Extremism

ExtremismViolent extremism may or may not be lethal.   Lethal extremism may or may not be violent.

In hindsight I might more descriptively have titled this article “Extremism and Terror”.

We encounter the word “extremism” a lot these days.  In the U.S., President Donald Trump uses the word a lot.  In his recent speech in Saudi Arabia he spoke strongly about the need to rid places of worship, communities, the Holy Land, and even the Earth itself, of terrorists and extremists.  (Perhaps there is more than a little extremism and terrorism in this speech itself?)  Terrorism and extremism most definitely are blights upon the Earth today.  In the world today, as in President Trump’s speech, they are frequently found going hand in hand.

Terrorism, as it is most widely recognized today, is an intentional action designed to inflict terror upon a “target population”.  That is pretty much how I have found it in dictionary definitions.  Unless one has totally ignored world news the past couple decades or longer, we all know what violent terrorism is.  And, whether we watch the news or not, most, if not all, of us know what terror is.  Just so we’re on “the same page”, here are some excerpts from the  definition of “terror”  given by Merriam-Webster online:

1   : a state of intense fear

 2   b:  a frightening aspect

      c :  a cause of anxiety :  worry”

Most of us have experienced terror for one reason or another during our lives.  Maybe we’ve even gone to watch certain movies or taken part in other activities to feel it.  However, as an ongoing aspect of our day to day lives, terror is not something to be desired or sought.  While in a single dose it may provide an exhilarating thrill, as a steady diet it is stressful and, unless one can free oneself from it’s hold (as one can in a movie situation simply by getting up and walking out), the anxiety and stress accompanying terror can wear us down, become debilitating.  Ultimately the physiological effects resulting from the anxiety and stress which accompany terror, if experienced long term, can diminish the quality and the quantity of our lives.  In fact, terror itself, not just the violence perpetrated in an act of terrorism, carries it’s own lethality.  (See the link at the end of this article.)

Extremism, in and of itself, while today’s media usually has it associated with terror and violence, isn’t always the purveyor of harm or even unpleasantness.  For example, someone may be extreme in their view that all school textbooks should contain information which is true and accurate to the best of our knowledge.  While extreme, that pursuit isn’t going to cause harm for it’s target population.  Quite the contrary.  So maybe “extremism”, in and of itself, is getting something of a bad rap in the world today?

Merriam-Webster online defines extremism as:

“1 :  the quality or state of being extreme 

 2  :  advocacy of extreme measures or views :  radicalism”

However, in recent world news the word “extremist” is most often used referring to people who hold extreme ideas about religion.  Further, in the news the past few years, the words extremist or extremism are often (always?) linked with the words “violent” and/or “religious”.  Violent religious extremism is frequently put forward as a cause of many, if not most, of the world’s ills right now.  It is a fact that people; men, women and children, are being harmed and are being killed in places where “violent religious extremism” is taking place.

Looking at the phenomenon a little closer, what exactly is it that the religious extremists (violent or otherwise) are extreme about?  It is, in every case, their ideas; concepts, values.  In the case of religious extremism those ideas relate to religion.  In cases of religious extremism, I think it’s fair to say those concepts and values are being accorded primacy above all else.  Upholding, following, those concepts and values is being seen and acted upon as being more important than the well-being, even the lives, of others.  That is where lethality enters into situations where extremism is present:  when an idea takes on such value that it becomes more important than life itself, that of others or possibly even one’s own.    

It seems humankind, in general, does not like nor respect the act of putting one’s ideas, no matter how deeply held, before the well-being and lives of others.  Sometimes we may find honor in being willing to put one’s own life on the line for an idea, a value.  However, being willing to put someone else’s life or well-being on the line for that idea or value just doesn’t carry the same merit.

At least throughout the past couple millenia, history and now current events, are showing us that religious extremism can result in lethality.  However, extremism isn’t limited to religion.  Extremism can be found in other aspects of human thinking, human cultures around the world.  As so much suffering in the world right now is being ascribed to religious extremism, I think it is fair to ask:  are there any other forms of extremism which either historically or currently are showing themselves to be as capable of inflicting pain and suffering upon the people of the world?  As it happens, there is at least one.  If there is any other form of extremism which has shown itself to be as capable of violence and/or lethality as religious extremism through the ages, it is extremism in the pursuit of wealth.  Economic extremism.

