Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Hump

Sometimes I think we’re gonna make it over this hump.
I feel like the tide is turning and I have George Bush and Al Gore to thank for it. Here’s why, since I was a kid I believed in Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future. The basic idea is that humankind has left behind the desire for wealth, material possessions, the need for mass religion, and most importantly, the desire to dominate each other. That we as a people have come together, left race issues behind, grown up enough to understand that wealth comes from knowledge and creativity and that the planet is more important than we are (he had a lot in common with another great mind of the day John Lennon).
I relate to this because I have never had a lot money (I am painfully lower middle class), and have always thought that it is what’s in your head and your heart that is more important than what’s in your wallet or your financial portfolio. Like Roddenberry, I’ve nurtured the idea that we need individual enlightenment and respect for all living things, not mass cultish religion to fill the spiritual needs that we have.
So why do I thank W. and Al Gore? Simple, George Bush showed us the absolute worst in humanity. He felt that individual rights were nothing but a farce and proceeded to wipe them clean with the Patriot Act, and couldn’t have cared less about the environment, he actually went out of his way to prove it by dismantling all of the environmental agencies that we have, and by ultimately showing that he has absolutely no regard for human life and was driven by power and greed. (these are not light accusations, but all can be easily backed up). At the same time that this was happening, Al Gore began his campaign to save humanity by teaching us (and warning us) about the climate crisis. I say saving humanity, because we’ll be wiped out, the Earth will survive, although badly bruised.
So here’s where I become optimistic. Because of these two events happening at the same time, a majority of people, roughly 65-70% of American’s have begun to open their eyes to things other than themselves. They’ve bought in to a President who say’s it’s about You, not Me, it’s about Us not I. That’s a huge philosophical leap from the Me decade of the 80’s, and the plunder/bubble decade of George Bush, hell it’s even better than the 90’s, when we prospered as a nation. Let me list some of the signs of positive change.
1. The decline of mass religion. This tells us that people are taking spirituality in a new direction. Let’s not confuse Spirituality with Religion. As Joseph Campbell points out, Religion is a mask, and Spirituality is a Transcendent Truth which seeks the “Unknowable”, so why not peel away the mask and seek the truth? Even atheists believe that you can have spirituality on an individual basis, but it doesn’t have to come with the trappings of “my god is better than your god”, it can be as profound as “I am my own god, and/or god is within me”. That takes away the power of influence from someone dictating their dogma to you and is transformational in YOU taking responsibility for your actions while you’re on the planet. Here’s a novel concept, you WON”T be forgiven for your sins, so how about not committing them. In the Roddenberry example, everyone is free to worship the deity (or themselves) as they see fit, but in a way that has no political (geo or national) or dominating agenda.
2. The concept of Green living. This hits home in many ways. For too long the Dominion theory, has dominated (pardon the pun) the way we have behaved on earth. (there are two interpretations. The one I’m speaking to is dominion over the creatures and the planet, not that the one about the Rapture). The concept here is simple and it’s looked at two ways. One, god has given us dominion over animals and resources of the planet to do with as we please because god made us the center of the universe, or two, since we’re the only sentient beings on the planet (this has been proven false), that we have “right” and intelligence to be the stewards of the Earth. Well, we may have the intelligence, but we clearly don’t have the “right” or the morality to be the stewards. Time and time again, we’ve proven that money trumps morality and that the majority of people would love to tear down a beautiful mountain to put a nice house on top of it. Or build a strip mine to get at the coal, or build a dam that changes the whole ecosystem of an area for energy. Don’t get me started on petrochemicals. Again, I’m feeling better about this, because we’re seeing the light about the fact that you can make money, by using the Green, Sustainable business model, and people are as a society embracing the idea that we can be prosperous at the same time we’re doing the morally correct thing. Plus, and here’s the kicker, it’s becoming “chic” to be green and nothing says progress like trying to keep up with the Jones’. Here’s a conundrum for you, since hunters are dominionists (again, not the rapture version), how come they believe in taking care of the environment? That to me is a cognitive dissonance on a grand scale. But, at least their doing something, and you gotta eat.
3. The end of Imperialism. Again, I thank George Bush for making this so black and white. As he raced to be the king of the world and decided that he alone could make the Middle East a new democracy. On, Nov. 4th 2008, this policy was handily rejected in favor of one of tolerance and understanding of other cultures. Not to say there aren’t bad people in the world, but to take out a whole country is a bit absurd. As a country (and with the world watching), we, as a people declared that we aren’t the power hungry, global dominating country that we have been so adamant in fighting (Hitler’s Germany, USSR and China to name a few). We stand for a higher principle. We’ll lead the planet with great innovation, wealth, education and be the shining city on the hill, but we won’t put the barrel of a gun in your face in order for you to see that, and we won’t occupy you to steal your natural resources. Now, we are standing and taking the high road and reaching out to the nations we’ve slapped in the face, and the ones that we refused to talk to and are becoming once again the nation that earned respect using compromise, empathy and understanding, not the barrel of a gun.
4. There’s no I in Team. This is a big one for me on so many levels. I once had a boss who told me, that it’s better to give the credit for your accomplishments to the team, and not just to yourself. I reflected on this and after years of putting it into practice have found it to be one of the most sage pieces of advice I’ve ever received. This concept is occurring on a national level, even if it’s subconscious, you can see the results in how we feel about ourselves, our nation and our world. We’re seeing the Commons of the United States as being an investment and for the future generations of our nation that we must protect. For too long, we’ve listened to Reaganites who wanted nothing more than to break government by letting the infrastructure of the U.S. become decrepit all in the name of “fiscal conservatism”. It makes the statement, “it’s my money and why should I pay for something that doesn’t benefit me directly?”. We now know the folly of that logic intimately.
And here’s how this relates to team, we’re currently in a global financial crisis and a terrorism crisis, and we need everyone’s help. Internally, we need a nation that understands that we’re in this together, and that we all have to sacrifice to come out of this financial crisis. We may disagree about how to do that, but we believe (the majority of us anyway), that we’re only as strong as our weakest link, so we’ll help our brother and in return, we’ll be better for it. We’re reinvesting in our infrastructure and our commons which will help everyone. Remember a rising tide lifts all boats. So the more we help each other and invest in each other, the more we help ourselves. Next up, helping other nations, why do we do it, because it’s the right thing to do and by helping others, we become that shining city again, and when that happens, terrorism isn’t as important of an issue. When people look up to you, their less likely to want to bomb you. (you think the cool kid in school got in a lot of fights, nope, he got the chicks).

