I really appreciate the email letter below urging folks to vote. I will even post it and send it to friends because I agree with your mission. I also agree in general with your sentiments and some of the specific points. But I’d like to take exception to just a couple of things. I wonder if you might consider my unsolicited criticism.
I realize there is an element of marketing in your letter. For a long time people have told me that you must meet people where they are. I usually respond by saying, ‘yea, but you’ve got to tell them the truth.’ In your first paragraph you correctly point out the fact that the democratic and republican choices seem to offer little difference in, shall we say, values, approach, objectives, orientation, allegiance, etc. But the examples you cite, underwater mortgage, owing $50,000, war in Afghanistan. As huge as these things are, are they more important than a living Earth? Climate change not withstanding, are they more important than at least the effort to include in the list an acknowledgment that it is the system itself, the deepest story that we tell ourselves, especially as Americans, that is destroying the environment (by commoditizing all of nature), shredding social fabric (by commoditizing all human relationships) and resuscitating an economic system that no longer works?
Surely if you hope to be effective you consider the need to ground down to core issues before responding. Perhaps I am arguing for a different mission here; rather than simply trying to divert those that won’t vote toward a lesser-of-the-two-evils vote, you might raise awareness in a way that can lead to fuller, more effective responses. Let’s be clear. Such a fuller response isn’t idle idealism. It is wholly pragmatic in that anything less is leading us to a global catharsis that literally threatens the capacity of the planet to support higher life forms for, at the very least, a very, very long time. I believe you get this and I’m writing to urge you to start speaking it more clearly and forcefully, as I am attempting to do now.
In the second paragraph the emphasis is on blame; as if prosecuting Wall Street will make a difference. Perhaps eliminating Wall Street would, but to imply otherwise is more manipulative than helpful. More importantly, from this paragraph, not only were “basic constitutional rights to privacy and a fair trial…ignored”, they were proactively shredded and replaced with blatant, viscous top-down violence. Being politically correct by suggesting that these rights were simply ‘ignored’ leads to a white-wash of the truth; meeting people where they are in this way is ultimately a disservice. Really the lesson is spiritual; the means (violence) are the ends and until we get this, we’re screwed. I’m arguing for an acknowledgement of how important this really is. To say rights were ignored, but not point out that despicable violence was the insidious power used to keep a failing, destructive hierarchy in place serves to, well, keep it in place.
In the fifth paragraph I reacted to the term, “stole our future.” The reality is that circumstances are stealing our future. The failure to acknowledge those circumstances – peak resources, peak pollution, peak debt, climate change, peak inequity, violent enforcement – to not speak them, not understand their roots, and not respond to them from such a place of ‘truth’ – that is the great accessory to the crime – a theft of soul – the great shaming we endure as a species as we allow life itself to slip away whether through our silence, our unquestioning enslavement to an economic system, or our ignorance of an unprecedented die-off of species diversity every day due to the killing nature of the entire structure. If there are future generations to reflect upon our cowardice, they will surely feel our shame. We should be so lucky. I’m arguing for you to step up even more –for the courage – to speak this deeper reality more clearly and directly.
I find the term “tsunami of hate” interesting. It would be really useful for all of us to recognize the vibration of fear that undergirds everything right now, not the least of which is the conservative perspective. This fear is conditioned into us through the collective influence of all that have come before us and it is amplified by our market emphasis, money system and patriotic, separatist mindset. It is keeping us in denial, and from acting. The opportunity, truly, is to help everyone begin to visualize what the world would be like if a vibration of love, compassion and inter-being resonated through each of us and the systems in which we participate. Thus examples of owning a house, free college, and OMG, new cars; well, they are quite reactionary in their own way, wouldn’t you agree? Property rights plays and essential role in the violent hierarchy. Colleges continue to reinforce the problematic structures we can’t seem to free ourselves from. And our ideas about freedom, entitlement and individualism as they are reflected by, say, the desire for a new car, well, those are really bad things Michael. And they obviously serve to promote more of the same at a systems level and there is no time left for that system.
It is eminently refreshing to recognize that there is a robust discussion right now in our society of how a gift economy works; a vision of the future that doesn’t reinforce the fear-based belief of needing a job to survive. Really Michael, we can do better than the examples you cite as I’m sure you learned making ‘Capitalism, A Love Story’. (I’m sorry if all that sounded preachy. I’m on a roll.)
