“…Citizens seeking to introduce changes in the form of their government, whether in favor of liberty or despotism, ought to consider what materials they have to deal with and then judge of the difficulty of their task. For it is no less arduous and dangerous to attempt to free a people disposed to live in servitude, than to enslave a people who [opt] to live free.” Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourse on the First Decade of Titus Livius, Ninian Hill Thomson, Trans., Kegan, Trench & Co., London, 1883, p. 376.
I’ve spent some thirty years, now, waiting for a worthy patron to discover Learners, publish it in many languages and make our fortune; otherwise, that I might vanish quietly from this world without bothering with the upshot of my intervention.
How amazingly lily-livered and chicken-brained well-connected people turned out to be, how many secondary perils and empty distractions they’ve given priority to, and how well insulated from important but unforeseen matters by an army of myopic gatekeepers! My work ignored by all of them. Either they don’t give a damn or they worsen an already bad situation, as long as their bank balance fattens in the process…
Here I am, still working alone, after all these years; my oft rewritten and rejected samizdat self-published on the World Wide Web and treacherously ejected from it, only to arise from the ashes of denial. After decades of intellectual house arrest, forced to witness so-called activists and progressives congratulate themselves that the reactionary backlash hadn’t got too much of a hardon during their watch (even though it has), and for having dodged the grim chore of studying Learners. Forced to witness churlish warmongers earn big bucks and bask in public acclaim for publishing reams of best-selling martial pomp, and every government trip over itself to fulfill their slightest stipulation, while no one dares call them on their kamikaze swan song! I’ve grown weary and gray from this universal dismissal. How much better the world could be, without so much avoidable misery!
As I review this text, its cosmic presumption stuns me. No special privilege entitles me to claim your time and attention; no lofty reputation, mighty patronage, personal charisma, business savvy, saintly complacency or literary merit. When I find decent work, I’m just another clerk and a distracted one at that. Nonetheless, I must claim your careful consideration here. This may be the most important text you read; that’s up to you and your fondness for the status quo.
I’ve long dreamt of abandoning this madhouse and repatriating into Grace – somewhere out there beyond the white light – yet there’s so much love and beauty here. I’ve stayed up late nights, reviewing infinite repetitions of the same botched political experiment and muttering, “At least one of these ought to have worked out to spec!”
I still dare hope. Learners are a Nation among nations, a state of being within the State. In our own quiet way, once properly inspired, we will command enough talent and initiative to tackle any challenge. Once we Learners find each other in the dark; realize how numerous we are and the commanding position we hold over the world; once we rally to these ideas, we will be unstoppable and destined for glory—no matter how wretched and powerless human isolates may be, with their petty pecking orders.
Aghast, I understood King Ashoka’s torment. Standing back-to-back in this carnage of our making, we watched helplessly as a millipede of tearful refugees crawled away from the smoking wreckage of the horizon. Neither of us could escape our complicity in this disgrace, nor could we stand by, idle and indifferent. We had to do something: lunge for the fat brass ring dangling just beyond our wildest dreams; blow the doors off our fragile confidence, competence and self-worth; risk everything to relieve the atrocity of the human condition.
This text isn’t incised in stone. Dedicated specialists, amateur and pro alike, should chew over its assumptions; their debate may conjure a brilliant Learner Commonwealth. Our new mantra should be, “What if the sky were the limit?”
Every cubic yard of earth, air, water and vacuum contains all the energy in the Universe (minus 1?). We must become clever enough to reach into this cosmic fire and warm our hands, yet not burn our fingertips or the world. Otherwise, we’re just stumblebums, parched and starving in a desert, while untold abundance lies locked below our feet.
We are sitting down together – all of us – to share a giant, super-deluxe pizza. It stretches out to the horizon and beyond that, to infinity. It is covered with mounds of perfect vegetables, creamy cheese, aromatic spices and deli delicacies: all the toppings of the world’s finest pizza. It’s got college degrees, fair housing and low infant mortality; enough abundance, justice and serenity for everyone; anything anyone could demand and more of it than anyone could imagine, much less find use for.
