What I’d Do

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Ideally, I’d ignite imaginations,

And turn the tides towards the truth.

Flush out the frenzy of fury and fear,

This dreadful dearth of decency.

To cure the conscience and cleanse the corrupt,

To run roughshod over the ruthless and reticent,

Rejoicing in righteous resistance.

For you I’d find favour and fight folly,

Eschew even the most enviable egress,

To stand and study in silent sorrow,

The hardened hearts of hopeful hangers-on.

Alas, in your absence,

Listless and lethargic,

I wait without wonder, wanting for whatever,

May alight within and bring ascension,

To an abode of absolute beatitude.

Until then, useless and unending,

My wait for what I would do,

For you.

-Brad OH Inc.

Advertisements

The Evocation Series- ‘Space Oddity’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

The following post is part of ‘The Evocation Series’. Click Here for more information about the project, and to learn how to get involved yourself!

David Bowie- ‘Space Oddity’

Song Link

The mind can be a sanctuary at times, especially when the world outside seems a dark and unwelcoming void. But like many sanctuaries, its isolation can also be suffocation, and its secrets are strange and surprising even to its own inhabitant.

It’s a terrifying balance to strike—between the darkness without and the cold serenity within. We all feel like that sometimes, and though it is an experience shared by most everyone, this makes it no less horrifying.

Check ignition,
and may God’s love be with you.

 It’s no easy task—to turn away from the chaos of the world without and face instead the calamity within. To surrender to our own uncertainty has been described as both a depressing submission and an inspiring act of faith or self-realization. Of course, neither perspective makes the deed any easier.

But to tread this line with grace is a most worthy endeavour. Despite the tribulations of the waking world, it is a thing we all must brave. But to do so with vigour and agency, we must also master our inner selves. It’s a fine line to be sure, but the potential payoff is well worth the venture.

 I’m floating in a most peculiar way,
And the stars look very different today.

 It’s a rare and wonderful thing when it’s pulled off just right. To equally know ourselves and our reality is a path tread most often by the shamans and philosophers of the world. For the rest of us, we can hope, at the least, to understand some small part of it before we go.

Darkness is as unavoidable as light, its counterpart—and it is just such a truth which might illuminate the greater realities of the world…the connections which exist within, but which can be understood only in moments of rapture, or surrender.

 Planet Earth is blue,
And there’s nothing I can do.

We all die alone, and to face this is the truest challenge and most necessary condition of being alive. Feeling hopeless, but finding contentment in that? Sometimes, there is nothing more liberating than to acknowledge our own powerlessness.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Brad OH Inc. Happy Times Children’s Blog Post

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampI’m afraid I must apologize in advance. I don’t have any cute cat pictures to share with you, nor will I be indulging in any hilarious memes. I have little talent for the sort of viral content which is so popular these days—I find myself grounded in my age, and can offer little in the way of contemporary distraction.

But that’s not the only apology due to you, and that is in fact precisely the purpose of this article. Certainly, you have a great deal to entertain you—the myriad distractions and novelties provided for you surpass by far the offerings of any generation prior. Sadly, you may grow to find that dependence on such toys often stands in the way of imagination—that lauded gift given to you by birthright and discouraged by reality. Do not let it wither within you—for the future depends upon the imagination, hope, and problem solving skills of your generation.

We welcome you to this world with open arms and sagging spirits—excited for your arrival at the same time we are shamed by the condition of the world we present.

Fear, distrust, and desperation are the leitmotifs of our present day. The distractions you will be subjected to have already taken their toll on us, and the failures of my generation will be the chief inheritance of your own.

The deceptions you face will inevitably be even stronger than those which sundered us from decency and good sense. You will be tempted by greed, misguided by vice, placated by contentment, and pacified by placebos—a constant stream of assurances that if you bury your head in the sand and allow time to slip by, everything will be ok in the end.

Of course, that is not the case.

