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A Simpler Shared Something Deeperism

A Simpler Shared Something Deeperism

We human-things are not going to agree on everything. We’ll argue philosophy, worldview, religion, politics, style.

But we are all still human-things and can thus all agree that to the degree a worldview fails to help an adherent develop more and more aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, respectful, kind, joyful, loving thought and action; that worldview is useless to that adherent.

Because those are the ways we must think and act in order to understand, believe-in, care-about, and participate-in our own thoughts and actions. To the degree we are not aware … loving, our thoughts and actions clang meaninglessly about: we cannot travel with our own thinking and acting, and so rather than being steered by the clear light of conscious awareness, our bodies/minds are steered by the chaos of competing animal-flinches (“give me!” “get away!” “I know!” “I don’t know!” etc). This is the way downward.

Bone-trembling example: Suppose there’s a !True Religion! Suppose further that you know and believe all its dogmas, but not with awareness … love. What do you then possess? Muddled thoughts desperately trying to interpret ideas that they do not understand — or even really believe in or care about.

Flesh-shaking other example: Suppose there is a sense in which things like “Real” and “Not Real” don’t even exist. Suppose further you believe this dogma, but not with awareness … love. What do you then possess? Muddled thoughts desperately trying to interpret ideas that they do not understand — or even really believe in or care about.
And so while we will continue to debate worldviews, we should agree to never pretend that our worldviews justify or even tolerate any departure from awareness, clarity, … loving kindness. When one does that, one betrays that aspect of anyone’s worldview that is actually meaningful and useful to anyone; and so one sacrifices everything worthy for a moment’s bloated fantasy about “us” versus “them”.

Let us therefore work diligently together to fight for more awareness, clarity, accuracy, competence, kindness, shared joy and real togetherness.

Why do we fight to establish and maintain just principles, norms, procedures, and laws within ourselves, our families, our communities, our groups secular and parochial, our governments, our friendships? Not to be “right” while others are “wrong”, but to all join together around our shared starting point — the one whose betrayal amounts to betraying all our worthiest (ie: most meaningful/useful to whole-human-beings [creatures consisting of ideas, feelings, and thatolsoullight all working together]) principles.

We don’t agree on everything, but we nonetheless do have the ability and duty to work together on what we do agree on: awareness, clarity, accuracy, competence, kindness, shared joy, on how we are all in this together and beholden to one another.

Let’s permanently retire the crooked daydream that we disagree so fundamentally as to preclude any common ground, any shared identity and reality. That tired trope’s already responsible for too many fetid, diseased wounds deep-tunneling through century upon lonesome century. Let’s try more interesting, more enlightening, more productive, more beautiful angles.

Everything in its place: We don’t need to agree on worldviews to agree that none of our worldviews means anything to any of us in the absence of clarity, honesty, accuracy, competence, kindness and shared joy. And we don’t need to agree on worldviews to demand these goods of our organizations and governments.

Let’s not get side-tracked by details! Let’s keep our collective eye on the prerequisites for any meaningful worldview and any workable community, system, organization, or government!

Pudd N. Tane,
President of the “We can do it!” Society of North America,
A chapter in good standing of the the “We can do it!” International Body of Optimistic Realists.
“We’re optimistic, because we believe humans are capable of doing good!”

[Selection from “Love at a Reasonable Price Volume One: First Loves” (Actually, this version appears in “First Essays” — See Buy Our Books!]




But what then?
We can probably get most everyone to give lip-service to awareness and the like. But what will that really change?
What we need is a shared starting-point.
Agreeing to the above values does suggest a collective agreement about some Absolute Standard: even if we don’t agree on all aspects of what beliefs and principles cannot under any circumstances be abandoned, we agree on some of them, on awareness and etc.
But where can we go from there?
It is an easy move to go from awareness … shared joy to anti-corruption in individuals and groups: we should fight for more awareness … shared joy; and we should work to make sure we (as individuals and as groups) are ruled more and more by states of mind that are rules by those values. OK, sure. But again: what can we really hope for here beyond lip service? Spiritual values cannot be perfectly captured in human ideas and words, but only pointed more or less meaninglessly towards. And since so many people are so unwise, there’s all kinds of room for self-serving manipulators to pretend to care about these values. Actually, many moral charlatans actually do care about these values, just not as much as they care about money, power, sex, prestige, food, drink, luxury.
What about the other half of Something Deeperism: the part that says we can relate to the Truth BUT NOT LITERALLY/DEFINITIVELY? Is that going to be more helpful? Here again, our human folly helps us to fool ourselves and others: how quickly we slide from a humble acceptance of our own intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual limitations to a flippant “so, I guess we may as well have a good time!” or a sly, crown-grabbing, “so, we’ll just have to guess as best we can–each to his own best guesses!”!!
Is there no hope?
I wanted a livable philosophy.
Something Deeperism’s always been there, and it is the only philosophy that can be lived:
Trying to live without the Truth makes no sense to our minds/hearts; trying to literally/definitively understand the Truth makes no sense to our minds/hearts; so let’s seek for more and more non-literal insight into the Truth: instead of trying to reason and/or feel to and from the Truth, let’s seek the Truth with our whole being and then let the Truth guide our ideas and feelings as best it can (the former strategy–which, however fancy the footwork, include existential creations of intellectual and emotional truths out of the thin air of truthlessness–goes nowhere because it tries to use ideas and feelings for a task [figuring out what is really going on and what should really be done] they are not up for; the latter strategy works because it lets the Light within do what only It can do [figure out what is really going on … done] and it allows that Light to connect meaningfully with ideas and feelings while still pushing against the tendency of ideas and feelings to overstate their wisdom/usefulness.
But of course, since it is the only livable philosophy, it is already everyone’s philosophy:
To the degree we turn our focus towards the spiritual realm within and do not over- or under-state our ability to understand, believe in, care about, and follow that spiritual realm; we can understand, believe in, care about, and follow our own thoughts and actions, travelling with them to our own conclusions.
So what then?
What can essays about Something Deeperism actually help with?
Everyone thinks they’re the ones who basically get the right balance between faith and skepticism, everyone thinks they’re the ones who do insight and humility right. Everyone is like: “Oh, yeah, I’m not quite there; but I’m muddling along as best I can”, but they secretly think, “and a damn sight better than you!”
What can essays on Something Deeperism do besides give the few interested readers (whatever their philosophical and theological inclinations) another angle on their own superiority?
I wanted to help
I wanted to have a philosophy that would help the nation and the world move away from corruption and towards more aware, honest, clear, accurate, competent, kind, joyful, fruitful discourse, decision-making, legislation and enforcement.
I can see we can’t find a common ground.
And I can see we actually have a common ground in the kind of values here sketched.
But I don’t know how to get us as individuals or as a group wise enough to actually gather around those values and live them.
On the other hand, I know very well that to some degree people always do that.
And so the failure I’m admitting is just this: I don’t know how to make things better.
At least not with essays.

