May 2020

Vlog 01 – Introduction

One of the reasons that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks is that most old dogs are embarassed about doing things badly. I’m trying to overcome that inhibition – hence this. It’s my first ‘vlog post’ for my blog (which will remain text oriented) so it’s not good but here it is anyway.

Between Light and Darkness

On some level that will not be appreciated by many it is true that we are caught up in a dance between forces of spiritual light and darkness and that our world will never be the same again. I fully understand that many people will consider me weird for talking in this way but I will do it anyway.

The issue, for me at least, is not about supporting or resisting lockdowns or other measures of control, or changes in our lifestyles .. its about whether our intentions are bent towards principles of justice, freedom, equality and love.

Many of us have had comfortable lives within the present order but it has been at the expense of those of us, globally, who have been excluded and exploited. The intention of the ‘dark forces’ is not a just, free, equal, compassionate world it is a world of oppressive control that is increasingly materialistic/mechanistic, one that is spiritually dead.

The intention of the ‘forces of light’ is that we should transcend our selfishness and separateness from each other, transcend the spiritual isolation of which the current physical isolation is a reflection and a consequence.

We have separated ourselves from the natural world, from our biomes and microbiomes, from Being and from other beings, and from acceptance of the natural cycles of life, growth, change and death. Through self-transcendence or selfishness-transcendence we will bring about a world that is aligned with the Will of God; a Kingdom of Heaven.

What world do you intend? This is important because the world that emerges for you depends on your intention and the world in which your world resides depends on our collective intentions.

Blood on Our Hands

“Labour has apologised after posting cartoons depicting Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock with blood on their hands on a local Facebook page”

What it shows is actually the level of discussion that is happening in this country. Very polarised, very uninformed and very silly. I’m not going to talk about it at all it’s just a cheap ploy to grab attention.

It seems that some people can only entertain one idea in their minds at the same time so it’s either we have to have a lockdown to save lives or we have to lift the lockdown to save the economy. But it’s not an either/or matter.

Whatever is done must be managed to minimise the loss of life and to support the economic wellbeing of the nation. These things are not incompatible but there are incompatible visions of what constitutes the economic wellbeing of the nation.

For the right economic wellbeing seems tied to the current status quo of inequitable wealth distribution, for the left it is tied to notions of a well funded welfare state and a more equitable distribution of the benefits of economic activity. Covid-19 is being recruited by both sides to support their economic/political visions.

We know that whatever situation emerges when the pandemic subsides or the panic regarding it subsides with be one that is economically more equitable, less equitable, or just the same. Things being just the same is unlikely. Whether people care to admit it or not, they are jostling for ideological aspirations and these are based on understandings or misunderstandings of how the economy works. In addition to issues of public health and economy there are also issues of freedom to be considered. It is not simple at all.

Insofar as I can articulate my own position, I start by asking what an economy is for and how can it best be managed to result in the the greatest good for the greatest number. I am in favour of such changes to the economy that favour environmental responsibility and social justice. I believe that a managed restart of the economy that favours and is accompanied by discussion of such goals would have gain public support and commitment as part of a new, necessary and responsible social contract.

I regret that there is almost no discussion of vision or strategy or community involvement in the development of vision and strategy. I regret that there is little public understanding of the way that the economy works that we can use as a foundation for informed discussion. Without such discussion, whether we realise it or not, there will be blood on our hands.

England’s Z-Score

Z-scores are used to compare mortality pattern between different populations or between different time periods. The higher the Z- score the greater the difference between the expected number of deaths in a given period and the total number of deaths actually recorded.

The graphic shows that the UK as a whole has a higher number of excess deaths than any other European country and that England has a higher number of excess deaths than other nations in the UK.

How does this square with the relaxation of the lockdown in England?

I’m not saying that the lockdown shouldn’t be lifted – of course it should be lifted but Johnson said that he is going to be ‘led by the science’ and my criticism is that he doesn’t seem to be led by that. A science led response would question the particularities of conditions and responses that have caused England to be more strongly impacted than elsewhere. Decisions should be based on the answers to those questions and they should be implemented in a graduated way consistent with restarting the economy in a rational manner.