“That’s all gone. I don’t know if we can get it back…” Well, here’s the opening. Let me try to be a bit more specific. What I’m talking about is the lack of a progressive viewpoint in the conversation and a lack of vision. I live in Connecticut. We have a Fox-Owned TV station here. We are, ostensibly, a ‘liberal’ or democratic/blue state. Yet we have a robust conservative voice literally controlling the media. The voice of real progressive-ism is missing, and this is what is needed most in the world today. Old ideas, old perspectives, old paradigms won’t cut it. I am appealing to you to include a truly progressive perspective in the expression of your voice (and please come to Connecticut and express it.) I believe you share this perspective, but when it is missing in communication for perhaps marketing purposes, being politically correct – (alright, that is probably unfair – I mean, Michael Moore, politically correct?) – maybe more accurately simply trying to ‘meet people where they are, it leads to an error of omission.
If the emperor has no clothes on, it is not our job to find his pants, but rather to see him for what he is. Our social systems of rigged free markets, manipulated capitalism and perverted democracy, and deepest cultural stories of separation, domination, patriarchy, American exceptionalism (that, yes, you seem to cater to) – all have no clothes on now. It is time to see ‘them’ now for what ‘they’ really are. If they were not rigged, manipulated and perverted, they would still be problematic! The real opportunity is to see that these things all vibrate with fear; they are built on a fear-based story. We commit an egregious error when we proclaim ‘get the emperor some clothes’ rather than say ‘throw the privileged, fear-based and fear-mongering imperialist out!’ To the extent that Obama is cut from the same imperial cloth as Romney, we are killing our selves by giving energy to an election that has little hope of making a difference – without at least contextualizing it, as I am attempting here.
The simplest conception of consciousness is choice; recognizing the power of our choice to create and participate in a world that resonates with love. Leaders such as yourself might lend your amazing imagination to helping everyone envision what-could-be – a world that reflects the truth that survival relies not on the strength of our economy, but on the strength of our inter-beingness; our interconnection and, sorry American Dream, our inter-dependence – with all things.
Blaming different political ideologies for the straits we are in is barking up the wrong tree. Yes, the election of the craven, reactionary perspective of the republicans would be a very bad thing. But so is refusing to drill down to the cornerstone of the dysfunctional systems that currently dominate. Your letter is powerful, and I appreciate what you are doing. My hope is that you can take an understanding of the points that I am trying to articulate and somehow weave them into equally powerful efforts in the future. It really is important. Scaring the sh**t out of ‘them’ is a seductive tact. But ultimately we are talking about speaking truth to power from a place of love. Love for each other, love for our Mother and even love for ‘them.’ It is most helpful to recognize that ‘they’ act more from a place of fear than any of the rest of ‘us’. In the end, or maybe more poignantly, to avoid the ‘end’, we need urgently (that means now, not later), to connect the ‘them’ and ‘us’ in a very new way. I urge you to put your awesome skills at work helping bring such a new way forth.
Here’s Michael Moore’s letter to which I am responding:
Letter to a Non-Voter …from Michael Moore
Sunday, November 4th, 2012
To my friend who is not voting on Tuesday:
I get it – and I don’t blame you. You’re fed up and you could care less whether Tweedledee or Tweedledumber wins on Tuesday – because on Wednesday, your life will be the same, unchanged, regardless who is president. Your mortgage will still be underwater. You will still owe $50,000 on your student loan. Your son will still be in Afghanistan. Your daughter will still be working two jobs to make ends meet. And gas will still be at $4.
Four years ago you gave in and voted – and you voted for Obama. You wanted to believe he would go after the Wall Street crooks who crashed the economy – but instead the banks that were “too big to fail” four years ago are now even bigger and more dangerous. You thought there’d be universal health care – but the new law only went so far (with most of it not taking effect until 2014). You were tired of war and homeland security measures that violated our civil liberties – but we’re still in Afghanistan, we’re sending in drones to Pakistan and basic constitutional rights to privacy and a fair trial have been ignored. And you thought you’d have a middle-class, good-paying job like your dad had – but you didn’t know that Goldman Sachs was Obama’s #1 private campaign donor in 2008, and well, he was beholden to corporate America in more ways we cared to think about.
So, I get it why you’ve had it with all these politicians and elections. In the end, it doesn’t really seem to be our country any more. It’s run by those who can buy the most politicians to do their bidding. Our schools are made a low priority and women are still having to fight for just the basic human rights we thought they already had.
So, it’s hard for me to ask you for this very personal favor. It’s OK if you say “no,” but I’m hoping you don’t.
I cannot believe it is possible that, after a group of rich plutocrats wrecked the economy, threw people out of work and stole our future, we may actually hand the keys to our country over to…a rich Republican plutocrat who made millions by throwing people out of work! This is insane, and despite all the legitimate criticisms of Obama, he is nothing like the tsunami of hate and corporate thievery that will take place if Mitt Romney is president. As bad as it feels now, it will only get worse. I need your help to stop this.