Well, if you could set aside for a moment the question of whether or not you know how to sell Something Deeperism: what about just finding the principles within Something Deeperism: what does Something Deeperism say about how to get rid of corruption? of how to know how corrupt a system (be it an individual human being, a small group of individuals, or a giant nation state full of interwoven peoples, cultures, ideas, feelings, laws, organizations, economies, businesses, etc) is? of how to grow systems so that they naturally thrive (ie: grow away from corruption and into real Truth = Beauty = Goodness = Justice = Loving Kindness)?

Are the philosophical arguments for pursuing individual and collective Something Deeperism worth anything? Do they give our individual and collective thoughts any kind of a handle on how to best relate the experience of life (which cannot be caught in ideas and feelings, but only better or worse pointed to by them) to ideas and feelings, and to the interrelated systems (within and between individuals) that are largely built out of ideas and feelings?


Duties of a Republic’s Citizenry

Duties of a Republic’s Citizenry

[Something Deeperism Institute]

[NYC Journal – Politics Page]

[Editor’s Note: This essay is included in First Essays and A Readable Reader, available for sale on the Buy Our Books! tab of this blog.]

If you have the good fortune to live in a representative democracy, your should work with your fellow citizens to keep an eye on the rulers of your land. Sure: engage in the policy debates of your day. But don’t let those debates and the oft accompanying excitations and divisions separate you from your most fundamental duty: serving as a final check on madness and corruption. To the degree we let our leaders sacrifice good-government (open, honest, fair, without favoritism or bias following the laws, rules, and protocols) for political expediency, we let corruption and madness in.

What is corruption? Indifference to the basic rules of right thought and action: awareness, clarity, honesty, accuracy, competency, selflessness, kindness, generous fearless overflowing joyfulness. What is madness? Incompetency as regards those same basic rules. Corruption and madness encourage each other, are interrelated, and generally go hand and hand. To the degree madness and corruption rule, it is easier to succeed and/or gain and keep power while being bad (dishonest, underhanded, cruel, foolish, selfish, arrogant, incompetent, clueless) and harder to succeed and/or gain and keep power while being good (honest, transparent, kind, wise, selfless, humble, competent, aware). To the degree we let madness and corruption in, we let folly rule; to that degree, we harm ourselves and others.

Madness and corruption (in either an individual’s conscious space or within a group or organization) is when decisions come not from clear, honest, informed, accurate, competent, kind, thoughtful consideration; but rather from confused, dishonest, clueless, incompetent, cruel, mindless violence. It’s maybe sometimes kind of fun to watch movies about gangsters and rulers weaving their way through corrupt states; but it is neither fun nor helpful to live under such conditions; and it is beyond reckless to let politicians reduce the openness, honesty, accuracy, clarity, competence, and good-will in our government.
“They’re all the same!” There is no perfection, but there are better and worse directions; and if we are not consciously engaged and gently pushing towards the better, we are sliding towards the worse and/or risking chaos — which is itself a worse, and out of which generally arises a much worse.

“It’s all the other side’s fault!” OK, then, stop talking to them: that will help us to all better fulfill our shared responsibility to our shared nation. (No it won’t; that was sarcasm; not sure if one can use that in a serious essay; maybe it’s OK now that we’ve clarified that it is not meant seriously, but rather to point out the hopelessness of taking it seriously / at face value. Blame may not be divided equally in all conflicts, but when does shutting yourself off from a sizable portion of a shared democracy ever help the situation?)

“The history and/or structure of this nation is such that it cannot but destroy itself, and that’s what it deserves anyway!” Wait!: at least from this merely-human vantage, there’s no a priori knowable rule for the way history must unfold; and if this ship sinks, we all go down with it, drowning in the same old stupid boring vortex of cruel chaoses birthing cruel orders birthing cruel chaoses … ; so let’s work together to acknowledge where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to get to; and to simultaneously seek a newer world together.

I mean:

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.*

There’s only one hope: let wisdom rule.

And we all know what wisdom looks like: aware, honest, clear, competent, accurate, kind, selfless, sharing joy, knowing how to help and putting that knowledge into action. Let’s think, speak, act, and vote accordingly.

This public service announcement paid for by:
The Community For A Better USA: Come, On, Let’s Succeed Together For Real: From The Inside Out!

And Again Our Refrain:
Everything in its place: We don’t need to agree on worldviews to agree that none of our worldviews means anything to any of us in the absence of clarity, honesty, accuracy, competence, kindness and shared joy.

[Editor’s Note:
*The Lights begin to twinkle …
See Alfred Tennyson’s “Ulysses” (written 1838, published 1842 in the second collection of Poems.]

[Editor’s Note: This essay is included in “First Essays”, available for sale (or free — write us at and we’ll email you a copy) on the Buy Our Books! tab of this blog.]

[Something Deeperism Institute]

[NYC Journal – Politics Page]

[NYC Journal]

My ruling on the cake question

My ruling on the cake question

Owing, I suppose, to my previous intellectual and moral triumphs, I’ve been asked to cast the deciding vote in the current cake question. Should we the collective allow a cake maker to refuse the production and sale of a cake that contradicts his religious beliefs? Which principle should here be ascendant: the guarantee of equal rights to goods sold on the public market; or the guarantee of free speech and freedom of religion? To what degree are these three important rights called into play in this case?