Economic extremism can take three forms, they are:

  • Extremism around a particular economic system.  Extreme exponents of both capitalism and communism have left some significant body counts in their wake.
  • The extreme pursuit of less.  Asceticism most definitely has the potential to be lethal, but only to the person pursuing it.  I have nothing to fear if my neighbor decides to pursue a life of asceticism.  Realistically, if I live in an area characterized by even a moderate level of life’s comforts, they probably won’t be my neighbor for long if they are extreme in their pursuit.
  • The extreme pursuit of more.  This expression of extremism, as much as any other form of extremism known to human kind, including religious extremism, can result in and has resulted in violence, terror, and/or lethality.

Just as the pursuit of religiosity, carried to extremes, has led individuals and entire cultures to engage in cruel, brutal and murderous behavior toward other human beings, the pursuit of material wealth, carried to extremes, has done likewise.  It is pretty clear that an extreme desire for wealth can lead a person to give that desire the same primacy that religious extremists give the religiosity they cherish.  Off hand, without having all the data on how many people have been wounded, maimed, and/or killed by religious or economic extremists in all of recorded history, I think it would be very hard to make a reasonable estimate on whether religious extremism or economic extremism has resulted in more casualties.

It is also true that sometimes religious and economic extremism go hand in hand.

In understanding the relationship between extremism, terror and lethality, it is important to keep in mind that debilitation, terror and death are not always the results of violence.  Violence is the act of giving someone else more of something:  force, brutality, injuries, lethal trauma.  Debilitation, terror and death can and are just as easily, though not necessarily as quickly, caused by giving someone else less of something:  food, water, shelter, medical care, even education.  Revisiting the topic of terror and terrorism briefly, sometimes terror is the result of the prospect of unfulfilled needs:  unfulfilled needs for food, water, shelter, medical care.  In this way, again, we find extremism and terror going hand in hand.  It is the latter method, the method of giving or allowing less which is the primary method of lethality accompanying economic extremism.  No matter how many people have been killed by violence occurring through the extreme efforts of tyrants to acquire more wealth, more people have perished as a result of being on the wrong side of an extreme economic imbalance.

If a man or woman can be happy with the wealth produced by their own hands, we have no problems.  The problems enter in when men and women desire the wealth produced by the hands of others. The greater the desire for wealth, the more people it requires to produce it.  When inordinate amounts of that wealth are being directed to a ridiculously small number of people there is no question that the people actually producing the wealth are being deprived of an equitable share of the wealth they contributed to producing.  That is a signature of economic extremism, and there is lethality occurring as a result.

The methods, the ploys used in the expression of economic extremism, as with religious extremism, are many and I’m not going to try to go into those at this time.  Suffice to say that whenever, in this world of plenty, we see people languishing in poverty we can be certain that there is economic extremism at the root of it.

If humankind is ever going to realize it’s full potential, if healthy, viable, sustainable, communities are ever going to exist, we are going to have to transcend religious and economic extremism.  

“Why Stress is Deadly”

The Corporate Promise

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Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_bigfatnapoleon’>bigfatnapoleon / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

The twentieth century may go down in history as the century of the corporation.  Corporations dominated the economic and political scene in the U.S. and many other countries.  Somehow the American people bought the idea that the U.S. is like a corporation and that corporate CEO’s know how to run it best.  A corporation is in business to make money and a corporate CEO is generally judged by their ability to make the corporation successful at that goal.  However, the U.S. general population has not been seen as shareholders.  Rather, the U.S. treasury has become just another source of wealth to be looted.  As Eisenhower warned us, the military-industrial complex has garnered power and has taken the lion’s share of our treasury.  Private interests have effectively cleaned out our collective wealth and delivered us into decades of debt: to them.  That has been the fulfillment of the corporate promise.  More a devolution to primitive tribalism than progress.

In truth, a stable, healthy country is more like a family than a corporation.  It is when we recognize our kinship and work together that we realize our fullest potential.  The stress of relentless competition affects human neurology in a way which prevents whole and healthy development.  If we want to continue evolving as a species we are going to need to recognize general well-being as a worthy goal, more worthy than extravagant individual wealth.  “As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.” Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man.

We Need a Culture That Can Care For Body and Soul

img_0502-2What are our natural resources?  Essentially they are the inherent qualities of the planet we live upon.  None of us created them or contributed to their existence.  However, as we know, many if not all of them are necessary for our lives.  Without the air, water, food, shelter, medicinal substances, that our provided by our natural resources we would die.  Without the beauty and recreational opportunities inherent in our natural resources our lives would be much less enjoyable, if even tolerable.

