* Society of Bodhisattvas, Budd(h)ies, Bums, Bohemians, Beatniks, and Bozos

Rambling On: The Blog

Monday, June 23, 2014

Notes on the World Cup: A Good Sport...?

I enjoy a good soccer match.  The athleticism and teamwork are, at times, awe inspiring.

Yet, the patriotic jingoism emerging during the World Cup is deeply disturbing. As I sense it, the emotional excesses of nationalism that continue to erupt in this spectacle, like those that increasingly pervade the Olympics these days, are just tragic manifestation of what Spiritual Teacher Eckhardt Tolle terms the  "collective ego". As J Krishnamurti notes in the meme to the right,  the "us-them" mentality of nationality and religion are a  fundamental source of violence. The mind state that is fanned and inflamed and exploited (and commercialized) during these sporting events is the psychic structure that supports ongoing warfare and senseless bloodshed.

It seems to me that it has gotten a lot worse over the years in the culture of sports.

Half a century ago, as a high school  athlete, most of my coaches and peers placed a high value on the Olympic Ideal.  The three basic principles were excellence, friendship, and respect.  Most of us carried that forth in cultivating what was known as "good sportsmanship".  In victory and defeat, the opponent was to treated with respect and sensitivity.

In the Ideal, the Olympics were seen as a worldwide community of athletes dedicated to bringing out the best in themselves and one another.  The culture was one of comaraderie.  The Olympics, after all, had been created to break down barriers among countries, not reinforce our divisions.

As I experienced it, that value was reflected in the culture of small town high school sports back in the early 60's.  I never experienced any attempts to humiliate an opponent or a "brawl" with an opposing team.  Two of my best friends in high school were guys I first met on the wresting mat as as an opponent from a neighboring town.

I saw that culture shifting dramatically at the '76 Olympics as an American victor in boxing ignored the customary handshake with his opponent as the winner was announced, and grabbed an American flag from a ringside fan to jump triumphantly around the ring to the exuberant shouts of U-S-A U-S-A.  The defeated Cuban looked on appearing to be at first confused, then appalled, by the lack of good sportsmanship.

The Way It's 'Spozed to Be
It's only gotten worse over the past few decades as our culture has increasing spun out control into greater militarism and violence across the boards.  The lack of good sportsmanship and basic civility now permeates the world of athletics right down to the level of little league here in the USA.  Our collective sports ego has become increasingly violent, boastful and disrespectful of others.  This dynamic has accelerated in other countries as well.

As a former NCAA medalist and high school wrestling coach, I have struggled with this for long time now.  I love sports and am deeply saddened by the spectacle they have become, a high priced public stage for inflated individual and collective egos, hatred, and jingoism.

Perhaps it's time to boycott them, once again, and place my attention elsewhere.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Iraq Then and Now

In the commentary below, Bill Moyers reflects on a headline as the US invaded Iraq in 2003. 

Like so many of us back then, Moyers cast his gaze on the Big Picture as US troops poured into the desert of Iraq:  the cruel cost of senseless hubris and thirst for empire strewn along the sands of time in the MIddle East.

A decade before, though, during the 1st Persian Gulf war, George Bush the First had chosen not to invade Iraq. His advisors knew that toppling the Iraqi Ba'ath regime would create region-wide havoc, the empowerment of radical Islamist forces, civil war, and uncontrollable sectarian bloodshot.

In their zeal for the "New American Century" of US world domination, however, George W and the Neo-cons disregarded that advice.

And there's been hell to pay -- mostly on the part of innocent civilians.

Don't let Fox News and the Right Wing blame the current situation on today's administration. What is happening is the direct result of the invasion of Iraq. It was predicted by a wide array of middle eastern scholars and diplomats -- not just us old hippies and peaceniks and the millions of others worldwide who demonstrated against the imminent invasion.

Don't let Fox News and the Right Wing craft our response today as they did back in 2003. 

Addressing the situation today through another round of military action will only add more fuel to the fires of a continuing nightmare. Our resources should be turned to fostering region-wide diplomatic solutions instead. 

Casting our gaze at the Big Picture, have a look and a listen to broadcast journalism at it's best as Moyers contemplates US Marines Crossing the Euphrates:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"It should be a matter of conscience for us all"
-- Nolumbeka Project's Diane Dix in Greenfield Recorder

Dear Friends,

Within the next week the Annual Commemoration of the Infamous Great Falls Massacre of 1676 and a historic vote by the Greenfield (MA) Town Council will take place. The efforts to protect the Ancestors at White Ash Swamp hang in the balance.

This is a unique opportunity to make an important choice. We can either turn our backs on the tragic history and current reality of the encounter between our region's Native Americans and the Europeans who colonized the area -- or take action.

Please support the Nolumbeka Project in its efforts to heal the wounds of our shared past and move into a future that respects the rich cultural and spiritual legacy of New England's First Peoples.

It's time.

Join Nolumbeka Project on Saturday, May 18 at the Great Falls Discovery Center, Turners Falls, 11-3 PM for the Annual Commemoration and/or please support their efforts to pass the Native American Burial Ordinance at the Greenfield Town Council Vote on Wednesday, May 21, 7 PM, GCTV Studios, 393 Main Street, Greenfield.

I encourage you to call or write the members of the Greenfield Town Council and to attend the May 21 meeting to show your support if you can. 

For more information on each of these events and a contact list for the members of the Greenfield Town Council please visit the Nolumbeka Project website:


Still Rambling On,
Brother Lefty

My Humble Take on the "Real Deal."

I believe that the movement for peace, economic democracy and social justice is a Spiritual Quest. No mean feat, what is called for is a True Revolution of the Heart and Mind--and it starts with each of us.

This revolution has to be Peaceful. The Hippies (and Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King, et al) had it right. It really is all about Love. Besides being a total drag, violence just doesn't work. It keeps our wheels spinning in fear, anger and pain. Who needs that?

Besides some hard work, I think the Revolution also calls for dancing, plenty of laughter, and some sitting around just doing nothing. (Some folks call it meditation.)

As Stephen Gaskin, proclaimed years ago: "We're out to raise Hell--in the Bodhisattvic* sense."

Doesn't that sound like some serious fun?

(*The Bodhisattva Vow is a set of commitments made in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It basically says I vow to get my act together and figure it out well enough to really help out--and I ain't gonna stop until everybody is covered.

I've found that doesn't necessarily have to happen in that order. It's best to try to help out even before you have it all together! Like right now.)

-----Brother Lefty Smith, Founding S.O.B*