From the cake maker’s point of view, a wedding cake emblazoned with the names of two men instead of a man and a woman is a message they cannot support. Their reading of the Christian Bible considers marriage a sacred bond between a man and woman, who upon marriage cleave to one another and become one flesh in order to better support each other and found and raise a family, in accordance with God’s plan for humanity. Homosexuality, again from the cake company’s understanding of Christian teachings, is a grave sin, that should be fought against like other sins, not celebrated. Therefore, making a beautiful wedding cake decorated for a man on man marriage is a perversion of what they believe their wedding cakes should do, which is to celebrate what God has brought together. (or so I’d picture the argument [turns out that picture of thins was incorrect; see “Dang!” section below the author’s name to explain how this essay fights a straw man!])

Of course, It seems likely that many marriages they’ve provided cakes for have not rigorously followed the cake maker’s understanding of a Christian marriage, but they can’t review the religious merits of each wedding that wants a cake from them, and this cake with two men’s names side by side just goes too far: it sends a clear message that is contrary to their own feelings on the matter, and they don’t feel it reasonable to force them to put their talent, their artistic elan, their creative vigor, their raw materials into a message that they believe is wrong. [Are there cake makers out there who–citing KJV Matthew 5:32: “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” and/or NIV Mattthew 5:32 “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for
marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”–demand proof that the wedding in question is for both parties the original one? Perhaps, but that’s not the topic of this essay.]

From the cake purchaser’s point of view, they are being discrimated against. This is a public business and they were quite willing to pay for the good they desired. It is immaterial that the cake maker offered to make them other cakes that did not have to do with their wedding, and it is also besides the point that they did not live in an area where there were no other wedding cakes available, that indeed another company, outraged by defendant’s decision, gave them a free wedding cake (ConstitutionCenter.Org). The point is that they went into a public place of business, regulated by the law of the land, they requested that that company provide them with a service that company regularly performs for other law-abiding citizens, they offered their money, and they were turned down. They were discriminated against, and should be protected by Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws, and they have no choice but to try to right the injustice, which is why they are here today, standing before us in the Supreme Court of the United States of America. (or, again, this is the image I see before me)

How should I rule? Where do I come down? Hmmmm. The way I see it, I have a few options: I could rule that the cake maker has to sell them a cake decorated any way they decide, that the cake maker has to sell them a generic cake but with no decorations specific to the homosexual nature of their union (example: it has all the frill and flowers, and maybe even some mention of marriage, but no discussion of who is getting married), or that the cake maker doesn’t have to sell them a wedding-style cake at all. My justification for the first case would be that key issue is that businesses on the public market have no right to discriminate against would-be customers; to support the second position, I’d argue that anti-discrimination demands that the business sell the couple a generic cake, but freedom of speech means they don’t have to decorate it in a way that contradicts their beliefs; to argue the third position, I’d hold that no matter what the cake says, it is a work of art that clearly celebrates marriage (by its basic structure and our shared cultural understanding of that structure), and so having to sell the cake for a wedding they consider immoral violates the cake maker’s freedom of speech because it forces them to celebrate what they do not think is ethical to celebrate, and it violates their freedom of religion by forcing them to bow down to secularism, which is just as much a metaphysical position as any other position about how one should really think and act. I think both the fact that wedding cakes could easily be obtained elsewhere and the fact that they are not essential goods are relevant. In no case would I justify the cake maker’s actions by invoking an individual’s right over their own property: this is a public company, and we can’t have anybody in any case refusing to serve another person just by claiming that serving that other person violates their rights to decide what they do with their private property. If that argument is allowed, it is hardly even a slippery slope before racists are allowed to refuse to sell groceries to people of other races, and etc–things clearly unconstitutional because such decisions would allow one individual to deprive another of their basic right to care for themselves within the public space where individuals must meet and government must insure justice.

I would like to call forward two other sets of legal combatants: a racist cake maker versus a biracial couple’s request for a wedding cake topped with their names and with a model of a black person dancing with a white one, dressed in wedding outfits, and sharing that unique bliss of settling for life into another person, wedding your world to theirs; & a liberal cake maker versus a pro-Trump, anti-immigrant organization’s request for a birthday cake topped with a picture of a border wall stopping dark-skinned people, Trumps’ head smiling transcendent over the wall, and some inscription to the effect of “This is our country! Go back to where you came from!” along the bottom.

Of course, I need to also consider the option that the cake maker could be forced to make a generic cake, but that it would be widely known the kind of celebration the cake would celebrate, and that somehow it would be reasonable to surmise that the cake would ultimately be finalized with the decorations I’ve outlined. In the case of the biracial couple, such a decoration follows naturally from everyone’s understanding of a three-tiered, frilled and flowered cake (ie: it is for the celebration of a wedding). In the case of the birthday party, we’ll have to assume the information about the decorating motif will came from previous parties held by the organization, and/or by the fact that the organization requested some very particular cake along the lines of the one just sketched.

The racist cake maker argues that they don’t think white and black people should marry, since they are not fundamentally compatible and their union is therefore contrary to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the nation, and that since this is their view, they shouldn’t have to support the message that this wedding is a beautiful event. The liberal cake maker argues that they don’t agree with Trump’s immigration policies, that they think the message of the cake is racist and celebrating such a message and Trump’s presidency is exactly the opposite message they want to deliver. In all cases, the cake makers claim that cake making is an art and that they work hard to make cakes that are both aesthetically and culinarily beautiful and don’t think the government should be allowed to tell them what message they pair with this beauty.

What to do? What to do? Do I need to factor in the legitimacy of the various parties’s positions? How would I do that? To my mind, the conservative Christian cake maker and the liberal cake maker both voice viewpoints founded on ethical positions that a current US citizen may or may not agree with, but that we can all agree have many proponents and represent a current theological argument with some Biblical support; whereas the racist cake maker’s position is completely outdated, the theological grounds for it absurdly weak and not even kind of current within contemporary US Christianity, and the intellectual grounds completely undermined by common sense experience of black people and white people sharing all kinds of things quite effectively, including marriages. Finally, I think that “This is our country!” cake is clearly mean and unhelpful, and could–if the cake-maker wanted to claim religious freedom in their rejection of the project–easily be theologically contested with, for example, the still very current Luke 10:25-37. But does how current and reasonable the theological arguments are come into play here? Or do I need to just consider the general principle: that a cake can be considered artsy speech and the way it is decorated a message, and that therefore these three hypothetical cases are all functionally equivalent?

