An open letter to GW Bush

Some war president. Instead of rising to the challenge of the job, you shrunk down the definition. Don’t judge you as the steward of the national budget and economy, the carrier of our international respect, the spokesperson for our collective interests, the equalizer between all of the competing Washington interests, or as the one person we could turn to in an emergency. After you used 9/11 as a cover for an extreme domestic agenda, then to launch an unnecessary war in Iraq, all trust was lost. Took people a while to figure out who you really are—or, thank God, were, now that you’re back in Texas enjoying the perks.

Dear George,

Must be a different world for you now that you don’t rule it, back in Texas shuffling around the new digs and wondering what became of your grand ideas about yourself. I wouldn’t show your face in public for a while; I don’t think you know just how disappointed we are in your presidency and angry at the incredible mess you left, but first let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for fucking up so badly that America elected Barack Obama as your replacement.

You made it possible through incompetence and outright abuse of power. You inherited a fairly stable international order and created chaos by blithely provoking the Russians, disregarding treaties and attempting to reinvent the United Nations with a square wheel like Josh Bolton. You inherited a budget surplus, the greatest accomplishment of your predecessor, and spent us into bankruptcy—the whole world almost! Don’t play dumb; what did you expect when you removed the last regulatory restraints of your Yale buddies and created an atmosphere of anything goes if the price is right?

The destruction you’ve caused goes further into literal territory when we consider Iraq, then New Orleans, then Washington D.C., then the mess you left in Afghanistan. You know how you like to brand people with nicknames? (Brownie, for example) I call you George the Destroyer and have ever since you used 9/11 as a pretext for war in Iraq. It fits. Think about what else you destroyed in eight years:

Trust in our election system, the entire process tainted when the Supreme Court bypassed the House of Representatives and the will of the people to really know who they elected. Many of the same people who beat the drum about preferring you over Gore in a time of war wish otherwise now that you are (thankfully) departed the White House.

Trust—any shred of—you destroyed that our leaders will speak the truth to us about important matters like, oh, wars, national budgets, self-characterizations (A compassionate conservative who doesn’t think twice about executing possibly innocent people to execution?), election results, true intentions upon entering office, military service records, your family connections to the bin Ladens. Do I need to go on, or do you get the point? You lied to us, misappropriated, misinformed and misguided into a god-awful conundrum.

George, you also destroyed America’s trust that Mr. President will never morph into Mr. Hyde. Get it? I don’t mean Henry. You scared a lot of us for a while that absolutely nothing restrained your whim. I was so sure at one point that you were about to expand your terror war into Iran that I would have bet my entire savings, not that you’d be impressed by my bank statements. One more national disaster or terrorist strike on home soil and you might have instituted martial law. And you might have gotten away with it for a time, the opportunity used to institute more midnight end-runs around the Constitution.

Destroyed during your presidency was also our trust that the executive will be overseen by the Congress. Goes back to the previous point. For a while you had Tom DeLay, Denny Hastert and Bill Frist twisting their respective institutions in creative ways to ram through legislation that is proving to be exactly what your critics warned: wrong-headed and seriously harmful. You chose political expediency every time over sound judgment and wise deliberation, and look what it cost us. Yeah, you better hide your face, and if you show it again, wipe off that cocky grin. It never fit you, and now everyone sees that the flight suits belong on a real soldiers.

You ask us to respect that you made tough decisions, to wait and let history judge when the people currently writing that history are piling on the facts you conveniently ignore that add up to miserable failure. Even the one aspect of your job that you think you passed, to our eternal gratitude, as a “war president,” is less than stellar, perhaps only passing. George, you grabbed at that opportunity to define your job. Back in 2001, you got your tax cuts, but the rest of your legislative agenda was going nowhere. Once your campaign promises of 2000 had to be interpreted for the reality of implementation, collectively we started getting the first idea that you were less prepared than commonly understood for the presidency. Your proposals polled lousy and the Democrats were starting to wonder when you were going to give something back for their generous early support, something your Republican friends in the Congress did not extend to Obama. Face it George, the circumstances of your first election should have kicked off the mutual antagonism. You were never a uniter.

Instead you defined yourself as a war president. Maybe you thought the definition included permission to do whatever the hell you damn well pleased. That’s what you did. (I had never heard of a presidential signing statement until you used the excuse to circumvent Congressional law.). Students of American government from grade school on up are taught that our system of government is preserved by checks and balances. Were you asleep during those lessons, maybe working in Georgia on a senatorial campaign? We elect candidates we think we can trust to accept the incredible power that comes with the job, leaders who will act like all of the previous presidents and respect the balance of power enshrined in our founding principles and laws. You shredded centuries of tradition and legal doctrine in an underhanded expansion of executive authority during war.

Some war president. Instead of rising to the challenge of the job, you shrunk down the definition. Don’t judge you as the steward of the national budget and economy, the carrier of our international respect, the spokesperson for our collective interests, the equalizer between all of the competing Washington interests, or as the one person we could turn to in an emergency. After you used 9/11 as a cover for an extreme domestic agenda, then to launch an unnecessary war in Iraq, all trust was lost. Took people a while to figure out who you really are—or, thank God, were, now that you’re back in Texas enjoying the perks.

GW, I’m glad not only that you cleared the way for President Obama, but that you got reelected in 2004. I kid you not, told all my friends at the time that you needed four more years to lie in the bed you had made. Dropping that mess on John Kerry would be like a Democrat president fucking up as badly as you did, then passing it off on Bob Dole. Despite the flaws of those losers, a person would never wish such a thing on such decent losers. Both were a little too mild for American taste in presidents. You bamboozled us just long enough to get elected twice—elected by selling yourself as one thing to grab votes, then delivering another, George, that a few of us saw in you back when you were just a governor of Texas.

Let me correct something while we’re at it, on a question you answered during the primary campaign in 2000 about your favorite political philosopher. Jesus wasn’t a political philosopher. I don’t blame you for taking the opportunity to say what was needed to attract evangelical support, but as a political philosopher, I must remind you that Jesus expressed a few views that can be extrapolated as political philosophy. Like render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, telling people to pay their taxes. You created a tax system where Warren Buffett is taxed a lesser percentage than his secretaries, and he takes no tax write-offs, no loopholes that you know well from your experience helping billionaires avoid paying a fair share.

Jesus also said to feed and cloth the poor, and be generous, especially with the less fortunate. You inherited a tremendous opportunity in 2001 to prove yourself as a godly man and follower of Jesus by doing a little more for the po’ folks. They got little or nothing from your tax breaks. Instead your administration relentlessly slashed—or tried to slash—programs that feed hungry families, keep them warm and provide their health care. How symbolic was your first veto used to deny an expansion of children’s health care? Please, don’t cry budgetary priorities when you spent trillions in Iraq and wasted untold billions on top of the billions we already know about, more found out every day as what little record you left behind is scoured for information about what you were really doing for eight years.

So the question begs to be asked, if Jesus is your favorite political philosopher, who is your Messiah?

I don’t know about you George, but Jesus struck me as the sort of Messiah who preached against violence, if you remember that saying about turning cheek. I know that responding to the possibility of terrorist cells all over the country after 9/11 required force and speed. The public can forgive getting swept up in war fever and abusing a lot of innocent people along the way. But George, those guards in Gitmo were shoving stuff up the asses of some detainees, and other Gitmo guests are finally being set free to tell stories of horrors beyond horrors. You are ultimately responsible. People were tortured to death.

