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we're all brothers

Martin Luther King and the war against consciousness

January 15, 2014 marks the 85th anniversary of the birth of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.  He would be turning 85 today if he had not been viciously murdered in 1968.

Dr. King's efforts to awaken the world to the injustices of institutionalized racism in the United States are, of course, well-known, as is his express commitment to non-violence in the pursuit of that goal and the goal of ending that injustice.

In recent posts about the sudden sharp rise in awareness about the inhumane treatment of captive orcas due to a 2013 documentary film, we have seen that one of the film's effects on viewers is to suddenly cause them to become aware of the extent to which a "status quo" which they basically took for granted their entire lives and never really thought to question has all along been built upon what this post called "a foundation of captivity and exploitation that propped it all up."  We have seen quotations from people who have woken up to the truth ask in disbelief, "How can anyone look at that and think that that is morally acceptable?"

The discussion argued that the film was basically shaking people out of a sort of "trance" state -- a state akin to that of someone under hypnosis, who is unaware of what is really going on right in front of them -- and that being in such a state is essentially the opposite of any definition of the term "consciousness."  To that extent, the effect of the film was to raise consciousness and dispel this harmful "trance" state.

Clearly, Dr. King's efforts during his life were efforts to raise consciousness in the very same way -- to wake people out of their stupor and into awareness of the horrible inhumanity and injustice that they were tolerating, even participating in and supporting by their actions (even if they weren't giving their support of this injustice very much conscious thought at all).

However, there were forces which we can only describe as forces aligned against consciousness that were violently opposed to Dr. King's efforts to awaken consciousness in the United States and the wider world.  While most people today are aware of Dr. King's legacy, many remain completely unaware of the nefarious campaign to discredit and destroy him in the eyes of the public, despite the fact that this nefarious campaign has been well documented and that it indisputably did take place.

Readers unfamiliar with this specific aspect of the war against consciousness, carried out by agents of the US government against black leaders and specifically against Dr. King, may want to start with this Wikipedia overview of the COINTELPRO activities of the federal government during that period.  They then might want to read the transcripts of the Church Committee Hearings that took place during the 1970s, after documents stolen from an FBI office revealed the existence of this program of institutionalized surveillance of citizens considered threats.

In this document, for example, the reader can see evidence being presented to congress that government agents staged a deliberate campaign to depose Dr. King, with one attorney saying of the FBI that "the Bureau at one point had a plan to select a leader who they thought ought to lead the blacks in this country, and at the same time to depose Martin Luther King, against whom they ran their most sustained and toughest program of any we have seen" (page 7 in the pagination of the original document, or page 16 of the pdf file linked). 

That campaign included planting bugs and wiretaps to record Dr. King's activities, in the hope of discrediting him.  Although the original congressional document linked above specifically states that the details of the surveillance data which was collected was being withheld from the record "out of consideration for the privacy of Dr. King's family" (see footnote on page 21 of the document as originally paginated, or page 30 of the pdf file), the section of this Wikipedia article on Dr. King entitled "allegations of adultery" cites evidence that the government surveillance included tape recordings of alleged extramarital affairs, which were then released to third parties and also mailed to Dr. King along with threatening notes.

This evidence of nefarious surveillance is extremely shocking and troubling, especially the evidence that suggests that there were specific government plans to remove Dr. King and replace him with a leader that the agents of the government felt would steer things in a direction that they liked better.  This despite the fact that Dr. King was specifically committed to non-violence and civil disobedience in the face of clear and aggressive injustice.

During the hearings, Senator Mondale asked an attorney (on page 42 of the original pagination, or page 51 of the pdf file), "What was the threat that the FBI believed that Martin Luther King posed to this country?"  The answer is telling:
You get different feelings on that, Senator, from the documents, but it is a threat of change.  There is a flavor running in there of an assertion that he was influenced by Communists, but that does never seem to be followed through on or proven what his actions were.  It was the threat of change, I would say.  [. . .] I think it is easy to underestimate the impact the concept of civil disobedience had on the Bureau in general and Mr. Hoover in particular.
This little exchange goes a long way towards demonstrating the fact that the true situation involved a battle between consciousness and mind control.  Dr. King had specifically disavowed violence, but his actions of civil disobedience posed a tremendous threat to people who did not want the consciousness of the public at large to be raised.  Because his actions were designed to increase consciousness, the enemies of consciousness saw him as a threat.

