Sons of Anarchy

The Syrian Orthodox Church was established by St.Peter, the chief of the Apostles and the first patriarch in AD 37 at Antioch (now Antakya in Turkey). The church suffered all kinds of tortures and hardships from all quarters right from its establishment, but its flag still soars high. Today the church is spread around the globe spanning 27 countries headed by a patriarch residing at Damascus in Syria.


Generous hands are Blessed hands.

Proverbs 22:9-10


It is unfortunate that anarchy is regarded as a purely negative thing. I've met several anarchists and they aren't bomb wielding maniacs with agendas to take us back to the Dark Ages. Instead they are against the old forms of government. Ever since the end of World War Two Nazi propaganda tactics have been combined with Freudian psychology to sell us a certain reality tunnel. Education and the mass media have been as much as turning citizens into placid robots as it has been about opening up the potential of the human mind for thought, expression and powerful intuition.

Academia is horribly slow in catching up. It is almost a rule that any break-through in the sciences will only become orthodoxy after being ridiculed by the presiding generation of professors. None of Einstein's revered peers endorsed his radical new theories of the space-time continuum. At the end of Einstein's life when he was placed as the leading mind of his age he too ridiculed the theories of new up and coming physicists that have since Einstein's passing become universally accepted.

Sons of Anarchy advocate a breaking down of the barriers of authority and the systems of repression built into state education programs. We reject the agenda foisted upon us by the mass media. We look to the fringes, the outsiders and the visionaries who now seem mad, but in the future will be revered. Most of all we reject the asymmetry of information that helps the ruling elite hide the true reality of how they are exploiting and cheating the masses. For example, why is that democrats argue with republicans and socialists with capitalists over the spending of tax money? They are hijacking the debate when what we should be continually asking is how much of my tax dollar is being given in contracts to the military-industrial complex? You moan about asylum seekers and Mexicans and any vulnerable outsider but how much of your tax dollar really goes to these people? How much goes to people who are already impractically rich? Are you stupid enough to imagine that they will let you join their ranks or that the over time you put in at work will really change your position in society?

It is only by a clear presentation of the facts that matter and the subsequent ground swell of desire for change will things ever get better. Every day the news should remind us that there is no such thing as an 'eco car' and that carbon levels have reached critical levels. Instead they tell us about some stupid little rally on the stock market.

A true anarchists loves the people and wants to see real democracy - the will of the people represented and carried out by the people and a total removal of the systems of nescience that maintain the position of an unworthy ruling elite. Every man can be a ruler.


Patriarch

The Indian Syrian Church as set up by St. Thomas was once part of the Church of the East that was centered in Persia. They used Syriac litury. The beauty of Syriac is that it is a language that is closely related to Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus and his apostles.

It was sad that the Portuguese Priests that came with the colonizers and imperialist from the West sought to stop the Indian Christian community in Kerala and elsewhere in India from using the Syriac litutgy. As is the case with the Catholic church of the Europe they were power hungry and sought to bring all Christians under the direct control of the Pope, make Latin the language of Christian prayer and impose their version of the holy story and theology on all good believers. The fact that the good Christians of India knew more about the tongue of Jesus then they did was of no import.

In 1653 things came to a head and Archdeacon Thomas swore never to submit to the Portuguese demands in the Coonan Cross Oath. This split the Indian community. Those who followed Thomas became known today the Malankara Church.

For a while Archdeacon formed an friendship with the Syriac Orthodox Church. The churches united in liturgy and were happy to have the local Catholicos system and the Patriarch system. This ended when the Patriarch Ignatius Peter IV started demanding land rights from the Indian Malankara Church.

The Indian Syrian Church was further divided by a dispute in the line of Patriarchs caused by the Ottoman Empire deposing Ignatius Abdul Masih II. Those who followed the newly appointed Patriarch became known as the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Those who didn’t became the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church. In essence the Malankara retained the local identity and traditions, whereas the Jacobite accepted outside Patriarchal control.

The two groups were briefly united between 1958 and 1975 but have since split again. It is, of course, not an acrimonious split between the two groups of the Indian Syrian Church.

Patriarchs and Theology

The story of the Indian Syrian Church is one of cultural significance. The power politics of the time was helping to obscure the important living resource of a very early group of Christians whose liturgy, language and theology was much closer to the first followers of Jesus than the Western Church.

Since controversial readings of the Dead Sea Scrolls suggest that the New Testament is in fact an esoteric text about taking magic mushrooms to receive divine visions more needs to be done to research this claim by looking at Aramaic, Syriac and the time just after Jesus’s death. It is a trippy Jesus figure that might emerge. Consider how the Patriarchs and other clergy from the Syriac faiths wear bulbous hats and red pointed hats that do indeed suggest the fly agaric.

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Nagpur

Nagpur is the third largest city in Maharashtra State in India. It is located at the Zero Mile Marker meaning that is literally at the center of India. The river Nag flows through the city. In the Marathi language ‘Nag’ means cobra. According to the famous activist for justice for dalits or untouchables Dr. B. R. Ambedkar the people of Nagpur belong to the dynasty of the Nag who were followers of the Buddha. This post will look at the movement started by the late Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and the present condition of the dalits in Nagpur.

