Torture is always Wrong

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Dealing with Evil

Sociopaths, murderers, con-men, sadists, and bystanders before violence are all part of the same cosmic body as heroes, rescuers, protectors, saints, and gentle souls. We are all on the same path, only some of us perhaps further along than others. When we punish evil, which we must–often harshly–we need to remember to have compassion for all human beings, no matter how rotted and degraded they are. They are our family; they are us. That is a form of wholeness: to be able to condemn (sometimes to kill to protect the lives of others or our own) while also acknowledging our common humanity and shared divine spirit.

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Illinois Bans Capital Punshment

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A New Day

A NEW DAY
© 2010, Dr. Laurence H. Kant
Essay for the Evolutionary Envisioning Circle of the Annual Great Mother Celebration, September, 2010

A new day emerges, as so many have in millennia past. Once, after we foraged and gathered, we became hunters. Once, after we hunted, we became farmers and shepherds. Once, after we lived in villages and small enclaves, we became city dwellers. Once, after priests and kings ruled, leaders came from the people. Once we did not know what was on the other side of the ocean; now we can not only travel there by boat or jet, but we can be virtually present on other continents when we’re secure at home half a world away. Once we thought that mass violence and genocide were normal; now we don’t. Once we did not even have a word for genocide; now we do.

Each time we move a few steps closer to the land of Eden, where, amidst friendship, dance, love-making, study, and work, we will dine again with God, the Source of All That Is. The sparks of fire that scattered at creation slowly come together to create a flame that lights our world in times of dissolution and chaos. We move from confusion toward knowledge, from fear toward courage, from despair toward hope, from separation toward unity, from pieces toward wholes.

What is wholeness? In Hebrew and Arabic, shalom/salaam connects to a Semitic root that means “whole” and “complete.” Some say “peace,” but that’s only part of the story. In its mystical sense, shalom/salaam really means interconnected oneness. It is that place where difference and oneness coexist, where each being finds its own unique purpose and self-expression as part of one planetary tableau, one eternal poem, one cosmic body, one collective consciousness, one Source.

During the shift, the ego (the I) recedes, and the authentic person emerges from its mother’s womb. The true self, the person You truly are, takes its place in the chariot palace, near the blazing wings of the multi-headed cherubim and the flashing heat of the serpentine seraphim. There it dines with other new-born true selves to seek wisdom in the new Temple of Knowledge and Love. Feminine and masculine energies, whose significance we assumed we understood, reveal unexpected meanings to thinking bodies and heart-filled minds. Days of pleasure and collective communing finally allow a slumbering species to shed its ego hide and put on a healing garment of shared awareness.

What will wholeness mean for evolving human culture? “Conformity” means a mass of individuals forming a collective mega ego (an I). Genuine “community” means a critical mass of individuals building a whole that transcends the individual egos and creates a collective Higher Self.

The events we see on our television sets and computer monitors—boiling, jittery delirium and tumult accompanied by earth’s eruptions, swirling storms, and disappearing ice—signal a shift from one age to the next. There will be many more such shifts in the future. But, for now, at this moment, our twenty-five-hundred-year sojourn at the inn of familiar habits, nations, and institutions has ended. Dying structures make way for new. Another day of travelling begins toward another inn on the road circling back and forward from and toward Eden. Here, in another time long, long ahead, we will be able to eat of both trees—of life and knowledge—but with experience enough to do so as humble partners of the Source, adult co-creators, sharing in the miraculous birthing of new worlds.

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Rev. Jim Wallis on Government Cuts

As a Jew, I thoroughly share the sentiments of Rev. Jim Wallis.  The TaNaKh and rabbinic tradition command us to take care of the poor and marginalized.  That why we are told not to plough the corners of our fields.  When the Hebrew Bible and the rabbis talk about caring for the needy, they refer to communities and governments.  The structures envisioned in those texts are governmental, and they *require* (not merely suggest) a society take the needy into account.  This tradition does not focus on voluntary acts and association, but on political structures that create a just society.  Those who try to convert these into free-market scenarios, which advocate economic commitments that are solely private, do not understand what the texts actually say.  Those who know the Hebrew and the history should start articulating the true nature of this tradition, which demands that governments protect those in need.

http://blog.sojo.net/2011/03/24/fast-pray-and-act-new-threats-to-the-poor/#disqus_thread

 

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Moses’ Face Shone

Moses’ face shone with the light of the Source (Ex 34.29), the reflected radiance of a divine encounter and its presence (Shekinah) in the world through moral injunctions inscribed on stone tablets.  Light–inner awareness of the Source and of being–arises in us (as with Moses) when we connect a mystic moment to life. This is one purpose of our human incarnations:  to integrate being and becoming through right intention and action–character and ethics.

