If I believe what I read online, it occasionally feels like the country is debating whether the American experiment should come to an end. There are burning homes, police stations, even the sacred capitalist temple, Target. And truly, I would have thought the horror could never get worse than with Tamir Rice. Not even a minute goes by after officers arrive on the scene before a child is murdered for having an airsoft gun. At least George Floyd got to experience his life, albeit more briefly than warranted. Warrants, now aren’t those starting to seem like a foreign concept? But never fear, the Bill of Rights is merely an old list on a piece of parchment. In fact, since our rights as humans are just granted by the Leviathan our Founding Fathers created in the place of the monarchy, they can be taken away by that same governing body. They are conditional, and change with the times, right?
I think not. Lives are lost, rights are eroded, and a standing army is placed on the American soil to protect a nation-state with no respect for the best interests of her citizens. We are told that this is for our safety, as we have 12,000 to 15,000 deaths on a yearly basis from gun violence. A big number indeed, especially when one considers that 600 or 700 are children younger than 11. But in the grand scheme of things, you are far more likely to die of heart disease or a traffic accident in the obese yet constantly moving society we live in. And so, while we pay attention to the coronavirus or the last interracial homicide by police, the nation is looted by banks, politicians, and their billionaire friends who have been cut a cheque, in order to stimulate the economy. There always is enough money to prevent lost jobs and to build bombs, but never (so it seems) to feed, house, and care for people with dignity and grace.
“The minority of people who own and control our economic system have some such differences among themselves, but they often find ways to tolerate them, especially if such unity allows them to work together to protect their economic and political power. This powerful elite has also proved quite adept at nurturing deep and multiple antagonisms around such differences among various sectors of the working class: ‘Divide and conquer!’” - The Third American Revolution: How Socialism Can Come to the United States, Paul Le Blanc
As power consolidates, so too do the interests of the powerful. This consolidation can be seen in the complete dominance of companies including Jeff Bezos’ Amazon. Amazon is already a more essential business than the small local stores frantically trying to offer competition. Eventually Amazon will be guaranteed a bailout just like the Bank of America, to save the GDP. And yet, we the people are to be grateful to get farm subsidies in the way of SNAP, or cronied subsidies by means of welfare for specific low income housing. People in power have determined that never shall the dirty underclass be permitted a bottom up stimulus to replace the social safety net designed with a paternalist instinct. Those representatives seem to believe that the average citizen would use a free market stimulus far more unwisely than a large corporation’s senior executives would use an interest free loan.
Occasionally, I find it peculiar how evil socialism has become as a word. Of course, historically nationalization of an economy has resulted in famine or other destruction everywhere from Venezuela to the USSR to China. Yet it appears that socialism is reasonable in the hallowed land of the United States of America, at least in order to financially support and protect the property of individuals who have proven themselves superior under the watchful eyes of the dear representatives of our free market system. We lowly citizens should behave graciously due to the employment we have been granted to provide for our food and shelter and maybe, if we are lucky, a trip to the hospital.
Grace is a core aspect of being a warrior which I’m concerned is being lost in the training of the militarized police force we Americans are blessed to have standing by, enforcing our laws. Never mind private property, get inside citizen. Never mind private property, forfeit assets citizen. Should one not comply, light ‘em up. At least that seems to be the attitude of the Minneapolis police seen above. After all, what can the disarmed peasants do anyway? And even if they were armed and organized, we can be grateful for the precedent of drone striking American citizens. Grace, honor, and training. A warrior's job is endless, for you are trusted with not just your life but the lives of those who rely on self-control for the safety of their lives. Perhaps these kind of careers in civil service require the discipline of martial arts.
