Despair and Hope for the New Year

30 Dec

 

W.H. Auden wrote these suggestive lines in the poem ‘Lament for a Lawgiver’ that can be found in his Age of Anxiety:

 ‘The gods are wringing their great worn hands

for their watchman is away, their world engine

Creaking and cracking…’

 

If we pause to look about the world, we will observe many signs of creaking and cracking. Among the most alarming forms of creaking and cracking is the appalling failure of political leadership. Where are the Roosevelts, DeGaulles, Chou En-Lais, Sukarnos, Titos, and Nehrus? Is the dumbing down of political leadership a consequence of the reordering of the world economy in ways that constrain and corrupt the role of governments? Or has the technology of control, surveillance, and destruction become so overwhelming as to make the moral and political imagination seem irrelevant, giving exclusive historical agency to those who propose doing nothing while the fires ravaging the earth burn out of control? Or even propose pouring more and more oil on the fires? In this respect, should we not regard the ‘climate denier’ as the true hero of our time, he that worships that which destroys, and so distresses the wearying gods.

 

Or should we blame the structures that have evolved to constitute modernity, especially the fragmenting impact of the sovereignty of states as reinforced by the passions of tribalizing nationalisms? This optic of the national tribalized self that controls our visionary capability has so far been virtually paralyzed when confronted by the advent of nuclear weaponry, global warming, and waves of desperate migrants seeking sanctuary. Instead of generating policies and practices responsive to human and global imperatives of collective and species survival, the feeble responses that were forthcoming depended on the aggregation of what little states would agree upon to satisfy their collective interests. The hierarchy among states is also responsible for the infernal spiral by so awkwardly imposing itself on the principle of juridical equality. It has contrived such devices as claiming a right of veto in the UN Security Council on behalf of the permanent five (P5) and by invalidating the acquisition rather than possession and use of nuclear weaponry.

 

Or maybe we should pause long enough to contemplate the religious resurgence that can be understood from many angles: As a revolt against the spiritual aridity of modernity, that is, the failures of instrumental rationality and a false consciousness that equates technological innovation with progress, and material gain with happiness. We find ourselves haunted by the prospect of perpetual war fought with ever more extraordinary technological prowess, but giving rise to apocalyptic phantasies of wars between good and evil, the self and the other, drained of empathy and drenched with displays of hyper-violence. Is it any wonder that it is ‘Star Wars’ that best entertains and diverts while the greatest human gift of the imagination prolongs its hibernation despite a growing realization that this is a time of unprecedented species danger?

 

Or did the gods grow weary, fatigued by such a record of shattered hopes? When the Soviet experiment became totalitarian criminality rather than an emancipatory process of collective liberation, many lost their confidence in revolutionary change. Utopian landscapes of the future were derisively put to one side, and the market and the moderate ‘selfie’ state were accepted as the outer limits of healthy human aspiration. We have lost that bit of biblical wisdom recognizing that a society without vision perishes. We as a nation and our citizens as members of a species need badly to recover ‘horizons of desire.’ At present, we find ourselves trapped, gradually becoming aware that ‘horizons of feasibility’ (what politics as the art of the possible deems feasible) is disastrously separated from ‘horizons of necessity (what science, morality, and common sense deem as necessary). When this gap between feasibility and necessity becomes understood, it seeks refuge in denial, escapism, and extremism. That is, the gap is either ignored or a simplistic alternative narrative of what is wrong is seized upon, a quack remedy with a terrible taste—the sort of vacuum that Trump seems to be filling for those many Americans who want enemies to blame and lethal promises to keep.

 

Consider the failure to rid the world of nuclear weaponry or the refusal to deal with climate change in a manner that heeds the consensus among climate experts. Or consider the Syrian babies washed ashore on Turkish beaches and Greek islands as an ultimate metaphor of a species that endlessly moralizes yet behaves with spectacular inhospitality and insensitivity in the face of even the most horrific suffering by fellow humans. The opposite of cosmopolitan ethics is the psychologically dominant template of tribal and communitarian loyalties, combining with the othering of those whose presence among us poses a challenge of some sort. The post-Holocaust pledge of ‘never again’ has a hollow ring, if even recalled.