We’ve just begun our journey over the “hump”, and how we act over the 10 years will be our greatest hurdle that we have in our lifetime. If we can change the attitude of the people of this country back to helping each other and looking out for our environment, the vision of a global society of people trying to unselfishly better themselves and move humankind forward in a way that not only helps the environment, but lifts everyone up will be one that everyone can be proud of and we can all take the credit for.
See you on the other side of the hump.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Employee Free Choice Act

Please click on this banner and sign the petition. When the wages of the middle class (and lower class) increase, everyone wins.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Pendulum Swings

As I sit at my desk at work and scan the web for interesting stories to read during my lunchtime, I'm struck by how yesterday was a huge carthartic moment for America and maybe even the world. Yesterday was as much of a celebration of saying goodbye and good riddance to Bush as it was to say hello and where have you been to Obama. Most everyone is so happy that the dark days of the United States of America can now be flushed away and we can start anew that we will now forget what just happened to us over the last 8 years. 
I'm a firm believer in the pendulum of social existance. Which basically means that the pendulum has swung to our side again. By our, I mean, the majorities, the middle and lower classes, the average joes, the people who don't represent the greed and hunger for power. I mean me and you. If you look back in history, you'll see a pattern emerge that happens every generation or so and you can see that it's swings with the arc of a pendulum. What occurs to me is that during Bush's time, it swung so far to one side because of the force of 20 years of Reaganomics and our increasing lust for dominance (that means war), that it kept moving and moving without coming back. It scared alot of people, including me, and started to raise the hackles of an otherwise silent majority, that what was happening was not because of us, but in spite of us. And as we know from our science classes that for every action... So the result of that is that it built up the momentum to swing back towards our side and crash through the wall with a force that shook the nation. It was surely an incredible bit of chance that waiting in the wings was a brilliant and compassionate person named Barack who more than anything in his arsenel knew that if he could get people to believe in WE instead of I, that he could rally anyone and everyone to believe that the US as the biggest sports metaphor going and if we all channeled as much energy into our country as we do into our favorite team, that he would get everyone back on track.

So I'm glad the pendulum has finally swung back to our side and dread the day that it starts to swing back away from us (if it follows history, this will start swinging in 8-12 years and swing back in 25-30 to the other side), which is corporatism/fascism/laissez-faire. And for now, I'll be watching and participating in goverment with more excitement than I've ever had for my favorite sports team.

Go Team.