It’s not an enviable situation we leave to you, and that is the reason for our apology here today. But with it, I offer something else, and that is encouragement. Perhaps a challenge even, for I expect you will find that far more enticing.

Be better than us. Expect more—not for yourself, but from yourself and all others as well. Demand that your generation rises to the incredible potential it holds in secret, and refuse to accept anything less than the beauty of which you are inherently capable. Pursue science, and knowledge, and faith, and justice. Do not blindly accept the systems around you, or fail to seek answers where there is doubt. Question all, and where you find the accepted answers do not satisfy you, question further still.

Find new answers—or create them. Evaluate what you have, challenge what you’re told, and never settle for less than you are capable. Change systems, laugh loudly, and tear down political structures which are meant not for your benefit but your containment.

Scream, bang walls, and rage like only youth can. Get in the faces of your elders and show them that you can do better—remind them of the truths you take as sacrosanct—which they have long forgotten. Be better than us—it will be a shame which we can happily bear in our twilight years, watching with unbridled pride as our failures are buried in history and your victories shine all the brighter for the difficulty through which they were achieved.

And through it all of course, remember to have fun.

-Brad OH Inc.

Has Bernie Sanders Been Casting Pearls Before Swine?

purelyspeculationThis week, the American people will have their final chance to capitalize on the heartfelt platform of hope proffered by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Will they take this opportunity, or has Bernie merely been casting pearls before swine?

We’ll find out on June 7th, as the DNC hosts their final major round of primaries, with 6 states holding contests, and a grand-total of 694 pledged delegates up for grabs. As of the writing of this article, the pledged delegate count sits at 1500 for Bernie Sanders, and 1770 for his opponent Hilary Clinton.

It must here be noted that this does not include super-delegates—the patently undemocratic party elites who are afforded the opportunity to pledge their loyalty according to their personal interests, rather than the will of their constituents. Of these, Hillary currently has 520, while Bernie holds a comparably measly 45. Although these super-delegates have currently promised their loyalty as such, their support is not locked in until the Convention in July. It’s possible therefore that the events of June 7th could weigh heavily on this final process, and herein lays Bernie Sander’s greatest hope.

sandersBased on these current numbers, Sanders would need to take ~71% of the vote on the 7th in order to enter the Convention with a compelling argument. It’s a tall order to be sure—but not wholly impossible. Still, even if Sanders and Clinton went to convention with relatively equal delegate counts, the onus would be on Sanders to convince the super-delegates to throw their support behind him—a revolutionary thinker who has consistently challenged the very sort of entrenched Establishment politics upon which the super-delegates are based.

It’s not an encouraging scenario, and it brings us back to our initial question. In his campaign, Bernie has been infallibly consistent in the message he’s delivered to the American electorate. His vision is that of a nation which values its people as a whole, and not simply its business owners and billionaires. He has captivated the youth and other well-meaning people of the nation with the rather seditious notion that government must serve its people: that fair taxes must be paid by everyone, and that the use of those taxes must at all times be aimed at improving the station of the population as a whole—rather than merely protecting the interests of the rich and powerful.

For the majority of the civilized world, these ideas are already held as sacrosanct. Unfortunately for him, Bernie Sanders is running in America, where the reek of Reaganomics still lingers in the very fabric of the economic structures, and the working class still confuses the meanings of freedom and fiefdom.

So if Bernie’s natural empathy for the working class and indefatigable hope for the future have captured the minds of the electorate, it may prove rather less effective in securing the support of the ruling elite. Rather, his argument will soon switch focus—insisting (and not without merit) that he is the most likely Democratic contender to topple Donald Trump—that unholy mess streaming down from the recently self-eviscerated GOP.

Unfortunately, the Democratic National Committee is firmly entrenched in its current politics—hell, their pocketbooks depend on it. So this argument—though valid—may still fall upon deaf ears, leaving America in a more dismal situation than ever.

