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Dec 11 2009

Will to Live … Fight to Die

by John Immel (click here for MP3 Audo)

In the first week of December 2009, I found out that a woman I know died. The papers declared it a “non-suspicious death” found under a bridge. My contacts in Law Enforcement said this is code for suicide by hanging. She was 40 and beautiful, and two kids and two grand kids. The news took my breath away. The words hit my heart like a hammer. To this minute, the reality twists inside: a knotted, ugly thing.

I knew her well and understood her thinking and grasped the core of her thoughts. Indeed, we talked at length about her thoughts, ideas, and deeply-held beliefs. In moments of transparency, she read me her poetry. The words and rhythm and meter were crafted together, sonnets to psychic pain that questioned her moral clarity to live: intimate songs with verses of despair, counterpointed with a refrain of hope.

Of course, I asked the whys and wherefores of her actions. What else was there to do? How could it have been prevented? The what ifs and the woulda, shoulda, coulda. And, of course, there are a thousand “it depends” answers.

There were hard parts to her life, but many other people have suffered worse. There were patches of profound injustice. But at 40, she could have enforced her own righteous standards. In the human life equivalencies game, she was neither the worst Schleprock nor the most extraordinary Midas without the curse. Like everyone, she lived on that endless relative slide rule of good and bad: a culmination of personal choices, ill fortune, injustice, and blessing.

But the reality is this does not matter because the cause and effect of her actions are not external. The cause and effect of her actions are internal, the product of specific ideas integrated into a whole that demanded action. And ideas always demand action.

Ideas by themselves are powerful. But ideas that fit together to make a philosophical whole, a prevailing worldview-those integrated Ideas are the most powerful forces on the planet. Every THING and every ONE becomes a tool in service to the philosophical ends. Philosophy is the power to create life or destroy it. Philosophy is the power to make war, or create peace. Philosophy is the blunt force behind evil and the driving energy of good. Philosophy is the force of human existence and the governing supremacy of God’s Covenants of Promise. Philosophy is the power to rule the world.

What were her integrated ideas? Said bluntly, hers was a philosophy of war. There is nothing accidental or hapless about self-termination. Suicide is an act of warfare. It is the intentional effort to wage combat on life: to strike back at what has become the source of pain directly and commit violence against all others indirectly.

And like all war, suicide is the culmination of specific ideas. All wars are fought over the logical progression of specific thoughts: the bombs and guns and blood-soaked hills merely the logical extension. And so it is with suicide: the rope, or razor, or auto exhaust, is merely the tool of ideological ends.

As I said in the Gospel according to John Immel Chapter 3: 1-3: All people act logically from their assumptions. It doesn’t matter how irrational the ideas or insane the rationale, they will act until the logic is fulfilled. Therefore, find the assumptions and you will find the cause.

So the real answer to the questions-the whys and wherefores of suicide-are found in understanding the elements, the parts of philosophical self-destruction.

Some might suggest that the cause was despair, because despair is a theme in all suicides. That is true and noteworthy, but it is not the source, but rather a byproduct, the conclusion of ideas that shred the will to live.

What shreds the will to live? Finding the answer to that question requires looking into who we are in context to the world we inhabit.

In the beginning, God…ordered chaos. He took the formless and shapeless and gave it substance and order. Every act of creation was an act of ordering, and every act of ordering was an act of work. His most intimate work, the work that he touched with his hands, was a Son in His image and likeness. To this Son, He gave the charge “Be fruitful and multiply. Rule and subdue the earth.

God created Man to do exactly what He had done: order chaos.  He charged man with this command: Rule and Subdue.  What is true for God is also true for Man: every act of creation is an act of ordering; every act of ordering is an act of work.

To our horrific disservice, the Garden of Eden and life within has been portrayed as some variation of idyllic, stress less, Utopia: a place where naive Adam frolicked with naked wife and ate grapes at leisure. As a result, people live their entire lives with this worklessness as their goal, as if God’s highest blessing is a state of sated inaction. This archetype is so potent that entire economic philosophies are built on its framework, and historic Church doctrines are based on this disastrous conjecture.

