Pharriages and more as we decide to make the world a peaceful place this New Year. Actually, what we need is simply some World Quiet. We are willing to give up our hope for World Peace in exchange for some quiet. Stop the loudness, the hyperbole, the marketing, the constant spin. Let the world spin at its own pace, not any faster or slower. Give me back my slow days and my quiet nights. Lets make a resolution this year to stop the noise. Down with busy-ness. More power to quiet-ness.
We make resolutions at the start of every year because that is the time when we want to wipe the slate clean, start afresh. Discard the bad habits of the last year and make a better world for ourselves. However, with each passing New Year we find ourselves in a worse place than we were the year before: climate change, terror, financial crisis, poor leadership, greedy bankers, loud neighbors, intolerance, bigotry, migrants taking my job away, louder TV news channels, costlier tickets, duller movies, more sports doping and betting scandals. Nothing has been spared.
So what is special about this year? One of our regular columnists Paul Smith wrote to us:
“This year (2016) numerologically adds up to 9, [2+0+1+6=9], which in the Tarot deck is The Hermit card – the card of exaltation in alchemy. It could imply a more contemplative focus, going within to raise the vibration higher which is something that I think our world could use much more of today. I like the words of the author on alchemy, Mark Stavish, in his The Path of Alchemy, “The son of Hermes is an adept who is in, but not of the world. He is seen but hidden from the eyes of the profane, or those who would seek to abuse the powers of Nature. The Hermit shuts himself off from the world, led by his inner light, relying of the staff of experience to create new and more perfect forms, so that what is seeking expression in material life may be an improvement over what it replaces.”
For The Hermit to do his alchemy and magic, peace is required. The challenge was to ensure world peace. How do we go about ensuring world peace this year? It was New Year’s eve and we thought: Why not resolutions?
We consulted some experts and gurus. After much analysis and discussion, they informed us that most New Year resolutions are about self-improvement and about personal issues. However, over the years all these resolutions of self-help and self-improvement has NOT helped our world become a better, peaceful place. Therefore, they decided that this this New Year we cannot just sit back and decide to self-improve. That will not help anyone, including the person who improves himself.
What we desperately need is social improvement, not just self-improvement. And more than exercising our biceps, we have to exercise our brains. That does not mean our own brains and biceps necessarily. Because when we exercise our brains, we work smarter, not necessarily harder; and we realize that someone else can a much better job than us. Someone else’s resolution can help us reach world peace faster than our own. Let them make that resolution.
The experts clarified by giving an example: New Year resolutions, which if fulfilled, will improve the world considerably, are not necessarily for you to follow. Sometimes a positive change in behavior by a lousy neighbor can help create peace in the neighborhood much more than all your attempts to be a forgiving and kind human being.
“I will exercise my brain (think) before I open my mouth (to speak).”
Mr. Donald Trump
Democracy, the rule of the people and by the people (and never for the people), is bound to be loud. After all there are more than 7 billion people on the planet; each one wants to exert their voice, and there is the social media. However, the greatest tragedy with democracy today is not loud people, with more interested in expressing opinions than self-rule; it is the group that poses as leaders of the people. Politicians and businessmen, both, have failed their respective systems. Politicians have completely failed democracy and businessmen have completely failed “free-market” capitalism. However, both groups have lined their pockets and amassed huge amounts of personal wealth.
Generally, we would not have brought this up; after all, it is old news. However, this is the year of the Hermit, who needs peace to reflect on the state of the world, and come up with a new, better order. So Mr. Trump becomes a metaphor for that which politicians (and businessmen turned politicians) do today to disturb the peace.
Politicians today are not just happy to plunder their own countries; they also want to pose. They talk a lot of gibberish and nonsense. And they talk endlessly thanks to the amplification of their chatter by the 24/7 media. And all that noise from the raucous debates on television sets becomes a major disturbance to world peace.
