As the news that the coronavirus has reached Italy, and the numbers of infected people in South Korea rise, the world shrinks in fear and the stock market trembles.
The stock market trembles.
I stopped respecting the stock market years ago when a serious broker at Chicago’s Board of Trade told me he was happy when milk farmers struggled because he made money. I have further distanced myself from the market as I learned that the largest industry in the United States is the making and selling of weaponry. It is our largest industry.
Millions of innocent people in the Middle East are caught in the cross fires of United States weaponry. Homeless, hungry, hospitals bombed and borders closed there is a desperation that we seldom hear about. Their inhuman plight does not send a ripple through the market like our fear of a virus that may or may not be coming to get us.
And there in lies the curse of capitalism.
As long as making money is number one, we allow ourselves to not see. As long as our portfolios climb, there is little incentive to ask our handlers, “Where is the money coming from?”
President Trump recently visited India. Prior to his coming a huge wall was erected so that he would not have to see a slum on his drive to Ahmedabad. Trump has told us that the sight of homelessness is a stain on the beauty of a city – a stain on the city but no mention of the stain on our conscience as we allow people to live in squalor.
And that my friend is the curse of capitalism. Capitalism without conscience is a disease we can no longer afford.
Fear abounds these days. Socialism is coming to get you. But what the pundits warn as socialism is simply common sense.
photo courtesy of wikipedia commons: banknotes
There can be little doubt that we are in an evolutionary change. The choice between taking the green path or continuing the scorched earth path has never been more obvious. The systems we have employed to make life better have failed as poverty, homelessness and addictions rise. Extraction of resources, human or other, have been given a green light. Yet amid this chaos there is a growing conviction to choose another way.
Twenty young people of the Sunrise Movement were arrested this week as they protested at the Capital. “Step up or step aside” was their request to Senators who have not yet signed the Green New Deal. And the rail system in Canada has been shut down as indigenous people act to save their land and way of life. The inconvenience of truth telling reverberates wherever usury and greed meet up with those incapable of living lives of self-destruction and harm to the earth.
There is a massive movement towards sustainable living that is emerging. It may be political and take aim at the powerful, or it can be found in the upsurge of community activism, cooperative living and the efforts towards food sovereignty. Reduced consumption; local energy production; the refusal to use plastic and to drive cars are all fueling new ways of thinking and new ways of being.
Young and old are finding one another as they “make a way out of no way”*. Whether due to governmental calamities, or because the natural world is no longer playing nice, the good news is there is a wave of “can do” that is sweeping through us. From refugees in encampments learning to grow food in place to colleges and universities divesting from oil, we are all being invited to this revival.
The earth can heal and so can we. The time is now.
*”Make a way out of no way” has been attributed to James Boggs.
photo from wikipedia commons: Banner for a Green New Deal. Chicago Sunrise Movement rallies for a Green New Deal, in Chicago (Illinois), 27 February 2019.
Perhaps one of the hardest things to grasp is the slow and deliberate process that is evolution. I marvel at the circle round of ideas and events occurring. The battles over words like “socialist”; the unconscious and deliberate breakdown of the environment; the disregard for human life – all bent on destroying a paradigm shift that cannot and will not be upended.
If your ears are only trained to hear the negative, and you fear the enemies of justice and the brutality of the powerful, then you may be missing the incredible emergence that is in fact occurring.
There is a stream of consciousness in our humanity and like a stream it ebbs and flows, it dips and eddies, and it is the effort of the faithful to not lose sight of that stream and to help it along if at all possible.
I have trained myself to listen closely for the words and convictions that bubble up from the fray. Those words and deeds that tell me, “yes, we are not in a spiral down, but a spiral up.”
One such moment came from Representative Ayanna Pressley when she powerfully referred to this time not as a movement, but one of momentum. She acknowledged standing on the shoulders of those who have come before and “trying to be good stewards of the ground that they laid.” She championed that endless ebb and flow that we can choose to participate in or to ignore. And she exalted it.
Another sweet moment came from Charlie Mgee of the Australian band, Formidable Vegetables. In an interview with BBC, he explained the band would not fly anymore due to climate change. He acknowledged the need for transcending a “monetary economy” and I could envision the future in his words.
We live in a formidable momentum of consciousness. Enjoy it.
I recently read of twenty-eight, Latin American human rights and environmental defenders, murdered last year. They were indigenous people defending their lands and way of life. Only one of those murders have been successfully investigated and prosecuted.
We know corporate interests willfully allow the violence towards indigenous leaders. We know United States military training and weaponry support corporate militias. We know that the governments ruling over indigenous lands rarely investigate or convict those guilty. And countless violent crimes go unreported. We know this as surely as we know about the School of the Americas or the juntas that put corporate puppets in power. We know this even when the media buries their stories, even when our faith leaders couch their demise in twisted verses of faith. We know this, all of it.
And I asked myself, “What is the price of silence?”
What is the price of silence towards a nation that deems the oil fields in the Middle East as their sovereign right to claim? What is the price of silence over lies told and believed that leads us to war and countless innocents dying?