Johnson said that all workers who were unable to work from home should go back to work. This is impossible because it is quite obvious that people in sectors of the economy, such as hospitality, that are locked down will not be able to return. Perhaps Johnson meant construction and manufacturing, perhaps he meant other sectors too but what he said was ‘all workers who cannot work at home’. I’ve been listening to people trying to unpack what he meant all day. This is not good enough. The minimum that should be expected from a leader is clarity and that has been wholly absent.

Source of Graphic:

Bojo Returns ..

Sorry. I don’t get this. This level of incompetence does my head in .. anyway this is a cartoonisation but not an exaggeration.

What should have been done?

  1. A phased return to work with those identified as most essential returning soonest.
  2. Ensuring that there is a plan for covid-19 safety and monitoring in all industries. This would include risk assessment and risk minimisation plans agreed with employers and unions.
  3. Coordination across the UK rather than England being treated differently.
  4. Better transport logistics – or at least show that there has been some consideration of this.

Bojo said that coming down a mountain can be more difficult than going up. Yep. That’s why we don’t run headlong down the bloody things.

Possible Futures

Some mornings I lie in bed browsing Facebook or Twitter and thoughts put themselves together in response to something I read. Having no reputation to lose I just post them.

There are genuine conspiracies I don’t know what allegations or speculations regarding particular conspiracies are true but at its core climate change is real and environmental collapse is humanity’s greatest and most existential challenge.

The recent Moore/Gibbs film does not deny the reality of climate change it questions the singular focus when the problem is multi-faceted environmental degradation driven by population growth and massive over-consumption of the Earth’s resources.

Planet of the Humans Clip from Gavin Sealey on Vimeo.

The limits to growth and the consequences of hitting those limits have four possible resolutions:

1. We continue on the same trajectory and there is a massive environmental catastrophe in which billions die in floods, fires and famines and global civilisation, perhaps even human life, ends.

2. A globally supported green new deal, premised on clean energy technologies and implemented wisely and justly by the world’s political systems, allows us to continue expanding population and consumption. Perhaps human ingenuity will build continent spanning sustainable megacities and colonies in space mining the asteroid belt and so on.

3. A global cabal of oligarchs take control of all governments through subversion of their structures and leaderships and control of populations through control of the media narrative and suppression of contrarian voices. This is facilitated by recurring or persistent pandemics and economic shut downs that essentially warehouse non-essential humans in high value (mainly white) populations and starve off non-essential humans in low value (brown and black) populations. Surveillance technologies, vaccines that create custom vulnerabilities and media manipulation limit and control the masses everywhere under systems of governance that resemble ‘1984’ or ‘Brave New World’ or some combination of the two with shades of ‘Bladerunner’.

4. The density of human interaction and conversation at global and local levels runs counter to the fear inducing narratives of the controlled media. A building ‘noospheric’ pressure results in individual and community ‘enlightenments’. A new humanity, ‘homo gestalt’ if you will, more conscious and connected, emerges and voluntarily and justly limits their own growth and consumption, establishing harmony on personal, interpersonal and planetary levels.

I’ve not ordered these scenarios in order of probability or desirability. I will say that two of them are consistent with our current trajectories while the other two both hang on a wing and a prayer.

I am not a Christian But ..

I wrote the following as part of a discussion in a FB group.

I’m quoting it here understanding that it may be very ‘triggering’ for some people who do not like their religious certainties questioned and for secularists who think this kind of talk is irrelevant nonsense. So for most this will be irreverent or irrelevant .. If it is either for you .. just let it go. ‘you be you and i’ll be me.’ 😉

Anyway I wrote:

I’m not a Christian because of the doctrinal stuff associated with that identification but I have to say that the core teaching of Jesus has it all. The core of the core as it were was the extraordinary statement that Jesus made when he was asked ‘What is the greatest commandment?’. He replied that the greatest commandment was that you should love God with all your heart and soul and might and then he went on to say that there was a second, very like it, that was that you should love your neighbour as yourself.