I can’t promise you that your life will get better, easier under Barack Obama. I do think he cares and I know for sure that if the other guy is sitting in the Oval Office, I can guarantee you that not only will your life not get better, it will get much, much worse. Don’t take my word for it. Just ask your parents what life was like before a 30-year pillage by the Republicans of the middle class. Your parents bought a house and eventually owned it outright. They weren’t in debt. College was free. They bought a new car every 3 or 4 years. They took vacations and were home for dinner by 5 or 6 PM. They had a savings account in the bank. They didn’t live in fear of not knowing if they’d even have a job next year.
That’s all gone. I don’t know if we can get it back, but I do know that Mr. Romney would love the chance to complete the final elimination of the middle class and the American Dream.
He must be stopped. Take 20 minutes on Tuesday and go vote. If you don’t want to do it for your country, then do it for me! It’s the only favor I’ll ever ask of you.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know that you care, and care deeply, about your future and your kids’ future. You have every right to be cynical about all this. And you hold the power to stop the bastards who plan on squeezing every last dime out of you that they can. Take a stand. And make a statement to those who are hoping against hope that you’ll stay home on Tuesday. Your presence at the polls is what they fear most.
Go scare the s**t out of them! For me.
Music, Art, Spoken Word
The Ernest Song Project is an emotional exploration of the deepest spark of human potential in response to the massive convergence of change unfolding in the world today. Can breath channeled in song return us to a connection with a healing pattern of life? Do the evocations of art offer a roadmap to wellness inside of profound upheaval?
The Ernest Song Project is a personal journey to remembering our collective capacity for expressing life-affirming impulses in all we do. Through such acts can we transcend cultural norms and invisible beliefs to facilitate a shift in consciousness toward a sustainable human relationship with Earth?
The questions reorient us to being more fully alive in this moment.
The Ernest Song Project comprises the music of Petrified, If Not for You, a musical allegory of our collective hardening and fear of our own deepest selves and a visual slide show combining images and words called The Ecology of Happiness – a holistic exploration of ‘happiness’ in relationship with current Earth-trends.
Ernest Song asks if it possible to recognize
how hardened we have become to the sacred quality
of all things – and how this has affected our ideas
about love and life.
We are petrified – hardened and afraid –
of this connection.
In seeking his own journey back,
Ernest Song offers an invitation
to a deeper definition
of love, joy and longing
Recovery? There never was hope for recovery, so those words are so interesting. What is being created by continuing to invoke the words ‘hope for recovery?’ What is being created is the stage setting for an invasion of Libya. Ostensibly, it will again be for the purpose of helping/saving the people there and bringing democracy. But, unfortunately, the truth is, it will be about commandeering oil resources.
The reason there is no hope for an economic recovery is because the Earth’s resources, including its ability to absorb the waste of the industrial growth society (IGS), has been exhausted. Yet the economy itself, and the money system that undergirds it, requires constant growth. These system do not work if they do not grow. They fail when they can not grow. Prepare for failure of these systems. No economic recovery.
As with our more recent and not-so-recent invasions (Iraq and the Philippines come to mind), this invasion will involve the loss of incredible numbers of lives (millions, yes). And, to add to the abstract quality of it all, the US military will trumpet the relatively few loss of US servicemen (perhaps even none). This will be heralded as a good thing, but the fact is, it just keeps the reality of the holocaust that much further from our comprehension.
Just to be clear: I object, in the strongest possible terms, to being a citizen of a country that perpetrates holocausts.
So one question that comes to mind, is what are the contributing factors to the unrest currently happening in the middle east? While on the one hand, this unrest is contributing directly to a sweeping oil price shock in this country just beginning to unfold. And, of course, this oil price shock will remove any possibility of ‘economic recovery’. In fact, it may wreck our economy period. There will be a very dark period of uncertainty and unrest. It will be a situation that Naomi Klein calls shock and for which her theory of ‘shock doctrine’ applies. The crisis will be exploited to push through policies and activities that are unpopular (ie., invading other countries, restricting human rights). It might be asked, is it really necessary to put us through this pain as a rationalization for war?
Good question. An even better question might be, why don’t we turn our attention and energy to renewable energy and structural change to our money systems to alleviate the broader human suffering that fighting over resources will ultimately produce? Why is it that we can’t agree on the obvious destruction of the land-base – of the Earth herself, in pursuit of economic growth so as to see the invisible assumptions that bind us to this fate? Why can we not connect the dots as a culture to see where this is going?
No economic recovery? So then what? Is it possible to envision something different? If we can envision something different, why is it so hard to achieve a consensus for moving toward this something different?