Representing the people: Millionaire politicians
We want peace at any cost this year. Let the politicians cheat, lie, and steal. Let them do it silently. They do not have to appear on TV and prove to us that they are holier than their brothers. We all know that almost all politicians have business interests and most own companies. Reports in Time magazine and The New York Times state: Congress Is Now Mostly a Millionaires’ Club with half of all Congressmen (the representatives of the people)worth at least one million.In 2013, the median net worth for lawmakers in the House and Senate was $1,008,767 — up 4.4 percent. By comparison, the The U.S. Census Bureau reported in September 2014 that the US real (or inflation adjusted) median household income was $51,939 in 2013 versus $51,759 in 2012, statistically unchanged. In 2013, real median household income was 8 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the latest recession.
Democrats had a median net worth of $1.04 million, and republicans of $1 million. The averages in both cases had gone up compared with the previous year, when the numbers were $990,000 and $907,000.The New York Times goes to quote Josh Bivens, director of research at the Economic Policy Institute, that focuses on income inequity and poverty: “Congress not only seems more responsive to policy desires of the very rich, but increasingly they are the very rich.”.
That politicians are selfish and corrupt is almost accepted as a universal truth by most countries today, and these are not just in Africa. Canadians mistrust politicians at about twice the rate at which they mistrust CEOs according to a national survey conducted by the Gandalf Group on behalf of the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre.In the UK, the British public are less likely to trust politicians to tell the truth than estate agents, bankers and journalists according to a poll by Ipsos MORI.
However, what seems a bit more difficult to explain is why, in recent times, businessmen have taken to politics.Maybe because, we, of this neoliberal age, including the more liberal Canadians, seem to have more faith in businessmen. Although rich landowners have always dominated the political scene in the oldest country (democracy) in the modern world, many businessmen are leery of getting their hands dirty and conveniently use politicians as middle-men for their deals.
Cut out the middle-man
So why are they openly getting into the political sphere? Is it because now the business class and the super-rich are afraid that their taxes will be used for providing succor to the poor. God forbid if the money made by the billionaires, clearly on the backs of Mother Nature or brother farmer and sister factory worker, be used for their health or nutrition or any welfare. Or maybe the super-rich, thanks to the academics on their payroll, have recognized the Achilles heel of the political class. Howsoever corrupt, a politician still carries the baggage of history on his shoulders. Politicians are keen about what and how history will speak of them, even the fascist demagogue. That is why the first thing fascist leaders do is revise the textbooks and control the expressive arts. And perhaps the political class recognizes that if the super-rich are not taxed more, then the social security net will disappear between 2013 and 2035 in the US. It will clearly expose that the American democracy is not of or for the people at all. There is a fight going on between the elephants – the powerful super-rich businessmen and the group that until today were their hand-maidens – the politicians. Their interests have diverged a little: the super-rich do not want their party to be taxed (it will not end anytime) and the politicians knows that if social security dies then there is a threat to the political system and his own future. This divergence of self-interests is leading to all the noise on television. I just want to shop in peace, leave me alone and out of this, scream the consuming citizen. But we cannot because without an audience, the players in this face called democracy, will not be satisfied.
Berlusconi and Donald Trump are two faces of businessmen as politics that we are familiar with because these have been highlighted by the media. Berlusconi owns media, the media wants to own Trump.Because of his strategic use of sensationalism (or maybe that’s truly Trump). No one knows and that’s the danger to democracy.
Today, all of us, sadly, conflate having money with intelligence and smartness. And in the real world many of us, even educated people, actually confuse the two and the media helps us along: He is a billionaire, so he must be smart?
However, whatever be the amount of money in their banks and their hidden accounts, businessmen and politicians, are essentially sociopaths, some even narcissistic psychopaths, who have no interest in other human beings except their own personal ambition and greed. However, thanks to the media houses, interested in getting eyeballs and increasing advertising revenue rather than revealing the truth, any silly, stupid statement made by these pathological humans are amplified a million times and replayed endlessly on 24/7 television channels. And ordinary folks with little exposure to or experiences with people of different backgrounds, class and colors start believing in these statements as the truth. They base their knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, voting, and spending behaviors on these televised statements emerging from selfishness rather than wisdom. As the quote attributed to Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister during the Nazi regime and virulent anti-Jewish programs goes: Repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth.
