Are principles of quantum physics applicable to human consciousness?

October 21, 2015

The New York Times on October 21, 2015 revealed that new experiments have proven a fundamental principle that “objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior” and measuring one particle instantaneously influences others, “regardless of the distance separating them”. [“Quantum Theory Experiment Said to Prove ‘Spooky’ Interactions” (NYT, Oct. 21, 2015); http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/22/science/quantum-theory-experiment-said-to-prove-spooky-interactions.html?&hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0].

This phenomena is described as the non-local connection between particles defying a traditional mechanical or local explanation.

I have given lots of thought to the notion of a quantum wisdom in action among people experiencing heightened consciousness or intensity of feelings.

As Randy Kehler was about to enter federal prison in 1969 for refusing the draft during the Viet Nam War, he addressed a gathering announcing his act of consciousness. Rand consultant Daniel Ellsberg was in the audience. Hearing Randy’s story directly motivated his decision to copy the thousands of pages of the history of the war that became known as “the Pentagon Papers” and to then release them to the public in 1971. This action contributed to ending the war.

Kehler’s and Ellsberg’s actions were part of a chain of many actions and events that lead to my decision in 1987 to block munitions trains in California carrying weapons destined for Central America where their expenditure was intended to murder countless peasants in Central America.

As a result of the US munitions train running over me in 1987, rather than have me arrested as was protocol, Randy and his wife Betsy decided to increase their resistance to paying federal taxes. This act of conscience ultimately led to the IRS seizing their home, which, in turn, heightened the issue of tax refusal and elevated the awareness to many more people of the possibility of withdrawing complicity for war-making. Some of the tax money Randy and Betsy withheld was specifically designated to help build artificial limbs for kids in Nicaragua whose limbs had been blown off by the weapons carried on those munitions trains as part of the US Contra war[1].

While Randy was headed off in 1969 to begin serving nearly two years in federal prison, I was being ordered home from Viet Nam for speaking daily to my superiors about the war’s illegality and immorality after I had witnessed the aftermath of a number of deliberate bombings of inhabited and undefended villages.

It was a very lonely position. I did not discover any other US soldiers or airmen in my immediate area who were similarly speaking out except for one pilot whom I briefly met for a few days before he was ordered back to the US.

However, in 1970 I began to seriously study the history of the war and resistance to it by soldiers. Much to my surprise, I discovered that in fact, beginning in 1968, and picking up during the time I was in Viet Nam in 1969, combat avoidance increasingly evolved into direct combat refusals. Serving in the 1st Infantry Division from August 1967 to August 1968, Guillermo Alvidrez remembers, “We had a barracks-full of guys waiting for court-martials for refusing to fight. They felt it wasn’t worth it”[2]. The army recorded 68 such mutinies in 1968 alone[3]. Rumors of troops quitting in combat areas were increasingly commonplace[4].

Just after my departure from Viet Nam in August 1969, the first recorded incident of mass mutiny occurred in A Company of 3rd Battalion/196th Infantry south of DaNang[5]. Official statistics about soldiers’ disobedience is incomplete and untrustworthy, but numbers of soldiers and airmen convicted of “insubordination, mutiny, or other acts involving the willful refusal to perform a lawful order” rose from 94 in 1968 to 152 in 1970. The 1st Air Cavalry Division downplayed their unit refusals, but it admitted 35 individual refusals in 1970 alone, and there was evidence there may have been at least 245 mutinies that year among all US troops[6]. By 1972, there were at least 10 major mutinies recorded, with the likelihood of hundreds of minor ones, most unreported[7].

By 1970-71 ground operations became virtually impossible to conduct as “search and evade/avoid” replaced “search and destroy” missions despite orders of superior officers[8].

The most astounding characteristic of this soldier resistance is that it was not coordinated and initially occurred without communication between and among the various units scattered across South Viet Nam. It was like a ripe historical moment when a deep “mysterious” consciousness was communicating between soldiers across space and time. I was thrilled to learn of this record of resistance, much of it spontaneous, unplanned and uncoordinated. And I wonder how this might apply to abrupt quantum leaps of consciousness at certain key moments when circumstances are sensitively ripe – like a Zeitgeist?

 

[1] Rosalie G. Riegle, Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace (Wipf and Stock Publishers, Jan 1, 2013), 335.

[2] Charley Trujillo, Soldados: Chicanos in Viet Nam (San Jose, CA: Chusma House, 1990), 64).

[3] Joel Grier, “Vietnam: The Soldier’s Revolt,” International Socialist Review, 9, Aug-Sep 2000; Richard Moser, The New Winter Soldiers (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996), 45; Matthew Rinaldi, “The Olive Drab Rebels: Military Organizing during the Vietnam War,” Radical America (May-June 1974, 17-51, especially 29; Gettleman, Marvin E., Jane Franklin, Marilyn B. Young, and H. Bruce Franklin, eds., Vietnam and America: A Documented History (New York: Grove, 1995), 329.

[4] Richard Boyle, Flower of the Dragon: The Breakdown of the US Army in Vietnam (San Francisco: Ramparts Press, 1973), 85.

[5] David Cortright, Soldiers in Revolt: The American Military Today (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975/Chicago: Haymarket, 2005), 35; Boyle, 85.

[6] Christian Appy, Working-Class War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993), 245.

[7] Nancy Zaroulis, and Gerald Sullivan, Who Spoke Up? American Protest Against the War in Vietnam, 1963–1975 (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984), 365-66; Moser, 45; Cincinnatus, Self-Destruction: The Disintegration and Decay of the United States Army during the Vietnam Era (New York: W.W. Norton, 1981), 154.

[8] Grier.


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