Dr. King proved that the most effective actions for consciousness and against oppression do not involve the use of force.  Oppression and the denial of natural rights always involves mind control, because human beings innately know what is wrong, even if they are often put into a trance state in which they stop seeing gross injustices being enacted right in front of them, gross injustices that they themselves might even be perpetuating.  The most dangerous thing for the forces of oppression is a situation in which those masses of people who are in a trance begin to wake up to the injustices that they themselves are supporting.

The war between consciousness and the forces of anti-consciousness goes on today.  Those who celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. know which side they are on in this conflict.

A Christmas Eve thank-you to all my readers

This Christmas Eve, I would like to send out a heartfelt "Thank You" to all readers of the Mathisen Corollary blog around the world.  The winter solstice-Christmas season is a fitting time of the year for spending some time in reflection and gratitude, and as I do so I was prompted to write a post expressing my gratitude to all of you who have taken the time to visit and to share feedback through the years.

The Christmas story expresses the universal truth that the cosmic pattern, the Word or Logos, has been incarnated in the flesh of every man, woman and child: every one contains an immaterial spirit united with physical matter.  As Alvin Boyd Kuhn explains in Lost Light: An Interpretation of Ancient Scripture,  "It was a reference in ancient theogony to the descent of the Logos (the cosmic counterpart of the Christos in man) from the spiritual side of God's nature alone, as distinct from its progenation from the union of spirit with matter. [ . . . ]  We are assured again and again that we are all sons of God and sons of the Highest" (47).

He goes on to argue, as he does in all of his writings, that this same pattern is expressed by the "antecedent careers of such world saviors as Dionysus, Osiris, Sabazius, Tammuz, Adonis, Atys, Orpheus, Mithras, Zoroaster, Krishna, Bala-Rama, Vyasa, Buddha, Hercules, Sargon, Serapis, Horus, Marduk, Izdubar, Witoba . . ." (48).

Reflecting on this concept, one could hardly do better than to go out into the dark night this week, when the stars of the heavenly pattern are absolutely breathtaking.  Orion rises in the east in all his glory, followed by his consort the star Sirius, associated by the Egyptians with the goddess Isis the mother of Horus.  

In the photograph above, from an image taken by the Hubble Telescope, the stars of Orion can be seen in the right side of the frame, while the bright star Sirius is the enormous orb seen at the lower edge of the frame.  The bright star to the left at roughly the same level as orange Betelgeuse in Orion's shoulder is Procyon, the brighter of the two stars in Canis Minor, the Little Dog.  The band of the Milky Way also runs right between Orion and Canis Minor, and Orion's upraised arm (on the Betelgeuse side) extends right into it.

Nearby in the night sky, although not in the photograph above, you will also be able to see Taurus the Bull, the Pleiades pointing the way to Aries the Ram, Auriga the Charioteer near to the horns of the Bull, and the Twins of Gemini with the beautiful planet Jupiter nearby.  The Moon is rising later and later each evening (truly a spectacular sight in its own right), giving several hours of good stargazing after sunset, especially for viewers in the wintery northern hemisphere right now (moonrise is around midnight currently).

The ancients saw each individual man, woman and child as a microcosm of the macrocosmic pattern seen each night in the infinite heavens of outer space.  Several previous posts have examined this ancient truth, including this one which discusses the way this pattern takes on human form through the helix pattern of DNA.

This means that every person you encounter today is, according to the ancient wisdom recorded in the scriptures and sacred traditions of the world, an incarnation of the cosmic pattern, a unique individuated bearer in physical form of the Logos.  And this means, of course, that every reader of this is as well, which fills me with profound respect and gratitude for each one of you!

Birthday of Nikola Tesla (1856 - 1943)

July 10 is the birthday of Nikola Tesla, born this day in 1856 in Smiljan, Croatia.

Tesla was an amazing genius and creative thinker, a designer of new inventions who explained that he could visualize an apparatus in his mind, assemble it in his mind, test it in his mind, and then disassemble it and inspect it for wear and binding and friction . . . in his mind! (Autobiography, cited in The Tesla Papers, edited by David Hatcher Childress, 13).

