Posts Tagged ‘Civilization’

[By the latter part of May, 1970, feelings about the war in Vietnam had become almost unbearably intense. In Boston, about a hundred of us decided to sit down at the Boston Army Base and block the road used by buses carrying draftees off to military duty. We were not so daft that we thought we were stopping the flow of soldiers to Vietnam; it was a symbolic act, a statement, a piece of guerrilla the after. We were all arrested and charged, in the quaint language of an old statute, with “sauntering and loitering” in such a way as to obstruct traffic. Eight of us refused to plead guilty, insisting on trial by jury, hoping we could persuade the members of the jury that ours was a justified act of civil disobedience. We did not persuade them. We were found guilty, chose jail instead of paying a fine, but the judge, apparently reluctant to have us in jail, gave us forty-eight hours to change our minds, after which we should show up in court to either pay the fine or be jailed. In the meantime, I had been invited to go to Johns Hopkins University to debate with the philosopher Charles Frankel on the issue of civil disobedience. I decided it would be hypocritical for me, an advocate of civil disobedience, to submit dutifully to the court and thereby skip out on an opportunity to speak to hundreds of students about civil disobedience. So, on the day I was supposed to show up in court in Boston I flew to Baltimore and that evening debated with Charles Frankel. Returning to Boston I decided to meet my morning class, but two detectives were waiting for me, and I was hustled before the court and then spent a couple of days in jail. What follows is the transcript of my opening statement in the debate at Johns Hopkins. It was included in a book published by Johns Hopkins Press in 1972, entitled Violence: The Crisis of American Confidence.]

I start from the supposition that the world is topsy-turvy, that things are all wrong, that the wrong people are in jail and the wrong people are out of jail, that the wrong people are in power and the wrong people are out of power, that the wealth is distributed in this country and the world in such a way as not simply to require small reform but to require a drastic reallocation of wealth. I start from the supposition that we don’t have to say too much about this because all we have to do is think about the state of the world today and realize that things are all upside down. Daniel Berrigan is in jail-A Catholic priest, a poet who opposes the war-and J. Edgar Hoover is free, you see. David Dellinger, who has opposed war ever since he was this high and who has used all of his energy and passion against it, is in danger of going to jail. The men who are responsible for the My Lai massacre are not on trial; they are in Washington serving various functions, primary and subordinate, that have to do with the unleashing of massacres, which surprise them when they occur. At Kent State University four students were killed by the National Guard and students were indicted. In every city in this country, when demonstrations take place, the protesters, whether they have demonstrated or not, whatever they have done, are assaulted and clubbed by police, and then they are arrested for assaulting a police officer.

Now, I have been studying very closely what happens every day in the courts in Boston, Massachusetts. You would be astounded-maybe you wouldn’t, maybe you have been around, maybe you have lived, maybe you have thought, maybe you have been hit-at how the daily rounds of injustice make their way through this marvelous thing that we call due process. Well, that is my premise.

All you have to do is read the Soledad letters of George Jackson, who was sentenced to one year to life, of which he spent ten years, for a seventy-dollar robbery of a filling station. And then there is the U.S. Senator who is alleged to keep 185,000 dollars a year, or something like that, on the oil depletion allowance. One is theft; the other is legislation. something is wrong, something is terribly wrong when we ship 10,000 bombs full of nerve gas across the country, and drop them in somebody else’s swimming pool so as not to trouble our own. So you lose your perspective after a while. If you don’t think, if you just listen to TV and read scholarly things, you actually begin to think that things are not so bad, or that just little things are wrong. But you have to get a little detached, and then come back and look at the world, and you are horrified. So we have to start from that supposition-that things are really topsy-turvy.

And our topic is topsy-turvy: civil disobedience. As soon as you say the topic is civil disobedience, you are saying our problem is civil disobedience. That is not our problem…. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. And our problem is that scene in All Quiet on the Western Front where the schoolboys march off dutifully in a line to war. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem. We recognize this for Nazi Germany. We know that the problem there was obedience, that the people obeyed Hitler. People obeyed; that was wrong. They should have challenged, and they should have resisted; and if we were only there, we would have showed them. Even in Stalin’s Russia we can understand that; people are obedient, all these herdlike people.

But America is different. That is what we’ve all been brought up on. From the time we are this high and I still hear it resounding in Mr. Frankel’s statement-you tick off, one, two, three, four, five lovely things .~ about America that we don’t want disturbed very much. But if we have learned anything in the past ten years, it is that these lovely things about America were never lovely. We have been expansionist and aggressive and mean to other people from the beginning. And we’ve been aggressive and mean to people in this country, and we’ve allocated the wealth of this country in a very unjust way. We’ve never had justice in the courts for the poor people, for black people, for radicals. Now how can we boast that America is a very special place? It is not that special. It really isn’t.