How can we possibly be ‘well’ inside of the death rattle of the larger systems of which we are part? That is the question I continue to live. A recent post on Facebook refers to predictions of $200 per barrel oil prices. The author, Guy McPhearson (Nature Bats Last), suggest the absurdity of this idea – not because it can’t happen, but because this simple prediction eliminates so much of the picture that needs to be considered, and will be reflected in profound changes to the global social system.
Those that would talk about oil prices in such an isolated manner offer a hilarious perspective. Yes, it is imperative to find the humor. Moreover, it is a supremely reductionist view that is disconnected from the reality of the larger perspective. Make no mistake, the larger perspective is now firmly in control. Business as usual is an archaic idea, to say the least.
I’m not down for the how-do-we-pay-for-the-oil game. Such a discussion does not acknowledge the integral reality to which Guy infers; namely that the system inside of which we are imagining $200 per barrel oil simply won’t be the same as it is now. There are deep interactions that reflect the structural issues in play and to which we are not immune. For example, there won’t be fuel at the filling station because the global financial markets will freeze up. There won’t be food on the shelf of the supermarket, because there is no fuel. There won’t be electricity or water coming from the tap. That’s the sort of deeper implications that are part of any discussion, from here on out, about oil.
Let the 1% of the population controlling 95% of the world’s imagined wealth play the oil game. I’m creating something different thank you very much and it doesn’t require oil, nor money as we now know it. Did I mention that the current wealth in our society is imagined? What is real wealth? From where does it ultimately come? And what are we doing/have been doing for the last 200 years to this ‘mother’ of all things ‘real’? Right, destroying it. As long as we continue to live in the imagined world of money created out of thin air, yet as a result of a system that structurally creates a scarcity mindset, we will struggle to pay for oil and will never have enough. We have hit the limits of not enough, and the result is catastrophe. How could one possibly be ‘well’ inside of this reality?
The only response to what is happening is to take responsibility for the reality you create with your thoughts. The process, thus, is deepening our awareness, but/and then using this insight to strengthen our vision of the new reality emerging all around us, and create beauty that is a reflection of the self-organizing pattern of life offered freely and without effort by the Earth and the Universe.
By deepening our awareness of what is actually happening, and why, we create a foundation for imagining something completely different that emerges from deep, profound structural changes. For example, our debt-based money system requires – yes, requires, with no exception – that there never be quite enough and that we continue to grow the overall system – forever. Of course that can’t happen. So what happens if we create a different system? Did those unsolvable problems just start looking slightly more manageable? Is there at least a possibility now that didn’t previously exist? Have we strengthened our imagination?
Moreover, we can develop our capacity to have faith in these possibilities by experiencing the powerful response of life self-organizing. What does this look like? As a result of our separate-self perspective, an illusion of separation that has been invested in for the last 10,000 or so years (if not more as Charles Eisenstein would argue – that this trend is an inherent aspect of life evolving set in motion from the very beginning), we have lost touch with a real experience of this self-organizing ability. Yet it is constantly unfolding and used as a tool by each and every one of us all the time, as Mike Dooley (and others) argues in his book, Manifesting Change.
If we are able to ground our selves in the reality that life will/must respond in a way that is life affirming, because this is a fundamental principle of the Universe, then we can help with the process of letting go of old beliefs about control and separation. I know that it might sound whoo-whoo to some to offer something along the lines of learning more about the ‘manifestation’ process, instead of specific ‘solutions’, but this is a response to the nature of the predicament. Have you ever noticed that the ‘experts’ are the ones that offer ‘solutions’ and they are the ones doing well in this economy? If this economy is at the heart of the problem, are these really solutions being offered?
The definition of a paradigm is that it defines what we are capable of seeing; what we can imagine – because it is a framework in which we are immersed. Thus the framework is invisible. So seeing beyond the framework is not possible as long as it is invisible. The first step to seeing beyond the framework, to what might be, is to allow our self to see the framework. And, in fact, the framework consists of a history – a collective consciousness characterized by tyranny, exploitation, separation, atrocity, injustice…I could go on. And the unintended consequences of this invisible framework are equally abhorrent. So repulsive is this current consciousness, that we are, well, repelled. So this process of deepening awareness is ultimately an act of courage and faith – undertaken by those that understand we create our own reality based on our thoughts and that these thoughts are limited by the invisible framework of our collective consciousness, and in order to see beyond this framework, we must first make it visible.
This bears repeating.
1. We create our reality with our thoughts.
2. Our thinking, and thus the reality we create, is limited by our collective consciousness that is ascribed by the invisible social and culture framework in which we are immersed.
