Thursday, January 26, 2012


Growing on the previous post, a poem written by Daniel Berrigan from his book, Prayer for the Morning Headlines: On the Sanctity of Life and Death


draw the mind free of habitual

animal ease. Sough of tides in the heart,

massive and moony, is not our sound.

But hope and despair together

bring tears to face, and a human ground,

death mask and comic, such speech

as hero and commoner devise, make sense

contrive our face. To expunge

either, is to cast snares for the

ghost a glancing heart makes

along a ground, and airy goes its way.

And Yeats, "Sailing to Byzantine,"

Consume my heart, sick with desire

And fastened to a dying animal

It knows not what is . . .

Friday, January 13, 2012

Viral Images: Cruelity and the Fact of Evil

The recent video of Marines desecrating the corpses of Taliban fighters killed in Afghanistan demonstrates a reality of what war creates, a culture of evil that disseminates into our everyday cultural script. This grotesque episode reveals what kind of people we are (plural) if we don’t know the kind of person (individual, group) you are, a pattern that others made that prevails in the world (in the words of William Stafford, “A Ritual to Read to Each Other”)

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,

But if one wanders the circus wont’ find the park,

I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty

To know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

The “fact” is well described by Chris Hedges who serviced many years as a war correspondent (in War is a Force that gives us Meaning).

“The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. It is peddled by myth makers—historians, war correspondents, film makers, novelists, and the state—all of whom endow it with qualities it often does possess: excitement, exoticism, power, chances to rise above our small stations in life and a bizarre and fantastic universe that has a grotesque and dark beauty. It dominates culture, distorts memory, corrupts language, and infects everything around it, even humor, which becomes preoccupied with the grim perversities of smut and death. Fundamental questions about the meaning, or meaninglessness, of our place on the planet are laid bare when we watch those around us sink to the lowest depths. War exposes the capacity for evil that lurks not far below the surface within all of us. And this is why for many, war is so hard to discuss once it is over.”

The reason why people are so surprised by this and other recent news of deplorable conduct by military personnel is partly because it is below the surface in the dominant societal script, a pervasive script that nurtures us all. The dominate script is “technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism” socializing us all, liberal and conservative; unless we are awake to this fact, disengage and overcome it via an alternative meta narrative that breeds holistic life.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,

a remote important region in all who talk:

though we could fool each other, we should consider--

lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,

or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;

the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—

should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

Photograph: William Stafford

Monday, January 2, 2012

C-Span In Depth with Author and Journalist Chris Hedges

A must see three-hour interview, probing Chris Hedge's entire body of work. It is a comprehensive and power discussion with one of the most important reporters on what he characterizes as our collapsing corporate empire. Follow this link to watch the video.

Chris Hedges is a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City. A former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, he was part of the team that won a 2002 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of global terrorism. He also received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. Mr. Hedges is author of "Losing Moses on the Freeway" and "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," the latter of which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School.

Chris Hedges is the author of nine books:

War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning (2002); What Every Person Should Know About War (2003); Losing Moses on the Freeway: The Ten Commandments in America (2005); American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (2007); I Don't Believe in Atheists (2008): Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians (2008); Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009); The Death of the Liberal Class (2010); The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress (2011).

Chris Hedges is in my estimation a modern day prophet, who is also a true and faithful journalist willing to take the risk of exposing the whole truth and context of the stories he covers. Chris Hedges' voice nurtures, nourishes and evokes a conscientiousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominate culture around us, which is held captive pervasively by the corporate empire, an "empire of illusion" that is underwritten by our political system. Chris Hedges possesses a deep capacity to penetrate the illusions of our society and is today a significant advocate, activist, and speaker with the Occupy movement across the nation. He writes a weekly column for Truthdig.