 

Or maybe we should worry most about the collective forms of ecological alienation that are daily ravaging our planet. We have become a species that destroys its own habitat, forgetting the evolutionary reality of an ultimate dependence of all living beings on its natural surroundings. We have lost these elemental moorings that seemed self-evident to pre-modern peoples who understood the need to live with nature, not as domineering exploiters but as stewards and partners, sensitive to such abstractions as ‘carrying capacity’ and ‘sustainability,’ but also to the exotic wonders of biodiversity and the natural beauty of our extraordinary planet.

 

We should not overlook the salience of racially driven police brutality and the several failures of the justice system to impose some appropriate measure of accountability. We can be grateful for the emergence of Black Lives Matter dedicated to bringing this kind of governmental racism to an end. Laws are not enough if public consciousness is not committed to their implementation,

without which the application of law seems synonymous with injustice. Let us pause as the new year begins to remember the shocking deaths of Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Quintonio LeGrier, Bettie Jones among many other African American lives destroyed, and then recall the series of distressing acquittals, especially the impunity legally accorded to the police killer of Michael Brown shot dead multiple times in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. It is time to realize that it is up to each of us to make black lives matter applicable in our own lives, our own experience. To grasp the complexity of what this means I recommend three extraordinary books: Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric, Robin Coste Lewis, Voyage of the Sable Venus, and Ta-Nehisi, Between the World and Me. To understand the menace of police violence as expressing the persistence of racism in the sort of plutocracy that the United States has become, I urge all to read Gerry Spence’s extraordinarily timely Police State: How American Cops Get Away with Murder.

 

As always, I feel an especial bond of solidarity with all those resisting Israeli oppression and seeking justice for the millions of Palestinians trapped in Gaza, oppressed in the West Bank, cleansed in East Jerusalem, victimized in refugee camps, and languishing in exile. I would also wish that pressures from within and without might prompt, however belatedly, Israeli soul searching and with it, the realization that it is never too late to walk the path of peace and justice

  

 

Yet we should not greet the arrival of 2016 without words of consolation and hope. My friend, Robert Lifton, many years ago usefully quoted Theodore Roethke who poetically observed “in the dark the eye begins to see.” The future is unknowable, and history teaches us that both disasters and miracles happen unexpectedly, and that what we do and don’t do makes a difference even if the outcome of our dedication to a humane future cannot be known to be worthwhile in advance. It makes a difference to engage in such a struggle even aside from whether it is vindicated by achieving the goals that animate such a quest. Pursuing a humane future is a process, a journey or pilgrimage that alone can elevate our strivings to correspond with our values, dreams, and hopes, leaving the eventual outcome at the mercy of the gods.

 

Those caught in despair believe we are living on borrowed time, amid the dusk of the species. Those clinging to hope consider ourselves enduring the morbid symptoms of transition (Gramsci’s illuminating comment that the old has not yet died while the new has yet to be born), and that emerging forces are shaping a cosmic consciousness that will overcome ecological alienation and all varieties of racism, allowing us to think, feel, and above all discover that we belong to the only species assigned by the gods this sacred vocation to serve as the guardian angel of planetary wellbeing that includes racial just, and in so doing clip the wings of avenging angels. Pope Francis seems to have best grasped this ultimate form of human responsibility, and one can only hope that more of us act within the circle of his vision before it is too late. Most needed in these dark times is to hold tight to what we believe with an unruly embrace of faith, patience, and urgency. This is my most fervent New Year’s wish for 2016. 

31 Responses to “Despair and Hope for the New Year”

  1. Gene Schulman December 30, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    AMEN!

    Stay the course, Richard. You have many alongside you to help show the way.

    May all our wishes come true in the new year.

  2. Safiya December 30, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    Thank you for these powerful words!! And all your incredible essays throughout the year.
    I always look forward to them as your words provide so much for me to think about.
    I wish you all the best in the new year!
    Safiya

    • Richard Falk December 31, 2015 at 6:58 am #

      Thanks so much, Safiya, for these affirming words, which mean a lot to me. Hoping that
      the new year will bring you many blessings!
      Richard

  3. Corinne Whitaker December 30, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    Richard,

    I so much admire your thinking, and your deep committment to justice and peace.

    I have published five books of poetry and digital images, all called “If We Are Erased” (They are all on Amazon.) The words in Volume II might speak to you.

    Very warm wishes for the New Year, and new directions in our leadership.

    Corinne

    • Richard Falk December 31, 2015 at 7:03 am #

      Dear Corinne:
      We are, I believe, pursing the same ends, but you with the benefits of artistic grace!

