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Friday, July 29, 2016

Memento Mori

I just came back from Salo's funeral imbued with the grief I encountered and I need to process my thoughts and feelings. Salo was a wonderful 52 year old man just reaching the apogee of his personal and professional life unexpectedly killed by a massive heart attack--one month after our friend, his father, died.

We prayed: Compassionate God, Eternal Spirit of the Universe, grant perfect rest in Your sheltering presence to Salo, who has entered eternity. Let him find refuge in the shadow of your wings; and let his should be bound up in the bond of everlasting life. We listened to his story as told by his best friends, colleagues, and siblings. Stories of great accomplishments, service to others, and love of family. His children were reminded as to how their lives would continue to make him present to our world.

Inspiring but so, so sad.

How do I give consolation to his mother, our neighbor and friend? And how can I be consoled in this latest confrontation with death? We speak of life everlasting, being in the presence of eternity, in the arms of the Compassionate God. What does that mean? Do I believe it?

If everlasting life means that the independent "I-Rollie-Smith-consciousness" which I experience now when I am fully awake will last forever as it is now, no, I do not believe that. When my body begins to decompose and my brain no longer functions, that consciousness is deleted. I do not believe that I am alive when I am dead because I am committed to truth, a knowing through evidence. I do not disparage metaphor and the poetry of religious faith. But neither do I pretend to make it more than it is. I do not affirm everlasting life or resurrection as literal evidence-based facts. I choose to be tough-minded. I accept my mortality. Without pretense. Without sugarcoating.

But consider! That independent consciousness, that sense of being a totally unified and persevering person, my "I" as an unchanging, persistent thing, never existed. As I write this and say "I," I acknowledge the illusion of selfhood. Yet, I know that it is an important and necessary illusion. I have discussed elsewhere the notion and meaning of soul and the importance of having soul. I do not believe that my spirit, my person is a thing apart from my transitioning brain-working-body.

Through meditation and philosophy, I have realized the illusion of my self and have begun to let it go. My existence is now, not in the past, nor in the future; though to be now my existence is in tension to past and future--all the way from before I was born and after I die. My existence is also in communion with all who have existed and will, friends and foes, all the relations who make me be me. To accept this moment as a culmination of all that has been is also to pass on to all that can be.

So I teach myself that, in order to be, I must daily, even momentarily, die. Yet as I die daily and in this moment, I exist as a continuity and complex of relationships. As I write one word after another or paint one portrait after another, as I talk and walk and plan and act, I am co-creating a style, a persona, a character. I say co-creating because my creation is always in relationship, partnership, or reaction to other styles, personas, and characters. So yes, that style, persona, and character goes on in the others I have touched and been touched by and so will continue into the future of the universe--whether I am focused on or not, whether my name lasts on street signs or building, whether my biography is written or not, I am a part of the universal memory.

That is consoling.  In the root sense of the word, the memories of those who have died, their stories, their characters, are mixed with ours in human remembrance.

But that does not take away the pain of the loss of a loved-one who has died. The pain is a rupture of relationships here and now. We celebrate Salo and all he has been to us and will continue to be for us. And yet we know that the Salo consciousness into which we can mix our consciousness has finished its creation and in that sense has reached its perfection. Yet the pain of a child's death, whether young or older is especially acute because we sense the sever of a project and potential unfulfilled.

We grieve that we can no longer touch him, body to body, soul to soul as a living, striving, thriving person. And we grieve for ourselves because we experience our own being-towards-death. We project the time when we will die and our persona will be complete; but we decide to go on in our project of living, thinking, caring, and loving for it is project of the loved one as well. And here is the point of discovery, the point of transcendence, the point of being all in all. Here is how faith and love does surpass death. I do not say "conquer" death because death is not an enemy.

Death for many artists, including Terry Pratchett, Charles Dickens, Piers Anthony, and the Mexican performers for Dia de Muertos, is a comic figure to be laughed at. However, that does not diminish the pain we feel at the loss of someone we love or the anger we feel when a person's death should have been delayed.

