Category Archives: Fighting Authoritarian Groups

Sikh Women Gain Voting Rights at Bristol Gurdwara

Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahe Guru Ji Fateh
This is a great story that I really enjoyed writing up, now published in The Sikh Times.
Sikh Women Gain Voting Rights at Bristol Gurdwara

By KAMALLA ROSE KAUR

The Sikh Times, Aug. 31, 2008


Photo: Bristol Gurdwara

Come join with me, my sisters,
And sing songs of joy and delight.
My true friends have arrived in my home!
–Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh scripture), p. 764

The Sikh religion preaches and promotes equal rights for women. Female subordination, the practice of taking a father’s or a husband’s last name, practicing rituals that imply dependence are all alien to Sikh principles. Yet in the last 400 years, most Sikh institutions have been run by Sikh men. In the West, it is often elderly men whose concerns and politics are back in India.
–Walayti Singh Chauhan, current President of the Bristol Gurdwara

Background

On October 14 2007, the management committee of the Sikh gurdwara (temple) at Fishponds Road, Bristol, U.K. voted seven to one for women’s suffrage. The lone opposing vote was cast by the then General Secretary Mohinderjit Singh Bhatti.

In the following weeks and months no confirmation of the historic reform was announced to the Sikh sangat (congregation). In response to this silence, several Sikh women met with the Gurdwara President Walayti Singh Chauhan. He agreed that the decision would be announced and confirmed in a letter to the Sikh community.

‘Walayti Singh took the brave step and put the committee’s agreement of October 2007 onto paper, knowing that he may face resentment.’ Gurdip Kaur, a member and women’s rights activist in her 60s, said, ‘He is responsible for ensuring that the basic tenets of Sikhi (Sikhism) were enforced; to treat all humankind as equals. He stood up for what is right.’

Sikh women from Bristol have been demanding their right to vote in gurdwara elections for decades. According to Gurdip Kaur, ‘Over seventy-five letters were sent to gurdwara committees over the last twenty-five years regarding total equality for Sikh women. These letters have all been disregarded.’

Conflict

President Walayti Singh also supported the women’s plans to celebrate their success at an upcoming event. Six female Sikh speakers were contacted and several notable non-Sikhs were asked to speak including Dave Chapple, the national chair of the U.K. National Shop Stewards Network.

However, General Secretary Mohinderjit Singh Bhatti refused to allow more than two women speakers and would not approve any non-Sikh speakers.

The president and the women activists complied with the general secretary’s wishes and only two Sikh women spoke on Sunday, May 4. The outside speakers were cancelled. The activists felt that the most important part was that Sikh women had gotten the vote.

After the women spoke, General Secretary Mohinderjit Singh Bhatti took to the podium and strongly urged against women’s suffrage. He did not acknowledge that the management committee had already approved the reform.

From the perspective of the congregation, the general secretary stood on the right side of the podium and the president stood on the left. While General Secretary Mohinderjit Singh was attempting to persuade the congregation to reverse the women’s victory, Gurudip Kaur approached President Walayti Singh and asked if she might speak. He agreed and she was handed the microphone when he concluded his own speech. Seeing this, the general secretary crossed the podium and took the microphone from Gurudip Kaur despite her resistance. The following uproar resulted in a ten-minute shouting match.

Javinder Singh, who would soon be elected the new general secretary of the committee, noted, ‘Seeing an insult against an elderly woman of this sort was unbelievable; this act was totally deplorable and extremely sad.’

In response to this incident, President Walayti Singh Chauhan suspended Mohinderjit Singh Bhatti from the role of general secretary, asking him to return gurdwara documents in his possession until the incident could be investigated. The gurdwara election, scheduled for May 11, 2008, was postponed so that women members had time to register to vote and to let things cool down.

But in the days after the incident Mohinderjit Singh Bhatti failed to return the gurdwara documents. After three formal requests, legal counsel was sought by President Walayti Singh and legal proceedings were launched to retrieve the documents. The documents contained minutes of committee meetings and records of decisions made.