The introduction to the Tesla Papers (cited above) explains that, although he is not popularly given credit for the following inventions, it appears that Tesla's designs were the first in many areas that are usually attributed to later inventors:
Ask any school kid: "who invented radio"? If you get an answer at all it will doubtless be Marconi -- an answer with which all the encyclopedias and textbooks agree. Or ask most anyone: "who invented the stuff that makes your toaster, your stereo, the street lights, the factories and offices work?" Without hesitation, Thomas Edison, right? Wrong both times. The correct answer is Nikola Tesla, a person you have probably heard of. There's more. He appears to have discovered x-rays a year before W. K. Roentgen did in Germany, he built a vacuum tube amplifier several years before Lee de Forest did, he was using fluorescent lights in his laboratories 40 years before the industry "invented" them, and he demonstrated the principles used in microwave ovens and radar decades before they became an integral part of our society. Yet we associate his name with none of them. [. . .] His practical career started in 1881 in Budapest, Hungary, where he made his first electrical invention, a telephone repeater (the ordinary loudspeaker) and conceived the idea of a rotating magnetic field, which later made him world famous in its form as the modern induction motor. [. . .] Another one of Tesla's inventions that is familiar to anyone who has ever owned an automobile was patented in 1898 under the name "electrical ignitor for gas engines." More commonly known as the automobile ignition system, its major component, the ignition coil, remains practically unchanged since its introduction into use at the turn of the century. Nikola Tesla also built prototypes of a unique fuel burning rotary engine based upon his earlier design for a rotary pump. Recent tests that have been carried out on the Tesla bladeless disk turbine indicate that, if constructed using newly developed high temperature ceramic materials, it will rank as the world's most efficient gas engine, out-performing our present day piston type internal combustion engines in fuel efficiency, longevity, adaptability to different fuels, cost and power to weight ratio. 12-15.

Tesla is perhaps best known today, however, for his ground-breaking work in the transmission of electricity over distances, and the dramatic propagation of bolts of energy from high-energy Tesla coils. His later work led into extremely low frequencies including the resonant frequency of planet Earth, the production of huge bolts of artificial lightning, the search for signals from extraterrestrial life in outer space and the creation of devices that could send signals to other planets, the investigation of radiation, and the investigation of the science of plasma energy (which remains a largely open field for study to this day).

Through his science, Tesla was able to transmit electricity wirelessly to remote devices, using wireless electrical power to light the lamps at his own laboratories. However, his efforts to deliver inexpensive or even free power were stymied by business rivals (most notably Thomas Edison, who went to great lengths to portray Tesla's AC power as dangerous in comparison to Edison's DC power, including funding a road show in which Edison's representatives electrocuted dogs and one time even an elephant).

As explained in the Tesla Papers, Tesla believed our planet's conditions could provide free and abundant energy for all:
Tesla wrote in Century Magazine in 1900: ". . . that communication without wires to any point of the globe is practicable.  My experiments showed that the air at the ordinary pressure became distinctly conducting, and this opened up the wonderful prospect of transmitting large amounts of electrical energy for industrial purposes to great distances without wires.  Its practical consummation would mean that energy would be available for the uses of man at any point of the globe.  I can conceive of no technical advance which would tend to unite the various elements of humanity more effectively than this one, or of one which would more add to and more economize human energy . . ."  This was written in 1900!  After finishing preliminary testing, work was begun on a full sized broadcasting station at Shoreham, Long Island.  Had it gone into operation, it would have been able to provide usable amounts of electrical power at the receiving circuits.  After construction of a generator building (still standing) and a 180 foot broadcasting tower (dynamited in World War I on the dubious pretext of being a potential navigation reference for German U-boats), financial support for the project was suddenly withdrawn by J. P. Morgan when it became apparent that such a worldwide power project couldn't be metered and charged for.  14-15.
Whether Tesla had really discovered the secret to providing free and abundant power to heal the divisions between a divided mankind remains unknown.

It is indisputable, however, that powerful business and political interests sometimes labor mightily to prevent new and less expensive forms of power being made available -- in fact, it can be demonstrated that such efforts to block sources of new or less expensive or more abundant energy continue to this very day.

It is also indisputable that Tesla was an incredible genius, an example of the incredible power of the human mind, and an inventor who truly sought to benefit others.

Chief Joseph, 1840 - 1904

March 3 is the birthday of Chief Joseph, born this day in 1840. His name in his own language, Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt (it is rendered and spelled slightly differently in different places), means "Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain." He was elected leader of the Wallowa (or Wal-lam-wat-kain) band of the Nez Perce in 1871, after the death of his father. In their own language, the Nez Perce are called the Nimíipuu, which means "The People."