Too bad we only look down a one-degree slice of this pie, the sorriest of slices, saturated with want, fear and pain. Stripped bare, burned to the third degree and unbelievably unappetizing; it’s been combed over at sword-point for ages. Across it, starving children cower in stoic tears, in bunkers, hovels and refugee dumps: poster children of our failure and guilt. We can’t distinguish anything, any longer, but this WeaponWorld of ours, the napalm-blackened crust of a burnt-out world. Starving for something better, we scramble after its crumbs with microscopic compulsion.
The infinite leftover heaping with untouched goodies? It is beyond sight, as far as we’re concerned. We’ve been walled off from the other 359 degrees of this cosmic pizza, blinkered by long-revered cultural conventions. Our culture blinkers us at birth, and more and more severely as we age. It has screened us from PeaceWorld and focused our attention on WeaponWorld. As a result, we have dismissed this abundance as mere idealism, myth, dream, fantasy, utopia and science fiction.
Learners will polarize those blinkers and reveal the whole pie to everyone. This festive bounty is certainly there for us to harvest on PeaceWorld. We have but to clear our vision, roll up our sleeves, get to work and make it happen. Then it will be the harvest season, and most everyone will be too busy gathering and sharing this incredible abundance to cause further harm.
Three quarters of a lifetime ago, as I began testing the shaky legs of new-foaled opinions, my father challenged me thus: “It’s easy to condemn institutions,” this suave Bayard told me. I’ll always remember him as a chevalier sans peur et sans reproche: a fearless and blameless knight.
That’s a tricky combination, come to think of it. Harm would be easy to inflict by those gifted with some illusion of fearlessness. “I don’t give a damn; let loose the dogs of war!” Only slightly more difficult would be to do good from fear of harmful consequences. The truest goal would be to do nothing but good, fearlessly. My valiant father strove after that, his whole life, which made him a nobleman in the finest sense of the term. No lesser deed would be worthy.
So you think yourself fearless? Fine. Do good, without counting the cost, and prove it to us. A little trick you must play in your head. Can you do it?
The above paragraph may be the most important one for sociopaths who recognize their predicament, as well as for their friends who see it in them. I suggest they reread it carefully. It might relieve their ailment and clear the straightest path to PeaceWorld.
“Condemn institutions? Don’t bother,” this mild cavalryman told me, “unless you can come up with better ones.”
I've knocked myself out, since, trying to conjure up those alternatives. As a child of the greasy 1950’s, I found capital-R Revolution revolting: its runny blemishes more telling than its watered-down promises. Among its worst failures, after untold suffering, it offered nothing more than the inadmissible present with frequent backslides. Revolutionary dialectics (and every thesis that sprang from them) struck me as so much cheap talk—culture’s inflamed reaction to orthodoxy’s stunted mediocrity.
No Great Book On Peace exists, even though students cram Clausewitz’s On War in every college. Believe me; I searched the stacks in vain, for On Peace.
Midway through my mandatory obedience training – once I’d gotten good and fed up with it – I began combing available libraries for a primer on the administration of world peace. You know, a real civics lesson for a serious cosmopolitan? So what if it were nothing but science fiction and wild-eyed speculation? I’d have settled for that!
All I found was On War and chosen textbooks on weapon management. There were countless histories, devout religious tomes, pompous political screeds, literary soap operas and nut-cracking philosophical quibbles—each sustaining weapon mentality and diverting attention from what should have been our primary study all along: the mentality of peace. Otherwise, they talked about feelings or sentiment or technicalities or meaningless abstractions or some such nonsense. As my readings grew more voracious and less picky, they led me to more and more ponderous, elaborate and boring affirmations of weapon mentality. An alpine range of useless trivia aside, I found very little else, to tell you the truth.
