Artie and Atman

31/10/2014

Three years ago  I wrote a  little story  about an old man and his dog. It is, of course, based on a famous philosopher. Going through some older blogs I thought not many people have read the story. So, here it is again : “Artie and Atman”.

When I go on my early morning walks, along beautiful Lake Illawarra, I often see “Old Artie”. He walks at a slow pace, stops and waits for his black poodle Atman. His white hair acts like a beacon and every one knows Artie and his dog. They have been doing those walks for as long as any one can remember. Everyone’s dog got old and died; apparently not Artie’s poodle. Atman seems to have eternal life. No one ever asked him how old his poodle really was. Until a woman, who only recently had joined our unofficial walkers club, asked Artie,

“How old is Oldman?”

“Atman,” Artie corrected her, annoyed by the nosey woman.

“Sorry, Atman.”

“ ‘Atman’ is not my name. My friends call me Artie,“ he said in a brash voice, annoyed that the woman interrupted his meditations. “ ‘Atman’ is the poodle’s name. It stands for the eternal soul of all living beings.” The woman wondered whether Artie would have any friends.

“So your dog lives for ever?” the woman asked mystified.

“Not this dog, no. What you see here is only a phenomena and when that particular one changes back into what it was before, I get another poodle, similar to it.”

“That sounds all very philosophical,” the woman said wondering what the dog could have been before.

“Is this why you have difficulties understanding the concept of Atman?”

Now it was the woman who was annoyed and she asked, “Do I understand right, your dog is just a concept to you?”

“It is! Like you and me and all the other people, we are the present state of the ‘Will’. Atman is what we call a dog, it is loyal and happy and is always able to accept life as it is; as all dogs do. We delight in our pets because of the naivety of all their actions. They are not as complex as we are. What I like most, it has never asked me silly questions. It doesn’t need to. It is happy with life as it presents itself.” He turned around, walked away and left the woman standing. The dog who has just gone into the bushes to follow nature’s call ran up to him and waged its tail.

When we came up to her she said,

“What a rude old man. He should not be allowed to own a dog.” She then told us the whole conversation she had with him. I had to smile as we all had similar encounters with Artie and knew that he could not stand people, because he thought we all think too much without really knowing anything.

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The drawing is by Wilhelm Busch of Arthur Schopenhauer and his poodle. 

Email Conversation

23/10/2014

Betty and Jack are in different rooms of their home. They sit at their respective computers and communicate with the outside world and occasionally with each other.

Jack  (shouts to the the other room)    Betty are you there?

Betty  (shouts back)            Of course I am. Were else should I be? I’m busy writing. What do you want?

Jack  (shouts back again)            I’ll write you an email.

Betty  (shouts back)              I’m not sure I’ll answer back. Could you be quiet. I have to concentrate.

Jack  (starts writing)            I’m lonely. I have not talked to you for hours. I just read an  article that says, loneliness is killing us.

Betty (writes back)               You are so silly Jack. You are just like a baby. If someone  is not holding your paw you feel abandoned.

Jack  (writing)           Abandoned? I’m sitting here, whiling away my time , playing “Free Cell”  and waiting for you to come out of your den.

Betty  (writes back)               You don’t need to play “Free Cell”. Have a look in the  back yard – a lot of bushes need trimming.

Jack   ( writing)          They say, loneliness kills twice as many people as  obesity. You might find a skeleton by the time you come away from that PC of yours.

Betty    (writes back)             Aren’t I unlucky? If you would be obese you could be dead   already.

Jack   (writing)      You used to cook beautiful meals before I bought the PC  for you. What a mistake that was.

Betty (writes back)             They also say, women kill their husbands with food. I  don’t want to do that.

Jack   (writing)      No – you kill with loneliness.

Betty (writes back)             Kindness wouldn’t do the trick.  You are a cry baby now, Jack. I’m sick  of you winging and moaning. I have to write another sentence and then  we can have a cup of tea. In the meantime, put the kettle on !

Jack   (writing)         Is that the sentence you wrote already last night? People feel better in a community; in a village type of society. We shouldn’t be on our own.