If June 7th turns sour for Bernie, this rare opportunity for positive growth will have been momentarily squandered, and Americans will be left with a choice between Donald Trump: a hair-brained demagogue promising to fan the already raging flames of fear and bigotry, or Hillary Clinton: a sorry shill of a candidate whose sound-bite message changes with every opinion poll, but whose true priorities are as intrinsically tied to Wall St. and the corporate elite as is her fundraising. Either would likely mean another four years of rule by corporate interests…and a depressing admission that despite the growing mass of well-informed and even-headed voters, the powers that be still have a fatal stranglehold on American politics.

For voters on both sides of the political spectrum, this scenario would amount to little more than a compulsion to vote for the ‘lesser of two evils’—all while knowing full well that the end result will favour the entitled rich, and further isolate the vast majority of society from active political discourse.

1401x788-Screen-Shot-2015-06-04-at-12.45.15-PMHowever, this won’t be the case…at least not entirely. The message Bernie has been spreading is nothing new—hell, he’s been saying it the entirety of his 35-year political career, and most of his life besides that. What’s more, it is the ever-growing sentiment of the caring and politically-informed—not restricted to the young alone as the media often claims—open and accessible to all with the mind to understand the scope of their situation, and the resolve to damn well do something about it.

Bernie has not created this movement, but rather he has acted as the lightning rod for an already growing resistance. He has become the voice of a generation who have had enough of the unfair playing field they have been given, and who seek to build a system that is fair and compassionate; one which provides for all of its citizens the opportunity to flourish in a country which has no justifiable reason to offer anything less.

While Bernie has been the mouthpiece, this surging tide will not end with his campaign (should it indeed end). Bernie Sanders has shone a light on the reality of our station—showing countless people that they are not alone in their hope for a better world, and that they are not naively idealistic in their expectations. This ever increasing sense of justice is one that cannot help but spread, simply because it is rooted in a truth far more fundamental than the forces of greed and vice against which they strive.

If Bernie’s message could be encapsulated in a few words, it would be this: ‘We can do much better’. He has spoken this time and again—sounding often enough like a broken record—and despite the potentially disappointing results of this year’s primaries; his message has not fallen on deaf ears. People perceive how much better we can do, and even though the forces of greed may once again prevail, the lasting sentiment of this movement will continue to flourish. Now, its message is a bit different. The knowledge of a better world is beyond doubt, but so too are the obstacles to obtaining it all the more evident.

So perhaps Bernie has cast pearls before swine—far too many swine at least. But his pearls have nonetheless been plucked up by deserving and admirable minds, and their message now, seeing the fight before them, may be best expressed with a line stolen from the late great Pete Seeger. Democratic Socialism and Bernie Sander’s Revolution are of one clear and conscientious message: ‘We are not afraid.’

sanders-vpr-laslo-20150910So, although trampled and despoiled, pearls they remain. And if there are dark times ahead, then so too is there the promise of brighter days. The masses, I am convinced, have been awoken, and never again will their eyes be closed to the truth of their oppression, nor from the laudable promise of a fair and equitable world which values it’s humanity above its finances. For this at least, we owe Bernie Sanders a debt of thanks—time alone will reveal just what a great debt that is.

-Brad OH Inc.

Are Humans Really Great Apes?

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

Scientific taxonomy classifies human beings within the family of hominidae, more commonly known as the ‘Great Apes’. We share this taxonomic family with three other genera, members of which include the orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees—all fine and majestic animals to be sure (Link).

Each of these creatures have found their niche within their local eco-systems, and have lived in a relatively balanced natural state for generations uncounted. They consume the resources available, and are consumed by the predators which are capable of doing so. They live within their means, and display a general civility to one another aside from occasional competitions over mates and territory. Meanwhile, the homo sapiens, or ‘humans’, have for the entirety of recorded history been putting on a childish display of wanton consumption and heedless destruction. If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that this begs a pretty important question: are Humans really ‘Great’ apes?

