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Open Letter to US House of Representatives

Open Letter to US House of Representatives

Open Letter on the US House of Representatives
Sunday, October 15, 2023

Dear US House of Representatives, 117th Congress:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The reason we have a representative democracy and not a direct democracy is that individual citizens do not have the time and energy to go into the minutiae of governing, and also to instill some calm in the process of governing by not subjecting it to the caprices of public opinion at every moment.

As representatives to the House, you are elected to a two-year terms, and — assuming you’d like to play the game another two years — are then expected to go back to the people in your districts, explain to them why you did what you did with the power invested in you, and ask them to reelect you.

Who are you representing? What is your job? Do you just represent those people in your district who voted for you? Or is it a little bigger than that? Do you represent the whole district — even those individuals and interests who didn’t vote for you? Or, since you are making decisions for the Federal Government, do you at least to some degree represent all the citizens of the United States of America. Or, …

Maybe a better question is: How far does your responsibility extend? Only to those who voted for you? Only to your district — including those who didn’t vote for you but might vote for you next time? Only to your district — even those who didn’t vote for you and aren’t very likely to vote for you next time? Or, since you are working to create legislation that affects everyone in the nation, are you responsible to do what you think is best for all the citizens of the United States? Or, since you are helping to govern a powerful nation whose actions have a great impact on the rest of the world, are you responsible to do what you think is best for everyone in the world — insofar as your decisions impact them?

Here’s another question for you: Have you ever been out for a walk in the park or to a mall or a sporting event or church service or school or et cetera, and not worried about being blown up or otherwise executed? We think you have. And wasn’t that nice? Wasn’t that a wonderful feeling? Even if you weren’t aware of it at the time? Now looking back, can’t you feel how wonderful that felt? And isn’t it nice not to be driven from your home, running from the rain that explodes and strips limbs and life from friends, family, maybe you too? Or have you ever publicly disagreed with government officials and government policy without fear of being imprisoned, killed, bankrupted, or losing your loved ones? We think you have. And wasn’t it nice? Isn’t it so nice to be allowed to relax and live and speak as you will?

Who has a Right to nice things like not being blown up and being allowed to speak one’s mind and find one’s own way? Just the people in your district who voted for you? Or just the people who would vote for you if they were in your district?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

You represent the United States of America. The above few words is our opening salvo. Not the first words of the Declaration of Independence, but the words in the Declaration of Independence that sketch out our shared vision for the kind of nation we want to create — one that holds as self-evident the equality of all people, and the recognition that all people therefore have the same inborn and irrevocable Rights, including Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

It is fundamental to your job as a Representative of the House of the United States of America to recognize that everyone is fundamentally equal and everyone has an unalienable Right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Every moment you should remember that this is the Truth that we as a nation are working together to hold self-evident. We are working together to remember this Truth and to together live and govern in accordance with this shared Truth.

After reviewing the situation, we suggest that you Representatives of the House of the 117th Congress pursue the following plan:

1) Republicans vote to not elect Jim Jordan as Speaker of the House.
2) Republicans and Democrats vote to reelect Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House.

It’s not perfect. No one will love it. But we need the House and the Senate to work meaningfully together, and they will again need to pass a budget in November, and they have a lot of difficult decisions to make together. McCarthy avoided a government shut-down by working with the Democrats; Jim Jordan’s track-record makes him unlikely to do the same; and what we need from our elected officials is that they govern meaningfully and sensibly together — and that means meaningful conversation and sensible compromises.

In the end, none of us are right about what is best for ourselves or everyone. This life is much bigger than we are. We need to harken to Wisdom to make good decisions, and Wisdom Knows that we are all in this together and are all fundamentally the same; and that that means we all have not only the Right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, but also the Responsibility to recognize everyone’s Rights, and to base our actions on that recognition.

Because we all share not just Rights but also Responsibilities, a representative democracy is a good way for us humans to organize ourselves: Wisdom wants us to share power with one another both because Wisdom recognizes the limits of human wisdom and human systems and because Wisdom recognizes that we all share not just Rights, but also Responsibilities, and so if we are to all grow in wisdom, we must share ideas, decisions, and power (that is to say: share Responsibility). So it is wise to together safeguard, improve, and work within our democratic republic.

What else must we do to grow in Wisdom? Share Joy! Share fun! Be able to together protect democracy and within that game have fun — tussle about a bit over the details; but at the end of the day go home as friends because we have remembered all through it that the game is not the point:

The point is preserving, strengthening and working within a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

So We the People can gently nudge the government towards the better and away from the worse, and act as a final check on madness and corruption in the government (more madness/corruption is when worse ideas, impulses, behaviors, and decisions find it easier to gain and maintain power and/or prestige).

A final note:

Let’s not quibble about who endowed us with unalienable Rights. The only thing we know for sure about the Creator of Life and Love is that this Creator is wider and deeper than our ideas and feelings about Creation, Live, and Love.

We Know deep inside prior to our certainties and doubts only this much:

We should think, feel, and act aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, and joyfully-together; seeking to translate the Love that is deeper and wider than our ideas, feelings, words, and deeds into ideas, feelings, words and deeds.


It is clearly impossible to translate what is prior to our capacities into our capacities perfectly/literally/directly/1:1. And so it is clearly impossible to speak for God or the Truth or to Prove anything this way or that. And confusing our ideas and feelings about what’s going on for the Truth causes us to get more and more riled up about our own ideas and feelings, and less and less open to and ready for the Truth.