Some of the public blames Dick Cheney for the worst of the abuses authorized by your administration, but I blame you for believing Dick Cheney. You, George, who famously claimed to be able to look into someone’s eyes and get a sense of their soul, and famously failed twice that I can think of, no three: Dick, Putin and Brownie, though you might have never really looked in Brownie’s eyes. You also failed to seriously consider that Saddam might be bluffing about WMD in an attempt—like he had done so many other times in so many ways—to look more dangerous, both inside of his country and in the region. You didn’t look in his eyes and see a tired and desperate despot? Iraq could have been overthrown in 2003 by an army of grandmothers with knitting needles?

George, you also destroyed all respect for the President Medal of Freedom. After you used it to payoff your war buddies, no other president will feel comfortable awarding it again. Might as well call it the Thanks Anyway Medal of Presidents on Nitrous Oxide, or TAMPON for short.

And finally, between you and me George, thanks a lot for destroying your party. You left us with Rush to lead the Republicans further into obsolescence. You were the last Republican to exploit the Southern Strategy for winning the presidency. If you do show your face in public anytime soon, I recommend black face.

'The Great Disruption' – That's What Marx said

Marx predicted that capitalism would exist as a world system of economics until every salable commodity had been sucked dry. Friedman quotes Paul Gilding to describe the moment when “Mother Nature and Father Greed have hit the wall at once — The Great Disruption.” Disrupted is the entire American and Western way of life based on rapacious consumption. Read Friedman’s article for the particulars and statistics, but basically, 2008 was the end of a way of life.

Op-Ed Columnist – The Inflection Is Near? – NYTimes.com
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/opinion/08friedman.html?_r=1&em

Reading this column from Tom Friedman, I am reminded of something Karl Marx said. Forgive me if I don’t run to bookshelf and pull Das Kapital for a quote, you’ll just have to trust me and my former college philosophy professor, Dr. Jost at UCincy.

Marx predicted that capitalism would exist as a world system of economics until every salable commodity had been sucked dry. Friedman quotes Paul Gilding to describe the moment when “Mother Nature and Father Greed have hit the wall at once — The Great Disruption.” Disrupted is the entire American and Western way of life based on rapacious consumption. Read Friedman’s article for the particulars and statistics, but basically, 2008 was the end of a way of life. Markets are falling faster than trees in a rain forest. The end is near and it’s about time.

Marx made that prediction around 150 years ago in his theory of Historical Materialism. HM not only correctly modeled societal organization in terms of economic systems, the theory can be used as a tool to critique capitalism and see where it is headed. This is one of the those moments when I wish I had Marx’s work handy, to let his words affect you like they did me, because I remember being both shocked that the system I’d been taught to believe in was both short-sighted and inheritantly greedy, and also doomed to extinction. The planet has a limit to what it will provide ecologically, and that limit is now reached. Marx said when that happened, world societies would shift to socialism.

I have blogged previously about the different between economic socialism and political communism, which is like comparing the hen that laid the egg with the omelette that the egg is made into–socialism was meant to be a transition from capitalism to communism. America started down that path in the 1930s with the enshrinement of unions, formation of the social welfare state and expansion of worker rights and protections. As Friedman notes, the consumer economy was created in response to the last time we found ourselves with a dead market system, resuscitated by fusing markets with social protections. The problem was mitigated but not solved, and the great purveyors of Lockian economic philosophy, the laissez-faire purists who demand no government interference with their money making, gritted their teeth and chopped away for 50 years. Then they got a champion in Ronald Reagan to begin completely undoing any hint of socialism, almost finished with Bush II. Why do you think they are crying so loudly now about it? They know what’s coming.

We can preserve a modern way of life and also stop buying so much junk if we consider the next step of our evolution to value the very value we create over growth for its own sake. There’s no place left to grow. The push of the 90s for open international markets opened the last refuges of ecological value to plundering. Every last bit was withdrawn and transferred to a Manhattan bank account as we maxed out our credit cards, and now our treasury. Value is our new saving creed, the new paradigm for societal organization.

The growth we’ve enjoyed in the West over the few decades created a lot less than value than it appeared, especially the trillions of dollars of junk paper (as in financial derivatives) that has collapsed our system. We have to figure out a way of putting back in as much as we take out to sustain our lives, then we can figure out how to start paying off the bills of the past. Just do me a favor and the next time some talking news head tells you what to think by how Wall St. reacts to this or that, throw your shoe at the television. Or better yet, turn it off.

Creating a New Economy – Value over Growth

America is a victim of its own system, chained to a monster of its own making. We have allowed our highest value to become consuming, and our highest ideal to be the bottom-line. We are beholden to making a buck anyway we can because that’s what is demanded. So while we bemoan the decline of family values and small-town life, we condone the economic necessity of two-income households and Exurbia. We lament the loss of our undeveloped land and the trashing of our environment but write it off as a business by-product. Responsibility for consequences is passed to a mythical Capitalism, which demands unrelenting sacrifice in return for opportunity and prosperity.

Now is the time to reorient the American economy from emphasis on consumer growth to generating value in what is produced and in the lives of producers—us.

We were promised that the value would come later, retired with fat 401-K and IRA accounts coupled with social security and high home values. For previous generations of workers the payoff was the American dream. Defer long vacations and truly fulfilling occupations for 2,000 hour work years and pension funds. This is the Protestant ethic. But for this generation we are seeing the unraveling of the entire enterprise. Americana is bankrupt as a treasury and as a working concept; we adapt or be driven aside in a new global economic order decentralized of American influence. Not only will our retirement accounts be worthless but our currency and national reputation too. Fortunately, we have a way and example.

Discussion in economic circles like Tom Davenport’s blog The Next Big Thing at Harvard Business Review center around transforming the American economy to producer-driven, on the right track but the wrong train. What America will export is its value, and quality, of life. America is unique in its adaptability as a young country. We don’t want to follow anyone; we strive to lead, so copying the European model is out of the question. If we’re emerge on top of the next global financial order, we have to have something everyone else wants, like last century. Transformation is within our capability, more than the renovation Davenport argues for–the next evolution of economic order.

We have nothing to lose. Our future is wiped clean of expectation, and our near-future is going to wipe away the last notions that our current system is the best we can do, or even worth continuing to support. Americans by-and-large sacrifice the pleasures of daily life for a dream we’ve woken from and found wanting. Why wait? Like the famous hedge fund manager who retired just before the crash with his millions, with the farewell, “So long suckers!” His retirement before age 40 will be comfortable no matter what happens to the rest of us in the coming months and years. We were all suckered into supporting a pyramid scheme that is still collapsing (Next up: mass layoffs, budget crises, followed by Social Security and Medicare insolvency.). We either screw the world by leveraging our currency for a few more years of dominance followed by complete collapse–years? maybe months for Bush to leave office–or embark on a new, New Deal program to transform into a stronger and enviable America.

