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H2O Man

(74,300 posts)
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 12:35 PM Jul 2015

The Rudderless Voyage

“The question remains the same. It is a crisis of sanity first of all. The problems of nations are the problems of mentally deranged people, but magnified a thousand times because they have the full, straight-faced approbation of a schizoid society, schizoid national structures, schizoid military and business complexes, and, need one add, schizoid religious sects. ‘We are at war with ourselves,’ said Coomaraswamy, ‘and therefore and therefore at war with one another’.”
-- Thomas Merton; Gandhi on Non-Violence; New Directions; 1964; page 3.

One of the distinct advantages of chronic pain is that it allows one to spend hours reading, rather than sleeping. This includes everything from books to articles and discussions on the internet. This seems a more valuable investment of one’s time, I believe, than watching television. Hence, last night, after the last of my friends on “face book” had nestled in for a long summer’s nap, I read more OP/threads on DU than I normally do.

The last friend that I was conversing with is a former co-worker, who now lives and works in Ithaca. She started our conversation by expressing her concerns about how a growing segment of the US population is using “religion” as the vehicle to justify hatred of those who are different from themselves. The violent undercurrents -- along with the violent outbursts that we witness every day in the news -- upsets her. And justifiably so.

Throughout much of the (relatively) recent history of humanity, empires have risen and fallen. I suspect that the bitter divisions between groups and individuals -- included the US’s foreign relations, nationally, and in each of our home towns -- is merely a symptom of the decay of our empire. Thus, the Donald Trumps are panicked by barbarians at the gate, unaware that they are but barbarians dressed in three-piece suits, inside the closed gates of their minds.

Such closed minds always seek to identify themselves as distinct from others. They are invested in the status they imagine makes them special. Americans are divided into economic classes; they are black, brown, red, yellow, or white; male or female; Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic, or atheist; democrat or republican; northerners or southerners; and on and on and on.

In theory, everyone on DU, for example, speaks English; yet our ability to communicate has been fractured by our differences, and splintered by the hostilities that exist, even among what -- again, in theory -- is supposed to be a liberal/ progressive community. Yet the discussions -- or, more accurately, arguments -- about who can use what words, or what groups have the authority (or lack there of) to discuss what topic, is surely the same confusion described in the ancient fable about the features common to the fall of empire, known as the Tower of Babel.

Merton described a rudderless ship on an un-chartered journey. We have thousands of oarsmen, each rowing in their own direction, each advocating for the selection in 2016 of the captain who points in their direction.

I think that I’ll spend today out at my pond. I’ll bring Merton’s book on Gandhi, for some light reading. And I’ll feed the fish and birds, and watch my dog play. In the past week, I’ve seen some interesting wild life while out there: a grey fox venturing down on of the mowed paths, and a bald eagle flying above the near-by stream. No matter how many times I see bald eagles, I’m always amazed by them.

Enjoy this day!
-- H2O Man

27 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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The Rudderless Voyage (Original Post) H2O Man Jul 2015 OP
The Tower of Babel is indeed what this is! haikugal Jul 2015 #1
Blerym blerym. ananda Jul 2015 #4
Grack!! haikugal Jul 2015 #5
It's in the H2O Man Jul 2015 #6
Same here...even the flies are sitting in the shade! nt haikugal Jul 2015 #8
It looks like H2O Man Jul 2015 #10
Oh no, not the Butternut tree! haikugal Jul 2015 #12
There is a large H2O Man Jul 2015 #13
It probably is the Mother Tree...we have Mother Trees here as well. haikugal Jul 2015 #16
Beautiful! H2O Man Jul 2015 #19
It's heaven... haikugal Jul 2015 #21
Even Democracy requires a Captain. Octafish Jul 2015 #2
Thanks! H2O Man Jul 2015 #7
I hope you feel better soon. Uncle Joe Jul 2015 #3
Thanks, Uncle Joe! H2O Man Jul 2015 #9
I think a lot of us would like to join you by that pond... fadedrose Jul 2015 #11
You would all H2O Man Jul 2015 #14
I've enjoyed knowing you. You're a breath of fresh air. mmonk Jul 2015 #18
Of all the Good People H2O Man Jul 2015 #20
Sometimes we do seem to be without a rudder... kentuck Jul 2015 #15
Being old and grumpy, H2O Man Jul 2015 #17
We all get that way from time to time... kentuck Jul 2015 #22
That post requires a Pale Blue Dot Video Uncle Joe Jul 2015 #24
Reading DU RobertEarl Jul 2015 #23
Another excellent post malaise Jul 2015 #25
I increasingly try to imagine a scenario where America remains an "intact" country past-mid century villager Jul 2015 #26
Kick!!! Faux pas Jul 2015 #27


(6,476 posts)
1. The Tower of Babel is indeed what this is!
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 12:51 PM
Jul 2015

My refuge is our stream where I commune with nature. I also see many interesting animals, birds, insects and plants there. A snapping turtle not long ago that was so interested in the dog it sat in the flowing water with his head above water to look. A spotted fawn who came out of the foliage on the opposite bank, waded upstream and exited again into the woods, beautiful creature.

