July 21, 2008

Today's GREAT rant

“I don’t know if it’s God we have murdered; I don’t think that is possible. But capitalism has killed compassion. In a society which only worships the dollar, those who aren’t potential income generating units have no value. None.”

by Rebecca Gibson


“…..What more does man want to know, than that the hand or power that made these things is divine, is omnipotent? Let him believe this, with the force it is impossible to repel if he permits his reason to act, and his rule of moral life will follow of course.”

—Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

I don’t know if it’s God we have murdered; I don’t think that is possible. But capitalism has killed compassion. In a society which only worships the dollar, those who aren’t potential income generating units have no value. None. Children, the elderly, the disabled, the disenfranchised, the damaged….there is no one to care for them as everyone who could be compassionate and offer care -(we the prey)- are busting our asses just to eat and keep a roof over our heads as the wealth of society gets sucked up by greed and extravagance for the feckless few.

So how do the incapacitated live? What is their value, and why is that even a question? What has happened to mercy and humility, compassion and charity? So many of the incapacitated are casualties of the status quo in the first place - a botched surgery or birth, a drug reaction, heart disease and diabetes and obscene obesity from eating grease and garbage, cancer from chemicals, Alzheimer’s from aluminum, insanity from insanity, the list goes on and on. It has all been co-opted by capitalism: nursing home corporations are publicly traded commodities - rife with enough requisite bureaucratic red tape to keep individual do-gooders (those pesky charity types!) out of the business, community mental health centers and hospitals are just trying to turn a profit, and the care and education of children has been relegated to the same wage-bracket as a garbage collector. In none of these endeavors is there anything more than lip-service to the idea of actual ‘quality of service’, despite the exceptional individuals who do care and try.

I find myself wondering, when I venture out into neon ugly-world, when did it all turn so hideous? I heard this old sixties song recently, Cat Stevens’ ‘Peace Train’, and I thought wistfully, tears in my eyes, ‘Wow, music from the time of hope…’ and I realized in that moment that the time of hope was gone. In 2008 most people hope that the stock market will recover, that they won’t lose their job or home, or that they will be the first one to get a new iPhone. Hope for such “utopian trivialities” as beauty or peace or justice is all but dead.

I get bashed in society for ‘feeling’, but I do feel, and mostly I feel sadness and despair. I am not depressed. I’m just devastated by what I see. I love life, the Earth, people, creatures, flowers and fish. And I grieve over all the unnecessary suffering.

I despair over the question, “what can one person do?” Especially when I am in debtors prison with the rest of the ‘common people,’ changing careers as I am from therapist to teacher–in order to take advantage of the new ‘10-year public service loan forgiveness’ program for my student loans, a form of indentured servitude, institutionalized with a benevolent facade. It’ll be costing me $200k or so to repay the $38k I borrowed so many years ago (And yes I have always worked—even when I was in school). My first job after college in 1989 paid 16k/year, and I had a baby to care for. I’ve paid 18k, but the balance is now over 100k. Oh well. Somebody’s gotta feed the monster, and it’s just capitalism kibble, right? That’ll teach me to get a degree in Human Services—right?

(And by the way, I know you’re tired of hearing about my student loans, but I am also tired of hearing about your vacations in the Hamptons and your ailing portfolios, so fuck you, OK?)

Overall, I feel very fortunate, looking forward to a new challenge, a way to be of service. The finer things in therapy, those I loved, have mostly disappeared anyway. The human potential movement has died. Now it’s Big-Pharma and ‘life-coaching’, which teaches how not to feel anything and to get your own big old slice of capitalism pie. (Neither of these worked for me though because I was cursed with a conscience.)

The most grievous aspect of therapy today is the military’s treatment of all these kids/soldiers with PTSD. The approach is not to heal them, but rather to desensitize them to war, using specially designed video games and antidepressants to get them back out on the battlefield. “What are you whining about? Get back out there and kill someone!” It is so twisted it makes me want to scream.