Nothing could be further from the truth. From man’s inception, he was given the command to work. The short list of specific work was tending the Garden. Beyond his agricultural duties, Adam was charged to multitask and name the animals. And in both instances, Adam was the beneficiary of his work: prospering from the fruit of the Garden and finding a mate. The work product was entirely self-serving, with no command to share. And last on the list was the general command to rule and subdue the whole world. Notice God commanded an outcome with the execution to be self-directed. Adam had a God-given global vision: a job that was supposed to bring order to the unruly, and conquer the un-subdued in the entire world.

The subsequent mess started with Adam’s failure to understand the implications of individuality by failing to respect private property. In beings whose existence is defined by work, there is no individuality without private property because all creations are a product of work. Work is a result of self. So relationship is impossible without respect for private property. God took the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from His home and planted it in Adam’s backyard. The fruits of those trees were the product of God’s work. That was God’s property.

Here is the “original” sin: Adam coveted. He wanted the unearned.

Whatever the content of the lie that inspired the action, Adam’s eating of the tree was an act of theft, a betrayal of individual trust. And the motive within the action made his eating an act of war. In that moment, Adam was born from life to death, entering solidarity with God’s adversary; an enemy that started a cosmic rebellion against the author of life. This rebellion birthed Adam into unity with “He who had the power of Death.” Man, now bound to Death, was in danger of living forever if he but ate of the Tree of Life. God’s act of mercy drove the cosmic rebel from the Garden of Eden so that he could never condemn himself to eternal disintegration, an eternity of unending degradation.

Relatively speaking, the Garden of Eden was a safe haven from the prevailing earthly chaos. So, outside its bounds, man is thrust into the hostile, chaotic world he was commanded to order. But now there is a serious problem. The earth would not obey. Adam’s words fell on creation’s deaf ears, and the only thing he could produce consistently was sweat and toil, toil, toil.

This is important. Contrary to erroneous historic church doctrine, work was not the curse. The curse was toil. The curse was Man working for the sake of itself and producing nothing that prospered him. The curse was man ordering chaos and achieving no order. The curse was man working to create and giving birth to corruption and death. This should give scope and understanding to God’s warning: “… you shall surely die?”

Life is an awesome power manifest by focus and intention and proclamation. Born of blood and screaming, we enter the world to utter our own cries, our own defiant statement: feed me, fill me, warm me, I want to live. We are creatures defined by work, securing our identity through the organization of the world around. A child’s work is play: a practice of the ordering and ruling to come. We stake our claim to life with our first toy making the Emperors’ decree: MINE!  Our first brush with injustice: the moment Barbie or Ken is ripped from our indignant fingers by marauding toddler forces. Our first declaration of war is delivered to resist property annexation. Barely old enough to speak, we implicitly know that taking property is an individual violation.

If we are fortunate, Mother and Father Allied Forces land at Normandy and enforce the moral foundations of justice as they retrieve hostage Ken doll and impose territorial sovereignty. If we are profoundly unfortunate, Mother and Father put on the NATO blue hats of “peace” keepers preaching endlessly of sharing, and selfishness, and the moral equivalencies of the Ken doll Have-Nots pillaging the Malibu Barbie bourgeois.

And so begins our induction into the collective and the implicit source of human psychological conflict.

We were created to overcome a hostile and chaotic world. Within our very DNA is the requisite ambition, drive, and desire to live and thrive in the face of the Divine Challenge: “Be Fruitful and Multiply. Rule and Subdue the Earth.” Everything on this planet was put here to challenge God’s sons and daughters in a grand dance of creation, an ongoing manifestation of ruling and subduing. One cannot be a candy ass and live in this hostile chaotic world. And to fulfill God’s command, one must be a low-swinging hombre of faith and intention; possessing an unapologetic will to live, and an undeterred expectation to be obeyed.

What turns a creature of God’s caliber into a Wuss? What turns an unapologetic will to live into a fight to die?

The answer is the lifelong, relentless physical and philosophical assault on individual value.

