Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 13 (since 2011-12-05 16:00:12)

Kevin R. Vixie

Kevin R. Vixie is a Mathematician at Washington State University who balances his time between mathematical research and teaching and his family and his shop.


Showing comments 13 - 1

  • Israel has no answer to BDS, Barghouti tells packed hall at Columbia
    • It seems to me that the goals of the BDS are clealy good aIt is clear that the goals of the BDS movement are good ones, and that the nonviolence supports those goals in very important ways. But recently I have been thinking more about the phenomena of unintended consequences. What I wonder is if, with a nuclear armed state filled with radicals who think that everyone everywhere wants to wipe them out, it is a good idea to back them into a corner too quickly. Seems very dangerous.


      Of course, real change on a large scale is always *very* difficult and it sometimes ends up making things pretty bad for many people.

      But I reject the "to make an omelet, you have to break eggs" argument that some revolutionaries use to justify bad things. In fact, I think that "the end justifies the means" is probably the most evil principle of action out there.

      That is actually why I like the BDS movement -- it is based on the right principles.

      I do think that for this to end well, there will have to be some movement somewhere that can harness the desire of the average Israeli and average Palestinian to simply live in peace. How to go around, how to defuse the power of the demagogues, the fascists, the sociopaths on both sides -- that will be the real challenge. Because in the end, everybody will have to live together.


      Seems like this movement is the only movement with a plausible chance of causing things to shift in the right direction. Yet, the potential danger in pushing this too quickly makes me wonder about whether adjustments could be made to slow things down in a way that diffuses the extremists inside Israel and Palestine. Reducing the temperature of the situation so that the worst folk cannot tap that energy source seems to me to be a critical component of a positive, sustainable long term outcome.

      Nevertheless, because it is based on the right principles, I support the BDS movement.

  • Video: Gurvitz says settlers threaten to detonate a civil war
  • Dissecting IDF propaganda: The numbers behind the rocket attacks
  • Both sides are wrong in the ‘Israel Firsters’ debate
    • Reading the article and the comments, I have to agree with RoHa ... it is a storm in a teacup. Yet it is a very revealing teacup, kind of like those cleverly devised scientific experiments that distill some phenomena to an essence in order to expose fundamentals.

      I also agree that to focus on names (Israel-first, anti-semitic, terrorist, etc) is a distraction that draws us away from deepening experience, to superficial chatter that at best, only references deeper things. Or at least that is the tendency.

      What fundamental insights are being exposed? To a large extent, I think they are the same things that life teaches us all the time, even though we are usually pretty distracted by the details. Those things are the big issues, the issues spiritual teachers throughout history have realized were key to everything, and therefore worth devoting time to.

      Finally, if one listens to the meta-message of, for example, a slight shift from justice to nationalism, one can, even without condemning the name-calling, realize that we need to make sure that justice, in it's most personal, most intimate, visceral expression, never leaves us for something less personal, more abstract -- like tribal or national loyalty, even though there is a place for those things, at times.

  • 'I better not call Betty' -- My long path to unreasonable optimism about the conflict
    • I am signing off this discussion, on to other things.

      Cliff and Eljay, I wasn't sure how to respond to you both at some point later on the the discussion. It seemed you were both reading some comments with less care, and others very lightly, if at all. But it could also just be a function of the artificiality of this mode of communication, that it would all clear up over a series of cups of coffee or tea.

      All that said, this was interesting. Thanks for all the comments, appreciation, questions, and yes, even the mild conflict.

      Cheers, Kevin

    • Regarding the 3rd point: I see no evidence that humans differ
      from one another in potential for good or evil. While there are
      clear examples of people choosing good or evil, I cannot see this
      as something they are doomed to choose or that some are better
      than others in their intrinsic natures. The fine line between
      good and evil, between the heart of darkness and the full light
      of day, has impressed itself on my awareness in various ways,
      some of which have been very personal. I have seen old fears of
      loss turn into a brutal, encompassing rage, jarring me to the core,
      removing the illusion that I am somehow better.

      I have now come to the conclusion that only through release of
      anything binding me to fear can I be unmoved by the close
      proximity of that fine line.

      And finally, yes, understanding others by putting myself in their
      shoes is indeed a critical part of how I have come to the 3rd
      point. In some ways, I think that practice, that discipline,
      contains everything, including the esoteric notions about
      releasing fear.

    • I see there is lots of warmth to spread around here ;~)


      I will make three comments:

      1) Though you may have already gathered this from my other responses, I only gave up an attempt to gain a foundation that was tribal/national/etc. through a process that was painful and uncomfortable. And all I really know, is that it seemed necessary for me to let go of those identifications as foundations in order to gain a deeper freedom to create and connect. But I would never, ever condemn someone for having a foundation in a group or identity, though without excusing behavior that hurts others. If it works for them and it does no harm, fantastic. From the evidence I have seen, there are many people in the world for which this works very well. (In fact, I would feel much poorer if all such people were forced to forget the richness of their background, their identifications, though that doesn't extend to condoning damage done in the name of cultural integrity/preservation.)