The US government originally signed a treaty in 1855 acknowledging the right of the Nez Perce to an area of about 7.7 million acres, including the Wallowa Valley in northeast Oregon where Joseph was born. However, in 1863 the government proposed a new treaty which would reduce the Nez Perce territory to well under a million acres and exclude much of their traditional homeland, including the Wallowa Valley, which Joseph's father and many other Nez Perce leaders refused to sign.

In 1877, facing the forcible removal of his people from the Wallowa, Chief Joseph (along with other primary leaders including Toohoolhoolzote, Looking Glass, White Bird, and Joseph's younger brother Ollokot) led a group including between 200 and 250 warriors and numbering over 800 including women and children in search of a place where they could live in peace and freedom -- ultimately trying to reach Sitting Bull's people, who had fled across the Canadian border to Saskatchewan earlier that same year.

Pursued by much larger forces (numbering as many as 2,000 soldiers) under the overall command of General Howard of the US Army, Chief Joseph and his people traversed almost 1,200 miles, across the Rocky Mountains and several other ranges, from Oregon to northern Montana, fighting eighteen battles against superior numbers, until they were finally forced to surrender only forty miles from the Canadian border.

The dignity and eloquence of Chief Joseph's speech at the occasion of that surrender, as well as later trips to Washington DC to petition the federal government on behalf of his people, are justly famous.

Some selected passages of his words can be found at this web site. Passage IV, from a visit to the US capitol in 1879, reads in part:

There need be no trouble. Treat all men alike. Give them the same laws. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. You might as well expect all rivers to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. If you tie a horse to a stake, do you expect he will grow fat? If you pen an Indian up on a small spot of earth and compel him to stay there, he will not be contented nor will he grow and prosper. I have asked some of the Great White Chiefs where they get their authority to say to the Indian that he shall stay in one place, while he sees white men going where they please. They cannot tell me.

[. . .]

We only ask an even chance to live as other men live. We ask to be recognized as men. We ask that the same law shall work alike on all men. If an Indian breaks the law, punish him by the law. If a white man breaks the law, punish him also.

Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself -- and I will obey every law or submit to the penalty.

Whenever the white man treats the Indian as they treat each other then we shall have no more wars. We shall be all alike -- brothers of one father and mother, with one sky above us and one country around us and one government for all. Then the Great Spirit Chief who rules above will smile upon this land and send rain to wash out the bloody spots made by brothers' hands upon the face of the earth. For this time the Indian race is waiting and praying. I hope no more groans of wounded men and women will ever go to the ear of the Great Spirit Chief above, and that all people may be one people.

When Chief Joseph surrendered in 1877, it was found that he carried a small tablet in a pouch bearing an inscription in the cuneiform writing system of ancient Sumer, Babylon, and Assyria. The tablet measured just over an inch square, and he said that it had been handed down in his family for many generations and that it had been given to his ancestors. Modern scholars have translated it and it appears to bear a record of an ancient transaction involving the sale of a lamb. This writeup appeared in the Smithsonian Magazine in February, 1979 (Smithsonian 9:36) describing the inscription. Scholars attest that the date in the inscription places it prior to 2000 BC.

Since being discovered to bear cuneiform writing, the tablet has been the subject of speculative attempts to explain away the obvious problems that it poses for the conventional historical narrative (when it is discussed at all -- in general, scholars appear to have ignored this stunning and important piece of historical evidence). Although there is not a shred of evidence to support these assertions, writers declare that it must have been given to Chief Joseph or his father by missionaries. This is disgraceful, as to make this assertion is to call him a liar. It is also ridiculous, as there is no explanation as to how a nineteenth-century missionary would be carrying around an ancient cuneiform tablet or why this imaginary missionary would decide to give it to Chief Joseph of his parents, let alone why Chief Joseph would choose to lie about it.

Other speculations, such as the idea that the son of the US Army officer who had served under General Howard in the Nez Perce War and who donated the item to the West Point museum got his story mixed up or lied about it as well, are equally baseless. These are the sorts of disgraceful speculations that replace serious analysis of evidence about human history when other vested interests are threatened by the facts.

Ultimately, as I have repeated many times in this blog as well as in my book, any one piece of evidence on its own is not as important as the larger body of evidence of which that single item is but one representative member. The cuneiform tablet of Chief Joseph, were it the only item suggesting that ancient history is quite different from what we are taught, would not prove that we should re-evaluate the orthodox view. However, it is one of thousands of other pieces of very solid evidence (some of which are discussed in other posts listed here).

