writing about my life

Informative Letter

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Dear xxxxx,

I value you very much indeed as a dear friend. I have to explain my opinion on some of the issues raised by what we spoke about last night however.

I am not sure that I want to follow the style of meditation which clamps down on the creative mind and subdues the whole personality into a neutral state. The word you used was bland, which is quite an apt description of what that practise does to the personality. I personally like you best when you are not suppressing like that.

I will not take your recommendation that I master my tongue, because I enjoy using language and after all I don’t talk rubbish but carefully reasoned and thoughtful words, and I also listen to others as part of my communication skills, which many in this world don’t do. (not you, I hasten to add, you are a good listener).

In my view the Bible is a fascinating document but I don’t believe that it has the only angle on truth. I read a lot , as you know, and would suggest that times have changed critically since most of the Bible was penned. Modern authors may sometimes have more relevance to the modern world, which is so changed and different from Solomon’s time etc. The Good Book is great for bolstering ones confidence in struggle and times of hardship, but modernity has given us a world which I believe is safer and more comfortable to live in than the bitter and arduous lives that the ancients live. That is why I will always continue to draw more ideas from current writers in the world, whose wisdom is more tailored to the specifics of the space-age computer-age we inhabit.

this modern age is also a time of democratic societies built on the framework of liberal secular humanism. A few hundred years back you could get burned or stretched on the rack for being a heretic. Now, at least in the West, this can’t happen. That means that millions of rational people since the enlightenment in the 18th century have assented to a run of progress that involves the questioning by reason of the cruelty and domination we inherited from our cultural forbears. I suggest that progress is a real thing, and that the establishment of this secular democracy is a positive step for the evolution of the human race. What we inherited from the past is a rather cruel package in some ways. Torture and murder are less common per capita in the world, and no criminal is sent to execution in this country now.

To me the Bible is very much a text that comes to us from the deep past, and I am sorry to say that in my mind much of it is obsolete. You must know that however much you recommend the Bible to me, I am a man of reason and doubt, not faith and it would be impossible for me to build it into my mindset as you have done.

We have spoken of growth panic when the process of developing emotionally, to become more sensitive to others, results in a fear that causes the person to try and go back to a safe golden age in the past. This golden age is a myth. Biblical times were hellish, violent and full of political injustice of one kind or another. I am placing my bets on the reason, science, and liberty of the modern age, not a rosy spectacled romance about ancient peoples in an ancient text, whose lives were nothing like mine.

This is why I have to write this to you, in good faith and with no anger, just a desire to explain a complex matter at my leisure. Writing is better for this than messy and inadequate speech which is so much less organised and which makes it harder to get a subtle point across. Please bear with me and read what I am saying carefully. If you want to write back that’s great.

Anarchism is my next subject, it is a very misunderstood creed, and you can virtually guarantee that anyone round here who you asked, such as your dad, or Geoff, or a care worker, would not have the deep political insights into that someone like me, who has been reading and debating on the subject for years will have. I must state that I am not an anarchist, but that I am interested in it because it reflects an extreme of the libertarian ideal. I hope to be able to explain more about these things to you another time, and to bounce ideas off you. That is why I am writing this because we are good friends, and yet there is in my life an intellectual dimension to nearly everything I do, which I will continue to honour till the day I die.

Sophisticated ideas need the proper treatment, hence I write.

Until the establishment of democratic governments built among other things on ideas of equal rights and free speech, the doctrine was that the monarch was elected by God to rule. You must realise that this is an obsolete doctrine now and to the best of my knowledge there are only a handful of constitutional monarchies left in the world, one of which is the Buddhist culture of Bhutan. maybe we should go there brother. Referring to modern societies as monarchies is a bit confusing because our democratic traditions grew out of a dissatisfaction with hereditary and unelected power. There is no King who matters like that any more here. Also ancient texts like the Tao Te Ching, or Confucius are like the Bible in that they are resources that were designed for ancient societies that are amazingly different to our own modern world.

Of course these texts have a glamour by virtue of their age, and I too am in awe of the ancient, seemingly eternal wisdom that they embody, but it’s not the only wisdom available to us, since genius and talent still exist in the modern age, and one would be well advised to keep intellectual company with any of the recent thinkers whose advice and wisdom would be possibly more tailored and appropriate to our current world.

I believe that growth panic is a very hard thing to deal with, but we must strive against becoming political reactionaries who advise never to engage with matters of liberty, human rights and fairness. If you never stand up for what you believe then injustice and cruelty may yet win.

One of the things that you and I have, I hope, in common is that we are individuals who believe in loving kindness and compassion to others. That’s why I am happy and proud to know you, dude. But we are not aligned perfectly in all of our beliefs, opinions and world views. No two individuals ever are, and if you see people who claim to be then you are seeing a manufacture of false consensus that is dangerous. This is why I will not subscribe to any organised religion, and am wary of even belonging to a political party. I firmly believe that we can continue to be friends, but where we are now is at that uncomfortable moment where we realise we will not be agreeing with each other in everything we hold dear. It’s a test of maturity that relationships weather this, and silly people often get hung up on the inevitable odd disagreement when they don’t have to.

I love and honour spiritual people and spiritual traditions, but every belief system does still evolve, and if one refuses to go with this flow you are more likely to end up with fundamentalism, which is very reactionary, and very much a symptom of growth panic, also. We all cobble together our ideas and views from many sources, and that’s good, being a bit like the weaver bird who makes her nest out of petals, sweet wrappers and brightly coloured litter that she finds on her way. We’re all a mixture.

The reason this matter started was because I was paranoid yesterday and ranted about those kids, and gypsies. Then it led us into a situation where you chastised my for rocking the boat politically and causing trouble. Let’s make it clear – I now realise I was grossly over reacting, and in the grip of a paranoid rant. Thanks for listening anyway. But the things you said to me afterwards were stuff I want to respond to more carefully here. We agreed that fighting the power, and rebellion is dangerous when you are weakened by illness, but you must realise that rebellion comes in many forms, and is not always just a residue of teenage anger with parents. Where would we be without humans who rebel against corruption and injustice in the world, and help us all to heal and progress socially through their courage. There are, I hold, times when mastering your tongue is a bad idea. Keeping silent when the Nazis put your Jewish neighbours in a camp, or when one of the bombastic thug’s men murdered a family is cowardice and makes the world a worse place.

Ok so in Britain we live in a genocide free society, thank god. We have more fairness and peace than the extreme examples of other war torn places. But our society is not perfect, still, even now. Where would we be without protest and the ability to challenge the unjust actions of those in authority who err? We would still be in the cruel world of the middle ages mate. Yes if your words are cruel, unkind and insensitive then you must learn to control your tongue. But the free expression of ideas, philosophy and debate are good things, and no holding of the tongue is necessary for me in these matters.

OK so you have 6 years on me, and I remember and respect that, but I have to have my say in the depth of detail that the situation requires, when you correct me and suggest that I should apply your advice. I can’t because it would be like feeding a petrol car diesel. My life and my mind fit together my way, and I know you wouldn’t really want your good friend to change in that. I can’t slavishly take on the advice of others, i need to think the issues through properly, and that means careful examination, analysis and debate. I am involving you in that necessary debate by writing this to you.

Anyway that’s enough for now or you’ll be bored rigid.

Lots of Love from your neighbour



Written by Luke Dunn

October 18, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Posted in Prose

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