5 Questions With My Answers

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This blog is in response to Doc’s blog, which I visit from time to time (probably more often now). Doc can be found in the instant messages section of my page. He’s the mailman. He sent me these five questions.

1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?


I would live on Vancouver Island, Canada, but I would probably need a time machine because I’ve been back a couple of times and it has changed. What follows is an abbreviated description of a past experience I had while visiting the island.

Vancouver Island—1969

Qualicum Falls was the first stop for this solitary hitch hiker—yours truly, and Jerry and Sherri.

The park, a masterpiece of Mother Nature, had two waterfalls, one large, one small, with crystalline pools of blue water at the bottom of each. The river cut large climbing steps into the bedrock that contained the churning whitewaters. Climbing down the rock steps that followed one after the other down the river, we passed through an enchanted forest where I half expected to see an elf or a fairy princess dart from behind one of the large pine trees. I wanted to spend more time in this place, but, alas, it was time to get back on the road again.

The next park we pulled into was also beautiful. It was a stand of 800-year-old Redwood trees called Cathedral Grove. Leaning against a tree so large that it felt like a wall instead of a curving tree trunk, we ate our lunch of wild blueberries and crusts of bread. Looking up into trees so tall the tops couldn’t be seen and then down at us, an elderly couple asked if our berries were fresh picked park berries. “They sure are,” replied Sherri. This couple had been touring the island and just returned from a place called Long Beach, a wilderness beach on the Pacific Ocean side of the island. The beach, according to the couple, was definitely worth seeing; the problem was getting there. The logging road to the beach cut across the mountainous center of the island and, according to the couple, was washed out in some places. I guess that’s why the beach was pretty much deserted. After a few more swigs of wine we were ready to go for it — Long Beach or bust.

The couple didn’t exaggerate about the road; it was in shambles, with large potholes approximately twenty feet apart and small potholes everywhere else. Our fastest speed was 25 mph. The challenge was just to keep moving. We had sixty miles or so of this highway in front of us, so patience became the word of the day. The slow pace gave me plenty of time to burn images of the breathtaking scenery into my memory. Our view of mountain vistas more than compensated for any abuse our bodies had to endure. I can’t speak for the van however.

As we circled, switchback like, through the mountains, sometimes looking down upon virgin stands of timber, sometimes looking up at snow capped peaks, I was filled with whatever fills your body and mind when you find yourself in beauty like this. I didn’t know what that something was, but I sure felt its power. We drove through a super thick cedar forest and over a mountain pass that opened up into a gorgeous vista view of the mountains. We passed many mountain streams, sometimes trickling, sometimes raining down the sides of mountains. The summer runoffs formed small, emerald green lakes in the high alpine valleys just below the peaks.

When we stopped to stretch our legs, I walked over to where water was cascading down from a large stone outcropping on the mountain face. The water was ice cold and crystal clear. Off to the side, I saw another stream trickling down from a more manageable overhang. This stream was flowing at drinking fountain velocity. Clinging to a boulder, my head cocked in full view of beautiful passing clouds, I became enlivened as mountain water poured into my mouth. Rock, sun, sky, forest, and snow filled my senses; this heightened sensitivity crystallized with each cool swallow of water. The whole experience left me with an overwhelming sense of being part of nature, a feeling I will not soon forget and hopefully, someday, be able to repeat. Getting back in the dusty van brought me down a bit, but the bump and grind of the road definitely put me back in touch with the fact that God’s gifts do not come cheap.

2. You’ve gotten a hold of some ‘bad liquor’ and wake up to find yourself in an old movie. What movie is it and which character are you? (and no, I’m not looking for Jimmy Stewart in ‘It’s a wonderful life’ – use your imagination).

Richard Nixon—A Quaker Of Distinction

This documentary would visit our 37 President’s Quaker upbringing while paying particular attention to Mr. Nixon’s “sharing” at the conclusion of the unprogrammed meetings that I am sure he must have attended. (I’m one of the attendees in the meeting not believing the hypocrisy I’m hearing.)

3. Our government has decided to lock up any one who’s name is Dave – just because they can do it now. The good thing is, you’re allowed to choose someone else to share your pen. Who would it be?

“The buck stops here guy” –most likely that would be the Commander in Chief, you know, the top honcho responsible for the injustice—he would be sharing the pen with me.

4. While browsing through a bookstore containing old editions of classic works, you stumble upon a very early version of H.G. Wells, “The Time Machine”. Upon opening it, you find yourself in a room with the machine. After admiring it for a moment, you sit in the seat and reach for the controls. Where do you set the date before setting your journey in motion?

Approximately 33 A.D., more specifically, I would set my Garden of Gethsemane arrival time at just after the apostles went to sleep and before Judas and the Roman Guard came for Jesus of Nazareth. I would give almost anything to talk to Jesus. I’m sure our discussion would be inspirational, informative, and devotional.

5. Many people feel that today’s schools do an inadequate job of teaching US and world history. Do you concur, and if so, what measures would you take to address this issue?

Please forgive my long-windedness (my answers), but I see the problem with education to be more encompassing than that. I believe today’s schools teach the continuation of the status quo and, for me, that is unacceptable. What follows is a quick account of the problem, and then I let Ken Wilber have the last word because I believe he is (from my reading at least) way ahead of the pack in moving toward a solution to the problem.

