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Friday, October 30, 2009

CHAPTER SIXTY TWO. IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME IN THE CITY





Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Dec 15, 2009 1:24 PM PST

This chapter is devoted to Jimmy Stewart, who created the memorable hero of It’s a Wonderful Life and many other great characters such as Harvey and the title character of Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington. Stewart loved nothing more than acting in fun message films that used to remind us of our common humanity and our duties as citizens of America and the world.



I am leaving Manhattan  today with mixed feelings. I want to see my wife after an exhausting travel schedule over the last four months, but there is so much more that I wanted to experience in this wonderful place that considers itself the center of the civilized world, with some  justification. With all of its exciting attractions, I can certainly see why so many would not live anywhere else despite some of its more depressing aspects, particularly for its less fortunate.

These include the middle class elderly on fixed income, the disabled and homeless, the lame and the mentally ill and psychologically traumatized who are often treated on the street as if invisible. The teenagers in the less affluent Boroughs have a distinct lack of hope for the future. I saw the sick who could not get help and the small business owner suffering under burdensome taxes and an economy ruined by the wealthy grasping class. The amazing thing is that everywhere I went I was met with respect, friendliness and smiling and helpful residents who were proud of their city, rich and poor alike.

In some newspapers and on talk shows in the metro area I heard and read complaints about the expense of building a real social safety net, including universal access to health care. I also read of a small businessman in New Jersey who died after declining emergency care that would have saved his life. He was afraid that he would lose his business and with it the means to provide for his family if he asked for help to treat what turned out to be a fatal illness in the absence of proper care. It seemed to me that everyone was concerned with holding on to whatever remained of their personal piece of the pie. I wondered how the good people of the area reacted to the news that a local businessman died of self-neglect because he was afraid that he might be bankrupted by medical bills.

As I always did on the road, I listened to local talk show hosts  while in New York. Most talk show callers and letter writers  who complained that we cannot take care of the losers in a trickle-down economy displayed no insight into the fact that we have no choice but to reform health care if we want any but the most wealthy to continue to have access to it. The US taxpayer already picks up the bulk of the tab for the total cost of providing medical care to the insured, the uninsured and those on government assistance who have not yet fallen through our increasingly porous social safety net. With health care costs rising in uncontrolled fashion, we will bankrupt America trying to force the middle class taxpayer to continue subsidizing the corporate medical insurance industry unless we elect a Senate with the courage to challenge its corporate Puppetmasters.

I have a nightmare vision of Manhattan becoming a large prison island guarded by Blackwater to protect the rich living in barricaded communities. Thinking of this, I am reminded of why so many have escaped from New York before the Bloombergs, Goldmans, Sachs and the movers and shakers behind Citicorps succeeded in destroying the city that apparently slept while the infrastructure rotted. I couldn’t wait to pay the last of the endless tolls as I drove toward JFK airport, wondering why New York of all cities couldn’t decide how to use their enormous tax revenues to keep the bridges and roads in repair without soaking the public with user fees and constantly reducing the flow of traffic to a trickle. Out West we have what we call freeways, paid for with far fewer tax dollars for publicly owned roads.

As I have tried to point out in previous essays, the danger to the American experiment in democracy is not just from the misinformed average American voter. It is not from the honest politician trying to help while working in a system corrupted by the Supreme Court and the more self-interested of our Senators. It is not with a President who had no choice but to take corporate dollars to fund a campaign that gave unrealized hope to so many frightened and angry Americans. The modern Presidential contest more resembles an advertising campaign than an attempt to inform voters of their real choices. The result is that our President is beholden to corporate interests if he wants to get anything accomplished without fear of meeting JFK’s fate. Despite its failure of courage, the danger is not even solely the fault of the corporate media that has resorted to infotainment and that ignores the crimes of its corporate owners. The audience is distracted by the everyday difficulty of making a living in an increasingly feudal society. Exhausted and in a daze, they sit down in front of the TV ripe for brainwashing.

The average citizen has sat by and watched while TV news has become a means of diversion with and Faux News in place of well researched articles informing us of important events that affect all of us. Everyone knows that it is growing harder every year to care for the needs of our families. We have to realize that only together can we change the system. Instead of attempting to escape the increasingly complex real world and facing its problems, we must clean up the mess we are in by talking to each other about real solutions instead of watching the melodrama of two corporate parties blaming each other for their mutual failures. Despite the deep divisions in American society, tere is still hope. I saw it on the faces of people on the street enjoying the delights of Christmas in Manhattan. This joy shone not only in the faces of the laughing children but those who walked the streets alone, greeting others they passed instead of walking by with faces averted.

We can still save this country and our planet if we are willing to commit ourselves to caring for each other. If we remember when we are alone or at home with our families that we are all in this world together, we can reform our government and rededicate it to worldwide Democracy and Peace. Isn’t that what we all really want for Christmas? Let us enjoy Christmas, Hanukkah and the spirit of the season. In the New Year, let us pray that all over the world we will begin to ponder how selfishness, fear, clan mentality and self-imposed isolation have led us to the brink of self destruction. If we can all begin to look deeply into the faces of the brothers and sisters we meet on the street and see the hope of love and peace we all share, we will teach our children well and love one another as we would wish to love ourselves.



Happy holidays one and all.


In the words of Charles Lesley:


Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mid
God and sinners reconciled"

Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"

Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel

Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"


Love, peace and freedom

Rick Staggenborg, MD
From the heart of Manhatten

Thursday, October 29, 2009

CHAPTER SIXTY THREE. CHRISTMAS EVERY DAY: TO GIVE IS TO RECEIVE










Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Dec 24, 2009 6:32 AM PST

This chapter is dedicated to Charles Dickens. His empathy gave us A Christmas Story, a gift that enables us to remember at least once a year why Jesus was willing to give his life in the belief that through his example of sacrifice,  others might live.



This is the time where the vast majority of Christians put aside the pain of the past and worries for the future to focus on the blessings of life. The smiles of children, the love of our families and the memories of those who loved us and have passed to their reward are the real gifts of the season. Whether Christians or not, for those of us who try to remember each day the significance of the teachings of Jesus, all of these things remind us of the tremendous gift that he left us in the example of his life. As simple as his teachings seem in principle, they are difficult for most of us to put into practice.

Whether or not the promise of life after death is meant to be taken literally, the belief that it may exist inspires millions to try and live as if each moment is important and nearly every decision they make a moral choice. Some try more consistently than others and all fail at times, but Jesus taught that neither believers nor nonbelievers have to fear making a mistake if they strive to serve each other. We can be assured that we will be forgiven by any person of good will if we have searched our hearts and tried to the best of our ability to do what we believe to be just and faithful to our core beliefs. He argued that if we believe that God exists, we have no reason to fear its judgement if we try to live by the golden rule.

