Memoir Sketch: Championing Lost Causes

27 Nov

 

 

By chance I was reading César Vallejo’s poem, “Black Stone on a White Stone,” in a translation by Geoffrey Brock, and was struck by the opening stanza:

                  I’ll die in Paris in the pouring rain

                  a day I have a memory of already.

                  I’ll die in Paris—I won’t try to run—

                  a Thursday perhaps, in Autumn, like today.

Without being literal, I was reminded that I could appraise my death while alive, and not leave a final reckoning to some solemn memorial event in which speakers are challenged to find humorous anecdotes to lighten the occasion, otherwise uttering honorific platitudes quite unrelated to the experiential core of my being.

 

I had been thinking quite a bit recently about ‘lost causes.’ Recently I gave a lecture at Columbia University on this theme, inspired by Edward Said’s seminal late essay “On Lost Causes” (1997) in which he ties together the ‘nobility of failure’ as portrayed in literature with his own unswerving dedication to the Palestinian struggle for a just peace. On that occasion, I was also stimulated by the approach taken, perverse in some ways, to this theme by Slavoj Žižek (In Defense of Lost Causes, 2009), especially his insistence that the best we humans can hope for is to choose the right kind of failure, and not be discouraged by apparent defeat or the distortions in practice of worthy goals. His paraphrase of Samuel Beckett’s electrifying guidelines seems relevant to my own wildly utopian dreams for a just world: “..after one fails, one can go on and fail better, while indifference drowns us deeper and deeper in the morass of imbecilic Being.” (p.7) Finally, Camus’ notorious imagining of Sisyphus as “happy” strikes a different note, that acceptance of futility is a kind of illumination as to the nature of life’s ceaseless struggle for a redemptive meaning that can only end in frustration. The final words of The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) tell us something about Camus’ understanding of life well lived as being nothing more or less than a process that continues, punctuated by the rhythm of defeat: “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” Whether a life has, or should have, meaning beyond this purely behavioral matter of continuation and persistence, seems a personal matter for Camus, but not for me or for most religions.

 

Camus seems to be making a less ambitious claim than either Said or Žižek who are talking not just about futility as the generic character of human experience, but about engagement in the pursuit of what might be called the public spiritual good, a purposive journey or pilgrimage that imagines as realizable a just peace on earth. This understanding has led me to propose a political identity that I label ‘citizen pilgrim,’ the quest for a desired end as defining our public life experience as an active participant in the ‘not yet’ character of an unknown future. Of course, the thirst for immortality or life after death is the ultimate lost cause.

 

Although stimulated by these kinds of reflections on the human condition, I make no claim to situate myself on such grand pedestals of celebrity. It is rather an exercise in self-perception from the perspective of a whole life that cannot be definitively apprehended until after death: A sort of embrace of the impossible. Because not yet being dead, there may yet be redefining moments that would call for reassessment. In this respect, we remain inherently mysterious to ourselves, as well as to others. Yet if we wait for the drama of life to end we have clearly waited too long. Our only impossible possibility is to contemplate our death as if it has happened already, a futuristic memoir, although if written at an advanced age, is only trivially futuristic as most of what stirs the heart and soul has already happened or, if fortunate as in my case, is happening.

 

If I try to capture some sort of provisional essence in relation to public life I am struck by the early prosaic attraction of lost causes. I could say, self-critically, that only lost causes have ever held my interest and attracted me deeply. As a child living in New York City, I chose mindlessly to give allegiance to the Brooklyn Dodgers (before they became a success story, and long before they took their show to the lush confines of Hollywood) and spurned the New York Yankees, perpetual winners and even the rather boring New York Giants, geographically more natural as I was living in Manhattan. Yet even while still a wavering and sullen adolescent neither pinstripes nor golf had any allure for me. At the same time, I was instructed by the misfortunes of my father. After divorced by my mother he pursued unattainable movie stars and others achieving warm friendships but never the enduring intimacy that he was seeking. Living through his disappointments as a child helped me avoid a private life of lost causes, although not entirely.

