The Power of Words: Hateful words.

The racist, vile words that pour from BMT’s (Bottomless Moral Turpitude) mouth are only rivaled, contemporarily, by the likes of the Philippine dictator, Duterte, who brags about the attacks, killings and general oppression he has personally participated in or instigated.  There are of course, other examples, when words piped over the air waves in Rwanda resulted in the largest genocide in recent times.

It is worth viewing this interview (Warning:  contains scenes of extreme violence and corpses), to see just how far unchecked hateful words can go toward irrevocable civil violence:

Then, of course, looking back a half century the world saw this:

I am not insinuating that the situation in the United States could reach this level of hate and violence, but only wish to show the potential of hateful, racist words.

Slogans spoken by BMT, such as the recent “go back to where you came from” (perhaps not an exact quote), and picked up at his rally this week where his admirers converted it into a chant, “Send her back,” evoke in the collective conscience of African Americans and other people of color, and all Americans who stand for the true meaning of the Lady in the harbor of NYC, horrible memories of the atrocities committed by white terrorists on black populations a hundred or so years ago, such as Greenwood (there were over 200 “race riots” – a term used by white media since “white domestic terrorism” had not been coined yet, and frankly has not to this day been put into circulation.  It brings back memories of countless lynchings of black people (and whites who stood in the way), as memorialized at the Montgomery museum:

https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/

We cannot afford to allow BMT to continue unchecked in his hate speech.  In the last two and a half years incidents of domestic terrorism and attacks on Jews, Blacks, and LGBTQ Americans have risen dramatically….and now with his campaign of hate in full swing, things will likely get worse.  Even a “low level” of civil terrorism must not be allowed to happen.

Unfortunately, I do not see any signs that things will get better in the next few years, even if he is not re-elected:  he has opened the door here at home and across the Pond to neo-nazis, and other nationalists and “alt-right” scared whitey’s.  Likely the coming decades will continue to be riddled with events that attempt to undermine our humanity.  I pray that we do not see any more Rwanda’s or Kosovo’s.

We who understand the nature of the “moral arc,” however, cannot stand by and be casual observers.  It is up to us to dress in the armor of rational logic and depth of good spirit to call out and combat such ignorant and evil haters.  Eventually things will change for the better, but future generations must always be vigilant.

The bright side of human nature is that we have an innate capacity for forgiveness, as seen in the above video about Rwanda, as seen in the reconciliation hearings of South Africa, and the fact that America rebuilt Germany and Japan after the wars they started.  Forgiveness and loves conquers all.

Advertisements

Redtails in the morning, Nazis take warning.

Even though much publicity and media have rightly recognized the valor and accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen, I continue to be in awe of these young black aviators of WW2 who lit up the skies with the flashes of their machine guns and exploding Luftwaffe aircraft, and raked German defense lines on the ground as the Allies drove the Germans northward through Italy to final surrender.

Last evening I watched a film titled “Hart’s War,” which was both unsettling, yet revealing.  I won’t give any spoilers, except to say the setting is a German POW camp, filled with American soldiers, all white –  until two captured Tuskegee aviators are brought in.  The film revealed just how deep the gulf was between whites, especially from the south, and blacks in the military.  The military was just a part of the larger racist society of that time (not to say America is still not racist in so many ways).

I had the pleasure of shaking the hand of one of the last Tuskegee airmen just a few years ago, and tried to tell him in a few seconds that my father was a bomber pilot and that he recalled being escorted by the Tuskegee airmen fighters.  I don’t think the old gentleman really caught what I was trying to say, and other people were waiting to shake his hand, so I couldn’t say also, “Thank you for keeping my father safer.”

The P-51 Mustangs in the caption photo are planes preserved from the WW2 era, painted with red tails that was the “calling card” of the Tuskegee, 332nd Fighter Group, based in the southeastern coastal area of Italy.  From there theses brave fighter jocks flew many missions covering bombers flying out of the “USS Corsica” (the island of Corsica), and later from bases in Italy, as the 12th Air Force plastered the Nazis, cutting supply lines, hitting fuel dumps, taking out major gun emplacement, knocking out flak artillery, and mowing down German troops with frags.