Mohinderjit Singh Bhatti ceased attending gurdwara services and so did the vice president and vice treasurer of the committee. His backers now included three out of the eight members of the gurdwara’s management committee, although they had originally voted for women’s suffrage in October 2007.

Mediation

Seeking a quick election before the women could register, Mohinderjit Singh’s group went to the Bristol police. They explained that Walayti Singh’s term as gurdwara president was already up and they felt he had no right to postpone the election. The police agreed to mediate the dispute using five representatives from each side. Mohinderjit Singh Bhatti’s side was composed of older men, all born in the Punjab. The women’s suffrage group included a wide range of ages, with both sexes represented, four born in the U.K. and one in India. They met with the police once.

Over two weeks, plus a few extra days’ extension, Sikh women registered. By the end of this period, 170 Sikh women were ready to vote. With suffrage established, three women, Narindar Kaur, Anita Kaur and Sheila Kaur, pursued management committee positions. They became part of the pro-suffrage team, with Walayti Singh Chauhan running for another term as gurdwara president.

On election day, Sikh voters would cast only one vote, choosing one management committee team or the other. Although Mohinderjit Singh Bhatti was not on the ballot, his brother ran for the position of general secretary. On the other side, Walayti Singh’s team offered the Sikh community a revolutionary new committee with men and women, and adults of all ages.

The pro-women’s-suffrage slate was comprised of Walayti Singh Chauhan (president), Shamsher Singh Patel (vice president), Javinder Singh (general secretary), Satchet Singh (vice general secretary), Kuldip Singh (treasurer), Narindar Kaur (vice treasurer), Anita Kaur (langar jathedar), and Sheila Kaur (vice langar jathedar).

The anti-women’s-suffrage slate was comprised of Raghir Singh Nirman (president), Baldev Singh (vice president), Mohanjit Singh Bhatti (general secretary), Jaswant Singh (vice general secretary), Mohan Singh (treasurer), Satnam Singh Amritsaria (vice treasurer), Harpal Singh (langar jathedar), and Raju Singh (vice langar jathedar).

Mohinderjit Singh hired an attorney and requested that the attorney be allowed to be present during the negotiations. When the police firmly declined this request, Mohinderjit Singh’s group decided to stop attending the meetings. Instead, they informed the police that the election would be held on July 6, 2008. They added that they were hiring a private security firm to keep the peace on election day.

However, Bhatti’s team did not inform the Sikh congregation adequately about the election. Many Sikhs worshiping that Sunday did not know that it was an election day.

Fearing an outbreak in violence the Bristol police interceded and dismissed the hired security guards. They insisted that proper voting procedures be in place prior to the election. They asked for two members from each side to meet with them immediately. Over the next few weeks the two sides successfully negotiated the details of the upcoming election and signed a contract.

Mohinderjit Singh Bhatti’s side was asked by the police to stop sending out letters to the sangat, as this was confusing the members. It was agreed that an independent voting company should be brought in. The Association of Electoral Administrators agreed to conduct the election. Voting registration was again extended to allow the traditionally-minded Sikh women, who do not believe in their right to vote, to register to vote. The voting company insisted that the registration be complete a week before the election and that the final voting list be just that, the final voting list.

For the next two weeks Sikh women were encouraged to register to vote and on the last day they extended the registration by a few hours so that the latecomers standing in line could finish registering.

Yet on July 27, 2008, two days after registration had closed and the voting list had been finalized, Mohinderjit Singh Bhatti’s team insisted that they had seventy-nine more women they needed to register. The voting company refused, citing the contracts in place.

‘The anti-women’s-suffrage side were in fear that their power would be cut off forever. So they were doing everything possible to win,’ Javinder Singh, the new general secretary, commented. ‘They knew if they lost it would be the end for their sort.’

Election Day

On Sunday morning, August 3, 2008, many Sikhs from both sides arrived at the gurdwara at 8 A.M. Voting would begin at 10 A.M. Tensions were running high. The seventy-nine Sikh women who had not made the registration deadline – women who were angry that they were denied their right to vote against their right to vote – were vocal. The police blockaded the street and the media arrived. One Sikh man was arrested but later released. Some of the seventy-nine women and their supporters surrounded the voting company manager’s car in protest.

