Racism

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” – William James

We’ve all been lead to believe that there are separate races of humans on this planet.  There is the Black or African race, the Asian or Oriental race, and the Caucasian race.  For the last 50 years we’ve been fighting to achieve equal rights for all three races.  Wrong.  You’ve been lied to in a way so big you can’t even see it.  There is ONE race on this planet.  The human race.  Just us people.  One kind, one sort, one type.  Not three.  Not two.  Not four.  ONE.

If you give the idea of race ANY critical thought AT ALL it doesn’t hold up.  A recent pick to be a Supreme Court Justice was called a hispanic racist.  Hispanic is a race?  What race are indigenous Americans?  Indigenous Australians?  Eskimos?  Are Arabs and Turks Caucasian or African?  My children are referred to as ‘mixed-race’.  What the FUCK does that even mean?  If they marry other ‘mixed race’ people will their kids be ‘really mixed race’?  If they marry Asians and so do their progeny at what point will the resulting kids be Asian again?  Jesus Fucking Christ, what kind of malevolent fuck thought this shit up?  And why do we still believe it?

Okay, a little simple history here.  Thousands of years ago there wasn’t much transportation.  Most people lived in small isolated groups so of course of their breeding options were limited.  The members of these groups all began to look pretty much alike.  The only cross breeding took place with geographically reachable groups, and over time they all began to look alike too.  Add in a few natural barriers like mountains, oceans and deserts.  Mix in some natural reactions like darker skin where it’s really fucking hot and sunny.  Tada, you get groups that look different in different parts of the world.  Look different, not are different.  This isn’t rocket science.  Jeez.

I’m of Northern European heritage.  My oldest friend Tony is of African heritage.  My wife is of Japanese heritage.  He has darker skin, she has darker hair, I have more pink pigment.  So what.  We’re all three the same HUMAN race with a random collection of HUMAN genes.  End of story.  It would almost make you laugh it it weren’t so damn tragic.

I want to be super clear here.  I am not saying that the world is or should be homogenous.  CULTURAL differences are real and should be respected and celebrated.  But cultural differences are about what we choose to DO, not what we ARE.  I am human.  My ancestors played bagpipes and created single malt.  My wife is human.  Her ancestors developed the code of Bushido.  Because these are CHOICES, not MANDATES, I can study and live by Bushido and my wife can drink scotch.

I think this is particularly important because we live in the United States.  Our culture is American, a blend of many different influences.  My wife has a lot more in common with me than she does with somebody in Japan.  Tony and I share most of the same cultural markers and we’d both be equally lost in his ancestral African nation.  And yet I hear American born and raised people say “I only date…” or “I would only marry…” someone of their own cultural background.  Even though they’ve never been to that country.  Really?  If you’re a third generation Chinese-American you’d have more in common with a recent Chinese immigrant than you would with the white person you went to kindergarten with?  Huh?  That is totally fucking insane but that’s the result of thinking that race exists.

I want to be even clearer that I’m not calling for some pie in the sky equality.  Affirmative Action and other redress programs are important and I fully support them.  But not on RACIAL grounds.  African Americans who have been discriminated against should get extra resources.  So should the very poor of any cultural background that has historically been institutionally unable to compete fairly.  But base it on culture and need, not some made up race crap.

We’ve wasted an inconceivable amount of time and resources fighting each other over what is essentially a giant evil LIE.  The Man has convinced us that race is real, that other races are dangerous and different, and more recently that we need to spend a lot of time trying for racial equality.  Of course they’re equal since they’re the SAME DAMN THING!  While white, brown, black and yellow poor people screw around hating each other we haven’t had time to notice that a very few people seem to fucking own everything.  The Man doesn’t want to talk about class and inherited wealth and privilege and fair distribution of resources.  That discussion could get real uncomfortable so instead he gets us to talk about something useless.  Well, not me.  Not any more.

As long as the vast majority of people buy into the bullshit manipulative divisions perpetrated by the man then a few elite people will get to keep all the cool stuff like food and water and sports cars.  Race and the resulting racial divide is one of their best tools.  Let’s take it away.  Police your own language.  Notice when you say something that implies there is more than one race.  And when you’re asked for your race on any official form, write HUMAN in big fucking letters.  That should make the squirrels start to squirm a little bit.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.

– Archbishop Angus


A Note on the “Man”

“Some things you miss because they’re so tiny you overlook them. But some things you don’t see because they’re so huge.” – Robert Pirsig

Okay, so sometimes I come off as a paranoid nut job waiting for the black helicopters to come and whisk me away.  I’m not quite that far gone so perhaps I’d better explain.  I grew up in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  Besides being heavily influenced by the ethic of the time I also picked up a lot of the language.  Because I tend toward the stubborn and ornery, I haven’t given it up.  So I still “Fight the Power” because “The Man is keeping me down”.  I know.  How delightfully anachronistic.  But there it is.

