Hi again, Well, tomorrow's a big day....maybe not the biggest day, but a very important one in this country's history. Of course yesterday was a big day as well, and congratulations to The New York Giants on their amazing victory in The Super Bowl. But as much of a sports fan as I am, and as iconic as The Super Bowl has become, its importance and consequences pale in comparison with the choices that face us in tomorrow's Super Tuesday primary contests. As one who firmly believes we need a significant change in the way we conduct ourselves as a country both within our national boundaries and as a citizen of the world, I have strong opinions about our electoral process and the choices that confront many of us tomorrow in our respective states' primaries. Over the past 7 years, The Republican Party has given us record deficits, a staggering economy, a disastrous war, and a divisiveness in this country that is an anathema to anyone who believes in the Dream Of America, the dream of a melting pot of many cultures coming together as one. Whoever emerges as the Republican candidate, probably McCain, will most certainly continue the present paradigm. I believe there is only one candidate who can bridge the great divide in this country, restore our once proud image around theO world, and provide the leadership that we so desperately need in this most interesting and critical time in our history. Change happens from the bottom up, I believe, in each of us as individuals, in our thoughts and in our actions. It is our individual responsibility to make the changes in our own lives that will effect us and those around us. Indeed, it is the only way change happens.....no one can change us except ourselves (and how many times have we unsuccessfully tried to change someone else!). But I also believe leadership from the top can meet that change from the bottom in a very dynamic and effective way. Leadership is all about creating a vision of the future, painting an honest picture of the present, and using the past for a healthy perspective. Barack Obama meets these criteria, and he provides much more. He is a transformational figure, the kind of person who comes along only once in a generation or two. Obama speaks in a language of inclusiveness, a language of hope, and delivers his message of a better America in a most inspiring and compelling way. But unlike so many politicians before him who used similar messages of hope to achieve their goal of getting elected, I believe Barack Obama is the real deal, that once-in-a-generation human being who can truly make a positive difference. Like John F. Kennedy, he helps to inspire us to a greater cause, to something greater than ourselves, to come together as individuals for the common good of our country. Now more than ever, this is exactly what we need. With so much global acrimony, we need open and honest communication, not more separation and walls. We all want respect, but we must also show respect to others. I believe Obama will do this by reaching out to all sides both in his foreign policy and his domestic agenda. I believe this because I trust his basic character. As Martin Luther King so eloquently spoke, "I have a dream that someday people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character". And I believe Barack Obama has a huge spirit with immense character, a belief based on what I've read about him, what I've seen from him in his public life, and from my own intuition and personal impressions having met him, spoken with him, and looked him in the eye. Yes, folks, it's personal! So I'm not telling you what to do....I would never do that, any more than I would want someone else to tell me what to do. But I am asking you to take another look at this amazing political figure, a man who has so far brought a large number of voters into the fray who previously felt disenfranchised, who has the ability to attract many more, and who, in my opinion, is the only person in this political race for president who is inspiring enough to truly make the kind of difference we need to unite as a country, to repair our infrastructure, repair our image in the world, and to create a brand new paradigm. Maybe tomorrow is the biggest day, bigger than November 4th, even bigger than the Super Bowl! Because the results of tomorrow will go a long way toward determining our choices in November, and those choices will determine our collective future. If you're living in one of the Super Tuesday states, I hope you will vote tomorrow and closely consider your choices....or reconsider them.... and I do appreciate your reading my perspective. Of course, if you're in New York City, you'll be fighting traffic on your way to the voting booth because of the ticker-tape parade for the victorious N.Y. Giants. So maybe the Super Bowl is bigger than Super Tuesday! Peace, FREEBO
It’s wonderful to be here today at Wartburg, which I have long admired as one of America’s great liberal arts colleges.
I would like to underline that word “liberal” in the context of liberal arts. It does not, of course, refer to big government, or to left-of-center politics. No, as I’m sure you know, it refers to the art of thinking freely—training the mind to think for itself, free of the lies and fantasies and prejudices that wrap around us from an early age.
In this time, the very idea of human life on the planet is at stake. War and violence have taken new and decidedly more dangerous turns.
So you are doing well to be freeing your minds right now. That is a difficult task, as there are so many forces around you, telling you what and how to think, and selling you incredible lies.
The War on Terrorism is a good example. It is a term used to keep you from thinking freely and from actually solving the world’s problems relating to poverty and freedom. If you solved those problems you would severely damage the profits of the elite.
The very idea that you can have war on terror is as silly as the idea that you can have war on anger. War itself is insane anger.
As the world’s resources become stressed by global warming and overpopulation, do we really think we can kill all the angry people? Can we calm them down by dropping bombs on their villages and spraying their families with machine gun bullets? Isn’t that rather like dropping gasoline and crumpled newspaper on forest fires instead of water? Do you think anyone really thinks it will work? They don’t even want it to work. War is too profitable. It is profitable for those who finance the careers of our politicians.
