By conservative estimates, there are currently enough wrongfully convicted people in prison in the United States to fill a football stadium.
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Ron Tabor says he spent the first 17 years of his life in New York City, watching The Three Stooges and eating pizza.
Now, he’s 31, and lives in Chapel Hill. He’s just finished a documentary on Warren Barrett of Storybook Farm called The New American Mystics and is working on a pilot for a series of television shows, “based on the spirit of American vaudeville,” in which he plays Ronald Radio. He’s a tap-dancer, too. And last year, he and his brother, Dick, opened Aurora, Be Mine, an elegant late-night cafe.
Ron is elegant, too, without being foppish, and a quietly religious man. Add a touch of the old New York craziness, and you’ll understand why his heroes are Fred Astaire and St. Augustine.
We talked at my home, then took great liberties editing the tape. It’s presented in two parts — Armageddon, A Scenario, Ron’s history-of-the-future, and the dialogue that follows.
RON: A woman friend of mine went to the beach and she wound up at the Holiday Inn. There were some state senators and the governor there. She was with another girl and the two of them walked into this room where the politicians were. She said it had been years since she’d felt guys were undressing her in their minds. She said it was a creepy, crawly, cruddy feeling. The other girl felt the same way. I said, “How old were the guys?” And she said, “Forty or fifty years old.” When I heard that I felt our generation was way ahead of the game. We had the chance to get plenty of those material things and to do plenty of fucking and sucking, to play it out, to go through some of that illusion that’s connected with sex, while these guys hadn’t. I remember my uncles getting together and telling dirty jokes. It’s just over with. Every time I go through a crowd of guys and they’re telling dirty jokes it seems so primitive. When my friend told me this I realized how repressed these men were, dreaming of how it would be like not to be repressed. The younger people I know don’t go through that. It’s not an issue.
Now, Meher Baba says that if you can get over any of these three — lust, greed, or anger — you’ve got the other two beat. Conversely, if these guys are still hung up on lust, we know greed is still there. The average older guy who’s running this world is not in a very good place emotionally. Religious criticism always has defined the ultimate political issue as greed. Why go through all this economic stuff to straighten it out when the greed will always take the system and screw it up? If you could only get to the source of this greed, the other problems would disappear — crime, the whole business. It’s that simple.
My own life, in the past few years, has been concerned with getting my passions — my wants, my needs, my greed — under control. Now that they’re a little under control, I look at humanity and say, “Oh my God. What a craving, raving pack of nuts.”
Armageddon is a consequence of this greed. And belief in the millenium — the intervention by higher beings from other planets — is the basis of my faith in the renewal of the human spirit.
Art, for me, is keeping this belief alive for myself as these things start happening. There’s no part of me that wants any of the events I’ve been talking about to be true. The cards just seem to be falling a certain way now. As I watch the news I see unconscious machines believing they’re making decisions when in fact no one is deciding anything. Scientific management — the embodiment of rational decision — as yet does not exist.
If art is keeping the human spirit alive, then the purpose of art is to proclaim the belief in our coming transformation. I felt when I read Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 that he knew something; intelligent men believe there are higher powers in space. If you believe in a benevolent universe and these thoughts enter your mind, they’re not just your imagination. So, on another level, the function of art becomes a putting-it-back-together. No more taking it apart. That’s what’s happening in regular theatre. All the plays and dramas are basically ripping institutions apart, which meant something a while ago. Now, I feel I can’t get into it. I want to rebuild something.
The reason I was always turned on by literature and art is that these guys were into the human heart. They understood something about love and wanting to be a human. I wasn’t into religion and spiritual things because all the people that I met seemed like such shit. Whereas in the beginning the religious people were the protectors of the human heart, by the time I became conscious of anything, it was the artists who were doing that, and I turned to that.
I don’t know how many priest-type people you’ve run into recently, but when I got into this thing about God, I wanted to meet these guys who were representatives. Every time I was sickened by the lack of understanding. They’ve got all the words down but they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.
You can’t turn to human beings anymore. You can’t turn to these people who are running the show. Everyone knows that today’s leadership is pretty bad.
SY: Compared to Attila the Hun?
RON: It’s basically Attila the Hun out there.
SY: What you say sounds like a Hollywood script. It’s glamorous. Confronted with the difficulty of living, people look for an out, an answer — astrology or primal therapy, or this or that. The prophecy becomes self-fulfilling.
RON: I believe it’s getting dark out there. And everyone can sense that. As for what’s going to happen during the next ten years, I believe that things like what the interpreters of the Bible prophecies report will happen. I believe there’ll be conflict and there’ll be resolution which will be on a scale that will feel like the millenium. However, in actuality, we will have just evolved to another place.
SY: It’s said there were three civilizations that preceded ours, each of which underwent a crisis as serious as this one. Atlantis and its destruction, that fits. Insofar as our souls, on a deep creative level, manifest this reality for the sake of our own evolution, well, in that sense the stars, the planets, the whole notion of something out there is still something within. Whatever drama we enact — going to the grocery store, falling in love, flying saucers — is part of that creative activity. The complete drama, the total adventure in human consciousness, some people call God. God loses himself within himself, they say. Well, God is more than that, to me. We confuse this vast, mysterious human adventure with the even vaster, infinitely more mysterious cosmic adventure. It’s awesome. And no matter what happens, the notion that there’s even going to be a tomorrow is as spiritually nourishing as the thought that they’re going to come in spaceships.
