if you have

If you have the strength “to kill and yet keep your honor” (as the old saying goes), if you have strength to say only your name, rank, and serial number while being tortured to death—- I cannot believe you did not have it in you to keep faith to one woman.

We can always have explanations, justifications, extenuating circumstances…  But in the end, it just did not matter enough to you. And that was a choice.

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weaned

if I get bitter against God then I can’t breathe inside. i just go numb and I can’t function. I prayed so hard for my mom’s pregnancies and she miscarried every time. we buried them in the front yard. they looked just like songbird embryos after the cat smashes the nest. nobody deserves anything. we don’t deserve to live and we don’t deserve to die. we don’t deserve freedom when half the world is enslaved. we don’t deserve sanity when half the world is insane. we don’t deserve to suffer and we don’t deserve to rejoice. we don’t deserve
pain and we dont deserve happiness. it makes no human sense. it doesn’t need to. it is God’s world and not ours. we have no rights at all, we don’t even have a right to have rights, or a right to be upset that we don’t have a right to have rights. In the end there are no works and no rights and no rewards, in the end it is only trust. naked, irrational, helpless trust, like a child’s.

Alfred Noyes’ Poem “Prayer in Time of War”

This was published during WWI:

 

A Prayer in Time of War

The war will change many things in art and life, and among them, it is to be hoped, many of our own ideas as to what is, and what is not, “intellectual.”

Thou, whose deep ways are in the sea,
Whose footsteps are not known,
To-night a world that turned from Thee
Is waiting — at Thy Throne.

The towering Babels that we raised
Where scoffing sophists brawl,
The little Antichrists we praised —
The night is on them all.

The fool hath said . . . The fool hath said . ..
And we, who deemed him wise,
We who believed that Thou wast dead,
How should we seek Thine eyes?

How should we seek to Thee for power
Who scorned Thee yesterday?
How should we kneel, in this dread hour?
Lord, teach us how to pray!

Grant us the single heart, once more,
That mocks no sacred thing,
The Sword of Truth our fathers wore
When Thou wast Lord and King.

Let darkness unto darkness tell
Our deep unspoken prayer,
For, while our souls in darkness dwell,
We know that Thou art there.

–Alfred Noyes

Alfred Noyes’ Poem ‘Fishers of Men’

In the context of WWI:

 

Fishers Of Men

Long, long ago, He said,
He who could wake the dead
And walk upon the sea-

‘Come, follow Me.

Leave your brown nets and bring
Only your hearts to sing,
Only your souls to pray,
Rise, come away.

Shake out your spirit-sails,
And brave those wilder gales,
And I will make you then
Fishers of men.’

Was this, then, what He meant?
Was this His high intent,
After two thousand years
Of blood and tears?

God help us, if we fight
For right and not for might.
God help us if we seek
To shield the weak.

Then, though His heaven be far
From this blind welter of war,
He’ll bless us, on the sea
From Calvary.

Crashing Waves

Feminism is a rapidly mutating species. I can pretty much identify the first and second wave, and (maybe?) third wave — but after that it seems to fall apart into incoherence. The second wave feminists (for all my disagreements with them) have my grudging respect for consistency, determination, courage and guts; but after that it gets weird. I remember when my undergrad feminist journal (oh so daringly named “the F word”), ran topless photos of faceless women on its cover, because, empowerment. 

I think I quit reading their journal when they ran an op-ed where a sassy young feminist compared 2nd-wave feminism to her shy 12-year-old self wearing skin-toned sports bras, and her own 3rd wave feminism to her life now, confidently sporting a lacey red push-up. Also, there was another article (or poem?) detailing another undergrad’s hot 2-week fling with a man who dropped her off at the airport afterwards. She was kind of disappointed he was done, but grateful she can still remember the feel under the sheets, in her memories. Because, empowerment.

Maybe I’m just born in the wrong era, but this seemed to me one of the most nonsensical things I’d ever heard. I always thought that, um, most men never had a problem with women passing out naked photos of themselves, or revealing lacy red pushups, or sleeping with them for 2 weeks and meekly being dropped back off at the airport. In fact, such “daring” behavior has been rewarded since time immemorial. People wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t pay.

And throughout history, there is a reason that there have always been far more female prostitutes than male prostitutes. And its not because men are less desperate — after the floods and the crop failure, the family clan sends the 17-year-old daughter to walk the streets in the big city (or undergo the affair with the 50 year old foreman) because she has something she can sell, whereas her equally-desperate 17 year old male cousin (hawking himself as a day-laborer along dusty roads) does not. It’s always been that way — it’s the same commodity that is sold on the streets, or bargained for at a higher price in marital alliances. This commodity doesn’t just bring cash: it’s a lifesaver too, when the invading tribes kill the menfolk, they spare the nubile women, and add them to their collection in sexual servitude.

A woman’s sexuality is a commodity — a man’s less so. Not because women are weaker, but because more men are willing to pay for it than women are. In other words, women are born with a commodity that most men are willing to pay/fight/harass for, but men are born with a commodity that most women are not willing to pay/fight/harass for.