Well, that is our topic, that is our problem: civil obedience. Law is very important. We are talking about obedience to law-law, this marvelous invention of modern times, which we attribute to Western civilization, and which we talk about proudly. The rule of law, oh, how wonderful, all these courses in Western civilization all over the land. Remember those bad old days when people were exploited by feudalism? Everything was terrible in the Middle Ages-but now we have Western civilization, the rule of law. The rule of law has regularized and maximized the injustice that existed before the rule of law, that is what the rule of law has done. Let us start looking at the rule of law realistically, not with that metaphysical complacency with which we always examined it before.

When in all the nations of the world the rule of law is the darling of the leaders and the plague of the people, we ought to begin to recognize this. We have to transcend these national boundaries in our thinking. Nixon and Brezhnev have much more in common with one another than – we have with Nixon. J. Edgar Hoover has far more in common with the head of the Soviet secret police than he has with us. It’s the international dedication to law and order that binds the leaders of all countries in a comradely bond. That’s why we are always surprised when they get together — they smile, they shake hands, they smoke cigars, they really like one another no matter what they say. It’s like the Republican and Democratic parties, who claim that it’s going to make a terrible difference if one or the other wins, yet they are all the same. Basically, it is us against them.

Yossarian was right, remember, in Catch-22? He had been accused of giving aid and comfort to the enemy, which nobody should ever be accused of, and Yossarian said to his friend Clevinger: “The enemy is whoever is going to get you killed, whichever side they are on.” But that didn’t sink in, so he said to Clevinger: “Now you remember that, or one of these days you’ll be dead.” And remember? Clevinger, after a while, was dead. And we must remember that our enemies are not divided along national lines, that enemies are not just people who speak different languages and occupy different territories. Enemies are people who want to get us killed.

We are asked, “What if everyone disobeyed the law?” But a better question is, “What if everyone obeyed the law?” And the answer to that question is much easier to come by, because we have a lot of empirical evidence about what happens if everyone obeys the law, or if even most people obey the law. What happens is what has happened, what is happening. Why do people revere the law? And we all do; even I have to fight it, for it was put into my bones at an early age when I was a Cub Scout. One reason we revere the law is its ambivalence. In the modern world we deal with phrases and words that have multiple meanings, like “national security.” Oh, yes, we must do this for national security! Well, what does that mean? Whose national security? Where? When? Why? We don’t bother to answer those questions, or even to ask them.

The law conceals many things. The law is the Bill of Rights. ;’~ fact, that is what we think of when we develop our reverence for the law. The law is something that protects us; the law is our right-the law is the Constitution. Bill of Rights Day, essay contests sponsored by the American Legion on our Bill of Rights, that is the law. And that is good.

But there is another part of the law that doesn’t get ballyhooed- the legislation that has gone through month after month, year after year, from the beginning of the Republic, which allocates the resources of the country in such a way as to leave some people very rich and other people very poor, and still others scrambling like mad for what little is left. That is the law. If you go to law school you will see this. You can quantify it by counting the big, heavy law books that people carry around with them and see how many law books you count that say “Constitutional Rights” on them and how many that say “Property,” “Contracts,” “Torts,” “Corporation Law.” That is what the law is mostly about. The law is the oil depletion allowance-although we don’t have Oil Depletion Allowance Day, we don’t have essays written on behalf of the oil depletion allowance. So there are parts of the law that are publicized and played up to us-oh, this is the law, the Bill of Rights. And there are other parts of the law that just do their quiet work, and nobody says anything about them.

It started way back. When the Bill of Rights was first passed, remember, in the first administration of Washington? Great thing. Bill of Rights passed! Big ballyhoo. At the same time Hamilton’s economic pro gram was passed. Nice, quiet, money to the rich-I’m simplifying it a little, but not too much. Hamilton’s economic program started it off. You can draw a straight line from Hamilton’s economic program to the oil depletion allowance to the tax write-offs for corporations. All the way through-that is the history. The Bill of Rights publicized; economic legislation unpublicized.

You know the enforcement of different parts of the law is as important as the publicity attached to the different parts of the law. The Bill of Rights, is it enforced? Not very well. You’ll find that freedom of speech in constitutional law is a very difficult, ambiguous, troubled concept. Nobody really knows when you can get up and speak and when you can’t. Just check all of the Supreme Court decisions. Talk about predictability in a system-you can’t predict what will happen to you when you get up on the street corner and speak. See if you can tell the difference between the Terminiello case and the Feiner case, and see if you can figure out what is going to happen. By the way, there is one part of the law that is not very vague, and that involves the right to distribute leaflets on the street. The Supreme Court has been very clear on that. In decision after decision we are affirmed an absolute right to distribute leaflets on the street. Try it. Just go out on the street and start distributing leaflets. And a policeman comes up to you and he says, “Get out of here.” And you say, “Aha! Do you know Marsh v. Alabama, 1946?” That is the reality of the Bill of Rights. That’s the reality of the Constitution, that part of the law which is portrayed to us as a beautiful and marvelous thing. And seven years after the Bill of Rights was passed, which said that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech,” Congress made a law abridging the freedom of speech. Remember? The Sedition Act of 1798.

