somnambulism and awakening to our real, gentle selves
I am tired. Tired of all the struggles. Tired of the ongoing injustices, the continually expanding crop of manufactured crises and suffering, the harsh and divisive language that tweets from the top and reverberates through our beleaguered lives.
Tomorrow marks the one month anniversary of the launch of the ongoing attempted coup in Venezuela. There will be actions around the US to oppose this coup and the US’s hand in it, but media will likely ignore those in favor of Richard Branson’s pro-coup concert and photos of the “aid” the US is sending.
Then there’s Haiti, part of the rippling damage of the Venezuela situation and the malignant sanctions and interference of the US.
Tilt your head a little and look in the direction of Yemen, if you can bear it. And yet, the US government cannot quite bring itself to divorce from the suffering it helps deliver there.
Or, perhaps, turn your gaze close to home, and notice children separated from their parents — a reality that continues.
Maybe the thing you notice is the water you can’t quite trust, or the food laced with pesticides or hormones or antibiotics.
Or how about the national emergency of a national emergency – basically, another kind of attempted coup.
It’s hard to focus, isn’t it? So many crises and more all the time.
There are so many crises for which our tax dollars and lives get put on the line – and for what good reason? As far as I can tell, to line somebody’s pockets. That’s really about it. Don’t waste your breath with the word “humanitarian,” it’s not actually part of this equation.
But it all just carries on, as the average citizen is forced to deal with their own personal reality of securing their small share of the piece of the pie they’ve been allowed to access.
We continue our various sleepwalking grinds. We dutifully pay our taxes. We subject ourselves to more and more personal intrusion and regulation. We silently allow ourselves to be pawns, to pick sides, to be less than ourselves.
I was startled lately to meet a gentle person. Everything about them was gentle – gentle language, gentle gestures, gentle thought, gentleness in the direct, caring gaze. It stood out immediately and alarmingly, because it made me realize how accustomed I am to the flat, harsh behavior our society and its members have adopted – the somnambulist demeanor.
What if we could all awaken from our sleepwalking, notice what’s really going on, and become our real, gentle selves? I believe that’s really who we are — buried underneath the heavy capitalist labels we carry. Those genuine, compassionate selves – the creative, caring, nurturing ones – are struggling for air.
Rather than tolerate the many and terrible injustices, could we not awaken and assert our real, gentle selves? Could we not shirk off the various definitions we have been assigned, and determine to simply be our real, gentle selves?
It would transform our world. It would be radical. It would save us.
contemplating the Green New Deal
I care immensely about the earth, the people on it, and our beautifully interdependent relationship.
So it is with some hope that I saw the Green New Deal become a topic of discussion in recent months. Last week, of course, it burst onto the floor of the House of Representatives in the form of House Resolution 109.
Then, I saw a steady stream of headlines from one extreme to another. Either the Green New Deal solves all of our problems, or it destroys our freedoms, bans air travel, and provides support for those shameless enough to be ‘unwilling to work.’
So I read the actual contents of HR 109 for myself. It is not, in fact, even a lengthy read.
Let me clarify first that air travel is not banned by HR 109, nor are those ‘unwilling to work’ called out for special consideration. There is no degree of such specificity in the document.
It is a broad, vague piece of legislation, mainly serving to give focus to the issue of climate change. It implements a ”growth” approach to the environment problem, with a heavy emphasis on economic development and economic justice.
I am not convinced, however, that depending on a massive ramping up of technology and business provides a holistic response to climate change.
I noticed, too, that certain very important sectors in such a discussion are completely absent. If you want to talk about protecting the earth, and somehow manage to leave out any mention of the US military and their various endeavors, well, there’s a gaping hole in the argument right at the get-go.
I am wary that such legislation once again promotes business solutions and interests in answer to a peoples’ problem on the survival scale. These would be the same institutions that got us into this mess in the first place.
HR 109’s “10-year national mobilization” seeks, among other things, to:
- build resiliency against climate change-related disasters
- repair and upgrade infrastructure
- meet 100 percent of the US power demand through dramatically expanded and upgraded clean, renewable, zero-emission power sources and new capacity
- build or upgrade appropriate power grids,
- spur massive growth in clean manufacturing and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emission as much as is technologically feasible,
- work to remove pollution and emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible
- overhaul transportation systems
- mitigate and manage effects of pollution and climate change
- remove greenhouse gases and reduce pollution by restoring natural ecosystems through proven low-tech solutions
- restore and protect ecosystems
- clean up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites, “ensuring economic development and sustainability”
- identify other emission and solution sources and create solutions
Along the way, we generate high-quality jobs, with livable wages and healthcare, and support unions in the process. Everything is liberally sprinkled with mentions of investment, leverage, funding, because, obviously, this all costs money.
