Some days I wake up scared. I wake up not having a clue what’s going to happen next. Or worse, maybe I do. Everything feels a little out of control like I need to hold onto something.
Seems like things come out of left field almost every day now and it’s hard to process. Everyone I meet feels the same way. We are just holding onto our various pieces of flotsam while these giant waves carry us along. We look at each other behind our masks from our six-foot stations imprinted on the floor with the question in our eyes where are we going?
The sun comes up and I listen to the birds singing it’s as if everything is normal but I know it’s not. Maybe for the first time ever I find myself fearing for our fundamental freedom as human beings on this earth and I wonder how to fight for that. I fear the actions of our species far more than what nature may bring. But fear is how it all works isn’t it? And we are going mach 5.
I have to make myself stop and listen awhile to what’s true and beautiful outside my window in the trees in the sky in the air in my soul and then I am not scared but my heart still rends for what is happening.
It doesn’t make me feel safe to be masked to be distanced to be tracked to be left to die alone in the hands of masked strangers to be tested to be medicated to be genetically altered to be fed gibberish data to suckle a debilitating narrative merely masquerading as science to be cut off from community culture the very rhythm of life no this, this is not the way.
I finally let go of that piece of flotsam only to discover I am the leviathan. The fear dissipates in a poof of anger that just as quickly transforms into power. I claim that.
We have seen a lot of protests. We have seen statues pulled down, institutions renamed, products scheduled for rebranding. We have seen a lot of discussion, a lot of reading, a lot of educating.
What we have not seen is a whole lot of purposeful response from government.
Oh yeah, we’ve had police crackdowns and shows of police solidarity. We’ve seen Trump get right on it to make sure folks who tear down statues as they seek social change pay a hefty price for it. We’ve seen our legislature gin up reform bills designed to go exactly nowhere. We’ve seen the presumptive Democratic nominee suggest reform, and, oh, more funding to re-educate police (again).
So, for all that the people made it pretty damn clear they want change, it’s kind of a nothing sandwich from our illustrious “representation.” How could anyone be surprised?
Seems like the government rarely rises to the moment unless it’s on behalf of the only class they care about.
So as we call for defunding of police, i.e., shrinking police budgets while diverting funds to programs that actually help build socially and economically healthier communities and individuals, I cannot help but ask, why stop there?
I can think of a lot of things that make excellent candidates for the defunding treatment.
For starters, how about the legislature? They seem to be doing jack on behalf of the people these days. What say we just cut the budget for salaries and benefits for pretty much everyone in the House and the Senate right now? We could put those funds to actual good use. That’s at least $300 million in salaries and benefits alone, but if we throw in other federal departments and agencies, we’re talking hundreds of billions.
For example, how about the Environmental Protection Agency? I think it’s pretty clear it’s become an anti-environmental sort of body — time to cut the budget for that. There’s more than $8 billion with which we could actually do something. We could net a few billion more if we defund the sold-out FDA while we’re at it. The Department of Agriculture – almost $150 billion. We could net another $55 billion or so if we give the CIA and the rest of the National Intelligence Program the defunding treatment.
How about the war machine? Sure Sen. Bernie Sanders is proposing a 10 percent cut to military spending, but it’s almost guaranteed that legislators will make sure that the initiative goes nowhere — like they always have. We could shift an astonishing amount of money from military endeavors to peace endeavors. The 10% that Bernie Sanders is talking about amounts to $74-frick’n-billion.
How about prisons? The US predilection for locking people up translates to $80 billion each year in taxpayer dollars, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. I think we all know we’re overdue for scaling back on incarceration.
How about animal agriculture? We currently subsidize this environmentally destructive, human and animal health hazardous industry with about $38 billion in taxpayer funds. Come on, this is a no brainer. What could we do with $38 billion?
This is just a smattering of budget items that leap to mind.
It is not to say that there aren’t some worthy programs and purposes to which our tax dollars are directed, but it blows my mind the way our government just squanders a jaw-dropping amount of our tax dollars for things none of us actually want or need. Many of these things we pay for are things we actually resent or to which we have ethical objections, while there are other things that go lacking.
