Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why I Don't Listen to Conspiracists

Whenever anyone uses the phrases 'my secret contacts,' or 'black ops' or calls something Project whatever it's called, I just stop listening. It's not that I don't believe what they are saying. It's not that I believe they are all paranoid and delusional (which many are), it's just that they are missing the big picture, and what they are going to say is probably not useful to me.

I actually used to be somewhat of a conspiracy theorist. I loved the read about crazy things people were doing below eye level. And when I started working for the government, this was kicked into high gear.

I worked for two years at the American Embassy in Moscow. When I got there, we were still in the grips of the Cold War, and there were a lot of great, juicy stories.

I was very excited that I had a top-secret security clearance. The FBI had come out and investigated me before I took my Moscow job. They had poked around town, asking about my credibility, looking at my school and medical records and talking to neighbors and employers. It made me feel very important. Really fed my ego.

Then I started my job. The first job I had was that of a laborer. I worked in all the back corners of the embassy, and saw and heard lots of things. The 'information' I got was in isolation; just little bits here and there. But my mind worked incessantly to try to connect all the dots. I would think through scenario after scenario until I came up with what I was sure was the exact story that allowed me to put all my little pieces together.

We had been sternly warned not to talk about what we saw, as the wrong information in the wrong hands could jeopardize the work of the embassy, as well as possibly be dangerous to the people who worked there. And I took these warnings seriously, and never did reveal what I was thinking. Had I been  a little more vulnerable, as Marine Clayton Lonetree had been a few months before I arrived, selling his secrets to Russian spies for some insignificant monetary compensation, it would have been easy to spin my tales for people. I never did, but I sort of wanted to. It was very exciting to be in possession of such secrets. I would have made a great 'secret source.'

When I worked in Moscow, it was during the presidency of George H. W. Bush (the elder one, that is,) and he was the topic of many conspiracy theories. I spent a lot of time with the guys I worked with talking about The New World Order and the Trilateral Commission and Skull and Bones other secret societies. This just fueled my brain and added layers to my tales I had concocted from the secret information I was exposed to.

The 1991 coup attempt happened mid-way through my time in Moscow, and after that time, relations between the Soviets and Americans changed significantly. We suddenly went from being foes to allies, and much information that had been secret before was revealed during my second year.

It was embarrassing  how far off my scenarios were from the truth. I learned that among the information I had been exposed to, some of it was misinformation that was seeded around intentionally so that when people like me and the guys I worked with saw it or heard it, that we would be lead to draw false conclusions. Also, there were quite a few people there who enjoyed 'messing with people's minds.'

One of the things that is characteristic of the conspiratorial mind is the amount of minutia, tiny details that had to fit just right, and the amount of unusual coincidence that has to occur to make everything work out. I have learned in my life that when things get too complex, there is something wrong.

So, do I believe that there are people who work together for evil purposes? Yes. Surely. For instance, I am well convinced that people like the Koch brothers and execs from Goldman-Sachs and other Wall Street bankers work together to buy off politicians and influence policy for the convenience of the wealthy. I also believe that they are waging class warfare against the middle class. Also I believe they are trying to destroy the Public School system.

A conspiracy theorist person would extrapolate that these people are part of the illuminati, a group hundreds of years old with secret ties to the Freemasons and a secret bloodline from Jesus Christ that have been attempting to control empires since the middle ages, and that there are ties to the Teutonic Knights and the work they did in Israel during the crusades. This is the type of minutia that serves to cloud things rather than to help create fairness.

And so when conspiracy theorists start to spin their yarns and tell me about secret operations they know of because of their sources, I think what a good 'source' I would have made from 'deep within the American Embassy - Moscow,' and just how confused I had been, and how manipulated I had been.

Also, when I see some of these conspiracy theorists talk,  I wonder what type of 'source' would seek them out. After all, don't the real whistle-blowers in positions of power go to Bob Woodward, or some credible journalist who will help protect them and provide them some serious compensation?

Perhaps some of the conspiracy theorists are all correct with the minutia they spin. But I still don't listen. Are they, after all, providing any sort of service? Fifty years after the assassination of JFK, does it really matter who shot him? Governor John Connally was in the bar at the embassy when Oliver Stone's JFK movie came out. He watched the CNN feed we got on the TV and declared to everyone in there that he had been in the car and had been shot himself, and he heard one gun and the bullets came from one place. End of story. He was there, and all the confusion stirred up by all the subsequent theories didn't do anything to change it. He made a good point.

