According to www.WarResisters.org/pages/piechart.htm, 36% of the federal budget goes to the current military, and 18% for past military spending, making a total of 54% of the federal budget spent on the military (and this does not include the $200 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan war spending). Reducing military spending is not an option for many Tea Partiers since many of them believe that a very strong military should be a top priority. Before he died, foreign policy expert Chalmers Johnson said that about 30 percent of military spending is secretive, unknown even to members of Congress.
Based on the history of our military and the covert operations of the CIA since the end of World War II, according to foreign-policy expert William Blum, the American people would be appalled and ashamed (or at least they should be) if they learned the details about how our government has coerced other countries over the years. In the past, we believed we had to stop the sinister and exaggerated "international communist conspiracy." Now the new bogeyman is the "war on terrorism."
As a result, socialism or communism, since it first began in Russia in 1917, has never been allowed to rise or fall on its own merits because our government has had the power to undermine it in extremely unfair ways--using disinformation, sabotage, torture, assassination, election tampering, whatever it takes, whenever it, or a semblance of it, erupts in some remote corner of the world. This is your taxes at work! Now we know that it was not just the Russians who were getting a lot of propaganda during the cold war. We Americans were too, maybe even more. Any totalitarian form of socialism is not true socialism, which can only be implemented through a democratic process. Perhaps the former Soviet Union, China, and North Vietnam would have become less totalitarian if they had not been so viciously attacked and undermined by the United States.
Another group, which I personally endorse, consists of the New Age movement. New Agers often talk about the importance of making a paradigm shift in consciousness. That is, they believe we each can experience a higher state of consciousness called the universal mind, which makes the ordinary consciousness experienced by separate individual minds seem less real, or even illusory. Meditation helps one achieve a calm, objective, detached, and nonjudgmental awareness that enables a person to identify with this universal mind.
Actually experiencing this universal oneness is like coming home to the true self that had been there all along. And we can return to that consciousness whenever we let go of our selfishness and prideful ego. By always trying to get more or be more than anyone else, this ego creates duality, separateness, and suffering.
This universal oneness is identical to the perennial philosophy of Aldous Huxley, the Atman and Brahman of the Hindus, the samadhi of yogis, the nirvana of Buddhists, and the inner Kingdom of God of Christian mystics. These sublime states are supported by the findings of quantum physics and the growing scientific research on near-death experiences and parapsychology.
Moreover, in recent months there has been a resurgence of interest in psychedelic drugs such as peyote and ayahuasca, which can provide a foretaste of this cosmic consciousness. Such drugs have been used as an effective treatment for alcoholism and physical drug addiction, and these plant-derived drugs often help people overcome the fear of dying. But in order for these treatments to be successful, a proper mental set in a therapeutic setting is necessary. Unfortunately, those conditions are difficult to meet in the United States, since the drugs and the treatments are illegal here.
Many advocates of the New Age movement are apolitical, and unfortunately, without remorse. Some refuse to learn about current events because they do not want to incorporate any "negativity" into their lives. In the book Mindful Politics: A Buddhist Guide to Making the World a Better Place, edited by Melvin McLeod, we find these words at the beginning of section one:
We are all equal, says the Dalai Lama (I learned recently that the Dali Lama advocates a synthesis of Marxian economics and Buddhism), in seeking happiness and peace. Yet as individuals and as nations, we value our own happiness over all others'. This is called "ego" in Buddhism and it is the root of our suffering, both personal and collective. He proposes a new approach to global politics based on taking responsibility for the happiness of all people.
Thus, if apolitical, New Age individuals stay calm, detached, objective, and centered in serenity, they should be able to cope with current events and even engage in political thinking. In the introduction of the book described above, Melvin McLeod said, "It's not treaties that will really bring peace in the Middle East. It's not legislation that will really change the lives of those who live in poverty and misery. It is only forgiveness, generosity, awareness, kindness, and selflessness that will really make a difference." A few pages back, in the introduction on page 11, McLeod writes, "We have to recognize that we can't really change the world. We can't really change who others are and what they think. We can only work with our own heart and mind. But the transformative power of that is extraordinary."
Since I haven't read the rest of the book, I am expecting and hoping that the other writers in the book will emphasize that we should still, nevertheless, keep working to create better legislation and better treaties. I contend that we need both an inward transformation and a radical change in government at all levels.
The last group I identify consists of the progressives and leftists of various Socialist, Communist, and Green parties. I have a kinship with this group also. Its concern for ecological sustainability, social justice, egalitarianism, and a non-interventionist foreign policy is urgently needed. Probably most leftists do not practice meditation and prayer, nor believe in a higher self and in reincarnation. But as secular humanists, agnostics, and atheists, leftists can be just as ethical as other groups that engage in various spiritual practices.
With so much diversity and so many different worldviews within the United States, it is no wonder why the military-industrial-congressional complex, or the wealthiest one percent, can easily manipulate and maintain control of the disparate masses. Based on current trends, some would argue that the world is becoming a prison for the 99 percent. They point to the passage of laws that increasingly restrict our free speech, and to the increase in surveillance and homeland "security." Meanwhile, third-world nations are being plundered and exploited, and corporate capitalism is destroying the planet's environment.
Creating Unity With So Much Diversity
So what is the solution? Average Americans must realize the importance of democracy, especially consensus and participatory democracy, whenever possible. Somewhere--if not at home, then at school--everyone should learn conflict-resolution skills. Our government must become both a democracy and a republic, that is, a democratic republic. It must be a democracy that provides guaranteed human rights that the so-called "mob" cannot deprive individuals of, and it must be a republic in which our leaders, who represent larger groups of people, will actually represent all the people, and not just the wealthiest.
The American people must realize that there are "blowback" repercussions if we police the world and exploit the labor and resources of other countries for the benefit of our transnational corporations. If by using a black budget, the CIA is sabotaging democratically elected governments of developing countries that refuse to be client states of the United States, we the citizens, who allow our government to do this, can expect to reap the consequences of what our government has sown. Would we want a foreign government to have large military bases on our land? Of course not! So why do we think the people of other nations welcome our bases on theirs?
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