Avid for the peace primer I never found, I set about drafting its Volume One. I would never dare call it On Peace. Only a global consensus of Learners, assembled in the World Virtual Agora, could begin to compose such a work in a thousand million volumes. Nowadays, there are none.
Even if Learners fits all alone on a virtual library bookshelf under a non-existent call number (no Dewey Decimal for peace, the Library of Congress prefix JX no longer used), its scribe – no matter how pride-scoured – cannot claim copyright of the ideals of peace. The gold dust of peace mentality may lie buried under mounds of weapon mentality dross, but hints of its color glimmer from all of our masterworks. Where did Learners’ opulent forbears go? They disappeared, replaced by the weapon Classics we’ve been forced to worship all our lives.
This text reconsiders a vital choice between the mentalities of weapons and peace. Every moment we endure here on Earth, we connive with this evil or defy it, whether we admit this to ourselves or not. These days, weapon mentality dominates our thinking without serious debate. No wonder runaway weapon technologies harvest evermore victims, since everyone submits to weapon mentality without a second thought. Also, no wonder that every progressive aspiration must shudder to a halt in this Sargasso Sea of weapon mentality. What surprise is there in that? This social defect is so common and predictable, we shouldn’t even feel disappointed by it.
Once we shift the focus of our faith from weapons to peace, we may yet thrive, along with the rest of our progressive aspirations. Until then, forget them, and us.
Since you begin to grasp the central premise of Learners, you may spit it out: a common enough gag reflex.
“World peace? PeaceWorld? Shut up! I’m through!”
If you value controversy in your mental landscape, ask yourself: “Why have I dismissed this topic without fair hearing? During my lengthy examination of other topics at school, why didn’t someone sit me down and make me think this through?”
I’ll tell you why. Emerging from infancy into frustrated adolescence, we mature sexually long before we do so emotionally and socially. Society exploits this offset development. It offers us a predictable life cycle: from adolescent rebellion to adult uncertainty, followed by the mid-life backlash of reactionary senescence.
Like Herman Hess’s Siddhartha, we may only plumb the depths of harsh asceticism, sensual pleasure, material wealth, self-revulsion and eventually, saintly complacency in our own mediocrity (by default). Forced to surrender our healthy conscience and replace it with passive-aggressive compromise and adherence at gunpoint to conspiracies of greed, we soothe our heartache in ignorance, apathy, drugs, alcohol, fanaticism, amateur obsession, professional compulsion, insanity, felony and self-destruction. From these escapisms, take your pick.
The reform-idealism of youth is everywhere subverted. Suppressing youthful idealism is a pseudo-skill each of us is called upon to master. Shouldn’t the nurturing of their creative drive be our first priority?
Do you recall when you were a bright young thing as pure as a glass of water? Remember the salvo of insults that met your first, childlike questions about world peace? No matter to whom you turned – to strangers or beloved, enlightened teachers or dumb brutes – you ran the same gauntlet of veiled insult, condescension and violence if you persisted.
Think back. “World Peace? End poverty? Feed and care for everyone in honest equity? Get real, stop dreaming, grow up! What do I have to do, grab you by the shoulders and shake?”
Ok. I’m summarizing years of systematic and very subtle indoctrination in as many lines of text. But you get my point.
On this WeaponWorld of ours, a so-called “happy childhood” is the rare one during which inescapable traumas and injustice are inflicted a little later, at random, by surprise and by strangers.
Did this ceaseless brainwash while you were young and impressionable—did it bring you up short? Was your conscience battered silent? Did you suspend disbelief to avoid rejection? Did you enslave yourself to it, regardless of its merit? Would it have mattered what race, nation or creed you sprang from? Were you ever given a choice?
“Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments that are inimical to [orthodoxy], and of being bored and repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.” George Orwell, 1984, the New American Library, Inc., New York, 1961, p. 174.
