It’s not just the guns. It is something much, much worse. There are guns everywhere in the world, but only in the U.S. has there been an average of more than one mass shooting every day this year (274 days / 294 mass shootings). The something worse is that in the U.S. various factors have combined to cause American culture to lose sight of the most fundamental moral precept known to humankind. In the words of Jesus of Nazareth, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In the words of philosopher Immanuel Kant, “You must never treat persons as things.” In the words of the Rastafarians, “I and I say I and I, instead of you and I, because the other is an I also.” And in the words of Confucius, “If you don’t want someone to do something to you then don’t do it to them,” which is of course, another way to state the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” To put this as clearly as I can: if one loves and respects others as one loves and respects oneself then one does not murder, rape, cheat, manipulate, take advantage of, or otherwise violate that other; rather, one is as concerned with the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial well-being of the Other as with one’s own.
When I left home at 19 I was emotionally stunted and pretty much devoid of social skills. Luckily I fell in with a loving and kind group of gay people who helped me grow up. They were all so quick-witted, and I wasn’t, that they called me their “straight man,” my George Burns to their Gracie Allen. I learned many important and useful things. I share them freely. Don’t carry a wallet in your back pocket because it spoils the line of your jeans. Don’t put a sweater in the dryer. Swimmers have the best bodies. You must hang Christmas tree ornaments so they dangle freely and do not get caught up on other branches; similarly, you must hang the tinsel strand by strand rather than glopping it on. Continue reading
The conversations in a pot store, or recreational cannabis dispensary, are fascinating. People in Colorado pot stores are talking about very subtle variations in their consciousness and experience, associated with different forms and strains of cannabis. They are doing very comfortably what philosophers call phenomenology, examination of the structure and nature of consciousness and experience. It’s usually a pretty hard thing to get across in class but these people are naturals. Allen Ginsberg certainly understood too. In 1966 he wrote that “the marijuana consciousness gently shifts one’s attention…to sensing phenomena.” And then his 1977 his book Mind Breaths Ginsberg explicitly associated the creation of poetry with the observation of consciousness as practiced in Buddhist meditation. Continue reading