Natural resources include the plants that grow and the animals that inhabit the Earth.  Natural resources are the source of all the raw materials that all products are made from.  Even what scientists require in order to create “synthetics”.  Without the naturally occurring  base materials there would be no synthetics.  We come to the Earth with nothing and everything we have while we’re here has essentially been provided to us by forces beyond our control.  Everything.  That makes the naturally occurring resources of our planet (and others) pretty valuable, doesn’t it?

It is true that humans very often take a natural resource, add some ingenuity and work, and thereby create something more useful to human life than the raw material alone.  Clothing, houses, automobiles, medicines, works of art, musical instruments, books, computers, jewelry, beer, wine!  Humans have bred some plants to produce more or better food products than they did previously.

However, it’s worked the other way with plants also, nutritional value has been reduced in some strains.  And similar claims can also be made for about every natural resource.  At some time one or more human beings have tried to create something with one or the other natural resources which has ended up being of less value than the raw material.  Trial and error, we humans seem to do a lot of that.

Somewhere along the line some people decided that because of some arbitrary situation in their life they actually own one or more natural resources.  Maybe they were born into a “royal” family with a longstanding (but never the less arbitrary) claim.  Or maybe they had friends within one or more governments that were ready and willing to pass laws that proclaimed they now have ownership of certain natural resources.  In any and all of these cases, assertions of ownership have only worked because there were sufficient other people ready to support that assertion.  All such assertions are arbitrary in that they are devised and implemented solely out of the volition of the human beings involved.  In other words, if I say I now own New York, and if I can get enough people in positions of power and a sufficient army to support the claim, then I own New York.  That’s how it works.  We all came with nothing, everything that is, every single solitary natural resource on Earth, has been provided to us freely by forces beyond our control.  Every product that exists is produced from these resources.

Whether by design or default, currently we are allowing individuals or small groups of individuals to claim ownership of massive amounts of the Earth’s natural resources.  Is this really how we want to conduct ourselves?  This type of practice, among other things, leads to competition among the individuals and groups vying for ownership.  It has led to wars and will undoubtedly lead to more if the practice is continued.  It leads to inflationary, greed based pricing of the resources and works toward the impoverishment of the general population.  The psycho/emotional effects of a competition/greed based culture in general are to be seen within populations around the world:  fear, anxiety, disenfranchisement, depression, or vanity, narcissism.

When enough people wake up to the reality that private ownership of natural resources, and all similar cultural structures, can only exist with the cooperation of the general population, then we will see significant change within systems take place.  In the past this has often just meant that the group controlling the resources changes and the same greed/competition model stays in place.  We need something better.  We need to realize that as a species that our fates are inextricably intertwined.  We need to realize the mutuality of our plight and then to act upon that realization.  We need to utilize, to apply the magnificent body of knowledge that already exists within the disciplines of psychology, physiology, sociology, medicine, anthropology, ethics, and spiritual studies in the design and maintenance of our social and industrial systems.  Economically we don’t need socialism, communism or capitalism.  We need a hybrid born in knowledge and reason with the well-being of all of humanity as a goal!

A key foundational piece of wisdom comes when we realize that, in general, looking at the basics of our biology and spirituality, what is good for one person’s body and spirit provides us with a model of what is good for the body and spirit of humanity as a whole.  

On being free

This article is by an author who lives in Romania. He is writing about a situation going on in Romania. Yet his perspective and sentiment are global and timeless.

Cristian Mihai

jfk-quotes-slideshow-11

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”Carl Sagan

Let me tell you this: there was never a time in history when a government won the battle against its people. Never. When enough people believe in an ideal and are willing to fight for it, willing to go all in, there’s no way to beat them.

But people give up their power easily enough. In the trenches of day to day life, they get lost. They become indecisive and weak. Life has the habit of constantly knocking you down, so…

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I don’t usually write about politics…

Meanwhile, in Romania…

Cristian Mihai

How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told…if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

Last night, the Romanian government issued a decree de-criminalizing the abuse of power and corruption if the damage is less than $50,000. This is not a joke. They made it legal for public officials to steal, while also giving amnesty to those who have been convicted of such crimes in the past. That means a lot of politicians will be getting out of jail. Oh, and the head of the governing party would have been convicted were it not for this decree.

Cool, huh?

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Cures Cancer in 2 to 7 Days

 

(I have edited the title from the initial “Cures Cancer in 2 Days” after finding more sources which expanded the time given.)

