Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Colin Powell : We Don't Have to Do This Anymore

Who suggests who our “accepted " heroes are?  Colin Powell, for example, is constantly paraded in front of us and our children as “a man of dignity and integrity”. Sure, were proud he’s black and all, I guess, but - this is the information age, and it is also the age of a shift in human consciousness from lies, greed, war and militarization towards connectedness, peace and universal cooperation.

We don’t have to do this any more. Why confuse the kids? We can choose our own heroes and guides now.

Nick Turse's new book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (2013), is not only one of the most important books ever written about the Vietnam conflict but it captures, as few books on war do, the utter depravity of modern industrial violence.

Turse profiles Maj. Gordon Livingston, a regimental surgeon with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.  In 1971, he testified before Congress that he witnessed "a helicopter pilot who swooped down on two Vietnamese women riding bicycles and killed them with the helicopter skids."

A wounded detainee, Turse writes, was dumped into a boat and pushed into a rice paddy where he was riddled with bullets and finished off with a grenade. A wounded woman was covered with a straw mat and set on fire.  Corpses were dressed up and twisted into comic poses for photographs or gruesomely mutilated. Severed heads of Vietnamese were mounted on pikes or poles in Army camps.

Rape was as common as murder. A Marine in the book spoke about a nine-man squad that entered a village to hunt for "a Viet Cong whore." The squad found a woman, raped her and then shot her through the head.
"One marine remembered finding a Vietnamese woman who had been shot and wounded," Turse writes. "Severely injured, she begged for water. Instead, her clothes were ripped off. She was stabbed in both breasts, then forced into a spread-eagle position, after which the handle of an entrenching tool - essentially a short-handled shovel - was thrust up her private parts. Other women were violated with objects ranging from soda bottles to rifles."

This is of course brutal, but what does all this have to do with Colin Powell?

In his book, "My American Journey", Powell recounted his reaction when he spotted his first dead Viet Cong. "He lay on his back, gazing up at us with sightless eyes," Powell wrote. "I felt nothing, certainly not sympathy. I had seen too much death and suffering on our side to care anything about what happened on theirs."(Even though "our side" was a foreign invading force helping France subdue its former colony.)
While success against the armed enemy was rare, Powell's ARVN unit punished the civilian population systematically. As the soldiers marched through mountainous jungle, they destroyed the food and the homes of the region's Montagnards, who were suspected of sympathizing with the Viet Cong. Old women would cry hysterically as their ancestral homes and worldly possessions were consumed by fire.
"We burned down the thatched huts, starting the blaze with Ronson and Zippo lighters," Powell recalled. "Why were we torching houses and destroying crops? Ho Chi Minh had said the people were like the sea in which his guerrillas swam. ... We tried to solve the problem by making the whole sea uninhabitable. In the hard logic of war, what difference did it make if you shot your enemy or starved him to death?"

Turse also profiles Col. John Donaldson, a West Point graduate and former Olympian who organized "gook" hunts from helicopters. One officer is quoted in the book as saying that Donaldson and his chief intelligence officer "flew around in the colonel's chopper with a crate of grenades, 'frags' they were called, and popped them in the rice fields over the 'dinks' who would attempt to run for cover when the chopper swooped down to chase them."

A senior investigator from the Donaldson case recently noted that among the Vietnamese victims were an old man and an old woman who were shot to death while bathing. "They used to bet in the morning how many people they could kill-- old people, civilians, it didn't matter," the investigator said. "Some of the stuff would curl your hair."

For eight months in Chu Lai during 1968-69, Powell had worked with Donaldson and apparently developed a fondness for his superior officer. When the Army charged Donaldson with murder on June 2, 1971, Powell rose in the general's defense. Powell submitted an affidavit dated Aug. 10, 1971, which lauded Donaldson as "an aggressive and courageous brigade commander." Powell did not specifically refer to the murder allegations, but added that helicopter forays in Vietnam had been an "effective means of separating hostiles from the general population."
The colonel was never reprimanded. 
Here's the danger...

He Does It Again

After the Mai Lai massacre* in March, 1968, a letter had been written by a young specialist fourth class named Tom Glen, who had served in an American mortar platoon.  In the letter to Gen. Creighton Abrams, the commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam, Glen accused the Americal division of routine brutality against civilians.
Major Powell undertook the assignment to review Glen's letter, but did so without questioning Glen or assigning anyone else to talk with him. Powell simply accepted a claim from Glen's superior officer that Glen was not close enough to the front lines to know what he was writing about, an assertion Glen denies.
After that cursory investigation, Powell drafted a response on Dec. 13, 1968. He admitted to no pattern of wrongdoing. Powell claimed that U.S. soldiers in Vietnam were taught to treat Vietnamese "courteously and respectfully.”

Powell's findings, of course, were false, though they were exactly what his superiors wanted to hear. (In his best-selling memoirs, Powell did not mention his brush-off of Tom Glen's complaint.)

