THE PERSISTENCE OF HUMAN CONSCIENCE
It has been a very long time that I have tempered my criticism of large governmental and corporate structures despite obvious deficiencies in the way we as a nation conduct ourselves in the world.
Most of this reluctance has come from my inability to connect large scale suffering in this world directly to these entities, as opposed to the presence of inherent and pre-existing conditions. The rest of my reluctance is based on a great appreciation for the accomplishments of the United States through history and the incredible sacrifices made in blood and sweat to achieve them. However, two points make this uncertainty moot to the primary issues at hand, which I perceive to be the risk of massive human die-off, and by extension all life on this planet, and the imperative need for the human experience to evolve to include stability and security for everyone.
A significant factor in the mix is that by design government and corporate entities do not operate in the best interests of everyone, another being that regardless of intent our planet is facing significant climate change exacerbated by our unchecked environmental assaults. Process models based on domination of markets, nations, cultures and individuals have outlived their usefulness and we are faced with the challenge of implementing truly cooperative models without triggering a collapse of the current government and market structures.
In this age of mass communication, centralized manufacturing and global distribution, many corporations have become enormous and exert incredible influence in multiple governments and markets. Very few of them exhibit significant moral direction, and all of them are held to a charter that requires them to make a profit, typically the greatest profit possible, regardless of the overall health of the economy or the wide swath of smaller businesses and communities they tend to strangle. Capitalism is a great ideal, unfortunately history reveals that although its origins emmerged from simple, honest trade, it has built its largest successes on the backs of the underprivileged. As this underclass gains prosperity the burden is shifted to the next underclass, typically in a second or third world country. They bear the costs not only in financial terms but environmentally and politically. As a result we have the “Wal-Mart Effect” whereas local economies are deformed by artificially cheap imported goods and saddled with high debt, while cash rich politicos suckle at the teat of international corporations at the expense of their country’s ecology and debt load. Meanwhile we evicerate our own ability to produce tangible goods as our manufacturing base is moved out of country.
It is a very efficient and highly evolved system that benefits the powerful who defend their position in a controlled media extorting the benefits of capitalism, wrapped in the cloak of nationalism.
The international economy is essentially a pyramid scheme. It cannot exist in its present form without an underclass to exploit. We can never pay the lowest tier of workers what we would make for the same work, nor can we sustain our standard of living if we paid the true cost of these goods and services. Hence we have established a behavior standard where we expect the rest of the world to follow international law, honor ratified treaties and suffer our interventions while we openly claim the option to ignore these hard won protocols as best suits our broad and undefined notions of "national security."
Even though there are still plenty of people to exploit, the powers that be face a new dilemma. In their myopic view this issue is not the collapsing environmental balance but the growing lack of energy supplies in the face of exploding demand. It is not a matter of if, but when we exhaust our ability to supply this appetite. The consequence of substantial oil shortages would be widespread starvation, exacerbated by our trend toward centralized agriculture. Not only will their own supplies be jeopardized, but the entire structure of the economy will be under tremendous stress. In the long run agricultural production and distribution will collapse without alternatives to fuel and fertilizer intensive farming and long distrubution lines. These alternative energy sources and farming techniques are not being implemented; apparently due to short term economic impracticality (much as our failure to implement the Kyoto accords). In the interim it is obviously essential in the opinion of the current power structure to secure the remaining oil reserves from being used by unfriendly countries to sabotage our economy (or power structure), and ensure they run out of fuel, and starve, first. The cost of this action in terms of money, political good will and human suffering – staggering though it is – pales in comparison, it seems, to the consequences of running headlong into a genuine energy shortage at home.
This pattern of exponential growth and consumption is unsustainable, yet we are directed by a system that requires it. We’ve been born into a generation that has inherited a mandate of perpetual growth and has been largely free of suffering or reason not to strive for luxury. The people of this planet must act in concert, change the system and make genuine personal sacrifices or face a disaster that threatens the very fabric of life itself. The United States is clearly in a position to lead the change, and significant change can’t happen without our cooperation.
The United States is operating under a flawed system of government. It is the best model around, and has worked for a long time despite having evolved into a huge corporate serving entity that is bordering on fascism. The reforms needed are huge and seemingly unworkable, yet necessary.
Eradicating conflict causes must be a priority if we are to effect universal reforms. It remains the greatest challenge facing human evolution for us to move as a unified entity. We can overcome the technical, logistical, even political hurdles facing us with processes we use today, but a major shift in the psychological paradigm is needed to transcend the chain of hatred and retribution that strangles the peace process in so many places. It won’t begin to happen until the powers that be act in a genuinely selfless manner and build the trust needed for people to live in the moment at hand and move forward in a manner that demands peace among men and health for our planet. Is there a socio-political model that is immune to corruption?