The berry of the Australian Blushwood tree has been found to kill cancerous tumors within 48 hours!  Here is an exerpt from an article in the DailyMail.com  (I want to add I did not learn of this from the Daily Mail, but from a television report from a channel 7 in Australia which was posted on Facebook.):

“A team of medical researchers are on their way to finding a cure for cancer after the discovery of a an amazing rainforest berry which holds cancer fighting properties.

Scientists at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland have used an experimental drug produced from the seeds of the rainforest plant, Blushwood tree (Hylandia Dockrillii), which exclusively grows in far north Queensland, to cure solid cancer tumours in pre-clinical trials.” 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2785903/A-cancer-fighting-berry-tree-ONLY-grows-far-North-Queensland-human-trials-approved.html#ixzz4XGSa7taR
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

More links to related news below.  I encourage you to Google this and learn more!

We need to keep this news going.  This discovery will almost certainly come under attack by big pharmaceutical companies.  I would not be surprised if they try to either buy the rights and shelve it or, somehow, try to poison the tree out of existence.

***** PLEASE REBLOG, COPY AND PASTE THIS NEWS INTO FACEBOOK POSTS, EMAIL IT TO FRIENDS, KEEP THIS NEWS ALIVE AND SPREADING IN ORDER TO PROTECT THE POTENTIAL FOR THIS TREATMENT TO ACTUALLY COME INTO WIDESPREAD USE AND TO PROTECT THE TREES!

The video I initially viewed.

News from Australia.

Caution around use of berries.

The Divided States of America

I just watched a video of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, and others voicing their outrage at President Trump’s ban of immigrants, refugees and travelers from selected Middle Eastern countries.  Other speakers included Lance Lyttle, Managing Director of SeaTac Airport and Port of Seattle Commissioner, Courtney Gregoire.  Their speeches focused upon the people, the families affected who are at SeaTac and the pain they see this Executive Order creating in the lives of many innocent people.  They made many valid points, none disputing the need for high security and vetting of immigrants from the involved countries.

Initially I personally agreed overall with what these individuals had to say.  After watching a later press conference with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, I realized that there are details not being shared in the press: such as the numbers of those detained, why they were detained and for how long.  Without details it is possible to take away a very inflated view of what is going on.  After getting a little more from both sides of the story, I have to say there is much more to be considered than I think much of the polarized press is bringing forward.

I still am not entirely sure what to think about the temporary bans.  I do understand after how loosely immigration has been handled in the U.S. the past couple decades or more, it may take some time to be sure an adequate system of vetting immigrants from high risk countries is in place.  I am sure that the U.S. has been involved with rendering these countries unlivable for a lot of people and has an inherent responsibility to be involved with assistance and reparations.

What I also realized while watching the video of the press conference regarding SeaTac airport, is that there were references to “our country” and “this country” as if whoever was speaking was vocalizing the sentiment of the general population of the United States.  Right now our nation is so fragmented in our perceptions of what the problems are and how to remedy them that I venture rarely, if ever, can anyone actually take a position and claim to be speaking for “our country”.  Doing so is actually risking being quite presumptuous and misleading.  As a nation, it seems the issues of what our national values are and how they apply to our practical reality are very much up in the air.

As a generalization, it certainly appears the various geographically, economically disparate segments of the population are very much out of touch with each other.  We’re fragmented so badly it is difficult to recognize that this is supposed to be a “united” group of states.  Donald Trump didn’t create this fragmentation.  In the long run will his policies and actions work to remedy it or exacerbate it?  This remains to be seen, but he didn’t create it.

This fragmentation has come about from a variety of contributing factors.  One of these factors which has played a large role in creating the divisions and dissatisfaction within the U.S. population is decades of “business as usual” politics.  Decades of individuals and relatively small groups within the U.S. seeking and acquiring inordinate wealth and power while only valuing and serving their own special agendas.  In light of this reality I have to say I have serious reservations about Donald Trump’s actions serving to correct this underlying condition.  Is there a Donald Trump the public servant who can adequately differentiate himself from Donald Trump the financial profiteer?  Will Donald Trump be able to recognize the need for and wisdom of supporting and strengthening the established social programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, which greatly contribute to a stable, healthy citizenry?  Will he be able to envision ways to ensure needed services such as quality healthcare and education are kept affordable and available to the general population?