“As warriors, we have a moral obligation to attend to the cause of honor. We have a responsibility to see that justice is served in any area in which our duty leads us. But right and wrong are not so black and white as the supposed moral paragons would have us believe. And the call of honor does not entitle us to meddle in areas in which we have no business, responsibility, or direct knowledge. “Our society is addicted to the scent of scandal, and most people eagerly assume the worst when a questionable situation begins to surface. Too often they leap to attack others they think have violated some point of law or morality, without knowing the facts. Of course, when we have direct knowledge of injustice, we have a responsibility to speak out, to right any wrong within our sphere of control. But blindly condemning someone in our own court of opinion isn’t justice, it’s defamation.” - Living the Martial Way, 278, Forrest E. Morgan
It is because we need to know the facts and that right and wrong is not black and white that we have a justice system. The concept of a just justice system is negated if one is to remove any aspect of a trial by a jury of one’s peers, the concept of individual guilt, and the presumption of innocence. Frankly, a removal of life, of any individual’s possibility of reform or increasing the abundance of life around themselves, is the worst crime that can occur. For the police, who are trusted to serve and protect, to remove one's life, is the greatest betrayal. Or perhaps it merely breaks the illusion of the Machiavellian world of power games which may be our moral reality, nihilistic as that seems.
“The devil grows inside the hearts of the selfish and wicked White, brown, yellow and black colored is not restricted” - Dance with the Devil, Immortal Technique
Murder in the United States is not a race issue. Most murders occur within one’s own ethnicity, and mostly by high testosterone males. Most of the people you know are within your own ethnicity, and the dominate ethnicity in the United States is still Western European. However, even outside of that, most interracial deaths are from black and hispanics toward whites, or whites toward hispanics (533, 789, and 792, respectively, according to 2016 FBI Crime Statistics). White, what an absurd all encompassing term lumping a diverse mix of groups together, just the same as black is. And yet, there are some pushing a race war? To what end? Divide and conquer?
If the world is nothing but self-interested power games, then all people are probably interested only in benefit for them and theirs. The closest circle would be the individual, then it could widen to family, nation, species, and only then perhaps to intelligent life itself. I like dolphins, elephants, and octopi and wouldn’t ever wish harm upon them. But I do consider the life of a fellow homo sapiens more valuable than that of a dog, who could have been shot by the officer who fired above. If you follow western theology, we ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and know what is right and what is wrong. This is not a curse, in my mind. It is an evolution as a species that is necessary to become human beings as opposed to beasts. If people only react and obey, we live in a state of nature, which was once described as nasty, brutish, and short. If, however, we aspire to unite the moral soul with the intellectual will, we can create something beautiful.
“The Greeks called it Psyche, a manifest emblem of the soul. The man down in Nature occupies himself in guarding, in feeding, in warming and multiplying his body, and, as long as he knows no more, we justify him ; but presently a mystic change is wrought, a new perception opens, and he is made a citizen of the world of souls : he feels what is called duty; he is aware that he owes a higher allegiance to do and live as a good member of this universe. In the measure in which he has this sense he is a man, rises to the universal life. The high intellect is absolutely at one with moral nature.” - Sovereignty of Ethics, Ralph Waldo Emerson
To what do we owe allegiance? I would posit that allegiance is owed only to ideas, and only to those who have earned the respect that the idea conjures. Even from those individuals, it is only through the beliefs that they put in their subjects minds that grant them power. I am reminded of an idiom, that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If that is the case, is not any blanket allegiance a recipe for tyranny, at the very least considering corrupt administrators and time? Is not raising someone up on high with the expectation that this man can solve all wants and needs a form of idol worship and god creation? This seems like one of the primary issues with an abdication of personal responsibility and morality to any centralized power, be it state, corporate, or our impending AI - which itself has racist tendencies.
The loyalty of all creatures is first and foremost to the young. If one cannot propagate, the whole line vanishes, not just oneself. Then it is to the mother, who can bear more. Outside of that, loyalty is to the species. Bestial nature has limited and savage loyalties, and humanity could aspire to more. At the very least, without a healthy ecosystem how can anything thrive? Eventually, as we populate the planet at our exponential rate, we will look at the land used for graves, and have to consider what the soul would miss on this mortal plane. An abundance of life, perhaps life similar to my nephew, would be something my soul would miss. So my allegiance would be first to preserving life, if I approached life morally.
