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
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
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.
Our history is full of people who have championed peace and diplomacy over war. We have honored those people and those ideals. Yet time after time we have allowed lies and greed to lead us into endless and inhumane wars.
The assassination of a member of Iran’s government was a flagrant disregard of international law and has opened the door for retaliation and the escalation of death and destruction.
The fumbling assertions of the Trump administration regarding troops in Iraq demonstrate the dangerous incompetency that is at the helm.
This president continues the legacy of past presidents, which is to be led by those who make money on weapons and war. When he speaks of protecting United States interests, he is speaking of oil. If we allow this escalation of war and the stealing of resources we are complicit and culpable.
But make no mistake;it is Congress that declares war, not the president. And it is the people of the United States who can still determine their collective history.
Therefore it is imperative we stand for peace and diplomacy in whatever means is available to us. It’s also imperative that we end our financial ties to the industries of weaponry and oil. And we must talk to those who believe in the false words and actions of a leadership, which is totally corrupt. And to the evangelicalswho are following in hope of some fulfillment of prophecy, I say, “Snap out of it”.
We need your kind hearts, we need your love of humanity and of the God you claim to worship; we need you to remember.
We must demonstrate to a world very uncertain of our motives but very certain of our ability to create chaos and death, that we, the people, are willing to change course.
It is still up to us.
Poster compliments of the tireless efforts of the American Friends Service Committee. Click to sign and learn more about stopping the escalation towards war.
We make resolutions because we want things to be better. That is our nature. It’s our nature to be hopeful and when our hopes are dashed we suffer. Suffering is not part of our nature. It may appear that we are good at it, but in truth we run from it in every way we can. And we should.
Our culture has made a mockery of our nature. Whole industries are based on the fact that we want things to be better: better bodies, better minds, homes, and all. We are expected each year to declare personal resolutions. Books are written, tips are given and counselors are waiting at the ready when we fail.
When we are unclear about our nature we can be exploited. It doesn’t take much to see that exploitation is on an all time high. Our air, our water, and our relationships to one another are being trounced.
But I would suggest to you that this is happening because we are allowing it. And it is happening because we have forgotten our true nature.
We have grown comfortable with things that should not be comfortable. We have accepted leaders who are more content with war than peace; with food that is no longer nourishing us, but in fact makes us sick. We are comfortable with arbitrary divisions that are used to create arbitrary borders and arbitrary laws that destroy our humanity.
In forgetting who we are we have given our power away.
So if you are still searching for a resolution, why not resolve to know your truest nature, not the one the culture has determined for you. Our greatest gifts are in our absolute uniqueness and in our undeniable similarities. Our greatest longing is for peace. Not simply on the outside, but within.
And surely what lies within can be echoed out.
Scholars debate the extent the Iroquois Confederacy influenced the founding fathers of this country. It is however indisputable that there was communication between the two peoples on the fundamentals of creating a union.
The Iroquois Confederacy was built upon a foundation of peace. Their beautiful oral tradition celebrates the Peacemaker who came and offered principles to guide the creation of a union of diverse tribes. Those principles were fundamental and held in common. It was understood that the Confederacy would be matrilineal and that they would include the earth in their undertakings. The women determined power, as they were the ones who selected the chiefs. Women were also charged with removing power from the chiefs if abuses or transgressions occurred.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were advanced thinking among European peoples given the time. But the models of union developed by the forefathers of this country were constructs of economics. The history of this country is filled with abuses of power for economic gain from its onset. Today the words “abuse of power” are far more prevalent than declarations of, or the pursuit of, peace. And I would argue that the foundation of peace is needed.
Violence towards women and children, destruction of the earth, gun violence and endless and fruitless wars are all symptoms of a people who have traded the desire for peace for economic gain.
However, it is never to late to change course. And the righting of this ship can be seen in many aspects of our lives together. The cry for reparations, indigenous demands for the Rights of Nature, and the voices for peace are growing.
We would do well to incorporate the vision of peace as we determine our collective course. Wisdom invites us to end the abuse of power by restoring it to the peaceful.
photo is the flag of the Iroquois Confederacy from wikipedia commons