Wednesday, April 17, 2019
I have always liked the unique manner in which metaphors can illuminate a point by 'taking it to the side', using a parallel situation to make things more understandable. Well, the metaphor that has come to me around taking a wide-angle overview of our society...is that of a sinking ship.
She's taking on water, is losing ground and her rails will be awash before we know it. Her hull just has too many 'leaks' for her to stay afloat. Of course, it's always possible that a miracle will happen. I just watched the Columbus Blue Jackets sweep the supposedly best team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lighting, in the Stanley Cup first round play-offs....so, let's say anything is possible.
But, it looks pretty dire if you are willing to be objective and look at the confluence of factors that are all emerging simultaneously. The biggest, and by far the most lethal, is Climate Change...unless you are of the ostrich persuasion and insist on keeping your head in the sand, you are already experiencing some of the by-products of it, i.e. droughts, wild-fires, mega-storms, arctic melting, and on and on. It's not just projections anymore; events are happening all over the planet that point to an ongoing and burgeoning catastrophe. That alone will sink the ship, perhaps even despite a late awakening on the part of humanity. But, as we look out across the planetary landscape, it's clear that there are a vast number of people who are just not ready to accept the reality that is already upon us and starting to make itself known in numerous ways. It's not my purpose today to enumerate all of them, but, Google will find all the information you need....as well as provide you with good examples of how the too large segment of the population is practicing denial.
One of the biggest leaks in our planetary ship of state is the so-called 'Population Bomb', which is exploding in slow motion as we watch. There are already more people--1.7 times as many--on the planet than present methods of food production can feed. Famine is already over-taking large parts of Africa, Asia and more....even as we are so used to walking into our local supermarket and gliding past mountains of vegetables and fruits, then on to shelves groaning with canned and packaged foodstuffs. When you imagine how this might appear to a person from Somalia,the Sudan, Ethiopia, and on and on....it's beyond surreal, more like hallucinatory. But, because that is our daily reality, we are blinded from seeing how many people are starving....yes, here and now on planet Earth in 2019.
As the population bomb continues its horrific, slow-mo explosion, we are seeing the people who are no longer able to survive in these drought and famine plagued regions fleeing toward parts of the planet that hold out at least the distant hope of survival. They are literally dying in great numbers to make this move. We are witnessing a 21st century diaspora of growing and eventually gigantic proportions. Millions are starving....right now.
Then there is the gigantic political swamp we are mired in. The Right vs. The Left is becoming ever more vitriolic and hateful. There are people on both sides of this great divide who are projecting it will come to violence. Whether a race war, a class war, or any other 'us and them' conflagration, the scenario is something out of a Hollywood blockbuster; you can almost hear the announcer in his uber-urgent basso voice telling us that, ".....they're coming!!! And, the flood of immigrants is now being alluded to as an 'invasion', not of the body snatchers, but of starving families and lost souls who are just trying to survive, who are being cast as 'monsters, criminals, rapists etc"...not just by some lame-brain commentator on Fox, but by OUR PRESIDENT.
And, there is another serious leak that will sink us. The highest office in American politics is occupied by an insane megalomaniac, who is often referred to as, 'the most powerful person on the planet'...and is a liar, a hateful buffoon who is doing his damnedest to keep upper-class Americans isolated from the suffering that is already overtaking so many people around the earth. He will brag and lie to convince us that this is the only way we can survive, by closing our borders completely......uh, well, okay not so closed if you're a college educated white person from Europe. He's said he prefers people from Norway. This mentally aberrant and unstable non-genius, read 'idiot', also has the unspeakable power of nuclear weapons at his command. And, apparently and much to the horror of decent people everywhere, there are few if any safety mechanisms that could stop him from initiating a nuclear attack.....on whomever.
Are you convinced? In fact, not only is our ship in mortal peril, it is sinking faster and faster all the time. These situations are all exacerbating, and climate change is demonstrating the ability to confound the scientists who study it in great depth....by continually accelerating and out-pacing even their most dire projections. The train....to use another metaphor....hasn't just lost some braking ability. The throttle is stuck open and it is going faster all the time and nobody knows where the end of the line is.
So, as bad as all of this is, and I am not even elaborating on it to the degree that I could, we still have some choices we can...and need...to make.
The foremost of these has to do with deciding what kind of a society we want. Do we want the society that the Chief Crook wants? That would mean allowing racial tensions and hatred to divide us into essentially warring sides. If America chooses White Supremacy as it's code of ethics to carry us forward, it will mean immense suffering on BOTH SIDES. If we embrace Trump's idea that this country has no room for the 'brown invaders' and we are to conduct ongoing operations to block, and otherwise suppress minorities...which we already do domestically via a violent policing policy that allows black males to be murdered with only rare consequences for the cops who pull the trigger....then we will create a living hell on earth.
The fatuous notion that we can have a segregated and isolated society even as the rest of the planet suffers is just that: fatuous. The idea that the white race can have a plutocracy run by the very rich and have it be either harmonious or peaceful is also HOGWASH. Minority populations are no longer willing to accept such a situation and they are coming into the political arena intent on rectifying the massive imbalance that has existed for so many generations. The day of the 'old white men' is over. And, people like Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, are dinosaurs without even realizing it yet. But, they will become just as extinct as more and younger people of all ethnicities and gender/orientations, and of all social backgrounds, step forward. It is especially hopeful that more and more women are getting involved, no longer content to watch as old white men run the show, based on their desire to accumulate even greater wealth and more power.
If we are going to deal with the huge challenges that face humanity, we need to do it from a place of harmony and strength. And, that means ALL PEOPLE need to be considered as human beings, not as a plague of locusts who need to be pushed back and allowed to starve while we still live in the 'land of plenty'. The biggest decision we need to make is: how we want to treat other people, especially those less fortunate. If we have learned a single iota from Christianity, we should know by now that we are ALL IN THE SAME LIFEBOAT. There will not be one planetary reality for the super-rich, another one for the 'working people' and a third nightmarish scenario for all those from areas of the planet where a normal even half-way decent life is no longer possible.
As the ship continues to settle...and, it will.....we need to decide that we are all in this together. Some are thinking that they'll motor off into the future on their 200 million dollar yachts, perhaps carrying them to their exclusive compounds where the angry and starving cannot touch them. Some have already bought 'condos' in missile silos where they can sit out Armegeddon....like hibernating groundhogs. I cannot imagine that being a kind of existence that any actually sane person could tolerate for very long.
Then there are those who are so deeply asleep in their consciousness, that they imagine they can kill enough of the people who threaten them to somehow come out on top of a race war. This is actually a very popular notion on the far right. Don't believe it? Visit some of the alt-right, neo-Nazi and white power websites. You'll believe it.
We can choose to go down the path of hatred, fear and violence....which is where the head-case in orange wants us to go....or we can choose to find humane and compassionate solutions to the gigantic problems we have created ourselves. We need to know--in our Hearts--that we really are not all just separate individuals, bouncing around earth like so many ping-pong balls, each person doing their damnedest to get what they need for themselves. We are as much a tribe or a family as we're willing to be and together we can create the means of surviving and learning to be kind to each other.
In one direction, lies our very own self-created Hell; and, in the other lies the potential to do the best we can to create harmony and to live with an awakened sense of compassion......which, is a very good working definition of "Heaven on Earth".
What's it going to be, Humans?