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Traveling to a New America - Collected Works of James HIlgendorf, Set One

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Traveling to a New America - Collected Works of James HIlgendorf, Set One

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Aug 3, 2020


Traveling to a New America - Collected Works of James Hilgendorf

Collection One - Four complete books of author James Hilgendorf.

 This collection includes four complete books:

    Traveling to a New America
    Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age
    The New Superpower
    Maybe We Need A New Religion

Amid all the division, chaos, and loss of hope we are currently experiencing, both in America and around the globe, a new world is emerging, beyond anything we have previously known.

Pointing the way to a deep transformation in the way we view ourselves, of our own boundless potential and our relation to each other and the world around us, and to our relationship to the universe itself.

Who are we?  Where are we headed?

First Book:  Traveling to a New America:  
 A compilation of selected pieces from my prior ten books, as well as blogs I have written over the last few years; of poems; articles about great, though sometimes not so well known, heroes and heroines of our American past; and comments and reflections about America from a few of the many ordinary men and women I met and interviewed on the streets in different towns and cities while "Traveling to a New America".

Second Book:  Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age:
Encouraging excerpts from my own writings, as well as inspiring words from some of the great figures of our past.

Third Book:  The New Superpower:
Thoughts of my own and others, inspired by my visit to make a film in Hiroshima, Japan.  

Fourth Book:  Maybe We Need A New Religion:  
Inspired by an article I read of a ten-year-old boy, who, after reading over and over of the continuing religious conflicts taking place all over the world, exclaimed:  "Maybe we need a new religion."  

Aug 3, 2020

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Traveling to a New America - Collected Works of James HIlgendorf, Set One - James Hilgendorf


Traveling to a New America-

Collected Works of James Hilgendorf

Set One

Four complete full-length books of the author:

Traveling to a New America

Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age

The New Superpower

Maybe We Need A New Religion



A Note About This Book

This book is a compilation of selected pieces from my prior ten books, as well as blogs that I have written over the last few years; of poems; articles about great, though sometimes not so well known, heroes and heroines of our American past; and comments and reflections about America from a few of the many ordinary men and women I met and interviewed randomly on the streets in different towns and cities while Traveling to a New America.

Amid all the division, chaos and anger we see around us in America and the world today, I feel we are living in a time of immense new beginnings, of a deep seismic shift in the way we view our own individual identity and potential, and the potential of these fifty States.

These selected pieces from my own writings, along with the personal stories of others, past and present, are meant to give voice and presence to the dream that is struggling to be born here in America.

America as it is, and could be, and is becoming.


America is the Promise of the Self

America is the promise of the self.

It is the unfolding, finally, of everything that was imagined or dreamed.

It is finding the very core of the universe, and all the gods and demons and stars and suns and galaxies, within one's very own heart. 

Look into the mirror.  Who is there?

Ultra powerful reflector telescopes gather upon smooth polished mirrors ever and ever deeper glimpses into the life of a universe beyond comprehension, gazing back billions of light years into the past.  We look into those mirrors, but fail to see ourselves.  These images are our own life. 

Everything swings on this moment, all time and all space.

America is here and now.  There are no fantasy lands here.

Rocks and country roads, skyscrapers, rivers, flowers and fields, they are all right here.  We live on this Earth, nowhere else. 

All those who have died, from the beginning of time, crowd in upon this land, this America, hovering among the shadows in anticipation, for a word of what is coming, of what is to be revealed.

America is something never before imagined.


The Animals Are Waiting

The animals have been waiting.

The birds, the leopards, dogs, bees and seagulls, the elephants dancing in elephantine circles, hooting with their trunks – at long last!



Hubert Harrison

Chances are you have never heard of someone named Hubert Harrison.  Until this past few months, I know I never had.

I'd like to introduce you to a truly remarkable person in our own American history.

I came across him in a strange way.  Somehow I clicked onto a page on Google that was about a black man named Hubert Harrison, who was giving lectures and selling books on the street corners in Harlem during the First World War – lectures on science, women's suffrage, evolution, religious superstitions, politics, class and race consciousness, and other topics which would draw crowds of hundreds of people.

I thought to myself: Who is this man?