Those who are able to successfully keep the lessons of Christ's example in mind every day are rewarded with a life that is inherently meaningful. It is in serving our fellow humans that we become closer to what he called God. That is how we can create the kingdom he believed was beginning to manifest in his lifetime. With the belief in the possibility that we can create a world in which we govern ourselves according to the principles of liberty and justice for all, hope does not seem naive. Those who choose to live by these beliefs have the incomparable experience of living each moment at one with the whole of humanity and the universe we share. The world is as it should be in that moment. They see it as our duty to transform it into one in which universal love is a reality rather than a mere ideal.

It does not matter to me if we find reward after death for the good we do or recompense for the suffering we experience in this life or those past. If that is our destiny, so be it. Regardless of how it affects us, compassion dictates that we try to treat others as we would be treated ourselves. It isn't possible for humans to know their ultimate fate, but by compassion we find meaning, and that is reward enough. Humanity will only survive if a critical mass of individuals join the struggle to assure that all humans are treated with equal justice and compassion. If we can awaken enough people to that essential reality, the rewards will be immeasurable.  
         

It is this collective awareness of the need for compassion and forgiveness that is called Christ consciousness, but it is the same goal as in all religions and other spiritual and moral traditions whose core principle is that we must treat others as we would be treated ourselves if we ever want to live in a just world. Secular humanists, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews and others have all discovered this simple truth in various places and times. Some claim this is God's will, while others see it as self-evident. Does it matter which is the case? 

Having faith that there is an inherent meaning to life is a choice. 
If one should choose to believe in a higher reality and it does not exist, what has one lost? To assume that one knows the answer to whether God and the soul exist is delusion, regardless of what one chooses to believe. I do not understand the emotional attachment to the conviction that the universe and human life arose by chance alone. It is logically impossible to prove a negative proposition.

While agnosticism is a logical position, to acknowledge that we cannot know the answer does not mean that we cannot or should not choose. Choosing to believe in an eternal soul connected to some higher consciousness need not be mere vanity. It can provide inspiration to keep struggling for justice when all seems lost. This may in the end determine the outcome of the struggle we now face to end the threat of the enslavement of the human race. I believe that Jesus, having lived in a time when his people were subjects of a cruel imperial power, considered his philosophy a means of freeing his people and eventually, the world. If so, it is possible to interpret his teachings in a way that suggests he was right.


If the alternative to believing in an immortal soul is a meaningless universe and a life with no purpose but that which I assign it, 
I choose to believe that life is in some sense eternal. I must keep in mind that this is a choice, because that is the difference between fate and self-delusion. I choose to reject the idea that a life means nothing after a person has passed through earthly existence and to have faith in a higher consciousness to which I am connected. I feel no need to defend to others my choice to believe that life has meaning beyond what we assign it. I do not find this choice to be confining but liberating, for it requires me to free my mind to consider possible realities that science alone does not suggest.  Choosing to believe that that there is reason for hope that I cannot justify based on scientific principles may not make sense to the strict rationalist, but in the face of the existential threats humanity faces at this time in history, such belief has a logic of its own.



Like the child in the Ursula LeGuin's Going Back to Omelas who was locked away and made to suffer torment every day so that others might enjoy a pain-free existence, the story is that Jesus was willing to bear the agony of experiencing the pain of those around him rather than turning away. I find this an example that I want to follow. It does not matter to me whether he was the only begotten son of God or whether we all are children of God. It does not even matter if he is a real historical figure, though I find it hard to imagine that an apocryphal figure could create a movement with billions of followers. Even if that were true, it shows the power of the teachings ascribed to him.

We have all had our crosses to bear, though few have suffered as Jesus did for his unwavering compassion. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live with full awareness of the suffering of the world all my life. I recall as a child  thinking about the starving masses and the threat that the problem would only get worse if the population kept increasing. I could not tolerate living with this conscious awareness. I denied the suffering as best I could, but I am sure that it contributed to the ensuing decades of depression I suffered.

I was only able to function by telling myself that because their suffering was not the result of my choices, it was not immoral for me to enjoy my blessings. I did not know then that my lack of faith that we could heal the world made me share in the responsibility for their pain. I made the mistake of assuming that their suffering was inevitable. I was sure that no just God would create such a world, not realizing that starvation, like war, was the result of collective choices of humanity to accept the conditions that allowed them to persist.

Since my efforts to shut out the awareness of suffering from "natural" causes like famine and from the gross injustice of war did not provide relief and I could find no solace in the belief in a just God, I decided that the purpose of my life was alleviating the pain of others. I b
ecame a psychotherapist. In the course of my practice, those who benefited from our work together did so because of what I learned from others who came before them. As I began to understand how to relieve their suffering I came to feel that I had realized my life's purpose. What is more, seeing the positive changes in those I worked with changed my life as much as it did theirs. In giving of myself I had received much more in return, while they too felt they had received the best of the bargain.  

My last job was with the Veterans Administration. Most of my patients were combat veterans who had undergone unspeakable horrors from which they still suffered decades later. At first I felt that I could offer only limited help, but I refused to stop trying and eventually learned ways to help them not only accept the unacceptable but in many cases to thrive. In showing them how to honestly examine their lives and change the beliefs and behaviors that were at the root of most of their problems, I felt increasingly compelled to examine my own life with the same courage they showed. In particular, I came to question my rejection of the possibility that there was some higher consciousness that I was a part of. This came from my observation that of the strengths my patients had to work with, none was more powerful than the faith most of them has in the existence of God in some form.    

After a half century of doubt, it surprised no one more than me when after carefully examining my life experience and the course of human history, I concluded that it was more likely than not that there was a force working in the universe that science could not explain. I found it possible to truly believe in the possibility that God exists only when I learned to open not just my mind but my heart to the possibility of a benevolent force greater than ourselves.

In my childhood, when trying to convince myself that God exists, I decided to choose to believe that if there was a God, it must be the totality of good. In my simple mind, I imagined that the word itself implied that God is “the good.” This good had to be outside of ourselves, but was only maintained by our actions. Our decisions determined whether good would ultimately triumph over evil. 

The next choice was to believe that men and women were essentially good. I concluded immediately that it would be senseless to believe otherwise, for that would mean that all of our efforts in this life would be ultimately meaningless, and I had already determined that life was meaningful if we chose to make it so. Furthermore, this is an essential assumption in order to believe in democracy itself. If we were not essentially good, then surely we would not be capable of ruling ourselves and democracy would be an unrealistic dream. It comforted me to believe that if I defined God in this way, it was real in a very meaningful sense.

Despite my effort to convince myself that this was enough, I found myself weakening again and again, falling every time into depression when I allowed myself to open myself fully to the suffering of others. 