So the Bill of Rights was not enforced. Hamilton’s program was enforced, because when the whisky farmers went out and rebelled you remember, in 1794 in Pennsylvania, Hamilton himself got on his horse and went out there to suppress the rebellion to make sure that the revenue tax was enforced. And you can trace the story right down to the present day, what laws are enforced, what laws are not enforced. So you have to be careful when you say, “I’m for the law, I revere the law.” What part of the law are you talking about? I’m not against all law. But I think we ought to begin to make very important distinctions about what laws do what things to what people.

And there are other problems with the law. It’s a strange thing, we think that law brings order. Law doesn’t. How do we know that law does not bring order? Look around us. We live under the rules of law. Notice how much order we have? People say we have to worry about civil disobedience because it will lead to anarchy. Take a look at the present world in which the rule of law obtains. This is the closest to what is called anarchy in the popular mind-confusion, chaos, international banditry. The only order that is really worth anything does not come through the enforcement … of law, it comes through the establishment of a society which is just and in which harmonious relationships are established and in which you need a minimum of regulation to create decent sets of arrangements among people. But the order based on law and on the force of law is the order of the totalitarian state, and it inevitably leads either to total injustice or to rebel lion-eventually, in other words, to very great disorder.

We all grow up with the notion that the law is holy. They asked Daniel Berrigan’s mother what she thought of her son’s breaking the law. He burned draft records-one of the most violent acts of this century- to protest the war, for which he was sentenced to prison, as criminals should be. They asked his mother who is in her eighties, what she thought of her son’s breaking the law. And she looked straight into the interviewer’s face, and she said, “It’s not God’s law.” Now we forget that. There is nothing sacred about the law. Think of who makes laws. The law is not made by God, it is made by Strom Thurmond. If you nave any notion about the sanctity and loveliness and reverence for the law, look at the legislators around the country who make the laws. Sit in on the sessions of the state legislatures. Sit in on Congress, for these are the people who make the laws which we are then supposed to revere.

All of this is done with such propriety as to fool us. This is the problem. In the old days, things were confused; you didn’t know. Now you know. It is all down there in the books. Now we go through due process. Now the same things happen as happened before, except that we’ve gone through the right procedures. In Boston a policeman walked into a hospital ward and fired five times at a black man who had snapped a towel at his arm-and killed him. A hearing was held. The judge decided that the policeman was justified because if he didn’t do it, he would lose the respect of his fellow officers. Well, that is what is known as due process-that is, the guy didn’t get away with it. We went through the proper procedures, and everything was set up. The decorum, the propriety of the law fools us.

The nation then, was founded on disrespect for the law, and then came the Constitution and the notion of stability which Madison and Hamilton liked. But then we found in certain crucial times in our history that the legal framework did not suffice, and in order to end slavery we had to go outside the legal framework, as we had to do at the time of the American Revolution or the Civil War. The union had to go outside the legal framework in order to establish certain rights in the 1930s. And in this time, which may be more critical than the Revolution or the Civil War, the problems are so horrendous as to require us to go outside the legal framework in order to make a statement, to resist, to begin to establish the kind of institutions and relationships which a decent society should have. No, not just tearing things down; building things up. But even if you build things up that you are not supposed to build up-you try to build up a people’s park, that’s not tearing down a system; you are building something up, but you are doing it illegally-the militia comes in and drives you out. That is the form that civil disobedience is going to take more and more, people trying to build a new society in the midst of the old.

But what about voting and elections? Civil disobedience-we don’t need that much of it, we are told, because we can go through the electoral system. And by now we should have learned, but maybe we haven’t, for we grew up with the notion that the voting booth is a sacred place, almost like a confessional. You walk into the voting booth and you come out and they snap your picture and then put it in the papers with a beatific smile on your face. You’ve just voted; that is democracy. But if you even read what the political scientists say-although who can?-about the voting process, you find that the voting process is a sham. Totalitarian states love voting. You get people to the polls and they register their approval. I know there is a difference-they have one party and we have two parties. We have one more party than they have, you see.

