Truth Under Fire

Again, I had a post I originally wanted to write, and was not able to do it. I continued reading and meditating, and this is the result.

I have a number of friends who feel almost as though we are being bombed verbally. Dion Fortune and her group of adepts were  being bombed physically. While the bombs coming at us are not the type that rip the roofs off of buildings, the effect on the psyche is similar. In her letter of September 8, 1940, Ms Fortune wrote, “There is only one way to keep quiet and serene under bombardment – to be prepared to lay down your life for your country if necessary. Once that eventuality is accepted , one abrogates one’s civilian mentality, and the passivity and helplessness that go with it. Regard the warning wail of the siren as an ‘alert’ not as a ‘retreat’, unless specifically ordered to get out of the way. Carry on as near normal as you can without running undue risks.” I feel like this works for the kind of bombardment we are experiencing in the US today.

As I write this, we see that the current occupant of the White House has fired his defense secretary and we are awaiting his firing of the FBI director and the CIA director, replacing them with those more willing to do his bidding. We see him and his surrogates challenging the results of the election and insulting those doing the arduous and patriotic work of counting the ballots and ensuring that all votes are counted and counted fairly. We find him arguing against the findings of the independent press. These behaviors are not partisan issues, they are the antithesis of the founding of this country. We also observe him addressing the people with lies and misinformation. Perhaps the worst offense is the assault on truth.

What is it about the assault on truth that is so dangerous? Recall those three values: liberty, equality and the rule of law. None of them exist except in the acceptance and enforcement of the social contract. The foundation of the social contract is trust. The one requirement for trust is the ability to accept what we are hearing from one another is honest. Truth, then, is the fiber from which the social contract is weaved. If we cannot assume that what is being said is true, how can we evaluate testimony under oath? And if we cannot evaluate testimony, how can we be sure that the rule of law is being administered equally and fairly? How can we exercise our freedom if we cannot trust that our actions will not be arbitrarily interfered with by someone else with an agenda? Because it is only the social contract that allows us to go about our lives with the basic assumption that we will not be the victim of some random act of violence by some unknown individual. That assumption is based on the understanding that we have laws in this country that apply to all persons and will be enforced equally regardless of the economic or social standing of both the perpetrator and the victim. That enforcement is predicated on the presupposition that in a courtroom, there will be witnesses who will testify to the best of their ability the truth. This has not always been the practice in this country but it has been the ideal.

With truth under attack from the highest office in the country, it is easy to see how justice is also at risk. If truth no longer matters, what is to prevent those with greatest power to invent accusations against those they see as a threat, present it without proof as evidence of wrongdoing, and lock them up. In such a society, innocence is no defense against prosecution or persecution. In the early days of the Third Reich, Hitler dealt with opposition by simply arresting his opponents and making them disappear.

It is reasonable to ask how such an assault on truth could be occurring in this country? Ms Fortune makes an interesting observation. “It will be noted that Hitler has always undermined a country through its own citizens, not through German-born agents…” The same has happened here. Propaganda has been flowing into this country for three decades, using our own trusted officials to pass it in. It comes in the form of talking points that get repeated over and over until the population begins to believe it. They have used careful messaging to make it believable and shamed those who tried to show its falseness. Through careful messaging, there has been a concerted effort to divide us as a nation, one group against another. This division has now entered our national group soul and group mind. It is this we must undo, heal and repair.

So as I go into my meditations this week, I see our round table in the rotunda. I see the great souls who have gone before us and showed us what we could be. I hear the voice of John Lewis and Elijah Cummings beseeching us to find our better selves and usher in an era of true equality and liberty through the rule of law, underpinned by truth and righteousness. I think about all of us, rural, urban, and suburban. I see us all, wealthy and poor, coming to a common table and enjoying the fruits of the land. I imagine us speaking together of who we are, what we wish to be, and how do we get there. I ponder the words of Ms. Fortune: “The nations that have been subjugated were not beaten in the field, they fell to treachery and internal corruption; to lack of morale and lack of the will to victory. The key to their fall may be found in the words: “he who would save his life shall lose it, and he who will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” Those who prefer security to freedom have lost both.” May we once again turn away from lies and toward truth. May we once again reject corruption and embrace righteousness. May we be prepared to take the risk of reaching out to each other, and relish the freedom that brings.