As a political liberal and a theological Something Deeperist, I strongly support both the biracial and the homosexual wedding cake, and I strongly dissent from the Trumpian anti-immigration cake. I think that opposition to the biracial cake is just plain stupid and wrong and ridiculous. I consider opposition to the homosexual cake ultimately a misdirected rebellion that sticks up for a theological point that the deepest religion does not consider material at the expense of a full-embrace of the most important theological point (be kind to everyone; don’t worry about the small things, focus instead on the Love between God and you and between God, you, and everyone else; excessive literalism shifts your focus onto ideas and feelings about meaningfulness and away from that whole-being engagement with the Light within that alone knows what is truly meaningful, so avoid excessive literalism), but I have some sympathy for the cake maker’s wish to avoid assenting to a message he is religiously opposed to, and I recognize the topic debated is still a theologically current one for many US Americans. Finally, I cannot fathom how the anti-immigrant cake does anything but celebrate fear, hate, and a never-ending cycle of ever-growing lonely desperate boredom. But that’s just my feelings about the issues involved. I’m supposed to be a humanly-impartial judge, finding a constitutional solution to these questions, which means I’m to ask myself if these are legitimate free speech cases, or if the defendants are just finding an excuse to discriminate against the plaintiffs.

I’m not sure. I guess I’ll rule that they have to all provide generic cakes, but are not obligated to make any issue-specific decorations. My reasoning is that calling a generic cake, be it three-tier or large square, a “work of art” and/or a “statement” is an overstatement, that while those shapes and the standard embellishments (rings of frosting on the edges, flowers) lead to certain assumptions about the cakes, merely providing those generic shapes and flourishes does not constitute a serious statement about the legitimacy of the celebration the cake will be used for; due to these considerations, I think a citizen’s right to receive goods and services without companies turning them away due to their race, religion, politics, sexual orientation, or etc (whatever all is protected by their state’s anti-discrimination laws: Colorado Public Accommodation Laws ) trumps any claim of freedom of speech or religion. However, a specialized cake decoration–beyond what is provided to all purchaser’s of a basic type of cake–could be construed a statement, so a cake maker’s refusal to garnish the cake with a customized message could be protected under the first amendment (which both guarantees the right to free speech and the prohibits religious laws [First Amendment ]). Furthermore, the decoration you get on a cake is far from an essential service, and most everywhere you can find a private person and/or a company to decorate your cake however you choose. Therefore, I rule it unwarranted for the state to step in and demand a cake maker decorate a cake in some specific way that comments on how worthy of celebration a given event is.

So that’s my ruling: you have to sell them a three-tiered cake with frills and flowers, but you don’t have to decorate it with their names or with two men dancing with each other or anything like that. Since it is not standard for wedding cakes to be emblazoned with some generic statement about weddings, the cake maker also is not obligated to write anything about weddings on the cake. If the anti-immigration cake orderers demanded a frosted “Happy Birthday”, the matter would be a bit trickier, because birthday cakes always say that, but if we make the cake maker write that, it looks like perhaps we are forcing the cake decorator to celebrate the birthday the cake is for, and since everyone knows what birthday it is, one might decide the cake maker was being forced to make a statement about the birthday in question. However, ultimately I disagree with that reasoning: “Happy Birthday” is a generic statement for birthday cakes, and as long as the cake maker doesn’t have to say any more (like name the organization who’s birthday it is), the cake maker has been forced to provide a generic good, not forced to create a statement about the worthiness of some event and the ideas within it.

To me, however the judges rule, the main thing we as citizens should keep in mind is that this is not a completely obvious matter. Furthermore, it is probably not a huge deal. The big deal is whether or not the state protects everyone’s right to find their way to greater and greater and ever greater insight into the question of how it is True that what we say and do and what happens to us truly does matter, and how it is True that we really are all in this together and must be first and foremost kind and respectful with and open to one another. It is only insofar as they are ratified and illuminated by the Light within that calls us all “worth respecting, loving, and helping” that any of our ideas and feelings can be meaningful/believable/interesting to us human things. Therefore, the only way forward is to share that dogma (we are all in this together, but wisdom is not merely voicing words to that effect, but finding a whole-being insight into that and how we really are all in this together) and admit we share it and therefore have shared goals and boundaries–a shared Reality where we can work together to responsibly use our shared resources, of which the government, its principles, structures, and laws, are an important part. Freedom of speech, the separation of church and state, and anti-discrimination laws are all important aids in our endeavor to create a society in which we each relate to the Law within in a way that is meaningful to us and work together to make and enforce laws based on what find in this inward-seeking.

There are non-crazy arguments on both sides of this cake issue, so there is no reason to suppose the court’s ruling is an attack on you. It can be interpreted as an attempt to settle a question that pits opposing rights (right to publicly available products; right to freedom of speech and right to follow your conscious and convictions) against one another, meaning there can be no obvious resolution. We citizens must choose our battles. It is fine that some people wanted to test this question, but it is a quite specific case, and we needn’t start inferring broad interpretations from it. In general, we the people need to calm down and keep our main focus on being the last check on corruption and clearcut folly in the government. We have to find a way to constructively argue the details of government (specific policies, laws, regulations, politicians, and etc) while remaining cohesive in our stand against clear cases of corruption and folly. But we’ve gotten so partisan and so muddled, that we cannot, for example, together address the influence of money in our political process or together support the ability of a respected independent bipartisanally-appointed investigator to look into the very serious question of a foreign government’s malicious influence on our elections and what, if anything, the various members of our current administration did to encourage that foreign government’s influence in the very election that got them into government.

Author: AB CdEfghiz
Editor: B Willard
Copyright: AM Watson

Afternote: Dang!
It seems that my ruling is not completely germane, since the baker refused to provide any cake at all for the wedding, and Colorado’s law does not say they have to write anything he doesn’t want to write on it.

So my synopsis of the position was not even correct. I thought what they couldn’t stand was to write two men’s names next to each other and put two men in tuxes dancing together on the top of the cake. He could argue that someone was likely to add those items to his cake, and he doesn’t want anything to do with the message that sends, but that doesn’t seem to be free speech to me–if I’m a liberal paper seller, and you are a conservative newspaper, can I refuse to sell you paper? It comes down to how much a generic three-tier trim-and-roses wedding cake is art and speech, and I don’t think it is enough of either to trump Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws.

Well, anyway

Defeating the Evil Together

Defeating the Evil Together

People of America,

I propose we join together to defeat the evil.