These efforts culminate with the usual objective of “promoting the international exchange of technology, expertise, products, funding, and services, with the aim of making the United States the international leader on climate action….” There ya go.
None of this sounds bad, it’s just that I see a potentially counter-productive frenzy of business and industry, technology, finance, and marketing in this ‘solution.’ It could be fun for a while.
I am not one who supposes that we will save our environment simply by turning off lights in empty rooms or religiously remembering our cloth shopping bags. Neither do I suppose that the captains of technology, finance, and manufacturing can be trusted to shape a responsible answer to the predicament they created through their demonstrated allegiance to their own pockets.
In short, I think we have to look at the system itself, and be brave enough to tackle that, creatively. That would be before the system, or the earth, simply implodes.
sitting out the Super Bowl
I admit it. I find the Super Bowl disturbing.
It’s a night when seemingly all of America drops everything, comes together, and focuses all of their attention on … football.
At a very basic level, I find the game itself disturbing. It is an undisguised metaphor for battle – for war. It’s an event where the participants suit up with helmets and pads in preparation for physical assaults – which often actually do result in injuries. All of the language of the sport is war jargon. The teams play offense and defense. The crowds participate in fight songs and chants.
Worse, into this war mentality, we interject nationalism and militarism. Football, the flag, and the anthem go hand in hand – by design. And, as we know, woe be to anyone who exercises their right to dissent or simply chooses not to participate in these rituals. The militaristic marching, the flyovers, the honoring of veterans – this is somehow football.
Inequality, too, is so integral to this whole Super Bowl tradition, we see right past it. The game puts a massive rubber stamp on class issues, demonstrated through a spectrum that ranges from inherent sexism and racism to sex trafficking and the fantastic disparities of wealth so blatantly on display.
And then, there’s the famous commercials. Now, the audience doesn’t just sit passively under the onslaught of advertising – they eagerly lap it up.
On the bright side, the Super Bowl is proof positive that United States citizens really can be motivated to act as one, throwing parties across the nation and watching television – everyone at exactly the same time.
Just imagine if we put that kind of synergy toward a truly worthy effort, like, say, peace and justice.
I get it that the Super Bowl is a distraction, that it’s a fun time-out for people, especially during these worrisome times. Sad to say, though, this distraction is an artifact of the bigger worrisome game – and I’m not talking about football.
Call me a party pooper, but, no, thank you, no Super Bowl for me.
embracing the polar vortex
The snow flies around me, tracing wild paths through the air. The wind sweeps it over and down the roof of a house, and then, up, up, and it suddenly swirls into a small tornado – fast and fantastic.
I am in the middle of a frigid ballet, dancers on every side, and everything white.
The white and the wind become all one thing, and I am not quite sure of my path. My booted feet feel for the track of a car in the road. The streets are empty now.
I look ahead but can only see white. The wind stings my face with cold. Little needle-like flakes of snow make a constant, biting attack.
I tug my hat down low over my eyes, and pull my scarf up. I shove my twice-gloved hands into my pockets, curled and flexing against the cold.
I am exhilarated out in this fresh, new world.
I feel the extremeness of the moment, and notice how the various parts of me react: my hands, my feet, my face, my legs. I feel my shoulders hunched and taut against the wind, or tentatively relaxing as I turn away from it. I feel my breath captured and stolen by a rush of wind, leaving crystals on my chin.
I meet this new small planet with tension and abandon. A fierce joy rises up in me to be out in this uncontrollable wildness, to be humbled by the elements and awed by the eerie beauty.
There is no fighting it, despite the plow trucks periodically careening, seemingly giddy and meaningless, through this transformed land.
There is no fighting it. Can we take this cold, white moment to heart and resolve not to fight with nature, not to destroy nature, but to respect and work – in love and wonder – with nature?
This fearsome frozen minute reminds us to to live in harmony with our earth, not just because nature will win in the end, but because it is a needed part of us – we are intertwined, we are whole together.
NO. No. No, and no. The United States has exactly no business inserting itself into the sovereign affairs of Venezuela.
Who in this country is not weary of the endless meddling, suffering, and loss of life corporate/government interests have fostered around the globe? Let’s stop delivering more of same in Venezuela.
The very idea that our government leadership could choose to suddenly recognize the unknown George Washington University graduate Juan Guaidó over Venezuela’s elected president should frighten every citizen. That’s not how democracy works – Democracy 101, if you will – supposedly at the core of our national ethos.
Not content to simply throw that kind of global weight around, no, the US proceeds to lay further sanctions atop the ones that had already been put in place to fuel this crisis.
Then, we have to notice John Bolton’s notebook suggesting troop deployment to the region.
Not. In. My. Name.
Unsurprisingly, I see precious little government leadership of any stripe stepping up on the right side of this issue, save a pittance of folks including Congresspersons Tulsi Gabbard, Ro Khanna, and Ilhan Omar, and Senator Bernie Sanders. Even some of these folks sadly parroted some of the misleading hype about Maduro while decrying intervention.