Setting aside the question of his treasured cuneiform tablet, it is appropriate to honor the spirit of Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain on this 172nd anniversary of his birth.

Even suffering first-hand the outrages that were inflicted upon himself and his people, he did not sink to categorizing other individuals by their membership in an ethnic group (he did not become a racist against "whites," even after his people were disgracefully and shamefully treated by them), saying: "We were troubled with white men crowding over the line. Some of them were good men, and we lived on peaceful terms with them, but they were not all good."

Even after all the indignities he and his people suffered, he was able to say, "All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it."

Some implications of recent studies on the plasticity of the brain

Today, several news outlets -- from NPR to the Wall Street Journal -- published discussions about new scientific studies showing that IQ test scores can change radically throughout one's lifetime, possibly in response to activities and choices that one makes.

Rarely mentioned in these discussions is the possibility that this research demonstrates what an wrong-headed concept the entire IQ test really is, and how it is really one of the centerpieces of the Darwinian revolution that took over England and the United States during the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. It should be fairly obvious that IQ tests, which flatten the varied and unique gifts that individuals are given by their Creator to a one-dimensional measurement of "intelligence quotient" is Darwinian in its very nature, and encourages reducing people to numbers and stratifying them according to their potential.

One of the pioneers of the idea of quantifying human potential in terms of intelligence tests was Darwin's half-cousin Francis Galton, whom we have met before. Galton was a major figure in the eugenics movement and it is a fact of history that the IQ test was a primary tool of the eugenics movement and was used as the basis for the forcible sterilization of women in the United States.

If the distasteful history of the IQ test (rarely mentioned by the media) does not completely discredit it, these new findings should cast further doubt on its value. The fact that "intelligence quotient" can increase (or decrease) can, of course, be viewed as hopeful information, spurring us to take steps to keep our brains moving in the right direction, but really the entire idea that you can put a number on intelligence is questionable at best. At least this new study should prevent the test from being used to permanently categorize someone's potential, the way it regrettably has in the past.

A more interesting study revealing the distinct possibility that our habits and practices can have positive effects on our minds is the ongoing work by some neuroscientists scanning the brainwave activity of those who have spent tens of thousands of hours in meditation, specifically Buddhist monks.

For years, Professor Richard Davidson and other neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (and elsewhere) have been testing the possibility that disciplines such as meditation can actually change the brain. This article from 2004, entitled "Scans of Monks' Brains Show Meditation Alters Structure, Functioning," says that when the brain activity of novices with little experience meditating and the brain activity of monks who had spent more than 10,000 hours in meditation were measured during an exercise in meditation, the monks "showed a dramatic increase in high-frequency brain activity called gamma waves."

This article on the same subject from Wired magazine implies that emotions such as empathy, compassion and love can actually be trained and strengthened on purpose, with real results. It says:
The monks produced gamma waves that were 30 times as strong as the students'. In addition, larger areas of the meditators' brains were active, particularly in the left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for positive emotions.

Davidson realized that the results had important implications for ongoing research into the ability to change brain function through training. In the traditional view, the brain becomes frozen with the onset of adulthood, after which few new connections form. In the past 20 years, though, scientists have discovered that intensive training can make a difference. For instance, the portion of the brain that corresponds to a string musician's fingering hand grows larger than the part that governs the bow hand -- even in musicians who start playing as adults. Davidson's work suggested this potential might extend to emotional centers.

But Davidson saw something more. The monks had responded to the request to meditate on compassion by generating remarkable brain waves. Perhaps these signals indicated that the meditators had attained an intensely compassionate state of mind. If so, then maybe compassion could be exercised like a muscle; with the right training, people could bulk up their empathy.
Notably, the same article later quotes a speech given by the current (14th) Dalai Lama to a group of neuroscientists in Washington DC, saying that in the speech he expressed the importance of compassion in our everyday lives. The article's author says:
He's especially concerned that researchers are not paying enough attention to the development of "warmheartedness." Like charity, this quality begins at home. "Come home and be with your wife, your husband, or your children," he beseeches the assembled neuroscientists, "and feel happy!"
This appears to imply that the Dalai Lama perceives the practice of "warmheartedness" to be a discipline that benefits from daily practice!