Memento mori, the meditation on death, coming to terms with one's own and the death of those we love, has been a spiritual exercise of great-souled ones. Death is an experience that comes to us and will come more frequently as we get older. Let's help each other embrace it. The embrace of our mortality is the choice to be free--to act not for reward or punishment, but to act to create meaning in the face of the absurdity of death.



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Prayer

"Do you pray?" She asked knowing that I do not believe in supernatural entities like gods and disembodied spirits and heavenly beings.

"To whom?" I asked. "Or what?"

But, crazy as it sounds for someone whose belief system is without divine beings, I do pray. I do love and feel the love that unites me to all whom I love and those who love me, and to all who ever have or will love.  I can give invocations at meetings asking that the spirit of love and collaboration be with us. That the relationships among us all thrive and grow to connect us to all beings in the universe.

With family and fiends I sometimes say prayers of gratitude before meals or at special occasions. I invoke the spirit of love and gratitude that is within us all. I can say prayers and take full part in religious services at wedding and funerals. And when a person experiences loss, even the loss of death, I say "my thoughts and prayers" are with you.

I pray for the poor, for those treated badly, for those held back from achieving their potential, and for those who are brutalized. I am expressing my solidarity with the suffering. And I am condemning the tendency in all of us to dehumanize.

I pray for peace, the end of violence, justice, for the survival and happiness of myself, my friends, and all people. To pray simply means that I long for peace, justice, happiness and that I will do what I can to achieve them despite the obstacles.

To pray does not mean that I expect or even want a "deus ex machina," some sort of miracle by an outside force. I am not asking some divine power to intervene or make things all right. I am invoking no power but that in myself in union with my loved ones and all others. When we pray together, I believe we are committing ourselves to engage with each other to make what we are praying for to happen. That will be a miracle alright, a break in the pattern, a disruption in the natural routines, a reversal in human entropy. It is the miracle of human action. That is the higher power I invoke.

I sometimes strongly feel that higher power in human communion. Sometimes in solitary meditation and sometimes in social action. And when I do feel that power, I often say out of an old habit that I learned as a child in a Catholic Christian setting. Thank you, God, I love you.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Soul (continuing my next project)


I remember as a child being angry and spanking my coat when it jumped off the hook on which I placed it. I was assigning the same kind of agency to my disobedient clothes that I felt in myself after I learned to sense agency through my interaction with caregivers. I can easily understand how primitive tribes credit all the elements of nature with separate agencies and even divinize those agencies. Psychologists call it “theory of mind.” It is fine for other persons but not so useful for things.

Ancient philosophers explained all beings as composed of form (morphĂ©) and matter (hulĂ©). Putting a specific form to matter is what gave existence to a being. And the form was the essence of it. In animals, the form animated the being or gave it life. The Greeks call it psyche and the Romans anima. In humans the form gave intelligent life. In English we call that form “soul.”

Perhaps it was the encounter and realization of death that shaped our notion of the soul beyond that of agency and form. Archeologists often look for signs of human life in burial places and ceremonies. We experience a person dying by exhuming his last breath. Breath or air is translated as spirit. In Hebrew the wind and air was the breath of God, ruah or spirit, which filled the earth and animated all living beings. When the soul or spirit leaves the body, the person is dead.

Whether the soul persists somehow and is immortal is a mystery and was imagined differently in the stories of different traditions: for some the soul was a thing in itself and could live in some supernatural space, for some the soul as animator of the body required resurrection, for some the soul was a tongue of fire returning to the divine conflagration.

In the Christian Roman Empire influenced by Greek and Latin philosophy, the dualism of flesh and spirit, body and soul, the physical and the spiritual became a matter of faith and led to a hierarchy of beings. God, Absolute Form and Pure Spirit, at the pinnacle of all being. Then came the angels, immaterial forms, but imperfect and capable of defying God. Next came human souls which like angelic and divine forms were immortal, imperfect because of their connection to matter and, yes, sinful. Animals with their mortal souls followed and then all the soulless creatures. And within each of these categories there were also hierarchies, all part of the great chain of being.