I propose we participate in the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort for Hillary Clinton.

I propose we sign up now.

Take me for example. I, being cool, live in Brooklyn. New York will, absenting a great reality-earthquak, vote for Clinton. But New York is next to Pennsylvania, a swing-state. Therefore, I should mail in my ballot, take off Novemeber 8th, and let rich concerned Democrats bus me to Philadelphia. If I couldn’t excuse myself from the workaday on November 8th, then I’d need to go to Philadelphia during the weekend and stump.

Why should I behave in this manner? And should I do so even if I was convinced Hillary was going to win with or without my bothering?

This country and it’s people and it’s world all actually exist and matter.
Representative democracy is the best form of government around.
Donald Trump–who is dictatorial, misogynist, and xenophobic; and who is uninformed and unthoughtful says whatever pops into his head and then demands everyone believe what he’s said–points away from wisdom in regards to both specific policy decisions and the integrity of the democratic process.
The republican party stopped offering workable ideas (ex: budgets that add up) decades ago.
The country is divided along party lines to the point that we can no longer believe that people supporting the other party are both mentally competent and decent.
We don’t debate policy decisions; choosing instead to go haywire over general policy differences.

What is to be done?

We need to at least be present in this election. We who feel sick at what has happened and that it has gotten so far need to go out and push against the disaster. And the disaster is Trump but it is also what has made his candidacy possible. The disaster is nonparticipation of the mind and heart. The disaster is participating with desperate hopes, fears, and prides rather than participating with thinking and feeling about what is really at stake and what is really possible.

We need to show up. We need to show up and say that we are shook up about what has happened in the last thirty years and we are desperate for all of us to wake up before it is too late. How many have fought and died for the promise of a nation where the citizens kept the rulers in check? And all we have to do is show up: how could we not?

So let’s all pick a day in the next month and go door to door for this vision: A representative democracy where the citizens pay attention and take responsibility and act responsibly and demand politicians who also pay attention and take responsibility and act responsibly.

A mind divided against itself

A mind divided against itself

The people, you see,–they’ve lost the ability to talk to each other, to think and feel together; and so they sink together. The shared discourse has become a mind so divided against itself that it cannot form a coherent thought, make a meaningful choice, go anywhere any good.

Trump and his attempt to pawn off lies insults innuendos (meaningless confusing empty rhetoric), lack of knowledge and thought, and fearmongering as legitimate conversation is a symptom and–unless we see the illness and work to heal ourselves–a serious exacerbation.

Everything is not the same. We have to demand accuracy, honesty, and accountability–yes, from the politicians and the media outlets, but most of all from us, from us citizenry who have the privilege and duty of serving as the final check and balance against madness and corruption. We’d rather play genius pundits, scolds, and misty-eyed patriots, while not particularly considering the possibilities and their ramifications. But that’s a mistake; that’s where we go wrong.

Hillary Clinton is a legitimate choice and Donald Trump isn’t. This isn’t just about politics; it is about the fundamental question of how we as a nation think and feel together. We have to value honesty and accuracy, otherwise we have no coherent standard by which to make decisions. To compare Clinton’s honesty to Trumps is absurd. Polifact’s analyzed statements: Hillary straight-up true 56%; Donald Trump straight-up true 10%. Hillary is a politician; Donald just says anything. I guess, sure, we’d like to see higher numbers for Hillary too, but then again this is measured by statements that someone thought to doubt. Maybe a better heuristic would be the “false” and “pants on fire” categories: Hillary false 27%; pof: 6%; Donald false 88%; pof: 47%. She sometimes stretches past a reliable account; he just spews inane empty dishonest nonsense all day long. Hillary is not perfect but no one is, especially in the US political realm that we whinylazy citizenry have created over the last several decades. It requires serious intellectual and emotional dishonesty to imagine that Trump is more trustworthy than Clinton, or even that their trustworthiness is similar. Hillary is on the whole trying to play within a reality where accuracy and logic and fairness count for something; Trump isn’t. And that reality where accuracy and logic and fairness count for something: that is the only reality where a democracy has a chance.

What do you want citizens of the United States? Do you want a functioning democracy? Or do you want to fuzzy-think and fuzzy-feel and fuzzy-talk this country into another failed state, something like the admirable Putin presides over: unfree to the point of being scary, financially lose-lose (as in the wealth is unequally distributed and not overall healthy).

OK yes obviously! We want presidential candidates to be very honest. But how do we get that? We get it by creating a society and a public discourse that rewards honesty. And how does that begin? By having the honesty to see that Trump’s path is egomania nonsense: the way down into the shambles; and that Clinton–if we do what we have to do anyway, which is pay attention to politics and work to create a political environment that rewards honesty, clear debate, and sound policies–could have a really good, hard-working, thoughtful, just, productive presidency.

And so he walks around in the cool late-September air, talking to himself while the unaccountable lurch and gnaw of medialand wanders to and fro above and through his timid tired head.

Is there a difference between Donald and Hillary?

Is there a difference between Donald and Hillary?

Yes there is, and the difference is this:

You can work with Hillary. You can help to create a grassroots support for sensible, helpful, win-win policies, and Hillary will be so happy to work with you to realize your dreams of a safer, sounder, more vibrant, more interesting, more productive, more beautiful, more decent United States of America We All Rise and Fall Together And There’s No Escaping This Country Because It is Too Damn Big and Strong So You Better Buckle Your Seatbelt And Get To Work To Help Her Be Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise, which–since wisdom and goodness are two aspects of one locomotion–means Healthy, Wealthy, and Kind.

You cannot work with Donald. You can watch while he shows off, while he confuses bullying for strength and dishonest innuendos for valid insights, and–through an incompetence so great and so self-satisfied that, since it seeks a great power that it has no right to, has actually become straight up evil (yes–incompetence, if proud and willful enough, can shade all the way into just flat out evil!)–hurts the country, the world, you, me, all of us. And for what? Because you wanted to flub through your thought-process and pretend that a basically decent human being who wants to help and is skilled enough to–with the help of a citizenry that pays attention and demands civil and sane and honest and clear debate–help a complex nation was not worth choosing over a buffoon, an egomaniac, a man who doesn’t know how to help because he’s not really interested in helping.