See The 1984 Syndrome.
We stopped short because Everyman silenced us the moment we started asking awkward questions. Our culture subverts pacifism and military decadence as obsessively as it controls human waste and waterborne illness. Both are lethal to a primitive society and both are suppressed. We are potty trained, as children, against peace and valid spirituality.
One arises from the other, don’t you think? In the absence of peace, wouldn't valid spirituality suffer? In the midst of war, doesn't our spirit turn into a monstrous caricature of itself, sneering at our hypocrisy? During what we dare call peacetime, is it not just as bad?
Are we ready to yell enough at this grotesque weapon cult? Have we ever been, will we ever be more ready?
As with our weapon religions and their relevance to God, it doesn’t matter how much mouth-jabber we devote to peace. We are just as averse to it as to excrement. As a result, we face unlimited social contradictions and zero closure, resolution or clarity.
Sure, I can understand your fear and loathing, but won’t let that stop me. You and other Learners, join me instead! We’re grownups now, apparently immune to childhood blame. Unplug your ears – there, that’s better – and pay attention. Learners retrieves painful questions we let drop when we were kids, with or without our honest consent.
The choice you were never given as a child, is yours now to make as a Learner.
As this Aquarian Age dawns, it’s a sorry state we submit to. Arrogant mismanagement emerges from chainsaw logic lubricated by snake oil democracy. Fate’s idiot smile seems to favor Conspiracies of Greed. Smirking predators gang rape Blind Justice before our disbelieving eyes. They laugh all the way to the bank, congress, pulpit and academy; then come back for sloppy seconds. Over and over, our institutions legitimize the spastic slapstick of killer primates.
Absurd clichés jam our constellation of political metaphors, despite their spectacular failure—or hadn’t you noticed? Like nitwit kibitzers around a stalled car, we keep intoning “We’re just gonna need more Love, personal perfection, Christ in this world, Humanism, Science, Submission, Family Values, Free Markets – straighter politicians, fairer bullies and kinder Fat Cats.” In short, some purer dictatorship of fathead fatuity. Even more widespread and worthless: “Don’t believe in nothin’, little pal, but earning and spending your next buck. Be cool, be a steady fool, like us.”
Stupefied by all this barbarism, prophets, newscasters, technocrats and commoners bray disaster in four-part harmony. Others pray that swift Apocalypse come deliver them, pretty please. Stupefied by their panic, they worsen the necrosis of this world, merely to hasten the Ending they crave.
Thus do we deny the obvious, the Miracle upon which our existence depends a thousand times a day. According to this Miracle, a far greater wisdom awaits us, capable of replacing typhoons of venom with windfalls of abundance. Fantastic plenty could bloom where wastelands now fester; full justice, salve ancient traumas and about-face mutinous legions back to civility.
Imagine that! Cast away your silly panic and start visualizing the best that could happen.
Instead, weapon dissidents and weapon reactionaries croak contrapuntal duets of hoary dogma. They obsess over the hated Other and plot His impossible destruction. Others sit on their hands until everyone has become an angel or until Christ returns to deliver us (whichever comes first).
Everything is improvised. No one has any idea what he’s talking about and no one has a workable plan except for more killing—sit still for it or stir it up worse. No one listens to anyone any more. The major perk of promotion to power, these days, is no longer having to listen; just issue a series of insane orders unmindful of reality—the recipe for guaranteed disaster. Nothing else is tolerated.
We are only permitted two kinds of politicians, nowadays: those who have quashed every good idea for generations (Democrats) and those who never met a nasty idea they didn’t love (Republicans). Like a village blacksmith lusting after a first-glimpsed motorcycle, they long to tease the world apart and reassemble it to suit their fancy. Yet their obsolete political vocabulary won’t let them comprehend the world’s most basic contradictions and opportunities. They seek to fix a Harley-Davidson with Age of Pericles terminology and horse-and-buggy tools.
