Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Discussion of the SES' satellite schools in Australia and New Zealand.
Middle Way
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby Middle Way » Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:35 am

In wanting to respond to some interesting points raised above, I first had to find out what an "ad hominem" argument was, and Google told me it's "person A makes claim X, person B makes an attack on person A, therefore X is false".

This was useful to appreciate because it's such a common arguing ploy, and it works so often, and will certainly be used by rusted-on SFSK-ers dealing with the most unwanted revelations that the Mavros have been caught out lying.

But reflecting on the invitation by MOTS and AT for GT to outline what "the message" is, it occurred to me that maybe it's incumbent on those of us who maintain that the teachings of SFSK have some merit to also try answering, knowing that there is no "answer" and so it can only be a personal perspective. For me, the message is best summed up in the following story which I came across many years ago.

An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me.....it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

“One wolf is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

“The other wolf is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

“This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”

The children thought about this for a moment and then one child asked, “Which wolf will win, Grandfather?”
The old Cherokee simply replied.....
“The one you feed.”

Or put even more simply, the Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying “my religion is very simple, my religion is kindness”.

To me this is truth whether or not spelt with a capital T. I believe/think/consider/feel without a shred of scientific empirical evidence or logical reasoning that this little story sums up the essential take-home message of religion/spirituality/proper living/ego-busting or whatever it is that's going on here. I am content with the notion that the “good wolf” represents “God” and the “bad wolf” represents the “ego” or “Satan”.

And sometimes I am aware that when the trigger name of “Mrs Mavro” comes up, I do not feed the good wolf. And sometimes I am not aware of this at all. So as simple as this “message” is, it is most definitely not easy to apply.

I'd be really interested in other's personal perspectives of the "message".

(BTW: MOTS and AT discuss the problems with using the word “truth”. It reminds me a little of “twilight”. Everybody knows what it means, but everybody would have a different conception of it and how on earth do you define it so that everyone has a common conception?)

MW

ManOnTheStreet
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:27 pm

Thanks MW for another interesting post.

Message:
Middle Way wrote:Or put even more simply, the Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying “my religion is very simple, my religion is kindness”.

This quote and the story preceding it are little more than injunctions to live a moral life. If this is all you took from the School then I'm very happy!

However, in my experience, and no doubt the experience of others, this was not the 'message' of the School. I remember very clearly being told by Mr Mavro that the 'teaching' was not about 'merely living a moral life'. If the 'message' was just to live a moral life no one would need to come to School. Clearly there was something more going on then just 'moral living'. If morality was the object, then whence all the talk about sanskaras, 'truth' and 'the ahankara'? Living morally doesn't require you to know about any of these concepts, and yet they were preached to us year after year.

Twilight:
At the risk of sounding overly pedantic, I would say that twilight is easy to define: It's just the period of time when the sun is at a specified angular distance below the horizon.

Perhaps you were referring to how people appreciate 'twilight'? But this is not the same thing as defining the concept.

Also, I don't think everyone knows what 'truth' means. That is why we need a common definition, at least to get the ball rolling.

MOTS

Middle Way
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby Middle Way » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:43 pm

As soon as I posted it MOTS, I knew that's what you'd say about the 'twilight' example, lol! Fair enough, and to echo what I said to you in our private posts, all the best to you in your search for the common definition of "truth". As I also told you, I'm pleased that there are people like you doing this, because it's certainly not my cup of tea, and it needs to be done.

MW

actuallythere
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby actuallythere » Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:50 am

@MW

I think MOTS was pointing out that it is impossible to have a universally accepted definition of what the truth is, so in fact it is better not to use the term with the false assumption that everyone is agreed on what it means.

I really love the Cherokee story, a wonderful rendition of common narratives of good versus bad that can be found in so many cultures.

Still, in my opinion the use of the phrase 'the truth' about the Cherokee story is inappropriate because it is such an extremely loaded, authoritative and essentialistic term. It might be more accurate to describe this as 'Cherokee morality' or 'a truth'. By that token, we can talk about (i) 'SFSK moral guidelines', but not (ii) 'The Truth'. The first term is fair and accurate, the second term includes gross assumptions about the unquestionable authority of the information that it is referring to. It is a jargon term and one can ask why both the SFSK and the Soviet communist party of Joseph Stalin used it so conspicuously.

Obviously there are plenty of other words which one needs to be careful about - like 'healthy' on the side of a packet of muesli, and 'freedom' in a speech by a president.