A value-driven economy recognizes first the many benefits of a happy workforce. Medical studies in England and elsewhere have found a direct correlation between missed time, bad health and stressful work environments. The Brits have national health care, remember, and the health of its citizenry in a notoriously harsh environment is tantamount to good government. Better work environments with more individual input and stake in the outcome are the ultimate cure for blue flue. Some if not many American businesses apply this wisdom, but in an economy driven by profit and productivity, even the most enlightened work environments still include unhealthily long hours, which wouldn’t be necessary in a value-driven economy.

America is a victim of its own system, chained to a monster of its own making. We have allowed our highest value to become consuming, and our highest ideal to be the bottom-line. We are beholden to making a buck anyway we can because that’s what is demanded. So while we bemoan the decline of family values and small-town life, we condone the economic necessity of two-income households and Exurbia. We lament the loss of our undeveloped land and the trashing of our environment but write it off as a business by-product. Responsibility for consequences is passed to a mythical Capitalism, which demands unrelenting sacrifice in return for opportunity and prosperity.

It is time to recognize the fallacy of infallibility as a creation of our work masters, who shape our perceptions, control our access to information, and unduly influence our law-making with Big Money. Who is ultimately responsible if no one is? A perfect cover for shadow to work; a perfect disguise to raid our treasury and infiltrate our government at all levels. And ultimately to gain our wholehearted belief in its efficacy, its unchallengeable position. Put lipstick on that pig, the drive for profit above all else will soon smear it, dilute it, and eventually wipe it away.

At the end of the last Gilded Age before the Depression, Capitalism had created a similarly unfettered environment as it has now, with similar consequences for similar reasons. Americans worked harder with less tangible benefit than anyone else, but a few people got extravagantly rich and enjoyed the high life. Until the Depression it was the best game around. Opportunities were class-driven in most other economies. Heavy pressure was exerted for Capitalism to achieve its inherent ideal: equal opportunity, not as understood today–Socialism.

Socialism, if we all remember our Marxist theory, is not the competitor to Capitalism, it is Capitalism’s next evolution, and we saw a hybrid of it in the New Deal. Free-market idealists have raged for decades about institutionalizing Socialism in the form of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, unemployment benefits and payroll taxes for social programs, unions, and on and on. Anything that stinks of a social safety net violates the tenets of Capitalism, but the country had no other choice in the early 1930s. It was adapt–instead of evolve–or face revolution at the hands of foreign prognosticators. Communism was more a political ideology than an economic system, falling far short of what Marx envisioned.

“From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs,” sayeth Marx. This whole notion scares Capitalism to its core. The motive for work life is no longer profit in a Socialist system, it is value. The high-achiever still has special statue and everything needed to succeed, but the collective need for a stable and just society comes first before individual opportunity for generating excessive wealth. We all share in the reward, and we all have a greater stake in the outcome. Owners of production are rewarded with the opportunity to create enterprises and build stability around them; they even have more access to material resources and flexibility to abandon outdated methods, but they sacrifice a golden parachute for another kind of safety net: the wholehearted devotion of their employees and contribution to collective value.

We’ll always need innovators and entrepreneurs, managers and analysts, but in a value-driven economy we never pass the buck of responsibility for the results of our labor, but no boss is worth ten thousand employees in pay, which is passing responsibility for the common good by allowing the hoarding of resources. Money is supposed to be a unit representing value. When people at the bottom struggle to get by, ground down by stress and cruelly teased by opportunities dangled before their eyes but denied in their lives, we sacrifice human dignity. We all lose, even if we appear to be the winner because we live in a mansion. And yet once again we’ve been fooled into believing in the inevitable consequence of generating wealth: Some people are going to lose out, and that’s just too bad.

We know better. We know that we can take children out of the ghetto to the suburbs in good schools and caring environments, and by the time they graduate high school, they’re caught up. Their potential is unleashed. They go to college. They generate value. As dependents living in a ghetto they’re dead weight, a burden, on unsightly consequence for the have-nots. Thus we justify a country being both the richest and having the greatest disparity between rich and poor. The poor souls left out were just unlucky to born ethnic or stupid or redneck or across the tracks. We don’t recognize the value of each individual life, so using collective resources to promote that value is secondary to promoting an unfettered Capitalist environment. We know better, but as Marx predicted, the system would have to be driven to its most extreme before the workers revolted.

The only reason why America isn’t Socialist or even Communist now is because the New Deal copped popular socialist ideas and created a hybrid of socio-capitalism. The conservative movement in America, beginning with Ronald Reagan, used national debt as a way of eroding the socio in their capitalism, and over time the strongest safety net in the world has been shredded as interest payments have consumed twenty percent or more of the national budget. The neo-cons are taking it a step further, attempting to bankrupt the national treasury so it’ll shed all of its social obligations and focus solely on protecting accumulated wealth. They realize the social unrest that’ll be created when people are starving, and that’s what prisons are for, and martial law, and massive domestic spying operations, and draconian terrorism laws that criminalize economic disruption and political protest.

Socialism might not be Capitalism’s destiny, as predicted by Marx and asserted by his remarkably prescient theory of Historical Materialism, but a consumer-driven economy of unregulated drive for profit at any cost is a thing of the past. As we consider what direction to go in, value is our best choice. All of the benefits of switching to a producer-driven economy will be realized, along with the achievement of a new ideal in interrelation that’ll be the envy of the world. A few brave thinkers are already headed in this direction, realizing time is ripe for radical change. Or not so radical but evolutionary, like Tom Friedman’s proposal that America can lead a worldwide transition to clean energy and sustainability. Value over growth. This is our new mantra, and people are the true value any country possesses.

Next to see it on our currency.

Epilogue: A month after Jason found his groove.

Click here to read the original post about defeating generational evil.. This post picks up a few days later.

…Time to get on with the life I left behind at nine years old. Part of the revelation from Steve is a part of me died inside at age four when I deliberately rammed a knife into a power outlet. My shaman read the electrical chaos in my energy field. No wonder I don’t support the death penalty! I died again to myself at the time at 15 when I swallowed handfuls of aspirin and ended up in the hospital, where I met an adult lover who changed my life. A dream symbolized the part of me that had to pass as a young indian warrior lifeless in a canoe. Steve read it from my dream and called upon the image to help me finish grieving the life (opportunities) I lost. The golden boy, nature’s prodigy, had to pass. Generations stood by as we set the boat on fire and gave him an honorable departing.

Life is full of little deaths. If we cling to what we were, we lose who we are. We lose the ever-unfolding moment and hide in the past or the future.

I still have a lot of work to do to deal with my personal shadow. My ego is one tough customer after enduring layers of wounding. Had to be strong, or else I would’ve never survived. Steve saw the secret shame in my energy field, mine and others, and helped me let go – and through me we reached everyone in my direct family touched by the curse. He also saw a baby girl in my mother’s belly who, coming before me, chose to abort rather than face life without the tools to cope. The curse went down the maternal line. A male body was needed for this battle. Steve said that my mother probably wasn’t aware of the miscarriage, perhaps confusing it for menstrual bleeding. But my soul knew better than take that particular opportunity on the wheel of life. Not to worry; my teenage mother soon conceived again and produced a flawed prodigy with a unique combination of intelligence suited for the road ahead.