Only the absolute justice of our cause keeps it alive—not our necrotic habits of thought and speech. Toxified by gangrenous ideologies and rejecting them, we’ve grown so credophobic that we refuse to believe in anything any longer. Force-fed meaningless commercial blather, our moral gyros tumbled, we’ve let go our last spirit toeholds and fallen into riptides of change.
But don’t despair. Heed Jesse Jackson and “Keep hope alive!” As with two post-war Germanys, reactionaries will hand over a basket case for us to reanimate once it appears too late to salvage anything from the wreckage. Learners anticipates that handover—this time, of the whole world. Up to us to rebuild everything!
You might recall some movie where ruthless Evil secures every source of power, control and security. By midway through the story, the Good are dumbfounded. No one knows what to do next.
Then someone – perhaps Ruth – says, “Hold on, I have a plan.” Rather than turn away in despair, passive bystanders start paying miraculous attention. Inspired, they turn into heroes. By that time, for the sake of dramatic continuity, the camera has cut to the triumph of the Good.
This book itemizes the vital steps between ‘no plan’ and ‘plan in action.’ During this critical but no-fun stage, we should discuss our plan in detail, expose its inherent weaknesses, suggest better alternatives and coordinate our timing and chronology. Let daring volunteers take on tasks that fit their special interests and talents. All you reductive meliorists out there, who’ve been pounding your steering wheel in stalled cars for the last thousand years, start your engines! Shake awake all those who’ve abstained from sheer nihilism and cowardice.
I have a scheme, and here it is, as follows. We are at this essential if boring stage of the procedure. Proceed accordingly and with dispatch, I implore you.
Some warnings, before we begin. This book’s eccentric prose, exotic idiom and outlandish speculation will make very hard reading. We’re gonna make warfare illegal across the planet, here—not bake a simple cake. You’ll find no easy sound bites in these pages, none of the quick fixes and simplistic TV pabulum you’ve grown accustomed to. You may click back, now, if that was all you were looking for.
Treat Learners as a rough guide, clearer than run-on Classics and straighter than Ivy-League obfuscations. After reading it, young prodigals may scout out this locked-down prison world while guards and convicts slumber. Evenhandedly, it beckons ecstatic Nobel laureates, berserkers with nothing left to lose, aimless idealists, madrassa dreamers, bonzes, Talmud scholars and Bible seminarians, none of them satisfied, prep-schooled sellouts and ghetto luminaries defying the evils that wriggle just beyond their own brown study. It speaks just as much to every Learner lost in a funhouse mirror-maze of weapons and peace, as to my childhood ghost haunting bygone stacks. I address these words in equal parts to this year’s applicants to the War Academies and to next year’s crop of middle school prodigies. The best among you sought the literature of peace in the library stacks of weapons administration, to no avail.
This book outlines what we were driven to discover and failed to find. California dreamin’, it surfs the riptides of chaos and the undertows of paradox. Irritably, it tosses aside treasured concepts and reconsiders much-maligned ideas.
My message is very biased. Attacking sly platitudes, my arguments climb way out on shaky limbs—farther out than you may wish to follow. You’ll find no ‘detachment’, ‘disinterest’ or ‘balance’ here, as those terms are misused today. Given this topic’s complexity, my writing numbskills and lesser erudition, your work is cut out for you.
What’s more, I’ll turn every rhetorical cannon against the weapon mentors who drilled me on them. Horrified and enraged, I’ll invoke any fallacy more useful than its ‘logically correct’ counterpart. I have no use for proponents of ‘logical analysis’ who dare permit children to starve to death and turn their back when such an awkward topic encroaches on their blank spirit. In the same spirit, Learners will energize PeaceWorld by shamelessly appropriating every Madison Avenue fraud and taps bugle call that has lulled us to sleep up ‘til now.