What we are trying to do, I assume, is really to get back to the principles and aims and spirit of the Declaration of Independence. This spirit is resistance to illegitimate authority and to forces that deprive people of their life and liberty and right to pursue happiness, and therefore under these conditions, it urges the right to alter or abolish their current form of government-and the stress had been on abolish. But to establish the principles of the Declaration of Independence, we are going to need to go outside the law, to stop obeying the laws that demand killing or that allocate wealth the way it has been done, or that put people in jail for petty technical offenses and keep other people out of jail for enormous crimes. My hope is that this kind of spirit will take place not just in this country but in other countries because they all need it. People in all countries need the spirit of disobedience to the state, which is not a metaphysical thing but a thing of force and wealth. And we need a kind of declaration of interdependence among people in all countries of the world who are striving for the same thing.

  • In most cases, to experience higher spiritual existence, we must be at least open to the possibility that such perception exists.
    • …there is a profound difference between knowing about and debating spiritual perception and actually experiencing these perceptions ourselves.
  • The anxiety of early abuse creates a severe need in children to take control of life.
  • The secret of life is learning to make a fool of yourself gracefully.
  • …at a certain point our focus on the economic aspects of life became an obsession used to push away the anxiety of uncertainty.
  • Though our ability to affect the world in both cases, nondirective intention (that is, holding the idea that the very best should happen without injecting our opinion) works better than directive intention (holding the idea that a specific outcome should occur).
  • When we think positively, uplifting ourselves and others in the process, incredible events begin to unfold.
  • Where attention goes, energy flows.
  • Every person is an energy field consisting of a set of assumptions and beliefs that radiate outward and influence the world.
  • Four control dramas:
    1. Interrogation which manifests as judging. Usually the Interrogator comes from a family in which his parental figures were absent or not attentive to his needs.
    2. Aloofness which manifests as being withdrawn and enticing people to draw us out
    3. Pitifulness (a.k.a. “poor me”) which manifests as guilt-inflicting self-pity and even helplessness
    4. Intimidation which manifests as being threatening
  • Yet we must remember that it is because we are short of energy, cut off from the source that the dramas operate.
  • Corruptions of capitalism occur when people are vulnerable to excessive advertising that seeks to create needs based on insecurity.
  • Vagabonding defined:
    • The act of leaving behind the orderly world to travel independently for an extended period of time.
    • A privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasizes creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, self-reliance, and the growth of the spirit.
    • A deliberate way of living that makes freedom to travel possible.
    • Latin-derived term that refers to a wanderer with no fixed home.
    • Vagabonding has always been a private choice within a society that is constantly urging us to do otherwise.
  • This book views long-term travel not as an escape but as an adventure and a passion – a way of overcoming your fears and living life to the fullest.

Research your own experiences for the truth… Absorb what is useful… Add what is specifically your own… The creating individual is more than any style or system. – Bruce Lee

  • Out of insane duty to fear, fashion, and monthly payments on things we don’t really need – we quarantine our travels to short, frenzied bursts. In this way, as we throw our wealth at an abstract notion called “lifestyle,” travel becomes just another accessory – a smooth-edged, encapsulated experience that we purchase the same way we buy clothing and furniture.
    • Ultimately, this shotgun wedding of time and money has a way of keeping us in a holding pattern. The more we associate experience with cash value, the more we think money is what we need to live. And the more we associate money with life, the more we convince ourselves that we are too poor to buy our freedom.
    • In reality, long-term travel has nothing to do with demographics – age, ideology, income – and everything to do with personal outlook.
    • Vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the information age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions.
    • Vagabonding is about looking for adventure in normal life, and normal life within adventure.

[We end up spending] the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it. – Henry David Thoreau

  • … rooting ourselves to a home or a career and using the future as a kind of phony ritual that justifies the present.
  • Vagabonding is the ongoing practice of looking and learning, of facing fears and altering habits, of cultivating new fascination with people and places.
    • Vagabonding is a personal act that demands only realignment of self.

And they say in truth that a man is made of desire. As his desire is, so is his faith. As his faith is, so are his works. As his works are, so he becomes. – The Supreme Teaching of the Upanishads

Which would have advanced the most at the end of a month? The boy who made his own jackknife from the ore which he had dug and smelted, reading as much as would be necessary for this – or the body who had… received a Rodger’s penknife from his father? Which would be most likely to cut his fingers? – Henry David Thoreau

  • [Trustafarians] Because they never worked for their freedom, their travel experiences have no personal reference – no connection to the rest of their lives.
    • They are spending plenty of time and money on the road, but they never spent enough of themselves to begin with. Thus, their experience of travel has a diminished sense of value.
  • The “meaningful” part of travel always starts at home, with a personal investment in the wonders to come.
  • Work is how you settle your financial and emotional debts – so that your travels are not an escape from your real life but a discovery of your real life.