Am sure we all know the work of George Orwell, who wrote at length about the use of the word 'truth' - including the truth that 2+2 = 5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2_%2B_2_%3D_5

and a Ministry of Truth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministry_of_Truth

Am signing off with an apt quote from 1984:

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable—what then?

Middle Way
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby Middle Way » Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:27 am

It might be safer then for me to use the term "that resonates with me" (eg the Cherokee message) rather than "I think that's the truth", except SES and SFSK etc have appropriated the "resonates" term too, and now that's become loaded! Oh dear, what a minefield language can become.

still smiling though

MW

actuallythere
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby actuallythere » Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:53 am

@MW

what a minefield language can become


You bet. It seems that becoming aware of the psychological effect of verbal cues used by a persuasive group, and how these verbal cues can be used to deceptively indoctrinate its members, is key to understanding it.

By the same token, it might be an idea for people outside such groups to consider the effect of using the c-word.

Some literature on the subject by e.g. Margaret Thaler Singer, Janja Lalich, Steven Hassan and others...

e.g. this American government report http://www.cesnur.org/testi/DIMPAC.htm
Last edited by actuallythere on Sat Sep 01, 2012 9:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

Unique
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby Unique » Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:26 am

Middle Way wrote:It might be safer then for me to use the term "that resonates with me" (eg the Cherokee message) rather than "I think that's the truth", except SES and SFSK etc have appropriated the "resonates" term too, and now that's become loaded! Oh dear, what a minefield language can become.

still smiling though

MW

Thank you MW and AT, points taken. I do feel though that we must not hesitate to use whatever words we find to most accurately express our points,however "safe" they may or may not be. How far can you go, searching for the absolutely "safe" word...is there one? Inevitably, some words will necessitate clarification,considering the number of people making their points and the range of contexts and interpretations that may occur. It is all part of the communication process.

Also, not everybody can/would want to post only texts that follow strict definitions and exact terms. People may simply want to express their thoughts and feelings, pass some information to others or describe their experiences in the best way they can. Others can, most of the time , understand the points made or sentiments described without pedantically defining every word ( I am not suggesting that anyone has been defining it that way so far). Some of the contributors to the forums are particularly well learned and able to express their points in a systematic and accurate way,and their discussions are always very informative and beneficial to us all. But the same is not expected from everyone else , for it is obviously not necessary and it does not mean that other contributions are less valid.

I'd like to think that we are all free to express our selves in our own way and in our own words, even if our contributions are not always of the highest philosophical/debating standard.No one should feel obliged to post only "safe" words and "proven" statements here. Otherwise, we'll all end up being too "SES- forums- correct" at the end! People are welcome to entertain their own way of thinking, believing and/or reasoning as long as they don't try to force it on others.
I hope I said what I meant to say!
Cheers

ManOnTheStreet
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Sat Sep 01, 2012 2:18 pm

Unique wrote:I do feel though that we must not hesitate to use whatever words we find to most accurately express our points,


Yes - "accurately" is the key word there. I hardly think that a fragment like "the truth is that you were faced with the Truth" accurately expresses anything at all.

Unique wrote:Inevitably, some words will necessitate clarification,considering the number of people making their points and the range of contexts and interpretations that may occur.


Exactly. My point before was simply to say that if we're going to have a discussion about something like the "message of the School", we need to at least decide what that message is first. Such a decision requires more precise formulations of the "message" than just "it's the message".

Also, there is a difference between simply expressing your own personal impressions and making a rebuttal/answer to a previous post (as is the case in this thread of the forum). If we are going to answer other people's posts this immediately implies that a discussion is going on, particularly if contrary views are being expressed. In this context, I think it's important to be accurate in the way we characterise each other's posts and use language that is commonly understood by everyone contributing. This in turn requires that we work out commonly understood definitions for the words we use. Otherwise, everyone will just be talking at cross-purposes and there will be no point to the discussion.

In fact, I think that half the reason people get hooked in the School is the vague language used to get the concepts across. Anyone can manipulate vague language to suit their own purposes, and any questioning of the language results in further obfuscation. It just very easy to be confused when there are 6 different meanings given to every word used in the School. I'm striving to narrow it down to one definition per word so that no one can get confused as to the meaning of what I say here.

Unique wrote:People are welcome to entertain their own way of thinking, believing and/or reasoning as long as they don't try to force it on others.


Of course they are, but for a discussion to take place there needs to be at least some common ground, otherwise we're comparing apples with oranges.

