by Pat Raphael
…then we saw Venice, and it was a good land, so we said let’s take this land. All while blazing a jay at the 420Box with a bunch tactical thinking strategists, spending more of the day than you might imagine, in deep thought about how to earn and keep their lot of this good land. These earnestly searching neighbors are creating the Trans-National Alliance, as a means to offer their great talents to Venice. Our creation is such a locally scalable way for the people to reclaim their inherent powers, that our conversations soon began to refer to the TNA as the fourth branch — the people’s branch. And that’s when the true strategy really became clear to me — it is “we” who are the “people”. That’s when I came to know that seeing the vast goodness of Venice, and desiring to be part of it, is not enough to have our lot in this good land. We also have to identify the great strongholds and powerful chiefs who now reign and occupy within the land, and as overcomers, wrest from them their grip that is leading our paradise away from it’s history and course of goodness.
The true strategy is to see what (or who) the vast and good land, over-flowing with such awesomeness, really is. Once we understand that great awesomeness is gushing out of every block of our seaside paradise because of people who fill these blocks, it becomes clear that the vast goodness of the land is contained within the vast goodness of Venetians. There was goodness in Abbott Kinney, a vast goodness in his vision to creating a cool and unique place for families to come and have a good time. History shows that the exact vision did not materialize as ol’ Abbott saw it, but he still left us a vast lineage of goodness as we see Venice morphed into becoming the people’s beach, highly influenced by the middle class black folks of Oakwood. The lineage was kept by these hard-working professionals and service employees (many in the swanky hotels and beach resorts of Santa Monica), who maintained and cultivated the vast goodness they inherited, by keeping a different character alive on this beach than the “feel” of SaMo to the north nor the vibe of that monied yacht life to the south in Marina del Rey. Then came the artists, the musicians, the poets and loud talkers, along with freaks from A to Z. And they brought with them their own vast goodness too; not finding a place anywhere else, yet here in Venice we found a spot for every misfit. It took years, going on like this, before they with all the dollars decided that they just had to buy up Venice. But the roots of goodness run deep here. So deep, that dollars can not come and easily transform or corrupt what generations of good people have built with their lives.
So if it’s the people who make up all that is good about Venice, we squeeze the greatest good out of Venice by creating conditions for more of the people to come together and act in unity. Pursuit of this unity, have left me sensitive to the influences and mindsets that make it impossible for us to achieve this unity. We are too often bound in powerlessness, and recognize that as long as we remain divided, we can never grow into any sort of effective operation of the great potential for good contained within our TNA. And this was the overarching goal of our alliance right at its inception — to unify our voice into a positive execution of our goodwill: an app that can tap into our power to do better, together. Standing in the way of this great good from taking place, are the great strongholds and powerful chiefs (now choking the good land with their occupation), that we must identify and overcome, so that in their absence, we can fully occupy and inherit this vast and good land of Venetians.
These powerful chiefs and strongholds now choking the good land, really do fully occupy the whole land. They have such a full lock on they land that they work together to support each other in maintaining a solidified grip over the whole land. Say a growing Venetian works to take ground of their good land, and begins to overcome some of these powerful chiefs… their reign is such that this growth is noted, and quick reinforcement is sent in other areas, so the land can continue and remain in full control of these powerful forces. Don’t forget, the land is the people, so the stronghold forces we describe here are mental conditions that reign as chief over how (even good) people think.
The first of these powerful forces, now choking the good land so that its vast goodness is not available for us to enjoy, reigning as chief over much our land is KING FEAR. This truly is the first strongholds to overcome. And these cats at the 42Box, a bunch of strategic tacticians, understand what a military stronghold is: it’s a fort from where the king’s Generals deploy their troops. So just imagine coming at you: fear of dying, fear of getting hurt, fear of missing out, fear of looking stupid, fear of the government coming to take your guns, fear of the white supremacist agenda (which deep down, is the fear of a black planet). Don’t forget the pesticides in the food chain, infections that resist antibiotics, the U.N. Troops, FEMA camps, climate change, and that angry orange finger on the button. Add to that, the fear of not being liked, fear of getting old, fear of making the wrong life choices, and on and on and on… The list of fears (as a negative emotion) that can occupy our mind, and leave less of our essence available for positive considerations, can go on forever. This truly is a hard stronghold to overcome, since fear keeps itself rooted in our psyche by making us feel like our survival depends on it — and we continue in fear, perversely thinking we would not be here, if we didn’t go around all scared… thus fulfilling a negative feedback loop. Fear leaves our nerves on edge, and keeps our minds working overtime as we seek a strategy to assuage or counter the involuntary live wire of negative poison fearfully flowing into our soul. And fear-rooted calculations to solve our problems, never seem to add up. Like fearful people talking loud and beating their chest about what they can do. More often, the louder the braggadocio, the more scared the shouter. And scared people are dangerously unpredictable — how often does that loud talkin’ actually makes a hearer afraid, and their reaction catches the loud talker off guard? It takes a level head to come out from under dominion of KING FEAR, but since much of what moves fear may be involuntary, the only attack on this chief, is to rightly place our fear on a proper outlet. All other fears begin to recede, when we learn to only fear God, and missing out on what God is doing in the land today. That one little adjustment in our outlet of fear will start us on a path of wisdom — the will to DO what we KNOW is right.