“The intermediate term is obvious - the refusal to grow old. At the biological level, organisms live their lives and have no history because living and dying, that is to say growing older, is in them an inseparable unity. With them, in Shakespeare’s beautiful phrase, ripeness is all. At the human level, repression produces the unconscious fixation to the infantile past, the instinctual unity of living and dying is disrupted, and both the life instinct and the death instinct are forced into repression. At the illogical level, the death instinct in affirming the road to death, affirms at the same time the road of life: ripeness is all. At the human level, the repressed death instinct cannot affirm life by affirming death; life, being repressed, cannot affirm death and therefore must fly from death; death can only affirm itself (and life) by transforming itself into the force which always dies life, the spirit of Goethe’s Mephistopheles.” - Life Against Death, 104, Norman O. Brown
We all (even Buddhists who claim that life is suffering) mourn the loss of a loved one. It is still inevitable, and sometimes the loss isn’t as painful later in life as it is when cut short when one is ripe, when one has life ahead and potential to grow and improve. It is when we see that loss of control that we try to take control of the life we see play out before our senses that we affirm destruction, or death. When our own life is destroyed somehow - having a loved one ripped from it or otherwise having the foundations of our life shaken - we feel a need to assert control.
“Then Freud’s equivocation with three forms of death - the Nirvana-principle, the repetition-compulsion, and the sado-masochistic complex - turns out to be profoundly suggestive. Man is the animal which has separated into conflicting opposites the biological unity of life and death, and has then subjected the conflicting opposites to repression. The destruction of the biological unity of life and death transforms the Nirvana-principle into the pleasure-principle, transforms the repetition-compulsion into a fixation to the infantile past, and transforms the death instinct into an aggressive principle of negativity. And all three of these specifically human characteristics - the pleasure-principle, the fixation to the past, and the aggressive negativism - are aspects of the characteristically human mode of being, historical time.” - Life Against Death, 105, Norman O. Brown
All of these principles, compulsions, and complexes are drives toward order in one’s own life. In a chaotic world, this drive never ends. The nirvana-principle, a desire for stability, never disappears until death. Life is ever in flux, and as such some ride the highs for as long as they can, numbing themselves from the ups and downs to maintain a cloudy, high, status. Which can lead to an addiction. After all, why live in the world when this other one remains at least that little bit better, where I don’t think about those who are lost from my life?
I believe that everyone has repeated a moment time and time again to try and discover how a tragedy could be prevented. But if the same action does not have the desired impact, is it not insanity to continue? And yet some persist, too frantic in the moment to attempt to change course, or perhaps too proud to admit fault. Even in keening, the repetition of rocking seem to be reaching back to being rocked by a mother. Perhaps we all desire a return to a more innocent time in life.
To conclude on the violence that we see in the world today, I would like to address aggressive negativity - which assumes that all acts of aggression are a manifestation of the death instinct. All acts of aggression are an attempt to wipe something out, or stop it from occurring. Yet, sometimes this is also an attempt to stop the end of that which is close. In this we see the cyclical nature of violence. As I get revenge for the murder of my beloved, I kill another’s beloved, which could inspire someone close to them to kill me in return. The intent was to preserve a memory or to protect a soul close to my own, but it always results in a loss. Sometimes the losses never end. It’s seems like an obvious moral belief to me to believe that death is to be mourned, and that as much life as possible should be preserved. Rage is what I feel both with the deaths on the news and the deaths that aren't reported on CNN, because they don't fit the daily narrative, but not as much as when a child is murdered. Yet, peace is proper, is it not? Poets have more skill with words than I, and my scattered thoughts are impossible to wrangle on this subject.
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.