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Humility In The Path Of Ambition and Greed, Fukushima & Krakatoa

‘Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.’ – Confucius

Lao Tzu
Lao Tzu


Mankind is moving onto the edge of its most selfish arrogant precipice in history, especially because of all the power we now have.  Even ole Mayor Daley of Chicago told us: “Power is dangerous unless we have humility.”  We have the one percent trying to take it all in America, and Mitt Romney championing this arrogant brashness, getting his $50,000 per person just to enter the Southampton oceanfront property of David Koch for a July 8th, 2012 Sunday fundraiser. Koch of the infamous Koch brothers, wielding their ultra right wing deregulation-agenda-millions in this Citizens United no-limits-on-campaign-spending presidential election year, David Koch is reportedly the wealthiest man in Metropolitan New York (City).


Though most if not nearly all of you reading this may not have heard (including me, until a few days ago), there is another perhaps worst-ever corporate trade agreement-coup we and Japan are part of, along with several other Pacific Ocean bordering countries from Chile to Canada to Singapore. Its investment draft chapter (not yet approved) would give ‘foreign’ corporations operating within our and the other signatory nations’ borders more freedom than domestic firms have, including the right to sue the country impeding their business enterprise operations in a kangaroo court (yes, Australia is also a signatory nation to the ‘Trans Pacific Partnership’ (TPP) trade imposition agreement).  You’re the private sector lawyer suing the USA for your investor, then you rotate as a judge in a ‘court’ that is outside, above and beyond, your country’s domestic law courts.




Included in this stealth would be ‘new investor safeguards to ease job offshoring and assert control over natural resources, and severely limit the regulation of financial services, land use, food safety, natural resources, energy, tobacco, healthcare and more…Countries would be obliged to conform all their domestic laws and regulations to the TPP’s rules – – in effect a corporate coup d’etat.  The proposed pact would limit even how governments can spend their tax dollars.’ *  No, this is not being popularly reported.  But, yes, 130 members of USA Congress have ‘sent a letter to US Trade Representative Kirk demanding to see a copy of the high-level confidentiality agreement signed by negotiating parties, and to have more access to negotiations, like the roughly 600 special advisers (who are almost entirely industry representatives).’ *


More on this via Ram’s Horn website (see below).  Meanwhile, think what Romney likely will do with this wonderful corporate coddling investment facilitator/tool…if elected.  And also consider why the Obama administration isn’t screaming about this atrocity, this assault on our democracy, that is being conducted in secret.  And then further wonder why Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has facilitated Japanese importation by agreeing not to subject Japanese products, including food and fish, to radiation testing or monitoring, should they be entering the US market and our homes and bodies…


Can we get away with this assault on ourselves?


Be aware, we’re using depleted uranium bullets in our wars now, harming and shortening the lives of our own soldiers inhaling the post-ignition/firing radioactive dust, besides polluting Iraq and Afghanistan with a form of radioactivity that has a FOUR BILLION YEAR half life to essentially pollute these places forever wherever the debris and dust falls and remains.  Besides polluting the gene pool there and here, thinking ‘we’ can get away with such arrogance and not pay the eternal price of birth defects and cancer and ruined immune systems in human and animal and plant bodies and protoplasm.  And remember we first test this unacceptable radioactive excuse for better warfare within our own country first (and also in Puerto Rico).

Corporations like Monsanto, the company that is trying to control all the seeds in the world, and

not in an organic way, claims they have no responsibility for any problems their genetically engineered (GE) seeds and crops induce in consumers, from allergies to cancer from their seed-matching herbicide.  No, consumers have no RIGHT to have GE crops and processed foods labelled to protect their health.  Why should we Americans be able to choose safely what we want from our grocery shelves?  Even though President Obama promised to get GE foods labelled when he was campaigning for office, along with the food’s country-of-origin (see one minute video at )


Remember, wherever genetically engineered seeds go, along comes the Round Up and other herbicides and pesticides to pollute the groundwater, soil and, again, our bodies, plus those of innocent animals and plants.  Round Up is linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, crosses the placenta to induce birth defects in the fetus, and has been banned in Denmark, which has been voted in many polls the happiest country in the world.  It is also the country that is getting about 25% of its electricity from wind power!


