that has been built upon the oppression and exploitation of various disadvantaged groups throughout our history. It is a mythology that rests upon the genocide of Native Americans (ask Native Americans if they think “genocide” is too strong a term) at the hands of uninvited European immigrants. It stands upon the indefensible terrorism of kidnapping non-Europeans from other lands and selling them into slavery. It weighs heavily on the violence, both subtle and obvious, against women. This is by no means a complete list.

So begins our addiction to the American Narcotic, the American Way of Violence: “This is America and this is How We Solve Problems and Get Things Done.” When we see something as a Problem we declare “War” on it and quickly get into combat mode. We have declared a War on Poverty, a War on Cancer, a War on Drugs, and, of course, we now have the perpetual-motion machine known as the War on Terror (recently re-branded as the War on Radical Islam). It’s as if we only have one pair of glasses that we see through but instead of rose-colored glasses we keep putting on our War-Colored glasses.

As a nation, America has lived in a delusional bubble in which we think we “know better” and are entitled to more than anyone outside our bubble, anyone who isn’t one of US.

If we are truly to be a Great Nation, our greatness cannot be built on a foundation of oppression and exploitation. No pathological addiction can lead to greatness that is healthy or legitimate. Real Greatness can only be supported by a foundation of compassion and generosity that applies to everyone without exception. We have always had, and we still have, an abundance of the raw materials we need for this kind of foundation.

How do we, as the people who form this nation, recover from our dependency on the American Narcotic?

I believe we need to begin by recognizing and admitting that we have become an Addict Nation. Our denial needs to end. The delusional bubble that keeps us cycling through the lies of our superiority needs to pop. These are lies that we have absorbed and believed for far too long.

As Americans we need to openly admit that we are not smarter or better than anyone else in the world. We need to publicly reject the lie of American Exceptionalism. We need to to come clean and sincerely admit to the mistakes we have made as a nation and the suffering we have caused throughout our history.

We need to ask to be forgiven by all those who we have hurt by our dependency on the American Narcotic. We must be prepared to receive the anger of those we have caused to suffer so much. We need to accept the hatred and rejection of anyone who has been harmed by US.

We must continue to be very honest with ourselves. We need to be honest about our vulnerability to relapsing. There will be a strong temptation to escape back into our delusional bubble of superiority. Resisting this temptation won’t be easy because it means feeling our own pain and being aware of how much suffering we have caused others.

This is genuine humility and it is the price of real greatness.

Burkini Bans and Sit-Down Stands

What is going on here?

This past summer, on a beach in France, a Muslim woman was confronted by police and required to remove part of her burkini in accordance with a prohibition on such religious swimwear. Meanwhile, on the west coast of the United States, a professional football player remained seated for the playing of the national anthem before a pre-season game. He was quickly vilified in the media.

What do these apparently disconnected events have to do with each other?

They represent different forms of systemic discrimination: racism, sexism, and religious prejudice.

Some have argued that the reason for the burkini ban is actually to legally reject the religiously-based objectification of women. If true, this may have some merit but the problem here is the government’s stance of “it’s for your own good that we enforce your compliance”. In other words: We have to strip you of your freedom in order to protect your freedom. This is also problematic in that it does not take into account that at least some women may want to wear the burkini of their own free will.

There is also reason to suspect general anti-Muslim sentiments within the population. France has experienced a number of terrorist attacks in recent years that have been associated with Islam. It is understandable that some people could come to fear and suspect a Muslim person of being a potential terrorist in light of this recent history.

There is also something rather sexist about the burkini ban: It aims to specifically regulate women and how they may present themselves in public. There does not seem to be a corresponding regulation concerning how a Muslim man may or may not be attired at the beach. Consider for a moment how you would feel if the Muslim woman on the beach happened to be your sister or your mother or your wife or your daughter being forced by male police officers to remove any article of her clothing.

Halfway around the world we have a well-known professional football player who decided that he will not stand up for the national anthem of the United States of America. This has shifted from sitting to a more symbolically powerful kneeling posture. He has stated that this is in protest of the racial injustices in the United States. His actual statement is as follows:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

He expresses recognition that there may be painful consequences that he will have to face as a result:

“I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people who are oppressed….If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

Refusing to stand for the national anthem is not the first time someone in America has taken a stand by sitting down. The individual’s body language quite clearly expresses: “I won’t stand for the status quo of injustice and oppression.” It was true when Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat on the bus decades ago and it is true now.