But the inherent imperfection of human wisdom does not mean we can’t work every day alone and together to connect better and better with the Love that chooses everyone — the Love we experience shining through each moment more fundamentally than our affirmations, doubts, and explanations.

Why not together remember this simple truth:
Either Love is Real
Or none of our worldviews mean anything to any of us

Why not together remember that we should be aware, clear, honest, accurate, kind, gentle, compassionate, and joyfully-sharing; and do the best we can together — even though we’re just people, are not infinitely Wise or Good, but just people?

We will all get older and we will die and all the huff-and-puff that we’d fed ourselves will evaporate, and we will be left with what we did with what we were given. And we will Know to what degree we lived in, through, and for Love; and to what degree we did not. This much we all Know now, deep inside — deeper than our big bold ideas and heavy swelling feelings.


Bartleby Willard
Amble Whistletown
Andy Watson
New York City, NY, USA, Earth

PS: Yes: the Declaration of Independence said “all men are created equal”, and went on to create a government that continued the practice of chattel slavery, and that only extended the right to vote to some men, and not all women — a government that has not always used its power wisely domestically or internationally. But that’s the mark of good ideas: they can go beyond the people who initially voice and sign onto them — they contain Truths beyond the truths of the times, places, people and systems of their birth. Good ideas give us room to grow into them and with them.

PSS: God, help us enjoy each other’s company in this life. We are stuck with each other now and forever, so we may as well get used to it and draw the benefits of teamwork and fellowship here and now.

PSSS: Aghh! Another failed essay. What are we to do? How can we stand up straight within ourselves, push out from within, let the Light in, and be kind to ourselves and everyone? How? While still just being people, hanging out, living in the swirl of sunlight, faces, chitchats, hugs, flashes of foliage, slivers of moving water, and everything else spinning around and around?

PSSSSSSSS: What to do?

This is the fundamental human dilemma:

We can only understand, believe in, or care about our own feeling, thinking, and acting to the degree we live in and through and for the Love that chooses everyone; but that Love is prior to our feeling/thinking/acting; and confusing ideas and feelings about things like “Love” and “Truth” for the Love that is True causes us to turn our focus away from Love and onto our own notions. So what to do?

We all (to some degree wittingly, to some degree unwittingly) try this: Organize our feeling/thinking/acting around the Love shining in and through everything, including each conscious moment; experiencing, syncing up with, and flowing off that Love as best we can — translating Love into feeling/thinking/acting poetically (pointing imperfectly but still meaningfully towards; rather than trying to capture literally, directly, 1:1, definitively, or exclusively). But how much progress do we make?

And we all mean to all agree to most fundamentally prioritize the universal values (aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, joyfully-sharing) and the Love animating them. Since we all can’t help but recognize that none of our worldviews make sense to any of us except to the degree we do this. But somehow we slip and slide in competing and overlapping moral vaunts and prideful cynicisms.

So, like, what are we to do?

And here we have another essay. Another log on the fire.

OK, ok, okay, let’s relax. Shoulders down. Chest out. Deep breath. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be joyful. Kind and gentle is not supposed to be stressful; it is kind and gentle and should be kind and gentle.

Start again.

Take your partner, and one two three four five six seven eight, one two three four …

Authors/Editors: Bartleby Willard & Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andrew M. Watson

Failed project

Failed project

You can’t write yourself a friend or a wife or a healthy democracy.
And the system and its associated wisdom memes aren’t fixing you from the inside out.
The project is a failure.
But what else is there?

Well, let’s at least resolve
to not force unpleasurable pleasures onto ourselves.
I mean
remembering Epicurus’s theory of pleasure:
Natural necessary pleasures like drinking water, eating something, sleeping: You have to do these.
Natural unnecessary pleasures like eating something particularly yummy or taking a stroll along the harbor in the evening cool: these can add zest to life.
And then
Unnatural unnecessary pleasures like needing a specific piece of cake or building statues to yourself
Those pleasures are more for the ego than for anything else
So they aren’t really pleasures at all — they’re lonely ego-trips
Unnatural unnecessary pleasures — also known as vainglories — are to be avoided

Too much of my life is spent chasing unpleasurable pleasures
Getting annoyed, angry, outraged at others
Looking down at, clucking my tongue at, shaking my head at others
Begging for satisfaction rather than looking for love
Feeling sorry for myself
Bragging to myself
Spending yet another Saturday alone drinking wine and watching TV

And then there’s the textbook vainglories:
‘I need that piece of pie; that hot babe; this grand power and great sway; to be applauded and fawned over; for monuments to be erected to me and my glory; IIIIIIIIIII”

Let’s at least resolve
to stop choking ourselves on fun that isn’t even any fun

Let’s listen
And open
Make a list of tasks that must be accomplished for health, success, and joy at life
And put one foot in front of the other
talk to other people

Love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind, and our neighbor as ourself
And rest on impermanence and interconnectedness
And practice opening up, letting everything go, and experiencing what comes of such pauses in our gathering up and slicing and dicing of experience into “information”.
Let’s open up to the Love beyond being and nonbeing, breathing that Kind Joy in and out, letting our daydreams of self and other, of inside and out, of real and not real, of being and nonbeing — letting all our daydreams forget themselves

the project
ah the project
so lonely for so long
let it be
let it ride

Authors: BW/AW
Editors: AW/BW
Copyright: AM Watson

A Wisdom Meme for Liberal Representative Democracies

A Wisdom Meme for Liberal Representative Democracies

The universal values are something along the lines of:
Aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, and joyfully-sharing.