Betty (writes back)                  Stop that, Jack. You are not on your own. I’m here and think of you all the time. I can’t avoid you. You are sending me emails –  constantly :-(

Jack   (writing)         You are there and I’m here hammering on this keyboard.

Betty (writes back)              Why don’t you write to your sister or a new blog? You have friends all over the world. Communicate with them and let me communicate with my friends.

Jack   (writing)      The capitalists have succeeded in separating us by providing  each of us with a computer.  We lost eye contact. Words lose a lot of meaning without eye contact.

Betty (writes back)             I hear the kettle boiling. Make the tea and I’ll be out there in a flash. Do you understand this without eye contact?

Jack   (writing)       I can’t hear a thing, but will check it out.

Jack gets up and walks to the kitchen to prepares the tea. When he comes back he writes again.

Jack   (writing)          You were right the water was boiling.

Betty (writes back)             I told you so. No good talking to you as you can’t hear anyway.

Jack   (writing)        The tea is ready.

Betty (writes back)              Take it out to the front porch and we have our tea there. We talk about your plans for Saturday.

Jack goes back to the kitchen and prepares a tray to take to the front porch. He takes some biscuits and a banana for a snack. He carries the tray out and Betty joins him there.

Betty                                   That looks good. Lets enjoy our tea.

Jack                                    I enjoy these rare moments with you and watch the birds at the same time.

Betty                                   What will we do on Saturday? Surprise me!

Jack                                   We’ll go to the theatre and see Maxim Gorky’s “Children of the Sun”.      

Betty                                 That’ll be nice. Gorky foresaw the revolution and understood that the middle class was disconnected from the working class.

Jack                                    I feel sometimes that I’m disconnected from you.

Betty (writes back)           Don’t start this again. We are together now and are enjoying our tea.

Jack                                      Yeah, yeah. I’m looking forward to the theatre too. At least you have to sit for a couple of hours  beside me.

Betty                                   It is breathtaking how you like us to stick  together like glue.

Jack                                       I thought that is the idea of marriage you know – “for better or worse”.   

Betty     (emptying her cup and putting it down)    You can   clean up here, while I’ll finish  my comment. Then we spend time together. Is this a deal?                             

Jack                          I’ll do that and wait out here for you.

Betty walks inside and when she comes back out again she finds Jack fast asleep in a chair.

She turns and goes back inside  to her computer.

Is God Purpose or is Purpose God ?

17/10/2014

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I lived now for nearly eighty years, seemingly without purpose.

There must be a purpose in that !

There is still hope that I discover this purpose, because in the end, when the balance sheet of my life is ruled off, there should be a balance – or not?

Some people think,  “God is Love”. I don’t believe this. Love is only the grease that makes life bearable. The more love there is in our lives the less we squeal.

When we are born we scream like mad because of the rude awakening. That moment is our own expulsion from paradise.  We realise at that point, a priori, that we have been released into the world to find, not our purpose, but THE PURPOSE !

New Arrivals Down Under

14/10/2014

Everything comes to an end one day. But, at the same time, it is  the beginning of something new.

Paul and Ursula were standing at the railing of the ship that had been their home for five glorious weeks. They felt they were treated like royalty. It was a journey of a lifetime that transported them from the cold war  Europe of the fifties to a new life on an ancient  continent.

They had their girls on their arms and observed the activities on shore. Men in blue singlets were hoisting the gangway into place so a new wave of migrants could get on land.

Only in the morning had a doctor decided that they could disembark because Ursula suffered  a large abscess on her knee which made walking near impossible only the day before. This would have meant they would have continued their  cruise to Sydney. But over night the knee became better.

A cold wind blew from the South and they had to prepare to disembark. For the last time they went to their cabin and collected their hand luggage and the pram for the girls. Nothing was easy but they looked forward meeting and experiencing their new homeland. The future lay right in front of them. “Just walk the plank,” Paul said with a smile to Ursula as she pushed the pram, containing both girls, carefully towards solid ground.

There were people everywhere showing them the way into a large hall for the custom check.  Busy hands were frisking the  luggage of the new arrivals.

“What are they looking for,” someone asked in German.

“Knifes and dirty pictures,” someone answered back in German.