As recently as 1990, during the Persian Gulf War, I fell into a profound depression so deep that I found myself seriously contemplating suicide for the first time in my life. I could not accept the reality that after the senseless suffering of the war of choice in Vietnam we would let ourselves choose war as the only alternative to questioning our dependence on oil to maintain our privileged and comfortable existence. 

At first I fought the acceptance of this reality but ultimately I gave up my job and spent every dollar I had or could borrow and every waking minute trying to create the Army of the Soldiers of Peace. When I found myself without monetary resources and the war and its aftermath a fait accompli, I allowed myself to fall into despair at the thought of my own powerlessness to get enough people to understand that we could choose another collective reality and change the world ourselves.

It took me years to recover from this depression and it was only the love of my family that saved me from myself. It took me even longer to accept that I needed to question my nagging doubt that God could really exist independent of ourselves. I had made the common error of assuming that the existence of God is beyond proving. The key to experiencing the events that changed the way that I viewed the world was to realize that if God is the totality of all that is good in human nature then God is not truly independent of us but each of us is a part of it.

Only when I accepted the possibility that I could prove to myself the existence of God did I begin to see the evidence with my own eyes. The fateful event that led to the death of my old self and the birth of the new was the discovery by my daughter of a church that did not expect its members to accept any interpretation other than their own of the meaning of the words of the men who had written the Bible and other religious works. I came to this church as a visitor, somewhat guiltily seeking the simple pleasure of sharing with my daughter her joy at finding a spiritual home, and to my surprise became a devoted member of the wonderful community of the Cedar Hills United Church of Christ in Beaverton, Oregon. 

At the same time, I began to explore other faiths in earnest, attending mosque, a synagogue and visiting other churches and places of worship.  I was looking for the common message that was God's will for us, if it was indeed speaking through the great prophets. The accuracy with which they described what we only  now understand about the physical universe hundreds and even thousands of years ago led me to suspect that revealed wisdom was real. I believe it to be  knowledge delivered directly to those most open to it from an intelligence that we cannot hope to fully understand in this life. 

The essential knowledge we call revealed wisdom is to be found in each of us, as we are all connected to this higher power and to each other through the holy spirit that is pure and unconditional love. We will find it if we seek it and if we have the strength to challenge all of our preconceptions about the nature of Man. I believe that we have both animal and spiritual existence, the nature of each of which is determined before we awaken at birth with no recollection of our true selves. I believe that is is our moral duty to not allow our animal desires to corrupt our spirits. At this point in human history the survival of human civilization will depend on enough of us realizing it.


I am sorry to say to those hoping to be saved by faith alone that it does not appear that Jesus will come down on a white horse to save us from the consequences of our own inequity. We must save ourselves by reaching out to all humanity in a spirit of forgiveness, love and respect.

This Christmas, I want to give to my friends and my family the gift of what I have found in my own life through my study of how we came to the brink of self-annihilation and how I became convinced that we are about to pull back, rescue ourselves from oblivion and create the family of man that we were and were always meant to become again. 

The miraculous journey that I have made in the last eight months as I struggled with every fiber of my being to make real the Army of Soldiers For Peace International has finally convinced me that I was right to believe that we are essentially good. I now see all about me every day that men and women all over the world are beginning to awaken to the reality of their own power to create for ourselves a reality that rejects the notion that we have to compete with one another for the resources that by necessity we must share with all.

It is impossible for me to explain in this brief essay how I came to believe this. I do not expect any reader to accept on faith that I am right. I only ask that my friends and family understand that I am convinced of this and that it fills me with such joy every day that I cannot contain it. I have to share it with each person that I meet to keep the enormity of it from overwhelming me. 

This is the gift that I have received and want all to know. If it takes me the rest of my life, I will work to see my vision become accepted as reality. This is the only way that I can imagine human consciousness evolving to the point that we will save ourselves, creating in the process a world fit to pass onto our children.





May God bless us, everyone.






Merry Christmas to all,


Rick

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CHAPTER SIXTY FOUR. NEW YEAR RESOLUTION: REMEMBER THAT TO FORGIVE IS DIVINE.





Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Dec 26, 2009 6:24 AM PST


This essay is dedicated to my new friend Maiysha Myshere, who reminded me that true Soldiers For Peace must never act out of anger, but with the most perfect love we can muster. Only by forgiving those who have wronged us and our loved ones can we succeed in our mission to re-create the family of Mankind and unite the world in the cause of peace and justice. 

I therefore resolve this year  to forgive the chief architect of America’s near-destruction, Dick Cheney. When his sick heart finally gives out and he gives up the ghost, may his soul rest in peace after facing the judgment of a loving God that I believe in my heart exists.




The soldier who kills in anger is the one who has the hardest time forgiving himself when the heat of the battle ends and he returns to society. It is impossible for any feeling person to escape feeling guilt in the knowledge of having violated the First Commandment., but doing so our of anger rather than a sense of duty is among the most soul-searing acts of war.  

We are taught by our parents and society that we shall not kill, yet our youth are told by our government that it is a patriotic duty to serve in time of war when our leaders demand it.  It is a difficult struggle for soldiers having killed for lofty ideals they may come to see as cynical lies to live with this contradiction unless they know how to forgive themselves and know that they are forgiven by God, if they believe it exists. 

Though we may try to tell ourselves that a soldier kills for a greater good, if we understand the meaning of the life and death of Christ we know in our hearts that killing can no longer be seen as the answer to confronting our fear for the safety of ourselves and our loved ones. This lesson does not depend on belief in Christ's divinity. It only requires the simple recognition that he gave his life for his belief that a Soldier For Peace is willing to die to defend the principle that violence is not the answer to ending conflict, but its cause.

Having made the choice to fight, the soldiers’ duty to his or her comrades compels him to act when called upon to fight and kill in the name of a greater cause that our government claims we are pursuing. The young men and women who volunteered to defend America and its ideals typically are too young to understand the regularity with which our government has betrayed us in choosing mass murder over faith in our power to influence events by acting in the best interests of all. 

It is this lack of faith in the belief that right makes might that leads citizens and politicians alike to accept the self-fulfilling prophecy that war is inevitable. This sad fact is made more poignant when the combat veteran retreats from society and fails to engage in the battle to end war so that their children do not suffer the same fate.

It is the selfishness of our politicians and their corporate Puppetmasters that is ultimately responsible for the suffering of our young patriots. Our troops are told that their opponents are enemies of America, the citizens of both countries and of the world. Only by demonizing the chosen enemies of the corporatocracy can they expect morally upright citizens to kill in the name of God and country.