Islamo-fascism, as a label, is yet another fraud used to keep you from thinking freely. Some people in the world are so desperate and angry that they will blow themselves up just to hurt us, that is true. But it has to do with the conditions of their lives, not with religion. Religion is always the excuse for murder, but rarely the motive. If I tell you that God wants us all to clean up the dining rooms tonight, to scrub every seat and scrape-off every blob of gum, you will thank me for my opinion and you will back out of the room en masse. If, however, I tell you that God wants us all to storm the administration building tonight and change our grades to straight A’s, then how many of you will answer God’s call? In war, religion is a cover and an organizing convenience. That’s all it has ever been, going back to the Crusades, which were all about treasure and rape.
The “War on Terrorism,” has very little to do with anyone’s religious beliefs. Terrorism, historically, is a term used to describe what governments do to rule through fear—to overrule the rule of law. The term originated after the French Revolution as a tool for suppressing dissent. If we are to truly prosecute a War on Terrorism, it would inclue preventing governments from using fear to shred the democratic rule of law.
If you want to stop insane anger in the world, you have to get at world poverty and the injustices that people suffer as nations ruthlessly jockey for resources.
“We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” Anytime you hear tough language like that, you will do well to assume it means the opposite. If we actually don’t negotiate with terrorists, you would have heard the President make a speech proclaiming that: “Nothing our enemies do will persuade us in the least to give up on our principles. We will hold fast to our Bill of Rights and to the cherished Geneva Convention. All suspects will be afforded a lawyer and a trial and humane treatment, no matter what. We will not run like cowards away from the Constitution and the human values that our people have fought and died to protect and improve. We will not give any of that up to the terrorists in exchange for some hope of extra safety. We will not negotiate.”
THAT would be refusing to negotiate with terrorists. But that is not what this government has done. In terms of giving up on things of value, this government has knelt down and emptied its pockets after the first punch. It was profitable for some people for this to happen.
Not only has our so-called government given away our basic human rights—turned them over to the terrorists in exchange for worthless hopes of safety—but they have subjected you and me to endless little indignities unbecoming American citizens.
Why do they harass you at the airports, refusing to let you stop your car for a moment at the curb to pick-up your friends? Do they think that, by harassing you in this way, that they are in any way preventing a truck from driving up and exploding? They of course know better. It is not about that. it is about keeping you fearful, and reminding us that We the People no longer have the power. Speak up at the airport and you will be whisked away. What a wonderful place an airport is to teach us all about the new country we are living in.
So you take off your shoes because one madman had an exploding shoe some years ago. I’m not sure which is worse: one possible tragedy like that, or the smell of a hundred million feet thereafter. The point of this airport ceremony is to physically humiliate you into subservience to the new state. Get used to it, because it is just getting started--if you will let it.
Any politician you hear talking seriously about the War on Terror or about Islamo-Fascism is lying to you and trying to prevent you from thinking freely. Call them on it. Tell them you think those terms are really just a lot of BS meant to deflect attention from the real issues of world poverty, the unsustainable exploitation of resources and other issues that we, in fact, could address seriously with a fraction of what we spend on counterproductive warfare—though we understand it is highly profitable for some.
If you are a psych major or have taken some psych courses, you understand that we often transfer to others the things we fear most within ourselves. When some leaders label others with words like terrorist, let them look first to what they are themselves doing in the world. Are they upholding the human rights encoded in the U.S. Constitution, and in the Geneva Convention, and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? If they are not, then they have forfeited their right to label other people in any disparaging way. Do they understand that 90% of the people who die in war are civilians, and that any pre-emptive, meaning non-provoked war, is by definition an act of terrorism?
In the term "Islamo-fascist, let's look a little closer. The term "fascist" was popularized by Mussolini to describe how corporate interests could be combined with an authoritarian government. If some American leader has assumed dictatorial powers by claiming the ability to disregard laws, and if he has given no-bid contracts with billions of dollars to friendly corporations that he has an actual family interest in, then he may indeed want to transfer the word Fascist as far away from himself as possible, but we see through this with our free minds. The historical shoe fits.
The fact of our condition is that we have two governments. We have a faceless government that has secret prisons, its own rules, a suspension of all our rights, and its own armies and budgets. It laughs at us when we think we can tell it what to do. It has been around for some time –certainly since the early 60s when we started losing the leaders who actually represented our values.
We do have another government. It is the one where we have debates, campaigns, elections (more or less), and where the winners play at a Congress. This government has fallen in power as the other has risen. I have lived long enough to see the dimming of lights in the Capitol building. These people no longer much represent you and me. The mainstream news keeps us from seeing the truth of this. We are expected to be happy with our wonderful cars and your wonderful music players and our fancy phones that can message back and forth. But we have been left without anything of our own to say that is not a rewrite of a commercial.