All things considered, we’ve had our fair share of positive moments. We’ve built some incredible structures, and solved puzzles that would leave the rest of the apes scratching their furry little skulls in abject bewilderment. We’ve spread our population far and wide, and survived countless changes to the world we live in. At the very least then, we may certainly be considered alright apes.

Of course, most of the cataclysmic challenges through which we have persevered have been our own doing. We have an incredible and unparalleled ability to intellectualize our world and use ration to consider the effects of our actions. Still, we have managed to destroy much of our ecosystem, and of the many wonders we have achieved, few have been able to endure. So in truth, perhaps we are really just ok apes.

It’s true that if we really want to compare ourselves to the other members of the hominidae family, we should take a serious look at their lives as well. Doing this, we find them knuckling along the filthy earth, hurling feces and screaming unintelligibly at one another. This might often be followed up by a good chest-pounding, or perhaps even an old fashioned beat-down. Needless to say, humans are little different. Despite our marvelous intellect and incredible capacity for empathy, we resort to terrible violence no less often—nor is feces-throwing ever completely out of the question. All things considered, we might really be quite ordinary apes.

The things about this, however, is that we are so perfectly equipped to do better. It’s a matter of achieving one’s potential—the old, ubiquitous notion that one must be compelled not to do better than all the rest, but rather to simply do one’s personal best. Our cerebral-capacity alone affords us the potential to accomplish so much more than the others, and to shift beyond this base-violence into a far more gracious and well-mannered state of being. The promise we have is unbounded by anything save our imaginations, and this has been shown time and again—as numerous societies have risen to show the glory of mankind’s innate potential. But for every rise, there has been a fall, and we have proven consistently unable to maintain any serious ascension into the epoch of equality and dignity for which we are so well qualified. We may build great cathedrals, but we inevitably use them for the spread of greed and power rather than grace and mercy. We may write of utopian ideals or great societies, but we fall ever short of realizing them as we capitulate to the temptations of wealth and fame. Perhaps then, we may best be described as under-achieving apes.

Much of this question comes down to potential. There can be little doubt that we as humans have the theoretical potential to be the most inspiring and beautiful creatures to ever grace this earth. Our capacity for reason and problem-solving could allow us to truly be the promised stewards of the earth—watching over our hominidae brethren and all the other creatures with whom we share this wonderful planet. But where we may have spread equity and joy, we have sown only despair and intolerance. Where we may have acted as guides and care-takers to the planet we have left it barren and unstable. Finally, where we may have been exemplars of decency and righteousness, we have fallen ever to our own doubts and greed—wallowing in misery as we toil ceaselessly for more of what we want at the expense of what we really need. In truth, the homindae family and the world in general may have been far better off if humans had never climbed out of the trees from whence they came. In the end, I suppose, we really are pretty disappointing apes.

-Brad OH Inc.

Soirees and Solemnity in the Square

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampI sloshed along—weary, beaten, and soaked head to toe in Faygo. Heading back from the ICP show at the 2011 Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey, I’d taken the train to Penn Station, and was meandering, exhausted, back towards my hotel near Times Square. I barely took in my surroundings as I stumbled along; the adrenaline and unbridled joy of the event still had their hold on me. I mumbled familiar lyrics to myself, navigating slowly towards the Square.

The first thing I recall noticing was the crowd—significant even for Times Square. The hour was quite late after all—likely well into the early morning of May 2nd, 2011. I paid little mind however, and continued on my way until I heard the chanting.

“USA, USA, USA!”

An ominous feeling took hold immediately. As it turned out, that feeling would take a long while to subside. Turning down an alley and passing out into the main square, I was met by an impenetrable wall of people chanting and singing. There were American flags as far as the eye could see. I stood with my jaw agape trying to sort out what was going on, when an errant crowd-surfer nearly took my head off.

‘Nice try,’ I thought—having spent the past few days stalking the Insane Clown Posse along their east coast tour, it would take more than a lone crowd-surfer to take me down. Still…none of this sat quite right with me.