In an age where we experience so much violence and abuse directed at humanity, especially toward indigenous people of the world, is this the type of person we want to hold in such high esteem?
To be fair, we could say Powell was simply being a good soldier and following commands, or that he was caught up in the fog of war. However, many U.S. advisers, most notably the legendary Col. John Paul Vann, voiced concerns about the ARVN's brutality toward civilians.
Some soldiers refused to obey the direct orders to kill and some risked their lives to save civilians from the murderous fire.
A pilot named Hugh Clowers Thompson Jr. from Stone Mountain, Ga., was furious at the killings he saw happening on the ground. He landed his helicopter between one group of fleeing civilians and American soldiers in pursuit. Thompson ordered his helicopter door gunner to shoot the Americans if they tried to harm the Vietnamese. After a tense confrontation, the soldiers backed off. Later, two of Thompson's men climbed into one ditch filled with corpses and pulled out a three-year-old boy whom they flew to safety.

He Does It Yet Again
(This time paving the way for an estimated 200,000-1.2 million civilian deaths in Iraq.)


“No matter how fearless a dog is, you catch him out on the street, stamp your foot. He’ll run because you’re only threatening him. His master has never trained him how to defend himself. But that same dog, if you walk through the master’s gate, will growl and bite. Why will he growl and bite over there and not growl and bite over here? Over there, he’s growling and biting for the defense of his master and the benefit of his master, but when his own interests are threatened, he has no growl.”
~ Malcolm X. 

*The Mai Lai Massacre - On March 16, 1968, a bloodied unit of the American division stormed into a hamlet known as My Lai 4. With military helicopters circling overhead, revenge-seeking American soldiers rousted Vietnamese civilians -- mostly old men, women and children -- from their thatched huts and herded them into the village's irrigation ditches.
As the round-up continued, some Americans raped the girls. Then, under orders from junior officers on the ground, soldiers began emptying their M-16s into the terrified peasants. Some parents used their bodies futilely to shield their children from the bullets. Soldiers stepped among the corpses to finish off the wounded.
The slaughter raged for four hours. A total of 347 Vietnamese, including babies, died in the carnage. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Christianity, Egypt and Monotheism Pt.2

19th Century Western anthropology constructed a model representing the development of mankind in which man evolved in progression from Animism via Polytheism to Monotheism as the last link in a long chain. [See, for example E.B. Tylor (1832-1917) founder of cultural anthropology]. This is model was, of course, self serving and arbitrary. Its purpose was to put Western European Civilization on top and devalue the rest of human existence; which ironically isn't a very civilized thing to do at all. 

(More recently, many have added Science or an Atheistic Materialism as the final link in the chain; meaning the belief that only what science can prove and define through observation is what exists.)

Most early anthropologists classified the Egyptian religion as polytheistic.  However this model and classification broke down as others began to study the Egyptian worldview in earnest.  

From the attributes of God set forth in Egyptian texts of all periods, Dr. Heinrich Karl Brugsch, Emmanuel de Rougé, and other eminent Egyptologists have come to the opinion that "the dwellers in the Nile valley, from the earliest times, knew and worshipped one God, nameless, incomprehensible, and eternal."

Consider the following verses Dr. Brugsch compiled from the "Hymn to Amun Ra" and the Tomb of Princess Nesi-Khesnsu.

"God is one and alone, and none other existeth with Him--God is the One, the One who hath made all things--God is a spirit, a hidden spirit, the spirit of spirits, the great spirit of the Egyptians, the divine spirit--God is from the beginning, and He hath been from the beginning, He hath existed from old and was when nothing else had being." 

"He existed when nothing else existed, and what existeth He created after He had come into being, He is the Father of beginnings--God is the eternal One, He is eternal and infinite and endureth for ever and aye--God is hidden and no man knoweth His form. No man hath been able to seek out His likeness; --His name remaineth hidden; He begetteth, but was never begotten; He createth, but was never created."

"God Himself is existence, He endureth without increase or diminution, He multiplieth Himself millions of times, and He is manifold in forms and in members-- He is the Creator of the heavens, and of the earth. God hath stretched out the heavens and founded the earth-What His heart conceived straightway came to pass, God is merciful unto those who reverence Him, and He heareth him that calleth upon Him. God knoweth him that acknowledgeth Him, He rewardeth him that serveth Him, and He protecteth him that followeth Him."

The word God here has been translated from Amun-Ra, Nebertcher* or Neter.

Ancient Egyptian Religion is predicated upon a simple but profund concept -that all that is Created is actually an expression of one indivisible being. That being manifests as apparent objects and multiplicity in Creation. This being was referred to as Neter and its expressions were termed "Neteru."  Neter means "Divinity" and Neteru means "aspects of the original divinity". 