MOTS

actuallythere
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby actuallythere » Sat Sep 01, 2012 5:21 pm

@Unique

I'd like to think that we are all free to express our selves in our own way and in our own words, even if our contributions are not always of the highest philosophical/debating standard.No one should feel obliged to post only "safe" words and "proven" statements here. Otherwise, we'll all end up being too "SES- forums- correct" at the end!


I agree and I would have thought that went without saying, especially on a forum discussing indoctrination and thought control. People can say whatever they want. But euphemisms won't be understood if they are not used the same way by everyone.

What if I told you The Truth is that I'm not a duck? You might accept it.

But what if I peppered my conversation with phrases like, "join me in China, then you will see the The Truth", or "read Das Kapital, and you will be faced with The Truth", or "look at the incredible hydro-electric dam that was built on the Yangtze by The Truth" - wouldn't you ask me to quit assuming that you've agreed with me what the truth is? Am I not using a euphemism that is meaningless to you? Am I not using loaded language?

Or what if I told you to run up a lot of The Truth, because you can always pay back The Truth. America rules the world because it uses The Truth. Come to my bank and I'll show you how The Truth works. Wouldn't you ask me what I was going on about?

The SFSK uses the phrase in exactly the same euphemistic way.

But, it gets more ominous than that. Pravda was called Pravda to imply other news organizations were lying - in fact it was Pravda that was lying. Could it be that like with Pravda, the SFSK is also implying that those who don't have the truth have the lie? If so, how can we decide where truth and lies are?

My main point: one should be observant of how loaded language is used to indoctrinate.

Personally, my understanding of the word 'truth' is that it is an antonym of 'lie'. It is as simple as that. So, according to my understanding of truth, truth is too abstract for any organization (including SES and its satellite schools) to say that a person reaching a certain personal or spiritual threshold is 'the truth'. Because the truth is that I am not a duck. The truth is I just drank a cup of tea. The truth is not a phenomenon given to me by the BBC, or my piano instructor, or my estate agent, or a political cause, or a spiritual group. All of these may be capable of telling the truth, of showing an aspect of truth; but none offers me a perfect form of something that is commonly known as the truth.

My secondary point: words can trigger behavioural responses.

Personally, I choose not to use the pejorative c-word, because I believe it hurts the feelings of members of SES etc who are reading these forums, it causes an angry reaction, alienates them and drives them back into voluntary psychological imprisonment. I have seen in happen. I have not stopped anyone using the c-word, I have explained why I believe it is counter-productive.

These are my personal views, and it is vital for you to reject them if you disagree with them. You think what you want - so do I.

Middle Way
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby Middle Way » Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:20 pm

actuallythere wrote:Because the truth is that I am not a duck. The truth is I just drank a cup of tea.
I'm very glad you wrote that AT, because I was starting to wonder whether the word 'truth' could ever be used here without provoking a reaction.
actuallythere wrote:My secondary point: words can trigger behavioural responses.

In fact I was going to ask you if you said "that's a duck" whether I would be able to reply "that's the truth" without the risk of provoking a discussion about communist regime thought control, so you've answered that question.

In my second posting I said to be aware of the ego helps to control it, a pretty innocuous statement I would have thought given this lies at the heart of why talking therapies work. If we could never be aware of our ego, I'd be out of a job. The simple fact is being aware of your own anger, say, helps to quell it. I elicited a pretty forceful reply from you about my statement, that it was a "lie", and that to believe what I said was "self-deceptive". At the time I considered for some time how to reply to that, but in the end didn't worry about it, on the grounds that no matter how I phrased a reply, it would still elicit an emotional reaction to the trigger phrase: "control the ego".

So I agree fully with all of Unique's posting, especially
Unique wrote:No one should feel obliged to post only "safe" words and "proven" statements here. Otherwise, we'll all end up being too "SES- forums- correct" at the end!

Exactly, because sometimes reading all these posts, I have a reaction of "this is a bit like being back in SFSK having to be overly concerned with watching what I say".

And MOTS, I understand it is important to get clear commonly accepted definitions of every important concept, but I'm not sure this is actually achievable in practice. For example, I could easily shut down a work meeting with 10 people present by insisting that every non-trivial word used be debated and agreed-on by all present before the next word could then be similarly dealt with. In fact this meeting wouldn't be shut down: I would quite rightly be thrown out.