We arrogantly continue to champion nuclear power, not widely and practically reporting the continuing leaking into the Pacific Ocean of all that radioactive water from the devastated nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan.  Instead of acknowledging that nuclear power is too dangerous to support as being efficient and safe, Japan’s recent government whitewash states the disaster was really ‘manmade’.  Lemme just juice up that earthquake and tsunami for you, chillun.  I have it in my power.


I’m reading Krakatoa now by Simon Winchester.  The largest unamplified natural sound ever recorded on Earth occurred when that 5 by 9 kilometer island between Java and Sumatra south of the Asian continent, exploded at 10 AM on August 27th 1883 and was heard 2968 miles away on the island of Rodriguez off the east coast of Africa.  Teutonic plates shifting, subduction zones, and all that.  To better comprehend the scope of this volcanic eruption and the cross oceanic transmission of the sound, can you imagine something happening in New York and you actually real-time HEAR its reverberations 2200 miles away in coastal California?  But the catastrophe was brewing for a while.


Back in May of 1883 the northernmost of three volcanoes on Krakatoa was sending smoke and ash thousands of feet up into the sky.  Eight fishermen who were on the island to gather wood for boat building were frightened out of their wits.  When they ran up to the Dutch colonial controller’s veranda in Ketimbang at the southeastern point of Sumatra to animatedly share their tale of what they had just experienced, the ‘controller’s wife, by all accounts a skeptical and somewhat hard-bitten lady, was in no mood to listen to these excitable natives.  She told her husband, acidly, that it was simply impossible for a beach to erupt.’  Which essentially is what the fishermen were telling her.  But she couldn’t comprehend this.  And apparently having very little humility, if any, she dismissed such a possibility, expecting superstition and ignorance from the locals, rather than respecting them for realizing what they were seeing, and excitedly wanting to share this with her and her husband.  Colonialism.  Arrogance.  Having a denigrating view of the people whom imperial elite colonialists rule over.


Life is a long lesson in humility,” as James Matthew Barrie tells us.  He was the Scottish novelist who wrote ‘Peter Pan.’


“The greatest friend of truth is Time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion is Humility”  –   Charles Caleb Colton.


And Truth will come to pass, whether we deny it now, or cover it over, or pretend we can supersede it with our weapons and lies and money.  Humility and experience will allow us to sanely deal with our ambition and ventures beyond sense and practicality.  As English actor George Arliss said:  “Humility is the only true wisdom by which we prepare our minds for all the possible changes of life.”  (He lived from 1868 to 1946).


Can we shoo away the possibility of a beach ‘erupting’ without the inevitable consequences? Or think that we can evade cancer and the compromise of our health and nation by adding more chemicals to the biosphere, or plodding onward with our blinders on more tightly building more nuclear plants, while extending the legal lives of too elderly embrittled reactors beyond their 30 years of formerly proclaimed life-spans?


What happened on that Krakatoa beach is described by Mr. Winchester like this:  the fishermen ‘were felling trees and stacking cords, chatting contentedly among themselves, when suddenly they heard what they assumed was a burst of cannon fire from a warship.  It was probably, they thought, a Dutch man-o’-war exercising out in the [Sunda] Strait.  At first they paid little attention, and carried on felling trees – – until there was a second, terrifyingly loud report, which made them dash down to the beach to see what was going on.


As soon as they got there, they said, they saw the very beach itself split wide open, and jets of black ash and red-hot stones roar out into the air.  They fled in terror, running for safety and then diving into the sea to swim out to where they had left  the boat.  The tide had risen dramatically, they said: Just an hour beforehand they had been able to wade to the mooring place.’


