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War and Peace, DoubleQuoted

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — another reason to value Twitter ]
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These images were brought to my attention on Twitter via Ali Soufan:

The Guardian has larger versions 0f these images — and several more pairs of them — in a piece titled Syria’s heritage in ruins: before-and-after pictures posted in January 2014.

The “refugee” koan

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — considering both sides, while tilting one way or the other ]
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I call it a koan because you can flip it — there are two sides to it, and very possibly a serrated edge that it can balance on, foiling your best efforts to come up with a yes-no answer:

On the one side, Tsarnaev:

Not a Christian, BTW..

**

Okay, before the second shoe drops…

Consider this, from Benjamin Wittes, In Defense of Refugees today on Lawfare:

It is worth reflecting at least briefly on the security risks of turning our backs on hundreds of thousands of helpless people fleeing some combination of ISIS and Assad. Imagine teeming refugee camps in which everyone knows that America has abandoned them. Imagine the conspiracy theories that will be rife in those camps. Imagine the terrorist groups that will recruit from them and the righteous case they will make about how, for all its talk, the United States left Syria to burn and Syrians to live in squalor in wretched camps in neighboring countries. I don’t know if this situation is more dangerous, less dangerous, or about as dangerous as the situation in which we admit a goodly number of refugees, help resettle others, and run some risk—which we endeavor to mitigate — that we might admit some bad guys. But this is not a situation in which all of the risk is stacked on the side of doing good, while turning away is the safe option. There is risk whatever we do or don’t do.

Most profoundly, there is risk associated with saying loudly and unapologetically that we don’t care what happens to hundreds of thousands of innocent people — or that we care if they’re Christian but not if they’re Muslim, or that we care but we’ll keep them out anyway if there’s even a fraction of a percent chance they are not what they claim to be. They hear us when we say these things. And they will see what we do. And those things too have security consequences.

And, from a very different area of the political spectrum, this:

There’s a reason that hospitality is actually a religious virtue and not just a thing that nice people do: it is sacrificial. Real hospitality involves risk, an opening of the door to the unknown other. There is a reason it is so important in the Biblical narratives, which were an ancient people’s attempt to work out what they thought God required of them in order to be the people of God. Hospitality isn’t just vacuuming and putting out appetizers and a smile — it’s about saying, “Oh holy Lord, I hope these people don’t kill me or rape my daughters, but our human society relies on these acts of feeding and sheltering each other, so I must be brave and unlock the door.” Scary stuff. Big stuff. Ancient and timeless stuff. “You shall welcome the stranger.”

Now: is that wisdom, or foolishness?

**

Aha, the second shoe..

Besides Tsarnaev, who else do we know who came here as a refugee?

albert einstein non christian refugee

Einstein, no less.

And Einstein was not a Christian either, FWIW.

The peace koan

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — turning the wheel ]
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When Erik Schelzig tweeted:

Kevin Kruse responded

— and that’s about as neat and sweet a statement of the peace paradox as any I’ve seen.

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War and Peace: yang and yin?

**

John 14.27:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

I don’t believe there’s any promise of the cessation of war here — the peace offered here is a peace that’s operative in times of both war and peace.

It must be peace from the warness of war, peace even in fighting, no?

To my mind this is the koan all peace-lovers, peace-keepers, and peace-makers must grapple with: stillness within?

I’ll be returning to this — “the dance at the still point of the turning wheel..”

Krishna, meet Radha

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — Muslims in India celebrate Krishna and his beloved ]
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Amicable coexistence.

Here we see a Muslim father in India, with his daughter arrayed as Radha, the beloved, lover, and companion of the Hindu deity Krishna:

Radha and father 602

I’m posting it here because it beautifully complements another photo which you may have seen before, since I’ve posted it here at least once:

Krishna and mother 602

Here a Muslim mother is walking with her son dressed in the costume of Krishna.

**

Krishna is a manifestation of the divine as playful, beautiful, musical, seductive. He steals the hearts of his devotees, both male and female, with the entrancing music of his flute — but it is Radha who is his beloved.

