A Super Man is…

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In the realm of civil liberties, a revelation in the past week showed that Lord Acton was right, absolute power corrupts absolutely. After listening to Edward Snowden’s interview, I got the impression that those who act in our best interests are overtly aware that their actions are in contravention of Fourth Amendment guarantees and ultimately “wrong.” Protocol however, dictates that one ought to remain silent and continue to do as one’s told.

I must admit that my initial reaction was one of indignation that every text, tweet, call, wink and RSS feed was recorded and stored without my knowledge and consent. I contend that authoritative structures of power are not self-justifying and a free man does not live by the philosophy that if you are not engaging in wrong doing you have nothing to worry about. As I watched the Greenwald interview again, I had an epiphany. Initially I planned to write from the standpoint of infringement of rights and a blatant violation of the specificity requirements of the 4th. Amendment. But, I opt for something other than a diatribe that will probably be conducted and written about by more astute legal minds.

Snowden’s disclosure is not a negative thing after all. Yes we are being illegally spied upon, but there is a silver lining. These events can be construed as a sign that humanity possesses the ability to triumph over the conscience-less, rogue element among us that seeks establishment of an Orwellian state and to ultimately subjugate the poor to a neo-serfdom.  Mr. Snowden, much like Bradley Manning and the other whistle-blowers, could have continued in the same vein as his peers, but was touched by the Spirit of Justice. An inner moral compass if you will, that aspires to some higher ideal other than mere financial remuneration and superior title designation. Neo-Platonist philosophers often spoke of the higher sense of good that was innate to all men. This inherent principle of perfectibility is what distinguishes man from the higher order primates and other predatory mammalian species.

When chimpanzees raid another troop, the young of the vanquished males are eaten. When lions stalk antelopes, the weak and feeble are the target of the hunt. A remarkable evolutionary quirk has bestowed upon humanity a capacity for rationality and a penchance for morality. When not impacted by pathology, killing of the innocent and weak are repugnant to the sensibilities of the majority. Prior to the indiscriminate bombing of civilians in the 20th Century, there are examples throughout history to show that conquerors often granted quarter to children and kept the women as chattel. I am sure even the most brainwashed soldier would find it difficult to indiscriminately fire upon a 6 year old child. While this may have not been the initial inclination of our knuckle-dragging ancestors, it is a quality that has evolved as we have evolved.

This moral tendency is etched upon the scaffold of rationality, and when not warped by cultural cues, allows for one to strive for the betterment of mankind. It precludes preying upon the innocent, weak and elderly. Moreover, it is grounded in truth and justice. Actions that run afoul of these precepts often instill reactions of anger and disgust when they enter our field of conscious awareness. We would rather set 1000 guilty men free than imprison one innocent man (Pentagon excluded). We are charitable and pass laws to protect the weakest among us.  Somewhere during the socialization process however, some opt to relegate this moral compass to an inferior capacity and embrace instead an exaltation of ego.

Plato’s tripartite construction of the soul places rationality and truth as the highest aspirations of man. From this perspective, Edward Snowden, John Kiriakou and Bradley Manning’s actions can certainly be construed as “Super.” Here were men who innately knew that the orders issued from above were manifestly wrong and could not be reconciled with their inner moral compasses.  They sought to reveal the truth of governmental actions before the court of public discourse. Adrian Lamo’s testimony during the Manning trial indicated that Mr. Manning was horrified at the callous attitude of his comrades regarding the death of innocent people. Furthermore, he possessed an awareness that justice demanded bringing the illegal actions and directives into the light.

Our cultural cues dictate that in order to be “super” we ought to possess Herculean strength, extra-sensory abilities and flight capability. In this blogger’s reality tunnel however, the Ubermensch is ordinary. His or her actions seek congruence with some higher octave of morality and justice that underpins his or her own. Some ultimate truth dictated by a bearded gentleman in the sky is not necessary for reconciliation of one’s actions. After all, can primates emitting small mouth noises really speak of ultimate truth? Oh Prometheus, you tricky bastard.  All we have are language constructs that are used to elucidate abstractions. The noumenon is beyond our comprehension and perceived phenomena are merely a derivative. Ergo, one can be a “Superman” merely by striving for the higher good of which one is intimately aware.