So maybe some people noticed the more-than-ten-billion-dollars Bayer just agreed to pay out in order to settle thousands of outstanding lawsuits. This involved litigation relative to its subsidiary Monsanto’s product, RoundUp, which contains glyphosate, among other things. The lawsuits had been brought by RoundUp users who became cancer patients suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Why oh why are people still spraying this stuff on their lawns? Just yesterday, I watched people in a neighborhood, calmly walking around their yards doing just that. Yards where kids play. I imagine some of these conscientious folks wear a mask in the store where they buy their RoundUp. Hmm.
Elsewhere, start noticing those little pesticide/herbicide signs. They are everywhere on the lawns of neighborhood homes and businesses. You know, there’s a reason they have to put an actual warning on a lawn.
I don’t get why people are willing to compromise themselves and others and the natural world for the sake of … weeds. Weeds are a mental construct. That’s about it.
Lawns, honestly, should be a thing of the past anyway. I understand people are concerned about property values, but there’s also the value of life itself. It’s a simple matter of changing perspective about what actually constitutes “beautiful.”
I also don’t get why any glyphosate products are even allowed to be sold in the United States.
Think about it: Bayer would rather shell out $10 billion dollars than try to defend RoundUp in these cases. That’s how unwinnable it is: $10 billion dollars unwinnable.
But wait, I do know why RoundUp can still be sold in the United States. It’s because people are still buying it. Which is also why Bayer has $10 billion dollars to spend on this and remain in business.
What, folks, are we thinking? Alas, I fear, there is no thinking involved. At least, not critical thinking.
I notice the shadow falling over the afternoon. I pause, wondering. Then, a long, rolling rumble of thunder confirms it.
I feel both a tension and a peace, and I’m not quite sure how that works together.
The weather moves in, and the rain begins to pelt.
The sudden coolness and wateriness of the world surrounds me. The energy sweeping this maelstrom to my doorstep buzzes in the air. The pressure of the next thunderous boom builds inexorably.
And yet, I am at utter peace. There is somehow safety in this sequestered moment, resting in the arms of nature even when there may be trouble there. There is a necessary letting go; there is nothing to which to hold on. This minute just is.
I look down, and there is my best friend cat stretched out lazily about as far as he can go, wholly content.
It is just a breath of a moment where all the worry, all the unknowns of life in the Time of Covid recede: a rainy respite from what might be normal, or should be, or could be, or God help us.
Coming away from it all too quickly, I feel the forgotten sense of potential, and right on its heels, fatigue. There’s a lot of work in all the routines of uncertainty and concern, and I’m tired as the mantle of subconscious worry slips back over me. We’re all tired, I think.
But for just that moment, I let go and now I remember what that feels like, that it’s possible inside this epoch of abnormalities. I picture the narrative we’ve lately been living just drifting out the window, like a mist sucked away with the now retreating weather, and I can’t help but notice what’s left.
Best friend cat renews his stretch, rolling over, abandoned to it.
We don’t like to think about it very much. We are pretty good at avoiding thinking about the lives and deaths of the animals that we eat or use for food. It is indeed a difficult subject to contemplate, and yet it is an absolute, inescapable fact due to our choice to use animals, on a grand scale, for food.
Maybe we have seen the large trucks rumbling down the highway, and perhaps noticed the eyes and snouts of the animals packed inside. They are on their way to the slaughterhouse, but we probably never get that far in our thoughts. We just notice a truck full of pigs, never processing what that ride must be like for those beings, or exactly where it is they are headed.
As the trucks arrive at the slaughterhouse, it sometimes happens that there is a group of animal activists there. They are there to bear witness. They are awake to the fact that these are animals just like us.
Just like us, the animals feel fear, they feel pain. They are sentient: conscious, aware, feeling.
So the activists bear witness to these last moments of these animals’ lives by speaking tenderly to them, by giving them some water to drink, by perhaps giving the animals the only real show of compassion and respect that they have ever known from humans — all while the animals are still crowded inside the transport truck.
The animals were born trapped into a system that profits by their death. And it is all about the profit. These animals have never known freedom on this earth: born, living, and dying to serve another species’ market.
The protest also serves as an attempt to raise awareness of this cruel industry and our part in it. Rest assured, there would be no industry if not for our part in it.
On June 19, just a few days ago, such a protest took place in Burlington, Ontario. There was an additional impetus for this protest due to the fact that Canada, like its neighbor to the south, had just passed an ag gag law, Bill 156. Such laws are designed to further protect the animal agriculture industry, make it easier to keep its practices concealed, and insulate it from scrutiny or protest.
