Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sweeping Statements

I am going to break one of my own cardinal rules and make a few unabashedly sweeping statements. But trying times are trying.

Our nation has wandered into a very dark wood. We have succumbed to the panther of fraud, the lion of arrogance and aggression and the wolf of lust and consumption. Our news, once lively and informative, has descended into a morass of sheer pointlessness, carefully crafted to divert us from any hope of solidarity or meaning. Celebrities trump human beings. We have allowed a wealthy, calculating, and grasping elite to feed at the trough of our democracy, seeking representation without taxation while taxing the rest of us. Labor is sinking slowly toward peonage. Union workers are castigated as lazy which is an excuse for busting the unions. The poor are like the bogey man: a punishment to keep us in our place. According to Richard Wilkinson in his recent book: The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Nations Stronger, the United States, once a land of opportunity, has now become the most socially unequal nation in the industrialized world. A few billionaires are calling the shots, telling the rest of us that we cannot afford medical care or pensions or education when a fair tax on just that tiny minority could adequately provide all three. A new for-profit library system is beginning to insinuate itself into our cities, ripping away pensions, lowering salaries and expecting us to be grateful. The only state that actually pays its citizens a benefit for the use of public lands is Alaska, but you wouldn't know what a socially enlightened state Alaska was to listen to the shrill Sarah Palin and her Tea Parties. The profiteers do not just want your money. They want your future. They want your life. They want you indentured or unemployed.

Meanwhile, our public discourse is a mess. Everyone has a pet cause that they think can save the world. Some make sense. Some don't. All of them are in competition with each other, and all of them want your money. Save the oceans! Send me on a fact finding mission to the arctic! Build wind farms! Industry preserves jobs! Mama Grizzlies growl! We're gonna to destabilize society in the name of protecting your freedom! You can get rich and be sustainable at the same time! You: An Owner's Manual. We can't worry about the earth right now; we're in the midst of an economic emergency. I'm just like a character in Middle Earth. I'm an American and anything I do or say is right. Make sense? No. It's not supposed to make sense, but I've been distracted by all of these.

If we wish to survive, we've got to stop being so ADHD. To give a small example, everything we have and everything we are comes from the earth. To say we can stop thinking about the earth because of the economy is like saying, we can't think about breathing right now because of the air.

There's a bad moon on the rise. We're all so hurt that all the sides have started bleeding into one another's open wounds. (Ever wonder why vampires are so popular all of a sudden?) There is no political thought at the moment that is not riddled with contradictions. The conservatives behave like Bolsheviks and the left is status obsessed. As I learned as a kid, you've got to look very closely at your enemies because if you don't, one day you're going to wake up and discover that you're just like them.

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