However, the Superman is only entitled to such a moniker when merciful, just and kind. He or she transcends the limits of form when embracing truth and acting with compassion towards his fellow men.  We are all super when we help someone who is in need. We are all super when we refuse to buy products manufactured by mothers forced into slave like conditions. We are all super when we offer food to the hungry and shelter to the homeless. And for those who pilot the winged instrumentalities of death and rain down the power of stars upon the helpless, you are super when you choose not to pull the trigger or engage the firing sequence. Be supermen the next time you encounter a homeless person, offer him or her a meal. Similarly, when ordered to conceal the harmful side-effects of a drug scheduled for release or circumvent the public interest for pecuniary gain, take a stand. Take not the attitude that I must secure my own interests before I can assist a person in need or speak out about a potential miscarriage of justice.

If “I” is in fact just a point of positional reference as wisdom from antiquity suggests, then by feeding another, I am essentially helping myself. For my red-state brethren who believe that King James manifested the Logos and claim that the Lord only helps those who help themselves, is it not also written in your law, what you do unto the least of my brethren you do unto me? Life happens sometimes and it is nothing short of super to act justly or help those in need. Aspire to the higher order of good as the spirit of justice resides with us all; all we need do is listen.

One love,

HJ

P.S. I found it rather interesting that the very defenders of the NSA’s blanket surveillance were willing to argue that it was no invasion of privacy yet viewed a background check or registration of a firearm purchase as a threat to the very fabric of liberty. Cognitive dissonance anyone?

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Ubuntu

The beauty of unity…

Fiat justitia, ruat caelum

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An article written by Glenn Greenwald recently brought to light the intention of the US government to continue its “war on terror” for two more decades.  What initially began as a campaign to annihilate some cave dwellers supposedly* responsible for a terrorist attack on the United States has morphed into a global war of aggression against anyone who would advocate or support egalitarian humanism on behalf of the citizens of Mother Earth. It is the humble recommendation of this blogger that a re-branding is in order.  From this day forth the global “war on terror” shall hereinafter be referred to as the, ready for it, drumroll please… “War against Justice.” Why should the sphere of war and real terror escape the application of proper nomenclature?

The latest victims of the club-wielding mouth breathers are two young men who decided to speak out against the spectre presented by unchecked abuses of power – Bradley Manning and Jeremy Hammond. Please do not depend upon Faux News, CBS (Crony Broadcasting Service) or any of the other “mainstream” news outlets to inform yourselves about these issues.   There are great journalists covering these stories with an unusual bias for truth and accuracy in journalism.  For example, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now recently penned a piece that addresses the situation confronting these champions of justice. Meanwhile, another of our SuperFriends- Julian Assange sits in limbo at the Ecuadorean embassy in London thanks to the civility of President Rafael Correa.

The perpetrators of this war against justice (has a nice ring to it right?) have decreed that the general public MUST remain in the dark concerning the abuses conducted in the name of democracy. Abu Ghraib, water-boarding, the lies to the UN to facilitate the pillage and colonization of Iraq, and other stories should never have reached the American public. The Fourth Estate must be repossessed by the government in the same manner that Citibank and Chase, after receiving T.A.R.P. funds, repossessed millions of homes belonging to lower income families.  Moreover, whistleblowers in the US experience the harsh reality of discovering what occurs when you actually defend the Constitution and speak out against wrongful acts and miscarriages of justice.

So where am I going with this? I did not intend this to be merely preaching to the choir but a plea for help.  We need to raise awareness of issues where the government actions are adverse to the public interest. A successful democracy requires public discourse to remain successful. Talking about the Independent candidates running for public office can’t hurt as well. I’m sure a few more guys like Bernie Sanders running around on Capitol Hill won’t hurt the public interest.

