My interview with The Pakistani Spectator

Pakistani politics

I would like to inform my readers of an up and coming Pakistani website called The Pakistani Spectator.  Its webmaster, Ghazala Khan (who may or may not be a descendant of Genghis), is committed to the free flow of ideas throughout the world.   It is people like Khan who–more than the overpaid CEO’s of biased, failing media conglomerates–are laying the foundation for lasting global understanding, friendship, and peace.  Websites like The Pakistani Spectator are creating a global forum in which the humble average citizen of one country may speak openly with the humble average citizen of another, and these two would-be-strangers may find a common interest in peace that their governments and corporate media would have hidden from them.

If Americans wish to truly know a foreign people, they should look not to the solitary voice of that foreign government, but to the myriad voices of its real people.  This is a luxury only the blogosphere can provide, and it is the luxury that people like Ghazala Khan help provide to the world.  The greatest tool for peace that humans have is direct communication, and never before has that tool been available to so many.

Thomas Paine wrote, “Man will not be brought up with the savage idea of considering his species as his enemy, because the accident of birth gave the individuals existence in countries distinguished by different names.” If, after more than two centuries of lying inefficaciously upon our bookshelves, and lying ceaselessly to the hopeful minds of multitudes, those words are to finally become truth, humankind may owe less gratitude to Paine’s enlightenment than to the free exchange of ideas across the worldwide web.

I agreed to an interview with The Pakistani Spectator, which may be found here.  I encourage all to bookmark the website and watch it grow and develop into a large and peaceful online community.

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Going hiking (05.16.08)

Yesterday we went to Zevat, a beautiful old city with a history of violence.  I bought a photograph (artistic double exposure) of a man praying at the Western Wall.  The drive north to Zevat was highlighted by the border fence between Jewish Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  There is a quiet but undeniable animosity between the Israeli Jews and the Palestinians, that seems certainly unnatural–if not an abomination–and allows for an easy segue into the most interesting event of the day, the Kabbalah lecture in the gallery of David Friedland.

David talked about Kabbalistic mantras of non-dualism and universality.  Many members of our group were unmoved by David’s words, but I found myself in profound agreement with him.  Are we really so incompatible–the Palestinians and Jews?  Both religions value the same characteristics–the oneness of God, humility, respect, love–but still manage to fall victim to the soul-corrupting forces around them.

What reason has the peaceful farmer of one country to put down his plow, and lift up sword against the peaceful farmer of another, but through the means of a false authority?  This is a useful question that, I believe, is at the heart of what David Friedland was trying to convey.

To talk of the “peaceful farmer” of one nation with any true authority, one must first know that man exists, and I do.  One of the soldiers in our group, Tzahi, led us to his family’s farm, just three kilometers from the Lebanese border.  Here was a small farm not unlike the one my grandmother grew up on, decades ago in rural Tennessee.  The family was a peaceful and welcoming bunch.  They allowed us to ride their horses, eat fruit from their trees, and collect eggs from their hen house.  I would be willing to bet there are peaceful farms like this one, on the other side of the border, with peaceful, welcoming families, who are also mournfully propagandized by a false authority that pits humankind against itself in war.  It seems to me that this cannot be the will of God, but a result of the human ignorance thereof, or a human arrogance that would assume rule over God’s domain.

Last night we stayed in cabins, and the common area had a basketball court and picnic tables.  We played basketball and guitar, and sang–“Freebird” and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room” were my humble contributions.  Today we hike and swim.

Shabbat at the spring/pool (05.17.08)

Yesterday we drove to the Golan heights.  We hiked (seriously) to a pool at the foot of a waterfall, where most of us swam.  At the end of the trail, a refreshing reminder of the advantages of capitalism greeted us in the form of a well-placed ice cream truck.  Then we rode to Mount Bental, a hill that overlooks the Syrian border.

The contention for this land has shaped Israeli politics since he late 1960s.  It is a beautiful area, and a strategic high ground for Israeli forces.

Shabbat in Israel is much like Sunday in the United States.  Some people take the religious aspects of the weekend more seriously than others.  We prayed, and I was surprised to learn that the services in Israel are much shorter and much more relaxed than in the U.S.  The prayers have three main themes under God: peace, gratitude, and freedom.  I say “under God” because of the assumption true faith requires–that anything humankind can possibly contrive will always be inferior to the natural state of creation.  To allow any delegation of humans, regardless of their supposed benevolence and intellect, to alter the inalienable natural rights of humankind in God’s image, is to practice idolatry, giving to a committee the responsibilities and respects that should only be contracted between an individual and his/her own given nature.

This assumption of faith leads naturally to the religious rejection of coercive government, and faith in freedom and power higher than any person or group of people.  This faith is the philosophy through which all religions originate, and all religions, at their roots, are undeniably anarchistic.  Yet this, the holyland, is undeniably over-governed, and–forgive the following generalization–the people here credit all of their blessings to their own religion, and all of their problems to a different religion, never realizing their religions are rightfully united, and their opinions by ruling idols divided. 

The heart of what is called the holyland is chilled to the core by an ever-multiplying prejudice among its residents–both Jewish and Muslim.  A human is a human is a human, and each of us is equal before God, without regard to race, religion, location, creed, status, or chance–everyone who doesn’t realize this as fact, should humiliate their own thoughts, before nature and time do the deed for them.

My first attempt at poetry: “I am a human”

Perhaps the most important thing I have learned from Shakespeare is that the leading edge of social reform is always artistic.  Shakespeare created individualism before it was ever really known.  I write social commentary all the time, but I have never tried to form it in a more attractive, presentable, widespread way.  “I am a human” is my first attempt at poetry, and I hope the literary types will keep that in mind as they read.  It is short, simple, and important (I think).  Here:

To whom it may not concern:

I am a human.
I want peace.
I want love.
I want song, dance, and laughter.
I want health.
I want rights,
to live happily ever after.
I want friendship.
I want opportunity.
I want to learn on my own.
But the only thing
I really need
is for you to leave me alone.
I am a human.
Who are you?

Your humble servant,
We the People

Old government should be replaced

Prudence often precedes implementation of government programs, regulations, or taxes. Precaution is wise, but it does not guarantee good results. Some government endeavors, most haloed in conception, turn devilish in practice. Therefore, policymakers should scrutinize their decisions just as closely after implementation, recognizing that government and failure are seldom far apart. Unseemly consequences often result from policies of positive intent, and the public should not be considered so incompetent or simple-minded, as to necessitate ignoring, concealing, or creatively accounting for, the bad effects of an energetic government.

Massive governments are considered necessary, only because of their own tendencies to restrict, control, and monopolize individual lives, under the pretense of serving some imagined greater good. The long term results of serving (or receiving the service of) the massive government beast called the “greater good” are detrimental to the individual, and include, but are not limited to, unlivable wages, property depreciation, government dependence, excessive taxation, excessive debt, hopelessness, mental illness, addiction, entrapment, imprisonment, and death. This old system of government operates in direct opposition to America’s faiths in civic virtue, social contract, private property, and free enterprise, which historically brought liberty, peace, and prosperity to individuals across the nation. History recommends a new role of government, and that the present form be abolished, or restored to its original form.