 

Later, when some sort of deferred adulthood arrived, I finally began to think, feel, and act politically. First, I had to shake off the influence of my father’s confusing blend of a loving nature with hardhearted conservative politics: empathy and tenderness at home combined with an abstract love of country and state that affirmed militarism and belligerence internationally and cruelty and reactionary politics domestically, truly, an ethos of winners accompanied by his mild forms of racism and patriarchy, even homophobia, but fortunately contradicted by a non-judgmental acceptance of the other in concrete circumstances. Then Cold War liberalism came into my life. It was ‘the group think’ of academic life during my maturing years in the 1950s and 1960s, believing in the moral superiority of our capitalist and individualist side while favoring a more cooperative world order provided the United States did the things it needed to do to hold onto its advantages of wealth and power. While realizing the limits and shortcomings of the liberal mentality I never felt comfortable with radical alternatives, especially if institutionally and ideologically defined. Hence, political loneliness.

 

My first political encounter with a lost cause was Vietnam. I became opposed to the war on a prudential basis that drew upon the kind of consensus realism that was the required 101 thinking that prevails among university faculties, especially on elite campuses. Later, by way of friends and afraid to seem afraid, I went to North Vietnam, and saw the war differently, that is, from the perspective of the victims and the relative purity of a peasant society. I saw my country, the United States, as the main global bully, killing and devastating at a distance remote from its own society (although subjecting young American combatants willingly and unwillingly to service in an immoral and strategically perplexing war). Yet underneath this transformed outlook, I remained enough of a realist toady to presuppose that the side with hard power superiority would win in the end, that in effect I was sadly championing a lost cause. (I remember Lyndon Johnson bombastic dismissal of North Vietnam as ‘a tenth-rate Asian power’ as hubris, yet not inaccurate according to battlefield metrics). I was unabashed in declaring my commitment to Vietnamese self-determination, but I expected that eventually the suffering and destruction would be too much to bear for the Vietnamese, and they would submit to Washington’s will. Instead, I overlooked the historically positive side of American impatience, the unwillingness to stay the dumb course, and so it turned out that it was America that was unwilling to endure further suffering and loss, although statistically it was losing far less than the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese advantage was their perseverance and a recognition that what was at stake for them was almost an absolute as compared with the United States for whom it was always a matter of calculating the balance between gains and losses.

 

When the Vietnamese finally gained victory, I was pleased by the outcome of the war, and even briefly believed that the anti-colonial tidal waves sweeping across the world were going to reshape the future in desirable ways. At the same time, with a less active engagement I was committed to the anti-apartheid struggle, having visited South Africa in 1968 as an official observer at a major political trial of the leading resistance figures in the de facto colonized country, then called South West Africa, renamed Namibia after political independence. I had earlier worked at the International Court of Justice in The Hague for most of a year on behalf of Ethiopia and Liberia in a case that was brought to establish that South Africa’s administrative role in South West Africa was incompatible with the extension of apartheid racism. South Africa’s racist claims were astonishingly supported by the decision, and this made me convinced that law and lawyers could not be trusted, and that there would be no liberation from apartheid without the torments of a long and bloody struggle. It never dawned on me or those in South Africa with whom I discussed these issues endlessly that there might emerge a relatively peaceful path to majoritarian democracy and multi-racial constitutionalism. As with Vietnam, the relatively benign outcome seemed a kind of political miracle, and as such, did not shake my belief that I was hopelessly destined to be a lifelong champion of lost causes. Yet it also made me realize that victorious outcomes may somehow control the end game of lost causes. In this respect, the lostness of lost causes is always in doubt, not rationally so much as existentially, and that makes all the difference between psychology and history. It also vindicates devoting energy to just causes, whether they seem lost or not.