Pull it together America. If this happens, each of us is the guilty one, because this is pathetic. We nod about how grand it was that other generations fought for freedom and then we nod along while someone act like dictators who squelch opposition and ignore rule of law and common decency are cool and need to be emulated. Who can live like this?

I don’t know what to say any more. Trump is the opposite of what you need for a functioning democracy. Democracy requires that the society value honesty, fairness, clarity, decency. Trump’s movement is the debauched makebelieve that those things don’t exist–just say any ridiculous thing and I dunno I heard it I’m just saying–, or that no one has them anyway–hey, we’re all slimeballs here, I’m just the best one so I’ll slime the world and you’ll get all the goo my little lappheasants. That is not true: No one does honesty, fairness, clarity, and decency perfectly–they are things-of-degrees. But Hillary has so much more of them than Trump does. Why? Mostly because she at least believes in them and values them. Also, win-win is not only possible, it is the only way forward. Trump’s mix of bluster and bully only works for cheating a little short-time gain here and there–fine for scam artist, but quick collapse for a nation.

I’m so depressed by this. We’ve lost the ability to enjoy one another. Our entertainment is not wholesome. Are debates don’t try to find a plausible assessment and a workable path. We just loudmouth, cluck, and blame the politicians. It’s disgusting. It is corrupt–that’s what it is. It is easier to be heard if you say something corrosive, something stupid, something mean, than if you say something helpful, possible, wise, just, kind. Corruption is when it is easier to do evil than to do good. Our discourse is corrupt. I can’t even stand it anymore. And yet here is where we must make our stand; we must push this discourse towards honesty, decency, clarity, kindness, towards accuracy and workable win-win sustainable plans. Sulking about how rotten everything is just helps the rot to grow. Hmph.

Who can stop the evil?

Who can stop the evil?

I know it isn’t me.
Is it anyone?
Jesus died and then he dried out on the patio.
So we’re left with the likes
of you and me and the in-betweens,
here in the future.

I know I cannot help
goodness win and turn the tide
against the monster.

But is there anyone
who just might stand
upon the side
where we’d like to be
and help us out?

I know I’ve failed and I need to wait
to die and recycle
so that never-mind can
rule the times
and yell the shout.

But is there someone
who could stop the something
that is corroding?

And while we’re at it,
can you send me back
my friend;
I really miss her.

Zoolander Two

Zoolander Two

And tell to me of Zoo of Lander Two.
A richer tapestry of nonsense you
will never ever know oh youth ah bold!
full images concepts pop stars enfold
ing us we viewers, partakers who laugh.

I laughed so merry, felt just almost sure
that we’ll attain the best for all through fun.

Remember the thesis in “Cabaret”: that the Nazis took over because people were too busy with parties and general flippant living to pay attention to the looming disaster? But this silliness of Zoolander; it seemed serious. And it contemplated a lot of ideas–all with a kindness, a light touch, a generous and gentle hand. I liked it. A creative explosion of jokes, images, and references; likable characters; a frolicking deconstruction of pop culture from the worship of beauty to the glorification of sex to the dueling bumpersticker-logics to the obsession with political correctness, to celebrity worship. But most of all the fun! They were having fun goofing exploring in ideas, images, characters, worlds. It was fun without being mean; life can be fun without being terrible and that is wonderful–that is the antidote to the violent certainties that wall people and peoples off from one another. Let’s have fun, be open-minded, and work on the nuts and bolts of policy together–what if it were fun to think not about how X must be terrible because the evil party thought of it and Y must be great because the good party thought of it, but to think about policies together, about the details of how we can move real situations in better direction. What if experimenting in cautiously growing a better and better government was part of the fun of life? What if politics was a nice, fun project where we all work together to help us all win?


A Name for Our Poetry Podcast

A Name for Our Poetry Podcast

A wolf howls in the night; your friends are gone and there’s bloody mud under your fingernails.
The coyotes shout the twisted moon; your love is gone and the trench is caving in.
Who will stop the evil?
Who will find the song to combine this troubled inland empire
into one spirit, one heart, one love, one calm and steady push
to a kinder, a gentler,
a more interesting, more creative, more joyful, more beautiful
life, land, world?

Poetry in the dark of night.
Poetry in the light of day.
Poetry in the heart of hearts.
The turning of the wheel.

Unstoppable Poetry:
Inevitable Poetry:
Relentless Poetry:
Bursting Poetry:
The kind that overtakes by sinking slender fingers deep down
into the place where the heart meets the mind meets the soul.

We Shall Know Commonwealth Again.
We’ll stand within ourselves straight and tall,
admitting the Truth of our common hold.

Some people, living large here in the freeworld,
say we’ve got to stop Trump,
keep the train upon the tracks.
Sure–but that’s not enough and if that is our sole goal we won’t even manage that.

When was it that the rich sat in their silverbirds,
looking down for the first scurries of the rebellion?

And how did the West avoid the Marx’s inevitable evolution?
Regulations contra world-shaking investments and other exploitations;
taxes that relieved the aristocracy of their excess and built roads, dams, parks,
schools, opportunities.
The GI bill.
Things like that; things we could do again.
But how? How to relax enough that we can all show up in the same room?
How to stop dreaming of perfect safeties, perfect securities, perfect attitudes, perfect victories;
and focus on the great progress readily available?

What do we agree on? We agree that, insofar as the economic and societal structures can with impunity allow it, we should all have the chance to unfold the Love within in a way that is great and glorious cool. We agree that, insofar as the economic and societal structures can with impunity allow it, people shouldn’t live in the chains of poverty, illness, ignorance. So then we just need to know: can we get away with both happiness and decency? Can we have a nation that is safe, secure, and full of beautiful possibilities for all of us? Actually, even before we answer that, we know we have to fight for that because unless we are clearly and solidly headed in that direction, the center fractures and people vote for salvations and condemnations: the panic wins and the train skips the tracks.

The thing I sense is that with steady hand, calm mind, and open heart, we can chart a course that is OK. But I worry that we will blow our hand because we lack the empathy-imagination to grasp that we are all in this together.

Possible names:
In this Together
Unstoppable Poetry
Bursting Poetry
We shall know Commonwealth
Tis not too Late
To Seek a Newer World

AMW/BW, the loneliest desperadoes ever to spin a six-shooter.
June 29, 2016


I settle down, hangdog.
We call our wives, repentant.
You bleed the hen, sickened.