A dozen or so years ago, I started reading Wayne Dyer and Ram Dass, and some people like that. In what they discuss, there is one story that they tell in hundreds of ways to make the story easily accessible to everyone. There are a myriad of writers and speakers who all say the same thing from a variety of points-of-view. It is a simple story, with no weird coincidences or minutia. They point to a big picture that is simple and easy to understand.

That is what I think the conspiracy theorists miss - the big picture of what we are all doing here.

The current GOP are operating like a bunch of conspiracists as well. They all have complex stories about how Obama is ruining the country. The have sources that give them faulty information. They make up situations and stories and statistics to make people afraid, and promise that they can protect people from these scary things. Some of them even have God himself as their secret source! They all seem to know about the US cities that have been taken over by Muslims, and people are eating this up!

There is certainly something very alluring about conspiracies, and I can understand how contagious it is. I think the people really involved in the conspiracies love the theorists, because it is so easy to further confuse their stories. And when people get so involved in trying to trace the bloodline of Jesus Christ and learn about the Teutonic Knights and the illuminati, The Koch brothers just go on buying off politicians and breaking up unions. They love the fact that we have lost focus.

I have spent the last 20 years working with very disturbed people through the course of my work. In addition to serving students with mental illness, I also have the opportunity to be around many budding psychopaths and con-men. I have learned to have a keen 'gut,' and even when the evidence in front of me points to something else, if I start to get the creeps, I act on it. My gut feeling have lead to a number of investigations that have turned up some truly sinister behavior. My gut feelings have also kept me and others out of harm's way quite a few times. Many times I am around a conspiracy-focused person, I start to get this creepy feeling.

It is important to carefully consider, with your gut, what things you are exposed to, and what you believe.

Stephanie and I did a number of wedding ceremonies last year as part of the couple-month-long process of our nuptials. One was an 'esoteric' wedding which we did in Montana.

We had become enthusiastic about some books by Elizabeth Clare Prophet. A great deal of it seemed to make a lot of sense to us. We thought it would be fun to do this little ceremony at a place called "The Western Shambala" just north of Yellowstone Park that is run by her group. We were able to locate the office of "The Summit Lighthouse," the publisher of Prophet's books on our GPS, and went there. We found a chapel and an office building. The people enthusiastically greeted us, and were very pleasant, and quickly allowed us to go up to The Western Shambala for our wedding. But even before we got there, a few things got my creepy gut feeling going. One was the way that Elizabeth Prophet and her husband were painted in and among the Ascended Masters and Angels around the compound. The other was the way that people referred to Elizabeth Clare as either Guru Ma or Mother.

But what harm could a hike in the mountains do?

We drove up to an area in 'The Western Shambala' known as 'The Heart.' People gave us detailed instructions to walk along a road, past an old skeleton of a tent, where their retreats used to take place, and so forth. But they forgot to mention the vast, underground bomb shelter that was on the other side.

With our creepy guts going strong, we walked well past the bomb shelter to a nice bend in the creek, and did our little ceremony there. After all, there really is no harm that can come from a little walk in the mountains. Our ceremony was fantastic!

So, when we got back into wi-fi range, we started doing a little research.

It turns out that starting in the 1970s, the Prophets were investigated and busted several times for stockpiling weapons. In the 1990s, Elizabeth had said that she had been told by the Ascended Masters that the end of the world was imminent, and that they needed to build a bomb shelter. The members of the church that the Prophets had started were asked to give all they had for the creation of this bomb shelter, and on a couple of given dates, all the now-broke members of the group funneled into the bomb shelters. As nothing happened, they were told by Prophet that their prayers had saved the world.

Most members left the church to start their lives over again.

It turns out that in addition to her doomsday prophesies, Elizabeth Clare also had affairs with many of the church members, was abusive to her children and so forth.

This does not change the fact that some of the things she said in her books are remarkably inspired and ring true in a very profound way.

I believe she is an extreme example of the characteristics we all have: That is that we all have a remarkable ability to tap into some sort of amazing, divine intelligence, and are all gifted with profound insights. But at the same time, if we start to believe what we say too much, we become victims of our ego, and confusing and contradictory messages start to seem as clear as those divine messages.