What is the price of silence as Flint, Michigan and others continue their struggle for clean water and transparent government?
And when you discover the water in your community is no longer drinkable; or that the ethanol plant is poisoning your air; or when uncontrollable fires or rising waters make it to your back door, will you be silent then?
To whom will you turn? Who will defend you? Our silence has chipped away at our hope; it diminishes our ability to fight back. Silence is the disease of our time, and allows the voice of ignorance to prevail.
So when I ask myself, “Can I live with this?”, and the answer is, “No”; surely my silence will end.
photo is from Cultural Survival
Ripples of fear can be heard in the voices of those reporting on the coronavirus. It is known that casual contact may spread the disease and that the incubation period may be as long as fourteen days prior to symptoms.
The admission, that Wuhan city officials were slow to provide information as they waited for higher authority, created distrust. People can be heard calling reassurances to one another from their quarantined homes in that city.
This information comes as the virus continues unchecked, causing people to feel victimized and paranoid. But even as the numbers of infected rise and the death toll climbs, there is more than fear that we need to heed.
Traditional medicine tells us we can maintain good and upright health through simple means. Beneficial sleep, good eating, clean water, maintaining our bodies through gentle movement and focusing our minds on good thoughts and emotions all promote health. Feeling our breath and allowing our lungs to fully expand and contract is important in relieving stress and in revitalizing our bodies and our spirit. And while this may not keep a virus at bay, it may provide the strength needed to overcome disease.
This is what individuals can do, but more is needed to live collectively as citizens of a healthy world. We are being asked to look at every aspect of our lives and the choices we have made. The virus mutated from wild animals, which were being sold in a Wuhan market. It jumped from animal to human and now is spreading from human to human with little impediment. Our consumptive and exploitive attitude towards the natural world is causing our animal relatives great harm. That harm now endangers us, and will continue, until we remember and live in a symbiotic way with all of life.
A clarion call has come.*
*a strongly expressed demand or request for action is a clarion call.
I have had the good fortune to visit Australia a few times. I deeply appreciated the beauty, the wildlife, the kindness of the people and the bits of aboriginal wisdom that I gleaned. The fires consuming much of that continent are leaving behind horrific loss. The efforts to save the animals are heroic and inspiring, but the sorrow is palpable.
Last year’s fires in the Amazon were attributed to agribusiness and the unwillingness of people to consider the consequences of such catastrophic change. Indigenous leaders are assassinated routinely as they desperately inform us of the folly of over consumption.
The media rarely tells their story.
Or are we simply too busy maintaining unsustainable lifestyles to care?
The unprecedented flooding of Jakarta is mostly ignored, as has been Puerto Rico’s never ending quakes. Compassion, once a revered trait, now takes a second seat to costs and profits. But, no worries, we have unlimited finances when war and oil are the concerns.
In the debate over climate change we have lost a lot of time. Corporate advertising and political lobbyists have successfully lulled too many into a stupor. The President and Congress are eliminating laws that protect our water, air and public lands – and giving corporate greed even more incentive to destroy the earth.
What will it take to turn it around?
A while back I heard the phase “revolution of understanding”,* and I have concluded that yes, if we are to find a way through this nightmare, it will take tremendous understanding. It will take the understanding that we are one people and one planet. It will require vision and courage to make the choices that could have been made long ago.
Most importantly it will demand our love; the fiery kind of powerful love that refuses anything less. We can do this.
- “Revolution of understanding” is a phrase I heard from Prem Rawat, a human being whose conviction towards living helps others to walk their own walk. And I for one am grateful.
The 3.7 million people of the island of Puerto Rico have endured two recent, major earthquakes, and thousands of aftershocks since December twenty-eighth.
The largest earthquake slammed the southern region registering 6.4 on the Richter scale January seventh. Another magnitude 5.9 rocked Puerto Rico on January twelfth.
Tens of thousands are sleeping outdoors or under tarps for fear of buildings collapsing. Many have lost their homes entirely. Schools cannot operate until there is certainty of the safety of the structures. Power is intermittent and refugee camps lack basic hygienic needs. Medicine is also in short supply. This all comes on the heels of the deadliest hurricane, Maria, to hit the island in 2017 destroying infrastructure and killing over 3,000 people.
Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. Congress had allocated $18 billion to help with natural disaster readiness following the devastation of Maria. HUD should have dispersed these funds in 2018, but the Trump Administration refused the aid citing “fiscal mismanagement”. FEMA is on the ground and trying to help. No mismanagement has been documented or proven.
The withholding of aid to those urgently in need has been cited as “illegal” and “unconscionable” by members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats. They have repeatedly requested the administration release the already appropriated funds. Their demands have largely been ignored. While writing this I have learned that 8 million of the 18 billion are now being released. It is a pittance towards the need.
The blatant disregard for life has become a hallmark of the Trump Administration. What will it take to call back the compassion that we have so willingly relinquished?
Unity for what is decent is required now. Dignity for those struggling in Puerto Rico is what is needed. A government of, for and by the people is not too much to ask.