Glancing eagerly about, I saw people climbing telephone poles to either hang flags or to improve their view. Men on benches read from bibles, and women held their children up to the open air. High-fives were exchanged, friends embraced, and a general feeling of unrestrainable patriotic glee pervaded the scene.

“What’s going on?” I recall asking a stranger.

“Obama’s dead!” he answered over his shoulder.

This news came as an even greater shock. Certainly, I recalled the controversy surrounding his presidency, but the festivities taking place around me seemed well overboard—or downright seditious—if based around a recently deceased president.

Still, the next person I asked gave me the same answer. And the next. It wasn’t until I approached a fourth stranger that I caught a glimpse of a familiar face on the giant Times Square screens. Dark skin in white wrappings, a long black beard—no one alive during the past ten years would mistake that face…and suddenly everything fell into place. Osama Bin Laden, not Barak Obama, had been killed.

Now the joy made a bit more sense, for a moment.

I turned around in awe, taking in the scene with a touch of morbid curiosity and a resounding knowledge that I was, at that very moment, witnessing history.

Everything continued as it had been. The songs were sung, the crowd-surfers surfed, and the flags were waved. For me though, the strange scene quickly lost its charm. Listening to the vitriol and barbaric revelling of the partiers, I couldn’t help but sympathize. Many were likely locals, who had been personally affected by the tragedy of 9/11. I was not.

It didn’t take long for me to decide against staying. Dancing for death had never been my forte—even when the death was so well-earned.

I dropped my soaked clothing at the hotel, changed quickly, and headed out for a quiet pint. Even that was hard to find. Most bars were filled with the overflow from the party in Times Square, and escaping the patriotic revelry seemed nigh impossible. After a tenacious search however, I found a tiny little corner of nowhere, ordered something dark, and sat in silence to reflect on the moment.

Beside me—and quite possibly the only other patron of the joint—sat a weathered old man. He stared morosely into his beer, his eyes never moving up.

I don’t remember how I started talking to him—although my interest in strangers is naturally increased when away from home—but eventually I asked him for his thoughts on the scene outside. He said he didn’t have many, and none worth sharing.

He was an old Marine, he explained. He’d no doubt seen plenty of death in his day. Perhaps he’d danced the same dance that raged now outside many times before—for victories far more personal. Or perhaps not. Just now, he wanted no part of it.

We sat for several hours—most of them in silence. He’d ask me now and then about my home, and what I did. What I believed. What I didn’t. He seldom answered the questions I turned back upon him.

When I finally left, I remember having no clue what I was feeling. Sure, I was fine with the death of a known killer and terrorist, but I didn’t feel any safer. I had no illusion that the world would be a better place now. More bombs would be dropped, and new leaders would rise on both sides—all intently seeking further death and destruction.

The people who fought the hardest for peace appeared to benefit from it the least, while those who hadn’t worked at all for it danced as only those who’ve never known loss or toil can. The people who proclaimed most fervently the superiority of their nations seemed to be the ones who’d never left its borders.

I suppose there are a lot of things like that in life. It’s easy to be enthusiastic when we are young and foolish and know no better. For the wise and weathered—for the warriors who have seen the cycle come back upon itself time and time again, there are no songs of joy or dirges of sorrow. There’s just another day, with nothing more to say.

Every year, I feel more like that old marine.

-Brad OH Inc.

Libertarians are Starry-Eyed Idealists

purelyspeculationFreedom is often lauded as the most integral value of any developed nation. In fact, the notion of the ‘free world’ does much to inform us of the fundamental value that we place on personal liberty, and well it should. Freedom is among the key human rights, but it must be pointed out that at times, people get a little bit carried away with their interpretation of what exactly ‘freedom’ entails.

One need not wade too far into the depths of social-media to find the rants and raves of disenfranchised citizens so bitter about a parking ticket, or a sales-tax, or perhaps a pesky ‘no-loitering’ sign, that they’re ready to hoist the black flags and hop aboard the good ship ‘Anarchy’.

