wartburg college

Wartburg College

November 6, 2007

Thank you.

It’s wonderful to be here today at Wartburg, which I have long admired as one of America’s great liberal arts colleges.

I would like to underline that word, “liberal.” It does not, of course, refer to big government, or to left-of-center politics. No, as I’m sure you know, it refers to Freedom—training the mind to think for itself, free of the lies and fantasies and prejudices that wrap around us from an early age.

In this time, the very idea of human life on the planet is at stake. War and violence has taken new and decidedly more dangerous turns.

So you are doing well to be freeing your minds right now. That is a difficult task, as there are so many forces around you now, telling you what and how to think, and selling you incredible lies.

The War on Terrorism is a good example. It is a term used to keep you from thinking freely and from actually solving the world’s problems relating to poverty and freedom. If you solved those problems you would severely damage the profits of the elite.

The very idea that you can have war on terror is as silly as the idea that you can have war on anger. War itself is insane anger.

As the world’s resources become stressed by global warming and overpopulation, do we really think we can kill all the angry people? Can we calm them down by dropping bombs on their villages and spraying their families with machine gun bullets? Isn’t that rather like dropping gasoline and crumpled newspaper on forest fires instead of water? Do you think anyone really thinks it will work? They don’t even want it to work. War is too profitable to ever consider really solving the underlying problems. It is remarkably profitable for some businesses, and those businesses are historically linked to the family fortunes of key political leaders and the elite who finance their careers.

Islamo-fascism, as a label, is yet another fraud used to keep you from thinking freely. Some people in the world are so desperate and angry that they will blow themselves up just to hurt us, that is true. But it has to do with the conditions of their lives, not with religion. Religion is always the excuse for murder, but rarely the motive. If I tell you that God wants us all to clean up the dining rooms tonight, to scrub every seat and scrape-off every blob of gum, you will thank me for my opinion and you will back out of the room en masse. If, however, I tell you that God wants us all to storm the administration building tonight and change our grades to straight A’s, then how many of you will answer God’s call? In war, religion is a cover and an organizing convenience. That’s all it has ever been, going back to the Crusades, which were all about treasure and rape.

The “War on Terrorism,” has very little to do with anyone’s insane religious beliefs. Terrorism, historically, is a term used to describe what governments do to rule through fear—to overrule the rule of law. The term originated after the French Revolution as a tool of suppressing dissent. If we are to truly prosecute a War on Terrorism, it would be our effort to prevent governments from using fear to shred the democratic rule of law.

If you want to stop insane anger in the world, you have to get at world poverty and the injustices that people suffer as nations ruthlessly jockey for resources. "We don’t negotiate with terrorists." Anytime you hear tough language like that, you will do well to assume it means the opposite. If we actually don’t negotiate with terrorists, you would at sometime have heard the President make a speech proclaiming that: "Nothing our enemies do will persuade us in the least to give up on our principles. We will hold fast to our Bill of Rights and to the cherished Geneva Convention. All suspects will be afforded a lawyer and a trial and humane treatment, no matter what. We will not run like cowards away from the Constitution and the human values that our people have fought and died to protect and improve. We will not give any of that up to the terrorists in exchange for some hope of extra safety. We will not negotiate."

THAT would be refusing to negotiate with terrorists. But that is not what this government has done. In terms of given up on things of value, this government has knelt down and emptied its pockets after the first punch. It was profitable for some people for this to happen.

Not only has our so-called government given away our basic human rights—turned them over to the terrorists in exchange for worthless hopes of safety—but they have subjected you and me to endless little indignities unbecoming an American citizen.

Why do they harass you at the airports, refusing to let you stop your car for a moment at the curb to pick-up your friends? Do they think that, by harassing you in this way, that they are in any way preventing a truck from driving up and exploding? They of course know better. It is not about that, nor have there been instances or threats that make such precautions sensible. It is not about threats; it is about keeping you fearful, and reminding you that you no longer have the power. Speak up at the airport and you will be whisked away. What a wonderful place an airport is to teach us all about the new country we are living in.

So you take off your shoes because one madman had an exploding shoe some years ago. I’m not sure which is worse: one possible tragedy like that, or the smell of a hundred million feet thereafter. The point of this airport ceremony is to physically humiliate you into subservience to the new state. Get used to it, because it is just getting started–if you will let it.

Any politician you hear talking seriously about the War on Terror or about Islamo-Fascism is lying to you and trying to prevent you from thinking freely. Call them on it. Tell them you think those terms are really just a lot of BS meant to deflect attention from the real issues of world poverty, the unsustainable exploitation of resources and other issues that we, in fact, could address seriously with a fraction of what we spend on counterproductive warfare—though we understand it is highly profitable for some.

If you are a psych major or have taken some psych courses, you understand that we often transfer to others the things we most hate about ourselves but do not accept about ourselves. When some leaders label others with words like terrorist, let them look first to what they are themselves doing in the world. Are they upholding the human rights encoded in the U.S. Constitution, and in the Geneva Convention, and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? If they are not, then they have forfeited their right to label other people in any disparaging way.

And as for the label of “fascist,” the term was popularized by Mussolini to describe how corporate interests could be combined with an authoritarian government. If some American leader has assumed dictatorial powers by claiming the ability to disregard laws, and if he has given no-bid contracts with billions of dollars to friendly corporations that he has an actual family interest in, then he may indeed want to transfer the word Fascist as far away from himself as possible, but we see through this with our free minds.

The fact of our condition is that we have two governments. We have a faceless government that has secret prisons, its own rules, a suspension of all our rights, and its own armies and budgets. It laughs at us when we think we can tell it what to do. It has been around for some time –certainly since the early 60s when we started losing the leaders who actually represented our values.

