Taoist mythology, Lanna history, mythology, the nature of time and other considered ramblings

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Location: Chiangrai, Chiangrai, Thailand

Author of many self-published books, including several about Thailand and Chiang Rai, Joel Barlow lived in Bangkok 1964-65, attending 6th grade with the International School of Bangkok's only Thai teacher. He first visited ChiangRai in 1988, and moved there in 1998.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Power Limitations.

When too small a percentage of people in a society make, or try to make, or assert the power to make, decisions for too large a percentage, that society is bound to fail, encountering, at best, revolutionary change.
A person can only consider so much, and make so many decisions. The details of scores of lives are too complex are too complex to be handled in a centralized, autocratic way. Needs are often unexpressed, or expressed only poorly. These private needs may still be noticed by an intimate, but will usually escape the notice of others, whose direct needs they are not (and especially by the less needy).
When people can’t decide for themselves, things fall apart. No input from a life regarding matters directly pertinent to it, and stress and death result – it’s quite simple.
But often, in their pride, people don’t notice this. Were they more involved with plants, animals or children, I think they would.
The problem of proportions presented here is a big reason why organized religion, “trickle down” theory and corporate oligarchy simply don’t work well for very long. Too few deciding for too many. Can’t be done. It’s logistics, and bureaucracy can’t help.
In this life, we are all faced with responsibilities. Unpleasantness can be avoided sometimes, but not always. Intoxicating, aphrodisiacal power fantasies can be indulged sometimes, but not for long.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Better Ways

Not only could there be expanded awareness, better schools, and better laws, prisons, international relations and nutrition,

There are better ways

Of transportation (more rail, public transport and ride-sharing, use of natural gas and electric bikes, and yes, less jet-set flying about)
Of population control (sexual honesty, admitting that it’s not yet a chicken still in an egg, never having taken a breath or even ever having been seen)
Of waste disposal (after well-controlled, limited use, recycling and turning excrement into fertilizer – more easily done than you likely know)
Of product distribution (patent and licensing limitations instead of extensions, and especially the favoring of local products)
Electricity production (solar, graceful wind generators, geo-thermal, methane from sewage utilization, even exercise harnessing)
and storage (well, maybe not just quite yet – batteries have lagged behind other technologies, but still… there could easily be neighborhood power collection and storage repositories, with meters)

but there’s hardly the will or method necessary to implement these ideas – and a very good question, “Why?”, about that!
Where are our beliefs leading us? Do we care? Or, perhaps, do we count too much on something? on a few things? on, even, other people?


Thursday, October 23, 2008

directional precepts for viable democratic governance

The key to viable governance isn’t democracy per se – we only have representative democracies anyway – but checks and balances. That we forgot the old Roman question, “Who guards the guards?” and lost much of that feature of good governance is at the root of most of our current pressing issues.

7 Directional Precepts for Policy Guidance:

1. While recognizing that the Executive Branch of government is intended to, and should, carry out policy decisions enacted by the Legislative Branch, we also recognize the essential nature of leadership focus and need for directional unity. The President should lead, but not rule; balance of powers must be restored.
2. The Judicial Branch must be concerned with justice and not politics; judicial standards must be enforced – if necessary, through impeachment. Judicial appointments should be made from within that branch of government, on Presidential recommendation and Legislative approval, from a large enough candidate pool for timely completion.
3. Corporations having rights as people is illegal, absurd and contrary to both the public interest and the 13th Amendment. A society ruled by lust for profits can be neither moral nor stable.
4. The National Guard must be for guarding the nation, and never deployed abroad. Acts of war must be initiated by Congress; the Executive has the responsibility to protect the nation and its constituency, but must also not only obey International Law, but United States law.
5. The Federal Reserve Bank must be owned by the citizenry, not by bankers, and caps placed not only on interest, but fines and penalties levied by financial institutions.
6. Ethnic, linguistic and natural diversity, as also the environment and nature – being valuable assets for all humanity - need not only active efforts towards preservation, but to be honored, sustained and enhanced through both law and the promotion of appropriate respect.
7. “Free Trade” should not be encouraged at the expense of workers or the environment, nor tariffs instituted to protect vested interests.