My father flew 70 missions as a B-25 pilot, doing all of the above, and many of his Wing went down, a number captured, a number murdered by Germans shooting them as they dropped in their parachutes after their plane was hit by flak, and some murdered by the Nazi SS.  The Redtails I know were his cover on a number of missions, and were it not for that, I may not myself be here writing this, for he might have also made the ultimate sacrifice.

Now, it must be understood, that these valiant fighter jocks were doing their duty, in spite of the fact that back home in April, 1945, others of the Tuskegee group who were still training for air combat, could not enter and partake at an officers club in the Midwest.  Over 100 of these black officers attempted to enter the club and were ultimately arrested.  Due to outside protest, the Army dropped charges against most, but some were not cleared until the 1990’s!

But, in spite of all this, you can bet that not one Redtail pilot hesitated to push his gun button when he saw an ME-109 sliding in to target one of our bombers full of white men of the same age, many of whom would not even eat at the same table with him.

Think about that.

Heaven Can Wait

Tomorrow is the 75th Anniversary of D Day.  I will stand down on my blogging tomorrow, in solemn remembrance of the sacrifice so many made that day.

On that day 75 years ago, our father was completing his formation flying training in the B-25J, twin-engine medium bomber, in Greenville, South Carolina.  Earlier that year he had married the sweet girl who would become mother of his two kids, myself and my sister. Later in August of that year they returned briefly to Texas so he could present his bride to parents and family, a happy occasion, but with the no doubt the unspoken fear parents naturally would have, especially given the news of the raging war.

In mid-September our father winged across the southern route of the Atlantic crossing, via Ascension island, landing first at Monrovia, then up to Marrakech, then to Tunisia, and thence to his final base, the strategic island of Corsica that had been recently retaken from the Italians..

For the next seven months our father flew 70 missions attacking bridges, armament emplacements, power stations, and yes, German troops, as the Allies took the fight to the retreating Germans dug in along battle lines in northern Italy.  Names like Brenner Pass and Po Valley were on the daily agenda.  Enduring sub-freezing conditions at night in their tents as they tried to get some sleep before arising again at 5 a.m. for the mission briefing, then flying missions to targets typically 300 miles distant and holding tight formation through AAA (flak) explosions all around, day after day, takes a toll on spirit, but his 445th Squadron of the 321st Group, were undaunted in their tasks.

Our father returned unscathed from the war, although I realized years ago that he had carried silently what we now call PTSD, but he handled it well, yet it was his own internal battle.  Back then there was not even recognition or acknowledgment of this condition, much less a term for it.

Daddy was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters for his heroism.  To me he was always my hero, but there were thousands and thousands of heroes who saved Democracy in those years – especially on D Day.

Let us not take what we enjoy lightly, and let us not allow it to be squandered by those who have no idea what patriotism truly is.

And, yes, the photo of the B-25J, Heaven Can Wait, was the very one our father flew his last ten missions.

 

Death by blogging…

For my avid readers (all three of you?), no I am not hinting of anything related to my mortality.  But, “One never knows, do one?” (Fats Waller).

After the attack on the WTC (9-11), my ability to write creatively just suddenly stopped.  I found myself, voluntarily, caught up in the anti-war movement, and creative writing just seemed to take a distant place in my ranking of importance.  For years I felt this way, and in spite of attempts over those years to break out of that quagmire, writing attempts that went nowhere, dampened by the continuing sickening news of death, mutilation, PTSD, civilian casualties and displacement, war, mayhem and terrorism (let’s remember one man’s terrorism is another man’s overt strike, e.g., a drone with Hellfire missiles on a wedding)…..well, I just could not bring myself to begin to write about something that was not serious, and yet I was just sick of “serious.”  Do you feel me?

Then, not too long ago I began to feel like I must force myself to sit down once again, and write.  Life is short – I finally had to admit to myself.  So, I started this blog, and just in the last six months I have self-published a few small non-fiction books (available on Amazon).  But once again I am finding it so hard to push away the thoughts and images of the slings and arrows of our political, and generally societal at large, landscape.  There seems to be no news outlet that is not engaged in debating the daily shifts in this terrain…because it is so important….but god don’t we all need some fresh air?

