When a soldier fights.

 

Fotosearch_k17282832 (1)
(c) mrdoggs http://www.fotosearch.com

When a soldier fights, what are they fighting for? There is what they have in their minds and there is what the leaders who pay their wages, supply their guns and give the orders, have in their minds. Which set of ideas is actually going to determine the effect the events taking place will have in the world? In the final analysis, that is what is being fought for.

 

The Common Ground of Stewardship

Fotosearch_k22192444
(c) AlexMax http://www.fotosearch.com

(Well, it didn’t take long for me to drift away from trying to post on Saturdays.)  Anyway, I recently had cause to be researching the topic of “stewardship”.  I think most people are familiar with the concept of stewardship, but maybe not.  So to begin with, here is an excerpt from the Merriam-Webster Online definition:

“2 : the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”

That pretty much sums it up.

The first I can remember hearing anything about stewardship was when I was young and attending a Methodist church in the small Midwest town I grew up in.  Stewardship was an important topic in that church.  Probably the most well known Bible story relating to stewardship is the story of Joseph in Egypt.  How Joseph, acting as a good servant, espousing good stewardship, was a blessing to the Egyptian people.  You can read more about the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis beginning at chapter 37.  The topic of stewardship was one that came up every now and then in the topics being presented.

That association of stewardship and religion led me to look to see what some other religions had to say on the topic.  There is a lot that is written and discussed online around this topic related to various religions.  However, there did clearly appear to be a consensus to be found among many of the world’s religions.  Most of the information I have listed below are excerpts taken from the website “Religion Answers” although I often found similar quotes within other sources:

Within the Islamic faith we find:  “The three most important principles of the Prophet’s philosophy of nature are based on the Quranic teachings and the concepts of tawhid (unity), khalifa (stewardship) and amana (trust).”

The Hindu teaching has this to say:  “Stewardship is Right Conduct, what the Hindu calls dharma. Stewardship extends to water, to land, to animals, to food, to resources. Nature is Prakriti, Mother Earth is one of the Gods. Earth must be treated with respect.”

Buddhism:  “Stewardship is management of the Earth and its resources in accord with the dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha. This includes respect for all forms of life. Stewardship scopes to include environmental ethics, obligation to future generations, risk, and development of technology.”

Sikhism:  “The holy scriptures in Sikhism say God is the creator of all that exists., Man has a duty to care for the creation, The world reflects what is inside man – pollution, global warming, ecology disasters – all these reflect what is inside every man, woman and child.”  

In the Old Testament: (This does not come from “Religion Answers.)  I have to say this is one area of discussion that got a little blurry.  It seems to be accepted that God gave man dominion over the Earth.  The blurriness seems to be in how that may be interpreted from one place to another.  Does “dominion” mean do what you will?  That the Earth and it’s resources are here for our plunder?  Or does it mean that the Earth belongs to humankind for our caretaking?  For our stewardship in keeping with love for God and for one another?  Big difference.  I think (and hope) most conscientious, spiritually minded persons from both Judaism and Christianity regard it in the latter context.

From the New Testament: Titus 1:7 ESV :  “For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,”

These are just a few examples.  From what I’ve found Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Native American teachings, African native spiritual practices and Paganism all hold the value of respectfully and responsibly, if not lovingly, caring for the Earth and it’s resources.  I have not researched every religion, however, from the pattern which clearly shows within the ones I’ve listed, good stewardship, especially of the Earth and it’s resources, has been a shared and cherished value within the religious traditions of most, if not all, people from all around the world for a long, long time.

Imagine, human beings from most, if not all, cultures and locations on the Earth, who have sought wisdom within our spiritual reality, have for centuries, if not millenia, held values consistent with one another about how we should revere and care for, how we should engage in good stewardship of, the Earth and it’s resources.  Talk about common ground!  What has happened to divert so much of humanity from this very common understanding of our role as stewards upon the Earth?

If humankind, around the world, were to in deed practice conscientious, responsible, loving stewardship of the Earth and it’s resources, keeping in mind that humankind itself may be thought of as another resource upon the Earth, imagine how wonderful this planet and the cultures we build upon it might be?