None of our worldviews make sense to any of us except to the degree we understand and abide by the universal values.

But these values are asking for Absolute, not relative direction. We are seeking not “what I feel like is the case”, but “what is actually the case”.

But (1) feelings and ideas are essential aspects of our conscious experience & (2) the Absolute is wider and deeper than our feelings and ideas about It.
Therefore, we can hope only for imperfect insight into the Absolute — the kind of poetic (imperfectly pointing towards rather than perfectly capturing/defining) insight that requires constant whole-being effort, and constant self-observation, -critique, and -adjustment.

Furthermore, using religious tests for political power tempts people to lie to themselves and others about the most sacred things.

For these reasons (our non-Absolute and thus constantly evolving/self-observing/-assessing/-correcting relationship with the Absolute + the increased temptation to lie to ourselves and others about our relationship to the Absolute that accompanies tying religious purity tests to political power), as well as the general danger of concentrating power, combining metaphysical authority with political authority tends to corrupt leaders, followers, and the state.

If humans are to grow together in wisdom, they must be able to speak and work with one another meaningfully, and that means in a way that is fundamentally honest, and deep inside we all know that that means treating everyone as spiritual equals (recognizing the essential sameness of all humans, and the ability and responsibility of all humans to grow in wisdom — to get better and better at acting in and through and for Love). And that implies sharing values, power, and responsibility (note also that you can’t effectively share power without sharing responsibility; and you can’t meaningfully share responsibility without sharing power).

The best way to together prioritize the universal values (and the universal spiritual sense that we must each develop to more fully motivate, justify, and explicate the universal values) is NOT with a theocracy; but with a liberal, representative democracy where the focus is on abiding by the forms of meaningful conversation, decent communal behavior, and good government.

Good government is government that works to be clear, honest, fair, and representative by working on the nuts and bolts of government. Good government goals include fair elections with wide representation; honesty and transparency in government; clarity in political discourse and policy-making; a clear separation of facts from decisions based on said facts; freedom of speech and press; separation of powers and checks on the tendency of individuals and groups [be they political, ideological, and/or economic] to attempt to bend the rules in order to aggregate more power to themselves; and so on. Good government is about the form of government. Seeking good government policies is an implicit recognition that the systems that we use to collaborate within are very important because we need to think, feel, and act aware, honest, clear, accurate, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, and joyfully-together; and that means together building and maintaining structures that select for wiser ideas, feelings, and impulses. We are but human beings, after all. We often forget, but still it remains true that we are very influenced by those around us, by the prevailing norms, by the rules and standards of our situations. So a fundamental part of doing the right thing is working to make the systems we live, think, and work within more conducive to finding the way forward for everyone together, in a way that is meaningful to us humans — i.e: in a way that prioritizes the universal values.

We focus on the forms of wholesome collaboration rather than on religious tests because the former anchors us together in the spirit in a practical, manageable way; while the latter is likely to confuse, divide, and corrupt us. This is because the most fundamental spiritual Truth is not XYZ religious doctrine, but that which animates and gives meaning to all meaningful-to-humans ideologies: the sense that we are all in this together, bound in and through and for the Love that chooses everyone.

We choose a liberal representative democracy so that
(1) We the People can serve as a meaningful check on madness/corruption in government
(madness and corruption slide into one another: an individual, group, or nation states is more corrupt/madcap when more foolish ideas/feelings/impulses are more likely to gain and keep power/sway/interest than wiser ideas/feelings/impulses are);

While (2) simultaneously both
(2a) Building a shared vision
(by speaking meaningfully to one another, anchoring our behavior and discourse in the universal values)
(2b) Nudging our shared government towards the better and away from the worse
(by focusing on good government practices
together choosing representatives who accept our general visions for how to move the nation gently toward the better and away from the worse, and who we also have good reason to believe can implement these general visions in accordance with the universal values and good government practices).

We choose a liberal representative democracy rather than a direct democracy because we do not have the time, energy, nor inclination to go through the entire government process, and voting on X legislative detail without understanding how it intertwines with Y detail is often counterproductive.

We choose a liberal representative democracy (with guarantees for universal personal and economic freedoms, including freedom of speech and discourse, freedom of religion, the right to personal property and freedom from political persecution, and equality under the law) because we are trying to work better and better both alone and together to find better ways forward as individuals, groups, and as a nation; and that implies letting people figure things out for themselves — so long as they stay within the universal values, without which no human philosophy or religion is meaningful to any human, and thus without which we actively court the nihilism of living for whims rather than for Love. A fundamental motivation for liberalism is the sense that humans need to grow in wisdom individually and as groups, but no one can force wisdom on anyone else, and demanding doctrinal purity tempts people to lie to themselves and others about what is most important; therefore, we should prioritize the universal values and systems that help us keep to and select for them, while letting people find themselves: thinking and speaking openly, and living their lives as they see fit, so long as they are not harming others or our shared systems, resources, and spaces.

We share a liberal representative democracy:

Guarantees of individual rights like free speech and freedom from uncontestable imprisonment. Open debate and government. Separations of and limits on powers. Regular and fair elections to choose representatives beholden to, but not day-to-day by, the citizens.

With this tool, we can together gently evolve both our shared culture and our shared government. We can together safeguard the universal values while peacefully sharing thought and power. (To most meaningfully share either thought or power, it is best to meaningfully share both together.)

The good of individuals is the good of liberal representative democracies. Aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, joyfully-sharing discourse; decision-making; organization; and action is the way forward both for a self-governing individual and a self-governing people.