It was some several months gone that I, having found a copy freebied along a Brooklyn road, read Tony Judt’s “Ill Fares the Land”, a book-length essay about the West’s (well, US and Europe) current (published 2010) predicament, how we’d gotten there, and how we could get to a better place. Several thoughts jutted out, caught my sleeve, tore my shirt. The above essay mentioned two of them: styling the US an “inland empire”; and the hypothesis that the US and some of Europe had avoided the supposedly inevitable capsize of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat by democratically choosing to redistribute wealth. It yesterday occurred to me, while conversing with a slight-but-curvy, slope-button-nosed, lizard-eyed young beauty sitting post-art and thus spattered with oil-based paint, that some European countries had succumbed not to the violent disaster that Marx predicted and celebrated, but to other violent disasters, and that the tab of these violent disasters must to some degree fall to the excesses of bourgeoisie privilege. Wasn’t the Great Depression a critical ingredient in the mood that gave Hitler a crowd? And wasn’t the Great Depression to no small degree the result of unregulated financial markets, and wasn’t this lack of regulation part of a general profiteering: the wealthy investment class reaping private rewards while shunting the risk off onto the collective?

Two other thoughts of Judt’s deathsdoor effort (he, dead the same year it was published, was dying of Lou Gehrig’s Disease when he wrote it) that stuck with me: philosophies of triumphant economic inevitability helped us dismantle the welfare state (this one I already know, Milton Friedman; it is what’s made me riff on Camus’s “the evil geniuses of our time are all philosophers” with “the evil geniuses of our time are all economists”; and, look here look here!, isn’t triumphant economic inevitablism ultimately the deadly trick within Marx’s philosophy: isn’t it that mixture of grandeur and certainty that makes Marxism into an intellectual religion disconnected from living breathing humans–and isn’t such folly just as much folly when it comes from the right as when it comes from the left?); and the 60s/70s focus on identity-politics, coupled with the lazy lux of growing up in a nice big safety-net and middle-class boom, took the youths’ eyes off economic justice and helped us dismantle the welfare state.

Let me look a scorched-earth second at this latter thought of the departing historian. He particularly bemoans the phenomenon of minorities (he particularly mentions blacks and Jews; he was Jewish) joining fraternities of others in their ethnic/racial groups and majoring in studies focused on the history of their ethnic/racial groups. College is for going beyond the narrow definitions of self provided by such tribalisms is my understanding of his discontent. And feminism is in there somewhere too. Look at me and you, we are the same thing; my politics is mistaken if it doesn’t see that, but it isn’t just the right that can fail to grasp the ultimate sameness of human stuff, and Judt was, per my memory of my understanding of his book, unhappy with what he saw as the tendency of the 60s/70s left and thus the youthful energy of the 60s/70s to think so much on social justice that they forgot about economic justice for all groups.

Not that social justice for all isn’t important, but that for the collective to prosper, social justice and concerns for minorities needs to be paired with physical and economic security for all. And identity politics is not really that great for anybody (here I may be adding details not found in this book read some months ago): a human’s politics need to remain grounded in the understanding that we are all essentially the same–otherwise the common cause and nobler path is lost to angry struts and narrow group-thinks, us-vs-themisms, and other kinds of boredom disguised as being-real: we are all in this together and while it is true that a sustainable success requires that black kids from poorer parts of rusting belt towns end up winning; it is equally true that that it also requires that white kids from bummed out veins of coal country end up winning; as well as all the other racial groups, ethnic backgrounds, economic spots.

None of us are perfect; none of us grasp with perfect empathy the struggles of others, but playing up those imperfections and the cracks in others they sometimes cause hides the more promising but also more demanding truth: we all have at least some inkling of and compassion for the straights of other people, and we both can and must care enough about our fellow citizens to accept them and their perspectives as fundamentally equal to us and our vantage points. With “fundamentally equal” I do not mean that everyone is as fit for every task or every decision as everyone else. I mean that we all come from the same place; we all have the same basic innerworld of these various human longings shot through with the bright-light sense that we creatures matter and what we say and do matters and this Love matters; and we all are headed to the same place (some theologians might disagree this final point, but let us all at least agree that we will someday die and that what comes next plays by rules where money, musculature, intelligence, personality, social circles, math skills, philosophical essay writing, and so on disappear and each of us is left with only what one’s really become at the point of our physical/intellectual/emotional dissolution). With “fundamental equals” I mean that we are enough alike and enough bound up with one another that we cannot do what is best for ourselves without helping others do what is best for them.

The nation will fracture into angry clumps to the degree the center does not look each of us in the eye, human-to-human.

I read with interest the day other an article by NY Times columnist David Brooks. In an earlier article, he’d said that he had allowed himself, ensconced in elitedom, to lose touch with the trials and tribulations of many US Americans, and so he and others like him were partially responsible for the Trump disaster; and so now he must dedicate himself to the task of reaching out to everyone in the country (Something like that anyway), which I feel is a good goal for a public intellectual. Anyway, his column of my yesterday was about how Trump is fundamentally realigning the political debate in the nation: before it was about the size of government, now it is about openness. He said that of course he thought we needed to side with openness and that globalization will help us all economically (he included a couple facts about how it had raised our incomes and how the currently pillared Pacific Trade Agreement would raise it more) as long as we find a way to equip the momentary losers in the evolving economy to succeed. Of course, of course! And even without a clear economic advantage to free trade, there’s the diplomatic benefits of hearty economic relations between lands. On the other hand, should we really be encouraging poorer nations to work their people 12 hours a day for low wages? But then maybe the wages are better and the hours the same as what they’d been doing way back when, so–. So lots of different things to talk about.

