Tuesday, May 05, 2009

In Search of a Metaphor to Combine what We’ve Seen in America, Myanmar, Gaza, and elsewhere This Past Year By Kevin Stoda, Wiesbaden, Germany 2009 T

In Search of a Metaphor to Combine what We’ve Seen in America, Myanmar, Gaza, and elsewhere This Past Year

By Kevin Stoda, Wiesbaden, Germany 2009

Today I picked up an antique book at a flee market here in Germany.

The book was a collection of prose and short tales from Bertolt Brecht--arguably the most famous political-social critic and fictional author & dramatist that German-speaking countries in 20th Century Europe ever raised.


I opened this antique book (Band 11 of collected works), and read in German the text of “BALKANKRIEG”.

I translate the text as follows:

The Balkan War

“A sick old man traveled throughout the land. On his way, he was attacked by four youth who took from him all that he had.--With great sadness, the old man proceeded on his journey. But, suddenly around the coming twist in the road, the old man observed with amazement how three of the robbers attacked the fourth one in order to take his share of the plunder.”

“Soon all four young robbers found themselves wrestling one another on the road. With great joy the old man quickly but quietly gathered up his belongings and snuck away.”

“However, in the very next town, the old man would was stopped by the authorities. Soon, he was taken to the town judge. In front of the judge stood his accusers—these were the four young men who had robbed him earlier in his journey. Those youths were united in their claim against the older gentlemen. Soon, the judged produced his decision as follows: ‘The old man should give every last cent and belonging to the adolescents.’”

“’Because’”, as determined the wise and just judge, ‘otherwise these young troublemakers could be compelled to cause very great trouble throughout the land.’”


MYANMAR 2008-2009

Remember Myanmar, more often known as Burma.

One year ago, a horrible typhoon spawned a cyclone in South East Asia which arrived last Spring and flooded the whole country—a potentially wealthy land but long run into the ground by dictatorial families.


Recall what the new was like from last Spring! At first, for weeks the generals and the selfish families refused to let in any international aid until over several hundred thousand had died and millions had lost their homes.

That is, we could finally report that under international pressure some of the billions in aid was able to arrive where it should: however, even then, like the bullies in Brecht’s tale, “Myanmar's military regime was distributing international aid on May 10. But it was covering the boxes with the names of top generals in an effort to turn the relief effort for last week's devastating cyclone into a propaganda exercise, say news agencies.”

That cyclone was called Nargis.


Hundreds of thousands died over the months as the corrupt military despots and their families soaked up profits, donations and even land of the dead (and dispossessed).


One year later, now in early May 2009, my own Buddhist friends, who have in the past traveled illegally in years past to support Buddhists and other Burmese refugees (from the slavery and criminality of the dictators) have reported and summarized the following in a recent e-mail:

“Dear Kevin, The only news is unhappy from Burma -- the junta didn't even hold any kind of religious ceremonies for the victims! We know that the funds we sent in were well distributed, but all donations could only amount to a fraction of the need. The farmers in the Delta are still suffering from lack of food, medicine and potable water. In some cases, with large foreign contributions managed by the authorities, people are being told they must repay the ‘loans’ they received after the storm, with interest. Outrageous. Zargana, the courageous comedian who also worked tirelessly for humanitarian relief after the cyclone is in poor health -- in prison; he was sentenced to decades behind bars for his efforts -- violated some electronics law or other, posting cyclone news and appeals. We just don't have the heart to talk about this much.”


The German Press, including the Frankfurter Allgemein Zeitung, has reported this past weekend that a very great percentage of what other countries donated has continued to make many of the generals’ families richer and more powerful.


In short, the metaphor of Brecht’s from-above still accurately describing the world community of May 2008 to May 2009 as “the wise but-good-intentioned world community” judge. This judge offers to aid those in need in the world community even if it means letting robbers run around free.


Naturally, the world community has possibly done even worse as a wise and just judge by way of helping (and offering to help) the millions of Palestinian victims of the Christmas-New Years attacks on Gaza.


Less than five months ago, much money was offered to redevelop the land, Gaza, after Israel had bombed the hell-out-of-it


Naturally, it will not be the first time that the West (which financially and militarily supports the Israeli state) forgets Gaza—along with the promises to see that aid gets to those who need it for basic human development.


Democracy Now, the United Nations, and other international organizations report that far too many promises have been made since the bombings in December and January.

“In Israel and the Occupied Territories, a top UN relief official says the Gaza Strip has yet to receive any of the $4.5 billion in reconstruction aid pledged by international donors. John Ging, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, says Israeli restrictions on goods and the US-led boycott of Hamas have prevented basic goods from reaching Gaza. Ging said, ‘Today the money is out there in pledges, and the people of Gaza continue to subsist in the rubble of their former lives, and the attention of the world has sadly moved on, which compounds the despair that people feel.’”


Israel apparently allows media to come in on some occasions simply to leave an impression that aid is getting through--but it seems to many observers just to be a façade overall.


In this case, it is not clear whether or not in this case of Israel we find one or two of the bullies who had beat up the old man as in Bertolt Brecht’s metaphor above.

However, it is clear that in the case of USA tax payers and Western donors Israel appears to be such a bully—i.e. someone who might make uncontrolled havoc in the region if the USA and Europe don’t allow it to keep more than bread crumbs heading for Gaza and the West Bank.

NOTE: To be fair, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza also appear to be one or two of the bullies described by Brecht, i.e. as far as the Arab world of donors is concerned, too.



I don’t know about you.


However, the America government’s monster bailout of banks and the AIG (while neglecting production and laborers/homeowners in 2009) has appeared since 2008 to be no more than a clear case of some nearly 300 million Americans (and their nation state) serving as old men in Bertolt Brecht metaphor. They and their dreams are being sacrificed in the name of defending the land against a promised catastrophe if those banks go under.


Naturally, the banks and financial firms, like AIG, appear to have actually been the neighborhood bullies. That is, they are not just metaphors but a monster of a man-made or nation-permitted bully (or bullies) .


Companies that actually produce things are allowed to fail, but the banks are not.

That is, in 2009, not a crumb seems to be falling to (1) those who have already lost their homes and jobs due to usurious banks and financial firms—and criminal financial terms, (2) those who soon will lose their jobs and (3) those who actually make American life substantially livable and loveable.



Now that we have a clear metaphor for our reality in 2009, it is time to ask you Americans, Germans, British, Irish, what-have-you the following:

ARE YOU GOING TO CONTINUE TO SIT or STAND-UP, i.e. and stop letting our old and abused citizens become even more abused by public robbery and bullying by banks and other ruffians, like Israel, AIG, Citibank, and Myanmar generals, take away savings and investment moneys which could more properly be used to help us have more productive jobs—like at car plants (i.e. cars that meet peoples needs to save energy) and other new businesses in the alternative energy and internal and international people-to-people development sectors?

Tax the wealthy abusers of the commonweal!

Make the bullies of society, like Citibank and Goldman Sachs, do time in jail and pay back through good cheap loans what they have taken from society.


Force them to loan and invest for the nation’s good.

NOTE: If the pie grows bigger, make these same bully financiers pay bigger shares into the kitty, too.

Stop the cycle of bullying (the old men and metaphors of the really just and need)!!! Help tax payers, citizens, and the real-little people today.



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