The “official” reporting on the “problem” gives these stats: 2 out of 5 will come back from war with symptoms of PTSD, and these only include the guys (and gals) who are labeled as having the “problem.” As a therapist and a human being, I am more concerned about the 3 out of 5 who can go to war and be unaffected, be okay with it, and be ready to go back for more. Isn’t war supposed to be hell?


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I had already realized, though, that as a therapist I was only treating the victims of the ones who are really sick, the human beings who comprised the “collateral damage” of aggressive capitalism’s predatory creepiness (imposed on my poor, middle, and working class clients by the sociopaths comprising the power elite). Savage capitalism and all of its metastasized tumors gone ape shit and amoral, sucking the life, light and beauty out of people, taking over their DNA and hijacking their thought-processes altogether. Damaged people, people damaged by other people, damaged relationships, depression and despair. I specialized in stress, pain, trauma and addiction.

Despite everything, including a little chip on my shoulder, a bit of damage myself, emotional scars, and a debt-monkey on my back, I cling tenaciously to hope, to the beauty of life, tirelessly coaxing these gossamer filaments of grace in my direction, wrapping them around me and weaving them back into the world, rearranging my screams of horror into a symphony of service, sacrifice, simple kindness, poetry, and the soothing of others. That is just what I do. Seeing, creating space, holding a space, a bubble of grace, the whole of the horrors here, yes, but held in abeyance by the liquid light exuded from these fine gossamer threads.

The ugliness and brutality of the world demand acknowledgment. I see it; yes, I do. I feel it; yes, I do. Ever present, it affects me too. A hideous blight on the otherwise beautiful countenance of this sparkling blue planet, man-made horror mostly, but life on earth does present some innate challenges for our species - the daily grind of existence, food, clothing, and shelter. Birth and death, weather and worms, disease and decay, it is a little gritty and no one is exempt. Community and cooperation for the common good are essential. We cannot survive otherwise. We are a we, I am an us, even isolated, membership in the tribe of humanity is an inherent fact of existence.

Years ago…..an infusion of light and grace and beauty when I needed it most. The veil of illusion, the illusion of separateness, receded in soul-drenching light, and I saw and experienced the unity of life directly. I have never forgotten. Light-love-life, the source and the substance of all manifestations, each individual an expression of that same light - the same light! - shining through different windows. All creatures, plants and trees, elements and ethers, made and manifested from that light. Feel it! Tiger as tigerness, a spider spinning its web, the cycle of life in water and wind, and the weightiness of rocks. The same mysterious essence churns an ugly bulb into an iris, converts your meals into memories and muscles, beats your heart, grew you in your mother’s womb. We are we. The mystery. The same light shines, but, oh, are some windows darkened!

The dark and the light. The dark is no reality unto itself, it is an absence, an obscuration of light, an alteration of light - pride and greed, lust and anger, envy, gluttony, sloth -the classics, the seven Deadlies, always (s)in fashion as light-darkening window shades. Ignorance. Cruelty. Judgment. (I’m judging here.) Selfishness. Subjugation, domination and the ruthless games that people play with power. The light and the darkness. Murder as entertainment. A beautiful child indoctrinated, poisoned by brutality and war and the sick sad saga of humanity’s struggles, twisted and distorted, hurting in and hurting out again.

A miracle and a triumph that any beauty remains, for the darkness is always exerting its influence, claiming its real estate, declaring it’s own autonomous existence. When in reality it is a phantom and nothing more, an absence of the real, a nothing. This is why it evaporates in the light. It is here but it isn’t really anything and it isn’t separate and it doesn’t exist. It is an absence of actual existence. All is light, that is all there is…om mani padme hum - bhargo devasya dhimahi. The dark is the light diminished, obscured. I seek the light which contains the darkness; I welcome it, draw it in, embrace it, brighten the light all around me with each precious breath and wrap the gossamer filaments around the Earth, trailing it off of my long wing feathers as I fly.