That day, one of the protestors in the Toronto Pig Save group was a 65-year-old woman named Regan Russell, a longtime advocate for animals and for other social causes. But at this particular protest, by the time all was said and done, Russell was dead, having been run over by a slaughterhouse truck.
It is my hope that even one person will stop and think about the meat on their plate, and decide to say no. In saying no, we reject a vast, cruel system of exploitation, one that abuses the animals, the planet, and, indeed, the consumers for profit. In saying no, we choose kindness and love and we help to open the world to more of that.
In the memory of Regan Russell, please give a moment to consider the food on your plate.
I couldn’t not listen to it, right? And it’s been with me ever since.
I couldn’t get it out of my head so much that I felt compelled to learn how to play it on the ukulele. Except that there’s not much out there in terms of ukulele tabs for this song.
Nevertheless, the song would not let me go. I ended up cobbling together my own scribbled tab. This, despite the fact that I had all but abandoned my ukulele in the last few months. Making music, for me, seemed to be yet another casualty of the pervasive upheaval of the COVID-19 era.
But the Hermit Poet’s post triggered something.
Now, not only can I play “Leather and Lace,” but I seem to be back in musical gear. So wonderful to be able to lose myself in music again. Yay!
This would not be the first time that Edge of Humanity Magazine struck some chord in me. I am always happily startled by the eclectic glimpses I find there, always making me think. I am grateful, but especially today for the gift of music coming back to me.
She looked up in November and saw they were leaving. The geese flew, silent against the grey sky, headed for their winter home. She lifted her mittened hand and waved.
“Au revoir!” she called out to them. “A bientot!” she never failed to add, counting on seeing their return in the spring.
She always said something in French to them. After all, she thought whimsically, they were Canadian geese — some of them might speak French. And, indeed, she was rewarded with a couple of fleeting honks.
She continued on her solitary walk, happy to have seen them, but sorry to see them go. She felt a fresh pang of loneliness.
Months later, against the blue skies of a spring day, she spotted the beginning of their return. She loved the way they traveled together, looking out for each other, sharing the journey. She listened to their honking chatter as if they might be calling out her name.
One hand to her brimming heart, and the other waving broadly, she cried, “Mes amis! Bienvenue!” Her whisper followed, “I missed you.”
In autumn, a day came she never thought she would see.
This time, when the geese called, two smiling faces turned upward together.
She felt her heart fill and overflow, grateful, amazed for this perfect moment. She felt herself soaring in the sky with all the beauty that now filled her world.
She waved to the geese. “Merci! Merci beaucoup!” she called to them. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”
Her companion gently laughed in amusement, pulling her close, waving joyfully.
Many thanks to Sue Vincent for this week’s #WritePhoto prompt, “Soar.”
deep summer means going down to the pond in the early evening to wait for the meteor shower. we all roast marshmallows over a sleepy fire. dragonflies flit past. conversation drifts soft and sparse. on my blanket i stare straight up as night creeps in, an occasional hiss from the fire. we breathe into the night sky. minutes pass. “there’s one,” someone says, and i know they’re pointing in the dark. soon, we are transfixed, watching as the stars streak, brilliant in their heavenly falls. the hopeful quiet moments of waiting are always answered with the promise of a wish.
So now we learn a company called Oxitec is getting ready to release 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes in Key West, Florida, starting this summer and carrying on through 2022. They plan to expand the experiment to include Harris County, Texas as well.
The Oxitec GMO mosquito project is aimed at making it so that the progeny of normal female mosquitoes who mate with male GMO mosquitoes are rendered less viable to survive to maturity. This leads to the “temporary collapse of a wild population.” One has to wonder how both the altered mosquitoes and the environmental collapses might affect other insects, birds, and mammals that feed on the mosquitoes.
It’s amazing to me that this got the go-ahead from both the Environmental Protection Agency (that’s what they call it, anyway) and the State of Florida, particularly during this time of a heavily studied but still poorly understood pandemic of theoretically zoonotic origins, environmental issues notwithstanding.
The experiment’s approvals came over the objections of local residents and environmental groups who assert that the risks have not been seriously analyzed. A number of environmental groups plan to sue the EPA over the matter.
I get that mosquitoes are a real problem for us, spawning serious diseases. I also get that the expressed intent of engineering the GMO mosquitoes is to ultimately reduce the threatening population. I am sorry, though, genetically modifying the composition of life itself to address our problems is not an acceptable approach.