95,000 words uttered by Donald Trump
Unfortunately for Donald Trump, his words amplified a million times by the media, has made him the representative of this entire species of narcissistic politicians and businessmen. Trump has taken the political craft of creating great divides between “us” and “them” to new heights, rather depths. He has spared no one — from the President in the White House to the migrant worker in the farms – with his allegations, accusations and use of malignant language.
In a recent article, the New York Times analyzed Donald Trump’s rhetoric by tracking 95,000 words uttered in one week by Trump in speeches, rallies and interviews. What they found was a pattern of Trump using “potent language to connect with, and often stoke, the fears and grievances of Americans.” Trump cleverly used divisive phrases and harsh words while putting forth violent imagery and also used an approachable demeanor and appropriate body language to convey the message: I know you are suffering. And it is all because of “them.” I will save you from them. I will deliver because I am smart. And how do you know I am smart? Because I have made a billion dollars. Trump Tautology.
And since Trump wields great power over the public opinion in the United States (as surveys have demonstrated over the past few months), and America wields great power over the rest of the world, we believe Mr. Trump has to own responsibility for his entire species to put things right this year. As Spidey Parker’s uncle said: With great power comes great responsibility. After all, the New Year is a fresh start, a new beginning, even for billionaires and Presidents.
May God bless Mr. Trump… with silence. Anything for World Peace.
“I will use my head and not behead.”
ISIS recruit and suicide-bomb staff
If anyone knows and appreciates world peace, that should be an adherent of Islam. After all, according to our Internet-age reference book (the 15-year old Wikipedia), Islam is a verbal noun originating from the triliteral root s-l-m which forms a large class of words mostly relating to concepts of wholeness, submission, safeness and peace.
So if ISIS wants to claim they have an Islamic State, they should be the best practitioners of world peace. What can we really talk to a practitioner of Islam about world peace? Nothing, right. .
Let’s face it
But it seems that the most unsafe and un-peaceful places on the planet are now at the center of these Islamic states/territories in Mid-east and northern Africa? The scream of a person getting beheaded will shatter the silence of any place on the planet, not just pierce the peace of the desert calm.
Not just unsafe for the western or other visitors but also for locals – remember the whipping, the lashing and now the beheading. All of them lead to moans and screams from those being subjected to it. That does not help the cause of peace.
After the whipping, lashing and stoning came the cutting off – first the ears, then the noses by the Taliban and now the heads by ISIS. What’s up with these Islamist militants? What do they have against the human face? I was okay with then wanting to cover it up – the desert sands whipped up by the windstorms and harsh sun could be some of the natural causes of this cover-up. But why deface it (the face), or try to get rid of it (the head)? Is it because of some “don’t use it, you lose it” kind of logic being implemented by ISIS (Daesh)?
So why can’t we talk to ISIS? Hopefully ISIS recruits and staff still have their ears.
We can’t say anything to ISIS because ISIS, for all its protests and claim to uniqueness, is very much like the West.
They do not want to listen.
God, in any religion, always told us to listen to others. Listening to another is one the easiest ways of expressing kindness, compassion and brotherhood. In fact the entire advancement of human civilization is based on the notion of dialogue – we listen to each other. A husband listens to a wife, a parent to a child, rulers to the ruled. It’s not a hallmark of democracy or western civilization – it’s a humane way to live and the ancient way.
However, before we blame ISIS for not listening to dialogue, let us look at why ISIS may point a finger at our TV new anchors and talk show hosts, who never listen. They keep talking, shouting, screaming. ISIS staffers could claim they are simply mimicking TV shows in the western world. In that, ISIS is closer to the west than they think. Just because they dress different or talk a different language does absolve them.
We have had spouses like that too, who never listen. At such times even we have harbored the thought of a talking head without a head. But it’s only a thought – a metaphor for the irritation and annoyance we feel. It’s not real.It is only a wish and as adults we know that not all our wishes come true. Because we believe that God inhabits all creation. We say our salaam and we walk away in peace. We close our ears, we do not cut mouths off.