Another thing that peaked my interest was a quote from Henry Miller, the great American author of Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn and other books, and an early literary idol of mine, who as a young man recalled Harrison as one of his own idols.  Miller wrote:

There was no one in those days who could hold a candle to Hubert Harrison.  With a few well-directed words he had the ability to demolish any opponent.  I described the wonderful way he smiled, his easy assurance, the great sculptured head which he carried on his shoulders like a lion.  I wondered aloud if he had not come from royal blood, if he had not been the descendant of some great African monarch.  Yes, he was a man who electrified one by his mere presence.  Besides him, the other speakers, the white ones, looked like pygmies, not only physically but culturally, spiritually.  Some of them, like the ones who were paid to foment trouble, carried on like epileptics, always wrapped in the Stars and Stripes, to be sure.  Hubert Harrison, on the other hand, no matter what the provocation, always retained his self-possession, his dignity.

I discovered a superb biography, Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918, by Jeffrey B. Perry; absorbed it in a few days, and was quite astounded by this heretofore unknown person Hubert Harrison that I had run across.

Harrison was born on St. Croix, Danish West Indies in 1883.  His mother was a working-class woman, and his biological father was a slave.  Growing up in poverty on the island, Harrison learned first-hand the struggles of his race.

In 1900, as a 17-year-old orphan, with nothing but the clothes on his back, he arrived in New York City, and immediately was confronted with the atmosphere of intense racial oppression of African Americans existing in the United States.  Harrison was especially horrified and shocked by the lynchings and virulent white supremacy that was then reaching a peak in these years in the South.

Working low-paying service jobs, he attended high school at night, and read and educated himself.  Over the ensuing decades, he rose to become one of the most influential people in America.  Writer, orator, educator, critic, editor of Negro World, political activist in the Socialist Party, founder of the New Negro Movement, his work had an immense influence not only upon his own time, but upon the times and people that followed.

Author, journalist and historian Joel A. Rogers wrote:

Harrison was not only the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time, but one of America's greatest minds.  No one worked more seriously and indefatigably to enlighten his fellow men.

At the core of Harrison's life was an unrelenting devotion to justice.  Racism and white supremacy were his targets.

Harrison once wrote:

Politically, the Negro is the touchstone of the modern democratic idea.  The presence of the Negro puts our democracy to the proof and reveals the falsity of it...True democracy and equality implies a revolution...startling even to think of.

Through his writing and lectures and social involvement, he labored unrelentingly to educate the masses, and to give voice and dignity to African-American men and women everywhere.

He wrote:

America is a great experiment in democracy...unique in the history of the world...And the great American experiment is to determine for the future whether we can make out of the welter of races and nations one people, one culture, one democracy.  It is confessedly a hard task, but it can be done, and the grounds of that faith rest on the known facts of the present and the past.

Of course, he was attacked on many fronts; but his labors became the seedbed of future movements and many great future leaders. 


The Miracle Is You

At the heart of the most pressing problem lies the key to turning everything around.

When the problem will not go away, when it stares you unrelentingly in the face, when you think you cannot go on living even unless it changes, this is the turning point. 

But the problem will never change if you think something is going to magically happen, if you think the solution will arrive knocking at your door to give you relief, if you are waiting for the miracle to happen.

The miracle is you.

The miracle is summoning up totally new energies from within.  It is forging new determinations, and then acting and moving ahead with all your might.  It is do or die.

The miracle is finally believing in yourself.  It is depending on no one and no thing.  It is making up your mind.

It is calling forth infinite resources where you saw no resources.

The universe is waiting for you.  The universe has given you this problem as a gift.  The universe will bend to your every whim, but only when you yourself move with implacable will and determination.

It all depends on you.

You are the turning point of a miracle.



Fremont, California

This is not the old white America of trim lawns and white-washed picket fences.  White America numbers only about a third of the population here.  Half of the population of this city of around 230,000, just north of San Jose, is Asian by roots – Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Pakistani, Japanese, Burmese, with the largest population of Afghan Americans also in the United States.

While here, I met Arnaldo and his two children.

Arnaldo is originally from Arequipa, Peru, the second largest city in Peru.  He came to the United States seven years ago, and is a United States citizen.

We talked about life in America.

Arnaldo, what's your take on America at this time?