 
 

Meditation for All Souls Weekend

I am almost two weeks late in publishing this post. When the replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg was announced, I had so many things I wanted to say, so many things that seemed important. But I was blocked from typing them. It wasn’t a typical writer’s block, or lack of desire to write. It wasn’t being busy. It was that whenever I sat down to type what I was thinking I couldn’t do it. It was the kind of blockage that I had to admit that what I wanted to say wasn’t what I should say. I had to regroup. And so I did. I continued reading The Magical Battle of Britain. I continued to meditate and try to connect with the inner planes. And I found my answers in time to post before All Hallows Eve and All Souls Day. The timing is important.

We are counseled that when we do this work we should attempt to not be partisan. “Our work is a work of healing and no hate must come of it.” The more I look at the partisan divisions and anger in our country, I can see how we will not be able to address our group consciousness unless we can first heal the group. As I look at the state of things in this country today, I try to consider how to not be partisan. And then I found words in my reading: “It is not well to pass by on the other side when thieves are beating honest men.” I realized that it is not partisan to be angry at bad behavior. The evil actions we are seeing from our current administration are not themselves party actions, they are the actions of immoral people who happen to have concentrated themselves in a party and to have convinced those not in power that their actions are in fact acceptable. Then I realized that these people have been operating to influence the national group soul and the group mind for several decades. It is that influence that needs to be counteracted, not the true policies of a political party. As a final nudge as to the direction to take, I came across these words: “To achieve this peace there must be strength and integrity in the souls of the nations; there must be willingness to sacrifice individual national interests for the good of the whole, the strong remembering that they are in a better position to make sacrifices than the weak; but there must also be a readiness to unsheath and use the sword of justice when it is needed.”

Thus it becomes the duty to define the good of the whole and try to act on our national group mind thoughts that will lead us in that direction. What is the good of the whole? As said before, equality, liberty, and the rule of law. What does equality mean? Certainly it means that if something is necessary for life, all in the society should have access to it. This would mean food, shelter, education, health care. It should also mean that all should have an equal voice in the governance of the society. In other words, equal access to the polls. What does liberty mean? It means the freedom to, in the words of Paul the Apostle, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” In other words, use your own conscience to determine what you believe and how you express that belief. It means the freedom to move about the country and the world as you are able and choose (and within your financial ability). It means the freedom to live where you choose, marry who you choose, think as you choose. And what is meant by rule of law? It means that the law will be applied with an even hand regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin, gender, sexual identification, orientation, or preference, economic status and so on. The equal application of law begins with law enforcement in the streets and ends in the courtroom. These are things that our nation as a whole has not been doing in spite of all our fancy words and boastings to the contrary.

This brings me to the meditation for the next few days. I see in meditation the rotunda in the Capital. I visualize a large round table in the middle of the rotunda. At this table are seated the truly great souls that are part of our fabric. I even see some great souls who were did not live on this soil but whose lives exert influence on those who do live here. I listen quietly and let them talk.

On All Souls Eve, I particularly look to those great souls who passed in the last year (I will extend that a month to include Elijah Cummings) and the work they put forward in promoting the good of the whole. I look to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her efforts on behalf of women’s equality, the rights of the less powerful, the rights of those who are not white males. I look to Congressmen John Lewis and Elijah Cummings and their long battles for civil rights not only for Black Americans, but Americans of all colors and ethnic backgrounds, as well as women and LGBTQ. I look to their understanding that when any group’s rights are curtailed all of our rights are at risk. On All Souls Eve, I think of their work and listen for words of encouragement and advice.

On All Souls Day, I am also listening to great souls from earlier days. I listen for Dr. Martin Luther King, for Dorothy Day, Cesar  Chavez, Senator Daniel Inouye, Harriet Tubman, Frances Perkins, Susan B Anthony, President Abraham Lincoln. Possibly I listen for President John Adams, his wife Abigail, and his cousin Samuel. I try to attune my energy to theirs.

At the end of each meditation, I ask them to guide our people. I ask them to speak to our group consciousness about what is truly meant by democracy and what our people must stand for. I ask them to whisper to our group soul the value of taking care of one another as well as taking care of ourselves. I also ask them to counsel me in patience and understanding, that the condition of our nation is the result of many decades of national hypocrisy, of sweeping our prejudices under the rug, and that this will not be cured in one election, nor will it be cured easily. Once again, I remind myself of the counsel of Dion Fortune: “Never attempt to deal with specific problems or to direct the course of affairs on the physical plane. Bring through spiritual force and leave it to that force to work its own way.”