This was not a “Manichaean” dualism between absolute principles of good and evil as distinguished from many pagan cultures of the East, some of which did not include the Judeo-Christian matter/spirit dualism. For in Christian orthodoxy, while proclivity to matter and to the affairs of the body, especially sex, could lead to evil, evil was not absolute as is the form of the Good itself, namely God, as taught by Plato and his followers.

At the beginning of the modern era, Rene Descartes, explained the dualism of material body and spiritual mind not by faith, but by reason. He thought about thinking and gave evidence through experience and deduction for the duality of human nature by inquiring into the human mind. While doctrines of religious belief cannot be disputed, the doctrines of reason can. Descartes, along with many other Enlightenment thinkers, opened the Pandora’s box on inquiry into the nature of things, including human beings. He invited challenge to the doctrine of the split between body and soul which now bore his name: The Cartesian divide.

After Descartes, “materialists” reduced mind to behavior determined by natural law and “idealists” argued that mind was working its way through history. Physics and psychology developed as independent disciplines while attempting to show that matter could explain mind or mind could explain matter.

It was the development of biology and especially Darwinian evolution of both body and mind over hundreds of thousands of years of human development that built the basis for a reunion. The Darwinian insight led to the organismic or holistic paradigm of the 20th century. The soul is more than agency or form or spirit. It is the human organism as it has evolved in conscious relationship to its environment. I am embodied soul. I am my body conscious of myself, others, and my world. Pragmatism, existential phenomenology, and constructivist epistemology expressed this new unity in philosophy. Evolutionary psychology and neuroscience now studies the brain and human behavior to understand mind and consciousness.

We now see death not as giving up spirit (breath) because we have revived persons even when their breathing stopped--and even when their heart stopped. We now define death as irreversible brain deterioration often caused by lack of oxygen to the brain by the stopped heart. 

In our postmodern era, “soul” has less scientific and more poetic uses as in having soul, soul food, soul music, soul mate, and soul sisters. The contention is less between materialists and spiritualists and more between fideists and experimentalists. Belief through scientific verification is contrasted with belief through religious faith, which in many traditions still accepts immaterial immortal souls separable from the body and other supernatural spirits created by God. Many common folks believe in ghosts whether holy or not. But it is not my intent to dispute or demean them. Here I am more interested in exploring the psychological and philosophical notion of soul or spirit which is identified with mind and consciousness in human being and behavior.

Psychologist James Hillman spent a lifetime reflecting on soul. The theory he used in his practice and which he articulated in many books is that the human soul is the character of a person. He uses the analogy of an acorn that grows into a mighty oak tree. But it must be constantly nourished, watered and fed. The tree it becomes is unlike all other trees—its branches, its roots, its longevity, and the other acorns it provides are similar, but part of a unique configuration.

At first I did not like his analogy because I read it as making the soul a sort of permanent nugget, a homunculus, the real person within the body. Or like a core of seeds in an apple. But following his analogy I realized that the acorn, like the original seed for the apple tree, became the tree. It was not separate or even distinct from the tree it became. That helps me think of what we call the character or personality of a person. There are traits, preferences, characteristics, habits, and attitudes that develop as the genotype accommodates, and accommodates to, its environment. The soul is the integrated cluster of these traits, preferences, characteristics, habits, and attitudes. That which makes the person whole and wholly unique.

And how much choice the person exercises in the development of her character is disputed by scientists and philosophers. Is the person in charge beyond her genetic inheritance and environmental conditioning? This is usually asked by the question of free will. But I content myself by both experiencing and thinking that, while “free will” is a misleading concept, freedom is the process of thinking persons who progressively remove illusions and obstacles with the help of others.

And here is where I draw the difference of “great-souled” persons like Mahatma Ghandi, Jesus of Nazareth, Buddha Gautama, and other great saints and sinners, leaders and artists, with “weak-souled” persons like me and most of us. The great souls have achieved such a level of freedom and integrity that they have a core of seeds that can be spread to many. We weaker souls are in process of developing a core of integrity and can learn from the example and teaching of the great souled ones—and use the exercises that enlarged their souls.