Slowly they moved towards  a table with a stern looking customs officer. Paul had to lift their suit cases on the table and open them for inspection.  He felt terrible, ” just like the East-German police,” he thought. The officer found a couple of rolls of  negatives and stretched them open. He held them against the light to see  whether he could discover some lewd photos. It was his duty to stop those migrants bringing filth into this beautiful country of his.

Paul had a couple of books in his suit case and the officer turned them upside-down hoping, pictures of naked ladies would fall out. What was this obsession with those people?  They could soon proceed and walked outside to a waiting train. The migrants were talking among themselves about their experience with the customs officers.  A man told them, that he saw, how they confiscated a large knife from a Yugoslav man.

Later when the train was slowly departing from the Port Melbourne wharf they were informed that the train would stop at Seymour for a lunch break. The train gathered speed and was soon taking them through the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

While Ursula took care of the children Paul took notice of what passed by the window of the train. He noticed that there were mainly single story dwellings in which Australians lived and he wondered whether they would, one day, own such a dwelling themselves. A house of their own! What a dream.

After about an hour and a half  the train slowed down and then stopped at Seymour. They all felt a bit peckish as the breakfast was only  a distant memory on that beautiful ship, the SS Strathaird. People were happy to stretch their legs and they were looking forward to their first meal in Australia.

When Ursula and Paul wanted to enter the refreshment room at the station, they were stopped by a resolute woman. “No men in here!” she shouted, “only women and children.”

Paul tried to argue with her, as he was used to giving a hand with the babies. Ursula would have trouble feeding them both at the same time. But to no avail. He was told in no uncertain way to go to the other room.

The food was not appetising at all. After the beautiful meals on the ship this was almost inedible. What was most memorable were the grass green, reconstituted peas.

Soon Paul was reunited with Ursula and the two girls. The train continued its journey inland. They passed through an area of a dead forest. For miles there was nothing but dead trees. It was devastating to look at. They could not come up with  any reason for this.

Later on the train stopped for a tea break at another station. Once again they were separated but they coped much better the second time. They felt they had to go through a period of learning and it wouldn’t take that long before they could start shaping their own life. After all they were optimists or they wouldn’t have gone on this journey at all.

At the end of May it is winter in Australia and the sun sets early. Nothing could be gleamed from looking out the window any more. The train came to a hold in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. Shouts were heard telling the new migrants that they should detrain as they were at their destination: Bonegilla Migrant Hostel.

“What? There is nothing out here,” people said. There was no station and they had to climb out of the carriage. Others helped them with the pram. They noticed ,  that it was bitter cold. They were asked to just wait and  get familiar in the dark before setting of to the hostel nearby. Someone out in the front said something. Paul did not take any notice as he was not able to understand English anyway. Instead he looked up to the sky. There wasn’t any cloud in the sky. As his eyes got adjusted to the dark he could see a sight he had never seen before in his life: stars, thousands of them and a band of light – the Milky Way.

He grabbed Ursula’s hand and pointed with the other hand to the sky. While other people were talking and swearing about the dark, they were both in awe and looked in reverence to the starry sky above them. They knew they had arrived at their destination and took the assurance from the impression that they had done the right thing. They decided  then, that they would like Australia.

Reflections of an old Man, living in a country at War

05/10/2014

We Australians,  are at war. Our government, lead by a self-confessed liar (Don’t trust me, unless it is written down). He tells us, we are on a “humanitarian mission”. And he talks a lot.

We wouldn’t be there unless the US  tells us so. On our own we are not “humanitarian” enough to help those people in the Middle East who are in danger of being slaughtered.

When asked how long we’ll be there, they say, “For a long time,” or ,”when the Iraqi people can look after themselves”. I can tell you exactly how long we’ll be there. When the Americans have enough and cut and run, we will not stay one minute longer even for “humanitarian” reasons. President Obama said they want “to degrade and destroy” ISIS. I hope the US will “complete the mission”.

Our government is demonising  people of Islamic faith, so much so, that their women don’t dare going onto the street in fear of being harassed. They came up with the idea that women wearing a burqa are not allowed to sit in the public gallery of the parliament in Canberra. They will have to sit in a separate room with a glass window. Apparently the parliamentarians are afraid the ladies in question could do something  to endanger the lives of said parliamentarians. In this room normally  noisy children are kept so they cannot disturb the proceedings in the chamber. The Prime Minister calls the “burqa a “confronting  attire” ; but they want  to put children and those so clad ladies in one room. I hope the children are of sterner stuff than our PM is.