With fear reigning over much of the land, and nerves on edge from an endless stream of frights flowing in, we quickly cede some of the good land over to KING ANGER. Walk around afraid enough, for long enough, you will eventually become a mean and angry person. How can the Trans-National Alliance ever work together as a unified group of activists, if we are all short-fused and continually in angry contention with one another? I’ve seen first hand, in dialogue, how members who are on the same “team”, get so angry with one another that they start speaking to each other in the worst, most biting language they can come up with… then later to see them come back, and say they didn’t mean those angry things. Even if apologies are exchanged and we go on together, too often the shattered remains of anger can never fully be repaired. Just like fear-rooted calculations never seem to add up, you also can not think clearly, when thinking in anger. This is how we overcome our good land: we learn to take true stock of our mental state, and put positive effort to our intention of addressing the shortcomings we see.
Dealing with anger, we’ve come to see that this is a chief that can best be defeated with time on our side. When we get a stimulus that triggers our anger, growth in this area will teach us to do a mental 10-count before we respond. After that 10-count, even if we use the same initial words that came, a ‘lil time buffs out some of the sting in the delivery… and sometimes a 10-count gives us time to do a 20-count, which then tell us to sleep on it, before reacting. A response in the right time is often more measured and well thought out, then the blurt exploded out in anger. And don’t let one of these angry outbursts blow up when it is clearly seen that we are rightfully angered… if we’re not measured, nothing will survive our megatons of wrath… but in the aftermath, it’s never as satisfying as we sort through the rubles, huh? That’s why even when we are right, we gotta learn to forgive each other, rather than that easy, satisfying blow up.
Now we growin’! we are starting to rightly place our fears, and are taking control to properly react when anger stirs. We takin’ back more of that vast good land for positive use! Venice who have grown in these areas begin experiencing enough positive outcomes from their growth, that it is easy to get all puffed up, and think ourselves such exalted hot sh!t. This hard-to-spot stronghold manned by KING PRIDE is an operation obscured by deploying from behind the cover of perspective. Our I (our eye), can be so big, that we only see our own point of view — becoming egocentric. From there, it is just a few short hops, (like not being able to listen to others or only thinking about our own need), before ending up inside of everything-I-do-is-right town, a place where we are of little value to Venice… captured by this able General, deployed by KING PRIDE. This is also the tricky part of the good land, because it is so difficult to see our own I, from there we might get ambushed with thinking we are more special to God than anyone else, or have an indispensable piece that only I can deliver to the universe, or are connected to an inside track that gives special knowledge. If any ONE of us, have ALL that is right and good and true, we have no need for a TNA. We can only work together, if we can learn to overcome the instinct to only see me me me, and see we we we, through the humility of service.
We are not likely to overcome all of our land’s strongholds in one swoop, because there is just so much of that vast good land for us to grow in to. It takes patience time, for her to do her perfect work. As the TNA grows forth in Venice, we will come against, and defeat the stronghold of KING SELF-INTEREST. And we are an awesome good land, so we have tons of interest to man this fort. Our personal beauty, our personal possessions, our money, our houses, our cars, our kids, that killer smile, our opinions, our personal safety, our reputation, our self-respect… how dare they! don’t these asses know who I am! Real clear here we see, how troops from this barrack, man and reinforce the stronghold of pride, just when we thought humility had razed that high place low. Suddenly all of our identity is tied to the rise and fall of our personal self-interest, and we cut off much of the good land’s energy to occupy the pursuit to save this fort, using endless troops of worry on assignment from king fear, with our imagination in overdrive, all about how to keep the petty interests that we have accumulated. If fifteen of us join the alliance, and pursue fifteen sets of interests, we will probably get one-fifteenth of all those goals accomplished. We’ve come together to take the good land, because we want to be a part of the next greatness to happening here in Venice. By learning the balance that it takes to develop a measured equilibrium with all that we have accumulated, we will never be so tied to our small personal interest, that we lose sight of the big point of it all, which is to effect a greater good, together. The genius of the TNA is that it is a freewill association with no dues or taxing system, yet every service we seek to offer is totally free of charge. This model would be insolvent before it ever got established, if we were not in such a vast and good land, overflowing with so much excess capacity. In this the common interest grows, as members freely volunteer to the alliance, every need supplied.