When I use the term “The Man” it’s a useful shorthand for all those forces and people that are aligned to keep people from being free, finding joy, and making the world a more beautiful and just place.  No, not in some pre planned giant conspiracy overseen by Dick Cheney from a super secret mountain bunker.  (Although that idea is kind of appealing.)  In fact not in any organized or conscious way at all.  But working against us never the less.

Power wants to stay in power and will act in a way that insures that it won’t have to share.  Rich wants to keep what it haves.  By law corporations must act in their own interest even if it kills people.  Those who live in fear of their own desires will try to control yours.  Anger is scared to death of forgiveness and understanding.  Ugly dislikes beauty.  Any and all of these groups use fear, violence, and distrust to advance their own goals.  Sometimes they work together, sometimes they work against each other but they ALWAYS work against the principles of Love, Beauty, and Joy.  Combine this with the very human traits of self interest, apathy, and laziness that we all share if we’re not vigilant and you have the “Man”.

In short, any group,individual, or personal impulse that tries to keep you from being free, feeling compassion, or manifesting joy is the Man.  And any group that uses fear and repression to control your behavior or destro beauty is an instrument of evil.  I hope that clears things up.  And I hope Dick Cheney calls off the black helicopters over my house.  Stay tuned.  I’ll put up the promised racism post tomorrow.


Divisions, Categories, and Bullshit.

“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.” – Lord George Byron

The Tao (or God, or Goddess, or Universal Is, or whatever) wants unity.  This seems simple enough.  Most, if not all, religions teach you to strive toward oneness and compassion for those seen as ‘other’.  However the Man wants divisions.  He seeks to stifle our spirit by dividing to conquer.  Here’s an idea?  Why don’t we ignore the stupid fucker?

ALL divisions are false.  This is most spectacularly true in matters of the heart, matters of the spirit, and matters of the soul.  Let’s start with soul.  Jews, Moslems, and the 400 kinds of Christians all worship the exact same God.  Hindus divide that God into various smaller components.  Buddhists find that God in themselves.  Animists find that God in the world around them.  Pagans find that God in nature.  Atheists choose not to look.  The important and unifying principle here is that everyone is tapping into a higher source.  But the Man doesn’t want us to agree.  He wants to harp on the man made differences to keep us separate, lonely and mad.  He figures if we keep arguing about which meat God hates or which day is holy we won’t notice that we actually agree on about 85% of this stuff.

I have a really good and wise friend named Paul.  He’s a conservative Christian.  I’m a wildly liberal nutcase.  Most of the time we AGREE on stuff.  Sure, we have our differences.  Many of them are cosmetic and all of them are irrelevant.  He wants to be a better person, cares for his family, helps those he can, etc.  I strive to do those same things.  Why in the world would we focus on the few places we don’t agree and lose out on the vast majority?  Yet this is what the Man tricks us into.  Are we that stupid?

When I was a kid there was music and there were radio stations.  Those radio stations had employees named DeeJays who played the music they liked.  They played rock, country, R&B, whatever they liked.  This kind of artistic inclusion drove the Man crazy because it helped fuel the hippie movement.  So the Man changed radio.  He ghettoized it.  He created ‘formats’ and began to get rid of the artistic DeeJay.  Now there are country stations and hip hop stations and pop stations.  And everyone os supposed to like or dislike entire genres of music.  You know where I

first heard Rappers Delight in the very early 80’s?  On WNEW, the rock station in NY.  The DeeJay liked it and played it.  Could that happen today?

Music is powerful.  It brings people together and reminds them that they are joyous creatures.  All music.  Michael Jackson just died.  Why was he so important?  Because he defied categorization.  He sang songs that had elements of R&B, rock, opera, country, whatever he liked at the time.  He was a ‘crossover’.  Really?  A crossover from what to what?  Bullshit. So why do we allow the Man to separate us into our little musical ghettos, keeping us from joy and inclusion?  My Ipod is full of disco, country, rap, rock classical pop, bagpipes, whatever I like.  And if some weasel in a marketing department can’t figure my taste out, tough shit.

What’s true for music is true for all the arts.  I won’t elaborate.  Apply your critical mind and figure it out yourself.  Is Casablanca a love story, a murder mystery, or a war movie?  Etc Etc Etc.