I think this is particularly true of the conspiracy theorists. While they probably all have some unique, divine insights that can help us all, their message becomes confused with all sorts of useless or harmful ideas that negate the positive information they can offer to us. So I stop listening.

So, I like to do what I can to stop some of the conspiratorial influencing of politicians in negative ways, or conspiracies to destroy the Public Schools, and other cornerstones of our civilization. But if you start to tell me about the black ops and Projects and military involvement and your secret sources, I may still look at you, but I am probably thinking about something else.

Playing for Grins - a Scattered and Not Very Well Organized Look at Music in the New Age

(I apologize  for the rather scattered and unclear arrangement of this piece.)

A few months ago, I went into a music store owned by an acquaintance in town. He asked me if I was playing. I said some, but that the slow economy had, unfortunately, caused several of the places I played to close. I asked him if he was playing.

"No," he grumbled. He gestured toward a drum set on the floor. "Those are my drums, and I'm selling them, because no one is paying more that $100 for the whole group to play. That means I get $25, and I'm not hauling them around for $25."

He then went on to talk about all the people he knew who we "playing for grins," meaning people playing for free. "Every time someone plays for free, they are putting someone out of work," he said.

I have been contemplating this for some time.

I do see his point, that if people are willing to play for free, then why pay someone to play. But I also see that a lot of places that used to have people playing are now just playing the radio. Part of the reason for this is that ASCAP agents come through town now and then and present large bills to restaurants, clubd and other venues, because they have people playing "cover songs," meaning that they are playing music composed by other people. ASCAP is an agency whose job it is to collect money for composers whose music is being played.

The problem I see here is that the business side of music has removed the artistic side of music. That is that people are so conditioned to want to hear songs they are familiar with played in relatively the same way as the version they hear on the radio. The music industry is a business that exists to make money. Therefore, they listen for people who play in a relatively same way as what is popular in sales, and they look for clones. It is a self-feeding cycle of people copying each other for the goal of getting rich, and those of us who play music to express ourselves are sitting on the sidelines.

This is only partially true, however in this day and age as people have instant access to music. People can record and distribute their music world-wide, completely bypassing the music industry. The music industry itself is suffering, because this same tool that makes it easy to record and distribute has allowed people to download music for free. I have seen statistics that something like 90% of all music that is distributed is through people downloading or copying music. One person downloads a track, and dozens of people copy it.

The other problem with the business of music is the old-style distribution system: In the old world, there were some musicians in each town who provided the music for ceremonies, and so forth, and were provided for. In the new world Jason Bieber sells 5,000,000 albums, or something, and the local band sells a few CDs to their families and friends, and a few devoted fans.

But enter the new age:

There are now tools, such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud and CD Baby that are devoted to the independent artist. People like bassist Steve Lawson. He has made a decent living for himself through these tools and a lot of ingenuity.

Bandcamp and Soundcloud are free sites that musicians may upload their music to, set their price and promote as they can. When they sell tracks, Bandcamp takes a small cut and then sends the rest of the money to the artist.

The Bandcamp artists set their own price, and one of the options is to allow the purchaser to name their own price, even to download the track for free. This is the choice that Steve gives to everyone. I have read his comments and blogs (check out and he has said that people pay an average of over $1.00 per track they download. Some download the music for free, and some pay more. So, thinking creatively, this is possible. Steve has said that when people get his music for free, it is getting the music out there and will ultimately result in more purchases for him, and more people showing up at his shows.

So, the shows. Last year, he tweeted that he was ready for his North American tour, so if people were willing to offer their houses for concerts and for him to stay, to let him know, and he would arrange his tour around the offers. And he made it work. He spent a couple months criss-crossing the US doing house concerts. Some were even streamed on the internet. People could watch for free, or there was a little link to pay what you wanted for the concert.

Steve further utilizes the internet by offering music lessons around the world via Skype.

Steve is just an example of one musician who has capitalized on the possibilities out there to play music. He shows that the old model of signing record deals and playing at clubs and so forth is not the only way.

So, what about the musician who plays for free? If no one is paying for music, should we all just sell our instruments and sit at home? Can we only play music that people "want to hear" - as so often is the justification for playing only music by other people.