3. We can see expand our imagination,and thus create a new paradigm, by making the invisible framework apparent through deepened awareness.
If you go deep enough, as I know Guy has by virtue of the discussions he offers, then a response that is free of the trappings of the current paradigm is the only alternative. This deepened awareness makes clear how urgent and essential the so-called whoo-whoo stuff actually is. Ultimately, it is the only response: to stop giving away our creative energy and power by ‘fighting the system’ or trying to manufacture (literally) solutions to the problems inherent in the broader status quo, and instead manifest something quite different and quite beautiful. Can thoughts become things? If so, what would you/we create?
When you ask that question and there is no answering pouring forth, what does that tell you, and how might you respond to such a limit of imagination, knowing how important this imagination is right now? This is a good question and I don’t suppose to have the answers. Yet I am responding – moving forward as best I can by exploring this process through the expression of my own life. What this means in terms of personal wellness is a sense of walking a tight rope between the anxiety of leaving the safety net of our failed social structure, and the exuberant joy of creating a life that is vastly more life-affirming.
It is truly unfortunate that the meme of ‘rapid economic growth’ still is promulgated in the face of peak resource reality: From press release below quoting Gov. Malloy: “Under this new agency, we will better integrate and coordinate our state’s energy and environmental policy in order to strengthen our ability to protect the environment; to clean, conserve and lower the cost of energy; and to set the table for rapid and responsible economic growth.”
Unfortunate because every time we focus on so-called economic growth (rapid or otherwise, neither of which is reasonable) rather than a reasonable response to resource depletion and environmental collapse, we further increase the disconnect between the current situation and sustainability based on economic, social and environmental justice. Might we consider starting by simply shifting the words from economic growth to economic activity? Might we then take an honest look at the deep problems with our debt-based money system? Might we consider that what needs to be restored is not our ability to protect the environment, but the environment’s ability to protect us?
It is my prayer that those of us that know better not be silent when we experience this kind of rhetoric from politicians and the media and, rather, we speak for whatever might be true for each of us. I encourage everyone on this list to do so.
This Sunday ECCoLoV (Earth Charter Community of the Lower Valley, Inc.) presents a program at our monthly meeting called Why Your Grocery Bill Will Double In 2011 and What You Can Do About It. We will discuss the vulnerability of the US food supply. Is the US really the world’s bread basket? What are the three biggest factors pushing up food prices? How do we get started with backup food supplies? How do we increase our food self-reliance?
On March 6, noted author Charles Eisenstein will present Money and the Turning of the Age. Mr. Eisenstein will talk about the fundamental shift taking place in our society right now – from where it springs and what its implications are. His book, The Ascent of Humanity, is a radical exploration of the history and future of civilization from a unique perspective: the human sense of self. Like many philosophers, Eisenstein traces all of the converging crises of our age to a common source, which he calls Separation. It is the ideology of the discrete and separate self that has generated these crises; therefore, he argues, nothing less than a “revolution in human beingness” will be sufficient to transform our relationship to each other and the planet. Even in this dark hour, he says, a more beautiful world is possible — but not through the extension of millennia-old methods of management and control.
Please consider these programs, visit our website at http://www.earthcharterct.org for more information, and contemplate offering important feedback to state government about the true nature of our energy and environmental predicament, and ‘reasonable’ responses to them.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Roger Smith
Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2011 6:04 PM
Subject: [CleanEnergy20by2010] Breaking news: Governor proposed consolidated
Editorial comment: I don’t know what this will mean but you’re among the first to hear about this. It’s unclear what happens to the CT Energy Advisory Board as well as the Efficiency/Clean Energy Funds. It’s a positive sign that OPM energy office would be folded into this centralized entity.
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced his plan to create a newly consolidated Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), an agency that will consolidate Connecticut’s widely dispersed energy functions, including the Department of Public Utility Control, with the Department of Environmental Protection to allow for a more effective coordination of state energy and environmental policies.
“Merging these two functions under one leader will allow the state to act cohesively in two vitally important and directly related policy areas, particularly in terms of economic development, siting, permitting and other issues,” Governor Malloy said. “Under this new agency, we will better integrate and coordinate our state’s energy and environmental policy in order to strengthen our ability to protect the environment; to clean, conserve and lower the cost of energy; and to set the table for rapid and responsible economic growth.”
Creating the new Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will enable the state to continue its environmental conservation and regulation functions and to couple them closely with energy policy and pricing. Organizationally, the state’s energy policy will become centralized in the agency through the creation of two new bureaus: the Bureau of Energy Policy and Efficiency and the Bureau of Utilities Control.