‘The Association of Electoral Administrators was very patient during the negotiation leading up to the elections,’ reported Javinder Singh. ‘They were understanding, firm and fair throughout the election process. They ensured the elections were conducted independently and professionally.’

Fifteen minutes before the election was due to start the police called a meeting of both sides, which delayed the election for two hours. The pro-women’s-suffrage side offered to let 80% of the unregistered women register and the voting company agreed. This offer was angrily dismissed and Mohinderjit Singh and his supporters boycotted the election.

The election, although delayed, went forward. 93% of the votes went to the pro-women’s-suffrage team with Mohinderjit Singh Bhatti’s side receiving only 4% of the vote. Seemingly, even if the anti-women’s-suffrage side had voted – including all seventy-nine late registering Sikh women – Mohinderjit Singh Bhatti’s side would have lost.

‘We commend the Avon & Somerset police for their understanding of the situation that we found ourselves in,’ said newly-re-elected President Walayti Singh Chauhan. ‘It was a great job done. They were sensitive and respectful of the Sikh principles at all times.’

Javinder Singh, the new general secretary added, ‘When the women bowed to our holy Sikh scripture (Guru Granth Sahib), our Guruji, to accept their official duties, they glowed with a happiness and joy that seemed almost transcendent to me. I realized I had never seen that look on the faces of those Sikh women before and that made me determined to keep fighting for the rights of Sikh sisters and women everywhere.’

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Why God Is Often a ‘She’ by Elizabeth Johnson

Theologically Sikhi is so far ahead of Christianity when it comes to teaching that Creator/Creation, the All-That-Is, includes female and male and everything else.

Meanwhile Christians are so far ahead of Sikhs in actually practicing gender equality and dropping the feudal, crazy, scary, authoritarian use of He, Him, King, Lord, Highest Lord, Lordy Lord Lord when speaking about the Beloved One. Wonder if there is a Khalsa Knight, or other Sikh, brave enough to call God “She” – outloud in public and inside -for a mere 6 months and report back to us what they experience? I rather doubt it.

Why God Is Often a ‘She’
The Scriptures abound with female imagery for the Deity. There’s no reason we can’t use it ourselves when thinking about God
Elizabeth A. Johnson, SCJ

Excerpted from Commonweal Magazine.

Today, both women and men are questioning our reliance on male language for God. They are rediscovering female imagery for the divine long hidden in Scripture and tradition. Feminist artists, poets, composers, and theologians are fashioning new images for God out of women’s experience. Language about God is expanding gender-wise, even to the point of referring to the divine mystery as “She.” I believe that there is a strong theological argument in favor of such language.

Numerous biblical texts offer potent female images of God. God as childbearer: giving birth, midwifing, nursing, and holding an infant. God as an angry mother bear robbed of her cubs. God as homemaker: knitting, baking, washing up, searching for her money. God as the female figure of Wisdom: creating, ordering, and saving the world.

In fact, the personification of God as Lady Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs and elsewhere provides one of the earliest interpretive frameworks for Christology. Jesus is even called the Wisdom of God in the New Testament. Furthermore, the spirit is often presented in female metaphors.

For some literal-minded believers, however, the we are not free to expand our God-language in this way. They argue that Jesus himself spoke to and about God as father (abba) and that He taught His disciples to do likewise. Such an argument sets its sights too narrowly. Jesus’ language about God, far from being gender-exclusive, is diverse and colorful in its reference to the sexes, as can be seen in the imaginative parables He created: the woman searching for her lost coin (female), the shepherd looking for his lost sheep (male), the baker kneading her dough (female), the traveling businessman (male), the employer offending some his workers by his generosity to others (male). Jesus used these and many other human and cosmic metaphors (such as blowing wind), in addition to the good and loving things that fathers do.