But we don’t have time for the minutiae of policy-making, nor the energy to clearly and carefully steer the details of government. What we must make time and energy for is to select for candidates who protect the integrity of our democracy and speak and work honestly, carefully, and competently to find what is best for all by abiding by civic and democratic norms, listening to others, finding win-wins and compromises, and otherwise performing their jobs responsibly and competently.

Our elected officials have a job to do!
Their job is NOT to make us feel proud of ourselves. Their job is to help us gently steer our shared ship towards the better, the wiser, the kinder, the more secure, sustainable, healthy, inhabitable, and life-overflowing for everyone.

To sustainably evolve a shared culture and government, everyone within the bounds of that shared culture and government must hear, understand, care for, and grow with each other — protected by and protecting the universal values and the right to the free spiritual searching and expression required to grow a meaningful relationship with the Love that alone Knows how to truly feel/think/act aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, and joyfully-sharing.

We are all in this together. An individual human conscious moment must remember that fundamental Truth to meaningfully organize its own feeling/thinking/acting. And a group of individuals must remain aware of the fundamental bond between all sentient beings if it is to organize itself in a way that is meaningful to its members and to what they share. The sense that “we are all in this together” is more fundamental to our experience than are any doubts, certainties, explanations, or extollations of it. We are all in this together and can only make sense to ourselves to the degree we acknowledge, accept, live, and treasure this key atom of human experience.

Author: BW/AW
Editor: AW/BW
Copyright: AM Watson

Let’s make a deal

Let’s make a deal

I don’t want to write about politics. At least not current-events / specific-case type politics. I want to write fictions, poems, essays that deal with the light sparkling off the water. And most are like me. Few of us want to be consumed by the politics of our day.

In an article for The New York Times (Will DeSantis destroy conservatism as we know it?), the conservative (at least the way the word was used 20 years ago) writer David French discusses differences and similarities between Trump and DeSantis while arguing for a return to a more traditional Republican politician. Trump he described as being all about crushing anyone who goes against Trump; that is to say (our words here): the politics of thuggery. DeSantis he considered more principled: he’s all about owning the libs. In seeking to economically punish Disney for speaking out against his policies, DeSantis is pursuing a politics that is contrary to the freedom of expression required for a functioning democracy. But there are, at least for the moment, some principles to his madness, and we don’t yet have evidence that he wishes to wage a full-out assault on democracy.

Trump was already waging an unprecedented assault on democracy we were compiling his threats to democracy before the 2020 election (Trumps Threats to Democracy). And then, to clarify once and for all that Trump really does prefer a King Trump to a functioning democracy for three hundred million US Americans; after the election he encouraged the assault on the capitol and also tried to convince state election officials to cheat for him. And yet here Trump is, leading in the Republican polls. This clearly demonstrates that the average Republican voter is an evil person. But how can that be? And what can a country do with that information?

There’s a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly (America is headed towards collapse) by Peter Turchin, that argues that the US’s wealth inequality is currently at pre-Civil War and pre-Great Depression levels; and that the only way to save the US and her democracy is to once again (as happened in these eras) drastically redistribute wealth from the top to the middle and bottom.

[This article calls to mind an idea from Tony Judt’s 2010 Ill Fares the Land: the Bolsheviks and others were convinced that there could be no wealth redistribution without violence &emdash; it didn’t occur to them that the Western countries might non-violently vote their way towards major wealth redistribution. Of course, as Turchin’s article points out, FDR’s economic revolution was made possible by extreme conditions (the Great Depression and WWII).]

But if income inequality is the real elephant in the room, why choose Trump, who has shown himself neither interested in nor capable of effecting that kind of wealth redistribution?

So what is the story? Are you republican voters willing to destroy democracy over a culture war that is not even particularly interesting, let alone compelling, to the average US democrat?

And what exactly is it that you need to win here?

Take history textbooks: Is it not possible for US American classrooms to use a curriculum that is straightforwardly true? Something like: The Founders worked through and implemented some great political and cultural ideas that we are still benefiting from; and they also allowed for a system of enslaving people from Africa and forcing them to do manual labor under the tyranny (original sense of the word — as in “unchecked power”) of their owners; and they also encouraged policies that were often disastrous for the remaining native populations? US American children can hold a few ideas together at once: the Founding Fathers were products of their time and place; they gave us a functioning representative democracy with majority rule and protection of individual rights that we still enjoy while we still must work to improve it; and some of what they did we as a nation must now regret — in the same manner and to the same degree that we celebrate the more positive aspects of our political and cultural heritage.

What is the past? It was, but now it isn’t. It leaves traces of itself in our present, but it is not the inevitable ruler of our future. Let us together think gently through our pasts, presents, and possible futures — and where else to start the process but in school? That is to say: is there really a disagreement here? No one can make sense of a pure-triumphalism 1950s-era US American textbook anymore. But most people also don’t want a textbook that does nothing but scold and chide our forefathers, who were, anyway, just people. Insight into how very much one is influenced by one’s time and place is a critical element of wisdom. Why not begin as elementary school students to collectively meditate upon how difficult it is to be wiser than one’s time and place? “To see things as they really are. It can only make you wise.” (Cannons in the Rain by John Stewart, singer-songwriter from California)

Or take trans concerns: What? I don’t think we necessarily have to let biological males into restrooms that say “Women” on them. Nor do I see why we necessarily have to let biological males compete against biological females in high school sports, or in the olympics, or on professional teams. Such topics can be discussed. They are not the main point raised by the reality of transpeople: They’re just people; they should be allowed to be themselves; you shouldn’t pick on them, or act like somehow they are lesser. In a similar vein: No child should ever kill themselves because kids at school pick on them for being a “sissy” or “gay” or whatever it is. Seeking an environment that ushers that kind of foolish cruelty out of our shared spaces is simple decency. But these are cultural issues more than they are political ones.