 

In recent years my main public involvement has been with the Palestinian struggle for rights under international law, for peace and justice. This struggle increasingly has the aspect of being a classic lost cause, given the power disparities, Israeli land grabbing, and the Zionist ambition as embodied in Israel’s current leadership to control all or most of historic Palestine. And yet, a brief review of the outcome of international conflicts in the period since the end of World War II suggests that the side that usually wins in the end takes control of commanding heights of law, morality, and historical destiny, not the side that dominates the battlefield or is more adept at deploying the instruments of violence. Like Vietnam, from the perspective of ‘war’ the Israel-Palestine encounter has all the ugly elements of one-sidedness. The violent encounters are more accurately grasped as ‘massacres,’ ‘horror shows,’ or ‘atrocities’ than as warfare. From my after death vantage point, I will not waver in support for the Palestinian struggle, yet I lack the present capacity to depict a plausible victory scenario, hence it is an engagement with a lost cause coupled with the proviso that we never know for sure.

 

Recently, after a talk on Palestine in Dunedin, New Zealand a person in the audience posed a challenging question: “shouldn’t you distinguish between ‘a really lost cause’ and ‘a lost cause.’ At the time I agreed that such a distinction would be useful as hope is an essential element in political engagement for most people, and to give finality to lostness would annihilate hope. Yet later I wondered about whether I made this concession thoughtlessly, which amounted to the admission that really lost causes should be denigrated, and probably abandoned, as pure Chekhovian nostalgia. I thought about PIranadello’s plays celebrating fantasy at the expense of reality (e.g. ‘So It Is (If You Think So),’ 1917), and recalled my spirited friends devoted to the empowerment of indigenous peoples as in the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement. Such an engagement seems clearly to qualify as a really lost cause, and yet, the expression of the vision is itself an intrinsic good, ennobling, and liberating in precisely Pirandello’s sense, and humanly preferable to the denial of injustice as in the uncritical celebration of Columbus Day or Thanksgiving. Victories of the moral and spiritual imagination may be more valuable and redemptive in our lives even if their political embodiment seems forever beyond reclaiming.

 

For much of my professional life I have been devoted to the lost cause of eliminating nuclear weapons. At times, this lost cause has seemed as though it might not be lost, at other times it seems truly lost. Since we cannot know the future, our present assessments are unavoidably provisional, and it remains a moral imperative for me to remain engaged in the struggle for their elimination.

 

This dialogue with myself continues. Edward Said makes clear that when shifting gears from culture to politics, it is important to act responsibly in the latter settings of actual struggle where lives are at stake and suffering is real. He indicated that he was thinking of his own identification with the Palestinian struggle, which was radically different for this reason in his mind from a deep appreciation of the ethos that guided Cervantes to craft his great vision of the lost cause of medieval gallantry. I feel the same way, although less centered, embracing anti-nuclearism at the same time as affirming solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

 

Toward the end of the Vallejo poem these lines complete this arc of thought:

                  I see myself, as never before, alone

 

                  César Vallejo is dead. Everyone hit him,

                  though he is not doing them the slightest harm

 

I identify with such a self-image, but only politically, not personally where I am the fulfilled recipient of various forms of sustaining love. And I am not yet brave enough to say (and mean) ‘Richard Falk is dead.’ Yet to contemplate death without the metaphysical painkillers of an imagined afterlife is to be finally alone. In a sense learning to die is equivalent to learning to live alone, and takes courage and fortitude.

55 Responses to “Memoir Sketch: Championing Lost Causes”

  1. Gene Schulman November 27, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    The most important line in this exquisite essay is: “….also vindicates devoting energy to just causes, whether they seem lost or not.”

    That said, your essay is reminiscent of the book I recently finished: “The Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God”. It focuses on many of the same themes you bring up in your essay; Camus, dying, lost causes, etc. Reading you I almost felt that you were reviewing that book.

    Errata: The Brooklyn Dodgers did not move to the Bay Area; that was the NY Giants. The Dodgers came to my home town – Los Angeles.

    Thanks again, Richard.

    • Richard Falk November 27, 2014 at 10:19 am #

      Thanks, Gene, for your Thanksgiving Day generosity, and for catching the embarrassing slip. You may not
      believe this, but I had a tryout at the Polo Grounds with the NY Giants when I was 17! I should have known
      better! warmly, richard

    • Laurie Knightly November 27, 2014 at 10:22 am #

      Seems like today is appropriate for some type of life review and Richard’s this-world ponderings evoke the personal – feels good. I do feel hopeful, moreover, when men screw up on such things as baseball data. Several years ago a house guest asked if I wanted to go see a game – don’t remember if it was the round ball or the pointy one. I declined but told him that I keep plastic bats and some whiffle balls in my car if he cared to go to the park and hit a few – which we did. I think too much of life is passive – more vicarious experience versus a part in the drama.