A final argument for using female symbols for God arises from the practical effects of God-language on the church. Imagery for God helps us understand the world. The way a faith community talks about God indicates what it considers the highest good, the profoundest truth. This language, in turn, molds the community’s behavior, as well as its members’ self-understanding.

The fact that Christians ordinarily speak about God in the image of a male ruler is problematic. For feminist theology, the difficulty does not lie with the male metaphors. Men as well as women are created in the image of God. The problem lies in the fact that the specific male images reflect a patriarchal arrangement of the world, casting God into the mold of an omnipotent, even if benevolent, monarch. God’s maternal relation to the world is eclipsed.

Incorporating female-centered divine images reverses this. She is the giver of life who pervades the cosmos like a mother bird hovering over the primordial chaos (Genesis 1:2). She shelters those in difficulty under Her wings (Psalm 17:8) and bears up the enslaved on Her great wings toward freedom (Exodus 19:4). Like a mother, She knits new life together in the womb (Psalm 139:13); like a midwife, She works deftly to bring about the new creation (Psalm. 22:9-10); like a washerwoman, She scrubs away bloody stains of sin (Psalm. 51:7). These and other such symbols invoke the exuberant, life-giving power of women.

Such symbols are but modest starting points for a more inclusive God-talk. Developing these symbols today is a theologically central task for the whole church. But the living God and the vitality of the faith community require that a more inclusive way of speaking about divine mystery be developed. God reimagined in female terms can breathe new life into religious language and symbols that bear the ancient responsibility of conveying what is most holy, loving, merciful, just, and wise.

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Canadian Girl Speaks at the United Nations

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BLUE BAROQUE by David Mason

About David Mason
“It is a schuloper!” David says with a German accent impersonating Bertolt Brecht.

“School operas were musicals designed to broaden the knowledge of scholars; educational dramas designed for teaching political lessons. These works are rich in realism and challenge political and didactic, as well as physical and biological, thermodynamic interpretations.”

TITLE: BLUE BAROQUE
Subtitle: or, It’s probably worse than you think.
Keywords: entropy, future, change
Author and affiliation: David. T. Mason, Fairhaven College, WWU 98225
©1990 David T. Mason

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Preface and My Comrades
2. Humans, Life and Entropy
3. Culture as a Biological Phenomenon
4. The Worst Thing I Know
5. Thrice Transcendent, Go Fourth!
6. Research Strategies, a doorway to change
7. Ten Radical Ideas to Help Save the Earth

1. Preface and My Comrades

IMAGE: Out of a Blue Sky: Air

I would like to share with you seven of my severest concerns, seven glooms that glower in yellow melancholy, mist-like, as dank clouds on my half-head’s horizon.

I would like to share a few of the odd umbral images these clouds cast upon me.

As herald preface to begin, I announce, I acknowledge and I try to characterize the queer stress of autobiography on thought.
–I come from a commitment to comrades
Their love is as close to truth as I’ll ever be worthy
“For you, for you I am trilling these songs.”
–so I want to sing a simple two-part song which I wrote for Richard.
It is called “My Song for Richard.”
He may have liked it; I’m not sure.
I will teach it to you.
Hum along, with either part, please. It’s a good warm-up piece.
You hum, I’ll sing the words. Please.

I care for you. Your smile is true.
Your heart is warm and dear.
I love so much your tender touch.
Your thoughts are bright and clear.

—-àNow it’s time for audience participation. Take a pencil and card, and complete this sentence in the next minute or so:
“You only see what you think you see unless…”

2. HUMANS, LIFE AND ENTROPY

Image: Blue Turbulence, Chaos and Order: Water

THE SERMON: Life, it seems, has built of itself a tiny dam
on a small diversion of the great river of solar energy
that arrives on earth.
The dam-the dam that is life-
holds that diverted energy on earth for a few cosmic moments longer
than it would were there not life,
were there not the dam on its diversion.
The energy slows down;
it is held in the web of life;
and then life lets it go again, out to the cold cosmos.
Through the long history of living process on earth,
the diversion of energy to life has grown and expanded
as plants spread from the seas to the lands
and as eaters ensnared the energy
in longer and more complicated slow pathways.
Evolution and the spread of life
have increased the volume of energy held by the biotic dam,
have increased the biomass on earth.
It appears that earthly life has always maintained
an overall strategy or purpose of
increasing the length of time that useful energy
spends on this living planet.
Life does this by offering energy
the possibility of passage through a continuing, complex,
slow cascade of low temperature improbabilities
that constitute the metabolism of the whole globe.

