Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kvz2E7R0wxw

Megadeth, known for its outspoken lead guitarist and vocalist, Dave Mustaine, released this seminal song on their second album in 1986. Mustaine’s comment “If there’s a new way/I’ll be the first in line/But, it better work this time” sums up most of my sentiments about the purpose of Occupy.

Megadeth, known for its outspoken lead guitarist and vocalist, Dave Mustaine, released this seminal song on their second album in 1986. Mustaine’s comment “If there’s a new way/I’ll be the first in line/But, it better work this time” sums up most of my sentiments about the purpose of Occupy.

The First Meditation: Benedictine Catholicism

I’m beginning a series of five meditations, each starting with a quote from a figure of a certain world faith.

I’ll start with Benedictine Catholicism, which was ever-present in my high school. The quote used I heard perhaps a hundred times in my time there.

 

“Always we begin again.” – Saint Benedict


Every beginning is an end. A person ceases to conduct matters one way and pursues another avenue. Life on Earth springs forth from that which has died before. It is important at these junctures- beginning and end, young and old, naive and experienced, foolish and wise- to figure out how the previous period had been a success, and also how it had been a failure. Since one begins a beginning, so to speak, with a clean slate, it is best not to sully it with the mistakes of the past. The future need not be a repeat of that which came before- but only if the reflection in the present moment is deep, honest, and the person engaging with their self truly seeks change- if they wish to have a dynamic self tied to growth, rather than a static self tied to entropy.

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On the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism

I don’t know them. I know what they generally entail, having heard sermons and read them. But I don’t know them, can’t recite them, don’t know what #4 says versus #5.

In some ways this reminds me of the fact that sixty percent of Americans, which has a majority Christian population, can’t name half of the Ten Commandments. Also a fun fact

50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.

Does my ignorance of what the exact definition of the seven principles make me the same as a Christian who can’t name the four gospels, or a Jew or Catholic who can’t name most of their own versions of the Ten Commandments? It’s an open question.

But the sixty percent statistic also has another side- that people from non Judeo-Christian backgrounds are likely equally if not more ignorant of teachings within Judaism and Christianity- or their own faiths. The crossover of people of one faith being ignorant of another is something I’d like to say I at least beat the spread on. I for instance, can name half of the Ten Commandments: kill, steal, parents, wife, goods, monotheism, graven images. That adds up, if we include the fact that some of that is often merged, we get to at least five.

So while I don’t know the seven principles particularly well, I do consider myself decently aware of other religions. Zoroastrianism is a term I get at some level. Jainism and Shinto are schools of thought I have some knowledge of. I took a year of Hebrew and Christian scriptures, as well as a year of world religions in secondary school. While I haven’t read in full a major religious text,I do have most of the Gita and parts of the Old and New Testament under my belt. I often flirt with having a minor in religion just to get to read more relevant texts- I prefer it to traditional philosophy, which I find much denser.

So I submit to the public- it’s not really important that you’ve got your own creed backwards and forwards, the key is to be well-versed in other creeds. For it’s not the lack of knowledge of what we believe that causes conflict- most often it is the lack of knowledge of what others believe. I think much of that is self-evident in the current conflict between Islamic governments and the secular/Judeo-Christian West- mutual intelligibility. Which is interesting in an of itself that most of the conflict is between countries with Abrahamic backgrounds- but I would compare it to bringing Julius Caeser back from the dead to talk to a modern day Latin professor. They both speak ostensibly similar things, but it is likely they would have serious issues understanding one another.

Hijacking the Cause of Justice: Trayvon Martin

The case of Trayvon Martin is constantly evolving and I do not claim to be an expert on it. What I can say is that the shooting of a unarmed individual four years my junior by someone who exhibited a long history of violent and impulsive behavior does not sit well for me. Nor does the subsequent investigation that treated Zimmerman as truthful and his claim of self-defense as correct.

This sentiment brought me to Oakland at 4pm- at the famous Frank Ogawa Plaza, where one of the largest occupations in the country had once existed before being violently expelled by the Oakland Police Department. A march had been called by various parties in order to raise awareness of Trayvon Martin and to pressure both state and federal governments to be more active in prosecuting Zimmerman and those that commit acts similar to his.

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Oscar Grant (formerly Frank Ogawa) Plaza; March 30th, 2012

Oscar Grant (formerly Frank Ogawa) Plaza; March 30th, 2012

A mural in the former Frank Ogawa Plaza, renamed after the man shot by BART police on New Year’s Day, 2009. It depicts the now-famous silhouette cast by protesters on top of trucks in the Port of Oakland. On November 2nd, 2011 during a general strike (the first since 1946 in the United States), well over 10,000 people brought the Port to a standstill for twelve hours.

Oscar Grant (formerly Frank Ogawa) Plaza; March 30th, 2012

A mural in the former Frank Ogawa Plaza, renamed after the man shot by BART police on New Year’s Day, 2009. It depicts the now-famous silhouette cast by protesters on top of trucks in the Port of Oakland. On November 2nd, 2011 during a general strike (the first since 1946 in the United States), well over 10,000 people brought the Port to a standstill for twelve hours.

There is nothing higher than justice- an introduction to this blog.

Greetings and salutations, I come from Menlo Park, California and am a member of the Unitarian Universalists of Palo Alto (UUCPA). I am also an ardent member of the Occupy movement, and have been since its inception in the Bay Area. Through it, I have seen that the justice sought by occupiers in this country and those that struggle against totalitarianism, austerity, and environmental degradation are one and the same. There is no righteous creed, just many voices coming together to a universal conclusion- that people should be free to live and prosper, that nature should be respected as our keeper and what sustains s, and that governments that murder their own people and trample of their natural rights need not exist forever.

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote that

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” (paragraph 2)

Continue reading “There is nothing higher than justice- an introduction to this blog.”