Saturday, January 26, 2019
Trump's Wall As Metaphor
written 20 January 2019
published 26 January 2019
As I sat bundled up on our covered deck, enjoying the sounds and sights of a good rain storm, appreciating the muted earth tones of the western hills of the Ukiah valley, I thought about the nature of vision. Light energy comes in packets called photons, which are quanta of energy with a specific frequency or wavelength. The colors humans see are a narrow range of light wavelengths, and the brightness is a measure of the quantity of photons. Since our eyes perceive only differences in wavelength and intensity, if there were no differences, we couldn't discern anything. If there is only one frequency of light, or only one intensity in every direction, our vision is useless.
Quantum mechanics tells us there is a vast ocean of energy everywhere. What we experience as light or dark, red or green, are very small ripples on the surface of this energy ocean. When we perceive anything, we are experiencing shapes in the surface of this ocean, not the common ground of the ocean itself.
This western scientific description of physics arose during the last century, representing a paradigm shift in human understanding. A paradigm is a set of beliefs so fundamental that they are easily overlooked. Thomas Kuhn's book "The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions" describes how paradigms change in time, with the death of the old generation that rigidly defines the cultural "truths", or by the introduction of new evidence that demands a reshaping of understanding.
Thich Nhat Hanh's quote, "we are here to awaken from the illusion of separation", is one of the guiding concepts of my philosophy and perspective. Reality is unity, and our discerning perspective, like our eyeballs, experience only relative distinction, not the absolute foundation from which all things arise. This idea is found across the spectrum of thought, from Buddhism, through all the spiritual traditions, to quantum physics. A unity reality understands all lines and separations are only relative; none are absolute.
Humanity is in the middle of a fundamental paradigm shift, or awakening, in consciousness. For thousands of years, sociological, political, and religious structures have shaped the world using exclusive gain and power domination to separate by gender, race, religion and class. The physics paradigm shift from Newtonian to quantum mechanics, has produced powerful technologies reflecting the power of unity, resulting in a computer driven global economy and communication network of radical disruption. The unity power of the new technologies has amplified the limitations and flaws of separation in the old order such that every traditional system is reaching a breaking point.
Former economic giants like Sears, General Electric, and Pacific Gas and Electric are bankrupt and collapsing. The Roman Catholic Church, dominant for millennia, is disintegrating from internal corruption, and the socially constipated Evangelical movement is losing their younger generations. The Republican party, embracing separation as a virtue, has demonstrated it is incapable of governing a democracy. People increasing realize the climate crisis is real and accelerating, putting the entire biosphere at risk.
Which brings me to Trump's wall, an iconic expression of separatist thinking. Trump's core is told the reason for their economic disenfranchisement is illegal immigration, and a wall will prevent this. However, the real reason is computer automation and the extreme economic inequity created by the 1% in a collapsing economic empire. The wall debate is just a loud distraction, preventing any attempt to notice the fundamental economic dysfunction.
Republican governors of border states oppose the wall, and the conservative Cato Institute calls it pointless. The Berlin Wall, a terrible model for a democracy, didn't work, despite a heavy military presence. Most illegal immigrants arrive legally, and then overstay their visa. A border wall will be environmentally impractical, and have little impact on drugs, which arrive primarily by trucks. As proposed, the wall will require massive taking of private land through eminent domain, generating years of litigation, driving cost to many times more than the $5.7 billion Trump is currently blackmailing the country. Finally, Trump promised Mexico would pay for his wall, not the 800,000 federal workers laid off or forced to work without pay, risking economic recession.
As a metaphor, the wall is the last gasp of an obsolete, bankrupt perspective.