It goes too far to call someone “bad” because they believe boys should remain boys and they should pursue girls; and girls should remain girls and they should pursue (or sit about waiting to be pursued by) boys. It also goes too far to call someone “bad” because they don’t believe that. But where’s the issue here? Why do we need to call anyone “bad”? You have you ideas; I have mine; we both agree that anger and meanness and vanity are never any good for anyone. So where’s the problem? The problem comes in with anger, meanness, vanity. Minus that you just have people who disagree and need to continue to work to find common ground, but who can do that because they still have a shared and functioning democracy.

In time I suppose the side that believes boys must remain boys and chase girls will fade more and more. But that’s just because gender norms are spiritually irrelevant. When we die, we are not men or women, straight or gay, rich or poor, white or black; when we die we are only the Love we lived — everything else is burned away in the fire raging between this world and the next. The more we live Love here and now, the more we don’t even feel the fire, a la Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego. Gender, race, nationality, political party, religious affiliation, and so on: these things are not real enough to get worked up about.

What’s real enough to get worked up about is whether or not we put Love first. And in this department, my responsibility is not to tell you about the shape of your own soul, but to constantly search myself, trying over and over again to stand up more straight within myself, organize myself better and better around the Love shining through everything, including each conscious moment.

In conclusion: let’s redistribute more wealth from the top down; let’s create a New Green Deal that includes everyone this time (the New Deal did not include people of all races equally and so did not lift all boats as well as it could’ve); let’s admit we all already agree on the essentials and can and should share government and together gently nudge us all and our shared government towards the more aware, clear, accurate, honest, competent, kind, compassionate, and joyfully sharing/collaborating/exploring/growing (the values without which none of our worldviews make sense to any of us).

And let’s let Bartleby Willard, Amble Whistletown, and everybody here at Skullvalley After Whistletown Booksellers relax and mosey on back to dreamtime fictions and other ancient lays.

But what about how evil republican voters have proven themselves to be by supporting Donald Trump for presidency now, even after his cards are on the table? This we can’t fathom. Where is the point where willful incompetence becomes evil? And does it not require willful incompetence to continue to believe that Donald Trump has the desire, training, and aptitude to work with us and our other elected officials to guide our nation towards what is best for all? And if that is not what you are seeking in a politician, are you not choosing evil over good leadership? And is that not another case of willful incompetence?

Don’t you Trump-supporters feel yourselves desperately flinching away from aware, clear, accurate, competent, kind, joyfully-sharing feeling/thinking/acting? Don’t you feel a mistake in your very souls? Anger buys what it wants at the price of soul. Us-vs-them chips away at soul. Needing to be right erodes soul. What is going on? What demon possesses you?

What is going on here? What are humans? And how are they to relate to one another? What is good? If God is all that truly exists, and God is only good; does that mean that evil is 100% illusion? Yes, but how to make things better when anger and pride and self-satisfaction so often accompany criticisms of others? Sometimes others are choosing poorly and these choices are damaging everyone. So then shouldn’t you say something? But how to criticize in a way that actually helps others? And how to criticize in a way that doesn’t clench up your own heart/mind/soul?

Oh America, what can we do so that we are like the 90 year old lady who has shrunk down to 4’2″ and who has dentures for her front teeth and whose bottom teeth are worn into inclines, and who looks up with bright eyes and says that she’s spent the day praying for everyone: “Someone has to do it!” And who then adds that the most important thing is your mood, that’s the whole thing, it can even make bad things good, and then, hugging herself, says, “that’s why I cling so hard to it! I don’t want to lose it!” America, we ask us: Where’s our mood? Where’s our joy at life?

Update 6/12/2023: Ron DeSantis thinks Trump didn’t go far enough / DeSantis finds a new set of laws to ignore / DeSantis privately elevates election deniers while publicly staying mum on 2020 / DeSantis would kill Democracy Slowly and Methodically

Oh, hmmm. What has happened? Republican voters seem leaning towards a clearly established would-be tyrant; but their number two guy is arguably also a serious threat to our democracy. He has bent Florida and its legislature to his will, punished politicians and organizations that disagree with him, flouted campaign laws, exerted pressure on the legislature to pass a partisan gerrymander of his own making, and “Two months before he was Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pick to oversee Florida voting, Cord Byrd was a featured speaker at a seminar for people who falsely believe the 2020 election was stolen and wanted training to stop it from happening again.” [that quote is from “DeSantis privately elevates election deniers while publicly staying mum on 2020” linked to above.]

What is going on? Republicans favor an open opponent to the rule of anything but his own whims, and the only other candidate they seem to consider worth considering seems like a more competent authoritarian. And both men run on outrage and anger.

And now (6/13/2023), with Trump’s Federal indictment, high-ranking Republicans are tweeting that Biden is weaponizing the justice department. How? Did they read the indictment? Bill Barr did: “I do think we have to wait and see what the defense says and what proves to be true. But I do think … if even half of it is true, then he’s toast … It’s a very detailed indictment and it’s very damning,” said Barr. []

How is it that Republican voters are so ready to destroy representative democracy?

