"There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience." ~ French proverb
Sowing and Reaping
Exclusive to STR
December 17, 2007
We go where our vision is.
~ Joseph Murphy
As ye sow, so shall ye reap.
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The most important fundamentals of life, beyond the purely physical, are the connected qualities of love and freedom. Whatever enhances love and freedom in our lives is a blessing; whatever diminishes these qualities is a curse. Significant and lasting harm to love or freedom is the worst disaster that can befall us, especially if the problem begins early in life.
The harm caused by major damage to love or freedom is not time-limited to the immediate event but instead echoes forward in time, reverberating throughout the victims' lives. Damage incurred during childhood, infancy, and even in the womb is especially powerful and changes the tone and texture of a person's life, often creating new damage along the way both to the original victim and to those affected by him or her.
On a personal level, the result of significant early trauma is neurosis -- the repression of feeling and experience, with resulting misperceptions and misbehaviors -- which can dim all the rest of one's days, and which has a powerful effect on others in one's life, including especially upon children, who can be traumatized enough by their parents' or others' neurosis to become neurotic themselves. This transmission of neurosis across generations is one of two major and ancient sorrows to afflict the human race. Furthermore, neurosis is nonessential; the natural conditions that required us to develop such a bizarre ability are no longer an unavoidable part of life.*
Because love and freedom are linked in human life, it is no surprise that the other overwhelming sorrow of our kind is political oppression by the State and by its analogs (e.g., by some forms of organized religion). This systematic use of coercion is even more needless than is neurosis today, since it was never necessary in the first place. Neurosis is an evil that at least once saved mankind from difficult conditions; the State cannot claim even that.
A lack of love and freedom has been the curse of mankind since before written history began. The two problems reinforce and feed upon each other: harm either love or freedom and you diminish the other.
The reverse is also true: what truly benefits love also benefits freedom, and whatever strengthens freedom provides support for love and for love's more prosaic cousin, respect.
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More Basic and Important than Wealth
The benefits of love and freedom do not require great wealth or even much wealth at all. After all, love and freedom exist in the wild; they came into being long before humankind existed, as your dog or cat will explain if you listen carefully enough. Love kept human babies fed and kept families and clan groups together for tens of thousands of years, through ice ages and warmer epochs, as endless generations of hunter-gatherers lived and reproduced and grew old and died. Most of our time on Earth, so far, has passed in this manner. Love nourished and protected our ancient ancestors through good times and bad, through long summers and thousand-year winters. Our ancestors had freedom from the State as well. Their freedom was profound yet invisible as the air they breathed, because no State yet existed. Like the sun and the rain, love and freedom simply were.
Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage by Dr. Frederick Leboyer (and, for that matter, his other books) is an almost breathtaking reminder of how basic love is and how independent it is from the neurotically materialistic lifestyle so many of us think necessary today. Here's a look at the book's back cover to provide a sense of the content. Leboyer photographed the book's subjects -- a young mother named Shantala and her baby -- in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Calcutta, itself one of the poorest cities in India. Leboyer writes:
"A charitable organization, Seva Sangha Samiti, had founded right there a hostel where, in the midst of utter poverty, the most destitute could find help, patient understanding, and friendliness. Shantala was living there, helping with children. And there she was outside the hostel, one beautiful sunny morning, massaging her baby. I stopped short, struck by what I was witnessing: In the midst of filth and misery, a spectacle of purest beauty. A silent dialogue of love between a mother and her baby. Some kind of ritual or ballet -- slowness, controlled strength, tenderness, and dignity. All the hideous aspects of the place and of the streets I had passed through suddenly disappeared. Nothing existed any longer but the light, and that love. What a lesson!"**
For another lesson in how freedom and love can blossom in a setting of limited monetary wealth, consider A. S. Neill's Summerhill School in England. Neill ran the school for half a century (it is now run by his daughter Zoe) and his touchstones were freedom and compassion. That approach not only worked well in the daily life of a boarding school -- even with the large percentage of "problem" children who came to the school -- but was actually healing in many cases. You can read a third-party description of the school from the days when Neill was headmaster here.
The lesson that love is independent of wealth -- and that freedom is, also -- is especially worth reflecting upon given our current situation. The American central government (in league with its co-conspirator the privately-owned Federal Reserve, and with the central governments and central banks of other nations around the world) has created a looming financial crisis of apocalyptic magnitude -- one that some think may dwarf the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Not a cheerful thought, I know. But probably true, and worth thinking about (and preparing for) ahead of time.
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Giving is Receiving
As human beings, our job is to make the most of our brief time in this world, regardless of prevailing conditions. A storm is headed our way, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on either love or freedom. Grab all you can; nothing else matters so much, and life is short.
How to increase the love and freedom in your own life? One way is to help others increase theirs. Unlike material wealth, giving love and freedom to others does not diminish your own stock -- quite the opposite.
One practical and important method of helping others with love and freedom is to support educational efforts on behalf of those qualities -- all the better when such efforts have as an immediate goal the actual reduction of tyranny or of cruelty. The Ron Paul campaign for President offers both -- Paul wants to end the income tax and the IRS (and the Fed, among other things), has voted against the Iraq war from Day One, and has promised to end the war immediately -- and to begin bringing our troops home from not only Iraq but from every other foreign nation they are stationed in.
Paul is a small-government libertarian, not a no-government voluntaryist or abolitionist. But as I keep pointing out: you never get where you want to go unless you at least start moving in the right direction.
Judged by numbers of people reached with the message, the Paul campaign is in a class by itself -- his non-centralized, free-acting supporters keep coming up with cash and marketing stunts and volunteer-paid advertising and sheer hard work to put the message of love and freedom before an audience of millions. Paul is the GOP front-runner by a country mile when judged by online polls, by fundraising, and by caucus wins. The power-elite-owned Old Media continues its desperate, dishonest drumbeat that "Paul can't win" and slights the man and his supporters at every opportunity, but Paul's following continues growing dramatically -- and not only in America, importantly enough, but overseas. The reason isn't hard to understand: as Dr. Paul points out himself, it is the message of freedom that is popular. No wonder the corporatist and governmental power elite are apoplectic.
Furthermore, the Paul campaign is showing that large numbers of people understand the connection between freedom and love; the most popular bit of signage for the campaign is the "R3VOLution" logo with a red, reverse-text "LOVE" stamped into the middle of the word:
Whatever you do to foster love and freedom in this world, I wish you success and satisfaction in your efforts. May we all reap the rewards of a focus on what really matters in life.
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* Our ability to become neurotic -- to repress massive trauma rather than to experience it, and to continue functioning despite that repression -- was widely necessary at one time when the natural environment caused enough trauma that no other solution then available allowed for continued human life. Those days are over (for now, at least) in most of the developed world and in much of the less-developed world as well; neurosis today serves no purpose for mankind. Neurosis merely self-perpetuates because neurosis in parents and others is traumatic enough to the young to create neurosis in them.
** Pp. 129 - 131 of the out-of-print 1978 Alfred A. Knopf edition.