The Bureau of Energy Policy and Efficiency will be responsible for the development and analysis of energy policy as it affects all of Connecticut’s citizens and businesses through its Division of Energy Policy and Program Development. The bureau’s Division of Government Energy Management will be responsible for the effective management of energy costs and energy usage by and within state government buildings and facilities. Existing staff from the Office of Policy and Management Energy Unit will be transferred into this bureau.
DEEP’s second energy bureau, the Bureau of Utilities Control, is formed by transferring the Department of Public Utility Control, which will continue to be responsible for conducting management audits of the public service companies; scheduling, coordinating, and issuing legal notices, and conducting public hearings and adjudicating all contested cases; conducting investigations into generic issues and conducting or sponsoring management audits of specific utility functions.
This note consists mostly of writing by author Derrick Jensen. I am on page 450 of his 700 page book, The Culture of Make Believe. If you wish to learn deeply about the subject of social and economic justice, then reading this book is a very good start. Social and economic justice are one of the four primary principles of the Earth Charter. I am the president of the Earth Charter of the Lower Valley, Inc. (ECCoLoV), in Connecticut – a non-profit group organized under the principles expressed by the Earth Charter. Sometimes one wonders what to do with that. This note is a response to that question. In addition to the obvious relationship of social and economic injustice to human beings, this note also touches on the wider reach of the underpinnings of this injustice on the nonhuman realm, ie., environmental integrity – another Earth Charter principle.
Yesterday, after much thought, I decided to view a video on Facebook. It was a video taken from a rooftop in Egypt. It showed a large, white diplomatic vehicle surrounded by thousands of milling people, which, in turn, were surrounded further by teeming, crowd-filled streets. In the video the car suddenly begins to surge ahead. As it begins, the pedestrians are able to get out of the way, but as it picks up speed this becomes impossible. Tens of people begin getting mowed down. There is the clatter of the impact of their bodies being hit by the car, being run over, striking one another; of bones breaking. The car gets faster, swerves from side to side taking out even more people – literally mowed down, run over by this bullet-proofed, multi-ton armored limousine used to transport and protect the very most cowardly people on the planet. It is sickening.
I am profoundly pained from this experience, and confused as to whether it serves some larger purpose. I can only turn to a spiritual interpretation, one that transcends the physical-ness of our existence. I will probably remember this image for the rest of my life. I do not know what to do with it. Other than this:
Having read some three-quarters of Jensen’s excellent book, I have been wanting to post excerpts of it the entire time, but have not done so. Forthwith is an excerpt from pages 448 and 449, offered as some sort of perspective, some sort of cathartic reaction to the abstract horror I watched yesterday. May it lead, or at least contribute to a deeper peace, and a shift of consciousness in the world. Aho. May it illuminate the structural deficiencies, and remedies called forth, inherent in where we are in the evolution of life, the evolution of the Earth, the evolution of the Universe, now. Aho.
While, from a spiritual perspective, I believe time is simply another dimension that is transcended by the oneness the underlies all, as a physically manifest, living aspect of that all – as someone that is going to die someday – time is of the essence. Time is of the essence if we wish the human experiment to continue to exist at the leading edge of the universe’s evolving consciousness – its awareness of itself, God’s awareness of its self. Time is of the essence if we wish to see that our being-ness and our doing-ness has a simple choice: between that which helps life organize and emerge, a fundamental quality of the Universe, and that which leads to increased randomness (entropy) in the Universe, a fundamental quality as well. In my writing, when I speak of ‘coherence’, this is what I mean; to choose to seek always greater coherence with the informational pattern that begets life is to be more fully alive.
“The relationship between economics and hatred is far deeper and more formative than what I’ve said earlier, that any hatred felt long enough and deeply enough feels like economics, tradition, religion, what have you. There’s more to it than that. First, because our economics (and our society) is based on competition, it breeds hatred, insecurity, and fear. In a Language Older than Words, I discussed how the anthropologist Ruth Benedict tried to figure out why some cultures are fundamentally peaceful and others are not, why women and children are treated well in some cultures and in others they are not, and why some cultures are cooperative and others are competitive. She found one simple rule that covered all of these. It has to do with our need as social creatures for esteem. In what she termed good, or synergistic, cultures, selfishness and altruism are merged by granting esteem to those who are generous. Cultures that reward behavior benefiting the group as a whole (and specifically that siphon wealth constantly from rich to poor) while not allowing behavior that harms the group as a whole are peaceful, respectful of women and children, and cooperative. Individual members are secure. If, on the other hand, your culture grants esteem to those who are acquisitive, that is, if your culture rewards behavior that benefits the individual at the expense of the whole (and if your culture funnels wealth from poor to rich), your culture will be warlike, abusive toward women and children, and competitive. Individuals will be insecure. She also found that members of the cultures with the former characteristics are, unsurprisingly, for the most part, happy. Members of the cultures with the latter characteristics are, just as unsurprisingly, not….