(*Neberdjer means all encompassing divinity; the all-inclusive, all-embracing Spirit which pervades all and who is the ultimate essence of all. This first truth unifies all the expressions of Kamitian religion.)

The notion of Amun represents an insight of the Ancient Egyptian philosophy concerning the nature of the un-manifest aspect of all existence and the understanding of human consciousness. This teaching speaks of God as an un-manifest, nameless, formless, Being of Light which is the source of all that is manifest.
Ra symbolizes the physical representation of this "light". In other words, Amun-Ra represents the concept of bringing the un-manifest into manifestation. 

It must be acknowledged that Egyptian religion lies beyond the simple Western labels of monotheism and polytheism. Monotheism means (to the West) an exclusive, personified deity who exists in fact and is separate from creation. It is the belief in or worship of only One God, but does not exclude that fact that there could be two, or three or four (presumptively false) gods that others worship.

From the Ancient Egyptian's view, however, monotheism would imply that God is the only reality that truly exists and therefore all that exists is an expression of the Divine. In other words God expresses as nature, the stars, your body, your thought, your senses, all physical objects, etc. 
This view is actually closer to Monism. Monism means that there is a recognition that there is only one reality that exists: God. All else is imagination. 

The Egyptian's outlook doesn't neatly fit the classification defining them as polytheists who worshipped many gods either. Let's look at what this actually means.  The word worship is derived from the Old English weorthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something. (Likewise "praise" is defined simply the act of making positive statements about a person, object or idea, either in public or privately). So in this original sense one can give worth to whatever is deemed worthy- one's spouse or partner, relatives, ancestors, trees, the stars, the sun etc.  Now, the Egyptians didn't use the word god or gods. They, rather, revered or gave worth to the Neteru, which to them, were actually encodings of particular energy patterns seen with certain qualities and moods to help the mind relate to them more readily. In other words they valued nature and thought it worthy of respect. 

"If you are searching for a Neter, observe Nature."

"The best and shortest road towards knowledge of truth [is] Nature." 

~From  the Outer Temple at Luxor, Egypt.

To say Egyptians were polytheists because they worshipped many gods is also misleading because it assumes our current mindset can explain their worldview without even attempting to understand it.

What is clear now is that Egyptians used images to construct their written alphabet. These images represented sounds as well as ideas. For example the Neter Sekhmet is represented as having the head of a lioness and the body of woman. Sekhmet represents passion and fierceness symbolic of the power with which a mother lioness, protects her cubs. She is a champion and a warrior. In an esoteric sense she is the one who paves the way for spiritual evolution by destroying the evil of ignorance and sinfulness in the human heart. Did Egyptians believe there was actually a being with a lion head and a woman's body? Of course not. This was a symbol, expressing an idea and an aspect of the Divine.

Another misunderstanding we have coming from  early Western interpretations is the notion that Egyptians were pagan or heathen. Again, many, as Christians, see the world this way. But let's inspect. 

Originally, the English word “heathen” simply meant “the people out on the heath”. It was a contemptuous word that town-people used of the poorer or rural people who lived outside the town walls. (The word “peasant”, which is of French origin, from pais, “district”, “country”, has the same [contemptuous] meaning. “Country people”, “rural people”.) In the New Testament, what some bible-translators have rendered as “heathen” (or “pagan” or “gentile”), is in the Greek text ethnos (“nation”), ethnoi (“nations”),ethnikos (“of the nations”) or ethnikôs (“after the manner of the nations”). In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word which some bible-translators have rendered as “heathen”, is gowy, plural goyim, meaning “nations”.

In other words, where the scriptures are simply referring to "other nations" they have been translated as heathen. Sadly, English translators have misled us and corrupted our worldview with their judgment laden definitions.

All of these misunderstandings and misinterpretations, intentional or otherwise, have led us to the our present state of complacent ignorance about our own heritage and some very insightful understanding about the nature of the cosmos and our reality. Because what all of Egyptian religion amounted to was the overcoming of negative distractions and the development of spiritual enlightenment.

Spiritual Enlightenment is the awakening of the human being to the awareness of the transcendental essence which binds the universe and which is eternal and immutable. In this discovery is also the sobering and ecstatic realization that the human being is one with that transcendental essence. With this realization comes great joy, peace and power to experience the fullness of life and to realize the purpose of life during the time on earth. It is turning toward the light of truth, peace and transcendental harmony.1

"Man is to become God-like through a life of virtue and the cultivation of the spirit through scientific knowledge, practice and bodily discipline."

These teachings were  also found on the temple wall at Karnak:

'The body is the house of God. That is why it is said, 'Man know thyself.'"

- Outer Temple Wall.

Ultimately, the view Ancient Kemet gave us was that all is inter-connected and that there is unity in the multiplicity of nature and in the reality we see- and don't see.

All is one.

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us..."
Jesus, John 17:21.

Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.

~Isaiah 19:18

1. Dr. Muata Ashby