While some have expressed support for this protest, the backlash has been considerable. Many have referred to this person as a “traitor” and expressed outrage that this professional athlete would show such disrespect to the men and women of the armed forces and domestic law enforcement. He has also reportedly received death threats for his actions.

Some expressions of public outrage are variations of the following:

“How dare he refuse to stand for the national anthem!”

“The real heroes of this country sacrifice their lives so this guy can make millions playing a game once a week.”

There is, of course, this inevitable expression of indignant anger:

“If he doesn’t like it here he should go live somewhere else!”

We want our celebrities, our star athletes, our popular entertainers to know their place! We get angry when they cross the line and go beyond their assigned roles in our society. We don’t want anyone who might be a role-model to rock the boat and make existing social power structures unstable (and the people who maintain them and benefit from them uncomfortable). We want Muhammed Ali to shut up and box. We want Marlon Brando to accept his Oscar and thank everyone instead of refusing it in protest. We want the Dixie Chicks to shut up and play their music. We don’t want well-known, well-liked public figures to challenge The System. It makes us uncomfortable to consider that, in our apathy, we may be complicit with some injustice. We want our discomfort to go away and so we want the reminders to go away.

The clear implication here is that a wealthy celebrity is ineligible to express thoughtful dissent by virtue of the fact that he or she is rich and famous. The logical extension of this formula is that only people who are relatively poor and unknown have the right to voice their opposition to any social injustice. Of course, relatively poor and unknown people are much easier to ignore and control. The paparazzi do not hound them for pictures, videos or sound bites so they are not much of a threat.

“Bad apples.”

When the status quo of society-as-a-whole is threatened by accusations of unethical behavior it has become almost obligatory for representatives of the social order move into “damage control” mode. One way that this is done is by conceding that there is some validity to the accusations but that this is because of a “few bad apples.” This means that the problem only exists on an individual level. The “game” itself, it’s rules and goals are maintained as right and worthy of continuation. The point of this kind of diversion is to sacrifice a few pawns to save the King and the Queen and the “monarchy” as a whole. The System, the Established Order, is to be preserved at any cost. If this means throwing a few individuals under the bus, so be it.

When injustice is institutionalized it becomes part of The System. It becomes the social norm. When systemic injustice is operational (e.g. apartheid, the Abu Ghraib prison) it automatically emboldens individuals who represent The System to go beyond the limits of decency when it comes to their interaction with any minority group. A minority group is viewed as the fictional “them” contrasted to the “us” of the majority faction. “They” are categorized as the source of the Problem so the Solution is to control “them” or maybe even get rid of “them”. Unfortunately, history provides us with many examples of this kind of “Problem Solving.”

Why do we prefer to blame a few individuals (e.g. criminals) and remain functionally blind to the structural flaws (e.g. consumerism, militarism, racism, poverty, etc.) in our social system?

Maybe it’s just easier to blame individuals and make them the villains as opposed to solving social problems on a systemic level. That way “they” have to be responsible for the problems and “we” are off the hook. Owning personal responsibility takes much more work than blaming someone else. In addition, we may have a strong reluctance to accepting that, as individuals, we are significantly influenced by group dynamics (pressure to conform to social norms). We want to believe that we make up our own minds and choose our own actions in life. This, however, is only part of the truth. The other part of the truth is that, as human beings, we are social animals and we are greatly influenced by our environment and the social dynamics within it.

Not only is it easier to address the symptoms of a problem rather than to deal with its root causes but it also allows those who benefit the most from the inequities of the existing social structure to keep enjoying those benefits. The King and Queen know full well how important it is for them to keep the game going. That’s how they maintain their “royal” status.

If the structural inequities of society are addressed on a systemic level it would lead to a significant shift in how economic and political power are actually distributed. That is the crux of the problem. The individuals and groups who currently hold and wield such power are very reluctant to voluntarily relinquish their power for the common good. The truth is that the existing social, economic, and political power structures cannot hold if the level of noncooperation starts approaching 10% of the general population. That’s the tenuousness of the established social structure.