Trust me, I’m pretty dumb in other ways. My life of love, for instance, is an unending story of forever seeking. I’m too intense for most women (but I’m getting better!). I’m also a headstrong buck with my own ideas about everything, who sometimes has to be shocked back into remembering what’s most important in life: love. Only love is real. Thank you Brian Weiss for that insight. C.S. Lewis said he continually surprised himself by how the daily grind closed his eyes to the world around him, and it took tragedy to shake his complacency, not wake him up. Life is a stage and we are merely players. The stage, however, is the place where we work out our issues. Don’t wait because the afterlife offers far fewer opportunities for passion, growth, and karmic balancing. Face your demons or they’ll be waiting for you the next time you return to this beautifully poignant training ground, Earth.

…..

I spoke about nuggets of insight left by my soul for me to find along the way in my quest to understand my plight. One of the most important was a trilogy of books called The Covenant Saga, by Stephen R. Donaldson. A tormented man is pulled from our world into a fantastical, mirror realm under attack by Lord Foul the Despiser, a character that is perhaps the best literary example of personified hate. Twice Thomas Covenant has a final showdown with Lord Foul. First time, Covenant laughs the evil into a ball of shame to retreat hiding. He realizes that the evil fed off his fears and his fears gave it life. Therefore it was only as strong as his fear. Second time is a tough-love scenario of being so fed up (I imagine Mr. Donaldson was after writing close to 3,000 hardback pages) that Covenant says go ahead, I give in. Lord Foul gets his fondest wish. But the scenario reversed. The more he summons power, the stronger becomes Covenant, now the gate on the cage preventing Lord Foul from leaving his material prison to enslave the cosmos.

Little did I know during junior high how those stories would assist my own confrontation with evil. It only has the power to destroy itself. Destruction is its essential nature. I haven’t seen it offer anything except deceit, envy and malice — warped images of purity. Perhaps evil has to exist to balance truth, generosity and love. That is the most likely reason by my experience. The true God, good, exists above it all. We can’t rely on this experience to answer questions about God. Otherwise, I can only explain evil as something that so many people have believed for so long, it comes true. We make it real by serving a system of institutionalized indifference. Seen that way, it is we collectively who manifest evil by allowing conditions to exist where it finds life – from elite suburbs like Littleton to crack houses to White Houses. And the ultimate reason why it finds life is because some people have twisted the world to get obscenely rich at the expense of the rest of us. Free market capitalism laissez-faire style is essentially institutionalized indifference.

Institutionalized indifference works the same for everyone except for those who can afford to live high above it. It cares not that to get ahead, parents have to trust their children alone to take on a complex world with limited help from home. The Littleton shooters talked about latch-key existence and the sort of cruel detachment it breeds among the materially fortunate. Klebold and Harris would rather go out enacting a dark fantasy than become part of what they despised for its hypocrisy, and failed to see for its beauty. They might have directed their passionate energy into changing the system one person at a time, heeding the call of compassion.

ii – institutionalized indifference – accepts ghettos as the home to the least fortunate, a permanent underclass largely doomed to an existence surrounded by drugs and violence. Equal opportunity doesn’t exist in capitalism’s world of winners and losers. Supplying the guns that multiplies the violence and the drugs that feed addictions: that’s ii.

Going back to the original point about good and evil, ii is the opposite of love, institutionalized. Indifference is the true opposite of love, the greatest crime against humanity. What kind of world would we choose to be born into – this one, or a world where quality of life is shared equally, while people are rewarded for effort through higher opportunity? In an ideal world we all rise and fall together, equal in the quality of our surroundings. An aspiring surgeon doesn’t look ahead at the long, daunting task of learning the job and ask, what’s my motivation, when the job itself is so cool. You get to rush to people’s rescue and sometimes play with really cool machines. You get educated freely in advanced medical sciences. You get to work with other really smart and motivated people doing something you love. Without HMOs, lawyers and insurance companies crawling up your ass, or the requirement of insanely long hours, surgeon would look like a damn fulfilling career worth the aspiration, but in a completely different way than it is sold now to smart, driven people. Privilege comes with the environment worked in. Being a hotel maid is still cleaning up mess so many hours a day, but all sorts of people contribute to creating a world where where some of us can rush off and save lives or make movies or build spaceships. As a society we would define and attach value based upon how something benefits all of us, not just the fortunate few who control most of the wealth and product of all of our labor.

Since publishing the original piece, I’ve been asked if it’s true, and my answer is yes, best to my knowledge. I’m tempted to think that I found meaning in a series of powerful but coincidental events. I’m an author and by nature a journalist; I have a vivid imagination. Also, trance is an inexact science, more an art, and Steve had an outline of my life to go by. But again and again he called forth images from my mind and explained events from various time periods of my life. He validated everything. The shades of ignorance remain open despite hands pulling at the string to convince me that my mind is my enemy. Ha! Tell that to my spirit guides, who are enjoying the new access to my life and leading me every day to further insight, and more….

Another validation arrived when my spiritual counselor recently began work with a client who is dealing with generational tragedy. Ten years of our work together gave him another healing tool. Plus I shared the story with a coffee shop companion and conventional therapist who was also aided in her practice. People are reading about my experience and hopefully learning about their own. I know they are, I see the search engine hits. Bottom line: The greater the sins of the father (and mother), the more imbalanced life gets for future generations. Bad energy accumulates. Patterns are reinforced. Lives are tragically ruined. But by no means is that the rule. Help is out there for anyone else struggling with the same issues. If my story is familiar, you can start by telling me yours. Send it to gmail.com care of groovywriter.

There Will Be Blood: why good Christians scare me

I know Jesus in a savior way but choose “other” as my religion rather than be associated with the fundamentalists who have hijacked the message of Christianity.

My despising of George Bush excludes me from many mainstream Christian churches. He’s my Antichrist. Jesus said feed the poor, pity the rich, live at peace, tell the truth. George says screw the poor, serve the rich, launch wars and tell any damn lie I please. For those of you who disagree, wake up. Jesus burns the chafe.

I know for a fact that Jesus doesn’t pick sides and won’t be at the pearly gates weighing souls against their adherence to his religion 2,000 years after he died. I was there. The original version looks nothing like what we see on television and in churches today.

My soul has lived many human lives and will return until this world no longer needs me. I have an EZ Pass through all spiritual toll booths. I wave to Jesus going by the gates and we share a chuckle about the line of souls waiting with fear and trembling for him to dispense exactly what they’ve been expecting.

The road to spiritual maturity requires many lives. Inevitably, one of those lives stinks. But it is never unworthy. Never.

My differences with common Christian doctrine extend back to the beginning. There was a Garden we can call Eden. There is a Garden right here all around us where our creator wants us to play like Adam and Eve. Or Adam and Steve for all the universe cares as long as union is entered into consciously and lovingly. Our creator is a clever teacher to entice souls into experiencing lives often including suffering and injustice. The pleasures are here for a reason.

And it all began with a Big Bang billions of years ago.

Evolution is a theory and should be taught in the scientific tradition. Darwin never claimed that humans evolved from apes. Nothing disproves that the human life form didn’t develop from simple organisms in the seas, then God breathed special life – souls – into two bodies. Those two, so enthralled at experiencing each other separately in incredibly sensitive flesh, copulated like crazy producing offspring to spread into the world and mate with the natives.

A lot of public copulating went in the early days before we knew shame, I imagine. For many of us today that is a damn good reason to be. I think therefore I am? Nah, I can think of a much better reason to be alive. The monks have it wrong: ‘ohm’ isn’t the sound of creation, it’s ‘ahhh’… baby that was fabulous. ;-)~ Let’s do it again!

