Category Archives: Wisdom

There is a better Way


I want to end this series on the paranoid elites trying to hunker down in a missile silo on a happier note. It is not all doom.

In the 60s and 70s Stewart Brand, now a Silicon Valley sage, owned the “Whole Earth Catalog.” It attracted a large and loyal cult following as it blended hippie-dippy advice with the technical. I loved their motto: “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.”. Brand experimented with survivalism but abandoned it.  Ultimately, he found it did not make sense. Things based on unreasonable fears seldom make sense. Evan Osnos described him in his current situation this way,

“At seventy-seven, living on a tugboat in Sausalito, Brand is less impressed by signs of fragility than by examples of resilience. In the past decade, the world survived, without violence, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression; Ebola, without cataclysm; and, in Japan, a tsunami and nuclear meltdown, after which the country has persevered. He sees risks in escapism. As Americans withdraw into smaller circles of experience, we jeopardize the “larger circle of empathy,” he said, the search for solutions to shared problems. “The easy question is, how do I protect me and mine? The more interesting question is, What if civilization actually manages continuity as well as it has managed it for the past few centuries? What do we do if it just keeps on chugging?”


As it has so often in the past, America is being pushed and pulled at the same time particularly by the extremes of left and right.  On the one  hand there are people like survivalists, neo-liberals, and their political puppets who have shredded all of their fellow feeling in order to fill their bags with as much money as possible. On the other hand,  are some genuine whackos on the left as well.  Yet there are the kinder gentler souls who see a better way, but seem to be increasingly crushed by the more vocal and bellicose camps. I don’t know who will win this battle, but I care. I hope that America (and with Canada dragging along behind) comes to its senses and abandons this philosophy of fear. Fear is all right but it must be managed. Don’t let it get unreasonable. When it gives way to panic we have to realize that smart decisions will no longer be made. We must abandon panic; we must embrace critical thinking and fellow feeling. If we can do that then we will survive. If we are unable to do that, we will sink into the mire, or worse. And we will deserve it.

We must remember: there is a better way. We may need to meander to find it, but its there.


The Tragedy of Macbeth


This is a film that all would be tyrants should watch.


This play is nearly 500 years old, but is clearly still relevant.  This is the perfect time to watch this film or read the play. In these times when we see tyrants challenging freedom we should turn to Macbeth for spiritual nourishment. Macbeth, like so much of Shakespeare can drizzle wisdom on us in our hour of need.


Early in the play, the 3 weird sisters, or witches ask us to “all  hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king.”  Remind you of anyone? Then we are told “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” Is that not the 21st century?


This is also the land of untruth. For as honest Banquo tells us:


“The instruments of darkness tell us truths,

Win us with honest trifles, to betray us

In deepest consequence.”


I immediately felt at home in the black and white colour of the film, with ominous black birds alarmingly in the sky.


Lady Macbeth the Putin master of the story tries to guide Macbeth the prize of kingship:


“Yet I do fear thy nature;

It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness

To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great;

Art not without ambition; but without

The illness should attend it: what you wouldst highly

That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,

And yet would wrongly win”


Like the little general from Moscow, Macbeth is filled with “vaulting ambition” and that, as we know, leads straight to pain and sorrow.  She urges Macbeth to “look like the innocent flower; but be the serpent under it.” These are the men with whom we are entirely familiar. And the man who would be king knows what he must do. He must not only commit foul acts he must also must ensure that “False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” Welcome to the 21st century.


In the Scotland of Macbeth, like the Ukraine of Zelensky “the earth was feverous and did shake” and as all good despots know, “Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.” And “Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.”

Yet the real question, the same question Shakespeare asks of Macbeth, and we ask of Putin, what is the point of this all?  Why? Tyrants must “be bloody bold and resolute” but for what end.? In the end Macbeth is described this way: “now does he fell his title hang loose upon him, like a giant’s robe upon a dwarfish thief.”  Who can doubt that our modern dwarfish thief will not look any more regal? And who can doubt that in the end the tyrant will be forced to acknowledge, at least if he is open to the terrible truth, as Macbeth was, that this is profoundly true:


“Tomorrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.”


I so wish the Putins of the world had read deeply of Shakespeare. The world would be so different.