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Story Time

The legend of Scherazade tells us that each night the sultan would marry a new wife, bed her and in the morning have her executed. This bizarre story may in fact be a powerful metaphor. The Sultan's fear of betrayal shows him to be at a level of behavior where he has not yet learned to cope with an unreliable mother with whom he is angry, and whom he distrusts. So this leads him to project his distrust and anger onto all women, and have his brides killed. That way they can never betray him - but alas he can never become a father. That's surely a metaphor for his creativity. So he's stuck in an infantile narcissistic pattern of destruction. What changes him is Scherazade's story-telling. Listening to her he learns to trust that she will be there the next night, with more stories. He listens to her. He hears the tales and empathizes with the characters, and so he grows his ability for compassion and, ultimately, love. Trust, empathy, love. How do you grow these qualities? By listening to others; by reading stories that open the heart; by paying attention.

This Site

I seem to spend less time on my website than ever. If I post something it's usually something I duplicate on Facebook, but often it just goes straight to FB. Is FB the most effective model to follow? I don't know. I can only say that as a writer I work gently, often comparatively slowly, and I try to write from place of peace. When I am in this space the writing tells me what it needs me to do. I can't do that if I'm constantly fishing around to "keep my site current" and add things I think will amuse or divert people. This second place is not a place of peace. For me it's full of ego and striving of the most basic sort. What it is for others I don't know, all I can say is that for me it's not authentic. I was watching a street magician a while ago, here in Cambridge. He had his little table and a top hat and he did some fairly standard card tricks. He was pretty good - he even produced a white rabbit from that hat, much to my delight - but it all seemed a bit rehearsed and conventional. Then he said he'd do one last trick. I was a bit complicated and involved cards being wrapped in handkerchiefs and so on. Then as we were starting to get a tad restless he reached forward, his sleeve rolled back to show he had nothing concealed there, and in front of the nose of the woman who had chosen the card, he spread his fingers -- and the card popped into view. I swear, we all gasped. I'd never seen anything like that before, and I've never forgotten it. That "trick" - closer to a miracle - was surely one that came from the heart. It was authentic and beautiful and utterly moving. I still feel shivers thinking about it now. When I write that is what I hope will happen.

Archetypes – and Trump

Readers of these pages will know about the six archetypes. Let's see how this applies to our President. Of the six, Trump is clearly the Orphan. He needs to be liked; he will tell lies to make himself look better; he is a bully; he operates within a strict structure that involves putting money first - since he believes money is prestige, and status is what he wants. He loves seeing his name everywhere, since that reassures him he's real. The Orphan is about the least developed of the archetypes. It is a stage that has to be learned from so that the individual can grow. Alas! The negative orphan doesn't always want to grow up. The trouble with this negative aspect of the Orphan archetype is that it's a bit like having an unruly 7 year old at all times. Such a child can do a fair bit of damage if it feels neglected and angry, and it feels that way all the time. The negative Orphan has to win at everything. Sounds familiar? When faced with such an archetype most of us will stop and ask, what the heck is going on? This is a good question, but it temporarily brings us to Pilgrim archetypal stage. We need to understand before we can act. The better way forward is to stay in Warrior-Lover archetype. This is the balanced and sane, peaceful fighter for what is true and good. This archetype does not waste time by asking what the President "means". We know he means destruction, mayhem and greed. The Warrior-Lover will take action to stop the destructive Orphan. This is what I urge you to do.

Trump-think

I used to wonder at Trump's policies and ask myself: "What on earth is he thinking?" It's clear to me now that he isn't thinking, as most people understand it, at all. This is a man who merely reacts. His reactions are based on various unexamined and crass prejudices such as: little people don't matter; I am always right when I shout; compassion is for wusses; pussies are to be grabbed; global warming is a hoax; money is the only thing that matters. This way of seeing the world has its advantages. Everything becomes very simple. That is - until you run up against rather complex situations like, for example, the Middle East, or China, or the American public. Oh, and Global Warming. If Trump really were able to think then he'd be only too aware of the future problems he's creating for himself (and the world) if only in terms of the lawsuits waiting for him for the rest of his life. But he cannot see that far. Like a small boy stuffing cake into his mouth, he doesn't realize that he'll throw up later.

Health Care, anyone?

This on-going health care discussion is important. Don't ever forget that. People will die unnecessarily if the Republican proposals go through, and the lives of those around them will be shattered. This is ghastly. The deeper problem is that even if the proposals are defeated we still have a health care problem -- which includes opioid and other addictions, mental health and violence issues, and nutrition/food concerns. These are all aspects of Health. What we need is to start thinking differently about "health". It needs to be about more than patching people up so they can get back to work and pay premiums. We need to ask questions: What would healthy people on a healthy planet need? How would we maintain that? If the environment is poisonous, how do we deal with that? We're stuck arguing about the price of band-aids solutions. This thing is bigger than most of us wish to recognize.