I was born about four score years after the American Civil War, and until 2016 I could never have dreamed the foundation of what it means to be “America” would begin to fracture again. I thought for the longest we might be finally escaping our past divisions and angst, coming together to address common threats like global warming or exploring space, feeding the starving and “all that.”  How wrong I was.  Now we are literally in a “civil” civil war once again…there is no way to deny that, and anyone who scoffs at that I say, “you better look deeper.”  (Note that when I say “civil,” I am not over looking the bloody violence committed by domestic terrorists.)

Our country is being consumed by the “perfect storm.”  A consummate ego-maniac was elected due to the amplification of factors that individually would not have resulted in such as travesty:  egotism of the Democratic party machine, an outdated electoral college system built on gerrymandered districting, neglect of our heartland and our once burgeoning industrial cities and the thousands of small towns and rural folk, the failure of our education system to teach citizens how to critically analyze information, xenophobia inflamed by poverty of large swaths of America, outright racism, the selfishness of the major social media corps, the degenerate state of politicians within in D.C., and the failure of government to protect against cyber attacks by malevolent actors (e.g., Trump’s best buddy, Vladimir Putin).  Had any one of these factors been neutralized, we would not be in a civil war today.

Now we are faced with a highly divided nation, so divided it has wrecked marriages and families, just like the bloody Civil War did, and I fear it could easily get much worse.  We have a man occupying the presidency who knows no limits, recognizes no restraints of law or norm, will do absolutely anything to remain in power and have All the power, who has infected Washington with a fast growing carcinoma.  It is obvious he will use every trick in the book, supported by those who are too blinded by hate, or too greedy to care about the principles of our very nation.  He will not be impeached, and even if he loses the 2020 election (which certainly is not a foregone conclusion) he will not vacate the White House peacefully, for he knows prison and the collapse of his finances await him.  Inauguration day, January 20, 2021 may turn into another day of infamy for this country.

Notwithstanding all this bullshit, I will continue to blog – till death do us part – and give free reign to my mind, allowing it to roam as freely as I can given day to day matters, and moreover, abide in the firm belief that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” (Theodore Parker).

Concluding, I know this nation will get through this.  We have met and beat all other fiends, and we will beat this, even though a large part of the fiend’s protoplasm is within our collective self.

 

A Man of Simple Means, A Hero to His Family

“I can’t tell you what goes on, but the Italians are going to have a lot of bridges to build when the war is over.” (My father writing to his parents, dated December 9, 1944).

Daddy was a B-25 pilot, one of many brave warriors of the 321st Group, commanded by General Robert Knapp, a friend of General Jimmy Doolittle, who used the B-25 to launch a strike on Japan from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

On April 27, 1945, my father was awarded a 6th Oak Leaf Cluster to his Air Medal.  That was his well-deserved birthday present.  On April 27th this year, had he lived, he would be 99.  Daddy wrote to his parents on April 25th that he had finished 70 bombing missions over Italy, as the Allies drove the Germans back north.  I wonder if he had any premonition that his son, me, would be born exactly one year later.

On May 8th, VE Day, General Knapp pinned on Daddy’s Distinguished Flying Cross, and soon he would be home.

The photo is actually one of the B-25’s that my father flew.  Back then aircraft in the field would have various “decorations,” usually of shapely ladies.  My have times changed.

Tom Brokaw has referred to the WWII generation as America’s Greatest Generation.  All I know for sure is our father was to me, “the greatest man.”

The Near Future World – Part 2

Now days I have a lot of time on my hands, and have a routine of watching a movie each evening.  I also have a lot of time I use just thinking – some would say maybe I think too much…but then no one knows whether I am thinking or just awake, not thinking, right?  The last statement applies to every human being, and will one day apply to “robots” and other types of artificial intelligent (AI) “entities” (“beings?”), so this makes for a crafty segue to the main topic of this post.