We are not God, not the universe, and we are absolute neophytes in our understanding of our world and its complex interrelationships. I trust no man or woman to act in such a capacity, altering the very design of earth’s creatures.
This is not science. It’s a crap shoot.
Tampering with the genetics of life on this earth is dangerous business. We really have no idea what the ultimate ramifications are or could be. Nor will we know the broad answers to that question in the space of a season, or a year, or ten years.
This is not Oxitec’s first foray into such experimentation. From 2013 to 2015, they released 450,000 GMO mosquitoes every week in the vicinity of Jacobina, Brazil. The results from that experiment were touted as successful, but are, in fact, unclear, when you consider a Yale study that raised questions about the unintended results of the experiment. Of course, Oxitec rebutted such concerns, and what do you know, here we are getting ready to do it again.
I imagine that when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of your investors, it helps to grease the skids.
Beyond the unknown impacts of these experiments, it is also disturbing to ponder the notion that once you get comfortable modifying plants, and then mosquitoes, bats, and who knows what else, how long will it be before they come to genetically modify You for whatever purposes?
It’s just not that hard to imagine a government somewhere applying that kind of technology in more disturbing ways. Even as we read about the GMO mosquitoes, we learn that China is amassing a vast database of DNA information, sending its police out to collect blood samples from its male population, including children.
At the same time, worldwide, many people have, in the course of a few short months, learned to desire wide scale testing, clamor for a vaccine, and accept the idea of contact tracing.
It is just not that great a leap to imagine GMO being put to unacceptable and unimaginably dangerous uses.
Conspiracies or not, entities like the Gates Foundation have their hand in all of this.
I trust no profiteering humans, no matter how benevolent the veneer may be polished, to mess around with life in such a fashion.
As we go back to ‘normal’, whatever that was (scratching head), it turns out there’s nothing normal at all.
Everyone is skittish and leery of each other. All of our cultural activities, aside from protesting, are gone. It’s no fun to eat out with all the crazy protocols, even if you’re brave enough to go. There’s no singing together, no music events, even outdoors. No hugs, no pats on the back except at home. I can’t imagine who’s going to theaters and how that’s going to be done. Schools – I cannot fathom what we are thinking about doing to kids by placing them in what will be such unnatural environments. Doing anything where other people are around is a production.
And the masks, everywhere the masks.
I can’t help but ask, what exactly is healthy about all this? I think more and more that what we’ve done is to actually create a very unhealthy environment. The constant drumming of fear along with the lack of community and culture are health detractors. For some people, it can be a killer.
The people most at risk for COVID-19, we are told, are folks with underlying conditions. Just yesterday, I noticed articles mentioning that obesity is a big risk factor. Certain commonly prescribed drugs also seem to play a role. Heart disease, diabetes, the list goes on. Wouldn’t it make sense, rather than enforcing mask rules, strange protocols, and surveillance on everyone, to instead focus on getting and living healthy in the first place?
When I go to the grocery store, I can’t help but notice what’s promoted in the aisles and what people are putting in their carts. And it’s. not. healthy. How can we be surprised when it turns out there’s lots of people with underlying problems?
I don’t blame people. We have been rigorously trained via education and media to adopt unhealthy lifestyles. People are also victims of class problems that create unhealthy ways of living. Our health industry compounds the problems by pushing us toward drugs and procedures rather than working to create actual good health. No, the culpability rests at the door of government and the corporations making bank on all of our ‘normal’ woes. We do, however, have individual responsibility to ask questions, seek truth, and demand peace and justice at every level including our physical health.
If we’re going to rise above this crazy time, as we seek better lives for everyone, we can make the simple choice to live healthy and to help other people live healthy.
The obvious first step is to go vegan, or at least to head in that direction. I know it’s a bitter pill for some people, but it really doesn’t have to be that way. Moving away from an animal-centric diet not only directly impacts one’s individual health in a positive way, it also supports the elimination of one of the biggest potential disease-spreading industries out there. Plus, it’s good for the animals and the earth, big time.
Pesticides. Herbicides. GMO. Antibiotics. Water contamination. That’s before you even get to excess fat. It’s kind of a no-brainer when you think about underlying conditions, isn’t it?
There may be a scary illness going around, but what we’ve done in response to it is terrifying and unnatural. Let’s back out of the fear culture. Let’s take responsibility for ourselves and get healthy. Going vegan is a great first step.