Never, ever has a burqa clad person been seen in  parliament. Any person that enters the public areas of the building is being checked out for any dangerous implements. But “No”,  more and more new laws and regulations are introduced to make daily life more inconvenient. The PM said, “We have to trade some freedoms, for more security.”

This new conflict in the Middle East will lead to realignments of old enemies and old friends. The Turks and the Kurds come to mind. The US has to re-evaluate its relationship with  Iran. Even the crisis in Ukraine is a bit on the  back burner, because Russia is needed to combat the ISIS menace.

Germany, who just celebrated its National Day, is still spooked by  WW II. Never again war, the slogan goes. But the world hasn’t stopped spinning and is spinning out of control fast. Germany has an army, but it is barely functioning. Their hardware is in disrepair and the defence minister is fighting for her own survival as a minister. When she asked for volunteers to fight Ebola in West-Africa she got 5000 ! In the Middle East they are sending weapons and equipment to the Kurds, but no “boots on the ground” as the saying goes. The Kurds are the only ones keeping up the fight and they are running out of ammunition.

Well, this war in Syria and Iraq, or “humanitarian” mission, will take its course. Young people from all over the world are flocking to join ISIS. And mothers can’t understand what has gone into their children. Why have they joined up? But soon they are  getting  a note from those people saying, “Congratulation! Your son is in Paradise now!”. This happened only recently to a German mother of an eighteen year old boy.

I went through WW II and have seen enough dead soldiers to last me a life time. Everyone was loved by a mother and they are still being dug up in the forest near Berlin, nearly seventy years after the event. Mankind has not learnt a thing. Today a right-wing journalist said, “Nobody is bombing Pakistan or Indonesia!” But he is wrong, because as we speak, American drones are killing people in Pakistan and making the population there more angry. No war has been declared. They are on a mission but it is not “humanitarian” either.

Thoughts to the 1st of September 1939

01/09/2014

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

One would have to be pretty old to remember that day in the summer of 1939.

I’m this old and remember this particular day and what made it important. My dad told us, that there was a war on and the government ordered all windows to be blacked out so an incoming enemy air plane was not able to see and recognise anything.

Dad wanted to put some old wall paper over the glass of the windows and used some drawing pins to stick the paper to the window frames. He soon ran out of them. He sent me, his four year old son, to the shop to buy some more drawing pins, I was not surprised for I had done some errands before. I sort of remember buying ice creams and toffee lollies on my own.

On the way back the air raid siren started howling. Dad told the family there was nothing to worry about, it was only a  drill. Long after the war I learnt that the air defence made a mistake and mistook a German plane for a Polish one.

On the day we children did not take the news of war in any way seriously. I have no idea how my parents felt. Much later I learnt that dad was a communist who hated Hitler intensely.  Still, in January 1940, he joined the Army. He returned after the war in May 1946 after having been a POW.

For me exciting times were ahead. But as a little child I would not have known anything about the reasons for that war. During the next five and a half years, slowly the excitement turned into horror and it all ended in May 1945 with the unconditional surrender of the military forces of the German Reich.

Where are we now seventy five years later? The world is in turmoil. Historians tell us, it is the most peaceful time in all of history. What we are doing is concentrating on one or two events and we think it is the big one.  Well, I know history too and I can see what the Western powers are up to.  We, the public, see only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. We know nothing of what the big powers are really  playing at. What we hear and read is only propaganda. Lies upon lies are heaped onto a mountain of misinformation and before we know it, we have a big war in which young men are being  sacrificed and the women of the world are crying.

In Eastern Europe, at the  border between the Ukraine and Russia, storm clouds are forming. The enlargement of the EU and the encroachment of NATO towards the Russian borders is seen by the Russians as an attack on their national and cultural identity. The interest of the Russians in the affairs of Ukraine is not territorial but cultural and deeply emotional. Their feelings about “Mother Russia” is bordering on the religious. In Czarist times they called it “Holy Mother Russia”. I dare say, no other people on Earth feel so deeply about their country.