When The System gets greedy and goes too far and pushes people too much, it inspires resistance and rebellion. People become aware that they have little left to lose and potentially a lot to gain. Refusing to cooperate, refusing to keep playing the game becomes the most reasonable course of action. Noncooperation becomes a direct assault on the legitimacy of the Established Order. I suspect that’s why dictators cannot tolerate being ridiculed. The message within the ridicule says:

“The game you’re running is a joke. I won’t take it seriously anymore. I won’t play your game anymore. I won’t take you seriously as long as you try to keep the game going.”

The ego of the authoritarian is so inflated that it becomes quite fragile and vulnerable to humiliation. They find being laughed at more threatening than any Weapon of Mass Destruction.

So, what is going on here?

People are getting very tired of being pushed around and mistreated. While the “game” can be seen as a joke, the suffering of those caught up in the game is no joke at all. They are looking for, and finding, different ways to respond to injustice and oppression. They know that they cannot match the materialistic power of the King and Queen. They cannot fight fire with fire and hope to actually change anything. The fires of injustice and oppression need to be put out with water of a very different caliber. This is the water that heals rather than hurts the perpetrator, that reconciles us with each other instead of dividing us against each other. It is the water of sacrificial love and genuine compassion directed relentlessly at the arsonists. The purpose is not to drown the oppressors but rather to wake them up from the old fairy tales of “survival of the fittest” and “us vs. them”. This is the water that wakes the dreamer from the obsolete nightmare.

Who Owns Our Children?

The United States of America has quietly declared that its citizens’ children are Government Property.

The U.S. Senate recently passed a Bill (2017 NDAA) which seeks to establish, as law, several items pertinent to U.S. military operations. Among those provisions is the elimination of the exemption for women from Selective Service registration (a.k.a. draft registration). Since 1980, young men, upon turning 18, have been required to register with the Selective Service. Failure to do so carries various penalties: no driver’s license, no student loans, and no government employment. As a special bonus: non-compliance brings the possibility of being arrested and incarcerated for up to 5 years as well as possible fines up to $250,000.00.

If this Bill is fully approved, young women will also need to register with Selective Service when they turn 18. They will presumably face the same penalties if they choose not to comply.

“Selective Service” is one of many government-speak euphemisms that is essentially a fresh coat of paint on a condemned building. The old term for this euphemism is conscription. The dictionary definition of conscription is: “compulsory enrollment of persons especially for military service: draft”. The modern qualifier “selective” misleadingly implies that one is making a choice to serve. In truth the individual has no choice. Government does all the selecting.

Selective Service registration is unnecessary, coercive and dehumanizing.

Some have argued that registration is really not a big deal. We have not had an actual draft since 1973 when U.S. involvement in Vietnam ended and draft registration was discontinued for the remainder of that decade. Since then the U.S.military has maintained itself quite adequately with an all-volunteer force. It can be argued that registration is nothing than more than a bureaucratic dance between young Americans and the federal government. Kids fill out the paperwork at the Post Office or online and then forget about it. The sales pitch proclaims: “Men…You can handle this.” The implication here is that this task will not put too much physical or mental strain on them. The other parts of the marketing campaign appeal to the young person’s sense of morality (“It’s the right thing to do.”) and need for obedience to State Authority (“It’s the law.”).

If it is not really such a big deal, if it is really nothing more than filling out a simple form then why make an issue of it? Why not just comply with the law and not worry about it? On the other hand, if the actual draft is really a thing of the past, why not just get rid of it? Why not let it be a thing of the past?

The argument has been put forth that if the United States were ever attacked, the government and military would need a system in place to have efficient access to young Americans to be placed into military service. The premise, theoretically, is that not enough young people would volunteer to fight if our nation was threatened. This makes drafting the non-volunteers a necessity. It’s a matter of National Security.

Please notice how all such discussions are expected to be settled simply by declaring that one’s position is vital to National Security!

This argument in favor of maintaining draft registration is somewhat plausible except for the fact that it is wrong! It is wrong because the United States was attacked (we efficiently remember it as 9-11) and we subsequently went to war (and have stayed at war) in the Middle East. As a nation, we have remained actively engaged in warfare in multiple countries for well over a decade. Under these conditions, there has been no need whatsoever to return to an active military draft to recruit additional young people to wear the uniform and “fight for their country.” In fact, the number of young Americans volunteering for military service increased after 9-11 (just as it did after Pearl Harbor).
The U.S. Armed Services recruitment has come a long way from “Uncle Sam wants you!” to the sophisticated marketing techniques currently used to enlist new volunteers. Today’s military advertising is very slick, very Madison Avenue and very effective.