If you seek a 250-word-or-less recipe for World Peace, consult the Georgia Guidestones, carved in English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian (but not French, you hicks):
1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
If the dry logic of world peace is all you seek, read Mortimer Adler’s How to Think about War & Peace, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1944. Back then, President Roosevelt and his brilliant staffers anticipated a popular, one-world government that would have criminalized warfare across the planet and guaranteed human rights for all – seventy years ago, with 150 million fewer war dead and a couple billion fewer dead of famine and preventable disease than we “enlightened” contemporaries are responsible for―and how many thousands of trillions of cash in vital assets and sabotaged ingenuity thrown away with our consent?
How dare you suggest it’s none of your doing! Quit lying to yourself, here, at least. We are all 100% accountable.
Alas, American Weapon Party commissars made sure a failed haberdasher, Harry Truman, would grab the reins of power from Roosevelt’s dying hands. Hiroshima, my love? Truman and his small-town, small-mind cronies threw away all the goodwill America had earned by liberating the world from fascism. Just like Bush and his rat pack did, after 9/11. They’ve groomed a succession of politically correct mediocrities, since. Their parochial prejudices allowed no alternative but another hundred and fifty million war dead, and another half-century of bankrupt weapon management.
Still today, we waste precious time and talent pointlessly protesting their mighty warmonger initiatives. Let them protest, in absolute futility, our mighty peace initiatives—never again the other way around!
This text is a speculative entertainment and an impassioned rally cry, not some textbook drear. Neither fiction nor non-, it fits in somewhere between confession, screed and sketchbook of homilies, anecdotes and conjectures. As Margaret Atwood puts it, forecast journalism. There is no other text like Learners, and I can find no political group that would adopt it as its own.
Were that I could! I would not have felt so abandoned on this planet of unrepentant killer primates.
I have no faith in my own generation (good for nothing but Bush the Lesser and his National Capitalist cronies) nor the one that follows; perhaps the following one… Learners will certainly arise as a political party in the future—perhaps after I’m gone, as with Marx, Rousseau and Erasmus.
“So it happens that beyond the imaginary demarcation line between past and present, the writer still finds himself eye to eye with the human condition, which he is bound to observe and understand as best he can, with which he must identify, giving it the strength of his breath and the warmth of his blood, which he must attempt to turn into the living texture of the story that he intends to translate for his readers, in such a way that the result be as beautiful, as simple, and as persuasive as possible.” Ivo Andrić, Acceptance Speech for the 1961 Nobel Prize for Literature.
"If humanity bears an eternal truth, it is certainly that tragic hesitation of the man who will someday be called, centuries hence, an artist – facing the artwork that he experiences more deeply than anyone, that he admires the way none other can, yet that he, alone on Earth, wants to destroy sub rasa at the same time."
"So let’s understand this fully: if genius is a discovery, it is upon this discovery that the resurrection of the past is based. At the beginning of this speech, I spoke about what a renaissance could be, what the heritage of a culture could be. A culture is reborn when men of genius, seeking their own truth, draw from the depths of centuries everything that formerly resembled this truth, even if they don’t recognize it." André Malraux, Les Conquérants, (The Conquerors), Le livre de poche, © Bernard Grasset, 1928, pages 311-13.
“The leader carries all of our confusion with him as he attempts to climb above society in search of a clear view that would indicate the right way. There, on his imaginary mountain, he stands alone, suffering the personal anxiety of freedom. He watches us dancing aimlessly below, half struggling with mortality in our consoling maze. He can see we have a certain reassurance, lost in our earthly eternity. But how is he to get his own reassurance if he cannot make all of us and the structure itself respond to his efforts?” John Ralston Saul, Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, Vintage Press, A Division of Random House, 1991, p. 349.
Accept those parts of Learners you hearken to, then make something better happen. Dismiss anything you find in here that disconcerts your fancy—as conjecture, hearsay, heresy, what you will.