"I think everything is money, I think everything is just money.  Democrats and Republicans are looking for money.  They just want to make more money, and the bad side of this is the people, like me, work for them.  We expend our lives for them.  We make a little money to live, they make a ton of money to make more money.  We're thinking of moving to another State or somewhere else, because specifically here is, to me, turning crazy.  The price of the real estate is on the skies, the relation between how much money you make between the cost of living is big. 

Everybody says the American Dream is buy a house, have a good breakfast, lunch and dinner, and spend as much time with your kids as possible.  That, to me, is a great idea of the American Dream, but how are you going to spend time with your kids if you start at 6 a.m. every day, and come back around eight or nine p.m.  The kids are in daycare, so you are not with your kids, somebody else is taking care of them, and you have to pay for them, and you do not know what's going on over there.  So the American Dream is a little distorted.  We are too many people in the world, there are few resources, there is too many things going on.  If I can compare this country with other countries, I think we are fine, because in relation it's better than Peru, for example.  But the American Dream is far from the reality.

What can change things for the better?

I think everything starts with the kids.  If you spend more time with them, if you teach them to do the good things, if you tell them money is not everything, and you teach them more values, they can  probably do something.  This is a dream, but it's far from the reality.  It starts with you, and how you can teach them.  It starts with you.  The people don't have the time though, because they are working, they are trying to put some food on the table, they don't have time to teach the kids.

Do you think the leaders in our government are thinking about the people?

They have to think about the people, because if they don't do that eventually – I don't know if it's going to be that extreme, like a civil war – but something is going to happen.


Nothing Can Touch You

There is a hole and

Funnel inside the tornado,

An area within the storm

That is as quiet as a mouse.

The eye of the hurricane

Is the knowingness that

Life is safe there in the

Flying flagpoles and

Destructive debris, and

That nothing can touch you

If you keep quiet at the

Center, and do not budge

An inch, sideways, up or

Down, around and around,

Just let the storm brew

And rage and blow itself

Into a fury, it has nothing to

Do with your staunchest

Self.  You are you, you are

Forever.  Hold on, keep

Quiet, stay on course,

Keep the dream alive at the

Center of your mind.

Everything will pass.

Joy is riding out the storm with

Utter intent.


The Treasure Tower

They assembled on the mountain, summoned from all parts of the universe, of universes beyond universes, billions and trillions in their retinues, the kings and queens of life, even animals, serpents, devils and demons, and all of them magnificent, come to hear the Buddha expound the Law, the essence of all his teachings, the Lotus Sutra.

A great Treasure Tower, a third as large as the earth itself, brilliant with jewels, rose into the air from out of the earth, carrying with it all these innumerable beings, and the Buddha began to expound the Law.

He revealed that, contrary to what everyone believed – that he had first attained enlightenment in his present lifetime while meditating under a bodhi tree – he had, in fact, attained enlightenment in the unimaginably remote past, and had ever since then been in the world preaching the Law.  The life of the Buddha is eternal.  The universe itself is eternal.  Our lives are eternal.

The resplendent Treasure Tower and the assembled beings of all the worlds is the Buddha's life itself, a metaphor, a myth of eternity and a state of life residing not only in the Buddha's heart and mind, but in the life of each and every human being on the face of the planet.

It is a state of life overflowing with life force, wisdom, compassion, joy and eternity.  We are all Buddhas, unawakened to this fact. 

The purpose of the Buddha's advent was to uncover and awaken all people to the Thus Come One residing within their own hearts. 

At the conclusion of this ceremony, all these innumerable beings promise to appear in the world after the Buddha's death and to spread this great Truth and Law far into the future.

In 1844, in the January issue of the Dial magazine, the publication of the New England Transcendentalist Club, Henry David Thoreau, one of the great bards of the American Renaissance, introduced a translation of the Parable of the Medicinal Herbs chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the core and heart of all the Buddhist teachings, to the American public. 

The article went mostly unnoticed, but the way had been opened for those legions of lovers of this world to appear, messengers forged upon the anvil of eternal life, donning the garb now of unknown, unheard-of people, the cabinet maker, the farmer, the steel worker, the secretary, bartender, caretaker, seamstress, machinist, railroad worker, pharmacist, lifeguard, a million identities, superb actors and actresses from time immemorial now appearing upon this grand stage of America, you would never imagine they carried forth the secret, the joy, the message, the hope, the future unimaginable, the power, expressing in their very lives invincible proof, singing tunes, swelling a grand chorus of jubilation.

