Friday, September 9, 2011


“Fear is the mind-killer.”
--Frank Miller, Dune.

Real life and a new school semester have been eating up much of my time.  But with all the chatter about the upcoming 9/11 anniversary I wanted to put my two bits in.

I was listening to National Public Radio as I sometimes do, and they were having a discussion on whether their listeners were afraid of Al’ Qaeda, and why or why not.  I didn’t listen to the whole program, and at least several of the callers believed that fear was not the best response.  But it seems that, ten years later, some people are still afraid, reeling from the realization that “the oceans no longer keep us safe.”

Wow.  They don’t?  Really?  I mean, really really?  Blink.  Good heavens.

Back when G. W. Bush first figured that out for himself, I asked some friends of mine who were around during WWII  - especially during 12/7 - if they thought that was true.  They laughed.  Yeah, the young pup’s got a sense of humor.

Then I asked some friends of mine who had spent time with their families on the native reservations if 2001 was when their people first realized that the “oceans no longer keep us safe.”  That got me some belly-laughs, too.  Snowflake sure tells a good one, he does.  

Thank you, thank you all.  I am always happy to amuse.

Let’s do keep some perspective, please.

I wasn’t in a dojo yet when the twin towers fell.  But a few years later I was, and the anniversary rolled around as it always does.  Funny thing: nobody in the dojo was scared.  Nor, for the most part, had they been.  Angry, many of them.  But not afraid.  Which is one reason why I liked hanging out there.  Whether or not they thought they needed “street cred,” all the more advanced students there understood that life is dangerous, and that promises of safety and security are lies.  After all, that’s one reason why you study the Art.  Any adult who seeks it out has acknowledged, on some level, that life is not always safe.  Nor, in my opinion, should it be.

Scared people are easily led, easily whipped into a froth of anger.  And people who are hurt, desperate and hungry are ready to lash out at anyone who might be responsible.  Bush understood this.  Bin Laudin understood this.  The IRA understood this.  The modern-day Republicans and the Tea Party understand this.  And desperate youths who are promised security for themselves or their loved ones are ideal recruits for any radical organization

People who are content, or even just have food and medical care, are more likely to question what they hear and read, and more likely to be tolerant of other beliefs.  Once the basic needs are met, a person might feel he has the leisure to expand his or her horizons a little.  That leisure is the antithesis to blind obedience.  The great philosophers of ancient Greece weren’t putting in 50 to 60 hour work weeks, after all.  And only the Cynics spent all their time begging on the streets.

If the governments of the world really wanted to combat terrorism, they would combat those things that feed it: hunger, ignorance, sickness, and most of all fear.  But that would bite into their own profits.  Most of society’s rules and taboos revolve around restricting people, controlling their pleasures, telling them who to hate and what to fear.  After all, that’s where the money is.  Rulership is and has always been big business.  But as individuals, we can take away their recruiting grounds.  One magnificent moment of life at a time.

And what really keeps people from being ground up and crushed is mastery over themselves.

I dream of teaching martial arts in my neighborhood, on the road, even overseas.  Teaching people the Art so they can have that self-mastery, rather than be mastered and used by others.  There is nothing better or more pure than complete, true freedom of body, mind, and spirit.  And so I learn all I can, both for my own self-mastery and as a kind of karma yoga towards the day when I know enough to start teaching people in earnest.

And in the meantime, life’s too uncertain to spend it scared.  Let us do something constructive right now, this moment, something worth the life we put into it.  There are skills to share, minds to blow, mouths to feed, and women to love. 

Let’s go.


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