It is senseless to expect otherwise of the psychopathic CEOs who run these corporations. They see profit in convincing the US Congress with depressing regularity that it is necessary to send our children into battle to kill and die to maintain corporate profit margins. Those who would sacrifice the lives of innocents  for the sake of personal gain cannot escape responsibility for their crimes. In accepting the belief that profit is more important than responsibility to our young, the environment, their workers or the general public that bears the cost of war in blood and treasure, they surrender their souls to the judgment of the One who decides their fates.


In the new year, I resolve to remember that I have chosen to forgive those who have habitually lie to themselves. They are the true enemies of a free people who must together decide what kind of nation the United States is to become, yet in seeking to heal our wounds and restore democracy to America, I believe that we must forgive even those who have betrayed our trust. These are those who have abused the power to waste the lives of those who  willingly risked them in the name of a freedom they themselves will never know in this life.  

I vow to continue to fight for liberty and justice for all in the name of the patriot martyrs who have given their lives to preserve the Union and the true American ideal of promoting justice and peace throughout the world. I will not rest until we have removed from power those who have forgotten that we are all part of one family of Mankind and therefore must love others as we claim that we wish to love ourselves.

May God have mercy on their souls. As for ourselves, if we all refuse to accept that war is inevitable, there will come a day when it will be seen as unthinkable. On that bright day, we will will cease to study war and we will fight no more forever.









Rick Staggenborg, MD


Founder, Soldiers For Peace International

Monday, October 26, 2009

CHAPTER SIXTY FIVE. PLATO AND THE "NEW" WORLD ORDER: A COMMENTARY




Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Dec 28, 2009 9:29 AM PST


"From the hour of their birth, some men are marked out for subjugation, others for rule." -Aristotle


This essay is dedicated to Socrates, who willingly gave his life to demonstrate that there is no higher value than the freedom to speak one’s mind without fear of consequences. It is also dedicated to Plato, his wise and dutiful student. Plato showed that if each generation is taught how to reason effectively, it can build on the lessons of earlier ages to envision and create an ever more perfect world.

The teachings of these two men reveal that there is no inherent contradiction between the true essence of conservatism and progressivism. Through the Socratic method of dialogue, we can discuss our differing perspectives and see that the values of each are complementary rather than contradictory. It is simply a question of members of a society deciding what in their past is worth saving and what needs to be added or changed in order to form a more perfect union of free and equal citizens.

Finally, I dedicate this essay to Plato’s arrogant student Aristotle, tutor of Alexander the "Great," would-be conqueror of the world. Aristotle deluded himself that one could infer the principles of reality through pure reason without comparing the ideas he presented as fact to the reality others saw. It is no wonder that his student tried to conquer the known world, finally failing in Afghanistan. Modern-day Empire builders who would conquer the world but who put more faith in ideology than evidence will continue to fall victim to hubris in the same way.



One of Plato’s chief contributions to philosophy was the idea of the Form, particularly as the concept is illustrated in The Republic. Form is the essence of a concept, from concrete ideas such as "chair" to more ethereal notions such as "justice." No example of either ideal actually exists in the physical world. All manifestations of the ideal fall short of the Form of the thing.

To describe how we attempt to understand reality by interpreting what we can perceive through our senses, Plato used the parable of the man who chose to live in a dark cave. He had never seen things that others had experienced, so had to imagine them.
The point of this parable is that there is often a great difference between the essence of a thing and how we perceive it. It is the difference between what we think we are talking about and its reality that is the source of much of our inability to understand problems and how to solve them.

Nowhere is this more important than when trying to create and preserve a government founded on ideals such as "liberty" and "justice" for all.
In considering the ideal Form of government, Plato began with the assumption that democracy would only be possible in a perfect society composed of free people who accept that society and government should be organized for the benefit of all. He then considered how such an ideal might best be realized in the real world, given what he saw as the nature of men. He understood that if citizens were to choose their own leaders, they would have to understand and accept that it was their civic duty to choose representatives who would put the interests of society as a whole over their individual interests when they conflicted.


Looking around him at his fellow citizens, he concluded that they were not capable of such enlightened self-interest. This led him to the conclusion that society must be reconstructed so that those who were given the responsibility of governing would be chosen by virtue of their love of truth and would be rewarded with nothing more than respect. This was the idea of the Philosopher-King, who would be invested with the authority to rule others only having demonstrated that his only interest was in serving society.  

In envisioning the ideal Republic, Plato recognized that there are some members of society who are diligent in seeking truth and applying logic to problems who would ideally become the leaders in his perfect society. He had as an example his own teacher, Socrates. Plato reasoned that only by carefully selecting such men leaders with the freedom to act without having to appeal to the whims of a self-interested public could a society have a government that acted in its best interests, regardless of what a short-sighted and unenlightened citizenry might be inclined to decide for itself.

Aristotle was the living proof of the mistake of placing faith in the good intentions of the Philosopher-King. Highly regarded as a philosopher and tutor to a boy who would be king, he was in a position to teach the Socratic method of investigating truth to a man who would change history. Instead, he entirely missed the point that Socrates never claimed to have answers but only a means to find them through dialogue with others.  Believing that his education and intelligence made it possible for him to divine truth from unexamined first principles, he reinforced in the young Alexander the belief that the world is as he saw it and that it was possible to bend it to his will.

He made the same mistake so many of our so-called leaders make today of never questioning his basic assumptions, as though the mere fact that they seemed true to him made them so.  His attitude toward the search for "truth" retarded science for centuries. The Aristotelian attitude that scientific truth and political wisdom can be derived from a priori assumptions not subject to verification by observation is having a resurgence today, much to the detriment of society. Science and political science are being ideologically co-opted and increasingly divorced from anything that remotely resembles objective reality.

In Greek society, there was an abundance of free time to contemplate the joys and the beauties of life, at least for free citizens. Unfortunately, this freedom and Greek luxuries were maintained by a class of slaves. The idea of a society in which equal every member had equal rights to liberty and justice was therefore not a part of the form of "democracy" that Greece embraced. I do not know if Plato recognized this irony or simply accepted slavery as a fact of life, but it seems as if Aristotle saw slavery as a given and that this assumption colored his view of the proper relation between a ruler and the governed. He passed these unexamined beliefs on to Alexander, who in his arrogance sought to subjugate the world as did the Romans after him. And so it goes today.



The World Trade Organization is a nongovernmental agency composed of representatives of multinational corporate Puppet masters who manipulate the US government to further their own aims of world domination. They think that they have a divine right to rule. Left to their own devices they would together enslave the planet, molding a world society according to a sick vision based on their own unexamined assumptions about the ideal government and society. In such a world, the parody of the Philosopher-King is a cartel of economic elite who would decide for all of us what is best for each based on the assumption that they are the natural rulers of all.

In such a New World Order, the wealthy would always benefit from their self-interested machinations at the expense of the Peoples of the world. The big lie is that free trade not only exists but is the key to prosperity for the world. Having succeeded in deluding the people of America that they can realize this ideal if allowed free rein to reign, they now seek to use the power of American government to economically enslave the rest of the world in their quest for corporate Empire.

