Friday, April 11, 2014

Reply to a really important question

Today one person, Nora, posted a question which I think is so important that it deserves its separate post.  Here is what she wrote:

Nora said:
Saker, I get where you're coming from. I'm truly scared to ask this but you know I've got to: what recourse do we have here in the US? What can we do to stop what's going on in our name and with our tax dollars, both here and everywhere else? I used to think I knew the answer(s). I don't anymore.
My reply will be stunningly unoriginal and boring: "think globally act locally". For one thing, there is really nothing you can do for the people in the Ukraine, at least not directly.  And you have already done something crucial: you have identified with their struggle.  That is extremely important because the 1%ers are trying to divide us and separate us along national, ethnic, racial, religious, educational, social, political and any other line they can think of.  Our response should be, to paraphrase Marx, "99%ers of the world, unite!".

The big mistake of the Marxists (well, one of them) was to think in big terms - stuff like "proletarians of the world".  What we need to do is think *small*.   Here is the key thing: the struggle against evil happens one soul at a time, especially in the West, and especially in the USA where any organized struggle immediately gets discredited, infiltrated and eventually shut down (or even shot down).  Stay small, take little steps.

The first thing that you need to see is whom to talk to.  Christ gave us the perfect methodology.  One one hand He said "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matt 7:6), but on the other hand He also said "what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?" (Matt 7:9). In other words, do not waste your time on those who are not asking anything from you, but don't deny your attention to those who are seeking the truth.  Or even more basically - don't waste your breath on zombified morons, but spare no effort towards those who seek to understand.  For one thing, the zombies don't doubt - they already know it all.  But others do doubt, all they need is help to connect the dots.  A holy man, a true saint, which I once met, told me "one human soul is more precious than the entire universe", and that is quite true.  So if all you do in your entire life is help to guide one single soul to the truth, you have had a great life!  Just one.  And it does not matter where this soul lives, in the USA, the Ukraine, Palau or Timbuktu.  All souls, all humans, have the same value - its infinite.

Second, there is only one way to lead people - by example, by inspiration and not by instruction or by polemic. One of the greatest Russian saints, Saint Seraphim of Sarov, said "Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved".  This thought if often paraphrased as "save yourself and thousands around you shall be saved", which is a pretty good, if simplified, interpretation of his thought.  Forget about acting on others, act on yourself.  And then you will be able to act on others.  This is paradoxical, I know, but most patristic thought is subtle and externally paradoxical.  By the way, Christianity is not the only tradition which teaches that, this also what, I think, Mahatma Gandhi meant when he said "We must become the change we want to see in the world".

In practical terms, this means that for your the highest priority must be pursue the truth in all its forms with passion and determination, just as Christ taught us when He said: "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:for they shall be filled" (Matt 5:6) and "If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).  Now, I have to apologize for brining up all these Scriptural quotes, especially if you are not religious and even more so if you live in the USA.  I realize what a mockery the Bible-thumping crazies you can see on US TV or hear on the radio have made of Christianity and how sick and tired most people are of all kinds of preachers.  I ask you to set aside any unpleasant and outright sickening associations you might have with anything coming from the Scripture, and just realize that before the crazies began interpreting it in any way they wanted, the Scripture was actually an immense source of true spirituality and, what is so important for all of us today, a practical survival manual for anybody living in a world gone crazy.

For example, what the quotes I gave you mean, among other things, is that you cannot be "sort of" "interested" in finding out the truth.  "Hunger" and "thirst" are visceral, gut-level, feelings.  When you really hunger and thirst you can think of nothing else but food or water.  Same here, in order to find out the truth about the world you live in, you cannot just take a red pill like Neo in the Matrix - you have to be obsessed - full time 24/7 kind of obsessed - with finding out the truth.  If you can do that - then there is good news: you will end up finding it (you will be "filled" and the truth shall "make you free").  That goes not only for religion, but also for all the other matters which those who rule over us are trying to hide from us.

Lastly, I would recommend you stick to the two following rules (which I developed for myself):

1) never go against your conscience
2) always do the right thing and don't worry about outcomes or consequences

That's it.  That is my personal version of "survival in a crazy world 101".  And just to answer your question, don't worry about what your tax dollars do in the Ukraine, worry about what they do were you live.  Pay your taxes, don't break the law, but stand up for justice and righteousness every time you can.  Most importantly, show compassion and love to each suffering person near you.  Modern liberals are so mistaken when they send money to the hungering kids in Africa yet have a total "compassion deficit disorder" towards their fellow Americans!  Again, think globally - act locally.  If God (or "destiny" if you prefer) wanted you to help in Africa or the Ukraine, He (it) would have put you there.  But you are "here" (wherever that "here" is for you) so act "here", just as Ukrainians and Africans will act in their own "here", in the Ukraine and Africa.

