Truth and Traditions Defined

12 May

What do we mean by Truth with a capital T?

The Republican Party is based on a growing cluster of denials, distortions and outright lies that some of us will not forgive or forget. Dennis Kucinich put together a list of 35 impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors that included the particulars of lies that pushed us into very costly (in innocents killed and a trillion borrowed dollars) and unwinnable wars. Both the admitted and the unconfessed spying activities which invaded the privacy of millions of Americans, plus the manipulation of intelligence and intelligence gathering agents — go read the list of 35 articles and weep for the shredded Constitution and Bill of Rights, the lost 9th Amendment rights to privacy and to a clean conscience as a citizen. The Declaration of Independence was trashed too. In 8 years of Bush/Cheyny building up their personal wealth with war operations, we lost everything of quality, every virtue, that America ever stood for: morality, integrity, honesty, humility, rule of law., freedom, justice — all out the window.

That’s one inconvenient truth: our loss of everything good we ever stood for.

The inconvenient truth of climate change is another. The inconvenient truths of peak oil now, peak drinkable water now, peak everything on the horizon, as far as the eye can see. The many, many ugly truths of war and waste have been systematically unexamined by our corporate owned mass media who stand to profit by ignoring news unfit for them to print or speak.

In addition to “speaking truth to power” and naming the wrongs, crimes, misdemeanors and dangerous mistakes accurately, we want to speak the truths of pleasure and joy: nurture the deep satisfactions of musicking, dancing, integrating the arts, recreating ourselves in strong local communities that restore human rites of procession, celebration, festival. These joyous events are educational: socialization and learning need not be drudgery. It is important, we believe, to keep the inconvenient truth that faces global reality, and the welcome truths and beauties of our local creativity, in delicate echological balance. No justice without joy, no joy without justice.

What do we mean by Traditions with a capital T?

Those thousands of animistic traditions that peoples all over the world lived by for 99.8% of human existence: feeling the “spirit” in all life forms, honoring reciprocities and gift circulation, maintaining hospitality and generosity, sharing tools and talents in daily life, replanting three trees for every tree cut down, minimizing division of labor, maximizing individuation and Self-expression. Anthropologists have made many different lists of characteristics or culture traits that fit with the amazing diversity of primitive societies, all of them free of the “aggression abroad and repression at home” that always characterizes the rise of so-called “civilization”. We need to reclaim the oldest consensus processes, the New England town meetings that work to keep everyone involved.

Ralph Nader’s “The Seventeen Traditions” (2007) benefited, I am sure, from his sister Laura’s anthropological knowledge of values, beliefs and attitudes around the traditional world. But the book is basically about what Ralph’s parents and siblings valued, talked about around the table, and put into continuous action. A “tradition” is what still works to keep a family together and each individual in it thriving, despite the fact that we live inside “industrial civilization” or on the narrow yellow line in the middle of the “information highway” with traffic zipping by at accelerating speeds in different directions.

To the traditions of classless societies that co-evolved us with Nature for thousands and thousands of years and many hundreds of generations creating languages, myths, dance styles, rich musical creativity, dramas, storytelling, “blueprints” for joyful living, we add the energy of diverse traditions continuing today in all the extended families, small communities, religious institutions of the USA that have survived “the market”. The survival of traditions like Sunday afternoon parades in New Orleans is extremely important. In fact, for me personally, this is what keeps me writing about “truth” and “traditions” as the basis for a party to replace the Republican party; this is what keeps me pumping air through a sousaphone a few times each day, looking for bass lines, seeking out drummers and horn players who can turn the existing world of evil war & waste traditions upside down.

What’s your truth? Which traditions do you count on to make your local everyday world a more satisfying place to live? What wisdom and best practices do you count on to stop the plundering of this planet?

4 Responses to “Truth and Traditions Defined”

  1. David ni May 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    I wonder if the political extremism in America at the moment has anything to do with the loss of localism you also write about. It’s possible to imagine polar personality types balancing, moderating & knowing they need one another in a “small” community.

    In a vast nation like America you can almost hear the “giant sucking sound” of universities sucking the open minded personalities out of the heartland and depositing them in cities on the coasts. Coasts and heartland getting more extreme with every generation as a result.

    I think it can be argued entire regions end up dominated by particular personality types. Certainly people tend to hang out & work with similar types. This may seem more comfortable in the short term but I think it creates inbreeding, groupthink extremism. I see this on the left & the right although it seems much more scary on the right at the moment to me personally.

    It’s possible local ecomomic interdependance is the only way around political poloratisation too, or is at least helpful.


    • charles keil August 12, 2011 at 11:32 am #

      Yes, political extremism or “fascism” on the nation-state level has everything to do with the loss of extended family, declining nuclear family, loss of close local community, loss of friendship circles, alienation and “bowling alone” syndrome.
      All human beings want to feel part of something larger than themselves,
      part of a large solution to many small problems, part of a process that makes them feel strong, righteous, no longer a victim of circumstances beyond their control!
      Loyalty to “heartland” or “homeland” (a word borrowed from the German I believe) more inspiring than loyalty to a coast or a “coastal perspective” in present circumstances, if I follow your argument above.
      The Great Transition thinkers at n.e.f. in U.K. and N.E. I. in US are counting on many, many, local and do-able transitions to defuse the trends in all over-developed (and over-borrowed) countries toward totalitarianism.
      We think a party supporting radicle (rooted)(conserving truth and conserving traditions) decentralization, or “localism” if you prefer, running candidates for the House of Representatives in 2012 is the best possible answer to our many problems as a nation and even deeper problems as a species suffering an anthropogenic “sixth extinction” along with the other species.

  2. jack Smith August 12, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    A bunch of us are investigating a primary candidate to oppose Obama – Do you have any thoughts on that possibility?

    • charles keil August 12, 2011 at 11:12 am #

      Yes, I have thoughts. Big mistake at this time in this context to even risk dividing the Democratic Party. We think the smart thing to do in 2012 is field as many credible TNT candidates for the House as possible so as to pull votes away from the Republican Party, mobilize independents for long-term thinking about problems of our bought and paid for democracy (and of our species!) that now appear terminal.

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