 

Fake News, It’s Nothing New

Mag picFake news.  It’s a term which we’ve encountered a lot the past couple years.  However, as history attests, it’s not a new phenomenon.  Fake news, or the reporting of fabrications as if they were real, is older than the invention of the printing press.  It’s not that there aren’t reporters and media genuinely dedicated to bringing honest news of the world to the general population.  It’s just that it seems a media with widespread customers who rely upon that media to know what’s going on in the world is apparently too readily manipulable a commodity for unscrupulous politicians and profiteers not to take advantage of.

Most of the time, in centuries past or the past several decades, it seems “fake news” is most often used to incite fear and conflict.  Or to cover up the misdeeds of those powerful enough to manipulate the media to do so.  A recent movie, “The Post”, memorializes the spirit of some who were willing to be politically incorrect, and more, in order to bring the truth to the public.  Does that spirit still exist?

Just in my lifetime the shadow of unexplained realities around some horrendous events calls to question whether genuine, hardcore, investigative journalism, at least in the “mainstream media”, has become unfashionable, threatened, if not facing extinction.  The Kennedy assassinations, Oklahoma City, 9/11.  These are a few instances in which the media is used to repetitiously reassert highly suspect official stories.  Those who do dare point out the inconsistencies are often dismissed with the label “conspiracy theorist”.  What makes the difference between a “conspiracy theorist” and an award winning investigative journalist?  Is it too often merely the willingness, or reluctance, of those who control “mainstream media” to report certain realities?  We need a media which consistently places truth above politics.

“Rabbit Holes”: Do you think you’re jumping into one while you’re actually trying to climb out?

Rabbit hole
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We read or hear every now and then about someone “going down a rabbit hole”.  That is no doubt an allusion to Alice in Wonderland (Or Alice Through the Looking Glass) and a young girl’s journey into a fantastic, somewhat disorienting world.  These days “going down a rabbit hole” is most often used to describe someone who is delving into information having to do with conspiracies, manipulations of the public consciousness. Often these people may also be described as being “on the fringe”, nut jobs or nut cases, conspiracy theorists, or even lunatics.  However, is this really the case?  Are the people who delve into such information, trying to discern what is or isn’t real, actually going down a rabbit hole?  Or, are they trying to climb out of one?

It certainly seems many people live in one of two ways:  Either blindly, unquestioningly accepting the information they are handed by “the authorities” and adjusting their lives accordingly.  Or, some do feel, suspect, things really aren’t what they have been told they are, but the prospect of trying to peer into the darkness is too frightening.  These folks then continually seek other people and institutions which will reinforce the status quo and, at least temporarily, soothe the uneasiness which lies below the surface of their lives.

Then there are the people who don’t, can’t, fit into either of these groups.  People whose consciousness, whose intuitions about our world are persistently and relentlessly sending them alerts:  something doesn’t feel right, something doesn’t make sense when analyzed using all the available evidence.  These people often feel like the proverbial square peg in a round hole.  So these people read, watch documentaries, talk with others.  Not just the books, videos and others that will reinforce the information that is already being mass-produced and presented repeatedly on all the mainstream media.  These people welcome all the information they can get their hands on.  Including the material being presented on the six o’clock news and the front page. These folks welcome the alternative perspectives, the “outside the box” reasoning, and all the facts, all the evidence, they can find.  No matter where it may come from and, more importantly, no matter where it may lead.

It is important to note the critical distinction between  “welcoming” of information and “accepting” information. One, the welcoming, is the act of opening one’s senses, one’s mind, to input.  Accepting information is the act of internalizing, assimilating, the information as true and accurate. When we do this we are doing more than simply restructuring our mental, abstract concepts about whatever the information pertains to. We are actually directing our brain to arrange our neural connections in such a way that the information becomes “hardwired*” into our neural processing patterns. This is an organic process which requires time, energy and effort on the part of our body, our brain. Our brain is building an organic network of thought, reasoning patterns which become part and parcel of our conscious processes.  These concepts, true or false, become the matrix, the foundational fabric of our thinking processes.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

In between the “welcoming” and the “accepting” what should exist is a critical, analytical process of vetting the information.  What too often happens is that merely the fact that somebody in a position of culturally recognized “authority” spoke or wrote the words passes as vetting information.  Is it that millions of people in the U.S. and around the world are too complacent, to think, to research for themselves?  Or is there more to it than that?  People around the world are often required to expend such a large amount of their time and energy in just striving to keep themselves sheltered and fed that, maybe, there just isn’t enough energy to go around?  To look at this phenomenon from the perspective of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we can’t do too much on the higher levels of our lives when we’re unsatisfied with and/or expending all our efforts on the lower levels of the Hierarchy.  However, no matter what the reason(s) may be, if we aren’t critically analyzing the important happenings in our world, some of our oversights are going to affect us more than others!