‘Freedom’, they will argue, is the birthright of man—the inalienable and righteous destiny of all people brave enough to seek it! But there are sorry few building their own boats to follow this urge, and fewer still running off to the lonely mountains to live a ‘free’ life. I suppose it’s an easy thing to moan about the comfortable confines of society as you daydream about weening yourself off its teat, but it does beg the question of what exactly true ‘freedom’ is, and if it can exist at all.

I would argue that perfect freedom is an illusion—a starry-eyed dream more befitting whatever afterlife you prefer than the life you live. In fact, I believe that power and control are unavoidable, and there is no conceivable ‘system of naught’ sufficient to maintain the vacuous void left if all authority is stripped away.

Perfect freedom would mean no laws, no control, no taxes—but it would accordingly mean no safety, no opportunity, and no infrastructure. In our article ‘On the Concept of Society’ (Link) we discussed how a society is the product of all its members, past and present. That remains entirely true. Society has never been about freedom—if anything that is the antithesis of society. In truth, ‘society’ is meant to be a foundation of cooperation among its citizens.

In the societal sense then, total freedom—much like anarchy—is a myth. It may perhaps exist for a single person, but once a second person enters the picture, the illusion will die. Power hierarchies will be formed, and one’s wishes will ultimately infringe upon the freedom of the other. We are not free to kill for the very reason that we do not wish to be freely killed. The same applies to property rights, safety issues, and so on. While loitering laws may perhaps be a hard concept to defend (Black Flags ahoy!), the need for a significant proportion of civil laws can be most easily discerned by asking oneself not ‘do I wish to follow this’ but ‘do I wish for others to follow this’.

Those who support total anarchy then, are either misunderstanding the basic tenets of life, suffering from a sadomasochistic urge to regress back to the days of pre-tribal man, or simply mad.

Libertarians, on the other hand, may accept some laws, while rejecting the notion of many others. This rejection most often applies to rules around the free-market. However, as we have already established that a power-void cannot remain unfilled, we should have little trouble applying this observation to the marketplace as well.

If you wander into the woods, claim them as your own, and insist on living a lawless life, it may prove less glamourous than you imagine—especially when the next lawless rogue shows up to strangle you in your sleep and make off with your supplies. So much for freedom!

The marketplace is little different. Without control, corporations are wont to seize public goods and resources, create monopolies, underpay workers, and wreak general havoc however they please. People will starve, or toil like slaves—yet this will be defended and redefined as the justly exercised freedom of those very corporations. In truth, this notion of marketplace-freedom is no better than economic anarchy—and its supposed virtue quickly diminishes as the strongest take control and run our system like a tyrannical oligarchy. Meanwhile, the citizens cheer blindly about the merits of freedom.

To claim to be an anarchist or full-on libertarian is naïve, and the ultimate result is little different from the sort of systemic madness we have now. Freedom has been given out too freely—sadly, only to the corporations at the head of the markets, and rarely to the citizens. The powerful will always feed upon the less powerful, and this is a demonstrable loss of freedom for the latter.

In order to have liberty for ourselves, there must at the very least be laws restricting others from infringing on that liberty. Anything less would be Mad Max-style anarchy. Control is needed, and must be imposed justly. As discussed in our article ‘On the Fear of Big Government’ (Link), the ultimate purpose of government is to ensure that the power which inevitably arises is a fair and just one.

This must not be taken to mean that I believe the current governments of the world are doing much to uphold these standards—indeed there is a great need for improvement on nearly all fronts. Simply put however, the raging masses squalling for ‘total liberty’—or its ugly cousin ‘anarchy’—are naïve at best. The line between liberty and domination is a difficult one to draw. If drawn too close to total freedom, a void arises, and we end up dominated. It’s circular in a sense, and requires an insightful and informed balance. This is the purpose of society and the governments which it employs, and we must pay heed to avoid being so brash as to throw the baby of equal opportunity out with the bathwater of social order.

-Brad OH Inc.