If this work inspires you to frame some new idea, let me know. I’d love to filigree new ideas into the next rewrite of this text (with proper attribution, of course). With a little luck, I may get to chronicle the real-world progress of this righteous endeavor … perhaps in future chapters of this samizdat.
Why do the terms ‘utopian’ and ‘idealist’ consign our highest values to the trash heap? When did reactionary chic make it unfashionable to do the utmost good?
We may be clumsy practitioners of peace, at first, but the love of good throbs in our veins. No word for this talent exists (kalotropism?), but it will not be denied much longer. Who knows; doing good may become fashionable once again, despite the mightiest efforts of the worst among us, to forbid and ridicule it.
Loudmouthed morality truants feign sophistication by aggravating our weapon neuroses. By rote repetition, they malign ‘do-gooders’ and ‘bleeding hearts’. Hiding their shameful shortcomings, they confabulate the pig-headed terminology and criminal line-up of reactionary correctness. They’ve built up an assembly line of conmen and professional hypocrites who are (literally) politically correct enough to serve as stand-ins for legitimate leaders. Each candidate worse than his predecessors, while people of talent and genius are chased from politics and social commentary; either gunned down in the street or crucified by the media.
Who are these malingerers? Do-badders? Flinty hearts? Do a few stony hearts require a little lubricant bleeding to re-oxygenate their owners’ flat-lined conscience?
After so many tries, why don’t we have the best possible government? And don’t you dare suggest we have the best government already. Be honest with yourself, here, if nowhere else. With all our schools, books and teachers, why aren’t there millions of peace mentors out there, enriching the abundance that is our due, filling the world with miraculous technologies, sacred wildlife, courtly love and random acts of kindness? Where did the superb replacements of young Andy Carnegie, the Roosevelts and Little Flower LaGuardia go, that the administration of excellence demands? Where have you gone!
If we considered this world one Great Academy – as Learners hope it shall become – most of its students major in some aspect of weapon technology while all too few take too few electives in peace. As the machinery of war grinds on without letup, only its most devoted slaves may evaluate its usefulness in public discourse.
Hardly anyone can list the great peace mentors; I know I couldn’t. Peace’s foremost practitioners have been unassuming gentlefolk. Female peace practitioners are as under-reported here, as they have been in general history. Compare this blitzed state of ignorance with our household familiarity with Genghis Khan, Hitler and like masters of mayhem. If peace were our first priority – not mass murder – this Learner deficit would cause us grave concern. Nothing of the kind concerns us, since we are first and foremost weapon slaves.
Your first appraisal of Learners may make you dizzy, its range of topics is so kaleidoscopic. We never studied them in the depth they deserved. Of necessity, our first review will be insolently superficial and subject to myth-based denial at every page-turn. Once this crisis has passed, we may render full justice to these exotic notions.
Read the first few chapters of Learners to take in its vocabulary: (“Intro & Vocab” to “Stop”). Thereafter, resume your random perusal in any of its three Sections:
SECTION I) Why we’re in this mess;
SECTION II) How we approach PeaceWorld; and
SECTION III) What results we should expect.
The first and harshest Section, “Why,” stretches midway through Learners. Why is so incendiary, its first-time readers risk burnout. Unlike more soothing texts, this one won’t overlook great evils we’ve been taught to regret briefly and then take for granted. This merciless inventory of error will seem wearisome to you at first, mind-numbing later and soon unbearable. Your subconscious will revisit every aversion therapy you suffered as a child, to get you to quit. You’ll grow frustrated with this reading, then nauseated by it and soon enraged. You’ll have to brace yourself sternly to chugalug this bitter brew to its dregs. Take tiny sips of this sour mash and find more syrupy refreshment elsewhere, perhaps at the titty of TV.
Just don’t give up. I might as well have entitled Why, How and What—Lamentation, Transition and Hope.
Bittersweet “How” lists unfortunate tendencies and proposes some countermeasures. Sweeter “What” sketches peaceful alternatives to the weapon technologies we submit to today—assuming global majorities have grasped Why and How beforehand.