The next stronghold to defeat is way out there, with a 360 view from every vantage to see any advancement and dig in a resistance: the stronghold of KING HYPER-INDEPENDENCE. The growth it takes to even have this as a foe, means that there is access to great capacity, since without that great capacity, we could not for long, think that we can do it all by ourselves. An overcomer who is gaining ground in their land — or whose soul is in the process of growth — attains a proportional personal gravitas that causes people to be drawn to that overcomer. In essence, growing leaves even more of the good land within our reach, to have and to manage. The trap at that point is to take a little clique of adoring fans, and make yourself a closed circle, and start building a kingdom unto you. But right from its start, the spirit that attracted me to the Trans-National Alliance, is its emphasis on the little guy, a branch for the people. We saw that the big corporations and the one-percenters had enough allies and outlets for their voice. We recognized that the only way for our voice to register is if we speak it together. But the price of tapping in to that invaluable synergy, is putting up with one another. And we are all here in Venice cause we grown… so who the hell can make us stay together if we don’t want to? In spite of all the great benefits we gain communally, who is willing to put up with the fiery stings that come with coexistence? It takes vision, learning to keep loving our thorny neighbors. But putting up with those stings lets us use each other as mirrors to see ourselves and measure our spiritual growth, granting our I the potent force of community, in the face off all that seeks to blindly keep us weak and separated.
The vastness of this good land can only be conquered by a people whose intellect is vast enough to contain the eternal wellspring flowing in abundance here. When life and experience has cause a person to become narrow, they bring that smallness with them to every outlook their perception conceives. With no vision (or a small vision) our mind creates a stronghold for KING IMAGINATION. Consider the imagination as an extension of the dream world, where we are master and creator and have every single power that real life does not now grant… what fun is it to live in THIS real world where life is stepping all over me, when I can remain in that mental place of my own creation where I reign supreme? In our imagination we can be in the past, in the future, in outer space, under the ocean, in the senate chambers — all while our full essence is needed right here, right now. Add to imagination pride or fear, we can make in our own mind, all types of preoccupations to lead us off a productive course. When our learning, and life experiences are all that informs imagination, keeping to our own counsel denies us access to valuable ideas that can broaden our own perspective. That’s why we have to replace the idle churning of imagination with the focused determination of a common vision. Just like an imbalanced attachment to my small personal interest leads only to me me me, a narrow focus only on the mental movie that I am directing will only shows I eye I. When we crack a blunt at the 420Box, and begin to dialogue about where we see this Venicessance that we envision is taking us, the disparate divergence of our imagination which forks into so many branches begin to converge into a common vision… Only dialogue can.do this work, but only if we learn to listen and open ourselves the value of each other’s counsel.
We advance on, to arrive at the stronghold of KING LOGIC. A mind full of reason, will justify their every action with that slippery self-centered logic. All of the sudden, faults that we would crucify another for, finds a logical reason for why it’s okay, when they are found in me. This fort becomes even more secure when it is operating in the mind of a high IQ. Logic is a product of our preconditioning, and is powered by the judge of our conscience. A lifetime of thinking for our own good may leave us unaccustomed to thinking for the common good. When logic is thinking for self, we are unable (or become unwilling), to make that faith leap into seeing why “we” should matter to “me”. It gets downright counter-intuitive and illogical (in our selfish mind), to develop the pure reasoning that informs us to take care of our own small needs, by devoting our energy to solving our bigger collective needs. And this last fort to overcome, can not be taken be force. Selfish logic can only topple and fall when we willingly go past all our reasons to be small, and still grow on to we.
The is the sum of all who choose to contribute energy to our goals, plus that synergistic margin added only when we make up our minds to stay together. Access to this synergy has eluded us thus far, and every fit and start that falls apart, only drains more from us the will to try again. Many thanks to Bro Lyonel Joseph for his study, “Defeating the Seven Canaanite Nations”, which lists the strongholds detailed above. These were just ideas in notes, until Venice offered me a real world look at the kings and strongholds in operation in my life, and in our group dynamics. The first audience for the essayist is always the writer himself. It is easy to see the failings that others don’t measure up in, while we go on oblivious to our own condition. Knowledge of these kings should let us understand that we are all ruled (to varying degrees) by all of these forces — though we each may see one or two of them that may be a bigger defining stronghold to overcome. For me, I am dealing with (and striving to overcome) these too — paying close attention to the internal forces that pull me apart from the strength of community, and the selfish logic I use to justify remaining in that condition. When I read Wendell Berry’s “In Distrust of Movements” I quickly see that the TNA is an operation happening on the INSIDE of the members. Venice has shown that instead of creating a movement, with some stale documents and organizational hierarchy, seeking the big operational budget; it must be people’s hearts that lead them to act from a purer place of love. I look forward, in 2018, to seeing what awesome ways we fulfill our heart.
Happy New Year!
by Pat Raphael