Tuesday, September 4, 2012
On Meeting With Your Selves
I recently spent 5 days alone. All by my selves. The first day, utterly played, I wept, intermittantly, all afternoon and into the evening. When I wasn't weeping, I was too exhausted and dazed to think.
The second day, I felt lighter but still terribly confused. The most I could get to was that the past 5 years have been exceedingly trying.
On the third day, I made a list of the experiences that had so depleted me. Many wonderful things have come into my life over the past five years, but there has been much pain and loss, as well. At the end of my list, I wrote "Our deteriorating environmental, political and social circumstances."
On the fourth day, I began reflecting on my list in preparation for restructuring my life. As I did, I realized that the last item on my list was much more significant than I'd been aware. Our environmental, political and social circumstances are, after all, the context within which the other experiences unfolded. And talk about pain and loss. Accordingly, I moved it from last to first on my list.
On the fifth and final day, while listening to the news on NPR, I realized that all the news, everywhere, is invariably sad and anxiety producing. Then, I remembered something I read in Harpers about capitalism. It was that business creates a need and then tries to fill it with a product. And I saw that as we, the consumers, have become more savvy about advertising, specifically, and the true nature of capitalism, in general, the business community has escallated from creating needs to be satisfied, to creating problems, which, they tell us, possession of their products will at least ameliorate.
The media being owned by big business, the way news is packaged and presented has been contaminated by this tendency to create problems. When I am sad, I tend to indulge myself; when I become anxious, I tend to seek solace in things. On my second and third days, without thinking about it, I bought some things I'd long pined for over the internet, spent extra money on good food for myself, and rented movies.
It is becoming clear. The 20% of America who are running our late capitalistic system are desperately strip-mining for the last of the big-time profits. To this end, they are creating problems without regard to life, community, or even civilization; they are making depressing, anxiety-fostering theater out of the problems to stimulate consumptionm; and they are leaving their customers broke, psychologically and spiritually as well as financially.
I'm not sure how much of this is conscious, much less a conspiracy, but it's happening, and that's all that matters. It is the context within which we're living ourlives in this pre-Apocalyptic period. It is a context which penalizes imagination. Witness institutional reactions to non-conforming creativity, especially in the three traditional pillars of our society, the family, our public school system, and our churches.
It's like some old horror movie, perhaps "The Matrix". They're everywhere. The Goodyear blimp flew low over our house yesterday, causing Edie to cry out and hug my leg. I held her but I couldn't bring myself to tell her, "It's all right." Because it isn't all right. The reason they're everywhere is because they're using pawns who either deny or don't know that they're pawns - teachers who test to the exclusion of listening; churches which push status quo dogma; police who enforce business-inspired laws.
What to do? All I know is that the system thrives on a depressed, frightened, fragmented citizenry living a pell-mell lifestyle. Got to slow down. Less stimulants. Got to stop, look and listen before responding. Got to give my Ching a ring, as Ken Kesey once put it.
Posted by Jay Goldbach at 12:46 PM