We do have another government. It is the one where we have debates, campaigns, elections (more or less), and where the winners play at a Congress. This government has fallen in power as the other has risen. I have lived long enough to see the dimming of lights in the Capitol building. These people no longer much represent you and me. There mainstream news keeps you from seeing the truth of this. You are expected to be happy with your wonderful car and your wonderful music players and your fancy phones that can message back and forth. But you have been left without anything of your own to say that is not a rewrite of a commercial.

If you are not hearing that truth from the mainstream media, it is because there is a game here, and one of the main rules is that you have to pretend we are still a government of, by and for its people. If you cannot live in that fantasy, you will be ostracized as a nut case, a fanatic, a fringe element. That is part of the control mechanism that you have to understand if you would be free to think for yourself.

If, to create an absurd example, the family of George Bush were investors together in oil partnerships with the Bin Laden family, or if George Bush Senior were a part of a company like the Carlyle Group that has profited greatly from the Iraq War, would those stories be all over CNN and in the front pages of newspapers, or would those stories violate the fantasy and therefore be ignored? Well, those stories happen to be true, so judge for yourself if we have a problem with the news media.

How, indeed, do we bring order into the chaos of our lives once we reject the lies around us? What is the thing that is not a lie? Where is a fixed star by which we can navigate our lives through the ever-warming waters ahead?

Somewhere, perhaps less than a mile from here, there is someone who didn’t come to this lecture. This person took time out of his or her day to go tutor a kid or help an older person—maybe to help someone learn a needed language. There is the star. That person out there has more to tell you than I do, for Love is the only truth that can safe us from lies and from anger and sad living. The real division of politics in the world is between the politics of truth and love, which calls for the happy development of every human’s highest potential, and the politics of fear and hate, which is known by its exploitation and oppression.

You know which kind of politics is at the helm today. Maybe an election or two can make some improvements. But, even so, we still have this little problem with the other government, the one that thinks it is really in charge of our lives and our world. When the storm destroyed New Orleans, the wealthy neighborhoods suddenly had armed Blackwater guards at their gates. These machine-gun toting men were from other nations and had no familiarity with our Bill of Rights. They would have followed any order. In that storm, we saw the future, if we will allow it. Spengler, who, I mentioned, was among those on my early reading list, proposed that race is more important in organizing political differences than economic class. Malcolm X agreed with Spengler on this. In fact, Spengler informed much of Malcolm’s thinking. So now we see a rise in racial conflict in America, even in places where we wouldn’t have imagined it a few years ago. But much is happening that we wouldn’t have imagined a few years ago. America suspending rights and torturing people, for example. The uneasy peace between the races in America made possible by the post World War II boom is now moving into difficult times. It is aggravated by the immigration issue. Can you see these issues freely? You read the newspapers and the internet news sites, and you watch the Daily Show, so you know just about everything. Or do you? The U.S. Farm program, voted for by our elected representatives, subsidizes the corn industry so heavily that American corporations sell corn in Mexico for half of what Mexico’s family farmers can sell it for. So half the farms in Mexico have gone out of business. Farm families have migrated to Mexico’s big cities, where there is so much poverty that all one can do is plan to sneak into America for decent wages. They die on our desert borders. If it were easy to come and go, how could we oppress them so easily? We have come to rely upon this oppression for the smooth operation of our communities. But you will not hear about this story on the TV news, will you? It is outside the accepted fantasy. The lies that surround us drive emotions and they drive unkindness and cruelty, which are the signposts of misinformation and misunderstanding. People who are not free of mind are not kindly of mind. Kindness is freedom’s truest indicator. If you cannot stop to help someone who clearly needs your help, you are not a free man or woman. Your chains may have the glamorous attachments of Blackberries and credit cards, but you are not free if your time is not your own to follow your heart. If you are looking for a strategy to improve relations between the races, between straight and gay people, between religions, you must understand that such peace is most achievable when there is sufficient truth and prosperity to go around, and when there is the kindness that is the product of those two. To preserve prosperity in the world, agriculture and nature must be saved. The coal plants must be shut down--all of them--within the next few years. Gasoline-powered automobiles must be phased-out in the next ten years. International trade must be largely curtailed in favor of local production. These are the issues of a politics of love, and they cannot go forward without some free thinking and some knocking-down of immense lies that now in place. Free thinking, prosperity and kindness, so intertwined, make cooperative living easier to achieve, and push intolerance away from us. We have a lot of work to do, but, can you see it? Do you have a glimpse of it? Can you stand the idea of Google-ing a little more Noam Chomsky and a little less USA Today? That would be a good beginning. Churchill was correct when he said the empires of the future are the empires of the mind. The big battle for the future is being fought right now in your mind. Your freedoms are closing-in around you. Our present circumstances seem to necessitate a new and democratic international compact between those of you who are willing to do what is necessary to be free people, to live sustainably, and to withdraw our support from systems outside the compact. The compact can be first between individuals, and then communities. It can later include regions and nations. How will this be brought forth? Will it be enough? I don’t know, but it’s all we can do. Certainly the Internet, for as long as you can keep it, can get you started. But don’t rely on it, for it is no longer yours to trust. You have the power to save your freedoms and your natural world. Truth and Love, Courage and Energy, and a good organizing plan for cooperative action are your great powers. Don’t look for leaders to do it for you, unless you are standing before a mirror.

I’m 97, soon 98, so saying ‘good luck’ is about all I have left. I have filled my life with adventures and good causes. They have not been enough for the world, and they have not even been enough for me. But I shudder to think of how bare my life would have been had I not answered the call to action that you must now be feeling somewhere in your hearts, as you have it felt before.

Thank you all very much. And good luck.

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