What’s taking place in Venezuela is an attempted coup. It is a coup in which the US has played no small part. The interest there is not about democracy and freedom. It is about the usual suspects: money and power. And they are making damned sure it’s next to impossible for the average too-busy citizen to figure this deathly game out by lavishly employing media to their purposes.
It’s not taking on this reader. I’m having none of it. It is dangerous and violent and wrong and I do not support it in any way, shape, or form. In the interests of peace, justice, and freedom, we must all step up to express our disagreement with the aggressive US stance on Venezuela. We have no business interfering with the politics of a sovereign nation.
Hands off Venezuela.
stand for love
We saw a lot of marching this weekend. Many people went to Washington D.C. and cities around the country to press the issues of women and indigenous peoples. Ultimately, the marching was about oppression, injustice, inequality – and shaping a better future. The issues do not belong to individual groups – the issues belong to all of us.
This kind of coming together and expression is especially important in the face of increasingly harsh and repressive reactions to ideas that don’t fit the preferred narrative of some.
And we saw the latter on full display, too.
Out of the many photos emerging from the marches, we will not forget the insolent smile of a young white man standing in the space of an older Native American man as he sings and drums. We cannot ignore the crowd of hooting, mocking young men in the background either.
This is a painful scene to view.
The marching is not done. Tomorrow we commemorate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. There will be more marches around the country.
These marches take place to forward peace, justice, and equality. They are about all of us recognizing each and every one of us for the people that we are, honoring each other with love and respect, and securing those priorities as a premise for our country. They are the positive wave rising and washing over us, carrying us along in the name of love.
Don’t be left behind in the dark and the cold.
Whether you march or you don’t, you can take a stand. Every single day. You can stand for love. Sing it and drum it. Dance it. Shout it. Paint it. Write it. Act it out. Teach it. Do not stand by to simply watch, but stand actively, wholly, and courageously in the name of love. Over and over again.
It was Martin Luther King Jr. who reminded us, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Go ahead. Stand tall. Stand for love.
And what if there is no State of the Union address delivered live from Congress on its appointed date?
I know it won’t break my heart if the words have to be delivered in writing instead – like it used to be. It won’t break my heart if no one bothers with it at all.
It won’t break my heart if the President has to take Davos off his agenda, if the Speaker of the House must cancel her CODEL. Really, just not feeling it over this prime time game of chicken.
What does break my heart is broken trust, shattered dreams, suffering.
What breaks my heart is children separated from their parents.
What breaks my heart is people working without pay.
What breaks my heart is people dutifully paying their taxes and finding their rights, their privacy, their possibilities, their economic security, their personal liberty slowly but surely being stripped away.
What breaks my heart is endless war.
What breaks my heart is our beautiful earth pillaged and destroyed.
What breaks my heart is people who can’t afford the medicine they need to live, who can’t afford or access healthcare.
What breaks my heart is people divided and used.
What breaks my heart is young people saddled with debt.
What breaks my heart is the homeless, the addicted, the impoverished, the forgotten.
We are, in fact, already pretty acutely aware of the state of things.
We have little use for more prime time propaganda. We have heard enough lies and seen enough subterfuge to last us awhile. We have little use to see the halls of Congress televised where yet more time will be spent accomplishing nothing on behalf of the people.
Who is not angry and ashamed at this point? This nonsense government shutdown demonstrates such contempt for the people – and who can be surprised? If there is a crisis, it is manifest in this abusive stunt carried out, once again, on the backs of the people.
Which one of us could stamp their foot like that on the job and not simply expect to get fired? What responsible parent would allow their child to carry on with such assininity before swiftly reining it in?
But no, our government officials, and our top dog in particular, are allowing this debased spectacle to wallow on whilst unthreading the lives and processes of the people who fund it, pay for it, and work for it.
This is not governing. This is not leadership. This goes beyond incompetence. It demonstrates an utter lack of respect for the citizenry, and a sneering disdain for democratic principles and ethics. There is nothing democratic about what’s going on right now, and while the threat of a declaration of a national emergency continues to thrum, it sadly smells more like attempted coup.
And yet, we continue to tolerate it, disgusted though we may be.
This idiotic farce of governance plays out simultaneous to any number of other deeply disturbing situations, too, not the least of which include drumbeats for war with Iran.
No. Just no.
Every single reprehensible scenario playing out in Washington D.C. these days goes well beyond media fodder that keeps everyone transfixed, emasculated, and wonderfully divided. These are not mere antics.
These are the lives of people we’re talking about.
We are not simply chess pieces. We are not tweets. We are not mere dollar signs. We live and breathe. We matter. Believe it or not.
We deserve and demand representation that works for us, not against us.