Worthy Sacred Kings

We discussed in a previous post how many of the individuals revered by people of our country were not worthy of such reverence, and what qualities would merit such respect. We also discussed the process of meditating on changing our national group mind to more closely reflect the values our country claims to be founded on. I would like to expound on that in the next several paragraphs. But before I do, I should apologize that I missed my posting last week. The events of the week were beyond astounding, and may reflect the beginnings of a change in our national consciousness. Our true sacred kings may indeed be putting their fingers on the scales. And now for this week’s letter.

Our country purports to be founded on three fundamental principles: equality, liberty, and the rule of law. These three principles are intertwined, and not one can be realized without the other two. It is impossible to conceive of a country operating under rule of law when people are not equal under the law. It is impossible to imagine liberty as long as some are subservient to others. And so on. These principles are interdependent and cannot be separated.

There are different schools of thought where sacred kings are concerned. First, the term “sacred king” can apply to either men or women. Some schools believe that the persons have to have died or been killed as a “sacrifice” in the performance of their sacred acts. Others believe that the persons need not have died a sacrificial death, that they may have instead lived a sacrificial life. Others still do not believe that the persons need to have died. I reject the last definition, as that person is still working out his or her sacrifice and making it worthy. In every case, it is not required that the sacred kings live a perfect life, for there would be non. It is that the lives they lived did not violate the principles in question, in this case, equality, liberty and the rule of law.

If we choose to go by the first definition, there are some potential sacred kings who have given their lives for the principles of this country. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Joe Hill, and Emmett Till come to mind. There are certainly others who could qualify, but their names and deeds have been lost to our collective memory. These are people who bravely marched forward, knowing the danger, enduring the difficulties, and ended up killed by those opposed to these ideals.

I also like going by the second definition in addition to the first. I believe that it is as hard, and probably harder, to lay down a lifetime of service to the betterment of one’s people and collective consciousness. In the arena of equality, I look at John Lewis, Elijah Cummings, Dorothy Day, Frances Perkins, and many, many others.  I include Dorothy Day and Frances Perkins here because equality implies that even when incomes are not the same, all humans deserve a certain dignity, including shelter and food (and today I would add health care). In the area of liberty, I include the freedom to work at a job that pays a living wage. I look at Harriet Tubman for the actual freedom, and Caesar Chavez for the dignity of work, and many others. I am sure Delores Huerta will be added to these luminaries upon her passing.In the arena of rule of law, I salute John Marshall, Thurgood Marshall,  and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In fact, they all overlap, because, as I said before, they are all intertwined and cannot be separated. We see how they overlap when we look at what happens when one is attacked. They all begin to crumble. When equal access to the polls collapsed, when the wealthy were given better opportunity to promote their agenda through unlimited financial contributions that ordinary people cannot make, and large corporations were classified as persons with all attendant rights, when the rights of women were denied, we saw the rights of working people for a safe work environment, a comfortable retirement and living wage also crumble. Many of these things are in clear sight today. The fabric of the society is badly frayed. This is why we need sacred kings who gave their lives, either in sacrificial death or sacrificial life, as examples to meditate on.

My request for this week is that we take fifteen minutes a day to think on appropriate sacred kings. I imagine them gathering around a large round table in the capital rotunda. I visualize them talking about our country, what it has become, where it is going, what needs to be done. I listen to what they say. In my mind, I ask them to impress on the minds of my fellow countrymen what changes need to be made in our collective mind. I ask them to impress on the minds of my fellow countrymen what thoughts we should think to enhance the values we claim to hold. In my last post, I wrote how the meditation should take place. Please feel free to comment here on the thoughts your meditations bring to your minds.

 

 

 

One Reason Why Equality Matters to Me

I would love to share with you what link Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, John McLendon, Marlin Driscoll, and my dad share.  It is a fun story that I think you,  would love and I have not been able to share with anybody.

John McLendon John McLendon

My Dad was born in a very small hut in a very small town in Adamsville, Tennessee.  The hut where he was born was located at what is now home plate in their baseball field. His mother died in childbirth, unattended.  Not only did he never have a birth certificate, noone, including himself, ever really knew what year he was born.  We guessed.  (Coming up may be some words that I know are offensive.  I hope you will forgive that, as it was part of the era – he was born in either 1917, 1918 or 1919 so the world saw things differently.)  Since his father was the town drunk who never quite forgave my dad for “killing his mother,” he was shuffled from aunt to aunt.  He worked in the fields with the black kids, hoeing cotton and tobacco.  When the hoeing was done, they would together go slip under the fence to watch the Negro leagues baseball games.  He fell in love with baseball.  He also fell in love with basketball and would practice shooting and dribbling until the sun went down.

