Archive for September 30, 2009

Looking For…A Word

I am trying to find a word to describe the rising up of a matri-  (meaning honoring both women and  Mother Earth) energy force for peace.  It is a powerful word, but it is escaping me.  Suggestions?

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Patriarchal Wounding And The Masculine Mystique

When we talk about the harms of patriarchy, more often than not we couch it in terms of the impact on women’s lives. But the damage to men’s lives is also quite profound and something that needs to be deeply examined. In her four volume From Eve To Dawn: A History of Women in the World, Marilyn French writes,

The masculine mystique is precisely the same (as Friedan’s feminine mystique referring to the “discrepancy between the reality of women’s lives and their image of a proper woman’s life”): the  image of men as motivated by a drive for power more important to them than life itself. to live by a mystique is to live in bad faith, to live a false life. For both sexes, trying to live out an image makes life miserable.

Reality is inconsequential to gender rules, which is why they are so rigid. The male myth promises men transendence of human vulnerabilities through domination…If a man has enough power, he is freed from the vulnerabilities and fears that haunt lesser men…It makes the fateful assumption that power is a good, ignoring the isolation, fear, and paranoia that follow in its wake. The masculine mystique transforms ends into means: people, relationships, pursuits, and abilities become mere objects to control. Even worthy enterprises are infected by the use to which they are put. Without other ends, satisfaction is impossible.

Volume 2, p. 99

Wise context for the harms that seem to be spiraling out of control all around us.

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Mirage

I grew up in the Arizona desert and it has always been one of the places where I can re-center with the mystery. The spirit of the Grandmothers seems palpably alive when you listen to the stillness in the desert sun.

For many years now, the desert has been under stress from over-development but on a recent trip home I found the Phoenix valley blanketed with foreclosure signs that tell the sorry tale and on the plane home this is what came to me:

Desert heartbeat
Throbbing faintly below the
Glass and concrete
Jutting up,
Unnatural, fatal wounding.

Endstage foreclosed wilderness upon
The wildness that once was.
Transplantation finally rejected,
Unwelcome parasite defeated by itself.

Desert mirage rising up from
Heated sand.
Clarity returns beneath the
Azur sky.

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Park(ing) Day 2009–Reclaiming The Streets

There is nothing I like more than a real reclaiming.  See more pictures and read more about Park(ing) Day here.

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Autumnal Meditations

The other evening I sat on my patio and listened to the stillness of the approaching night. I wanted to meditate about balance, or more to the point I suppose, the lack thereof that seems to challenge us on a daily basis.

There were 2 crickets, one would chirp and then the other, taking turns, it seemed that they were quite courteous, each waiting until the other had finished. It seemed a fitting chorus for my meditation. Slowly my ears detected the sound of children playing down the block, their laughter made me smile. And then I began to hear the noise of the nearby streets although I hadn’t heard that at first. Not such a fitting chorus as the crickets, but certainly symbolic of the problem.

The equinox marks a point of equality between the day and night, a moment of celestial balance and in many parts of the world, the beginning of the harvest season and a period of gratitude. Here in the Northern Hemisphere it marks the beginning of longer nights that envelope us with a physical darkness that seems to ask us to look within for our own strength. It is a time to re-center.

Below are a few quotes that resonate for me. Please feel free to share your own thoughts about balance and gratitude in the comments.

Carol P. Christ:

We do not give so that we will receive, we give in gratitude because we have already received–from our mothers, from others, and from the earth—in a circle that goes back to the beginning of time.

As the wheel turns from summer to fall, it is time to give thanks for all that Beautiful and Bountiful Earth has given to us. And to think of what we can give back to the earth and to those who have generously shared its abundance with us.

Susan Hawthorne:

(W)hat we face is not unique. We are not the first generation to have to deal with “the dark hurlings of nature” although we may be the first to have brought it upon ourselves.

It is no accident that time and again earth is compared to the human body. Our planet like us is a living system – its ecosystems like our circulatory and endocrinal systems rise and fall responding to the events taking place on its surface and in its interior spaces. This is not a romantic idea of mine, it is metaphoric, but no less real for being so.

Our human experience suggests such metaphors to us as we grapple with ways of understanding our selves and our relationship to the world whether it be earth as body, wind as breath, the great flows of rivers, oceans and lava as tears and blood, grass and trees as hair and limbs.

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How The Corporation Accidentally Became A Person

Yes you read that right–all the problems that stem from the corporation being treated as if it was a person, it all apparently goes back to a clerk’s error. This may rank as the single most messed up thing that ever happened in this country and the damage done is staggering. Even more astounding, don’t know about you, but I never knew this and I am learning about it on Comedy Central?

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – Jeffrey Toobin
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Protests
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Paranoia Strikes Very Deep

If this doesn’t scare you, nothing will. Listen to what they are saying and especially listen to their answers to the interviewer’s questions. None of this is about health care, as Jimmy Carter said at a townhall at the Carter Center in Atlanta, it is about racism.

“There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”

The Georgia Democrat said the outburst was a part of a disturbing trend directed at the president that has included demonstrators equating Obama to Nazi leaders.

“Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care,” he said. “It’s deeper than that.”

In an interview with NBC, Carter added,

“Racism … still exists and I think it has bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the south but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

As the hatred ratchets up on the streets of the U.S., it is dangerously clear that this is a concerted effort to promote irrational, racist hatred to the point where one of these people will take it upon themselves to take a shot at the President. There is a large gaping wound still festering in this country and the peril of ignoring it is all too clear.