      I will make greater contact with your work in the coming year.

      If you send me your best address by email (rfalk@princeton.edu) I will send you my book
      of poems, ‘Waiting for Rainbows,’ just published.

      Hoping that 2016 brings you many blessings, warm wishes,

      Richard

  4. Vincent Di Stefano December 30, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

    Thank you Richard

    Your decades-long commitment, advocacy and presence to the needs of individuals, of peoples and of the earth are reflected in crystalline clarity in this impassioned, poetic and prophetic call for peace, deep thought and deeper responsibility.

    Thank you for your generous and discerning offerings over the past year. May the new one bring to fruition your wish for a collective embrace of faith, patience and urgency.

    vincent
    inverloch, australia

    • Richard Falk December 31, 2015 at 7:04 am #

      Vincent:

      Thans for the new year’s gift of these affirming words. May 2016 bring you many blessings.

      Rihcard

  5. rehmat1 December 30, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    Don’t worry Dr. Falk, Jesuit Pope Francis’ “human responsibility” will turn him into Hitler the day he spoke the truth about Israel.

    Last month he told visiting leaders of the ‘World Jewish Congress’ at the Vatican that state of Israel has every right to exist, and Jews are free to do whatever they want to do – and criticism of both is antisemitism.

    http://rehmat1.com/2015/11/03/pope-francis-defends-jewish-occupation-of-holy-land/

    • Gene Schulman December 31, 2015 at 1:04 am #

      I have to go along with you on this one, rehmat1. For all that I respect him, I have to differ with Richard’s defense of the Pope. Whatever the Pope says, he still represents one of the most repressive religions that have existed. Just take a gander at Andre Vitchik’s piece from yesterday: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article43824.htm

      I am not into ecumenicism when I believe all religions are wrong, self serving, and dangerous.

      • rehmat1 December 31, 2015 at 5:56 am #

        I’m afraid, Rabbi Allen S. Maller doesn’t agree with you.

        http://www.rabbimaller.com/judaism-and-islam/false-attacks-on-qur-an

      • Gene Schulman December 31, 2015 at 6:59 am #

        Why should I care whether Rabbi Maller agrees with me? I’m an atheist. He is a believer. And what relevance does his essay have to the one I posted from Vitchik?

      • Richard Falk December 31, 2015 at 7:10 am #

        Gene:

        His words and the reverence he receives as a person speak more clearly to the needs of our time and species
        than any other person on the planet.
        As for religion, it is important to perceive its reality with both eyes! It has given life meaning for billions
        otherwise bereft. Sure it is also, as Marx understood, a form of pacification that sustains bondage. The human condition
        has from its origin required most of us to believe in a spiritual reality beyond the material circumstances of our existence.
        There have been individuals all along who questioned the metaphysics that sustained such a belief, and you clearly belong
        in this tradition.
        In any event, I wish you the satisfying best for 2016.

        Richard

      • Gene Schulman December 31, 2015 at 7:27 am #

        Richard,

        You say religion has given life meaning for the billions of otherwise bereft. I’m sorry, I see it as false hopes based on mythology. I should think that after all the ills religion has spilled on the world, those bereft would look elsewhere for the meaning of life. We are all bereft in a meaningless world. Let us learn to think for ourselves rather than depending on popes and rabbis who are no more in the know than we ourselves. Probably less, as they are perpetrating the myths.

        I return your wish for the new year with heartfelt friendship.

        Gene

  6. Mike 71 December 31, 2015 at 12:47 am #

    It seems that every time the Palestinians had an opportunity to obtain independent statehood pursuant to UNGAR 181, from 1948 to the present, they have rejected it. As one Israeli Foreign Minister (Abba Eban) cynically out it: “Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” They never wanted an independent state as part of a two-state solution, but rather a single Palestinian state to the exclusion of Israel. That policy is expressly set forth in the founding documents of both the P.L.O. and Hamas. For example, Article 7 of the Hamas Covenant calls for the genocide of all Jews. Article 13 explicitly rejects all forms of non-violent conflict resolution in favor of perpetual war against Israel. Article 32 brands any Palestinian who negotiates with Israel as a traitor to the cause. The entire Hamas Covenant can be read at: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp

    The current Palestinian situation is one entirely of their own creation. Since the 1967 “Six Day War,” as Israel made peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, the Palestinians refused to enter into negotiations with Israel. In 2000, under the “Clinton Parameters,” the Barack government offered Yasser Arafat nearly everything he wanted, but Arafat rejected peace, some believe out of inability to shift from revolutionary to statesman, or as others believe, out of fear of assassination by “rejectionists” of the two-state concept. Eight years later, the Olmert government made a similar offer, which was ignored by Mahmoud Abbas, without counter-offer, or initiative of his own. The massively corrupt Palestinian Authority, for similar reasons, rejects a negotiated resolution to the conflict. Rather than engage in negotiations, after Prime Minister Netanyahu backed away from his no Palestinian state campaign rhetoric, Mahmoud Abbas has resorted to incitement, resulting in continuing death on both sides of the conflict. As acceptance of the Israeli offers, or alternatively the Arab League Peace Plan, accepted by Israel as a basis for negotiations, would constitute de-facto recognition of Israel’s right to exist within “secure and internationally recognized boundaries” per UNSCR 242 and 338, Palestinians prefer the occupation continue, despite lost opportunities to gain substantial quantities of land, peace and independent statehood. Under International Law, as the victorious belligerent of the 1967 “Six Day War,” Israel may retain captured land until possession is modified by treaty. The post World War II occupations of West Germany (1945-1955), Japan (1945-1955) and East Germany (1945-1990) ended with peace treaties. This principle dates from Roman Law. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uti_possidetis

    The establishment of a Palestinian state during Mahmoud Abbas’ lifetime, is no more likely than during that of his predecessor, Arafat. Abbas of Fatah, which rules the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), is now in the 11th year of the four year term to which he was elected in 2005, Ismael Haniyeh of Hamas, which rules Gaza, is soon to start the ninth year of the five year term to which he was elected in 2007. Democratic elections would enable Palestinians to put the populace’s interests ahead of those of the empire builders. Hamas has engaged in three futile, failed “wars of aggression” against Israel, each more lethal and destructive than the last. For the leadership of Hamas, Gaza residents are expendable “cannon fodder” used to dig invasion tunnels (primarily children, often killed in tunnel collapses) and “human shields” to protect rocket launchers and arms caches in residential neighborhoods. As a nation-state member of the U.N., Israel has “an inherent right to individual, or collective self-defense,” as recognized under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Since the summer 2014 Gaza war (“Operation Defensive Edge”), Hamas reiterated the objectives expressed in its Covenant, future lethal and destructive Gaza wars are certain to follow. That is the price, in lives and infrastructure, which Hamas remains willing to pay. There is no current likelihood of Palestinian statehood, given the current generation of leadership. If a future generation of Palestinian leaders becomes willing to negotiate differences and live peaceably with their Israeli neighbors, Palestinian statehood is possible. If no such future generation emerges, Israel’s only option may be a one-state solution modeled on China’s “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” in which the dominant Israeli majority must suppress the terrorist minority.

    • Aaron Remer January 1, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

      Mike, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  7. Rabbi Ira Youdovin December 31, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    Although I don’t agree with all the points Prof. Falk makes in this thoughtful piece, I concur in many of them, and join in his hope for progress in the year ahead.

    Regarding the paragraph on Israel-Palestine, I strongly disagree with his view that Israel has consistently resisted a peaceful and equitable resolution to the conflict. This has been a topic of endless and futile debate on this blog, which I don’t intend to pursue by citing instances to support my case. However, Prof. Falk’s implication that there’s little or no Israeli soul searching on the issue is refuted daily by the press and media. Laurie Knightly, who is by no means a friend of Israel, noted in a recent post that thousands of Israelis had turned out for a rally opposing the Occupation. Newspapers are filled with op eds voicing opposition, not only Haaretz on the left but The Times of Israel and others in the center, and even the center-right. Numerous Israeli organizations such as Peace Now, Rabbis for Human Rights and Israel Religious Action Center do practical work on the ground. And there’s more. Much more.

    On the other hand, Prof. Falk’s criticism is valid when applied to the current Israeli government, but with an asterisk. Peace making is reciprocal; each side must acknowledge the other’s legitimacy, be willing to accept at least its minimal demands, and also compromise on its own demands. Whatever problems in meeting these requirements exist on the Israeli side exist among the Palestinians, arguably in even greater measure. Progress along the pathway to peace requires change in both communities, Israeli and Palestinian, as well as in the guidance and support given by their overseas supporters on the right and the left.