The creator inserted a few strands of DNA and off we go, fusing matter with spirit. Could have happened same as evolution or intelligent design. So-called Christian leaders habitually distract their flocks with small issues to indoctrinate otherwise capable minds. It’s an age-old technique of manipulation. Some people have to live that way, God bless them. Just don’t infiltrate my school board with your simple-mindedness because scientifically, you are clueless, and I’m a scientist – old school. I’ve seen way more than enough proof that life and the cosmos cannot be explained by any theory, but we can sure try. And that explanation makes a lot more sense. Otherwise, why put us in a world so obviously contrary to scripture? To test our faith.

I’m testing my fate and faith by believing my own conclusions being open to everything. Everyone’s got something good to say about God. I hold all with the same esteem.

Some Christian churches receive the wisdom of the ever-unfolding moment and use the Bible as a compass, not a map with clearly defined borders and destinations. Boundaries and morality create space for the soul to more fully inhabit the flesh. The morality of Bible-only churches is stifling to the soul that wants to use the body and mind for what they’re intended:

Exploration. Of ourselves, each other, our world and the universe so full of clues about its creation. Of the fifty churches I’ve attended, two or three might have understood me. The rest would embark on a quest to save my soul. Sorry but I once convinced half of a Methodist ladies’ convention to have wine with dinner. Once I enticed one, the rest cut loose with a glass or two of wine. A few even got imported beers. Don’t condemn me before seeing the tips those nice ladies poured on me for convincing them to loosen up. Hours of being preached to wears out about anyone’s patience.

I stomached five minutes of Jesus Camp until they marched out the cardboard cutout of George Bush and prayed to it. What you do unto these, you do unto me, sayeth Hayseuse. Adults can believe whatever deluded bullshit they want, but when they make children believe it, they’ve committed a crime.

These Bush-worshipers are supporting a crime against humanity. George W. refers frequently to history’s judgment, but billions of voices have already joined to condemn a preconceived war twisted to fit around a national tragedy, serving the interests of dynastic families propped upon the backs of the rich and elite. They should all be flogged and humiliated in public.

My church would never support a cabal that could be seen coming in 2000 before November. They would be ashamed now that the truth is out to have voted for the men and redirect it where it belongs. The way the Bush scion took office – took office – foretold the trouble to come. When he answered during the campaign that Jesus was his favorite political philosopher, this student of political philosophy literally cracked up laughing. People in politics who knew W.’s shuck-and-jive routine from his fraternity days (and later years as purveyor of dirty tricks and family glad-handing) found the comparison absurd. Say Jesus and His followers voted for Bush despite the glaringly obvious fact that he was not qualified. Christians should have seen the shiftiness in his eyes from the beginning.

No well-informed person could be a member a church pushing a political agenda disguised as morality. A shame because I have a ministry waiting for a community.

It’s called, Save the World. Jesus I love you but your followers scare me. When oilmen get religion, There Will Be Blood.

Boy Meets Evil Spirit

It attached to me at age nine. Entered my mind as I slept and stirred an epic nightmare. My deepest self knew the ugliness of the entity that chose my life to extend its own and continue a generational curse. It is resolved now, only the damage left to deal with in the lives of the people affected. That face of wickedness though I’ll never forget.

He came to me as a living dead man, fully animated and glowing with supernatural power. He tried to claim my life, but in the nightmare I hid behind a pinball machine, perhaps a sign of how I’d learn to deal with the deep wounding and hidden knowledge of the presence of evil in my life: distraction. Zone into a game and the mind gains rest from the imponderable. Even at age nine I knew something was very wrong. Questioning the assumptions of my family home though did not figure in the bargain we made for livable existence. We kept secrets so secret never once were they spoken – even in secret! Not your ordinary secrets like uncle Tom is buried in the wishing well, or daddy isn’t really working late at the office. More like secrets about the dominating pain surrounding us, kept at bay by willful denial of its existence.

Secrets like some people will never join us in our deal for happiness no matter how much we enable them. Some people don’t want to help themselves. Some hurts can’t be healed. Some things can’t be said or else they’ll intrude on our reality.

My secrets were attached to the deepest love and deepest wounding I’ve ever experienced: the maternal.

I gained my first clue about the dark blot attached to my energy field that became a presence in my life at age 13. By then I’d reached my apex. In my quest to become Superkid to make up for what lacked at home, I developed quickly and conquered every sort of game or contest. Superkid comes from a trophy I wond that kicked around the house for twenty years. I had uncanny luck, drawing both admiration and jealousy from my peers. Adults raved. And according to a test I took in sixth grade, I belonged in the “gifted” class.

Gift of gab is more like it, but I won’t put down my intelligence. My soul woke up early, realized its plight, and sent me everything it could to illuminate my situation. In seventh grade – age 13 – the message came in the form of a dream therapist who visited the gifted class and took me under into a haunting dream – the aforementioned epic nightmare. By then I’d dabbled with drugs and dark magic, and my teacher Mr. Whitmore, a deeply sensitive and spiritual man, knew I was about to uncork. I couldn’t contain the pressure anymore. I had no idea the forces compelling me to overachieve, quickly morphing at that age into overachieving at acting out. Reality came crashing down in the form of my parents’ separation. I still had a chance to keep the energy blot from spreading into my nervous system and infiltrating my thoughts by answering a question posed by the dream therapist.

My classmates gathered around with a hand on my body as I lay down and followed instructions to trace the nightmare to its roots. After some balking from my rational mind, I allowed my intuition to tell a story about a family in the midst of a terrible feud. Blood had spilled for generations. Betrayals ran so deep to be incomprehensible to my young mind. I had no idea people could be so cruel to each other. The dream therapist asked me to resolve the conflict by standing between the families and telling them why they should drop their feud. After thinking about it best I could, I told them to stop ’cause fighting is pointless. It’s not nice.

The feud went on.

And a doorway opened for evil to directly enter my life. No wonder by age 16 I’d sought out the church and given my soul to Jesus. Came in handy in later years when I “backslid” seeking solace, comfort or just numbing. I tried also to live up to the early image of myself as The Natural. The tremendous split down the middle of me and the entity attached to my back like a knife between the shoulder blades created living hell at times. Life became exhaustingly complicated. How many times I wanted to end it, even when sober as a stone and otherwise successful, let alone the darkest days driven desperation. Once again my soul attracted people with answers, even while the thing over my heart called forth every distraction and deception. And minions; he has many servants in the world. He knew my every weakness and ruthlessly exploited opportunities to invite chaos.

A decade ago over breakfast conversation on Christmas Day I found out about an old family feud. Eighteen years of history arced together like lightning. The roots of the nightmare at age nine and analysis at age 13 extended from a blood feud long in the past.

I researched and discovered that a side of my family had fought like the Hatfields and McCoys but on a national scale. Entire families were wiped out. The other clan lost half of their primary members in one fell night known as the Massacre of Glencoe. The bad blood lasted centuries and spanned continents.