The lessons start young and to most parents seem essential and righteous. You are selfish. You must share. You must not hit. You must not want. You must not compete. You must not have ambition. Highlighting these parental exhortations as failings might seem ridiculous in light of broader life lessons, but the psychic pain has already started. Man must be talked out of freedom. The best way to achieve that goal is guilt, and most parents lead with the time-tested tyrannies that drove them to the collective conformity of family. The ambition to rule and subdue is embattled by the overt philosophical standard that proclaims individuality is fundamentally evil.

Affirm the family lessons in school and in church by eradicating justice-declare all work product fair game for all takers.

Add the overt actions of a Stepfather that pimps out his daughter to his friends, and a mother that says, “You’re not the only girl to have sex with her father. Get over it!” This magnifies the reality that there is no justice because there is no place where the individual is safe. The individual can be exploited at will.

Then fill the mind with doctrines that trivialize justice as a selfish desire for retribution. Indoctrinate the soul with the sick, insane ideology that true love holds no standard and true forgiveness can seek no vindication.

Pile on the philosophical world view that man is wretched and worth nothing more than God’s justifiable damnation.

Inject into the veins the teaching that spiritual life hinges on a proper understanding of internalized despair.

The cherry on top of this spiritually tyrannical dessert is the curse of toil, and the only thing left to do is dig a grave. Nothing grates on a soul more than failing and failing and failing and failing to order the world around him. Nothing makes a soul want to lie down and die more than feeling helpless in the face of chaos.

Don’t miss the lesson by casually dumping suicide off on self-pity.

There probably is some self-pity, but that explanation totally misses the profound moral declarations, the logical conclusion of all those life lessons, the exquisitely precise cause and effect relationship that prompts people to take up arms against SELF.

These are the basics of individual destruction: lead with Unearned Guilt, Abolish Ambition, and Multiply Injustice. These rudiments destroy moral clarity to live and are the rich soil for Unrestrained Chaos to break apart the bedrock of will. Indoctrinated Despair performs the Coup de Grace. This perfect storm of philosophical Self-loathing brews in the nooks and crannies of a person’s life until they no longer have the will to resist the obvious conclusion: you don’t deserve to live because the sum of you is evil. This is what makes a person, a people, a nation take up arms against the endless barrage of dehumanizing ideas and actions. In a final-twisted-act of individuality, they take the only “creative” action they think they can. They act logically from the moral clarity of their assumptions.

This…is what makes a beautiful woman of 40, with kids and grandkids, question her will to live and make her fight to die.

The only difference between this woman and most others holding the same philosophical assumptions is she, in her own warped way, had the courage to carry her assumptions to their inevitable conclusion. All of those elements above drive to one inescapable destination.

Check your philosophy. Does it affirm your will to live, or make you fight to die?

*    *    *

 

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    1. 6
      Joe

      Some great points there John. as for barbarism, it depends who is doing the talking. Read Orientalism by Edward Said to describe how deeply we in the West look at the East (the Oriental, non-Western ) through a lens that distorts, and its  intellectual progression through history. Also read George Sioui, For an Amerindian Autohistory. After this book, you will seriously reevaluate the depth of the intellectual carnage, as well as redefine a few stereotypes. I did, and when I saw the level of deception perpetuated by Euro-US philosophers, I  was shaken to the core. Also, how do we negotiate this tension you refer to? Good point.  I suggest that consent is an under-explored but deeply meaningful place. The challenge is to ‘limit liberty’ in ways that are consensual, dignified of history. Paternalism needn’t be negative. In Canada, the original treaties were consensual, based upon equality, co-dependence. read John Borrows, Wampum at Niagara. ( an article) to see this.  But after the war of 1812, everything changed up here. THE PBS SERIES WILL SHOW THIS EVOLUTION.
      I welcome your insights because, believe it or not, very few people are willing to think deeply about these issues so as to connect the dots historically and see this as an issue of historic justice. That is my humble gooal, and frankly, it is international discussion and spans 500 years of encounter. The implications of this discussion impact how natives are going about to revive their own histories and cultures today as they negotiate with governments and society.
      Anyways, I will leave it at that for now. I look forward to a deepening discussion. My goal is to write a book that links Christianity, natives and this historical progression.
      Blessings

    2. 7
      John Immel

      Joe…

      You and I saw very similar things during the introduction to the Olympics.  Interesting… 

      John Ralston Saul’s comments are classic collectivist dogma used to rewrite and redefine social standards in the mad quest that inevitably becomes the tyranny of socialism/fascism/despotism.