I recall Echard Tolle remarking that Jesus did not say ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself’, he said ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ because your neighbour is yourself. This is the core recognition of all true religion (the word means ‘reunite’). Jesus continued by saying that ‘on these two commandments hang the whole of the law and the prophets’. You can’t get more hard core than this and this should be recognised as the central message; the key meditation for anyone that claims to be following the teachings of Jesus.

That something as crucial as this is effectively forgotten, essentially relegated to a blind spot of religious consciousness, would probably not surprise a historical Jesus.

Permit me to quote:

Matthew 19:16-24 King James Version (KJV)

16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

This is why we slide away from the reality of love and what it demands. Because if we recognise everyone ‘as ourself ‘ then we have to give up the privileges of our particular situation and be with the poor and the oppressed. We can’t accept this; as individuals it is almost impossible to act on this consciousness, but as a conscious community (a Kingdom of God as it were) we might just make it. This is why the narrative, the conversation is so important and also why it is suppressed – consciously and unconsciously.

Passages follow those that I’ve quoted that I don’t consider to be part of that same teaching ‘on which the whole of the law and the prophets hang’. I consider them and some other sayings attributed to Jesus to be part of a Jewish eschatological framework that was tacked on to the teachings of Jesus and that together with Greek mythopoetic interpretations subverted a non-judgemental and humble teaching about the profound Unity of all Being and beings into one, that answering the selfish misunderstandings of Peter (the Church), became both hierarchical and judgemental. And absurd:

25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Obviously mine is a very personal perspective on Christian teaching. Everyone who engages with any teaching takes what is meaningful to them. I’m not claiming to be ‘right’ about this, i’m just saying what it means to me and what I learn from it. The central truth is that we are one and love is the expression of that oneness.

Not the Borg

We’ve got to learn to talk with each other in order to create a new narrative.We have to see ourselves and each other in quite a different way. We have to deliberately reach out to each other even though this may be scary.

I posted this cartoon and reflection on my own page earlier today.

The Borg that I refer to (for the sake of non-trekkies) are presented in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ as a spacefaring ‘collective’ that assimilate species and cultures across the galaxy. They are a metaphor for the submergence of individuality and diversity in a conformist totalitarianism that, depending on political preference, can be projected as a ‘1984’ style communism or a ‘Brave New World’ style corporatism.

The subversion of the will and consciousness of the many to the will and consciousness of the powerful few is a millenias old motif of human societies and is not, of course, peculiar to our present time. This subversion of the individual and collective will has been resisted by libertarian, communalist and humanist ideologies that are premised on values of individual dignity and universal equality.
What the Borg symbolise is the use of overwhelming technological capability to finally crush any will or set of values that contradicts those of the established power structures. The present danger is that the emerging totalitarian surveillance state in nationalist or globalist form will, if we are not vigilant, ‘Borgify’ us.

This vision of us becoming ‘the Borg’ competes with another (more fragile) vision that I like to call ‘Homo Gestalt’ after Theodore Sturgeon’s classic sci-fi novel ‘More than Human’. The thought here (my thought not Sturgeon’s – he was envisioning something more telepathic than telematic) is that emergent communication technologies, rather than being instrumental in controlling us can be instrumental in our emergence as a cooperative species, a ‘noosphere civilisation’ whose motif is collective consciousness rather than coerced consciousness.
Homo Gestalt will not sacrifice her individuality; the nature of that individuality changes organically by becoming part of the Gestalt but the Gestalt (that totality that is more than the sum of its parts) also changes organically to accomodate and reflect the diversity and individual presence of all its parts.

Our talking with each other is the beginning of the creation of the new narrative. Doing this extends us as human beings. We have to face and overcome many fears and prejudices in order to face and accept each other as the equals that we are. In doing this we will become powerful; in turning to each other we will root our own power in the power of community. Marianne Williamson wrote something that expresses this very well – even though I would use different words:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”