Here’s a newsletter you might want to add to your citizen watchfulness. This world is crazy! It’s one thing for human snake-oil practices to have been active in the past … back when there was a ‘rest of the world’ lying more or less undisturbed … and the good earth could do its thing, supporting all kinds of life, despite outrage and injustice off in some corner. Back when the individual snake oil salesperson traveled in a wagon with maybe one assistant and pitched to a small gathering of some village somewhere.
But we are in a different time. The snake-oil sales folks represent Global Corporate Empire Building Initiatives, (demonstrated as per link above). There’s no shortage of folks gathered at the tarmac, or attending capital city soirees, welcoming the words of the well-heeled, well-spoken, straightened and whitened toothed spokespeople who pitch solution while slipping dollars into pockets. (And we help this happen by not attending to election cost reform.)
We (humanity) seem close to delivering the final insults to ourselves, to all life, to justice, because our reach is everywhere, and with it, our foolishness.
Odd that we make noise about individual addictions to tobacco, alcohol, junk foods, sex, and whatever else we identify, yet we are unable to notice glaring symptoms of high level addiction to power and money.
We link MONEY and POWER to PROMISE and PROSPERITY. If we are immediate beneficiaries of what is promised, or if we can imagine benefiting fairly soon, if ‘downside’ suffering happens elsewhere, we can’t resist! (ADDICTION, anyone?)
For a brief time (in retrospect the time now seems brief) only a few decades ago, there was an awakening to our tendency to ‘rationalize’ our choices. This awakening pointed out that we use incomplete information and incomplete honesty of motivation to “explain away” behaviors that harmed others or life itself.
“So and so is rationalizing” we would say of explanations that justified harmful behavior.
Wonder where that awareness went?
I honestly do not see a way through our human morass, unless and until we “get real”. Very real! For me, this means developing capacity to withdraw from “involvement” in moments throughout any day – and to use the time of withdrawal to notice human antics. To notice we carry potential to mis-lead ourselves, we carry potential to operate from motivation that dismisses “collateral damage elsewhere.” To notice that what we find objectionable in Washington (for instance) is also present in our own spheres of influence. The scale is smaller, but the motivation is the same.
Purity of motivation is not our strong suit. We likely cannot ‘get real’ to the point of doing absolutely no harm anywhere to any life. But we can surely do much much better than we have done in the past, and are doing now!
I don’t believe anything about our human drive for peace, security, and enjoyment of talent/potential (in personal and civic affairs) will change unless/until sufficient numbers are committed to a few key principled practices. One is honesty driven by awareness of human psychology. One is belief we can do better. One is to acknowledge our role, real and potential, in suffering elsewhere. One is to acknowledge the benefit to all life that develops when all life is known sacred. One is to recognize that life is sustained by natural conditions of this earth, therefore the earth itself is sacred.
When we speak to politicians on policy, we need to also remind them of these principles. The underlying reason for any civic policy must be benefit to life – not because life is ‘obviously necessary’ but because it is actually sacred! Policy focused only on material improvement, without underlying awareness of sacredness, is a variation on empire-building behavior.
(I use the term sacred to mean a fundamental grasp, and reverence, through consciousness, of the “Mystery of Essence of All That Is.)
We have got to outgrow our immature enthusiasm for shiny “gee-whiz” stuff; we have got to outgrow our immature enthusiasm for snuggling up to fame and monetary wealth or trying to achieve these personally.
We have got to understand that when we turn to those hit hardest by effect of policy, those who bear the brunt of ‘downside’ to cultural and legislative practices, … when we turn to those folks and suggest to them that their suffering is “just the way it is”, we are rationalizing. When we say to them, “If I adjust this policy toward your needs, I ‘lose’ my shot at prosperity”, we reveal that our definition of “prosperity” is in fact an addiction to personal material comfort and accumulation.
Prosperity, at its essential level, is “well-being”. This means food, shelter, health, and opportunity to participate in the human community. Opportunity to exercise talent and interest as gift to community, not as means to gain power, wealth, or fame. Freedom from lack, so that minds are afforded time to actually BE conscious!
I am sometimes mystified at the Christian “worship” of an imagined day of Christ’s return. They seem to view this as an event “coming from the outside”. This does not line up logically with Jesus teaching “the kingdom is within”. Logically, the Christ Principle cannot “arrive” except as brought forth from the human heart! They have a long wait for the “Second Coming” if it is expected to come from outside!
If we genuinely want a “new and better world” (and we are foolish to not want improvement) we are simply going to have to “smarten up” in our human doings!
This does not mean we have to turn ourselves into dour “party-poopers”. Far from it! We simply have to “attend a different party”! A party not unlike a great community work-bee and pot-luck meal! Bring on the sharing, the socializing, haul out the clarinets and the fiddles, everybody dances, everybody sings, everybody shares the labor. And everybody makes it a point to notice if anyone is hit with special hardship – everybody offers tangible assistance. Not only is “no child left behind”, but no person, indeed no life-form, is abandoned or treated as “incidental” and irrelevant!
Such a “different kind of party” can only be conceptual. I am not talking about returning to “women cook and wash up while men smoke cigars and talk of important matters”. I am talking about the spirit of cooperation as it would be practiced today, with understandings available from earliest and ancient teachings, bolstered by more recent understandings available through psychology and science. Understandings that make inter-dependency absolutely unarguably clear.
We have spent some 10,000 years or so gathering experience and information. Surely this is long enough! Just how ‘stupid’ are we! (I ordinarily don’t make such remarks, but really, it seems time to call us stupid.) The most remarkable thing about our stupidity is that it is so persistent! We make a great noise about “human development” and “material/technological achievement” and our various means to personal comfort and enjoyment. We make equally great noise about “spiritual development” and “love”. Yet another equally great noise that “those guys over there” are to blame for human folly. And more great noise too about “fame” and “who has the most friends on Face Book”. Still more noise about “fostering individual success by not catering to laziness”.
This, I hate to say, is “same old, same old”. And very Very LOUD!
We’ve got all we need to make sense of ourselves and of national and global dilemmas – and we stubbornly refuse to “get real”, even while we wring our hands at an imagined doom. (Or less helpfully, “accept” impending doom from positions of relative comfort that high-mindedly “understand” the “inevitability” of suffering.)
I hate to say so, but we do seem “stupid” sometimes.
We not only allow power, wealth, and profit motive to seduce us, we appear to want to be seduced while decrying the seducer/s!
I’m pretty sure, in the end, we can’t achieve both – genuine prosperity AND “prosperity” built on brutality of enthusiasms that rationalize suffering as “acceptable”.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (MLK)
My Very Best To You! – MaggieAnn