In the time since the plague of photosynthesis,
since the great oxytoxic crisis, billions of years ago,
humans seem the only organism ever
to have managed the large-scale simplification of the global biosphere,
the only organism ever
to have impacted major pathways and flows
of materials and energy on the planet.
We mine and disburse phosphates;
we fix and pump nitrogen out to our fields;
and we burn forests and fossil fuels
in the great incessant hearth roar of a hot civilization
spreading across the earth.
We are, it seems, acting contrary to the example of all life before us
by opposing life’s very purpose,
by tunneling through the dam,
weakening it, by exploitation and extinction,
draining to atmosphere through our flames the vast reduced-carbon past.

It is full time to forget the crap about our human nobility and to begin to regard ourselves as a seriously pathogenic organism, essentially out of any currently “humane” control, doing and threatening further and greater irreparable damage to the life of this lonely planet.

Throughout the spheres from the bang at the start
Bright energy’s gone from thickness to thin
Sun’s bright glowing
Heat goes flowing
Out to the dark where the pale stars aren’t
Pale stars, pole stars aren’t.

On this planet, perhaps, by will or by chance
Energy stuck in a tentative eddy
Sun-Stream backwater
Life-dam slackwater
Slowed the flow that warms the dark dance.
Warms the dark, forms the dark dance.

Freedom is clamp’d in molecular traps
As success must repeat all over again
Doing as did
What the ancestors bid
While lyric mistakes create the perhaps
Create the per-fectable-haps

The dam, in the flow toward wasting, grew
As integrative creatures evolved to be ready.
Earth and sea bloomin’
‘Til suddenly: humans
Found the dams edible. Sad tale but true.
Sad, sad tale and too true.

3. CULTURE AS A BIOLOGICAL PHENOMENON

IMAGE: Glow in a Box in a Box in a Box: Blue Hierarchies

They usta do it, do it, do it,
With their chromosomes
They usta do it, do it, do it,
In their treetop homes.
They usta do it, do it, do it,
With a gamete here ‘n’ there.
They usta do it, do it, do it,
Where mutation made the brave-deserving fair.

See the zygote, zygote, zygote,
Headin’ for the matrix wall
Ya see the zygote, zygote, zygote,
Ontongenatin’ nature’s call.

An’ now we do it, do it, do it,
Language be our nucleotide.
They usta do it, now we do it,
Teachin’ greed an’ teachin’ pride.

*
We got a culture, culture, culture,
Livin’ on the back of our genes,
We got a culture, culture, culture,
Mutants always haunting our dreams.

We got a culture, culture, culture,
Wi’ specialists in mystery.
We got a culture, culture, culture,
Ontogenatin’ history.
Phylogenatin’ entropy.
Progenatin’ short term free.

The question: What is a “Darwin Machine”?
The answer: A Darwin Machine is “a class of computing device…[that] can evolve an idea [or other anit-entropic formation], using variation-then selection, in much the szme way that biology evolves a new species using Darwin’s natural selection to edit random genetiv variations and so shape new body[and] behavioral] styles.”-Wm. H. Calvin
In Cerebral Symphony
[and}-DTM

It is useful to think of culture as an evolved phenomenon, as an adapted and selected constraint on our futures. In the same way that our pre-selected DNA reduces our freedom and constrains us to be biologically human, culture constrains us to be effectively social and to teach our progeny the wise lore of our forebears.
We humans have in our several cultures, then, all the things which worked in the past, which were selected for by the needs of a former present.
A Darwin Machine may be seen working variously at several levels of the biology that is culture. And the same mechanisms motivate and guide it as motivate and guide organic evolution.