So with the failure of this rationale for maintaining draft registration, what are we left with to explain not only the requirement for young men to register but now also to include young women in this process? What remains is the subtle assertion (if you don’t look too closely or think about it too much) that our children are Government Property. This claim is the result of a highly coercive arrangement by which young people must “voluntarily” sign a government contract in which they agree to serve in the military should the time ever come when they are told to do so:

“In exchange for the State Privileges of driving a car and getting student loans (that I will have to pay back at an obscenely high interest rate when I get out of school and start working at my entry-level job), I_______________ , agree that, whenever I may be called upon to do so, I will serve as cannon fodder for the American Empire. I agree to go where I’m told, do what I’m told to do, kill whoever I’m told to kill, and willingly die painfully and prematurely as may be required.”

As a parent, I am obviously biased on this issue. I do not want my children risking their lives while they try to kill other parents’ children while those other parents’ kids are trying to kill my kids. The mouthpieces of government policy and their corporate media partners euphemistically refer to soldiers as “boots on the ground” as if they are chess pieces to be strategically manipulated to win “the game.” Those “boots” are filled with the barely-grown-up children of mothers and fathers everywhere. These young people are our children and yet we do not own them. They are not our property.

This system has very little to do with patriotism. It has a great deal to do with government exercising control over what it sees as its property. When the government of any nation treats its citizens as property to be managed and utilized it dehumanizes and commodifies the very people without whom there would be no nation. When people are dehumanized in this way it reduces the nation to the status of a mere machine. Citizens are reduced to consumers.

Any system, any corporate entity, that acts to reduce human beings to objects is wrong and deserves a response of nonviolent, noncooperation. Rather than including young women in the mandatory draft registration process as some expression of phony equality, the entire system should be eliminated for all American citizens.

As a society and as parents we bear the responsibility for our children until they are ready to bear that weight themselves. That is the cost of personal freedom. This freedom is not a privilege that our “adult” society bestows upon each new generation but rather it is the repayment of our debt to the generations that came before us and sacrificed for us. It is not the current generation of young people that owe something to the current generation of adults in this world but rather it is the current generation of adults that owe something to the generations of parents who preceded us. Their grandchildren and great grandchildren are our responsibility and not the property of any person or any government.

No one owns our children.

Talking to Christians

My fellow Radicals and Subversives in Christ:  I am so very glad to be with you!

Why do I refer to you this way?  I know that those words may make some of you uncomfortable. I assure you that that is not my goal.

My point is simply this:  The One that we are privileged to follow was and is the greatest radical and subversive who has ever walked on the surface of planet Earth.

Did he support the socio-economic and political status quo of his time? Hardly. He taught and demonstrated a radical departure from the social and political systems established by human beings.  He actively subverted The System of Empire. In response to his radicalism and subversiveness, he was captured, convicted and tortured to death by that Empire.

Why was he a threat to The Establishment?  I suggest that his primary threat was in his challenge to their assertion that they were God. Jesus countered that only God is God and that no human political or military leader or system is any sort of god at all.  That posed a major threat to their power base.  Therefore “The System” moved to eliminate this threat.

What does this mean for us now?

We are called to follow Jesus. He didn’t ask us to adore him or worship him. He told us to follow him.  How can we interpret this directive?  We can follow his example behaviorally.  We can do our best to act as he did. We can follow his teachings and do our best to cultivate an internal attitude similar to his and practice corresponding external behavior.

I believe that following Jesus means following his path of Radical Love. What is radical about his kind of love?  At the Last Supper, he told his disciples to “Love one another as I have loved you.”  This is his instruction as to how we are to love each other (and love ourselves).  He did not direct them (or us) to love any old way. He specifically tells them (and us) to follow his example and do it his way.

So what does it mean to love the way he taught and demonstrated?

He tells us to love those who hurt us. He tells us to turn the other cheek to those who have hit us already. He tells us to love our enemies.  Even as he is being tortured to death on the cross he expresses:  “Father forgive them. They know not what they do.”  He provides a live demonstration even as he is dying. His way of loving is so counter-intuitive, so alien to us.   It would seem that he wants us to actively forgive and love everyone who hurts us.

When we use the words “radical” and “subversive” it’s important to ask:  A radical departure from what?  Attempting to subvert what existing system or situation?