Republican voters have decided that their country has been stolen from them; ergo the democracy must already be over; ergo they are right to impose a tyrant of their own? They don’t know what they are doing, and yet they are being evil. Because willful incompetence is bad, and if you take it far enough, it becomes evil, and undermining US American democracy amounts to sowing salt in the hearts and minds not just of three hundred million citizens, but of the world. Because we’ve never been perfect, and often have overplayed our hand and overpraised our prances; but at least we have fair elections and freedom of speech and thought, and with these goods we have the ability to collectively evolve and the space to find our own paths to the Truth as individuals. Now what?

The Republican voters hate us so much that they would burn down the world just to hurt us. Why? And who are we? And how are we so different from them that this is their resolve?

What has happened? The Republican Party has been corrupted, which is to say it is a place where worse ideas and behaviors are chosen over better ones — where it is easier to succeed with harmful actions than with helpful ones.

What would you have me do, God? I don’t want to talk to them anymore, since now they have decided that they’d rather put me in prison for back-talking than carry on a conversation out in the grassy free spaces where we used to have picnics along rivers and otherwise enjoy nature and her smiles. What would you have me do? They’re being bad has not made good. Their foolishness does not make me wise. I don’t mind if people want to debate about how big or small the federal government should be, or how much various groups should pay in taxes, or what textbooks should say about history, or what limits should be put in place to prevent underaged people from undergoing a trans operation that they might later regret, or any of that. All I ask is that they agree to protect our collective right to a functioning representative democracy, with individual protections, majority rule, and clarity honesty accuracy competency and good-will in conversation and policy. But they are agitating to dissolve those goods in the name of — what? Wounded pride?

But then again, if we really have reached the point where the wealth gap is once again unsustainable and the only way forward as a nation is to drastically raise taxes on the few people and organizations who possess the vast majority of the money; then we are in a desperate straight: Add this fundamental econcomic/power quandary to our current habit of escaping into media landscapes and social networks (virtual and physical) of our own self-enforcing choosing, and it is perhaps not shocking to see people flinching into evil.

But what should we do? How can we actually improve things? How can we go back to speaking to one another? You might say to start with I should stop calling them “evil”, but what are they then? “Misguided” is not sufficient; because they could stop and think a moment; stop for a moment and consider what reality is more plausible; but they do no such thing. So then they must be “willfully misguided”, which is to say “evil”. They choose mighty, dramatic feelings (teeth-clenching/shoulder-shaking alternated with heart-swelling/pride-exploding) over gentle kind resolve. Everyone does that some, but they take it so far as to make a Reality out of what is not even a reality. Isn’t that what’s going on?

So is the average Republican voter an evil person?

Or what?

This situation is more difficult to address than we had thought.

Dear God,
What are we to do?
What is good and what is evil?
What are the paths that goodness takes and those that evil takes?
How can we tell the one path from the other before it is too late, and evil has silenced all dissent?
What are we to do here and now?
What should we do to regain the center?
What is the center, and why is it to be chosen?

If the average Republican voter is an evil person, then we are all evil people. The only difference is setting. Or at least almost all of us are evil people, and the only difference is setting. For example, a few brave souls resisted NAZI Germany.

I think the safer bet is that we are all both good and evil, but we can behave evilly with a setting that favors evil behavior and personal imperfections. So for some people, it is more difficult to go along with good than it is to go along with evil; and some people are the other way; and many are in the middle-ish. And of course we are all always changing.

The reason that representative democracy is a spiritual good is that the people serve as a final check on madness and corruption in government AND in their own collective thinking/feeling/acting. How to help us all find the way forward?

That was what the wisdom meme was for.

I guess this is the best wisdom meme we’ve come up with so far: To the Rescue.

Trump helped inspire another one years ago that we’ve always thought pretty good: A Fun New War.

I don’t know. How to nudge us all towards the better? “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still!” No forced belief is real wisdom. We must seek wisdom for ourselves and our collective search for wisdom must also be open and not coerced. We must relax and enjoy one another, otherwise we’ll destroy one another and our shared resources — as dysfunctional families, given enough time, will.

But how? You are supporting Trump and DeSantis; instead of someone willing to say the 2020 election was not stolen, political power shouldn’t be used to punish people who publicly disagree with you, and that the point of politics is to work together to find what is best for everyone — not bend the country to your will, even if the tactics you employ for that bending help slide the nation towards the vanishing of a government “Of the People, For the People, By the People”.

I see this as evil behavior on your part. Since what you are asking for would harm everyone by making the nation more corrupt, and thus a place where it is easier for bad impulses to succeed and more difficult for good ones to succeed. What you are asking for is a place where evil has the upper hand. This is evil. What is your problem? Why are you doing this? I see future blood all over your hands. Like you are clamoring to harm other people and ultimately yourselves. What do you see when you look at your hands?

[Update October 2023: By late-summer 2023, DeSantis was trying a new tact and said, “No, of course he lost. Joe Biden’s the President” But also saying things like, “I think what people in the media and elsewhere, they want to act like somehow this was just like the perfect election. … I don’t think it was a good-run election,” DeSantis said. “But I also think Republicans didn’t fight back. You’ve got to fight back when that is happening.” De Santis – Of Course Trump Lost 2020 Election. Which is still saying that Biden didn’t really win; the Republicans just didn’t fight back about the right things quickly enough to keep Trump in office. In this, he still gives ample room for conspiracy theories about how the election was stolen from Trump. In this, he encourages what? What fantasy about a perfectly run election? And if you can argue that there’s imperfections here and there, the losing side has a right to call the whole thing a cheat? That’s not how you find the way forward for everyone. You find the way forward for everyone by admitting that there is no perfection in human affairs, but that this election was fair and the winner is clear and it is over. But no, he can’t bring himself to do that much for our shared democracy. Instead he kicks up nonsense:

“Still, DeSantis made sure to point out in Sunday’s interview that he saw a number of problems with the 2020 election, including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s grants for election administration, the widespread availability of mail-in ballots, state laws that allow third parties to collect and return voters’ ballots, and how social media outlets de-emphasized a story about the laptop of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.”