And in here, is the reason for so much historical female suffering.  In the words of an old Korean saying, “Beautiful women have suffering lives.”  (Or more literally, “beautiful women have ugly/painful lives.”)

In societies without rules to the contrary, the more beautiful you were, the more vulnerable you were. Like all commodities, the higher your asking price, the higher the chance of robbery and assault. Sexual desirability is a double-edged sword. It is precisely in this high value placed on female sexuality that sexual inequality (and sexual oppression) springs from. Even “patriarchal” traditional sexual morality is really a form of time-tested, negotiated self-defense — parents trying to get their daughters to more carefully navigate the market of their commodity, ultimately for their child’s own net gain. Don’t give it all at once! Beware! “Why buy the cow when the milk is so cheap?”

In its current reincarnations, it seems that 3rd-new-nth wave feminism will systematically erase everything the 1st and 2nd wave feminists fought for, that a women didn’t have to ply her sexual favors in the game of life. So we will end up back to square one — the male mammal with his long-suffering female harem, but no worries — it’s now liberating sex-positive polyamory — and this is all they want anyway because its all they expect, and hey, a few of the females born with high sexual desirability exercise some power through using their desirability to give strategic favors. So, empowerment! The favorite concubine of the warlord may have some influence at court! Yeah empowerment! Harem intrigue. Progress!

EMPOWERMENT THROUGH USING HER FEMALE SEXUALITY TO EXERCISE POWER OVER OTHERS AND GET WHAT SHE WANTS! YEAH!

Call it what you want, but it’s not progress. It’s not even new. It’s just business as usual, back to the way the world has always been.

And its degrading. Inherently and cosmologically degrading. And on that, the ghosts of the first and second wavers agree with me.

=======================================================================

LATER UPDATE     Addendum:  My formative experience with feminism was mainly in undergrad, 2006-2010. It was solidly 3rd wave, or "new wave" as some called it then. The jury is out on what "fourth wave feminism" is, but if the wikipedia page is accurate, then the 4th wave started in 2012, and is defined by an anti-sexual-harassment agenda. If this is the case, then there is much hope. May the 4th wavers realize and repudiate the damage of the 3rd wave and save the human race!    :-)

 

Self Pity vs. Assiduous Resentment

Years ago, after smarting from an incident, I had said I hated “sensitive, self-pitying guys” and bashed on them for awhile, but it isn’t actually true.

I had a realization the other day — I really don’t think there is anything wrong with self-pity. It’s kinda cute and can be quite funny. And honestly, I really don’t mind self-pity in another person. It’s rather endearing in children, and amusing in adults. It’s actually something else— a sort of solipsistic resentment — that I have an allergic reaction to.

It’s not the self-pity that is sickening. It’s the lack of pity for ones who ‘wronged’ the self-pitier. This is usually in the context of close familial relationships, where pain is rarely inflicted in only one direction, and there is plenty of pitiableness to go round for all. But in order to preserve this pity imbalance, the aforementioned self-pitiers will then craft and re-craft (and re-craft…) these bitter little narratives where they are constantly the li’l victim and those around them the bullying abusers. You know what I mean, the sensitive guy with the string of “manipulative” ex-girlfriends and rube parents and terminated friendships, who sees himself as basically a nice guy, more sinned against than sinning.

The type that fall into this behavior are not typically the empathy-less sociopaths, on the contrary they are usually the super empathetic. They have lots of pity for lots of noble causes, love of humanity in general and that touching story about the third world orphan ten thousand miles away, but none for anyone who may have wronged them….ten or twenty years ago.

There actually are pure souls out there, who pity themselves, and pity others, who can take responsibility, and laugh at themselves too. 🙂

May we all have pity, and keep it at that, and never re-craft it into resentment.

Facing the oldest religion — Nietzche, et al

Was this, then, what He meant?
Was this His high intent,
After two thousand years
Of blood and tears?

God help us, if we fight
For right and not for might.
God help us if we seek
To shield the weak.

Then, though His heaven be far
From this blind welter of war,
He’ll bless us, on the sea
From Calvary.

Alfred Noyes wrote this, in the middle of WWI, when the fashionable and trendy thing was Nietzche’s glorification of raw will to power, and Bismark’s blood and iron, and General Friedrich von Bernardi’s “Political morality differs from individual morality, because there is no power above the State. ”

World War One was fought over this, in the combo of nationalism + Nietzschean power worship. Then World War Two was fought over this, but now the combo was racial identity + Nietzschean power worship.

Nietzschean power worship just doesn’t go away. It’s older than Nietzsche of course, you can see it in Milton’s Paradise Lost (Satan) and in the Romantic-era Byronic Hero. I’m sure the chimps have it as they tear eachother’s faces off in their tribal wars.

It’s coming back in a new form again, this time, decoupled from nationalism and (certain) ethnicities and coupled to a bizarre form of purported individualism via demographic categories. God knows what Nietzsche will be coupled with a hundred years from now. But every time, it turns divine human beings into bloody chimps. Let us stick to our ridiculed and discarded “slave morality”, for though his heaven be far, from this blind welter of war, he’ll bless us on the sea, from calvary.