ManOnTheStreet wrote:In fact, I think that half the reason people get hooked in the School is the vague language used to get the concepts across.
As an example of the unworkability of the process, I picked the above quote at random from your posting. I would like to know how you arrived at the precise measurement of 'half'? What sources have you used, how do you know it is not a quarter, or five eighths? Define 'people' (could some types of people be more "hookable" than others, and exactly what does 'hooked' mean anyway? Is it possible for some to be more "hooked" than others, depending on whether we can all agree on the definition of "hooked"? What about "vague"? How is that defined? What do we mean by "the concepts"? It is important before we move on that everybody reading these posts has a shared and agreed understanding of the school's "concepts". Otherwise it is completely pointless even having a discussion about the school's "concepts".

Clearly this is unworkable.

actuallythere wrote:My main point: one should be observant of how loaded language is used to indoctrinate.
To follow the above theme, let's be really careful about how we define the word "loaded". We really should have a common understanding of the "loaded" word "loaded", but unfortunately that is not going to be possible because I "reckon", to introduce an Australianism, if you give me 100 humans, I will give you 100 conceptions of that word. And I can't prove any of this but I reckon it might be the truth.

MW

actuallythere
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby actuallythere » Sun Sep 02, 2012 6:46 am

@MW

I'm not sure that the comparison of this forum to the SFSK is apt. If the moderator were to start deleting comments to steer things in certain ways, that would be unreasonable - but there are no restrictions on opinion here. This is a discussion forum. So we freely discuss things including the word 'truth'. Difference of opinion is entirely natural, and interesting.

I do agree that being observant of the ego helps to control it. But I don't believe that egocentric reward is necessarily wrong; nor do I believe that control of one's ego is more important than many other things, such as honesty, empathy and so on.

You wrote:

I elicited a pretty forceful reply from you about my statement, that it was a "lie", and that to believe what I said was "self-deceptive".


If my normally lousy memory is correct on this occasion, I expressed the opinion that egocentric reward is what draws people into SES and motivates them to stay there. I added that in my opinion being observant of this egocentric reward does not stop it being an egocentric reward, and I would say that believing otherwise is a form of lying to oneself. But I don't think that goes as far as personally accusing you of lying to other people here on this forum. If I inadvertently offended you, I apologize.

There is a practical aspect to my point. It appears that a major problem at SES is that people are often too certain that they are aware of their ego, and too convinced that they in are control of it. That is the self-deception I refer to. A common theme from SES victims of psychological and physical abuse, about their abusers: in some way observance of what was happening legitimized it for their abusers. Their moral compass stopped working because it was made subordinate to higher, apparently spiritual goals - and the conviction that they had become special people (the prospect of which had seduced them into SES in the first place, for reasons of personal psychology). To my mind, that is wrong.

Language is key to indoctrination. Personally I see differences between the claims that "The truth is I am not a duck" and "The truth is we are invading Iraq because it hates freedom". Would you really treat both claims in the same way? Is it unreasonable nitpicking to ask question about the use of language in one of these statements?

There are important differences between censorship, nitpicking, observation, persuasion, etc. So I don't see anything wrong in analysing these things here in an open manner where everyone is entitled to their opinion, and to disagree.

On the specific subject you raised about anger management - that being aware of one's anger can help to control it. In fact we're in agreement. My issue - and I suppose you might concur - is when this process becomes a short term suppressant without addressing the very deep reasons about where this anger is coming from.

One example - I happen to know a soldier with traumatic combat experience who went into talking therapy for his uncontrollable bouts of rage -(i) being aware that such an explosion of anger is about to happen was one thing, (ii) analysing the deeper, underlying personal causes was another. As far as I can tell, at SES there is a lot of (i) displacing (ii), causing the opposite of self-awareness. The outcome has been tragic. But there are ways out of tragedy.

Middle Way
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby Middle Way » Sun Sep 02, 2012 12:21 pm

Hello AT, and thanks for your post. There is no need for apology as I did not take any offence at all, then or now. I was aware that you were reacting to what I said and certainly did not think you were accusing me of being a liar.To the contrary, your replies to my posts have always been most considered and courteous and I have the highest respect for that. I am also very grateful for your important clarification:
actuallythere wrote:It appears that a major problem at SES is that people are often too certain that they are aware of their ego, and too convinced that they in are control of it. That is the self-deception I refer to.

I completely agree with you, as it is consistent with what I observed at SFSK (and was probably not aware of in myself), and it is perhaps the biggest danger in going down the 'spiritual' path as many texts have warned.