The irony is that the false ideal of free trade is embraced most enthusiastically by the very people who fear most the power of government and particularly, a one-world government. In their irrational fear that governmental restrictions on the operation of corporations represents a threat to their personal freedom, they continue to elect to represent them not leaders but followers of an ideology based on the denial of our self-evident interdependence.  These acolytes of Ayn Rand are self-deluded graspers who cannot see the evidence of their own senses that unregulated “free market” does not benefit either society or the individual. They are thus unwittingly sowing the seeds of their own destruction and that of American and world society.

It is up to us to free our Peoples by educating them of the fact that their freedom depends on looking beyond our superficial differences and working for the common good through the promotion of truly representative democratic Republics throughout the world. If we believe that we are capable of ruling ourselves then we must trust that we are essentially good and treat each other as equally deserving of the blessings of living in a just society, the righteousness of which can be measured by the degree to which it tends to the needs of its weakest members.

If the ideal of justice is to be realized in the real world, it will only be through the efforts of imperfect humans striving to create a dialogue that will allow them to come as close as possible to the ideal of democracy. History has witnessed the fall of every Empire because those who would rule others inevitably find that those who would be ruled will find common interest in fighting together for liberty and justice for all.

At a time in history when a small group of self-styled Masters of the Universe are working in parallel to control the rest of us, citizens of nations that have been historical enemies must work together to build a united international front against fascism and war. Only by understanding that the ideal of democracy can only be realized in the world by ensuring that all share in its blessings can we assure that the last, best hope for Mankind shall not perish from the Earth.
 









Rick Staggenborg, MD
Founder, Soldiers For Peace International

Sunday, October 25, 2009

CHAPTER SIXTY SEVEN. WHY THE DEVIL IS DYING




Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Jan 2, 2010 9:47 PM PST



This essay is devoted to Dian Fossey, who was murdered for trying to save an intelligent species that lives in harmony with its environment but stands in the way of “progress” and profit. Perhaps like many traumatized individuals, she found it easier to understand and to communicate with animals other than the naked ape.


There was an interesting article in the paper yesterday. It seems that scientists believe they have discovered why the Tasmanian devil is rapidly facing extinction if no cure is found for the devastating illness that has wiped out 70 percent of the population since 1996. It has been called the “devil facial tumor disease” and is known to be a cancer spread by the devilish habit of biting one another on the face. The cancer was found to originate in the nerve cells of the beasts, giving rise to the hope that scientists may find a cure or vaccine that will save the devils from self-annihilation.

I find interesting parallels between the decline of the devils and the predicament in which the Masters of the Universe who control international finance find themselves as a result of their voracious appetites and tendency to viciously attack not only innocent prey but themselves, when prey are scarce due to their unrestrained, aggressive hunting style that tends to produce periods of scarcity of targets for their depredations. A perfect example is the way in which Goldman-Sachs and their alumni arranged to take down the weakened Bear-Stearns and then turned on their other chief rival Lehman Brothers in a coordinated pack attack.

The devil that is Goldman-Sachs is a clever beast, but an animal nonetheless and therefore no match for humans if we put our minds to eliminating the scourge. Matt Taibbi has laid out their hunting habits in clear terms in a series of lucid articles in Rolling Stone magazine. If the people of America were to elect a proper team of trappers in the Senate, it would be an easy task to trap the pesky varmints and put an end to their marauding ways. It is no loss that their competitors were eliminated, as the bait was the promise of easy riches without end and it was simply the result of Darwinian natural selection that they were eliminated due to their maladaptive trait of unrestrained greed.

At the risk of straining the analogy, it is interesting to note that the disease affecting the devils is transmitted by biting each other and that the disease arose in nerve cells, whose function is supposed to be to regulate behavior of the organism. How fitting it is that the disease of the nervous system of the financial industry is beginning to decimate the population of major financial houses, at least in America. I wonder how long it will be before the disease spreads to European and other houses of finance that have not been kept in order. Certainly, some of them are not looking well and if some are on government life support, kept tenuously alive by infusions of taxpayer money while a cure that will save unregulated capitalism is desperately sought.

I suspect that it is karmic law that biting the hand that feeds you leads inevitably to retribution by the God that guides the invisible hand of the unregulated free market. The avatar is the God of greed and Buddha is laughing as Shiva continues to dance the eternal dance of destruction and re-creation. Let us pray that our leaders will find Enlightenment and realize that their political fates are entwined with the social, physical and moral health of the nation that they have abandoned for their own selfish purposes.



Rick Staggenborg, MD

Founder, Soldiers For Peace International

CHAPTER SIXTY EIGHT, RINGING OUT THE NEW YEAR: ON THE EVE OF CONSTRUCTION





Written by: Rick Staggenborg on 12/30/09



This essay is dedicated to Isaac Newton, who stated that “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” Only by studying the mistakes and successes of the recent and remote past can we Take Back America, heal the wounds of the Uncivil War and complete the Revolution that so many have died for.

It is the ignorance of our history and arrogance of our politicians that are causing our sons and daughter to pay the ultimate price in far-off lands where we not only have no place being, but where we are sowing the seeds of the destruction of the American experiment in democracy and promoting the goals of the self-deluded Masters of the Universe who would blindly destroy the world and society itself.



I am sure that most of us have figured out by now what a lot of us assumed from the beginning: This Congress would not give us real health care reform because of their dependence on the medical insurance, pharmaceutical and corporate medical care industries for maintaining their positions of misused power. The pundits are increasingly picking up on the themes of corporate dominance of Congress, the Senate in particular and are beginning to recognize the pernicious consequences that this is having on America and the world. The glimmerings of understanding of what needs to be done are becoming apparent to them and the hope for ultimate victory is in sight.

The bright side of this is that the stage is now set to continue our work in educating the people about what happened and the consequences if they do not become involved in the debate and the process of “Becoming the Change” that Obama clearly told us he could not be himself.

This entire book of essays has so far been an effort to do this while this historic process is occurring. We are taking a break over the holidays to recharge our batteries, so let’s use that energy to come back more unified, less na├»ve, more focused on working together and gathering strength to achieve not only our goal of single payer but a new political order in the US and the world. This is the mission of Soldiers For Peace.

As conservatives and ultra-liberals are beginning to come together to seek real solutions to the planet-threatening problems our Congress and the economic Lilliputians have not yet begun to grapple with, I am ever more confident that our brave heroes fighting to secure oil lines in the Mideast will be home for Christmas next year. Awareness of the magnitude of the task before us is beginning to seep into the general consciousness of the American people, many of whom have been deluded by the corporate media into accepting the myth of American exceptionalism and the nightmare of Empire by those in whom they have put their trust.