      The evolution of what has been called Christian Government has produced stunning tyranny largely due to the Platonist/Augustinian assumptions that have so infused our minds.

      But what is unarguable: there are specific Bible ideas, that are easy to understand without too much interpretive assistance, which stand opposed to the oppression based in despotism.  For this reason, collectivists must, with impunity, vilify the origins of a nation’s ‘Christian’ roots.

      America and Canada as nations  could not exist without two very specific philosophical assumptions:  Radical Monotheism and Rational Effectiveness. I discuss rational effectiveness in Consciousness.  The import of the last five of the Ten Commandments cannot be understated.   Indeed Aristotle’s A is A is a direct appeal to: “thou shalt not bear false witness.”

      But the last five commands are subordinate to the first five: the correct orientation of the   cosmos to God and the cosmos to Man.   This is the foundation for man’s orientation towards fellow men.

      Radical Monotheism makes the modern world possible.  I have yet to address this concept because I have yet to find and interesting way to introduce the ideas without waxing tedious and Professor-ish.  Before Monotheism, man treated EVERYTHING like a god… distant, mysterious, unknowable, unfathomable, un-violate-able, and appeasable.

      Without the demythologizing nature with Radical Monotheism, modern science, rationalism, and current philosophical ideology is not possible.

      I want you to notice how often the multicultural theme has at its root an advocacy to return to some form of Polytheism.   The endless tide of collectivist propaganda seeks to denigrate monotheism in a mad dash back to the implicit oppression of some mythical, idyllic “primitive” Utopian existence where man lives in harmony with the great spirits of the universe.   This mythology falls apart in light of Radical Monotheism that places man as sovereign OVER creation with the specific stewardship of ordering chaos.

      Modern man has not even begun to know hardship and tyranny until we revert to the ancient ideologies, where the gods need appeased with blood sacrifice.  (and we are starting to knock on that door)

      This specific conversation needs expanded much. This mad dash to polytheism is growing with frightening speed as the most recent movie Avatar abundantly illustrates: as Art precedes the way, or as Francis Schaeffer said: “Artists are a culture’s little prophets.”

      John Ralston Saul’s commentary has an insidious goal… to make a moral equivalency of cultural philosophies: and specifically to elevate “collectivist” ideology and denigrate individualistic ideology.

      You are right: the content of this SPECIFIC conversation has vast implications for all people and one must ask the question: “Why has Christianity so often been on the forefront of despotism in light of its specific appeal to liberty and freedom?”

      That is a sub-theme of this blog.

      I am picking my way through historic documents now to find the threads that illustrate how the   Lutheran Church in the Weimar Republic could have been the leading advocate of Chancellor Adolf to unravel that very question.

      Look forward to hearing more from you.  And I am gonna hunt down that series you recommend. 

    3. 8
      Joe

      You got me thinking John and thats good. I certainly want to listen carefully.

      I was raised as a conservative charismaniac Christian but I couldnt deal with the manicheistic thinking in most Christian circles that we are heirs to a determined, right and wrong, binary, perfection seeking, cradle to grave ideology that puts man over creation. A view that dismissed non Western worldviews in one sentence, particularly along with their their politics, health, sense of land, etc. We couldnt trust them with christianity. we see them only through a lens of social impulse and evangelism..

      As for the land and nature, as a metis person struggling to explore his roots, I have no desire to worship it. I just see it somewhat more holistically now. its not romantic, religious, or even environmental ( as important as that is) its more about stewardship, and conduct, responsibility.

      In canada we have a 300 year old term thats called honor of the Crown.. When it comes down to it, Frankly, it just irks me that most western institutions have bought into a European monolithic, written, utilitarian, linear contractual approach where we think we can know the truth and the past can be discovered..we use history to prove our rightnesss. Actually, its more about power, control, creating in-groups. the closest Ive ever come to seeking a balance is reading the writings of E stanley Jones. He was reviled by evangelical thinkers, because applying the Kingdom of God was more holistic to him, and how he approached his missionary endeavors to india. Jones notably fostered the Indian Ashram in small group settings, engaging mutual conversation about the Indian (non-western) culture without prejudging them. I find that his words resonate more deeply than ever amidst my passion for my own wounded Métis culture and history.