*Back to the “hardwiring” our brain is busily involved with.  This “hardwiring” is not immutable.  Just as these neural circuits were formed via our acceptance of, our assimilation of, information into our belief system; our working concept of reality can be reformed/reshaped in the same manner.  But it takes time.  Our brain’s neural network is not just a series of “off/on” switches.  It is a living organ and change requires time and energy.  When we construct complex concepts in our minds we are employing an army of neurons.  Some of them are carrying data more central to the concept, some are carrying data more peripheral.  Some are doing the work of associating one concept with another.  Our brain doesn’t operate like a military drill field where one central command can result in hundreds or thousands of soldiers making an instantaneous change of direction.  Our brain, our thought/neural constructs, change via many recursive visits to the subject.  Slowly, gradually, change begins to become pervasive throughout our neural network.  Sometimes it may take years, decades, for an intention for change to have thoroughly replaced the pre-existing concept(s).  To try to change too much, too quickly, can be a traumatic event for the organic neurology involved.  It can result in mental illness, and I am told, even death.

That’s why we don’t want to beat ourselves up when we find ourselves falling down on resolutions we make.  Our neurology just doesn’t respond in an instantaneous, pervasive manner.  It is also why we do not want to “program” ourselves or allow ourselves to be programmed with faulty, inaccurate, untrue information.  It is not in the best interests of our species to have to engage in major conceptual changes.  It takes a lot of time and energy away from being able to cope with the “here and now”.  It is profoundly better to have good information to begin with and to be able to build increasingly complex, increasingly sound conceptual networks over time. 

 Human kind is probably the only species on Earth in which adults of the species will knowingly lie to their young.  Of course, sometimes the adults who are transmitting false, inaccurate information to their young aren’t doing it intentionally.  They are doing it because they themselves have accepted false, inaccurate information.  Information which was handed to them by an “authority” sometime, someplace during their lives.  This false, inaccurate information might be thought of as parasites which have been introduced to the family, dressed up, and have taken up residence, attempting to influence successive generations.  Kind of like a horror movie.

When we’re under the influence of false, inaccurate information one can think of it as living at the bottom of a rabbit hole: in the dark.  

For decades the American public has been living under the influence of lies.  Lies coming from the White House, the Pentagon, and Congress.  Lies being regurgitated by much of the media.  The lies have gotten so deep, going back decades;  so much has been built on top of those lies, those in power must cringe at the thought of the public ever widely knowing the truth.  As George H.W. Bush said to Sarah McLendon, a Texas journalist:   “Sarah, if the American people ever find out what we have done, they would chase us down the street and lynch us.”  That was in 1992.  The corruption, lies and abuses, the darkness being cast over our understanding of our world, have only gotten deeper since then.  The Kennedy assassinations, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the Oklahoma City bombing, MK Ultra, 9/11, these heinous actions, actions which the American people have been lied to regularly and repeatedly about, are only the tip of the iceberg.  Financial abuses, wars, economic disparity, the list of ways the American public has suffered as a result of the lies is long and grievous.  Because I live in the U.S., events in the U.S. are what I am most aware of. However, corruption and abuse of the public by those in high office is by no means limited to the U.S.

So, in reality, those seeking the truth about these things aren’t frivolously going down the proverbial rabbit hole, they’re determinedly trying to climb out of one.

 

 

 

 

 

All the allegations flying around, if they’re true, so what?

 

distressed house 1
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It has been going on for some time.  However it seems to have taken off in earnest during the last couple years. Allegations have been surfacing of high-level, elected or appointed, government officials committing heinous crimes.  Sometimes the allegations involve many people, implying that if the crimes actually occurred or are occurring, they involve a conspiracy.  Often these allegations include further allegations of cover-ups involving even more elected or appointed government officials.

 

The reactions from the general pubic are usually very mixed to these allegations.  The reasons people might react as they do can be as varied as the lives and backgrounds of the people themselves.  However, there are some phenomenon we understand about human thinking which often enter into the underlying reasons people either tend to believe or disbelieve such allegations.