The ultimate victory of the Army of the Soldiers For Peace International will be realized only when these ideas become part of the general consciousness. It is only a matter of time. My work has convinced me that there is time enough to fight this battle to the finish and that my faith that good is stronger than evil is justified. So let us drink to the health of our nation and the world. We have earned it. We need to rest now so that we can gather the strength to continue this battle to its ultimate and inevitable conclusion. That is reason enough for me to celebrate.








In the words of Barry McGuire:


The eastern world, it is exploding
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’
You’re old enough to kill, but not for votiNG.
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’


But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.


Don’t you understand what I’m tryin’ to say
Can’t you feel the fears I’m feelin’ today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no runnin’ away
There’ll be no one to save, with the world in a grave
[Take a look around ya boy, it's bound to scare ya boy]


And you tell me;
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.


Yeah, my blood’s so mad feels like coagulatin’
I’m sitting here just contemplatin’
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation.
Handful of senators don’t pass legislation
And marches alone can’t bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin’
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’


And you tell tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.


Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for 4 days in space
But when you return, it’s the same old place
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace
Hate your next-door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace


And… tell me over and over and over and over again, my friend
You don’t believe
We’re on the eve
Of destruction
Mm, no no, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.




Rick Staggenborg, MD


Founder, Soldiers For Peace International


Coos Bay, Oregon

Saturday, October 24, 2009

CHAPTER SIXTY EIGHT. RELIGION VIEWED AS A HOLOGRAM: A PARABLE




Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Jan 4, 2010 7:22 AM PST

This chapter is devoted to my brother Mike. May God grant his soul peace, if God and the soul exist.


I have always thought like a scientist, so much so that Mike often called me “Mr. Spock” when he was alive. My Catholic father was a true compassionate conservative and saw no contradiction in this nor in his belief in the inerrancy of the teachings of the church, despite the living contradiction of his father, a devout and angry man who professed faith in the same God. My mother was also a Catholic at one time. She was a deeply unhappy and distrustful liberal, as compassionate as my father but never really believing in the essential goodness of Man. She seemed to reject faith in God after being excommunicated for divorcing the abusive father of my four oldest siblings. She did not recognize the conflict between her judgmental view of humans and her love for humanity. 

As Spock might have, I found my father’s lack of faith in America to better itself through addressing obvious social ills puzzling given his positive view of human nature, but my mother’s thinking seemed outright bizarre. She seemed to live by a slim thread of hope that she was wrong and Mankind could save itself, but was unwilling to admit to herself that her lack of faith in Man was the source of her unhappiness. It was as if she had chosen faith in nihilism. I love both of my parents deeply and wanted to be understood by them as I tried to understand them. I found it deeply troubling that the mother, whose social beliefs made more sense to me, was much more likely reject my ideas when we disagreed than my father, with whom I had many disagreements.

Despite our differences in political philosophy my father always accepted me for who I was, though at times my questioning attitude would frustrate him. I refused to accept that things were the way he saw them when the best answer he could give to my questions was “because that’s the way they are!” I will never forget the time he tried to convince me to cut my hair. When I asked why, he gave up trying to convince me after a few attempts, telling me in exasperation “Some things you just figure out and go on. You don’t think about how to tie your shoelaces every day, do you?”

I found it highly amusing that my father would compare a mundane, mechanical task to the act of questioning the nature of the world around me, or determining who I wanted to be and having my own style. Years later, I read Baba Ram Das’ Be Here Now and was struck by his suggestion that we learn to be present in the moment by choosing each day doing something ordinary in a new way. To my surprise and delight, he used the example of varying how we tie our shoes.

As a scientist, I had difficulty getting my mind around the concept of faith. Like many agnostics and most atheists, I made the mistake of equating faith with religion, or at least someone else's concept of "God." Until I was ten years old I attended Catholic Mass regularly, soaking up the moral precepts by which I live my life. The words and meaning of ideas reputed to Jesus were explained to me by thoughtful and deeply compassionate priests. Though I found the repetitious ceremony boring, I always sat up straight for the sermon, from which I invariably took valuable lessons.

I wanted to believe in God but could not convince myself that if it existed, Jesus was It in the flesh. I thought that taking Catholic confirmation training might help me resolve my doubts, so at my father’s urging I went. You may imagine my shock and disappointment when I learned that Catholics have a rigid dogma, a whole slew of notions of what they think the Bible means. The teacher was not interested in answering challenging questions. The whole point seemed to be indoctrination. After hearing one questionable conclusion about the meaning of the Bible after another that were not open for discussion, I quit listening. I would sit and read Bible story comic books, not wanting to disappoint my father by quitting the class. However, by the time I finished the last story I did just that, walking out on the Catholic church forever.

For the next twenty years, I struggled to define myself and suffered the torture of depression time and again, though I rarely showed it. I learned to wear a mask of lightheartedness and indulged in every hedonistic pursuit while afraid to pursue the one thing that would have made me truly happy: the love of a woman. I found myself paralyzed by fear of rejection should I take the leap of faith and let myself fall in love. Even when a woman was obviously attracted to me, I did not allow myself to fall into the trap of loving her in return. I experienced my parent’s deep compassion for people in general, but the thought of being disappointed by rejection of who I am was overwhelming to me. So for most of my young adulthood, I worshiped hundreds of women from a distance, while keeping my love for them locked inside.

My wariness led me to study people closely, and my pain led me to want to help those I saw suffering around me. Lacking faith in God, I saw no other inherent purpose in life. I continued to indulge in my guilty self-destructive pleasures until finally, out of desperation I married a woman who I later realized reminded me strikingly of my mother, despite important differences in some aspects of her beliefs. After a few years of happiness, I found myself in a different trap, married to a woman who would not discuss our differences and with whom I could not find the intimacy I so craved.

We split up after ten years, to the relief of both of us. I was consoled by the fact that she had brought a wonderful daughter into my life, and it was the healing of the three of us that enabled me to love and find intimacy for the first time. My daughter finally gave me faith that I could trust a woman’s love and her faith in God led me to question the lack of that faith in my own life. As our relationship deepened and she resolved the conflicts that she had with her mother, all of us grew closer than we had ever been during the marriage.

My brilliant daughter grew up questioning everything, but relatively early on realized that if the existence of God is unknowable, it makes little sense to choose to reject the possibility. Having accepted the possibility, she had observed evidence for its existence all her life, giving her a faith that sustained her through a very tumultuous childhood. At the age of fifty, I was introduced by her to a church that had no dogma. I am a little embarrassed to say that I had not known that such a thing existed. Thanks to her, I finally found a gathering place for people who still asked the questions that I had asked as a child.

