Brutality and cold harsh reality vs connection to the common fate of our humanity

Posted October 21st, 2011 in Blog, Featured 4 Comments »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

We have to decide this. The clash among these things poses one of the most essential questions of our time, which I posed in my book:

What kind of human beings are we going to be as we go through turbulent transition? What kind of human beings are we going to be as we face the absolute need to share the gifts of this planet in a way that is just and compassionate as we head towards scarcity and potential catastrophe? What kind of human beings will we be as the foundations of our old collapsing world crack and crumble beneath our feet?

The signs coming out of Libya are not encouraging. In fact, they bring me close to despair. Replacing one form of brutality with another  only means more brutality, more blood vengeance. Anyone who thinks functioning democracy comes out of what we have all been witnessing on our TV and computer screens is deluded. However brutal and insane Muammar el-Qaddaffi was, what we saw is equally so – in the manner of his death, the mob vengeance, the desecration of his body, the torture of others caught in that final battle, the satisfaction in the brutality – then the cheerleading of so much of our world, including the congratulations from the President of the United States.

“You have won your revolution!”  Really? I suppose they said that after the French Revolution drove out the monarchy. We forget history at our peril.

We don’t need to go back that far. In the inimitable wisdom of Ronald Reagan and other US government leaders, we saw fit to arm and train the Afghan mujahadeen to drive the Soviet Union out of their country, you know, people like Osama bin Laden and folks who then became the Taliban.

That’s the brutality part of this reflection. This is the cold harsh reality part:

A new government report again dramatizes the growing gap between rich and poor in this country. Last year 50% of workers earned less than $26,364 and wages continue a downward spiral.

Try raising a family on that income. Try doing it alone. I can tell you how easy it is.

Meanwhile the number of people making more than a million bucks grew last year by 18%. Some folks are doing extremely well in this economy, and they are separating themselves more and more from the rest of poor humanity, including those people working harder than ever in their lives and earning less and less.

So just what are the ascendant corporate-Republicans doing, besides blocking jobs bills in the Senate? They are slashing budgets at the state and local level and busting public sector unions resulting in a steep increase in layoffs and unemployment, adding to the high unemployment and under-employment levels in the private sector. Most of these jobs had decent pay and benefits, so these losses add to the trends reported by the government in its new report.

Starving government does not only starve government, it starves human beings who used to work in the public sector. You know who they are – teachers, firefighters, prison guards, etc. It was reported today that Texas state prisons are going to cut spending by cutting out lunch meals for prisoners on weekends.

Meanwhile, in the suburb of South Milwaukee, the Common Council has just approved a mammoth new Walmart over the protests of nearby residents. It will create jobs, they say. This is such good news for Walmart – all those unemployed public sector workers to compete for low-wage jobs without benefits! More workers falling below that median income of $26,364.

Oh, and West Milwaukee just approved one, too. Thus does Gov Scott Walker promote business in Wisconsin.

What in the world does all this have to do with spirituality and ecology? I know I am mostly writing to the already-converted, so I don’t really need to explain: in a world in which brutality and cold-hearted injustice command such power over our cultures, economies, media, and our very lives, we are ill-prepared to deal with the scope of the ecological crises that bind us, in which our common fate is held. If we can applaud what just happened in Libya as some sort of revolutionary victory (and the only victory I can think of is that we hope we can somehow turn this violent chaos into control over the fractured country’s oil fields), and if we can continue to politically accept this rightist turn towards corporatocracy and plutocracy, and if we can ignore how racism is being used in ways both subtle and not-so-subtle to destroy the Obama administration as part of the strategy for consolidating corporate power…

…well, then, we are in trouble. Because we have air to clean and aquifers to protect and greenhouse gas emissions that need to be sharply reduced and forests that need to be protected and ecosystems everywhere that are collapsing unless we step in immediately to save them and population programs that need to be financed and toxic poisons to get out of our food – and we cannot address any of these things in such a cultural backwater in which so much of the world, including our own culture, seems to exist right now.