    The internal issues dividing the Palestinians are too numerous and complex for detailed exploration here. The “bottom line” is that internal controversy precludes a unified Palestinian position acknowledging Israel’s legitimacy and permanence as a state living side-by-side in peaceful co-existence with an independent and contiguous Palestine covering a geographical area equal to what Israel has occupied since 1967. Israel made that proposal some years ago and has never withdrawn it.

    Needless to say, Israeli expansionism—not as extensive as its critics portray but nevertheless a serious concern—casts doubt on the Government’s sincerity, which is shared by many Israelis and Diaspora Jews. But it’s important to remember that Israeli expansionism proceeds in a political vacuum bereft of hope that the Palestinians will ever abandon their rejctionism and attendant violence. This despair undermines the efforts the many Israelis and Diaspora Jews who favor, and are working to achieve a two-state solution. And it’s no less important to remember that Palestinian rejectionism is fueled by understandable perceptions of Israeli intractability. Here, interaction driven by
    extremists on both sides produces a downward spiral which could lead to Israel
    forfeiting its democratic character and the Palestinians forfeiting all prospects of attaining a state of their own.

    Returning at last to Prof. Falk’s challenging paragraph: I agree that “it is never too late to walk the path of peace and justice”. But two must walk this path together if it is to lead anywhere but failure. Getting the process started requires complex and delicate choreography. Israel cannot be expected to relinquish control over territory within easy firing range of its large cities, industrial/commercial center and international airport so long as Hamas and its allies remain committed to its destruction. But to signal a commitment to compromise, Israel can and should cease enlarging settlements, move with swift justice against settlers who harm Palestinians, and remove rogue settlements built without governmental authorization. For their part, rejectionist Palestinians, Hamas in particular, can and should abandon their long-standing aspiration to eliminate Israel, revise its Charter to publicly express this new outlook, and cease importation of missiles and rockets.

    And folks throughout the who seek to rise above parochialism in search of a just and peaceful resolution can and must lend their full support to those participants on both sides of the conflict, who accept each other’s legitimacy and seek to negotiate a peaceful resolution of conflict.

    Rabbi Ira Youdovin

    • rehmat1 January 1, 2016 at 9:07 am #

      Dear Rabbi, you reminds me Professor Daniel Bar-Tal (Tel Aviv University) who in 2010 study claimed that most Israeli Jews prefer to live in their self-denial.

      “These Jews are not interested to know the facts about the Israel-Palestine conflict. They’re brainwashed with Zionist narrative of the conflict and hatred toward Arabs and Muslims from an early age. The Zionist rabbis are known for using Talmudic texts to create hatred toward Arabs, Blacks and Christians,” he said.

      In 2009, Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Manis Friedman responded to a question “How Jews should treat their Arab neighbors?”, in Jewish ‘Moment’ magazine for its “Ask the Rabbi” feature, said: “The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way. Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle). I don’t believe in western morality. Living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations who suffer defeat because of a disastrous morality of human invention…….”

      http://rehmat1.com/2010/05/24/study-israelis-prefer-to-live-in-self-denial/

      • Mike 71 January 1, 2016 at 4:59 pm #

        Rehmat!,

        There is the principle of “projection,” in which the “self-victimized” impose their deficiencies on their adversaries. The Islamic State (Daesh) uses the Quran to justify terrorism, including the beheadings of “non-believers (Christians, Jews, Shi’ites, Yazidi’s, etc.),” and by which Palestinians are driven by an arrogant, greedy, self-centered sense of entitlement to “all the land between the river (Jordan) and the sea (Mediterranean).

        While most Israelis are amenable to a “two-state solution,” in which captured land would be exchanged for peace (about 80% according to recent polls), negotiation and compromise are not part of the Palestinian lexicon. While UNGAR 181 provided for establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, Palestinians have chosen to forego that opportunity, as it would not constitute a “one to the exclusion of the other” solution under P.L.O. and Hamas doctrine, both of which call for the eradication of Israel. In such a “one to the exclusion of the other” scenario, the only way in which Israelis may retain their own right to self-determination is through continued domination of lands captured in the 1967 “Six Day War.” In the absence of a negotiated resolution to the conflict, there is no alternative. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uti_possidetis

        Zionism, whether religious or secular, is just as legitimate a form of nationalism, as that of the Palestinians. In any “one to the exclusion of the other” scenario, as called for by Palestinian doctrine, Israel, in order to preserve her national existence must dominate the land, until Palestinians are ready to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist within “secure and recognized boundaries” per UNSCR 242 and 338. The current Palestinian situation is one of a matter of choice, rather than one of victimization. If they so chose, they could change it expeditiously, through negotiation and compromise, but their current leadership prefers to wallow in their self-imposed victimhood!