I would argue that the radicalism and subversiveness of Jesus was and is this kind of “movement” away from the Violence of Lies and toward the Reality of True Love. It is the conscious subversion of the idolatry of worshiping The-State-as-if-it’s-God.

Does this mean that we are called to do likewise? I think it does. I think it means that we need to recognize the various ways that each of us is invited or coerced into deifying and worshiping phony gods in our everyday lives.

Who and what are these phony gods?

Who are the individuals that are promoted as heroes in the public eye? Who are those that are advertised as great and powerful that the rest of us are supposed to cheer for and adore? What are we repeatedly told to buy and buy into? What are we directed to glorify by those with materialistic power? What are the institutions and products that are endlessly marketed as “must have” if we are to be acceptable as human beings?

Who wants us to be afraid?

Phony gods.

If we choose to follow Christ, we commit to the path that is a radical departure from the System of Empire and the lies that sustain it. We commit to a path that is a radical movement toward the Unity of Real Love. We express and accept the “Yes!” to who and what we truly are: Manifestations of Love.

If we choose to make this claim, we can expect to be labelled as “subversive” by the world of phony gods. If we take this stand, we should expect The System of Empire to react with violence of some kind. That is consistent with its philosophy. We must be prepared for this reaction.

No empire likes to be told that its “new clothes” are an illusion!

My fellow radicals and subversives, we have choices to make.

We can choose to conform to the System of Empire and enjoy the materialistic comforts that come with it. This option requires behavioral obedience to The Establishment as well as psychological acceptance of its worldview. We must do and think and feel as we are told.

There is another choice.

We can choose to follow Christ’s Way.

This means letting go of the Temptation Traps of the human ego. These are traps like: “I want what I want when I want it” and “I”m more deserving than you” and “Us vs. Them”. It means accepting discomforts we may be unaccustomed to and suffering rejections and criticisms from both strangers and loved ones. It means embracing a lifestyle of all-inclusive compassion and forgiveness. It is a matter of choosing what is real instead of a hollow fantasy. It is a matter of choosing love over fear, freedom over slavery.

It is the choice of redemptive nonviolence over non-redemptive violence.

My fellow Radicals and Subversives in Christ, we have choices to make.

Letter to a Terrorist

Desperate One,

I want you to stop killing and destroying.

What do you want?

That is the question that many might ask you if they took the time.

It is obvious that you want others to be afraid and to suffer. The real question is: Why? What do you hope to achieve by terrorizing? Your actions are a means to an end, are they not? Your willingness to die for your cause points to some higher purpose, some worthy goal deserving of great sacrifice. Have you made this clear? Have you expressed what you really want? If you have, I have not heard you. If that is the case I apologize. Please tell me again.

There are better ways for us to problem-solve.

There are some who would prefer to deny the truth of your humanity. There are those who want to quickly dehumanize you into nothing more than a vicious animal that needs to be exterminated. Frankly, that’s a big mistake. It’s a blinding perspective born out of fear and ignorance. The real truth is that you are just as human as I am.

That’s what makes you really scary. You show me a part of myself.

It would be so much easier if you were actually a monster. If you were a monster then I could believe that I am not like you. Such a fantasy! The truth is that neither of us is a monster and yet we are both capable of such monstrous behaviors, aren’t we? The other side of the coin is equally true: You and I are both capable of rising above our destructiveness. We are both capable of living up to our Higher Nature. You and I need to get past the limiting illusions of our Fear and Anger which keeps us living a Lie of Separateness. We need to move into the truth of our Real Unity and the Logical Compassion that is its hallmark.

Once we establish our common ground we also have to acknowledge that each of us has legitimate needs and desires. Many people skip over this part of the story. Many just assume. They assume that you are only a thoughtless killer lacking any shred of decency or conscience. That makes it much easier for people to hate you and to support those who want to kill you. It’s so much easier for people if they think you are so different from them. If they realized that you basically want what they want it would make hating you a lot more difficult.

You have a family and friends just like I do, don’t you? I’m guessing you want to be happy and live a long and meaningful life, just as I do. You probably want to see your children grow up to be healthy and happy in their lives. You want to enjoy your grandchildren someday, don’t you? I think we are probably much more alike than we are different. So why is it so much easier to focus on our differences? Are they really more important than what we have in common?