It is particularly important today to explore what kind of an animal our cultures have made us into. (Civilized traditions mostly teach just the opposite: that is, how un-animal-like cultures makes us.)

4. THE WORST THING I KNOW

IMAGE: Looking into a mirror: Self

(a)
We are what we were and what worked in those times;
We are a past of success.
The trouble of course is what worked in those times
Got us into this mess.

So what worked and was “good” in the time that is past,
The values we all hold so dear,
Are the self-same values selected to last
By a past that got us where we’re.

**
(b)
From the teachings of our culture and the dictates of our genes’
We have learned and been selected to exploit and to control;’
We disregard all other creatures and demean the green terrene
Four our selfish short-term benefit, and our solipsistic souls.

What we acted on as “good”, what our behavior honor’d most,
What has come from pasts most sacred to our cultures fat with hosts,
Is now the quintessential problem: We’re adapted to be ghosts.
We never passed our wanton past, so “good” is only good for ghosts.

Both our genes and then our culture learned to be what we have been:
Perfected as exploiters, in the distant Pleistocene.
We are all the things we needn’t be, alas a stunning blow.
We’re inertially adapted: And that’s the worst thing that I know.

5. THICE TRANSCENDENT, GO FOURTH.

How be so sudden as new?
How a new who that’s still you?
Who be a difference for now?
Now for a different new who.

Consider this abstract geography: one crystalline transparent sheet cleaves obliquely through another and both through yet another.
We are so camped in the intersecting planes of self, social, and species consciousnesses.
And proud of it.
Red-necked human chauvinist pig flickin’ proud of it.
Proud of Each Self, born transcending the womb’s dark comfort.
Then proud of each individual, transcending self to be a social creature.

Then proud of those who transcend the societies of their rearing.
who come to see us all as one burgeoning profligate human species,
glorying in our selves and societies, thrice transcendent.
life at last with a consciousness to know itself and the world!
O wondrous proud Man!
We are camped in the intersecting planes of self, social, and species awarenesses. And proud of it.
We are camped here, now, telling stories.
We have come from our dens wondering some promise
of where we might go. And would we be “disturbed”?
Or might we be frightened by our afflicted selves,
by our abortive societies,
by our adipose-offal species?

Proud and yet frightened even by our pride?

Can we not transcend beyond self-serving goals,
beyond society-serving goals,
beyond species-serving goals,
to see the proper place for our strategies:
To learn to serve all life on this plante?
Even if this may mean a life or a planet without humans?

What are we willing to die for?

I am willing to die for other species.

IMAGE: Snuff the lit flames with blue heads: Fire dying.

Smooth muscle transcendence from utter dependence
From matrix to blindingly self. (Birth First!)

Then thou art born, from me and for us
And I like-wise, from you,
We joy, we joy to socialize,
And make one us fit two.

From two to two-to-the-tenth we grew
Our selves a species at large
Transcending culturehood, nurture and nature would
Reckon it cool to be gene in that pool
Of the species that threatens the earth. (Worth thirst!)
So one more time hence, transcend yet this sense
Of species, o proud prodigal,
Whose g’o-chemical curse, biocidal perverse
Is both terminal and episodical.

Transcend to a place in an infecund race
Bring an end t’your genetics right now, (Right Now)
Return to the garden, from first sin be ye pardon’d
For the birth of the worst cursed earth first. (Earth First!)

Don’t breed!
Don’t breed!
Don’t breed!
Don’t breed!
Don’t breed!

At this time I would like to offer you the opportunity to come forward and make a commitment to the future of life on earth. I suspect most of you, if you consider it carefully, will not wish to do this. Nevertheless, I have made a few buttons which say “I am willing to die for other species.” You may come forward and take a button if you will promise to wear it, and believe it, and try to move others toward your commitment. Those people who are willing to commit themselves to die for other species of life, may now come forward.