In conclusion, let me refer to one of my favorite pieces from one of my favorite authors: Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "Live not by lies" which I posted on this blog in 2007.  Here is the introduction I wrote then:
“What can we do?”. This is an old question indeed. When a nation becomes enslaved by a government of thugs and terrorists one of the main goals of the rulers is to make their subjects believe that there is nothing they can do about it. Failing that, they want to push all the opposition into some activity which would justify the use of violence against them. So what are the options for those who oppose the rule of the current Empire?
Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote an essay in 1974 which, I believe, still fully applies to today’s USA. Soon thereafter he was expelled from the USSR. From his exile he declared that he would live to see the Soviet rule collapse and would return to his country before his death. For these words he was ridiculed - at the time the Soviet Empire, protected as it was - not unlike Dubya’s Empire - by a huge military and secret police, looked invincible. Twenty years later, Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia were he still lives today.
Alexander Isaevich Solzhenitsyn has passed away since (in 3 August 2008).  He, the man who survived the three worst calamities of the 20th century - the war, the concentration camps and cancer - lived to the age of 89 and before his death he even met Vladimir Putin, an ex-KGB officer, who expressed immense admiration for him.  Look at this historical photo and see for yourself the immense personal victory of the man who said "live not by the lie!" (you can find the full text of his essay right under my intro and here).  

Take a look at this short text and look at the examples Solzhenitsyn gives.  You can do the same in your own daily life.  Simple, doable and very effective!

All this is probably not the kind of reply you expected.  There is a reason for that.  I do not believe in the, shall we say, "resistance methodology" typically promoted by most organizations and people.  And what brought me to that conclusion is that military analysis eventually made me look at the roots, rather then the effects, of evil, and I realized that all warfare is really spiritual warfare at its core.  You cannot beat your opponent by playing by his rules, and you cannot outwit the devil.  So to resist effectively, we need to struggle by a different set of rules, imposing your tactics on the enemy.  And even though I had studied modern warfare, with a strong emphasis on, believe it or not, nuclear force planning, I ended up realizing that the most powerful weapon on the planet is a simple, basic, prayer rope.

Solzhenitsyn, him again, once made an amazing speech in the UK, when he received the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion on May of 1983 (you can find the full text of this speech here and here and, if you don't know it, I urge you to read the full text).  These are his concluding words:
With such global events looming over us like mountains, nay, like entire mountain ranges, it may seem incongruous and inappropriate to recall that the primary key to our being or non-being resides in each individual human heart, in the heart’s preference for specific good or evil. Yet this remains true even today, and it is, in fact, the most reliable key we have. The social theories that promised so much have demonstrated their bankruptcy, leaving us at a dead end. The free people of the West could reasonably have been expected to realize that they are beset · by numerous freely nurtured falsehoods, and not to allow lies to be foisted upon them so easily. All attempts to find a way out of the plight of today's world are fruitless unless we redirect our consciousness, in repentance, to the Creator of all: without this, no exit will be illumined, and we shall seek it in vain. The resources we have set aside for ourselves are too impoverished for the task. We must first recognize the horror perpetrated not by some outside force, not by class or national enemies, but within each of us individually, and within every society. This is especially true of a free and highly developed society, for here in particular we have surely brought everything upon ourselves, of our own free will. We ourselves, in our daily unthinking selfishness, are pulling tight that noose...

Our life consists not in the pursuit of material success but in the quest for worthy spiritual growth. Our entire earthly existence is but a transitional stage in the movement toward something higher, and we must not stumble and fall, nor must we linger fruitlessly on one rung of the ladder. Material laws alone do not explain our life or give it direction. The laws of physics and physiology will never reveal the indisputable manner in which the Creator constantly, day in and day out, participates in the life of each of us, unfailingly granting us the energy of existence; when this assistance leaves us, we die. And in the life of our entire planet, the Divine Spirit surely moves with no less force: this we must grasp in our dark and terrible hour.

To the ill-considered hopes of the last two centuries, which have reduced us to insignificance and brought us to the brink of nuclear and non-nuclear death, we can propose only a determined quest for the warm hand of God, which we have so rashly and self-confidently spurned. Only in this way can our eyes be opened to the errors of this unfortunate twentieth century and our bands be directed to setting them right. There is nothing else to cling to in the landslide: the combined vision of all the thinkers of the Enlightenment amounts to nothing.

Our five continents are caught in a whirlwind. But it is during trials such as these that the highest gifts of the human spirit are manifested. If we perish and lose this world, the fault will be ours alone. 
Everything he said in 1983 is still true today, probably even more so.

I apologize for this weird answer and I realize that it looks like I did not answer your question at all.  But I did.  I gave you *my* best honest answer and I am sure that there are plenty who will think that this is all rubbish.  Maybe they will even offer you their own answer.  I would welcome and encourage that.  I just stuck to my rule of "calling it as I see it" and doing what I believe was the right thing without worrying about the consequences.  But, of course, another person would have answered differently and probably much better than I did.

All I have to offer on this blog is sincerity, even if it comes wrapped in a lot of errors and misguided beliefs.  Oh, and I am an incurable idealist - no doubt about that.

Anyway, I hope that you will find something useful in the above.  If not, I am really sorry for not being able to give a more satisfactory reply.

Kind regards,

The Saker