So what is it that motivates you to kill and destroy? What makes you willing to commit suicide for your cause? Martin Luther King once said: “a riot is the language of the unheard”. Perhaps it can also be said that acts of terrorism are the language of the unheard.

If I start to hear you and understand you, will you stop what you’re doing?

I am desperate, too.

I’m desperate for our collective madness to stop. I’m desperate to end the suffering that we both keep manufacturing. I know I need to take a good, hard look in the mirror and see how I have been contributing to our shared problem. I’m a fool if I think that it’s “all your fault”. I need to take full responsibility for my part. I want you to do the same. We are part of the same family and the highest responsibility of all family members is to love each other.

It is high time that we both live up to that responsibility.

That Which Is Not God

That Which is Not God would have me believe in illusions and lies,
It would have me believe that I live in a “Kill or Be Killed” world,
It wants me to think that I am unimportant and a burden to others,
It wants me to think that I am separate and different from everyone else.

It wants me to feel weak and alone,
It wants me to believe that I am nothing without it.

What can be said to something that pretends to be so powerful?
What can be said to something that pretends to be so scary?
What can be said to something that pretends to be invincible?
What can be said to That Which is Not God?

There is a moment that emerges, a moment in which Reality pivots.
This is the moment where nothing looks any different and everything has changed,
The tiniest speck of time and space that contains all of Creation.
No one sees it coming and then it appears.
This is the moment of True Discovery,
The moment that the “impossible” is seen for the lie that it is.

It is the Moment of Confrontation and Declaration:

Whoever is aiming a weapon at me is Not God
Drones and nuclear warheads are Not God
The Pentagon is Not God
The President of the United States is Not God
The CIA is Not God
The NSA is Not God
The TSA is Not God
The IRS is Not God
The IMF is Not God
The Federal Reserve Bank is Not God
Money is Not God
Corporations are Not God
No empire is God and never will be.

The Real “War on Christmas”

I am somehow both astonished and not at all surprised at the so-called “War on Christmas” that has again surfaced in the public consciousness. This time around the epicenter of the quake is a red paper coffee cup. In years past I recall that the storm was all about whether or not it was appropriate for people working in stores to wish their customers “Merry Christmas”.

There is a Real War on Christmas that’s been going on for a long time. It’s obvious and it’s subtle. It’s taking place thousands of miles from here and it’s taking place a very short walk from wherever you are. It’s all around us and it’s within us.

We declare War on Christmas when accept that buying things in stores is what the season is all about. When we accept that “that’s just the world we live in” and conform to the social expectation that says “shop ‘til you drop” we declare War on Christmas. When we wait in line for the hour the door opens to storm into some big box store for Black Friday “deals” we declare War on Christmas. The ensuing mad rush to get something off the shelf before someone else can is the modern blitzkrieg in the War on Christmas.

We engage in War on Christmas when we hold onto our resentments and refuse to forgive on the grounds that those who have wronged us don’t deserve it. We stay at War with Christmas when we keep our hearts hardened and cling to our belief that we are “right” and anyone who doesn’t see it our way can take a long walk off a short pier. When we don’t consider the equal dignity of all who are not practicing Christians we also guilty of waging War on Christmas. We perpetuate this war by the arrogant assumption that ours is a “Christian Nation” and if someone doesn’t have a membership card to the “club” they’ll just have to scrape by as best they can. Or they are told to “go back to wherever they came from if they don’t like it here”. Allegiance to the “us vs. them” propaganda is jet fuel on the fire in the War on Christmas.

We put an end to the war on Christmas when we slow down enough to smile and say a kind word to people we don’t know as well as to those we love most dearly. We put an end to the War on Christmas when we remember that every human being everywhere is our brother and sister. We end this war when we live up to our birthright as creatures made out of love, made for love, and designed to love each other and ourselves. We end the war when we no longer allow ourselves to be blinded by our hatred and fear. We end it when we connect to the truth that every one of us is part of and belongs to all of creation. Peace is ours when we realize that we are all part of the same crazy, wonderful, and mysterious family.

So drink your coffee from any cup of any color that makes your heart sing. Wish anyone you like a “Merry Christmas”. Or smile and wish them “Happy holidays”. Or if you want to be particularly subversive you can wish people “Happy Holy Days”. Or just smile and wish them a “Good day!”. But don’t mistake Christmas for something that comes from a coffee shop or a retail store.