Friday, April 7, 2017


Last night I watched a TV special I had recorded, I guess it was a timely rerun of the 2006 documentary The U.S. vs John Lennon. It's a 2-hour film and I watched only the first half, saving the second half for another evening--enough to remind me, at least, of what a visionary that man was. The first half of the movie traced his increasing radicalization, from bouncy Beatle to full-fledged political activist. He was an inspiration to those many of us who opposed the Vietnam war back then; but more than that, his songs survive to remind us of his enduring message: give peace a chance. And, in today's slogan, "Love > Hate."

Simultaneously, I happen to be reading a book co-authored by an old friend, Nick Duffell, who has appeared in The Buddha Diaries on a couple of occasions in the past. A "boarding school survivor" myself, I have long been impressed with his work with those who, like me, bore the emotional and psychological wounds of a too-early separation from our parents; and by his related work in books and documentaries. In The Buddha Diaries, I reviewed both The Making of Them, a TV documentary, and his important book Wounded Leaders, a study of the widespread, harmful effects of boarding school survival in the British political establishment.

Duffell now turns ambitious attention, with co-author John Bunzl, to the global political, social and economic issues currently plaguing our planet. I have not yet finished reading The Simpol Solution, but am already profoundly impressed with the depth and breadth of its vision. The problem, as the authors see it, is what they call Destructive Global Competition. We are stuck, they argue persuasively, in reflex, old-thinking processes based in the outmoded model of competition--between individuals, certainly, but also between nations. National governments and corporations alike are so thoroughly entangled in the competitive mode that they are unable to see their way clear to solve the most urgent and vital issue of our time: the survival of our species and the planet we are so mindlessly abusing.

I'm sure I will be writing more about this book as I read further. I'm anxious to find out what the "simpol" solution might be, but can already predict that it will have to do with collaboration rather than competition. With brings me back to the visionary John Lennon. Because John, I believe, foresaw instinctively what these authors will be arguing. His expression of that vision seemed to many simple-minded at the time. But his insistence on "peace" and "love" spoke of a deeper, almost inexpressible desire for global human co-operation: "Imagine," he sang, "all the people..." Remember, too, the plaintive, simple plea of Rodney King, that innocent famously beaten by the Los Angeles police? "Can't we all just get along?"

There were those among us, decades ago, who felt the division and dissociation in their bones. If we are to survive this critical moment in the history of our species, we need to find a way past the "destructive global competition" that serves us, currently, so ill. I'm hoping Duffell and Bunzl will show us all a way to fulfill the vision of John Lennon and the entreaty of Rodney King. I'll be reading on today...

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