And I am so tired of the Christians who are feeding this backwater with their anti-Gospel tirades and judgments! Can the rightwing evangelicals please read the Gospel of Luke?!?! How about Luke’s version of the  Beatitudes and Woes and Matthew 25 – and then tell me where it says that when you made yourself wealthy, when you denied a public safety net for the poor, when you denied food to prisoners, when you oppressed those longing to be set free, when you subtly and not-so-subtly proclaimed white superiority, when you denied the worker his/her just wage, when you went to war and decided to build predator drone bases all around the world to target and kill people, you were following me?!

Have you read the story of Dives and Lazarus, or the Story of the Rich Young Man? Or how about the Loaves and Fishes and what happened in that miracle – there was just a little bit of food, and the people numbered so many. Here’s how the narrative goes: first the food was blessed, then it was broken into smaller pieces, then it was shared – all were satisfied and there was abundance left over.

It’s time to reclaim the Gospel from these people. It’s time to articulate what it will mean to be human in such a world.

I just spent yesterday with my toddler godchild. We played hard and laughed even harder. She made an art work for me, now on my wall at home. Her little body and mind were full of life and curiosity and joy and new discoveries, and she was surrounded by love and affirmation.

What kind of world are we going to give our kids? I don’t want her to have to know this one. I want another one, where those things that make her so beautiful now can flourish through the course of her entire lifetime.

Sorry if this sounds preachy today. Had to let off a little steam…



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4 Responses

  1. Steven Earl Salmony

    How can we fail to see something so huge, evident and visible? The human-driven global predicament is in front of all of us. Perhaps we have been fooled by fools.

    For human beings to count human population numbers is simple, really simple. The population dynamics of human beings with feet of clay are obvious and fully comprehensible. We have allowed ourselves to be dazzled by the BS of demographers just the way human beings have been deceived and victimized by the economists on Wall Street. Demographers and economists are not scientists. ‘The brightest and the best’ have sold their souls to greedmongers, duped the rest of us, made it difficult to see what is real, proclaimed what is known to be knowable as unknowable, engaged in the their own brands of alchemy. In their dishonest and duplicitous efforts to please the self-proclaimed masters of the universe, also known as the keepers of the ‘golden calf’ (a symbol now easily visible as the “raging bull” on Wall Street), they perpetrate frauds at everyone else’s expense, threaten the children’s future, put life as we know it at risk, and are consciously, deliberately, actively precipitating the destruction of Earth as a fit place for human habitation. Never in the course of human events have so few taken so much from so many and left so little for others.

    There are many too many overly educated “wise guys” among us who see the blessed world we inhabit through the lens of their own hubris and selfishness, and see themselves somehow as Homo sapiens sapiens and masters of the universe, as corporate kings and emperor’s with clothes. They supposedly are the brightest and best, the smartest guys in the room, like the guy who used to run the global political economy without recognizing that there was an “ideological flaw” in his economic theories and models, the same guy who reported he could not name 5 guys smarter than himself. These are the guys who have sold their souls, denied science, abjectly failed humanity, forsaken life as we know it, the Earth and God. These ideologues rule the world now and can best be characterized by their malignant narcissism, pathological arrogance, risky addictions, extreme foolishness and wanton greed.

  2. richard pauli

    The mindfully caring individual chooses their future: either Warrior or Hospice care.

  3. hombredelatierra

    Steve, there was a time I would have considered your rhetoric a bit overblown. Now I know you are right on – and eloquent, to boot 😀

    I’m reading Jean Ziegler’s “Nouveaux Maîtres du Monde – et ceux qui leur résistent” (New Masters of the World – and those who resist them), Fayard, Paris, 2002. You and Ziegler really speak the same language! Interesting: I did a google search and, though the book was published a full NINE years ago, I could not find an English translation. Intéressant, n’est-ce pas?

  4. Steven Earl Salmony

    Dear Frank,

    It would please me so to be mistaken…..