As a psychiatrist, I always talked to my patients about their spiritual beliefs. Tapping into these core beliefs is a key way to examine the individual’s thinking and help them to overcome self-imposed obstacles. I had made a habit of exploring the implications of their belief systems as a means of helping them discover that when they adopt ideas that contradict those that form the core of their moral being, they inevitably suffer.

It took me years to recognize that holding on to contradictory ideas was the source of my own suffering. I have a core conviction that humans are essentially good. That is necessary for us to rule ourselves, as is our inalienable right. I assumed that this meant we would naturally make the choices necessary to save human civilization if it were threatened. I held on to this notion despite the evidence of the continued acceptance of war long after any rational argument could be made in its favor.

When the corporatocracy declared its intention of world domination during the Cheney regime, I was awakened from my pleasant dream that Mankind would be its own savior.
Like millions of others, I watched in horror as the vast majority of Americans accepted the lie that we must be willing to wage war to defend our "freedom." Expecting to see mass protests, I instead saw those who understood what was happening either give up in despair or choose to fight on, but without hope.

Not only was the prospect of democracy in the world at stake, but time was running out to deal with the twin threats of global climate devastation and overpopulation. I understood how the initial shock of 9/11 had led to a paralysis of will and even thought, but as Americans remained largely blind to their peril, I began to question my most basic beliefs. In the end, the contrast between what I thought true the lies the mass of those around me seemed to believe led me to reconsider my fundamental beliefs about reality itself. I could not see how anything short of a "miracle" could save us from ourselves.


 my implicit rejection of the possibility that there was an ordering force in the Universe more powerful than the destructive forces of selfishness that 

I do not want to bore the reader with how my exploration of the faith of others led me to my own. Suffice it to see that I became an avid seeker of possible revealed wisdom through these experiences. I believe that I have found it in all the great religions. The following is the story that I tell myself that now orders my view of life. As I learn more, I hope that my beliefs continue to evolve, for the absence of change is death. That is what we seek to avoid when we ponder the possibility of an immortal soul.




In the beginning, there was void.

The void was not still, for quantum fluctuation is woven into the fabric of the Universe. It is the source of the infinite possibilities of reality.

Gradually, consciousness arose and it was Good, by definition.

As Good (or God) became aware of itself, it realized that due to quantum fluctuations its experience varied between two alternating states, calm and unease. In human terms, we might call this "passive acceptance" and "boredom."

As there existed no force outside of itself to govern it, God was all-powerful. It created the reality in which it existed merely by imagining it. In accordance to its eternal nature, it chose calm.

In time, God experienced the unease that humans would call boredom. It saw that this was an inseparable property of its static existence. This led to the insight that choices required duality. It saw that unease was good and began to explore the infinite possibilities of reality. 

When God dreamed the Universe, duality was the ordering force that lent stability to the reality it created in Its mind. A stable reality must be logically coherent if it is to exist at all, of course. Since deductive logic requires that all choices be reduced to binary options and inductive logic does not exist in a Universe that is the product of pure will, the necessity for all things to exist along a spectrum of opposing possibilities was necessary to create a stable Universe.

Pondering how it might create a more interesting Universe, where the existence of change would inevitably lead to a pleasing state of continuous evolution, God created the Angels. He imbued in them a variety of attributes that mirrored the infinite possibilities of human nature and of God itself. The first duality was the division of male and female, subtle variations in the same divine attributes in different proportions, leading to a pleasing contrast in the two types of Avatars.

Though they had free will to choose among all the possible realities, having been pure creations of the mind of God they were imbued with awareness of its presence. The Angels naturally chose to act in accordance with the will of Good, which was to live in harmony. It did not occur to them to imagine another reality. Being free to create their own world, it was obvious to them that the only path to a state of peace and contentment was to act for the good of all.

Realizing this, God again felt unease. The absence of change in the Universe It had created produced a feeling akin to what humans would come to know as the knowledge of their mortality. God realized that the absence of change would mean the end of the ever-evolving Universe that It had created.

In the eons since God had become self-aware, it had observed that quantum fluctuations occasionally led to bubbles that winked into existence, creating a disturbance in the fabric of reality. It noticed that in some instances, the bubbles burst almost instantaneously, as the duality of existence split into opposing forces that mutually annihilated one another. In other instances, the bubbles of potential reality happened to have the property of inhomogeneity, allowing matter and antimatter to separate into a metastable “Universe.” These “Universes” in some instances expanded until they became stable and unchanging, while in other instances were such that they expanded, then contracted until the constituent elements came together with such force that they produced what we refer to as fusion, and the resultant release of energy started the process anew with a Big Bang.

It occurred to God that if it imagined a Universe that neither died a heat death nor collapsed upon itself, it could imagine that a type of being could exist that would evolve forever, thus producing a state of ever-changing reality that it found pleasing to contemplate. So God created Mankind, and saw that it was Good. 

God offered the Angels the chance to give up their immortality in exchange for the promise of an eternal life in which they would be able to choose ever-changing experiences instead of an existence essentially devoid of free will. As the Angels were imbued with perfect logic and awareness of the beneficence of Good, they readily agreed.

God then populated the Earth and other planets where the existence of life was possible given the constraints of the reality it had created. It manipulated probability so that on these worlds, anti-entropic evolution occurred and the development of self-awareness was inevitable. To assure the existence of free will, God kept from his creations the direct knowledge of its existence.

Instead, it gave them the power to perceive the reality of its existence by direct communication in dream states which can be accessed consciously by acts of choice. As a fail-safe, God could also communicate with unconscious humans by altering the probabilities of specific connections formed between dendrites that form the physical manifestation of memory as we sleep. This is how humans form connections between remote memory and recent experiences of the day into one seemingly seamless representation of experience. By carefully constructing these connections through an undetectable manipulation of probability at the subatomic level, God could leave clues that would penetrate the subconscious of the dreamer. This enabled the receptive mind to recognize highly improbable events as miracles and as clues to the existence and nature of Good.

At the dawn of humanity, all men and women were receptive to these portents of another world. In their ignorance, they tried to explain their dreams in mythological terms, drawing analogies to the natural world and what they saw as human nature. In the process, Mankind created God in its own image. As males had been imbued with the properties of physical strength and were more prone to the aggression provoked by testosterone poisoning and lust, it was almost certain that they were the first to sin. It was not the seeking of knowledge but violence and murder that was the original sin. Nonetheless, since the dawn of humans with the evolution of oversized brains, women have borne the lion’s share of suffering because these large skulls magnified the pain of childbirth. This is a pain mothers willingly bear for the gift of love.