Thoreau opened the door, and now they appear.  They are here to construct a new myth of America.

Who are these people?

They are you and I.


Gangs of the Kosmos

There will soon be no more priests.  Their work is done.  They may wait awhile, perhaps a generation or two, dropping off by degrees.  A superior breed shall take their place, the gangs of kosmos and prophets en masse shall take their place.  A new order shall arise and they shall be the priests of man, and every man shall be his own priest.  The churches built under their umbrage shall be the churches of men and women.  Through the divinity of themselves shall the kosmos and the new breed of poets be interpreters of men and women and of all events and things.  They shall find their inspiration in real objects today, symptoms of the past and future.  They shall not deign to defend immortality or God or the perfection of things or liberty or the exquisite beauty and reality of the soul.  They shall arise in America and be responded to from the remainder of the earth.

—-Walt Whitman.  Preface to Leave of Grass.


Thomas Paine & The Age of Reason

Many people are aware of Thomas Paine's contributions, especially his authorship of the inspiring pamphlets, Common Sense and American Crisis, which led to his being called the Father of the American Revolution.

Not so many people are aware, though, of another series of pamphlets he wrote later in life, called The Age of Reason, which resulted in his being ostracized in the very country he loved.

Published in 1776, near the beginning of the Revolutionary War, his first pamphlet, Common Sense, had an extraordinary impact.  In the first three months alone, 100,000 copies circulated among the two million residents of the 13 colonies, crystallizing a growing sentiment among the people for independence from Great Britain.

Subsequently, Paine began a series of other pamphlets, called The American Crisis.  The first of these pamphlets, also published in 1776, began with the famous words: 

These are the times that try men's souls.  The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.  Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.  What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.  Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated. 

George Washington had these words read to his troops, to inspire them.

President John Adams once said:

Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain

Paine went on to also become an ardent and celebrated supporter of the French Revolution with his publication of The Rights of Man.

Later, Paine published The Age of Reason, which also had a powerful impact, but which caused him to be viciously attacked, so that even a hundred years later, President Theodore Roosevelt would label him a filthy little atheist.

Paine was no atheist.  He was a deist, or person believing that reason and observation of the natural world pointed to the existence of a single creator or absolute principle of the universe.

In The Age of Reason, Paine wrote:

"I believe in oneGod, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.

"I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavouring to make our fellow-creatures happy.

"But lest it should be supposed that I believe many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.

"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of.  My own mind is my own church.

"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

He rejected miracles, revelation, and the authority of the Bible.  Just as he had attacked the authoritarianism and tyranny of the British government and crown, so he now turned his attacks upon what he considered the tyranny of Christianity itself.

He wrote:

"Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing call Christianity.  Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics.  As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.

Whence arose all the horrid assassinations of whole nations of men, women, and infants, with which the Bible is filled; and the bloody persecutions, and tortures unto death and religious wars, that since that time had laid Europe in blood and ashes; whence arose they, but from this impious thing called revealed religion, and this monstrous belief that God has spoken to man?  The lies of the Bible have been the cause of the one, and the lies of the Testament of the other.

For views expressed in The Age of Reason, Paine was attacked and vilified by the powers that be.  At his death, he was almost a forgotten man.

The great American orator and writer Robert G. Ingersoll later wrote:

Thomas Paine had passed the legendary limit of life.  One by one most of his old friends and acquaintances had deserted him.  Maligned on every side, execrated, shunned and abhorred – his virtues denounced as vices – his services forgotten – his character blackened, he preserved the poise and balance of his soul.  He was a victim of the people, but his convictions remained unshaken.  He was still a soldier in the army of freedom, and still tried to enlighten and civilize those who were impatiently waiting for his death.  Even those who loved their enemies hated him, their friend – the friend of the whole world – with all their hearts.  On the 8th of June 1809, death came – Death, almost his only friend.  At his funeral no pomp, no pageantry, no civic process, no military display.  In a carriage, a woman and her son who had lived on the bounty of the dead – on horseback, a Quaker, the humanity of whose heart dominated the creed of his head – and, following on foot, two negroes filled with gratitude – constituted the funeral cortege of Thomas Paine.

But his influence continued to spread, influencing countless lives struggling for a

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