US business interests really both hoarded and at its cake for the longest time now. They got free trade without the redistribution necessary for it to actually benefit everyone. When the US found the New Deal–a great redistribution of wealth that built roads, educations, and ultimately lives–it was to some degree a decision by the elites to spread the wealth around and thus avoid the disaster of rebellion. Around the same time, Russia did fall from monarchial tyranny into communist tyranny; and Nazi Germany fell from a sputtering democracy into a totalitarian state whose appeal was pride in “the folk” and contempt for whoever didn’t make the count as “the folk”. Right now we have–at least in the US–apparently reached a tilting point reminiscent of the one that gave rise to the regulations and safety nets created in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and steadily dismantled starting in the 80s. Brooks supposes Trump’s lean towards xenophobia, misogyny, and racism will keep him from winning the race; but he warns that another will take Trump’s isolationism, his trade-hating, his border-shutting, his zero-sumism (as in “win win” is impossible–a ‘fraidy cat unimaginative helterskelter fantasy hiding place disguised as “realism”), trim a bit of the obvious meanness and dilettantism, and win. We in the US who can find it in our hearts to believe in the chance of a center, of togetherness, of imperfect but real progress for all of us–this is the time to shout out our faith and to demand that our government find a way to make the economic realities and possibilities of our day work for all of us.

Which brings us to the final piece of Judd’s dying words that extra-resonated with me: citizens in countries like the US and Great Britain (places where claiming the political process is completely hopeless requires a cynicism and flippancy so pouty and negligent that I think it appropriate to at least begin speaking of the real evil of being a big baby) can work together to change their country’s trajectory and they have a duty a duty a duty to do so. And the way to do that is to embrace the political process and accept the challenge of discussing the nuts and bolts of policy decisions. Babies! A bunch of squabbling, he-hit-me-first-no-he-hit-me-first babies! Agghh! You drive me crazy!

Simmer down. OK. OK. We need the better elements within ourselves to enjoy politics again–instead of just our get-offs on fighting and crushing and strutting and lamenting to enjoy politics. And we need to stop letting the political process live in the side-track of mindlessly repeated talking-points and mindless screaming side-taking. But that’s OK, because there’s a way to correct both those errors at once: we need to start making a safe and fun space for people to talk about the details of policy decisions. Not these stupid roundtable argument where everyone goes home believing in the same preconceived notions they came with. And not quite these political comedy shows tuned in by one side or the other and also putting everyone to bed with the comfy certainty that, though our country is doomed, it is fault of the “other side” (Note: some of these political comedy shows are more helpful than others; more helpful is honest playful discussion; much less helpful and indeed part of the evil downhill rolling snowball is standard mockery). A place to have fun with the nuts and bolts of policy ideas; of budgets; of trade-offs. We cannot continue to hide behind the “experts” of our choosing–the “other side” just chooses different experts: perhaps those experts are baloney, but we cannot rightly say that without taking some time to understand the topic.

I don’t know how to do this. Suggesting it makes me think of various blowhard fools I’ve encountered reading articles by thinkers who agree with them and going on about how we all need to do the research and think for themselves like they do. Ah well, we can but try: despairing in the supposed impossibility of good conduct and/or good outcomes is ultimately just as counterproductive (read: evil) as pouting over the supposed impossibility of good conduct and/or good outcomes. We can try to talk for real with one another.

How to do it? You can’t let just anybody say anything. That view of what is required for a free exchange of ideas just ends up filling the air with loud certainties. Oh thick, un-breathe-able, immobile, useless humidity!: an infiniti of options equals, for finite creaturethings, no options. You can’t let your prejudices oversway you, but you can’t let other people’s prejudices oversway you either. How do we do this? And remember: it has to be fun for everybody–overseriousness will make the participants lose sight of the relative nature of their knowledge and wisdom and it will also similarly lame the excellence of the audience. But note also the necessity of some seriousness and some type of elitism: while one cannot have any useful knowledge or real wisdom without insight into the limits of those goods, some ideas, attitudes, and feelings are better than others, which is to say: degrees of knowledge and wisdom exist and are very important.

There are no white people and no black people, no Asians, no Indian Indians, and no American Indians. We all slide together in personalities, temperaments, types and degrees of intelligents–all that stuff is varied within races, not across races. Who knew? The only way you really learn it is by interacting with a bunch of people with different skin colors and facial features; over time it just sinks in undeniably deep that you see patterns in thought and emotion in human beings within and not between races.

There is here in the world no good guy, no bad guy; no hero and no villain. There are some bad ideas, some bad feelings–some bad strands within the flowing togetherness that is the Reality of the human experience.

Whatever. The thing that here must happen is social justice and economic justice together. We must have both the right attitude and the right management. It is terrifying evil for human organizations to slide into chaos, which is another word for death to society, to rights, to chances. We must maintain calm and dignity and work for steady progress on all fronts. The danger of youth is to throw it all away for swelling heroisms and dreams of victory. The danger of old age is to throw it all away for grand pouts and dreams of escape. We must come together and ask together for the Truth. We already know the Truth; the Truth is we’re all in this together and we can manage ourselves more or less wisely and the decisive aspect is how much space we allow for within each individual: we all need enough security, calmness, time, patience, energy, love to live for real–we all need to learn, work, think, grow, have fun, take ourselves and others seriously.

Give me a poetry that tears the walls down. Give me a poetry that frees our minds and hearts by melting lies and exploding Truth. POW! The Power of the Word.

Give me a poetry podcast that contemplates the power of the word for good and for evil. Give me a poetry podcast that dances, that is fun, that plays, that thinks and feels together, that knows we are all in this together and that seeks for the words that stop the evil and embolden the Good.

AMW/BW, the one from small Midwestern town Pennsylvania, the other from all across the possibilities; the one suntanned, the other transparent.
God forgive them, God help them, God explode them and gather the pieces to God’s bosom, where this begins, where this must end.

Brexit Two

Brexit Two

Majority rules best buffered by
Careers secured in status quo and thus bound
in slower, more clunking governance,
they trade for madcap the measured grind,
avoiding the worst.

The citizenry has a role: a stolid stand–
in lines we wait, on corners we chat and laugh,
inside we tuck up with book, TV, friend:
in varied poses holding forth for free;
we voting, watching, thinking folk
build groundswell knowledge here:
important job–some knowledges more true
than others, some better than others too.

BW/AMW 6/27/2016

Explanation for Brexit Poem

Not, dear ones, so much that I, vaunting the bounds,
Pretend that I know the bestest course for this land
Across the sea and paced apart from my native;
I merely think, with humble hand on gracious hip,
That choices great are best collaborated
between career ‘ticians and us of necessity
much distracted, and something removed workadays.
That, anyway, was the thought I had
And in verse voiced
To form a poem
One day ago

BW/AMW 6/28/2016; updated 6/29/2016