  • Some tend to disbelieve or ignore them because they have been taught by trusted and beloved authority figures, since childhood, to respect and believe in the goodness of those occupying the highest offices in the United States of America.
  • Some may tend to disbelieve simply because they “like” the accused for some reason or another.  Maybe the accused supports some issue which that person feels strongly about.  Maybe the accused dresses stylishly and has a pleasant manner about them.
  • Some tend to disbelieve or ignore the allegations because to give the allegations serious consideration creates such cognitive dissonance they cannot stand it.
  • Some tend to disbelieve because the evidence they have seen does not rise to a level lending them to consider the allegations as having veracity.

On the other hand…

  • Some tend to believe the allegations because they simply do not like something about the government officials implicated.  It could be the accused doesn’t belong to the correct political party, or the accused lacks style or smoothness in their life or personal presentation.
  • Some tend to believe the allegations because the accused supports some policy or cause which the person finds offensive.
  • Some may tend to believe the allegations because the evidence they have seen lends them to believe the allegations are true.

In the absence of any specific first hand experiences or knowledge about what is being alleged, it is the background experiences of the observers, the people who constitute the general public, that are going to determine that person’s initial reaction to any such allegations.  Lacking any authentic investigation into the allegations, the public is left unsure, contentiously holding onto their own personal opinions, divided.

So what? What else is new…right?  However, it matters.

When the population of a neighborhood, a city, a nation, or a world is divided, the “house” is divided.  And as the profound saying which Abraham Lincoln borrowed from Mark 3:25 goes:  “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”  (NIV)  Why is it important for our “house” to stand?  It is because it is as a group, as a cooperative whole, that we can do the things that contribute to making our world the wondrous and exciting place it is.  Our roads, airplanes, trains, the products that genuinely make our lives less tedious and give us more ability to enjoy the beauty of our world and each other, the advances in technology and medicine that have such potential to better our lives:  none of us alone can bring these things to reality.  It has only been by working together for our own and the common good that these things have come into being.  And it is when we lose sight of what is in our own and the common good that our cultures begin to deteriorate.  It is then that we begin to bicker, and fight amongst ourselves, divided.

The allegations matter, knowing whether they are true or untrue matters.  What do we do when, and/or if, those controlling our laws and the enforcement of our laws use their power to give themselves exemptions from the laws the rest of us are expected to adhere to?  Or begin constructing the laws to favor themselves above all others?  Initially it isn’t good for us, the general citizenry, in the long run it’s not good for anyone.

Without digressing into another entire article, suffice to say, science is able to confirm for us today what some within the field of spiritual well-being have been saying for a long time: we live within a unified field.  We’re all interconnected, interdependent.  And it’s not just the human race that is interconnected:  it’s all of existence, everything.  Never before in recorded human history has it been possible to say with greater certainty:  “United we stand, divided we fall.”

It is also the case that, due to the seriousness of the potential ripples throughout our society, there ought to be some penalty for anyone bringing patently false allegations against anyone in high office.  That being said, we cannot simply disregard allegations because we may think them unlikely.  We need to know whether allegations of heinous cruelty and crimes leveled against public officials are true or untrue because if those in high office hold contempt for humanity, contempt for good will; is that the value we want to see directing our resources, directing us as a people?  The essential spiritual, not religious, but spiritual orientation of those to whom we entrust high office is of the utmost import to each and every one of us.

 What sort, what nature, of spiritual energy do we want to see people exerting, do we want to allow people to exert, especially as leaders, directors of nations and their resources, upon the events taking place in our world?

For these reasons, and others, we cannot allow serious allegations of heinous behavior; allegations of corruption; graft, influence peddling, rape, pedophilia, murder, on the part of our elected/appointed officials and others to go uninvestigated, unexamined.  At this time those “investigating” such allegations are likely as not themselves taking orders from those they are supposed to be investigating.   Or, taking orders from third parties who are directing both them and the elected/appointed officials they are supposed to be investigating.  So-called investigations are happening in a superficial and ineffective manner.  While there may be some public aspect to the investigations:  a floor show of reassurance, an attempt to appease the public without actually rocking the boat of those in power, the actual investigations, if any do occur, are hidden from public view.

What we also see happening often today often the media is brought to bear and public attention is redirected from the allegations themselves to the question of who committed the “offense” of exposing them.  This pattern of behavior, of looking to find and punish the “snitch”, is one that has long been a characteristic of criminal enterprises.  I haven’t spoken about this with many but I highly doubt I’m the only one troubled by how often this mind-set seems to be the one demonstrated by those in high office.