6. RESEARCH STRATEGIES: A DOORWAY TO CHANGE

IMAGE: Janus, Roman god of doorways, of expeditions,
of setting the feet free; of Yana, mode of knowing:
Interface

Can we escape the clutch of the promise of our past?
Can we change? Biologically? or even culturally?
One appropriate avenue for immediate change may be in the kinds of input we develop for making decisions, in the kinds of study and research we do, in the assumptions we make before we bring knowledge to management. Too frequently in the past we have followed the broad, comforting, empiricist avenues of logic, experience, and action, and so we have systematically prepared the promise of the future form the wisdom of the past. But that “wise” past is so fraught with the heritages of exploitation and species-chauvinism as to make us the unwitting perpetrator of the problem of ourselves. Rather let us invite the baroque guest of educated indecision to the table of our times, that its presence in dynamic waiting patience might nourish the intuitive, the essentially human, in the suspended tension of unmade decision. Be meek!

Wisdom comes from opposite tensions
As science should look to its internal poles
For suspension in motion, a retentive dimension,
Hangs tangled, a plexus of cause.

Janus at doorways is keeping and letting
A demon decider whose ken stretches far,
The ineffable will-spark or the critical eddy,
That brought us to live near this particular star.
*
We assume that we either know something or nothing,
And proceed to learn something through each separate course;
By guesses confirmed and by patterns perceived,
Our tensor will hold out a polar re-source.

Resolution delayed in the nexus of will,
The pause that’s so human descends as a veil
The hush that gives rise to the thew to intuit says:
Do it. Don’t do it. While you stay you won’t fail.

When acquiring knowledge from and applying knowledge to large, information-controlled, and imperfectly knowable complex systems, ongoing critical dialogue is (probably) better than conclusion and action, and comfortably lingering doubt is certainly better than abrupt decision and certainty, I…I think.

**
Chorus: Seeing that seeing will never be free
For all I can see is my own history,
Knowing that knowing is locked in a trap
I’m lost in my brain with an ages-old map.

Verse: If you have a map of where you’re going
If you know the stations ‘long the way
Then you’ll learn what you have known and learning
You’ll refine your map with shades of gray.

(Chorus)

If you have a map of where you’re going
And seek to see the patterns that you’ve seen
Then it’s safe to say you’ll find what you’re seeking
For the looking shaped the seeing of the scene.

(Chorus)

7. TEN RADICAL IDEAS TO HELP SAVE THE EARTH

I begin this conclusion, strangely, with two 19th century comments on the status and potential of the American earth: a fragment of a poem by Walt Whitman-I would be his elve, his comrade-and by a brief quotation from John Stuart Mill.

IMAGE: Blue living compost: Earth

Whitman writes in THIS COMPOST:

“…Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless
successions of diseas’d corpses,
It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.”

This written of a pristine America some 7 generations ago.

About the same time, John Stuart Mill predicted that if the Western world took the road we have in fact taken, the environment must eventually be destroyed: “the earth must lose that great portion of its pleasantness which it owes to things that the unlimited increase in wealth…would extirpate form it…I sincerely hope,” said Mill, “for the sake of posterity, that [future generations} will be content to be stationary, long before necessity compels them to it.”

**
It is fashionable, it has been good, and it may even now be valuable to generate some little light in the dank gloom at the end of such half-headed intellectual cloud gatherings.

I have therefore, to conclude this conclusion, prepared a short list of moderately radical policies or objectives that derive from that same basic thermodynamic and biotic principles that govern the critique of my species I have just presented.

I trust we are all aware that the changes we humans must make are radical, reaching variously to the ultimate distal roots of our cultures and possibly even into our genetics. The changes must come; otherwise we will be condemned tragically to repeat our cataclysmic and degrading struggle with the limits of earth, with fewer and fewer informational resources on which to draw. The following suggestions are a starting list that goes beyond the brick-in-the-toilet approach to reform. I urge you to consider them carefully, to debate and test them, to improve and add to them, and always to keep the grim factors of our essential profligacy as motive and guide to the reform of human nature.