I am us and we are we and I wish light into the heart of every human. That light can stop you in your tracks if you let it in and I wish you would. That light can kill you and give birth to you in a moment, a timeless flash. It happened to me. That light is who we are. Wake up people! See the light! Wish light into the heart of every person and into the heart of the earth herself. Shine enough light to eradicate this darkness, render it benign, render it what it is, a simple shadow. This light is who we are! It isn’t enough to seek the spotlight for yourself, to seek you and yours at any cost. You seek survival with convoluted compromises, death traps, dripping darkness. Survival at the expense of another is not survival. We are we. Is it so hard to see?

Is it too much to say, “I, for one, will not seek survival at the expense of another?” (The true spirit of humanity requires that we seek survival for one another. Are we about to learn this the hard way? And I know, I know that if you are even reading this I am preaching to the choir…but you can weave the light! Weave it!)

To survive we need one another. Man needs a family, community, a tribe - air and water and earth. For the first time in history it has become obvious that the tribe is global. It’s all of us, everyone. We are we. Wish light into the heart of your so-called enemy, light, survival, comfort and peace to his family and yours, mine and hers. To all of us. Be the we. C’mon people, be the we!

For the sake of your own survival, you and yours, us and ours, and them and theirs, all of us, all of the species of the earth, it isn’t really so hard to say:

“I will not earn my living selling chemical and preservative-laden corn-syrup water to people, especially children, or dangerous and harmful Big-Pharma drugs peddled with lies and falsified research, or food that is nothing more than garbage and poison and GMO science-fiction. I will not work for a company whose profits depend upon the exploitation of sweatshop labor in Sri Lanka or Singapore or South America, or the devastation of much-needed forests all over the world, and I will not combine my efforts with greed-mongers, warmongers, murderers, and/or perverts. I will not work in a field that has anything to do with plastic, as the puddle of it in the Pacific is frighteningly large already, and I also mean plastic as in credit cards, other debt traps and plastic surgery for the sake of vanity alone. (And by the way my whole fucking refrigerator is full of plastic containers and it makes me sick. Can’t someone who knows this stuff find another way?) I will never work in advertising (consumer seduction) or commercial mainstream journalism-as-entertainment. I will do something better. I will find another way. This is killing me/us/we. So be it. I will find another way. I will be the we.”

Think of a better idea, one that helps others (and thus you too) to survive and thrive. Your own survival depends on it. So does mine. You can do this. If you will do this there are those of us who will help you; love will grow and become light for us all. Wish the light, think it and it’s yours because it is you, waft it around, and with each breath breathe it deep into the heart of humanity. They are you and they are me and you are us and we are we. Grab the gossamer threads of light and beauty and grace, get busy and don’t let them go. I need you. You are me and we are we. We need all of us to be whole and free. Tat Tvam Asi.

Think about it. That is the gift of the mind. When you or I hear about someone making a difference, it always began with just one person and one idea. Visualize that little cartoon light-bulb flashing on over that one head, yours, mine or someone else’s. Anyone. Everyone. Illumination. Enlightenment. A bright idea. It’s the idea, that infusion of light. Infuse the light. Weave it in. Wish it into the heart of humanity. Wrap it and weave it around the earth. It is our responsibility and our essence and our birthright. Breathe it. Fan the flames. Breathe as if you are the breath and heartbeat of life and all that is, for you are, and I am. You are me and we are we. I love you. Breathe it in. Be the we.

Peace Train
by Cat Stevens

Now I’ve been happy lately,

thinking about the good things to come

And I believe it could be,

something good has begun

Oh I’ve been smiling lately,

dreaming about the world as one

And I believe it could be,
some day it’s going to come

Cause out on the edge of darkness,

there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again
Now I’ve been smiling lately,

thinking about the good things to come

And I believe it could be,
something good has begun

Oh peace train sounding louder

Glide on the peace train

Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the peace train

Come on now peace train

Get your bags together,

go bring your good friends too

Cause it’s getting nearer,

it soon will be with you

Now come and join the living,

it’s not so far from you
And it’s getting nearer,

soon it will all be true
Now I’ve been crying lately,

thinking about the world as it is

Why must we go on hating,

why can’t we live in bliss

Cause out on the edge of darkness,

there rides a peace train

Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

And finally:

“One way or another, we are poised at the edge of forever.”

–Carl Sagan, in ‘Cosmos’

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