“The modern peoples of Belarus,Ukraine, and Russia all claim Kievan Rus’ as their cultural inheritance.” this is a quote from the Wikipedia about the country, Kievan Rus’. Now Russia, feeling stronger than at any time since 1990, feels it has to resist the encroachment by the West. The proposed association of the Ukraine with the European Union was the last straw.  If the West does not grasp this fact it is sliding into a confrontation of unimaginable consequences.

Today, at this important anniversary, we are closer to WW III than at any time since the end of the Cold War and we should be mindful of what Albert Einstein said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

 

Let that be a warning to us all.

 

 

Family gathering at Sussex Inlet – August 2014

31/08/2014
The Inlet at low tide in the evening

The Inlet at low tide in the evening

 

We went to the Sussex Inlet for a family reunion. We have been there for short holiday stays many times over the years. The inlet is bordering a national park situated in the Capital Territory near Jervis Bay.

 

There we stay at a Railway Union Holiday camp. It is at the end of 13 km dirt track. The winding track is ideal for jogging and many a times, in previous years, we have been running out and back.

 

Kangaroo could break suddenly out of the bushes.

Kangaroos could break suddenly out of the bushes.

 

Soon after our  arrival the sun set.  Usually Kangaroos are awaiting us, but non was to be seen on the first evening. A single  Brush Wallaby made a short appearance to the delight of our youngest member of the family.

 

Lucas is meeting the locals

Lucas is meeting the locals

 

Next morning we saw lots of birds. A Kookaburra came to visit and even tried to take a bite out my finger.

 

The Kookaburra - the laughing bird

The Kookaburra – the laughing bird

 

More interesting are the Crimson Rosella. They watch us and hope for a tasty snack.

 

Grandson Ryan is getting friendly with the birds

Grandson Ryan is getting friendly with the birds

Lucas and his mother Ebony

Lucas and his mother Ebony

 

 

 

 

 

 

After breakfast we all went for a long walk along the track and then back along Bherwerre Beach. We stopped at a little pick-nick spot   on the shore of St Georges Basin.

 

St Georges Basin

St Georges Basin

 

The place is actually called “Lone Pine”. And here is why.

 

The "Lone Pine"

The “Lone Pine”

We took a group photo, or two, at the “Lone Pine” spot.

 

 

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Ryan and son Lucas

Ryan and son Lucas

Beautiful smelling blossoms

Beautiful smelling blossoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there we set off for a stroll to the beach.

 

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Soon we walked through the dunes.

 

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And suddenly we could see what we came for. We all stumbled through the sand but were happy when we saw and heard the rolling surf. It is all part of the Booderee National Park .

The Tasman Sea - next stop New Zealand

The Tasman Sea – next stop New Zealand

 

We  rested for a while before we set off for the 2 km beach walk.

 

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At first we did not see any other people other than our little group. Much later two anglers were proud to show us their catch. We started off on our walk back.

 

The red shoes tried to do it alone.

The red shoes tried to do it alone.

 

A dead seal who did not make it.

A seal who did not make it.

 

The younger ones went ahead......

The younger ones went ahead……

 

...and we two oldies were a bit slower

…and we two oldies were a bit slower

 

The two angler....

The two anglers ….

...and their catch

…and their catch

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is me carrying the tired shoes

This is me carrying the tired shoes

 

At the end of our walk

At the end of our walk

We reached the inlet, tired but happy.

 

Our daughter Caroline prepared a beautiful lunch which we enjoyed very much.

 

....the cook

….the cook

The meal and...

The meal and…

 

 

 

 

After the lunch it was time to relax with the birds. At least this is what Matthew did.

 

Are you looking for answers, Matthew?

Are you looking for answers, Matthew?

 

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In the evening we all came together in Martin’s cabin. The younger ones played a tournament of card games. Matthew and Caroline won.

Martin, Ryan, Roxy, Mitch

Martin, Ryan, Roxy, Mitch

Monika, Troy, Natasha

Monika, Troy, Natasha

Ryan, Monika, Martin

Ryan, Monika, Martin

After the games some refreshments

After the games some refreshments

Next morning it was misty and slow rain fell and only the Kangaroos and a ghost were out.