More interesting description of the formerly dormant tri-volcanoed island’s apocalyptic awakening, from one of my favorite sailing vessels ever: the Conrad – which was sailing northward ‘enveloped in an inferno of choking ash and dust in which the ambient temperature was at least ten degrees higher than it had been elsewhere, had battled for well over five hours to pass through a near-impenetrable field of floating pumice [stone], its gray masses packed tightly, like ice floes.  Forests on the flanks of Krakatoa were seen to be ablaze.  The doctor on board the southbound Sundra saw bright-red clusters of fire, “like sheaves of wheat,” bursting from the columns of smoke that poured from Perboewatan [the 399 foot northernmost mountain that had been the smallest of the three formerly dormant volcanoes on Krakatoa].  He saw a new crater on the island’s western side spurt a torrent of dark-red fire.  Later that evening, when the Sunda was thirty miles away from the eruption and almost in open ocean, the doctor asked a sailor to drop a bucket into the sea, and the man pulled back up only pumice, with barely any water at all. [Pumice: light porous kind of lava used for rubbing off stains, polishing, etc. – Oz Oxford Dictionary]


Peculiar, ominous sounds had been heard up in Singapore, more than 500 miles to the north.  An English plant collector named Forbes, working more than thirteen hundred miles away in Timor, reported a sprinkling of ash around his grass hut.’


Natural calamities.  Some beyond our scope of comprehension.  This above excerpt describes the prelude to the biggest unamplified bang on Earth ever, that occurred three months later.  Many people on Earth live in the reach of volcanoes.  I just saw “I Wish” – a Japanese movie, a wonderful one, about two

Krakatoa – erupted 1883 island east of Sumatra
Krakatoa – erupted 1883 island east of Sumatra

brothers separated in different towns, the older brother living in the shadow of a volcano that spewed ash every day of the movie’s time span.  Japan, the land of earthquakes, with its 54 nuclear plants all threatened by natural expected geologic disaster.  The people of Japan greatly afeared of the next earthquake that will split their local nuclear reactor to pieces, meltdown, eternal contamination.  The new Prime Minister pushing to open them all again, starting with the two in Ohi, where industry wants power.  Electrical power.  Electricity from fissioning uranium to boil water.  Practicality if I ever heard of it.  Nuclear waste that lasts forever and is now flooding out Fukushima’s rivers to slowly contaminate half of our planet.


Will we arrogantly continue on our path, thinking nature will not return us to (radioactive) dust eventually? torturing us and our deformed grandchildren with bitterness for us being so foolish to expect we could conquer any force that tries to block our trail to prosperity?  material prosperity, not accounting for the waste and ‘externalities’ that The Economy does not include in the price of doing business.


I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.

Lao Tzu quotes (Chinese taoist Philosopher, founder of Taoism, wrote “Tao Te Ching” (also “The Book of the Way”). 600 BC-531 BC)

I doubt Mitt Romney and his advisers, now including Dick Cheney, would appreciate Lao using the ‘L’ word, unless it applies to liberalizing trade barriers.  What about putting himself and the 1% before others on the way to draining the planet dry, allowing it to heat up, melt the ice caps, poison the food, build more prisons, bow to the corporations who are people, as he says….?…What have we become?  Do we know what our words wreak?  How are we framing the debate for our future and our present?  Money controls more than we reckon.  No Fukushima reports every day in America; no mention of that infernal Trans-Pacific Partnership; no awareness of the dangers of GE patented ‘foods’ – – though Europe has just about zero of them to worry about on their grocery shelves.


‘Gandhi once said, “It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” True wisdom is more related to listening and serving others than building up your esteem.

Humility requires a sacrifice of pride and a paradigm switch away from self-centeredness. In a world that encourages self-indulgence and material wealth, humility may be challenging to acquire. Yet, the benefits including peace, wisdom, healthier relationships and the respect of others certainly outweighs the sacrifice.’ **


Confucius say:  ‘Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.’ ***
And let’s give Yogi Berra the last word here:

It ain’t the heat; it’s the humility.


Until next time,

Conrad Miller M.D.

For more on the Trans Pacific Partnership go to * The Ram’s Horn issue 290 June-July 2012 at their website and click on the pdf icon in top right corner


If not noted, quotes posted are from




All quotes re Krakatoa are from Simon Winchester’s book, which I’ve read to page 272 so far…

Death toll from Krakatoa: more than 36,000, at least, from the eruption and tsunami waves



Doctor Rafael Rivera-Castaro estimates that the cancer rate in Vieques is 52% higher than the average cancer rate in Puerto Rico.

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