The heightened state of consciousness of the great ones is in total presence—although they express this in different ways and words. But there are two kinds of being present that we must not confuse. Presence is being here, now, with, and towards. The presence of the great ones holds the interior/exterior tension of being-here, the past/future tension of being-now, the individual/social tension of being-with, and the real/ideal tension of being towards. In other words, the great-souled are persons who have a vigorous interior life in dynamic action in the world, who are ardently learning from history while intending the future, who are uniquely individual while fully oriented to others, and who are pragmatically realistic in pursuit of high ideals. They have integrated the tensions and their opposing poles; and they have overcome the illusions and obstacles that back their progression.

There is another way of being present, which is being insensible, oblivious, isolated, and unresponsive. A thing that is just out there without an animating core, cold, insensitive, and unmindful can be said to be present. But it is an object that is not integrating and liberating. It has no soul.  The first kind of presence is a transcending presence. The second kind is just stuck in an identity given by others and by circumstances. 

Are there no-souled persons? People who do not transcend, who have no or little integrity and are just creatures of outside influences. Well, the other day I met a man without a soul. Let me describe him to you as a way to explain having and being soul.

  
Next: The Man With No Soul

Friday, July 15, 2016

Spiritual Exercise and the Next Project

I need to have a project—and usually more than one. To exist is to presume and to project. Presume means to “take before.” It is taking in what’s behind all that comes before. Project means to “thrust forward.” It is intending what is yet to come. To thrust forward is to thirst backwards. 

I already have projects. A project that is most important to me is the cultivation of family and friends. That project means staying in touch, participating in events and remembering with them. Our recent voyage to Cleveland to meet with siblings and their children was a exercise of this project. I was able to spend time with my 82 year old big sister recalling moments of special contact and laughing at our increasing frailties. 

The project that constitutes my life’s vocation is political action towards social justice. So even as I age I do what I can do to make a contribution to projects in community organizing and projects in electing and challenging political leaders and representatives. Presently I am working on projects in DC and Haiti.

I have other projects like photography and computer which border on pastimes. Passing time is necessary in our work-a-day world. Pastimes are a break in the seriousness of life. So in the evening I have a drink and watch a sports or news event. I play poker once in a while. Watch a movie.  Read mysteries. All work and no play makes for an overly serious boy where everything is crucial; and that takes away from the true moments of high importance.

A project, however, is not a pastime. To make that distinction clear I consider travel as pastime and travel as project. We take a train or tour bus and watch the world go by or be explained by a guide. We stay in luxury hotels. We relish the scenery, the food, the fun. We take pictures so we can show on return what a good time we had. That’s travel as a pastime.  Fond memories, but not much learned. 

I am fortunate to have a companion who enjoys travel as a project more than a pastime. We stay in B&Bs and use public transportation so we can better engage with local people. We look for meanings in the places and are always asking questions and looking for connections. We search out the history and politics. My photography zeroes in on patterns and composition to foster insight into the culture of the place. I write up what I have learned about my extended world and myself. 

Again, I am not demeaning passing time and space for entertainment and to forget the pains of our existence. And I realize that the same activity, e.g. travel, can be both pastime and project. Pastime is to project, as entertainment is to art; as is play to exercise; as is pleasure to enjoyment; as is daydreaming to thinking. Both are important to being human. Pastime is important to human life. Project is important to human action. 

The project that keeps me most alive is writing. To be I need to think. And thinking for me is both reading and writing. By reading I consume what comes before; and by writing I thrust out my thinking. And I have decided that my new thinking, reading, writing project is “On Spiritual Exercise”.

I do physical exercise regularly, usually running/jogging 3 to 5 miles 4 or 5 days a week. Sometimes (and I intend to do this more often) I go to the gym to do both leg and upper body exercises. Why? Lots of reasons: manage my weight, live longer, train for other activities, balance, endurance—but most of all because I feel better in body and mind. 