That our current administration has used 9/11 or any pretext to invade and occupy another country is reprehensible, and that they continue to operate above existing law while undermining the constitution on several fronts is clearly illegal. Their actions are in line with the disastrous foreign policy our country has pursued for decades in the Middle East, Central America and for that matter world-wide which aims for top-down control of every person on this planet. Our phone calls and e-mails are routinely monitored, most cell phones are GPS compliant, and the government is pressing for all domestic livestock (under threat of large fines) must have an ID chip implanted by 2008 or it will be illegal for a vet to tend to them (or be entered in a 4H event, etc.). My horse has never been a problem before, clearly this is a device to monitor (and potentially control) rural populations who aren't confined to easily controlled highways. The rhetoric and actions of our government are starting to resemble those of other infamous fascist regimes in history, this doesn't make you nervous?
As Graham Nash said, “Its not that we don’t know, it’s that we don’t want to care.”
I can come to no other conclusion than the Iraq War is illegal, and our current president and cabinet criminal. Further more I believe their actions are so corrupt and so undermining toour country’s well being as to be considered treason. I realize that these are very strong charges. Can anyone imagine the obstacles involved in pressing these charges, even in an atmosphere that has not been politically corrupted? I suspect that we are even now living under a cleverly disguised cabal of very wealthy autocrats who manipulate the electoral process to acquire broad governmental powers.
The festering infection of greed and imperialism has revealed itself in an ugly boil with our “reaction” to the exaggerated (and largely self-created) threat of terrorism. How is it that we have invaded another country under obviously dubious reasoning, illegally confiscated and sold off assets belonging to that country, arrested and detained its citizens indefinitely without legal consol in Guantanamo Bay and other secret locations, and stand accused of widespread torture? Have we become a country completely indifferent to the laws we are bound to and principles we have espoused for decades?
No, not our country, but the administration that continually chooses to ignore the wishes of the people who gave it power, the men who founded our country and the people who have given their lives in past conflicts in support of those principles. The greed of war has created a huge military industrial complex whose need to exist is a stronger driving force in most conflicts than the expressed issues, an industry eager to flood both sides of an otherwise managable struggle with huge amounts of arms. Look in the mirror, this is the face of your America.
In the short run we must confront the endless and largely trivial consumption that drives the corporate machine and perpetuates these acts by putting vast sums of money into corrupt pockets. The amount of money taken out of education, health care and our grandchildren’s pockets for war and bail outs is mind boggling. This is money that should be spent on promoting sustainable living around the planet, not fueling a locomotive driving towards a cliff.
We must recognize that all people should be afforded the rights put forth in the US Constitution. That we tolerate a double standard of treatment for people who are not US citizens is hypocrisy. We are all citizens of this planet, and strife is no longer isolated by large expanses of ocean. Until we do so we will never be able to effect the trust of our fellow men.
In the long run we need to decentralize agricultural production, energy distribution, manufacturing and 98% of government. It is imperative that we eliminate our dependencies on fossil fuels. We need to stabilize population growth through voluntary means and attain sustainable living conditions worldwide. Either we go willingly, or we will be dragged there kicking and screaming by mother nature.
The greatest difficulty in unifying and changing the course of human consciousness is the pervasive effect of religion in steering attitudes. As long as there has been religion there have been people manipulating it to serve a secular agenda. Regardless if a person is an atheist or devoutly religious, reason must prevail if we are to survive. To those who claim to be religious I say this: God gave us a reasoning mind and an inherent mandate to grow and evolve spiritually. In antiquity when most people were illiterate the tenets of religion were simple and absolute, passed down largely in spoken parables because that was the most effective way to spread doctrine. As society evolved so did our ability to reason and recognize this evolution and God’s intent. It is imperative that we worship the ancient texts as seeds for spiritual growth and not as an end in itself. Those who cling to fundamental interpretations and declare exclusivity or any divine right reject the idea we can evolve spiritually and thus poison spiritual growth, suffocating what little potential for world harmony we may have.
If you do not want to be corrupted in your spiritualism, keep it between yourself and your God. Politics must be an arena for the physical management of our world. If the participants have their spiritual house in order (truly honest, and acting out of love for this world and all of its inhabitants) then they should consider their faith represented and respected. Honesty and fact present a level playing field, intractable positions based on religion dismiss the needs and wishes of huge segments of your fellow men and have no place at the table.
It is my wish that we all look to the future, all of the possible scenarios facing us, and step out of the idea we need to avenge the sins against our ancestors.This moment is their gift to us, and every one of them dreamed of peace for their kin. The world has evolved far past their vision, and even the rosiest view is bleak at this point in time. Our parents unwittingly left us this legacy, and only through a dramatic shift in our collective psychological paradigm will we be able to give our children any sort of chance to a fruitful legacy. Do we need to face that suffering before we move to change?
There are many books that illuminate the myriad problems facing our world today, and any thinking person should take it upon themselves to review the issues personally and not take for granted what is presented by the government, the media or clergy. There is one I have found that scientifically examines the process of how changes, both effective and ineffective, take place in society. I highly recommend Alan AtKisson’s Believing Cassandra: An Optimist Looks At A Pessimist’s World as a reference in how to effect change in this crazy world.