This morning I read a report filed by my friend Johnny Barber who has just returned from a friendship and fact-seeking trip to Afghanistan. http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/10/07/afghanistan-10-years-gone/ His heartfelt findings filled me with sadness and frustration. Sadness because my heart weeps over the cruelty and ignorance that foisted such hardships and pain on so many and...Frustration because I do not know where to turn nor how to work or pray or shout away the forces that would let these crimes against Nature persist. It's surely not okay to be content with signing a petition, writing a letter to an editor or standing on a busy street corner with a sign. I don't even know what my sign would say. Stop The Wars? End Corporate Greed? Teach The Children Well? Peace Over Profit? Fill the Donut Holes With $$ From the Corporate Loopholes? (that's probably too long to be read by a passing motorist) Save the Rivers...the Forests...the Water...the Mountains...the Snail Darter? (whatever happened to the snail darter?).
I think Nature Is Weeping?
Or is it Nature's fault? Does Nature not only "abhor a vacuum", but resent peaceful co-existence as well?
"In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments---there are consequences."
Robert Green Ingersoll 1896
In 1783, President Washington spoke about consequences in an address to his Army Officers. I want to share it with you and with myself, thinking perhaps by typing it right now, right here, I might get a fuller understanding of what George meant:
"If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter
which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can
invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom
of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like
sheep to the slaughter."
Sheep to the slaughter. I think about that when I am slogging through a security line at an airport. In fact, not long ago, I said to the barefoot man in front of me in the queue, as he was struggling to ease his laptop out of a makeshift case, while holding his belt in his mouth (I think it was a snakeskin belt)..."I don't know if I should "mo-o-o" or "ba-a-a-a". He didn't get it. Or if he got it, he didn't let on---perhaps out of fear of...of what? The consequences? I endured the unpleasant humiliation of being fondled by a short, chubby, uniformed Patriot-actress because I refused to go through the naked picture booth at the Albuquerque Sunport. Two men watched from behind the safety of a Plexiglas barrier while she explained just how she was going to be touching me. She wore plastic gloves while she inspected my hair and breasts and inner and outer thighs while I cried---real Grandmother umbrage tears! Consequences...
But that is a small --borderline insignificant--example of consequences or "sheeple-ness". There are bigger ones, of course. What if one is late with a payment? Utilities, Cable, Mortgage, Credit Card...These companies offer the "infractor" an opportunity to experience shame. Someone from the Phillipines will call. They will recite their name but it won't be understood because the cheap phone connection is just that: cheap. They will speak from a script. They will ask for information that they already have. They will offer unacceptable terms or suggestions. Or they will attempt to extract a promise that the delinquent debtor will or will not re-finance an old car to make a payment or hit up old Aunt Blanche. Finally there will be an offer to consider a reduction in interest in exchange for answering endless questions about bills and savings and income and blood type! Shame is an unpleasant consequence.
However, I am mainly concerned with national and global consequences. I am mentioning the consequences that have arisen because of the greed and sociopathic behavior of a few powerful corporate types. Clever, sneaky individuals who are far more interested in accumulating obscene amounts power, political access and manipulative skills that actually go a long way toward the destruction of our planet, our relationships with the people of other countries, our civil society. These are some of the dangerous and dreadful consequences of greed-mongering.
How did it get like this? How did we fall into a somnambulistic state as a country so that we no longer Pay Attention, no longer think for ourselves, no longer see through the propaganda and hype that fills the airwaves. Did you watch Dancing With The Stars this week? Did you follow the story of the missing white baby girl? Did you spend money at WalMart? Did you ask your Doctor if you need any one of a score of designer pharmaceuticals that get more media time and attention that people who are working to end child hunger...or homelessness or environmental degradation? I did some of that...I tuned in to see Chas Bono attempt the Pasa Doble. And I began to question whether the parents of the tiny white baby girl might have something to do with the mysterious disappearance of the child. At least I did NOT go to WalMart. I have never been in a WalMart---but that's because I am willing (and sort of able) to spend a little more money for things by buying from locally owned businesses who support my community. Not everyone is able to do that. WalMart can easily under-buy and over-advertise thereby successfully seducing people into their lairs. And, in the process, they can crush...obliterate...many neighbor-friendly small businesses through aggressive and strategic corporate competition. Consequently, I resent them and the other soulless mega-corporations that have built and climbed the ladder greed toppling countless small businesses (and small business people). I resent the power they have achieved over our lives--power that has become nearly impossible to reverse.
Consequences These lamentable and practically irreversible consequences are the result (I'm getting all wound up here) of the horrendous and savagely greedy actions and policies of a (relatively) few people; a few people who sit in plush offices...or on lavish yachts dictating these regulations to lobbyists who then present them to our Congressional representatives (along with perks or threats) who then vote yea or nay, in accordance with the dictates of those flying around on their private jets...These "corporacrats" are practically worry free. Their kids are in excellent private schools. Their houses are warm in the winter and cold in the summer. They pay off their sexy black credit cards easily--every month. They have rich private doctors and extravagant insurance policies. And they rarely encounter a struggling single mother who has been threatened with foreclosure. They don't run into many eighty year olds living on social security alone...Alone.
Somehow, we have let this happen---through misunderstanding, laziness, pre-occupation, disinterest. And now, we can see the consequences.
Minutes ago, I heard on the news that the United States Attorney General (and associated minions) had foiled a plot by an Iranian (?) terrorist (?) to assassinate the Saudi-Arabian Ambassador to the U.S. Everyone is already speculating that this could be an act of war on the part of Iran. At least that's what the Israelis think. I'm suspicious. And that is a consequence of the many times that things "the American People" were encouraged to embrace or to believe turned out not to be believed! Instead, we were "fed" carefully scripted propaganda to seduce "us" into accepting lies for truth. I'm not buying the lies---even though there might be a grain of truth in them.
That too is a consequence!
Something that Oliver Wendell Holmes (Abrams v. United States) wrote strikes me as a fitting close to all this:
When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths,
they may come to believe even more than they believe the very
foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desires
is better reached by free trade in ideas--that the best test of truth
is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition
of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes
safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our
Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment.
Let's "experiment" with a new way of thinking. Let's take care of one another. Let's occupy our minds with thoughts of justice and peace.