Descartes conjectured the pineal gland as the connection between body and soul. For me it is running. When I run, I let my mind go and thoughts go in and out but I am totally in touch with the consciousness through which those thoughts come and go. And after I run I sit down with my notebook and jot down many of the thoughts that have passed through. The physical exercise of running becomes a spiritual exercise. 

“Spiritual” has to do with my interior life, my consciousness, what I am feeling and thinking, my insides, my “withinness.”  Physical exercise tones the body; spiritual exercise tunes the soul. Emphatically I do not separate spiritual from physical, the soul from the body. My body is the outside of my soul. My soul is the inside of my body. 


And what I want to do in this writing project is attend to the exercises that will grow my soul in addition to the exercises that grow my body. Just as everyone has to plan his or her own regimen for physical exercises attending to heart rate, bone density, muscle strength, balance, and endurance depending on his or her own phenotype and situation, so must all of us plan our own regimen of spiritual exercises.

Next: what is soul?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Demonic

Raised Catholic, taught by nuns who took Church teachings on "fallen angels" and "Satan" seriously and literally, one of whom gave me a book in the sixth grade called The Last World War based on private revelations by possessed individuals predicting the end of the world by the next year, I was spooked by "Rosemary's Baby." And I read with interest the article in todays WP by Richard Gallagher, a psychiatrist writing a book on demonic possessions that cannot be explained by natural reason. He helps the Church's priest exorcists ascertain whether certain devilish behaviors in persons have natural or supernatural roots.

I agree with Hamlet that there are more things than those taught in my philosophy, which does not rely on or even admit of supernatural beings or places. I affirm the spiritual dimension, mind, consciousness, soul, religion, but not separate from the material. Angels and devils, and all forces for good and evil, are not fully explainable in our state of knowledge--and may indeed never be totally explainable through a science that is totally focused on the objective.

The phenomena that Gallagher cites: e.g. levitation and revelations of private affairs by possessed subjects that cannot be explained by skeptics are not enough evidence for scientists though they are more than enough for believers. In any case, I bet his book will be a good sell. As are those by Stephen King.

So while I am skeptical of supernatural verbs (activities) and nouns (persons, places, things), that is not to say that I do not believe in evil activities and persons. And I often must confront the evil in myself, in others, in institutions, in practices--some of it so gross and overpowering that its seems unnatural. (Think Holocaust, racism, slavery, war, and cruelty.) In fact, nature itself has no quality of good or evil unless we who think, choose, and act put it there. I suppose in that sense, good and evil are over and above nature. We beings of nature who have acquired the ability to think, choose, and act transcend nature and make nature transcend itself. What I do not know is how to judge the responsibility for that evil. It is much easier to blame some psychological condition or some preternatural being for the evil, than to take responsibility for the evil in the world and my complicity in it.

Calvinists can divide the world between the saved and the damned and blame God for it. Catholics can blame Satan. Manichaeans can blame both as warring Principles. Sociologists can blame the structures of society and psychiatrists can blame an Ego captured by the Id or Superego. But for me these are copouts. To confront evil in all its forms and be free, then I must take responsibility. And since I cannot do it alone, we must take responsibility.

Theologian Paul Tillich defines "the demonic" as absolutizing the contingent whether through idolatry or iconoclasm. His definition has the ironic effect of making belief in devils demonic because it supernaturalizes what is natural. So Tillich argues for Protestant Principle and Catholic Substance--that is, the acceptance of what is and the questioning/challenging of what is. Reinhold Niebuhr and most existentialist theologians counsel us to accept the ambiguity of our existence between the poles of Good and Evil which only exist as poles of our ambiguous existence, not as absolutes out there.

My own critical, but limited, thinking induces me to discard devils (and angels) as real beings, that is, reasonably validated by evidence. I also reject theories of possession whether by gods or devils outside natural processes. I do not reject illusions, strange behaviors, ecstatic moments, and experiences of being possessed by spirits. Those I think are almost everyday and everywhere occurrences that can be attested whether we can explain them or not due to the complexity of our brain and the phenomenon of mind.