So, for the sake of world peace, ISIS, please listen?
But ISIS never listens.
Because they do not have time to listen. In this too they are like the west.
ISIS staffers seem to be spending a lot of their time putting out more videos than music-companies and wannabe musicians; more than Youtube can handle.
These Internet and social media channels that claim to promote expression only end up promoting inanity and tripe. We want to cut off these channels, destroy them with the flick of a switch such as Dr. Evil or Dr. Strangelove would do with their missiles pointed at strategic targets of things they didn’t like.
But it’s only a thought – a metaphor for the aggravation we feel. It’s not real. In this we are like Walter Mitty. There is something called imagining and everything we imagine cannot be realized.
So ISIS, please listen to the please for world peace. But ISIS does not…
Because they do not care to listen. They are busy, tapping new sources of funding – very much like the west.
As Putin and Assad claim, ISIS takes funding from oil-producing Middle Eastern countries and also sells oil in the black market. That is a lot of work. By selling more oil to a world choking on oil-pollution; ISIS ends up promoting gas guzzling SUVs that spew out pollutants into the air and only make it difficult for children to breathe. The sound of wheezing of a child with difficulty in breathing does not help the cause of peace. Given the kind of air pollution in Shanghai and New Delhi, the people who live there or visit for work have also thought: Maybe if I behead myself, I will be able to breathe better.
But it’s only a thought – a metaphor, a mental relief, a ploy to palliate the pain of wheezing and breathlessness. We do not behead ourselvesin reality. We just want to be able to breathe and to do we need our noses and faces.
A wrestling match: The sale of the video game and TV broadcast rights
We all harbor anger. Even the poster boy of non-violence Gandhi did get angry at times, according to his biography. However, we choose to express our anger in different ways. We deface posters, not real ones. We close our eyes, shut our ears. We do not cut off the head of someone we disagree with. If that were the case then there would be no heads of state anywhere on the planet. People are angry at their own leaders. But they do not behead them.The world has moved ahead.
It’s fun in a video game. Going around shooting up people and beheading them. How would it play out in a board meeting with many different opinions or or a hostile takeover or a TV news how or in disagreements between husband and wife or a vegetable vendor and a client over the price of bananas.Heads rolling all over the place.
ISIS and the western diplomats are more alike than they care to show. We know ISIS has terrorized the west and we know many Western countries have done a great disservice to Africa and Asia. We can always ask them to apologize. Even if no one else does, Bill Clinton surely will. But that is if the western diplomat and ISIS dialog, then the world will have some much needed peace. It will actually give relief to common people on the streets, tone down the rhetoric in much of the West, and give one less excuse to the war mongering countries to make war.
Some experts say war is exactly what ISIS wants – it is doing everything specifically to create disgust among people in the West and those who harbor the civilizational values of the West. Apparently, they want the West to rush in where the angels fear to tread. They want war. They want the crusades – all over again. As the western states cobble together all sorts of coalitions to attack them, it is sad that ISIS is helping no one in the Middle East, especially the poor Islamic children dying of famine in Iraq.
If ISIS uses its head, it may see that there are lot more ways to serve God and the best way is through peace. We behead our own egos (swollen heads) in front of God, not someone else’s.
In the meantime, ISIS and western leaders can all get together in one World Wrestling Federation Arena, spew venom at each other, and fight it (like WWF veterans do) out on the mat. The ticket collections, the money made from TV rights and the sale of the video game or movie rights will be enough to feed the hungry of the world for another decade or at least until the global average temperature rises above 2 degrees C.
In the interim, may the peace be with you!
© The Essayist, 2016
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Congress Is Now Mostly A Millionaires’ Club
Why Canadians Trust Business Leaders More than Politicians: A new survey finds that CEOs are more trusted than elected officials—but that shouldn’t necessarily be cause to celebrate (Nov 2014)
Politicians trusted less than estate agents, bankers and journalists (January 2015)
95,000 Words, Many of Them Ominous, From Donald Trump’s Tongue
By Patrick Healy and Maggie Haberman. Dec 5, 2015