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Fox Not News

How is Fox News called “News”?  Its purpose is not news, but spreading corporate ideology.  Calling it news is Orwellian.  Fundamental dishonesty is a core element of morality, and what Fox promotes is counter to basic ideals of integrity.

And Media Matters reports how Fox lied about the Wisconsin situation:
http://mediamatters.org/print/research/201103020013

And now we find that the head of Fox news, Roger Ailes, asked an employee to lie:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/25/nyregion/25roger-ailes.html?hp

Prime Minister’s Harper’s attempt to repeal the Canadian law that prevents false and misleading news information is rejected.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-f-kennedy-jr/fox-news-will-not-be-moving-into-canada-after-all_b_829473.html

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Tajii Dolphin Hunt Ends One Month Early in Japan

At least this is one victory and another indication that there is a little space for humaneness in the human heart.  There is also increasing evidence for a growing inventory of unsold dolphin and whale meat in Japan, with Japanese consumers increasingly refusing to buy and eat this meat.

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Slaughtering and Torturing Dolphins in Taijii, Japan

If you are squeamish, please do not watch this video.  It is hard and painful to see.

The slaughtering and torture of dolphins is a tradition that no longer makes any sense.  Dolphins (and whales) are highly intelligent, sophisticated, relational sea mammals.  In Greek tradition, dolphins were sacred and viewed as friends of humans.  This video and others have brought attention to a horrible practice that we need to stop not only because of its violence and the slow, painful deaths of dolphins, but because it degrades our own moral conscience as human beings.

Blessings,
Larry

http://www.youtube.com/user/delfinusdelphis#p/a/u/0/dY2Fd9eQGZE

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/14/dolphin-slaughter-hunting-japan-taiji (an article that summarizes the practice in Taijii)

http://www.savejapandolphins.org/

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Doing the Right Thing

This is a moving story, a pitcher who gave up 12 million dollars, because he wanted to do the right thing and keep his self-respect.  Inspiring.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/sports/baseball/27meche.html?hp

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Transforming Destructive Impulses

Transforming destructive impulses into something good is a key part of shalom (wholeness) for human beings.

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Bad Can Lead to Good

Sometimes doing the wrong thing leads to good: Gen 50:20.

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American Heroes: Those Who Ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

One of my favorite Martin Luther King quotes: “The arc of the moral universe is is long, but it bends toward justice”
http://www.hillmanfoundation.org/blog/american-heroes

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Free-Range Chickens and Ethics

This is in response to a group discussion in our congregation on organic foods.

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Something positive and good has come out of this discussion of chickens.  We have learned that people are deeply responsive to the issue of meat consumption.  Unlike abortion, stem cells, capital punishment, even war, this topic strikes all of us at a gut, personal level.  We may not all have the unfortunate experience of dealing with a murderer or an unwanted pregnancy, but obviously we all to have to eat on a regular basis.  So this is a dilemma we cannot avoid facing.  And nobody wants to feel like a bad person; we all want to think we’re good, decent, nice people.

Yet, the reality is that we are all–everyone of us–implicated in the cultural activities of the broader society in which we live.  There is no getting around that.  Torah has long explained that every Jew sins not just as an individual, but as part of the greater Jewish and human community.  No matter what we do, we are engaged in activities that are harmful to other beings and to the earth itself.  That’s simply the nature of humanness.  What we should do, I think, is not try to be perfect (that’s plainly impossible), but to try to reduce the harm we do and to transform negative actions into positive ones.

Historically, laws of kashrut slaughtering were much more humane than slaughtering practices found in neighboring cultures.  And part of the motivation (though not all) for these laws probably stemmed from concern for the well-being of animals.  But times have changed, and we live in a different world since the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century.  Like others today, kosher butchers engage in the factory industry of chicken slaughtering (though kosher butchers are more humane than the large corporate industry giants).  It is this assembly-line, industrial system that has caused new, inhumane practices to be adopted by most large slaughtering houses.  Our dilemma is:  Do we pay more for humane slaughtering practices, or do we pay the lowest possible price?  Of course, we all have to make that decision for ourselves, and no one is wrong who decides to pay a lower price.  Every day we make these kinds of decisions in countless, little ways, and I imagine that each one of us comes to different conclusions, depending on the issue.

For me eating free-range chickens means that we are inflicting less pain and suffering on other sentient beings.   We are also forcing poultry producers to adopt more humane and healthy practices. This is tikkun olam.   Do I always do this?  Honestly, no.  Do I try to?  Yes.  Why?  Because it is the right thing to do.  We all do the best we can, knowing that we can still cause harm.  That’s the complexity of our human existence.

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