Combined with the growing acquisition of power on the part of a relatively small group of extravagantly wealthy individuals, the individuals who hold the high elected offices within our government who we empower to be serving “us” as a whole, have been incrementally opting out of the role of representing the whole of the population.  This has been taking place over the same decades that power has been incrementally acquired by the extravagantly wealthy.  There is much information, evidence, truth behind all the statements going on that our elected officials/representatives have been bought.  We have allowed becoming a President, Senator or Representative to become a career much more akin to private enterprise than public service.  One that not only allows but encourages individuals to capitalize upon their influence and rake in exorbitant wealth for doing so.  We have allowed an unhealthy peer culture to establish itself in the halls of national power.  One that has turned predaceous; feeding upon, pulling apart, the nation it is supposed to be working to preserve.

We, the average citizens, are not going to profit from name calling and engaging in more divisive thinking and rhetoric.  We need to be sitting down together, speaking truthfully, with respect, to one another and listening carefully to what the “other” has to say.  I think by and large we will find there is not a great difference in our motivations, hopes and dreams.  We need to understand how we arrived at this place of perceived and real rifts and disagreements.  Then we can begin to construct remedies that work for most, if not all, of us.

We need to become a citizenry and a regulatory government that think in terms of a national “we”, not just an individual “me”.  And we need to realize that “profit” should not be measured simply in personal material wealth.  The overall well-being of our neighbors, our communities and our nation, including how our nation is seen within the world community, are essential to our personal well-being.   The national well-being is an extremely valuable, essential component of the profit we should all be seeking from our combined efforts.

My Problem with the Left-Right Spectrum in Politics

A timely article about the growing obsolescence of political categories.  Reposted from “A Paradoxical Millennial”.

A Paradoxical Millennial

Following my last post, which touched on a few of the issues below, I thought I may as well write about my problem with the left-right spectrum in politics.

I guess that I should provide some background before proceeding. One of the reasons I dislike the left-right spectrum is that it has never been able to accurately categorize me. I will admit a guilty pleasure in undertaking those online political surveys (the in-depth ones, not the 5-question clickbait quizzes) which purport to tell you where you lie on the spectrum, what party you align with, etc. The algorithms never seem to work for me, and usually give up in frustration (not literally, I would imagine) and place me dead-centre. In UK-specific tests, I have often been said to be almost-equally likely to vote Liberal Democrat or UKIP, which if you know anything about British party politics is so ridiculous…

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Gender Bias in the Meeting Room: How Democracy is affected by Conversation

An excellent article which draws attention to a critical imbalance within our culture (and others). An imbalance which, if corrected, stands to greatly improve the quality of life for everyone.

A primer on illegal immigration.

 

 

The whole of planet Earth is like a sailing ship.  We are on board this ship traveling incredibly fast through the vastness of space.  Without the life support this ship affords us we would all die.

Countries are also like ships.  We travel through our lives on board the ships that are our respective countries. The conditions on board our respective ships affect us a lot.  If the Captain or the officers want to hoard rations or act like tyrants, or make bad decisions about supplies and living conditions, we all suffer for it.  Anxiety between crew members goes up, anger and hatred can start to brew.  It’s even possible, if not probable that mutiny will start to enter some crew members’ minds.

If other ships start experiencing shortages with rations or deck space, or if there are some other conditions which undermine the quality of life:  the crew aboard those ships suffers for it.  If we affect their quality of life by:  firing upon their ship, poisoning their food/water or otherwise shorting their necessary supplies, or by encouraging and/or supporting their Captain and officers to hoard or behave like tyrants:  then sooner or later members of that crew are going to start either engaging in mutiny or jumping ship…or both.

Something I think we very much need to keep in mind is the inescapable law of reciprocal action that exists in our world.

The ones who jump ship are going to look for another ship to climb aboard.  They have no choice.  If our ship is in relatively good shape, and is close enough, they are going to try to climb aboard our ship.  We can count on it.  Once aboard they will use our rations, our food and water and gear.  Some (most?) will also try to work and help keep things going.  If there are enough rations and accommodations, we’re all fine.  If not, eventually there will be shortages.  When there are shortages, tension, anxiety, fear, and anger will escalate.  Or if we start getting all uptight with one another just because of our differences, then we’re also in trouble.  This brings up one aspect of this subject which is more difficult, maybe the most difficult to resolve:  do the “refugees” have the right to expect the host culture to change to accommodate aspects of their culture?  Does cultural change, on anybody’s part, need to happen at all?   Regardless, there are certain rules aboard  every ship that everyone needs to follow in order to prevent chaos and disaster.

Finally, there is no question that if too many climb aboard our ship it will destabilize.  We may even be threatened with capsizing.

It should be clear that it is in our best interests to do what we can to support genuinely good, healthful living conditions for the crew aboard all ships.