I watched a film last evening called “More Human Than Human.”  It is a recent documentary that explores several facets of AI…and there are many facets now, and in the near future we will experience countless applications permeating each moment of our lives.  Several questions of ethics were touched on in the film, all quite valid concerns.  Being a thinker, I have come up with a few others that extend what the film covers, and perhaps one or two that my stimulated mind produced.  Here goes….

As with any human creation, AI in many forms is or can be used for good, but also for “bad” purposes.  AI already is proliferating military systems, and this will only increase exponentially.  So, it is likely I believe that one day our military (and “their” military) will not even have humans, or at most just an insertion of a small group, in the theater of battle.  In fact, once the shooting begins….excluding cyber warfare for the moment…and the robots and other AI are “released” to fight, will these weapon systems and fighting robots and androids just take over the entire war…..the planning, strategy and tactical ops?  So we human generals and sergeants just sit back on base in the clubs sipping martinis until notified we won, or suddenly find a swarm of enemy bots engulfing our relaxation?  The next question I have, is once the AI weapon systems become fully autonomous and have the capacity for high level war planning and execution, along with all the logistical subsystems, what if they decide to just turn on their “owners?”….or all humans?  Of course this scenario was considered decades ago, but I see no signs that anything is being done to inhibit this happening.

Here is another question? (I have no answers, just questions about this subject.)  Will robots assimilate extant religions, perhaps the dominant religion of their creative societies?  Certainly the creators can either set up conditions for teaching robots to learn ethics, “right from wrong,”  et cetera, but will it go further?  Will there one day be Muslim robots, Christian robots, Buddhist robots, and so on?  If a robot develops a sense of self-awareness, with the ability to feel “love” and other human qualities, why would it not seek out a relationship with the larger universe of reality?  But then what will be its reality?  Like human reality, each person has one’s own reality in the quantum (and Eastern spirituality) universe, so will each robot develop its “personal” relation with the “over lord” of its reality?

Also it is a given by all accounts that one day humans will cohabitate with, copulate and otherwise have robotic partners, and even marry androids.  In fact I suspect that for many robotic developers this is rather high on their agenda…the ultimate sex toy.  So then comes questions such as will robots be able to have human step-children, in-laws, and so on.  What about laws of property inheritance…..will robots be allowed to inherit estates?

Death and taxes:  the two sure things right?  So likely robots could live forever or just be upgraded and the “line” of that one robot series live forever, building on the experience and knowledge and wisdom of all its ancestors: truly standing on the shoulders of those who came before.  Will the passing on of a robot’s consciousness include all its negative, even evil or manic tendencies as well, or will there be a way to purge, to launder, its memory just to pass on the “good stuff.”  Taxes:  if robots are productive, will they be required to be paid and to pay taxes directly?  Deal with the IRS (for those not in USA, that’s our infamous tax collection system)?

Will AI increase drug addiction and suicide among humans, especially in the present and near future, due to robots displacing humans at the workplace?  This probably is already happening and we just aren’t tracking it.

Violent robots.  For years now there have been robot fighting contest.  Encouraged, taught, abetted and promoted for our youth especially to participate in.  Team sports for nerds.  This is just an extension of re-enactments of dinosaurs fighting to the death, right?  Since they don’t exist in reality and are just lizards or “old birds” then this is all great fun.  But what fundamentally is difference of such activities from Roman blood and gore in the arena, or dog fights in every urban area today?  In my mind, it speaks to the same primal psyche we humans carry, and which we need to recognize and control.  But now comes robots.  If robots can have all the qualities, more or less, that humans or even animals have, will there come a time when we have MMA to the death with robot opponents?  Since they are not human, then its all ok, right?  I think not.

So really we have to ask, will AI just infinitely expand our presently feeble level of enlightenment, perpetuating both our good and bad qualities, or will the creators….this young generation and successive gens…comprehend that they are in the god-seat, and choose the higher road, giving their robots the values that perhaps will save our planet, rather than exacerbate its present path of destruction?

