Monday, July 04, 2011
Stuart Heady Guest Blog: Pissed Off American on the 4th of July
My father's line began in America with an ancestor named John, who came over from England in 1680, four hundred years ago. Two ancestors fought in the American Revolution; Peter, who died with his long rifle in his hands and his son Daniel, who survived.
Now, as the last of my line, I regard a prospect: it would be best for me to die suddenly in such a way that it doesn’t leave behind medical bills for my wife. This state of affairs exists for many people and it should really piss us all off.
My parents had an upper-middle-class lifestyle and died with good insurance coverage and a little bit left to pay the bills left in the bank. This seemed a continuation of a good run of generations. My father left the small town in upstate New York along the Erie Canal where his great grandfather had established a small livery stable business, in order to pursue an education on the GI Bill and a career as an electrical engineer. That was the post-WWII thing to do. That was moving on up.
Now, what has become of America? Apparently the Tories on Wall Street have taken the Revolution back in a way that their musket-toting redcoat ancestors could not. Now we are moving on down.
Muskets are not the answer. What is the answer is that we must throw off the illusions of comfort and consumer paradise we have all gotten used to since the 1950s and regain the ability of our founding generation to think clearly and speak the truth.
Speaking the Honest Truth, Not Spin
We have adopted the principles of Edward Bernays, one of the founding fathers of Madison Avenue, and have more and more polluted our politics with the notion that there is no truth, only spin and framing, carping and belittling. The founders are still quotable over two hundred years later because they spoke in cut-to-the-bone truth and unremitting honesty. That was a political tool of the time. Sword-sharp minds, sharp debate and a true aim on honesty. Of course they were also skilled at politics and Machiavellian maneuvering, but they did not have to operate in a public atmosphere that was full of illusions and magician tricks with image and language that many people apparently can’t see.
A lot of people talk about the need for a new revolution. But does anyone seriously think you can shoot 7-10 billion people on the planet to deal with Peak Oil, resource depletion, globalization and the other mega-issues that the human race really faces in the long run of the 21st century and into the 22nd?
Wake up, pissed off America!
Create a Genuine Public Dialogue
We have the means at our disposal, in the existence of the internet, personal computers and other electronic devices coming out every year, to create a real public deliberation about the truth of our situation and what constructive solutions might work. We still have an education system, in decline though it is. While we still can, we should make use of it. We have become mentally obese just as we have become physically obese. Our ancestors didn’t come from Mount Olympus and weren’t absolute aberrations as humans. We have their DNA and their minds. They were just mentally athletic and in superb shape for exercising their intellects. We The People need to regain those abilities.
We should quit listening to people who want our votes but who offer only to think small, to talk about irrelevancies and who seem to be in denial about what it really going on.
A lot of us can’t put words to it. We feel like horses in a corral before an earthquake. We might just kick anyone who comes close to reassure us, and kick the living crap out of them. But we couldn’t necessarily say why we feel this way.
The dynamic issues of our world explode past the bounds of the systems we have developed over the ages for dealing with them. The political system is not an R&D system that early adopters can love. It mitigates against frivolous innovations and in so doing, moves slowly relative to those who feel that we need to be moving faster to keep pace with 21st-century realities.
For the political system to be swifter, we have to be swifter.
One could say that America is like a party barge and everyone is having a good time still, despite the fact that we seem to be getting low on the good stuff in the coolers. Nobody wants to hear that the bank seems to be moving or that perhaps it might be connected to a roar in the distance from about where that waterfall downstream is. It is such a drag to have to wake up and deal with things.
But, at least mentally, we need to consider trying on a pair of those old buckle shoes, because we need to fill them. The revolution we need is in our own waking up and becoming conscious and taking on responsibility for thinking above our pay grade, and indeed above anyone’s pay grade. We should dare go there, because there is really nobody minding the store where We The People belong.
Fireworks of the Spirit
Heat lightning flashes blink softly inside banks of clouds above waving fields of Johnson Grass on hot Central Texas summer nights with cicadas buzzing and tension in the air electric. As the black gum earth bakes under the acetylene torch sun of day, humidity rises into thickening air.
Heat lightning passes through the masses of humans on the ground, although unseen. People discharge on contact with each other, the human system reflecting the natural system, having electric energy potential as well.
In times of stress, one must be especially careful.
Caring means being open to the energy potential in the human environment. Anger is a fundamental motivator, as one considers injustice. It is a source of creativity. But, like fire, it can get out of control at times. This is one of the reasons we get mad at each other and find it harder to focus on ways to move progressive change forward. As they say, “if you ain’t upset, you ain’t payin’ attention.”
Fireworks are beautiful, so this 4th with tinder dry forests and brush country, we should resolve to use the motivating force and energy of fireworks of the spirit in ways that have a beautiful impact as we go off into the future.
This is a guest blog by Stuart Heady. If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.