MW

woodgreen
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby woodgreen » Sun Sep 02, 2012 5:13 pm

Hi All

AT wrote:

"Personally, I choose not to use the pejorative c-word, because I believe it hurts the feelings of members of SES etc who are reading these forums, it causes an angry reaction, alienates them and drives them back into voluntary psychological imprisonment and is counter-productive.

These are my personal views, and it is vital for you to reject them if you disagree with them. You think what you want - so do I."

I fully respect AT's reasons for refraining from the c-word, and will myself try to refrain in future, but the difficulty is that a book called "The Secret C---" is out there, and recommended reading for anyone researching the SES etc.

It might help people in the School cope with the word if they look it up on wikipedia. It is not historically a derogatory word, and amongst other things, covers rituals and practices in all religions.
In the spirit of goodwill to those still imprisoned, could we call it the "Secret Organisation of Schools" perhaps? SOS for short? (Help, not waving, but drowning!). I jest a little, but other suggestions welcome!.

best wishes

woodgreen.
Ex-SES Member. (Member for 3 years in late nineties).

ManOnTheStreet
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:36 am

actuallythere wrote:Language is key to indoctrination. Personally I see differences between the claims that "The truth is I am not a duck" and "The truth is we are invading Iraq because it hates freedom". Would you really treat both claims in the same way? Is it unreasonable nitpicking to ask question about the use of language in one of these statements?


MW, this pretty much sums up my point.

It's clear that sometimes, being precise in our language is difficult, but given the importance of these considerations I really don't think that's relevant. That is to say, we shouldn't shy away from precision just because it's hard to be precise. I would think that the fundamental importance of this subject would be reason enough to seek precision in the way we talk about it. After all, (at least in my case), my whole way of living and thinking was completely determined by this 'language'.

Middle Way wrote:And MOTS, I understand it is important to get clear commonly accepted definitions of every important concept, but I'm not sure this is actually achievable in practice. For example, I could easily shut down a work meeting with 10 people present by insisting that every non-trivial word used be debated and agreed-on by all present before the next word could then be similarly dealt with. In fact this meeting wouldn't be shut down: I would quite rightly be thrown out.


I agree, but this situation does not really apply here. This is an internet forum, and we have almost unlimited time to work these things through. I understand that it sometimes just seems (frankly) boring to have to go through every single non-trivial word, but when you look at the history of philosophy (including Vedanta) you see that this is in fact precisely the kind of discussion that has been engaged in by philosophers over the ages. Again, the difficultly of the undertaking does not diminish its importance or necessity.

In regard to School "concepts" - yes I agree. I did not define these properly. All I can really do is give you a list, so here is a non-exhaustive sample:

1. The 'law' of karma
2. Existence of an eternal soul (the jiva)
3. Existence of a 'true nature'
4. Human beings as the 'highest form' in creation
5. The existence of 5 elements and 3 'gunas'
6. The existence of four functions of the Mind (Manas, Buddhi, Chitta, Ahankara)
7. The 'natural octave' being a causal force in the world
8. The world being designed (presumably by a creator of some sort)
9. Natural forces represented by 'gods'.
10. Sanskaras being equivalent to DNA
11. A general endorsement of Theosophy
12. Creation 'cycles'
13. Questioning only being valid if it seeks to affirm the School 'Teaching'.
14. The 'ego'/anankara is the source of all your suffering.
15. You are the 'Self'/'Absolute'/'Brahman'.
16. The world is unreal.

In my view, all of these concepts are demonstrably vacuous. I think that one of the main tools used by Mrs Mavro to make these concepts appear valid to people is the use of vague language; an example being - using words that have 6 different meanings attached to them. This makes the language used in School unclear, imprecise and inconsistent. If you use imprecise and inconsistent language to describe concepts which are themselves imprecise and unclear, you end up saying nothing at all. My point is simply that we should try to avoid falling into that same trap when discussing these concepts on the forum.

MOTS

Middle Way
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Re: Sydney SOP 70's. A Different Perspective.

Postby Middle Way » Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:40 am

Thanks MOTS. As I've mentioned before once or twice, I'm glad there are people like you who wish to engage with this daunting philosophical task, one for which I am temperamentally unsuited. I'm reminded of someone telling me once what it was like to work for the United Nations. He said that if the idea of arguing over the meaning of one word in a draft declaration for a week turns you on, the UN is the place for you!

MW


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