I also accept our use of images, symbols, and metaphors in knowing our world; and the fallacy of literalizing or absolutizing those metaphors.  I can accept angels and demons as useful images if we do not take them too seriously. And thus I will continue to read the CS Lewis's Screwtape Letters and Stephen Ambrose's Devil's Dictionary with relish.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Brexit and the New Political Reality--2

In my last entry, I argued that Brexit is a tragedy especially as it preludes a return to 19th and early 20th century nationalism. In my estimation, the British voters chose the wrong thing for the wrong reasons, although for some of the right ones too. Wrong to fear and blame EU, immigrants, technology, globalization, changing attitudes towards women, gays, and gods; but right to affirm economic interests, cultural traditions, and social dignity which have been left out of the process.

Again my purpose is not to blame or shame, but to learn. As a person of hope, I look for the opportunities even in this wrong-headed move, the catharsis in the tragedy. I gather five lessons that I would submit to Americans who will be holding their own referendum this November by their choice of the Donald or Hillary.

Lesson 1: Globalization. The problem is not globalization, but the shape of it. Like Reagonomics or Kochonomics, the question is not whether the liberal economy works. Of course it does. But who for? How do we make sure that the smaller boats are raised along with all the yachts in the rising tide? Because they are not now.

Lesson 2: Establishment. Mediating institutions (agencies, parties, bureaus, rules) are necessary to a progressive republican economic polity. But they also need to be continuously reformed. Attack the establishment when it is obstructionist and certainly when it is supporting unfair results; but we can't do without it. Bureaucracy with all its drag is a part of our human condition.

Lesson 3: Austerity. After the big borrowing bubble that enriched many investors and left many people behind, there was a general call for austerity. For sure there needs to be a balance between revenues and expenditures. But on whose backs should so-called austerity be placed? The denial of government spending to produce income for workers has reinforced a vicious cycle. No wonder workers get angry and especially if they are not organized with seats at the negotiating tables.

Lesson 4: Complexity. That's life! Purity of resolve, doctrine, viewpoint, and principle, is overrated and, in fact, downright perverse. Human behavior is a balance of economic interests, cultural values, and social affiliations--each with its own institutions that need to be accommodated and distinguished.

Lesson 5: Populism. Populism is the relationship of many to one. It is single-issued, wants simple answers, demonizes enemies, and is embodied in a savior--usually a strong man. Democratic republicanism is the relationship of one to many. It is interacting publics, voluntary associations and civil society.


When we find ourselves in a populist situation where it is simply right against wrong or left against right, we are denying our human condition--its ambiguity, its transience, its uncertainty. And we have given up thinking which I consider our most important guide to action. We become true believers that choose sides of the angels or the demons.

I know thoughtful people who see themselves on the right because they advocate for individual persons advancing themselves and want to reward innovation and creativity. They know that a successful social order is made up of such individuals.

I know thoughtful people who call themselves progressive or on the left because they know that persons cannot be successful without others' interactions from the moment of birth throughout all of life. They advocate for social assistance as a matter of justice not just charity.

I know of conservatives and progressives who try to hold these ideas of the innovative individual and of public responsibility together through what they call "compassionate conservatism," "progressive
republicanism," and "democratic socialism." These folks can work with one another, make deals, and advance a social order that creates more freedom and justice for all. But that has not been the state of US politics which, since the Tea Party insurrection, likes to play out the politics of obstruction in opposing camps.


Some say that the forces that led to the Brexit revolution are the same behind the populist uprising of Trumpism: The brakes applied to government spending on infrastructure and other job creating programs. The growing inequality between propertied persons and those with less wealth. The fear of counter terror movements in the Middle East. The betrayal of old values like the place of men and women, the traditional family, European or white supremacy, and the Judeo-Christian ethos. But above all the feeling of being disrespected by fast talking experts, liberal media, and university people.