The cruelest way these divisions are applied is in matters of the heart.  It is damn hard to find someone to love, who loves you, and is willing to work hard on a long term relationship.  Frankly the odds suck.  But the Man knows how powerful love is, so he fucks with the odds to make them even worse.  You have to be heterosexual.  You have to date your own race.  You have to date your own social class.  You can’t date coworkers.  It goes on and on,  How about this?  Love whoever you fucking want to.  Be loved by whoever will.  And do the hard work of the relationship without the extra stress of race, sex, social class, etc etc.

Two quick notes.  First, I’m going to the Gay Pride parade tomorrow.  I’m not gay and many of my gay friends HATE the parade.  But I’m going for a very good reason.  Homosexuals have been told that their love is unacceptable for our society to officially sanction.  To that I say “Fuck You”.  I will stand with those who have lost a civil right.  Secondly, my next post is going to be about the falsest division of them all, race.  So stay tuned.  And the next time someone asks you which form of art or love or religion you prefer, strike a blow against the Man and say ‘All of them”.


The Fires NEXT Time…

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” – Woodrow Wilson

There’s a chinese curse that goes “May you live in interesting times”.  That has certainly been the case for me.  I was born in Kentucky in 1962 and raised in Tennessee until the age of 6.  Like a lot of kids I started reading by figuring out the signs in my environment.  In Memphis and Nashville in the mid 60’s that meant my early reading was dominated by the phrases ‘whites only’ and ‘no coloreds’.  In 1968 we moved to Detroit where most of the news and a lot of the adult conversation centered around race riots.  By 1973 my secretly radical father had had enough and we moved to NY and integrated schools.

My dad had very strong beliefs.  (The fact that he didn’t live up to many of them didn’t temper their intensity.)  One of his core beliefs was that race was imaginary.  People are people, end of discussion.  Skin color and birth country didn’t matter one whit to him.  He also tended to root for the underdog.  When there was a question of race he sided with whomever had endured the rougher path.  These two traits were passed on to me and I enthusiastically accepted them.  (I also picked up many of his more radical tendencies and I hope that I’m living up to at least a few of them.)  I believe in radical change, compassion, anarchy, love, equality, beauty, joy, sex, and fun.  I also believe that one’s life should be devoted to bringing about this change in any way possible.  I just wasn’t sure how to do it, or how I could contribute with my rather useless set of skills.  Rodney King changed all that.

When the verdict from the Rodney King trials came out of Simi Valley I got to see race riots for the first time as an adult.  My reaction was probably different from yours.  My first thought was “They’re burning the wrong stuff down!”.  While I thought their anger and response were justified, I was horrified because the results of the riots would just make their own lives more difficult.  Why burn down your grocery store when all of Beverly Hills was just up the street?  The ruling classes responsible for injustice were unlikely to make changes unless you threatened them, not your neighbors.  In short, their skill set did not allow them to channel that anger into something that would have been productive.  And I knew what I wanted to do.

The martial arts are all about controlling your anger and making quick decisions under pressure.  The biggest, meanest fighter doesn’t win.  The fighter with the most control wins.  In 1994 I quit my job in order to study Aikido and Tai Chi full time.  I augmented that with Zen and meditation and in 2001 I started my own 501(C)3 nonprofit in order to teach.  I developed the Somatic Integrity Program to help inner city kids center themselves and make good decisions under pressure.  It gives them a framework to say no to addiction, test better, and learn faster.  And the next time it is time to riot, they will stop and think first.  Take a breath and make a good decision.  And if something needs to be burned down, they’ll choose a better neighborhood to start with.  Viva la revolucion!


Perseverance

“Nothing in this world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of education derelicts. Perseverance and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge

A few quick words on politics.  I don’t belong to either major party.  The republicans frequently lack compassion and the democrats are devoid of common sense.  It seems to me that both parties are full of squirrels.  Cranky old repressed white guys on the right, overbearing mommies (of both sexes) on the left.  Having said that, what the hell is wrong with the republicans?  Are they trying to become a small, regional party of theocratic nutcases?  They’ve chosen to ignore the fiscal conservatives, libertarians, and social moderates that provide their party with a legitimate argument in the marketplace of ideas.  Instead they’ve decided to go with Rush, Michelle Malkin, Fox News, et al.

We are NOT a christian nation of sexually repressed white people and pretending otherwise is not useful.  Fear baiting only works for a little while, and that little while is OVER.  Move the fuck on.  Here’s a plan for the republicans.  Throw out the whack jobs that got you into this mess.  Walk away from your addiction to whacky theocrats.  Listen to the true libertarians and social moderates that are trying to save you.  Become a real party of opposition before you marginalize yourselves forever.

Remember, the battle against the squirrels is never ending.  Their ceaseless fussing and arguing are killing the country.  So take old Silent Cal’s advice and just keep pluggin along.