Archive for August, 2012

How to yank apart a democracy

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Basically, wealth corrupts. This works with societies as well as just plain folks. In the US, tremendous windfalls from historical success produced such opulence, we all began to believe the world was simply designed for our benefit. Smart minds went to work, to set about restoring for a few the sort of consolidated raw power the ambitious always seek.

First, decades were spent persuading post-war generations each of us is in it for ourselves, living in a world where prosperity is available for all who just try hard enough. Then, an artificial ‘meritocracy’ was used to develop a substantial affluent class, whose fear of personal decline fosters a belief financial autocracy is, in truth, the only way a country can survive. Then, a series of attractive, wealthy, and bigoted bullies were placed upon a stage to bellow outright lies at the trembling affluent minority, with their hosts of sycophants who really don’t know what to think.

Presto.

Attribution

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

There are moments (I hope we all have these), often set to music, when my time and place dissolves and life flows through me like a river from memory to forethought. Astonishment welling from my heart sends physical vibrations through my body, to the edges of my skin. Perhaps this is ecstasy.

I have lived hard and wild. I have also known wonders of silence, and the presence of lives next to mine in contact and exploration like stories are made of. I have had a wealth of opportunity, and pushed open every door that invited me. What a thrill to have lived, and to see and know it all at once. What a thrill to have life. I stand in the light and the music, arms uplifted, with tears on my cheeks and tingling in my flesh, and pure joy like a caress running through me.

I attribute these moments to my lord, Jesus Christ. Only I know what I mean.

biospiritual imperative

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

‘God’ isn’t necessary to explain spatio-temporal manifestations. But to some, he’s quite satisfying. ‘God’ isn’t necessary to explain two thousand years’ devotion to Jesus Christ. But to some, he’s quite satisfying.

Jesus spoke with resounding clarity what atheists are more awkwardly preaching today: we’re alive this moment and we’d do best to believe in the world as we see it around us.

I think we emerged with a deeply physical awareness we’re part of a larger collective experience, and our brains require a rational construct – our ‘self’ – to assess opportunities and threats (‘good’ and ‘evil’) as we confront experiential reality. We can’t help it. Without an imaginary faith (‘self’), we’re not human beings at all.

Except once in a while, briefly, we might be more. Once in a while, briefly, during those famous ‘moments of being,’ in coincidences of experience and yearning, our fictitious rulebook is superseded by a recognition of what we are, as we are. And we come away transformed.

(tea) partying

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

I live in a so-called ‘conservative’ county, and our several annual parades now have a red-shirted, flag-waving ‘tea party’ section full of decidedly working class folks cheering about their patriotism. The local paper’s opinion pages bulge with letters, full of poor spelling and worse grammar, bleating out the lines currently popular on right-wing TV. It almost makes me cry.

These are the ‘comfortable’ Americans who know something scary is happening. These are the great mass of the (under)educated middle class; smart enough to pay attention but unable to figure out what’s going on. They’re easily frightened and they’re sure they’re right. When they’re scared they pick an enemy and attack it. They aren’t just a few folks, either. This is the real United States.

It comes about there are only two possible enemies in our newly simple-minded discussion. There’s government and there’s your boss. Who ya gonna trust?

I think you’re going to trust your boss, until you lose your job. It takes a whole lot of suffering, after all, to make a working man stand up for himself. We haven’t seen anything like it for seventy years, nor have we had a generation to be proud of, since. The country is in decline by intent, driven down by wealthy people calculating on the simple-minded support of the frightened still-employed.

Our plutocracy’s long term interests are best served by the closely regulated, upward wealth transfers championed by the Obama government, so I expect him to win re-election. But history is full of hubris and short-sightedness. Maybe the bosses really think they’ve got the Tea Party in the pocket, and they’re ready to grab for it all. Maybe they can bring on some genuine, real, hard, suffering for their red-shirted supporters. Maybe they can put some spine back into the United States. And maybe folks will start remembering the boss is an easier target than the government. If you’re into that sort of thing, perhaps the best way for the country to go is – a Romney win.

Political science

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

If we’re not miserable, we’ve got something to hold on to, and we’ll fight for it. Most of politics is people trying to keep what they’ve got, hoping maybe, even, to grab a little more. Community always has an anarchic element to it which makes staying in place a little uncertain, but creates most of the opportunities people get for moving around.

In capitalist countries, everything is about making and keeping money, activities usually pursued by separate groups of people. Usually, the vast majority work to ‘operate’ an economy, and a much smaller group sells the goods and keeps the profits. Most people like it this way, because we’re all born servants or masters, and we tend to know it. ‘Prosperity’ means masters moving enough money through servants’ hands to keep them loyal and adoring, and the whole operation working smoothly enough to keep the pile of wealth growing at the top.

This is easy to watch today, as a fabulously wealthy group of bosses exhort employees everywhere to despise their government and trust the company. It’s hard to see how this won’t continue, since the majority of workers are still comfortable indeed. Those looking for change remain well advised to look for opportunity in the conflicts between the rich folks themselves.