      • Richard Falk November 27, 2014 at 11:15 am #

        Thanks, Laurie. I like your spirit, outlook, worldview. Richard

      • Gene Schulman November 27, 2014 at 11:33 am #

        So do I. Thanks for introducing me to Laurie, Richard. We’re in daily long distance communication, and my spirits are high.

  2. Brewer November 27, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    Splendid piece Richard. I found much resonance with my own reflections at this stage – not the least with your description of your Dad. That generation seemed to have mastered the art of being compassionate and liberal on a personal level but very conservative politically and somewhat prejudiced generally.
    No stage of life corresponds with the image one has of it when young. This Autumnal period brings pleasant surprises, the biggest being the release from ambition, the freedom to enjoy participation in the processes of life, love and fellowship for their own sake. To live each day conscious of the dwindling grains of sand adds a piquancy to small satisfactions and the great joy of increased understanding – many moments of “ah, so that’s what he meant” when reading great works such as those you have referenced.
    Lost causes? There would be many more were it not for the ideal of justice that you and your fellows have, at great personal cost, steadfastly dedicated yourselves.

  3. Francis Oeser November 27, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    Richard,
    CONGRATULATIONS!
    It’s a great piece touching on ‘official’ history, on literature, and all the rest.
    Aren’t our times a “lost cause”? A timely thought delighting me.
    Keep shouting, “I’m not dead!”
    Best regards,
    Francis Oeser

    • safiya November 28, 2014 at 8:52 am #

      Thank you for a brilliant piece! Interestingly, I feel very hopeful after reading your perspective & thoughts. Safiya

      • Richard Falk November 28, 2014 at 10:52 am #

        Thanks for these encouraging words, and hopefulness is a kind of blessing, while optimism is a sinister curse..

      • Gene Schulman November 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

        Richard,

        Call me a cynic if you wish, but I tend to agree with Nietzsche, who regarded “hope as a trick played on mankind, causing us to be more optimistic about progress than it really merited.”

      • Richard Falk November 28, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

        Gene: I, too, like Nietzsche, and he pulled a lot of wool from our eyes, but the struggle
        for a better world depends on some realization that what we are doing is not unconditionally futile.
        I distinguish ‘hope’ (as the possibility of the impossible) from ‘optimism’ (the silly claim that the
        future will be better as if we can project accurately on the basis of trends, and the like). In the end
        to be a cynic is to deride others who try, and in a sense, yourself. We are ‘saved’ by the obscurity of
        the future–we cannot know that we will fail, and so must try. As Goethe expressed it: “Him who strives
        he we may save.” Richard

      • Gene Schulman November 28, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

        Yes, I suppose we must continue “hoping against hope” as Nadeshda Mandelbaum put it. But my argument is that hope is too passive a stance, too much like prayer, when action is needed.

      • Richard Falk November 28, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

        No, hope for most is energizing, and enables us to overcome the inclination toward passivity, and
        a sense that the world is beyond fixing. This is the point of the nobility of failure if our hopes
        turn out to be denied. I live better hoping than despairing..maybe this is personal, and what motivates
        action is different for each of us.

      • Gene Schulman November 29, 2014 at 1:52 am #

        I beg to disagree, Richard. For me hope is only a palliative. It gets the Ldopa working to make you feel good. But the reality remains the same. The opposite extreme is despair, which can actually be positive, and drive one to take action to overcome the reality.

        What I am trying to say is, yes, we all live better hoping than despairing. But we could live even better if we actively seek solutions. You, yourself, are a good example of this. Despairing as things are, you continue to work to make a better world. You don’t just sit around hoping things may get better.

      • Richard Falk November 29, 2014 at 7:14 am #

        I think we do not really disagree. It is partly semantics of hope and despair, and partly your passion for truthfulness, which
        makes you most ready to act against the grain of public opinion while acknowledging the despair you feel. We are probably both right and wrong at the same time. Hope for me does not make me feel good, and is always at risk of embracing hopelessness, yet it makes the impossible occasionally happen disproving its own certitude.