“Because competition is so central to our culture, because acquisition is so deeply rewarded, because this cultural urge to acquire is insatiable, and because this acquisition is inevitably based on the exploitation of others, there can be no limit to how thoroughly our culture will exploit others, both human and nonhuman [emphasis added]. And because increasing competition leads so easily and obviously, when our lives are at stake, to increasing hatred of our competitors (as well as hatred of those who resist our exploitation), there can be no limit as to the depth and breadth of our culturally induced hatred, both of our direct peers and of those from whom we wish to steal.
“But it is even worse than this. As discussed earlier in this book, another of the central movements of our culture-along with movement toward monolithic control-has been toward increasing abstraction, that is, away from the particular, away from Buber’s joining of will and grace, and toward perceiving others as Its, objects, numbers, resources to be used, or, as Kevin Bales said of modern slaves, to be used hard, used up, and thrown away. Thus there can be no limit, then, also to the abstraction of our hate, that is, to the increasing emotional and physical distance over which we can and do destroy, to the veils we place between ourselves and those others we may no longer consider as existing.”*
So on February 4, 2011, I watched the tiny screen in the middle of Facebook, and saw the abstract representation of an atrocity that I will never forget. The experience wells in me, churning with energy.
*Derrick Jensen, The Culture of Make Believe, 2002, Context Books, pages 448, 449
I was dropped from 11,000 feet. Contained in some sort of metal cage, a plate of steel was below my feet ostensibly engineered (with enough safety factor) to make this a statistically safe experience for me and my fellow passengers. The air was cold (and thin) as I expected it would be. The speed of falling grew rapidly to terminal velocity. My hands were at my sides and apparently could not be raised, so I fell to earth in a vertical orientation, feet first thanks to the weight of the steel floor.
Wikipedia suggests that terminal velocity is 200 mph, although the world record of a streamlined free falling aerialist is over 600 mph. Knowing this now gives me insight into my own trepidation about the ‘engineered safety factor’ of the cage meant to protect me.
I knew I had been dropped over water. The concern was about the impact, obviously. I had no idea where I was in relation to the ground. Simply falling very fast. I was full of fear of the impact and waited. My breath quickened and got shallow. I tried to breath deeply, to relax, to prepare, to be in the best possible, strongest posture and state for the impact. That’s when I woke up.
Before being dropped, I remember flying in an airplane and seeing a dredging operation below. “Where do they put the tailings?. I asked. “Right back where they got them”, was the response returned. “But how does that work”, I said. “They drop them from 11,000 feet”, was the answer.
The four steps of dream processing taught to me by Susan Morgan of the Mystic Dream Center, and learned from her mentor Robert Moss, are, as best I can remember, 1. What title would you give to the dream? 2. What is the most notable image from the dream? 3. What do you or does your subconscious suggest for the meaning of this image? 4. What can you do in your waking life to incorporate the information provided to you in this dream?
1. The title for this dream is The Plunge.
2. The most vivid image is the feeling of fear, the shortness of breath as a result of my experience of falling. There is some, perhaps a lot, of dream-time that came before the falling, but I can not remember those parts of the dream. So it is just this segment with which I can work.
3. The immediate answer that comes to me, when I ask the question, what does this fear and falling mean, is this: that I fear catastrophe; the other shoe dropping, some way in which the ordered life that I currently experience will suddenly fall apart. It speaks to a deep-seated sense of tenuous-ness of my place and existence in the world.
4. What the (hell) will I do about this? Good frickin’ question. Again, an answer is immediately forthcoming. I will talk about it. I will shine light upon it. I will embrace it, reveal it, revel in it. I will hold it as mine and learn it, love it and live it. I will become consciously one with this fear just as I am already one with it unconsciously. Only now, I will have more choice in the ways in which it motivates (or demotivates) me.So I am writing about it; sharing this dream process as well.
After waking, I lay in bed thinking this through. The idea of writing about it accompanied my decision to talk about this fear. As I considered this activity, I began to weep. Tears welled, my abdomen convulsed; I thought of it as energy released. I offer this in healing. Even as I type these words, I feel those same tears. What is that? Is it gratitude? Is it a sense of being more fully alive? Is it movement, god-forbid, progress? What is healing anyway?
I honor this dream. I am grateful for it and its message.
