Tag Archives: virtues

Why do we need to Define our Terms?

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Sometimes, in trying to explain things, I know that I come across as annoying, or worse, dissing those wonderful time-honoured traditions and beliefs and “undefined” concepts that bring mental comfort in troubling times of discomfort. But why insist on well-worn concepts being defined, and re-defined, particularly at this time?

Which particular concepts? The standard “big” ones: faith, hope, love, miracles, peace, brotherhood, charity. There is never any lack of extolling of these “virtues” or events. Why can’t I go along with that?

Was it Plato who said, ‘The unexamined life isn’t worth living’? Why don’t we apply this to our great “positive” concepts we like so much to talk about, to bandy about, to shout from the streets in demonstrations, to paint on a sash or use as mission statements? How would that read? “The Unexamined Virtue isn’t worth Proclaiming!”

That to me is a truism. Why don’t we examine our virtues? Why don’t we demand of them that they function according to the claims we make of them, or for them? Take this time, somewhere between Christmas and New Year: peace is the leading contender in unexamined concepts. Peace, peace, peace, we write and say to one another.

Many years ago, I studied the Bible. As the world’s #1 best seller, I thought it deserved my time since so many people purportedly studied it. Here’s a passage guaranteed not to be called upon to illustrate any modern sermon. Harsh, more than harsh, but illustrative, oh yes! They call these “Jeremiads” remember? The ranting prophet, only problem is, he was right. Is the following truthful? Does it apply to us today?

Je. 6:10 To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so that they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

Je. 6:11 But I am full of the wrath of the LORD, and I cannot hold it in. “Pour it out on the children in the street and on the young men gathered together; both husband and wife will be caught in it, and the old, those weighed down with years.

Je. 6:12 Their houses will be turned over to others, together with their fields and their wives, when I stretch out my hand against those who live in the land,” declares the LORD.

Je. 6:13 “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practise deceit.

Je. 6:14 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.

Je. 6:15 Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the LORD.

Whether it is “the LORD” or a corrupt and decadent system that brings “punishment” we know from history that said “punishment” is unavoidable, unless there is a collective 180 degree turn away from the current way of conducting “business” between people and the planet. Pay particular heed to Jeremiah’s complaint: “Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace.” Isn’t that exactly the case right now? When someone wishes me “peace” in the tradition of this time, I feel sick at heart, knowing the greeting is not analyzed, not defined, not ground up in the crucible of awareness to be offered as a priceless and unblemished gem. In fact it comes in the opposite guise because it is unexamined in the light of current reality. To me, it is a curse.

For who are those so quick to offer ‘peace’ to each other or their neighbours? Those who would never define it for themselves. Those who use it as a feel good thing, a sort of dessert. A sort of magic formula. That traditional wave of the hand by the queen as she rattles by on the street in her fancy carriage and the exploited sheeple happily wave back in glowing subservience.

But there is another reality: that of wars of resources, exploitation, profit, extortion, lust; of racism and bigotry. From those wars come millions of refugees, and how easy it is to see how those who promote the wars, support the wars and do not suffer from the wars but rather profit from them, hardening themselves against the dispossessed. How easy it is to see how ‘the haves’ choose to make themselves comfortable with their world; to overlook the growing intensity of its evil agenda, perhaps hoping against hope that if they make deals with an evil system, the system in turn will leave them have their fake bit of peace.

Understand that when I use the term ‘the world’ I don’t mean this planet or its natural environment. What I mean (properly defined) is man’s global civilization. So, unless one has made a “public” statement of non-collusion with that civilization (I have, by the way, because I know what “the world” consists of) everyone is a bona fide member of ‘the world’ and functions as a representative, a promoter, a worshipper, an agent, a member, at the very least, an adjunct of said ‘world.’

Because they are unexamined in the light of today’s reality, all the great virtues bandied about become nothing but curses. What good does it do when passing by a starving child to wish her health and well-being; to say, “be fed and clothe and praise God for your life”? But when the relatively rich give each other wishes of health, happiness, peace and love, aren’t they in fact cursing the rest of the world that stares at a life they can never have; a life taken from them and that slips away from them in excruciating pain and sorrow? But not to worry, when it comes time to vote, it will always be “the rich” who will garner the majority votes and predictably in a fake system nothing will ever change except for the worse.  And predictably there will be a collective sigh of comfort when it is discovered it is the rich “Democrats” who won.  We can go back to ruling our Empire through hypocrisy and feel good about ourselves.

In closing, another very annoying biblical quote: Brother James, have at it!

Ja. 2:15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.

Ja. 2:16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

Ja. 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Here’s another from James:

“Ja. 5:1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.

Ja. 5:2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.

Ja. 5:3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

Ja. 5:4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

Ja. 5:5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. [Or yourselves as in a day of feasting]

Ja. 5:6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.”

Any truth in this yet? You see, it’s really all about definitions. The world creates illusions to suit every need and desire. Whatever you want, it will proffer. For a price, of course, but it will also offer the credit card if you don’t have the cash. Conversely, if you don’t play the game, it will find ways to punish, some subtle, like being unemployed and forced out of your home, and some kept hidden in Guantanamo. Which makes me want to define the word: torture – another time.

Definitions. A life lived without being defined (or examined); when its virtuous or feel-good notions aren’t constantly re-defined against the light of the day, is a life, I wouldn’t say ‘not worth living’ but rather carefully faked. A life lived in an entertainment centre surrounded by images on wide screens, on cathedral tapestries, or wandering through museums and mausoleums.

Definitions. I had a recurring dream a few nights ago, of two very large, obviously GMO designed fanged and slavering black dog-like beasts chasing after unarmed people who, in terror, tried to run away from them. Some got away but only at the cost of others being caught and torn to pieces. You have to hear the screams, see the blood, experience such a thing to understand.

Defined: these are the dogs of war. And they are currently running loose throughout the Greater Middle East, much of Africa and wherever drugs are being grown or manufactured. They are also active in refugee camps; in worker slave camps; in sweat shops and in countries the US Empire holds as “non conforming” and a threat to its claims of planetary hegemony. The bits and pieces of the torn bodies I saw in my dreams are being sold at a discount at Walmart and on Amazon. Where do you shop, and do business? Where it’s cheaper and most convenient?

The real world doesn’t have to fear forgetfulness.
It’s a tough customer.
It sits on our shoulders,
weighs on our hearts,
tumbles to our feet.
There’s no escaping it,
it tags along each time we flee.
And there’s no stop
along our escape route
where reality isn’t expecting us. — Wisława Szymborska, from “The Real World”