I try to look for the common denominator, to be careful of the glamour. Basically, if we’re coming upon a spiritual crisis, all we can do is keep on honing our perception, getting clearer, working on the same things we’re working on. There’s nothing else to do. You don’t send to Arrowhead Mills for three years of food as advertised in the New Age Journal. Some people who have their farms, their self-sufficient communities, they think, “When the shit hits the fan, they’re going to be sorry back in the city. The folks who weren’t as smart as us. We’ve got our goats, our chickens . . . ” But that’s just laying up treasures where moth and dust corrupt.
RON: The more perceptive among us are going into the inner spaces. These are the same people who were political activists in the sixties. On an unconscious level people are preparing themselves psychically for the future I’ve talked about without consciously knowing it, since in the future, political action — except for the revolution of the minorities in the cities — is meaningless.
SY: The way we perceive what’s out there is identical with how we perceive what’s in here. So you still see people walking around bemoaning how messed up the next guy is, how they’re going to wipe out this corrupt administration. . . . The history of political revolution shows that the revolutionaries get corrupted in the end; they’re still shuffling things around.
RON: This involution of consciousness is the only protection we, the children of the white middle class, can possibly have if it does happen. To stay up and sane and loving. You said on the phone today that everything works out for the best. I believe that. Unfortunately most people do not have that insight, which is faith itself.
SY: Not up near the surface, but deep down everybody does. That’s what keeps it together. But I know what you mean.
I think the only way we really come to a stillness within ourselves about what’s really at the source of all this is to move beyond the mental activity. When you start to experience what we call God, when you know it’s all OK, it really is.
There’s famine right now. Women are being raped, soldiers are killing people. Every unspeakable tragedy is happening now. It’s not that it has to come ten years from now. We’re talking about magnitude when we’re talking about ten years from now.
And all those unspeakable joys are right now, also. All you have to do is open up and it’s all happening. That takes your breath away. That’s your first step into infinity.
For me, it’s important to balance that it’s OK with the real feeling that there’s danger. You see somebody drowning and part of you says that this person deep down decided he’s going to die at this time and it’s OK. But, another part says, Jesus Christ he’s drowning, and you run and save him. It’s the same with the human race.
RON: When I wake up in the morning, I’m not thinking about any of this. My mind, for the most part, is filled with endless amounts of garbage. I’m beginning to learn how to control that a little, and to let it go by, and don’t believe the bullshit. Putting everything else aside, my true heart of hearts longs to transform itself into the place where it knows it was always meant to be and always is. I’m beginning to intuitively understand that more and more. I want to bring about my own space mythology.
I feel very much outside the myth of the romance between people, just because of the circumstance of my life. What’s happening to me is just by accident because she is not happening to me. It’s changing my head. I have to keep reminding myself to trust God, because it’s my ego that says things should be this way rather than that, and every time I can wake up to it, I know that this is exactly the way it should be and this is the way I want it. It gives me the most incredible sense of relief. The freedom that I’m getting now, every once in a while, scares me, because the more I get into it, the more I know that everything that I want is between me and this universe, not me and her.
SY: That’s another kind of romance.
RON: Divine romance.
SY: The way that Ram Dass says it is, when you’re walking down the street and you’re really hungry, all you see is the bakeries. When you’re really horny, all you see is the women. When you’re looking for God, all you see is God.
RON: What’s so wild about this whole discussion, the inner voyage, is that underneath it all I believe we’re preparing ourselves for a major change in consciousness. We can’t control what’s coming up but we can prepare ourselves for it.
Ron Tabor recommends:
Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis by Walwood and Walwood ( Zondervan)
There’s a New World Coming by Hal Lindsey (Bantam)
The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey (Bantam)
The Apocalypse by V. S. Seiss (Zondervan)
The Fatima Prophecy by Ray Stanford (Assoc. for the Understanding of Man)
The world-situation had grown too complex for lowly intelligences, and it demanded a degree of individual integrity in leaders and in led, such as was as yet possible only to a few minds. Consciousness had already been violently awakened out of the primitive trance into a state of excruciating individualism, of poignant but pitifully restricted self-awareness. And individualism, together with the traditional tribal spirit, now threatened to wreck the world. Only after a long-drawn agony of economic distress and maniac warfare, haunted by an increasingly clear vision of a happier world, could the second stage of waking be achieved. In most cases it was not achieved. “Human nature,” or its equivalent in the many worlds, could not change itself; and the environment could not remake it.
But in a few worlds the spirit reacted to its desperate plight with a miracle. Or, if the reader prefers, the environment miraculously refashioned the spirit. There occurred a widespread and almost sudden waking into a new lucidity of consciousness and a new integrity of will. To call this change miraculous is only to recognize that it could not have been scientifically predicted even from the fullest possible knowledge of “human nature” as manifested in the earlier age. To later generations, however, it appeared as no miracle but as a belated wakening from an almost miraculous stupor into plain sanity.
This unprecedented access of sanity took at first the form of a widespread passion for a new social order which should be just and should embrace the whole planet. — Olaf Stapledon, The Starmaker