Wanting to travel reflects a positive attitude. You want to see, to grow in experience, and presumably to become more whole as a human being. Vagabonding takes this a step further: it promotes the chances of sustaining and strengthening this positive attitude. As a vagabond, you begin to face your fear now and then instead of continuously sidestepping them in the name of convenience. You build an attitude that makes the life more rewarding, which in turn makes it easier to keep doing it. It’s called positive feedback, and it works. – Ed Buryn, Vagabonding in Europe and North Africa

  • However you choose to fund your travel freedom, keep in mind that your work is an active part of your travel attitude.

We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis. – Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

  • List the job skills travel has taught you: independence, flexibility, negotiation, planning, boldness, self-sufficiency, improvisation.

A lot of us first aspired to far-ranging travel and exotic adventure early in our teens; these ambitions are, in fact, adolescent in nature, which I find an inspiring idea… Thus, when we allow ourselves to imagine as we once did, we know, with a sudden jarring clarity, that if we don’t go right now, we’re never going to do it. And we’ll be haunted by our unrealized dreams and know that we have sinned against ourselves gravely. – Tim Cahill, Exotic Places Made Me Do  It

  • …travel allows you to experience the nuances of the world in a way that mass media never will.
  • Indeed, the freedom to go vagabonding has never been determined by income level; it’s fund through simplicity – the conscious decision of how to use what income you have.
    • Simplicity merely requires a bit of personal sacrifice: an adjustment of your habits and routines within consumer society itself.
    • At times, the biggest challenge in embracing simplicity will be the vague feeling of isolation that comes with it, since private sacrifice doesn’t garner much attention in the frenetic world of mass culture.

Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants… Our forefathers forges chains of duty and habit, which bind us notwithstanding our boasted freedom, and we ourselves in desperation, add link to link, groaning and making medicinal laws for relief. – John Muir, Kindred and Related Spirits

… the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want… general junk you always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of [it] impersonal in a system of work, produce, consume. – Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

  • … neither self nor wealth can be measured in terms of what you consume or own.

[Seeking happiness in one’s material desires is absurd as] suffering because a banana tree will not bear mangos. – Buddha

  • Despite several millennia of such warnings, however, there is still an overwhelming social compulsion – an insanity of consensus, if you will – to get rich from life rather than live richly, to “do well” in the world instead of living well.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing. – Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

By switching to a new game, which in this case involves vagabonding, time becomes the only possession and everyone is equally rich in it by biological inheritance. Money, of course, is still needed to survive, but time is what you need to live. So, save what little money you possess to meet basic survival requirements, but spend your time lavishly in order to create the life values that make the fire worth the candle. – Ed Buryn

Travel can be a kind of monasticism on the move: one the road, we often live more simply, with no more possession than we can carry, and surrendering ourselves to chance. This is what Camus meant when he said that “what gives value to travel is fear.” – disruption, in other words (or emancipation), from circumstance and all the habits behind which we hide. – Pico Iyer, Why We Travel

  • There are three general methods to simplifying your life: stopping expansion, reining in your routine, and reducing clutter.

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

  • Vagabonding is, was, and always will be a private undertaking – and its goal is to improve your life not in relation to your neighbors but in relation to yourself.
  • Indeed, not only does simplicity save you money and buy you time; it also makes you more adventuresome, forces you into sincere contact with locals, and allows you the independence to follow your passions and curiosities down exciting new roads.

My greatest skill has been to want little. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

  • Vagabonding is not just a process of discovering the world but a way of seeing – an attitude that prepares you to find the things you weren’t looking for.

It is fatal to know too much at the outset; boredom comes as quickly to the traveler who knows his routes as the novelist who is overcertain of his plot. – Paul Theroux, To the Ends of the Earth

  • The key to preparation is to strike a balance between knowing what’s out there and being optimistically ignorant.
  • The gift of the information age is knowing your options – not your destiny – and those people who plan their travels with the idea of eliminating all uncertainty and unpredictability are missing out on the whole point of leaving home in the first place.
  • The goal of preparation is not knowing exactly where you’ll go but being confident nonetheless that you’ll get there. This means that your attitude will be more important than your itinerary, and that the simple willingness to improvise more vital, in the long run, than research.

Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity… no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

  • A lot of media information – especially day-to-day news – should be approached with a healthy amount of skepticism. This is because so many media outlets are more in the business of competing for your attention than giving you a balanced picture of the world.

A good traveler has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving. – Laozi, The Way of Life

  • Human-centered adventures

When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to practical bum is not difficult. He has built-in garden of reason to choose from. Next he must plan his trip in time and space, choose a direction and a destination. – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

Before the development of tourism, travel was conceived to be like study, and its fruits were considered to be the adornment of the mind and the formation of the judgment. The traveler was a student of what he sought. – Paul Fussell, Abroad

  • … moderate the amount of time you spend online as you travel – since nothing stifles your vagabonding flexibility quite like the compulsive urge to stay connected to the modern world.
  • Vagabonding is not like bulk shopping: The value of our travels does not hinge on how many stamps you have in your passport when you get home – and the slow, nuanced experience of a single country is always better than the hurried, superficial experience of forty counties.
  • Never underestimate your ability to learn and adapt quickly – and don’t waste time fretting about every possibility that might come your way on the road.
    • Simple courage is worth far more than detailed logistics, and a confident, positive, ready-to-learn attitude will make up for any travel savvy you lack at the outset.