A HANDFUL OF RADICAL THINGS
YOU or I or WE CAN DO TO SAVE THE EARTH

1. Retract all cultural missionaries: religious, intellectual, economic, and political. Everybody go home and work toward the material and energic self-sufficiency of each and all cultures.

2. Don’t use any new non-renewable resources; build all devices for repeated re-use. (An intact ecosystem is essentially non-renewable.)

3. Decrease the average non-metabolic energy use per person, with a goal of 5% of the present values in first world countries.

4. Do not make or fly airplanes.

5. Feed back all wastes as close as possible to their source until they are eliminated within the process that generated them, or until a use is found for them.

6. Shift away from incentives for profligacy and toward incentives for reducing entropy. Prohibit exercise for the purpose of counteracting overeating. Exercise only restraint. Don’t ride the elevator to the gym.

7. Do no pay people to manipulate people’s money; treat them all as addicts. Send me all your money. I will burn it for you. [I always tell the truth.]

8. Study and develop programs for eliminating the apparently involuntary worship of non-metabolic energy jumps, like hot cars, waterfalls, and fire.

9. Isolate and depopulate human societies on earth. Goal: an absolute maximum of 10 million humans, partitioned between Eurasia and Africa. (Ten generations of one child per couple will do this.)

and 10. To speed speciation, sterilize all but the meek, that they alone may inherit.

During the few remaining minutes, consider these suggestions quietly and note other radical ideas that may invade your own head.
We need them all.
Diversity is the basic resource of a Darwin Machine.

And while you consider, listen now with one ear to a canon,
A baroque, 4-part canon,
Which I wrote for Richard.
It is called, “My Canon for Richard”.
He may have like it; I’m not sure.
I will not teach it to you. And each of you, please,
Hum along with no more than two parts at once.

David Mason Postcard 1

Postcard 2

Postcard 3

Postcard 4

Postcard 5

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Union Songs!

The fight is between the down and the up, not the right and the left.

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Sikhs and the London Race for Mayor

In response to this article in the UK Evening Standard CLICK HERE

Harmander Singh wrote:

Dear Editor,

On behalf of Sikhs In England, I write to express dismay concerning Mr Gilligan’s two articles on the Mayoral election in which he castes a inaccurate but speculative conjectures relating to the Sikh community which any reasonable person would find offensive.

Whilst it is recognised that newsmedia have a duty to explore and report any aspect of candidates standing for public office, it is also accepted that some candidates are supported or scrutinised more than others, however, to tarnish whole communities based on partial information is not what as Londoners we have come to expect from the Evening Standard.

Generic media phrases such as ‘The vast majority of the British Sikh community is peaceful and lawabiding’ often belie an underbelly of tainted scepticism of the writer and have the effect of marginalising the whole community no matter what niceties that follow – these same phrases have historically been used by the media when reporting on the Irish, Black and Muslim communities and have had a most unhelpful effect.

Given the articles are about the election in which a number of Right Wing candates are standing, I wonder whether Mr Gilligan would be minded to repeat these words in referring to the indigenous community – I certainly hope not as this would not be a fair reflection of Londoners as a whole.

For the record, the trial of the 1985 Air India downed flight proved less conclusive than Mr Gilligan suggests as there seem to be at least two conflicting theories. It is understood that the ‘BBC File on 4 investigation earlier this year unearthed current links between leading British-based Sikh militants and al-Qaeda’ assertion made by Mr Gilligan is also a subject of further scrutiny as to its accuracy.

It would seem that by writing that ‘Britain’s large Sikh community provided money,,,,,’ Mr Gilligan has ironically fell on his own sword of ‘sexing up’ an otherwise perfectly legitimate angle of investigative journalism. The damage done to the image of ‘The vast majority of the British Sikh community [which] is peaceful and lawabiding’ is immense and Mr Gilligan if not the Evening Standard may want to make a financial contribution to charitable causes as reparation equivalent to 10% of annual income – as Sikhs do as part of their faith’s teachings.

Harmander Singh
Principal Advisor to Sikhs In England
http://www.sikhs.org.uk

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FOX News – So Racist, So so so So Racist!

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