      • Gene Schulman November 29, 2014 at 7:53 am #

        Thanks for this comment, Richard. It bothers me to disagree with you, and you show that we are indeed on the same track.

        Peace

  4. musiqdragonfly November 28, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    Professor Falk, I hope you don’t mind my calling you professor as I do learn a lot from what you write. I don’t have anything serious to say but may I share with you a beautiful poem of Kafka that I just love too much:

    “… Last night I dreamed about you. What happened in detail I can hardly remember, all I know is that we kept merging into one another. I was you, you were me. Finally you somehow caught fire.

    Remembering that one extinguished fire with clothing, I took an old coat and beat you with it. But again the transmutations began and it went so far that you were no longer even there, instead it was I who was on fire and it was also I who beat the fire with the coat.

    But the beating didn’t help and it only confirmed my old fear that such things can’t extinguish a fire. In the meantime, however, the fire brigade arrived and somehow you were saved. But you were different from before, spectral, as though drawn with chalk against the dark, and you fell, lifeless or perhaps having fainted from joy at having been saved, into my arms.

    But here too the uncertainty of transmutability entered, perhaps it was I who fell into someone’s arms.”

    – Kafka’s love letter to Milena Jesenska, 1921

    • Richard Falk November 28, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

      Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful poetic epiphany.

      I would prefer to be your ‘friend’ than your ‘professor,’ yet whatever makes you feel at home is fine!

  5. Laurie Knightly November 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    There were some who expressed discomfort with a celebration Thursday considering what ‘we’ did to the indigenous peoples of North America. Seems like ‘we’ could morph that day into a reminder of rules like the Doctrine of Discovery and in 1823 the Christian Doctrine of Discovery which was used to deny indigenous rights and ‘capture, vanquish, and subdue enemies of Christ’ – such thinking continued for about a hundred years. Indian Lands purchased by ‘monopsony’ helped [and still does] with pricing – like Walmart. The lawsuit Johnson v McIntosh reveals much. It was not till the League of Nations that such laws began to extend beyond treaties, church dogma,monarchs, and references from Vattel, Gropius et al. They broke no laws, customs, religion, etc as ‘international law’ at that time did not recognize peoples whose civilization was below European standards. We could start being thankful that quite a number of us have begun to see things quite differently. At least I ‘hope’ our numbers might increase.

    • Richard Falk November 28, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

      So well put, Laurie. I think you are so right to seek remembrance and to remind us of context,
      including the moral deficiency of international law and authority structures. Of course, what
      beyond remembrance is entailed by an ethos of ‘redress of historic grievances’ is another, and
      more difficult question. RF

  6. Stefan Andersson November 29, 2014 at 5:45 am #

    Dear Richard,

    Thanks for a nice piece of rhetoric. I particularly like the end:

    Yet to contemplate death without the metaphysical painkillers of an imagined afterlife is to be finally alone. In a sense learning to die is equivalent to learning to live alone, and takes courage and fortitude.

    But were the protests against the Vietnam War really a lost cause?

    Best regards, Stefan

    • Richard Falk November 29, 2014 at 7:09 am #

      Thanks, Stefan. Yes, in my sense Vietnam seemed a ‘lost cause’ as I could not imagine a way that could survive
      such a brutal and relentless onslaught, I believed in military superiority as the agent of history, which is the
      core realist mindset. After the Tet Offensive in 1968, this sense of lostness gradually disappeared, but not entirely.
      Nixon came very close to bombing the dikes in the Red River Delta. Greetings, Richard

  7. Paul Wapner November 29, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    Richard,

    My favorite line is from one of your responses above:

    “We are ‘saved’ by the obscurity of the future.”

    Yes! the personal, political, collective unknown receives all of our efforts and creates the possibility of hope. Moral sensitivity and, I dare say, privilege obligates us to hope.

    Gandhi’s comment comes to mind: “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.”

    I love your effort.