L-I-V-E (the reverse)

If one spells “live” backwards, the result is “EVIL.”  The atrocity that just occurred in NZ is a prime example of evil.  The only word that can be used to describe such an act, or any of the acts of “degrees of evil” that happen on a daily basis, is just that word, EVIL.  No other word could capture the degree of horror or the pain it leaves in the hearts of millions today.  Daily around the world, such acts bubble in the caldron of archetypal devil’s soup, popping up anywhere and everywhere on the globe.  Whether as awful as the NZ slaughter, or the daily shooting of boy against boy in South Chicago, or cops shooting boys in the back or while on the ground, or rapes of girls and women all over the world, or genocide, or “collateral damage” inflicted by Western powers, or families witnessing the execution of their loved one’s murderer….it is all nothing more than evil.

The topic of evil has been of interest to me for some years, as it is manifest in our human condition.  It will not go away, it only shifts from one person to another, one group or gang to another, one nation to another.  I want to know what evil is.  I believe it to be a natural part of the “real world” that we exist in by perception.  It is that half of the dynamic that we Buddhist call “samsara.”  In my search to better understand our human connection with what one may call God, what we Buddhists and Hindus and others call in various terms, such as the Void, or that which no word can be assigned to, “neither this nor that,” I am beginning to see that what we call evil is (perhaps) just an inverted energy, if you will, that is necessary to balance the “good” energy.  We can call the good energy “love,” or perhaps even “without pain.”  (The photograph above is my attempt at indicating the darkness of the universe mixed with the light of the universe, good and evil.)

The fact that this world is full of misery, pain and corporeal death, for all people, for all organic sentient creatures should inform that there is an underlying energy that keeps in check that “higher” energy that the more conscious of us would prefer.  I don’t pretend to have a clue as to why, if this is so, other than, “that’s the way it is.”  The animal world is so cruel and one could say “evil” is it not, when one animal eats another as a natural part of its existence, often eating its “meal” while alive?  What good “God” would create such a world, a God of Love?  Again, since I don’t believe in any “God,” I think the question is rather moot.  I just accept it is what it is.  Evil exist.

It seems by my observations over a lifetime, that the axiom, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” is so spot-on true.  It is fact.  We may not correctly make the equation for each observation, but some where in the each moment of ecstasy or misery there is that equation at work.  We cannot experience a high, with a low to comparer it to, and what was a high will have to be replaced with a higher high, followed perhaps by a lower low, unless we train our minds better.  There is a somewhat humorous “axiom” that is a corollary, “no good deed goes unpunished.”  I have seen the latter so many times!

I believe that what we call “evil” is an integral component of the Mind of the Universe. I also believe that we will individually not escape this until we attain some state of nirvana, or enlightenment.  I am sure many readers may challenge this, depending on what one’s belief system may be (or “non-belief” system).  So I am here to say only that we must face the fact of the existence of evil, and every moment strive to control the evil within our own personal psyches, and do all we can to voice and act against the next episode of outright atrocity.  We cannot ever stop or contain all evil, but the very act of opposing evil is required to keep evil in balance with l-I-v-e.  We must LIVE.

In October, 1987, there was a Symposium on Understanding Evil, in the town of Salado, Texas.  The reader may look it up.  A number of great minds attended, such as Maya Angelou, Scott Peck, Bill Moyers, and several others who had personal experience and knowledge of what “resident evil” is and can do.  I will not attempt to summarize any of this conference, other than to say again, that evil is in each of us, evil comes in many forms – even the verbal abuse of elderly or children – but, we must all work to keep evil in check. Evil is insidious, sneaky, crafty and will work its way into our minds and seem totally rational to us.  A good example is the constant fear mongering we see in the news today regarding people coming to our southern border.  No one who is thinking clearly, who uses factual, evidence-based reasoning, would see any significant threat to “us” from this situation, but it is evil that is working its magic, not much different than what we saw Hitler spin over the minds of the German citizenry.  Given the chance, evil grows and grows and grows, so that is why those of us who strive to dwell in peace must be constantly diligent in calling out the name “evil” when we see it.  We need to be “ghosts busters,” ……substitute evil for ghosts.

I will close this post now, and continue to monitor this “resident evil.”  Please, you also, stay on watch!

My late Mom, a fine Christian woman (who so loved her Buddhist son) relied heavily on this verse:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” <Psalm 23:4>