When he graduated from high school – he was young to graduate even with the uncertainty of his birth – he tried to get a baseball scholarship.  Eventually he got one at Milligin College in Tennessee.  He had athletic scholarships, an orphan’s scholarship and cleaned the gym to pay for his education.  He played on the varsity tennis team, baseball team and basketball team.  He graduated with a degree in English.

Here is where it gets murky for me – Dad didn’t talk about his past much.  At one time, the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him.  He played second base in their farm team in Johnson City in Tennessee.  Somehow he wound up in Raleigh-Durham playing baseball and basketball and coaching women’s basketball (yes, they had that in the south then).  Recall, John McLendon was coaching in Durham at that time.  Hold that thought.  (It was also in this time that Sam Snead taught him to play golf.)

When the war came, since he had a college degree, when he enlisted in the Navy, he was made an officer.  Eventually he wound up a captain in the Navy, but I am not sure what he went in as.  They made him morale officer at Pearl Harbor.  His ship just missed being there when Pearl Harbor was bombed – Dad said Sam Snead was late for the ship.  Not sure if that was true or tongue in cheek.  His job was to recruit entertainment for sailors coming to Pearl to heal.  It included sports teams, entertainers, etc.  At various times, his baseball teams had names like Stan Musial (who he had met in the St. Louis system), Pee Wee Reese, Johnny Majors, Bob Lemmon (who dad converted from shortstop to pitcher because Bob couldn’t throw straight), Dom and Vince DiMaggio (Joe went with Army), Phil Rizzuto, Leo Durocher, Bob Feller, and many more.

This next part I am not sure of.  I sat one day as a kid with Satchell Paige.  Satchell had come to Denver (during the minor league days) to do some sort of pregame demonstration and since Dad was doing color in the announcer’s booth, Dad left me with Satch.  (A lot of the grown ups sitting around us did NOT approve.)  As anybody knows, Satchell could spin a yarn, but I don’t know how he could invent this out of thin air …

At some point while at Pearl Harbor, according to Satchell, Dad decided he wanted to recruit some of the players he had watched from the Negro leagues.  Dad (this I know is true) had always believed the black players were at least as good as the white players.  So anyway, Satchell and Dad agreed that Dad would start getting his players mentally ready to accept playing with “coloreds” while Dad tried to get the ok from his superiors.  Finally, Dad’s superiors threatened his commission and he dropped it.  But a thought had been planted …

Several years later, Jackie Robinson was selected to break the color barrier.  Branch Rickey was the President and GM who hired Robinson.  But on the team were Johnny Majors (I think he was General Manager), Pee Wee Reese (Team Captain) and Leo Durocher (I think he was coach?).  Satchell wondered if maybe Dad’s preaching in Pearl had something to do with getting Jackie accepted by the team.  We will never know.

The rest of this is not from Satchell.

After the war, Dad moved to Denver.  He got a masters in business at Colorado College and became an English professor, baseball and basketball coach at Regis Jesuit College (even though he was a Methodist).  He became a celebrity in Denver because his basketball teams were very successful.  They used a totally different style of play – and if you studied it you would see shades of John McLendon.  Over time, he became active in bringing sports to Denver.

First, there were the Denver Broncos.  Dad secured the financing so the team could be brought to Denver (Dad was a banker with Central Bank).  He led the drive to build Mile High Stadium that would keep the Broncos in Denver.  And he pushed Denver to bring in Marlin Briscoe as quarterback.  Marlin Briscoe was the first black quarterback in professional football.

Then there were the Denver Rockets (now the Denver Nuggets).  Dad was part of the original ownership group. While he was still an owner, he convinced them to hire John McLendon as their coach.  John was the first black coach in professional basketball.  However, he lost almost all of his investment when the partnership sold.

Many years later, he co-chaired the Colorado Baseball commission.  He started working on getting baseball to Denver in the early 70s, and I can remember him talking about some choice meetings he had with Peter Ueberroth as they argued over whether Colorado could support a professional baseball team.  Anyway, they finally got baseball in 1993.  And, of course, the first home run hit at home for the National Baseball League team was hit by Eric Young, again, a black man. So, Denver had our first black quarterback, our first black professional basketball coach and nominated our first black president.  That just tickled the heck out of me and I really wanted to tell KO that.  (When my dad died three years ago, only the family was at the funeral.  The rest of Denver had forgotten him.)

I don’t know how to verify parts of this story, but I do know the rest. This battle for equality has not been waged by black people alone, but by people who knew that skin color has no more relevance to a person’s character, capability or intelligence than hair color.