Mr and Mrs Roo

Mr and Mrs Roo

The white ghost

The white ghost

It is a last “Good bye” to the Kangaroos.

 

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A last chat.

A last chat.

 

One more snap

One more snap

And we leave with good memories which will last longer then the tracks we left in the sand at the beach. We did not go for a swim but summer is not too far away and we can always go to the local beach or pool.

 

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Hold-up at the Art Precinct

22/08/2014

We had reason to go to Wollongong, the largest city in the Illawarra, and on the way back to the car I saw a large picture on the wall. Street art, I presume.

 

Mythical figure?

Mythical figure?

 

I was intrigued. What was it? An animal or a tree trunk? There seemed to be flying birds and falling leafs.  Beside was a sign.

 

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Ah, I was at the art precinct and they told me that I was under observation. I did nor know art was dangerous to warrant CCTV. As you can see on the sign it showed the way into a rather dark alley.  I felt I had to investigate a bit further. And found a triptych of horror.

Triptych of Horror

Triptych of Horror

 

I can not see any connection between the three pictures of the panel.

I went back to the street and to my surprise found three character with doubtful intentions.

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My favourite

My favourite

 

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After seeing those three, I wanted to get the hell out of there. I was lucky on the other side of the street Uta  was waiting for me near a safe sanctuary.

 

Anglican Church - Kembla Street

Anglican Church – Kembla Street

 

 ps. This blog is published also in German at pethan35.wordpress.com

8th Sunday after Trinity

10/08/2014

Today is Sunday. It is supposed to be a day of rest and recuperation. They used to say, it is the Lord’s Day. A day that belonged to something other than ourselves. And, in a roundabout way it is for our renewal.

 

We have to get away from the daily grind and our struggle for existence. That was the idea of the Sabbath of the old Jewish calendar. Even God needed a day of rest after the Creation; and he saw, all was good. Was it really?

When I was a child and looked out a window I noticed straight away when it was Sunday.  The streets were quieter and  emptier. People were dressed differently than they were on weekdays. Today I can’t see the street. I look at the bush as it always looks. It is green and the birds are flying from tree to tree as they always did. For them, it is always the Lord’s Day. We have to be reminded.

 

As we, Uta and I, were sitting at the table, having breakfast with a soft-boiled egg, we switched on the radio, as we do in the mornings, to listen to “our ABC” and the beautiful music they usually broadcast. And who better to start Sunday with than no other than Johann Sebastian Bach. They were plying the first movement of his Brandenburg concerto no. 4.

 

 

 

Brandenburg is the land of my forefathers and Berlin is its  main city. It has a beautiful landscape, where human hand has improved on what nature, from the Ice Age on, has provided.

Here begins Brandenburg when you come from Mecklenburg

Here begins Brandenburg when you come from Mecklenburg

After the concerto they played a cantata by Bach as they do every Sunday. The right one for the right day, as it was done when he was at the Thomas Church at Leipzig.

They played the cantata BWV 178: “If the Lord God does not stay with us”. This cantata has been especially being composed for the 8th Sunday after Trinity. After checking this cantata out I realised, how opportune it is for just our time.

 

The music of the cantata  is of course beautiful and powerful, even if one is not a believer. For  a secular person, like me, it tells me, that when we lose our moral compass then nothing will help us. Our immorality makes our enemies stronger and we can see it everywhere in the world today.

The wrong god, Mammon,  is running the show and that is why Sunday has been turned into just another shopping day. There is no Sabbath any more and the more we move away from the Enlightenment, the more the fundamentalists of this world will cause upheaval. The Yazidi, stuck on Mount Sinjar in Northern Iraq, suffer for the greed and corruption of the West. The gods are angry and do not stay with us.

I’m not pleading for a new god. I’m pleading fore a  morality  where the balance sheet  is not the guiding principle. Countries are being run for the benefit of the corporations and not for the benefit of the people as a whole. We are being told to work more for less. But the wealth so created is ending up  in the pockets of the few. The environment is being destroyed. Countries are being bombed to smithereens.

 

It is time we we take back our Sabbath  or our Sunday and pause once in a while and consider the outcomes of our wrong actions and may be, “the Lord might once again smile at us.”  The lessons of 8th Sunday after Trinity must be learnt. Bach knew about it two hundred and ninety years ago.