    • Richard Falk November 29, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

      Thanks, Paul, for such precious words! We look forward to our dinner together..

  8. rehmat1 November 29, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

    The OT claims that prophet Moses knew about the timings of his death – which latter was found to be inserted by some rabbi.

    Late Edward Said used to teach at Columbia University. On September 24, 2007, Iranian President Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a speech at Columbia University, which was boycotted by the New York City Israel-First Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/full-transcript-of-ahmadinejad-speech-at-columbia-university/6889

  9. rehmat1 November 29, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    @ Paul Wapner

    Former New York Times executive editor (1994-2001) Joseph Lelyveld in Gandhi’s biography ‘Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi And His Struggle With India’ – has claimed Gandhi to be a sexual weirdo, a political incompetent and a fanatical faddist – one who was often downright cruel to those around him.

    http://rehmat1.com/2011/03/29/gandhi%e2%80%99s-secret-love-for-jews/

    • Gene Schulman November 30, 2014 at 1:39 am #

      @ rehmat1, Paul Wapner, et al.

      Re M. Gandhi, you might be interested in this video, which I happened upon after reading Arundati Roy’s very interesting “Capitalism: A Ghost Story”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-yMiBGBOe0 It rather put’s Gandhi in proper perspective for our times.

      Richard, thanks for your encomium to me in your recent reply to Ray. I’ll hang that on my trophy wall😉

      • rehmat1 November 30, 2014 at 7:21 am #

        @ Gene Schulman

        I wrote a review of Arundhati Roy’s that book in the past.

        My recent post was to wish Arundhati Roy a Happy 53rd Birthday.

        http://rehmat1.com/2014/11/24/arundhati-roy-happy-birthday/

      • Gene Schulman November 30, 2014 at 7:41 am #

        Thank you for this Rehmt1. I find her an extraordinary and beautiful woman, in all senses of the word. I look forward to the publication of her new novel mentioned in the interview.

      • Gene Schulman November 30, 2014 at 7:45 am #

        I realize that I should have said “beautiful person”! Apologies to my feminist friends.

      • Richard Falk November 30, 2014 at 8:28 am #

        I share these words of appreciation for Arundhati Roy, and had the privilege of working closely with her
        for a few days in Istanbul some years ago in relation to the Iraq War Tribunal of 2005. She was the chair of the
        jury of conscience and I was the coordinator of the 54 witnesses who presented their views over the course
        of the event, and of course, an amazing feel for language. She has many endearing qualities, including warmth, humor, fearlessness, engagement, modesty, a generous appreciation of others. All whom she touched during those memorable days would I think share this assessment.

  10. David Zackon November 29, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    So much, poignant and profound, packed into this marvelous cameo that it almost fails for want of expanse. Nothing will do for me now but the whole autobiography. Or, if you like, auto-obituary (pro tem).

    • Richard Falk November 30, 2014 at 7:04 am #

      I am challenged and amused by your comment..

    • ceylan November 30, 2014 at 8:22 am #

      Thank you David Zackon, for “challenging” Richard: I have been begging and waiting for the autobiography for many years. Perhaps you have given Richard and excellent title to start: Auto-obituary!

  11. Richard Morris November 30, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Dear Richard
    I am a bit overwhelmed almost downhearted to read your scintillating and profound essay
    Where do I go in my blogs and scribblings in my garret when you wear the laurel so elegantly,intelligently and authoritatively? I shall soldier on bravely.
    I picked up Palestine The Legitimacy Of Hope on Friday and am already excited
    (I revered Edward Said)
    Will send you comments on the book and ask to use some quotations of it on wallsofdespair if you do not object
    Thanks again
    Richard Morris Writer and Performer Bitter Fruit of Palestine on youtube and vimeo.com

    • Richard Falk November 30, 2014 at 9:51 am #

      Thanks, Richard, for this encouragement. Each authentic voice is to be cherished! And yours is vivid, from the heart,
      and valued and valuable.