The bottom line is that we all got into musical performance to be expressive and artistic. We had things we wanted to say, using music (or any other medium.) Then we wanted to make a living at it.

At a very early age, I learned that music that paid meant I had to play music I did not want to play. I was playing the same pieces over and over and over in pit orchestras for musicals, and playing songs that I could not stand when I first heard them over and over and over. So I got a job to support myself, and have had a great musical career in which I have almost always played what I wanted to play at the time. I have composed my own music, explored the sounds and emotions that I wanted to explore and loved every minute of it. Many of my friends who have depended on their art to make a living have been very frustrated with their lives of performing that most often has resulted in their not playing music they like at all. They burn out on their music and resent the world that will not provide them the opportunities they desired.

I truly 'play for grins' in the sense that I am happy to play, and enjoy it very much. I don't make much money at it. I sell a few CDs every month, and occasionally get some money - a lot of what I play is for fundraising. I love to play for charity events that help organizations earn money.

I did stop playing bars and clubs and the likes when the economy went bad, so that people who needed the money to live from would benefit from these opportunities. I left the clubs, giving them the names and numbers of people who earned their living from music.

So, I guess we can have a world mostly devoid of music if people won't play without getting money. We could have a world where the only music we hear is what the music industry dictates we should be listening to, or we can have a world full of unique sounds and expressions on street corners, and other more unusual listening places.

I am sorry my friend chose to sell his drums to protest not being able to earn money. But was he truly expressing something unique in the world, or just being a pawn to the music business, at whatever level.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What Obama's Election Seemed to do to our country

I was particularly troubled this week when the "Tea Party Debate" bore out, once again, the ugliest of American qualities during a couple of points: Particularly when people shouted with glee at the idea of letting a man die and at the applause Rick Perry got after bragging about all the people he killed.

The Tea Party consistently shows us the ugliest of human emotions, as they root for ending programs that help people, encourage the destruction of the environment and call for the end of Civil Right Legislation. They have stomped on people's heads at their rallies, they promote openly racist candidates and causes and so forth, while at the same time talking about the importance of religion, and that Christianity is the only real religion. Isn't Jesus that one who had so much to say about love and compassion? You see my confusion here...

After Mr. Obama was elected, he re-instituted a very good tradition that had not been observed since the days of the Einsenhower years (I can't be absolutely sure if Eisenhower was the last one, but I think I heard that somewhere...) of addressing the school students toward the beginning of the school year to encourage them to do their part as Americans, and take school seriously, do their best and go on to get great jobs and be great Americans. A really great idea.

The first speech came up, and there was havoc in the schools. Parents were calling, forbidding their children to see Obama's speech. Letters were sent home to parents outlining the speech and saying that there were places their children could go if they didn't want them to see the president. It was mayhem.

So, would there have been this controversy if Jimmy Carter or George Bush or Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan wanted to address the youth of our nation? I think not. After all, these men were Presidents of the United States, and it's good for the president to encourage the youth, right? Not if you have dark skin, apparently.

The election of our nation's first black president seemed to have blown the cap off of the below-eye-level racism that had existed in the country.

While racism has been subtly rampant, and such things have occurred as the closing of theaters and stores during the 1960s to avoid having to allow 'minorities' and have never opened; the continuous problem with exclusive clubs that have no race policy, but seem to refuse any non-white members and such have continued to be part of mainstream America; the brutally overt incidents of racism have been limited to violent radicals typically associated with neo-nazi or KKK types of groups.

But the election of a black president seems to have been more than the covert racists could bear, and they began to show their radical side. The GOP is now near or in the category of outright fascism.

During the 2010 midterm elections, we saw some of the ugliest campaigning in history: Comment like "if ballots don't work, bullets will" were flying fast. Immigration from a straight-out racist perspective became hot issues. Candidates talked openly about overturning aspects of the Civil Rights Acts. It was ugly, and it was scary.

Now as the 2012 campaign season has been kicked off, the GOP candidates seem to only be stepping up their rhetoric. The idea of Sharia law taking over the country, an idea absurd at any level, is a big topic among these candidates, who have reframed the "War Against Terror" as a "We are at war with Islam." Remember the crusades? These are specifically racist ideas generated only to direct hatred toward the 1,000,000,000 Muslims on our planet.

