20 enero 2009

Wisdom 101

thought one: on the lessons of exile and getting what we asked for

Israel learned from Babylon.

We might miss that, as so much of the OT is full of the chosen people's treachery and "asking-for-it" behavior. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezequiel are big books. They promise a lot, but all the good stuff is pretty much future happenings. We forget: Daniel read Jeremiah. He repented. He was not alone. The men in Ezra listened. John the Baptist, son of a priest, honored Malachi's rebuke. The stench of the river Chebar stuck a long while in Hebrew nostrils. The very reason Jesus had Pharisees to wrangle with was because Israel wanted to do whatever it took never to get their happy tails back in captivity again. Even strain a gnat and tithe mint, anise, and cummin. Whatever it took.

Likewise, people learn from pain. Thusly, does corporal punishment work. Sometimes hearts change; frequently behavior does. We'd like to hope everyone would search history and peruse the arguments to come to a logical conclusion about life, but a lot prefer the hands-on method of experience to teach them. Disillusionment is not a bad thing; it's the death of illusion.

Welcome to four years of streaming video/audio lessons in government, economics, psychology, and sociology.

(Wisdom 101)

This is what we asked for. don't tell me you didn't vote for Obama; you didn't convince enough of the population not to, either. Your beliefs were not convincing. Or my beliefs, as it were. "Our side" wasn't impressive enough, credible enough, acceptable, authentic, believeable, cogent, conclusive, dependable, faithful, hopeful, incontrovertible, likely, moving, plausible, possible, powerful, presumable, probable, rational, reasonable, reliable, satisfactory, satisfying, solid, sound, swaying, telling, trustworthy, trusty, valid ...

enough. or if it was, we kept it too much so on the down low.

i couldn't get enough young, black, female, or Latino voters to believe the life of the helpless trumps all other "issues". Conservatives couldn't figure out how to explain why big government is death... to anyone beside themselves. A majority of voting Americans think a charming, gracious President and lots of generous programs will fix their problems. Obviously, grace and charm are appealling. Conservatives were right; why would they need graciousness?

Well, here's the good thing: if we follow t r u t h more than we adhere to any label/ ideology, reality is always on our side. Eventually, people will find out their lives and the world continue about as stinkedly the same as usual. Maybe it will get worse. Some conservative "points" might be proved. Should conservatives therefore console themselves by gloating like 3rd graders?

Admittedly, we might sigh like Paul at the soon-sinking of our ship, we might not be able to hold back a small "i told you so" to the gnarly sailors around us, but we don't have to be scorners on the Titanic. There can be an alternative. This is a time to be pessamistic, not hopeless. Do not think short term. Do not enjoy the destruction of illusionment. Sympathize practically. Offer plan B. We can let history prove our points for us, step forward, (maybe after some etiquette lessons) and offer an alternative. How?

1) Identify the problems. (Most people seem to have this one down pat. But try to zero in on the heart of the problem. if problems have hearts.)

2) Ask, "Which problems are most pressing to me? Which can I DO something about?"

3) Study history. Seek wisdom. Converse. (*Note: when i say, "converse," i mean, like, "dialogue." abstain from the party line. keep your complaining to the bare necessary. answer each of your own complaints with #4...)

4) Plan.

5) Study how to articulate plan, how to convince. Practice articulation and conviction.

6) Articulate and execute.

thought two: At least we don't have an ochlocracy.

och·loc·ra·cy: (n.) gov't by the masses; mob rule

thought three: frederica! read this delightfully anticonsumerist essay

".. over the generations the work people knew by hand has been replaced by the work of experts. Two centuries ago [or a few thousand kilometers away today] a mother was her family’s doctor, teacher, seamstress, cook, and storyteller. Today a mother *shops for* the best medical care, the best school, the best clothes, the best foods, the best entertainment video. She is no longer a producer, but merely an acquirer. Everything her family needs is produced by strangers and experts, whose abilities seem to far exceed her own. At the most she can make a decorative wall-hanging—from a kit designed by an expert."

"Advertising would have us think that this role of mere selector is
a luxurious one, and that we should go ahead and indulge ourselves (and in the
process keep spewing money). But from inside the amoeba it feels debilitating.
No one wants to be a mere taker. Such qualities as initiative, creativity, originality, and courage are necessary for a person to feel that their life has meaning -- that they are truly alive. And since nobody has yet figured out how to make you pay for doing those things, these qualities are not much emphasized."

"How to break free?

Well, we can shake up our perspective and avoid hypnosis by staying alert to the transience of all this, and staying aware of how long and varied human history has been. We can resist creeping intoxication by keeping one foot in eternity, in prayer. We can take practical steps: study the cultures of previous generations, develop forgotten hand-skills, read older books, even watch older movies. The simple act of shopping second-hand is a kind of consumer’s pocket veto. We should also cultivate amused skepticism about advertising, and teach this wariness to our kids, just as a previous generation taught kids to watch out for snakes. "

and send them to 3rd world countries early & often. make sure some of the happiest and best company they know are at a lower income range than you are. let them give to the needy and see how far their alms go. and convince them they are absolutely the most fortunate kids in the entire world: one for their material prosperity, and two because they could live without most of it and not lose much. make sure they understand: there are always those poorer, not necessarily more miserable, and there are always those richer, although probably not happier or better souled. and give them heroes. real heroes. people with backbone. whether it's Davy Crockett or the kid's grandmother, nothing shows the emptiness of image-obsession like unself-conscious substance.

Babylon blasters: because music with the B-word is just more refreshing somehow

It is For Freedom

Eye On the Sparrow

Caia Babylonia

Babylon Will Fall

Rivers of Babylon

To the King

(no, i don't speak portuguese. yet. but that is a good question.)