  8. wingsprd December 31, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

    I’m with Gene, Laurie, Stefano and the many others wishing you Richard a New Year full of peace, contentment and love. With many thanks for your posts over the decades, always in the pursuit of humanitarian ideals, complex though they are. I am envious of your incisive intelligence and your beautiful facility with the language.

    • Richard Falk December 31, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

      Thanks for such affirming words at the end of the year. Hoping for a bit more peace, justice, love in 2016!

  9. Laurie Knightly January 1, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    The rural folk in the tiny town where I spent a few childhood years, would describe Richard as ‘a fella with a nose fuh buncombe.’ Regardless of his extensive erudition and broad experience as an international diplomat, what still looms of paramount importance is ‘that nose o’hiz.’ This effective combination and his dedication to serving the cause throughout his life, inspires many of us to do whatever we can to achieve a more just society.

    • Richard Falk January 1, 2016 at 7:02 pm #

      Thanks for this, Laurie, although I have never before been praised for my nose! I appreciate especially
      such affirming words from you as I know that you are not one to give polite compliments. I have admired
      your deeply informed awareness of a wide range of issues afflicting the country and the world in this period.
      Warm best for the entire year of 2016! Richard

  10. Walker Percy January 1, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    Dear Richard
    I am struck by the pervasive negativity of your New Years Day Roundup. Really, most of our problems seem solvable. I am much more sanguine than you, for example, about the environment, because the overall trends are strongly positive. Humans have solved each new environmental challenge through our limitless ingenuity. Climate change is happening, obviously: they used to sail ice boats on the Hudson every winter. But we can adapt or reverse it through bold interventions that are currently being studied by our best engineers, and it seems premature (and somewhat histrionic) to write off the species based on predictions of planetary conditions cataclysmically worsening.

    One heartening phenomenon: petroleum exporters are currently reducing prices to de-incentivize the rush to improve solar and wind technology, and thereby stave off mass implementation of renewables, in a probably futile attempt to save their cash cow. But what a good thing for the rest of us: gasoline is insanely cheap, meaning that we all get a windfall, and can afford to buy things, pumping money into the economy. I just bought a new car that really zooms and gets lousy gas mileage but I don’t care, and the quality of my life has improved. Soon, I may not even need to drive at all, because my car will know how to do that. Hundred of hours each year will be freed up for me to spend expressing myself by posting comments on your blog (uh-oh).

    Richard, there is really only one problem that we seem unable to solve, and that is group hatreds that really do impede progress and threaten our survival. We are awash in vitriol and recrimination, with hundreds of millions of people now seeking revenge for treatment that appears (to them) grossly unfair. The wars and extreme degradations now being perpetrated on innocent Muslims in the Middle East are spawning a generation of suicidal young men and women intent on justice, with no future prospects and nothing to lose. The humiliation of Arabs in Palestine has spread, predictably, into the rest of the Ummah, as we were warned by our wise men, whose advice we ignored (Eisenhower, Einstein, Forrestal, etc. ) America has been tricked into complicity, through public relations intended to confuse uneducated voters, and now we are all targets of the righteous wrath of those with justifiable grievances around the world. This is the only real impediment to a golden age of prosperity, abundance and incremental progress toward universal justice that I can see, and it has to be reversed, or we really could all perish. Islam is a venerable, humane institution, and all 1.6 billion adherents have been defamed and injured by a tiny group of 25% of Jews intent on hiding their crimes while increasing their profits, while the other 75% refuse to believe the sad (and obvious) truth about their nasty, clueless brethren in the settlements and yeshivas.