Travel, there is no path
path are made by walking. – Antonio Machado, Cantores

  • Buddhists believe that we live our everyday lives as if inside an eggshell. Just a an unhatched chicken has few clues about what life is truly like, most of us are only vaguely aware of the greater world that surrounds us.

Excitement and depression, fortune and misfortune, pleasure and pain are storms in a tiny, private, shell-bound realm – which we take to be the whole fo existence. Yet we can break out of this shell and enter a new world. – Eknath Easwaran

Travel in general, vagabonding in particular, produces an awesome density of experiences… a cramming together of incidents, impressions and life detail that is both stimulating and exhausting. So much new and different happens to you so frequently, just when you’re most sensitive to it… You may be excited, bored, confused, desperate and amazed all in the same happy day. – Ed Buryn

I don’t want to hurry it. That itself is a poisonous twentieth-century attitude. When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things. – Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

  • At home, you’re conditioned to get to the point and get things done, to favor goals and efficiency over moment-by-moment distinction.

When you travel you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak.. You begin to be more accessible to others, because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. – Paulo Coelho

Did you think you should enter the Garden of Bliss without such trials as came to those who passed before you? – The Koran

  • In other words, tourist attractions are defined by their collective popularity, and that very popularity tends to devalue the individual experience of such attractions.

The practice of soulful travel is to discover the overlapping point between history and everyday life, the way to find the essence of every place, every day: In the markets, small chapels, out-of-the-way parks, craft shops. Curiosity about the extraordinary in the ordinary moves the heart of the traveler intent on seeing behind the veil of tourism. – Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage

Bear in mind that the special advantage of vagabonding is the experience not really knowing what happens next, which you can obtain at bargain rates in all cases… The challenges you face offer no alternative but to cope them. And doing that , your life is being lived fully. – Ed Buryn, Vagabonding in Europe and North America

We see as we are. – The Buddha

Those who visit foreign nations, but associate only with their own countrymen, change their climate, but not their customs. They see new meridians, but the same men; and with heads as empty as their pockets, return home with traveled bodies, but untraveled minds. – Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon

We do not need to understand other people and their customs fully to interact with them and learn in the process; it is making the effort to interact without knowing all the rules, improvising certain situations, that allow us to grow. – Mary Catherine Bateson, Peripheral Visions

We need sometimes to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazards, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment no matter what. – George Santayana, The Philosophy of Travel

Exploration is not so much a covering surface distance as a study in depth: a fleeting episode, a fragment of landscape or a remark overheard that may provide the only means of understanding and interpreting areas which would otherwise remain barren of meaning. – Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques

  • The secret of adventure is not to carefully seek it out but to travel in such a way that it finds you.
    • To do this, you first need to overcome the protective habit of home and open yourself up to unpredictability.

Explore your own higher latitude. Be a Columbus to whole new continents within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The man who is truly good and wise will bear with dinginity whatever fortune sends, and will always make the best of his circumstances. – Aristotle

We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them… How should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. – Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquesioningly. Everything … we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is golden for him who has the vision to realize it as such. – Henry Miller

Our eyes find it easier on a given occasion to produce a picture already often produced, than to seize upon the divergence and novelty of an impression. It is difficult and painful for the ear to listen to anything new; we hear strange music badly. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Traveler vs. Tourist

The traveler sees what he sees; the tourist sees what he has come to see. – GK Chesterton

The traveler was active, he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. – Daniel Boorstin

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been; travelers don’t know where they’re going. – Paul Theroux

Travelers are those who leave their assumptions at home, and [tourists are] those who don’t. – Pico Iyer

  • With escape in mind, vacationers tend to approach their holiday with a grim resolve, determined to make their experience live up to their expectation; on the vagabonding road, you prepare for the long haul knowing that the predictable and the unpredictable, the pleasant and the unpleasant are not separate but part of the same ongoing reality.
  • In this way, “seeing” as you travel is somewhat of a spiritual exercise: a process not of seeking interesting surroundings, but of being continually interested in whatever surrounds you.

Most people are on the world, not in it – having no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them – undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate. – John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilization, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints. – Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes

  • The best way to confront reality is not with a set method of interpretation but with a sincere attitude of open-mindedness.

Luxury, then, is a way of being ignorant, comfortably. – Leroi Jones, Political Poem

  • Cling too fiercely to your ideologies and you’ll miss the subtle realities that politics can’t address.
  • Just as skepticism should not be confused with cynicism, however, embracing realism need not be confused with falling into pessimism.