 

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View of Mount Kembla, Illawarra, NSW

 

 

Pride comes before the Fall !

30/07/2014

2-Samuel-20

 

When I read a news paper or see the TV news nowadays, I get the feeling, we live at the the edge of something big.  We live at the edge of a political and historical cataclysm. Whether we go over the edge will depend on cool heads and people who’s thinking is not dictated by pride.

 

And it is our (false) PRIDE, I believe,  that lead us to it. It happened that they were discussing “pride” last night on our ABC in the series “Jennifer Byrne Presents“. We all think our country is the best, our system is the best, our God is the best and our weapons (read penises) are the best.  The implications here are “male pride” and women and children have to suffer for it.

No wonder we have come to the juncture that is our contemporary world. A hospital, in Gaza, is shelled or a passenger plane (MH 17) is shot down with no regard to the lives of people and a possible later historical outcome. One hundred years ago a series of shots rang out at Sarajevo that changed the world for ever. It was pure Serbian pride that lead that young man to his deadly deed. And it was pure Austrian pride that  made Franz Ferdinand parade in that city.

 

The re-emergence of hurt German pride after WW I  lead to WW II.

 

Whoever shot down MH 17 did it out of pride. We can do it, they thought and to hell with everybody else. We in the West like pointing at Russia and Putin (do you notice that the letters “Ras” are missing in front of Putin?) and claim  they are to blame. I think Putin is smarter than this. While not running away from conflict  with the West, he nevertheless is not looking for it. I’m  sure, when he heard of the downing of MH 17 he was storming in a big rage through the Kremlin. He himself is full of pride and that leads him into strife because he does not think what is good for all, but what looks good for him. And right now he is thinking how he could use the situation to his advantage.

 

We  in the West are not smart enough to consider a way out for people whose false pride  lead them into trouble . We could learn something from a lion tamer who always gives a dangerous animal a way out: jump on another seat or take another position.

 

The USA is full of pride ( cynics would say “shit”) and it is dangerous when a former world power is on a slippery dip to mediocrity.  In a country where they say, the second place getter is the first loser, you must have nightmares that someone, somewhere is overtaking you. I feel sorry for President Obama, who must be asking himself, why he ever nominated to be a candidate for President of the United States. Well, seeing him at the convention I must say, it was sheer pride.

 

And  then there is Israel. In 1948 it became the homeland for the displaced Jews from the war ravaged Europe. The inoffensive Jews of the diaspora became the aggressive Israelis who had no compassion for their Palestinian  fellow citizens who had taken them in in friendship and good will.

 

Seventy years ago there was an uprising in Warsaw. Polish pride lead the resistance movement onto a suicide mission. They did not know the Russians wanted  them destroyed  and the Germans were just the right people to do it.  A year earlier Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto staged an uprising on their own against the Nazis. It was not so much pride as pure desperation.

When I look at today’s news I’m reminded of those two uprisings and the behaviour of the occupiers. Gaza is being destroyed, as was Warsaw – street by street , house by house. You would think the Jews among the Israelis have learned something in the diaspora. They only repeat the mistakes of others. Of course, if you declare someone your enemy, your pride tells you,  you must give them no quarter.

 

No quarter is given in the Ukraine either. Did you have a closer look at those separatists?  They bristle with pride as they fondle their automatic weapons as teenagers would play with their erect members.  The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is  full of false pride himself, promising  that we , the Australians, will recover the bodies and  the evidence and will bring the perpetrators to justice.  I can tell him right now, that won’t happen. He will have to swallow his pride and tell the people of Australia he can not accomplish the mission. If he tries a military solution he must be prepared to see his elite soldiers coming home in body bags, if at all. Russia has been the grave yard for many.

Here in Australia, with no neighbours we have to deal with, chest thumping is a well understood pastime, especially during the Commonwealth Games.  We are the greatest, but don’t get the idea coming here to live among us. Aussie pride is a great confidence builder, but in the wider world out there, we would have to learn to swallow our pride.

 

Mankind, as a whole, has not learnt much since biblical times and that is why “Pride” is still one of the deadly sins.

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