This, obviously, is not Obama's fault. He has never made an issue of his race, 'played the race card' or, to the best of my knowledge, said anything racist. The mere idea of a black person in such a position of authority has pushed them into such a radicalized state of panic that they are unable to contain their hatred, and it is affecting a large portion of the country.

Until recently radicals and crazies were seen as such, and their influence on our society seemed to be minimal. Now they have a huge power base.

The difference between the left and right at this point seems to be a factor of one character trait: compassion.

People who have compassion wish to help their fellow refrain from suffering, and as such currently make up the Democratic party. Those who only care about themselves, and don't care if people suffer, die, are killed, are living in poverty, are sick, old feeble, what have you - make up the GOP.

Sadly, the country seems to be fairly evenly divided at this point, with more, by the day, joining ranks with the radicals on the right.

It is one thing to begrudgingly see a person's when they elude to the fact that a person's choice may cause them to die (the fact is that most people who are uninsured are not because of free will, but because they cannot afford insurance, but that is another point...) it is another thing to actively cheer the idea of someone dying. It is one thing to understand that some people are so damaged that they can never be rehabilitated (despite research throughout the world that this is rarely true...) it is another to cheer a man who has been personally responsible for allowing hundreds of people to be executed (and remember, too, that the US Supreme Court had to intervene today so that a person who may be innocent, but is not white did not have to die in Texas, because Gov. Perry refused to stop the execution.) These responses are not just merely right wing, they are savage.

Furthermore, in a compassionate society, these are not even ideas we entertain.

So what is to be made of a country where half the people are compassionate and want to help their fellow humans, and half would just as soon see them die, even if they are innocent, and especially if they are not white?

There is also a massive movement in this country toward extreme spiritualism (not radical religion) where people are making amazing spiritual advances and discovering levels of compassion, love and enlightenment that used to be reserved for gurus on high mountains in the East. People in vast numbers are meditating, helping, caring, living in service to others and so forth. So while one group of people are becoming much more compassionate, another group of people seem to be honing hatred at an equal and opposite level. I don't currently know what to make of this, or what it means.

I have read science fiction books where the human race becomes divided, and part of them live as enlightened yogis, while the other part go below ground and live like trolls. I haven't read such books since I was in Junior High School, so I don't remember any details. But, is this what might be happening to us as a species?

I read an article this week about a wonderful children's book that explored the idea of evolution that was rejected by US publishers as being too controversial. The Canadian publisher that put it out seems to be quite content with the money and awards it has generated - but really? Evolution too controversial to publish?

Does the right reject the idea of evolution because they have stopped evolving?

Perhaps the next stage of evolution is not so much a physical adaptation as a spiritual/emotional/mental adaptation, and there are some who are just not going to be able to evolve.

Of course, most spiritual literature talks about the notion that Nirvana is a place everyone will have to get to, not just some, but maybe at this stage of the game, there are a lot who are not going to be making that jump for quite some time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Eve of 9/11

It will be 9/11 in a few hours, and I know that this 10 year mark since the tragedy will be a time for mourning and celebrating the American spirit.

For my part, I will mark this occasion by mourning the American spirit:

As we come upon the decade since 9/11, we find ourselves in the greatest political mess in 100 years - maybe more, and much of that I can trace directly to the mismanagement in the aftermath of the terror attack.

After Bush finally was pulled away from his goat book, and spent a few days flying around the country, running for his life, but not doing anything for American lives, he came back into the public eye and told us to do what Americans do in times of crisis - shop.

After that, the Republicans rifled through a bunch of legislation, as people looked elsewhere, that severely limited our Civil Liberties, and that deregulated banks. The result was that the Bush administration spied on American citizens and banks were allowed to practice predatory lending that resulted in the toxic assets that collapsed the economy.

Further destruction was wreaked as we were sucked into two wars, one on false pretenses and lies that resulted in countless lives lost and trillions of dollars wasted.

But perhaps the biggest tragedy was our emotional response:

We retreated in fear. We gave away our power as a people. We ostracized the Muslim community, and with this public embracement of racism, it reawakened a silent virus that had hovered, less seen, in the sickest members of our society. Now members of the Tea Party run on overtly racist platforms, saying that we are "at war with Islam," and promoting limitations on the Civil Rights Acts. They ran on vicios, racist lies about the president's national origin.

