Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Grains

Today I gained a deep insight into my lovely Megsie's world, with an astonishing and delightful make-believe called "The Grains".

This conversation at our house today:

Meg: Did you put all the bowls I washed back in with the dirty dishes?

Bens: Yes. They weren't clean.

Megs: Yes they were. Why did you do that?

Bens: They had stuff on them. I can't put them away like that. I tried--I just can't bring myself to do it.

Megs: Oh! They're really actually clean. That stuff you are talking about is just the grains. You wouldn't be able to get them off either.

Bens: I think I could. Would you like me to show you?

Megs: No. Could you not do that anymore? It makes more work.

Bens:. Sweetie, I was just making space in the drying rack so I could wash them and all the other dishes. Sorry I don't mean to make more work. I really just can't bring myself to put them away. If you are going to wash them like that, could you just put them away yourself--I'm fine if you do that--I just can't actually put them away with 'the grains' on them.

Megs: Okay, lovely (puts stack of bowls away in cupboard where they go).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Random thoughts on Osama bin Laden

I have found myself over the past several days growing increasingly attracted to the image of Osama bin Laden. He seems to have a very beautiful and gentle face and eyes. This might merely be a case of exposure leading to liking.

The recent killing of Osama by forces loyal to the Empire and the massive news exposure which followed seems to me to have provided those of us in the west with an amazing and beautiful opportunity to put a face on the ultimate failure of the myth of redemptive violence. It also provides us with a beautiful opportunity to consider the final repercussions of the make-believe we call "justice".

A word about make-believe may perhaps be in order. I mean something incredibly simple by this phrase. I believe that all our feelings and all our actions spring from our beliefs, and that all these beliefs were constructed by each of us at various points in our lives in order to do the best we can to take best possible care of ourselves. Some we constructed when we were very young. Some we constructed later. But we constructed each and every belief we hold, each one of us, for our own selves and for our own reasons. What this means, among other things, is that we can at any time, for our own reasons, choose to reaffirm or to discard any of the constructed beliefs--these make-believes, as well as to construct new ones.

Sometimes lots of people come to hold more or less similar make believes, all together, in a sense. Justice is one such make believe which seems to me to be rather widespread. To me, the make-believe of justice is a belief people construct in order to justify wanting what they want. To me, it's actually preferable to simply allow myself to want what I want, without feeling a need to justify it by constructing make-believe called justice. The reason I prefer to choose not to need a make believe of justice in order to want what I want is that it seems to me that this make believe called justice is very much a driver of the great majority of the violence and war in the world. Both sides are using violence to go for what they want, and they are both, fascinatingly, appealing to this same make believe called justice--a make believe which strongly justifies their use of violence in pursuing what they want.

This brings us back to Osama. His beautiful gentle face is, in one sense, the face of one side of a war. Both Osama's side and Empire's side strongly appeal to the make believe of justice in pursuing what they want. I wonder how many of you, lovely readers, have a real sense of Osama's legitimate wants--the ones underlying his violent rhetoric? Have you ever read his two fatwa? Here's his 1996 fatwa. Its language so strongly appeals to the make-believe of justice.

I wonder how many of you, dear readers, have considered the wants of Osama bin Laden--the wants which motivated his attacks on September 11 and prior to that against U.S. embassies, U.S. warships, etc.? Have you been able to dispassionately consider what was driving him?

Wikipedia has an interesting article on motivations for the September 11 attacks--drawn from Osama's fatawa and interviews with him. He was concerned about, among other things: U.S. sanctions against Iraq, U.S. forces deployed in Islam's most holy nation (Saudi Arabia), and U.S. support of Israel against the Palestinians.

What's really fascinating is that all these actions by Empire (the U.S. et al.), and the violence which accompanied them, were motivated identically to Osama et al.'s motivation--appeals to justice. Sanctions against Iraq were statedly in pursuit of justice for Kuwait. U.S./Empire support of Israel grew (arguably) out of pursuit of justice for Jews after World War II.

That is to say--all the violence on both sides was, and continues to be, in response to previous violence, with strong appeals to justice. Obama has himself strongly appealed to justice over the last several days since Empire killed Osama. The problem with the make believe of justice is that what looks like justice to one side never looks like justice to the other. Osama's friends and associates don't see his death as justice, and are calling for and will doubtless carry out more violence in pursuit of justice regarding Osama's death. Similarly, America/Empire didn't see it as justice when Osama and associates carried out violent death on 9-11, or in embassy bombings etc. The ongoing violence is never going to end with a justice which everyone feels is just. The only way it is ever going to end is when someone decides to forgive. But that is a subject for a different post.

My main point here was that somehow, for me, Osama's face, so plastered all over the news recently, has come to powerfully represent this whole make believe of justice, and its futility, and the futility and self-perpetuating nature of the myth of redemptive violence, which percolates somehow through both of these major cultures (Western and Arabic) and both of these major religions (Christianity and Islam).