The tragedy continued in the lives of the women of the “victors.” They devoured their men, for generations attracting the same abusive, and/or lost souls for them to justly despise. They might have joked that they were only following a family tradition, but it would be one of those jokes that hit too close to the truth. A dark magician made sure that the opportunities existed in abundance by accepting the money to cast a powerful spell to cause the women to experience the same tragedy that befell the women of the other clan. Or perhaps just one woman in particular beaten and abused so badly, but rather than leave, enacted her darkest desires. An affair that went wrong. I’m not sure of the ultimate source – who actually paid to place the curse – but the unfortunate magician spent the next centuries carrying it out, bound by his very spirit to his black magic.

It twisted him into a man neither living or dead, glowing hot with malice and in pursuit of me. When I traced him to his source in my unconscious, he lay in a coffin, his body sapped of all animation yet strangely alive. He relished the possibility of my suicide – even helped put the gun in my mouth – so that his spirit could bind to my soul and become something unspeakable. He even convinced me that I might be able to sacrifice my life by taking him with me into death, thereby preventing more damage in the lives of those I love. A freak storm and paramour’s surprise visit prevented me from enacting the ritual. Imagine my surprise to find out that my passion was no match for his skill, even if I cast my circle and summoned him for the final battle, willing to open my veins if necessary. Thank God I wasn’t so foolish, or he might have lived again by fully possessing me during a near-death experience. I depart and the doctors bring me back. Not me but a Dark Master….

I had to find a master to help. His name is Steve. Thanks bro.

First, I worked with another master, Larry, in a therapeutic environment for a decade to arm me with the skills and knowledge needed. And just to survive the turbulence in my life and the conflicts over the secrets I still carried, ashamed of myself for my weaknesses. I found help in mind-body work, discovered insights strewn along the way, and finally began to understand my family home and the deal that drove my early success. Life was still messy but the light slowly came on.

I followed the dream therapy into deep waters and found at bottom the magician with a secret name. My dreams whispered Dark Master. I rid myself of his minions, and his efforts to pry open doors into my life grew frantic. He had to give away a lot of information in order to sidetrack me and stifle my best efforts at full healing. Took another seven years of putting it all together until finding out his true nature and sending him into the great Eye.

…A man neither alive nor dead, caught in the ethereal realm, desperate to break free – and terribly afraid of the consequences he expected for the evil he’d caused….

I wanted to believe anything but the scenario that confronted me. An evil spirit, really? A generational blood feud? A curse? Crazy talk some would say. People with whom I shared my secret reacted all sorts of ways. Some doubted my mental stability. I did too sometimes; I was split in two, living duel lives. One side still tried to fulfill its ambitions, and the other demanded time at the altar of Good Times. The split opened opportunities for more darkness to attach to me.

Once confronted by the truth of evil’s existence, it is either assimilated by the conscious mind or is left free to create havoc in the unconscious. It drives people insane. I did everything in my power to help my soul brother Matthew, confronted also by dark generational forces, but he refused the lessons of calming and centering that create safe space inside to work within. He didn’t have the help I did or the unconditional love to see him through it.

The calm mind receives wisdom. The intruded mind has little chance – the soul sleeps, and the container limps or speeds to a tragic conclusion.

I am by nature a skeptic and struggled like any uninitiated person with whether I was grasping at anything in a desperate attempt to find meaning. Parts of the story I’m pretty sure have been filled in by imagination when memory fails. But the basic plot is as real as it gets. The fact was confirmed 48 hours ago when I visited a spirit worker who saw it all and freed me.

The story of how I found Steve is important to anyone reading this who is fighting for their lives or a loved one. The stakes of the fight are literally life or death. One can be dead inside and still alive. Call it quality of life, freedom to live every day to its fullest. Freedom to imagine the life we want and work toward it, enjoying the journey. Freedom from addictions, fears, anxiety and compulsions, with a positive voice in the mind leading the way. I got so sick of the darkness fouling up the most precious parts of my life that I did something about it. The student was ready and the teacher appeared.

I met Steve at his home. He’s not the sort of naturopath who advertises. A close friend who knows directly his ability to work with spirits referred me. The heaviness of his work is balanced by lightness of personality and deep grounding in humor. You’d never guess by seeing him at the grocery store that he is a shaman, initiated into the world of the spirit worker. Few could look in his eyes and see the healer, the one who takes on the wounds of others as if his own. He’s a Brooklyn boy.

Steve interviewed me to understand the basics. He then read my energy body and saw the split. Not your everyday wound, he realized, when he saw the black spot between my shoulder blades like the fragment of a Nazgul blade centimeters from my heart. He saw how the left side of my body acted independently of the right, and the split side to side and up and down. The entity over my heart absorbed the energy traveling up from my root chakra and traveling down from my crown chakra, like King David’s son Absalom intercepting petitions at the Jerusalem Gate. No matter how hard I worked, the Dark Master foiled my best intentions. Because he took my energy and added his own, embedded into my very nervous system like a parasite.

The harder I fought, the stronger he became. As long as he kept me muddling through life, he had room to work. I’m sorry to everyone subjected to his Trickster games.

Such an extreme split has spiritual roots. Steve began asking all of the right questions, delving into my insights gained from a decade of preparation. Then the light came on in his head and the work began. My personal wound had to be healed before we addressed the deeper, generational wound. We discovered that the doorway for the Dark Master to enter my life opened because of the nature of my home life – the secrets, the pain, the Oedipal bargains. Guilt and shame on the paternal side, combined with pain and tragedy on the maternal, mirrored the combination that drove some hateful bitch – excuse me, woman – to curse my family many generations ago.

Steve saw a tragic progression of mother to daughter passing on the same wounds and patterns of finding men to inflict them. They played masochist and martyr some of the time and sadist and abuser at others. I took on the martyr complex, fully lived it, to the point of over-identifying with the story of Jesus, a la The Last Temptation of Christ. I would save my father; I would save my mother; I would save the world! I saw a way. It can be done, but the martyr’s path has already been tread by Jesus. The door is closed. We’ll have to figure out another road.

To heal my personal wound I had to separate my self from my family’s pain. I had to forgive by understanding that they were overwhelmed, too. I had to say over and over, “I am enough. I have enough. I do enough. I am all the proof I need.” I can separate my pain from theirs, render it moot by forgiving everyone who failed me when the problem went far deeper than most people can handle. We’re only human, but we’re also so much more. I don’t have to save anyone but myself. Only then can I freely choose to take on that work; otherwise, I act unconsciously, setting myself up for failure. Like Icarus, I’ve crashed hard a few times. These wings made of glue were formed one lesson at a time.

Steve saw how I’d created a complicated formula for my life. Living wore me out, and for long stretches I had to be unconscious, seeking the next high, the next pleasure. I sought the spirit in the bottom of the bottle. I drank enough to learn that all that waits at the bottom is darkness, confusion and shame. Whoever labeled booze the Devil’s drink knew how right they are when applied to alcoholics. Steve and I cleared my space of that mess to move on to the deeper wound that blocked my ultimate healing. Time to get serious. Time to call upon our guides and the great Eye of the cosmos to come to our aid.

The Dark Master wasn’t giving up without a fight.