The Great Blue Herrons flying overhead while their mates and young 'grack' greetings.


Thanks for this!

H2O Man

(74,300 posts)
6. It's in the
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 03:31 PM
Jul 2015

mid-90s today, and rather humid. Most of the wild life is laying low. Even my dog is resting ....he made a spot for himself where a small amount of water is running out of a spring. There's a large bush there, giving him shade.

H2O Man

(74,300 posts)
10. It looks like
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 03:54 PM
Jul 2015

a thunder storm is beginning to move in here. We've had a couple with high winds this past month, that have taken a number of my trees down. One was a huge butternut tree. I imagine that there's enough firewood with that one, to last my sister more than a year.(I tease her about coming here to help my younger son cut it up. He likes to use the old saws -- no chain saws for him -- along with various axes. Good exercise for a young boxer.)


(6,476 posts)
12. Oh no, not the Butternut tree!
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 04:06 PM
Jul 2015

Butternut makes nice lumber! I understand if it makes better training supplies for your boxer...lol.

Sorry to hear about your fall...my old knees just refuse sometimes. Who'd think stepping off of the tailgate would be an issue...the scabs on my knee say it is!

We have some big fur trees near our home that I hope will be able to weather strong winds...so far so good but I'm sure they will be tested in the future. I hope you get a cooling rain without more strong winds.

H2O Man

(74,300 posts)
13. There is a large
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 04:38 PM
Jul 2015

"trunk" of another long-dead butternut tree right beside where this one stood. It's been dead as long as I can remember, which goes well before I bought the place (two owners back). My children always referred to it as the living one's "mother." For the twenty years I've been here, it has been home to pileated woodpeckers They are fascinating birds.

The older tree is still standing. The holes they've carved into it are amazing. It overlooks my pond, fire-pit, and sweat lodge.


(6,476 posts)
16. It probably is the Mother Tree...we have Mother Trees here as well.
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 04:50 PM
Jul 2015

Many very large and tall sycamore trees, now festooned with large Heron nests. We found a lot of woodpecker, nuthatch and chickadee holes in the snags dotting the banks when we looked for them the other day. Snags stand unless they're widow makers around here.

I've often thought about making a sweat lodge...you sound as though you've made yourself a home away from home on your pond.

H2O Man

(74,300 posts)
19. Beautiful!
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 05:06 PM
Jul 2015

It sounds like you surround yourself with many of the treasures of the natural world. I love your descriptions of the birds.

I've grown up -- at least in terms of age -- with the lodge and related ceremonies. For the last few years, I had a few couples of young adults join me here for the sweat lodge. But, as young adults should, they've moved on ...in one case, a couple left for a year teaching in South Korea. But I assume that I'll see them again.

My house was a stage coach station, in the late 1700s through early 1800s (including a doctor's office, and a post office). Built just after the Revolutionary War. I've lived here longer than any previous resident. I'm giving the house & land to my children, as I can't keep up. And I don't need 16 rooms. (grin)

There's a one-room cabin out at the pond. My sons are getting it ready. (I almost said "helping me get it ready," but they are doing all the work!) No electricity, back to nature!


(6,476 posts)
21. It's heaven...
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 05:21 PM
Jul 2015

We keep about 3 or 4 acres for the horse and the rest is returning to nature. I'm very protective of it and the wildlife. Our house was one of the first build here in PA back when there were still native people here. It was the millers house with an undershot mill off the stream. My son lives in the house now and the property has been signed over to him. I live next door in a converted barn...now three bay garage with apt. above.

I also have a dream of spending my days on the stream in a tiny house of some kind.

I have enjoyed your posts for many years so if I gave you a little pleasure in my descriptions it pleases me.

I hope you continue to have young ones share your sweat lodge and your life...as well as the wild things!


(55,745 posts)
2. Even Democracy requires a Captain.
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 01:35 PM
Jul 2015

Unlike the US Navy, the position in a democratic republic is decided by election. Where she or he can steer the nation is decided by the rudder, the Constitution.