While there is no Darwinian standardized test for measuring "warmheartedness quotient," it would seem that these statements (and the results of Professor Davidson's research) imply that this capacity can be increased throughout our lives as well (or, more disturbingly, that it can be decreased too).

This is a finding that is at least as important as the finding that IQ (if there really is such a thing as IQ) can change through life, and one that we can put to practical daily use much more easily. Of course, Dr. Davidson's research also implies that meditation might be a discipline that -- while forgotten and neglected much of the modern world -- is vitally important.

Is it only coincidence that the wisdom of the Hopi elders passed down through the centuries indicates that chanting (which forms a central part of many forms of Tibetan meditation -- see for example this video clip) was seen as a vital daily activity and that failure to practice it was symptomatic of falling into evil deeds and hatred of others? As we saw in this earlier discussion, Hopi legend relates that the Creator told the people "sing in harmony from the tops of the hills. When I do not hear you singing praises to your Creator I will know you have gone back to evil again."

While there is nothing inherently wrong with trying to improve one's ability to learn, is it not possible that our modern obsession with "intelligence quotient" and all that it implies, and our pursuit of anything that can help us "get an edge" over others in a "dog-eat-dog world" (in other words, the fruits of the modern religion of Darwinism) have eclipsed a focus on other aspects of our humanity that we should be exercising as well?

Special thanks to Mrs. MDS for sharing these articles about the monks with me during our West Point reunion a few weeks back.

Peter Tosh, 1944 - 1987

October 19 is the birthdate of Peter Tosh, born on this date in 1944, and murdered on September 11, 1987.

For some reason, he is not as well known as Bob Marley, although he was equally important in the formation of the Wailers and in the development of the musical genre of reggae. Peter Tosh played guitar for the Wailing Wailers (later renamed the Wailers) and with their important albums Catch a Fire and Burnin' in 1973. His unmistakable vocals can be heard as the lead in the well-known Wailers songs "400 Years" and "Stop That Train," as well as in certain parts of "Get Up, Stand Up" and in the background of many others.

He began a successful solo career in 1974, releasing his debut album Legalize It in 1976, which is his most well-known compilation, but it was followed by six more solid albums filled with track after track of inspired songwriting.

He was killed during an invasion of his home in 1987 under suspicious circumstances: he was often the target of government harassment in his home country of Jamaica for his vocal assaults on corruption, thuggery, oppression, inflation, and restriction of freedom.

The themes which are never far from the surface of reggae music and Rastafari include the oppression and enslavement of one group (in this case Africans) based on race and prejudice, which provides an intersection with the topics discussed in this blog in that the elevation of one tribe, race, or ethnicity over another may historically be the most potent destroyer of civilization and harmony, and may well have played a part in the loss of the advanced knowledge of the ancients, much of which has never been recovered. On the other hand, there is evidence that harmony between peoples of all the so-called races may have prevailed in the ancient periods of greatest achievement (see here for some evidence of that, as well as this post for a discussion of the fact that the entire concept of "races" of man is fallacious).

Below are a few samples from the outstanding body of musical art produced by this gifted singer and songwriter. You owe it to yourself to become familiar with all of his albums, as well as the compilations which contain songs that were not included in his seven main albums.

When Peter Tosh was brutally killed, the world lost a creative genius. But his voice and message live on.


The Crisis

In the previous post, we discussed the groundbreaking 1997 work by William Strauss and Neil Howe, The Fourth Turning. In it, the authors discuss the cyclical perception of time and history versus the linear perception of the same, and examine history for several centuries for evidence that generational cycles follow a regular pattern.

While other historians stretching back to antiquity have observed such cycles, Strauss and Howe are apparently somewhat unique among historians (at least since the fall of the Roman Empire) in suggesting that these cycles generally follow the length of a long human lifespan -- roughly one hundred years, which the ancients called the "saeculum" -- with each such period divided into four distinct phases as each "generation" moves into a new stage of life and into and out of control of the reins of power.

The authors cite historians who have noticed that major wars or "hegemonic wars" or "general wars" seem to take place at the end of the fourth such phase (or "turning"), clearing out the previous age and preparing the way for a new start to the entire cycle, saying:
The culminating phase of the saeculum is a quarter-century era of war, upheaval and turmoil. Early humanist scholars called this the revolutio [. . .].

A better word is crisis. Its Greek root krisis refers to a decisive or separating moment. In disease, the krisis is when physicians know whether a patient will recover or die; in war, it is the moment in battle that determines whether an army (or nation) will triumph or fall. [. . .]