For a full appreciation of the love between Radha and Krishna, the Bengali poet-saints have composed numerous songs. In this one, it is Radha who speaks:

How can I describe his relentless flute,
which pulls virtuous women from their homes
and drags them by their hair to Shyam
as thirst and hunger pull the doe to the snare?
Chaste ladies forget their wisdom,
and clinging vines shakes loose from their trees,
hearing that music.
Then how shall a simple dairymaid withstands its call?

Chandidasa says,
Kala the puppet master leads the dance.

I can recommend two books on the topic, the first exploring the theology of Radha and Krishna as sung by the wandering saints of Bengal, the second offering a selection of poems which might be sung of an evening to recount the story of their love, and from which the example above was taken:

  • Edward Dimock, The Place of the Hidden Moon: Erotic Mysticism in the Vaisnava-Sahajiya Cult of Bengal
  • Edward Dimock and Denise Levertov, In Praise of Krishna: Songs from the Bengali
  • Warrior / Spirit

    Sunday, September 6th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — is “conflict resolution” in conflict with “conflict” — and if so, what’s the appropriate resolution? ]
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    In Search of Warrior Spirit Yoga Joe
    [left] Strozzi-Heckler’s book, now in its fourth edition; [right] one of a series of figures called Yoga Joes.

    **

    Craig Davies at a site called Art-Sheep has a post titled Classic Green Army Figures Practicing Yoga Instead Of Holding Guns, and sees thing in black and white, or perhaps better, darkness and light:

    If something is a total opposite to war, that is the practice of yoga. Concentrating or relaxing your muscles and mind in order to release tension, is something a soldier would never have the luxury to do under the dangerous circumstances of war.

    Inventor Dan Abramson thought of a amazingly creative and beautiful way to connect the two, by creating “Yoga Joes”, a series of simple green plastic army men that have some killer… yoga moves.

    Apart from artistically interesting, Abramson’s cool idea to create a series of yoga soldiers gives an essence of serenity to the cruel and violent nature of war.

    “I made Yoga Joes because I thought that it would be a fun way to get more people into yoga – especially dudes… beyond that, I wanted to make a violent toy become peaceful,” he says.

    That’s glib, and wrong, and not too far from what many people think who identify with the “peace” side of “war and peace”.

    **

    Richard Strozzi-Heckler, on the other hand..

    Well, he was one of them, teaching Aikido, arguably the most openly pacifistic of the martial arts — and when he got invited to train some Green Berets, in the words of George Leonard:

    Even before the program got started, Richard was excoriated by people he respected for even considering teaching aikido and other awareness disciplines to Green Berets, to “trained killers.”

    Leonard goes on to ask some probing questions:

    Does this imply that those of us who love peace would have no soldiers at all? And if we do have soldiers, do we really want them to be deprived of the best possible training? Do we want low-grade soldiers with no awareness or empathy? And if we do teach awareness and empathy to our soldiers, will they be able to perform the brutal tasks sometimes assigned them? Surely we don’t want a horde of Rambos loosed upon the world. But if not Rambo, then who?

    **

    Think for a minute:

    If something is a total opposite to war, that is the practice of yoga.

    Yeah? And the total opposite of one is many? or none? or minus one? or all?

    If I asked you, what is the opposite of yoga, would you say war?

    And what’s the opposite of peace?

    I wrote above of those who identify with the “peace” side of “war and peace” — and there are, by contrast, those who who identify more readily with the “war” side — but are those two sides “at war” with one another? Can, to press the point, “peace” be “at war” with anything?

    **

    Sources:

  • Dan Abramson, Yoga Joes: here to keep the inner peace
  • George Leonard, intro to Strozzi-Heckler, In Search of the Warrior Spirit: Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Green Berets
  • **

    Comparative realities?

    toy & statue

    The Buddha‘s Diamond Sutra:

    So I say to you –
    This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:

    Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
    Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
    Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.

    So is all conditioned existence to be seen.


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