That's why this swab gets mad when pirates put their paws on the tiller (and their hands in the till). They've no business running the ship or discussing where it should head. Their sole interest is personal enrichment.

PS: Great to read you, H2O Man! Like the song goes: hope you feel better.

H2O Man

(74,300 posts)
7. Thanks!
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 03:42 PM
Jul 2015

My older daughter brought her boyfriend here the other day. She wanted to show him some of the waterfalls along the creek here. I ended up taking a rather hard fall .....and I noticed that rocks don't get any softer with age. Yikes!

For whatever reason, I thought that I felt better yesterday ....almost young and strong, even! (grin) Didn't listen to my younger daughter's warning. Oh, well!

Democracy indeed needs leadership, exactly as you note. Those who are to be recognized as leaders should be those who are the most selfless, and willing and able to do for the good of the group. Our society has lost its way, in that sense. Instead, we have parasites like the Bush family, and people of their ilk.

H2O Man

(74,300 posts)
9. Thanks, Uncle Joe!
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 03:50 PM
Jul 2015

I've been deemed 100% (physically) disabled since a violent auto wreck in June of 2001. (A fellow chatting on a cell phone failed to notice two stop signs and a red light; hit me at 55 mph; and rolled me into a third vehicle.) I still haven't fully adjusted to it. I even dream of being able to run, something I always took for granted. But, much surgery, and a couple years of physical therapy, and I can get around pretty well. There are surely those dealing with worse things.

I'm supposed to use a cane/ walking stick -- especially on uneven ground -- but am self-conscious in doing so in public situations. Hence, I've broken five bones in "falls" in recent years.

If nothing else, this gives me a good reason to NOT spar my younger son, a mighty hard punching young heavyweight. So there is a good side to everything! (grin)

H2O Man

(74,300 posts)
14. You would all
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 04:42 PM
Jul 2015

be most welcome! I've had the pleasure of meeting four DUers, and really enjoyed those opportunities. (I've spoke to a few others on the phone, and exchanged mail with a few more!)

We really should have a DU meet-up in upstate New York sometime. Make it a 3-day picnic/party in nature, so that it would be worthwhile for folks to travel whatever distances necessary to attend!


(52,589 posts)
18. I've enjoyed knowing you. You're a breath of fresh air.
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 05:06 PM
Jul 2015

My sons really liked meeting you as well and enjoyed that fracking town meeting (in Coventry I believe). I'll be in touch soon. Hope you feel better soon. Nature and reflection are good choices of what ails the body sometimes.

H2O Man

(74,300 posts)
20. Of all the Good People
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 05:08 PM
Jul 2015

here that I've come to know, I have the strongest connections to you. Look forward to talking with you soon!

H2O Man

(74,300 posts)
17. Being old and grumpy,
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 04:54 PM
Jul 2015

I noticed a lot of heated arguments about utter nonsense, when I was reading DU late last night and early today. I was, however, opting to read DU, which indicates that there is much here that I enjoy.

People should not limit themselves, to simply thinking in the context of one smaller group. Nor should they be too caught up in thinking, and fail to take meaningful actions. Because we really are one group, one race, and fully human. And this is our chance -- we each have so many turns riding this living entity, Earth, as it goes around the sun. But we are in a rough time in human history, and we really need people to be thoughtful and active. It's our turn. We really can make the world a better place.


(111,526 posts)
22. We all get that way from time to time...
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 05:30 PM
Jul 2015

...usually relating to our health, or lack thereof, and we feel the need to meditate a little...



(13,685 posts)
23. Reading DU
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 05:43 PM
Jul 2015

It pays to not read too much into what gets posted here. Not all are sailing the same voyage.

As with religions, not all religious are truly religious. And not all wounded birds are truly wounded.

It is nice to know you have such a family as you have and a place to call home. As the place, I am sure, is quite happy to have someone such as you to keep it entertained with your human ramblings.

The world, it seems, can't live with us humans, but it wouldn't be the same without us. Each has a part, and if one lives honestly and for the right reasons, then the voyage is pleasant for all aboard.

Long may the eagles fly!



(26,001 posts)
26. I increasingly try to imagine a scenario where America remains an "intact" country past-mid century
Sun Jul 19, 2015, 06:54 PM
Jul 2015

...given the climate (and therefore economic) upheavals that are coming.

i just can't.

Merton had it right about the psychoses, writ large, of great countries and empires.

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