      Here is Stanley Jones’ words in conclusion.
      “Every nation has a peculiar contribution to make to the interpretation of Christianity. The Son of man is too great to be expressed by any one portion of humanity. Those that differ from us most will probably contribute most to our expression of Christianity.” — E. Stanley Jones , The Christ of the Indian Road, p. 204.

      Here here.
      The PBS website is
      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain/
      You can watch it online!

    4. 9
      Joe

      You got me thinking John and thats good. I certainly want to listen carefully.

      I was raised as a conservative charismaniac Christian but I couldnt deal with the manicheistic thinking in most Christian circles that we are heirs to a determined, right and wrong, binary, perfection seeking, cradle to grave ideology that puts man over creation. A view that dismissed non Western worldviews in one sentence, particularly along with their their politics, health, sense of land, etc.  We couldnt trust them with christianity. we see them only through a lens of social impulse and evangelism..

      As for the land and nature, as a metis person struggling to explore his roots, I have no desire to worship it. I just see it somewhat more holistically now. its not romantic, religious, or even environmental ( as important as that is) its more about stewardship, and conduct, responsibility.

      In canada we have a 300 year old term thats called honor of the Crown.. When it comes down to it, Frankly, it just irks me that most western institutions have bought into a European monolithic, written, utilitarian, linear contractual approach where we think we can know the truth and the past can be discovered..we use history to prove our rightnesss. Actually, its more about power, control, creating in-groups. the closest Ive ever come to seeking a balance is reading the writings of E stanley Jones. He was reviled by evangelical thinkers, because applying the Kingdom of God was  more holistic to him, and how he approached his missionary endeavors to india. Jones notably fostered the Indian Ashram in small group settings, engaging mutual conversation about the Indian (non-western) culture without prejudging them.  I find that his words resonate more deeply than ever amidst my passion for my own wounded Métis culture and history.

      Here is Stanley Jones’ words in conclusion.
      “Every nation has a peculiar contribution to make to the interpretation of Christianity. The Son of man is too great to be expressed by any one portion of humanity. Those that differ from us most will probably contribute most to our expression of Christianity.” — E. Stanley Jones , The Christ of the Indian Road, p. 204.

      Here here.
      The PBS website is
      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain/
      You can watch it online!

       

    5. 10
      John Immel

      Hmmmm…

      Of course, as an American, consent is an essential premise to the role of Government. However, it is not THE starting place.  A number of agreements must be in place before we can get the point of consent.

      What happens when those executing barbaric practices refuse?

      Some (African Muslim) tribes practice clitoridectomy.  The cultural logic being offered is if women do not have sexual gratification, they will be more pure and not commit adultery. So at the age of puberty, they hold a girl down and remove the offending body part.  This practice has a ‘valid’ rationalism for those who embrace the practice and they resist any effort to arrest their actions.  But the practice is barbaric, a horrific violation of a young woman.

      Are those practicing female mutilation for the express purpose of marital fidelity correct? Of course not. There are other methods and philosophical foundations that end infidelity.  But until the practice is arrested and those methods and ideas inculcated into the culture… the practice continues. The culture will never consent because they see the actions as the rationalization of their internal values.

      In America, now this is at the core of our greatest cultural and ethnic struggle: sub-cultures that want to exempt themselves from CONSENT when they want a given cultural expression exempted from social penalty.  When this happens, law becomes meaningless. The social contract is nothing more than pressure groups forcing other groups by the power government monopoly to put up with their specific dispensation for as possible.  The result is chaos and the United States is reaping that whirlwind.

      >Shrug<

      This is a dynamic tension.  This is not a one or the other answer.  Somewhere in here are principles … but at the moment, I’m not clear how to lay them out.  I know it starts with the most rudimentary value: sovereign individuality.  Past that point, I’m a bit fuzzy.

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