Steve spent a lot of time working my back to remove the blade. He played a tape of shamanic drumming, lit a candle, called upon his guides – and told me to shut up and let him work. I felt the ritual magic rising and encouraged him, but I was wasting my breath: he knew already. I had to feel like we were in the fight together, so I used every imaginative and breathing technique at my disposal. I was so thankful for my previous ten years of study and practice. Like I said early on, my soul marked the path to healing with a crumb trail; otherwise, I think Steve would agree, there was only so much he could do. I say that with a little bit of pride because I endured so much pain along the way and mastered arcane knowledge, but that’s neither here nor there.

Twice I almost wore out, but Steve is a strong man and sustained our space. He called up helpful images from my dreams. He also saw the drain to my stomach leading to hell, the stinky mass of rotting miasma from swallowing pain for so long. A dreamed represented the toxic dump as a black portal. Think Amityville Horror. Twelve disciples were gathered seeking the one strong enough to go down there and battle the demon – me, by default. That’s when I decided to enact a ritual to summon the Dark Master for direct confrontation. But as Larry my guide told me many times, that’s exactly what DM wants. Like the Dark Lord in Star Wars, DM wanted me to feed upon my anger and be consumed by it, putting to sleep my soul and allowing my spirit to be energized by dark intentions. I could be Anakin or I could be Luke, and the two possibilities battled incessantly.

Steve pulled the image that ultimately prevailed straight from another series of dreams during my first go-round consciously wrestling with DM: the Storm. Some dreams it was funnel clouds descending from the sky. Others it was volcanoes exploding, hurricanes pounding, earthquakes rattling. But time after time my dreaming mind chose funnel clouds to illustrate my dilemma. What I didn’t know was the funnel didn’t come for me but for my nemesis, the undead warlock whose time had come. Time for him to return to whence he came.

Steve and I were really close but the window of opportunity was closing. He told me to call upon the Eye in the funnel. That’s when twenty-eight years of struggle, pain and secrets fused together. I stood separate from my wound and beheld its ultimate source. I didn’t see him directly – he was not allowed entry to our circle – but I felt him. I also felt pity, because the forces he’d unleashed had consumed him. He chose me because I reminded him of the golden life he’d left behind in pursuit of secret powers. In the ultimate display of spite and jealousy, the Dark Master chose my life to destroy because of its potential for light. The dark hates the light. Doesn’t matter if the one possessed dies on top of a pile of gold or in a ditch, so long as the life is annihilated – the more promising the better. The Devil doesn’t care about the efficacy of his servants. DM was deceived into believing himself master of the powers he served.

He wanted me to hate him for what he’d done to us – all of us many generations, my parents, and myself in particular. To do so gave him an avenue back to life: my life. But my guide Larry prepared me well for the moment. Luke, resist your anger. Serve the light. Be love. I forgave DM for all of the damage. I can’t get back what has been lost.

Steve saw the spiritual benefits of my path. I chose this destiny. I chose to come from Heaven to right this wrong and balance karma. My soul has inhabited many lives all leading up to this one; many times it has chosen the path of pain and suffering like my brother Jesus. From the wound comes the call to initiation into deeper living. The golden child I was would’ve chosen to serve his own ends taking full advantage of the many gifts my soul arranged for the task of this life. I would’ve sought glory instead of sorrow, and someone else would’ve taken on DM at some other time. More generations lost to tragedy in the meantime.

But we sent him back by letting him know that inside of the funnel was understanding and love. Nothing is unforgivable. Steve called upon his guides to prepare the way for a tormented soul deserving of rest. The funnel descended. Light whirled around our circle building a charge of power. We were fighting for my life and the lives of the ones I love. Two hours had passed in deep concentration and the moment arrived. Above the crown of my head, the peak of an energy pyramid formed with four lines running into the floor. Think of the Death Star when the laser beams fuse into one planet-destroying death ray, but reversed. I saw it all with the mind’s eye, the physical eyes closed.

The power discharged as a beam aimed straight into the Eye. Steve clapped his hands loudly. My eyelids shot open. It was accomplished. The curse was lifted, the entity departed. I had my life back. We looked at each other like we’d just experienced the most amazing orgasm, a release like no other after literally years – centuries – of building.

That’s the story of Boy Meets Evil Spirit. Or, How Jason Got His Groove Back.

Oh brother don’t hate me: Christianity vs Islam: a family feud

Published 2001 December (After 9-11 began to digest)

Stories of twins are ancient, harking back to the Hebrew tales of Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, and the countless other myths that all cultures tell in one form or another about twins. Some tales end well, like Castor and Pollux being granted immortality together by Zeus in the night sky as the sign of Gemini. Some end badly: the murder of Abel by Cain. Following the 9-11 terrorist attacks the twins are emerging again as a theme of the age, a story that underpins events of the day and illustrates the dilemma that confronts civilization. The twins in NYC were targeted by people who oppose what they represent(ed): American and Western dominance.

Most stories of twins have faded into obscurity, leaving us collectively without the guidance of the ages, the wisdom passed down from past generations about how they dealt with similar challenges of their day. Without this valuable knowledge we are ill-equipped as East confronts West and the twins once again wrestle, this time under the specter of mutual annihilation. However, the knowledge passed down through mythological tales of twins is written deep in our minds; with Cliff’s Notes, we in this time of need and trouble will hopefully get the message.

To understand how twins stories underly history – and current events – the relationship of Christianity and Islam has to be understood as that of rival brothers taught by the same parents, who grew up with far different interpretations of what they learned. Islam and Christianity are offspring of Abraham. Said to be the father of many nations, Abraham made the first covenant with God, and is claimed by both brothers as the rightful heir. Throw in Christianity’s connection through Jesus and the result is thousands of years of conflict that will continue until one side or the other steps back, puts aside its ego and refuses to keep reenacting the same script. The three religions are so tight they share every prophet commonly except two: Jews and Muslims reject Jesus as the Son of God, Jews having disavowed him to crucifixion and Muslims claiming him as a prophet leading up to the last and highest prophet, Muhammed. “The Prophet,” as the once upright merchant of Mecca was known before being visited by an angel, is rejected by Jews and Christians for their reasons. No wonder Islam and Christianity are at odds like never before – religiously, culturally, and militarily. With the parent culture, the Jews, aligned with the Christians against Muslims, we have the making of a royal family feud. We seek the wisdom of the ancients encoded in stories in order to find a way of avoiding the final confrontation and fulfillment of the darkest possibilities.

In the story of the prodigal son, one sibling leaves home with a fat inheritance only to return penniless after many years of raucous living. The brother who stayed behind and tended the family business resented that his sibling would have the nerve to show his face again – and even worse, the last thing he expected was his wayward brother welcomed back with a feast and an equal place in the family! Is the little snot to be rewarded for being a screw-off and blowing his fortune? This attitude in turn angered the father, who tells the resentful brother that if he can’t welcome back his wayward sibling and be happy for the family, he might as well leave. These days a kid can pack bags and go crash with a friend; back then you slept with the wolves, so the threat carried with it a virtual death sentence.

Islam finds itself nowadays in the place of the brother who stayed home but isn’t getting the rewards deemed due for years of faithful service. Islam collectively gives much more importance to prayer and organized religion in daily life, yet lags far behind the West in technology and prestige. The West has grown so predominant that it threatens to engulf Islam and force it to conform to western ways, effectively taking away its identity. Add in the fact that Israel – the parent – is aligned with one sibling against the other, and you get the idea of how the Islamic world feels right now. Fear of annihilation or decent into irrelevance is common in old stories of twins; Islam stares the possibility in the face. That’s why Middle East peace negotiations continue to go nowhere. Why Osama bin Laden’s call to arms resonates throughout the Islamic world, and why the days we live in have great potential for extreme peril.