The Crisis ends one saeculum and launches the next. 38-39.
Yesterday's post, on the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, stated that such a Crisis had not yet arisen, although the authors of The Fourth Turning believed that one would take place sometime in the period between 2005 and 2025. September 11 does not fit the definition of Crisis outlined above, because it did not indicate or determine whether one side would triumph or fall.

However, the date of the September 11 attack was apparently chosen by the murderous perpetrators in memory of a previous moment of true Crisis, when a decisive battle did determine which side would triumph and which would fall -- the Battle of Vienna, September 11 and 12, 1683.

During that battle, an invading army of Ottoman Turks numbering about 150,000 had laid siege to Vienna, a siege they had initiated in July. The core of the city was held by a small number of Austrian soldiers (about 11,000) plus about 5,000 citizens, and the Ottoman army decided to try to starve them out since their artillery could not breach the walls (a series of mining and countermining operations went on during the siege).

The siege was lifted by the arrival of reinforcements led by the King of Poland, Jan III Sobieski, with about 27,000 Polish soldiers, another 45,000 German and Austrian reinforcements, and 3,300 Polish winged hussars. These hussars were a fearsome force, carrying long lances measuring fifteen to nineteen feet, capable of charging as a unit unlike the single heavy knights that typically operated alone or in only loose formations, and their charges carried tremendous physical and psychological shock effect. The winged hussars were quite used to defeating much larger enemy armies. Their armament and tactics are described here (among many other places on the web and in the annals of military history).

The situation had grown extremely dire for the defenders of Vienna by the time Jan III Sobieski arrived, with food having run out and starvation and weakness taking a serious toll, while sappers from the besieging army had tunneled beneath the walls to plant explosive mines, blowing several holes in the walls during the first days of September, and the beleaguered inhabitants of the city were bracing for the final assault.

The Polish King attacked on September 12, leading his winged hussars in a devastating charge against the center and flank of the much larger Ottoman army, sending the Austrians and Germans to assault on the left. The ferocity and skill of the winged hussars, as well as the personal leadership and tactical plan of the experienced Jan Sobieski, was clearly decisive to the battle's outcome.

An interesting aspect of the feared winged hussars of Poland is the allegation by some historians that the practice of wearing eagle feathers and "wings" by horsemen of the Hungarian steppes (where the Polish originally learned to employ cavalry in this manner) originated with the shamans of Asia. Feathers are one of the most characteristic clothing items that distinguish a shaman, whose job description entails flying to the successively higher (and sometimes lower) worlds of the shamanic cosmology, as described in these previous posts here, here, here and here. Instead of actual feathers, long tassels or fringes sewn along the arms and legs of the shaman's clothing could also be used to represent feathers (these were seen among the shaman of the North American Indians as well as in Asia, and still appear on clothing items in modern times, although most of their wearers are unaware of their original magical significance).

Another important aspect of the Battle of Vienna, particularly in light of the fact that the civilization-attacking barbarians of 2001 apparently drew their inspiration for a September 11 attack date from the defeat of the Ottoman army at that decisive battle, is the grievance-mongering that so characterizes the most dangerous enemies of civilization.

We have discussed the grievance mentality that sees the success of one group as the cause for the ills of another group in previous posts -- see here and here, for example. The Nazis under Hitler clearly exhibited such grievance-mongering, placing the blame for any perceived economic injustice or perceived humiliation on the Jews, as many of their descendents in the grievance industry around the world continue to do to this day. The Communist ideologies of Marx and Mao Tse-tung were identical to the Nazis in their identification of the source of all problems and grievances with a certain class or group, although the groups they identified may have been based more on social roles than on religion or ethnicity.

In all these cases, such grievance-mongering has led directly to the idea that violence is justified and that the seizing by force of property and even the perpetration of violence and murder against the supposed "oppressor" is condoned and even encouraged, just as apparently happened on Easter Island.

As we examine the forces who condone violence and theft in the name of such grievances, forces both within and without, so to speak, it is important to be aware of the cyclical nature of history and the fact that civilization and learning has been catastrophically lost before -- that history is not a story of relatively unbroken upward progress, in spite of the just-so stories we are traditionally taught in school.

The perspectives and terminology offered by the authors of The Fourth Turning are invaluable in trying to sort out the forces which appear to be building towards another existential Crisis point.