I must warn you that this is not going to be an easy task. Here in America materialism is often used as an insulator from intelligence and critical thinking.  There are many who live on the “right” side of the tracks and drive the “right” model automobile. This often translates into an increased sense of self-worth and importance.  They buttress this ego with the notion that poverty is a function of laziness and society is a well-oiled meritocracy.  The “official” version of events is also the correct one. Ergo, raising delicate issues that contradict Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh may not be well received.  Courage will definitely be a prerequisite on this one. But, if you see an improved world within your horizon then the prereq is satisfied.

Bradley Manning has taught me about the definition of courage. His actions can only be defined as heroic. Throughout history, the rank and file often justify the atrocity of their conduct by raising the defense of “I was only following orders.” Here is a man who did not see that as satisfactory. He did not care about commanding officers and the hierarchical structure of oppression used in the military. If something cannot be reconciled with justice, the fact that the command was issued by General Idontvaluehumanlife or President Wemustkillandtaketheoil  does not change the character of the action. The ends never justify the means as the road to hell is often paved with good intentions. Another blogger wrote a great piece discussing the issue confronting Mr. Manning that is well worth reading.

This young man deserves a monument in Washington D.C. alongside good ole’ Honest Abe. He possesses an intuitive understanding of that which philosophers have often struggled to define- JUSTICE.

One love,

HJ

*I used the word supposedly because there are many around the globe who have often questioned the suspension of the laws of chemistry and physics on the grounds where the World Trade Centers were erected. Here is a calculation that is logically sound. If you understand some chemistry and can refute the argument, I would enjoy looking at your analysis. The thrust of it is that the exothermic reaction caused by explosion of the airplane fuel is insufficient to cause collapse, additional energy needs to be introduced into the system. “Remember the Maine!!”

Beating the Bomb

Despite all the sound bites regarding weapons of mass destruction in the media, the US and Britain continue to develop and stockpile nuclear arsenals. Furthermore, along with  Israel, they support and have used depleted uranium weapons disregarding global opposition and downplaying the teratogenic effects. Will the real genocidal maniacs please stand and be recognized? I often try to step outside myself and wonder how can a person sleep when their hands are stained with the blood of innocent children. We deprive men of their freedom for growing herb yet reward war profiteers and their political henchmen with book deals and speaking engagements. Humanity still seems so voluntarily primitive in much of its behavior.

One love,

HJ

The Bravery of Being out of Range 

You have a natural tendency
To squeeze off a shot
You’re good fun at parties
You wear the right masks
You’re old but you still
Like a laugh in the locker room
You can’t abide change
You’re at home on the range
You opened your suitcase
Behind the old workings
To show off the magnum
You deafened the canyon
A comfort a friend
Only upstaged in the end
By the Uzi machine gun
Does the recoil remind you
Remind you of sex
Old man what the hell you gonna kill next
Old timer who you gonna kill next
I looked over Jordan and what did I see
Saw a U.S. Marine in a pile of debris
I swam in your pools
And lay under your palm trees
I looked in the eyes of the Indian
Who lay on the Federal Building steps
And through the range finder over the hill
I saw the frontline boys popping their pills
Sick of the mess they find
On their desert stage
And the bravery of being out of range
Yeah the question is vexed
Old man what the hell you gonna kill next
Old timer who you gonna kill next
Hey bartender over here
Two more shots
And two more beers
Sir turn up the TV sound
The war has started on the ground
Just love those laser guided bombs
They’re really great
For righting wrongs
You hit the target
And win the game
From bars 3,000 miles away
3,000 miles away
We play the game
With the bravery of being out of range
We zap and maim
With the bravery of being out of range
We strafe the train
With the bravery of being out of range
We gained terrain
With the bravery of being out of range

Roger Waters

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