And this all adds up to what, Ron DeSantis? Election results that should’ve been fought right then real quick and overturned? What does all this really add up to? Not corruption, but laws and circumstances that you think favor democratic voters. So what, until we figure out a way to get all circumstances, and all state, local, and federal laws to favor republican voters (I think some already do, thought they somehow didn’t make your list of 2020 election outrages), then we have to fight against all election results in real time until they’re overturned? That’s your vision for a healthy democracy?

Everyone slides everything to their advantage. But you take this human weakness too far, although not as far as Trump is taking it. I guess that’s why he’s the front-runner? Because the republican voter has fully embraced the nihilism of momentary victories at all costs, and for Trump and his voters lying is just another weapon? Is this where we’re at? DeSantis is evil, but not evil enough?

What is going on?

How can we deal with this broken half of our political system? How to help when we are probably right to feel existentially threatened: this behavior of the Republican Party is putting our democratic republic in existential danger. And yet what allows them to behave this way? Is it not the clearly mistaken notion that the democrats are putting the nation in existential danger? And so we begin the death spiral. It is true that the republicans are further from reality, but that is not enough to save us as a nation, and it will be cold comfort when we and if we fully self-destruct, and then, if the evil really wins, that truth will anyway be erased from what we can say.

How to deal? When are we in an emergency? And then how to move out of the emergency and into a more sustainable trajectory. I feel sick to my stomach every time I think about politics in the United States of America. I pine for my youth, when it seemed plausible that the US would always be a nice, safe, healthy place, with a functioning democracy and reasonable exchange of ideas.

Oh, wait: Did he mean that republicans just need to get all the circumstances and rules to favor republican candidates before the elections end? And that that would be a “fair election”? That’s not so evil as my initial interpretation, although what he’s talking about mostly means enfranchising less people, so it works against the good government practice of enfranchising as many people as possible. For example, election days should be federal holidays, and everyone should be legally obligated to vote, and voting should be super easy; and important primary votes should get the same treatment, with the additional detail that in primaries we do ranked voting, so as to pare down the radical edges.

Here’s a real worry about our presidential elections from the point of view of good government: not many people bother to vote in primaries, which selects for the more extreme candidates; and you can win the presidential election with a minority of the popular vote. States have rights, but we’re kidding ourselves to act like they are individual nations and should have those kinds of rights. States rights should not be allowed to interfere with the proper functioning of the federal government, particularly not federal elections. Our constitution is not perfect and not perfectly clear; when interpreting it, we should lean towards laws that help the cause of good government, democracy, the will of the many, and the rights of all. In that way we are true to the spirit of the constitution without being untrue to the oft-vague-ish letter of the constitution.]

Authors: Committee for Committed Something Deeperism
Editors: B Willard and A Whistletown
Copyright: AM Watson

wisdom meme

wisdom meme

I love you.

By accident I caught a glimpse
of your smile
as it shone out your heart and into the wider world where we —
hollowed-out corpses for a moment animated by the Light of Godbreath —

Life is like that.
Dead bodies stitched together by the miracle
just long enough to stroll together
through the park in spring.

God is giggling.
We call this giggle creation.

Turn us, God, inside out.
Let us, we pray, become the Light that shines inside and outside —
that there no longer be a space between inner and outer Light:
turn us inside out; explode the Light into and out of
this shell of mind/heart/body,
this corpse of a clickity-clack dancing, hard-shelled beetle

Help us to hear
one another,
and the gentle joy
misting through everything,
empty of anything like “inside” and “outside” of “me”

How do we all together accept the gentle careful relentless loving kindness,
without which none of what we feel, think, say or do means anything to any of us,
and with which
everything we feel, think, say, and do
a way forward
for us all
alone and all together
now and forever

How do we giggle along with God?

Author/Editor: BW/AW
Copyright: AM Watson

slant wisdom meme

slant wisdom meme

Of woman born and formed to stride the waves
so rugged. Driven, chanced or fated, he
would find on naked shore his native babe.
What holy glue of youth’s passion in sweat
would bind two souls in clarifying Love?
What rights two hearts when wisdom they forget?
What laces him, dissolving push and shove,
in her — madcap gobbled, but now fully loved?
A worm he carried, house to newfound home.
When down it dug into her flesh it shoved
her underground. So he wept all alone
upon the virgin sands he’d made his own.

What crime is pacing this distant line of surf?
Kind joy melts meanness wherever it lurks,
but rash hands thoughtless leap past Love to love,
and men find always the violence they seek.
Look ye God, look please down from up above.
Please catch and burn that in us that’s cruel and weak
with the Love that chooses everyone
and works through ’til everything is done,
’til every mind heart and soul is won.

But never mind
Old alligator
Yellow eyes disappear
Again he slowly sinks
‘neath dark still waters,
too hungry to think
or feel. He will bother
us only so long as we believe he’s right —
that Love is less than love
and kindness a false and silly light


Is this any kind of a wisdom meme at all?
We have our doubts
and the ferryman shouts
come down to the dock
’tis but a short walk
to the other side
as now so low the tide
in no time I’ll take you home
where God with souls can roam
My body is a skeleton
but my heart beats true as ever
I’m sure you’ve felt me in
your bones when try you tell her
what you cannot say nor be
So come, sheathe your soul in me.