  12. Jerry "Peacemaker" November 30, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    Mr. Falk,
    Thank you for all your efforts. Near Death Experience Research Foundation (www.nderf.org) contains hundreds of personal account of men, women, and children around the Earth who have been to “the other side” and returned to tell about it. Dare say one who reads a moderate number of those accounts may come to reconsider non-belief in life after death. Is it possible that the thirst for immortality or life after death is the ultimate ‘won’ cause, and that the near death experience is humanity’s highest expression to date approaching ultimate truth? Keeping my fingers crossed that a man of your experience will write a future piece about the near death experience, and am certain it would be extra-outstanding.
    Best regards,
    Jerry

    • Kata Fisher December 10, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      This is most authentic one I ever came across — and I just came across it right now, as was looking for praise music for my friend Renee that is tired of fake praise and worship music — can’t find any.

    • Kata Fisher December 10, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      An imperative note, as I had a reflection about it:

      Bill is not quite right interpreting / connecting his vision with the Teaching of the Church. Still, what is saying is not harmful.

      The only thing is that I have to correct is this:

      You should not be inviting “Jesus” into your heart (as this can/may be very harmful spiritually – but not always, as the spiritual authority of the person leading you to that acceptance matters).

      More accurate is to open your heart to the truth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. (This is most valid way to denounce your falling away from the Faith of the Church).

      If any Christians here — would you please reopen your heart to the “Truth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” and really think about Baptism in God’s Spirit by Free Fall. Any of your local diocese Chaotic can show you where.

      At some point, he /Bill speaks about use / meaning of the word “Hamas”. I think that is so interesting — that I am almost mystified/bewildered about it due to application of it😀

      Love on and pray for Hamas lads — they need all love they can get right now🙂

      • Kata Fisher December 10, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

        I was reading this:

        https://derengowski.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/mass-muslims-conversions-or-more-charismatic-chaos/

        And I started on brainstorming about things — when it stopped I understood this:

        Hamas has to go to Rome and be in Baptism in God’s Spirit that is only by Free fall of God’s Spirit over them (and impartation of anointing / gifts-spirituals / same as ordination) that are valid in order to be in the correct way of Islam, and to correct the way of Islam and to correct this: countless heretics in the Middle East that are will be.

        While there will be valid conversions of Muslims by this move – this is still spiritual attack over Muslims in Middle East.

        100 years from now it will be a heretical chaos if there is no valid spiritual authority and a valid way to meet this challenges.

      • Gene Schulman December 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

        @ Kata

        With all due respect, I’m afraid it’s you who is chasing after a lost cause. Or at least meandering on a road to a dead end. Charismatic whatever may soothe your soul, but it won’t solve any problems.

        Gene

      • Kata Fisher December 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

        Dear Gene, 

        No such thing as chase after a lost cause — I am on the run from it to nowhere🙂. 

        You know Gene that you prophesy? However, there was a point in time that even the prophets of Judah have lied🙂 I say this with all due respect, and this is not ment in harsh terms or personal.

        You see — if you were in Glory of God’s Spirit there would be no need for a Charismatics to be here, especially not a girl that is ordained — just to hang out here.

        However, let’s forget about this exchange of silly ideas.

        Do you like music?

        Since you are down lately — I hope that this will soothe your broken spirit. Nothing is a lost cause until is lost. Nothing is lost, until out of this world/gone — a memory to venerate and that is it.

        I have to tell you something, Gene:

        My prayer hour is terribly disrupted with youth that comes in and is weeping — and he is charismatic and that is his form of worship. Now, I know how you feel — talk about bizarre things…

        Do you know what he is weeping about? About nothing– that is the way he expreses himself. Besides that — as I interrupted him with laughter and asked him if he di suppose to be a priest… For sure he is, but he said that he was still meditatin on that because he is in impossible obsticles. I wish I have his impossible obstacles — are actualy none according to what he told me. For sure that he is not at the right time. But can you look and see that Justin is already the priest?

        What do you think about that? Mind-blowing it was for me as I saw a priest, the prophet and a king just go about himself? You just can’t enjoy it.

        We as humans are funny as grasshoppers.

  13. wingsprd November 30, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    It is a privilege for me to read your writings. Lost causes? Some are not lost Israel/Palestine gradual awakening of world opinion, The planet, yes, a need for a global community to bypass influence of nation states. So many causes, but they are not all lost.
    Your dedication to Yoshi (next blog) is so admirable and I hope it alerts others.
    sincere thanks.