Despite the enmity, the twins can’t live each other because they provide balance. East and West are incomplete without the other. In a New York Times article published Nov. 24, 2001, a twin described the loss of his brother in the World Trade Center and how there’s no way to express what it means to lose someone he considered his other half. As much as we hear ‘down with the West’ in parts of the Mid East, they’d miss their antagonist sibling. All sides don’t have to particularly like each other or agree on a way of life, but they have to at least respect each others’ uniqueness and rightful place in the world. Otherwise, as happens in myth, they perish together. We all have a stake in how the story of this age plays out, and the more we see the mythological underpinnings, the better we see the nature of the conflict at hand. As Helen M. Luke posited in an essay titled “Jacob and Esau”:

“In Judeo-Christian tradition, the theme of the two brothers at enmity begins after the Fall with Cain and Abel, continues with Isaac and Ishmael, and culminates in the much more complicated story of Jacob and Esau the first twins. It is because of the image of twinship that their story, particularly its ending, is of such profound relevance in this our century, when the separation of twins has become the most terrible danger, threatening the survival of all life on this planet.”

Luke’s words from the Summer 1994 edition of Parabola magazine couldn’t be more relevant today. The clash of opposites between Christianity and Islam is a mythological tale that could end like a Greek tragedy, where seemingly irreconcilable differences lead both parties down a path of mutual destruction. Or the story of this age could end like Jacob and Esau, who came to terms but never truly reunited as brothers.

Jacob was the born just behind Esau but from the beginning challenging his brother’s place by grabbing hold of Esau’s heel on the way out. They were no mirror images from each other – they were twins with nothing in common. Jacob took to the indoors, a mamma’s boy with light skin and short hair, perhaps a bit of a dandy, delicate and well-spoken. Esau came out red and hairy and loved the outdoors, the favorite of his father. Christianity is like Jacob: light, clean-shaved, worldly. Islam is like Esau: hairy, fiery, closer to the earth. One of the tents and one of the fields, so the story describes them. One who boldly explores strange new worlds pushing all limits, the other who stays closer to home pumping a living from the ground.

Christianity and the West in general have to understand their role as a modern Jacob to make a solution possible. Looking back into our story, Jacob went astray when he stole Esau’s birth right as eldest son. Esau had come to Jacob’s door faint from thirst and hunger. Jacob agreed to share some food and drink if Esau would relinquish his rights as first-born son. Esau said he would die on the spot if he didn’t get some nourishment – what good would be his birth rights if he were dead? – so he gave it up, perhaps figuring that his brother wouldn’t hold him to such a dubious agreement. Then Jacob fooled his father into believing he was Esau to receive his father’s blessing as heir.

Aside from illustrating what a jerk Jacob was, this part of the story tells how Islam gave up its place as the world’s predominant religion and culture to the West. Islam had exclusive rights to the title of ‘most cultured and sophisticated’ until Christianity reemerged about 800 years ago, and held the top spot until the 20th century when the West officially passed them. Islam, after all, preserved the ancient writings and knowledge of the Greeks while Christianity went through fits of barbarism and superstition during the Middle Ages. Islam combined western ways together with the teachings of Muhammad and created one of the grandest civilizations ever. But where are they now? Bitterly divided, relegated to the “Second World,” dependent on (grandpa’s trust fund) oil for their means. Thirsty and hungry from the labor. Ready to reclaim their birth right, or at least have it out with their usurping sibling. What does the West – Jacob – do? The rumble is brewing and the younger one can either flex the big muscles and fight to the end, or adopt higher wisdom and avoid the fight altogether.

After Jacob stole Esau’s birthright, they went their separate ways. Each built families and established themselves separately as individuals and adults with many descendants, workers and flocks. Years later, Esau sent advance word to Jacob of his presence in the area with 400 men. Jacob thought his brother had finally come to avenge the treachery of stealing his birthright. Terrified, he sent gifts in hope of mollifying old grudges. The night before their meeting, Jacob went through a dark night of the soul, a serious coming-to-terms with himself and his past. He wrestled with a divine force through the night and at dawn, having gained the upper hand, asked his adversary to name itself. Bless me before I release you, demanded Jacob. A new man emerged. The next day he met lost brother Esau, prepared to pay the consequences. Instead of his head on a platter, it turned out Esau sought reconciliation. Jacob greeted his brother warmly, but afterwards went his own way, rather than reestablishing old family bonds. Perhaps as an adult he didn’t want to revisit the house of his parents and once again deal with issues of his youth.

Either way, the story of Jacob and Esau still has a relatively happy ending. They didn’t kill each other. However, Jacob’s transformation prevented fratricide, and in the story of this age, the West is still ignorant of itself. Western Christian culture needs to wrestle with its shadow like Jacob and realize where its hubris has led to nemesis – namely, in exploiting technology and resources, and pushing the rest of the world to try to keep up, playing winner-take-all in the game it knows best. Its knowledge and power has gotten ahead of its ability to wisely use it. For all its high ideals of democracy, human rights, and liberty, the West – especially the U.S. – has a vast blind spot to its own shortcomings. And its urbane, hyper-competitive culture – born of “the tents” and raised on its self-importance – tramples over everything that gets in the way.

Islam has much to teach Christianity about respect. When Islam predominated it promoted tolerance, inquiry, and prudence, virtues incomplete in western culture. Granted, these virtues are incomplete in Islamic culture, too. But seen by its brother Islam, Christianity would seem to be high on its power, too secure in its climate-controlled offices wielding power in the name of profit, not prophet. In the name of money and not mankind. In pursuit of short-term gain for the few over long-term prosperity for all. The World Trade Center symbolized this dark side. A more widespread feeling in the Islamic world – beyond Osama and the fanatics – is that someone has to oppose the western juggernaut in the name of Muhammad and Islam. The call to Jihad – defending the faith – must be heeded. Even some of the most moderate Islamic adherents see threat in the West. Without Jacob’s transformation, the story could have ended tragically, and so could this one we’re living right now.

What is to be learned from old stories of two brothers who fight for the same birthright, learn from the same parents, and grow up as opposites locked in dualistic struggle? The story of Jacob and Esau and other twins points towards a duel relationship in constant conflict but ultimately seeking harmony, it gets a little messy among family sometimes is all – a good analogy for the universe in general. This dynamic tension is always present, creating balance. Good and Evil, Light and Dark, Islam and Christianity. Twins. Siblings at odds. We can learn from their relationship the nature of the conflict the world faces today, and how to solve that conflict. Helen Luke at the end of her essay about Jacob and Esau suggests a way:

“Collectively, we have lost the wonder of stone and soil, of animals and birds, and we have lost the spontaneous voice of dreams and visions, without which the people perish. But there are individuals who recognize the natural “red one” within and without, feeling the same fire that the hubris of intellect had turned into greed for power. There is a new wish to return to the gifts of our mother the earth. We may, as C.G. Jung said, come to a global, cosmic rebirth in this darkest time, if enough people will wrestle with the unknown God and ask his name – and see in our rejected twin the face of God.”