We allowed fear to permeate our society. We offered up our personal freedoms in exchange for protection that was never truly there.

We allowed the opening of illegal POW camps throughout the world, where Americans widely practiced torture, sometimes even on children. People were held in these camps with no charges and no trials. They were denied basic human rights.

One of the most basic things we could have done was care for the victims of 9/11, many of whom are sick and suffering after being exposed to the toxins created by the plume of ash that spewed from the falling towers. Instead, these basic rights and basic protections were denied by congress. Victims and their families had their phones bugged and were otherwise spied on and mistreated - even those we called the heroes.

So, I mourn the loss of the American spirit as I see the sad, frightened condition we live in, where so many suffer, while the wealthy pay no taxes. I mourn the condition our government has gotten into as members of the right have held the country hostage, and have sabotaged the functioning of our country in order to push through radical agendas and purposefully weaken the country in order to defeat a president whose primary flaw, in their eyes, is his race.

This is not the America I knew as a child, and this is not the America I want to know now.

So many of the problems we face now have their roots directly in 9/11, and the deplorable way the Bush administration mishandled this, milked it politically, and lied and cheated to us so often, breaking out faith in government at all.

I believe the terrorists have won, but not because of what they did, because of what we did.

We had the opportunity to overcome that tragedy, and build a stronger nation, and fortify the American character. Instead, we were manipulated, and the ugly qualities of the American people were nurtured turning us into who we are today.

The terrorists had no idea that they would bring forth the demon in ourselves by knocking over a few buildings.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Musical Fork in the Road

I was reminiscing about some points in my life where music took a change, and I remembered one that is particularly striking:

In 1992, I went to the Hoomei (Throat Singing) symposium in Tuva. I was enchanted by the event (which you can read about in detail in one of my early Musical Adventures stories) and soon returned to the US with a clear image of myself introducing throat singing to the American people.

Later that year, the Tuvans came to California, and were part of the Rose Bowl Parade, and I was there as part of that festivity. Over the next several years, there was a flurry of activity surrounding throat singing, as performers came through the US. I has the great fortune of housing some of them at my home in Colorado during such visits.

I became particularly attached to Kongar-Ool Ondar. As I mentioned, he was not forthcoming with his instruction about throat singing, but I did figure out most of the fundamentals on my own by studying what I observed him do, and what I heard on the recordings, that constantly played at my house.

Kongar-Ool teamed up with Bela Fleck for a tour and a recording. I had the pleasure of hosting Kongar-Ool at my home during that tour, and met Bela Fleck and his band.

I had heard a little of Bela Fleck's first recording, but wasn't as impressed with it as I later was when I listened to it again. I traded the CD for something else. But I knew of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, an unusual jazz quartet featuring a banjo and an electric drum machine and so forth.

As I watched Bela and the band, I was immediately aware of all I had overlooked in dismissing his first recording. They were brilliant, innovative and diverse. They pulled from every musical style, and created the most unique sounds I had ever heard. Kongar-Ool just added to the exotic mix. It was wonderful.

The next day, I took Kongar-Ool down to the tour bus to head off with the Flecktones for the next few cities. I had a couple hours to spend with Kongar-Ool on the bus, as the Flecktones were very late getting up that morning. He gave me some pictures, and we talked about life and spirit in my broken Russian. The Flecktones started to come out, and I started to say 'goodbye' to Kongar-Ool. He stopped me and said 'until our next meeting.'

I got off the bus and passed Bela in the parking lot.

The next day, I started following a different path. I renewed my interest in jazz, and returned to my roots in that musical form, but everything we did had the influence I had gotten from the Flecktones of blending and fusing everything we could grasp. The throat singing went by the wayside, except for moments here and there, when I would try it in my car, and give up, since I had lost the skill.

Through the next few CDs we put out, the band became more and more influenced by the world music I was hearing in my head.

About two months ago, I suddenly renewed my interest in throat singing, and have been working on the techniques again, this time with much more success than I have ever had before. The few technical questions I have had have been answered by information available on the internet. The practice is developing.

So, the thing I learn about paths is that you can veer from one to the other, but ultimately, all our paths become the same.

I can only imagine where my next recordings and performances will take me, and I am curious to find out. It just seems that every musical influence I have had seems to reappear at some point.