Author: Bartelby Willard
Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andy Watson
Explanation: Little to none

home run

home run

Every weekend it is the same thing
Write the project that will spring you
from this pointless
chasing of your tail
around and around
going nowhere

But the project isn’t just money
though there’s supposed to be
It is most of all supposed to be
fix yourself
help democracy think clearly and act wisely
set yourself and the world on the right track

A grand slam
A slam dunk
Wondrous salvation
from dukkha

What if instead of escaping suffering, discontent, loneliness, frustration, dissappointment, dissatisfaction, and other broken longings
you escaped attachment to your own longing?

The vague longing desires in all directions vaguely
You attach it to specific desires so you can pretend you can answer this vague never-ending ever-gnawing root desire
And on and on it drives you on

What if you accept that the vague longing is too vague to be resolved with any specific good?
Except you can’t help but note that an infinite longing could be adequately answered by an infinite satisfaction of the sort provided by infinite Love.
Or could it?
Infinite Love would overwhelm all longings, including the vague longing; It would make them seem like insignificant ripples in a deep abiding pool of calm kind cool-and-collected delight.

We have a problem
Every day we get up and say
oh please no
please not this
leave me alone
set me free
let me think
let me breath
let me be
Don’t hassle me
with pressures
that have nothing
to do with me
Don’ pester me
with catastrophes
that I never even
needed to know about

What does God think?
What should we do?

And the country seems to fall apart at the seams
And the Hurt scoops us out from the inside out as if with a dirty jagged ice cream scooper
And we feel
like failures
lost causes
jokes on the water
floaters in the toilet
troublesome flies that’d be swatted were it worth the effort, and will be, if we stumble into the potato salad, thus making our swatting worth the effort

Why are we here?
What should we do?


I have this great idea
Swallow this poison
And seal off all exits
Let the poison spread deep and wide
Let it grow with you
Until you can’t say
what is you
and what is the invading evil

Then all you need to do
is dig down
into your pit
face the poison
resolve the Hurt
untie the knots
release the broken soul
And let the Light do the rest

Don’t you see?
I’m helping you
I’m giving you a gateway
to great enlightenment
All you need to do
is not choke on the gift
How hard can that be?


What is the freedom poem?
What is the magic song
that lets us live and stops us dying
our every day away?

Where is the freedom poem
that rings from crest to crest
And echoes through the valleys rough
with scratches in the dirt wood and stone?


I can hit a home run
I can knock it out the park
I can fix everything
with one perfect touch


A wisdom meme
is an irresistible formulation
of Something Deeperism:
A continuous self-critiquing & -improving
organization of one’s feeling/thinking/acting around
and a
poetic (not literal, but still meaningful and essentially True) interpretation of
Pure Love —
Infinite kind delight / Joy in suffering-with while giving always more and more wondrously

The wisdom meme
will make both individual enlightenment and shared wisdom
impossible to dodge

So beautiful will that meme be!

A home run
is a wisdom meme
that lasts forever
I still want my baby
And our nice little life
by the seashore
safe and sound
And I want the Hurt
to leave me alone

Salvation does not guarantee
a happy home
the end of swallowed evils

Salvation guarantees not happiness, but joy
Salvation brings only itself
It will be
what is best for everyone
in the circumstances it finds

A home run
includes movie rights
and your soft hand on my taut belly, telling me I’m
safe, loved, appreciated, home
includes only Love,
and its proper consumption, use, and realization


Where to now,
Jesus & The Saints
What’s the way forward,
Buddha & The Sangha
What’s a man to do,
baby girl and my reason for living?

These cords wrapped rough around your neck
they remind me of old twisted roots swerving out
like shoulder blades in the dusty summer earth

Long ago along the wharf walked wailers under oil
A barrel burdened on bent back, leaning to the toil.
What whale had hurt and spun in rage within a salted water
that men might stand in dignity before their wives and daughters?

Was I wrong to be what I was when young and supply strong?
Now a softly mounting self-collecting python fat and long
becomes a pillar in my innards, claiming all my space its own.
That’s what I was asking for. That you would take me home
Free me from these evil errors that never leave one alone.


When Master John impaled young Walter Jones
upon a flattened dusty basement shag
The boy fought but lost to the alter stone.
So hide you a while in yourself gagged.
When Walter Jones grew up a man at last
he laughed and drank and twirled with witty words,
forgetful the sacrificial past.
But all he’d ever known, felt, seen or heard
as mist spread through the space he called
himself. And wetter darker stormier
it grew writhed cut. From inside out it mauled.
Would shut him down as he’d feel more for her —
whoever he longed to be a man for.
Now how to let love in? To ope wide the door?
I see him clutching dagger cross-legged nights
stooped over the killing stone.
I hear him blather sacrificial rites
to no one, pretending he’s not alone.
It’s a sticky predicament. What God
would sully Godself on such sordid stuff?
The problem is old. The danger still odd.
Through wood and rock, the valley jostles rough.
He prays for his woman while preying on
a dream of her who’d sanctify his song
his song so creaky broken cruel and wrong
obscuring a heart that stays oddly the same as ever
Another tadpole sloshed by God and/or the weather.


Much we tried; all manner of art and trade plied
to be our magic selves.

Author: BW
Editor: AW
Copyright: AM Watson