Profound Journeys of 180 Degrees

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I went on a journey one summer with my big white dog and my little orange van.  I headed east, nearly as far east as US roads will allow.  I traveled far enough east to get my little van stuck in the sand and watched as the Atlantic tide came within six feet of washing her away.  I turned 180 degrees and traveled home, back to the gray sands of the Pacific beaches.  Along the way, I had met people from all over the country, I had eye opening conversations with an amazing variety of people who had vastly different perspectives on the world.  My own little world had grown by immense proportions, my mind had been opened.

Within days of returning home, airplanes crashed into buildings I didn’t know existed, and everything changed.  I did not know that day just how much would change.  Immediately I was angry and heartbroken, shocked.  For some time I was interrupted in my journey, blinded by patriotism.  But, as the war rhetoric ramped up, and the focus shifted to Iraq, my anger turned to sadness.  And I began to wonder where the compassion had gone.

I began to reconsider why some would hate us enough to crash airliners full of people into buildings full of people.  I just couldn’t buy the argument that they hated us for our freedoms, I suspected it had more to do with our arrogance, and our ignorance.

That opening of my mind could not be closed, I could no longer see the world the same way.  I had made a profound journey of 180 degrees.  I had stepped out of my own existence to explore the world through others’ ideas of it.  I had discovered that Mark Twain was right when he said, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” in Innocents Abroad.  We can only make profound changes when we are willing to take the journey.

This doesn’t mean we have to get into a car, or get on a train or airplane.  There are people all around us who see things differently than we do.  Our neighbors, the person behind the counter at the grocery store, the guy on the street with a cardboard sign.  Just reach out to those you disagree with, open your mind to the possibility of a profound 180 degree journey in your own view, in your own life, in your own actions.  Reach out, and discover how others have come to their views, and question always how you have come to your own.

Because it is time that we open our eyes and accept that we can never make everyone see the world exactly as we do.  We can never agree on everything.  But we can journey to a common place to stand, united, against the greed, corruption, and war mongering of our current leaders that we all want to change.

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6 thoughts on “Profound Journeys of 180 Degrees

  1. Sometimes these 180-degree journeys can take decades–one of mine did. As a child in grade school, I remember our class being excited about a new “reading comprehension” program in which we read from the Chicago Tribune 2 or 3 times a week (of course, our parents paid for this). Later that fall, the Iranians broke into the U.S. embassy and took dozens of hostages. Americans were naturally very upset–and the media went into overdrive. I believe it was the very first day of the hostage crisis that Ted Koppel appeared on ABC at 10:30 pm to provide updates on the crisis–the show would become “NIGHTLINE.”

    I don’t recall the specific coverage, only the overall effect of instilling hatred, which the media had on me and my class. The Chicago Tribune, and many other newspapers, began to publish a count of the days into the crisis across the top of the paper: “American Hostage Crisis Day 10 (etc.).” At the end of the day, Mr. Koppel would put a final stamp on the message–driving into a generation of Americans the short-sighted belief that Iranians were not capable of being dealt with rationally. Certainly taking over an embassy and taking hostages is a despicable act and an affront to the laws which diplomacy is built upon–but the media was feeding us only short-term causes and not looking into the roots of the Iranians’ anger.

    Looking back on the early coverage it is easy to see the extreme bias which the media was feeding Americans. I wish the first few episodes of Ted Koppel were available online–but here is some ABC coverage from 11/11/79 https: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8bC1DEYbI4
    The coverage was incendiary to say the least–there was no mention of the Hostage Crisis being blowback from the U.S. involvement in the overthrow of Mossadegh in 1954–which certainly is an important backstory. Instead, Americans were led to believe it was Jimmy Carter’s decision to allow the Shah into the U.S. for medical treatment–with very little, if any, mention of the Shah being a U.S.-installed puppet dictator.

    It would take me decades to see through these lies which the media impressed into my belief system. In the end, I came to see that there are dangerous far-right elements in Iran–just as there are dangerous far-right movements in America. Both countries also have plenty of people who only want peace and to live their lives without wars and violence. It was only after I read books by Stephen Kinzer (“Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq”…”The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and their Secret World War”) and William Blum (“Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since WWII”) that my eyes were opened–and I was finally able to take the 180-degree turn.

    Now I have officially turned away from the Corporate News. Last Friday, my stomach churned as I saw the coverage coming out of Paris. Whether the attacks were actual or false flags–it didn’t much matter to me. I knew there would be more violence and less questioning of the militarism which the West is practicing. Defense budgets will be increased, the factories will pump out more weapons of death and destruction, the corporate news will fan the flames–and more people will die under the bombs which are dropped. No long investigations, no trials–just an immediate knee-jerk responses to battle ISIS, a group which came into existence out of the chaos of the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    I truly wish the corporate news was capable of banging drums of peace instead of following the Pentagon’s ever-expansive war drums. Violence only leads to more violence–and the executives of defense corporations filling their off-shore bank accounts with larger figures. For America, WAR is an economic necessity–a fact which George F. Kennan summed up in 1987: “Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military–industrial complex would have to remain, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.”

  2. Thanks for the comment. I agree. Personally I think we have to always remain open to the idea that sometimes when we think our journey is complete, it might not be, even if we have reached the ocean.
    You mentioned a couple of books that haven’t crossed my radar, I’ll have to look into them, thanks!!
    And good quote from George F. Waters, explains a lot, I think.

    1. the comment ended up being longer than I thought it would be…you can find a good interview with Stephen Kinzer on C-Span–the one on The Brothers is excellent (no commercials either)…

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