If you are not hearing the truth from the mainstream media, it is because there is a game here, and one of the main rules of the game is that you have to pretend we are still a government of, by and for its people. If you cannot live in that fantasy, you will be ostracized as a nut case, a fanatic, a fringe element. That is part of the control mechanism that you have to understand if you would be free to think for yourself.
If, to create an absurd example, the family of George Bush were investors together in oil partnerships with the Bin Laden family, or if George Bush Senior were a part of a company like the Carlyle Group that has profited greatly from the Iraq War, would those stories be all over CNN and in the front pages of newspapers, or would those stories violate the fantasy and therefore be ignored? Well, those stories happen to be true, so judge for yourself if we have a problem with the news media.
How, indeed, do we bring order into the chaos of our lives once we reject the lies around us? What is the thing that is not a lie? Where is a fixed star by which we can navigate our lives through the ever-warming waters ahead?
Somewhere, perhaps less than a mile from here, there is someone who didn’t come to this lecture. This person took time out of his or her day to go tutor a kid or help an older person—maybe to help someone learn a needed language. There is the star. That person out there has more to tell you than I do, for Love is the only truth that can save us from lies and from anger and sad living. The real division of politics in the world is between truth and love on one hand, which call for the happy development of every human’s highest potential, and the politics of fear and hate on the other hand, which are known by exploitation and oppression.
You know which kind of politics is at the helm today. Maybe an election or two can make some improvements. But, even so, we still have this little problem with the other government, the one that thinks it is really in charge of our lives and our world--the one the world knows very well. When the storm destroyed New Orleans, the wealthy neighborhoods suddenly had armed Blackwater guards at their gates. These machine-gun toting men were from other nations and had no familiarity with our Bill of Rights. They would have followed any order. In that storm, we saw the future, if we will allow it.
Race is more important in organizing political differences than economic class. So now we see a rise in racial conflict in America, even in places where we wouldn’t have imagined it a few years ago. The uneasy peace between the races in America made possible by the post World War II boom is now moving into difficult times. It is aggravated by the immigration issue. Can you see these issues freely? You read the newspapers and the internet news sites, and you watch the Daily Show, so you know just about everything. Or do you? The U.S. Farm program, voted for by our elected representatives, subsidizes the corn industry so heavily that American corporations sell corn in Mexico for half of what Mexico’s family farmers can sell it for. So half the farms in Mexico have gone out of business. Farm families have migrated to Mexico’s big cities, where there is so much poverty that all one can do is plan to sneak into America for decent wages. They die on our desert borders. If it were easy to come and go, how could we oppress them so easily? We have come to rely upon this oppression for the smooth operation of our communities. But you will not hear about this story on the TV news, will you? It is outside the accepted fantasy.
The lies that surround us drive emotions and they drive unkindness and cruelty, which are the signposts of misinformation and misunderstanding. People who are not free of mind are not kindly of mind. Kindness is freedom’s truest indicator. If you cannot stop to help someone who clearly needs your help, you are not a free man or woman. Your chains may have the glamorous attachments of Blackberries and credit cards, but you are not free if your time is not your own to follow your heart.
If you are looking for a strategy to improve relations between the races, between straight and gay people, between religions, you must understand that such peace is most achievable when there is sufficient truth and prosperity to go around, and when there is the kindness that is the product of those two.
To preserve prosperity in the world, agriculture and nature must be saved. The coal plants must be shut down--all of them--within the next few years. Gasoline-powered automobiles must be phased-out in the next ten years. International trade must be largely curtailed in favor of local production. These are the issues of a politics of love, and they cannot go forward without some free thinking and some knocking-down of immense lies now in place.
Free thinking, prosperity and kindness, so intertwined, make cooperative living easier to achieve, and push intolerance away. We have a lot of work to do, but, can you see it? Do you have a glimpse of it?
Can you stand the idea of Google-ing a little more Noam Chomsky and a little less USA Today? That would be a good beginning.
Churchill was correct when he said the empires of the future are the empires of the mind. The big battle for the future is being fought right now in your mind. Your freedoms are closing-in around you.
Our present circumstances seem to necessitate a new and democratic international compact between those of you who are willing to do what is necessary to be free people living sustainably, and to withdraw our support from systems outside the compact. The compact can be first between individuals, and then communities. It can later include regions and nations. How will this be brought forth? Will it be enough? I don’t know, but it’s all we can do. Certainly the Internet, for as long as we can keep it, can get us started. But don’t rely on it entirely, for it is no longer ours to trust.
You have the power to save your freedoms and your natural world. Truth and Love, Courage and Energy, and a good organizing plan for cooperative action are your great powers. Don’t look for leaders to do it for you, unless you are standing before a mirror.
I’m 97, soon 98, so saying ‘good luck’ is about all I have left. I have filled my life with adventures and good causes. They have not been enough for the world, and they have not even been enough for me. But I shudder to think of how bare my life would have been had I not answered the call to action that you must now be feeling somewhere in your hearts, as you have it felt before.