“Guilt manipulation is the only thing that works!”

“Giiit ma’apu-ya-shun is duh ohny ding dat wuhks!” shouted my precious 3 year old sister. Us older siblings had been engaged in a long co-rant where we had all been agreeing how evil “guilt manipulation” was as a way to get other people to do things. Our sweet baby sister was listening in quietly, and finally felt she had to speak up for the embattled truth.

Her little face was scowling as she said it, which for her was wildly unnatural. It probably had taken her a great deal of effort. She was sweet-tempered by nature, and known to almost never fight at this age. She would often be known to toddle between two big siblings who were fighting, and shout plaintively “don’t fight! don’t fight!”.

I’ve often wondered if, at its root, that is what is going on now in the big inter-white fights about race. The liberal whites and the conservative whites are battling it out right now, with actual attitudes towards non-white Americans being an unfortunate casualty.

The issue here, in the inter-white fights raging in America right now, is over the role of Guilt Manipulation in Making America Better. Should the study of American history be one of Bewailing Our Manifold Sins and Wickednesses (this will make it better! they say) or of remembering the Good and the True and Minimizing the Rest (if we have a sense of honor and pride, we can have the faith and love to try better, says the others). Guilt or Honor? Regret or Idealism? Revolution or Tradition? Which way to make a better world? Both sides have a coping mechanism for life, and both sides feel the other is undermining that mechanism, that, they firmly believe, will save the world.

And into this milieu is brought the Black Lives Matter narrative. One among many narratives, to help Win the War and Rally the Cause. A much bigger Cause for both sides, and as alliances and counter-alliances rage, the ante ups and ups. BLM has now gotten the ire of folks who associate it with their innate dislike of all things hip, hippie, and hipster (e.g. intellectual elitism, universities, 1970s cop-killing hippies, anarchist sentiments, academic Marxism, Che Guevara T-shirts, and occupy wallstreet), and on the other side, a sort of self-righteous myopia that (in the midst of twitter wars) seems to forget the fate of the actual individuals purportedly championed by The Cause.

The long and short of it is that anti-black feelings are bubbling up on one side in response to BLM, not from some crypto KKK/Nazi racism, but because “blacks” are perceived to be in league with the hippie progressive culture of the white elite. But are they? How much is a shaped narrative, how much is silence taken as consent, how much is a hyper-educated elite white “advocating” hyper-elite ideologies “on behalf of” ordinary folk who may have very different priorities and concerns. How much is shoe-horned and gerrymandered into the bigger Cause?

So the whites on both side are busy attacking each other, both thinking of “the blacks” as another proxy war in their bigger struggle against each other. Both are using BLM on one side or another as just another cudgel in their larger fight over Cosmic Realities. The fight continues, and God knows who will win as both stoop lower and lower.

The real casualty is the well-being of actual individuals in this country who happen to be African American. While the protestors march and the twitter fights rage, and “the blacks” are elaborated upon in the thought-world; the children go to school, walk through rough neighborhoods, study and tease and fight and laugh and live, unaware of the internet wars being waged and counter-waged, and the ire created allegedly on their behalf, by folks who will never venture into their real world and never know.

On Religious Inquisitors (in all their reincarnations)

I hate communism. But it’s not because I love fat cats or the status quo. I don’t adore corporations, and big business does not fill my soul with joy. I hate DRM, I do not like monopolies (grr Windows) and I believe in opensource and freeware and all that.

But the communist/socialist answer is to fight fire with fire. Don’t like big business? Lets make an EVEN BIGGER GOVERNMENT which will nationalize an industry and then have this government-corporation-monopoly that will make all decisions for the good of THE PEOPLE.

Anytime someone starts talking about “THE PEOPLE” I get very uncomfortable/paranoid. Because in this last century, millions were massacred for the good of “THE PEOPLE” and old ladies beaten and urinated on for the good of “THE PEOPLE” and children testifying against their parents’ in execution trials for the good of “THE PEOPLE”, and this isn’t over because it is still going on in a place that is kinda-sorta my homeland (it’s complicated). The ancestral village of my mother’s folk is in North Korea, and while I’m an American I can’t ever shake off the feeling that I belong there too.

There is a problem with power above the law. But the solution cannot be MORE IDEOLOGY, more devotion, more corporation (be it government or big business). Because really, what is the difference?

Enormous institutional power has always been the bane of human race. The worst forms are precisely the ones that claim some kind of moral high ground of holy hatred, and dictate to you what your conscience should be. Whenever a group — however self-important or dedicated to THE PEOPLE — steps between the individual’s conscience and God, it ends only in bloodshed, ruination, and despair. There is no neat systematic answer. In the end, deep down, the only way to fight the darkness is if each of us, on our own, listens to that still small voice in the whirlwind.

God has given us each a conscience, a place where we stand alone on a plain with God alone, and speak to Him face to face. It is not a darkling plain, it is not a bloodland, but it is a wide expansive plain, covered in wheat and tall grasses that blows in the wind, and wide open sky. It is our conscience, and it is a sacred ground.