It’s not about who should go to prison. Although, some of the allegations definitely have public safety issues.  Maybe some, if guilty, do require confinement until we can be reasonably certain they won’t continue the heinous behaviors no matter what their socio-economic situation.  However, the heart of what is at stake is the nature and direction of the spirit of our communities, our nations.  The values held by those in high office, which they express in word and/or deed, manifest themselves in the physical, mental and spiritual health of our communities, our lives.

Whether we tend to be of the opinion that those in high office accused of heinous crimes are most likely innocent or guilty, we need to speak out and demand honest, thorough, authentic, investigations into the allegations.  Investigations with 100% transparency that are open for the world to see.  Then we can address whatever the investigations reveal, unseat any who are abusing the power which we allow, which we bestow.  Put the issues to rest and move on with greater certainty and in greater unity.

If we make it known, make it undeniably clear that We the People will not tolerate behaviors on the part of those in high office which demonstrate a contempt for humanity, we will be a step closer to establishing a culture for ourselves, for our children, in which we can experience, enjoy our lives with greater health, wholeness and stability.

 

Fotosearch_k22192444<!– Fotosearch –><a href=”http://www.fotosearch.com”>(c) AlexMax http://www.fotosearch.com Stock Photography</a>

 

The Problems with the Answers

Problem AnswersWe now know our world, our planet (or those who are paying attention know) is one single, large, system.  When we tweak the system, for better or for worse, there are systemic consequences.  For centuries we have had examples of the systemic effects altering a single component of a system can have.  If a person’s liver stops functioning: the person dies.  The whole person, not just the liver.  As human beings we are all sub-systems within, what we undeniably now know is, the larger, unified system which is the Earth.  The danger we face is in continuing to think and behave as if each seemingly separate free-standing entity, whether a person, cow, tree, continent or ocean is an independent entity unaffected by the other seemingly free-standing entities around it.

As a video which used to be shown before movies in the U.S. said:  “There is no non-peeing section of the pool”.  Our environment is like a large pool, it’s all connected and there is no “non-peeing” section.  What happens to the ocean off New Jersey affects Shanghai, and vice-versa.  With some events proximity makes some difference; the closer a place, a people, are to the event, the greater the impact.  Yet even small doses of a poison, continued over a long enough period of time, are going to affect the whole system.

Therein lies the problem with so many of the answers that industries and governments (and those controlling them) want to hand to the rest of us.  So many, if not all, of the answers are lacking in adequate consideration of the systemic consequences of what is being proposed.  Or, if the systemic consequences are being considered, there is a Machiavellian agenda afoot which gives little or no weight to the health and well-being of the majority of people on the planet.  It is the cognizance of this latter possibility that underlies many, if not all, of the “conspiracy theories” we encounter.

The “mainstream” culture in the U.S., the government, industry, media, seem to want us to view the systemic reality that is our planetary ecosystem only one component at a time.  We’re supposed to believe there is no critical interconnection between the components (seemingly independent entities).  We are supposed to ignore the system as a whole.  In actuality, each part, each component, of our planet is in constant energetic, chemical and/or physical interaction, communication if you will, with every other part.  Just as our body is a whole system with each part in constant communication, via energetic, chemical and physical affects, with every other part.  What happens if our planet’s “liver” fails?

This consequences of this interconnectedness has been referred to at times as the “butterfly effect”.  That is an extreme, but not unfounded, conceptualization of the systemic reality we live within.

It’s time we not only face this reality but alter our thinking and behavior to properly take it into account.  Air pollution in China affects us all.  The radioactive water leaking from the Fukushima reactor in Japan is poisoning the whole ocean.  The inordinate materialism being promoted in advertisements, movies and other media from the U.S. is affecting the collective psyche around the world.  You see, it’s not just about air, water, or soil pollution, it’s about everything.  Including the physicality, mentality and spirituality of all people, everywhere. 

Some want to see our Earth as a being named “Gaia”.  I have no problem with that.  Whether our planet, our home is a sentient being or not really should make no difference in how we treat it (her).  Our undeniable reality is that the Earth is our home, our only life-support system, and we need to give much, much greater respect and consideration to that reality than is being shown at this time.

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”