The evaluation of tourism cannot be accomplished against a static background. Some of what we see as destruction is construction. Some is the result of a lack of any other viable option; and some the result of choices that could be made differently. – Davydd J. Greenwood

  • One particular potent strain of traveler pessimism is the notion that modern influences are destroying native societies, or that certain cultures were more “real” sometimes in the not-too-distant past. According to this assumption, any given society was somehow better twenty years ago, before it was “spoiled.” What such reflexive pessimism overlooks, of course, is that societies have always changed, and that “tradition” is a dynamic phenomenon.
    • … much of concern about the evils of change within premodern culture is less an interest in the quality of local life than our own desire to experience an “untainted” culture.
    • The purest way to see a culture is simply to accept and experience it as it is now.

While I complain of being able to glimpse no more than the shadow of the past, I may be insensitive to reality as it is taking shape at this very moment… A few hundred years hence, in this same place, another traveler, as despairing as myself, will mourn the disappearance of what I might have seen, but failed to see. – Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques

The unreal never is: the Real never is not. This truth indeed has been seen by those who can see the true. – Bhagavad Gita

The drug vision remain a sort of dream that cannot be brought over into daily life. Old mist may be banished, that is true, but the alien chemical agent forms another mist, maintaining the separation of the ‘I” from the true experience of the ‘One.’ – Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

  • The problem with marijuana, however, is that it’s the travel equivalent of watching television: It replaces real sensation with artificially enhanced ones. Because it doesn’t force you to work for a feeling, it creates passive experiences that are only vaguely connected to the rest of your life.

I never took drugs because I am drugs. – Salvador Dali

  • Strive to be drugs as you travel, to patiently embrace the raw, personal sensation of unmediated reality – an experience far more affecting than any intoxicant can promise.

Often I feel I got to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am… Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of your food, your closet full of your clothes, you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experience inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. That’s not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating. – Michael Crichton, Travels

We all have stuck in us deep somewhere a keenness for excitement, a savoring for the kooky, a leap-for-life outlook. From this comes the catalytic impetus, without which all other requirements mean nothing. Everyday types are as likely to have this sine qua non as the obvious icon-kickers. The person who strikes off for himself is no hero, nor necessarily even unconventional, but to a greater degree than most people, he or she thinks and acts independently. The vagabond frees in himself the latent urge to live closer to the edge of experience. – Ed Buryn

  • …what most people consider “paradise” is defined in contrast to the stresses of home.
  • In knowing my possibilities, I also knew my limitations.
  • Aboriginal walkabout – walkabout acts as a kind of remedy when the duties and obligations of life cause one to lose track of his or her true self. To correct this, one merely leaves behind all possessions and starts walking.
    • There is no physical goal: It simply continues until one becomes whole again.

One must not delude oneself that we are all alike or destined to be members of some sort of global family. – Jeffrey Taylor, Ex-Peace Corps worker

  • Acknowledging differences and avoiding superficial cures is not just a valuable lesson of volunteer work – it’s often the first step in actually solving the problems that you seek to fix.

He who stays at home beside his hearth and is content with the information which he may acquire concerning his own region, cannot be on the same level as one who divides his life span between different lands and spends his days journeying in search of precious and original knowledge. – al-Masudi, The Meadows of Gold

People say that we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we are seeking is an experience of being alive. – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

[Travel as a form of asceticism] is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances in a manner that enhances the whole person. It is a radical way of knowing exactly who, what, and where you are, in defiance of those powerful forces in society that aim to make us forget. – Kathleen Norris

  • Travel compels you to discover your spiritual side by simply elimination: Without all the rituals, routines, and possessions that give your life meaning at home, you are forced to look for meaning within yourself.
  • Words are symbols, and symbols never resonate the same for everyone.

There is no God but reality. – Sufi saying

  • it is not a declaration of unbelief. Rather, it is a warning to avoid turning inspiration into fetish and tradition into dogma; it is an admonition to never reduce the spiritual realm to the narrow borders of your own perceptions, prejudices, and ideals.

Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we sense them. The least we can do is try to be there. – Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

http://www.vagabonding.net/resources/

Posted: March 10, 2012 in Multimedia
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Fight Club [1999]

Posted: December 9, 2011 in Multimedia
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The warning at the beginning of the DVD, after the copyright warnings reads:

WARNING
If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all who claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think everything you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told you should want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned…… Tyler

Tyler Durden: Reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.

Tyler Durden: Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

Tyler Durden: You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

Tyler Durden: Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.

Narrator: On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

Tyler Durden: Do you know what a duvet is?
Narrator: It’s a comforter…
Tyler Durden: It’s a blanket. Just a blanket. Now why do guys like you and me know what a duvet is? Is this essential to our survival, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word? No. What are we then?
Narrator: …Consumers?
Tyler Durden: Right. We are consumers. We’re the bi-products of a lifestyle obsession.