The system of caste and of untouchability is perhaps the greatest stain on the religion of Hinduism. Many Indian religious leaders and intellectuals have tried to fight the inherent discrimination found in the notion of the untouchable. Mahatma Gandhi implored the Hindus to view dalits as harijan meaning ‘children of God’. Gandhi’s immense influence did have some impact in improving the lot of untouchable people. Many inspired by the great leader changed their notions of caste, and the Congress Party enacted laws to make it mandatory to employ a quota of dalits in government jobs.

Picture of women in Nagpur

However, sadly the prejudice that makes the dalits dirty people who have to live on the outskirts of town, who cannot drink from the main water supply, who can be beaten or killed for just casting his or her shadow on a Brahmin, who can only do the filthiest jobs still continues. Dalits function as the ‘other’ in Hinduism: they define the holy purity of those within the caste system by their contrasting impurity. Dalits are not members of the caste system but they are members of Hinduism. Hinduism ironically needs the untouchables to make its social hierarchy work.

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar understood that despite the law and the implorations of Gandhi nothing would greatly improve for the dalits. In Nagpur the dalits were particularly poorly treated. It is a city that is famous for its Hindu extremism.

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was born an untouchable. He was one the first of his caste to get a university education. He went on to be a respected professor in history and philosophy. He had fought the Chaturvarna system (the categorization of Hindu society into four varnas) and all the discrimination that it caused. His great contribution to the fight for social justice in India was to fight religion with religion. He pointed out the fact that Buddhism started in India and that philosophically and ethically the two religions are similar. Buddhism was the birthright of the Indian, not a foreign religion. Most importantly Buddhism treated everyone as equal. On 14 October 1956 in Nagpur B. R. Ambedkar along with his supporters converted to Buddhism starting the Dalit Buddhist movement which is still active. It was a masterful attempt at restoring the human dignity of millions of people. Simply put it gave the dalits the means to say ‘enough is enough’ I refuse to be your whipping boy any longer’.

The system of untouchability is still a strong presence in India and Nagpur. It is a prejudice like racism that is hard to combat because it is based on irrational fear. The dalits who remained Hindu in Nagpur still largely face the same uphill struggle to gain their human rights. What the great Dr. Ambedkar did along with others is to change the heart and minds of many Indian intellectuals, to show them the need to reform Hinduism. Today, many famous Hindus are not ashamed to come forward and say the caste system is wrong.

It is interesting to note that Buddhism is perhaps India’s great cultural contribution to the world. Since its inception it has spread over much of Asia. Buddhist Thailand has managed to integrate the largest group of Chinese ethnicity outside of China into its own culture. Thai-Chinese make up 11% of the population of Thailand and are regarded no differently to any other Thais. It is the great blot on an otherwise profound religion that Hinduism cannot learn to be inclusive and fair handed with all its myriad members.

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Bhopal: a lesson in Corporate Crime and Disaster Fatigue

It seems every year there is a new disaster either natural or man-made that we are supposed to emotionally and financially respond to. Recently we’ve had the oil spill off New Zealand, the earthquakes in Haiti, Turkey Chile and Japan, the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture in Japan, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the fear of avian flu.

Bhopal memorialAnd before the recent batch of disasters we had the Exxon Valdes oil spill, SARs and foot and mouth epidemics and the Indian Ocean tsunami. Just the most cursory search of the internet will reveal a dark litany of deaths caused by negligence, freak weather and tectonic movement. It seems to go by so fast it is easy to forget. The Chile mining disaster when we followed the fate of that brave band of trapped miners is already fading from memory. The scenes of devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 seem almost as a half forgotten dream. The world is even starting to lose interest in the epoch defining moment in 2001 when the World Trade Center was attacked.

Our children will read about these things in their history books and yawn. Their minds will wonder to sunny beaches in Koh Samui, to Christmas and to break time games of football. The only ones who remember are the victims and the family of the victims. The media bombards us with gruesome images and then celebrities and politicians make appeals for money. In short the media onslaught and the demand on our sympathies and resources are causing disaster fatigue. The result of this is that often the perpetrators get off lightly.

A good example of this is the Bhopal disaster in 1984. The Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India leaked methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals. The immediate death toll was 3,000 and 8,000 people have since died from gas related diseases. (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster).

Countless more inhabitants of the city of Bhopal have permanent respiratory problems, reproductive defects, immune and neurological disorders, lung injury and birth defects. It is hard for the Indian authorities to get exact figures of the numbers of people affected but it is estimated that the Bhopal pesticide plant disaster has affected between 100,000 to 200,000 people.

And what were the punishments handed out to the negligent factory owners that deliberately ignored safety regulations, poorly maintained the plant and used unskilled labor all to save money and improve the bottom line? In 2010 7 ex-employees of UCIL along with the former chairman received 2-year prison sentences and personal fines of $2,000. The lack of justice is a heinous crime in itself.

Karl Marx noted that the first time history repeats itself it is tragic, the second time it is farcical. He forgot to add that the fourth and fifth time it happens it becomes absurd and then forgettable. Only those who suffer feel the injustice permanently; only they refuse to believe the white washing; only they refuse to go on to the next disaster.

It is time that the punishments start to fit the crimes; that we do more to prepare and prevent rather than reel from one shocking story to the next. It is time that we stop letting the world be ruled by the greed for pieces of paper (money) and instead by common sense. It is such a simple idea that it is anarchic.

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E

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A

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