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Another Dimension to the "World Falling Apart" Piece

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When, I first got the idea for that essay --posted here on Monday-- about how Bush has weakened America, and how that helps explain why the world is falling apart, there was an important piece of the idea I ultimately left out. For one thing, the piece was already --at close to 1600 words-- plenty long enough. But for another, I'm not sure how well that additional dimension would have fit together with that piece as written: for the essay as it stands is about the real practical world of policy and international affairs, while this other dimension is.... Well, for lack of a better word, I would call it "spiritual."

Anyway, whatever it should be called, I will share some of those thoughts here.


In an earlier piece --"When You Hear Hoofbeats, Think Horses, Not Zebras...." (to be found here at I described how I came to feel that there was a danger to the world's financial markets such that I felt impelled to hunker down my own retirement funds with less vulnerable instruments like three-year U.S. Treasury notes.

I'm not a very impulsive fellow, and so my actually acting upon such an idea was not done on the spur of the moment. Feeling unsure and hesitant, over several months, I talked about it with people I knew who are themselves serious and knowledgeable people about the world of investments.

A few of the most knowledgeable of these challenged me in the same way: Tell me precisely HOW it is, they wanted to know, that what you are saying about the Bush administration, and what you see as their dark nature and their irresponsibility, will have an impact on the financial markets. My interlocutors observed --with considerable basis-- that the world of money is not concerned about good and evil, that so long as the economy is humming along, there's money to be made in the markets even if those in power are bad people.

So these people wanted me to spell out the scenario that would connect one level of things (the spirit that animates the Bush administration) with another level of things (the conduct of the financial markets). And when I indicated that I had no clear idea about how things might play out, they thought me unwise to act on my intuitive sense.

But I think that way of thinking misunderstands the fundamental nature of our reality-a reality in which "everything is connected to everything else."

A Wholeness that Blows Our Minds

The apprehension of that profound interconnectedness has been, for me, at the heart of my own spiritual experience and understanding.

In my article --"Our Pathways into Deep Meaning," which can be found at I share how one such life-changing spiritual experience led me to the understanding of "Wholeness" as the key to the sacred.

One of the factors that can impart to the apprehension of such Wholeness a quality of "mystical" experience -being transported into an elevated, transcendent, mind-boggling state of mine-is that the sheer magnitude of the complexity and depth of interconnection goes so far beyond our normal perception of reality. In other words, if "everything is connected with everything else," and if our world is so vast (a whole planet and more, a biosphere of intricate complexity, cultural systems moving through history, six billion people living their own lives and also interacting with all the foregoing), the network of connection is way, way beyond our capacity to grasp thoroughly. We humans can do no more than glimpse this Wholeness. And to glimpse it so stretches our awareness that it brings us to an altered state of consciousness.

That's why the request from my friends/advisors that I give them some specific scenario misreads -probably by several orders of magnitude-the extent of our understanding of how the various levels at work in the world might impact each other. One can observe some major new force being absorbed by the world system, and may reasonably infer that a force of such magnitude will ramify in important ways, but be wholly unable to foresee with any specificity what those ramifications will be.

This also connects with the idea of "systems," in which the various elements can interact in complex and subtle ways so that no one part of the system can be completely understood apart from the others.

Someone might argue that the very unfathomability of the workings of such a complex system implies that we can't judge just what the consequences will be of a given development. And up to a point that is true.

Who, for example, could have foreseen in the early 1940s that one of the consequences of Hitler's genocide against the Jews would have been the establishment of a Jewish state in the Middle East?

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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