This text is intended for every Learner to come. Its discontent should have been our patrimony and was—since forgotten. I leave the Sections Who, When and Where to you, my beloved Learners. If you catch me fumbling my extraordinary mandate, that’s your cue to take up the burden of proof.
I may have found a hassle-free way to gatecrash heaven, merely by reincarnating into Jesus Christ’s lifeline the next time I die. I believe this painful redemption is open to all of us, no matter how heavy our Karmic burden. In this as in other cases, I repeat myself to emphasize a crucial concept.
This exotic doctrine might shut down fundamentalists’ idiotic diktat, once and for all. Its universal acceptance would eject all those fundamentalist middlemen unworthy of spiritual discourse. By what right, wisdom or benediction do they claim to butt in there, anyway? It would put the Kingdom of Heaven within everyone’s reach in the afterlife, regardless of truth or error in this lifetime; entrust earthly cares to our own accountability, and our salvation to the Lord’s direct tutelage.
Once you grasp this idea and its outcomes, no pompous bigot can lecture, weasel or torture them out of you. You will be completely free to save your soul, miraculously free. Or you may return to these endless lives as often as you wish, as a Bodhisattva—provided this lesson awaits you here the next time you come around, and hasn’t been silenced by Godless fundamentalists and indifferent fools, as so often in the past and present.
We may serve God or Mammon, but not both at once. Learners suggests how to serve this world gracefully and Grace in the next. If you dismiss the above-stated as some worthless, Bible-thumping crankdom (more fundamentalist babble), you missed my point entirely. And, my friend, that is your loss. Check out the “reincarnating” link above, and see for yourself.
If you take your weapons indoctrination too seriously, you may expect to sort religion from government as independent variables. Forget it. We are progressives insofar our faith (in whatever) induces fearless love in us, and reactionaries when we react (faithlessly) against the shadow of our fears and hatred. Our creeds and governments are one and the same. It doesn’t matter what phony drapes we use to cover the religious underpinnings of government, the way prudish Victorians used to drape piano legs to repress their sexual obsession.
These assertions may sound like pure arrogance to you. I assure you, they’ve been as carefully thought out as any you’ll find in Learners. It’s up to you to debate their worth, once and for all.
One of Christ’s parables (that of the Talents: Matthew 25-14) entrusts risk-taking coinage to each of his servants. The Lord intends us to manage our lives for the profit of souls, not mere risk-reduction. As stunt persons in this universal action feature, we’re here to take enormous risks. Safe mediocrity must be illusory, since everything kills us in the end. In our mortality reside our glory and our salvation.
I’m surprised how little this epiphany alters what I must say in Learners. Even more surprising will be our grand exploits once we’ve claimed grace in this world and Grace in the next.
At most, these meditations have turned my fortune or failure on this material plane into the blinding glare one gets off wavelets during late, sun-dappled afternoons. Transient and annoying at worst, they are beautiful despite their ache and soon to fade.
I have given up on free advice to “Live each day as if it were your first and last.” How hormonally unworkable! I look forward to each day’s end, now. My sorriest sleeping dream has turned out to be more entertaining than the most spectacular and moving epic I’ve found in a book or on the screen. I suspect that the after-death experience, properly negotiated, is at least that much better than life, or better yet. Good music, good lovin’ and a few good friends, along with some other things during this lifetime (like laughter, great meals and just helping somebody), they’re something else; they make the pain of living bearable. I counsel no-one to abandon them prematurely, no matter what fate our souls may have in store. It seems obvious that we have something important to learn in the here-and-now.
I had no choice but to write and rewrite – en deux langues (in two languages) – this book, this whole book and nothing but this book. In the end, I can only justify my presumption by pointing out the depths of our moral bankruptcy … and of our craving for Peace.
LEARNERS: On the Move from WeaponWorld to PeaceWorld