From the pain of childbirth to the pain of watching the men they love hurt each other and the ones they purport to love, women bear the heavier burden of the pain from the evil that men do. Having given life or even knowing that they have the potential to do so, they are much more prone to value it. Knowing that they are regarded as objects of sexual pleasure by unreflective and often more powerful men who would choose to subjugate them, the powerlessness most of us feel as individuals caught in a world gone mad is multiplied.

It is small wonder that in my experience, women who are empowered tend to be much more thoughtful than men and therefore more intelligent in their behavior. Women also tend to have a stronger sense of the interdependence of all of humanity and its environment, making them more receptive to the strengths, weaknesses and needs of others. It is in our collective efforts that true strength resides. That is why ultimately, women will save the world if it is to be saved. In the final analysis, it is only the love of women and the children they bring us that makes life meaningful for the conscious male of the human species.

The ordering force in what we call the Universe is Love. It is in constant conflict with the self-destructive force of selfishness. Freud called the opposing forces of the self Eros and Thanatos, or the life force versus the urge to self-destruction. He wrote about these in his treatise Civilization and its Discontents at another time when the threat of world fascism threatened. In his book his pessimism showed. Only if we reject the self-fulfilling prophecy that love must always be countered by an equal measure of selfishness can we create a Universe where the power of Love overwhelms the antimatter of hate, banishing it from the worlds we choose to inhabit.

Thanatos is the product of pure Id, which is the sum of our animal desires. Eros is a more subtle product of Id and Ego. It is our instinctual drives moderated by rational thought that leads to the recognition that what is good and right for the Self is always what is best for all. Religions have arisen each time that this truth was re-discovered in various parts of the world that had become isolated from the others as humans migrated from what once was the Garden of Africa, where Mankind arose.

The migration of Man was driven by competition for resources that led to conflicts among tribal societies, leading in turn to violence, hatred and undying enmity. This tendency toward tribalism has fractured humanity and made it forget its common origins. Racism arose as a justification for the inhumanity of slavery, further driving a wedge between Man and knowledge of its common origin. Every great religion has become adulterated by selfishness and tribalism, as it grew in power and numbers. Hindus, Jews, Christians and Muslims have subdivided themselves and made war in the name of their self-created Gods, each professing that their image of God is the true one. In their finite wisdom and arrogance, too many adherents of these religions have forgotten what all true religious scholars profess to believe, that the nature of God is unknowable.

There is arising in the world a drive to unify Man as awareness that our self-destructiveness is rapidly reaching its logical conclusion. The threat of human civilization collapsing at this time was so predictable that we were warned over 2,000 years ago that if we could not find a way to create a just human society, the legacy of slavery and domination we allowed to persist would destroy us. As a human society we have chosen perpetual war over sharing, fear over hope and selfishness over compassion. 

Buddhists speak of the eternal One, Hindus of the reality of Vishnu and the illusion of a panoply of what Westerners call “Gods.” All monotheistic religions believe that God is one and reflected in our entire existence. If we are all imbued by a Holy Spirit that binds us to a creator, how then can we regard ourselves as separate from one another? As a scientist, this offends my Vulcan sensibilities.

The answer seems to me to lie not in rejecting the possibility of revealed wisdom, but to look to all the great religions for the clues to the nature of a greater reality that all Deists believe is to be found somehow. If we are open to this spirit, we may find an approximation to the truth of a reality that cannot be revealed by science alone. If we are not open to seeking such knowledge, it is impossible to find the evidence that God in some form may actually exist. This is the reason that the belief that God’s existence cannot be proven becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If God on the other hand does exist, then perhaps It will help us find the clues to the nature of Its existence if we seek knowledge of that which is true from all perspectives, including those to be found in the great works of religious literature.

I have looked at the experiences of my life as a scientist does. I cannot prove that I have seen God working in my life, but I have examined the evidence of my experience and applied rigorous logic in trying to explain it coherently. If the use of Ockham’s razor has any validity, then it is clear to me that I cannot explain the miracle of my life without recourse to tentatively accepting the assumption that God exists.

The approach to “disproving” the existence of God by setting up straw man arguments based on simplistic assumptions of Its nature are easily dismissed when one considers this: If it is impossible to prove that God exists, it is illogical to assume that it does not. It is impossible to prove a negative. This is why any experimental scientist seeks not to prove the null hypothesis but to find evidence that it is so unlikely that it is most reasonable to reject it.

Thus, if the null hypothesis is that God does not exist is valid, then one should not be able to find evidence for phenomenon which would be inexplicable in any other way. If a series of events can be shown to be so vanishingly improbable as to approach impossibility in the absence of postulating what amounts to a series of miracles, then one has produced indirect evidence of the possibility that God exists. At the very least, such evidence strikes directly at the assumption that science is in the verge of explaining everything about the Universe that is worth knowing.

If one wants to have faith in the idea that we are alone in the Universe, one has to start with the knowledge that this belief is no more than an assumption and seek to disprove it. The only way to do so is to do what any good scientist does: Approach both possibilities with an open mind and conduct thought experiments in your own life. Decide for yourself whether your experience, thoughtfully considered with rigorous logic, can be explained better by postulating that God exists or that he does not. As for myself, my experience has forced me to reject the null hypothesis.

Skeptics like to ask the question "where did God come from?" The answer might surprise the conventional theist. The answer to this ancient riddle of the chicken and the egg is in my model of creation a false dichotomy. If the Universe proves to be stable and unending, then time and space will be fixed in at least the four dimensions we can more or less directly perceive. In such a Universe there is no beginning and no end. The logical conclusion is that through the evolution of this Universe, we have re-created God even as God has created us from Itself. Only when we are One will God be whole in the world of Its creation and only then will Our will be done on Earth as it is in "Heaven."

Of course, other worlds will then be possible, for what we consider the Universe appears to be just one among an infinite number of possible Universes existing side-by-side in parallel dimensions that science is only beginning to perceive. What purpose would there be in Creation if in the end there was stasis and boredom? All the world is a stage, and all men and women merely players. Each of us writes the script that determines what part we play. We can work together toward an outcome that is pleasing to us all, or we can ruin the production by indulging our egos at the expense of the whole. We can only hope that if we are in the final act of this play that we call human history, a better part awaits us on another stage.






In the words of George Harrison:




We were talking…about the space between us all
and the people…who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion.
Never glimpse the truth, then it's far too late….when they pass away.


We were talking…about the love we all could share, when we find it.
To try our best to hold it there..with our love.
With our love, we could save the world…if they only knew.


Try to realize it's all within yourself.
No one else can make you change.
And to see you're really only very small
and life flows on within you and without you.




We were talking…about the love that's gone so cold and the people, who gain the world and lose their soul.
They don't know, they can't see…are you one of them?




When you've seen beyond yourself then you may find… peace of mind is waiting there and the time will come when you see.
We're all one and life flows on within you and without you.






Rick Staggenborg, MD


Coos Bay, OR