Bill Clinton, middle-of-the-roader, promoted “free trade” while spending more than had ever been spent before on crowd-control devices, and the terms progressive, conservative, liberal, hawk and dove, began to lose all meaning. Isolationist or internationalist, patriot or not, humanity has become beset with circumstances which not only demand change, but require renewed attention to traditional values and respect for received wisdom. We need leaders, and teachers, who can, and do, practice what they preach – and so know what they’re talking about. We must stop being bedazzled by glamour, image and ‘charisma’. Many may not remember, but Adlai Stevenson, an honest thinker of real integrity, lost the prospect of the Presidency because of a hole in the bottom of his shoe. We cannot continue to have performers, instead of people capable of adequate performance, responsible for addressing crucial issues.
Lowering expectations isn’t the answer; changing priorities is. Labor-saving devices haven’t produced more free time or quality of life, nor has materialism contributed to justice, integrity or reliability. Children usually can’t even play outdoors freely anymore – and there’s a lot more to that than sexual predators. When people have enough time to form a real community, and the power to help determine what’s going on around them, there simply isn’t as much chance of misconduct and wrong-doing. We don’t need morally arbitrary, intrusive, authoritarian, repressive government or social institutions; what we need is community, cooperation, and increased sharing of responsibility.
In the last generation, Americans have become known for responsibility-avoidance. This is syndromic – an unfortunate aspect of our putting too much emphasis on individuality. But as anyone who has a child knows, one shouldn’t, can’t, and will never even be able to try to decide everything for oneself. We exist in various continuums, and need to recognize that as actuality. “No man is an island.”

What we’re now faced with is simply a need for boring old maturity. It’s sad we can’t all be 17 – and know everything, hold no fear of death and see life as an adventure where one can do no wrong. Although that’s fun for a while, it ends. Face it: only a few of us are 17, or 19, and they won’t be that age for long!
We must cease to consider greed a viable motivator. To allow a tiny minority to block the good of society at large is suicidal. Innovations in viable (‘alternative’) energy, medicine and reliability (as opposed to ‘planned obsolescence’) must be brought to market. We must also recognize, and accept, that the marketplace cannot continuously enlarge; if we are to be caretakers, and not despoilers, of the future, population control simply MUST be encouraged.

We need to earn, continuously, respect – we can’t just glide by on the assumption that we simply deserve it. That simply doesn’t work; this is not a mater of opinion, just a reality. We’ve gloried in youthful irresponsibility far too long, and are faced with unavoidable consequences.
Technology can help with this, but we’ve put too much faith in it, much as we’ve pretended toys alone can make a child happy. But a child needs friends, and you can’t have friendship without respect, and you can’t have respect without facing reality and making real decisions – usually in consultation with others, not unilaterally. This isn’t so hard to understand – we live with it every day. But we need to apply it to a grander scale than we have been. We need to grow up.

We can no longer have one set of standards for prominent people, and another for those with less sensational lives. We can no longer have one set of standards for at home, and another for overseas. Maybe we can’t be right all the time, but we can try – and should. Do we really need to be punitively reminded again and again that violence and retaliatory aggression can’t achieve what kind encouragement can? We need to set a higher standard, and the only way we can do that is to listen – listen to the wisdom of the ages, and stop hearing only what we want to hear.
Which, I’m sure, isn’t what anyone really wants to hear, so, for now, I’ll simply reiterate the 7 main points!
Let’s restore:
1. Balance of powers
2. Segregation of powers
3. curbs to corporate power
4. non-aggression
5. financial integrity
6. cultivation of healthy diversity, and
7. responsible trade practices.

With this and the next election, let’s restore the prestige we want to both deserve and enjoy!