    Tragically, just 20 years ago we seemed on an irreversible trajectory onward and upward, with Clintonian surpluses as far as the eye could see. Now, our energies and resources have been redirected to the insane project of convincing Muslims to repudiate and reject their religion, ignore the insults of Jewish desecration of their sacred places, or die at our hands or in our Inquisitor torture chambers. How much simpler to just disallow any future US funding of the Crusader state we have unwittingly created, including tax exempt contributions that rewards the worst Price Tag violence. This will kill two birds: we can show 1.6 billion Muslims that we don’t hate them simply for being Muslim, while making for lots of great footage of newly impoverished Jews traipsing onto ships trying to emigrate….where?
    Best,
    Walker

    • Gene Schulman January 1, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

      Walker,

      I can’t tell whether your tongue is in your cheek, or you are just plain naive. Whichever, your optimism is just so misplaced. Good luck with your Clintonian surpluses. They all went to the banks. Dream on.

      • Richard Falk January 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

        Gene:

        I feel you are too quick to diss those that find reasons to be hopeful about some aspects of the human condition.
        Walker’s intelligent assessments may differ from yours, but they deserve respect I feel. We can also be wrong in our
        negativity. Who would have predicted Nelson Mandela’s release from 27 years in a South African prison? I was in South
        Africa prior to such a transformative moment, and no one, regardless of political orientation, anticipated such a development.
        We all need to nurture humility when we contemplate the future. Best for the whole of 2016!

      • Laurie Knightly January 1, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

        Re Walker: He’s being facetious not feces – ious, albeit difficult these days without a disclaimer. And yes, Clinton increased the debt but not the budget. Had he applied the ‘surplus’ to the debt, twould look somewhat different. Doubt the budget reflected the actual costs…….

  11. rehmat1 January 1, 2016 at 9:10 pm #

    A good advice from Rabbi Allen S. Maller: “The strong support that Qur’an gives to religious pluralism is a lesson that is sorely needed by the religious fundamentalists of all religions in the world today.”

    http://rehmat1.com/2016/01/02/rabbi-maller-islam-is-religion-of-tolerance/

  12. Jack Graham January 5, 2016 at 2:57 pm #

    Man-made Global warming? There is no scientific consensus. In fact, the overwhelming weight of informed scientific opinion says that there is no abnormal climate change, least of all anything bad caused by man. Science with good will is not a matter of getting on a bandwagon with other bleeding hearts. Science is a matter of honest investigation of facts, disregarding all political pressures. We have so many real problems in this world that we dare not create fake problems too. Go to the Heartland Institute website for starters. Unless you have the facts in hand, good will is not a good thing, but dangerous foolishness. We saw no hockey stick in 1995-2015. There was no ice-free arctic in 2013. There has been no significant satellite-measured change in global temperature for twenty years. We have more polar ice now than for many years. Snap out of it, people!. This chicken little crisis reminds me of water fluoridation. I went to court three times, cross-examined the top experts in the world, won historic judicial findings in three States that water fluoridation causes cancer,, and the union of scientists at the USEPA found that the judges were right, then reported to Congress. In fact, since the USPHS started pushing it, water fluoridation has caused or promoted a million cancer death in the USA. If you don’t believe me, write me, and I will give you send you material you haven’t read. Global arming and climate change are “déjà vu all over again,” — government-sponsored quack science, pushed by bureaucrats and politicians up to no good. Only this time, the objective is one-world government run by money lenders behind the scenes. Write or call me if you dare, — John Remington Graham of the Minnesota Bar (#3664X), 418-888-5049, jgraham@novicomfusion.com .

    • Richard Falk January 5, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

      I welcome views that run counter to mine, but the evidence of global warming seems to the great
      majority of climate experts to be overwhelming, and exhibited in all sorts of secondary symptoms
      (frequency of extreme weather incidents, melting of glaciers, mean temperatures in Africa and
      the Middle East, rising sea levels, acidification). The fact that there have been hyped dangers in
      the past does not inform us about the prudent behavior given the best evidence with respect to
      climate change.

  13. Patricia Lombroso February 10, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    Dear Richard,I just read today feb10 your splendid thoughts for the new year ,and your questions of lost humanization versus destruction of human species is present in the horrors I see everywhere with no mercy and lot of creaking and cracking as Auden ‘poem in the world to a question basic to me .WHERE IS THIS CHAOS LEADING TO AND THE OUTCOME,.warmest greetings patricia lombroso

    • Richard Falk February 10, 2016 at 5:52 pm #

      Dear Patricia: So good to receive your affirming words. Yes, it is a testing time
      for the species, and the outlook is not positive at present. Hope your life flourishes.
      Will you be around NYC when I visit for a few days in March? warmest best, Richard

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