These have led to anti-immigrant, anti-government, anti-establishment, anti-globalization sentiments now being fanned by far right wing parties led by charismatic leaders, e.g. Farage in England, Le Pen in France, Vought in Germany, Bossi in Italy, and Trump in the US.

Perhaps that is so, but I also believe that we are having a crisis in federalism. Though the progression has not been uniform or homogeneous, humanity has moved in history from multi-tribalism to imperial civilization to landed feudalism to national statism towards world federation. This has accompanied a progression in economy from hunting-gathering, to agriculture, to mercantilism, to industrialization, to information.

The way to greater power and prosperity has been increasing federalism among publics. But federalism is a tough sell as the history of the US has demonstrated. To gain power, a public has to give up or, better, share its sovereignty--e.g. states rights or provincial dominion or departmental rule as in most federal nation-states. To some extent this is taking place in military or police action alliances, international trade agreements, and the United Nations.

But the role being played by the transnational corporations and the people who control them and their ownership is problematic to weaker states and to the working poor in all states. It is leading to greater production and consumption but also greater inequities and to a depletion of the earth's vital resources. It is leading not to a federation of publics and shared sovereignty but to a new kind of domination by a relatively few and populist reactions. The pitchforks are coming!


So what is to be done? Yes, we need to counter far right or far left populism and their authoritarian leaders. But we need to do so much more in order to undermine their appeal to the weak and the wronged.

1. All treaties and trade agreements should have full employment and guaranteed income for all as an objective. Not all persons need to be equal in financial or monatary wealth; nor do they want to be. And those who want to pursue greater wealth beyond what is necessary to live dignified lives should be free to do so. But every person should have what is necessary to live well and so have the ability to choose options as to where they can be innovative and contribute to humanity whether it pays well or not.

2. Multi-culturalism that denies none of free choice of their styles of life; and make that the only limit and regulation on those choices. Your choice of style cannot infringe on my choice of style and when it does, we need to have mechanisms to negotiate those disagreements. This means clear restrictions against any activities that inhibit persons' choices because of their race, religion, morality, orientation, preferences--except insofar as they restrict others in their choices.

3. The development of workplace, home-place, and interest-based inclusive publics. The US and other republics have rich traditions of voluntary associations by which people build and reform their institutions to help themselves and each other. These associations are often chartered as non-profit or non-governmental organizations and create a fabric of civil society. They become counter-productive when they are exclusive or are organized "against" because of fear or threat instead of "for" because of hope or possibility.

I am of course advocating economic socialism, cultural libertarianism, and political republicanism. In doing so I realize that there are limits within and among each of these spheres that need to be negotiated for as long as humans remain human. My own hope is that through greater federation of publics acting for cultural pluralism and economic sufficiency, we will transcend the xenophobic nationalism which is arising in our nation and that of other nations as evidence by the ascendency of populism, far right parties, and nationalism.


Finally I have some more immediate lessons of Brexit and Trumpism for our next general election.

1. Vote: Get the vote out especially from the left-behinds, the young, the minorities, and the educated. Brexit happened because many were complacent and did not vote. Do everything we can to stop practices that make it more difficult to vote or that encourage the sense of futility and resignation.

2.  Don't get hooked on scare tactics, the politics of fear. The more we use it the more it is used against us. Yes, we need good analysis and to be educated in the politics of fear. But the politics of hope is much more powerful.

3. Take responsibility. Leadership is a shared commodity as is power. It should be distinguished from authority or force or command. And we need to take responsibility locally in developing our own work, home, interest based publics. Nationally and internationally by truly educating ourselves through a diversity of opinions which are evidence based and providing personal resources in treasure and time. Speaking out and and contributing ideas to friends, family, and connections.


Neither pitchforks, nor populism will do it. They call for a revolution. But that implies a sweeping away of all that exists. Rather we need a rebellion to transform while building on what exists in our nature, our institutions, and our accomplishments. Rebellion, as Albert Camus said, is an ongoing effort—a means to regenerate and transcend. Action from hope and love, not fear and hate.