Science And Technology—The New Materialistic Faith

Thus The Guiding Principles Of Science And Commerce Came To Be Dictated By Entirely “Pragmatic” Concerns: Empiricism On The One Hand And “Improving The Bottom Line” On The Other, A Financial Dictum That Gave Rise To The Modern Economic Ethos Of “Unlimited Growth”

Excerpts From: Stranded In Flatland—A Critique of Education in Modern America Concluded [By David Fideler, Gnosis Magazine/Summer 1994]

{“Education” In A Two-Dimensional World

Intimately associated with the hierarchical view of traditional cosmology is the notion that Nature is a theophany, an emanation of the divine, the best possible image of divine reality within the confines of time and space. With the so-called Enlightenment, however, a linear, reductionistic, and materialistic view of the universe arose. For most people, this eclipsed the perennial vision of a multidimensional, hierarchical cosmos, in which the various levels of being are linked together by universal harmony and sympathy. All of a sudden, we were left stranded in Flatland. And within

[The term “Flatland” is taken from the title of the book by Edwin A. Abbott, first published in 1884. In Flatland he describes the existence of a two-dimensional world and the beings who live there. The book deals with the multiple dimensions of space and how three-dimensional objects appear to the limited perceptions of the two-dimensional beings. See E. A. Abbot, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (New York: Penguin, 1987]

the new, two-dimensional cosmos, Nature came to be seen not as an already perfect theophany, but as a “natural resource,” ready to be developed by human technology. Traditional cosmology had always approached the transformation of nature through art and consciousness in an alchemical sense, which implied a corresponding transformation of both individual and culture; the new approach, on the other hand, was dictated by exploitative, commercial motives.

The Enlightenment can be seen as a backlash against centuries of Christian repression of free intellectual inquiry. The Christian Church appropriated the hierarchical universe of traditional cosmology, but it did so with a political agenda, proclaiming itself the sole custodian of universal truth. Under the Church’s auspices, the path of philosophical inquiry was replaced with theological dogmatism, and politically enforced belief triumphed over reason and knowledge.

The modern era began when European intellectuals rebelled and demolished the dogmatic stranglehold of “theological certainty,” but one evil was replaced with another. Fueled by centuries of pent-up potential, science and technology broke loose from ecclesiastical constraint. But because the view of a multidimensional cosmos was lost, there was little left to guide the hand of science and technology, which became subservient to the interests of business and commerce and established itself as a new, materialistic faith.

This two-dimensional philosophy of materialism had little use for the vertical dimension of value and meaning, and limited its sights to the Promethean manipulation of the natural world through technology. Thus the guiding principles of science and commerce came to be dictated by entirely “pragmatic” concerns: empiricism on the one hand and “improving the bottom line” on the other, a financial dictum that gave rise to the modern economic ethos of “unlimited growth.”

Only against this historical backdrop is it possible to diagnose the ills of the modern educational system, which we can now see as synonymous with those of the modern world itself. The fact that education is in trouble should not surprise us, for if true education is rooted in the old hierarchical view of reality, it simply cannot flourish—or perhaps even survive—in the current cosmological climate. Our culture, while often proclaiming high ideals, is essentially indifferent to beauty, art, education, and the spiritual dimensions of life. For example, politicians claim that we need to “raise the level of education so that we can remain globally competitive in a world economy,” but what they are really saying has nothing to do with true education, or the expansion of awareness, and everything to do with expanding economic interests. If we lived in a world that really did value education, the world itself would look and feel like a different place than it does today.

The most telling symptom of the breakdown of the educational system is the ever-accelerating transformation of our colleges and universities into trade and business schools. Most students don’t go to college to expand their horizons or to get an education; they go to college to get a job. The anthropological assumption of our consumer culture is not that the individual is a spiritual entity with a unique relationship to multiple levels of being, but that the individual is a potential cog in the economic machine of production and consumption. Students attend universities to be exposed to the latest techniques and technologies, but they are rarely encouraged to question their own lives or cultural assumptions. Rather than presenting alternative models to the philosophy of materialism, universities regularly sell out to economic interests and thereby grant tacit approval to the two-dimensional cosmology of Flatland. Universities thus forsake their credibility as the custodians of education and, rather than questioning the integrity of the world we have created, become silent instruments of indoctrination and socialization for the economic machine.

In the modern age, the myth of the celestial ascent is replaced by the favorite myth of American culture: climbing the corporate ladder. The pursuit of excellence, which formed the basis of Greek civilization, is replaced by (or equated with) the pursuit of higher sales or a higher salary. And the realization of an individual’s intrinsic humanity through art, creativity, and learning is replaced by yet another end: acquiring the trapping of social status.}

An integral vision, addressing the above deficiencies, has been described in many of Ken Wilber’s books. This is not the time or place to start that discussion, but Wilber gets the last words here:

“The various developmental lines or streams (morality, religion, learning, art, etc.) move through the developmental levels or waves (egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric), and the higher the level of development in the various lines, the greater the chance for the emergence of a World Civilization.” (Wilber, A Theory Of Everything, 2000, p. 126)

Wilber reminds us with his analysis that the bulk of the world’s population is ethnocentric in their worldview, so the huge amount of unfinished work to do must take that into account if it wants to actually reach a worldcentric anything.

Take care,

dave

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2 Responses to “5 Questions With My Answers”

  1. wings Says:

    Your answers to these questions are pretty interesting, to say the least. Each one is like the first few sentences of a different amazing book… I like them all differently. I like them a lot.

  2. Frida Kahlo Says:

    Thanks for visiting my page. Some deep reading here. Good! 🙂

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