Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mark this well, you proud men of action!

"Mark this well, you proud men of action! you are, after all, nothing but unconscious instruments of the men of thought." - Hebbel

I am reading the biography of John Adams, and feel somehow kindred. Perhaps that is bold and silly to say, but we grow only as we believe we grow, and we are fashioned by our heroes.

Yesterday Jason, Ben, Laren, Chris, Zach, Kimmy and I sat around a lunch table by the ocean for 5 hours discussing the world we want to see in 100 years. And how that hundred year vision could be wrought in some small way in the spring of 2012.

"Intention is everything" as Jason has become fond of saying. And he is right. We must unscale our eyes from the lies of what is, and see what could be. And not wait, but build such a nation now. As Gandhi took to the sea to make his own salt. As Adams and Washington and Hamilton and Jefferson sparred over old and new ideas become one.

All this talk of principles and vision makes my eyes glaze over. I start to lose the forest for the thickness of the brush. But then, as Steinbeck says, the black reasoning comes to me in the morning.

I am utterly convinced that in 100 years, the current use of free market capitalism and the abuse of natural resources in the worship of growth will be looked upon with the same disgust as we now see the economy of slavery.

Not because capitalism is wrong, but because it's lordship is endowed by a fiction: namely that growth is success.

But despair is not my motif. One thing I love about capitalism is that it is mindless, and therefore will not be offended when it is replaced with a sustainable and downstream logical framework. Even the most hardcore of free market lovers knows that when resources become scarce to a degree of danger, we will adapt. And perhaps this is still Capitalism... for when it changes to the will of the people, it will have done what it always promised: to blindly reflect the freedom of individual choice.

I only mourn the smallness of the massive mind to count the cost of what is lost as the dumb fat worm chews the stalk that holds it up. Jeremy Rifkin believes we may already be too late. God stands above us and winces, though he wrote this play. Take heart.

I am fired up because I read this > http://www.organicconsumers.org/btc/berry.cfm

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Talk is sound

Political theory and the summersault acrobatics of language make me tired. It seems to me the human mind can hardly hold on to complicated ideas, and so it clings to simple ones uncluttered with inconvenient facts or circumstances. It can with athletic ease disregard information that challenges assumptions and cling with blood-ties to fragments of truth that support a pre-conceived universe.

Like 'the free market is the answer. If you take away people's money, they won't have incentive to work hard, and besides, if the government can't spend money responsibly, why would we give it to them.'


'the rich are poisonous vacuums that hoard and support a wealth gap that suffocates the poor in an endless cycle.. until the gap is so severe that the poor rise up, overthrow the aristocracy, and redistribute by force.'

and so we get the endless unconstructive cycle of debate that gives shape to partisanship and stagnation.

This same calcification of thought, i.e. the exchange of holistic understanding for informative cherry picking, is not just seen in politics. It is seen in religion. It is seen in family history and the disappointments of family. It is why we stay angry at a sibling for years, or our mother, or a friend. It is why we stop asking questions in our twenties and hang like weak handed children to a few facts that sound right in a dinner argument.

What if we clung to the first and second commandments of Jesus? That alone is a life's work. Instead we cling to Ayn Rand or John Piper.

I'm speaking out of both sides of my mouth.

Because I believe people cling to two types of simple things.

1. Simple fragments of truth that make men fools. These are used as weapons to maintain a status as 'right.'
2. Simple foundations of truth that make men great. These are used as quiet humble fuel for action and example.

All this talk engages me, challenges me to take part in the constructive dialogue (if it exists) of building a better future... because the founding fathers of America believed that ideas could change the system, and they did.

I also believe this to be true:

“Mark this well, you proud men of action! You are, after all, nothing but unconscious instruments of the men of thought.” – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

And so I think.

But I get tired...

and see great merit in leaving my hat on a hook at the front door, stepping out of my living room, and living amongst the real problems of real people.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thoughts on the Fourth Estate and my time in an RV that followed.

How do you digest a hurricane? How do you swallow the moon and the earth lit up by the moon? Some things are too big, too inextricably bound up in the world to be consumed. I want to know The Fourth Estate. A conference designed to spark an ideological movement: a commitment to global citizenship and responsibility to justice. I want to analyze and categorize it. But it cannot be held in my hands because there were too many miracles in the orchestra to hold.

Each individual experience, the unique events of every life and the wash of one video on one pair of eyes and a speaker’s words on another. I will never know the stories, the ruffles of the heart that were the very moment of a life change, or the seed falling in the crack of stone, invisible for years, only to grow into a mighty tree in years I will not know.

I held the face of new loves, cried with them as we said goodbye, I hugged a million works of art and wrote my name in books that will hold the words of great men and women not yet written.

I spoke with my heroes, listened to them address and articulate a future and a present and the human condition.

I heard great minds give credit to science for life, to God, to something more but not quite God. Each man, each woman bringing her motivation, the deeper hunger, to the stage, inviting each member of The Fourth Estate to take the wild wonderous magic of living seriously, the profound duty to examine the phenomenon of existence and behave with intention. Intention is everything.

If these members walked out a bit dizzy, stumbling over thoughts too big for the brain, we have done our job. If these members walked out convinced of nothing except the dignity of human beings and a desire to protect that dignity, then we have done our job.

If these members exchange self-serving profit for life-serving purpose, if they see their lives as part of a living body, and not an ignorant cancer, we have done our job.

If we prioritize worthy things, and marginalize unworthy things. If we celebrate beauty and mystery and belonging, and if we critique abuse, the rape of the human soul and the natural world, the fragmented fiction that my choices are separate from yours… then we have done our job.

If we stop blaming injustice on laziness, culture, and history, and start solving injustice with love and focused attention, then we have done our world a service.

And if there is a God, He will be well pleased.

As I traveled the east coast in an RV, celebrating Brady’s bar exam, exploring the Carolina’s and sitting at Lincoln’s feet in DC and walking the streets of New York with Orion (a fresh poet’s eyes seeing the temple of man for the first time), I carried with me the glory of The Fourth Estate. The sense of purpose, the crater of impact scarring my face and shoulders with value. It was a haunted drive, my thoughts present in the Charleston rain and above the clouds in the lingering ghosts of the prior week. It was the perfect meal: swallowing the moon with brothers of chosen blood and adventure, digesting the hurricane that circles inside me, wrecks the islands of doubt and rests its quiet eye over my heart.