  14. Rosemary Tylka December 1, 2014 at 1:57 am #

    Dear Richard,

    You have written many truly excellent articles, but this is the very best one which I have read so far! It is courageous and brilliant, and I cried when I read the last paragraph of your missive below.

    Trying to be true to oneself, honest and fighting against injustice in the world is a very lonely place to live in, but you have succeeded, and I am proud to know you, even if only over email.

    With the greatest respect, Rosemary

    • Richard Falk December 1, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

      Thanks, Rosemary, as always your words reach my heart..

  15. Laurie Knightly December 1, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    Warning: My nickname in high school was YesBut…..
    What is important about persons such as Sakamoto is that his inclusion, and a variety of others, has had an effect on how we study the issues – whether we can call out their names or not. It may come thru Richard and then I bring the message to my discussion groups and the Japanese community in my area – both for tribute and info. Some well known guy said – ‘would that they had learned my lesson and had forgotten my name.’

    It helps if kids are taught this process early in life. When I was nine years old, I said to my father – ‘Those damn Japs have bombed us in Pearl Harbor!’. His response was, ‘And what are we doing in Hawaii?’ This was followed by map study of the Pacific Islands and how those lands managed to gain US ‘guardianship’ – especially noting their proximity to Japan. The difficulty can be that one is always a bit unsure on the issues. Do we have all the info? If there’s an afte-lifie, I hope it will be limbo for me and I can continue as I have been doing in this life. The finality of those other two sites sounds really boring.

  16. Lily Field December 1, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    If you and your work represent a lost cause, then everything is a lost cause.
    Sometimes I think: Everything matters absolutely, Nothing matters whatsoever.
    That sums up my current philosophy. I also have noticed that Love is Real and it’s of a higher order.
    Your blogs and your work and you represent to me the most erudite knowledgeable level-headed caring ethical educated human “being” I am even aware of. I’ve learned very much from you !! So whatever obit you come up with and whatever remembrances people share about you and whether you achieve immortality or not, you have stood for what is truly right and I admire you probably as much as I admire anybody who isn’t yet dead on this meaningless/meaningful planet !!
    p.s. I think I want to die in the pouring rain in Paris… it sounds very romantic ! (rather than drowning in the ocean which was my previous plan) !🙂

    • Richard Falk December 1, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

      such wonderful praise, undeserved but welcome as it is meant with a purity of will, and strengthens
      my resolve to live up somehow to such lofty expectations. Yes, Paris in heavy rain seems more attractive
      as a final encounter with life than the vastness of ocean space. Yet, let’s enjoy this sacred gift of life
      as long as possible! I am honored to be a recipient of your warmth and generosity of spirit. Richard

  17. Beau Oolayforos December 1, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,
    Speaking about difficult, even lost causes, about confronting and opposing evil, I’m reminded of Krishna’s statement to despondent Arjuna in the Gita, something like “It is idle to say that you will not fight – your own material nature will coerce you.”

    • Richard Falk December 1, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

      Thanks for this reminder that our will may be subordinated to our nature, and claims of freedom
      and responsibility may in the end be mainly delusional. You make me want to re-read the Gita, and
      get a better feeling for the context in which Krishna so reminds Arjuna of what seems a deeper truth.

  18. Clif Brown December 2, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    Should we despair of mankind or should we hope? Consider the analogy of one wandering through the universe of internet comments, then coming across those on this blog. Yes! We should hope.

  19. Claudia Damon December 5, 2014 at 5:59 am #

    Beautiful. Thank you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Richard Falk: Championing Lost Causes - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics - November 28, 2014

    […] By Richard Falk By arrangement with Richard Falk […]

  2. » Bozza d’autobiografia: Battendosi per le cause perse – Richard Falk - December 24, 2014

    […] Titolo originale: Memoir Sketch: Championing Lost Causes […]

  3. TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » Memoir Sketch: Championing Lost Causes - May 5, 2015

    […] Go to Original – richardfalk.wordpress.com […]

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