Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter
Number 38 - 11 December 2006
Copyright 2006 Meru Foundation
Edited by Levanah Tenen
FROM THE EDITOR
Thank you to everyone who has ordered The Alphabet in Genesis,
Meru's new "broadside" editions of published papers, essays, and
graphics. We are continuing our introductory special on these books --
if you purchase the set of 6 greyscale volumes for $99.95, we will add
the full-color "Graphic Essays" volume for free. You can find more
information on "The Alphabet in Genesis" at http://www.meetingtent.com/AlphaInGenesis-Broadsides.2.html .
Also, I encourage and ask those of you who have mailing lists of your
own to announce The Alphabet in Genesis to your readers. I've
posted a one-page printable "flyer" with basic information at http://www.meetingtent.com/AlphaInGenesisFlyer.pdf , and the text of our own announcement is posted in our eTORUS Archives
at http://www.meru.org/Newsletter/number36.html . If
you have questions or would like additional information, please contact
me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at +781-784-3462.
Stan's essay below, "Prison and the Big Dig," discusses one aspect of
the situation in the Middle East. We recognize this is a sensitive
subject for many people. But there are issues of self-awareness and
learning that we feel are important to think about. Stan and I welcome
your comments on this essay.
ESSAY BY STAN TENEN
I've recently been in discussion with friends and acquaintances
interested in pursuing the possibilities for peace in the Middle East.
I've been interested in this since I visited the Kotel (the Western
Wall of the Temple) in Jerusalem in August 1967. It was my spontaneous
-- and not really conscious -- prayer to "let me know if there's
something I can do to help" that may have triggered my stumbling on the
letter-patterning at the beginning of Genesis, a year later in August
So it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, or knows of
the Meru Project, for me to tell you that when I read one of the
postings by one of the people involved in the discussion, below, it
brought me to tears.
I guess people really don't know how this comes to happen.
". . .those who know
Bethlehem and its current plight have been quick to defend the pack's
messages. Our town has become a prison for those of us who live here;
our livelihoods have been strangled by the Israeli wall and the
restrictions on movement, which have severed the arteries which for
centuries have sustained our little town. It is right that Christians
should know this, and that their prayers in this season be directed
towards the many people suffering dire poverty in Bethlehem as a
consequence of the Israeli occupation."
Recently, in a much less critical context, I have felt something
similar. It used to be that highways were parkways, and it was easy to
see where you were going, and exit lanes made sense. Today we have the
Big Dig. And strangely -- or perhaps not so strangely -- this is what I
was reminded of.
PRISON AND THE BIG DIG
(c) 2006 Stan Tenen
The Big Dig construction project connecting the Southeast Expressway,
the Turnpike, and the Ted Williams Tunnel in Boston is amazing to
behold. Except -- there's no way to see it. The Big Dig interchange is
a maze -- rivalling anything in LA or Atlanta -- of narrow high-walled
lanes that channel cars from one road to another. Much of it is
underground, and even what's above ground is such a tangled web that
it's impossible to tell which way you're going from wherever you are.
The Big Dig interchange is a nightmare. It's a nightmare that was
produced out of necessity. You see, many drivers in large cities like
Boston are not really qualified to drive, can't read maps or signs, and
wouldn't care to do so even if they could. These drivers never spot
their exit lane in time to merge from the left to the exit without
wildly cutting across traffic, can't make their way around a rotary
(what traffic circles are called here) without bringing the entire
circle to a screeching, grinding, and often crashing halt, and in
general, aren't paying sufficient attention to the road to know or care
which way they're going -- until their exit comes up and they want to
When people behave blindly, ignorantly, without regard to others,
without planning, and without any interest in the golden rule, it
becomes necessary to protect them from themselves. An open road and
interchange system, and open rotaries and traffic circles, require
intelligent drivers who think and plan ahead, and who yield to others
as they'd like others to yield to them. But we don't have this on the
roads. So many people are so ill-educated and so poorly raised as to be
frantic, angry, and ignorant at all times. They can't make good choices
for themselves. They go from one imbroglio to another and one failure
to another. If there's to be any hope for people that society has
failed to include, care for, and educate, then they must be coddled,
restrained, and constrained, else they'll do damage to themselves and
others. Angry drivers who do not recognize that others have needs and
feelings can't be trusted by others.
The narrow intricately-woven choice-free channels of the Big Dig
highway system are the result of irresponsible driving, and a
government charged with making a road that doesn't have an interest in
educating people long-term. The road-builders are only concerned with
their own narrow responsibility to keep people from killing each other
on the road, and to keep the lanes open. The Big Dig is a prison. It
takes away choice, it trusts no one, it has no room for error, no way
to back up, no way to repair a mistake. It's an equal-opportunity
abuser -- everyone is treated poorly, no one has freedom to choose.
This is all because the good citizens of Boston have failed to educate
their children to think, care, and solve problems for themselves.
The Middle East today is also an area that can be like a prison. People
are not free to travel. There are places where it's not safe to be a
Muslim, there are places where it's not safe to be a Jew, there are
places where it's not safe to be a Christian -- or a Buddhist, or a
Sufi, or a Hindu -- or an atheist. The nations of the Middle East have
not educated their children to think, care, and make life-giving
choices for themselves. Thus, all too many people who themselves have
been ill-raised pass this on to those around them by disruptive,
uncaring, and cruel behavior. The more irresponsible the behavior of
citizens cheated-by-society-into-being-thugs, the more society must
make Big-Dig-like channels and rules that allow no choice for anyone,
not even for people who are healthy and would choose well.
In Boston, when I want to go from the Expressway to the Turnpike, I
have to navigate a narrow maze confined by walls on all sides. The
walls are there because others using this road would smash into each
other or cut each other off, or curse each other out, or otherwise
abuse the privilege of using the roads, if they weren't confined and
Prisons are the result of lack of self-control. Prisons are the result
of never failing to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Walls
that forcibly separate drivers from each other are hardly different
than walls that separate Israelis from Palestinians. Walls that confine
us to apartment blocks or divide us from each other in enclaves are the
result of our own irresponsible personal behavior, or the result of our
not reaching out to see to it that our friends and neighbors, and their
children, are well-raised, well-cared for, and well-educated.
The walls are there -- on the Big Dig in Boston and between Israel and
Palestine -- because our schools are not teaching our children to take
responsibility for their own lives, and for the world they find
themselves in. The walls are there because we blame others for our own
bad driving, and wait for governments to make choices for us.
There's a healthy wall built into all healthy minds. It's called a
"theory of mind", and it's generally known as the golden rule. It tells
us that just as surely as Newton discovered that for every action there
is an equal and opposite reaction, what goes around comes around. If
we'd like to be wealthy, we needn't be greedy. We just need to help
others to be wealthy. If we'd like to be safe and at peace, all we need
to do is to help others to be safe and to be at peace.
When we take responsibility for caring for others, and when we see to
it that parents and teachers teach this to our children, then we won't
need to hire clumsy governments or build channels and walls to do it
Irresponsibility leads to rules which are enforced by physical walls.
The golden rule -- the rule of voluntary responsibility -- leads to
It's time we take responsibility to choose life.
Thank you for reading this issue of the Meru Foundation eTORUS
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