      2) Now I am really stepping into it, but here goes. When I look at Israel (or Canada or the US) and I consider the damage each has done, I feel anger at the injustices. As I said in my article, there were times I had to stop reading for extended periods of time due to the huge stress it caused. On the other hand, when I look at the demonic treatment of the Jewish diaspora throughout history, how could I not want that to end? I end up with the impossible situation of yes and no, simultaneously. While I believe that there were options other that the formation of Israel, that is not what happened. That is not the reality we have to deal with. When I think of Israelis and Palestinians as friends, as brothers and sisters, and ask myself how would I want my brothers and sisters to be treated, how would I want to be treated -- and that extends to those who have responded to real or perceived hurts with violence -- the answer is clear. It is, "with as much dignity and respect and understanding as possible". Whatever else is true, I can't imagine that anyone looking at the current situation from that point of view would say we are doing well.

      Preface for the last comment: the position I am condemning in 3) is not one I think anybody here is taking. Rather, it explains part of my viewpoint and where I have arrived in my efforts to deal with bad situations, with compassion.

      3) When we take the position that that evil thing we see someone else doing is not something we are capable of - an opinion that history convinces me is not true, then we have accepted the principle that escalates conflict and abandons healing. I am not in any way reducing responsibility of perpetrators for what they do, nor lessening the sense of their terrible impact. I am simply realizing that if I deceive myself into thinking I am fundamentally superior to them, that if I were in their situation, I would be incapable of doing what they have done, I am a part of the problem. (Notice I did not say that we would do what they do - I believe we can always choose. There are, of course, flavors of evil for which I have no stomach. But, for example, I can easily imagine myself getting caught up in the drive to expel the Palestinians if I had just personally experienced Hitler. And I believe that even though I also believe that this expulsion was deeply wrong, with terrible long term consequences.)

    • Hi Dagon,

      From my experience, people do perform much better under the influence of confidence, everything else being equal. In fact, for those with intuitive gifts, it is a critical component of the exercise of those gifts. Taking it a step further, because the environment and what we do has a very large influence in the development of "genius", we see that confidence plays a crucial role.

      So, your Jewish acquaintance in college may have been grasping at the only basis of confidence that he had at his disposal - as sad as that would have been, it seems quite possible.

      In general, our society cuts people down, looking for ways to squish creative urges and repress access for a whole host of reasons. And I would say that was true, even if this fellows parents were negligent in their unreasonable encouragement of his aspirations.

      Of course, it is quite possible that he did not know himself, did not know his true muse. That is a problem that confidence usually can't rectify (though not if you measure it by the success of some comedians I have heard :~). It is appalling how little effort goes into helping other discover their strengths, at least in any deep, attentive way.

      One last comment: too bad he robbed himself of all real relationships with Palestinians through the attitude displayed in his “he’s a good Palestinian”
      comment. Much less richness in his life as a result.


    • As I said above, no worries. The discussion is good.

      I am interested in unity that has almost nothing to do with uniformity. So such discussions, which seem generally polite, are good with me.


    • Hi MB,

      No worries. If taking that tone is the worst thing you have done (if we can even consider it to be something bad) you would be a saint ;~)

      I hope my responses added a little illumination without too much heat.

      Cheers (really), Kevin

    • Another comment to MB: I would suggest to you that your cynicism may have shifted your attention from the fact the modern world has robbed huge numbers of people of a sense of belonging and community, and that those (occasionally pathetic) attempts to belong to something that seems noble, or admirable (no matter how delusional) is not something that any of us are immune to.

      Then there are the attempts, driven by misunderstandings of ourselves, to feel special through various identifications.

      I guess I see very little to hold in contempt here, at least when I consider my own path that was characterized by such intense needs and misunderstandings. Possibly you have a background that does give you an immunity and a higher ground. But even so, I suspect cynicism never helps you get your message across.

      (Even if those claims that trigger you are true - and how do you know they are false? - their measurable impact would be minuscule. Seems like that should excite pity.)

    • MB, regarding your cynicism: the subject you address holds little interest for me now, but it was a very important part of my story. While I believe I do have "Jewish blood" on my mothers side, it is how my hangups, losses, illusions, etc. interacted with that belief (and other beliefs) that was important.

      At this point in time, the question of exactly what genes inhabit my physical makeup is much less interesting to me than what I am doing to shape my environment, in the here and now. You could say that I have given up an interest in genetics for one in epi-genetics.

    • Regarding abandoning self-care: I mean self-care as in distrust, hoarding (in all its senses), worry, the burden of schemes of self-preservation, fear of loss, the illusion of a self that has existence independent of all else not self-care as in delight in the exercise of your creative identity, joyful immersion in connection, and the deep development of your abilities and talents.

      Regarding inclusiveness: I certainly see no reason why many Jewish Israelis are not part of that community and place that I talk about at the end of my piece. In fact, it is the only vision of belonging that I have found that is fundamentally open to everyone, yet at the same time meaningful, and not just some vacuous and arbitrary label.

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