I read with some interest various comments and debates about the role of political advertising – specifically that sponsored by Sarah Palin – relating the use of gun images to a role in the horrific events in Tucson, Arizona this week in which a gunman shot 20 people, including U.S. Representative. Gabrielle Giffords. Thirteen others were also wounded and six people killed, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.
There are two common schools of thought in the discourse. One, that the gun references employed by Palin’s advertising contributed to an atmosphere of violence that facilitated the event’s genesis. The argument most often offered in contrast to this idea is that these thoughts are an unfair ‘politicization’ of the tragedy itself.
First, let’s be clear, I consider myself a ‘Radical Liberal’. I use this term because of my increasing sensitivity to the frames of reference that are prevalent in the world, our culture, and our collective consciousness – both today and always – that are ultimately controlling in terms of our rational ideas and discourse. I inherently have a bias against typical conservative values that argue for the benefit of extending the status quo, or of returning to a former version of it reflected in the continued faith in current structures, systems and institutions. This view is unproductive when one begins to understand the nature of the challenges facing the world today as resulting from deep elements of these very structures, systems and institutions. Thus emerges the idea of structural change being needed to address rampant problems in the realms of social, economic and environment justice. Moreover, while these terms are the best available, at least to me at this time, I want to be clear that the word justice applies to all of creation – all living things and ecological systems – ultimately all form and even the embodiment of spirit in that form. My point is that if we delve into ideas about justice, it is important to be open to understanding it beyond simply the human realm.
So based on the above comments, one might begin to understand why the term Radical Liberal seems fitting in my self description. Which brings us to the corollary of political liberalism that is offered today as a counterpoint to political conservatism. Unfortunately, the discourse of the liberal left is inside of the very systems, structures and institutions that represent the most embedded aspects of the world’s challenges. These ideas immersed in the status quo, then, tend to strengthen the very foundations of the problems to which they would respond. As such, politically liberal ideas offer little or no vision into the kind of change that is needed to restore ‘justice’ in the sense described above. And, just one more point further to my efforts at disclosure here;
it should be said that the current level of injustice is a threat to all of life on the Earth right now. Given the overshoot of population, the convergence of peak resource issues including energy, commodities, debt and pollution loading of the Earth’s ecosystems, and the enormous inertia inherent in these issues, it is fair to say that there is an unfathomable level of urgency with regard to restoring this comprehensive ‘justice’.
All of that as a context for the simple point of this blog, which is to say that the event in Tucson was a political event. So the objection that inquiry and discourse about the connection between Republican advertising sponsored by Sarah Palin using gun images, and the violence unleashed in Arizona is an unfair politicization of the tragedy, is not accurate. The event was political to begin with. The advertising in question is political. The personality involved is a political one with a clear record of engagement on this very topic. In fact, one of the victims, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, pointed out in a television interview on March 25, 2010 that the advertising sponsored by Sarah Palin involved gun sights over ‘targeted’ districts and that there are consequences from this kind of imagery. So engaging in discussion about this event and possibly contributing factors is not ‘politicizing’. This should not be a reason to avoid raising awareness about the deeper conditions that give rise to the kind of tragic event that occurred in Tucson – particularly when the events are so clearly political.
But the fact is, political discussion by its nature will not address injustice as it has been defined in this discussion. In fact, one of the elements of this blog is to suggest that there is a role for the concept of spirituality in all of this to the extent that it is supportive of a shifting of consciousness and the ability to envision a world – systems, structures and institutions – different from those to which we have become so accustomed as to prevent our ability from seeing, and thus ‘saving’ our selves; or at least, from actually addressing injustice. To bring this simply around full circle, the Tucson event and the violence associated with it, are aspects of deep, genuine injustice. I won’t go so far as to say that violence is exclusively unjust. It is perhaps more enlivening, more constructive to say that the conversation ultimately needs to hinge on whether our thoughts, words and actions are supportive of justice, in the deepest sense, or injustice. So I would ask, is the senseless killing supportive of justice? Are advertising campaigns using violent references, such as the idea of ‘reloading’, or gun images, whether promulgated by Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, supportive of justice? If not, then how can we shift our thoughts, words and actions toward those that nurture the kind of justice to which I allude?
But what is politics anyway? From Wikipedia, it is “a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs. It also refers to behavior within civil governments, but politics has been observed in other group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. It consists of “social relations involving authority or power“ and refers to the regulation of public affairs within a political unit, and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy.”
While this definition opens up a whole realm of discussion about our collective consciousness and its ability to collectively make decisions, one thing that is clear – politicizing events like the one in Tucson – in fact any event that involves us collectively, is not unfair or inappropriate.
Anyone that offers up the argument that the event in Tucson shouldn’t be ‘politicized’ is just plain wrong.