Health Care

The Republican Health Care Proposal is ghastly. Presumably if premiums go up as much as we are led to believe then many people will be without health insurance. The trouble is that this modification of "The Health Care System" is a bit like trying to remodel your kitchen by first burning your house down, and then torching the rest of the street. Health care in the US is expensive. It is also often unnecessary. What's needed is affordable basic health care for those who need it most. What we've been offered is insurance plans that benefit only the 1%. We can improve health care by exercising more, and by removing pollutants from the environment, food, and water. We could offer nutrition education and wholesome school lunches. We could remove junk food and toxic "sodas". We could help to work on opioid addiction (all addictions, actually) -- and so on. But wait. The White House is proposing to defund those initiatives. If we do these things, though, there's a chance that doctors won't be able to medicalize conditions that are, basically, lifestyle mistakes. That means fewer patients, which means less money for big pharma. Big pharma will profit if you are prescribed a drug. If you sign up for a gym they won't. What's good for business? Making people sick is. And the Businessman in chief is going to try and make it that way.

The obligations of the Internet

Having a blog is something many people do and keeping it updated, or keeping your Facebook page updated, is something we are all expected to do. Expected? By whom? Whether it's FB telling you you haven't updated recently or that faint sense of "gotta stay current" that haunts so many blog writers, it's still a bit like the idea of making quota, of being urged on by guilt to produce something, anything, before the self-imposed deadline. This is rarely the way to produce quality. So I'd like to propose that we don't do that. It's time we stopped being so reactive, spouting the first thing we think we've thought, and it's also time to stop being so hungry for details, however ridiculous they may be, that put pressure on others to "produce".

Vintage Motorcycles – a learning curve

I know - most of you probably don't care about vintage machinery, but I'm going to use it as a metaphor. So, twenty or more years ago I got my aged Matchless (1931). In my enthusiasm I looked at it and said - I can improve on a few things here. First - it needed a side stand (much easier to park). Then I felt it needed better lubrication in the transmission. So I set about updating things. Pretty soon I began to notice oil leaks and traced them to the crankcase pressure vent. So I created a pipe to take the excess oil away. Years pass. The oil still leaks, I try various things, and I get used to it. What I didn't realize was that the oh-so-convenient side stand tipped the bike to one side and caused oil to collect at a point where the oil pump couldn't get at it. This meant that once I got on the bike, and the bike was upright, all that oil went straight out of the crankcase pressure vent. In other words, if I had left everything alone and not "improved" the bike I wouldn't have had a problem. The transmission, also, only leaked because the bike was tipped to one side. This was not something I could have known, and no one was able to tell me. An improvement is not always something that looks good on paper, or that seems logical. An improvement depends upon understanding what was there before and working with it. If you doubt this, ask some of my friends from Iraq.

Hollywood and Sexism

Wonder Woman has generated considerable discussion - about sexism in Hollywood, about heroines and the lack of them, gender equality, and so on. These are necessary discussions. Good. Any movie that is likely to appeal to younger viewers is going to have an impact on how they feel the world ought to be. In the process, though, we may be missing a major point. That is that Hollywood has for decades been producing films that glorify violence and anger. From those early Cowboy films, through John Wayne to Rocky, to Band of Brothers violence and anger have been validated over and over. It's so pervasive that it feels as if it's an essential part of life and growing up in America. Are we surprised then, that anger, violence and violent disagreement are now such a large part of our landscape? Wonder Woman is really no different from any other violent superhero, with her exploits in World War One, out-fighting the ordinary mortals she is pitted against. Violence is not naturally who we are. We have to learn it - children have to learn it. Might it be possible, therefore, to learn some other way of being?

The Nature of Us

Let us be clear - evil exists in the world. It exists in many forms and it must always be opposed and healed. The question is simply - how do we do this? Evil that is opposed ineffectively becomes entrenched. But evil that is invited to change can, very often, open new possibilities. There's not a tyrant that ever existed who actually wanted to be a tyrant, hated, despised, adored only by sycophants and the deluded. They came to it because they couldn't find any other way to feel good about themselves, and having achieved some transitory power they then had to hold on to it. As we all know, there are other ways to feel good, to feel loved and accepted. Many of our politicians are no different. They want to be adored. They want to be "successful" in terms of money and power and then wonder why no one truly respects them. Trump, for example, deeply desires to be loved. Multiple wives and affairs; placing his children in positions of power so they'll be grateful to him; making his corporate buddies even wealthier.... He wants to be liked. Yet we know that such behaviors will not make him loved. He, it seems, doesn't know this. And that is how evil grows. Evil is not only the absence of love. It is also the desire to get a substitute for love by whatever means possible. Evil is like a narcotic, much sought after and then it fails to deliver the ultimate high. So it must seek another fix. We can oppose those we love. Anyone who's ever been in a family knows about that. Perhaps loving opposition is the only way.