Narrator: [looking at a Calvin Klein ad on a bus] Is that what a man looks like?
Tyler Durden: [laughs] Self-improvement is masturbation. Now self-destruction…

Chief Seattle 1854 Speech

Posted: November 29, 2011 in Multimedia
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[Reply to an offer from the white government of the United States to “buy” a large area of Indian land.]

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clear and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful Earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and the man, all belong to the same family.

So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great White Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us.

This shining water that moves in streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events in the life of my people. The waters murmur is the voice of my father’s father.

The rivers of our brothers they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember to teach your children that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness that you would give my brother. We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The Earth is not his brother, but his enemy and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father’s graves behind, and he does not care. He kidnaps the Earth from his children, and he does not care.

His father’s grave, and his children’s birthright are forgotten. He treats his mother, the Earth, and his brother, the same, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the Earth and leave behind only a desert.

I do not know. Our ways are different from yours ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand.

There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insect’s wings. But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of a whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night. I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of the pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleansed by a midday rain, or scented with the pinon pine.

The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow’s flowers.

So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition – the white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.

I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be made more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the Earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know – the Earth does not belong to man – man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the Earth – befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life – he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover – Our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land, but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for red man and the white. The Earth is precious to Him, and to harm the Earth is to heap contempt on its creator. The whites too shall pass, perhaps sooner than all other tribes.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are slaughtered, the wild horses tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.

Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the Eagle? Gone.

The end of living and the beginning of survival.

Posted: November 8, 2011 in Quotes
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Since, in the long run, every planetary society will be endangered by impacts from space, every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring — not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive.

– Carl Sagan

More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.

Posted: October 19, 2011 in Quotes
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[Link to book]

Excerpts from Chapter 10: Reformer and Politician

If I should rob you of all you have and then persuade you that what I did is good for you and that you should guard my booty against. others, it would be a very clever trick on my part, wouldn’t it? It would secure me in my stolen possessions. Suppose further that I should also manage to convince you that we must make a rule that no one may touch my stolen wealth and that I may continue to accumulate more in the same manner, and that the arrangement is just and to your own best interests. If such a crazy scheme should be actually carried out, then we’d have the ‘law and order’ of government and capitalism which we have to-day.

It is clear, of course, that laws would have no force if the people did not believe in them and did not obey them. So the first thing to do is to make them believe that laws are ‘necessary and that they are good for them. And it is still better if you can lead them to think that it is they themselves who make the laws. Then they will be willing and anxious to obey them. That’s what is called democracy: to get the people to believe that they are their own rulers and that they themselves pass the laws of their country. That’s the great advantage that a democracy or a republic has over a monarchy. In olden times the business of ruling and robbing the people was much harder and more dangerous. The king or feudal lord had to compel people by force to serve him. He would hire armed bands to make his subjects submit and pay tribute to him. But that was expensive and troublesome. A better way was found by ‘educating’ the populace to believe that they ‘owe’ the king loyalty and faithful service. Governing then became much easier, but still the people knew that the king was their lord and commander. A republic, however, is much safer and more comfortable for the rulers, for there the people imagine that they themselves are the masters. And no matter how exploited and oppressed they are, in a ‘democracy’ they think themselves free and independent.

That is why the average workingman in the United States, for instance, considers himself a sovereign citizen, though he has no more to say about the running of his country than the starved peasant in Russia had under the Tsar. He thinks he is free, while in fact he is only a wage slave. He believes he enjoys ‘liberty for the pursuit of happiness’, while his days, weeks and years, and his whole life, are mortgaged to the boss in the mine or factory.

The people under a tyranny know they are enslaved and sometimes they revolt. The people of America are in bondage and don’t know it. That is why there are no revolutions in America.

Modern capitalism is wise. It knows that it prospers best under ‘democratic’ institutions, with the people electing their own representatives to the lawmaking bodies, and indirectly casting a vote even for the president. The capitalist masters do not care how or for whom you vote, whether it be the Republican or the Democratic ticket. What difference is it to them? Whoever you elect, he will legislate in favor of ‘law and order,’ to protect things as they are. The main concern of the powers that be is that the people should continue to believe in and uphold the existing system. That is why they spend millions for the schools, colleges, and universities which ‘educate’ you to believe in capitalism and government. Politics and politicians, governors and law-makers are only their puppets. They will see to it that no legislation is passed against their interests. Now and then they will make a show of fighting certain laws and favoring others, else the game would lose its interest for you. But whatever laws there be, the masters will take care that they shouldn’t hurt their business, and their well-paid lawyers know how to turn every law to the benefit of the Big Interests, as daily experience proves.