Maybe it was my ego. My goal of being the one to introduce throat singing to the world was an ego-based goal. Now that it is working its way naturally, organically and in a non-ego way back into my awareness, I see that it is another vehicle of expression, and it will somehow be a part of my musical palette, the way it was supposed to be.

Discount nothing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Governance and the Mystical Realm

I am all in favor of the mystical. I love people who have unusual insights and who receive information by inspiration. Some of my favorite artists are people who have had visions and heard voices. I love to read mystical writings and ancient wisdom. I love inspired music that comes from a divine source. I love books like "The Alchemist" by Paulo Cuelho that tell us about magic and wonder.

I believe our world has become far too left-brained and masculine. I believe it is wrong for education to function purely on a data driven basis and not look at the magical things that happen as a result of relationships formed between teachers and students, students and students and so forth.

I believe that science is limited and there is vastly more to the universe than we know. The universe itself may be an illusion, for all we know. I love to think like this, talk philosophy like this.

I have had a myriad of experiences in my life that I cannot explain in terms of the laws of physics.

The world without they mystical realm would be predictable, expected and boring.

All that being said, there are people on the planet for whom this left-brain, data-driven, science driven approach is important:

If I call an ambulance, I want the paramedics to zap me and shoot me up and cast me and get me to a hospital, or whatever they need to do to save my life. I don't want them to spend time praying for me or telling me the world is a hallucination. I want the contractor who works on my house to apply the laws of gravity, physics, engineering and good craftsmanship to the very best of his ability so that the work he does lasts longer than I am alive. And I want the people in positions to make, enforce and judge laws that affect me to do so from a purely real-world, science, research-based perspective.

When people get hit by a hurricane, these political leaders need to spare no expense to send help to every citizen in need and help them stay safe, find shelter, get food, rebuild their communities, and so forth. There is no room for people to debate when and if they will pay for hurricane relief and play games with people in time of need.

Further, in what way is it beneficial to anyone when people hear voices in their heads telling them that hurricanes are punishment for having too many gays (Oral Roberts after Hurricane Katrina) or that God is trying to tell us to decrease spending (Michele Bachman after Hurricane Irene, a graduate of the Oral Roberts law school aka Liberty University... the lowest ranked US law school, but the law school that has a huge number of graduates sitting on benches and working in the US Justice Department per the Bush Justice Department scandal...)

Several of the GOP candidates currently running claim to regularly speak to God and hear his commands directly. When statements by these candidates are fact-checked, they are found far too often to makeup statistics, flip-flop on positions, depending upon who they are talking to, fabricate, deceive and outright lie. People who don't go to the effort to research the statements by these candidates accept their lies, and soon, they become part of the political discourse.

Voices people hear in their heads should not be part of the political discourse.

Even more frightening is that already elected members of congress are making decisions based on their religious dogma:

Senator Jon Kyle sits on the subcommittee on the environment. He does not believe in climate change. His reason? he read from the bible on the floor of the senate that God had promised never again to destroy the earth after the Noah's Arc fiasco. And now he is creating policy based on this bible passage, and not on the evidence, research and vast scientific agreement that climate change presents an imminent threat to the very survival of all living things on earth. Senator Kyl also made the comment that 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is perform abortions. Abortions account for less than 3% of Planned Parenthood's services. This is an inaccuracy of 87%.

Rep. Peter King sits on the committe for homeland security. He has stated that he will only pay attention to threats from Muslims. Evidence has been presented to him that there are many other groups and individuals who pose a security threat to our nation. He has put us at risk by refusing to pay attention to threats posed by these groups, and continues his witch-hunt in the Somalian communities in the midwest. Policy in our country is being based on the hateful delusions of this individual.

And there many others who are doing similar things, and our country is suffering as a result.

The elected GOP members of congress have stated that their most important mission is to make President Obama a one term president. This is their most important goal - more important than serving their constituents, keeping the country safe, fixing the economy, trying to cope with extreme climate change, take care of citizens who are victims of disaster, protecting the most vulnerable citizens, providing for the future of our children and our country...

People at these levels need to be able to make informed decisions that protect the physical world reality we live in based on evidence, empirical information, research, listening to experts, citizens, books, newspapers and other real-world based information sources, not voices in their heads.