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The Debtors’ Revolt Begins Now

I have no idea who this woman is, but she is an American Shero for sure. Watch it, cross-post it, the revolt begins now. Many thanks to my friend Michele for passing this along.

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The STOCK Act–Demand Full Disclosure Of Congressional And Supreme Court Stock Portfolios

Here in the U.S. we have the best government money can buy.  As the healthcare debate has  illustrated all too well, corporate  lobbying goes a long way. But the problem goes beyond that. According to a new group on Facebook, Full Disclosure of U.S. Congress/Supreme Court Stock Portfolios NOW!
a look at investments in the defense industry held by members of Congress might make you wonder just what interests our military is defending.

According to the most recent reports of their personal finances, 151 current members of Congress had between $78.7 million and $195.5 million invested in companies that received defense contracts of at least $5 million in 2006. In all, these companies received more than $275.6 billion from the government in 2006, or $755 million per day, according to FedSpending.org, a website of the budget watchdog group OMB Watch.

and,

in 2008, the Center for Responsive Politics, listed the following lawmakers as having the most money invested in companies with Department of Defense contracts:

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) $28,872,067 $38,209,020
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) $12,081,050 $49,140,000
Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC) $9,232,037 $37,105,000
Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis) $5,207,668 $7,612,653
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif) $2,684,050 $6,260,000
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich) $2,469,029 $8,360,000
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa) $2,000,002 $2,000,002
Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis) $1,365,004 $5,800,000
Rep. Kenny Ewell Marchant (R-Texas) $1,163,231 $1,163,231
Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) $1,000,001 $5,000,000

The group is calling for support of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act) which:

would prohibit Members of Congress and their staff from using nonpublic information they are able to obtain through their official positions to enrich their personal portfolios.

This is an excellent idea and deserves the support of every American.

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Riding The Economic Roller-Coaster–The Big Plunge Is Just Up Ahead

In what at times has sounded like a script from Sesame Street, pundits and economists have endlessly engaged in speculating about whether the recession looks like the warm and fuzzy Letter U, the nasty Letter V, the even nastier Letter W, the crazy Letter X, or the dreaded Letter L. It’s enough to make you swear off Alphabet Soup forever.

Call me illiterate, but I think we’re barking up the wrong analogy, what we’ve got  looks more like a roller coaster from where I  sit. Think about it: the most terrifying ride in the park–you go up a little and then down, your heart lands in your stomach and you’re afraid you’re going to upchuck all over your date but then you realize that you survived and it isn’t so bad and hey you’re going up again. And then you get to the top of the next rise and see the very long and steep decline that lies ahead…

I’m no economist, but while the Cash for Clunkers program certainly helped lower car inventories and upped the average mpg of the cars on the road a tad, only 41% of the cars bought under the program were American and hey did you know that the payments are taxable? (Note–after a comment from an alert reader, see the clarification of what this means below.) Much more importantly, none of this does jack to reform our transportation policy.  So now that the program is over, how long does the economic honeymoon continue?  And when does an understanding of peak oil temper our Detroit at any cost mantra?

Then there is the money laundering bailout of the banks and insurance companies.  Stockholders got stuck in the hot water spin cycle where their money shrank the big one leading a panicked Congress to shovel enormous amounts of money at these companies with shockingly little oversight or regulation. We don’t even know how the money was used or where it all went.  And funny story, those companies that were about to plunge into the abyss and take us with them–stock prices are back up, and the CEO’s are doing quite nicely, thank you.  And what exactly has been done to insure that it doesn’t happen again?

As for the foreclosure crisis–that nasty little house of cards seems to have eased.  Or not.  Seems there are some mortgages called Option ARMs about 70% of which will reset before 2011, some by as much as 63% leaving a whole lot more people with not much of an option but to go into foreclosure, so  that one isn’t over yet either.

Those factors, and throw in the health care debacle and unemployment while we’re at it, are enough to say we’ve still got a problem but our current  economic woes  are only the tip of the not so proverbial iceberg.   Which happens to be melting. And quickly at that.

Our national self-centered myopia when it comes to climate change and environmental peril is blinding us to the inevitable, drastic changes ahead.  In the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, we believe there is such a thing as clean coal and safe nuclear energy, we blithely use pesticides and herbicides on our land and then drink them from our rivers. We poison our air and imperil our food supply by genetically modifying it and then go back to watching Mad Men or American Idol without a minute of my bad or wondering about the consequences and cost of this folly.

And costly it will be.  As the healthcare ‘reform’ debate has made all  too clear, we have incorporated our democracy to the point where the welfare of huge corporations is considered at least if not more important than the welfare and health of the people they supposedly serve.  The same is even more true of the energy and global warming debate, witness the recent effort by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to hold a “Scopes”-like trial on global warming for the simple reason that the corporations they represent will do just about anything to  keep making a buck for as long as they can, no matter the cost and heaven forbid they should be held accountable for the damage that is staring us in the face.

This head-in-the-sand state of national denial is not sustainable, it’s not even survivable and it most definitely is not profitable.  Richard Power puts it quite eloquently,

(T)he climate change debate (by that I mean what to do about it, not whether it is real), is not… simply one of dire national importance, it is one of dire planetary importance, and the nature of opposition to meaningful action on climate change is not simply self-abusive, it is suicidal.

Or in the even more dire words of Johann Hari, we are at “five minutes to ecological midnight.”

Whether or not the  recession is ending is irrelevant and not even the correct question.  At best, we are in a bit of economic remission, but do not be  deluded, the ride has only just begun, and the big fall is still ahead.

I’ll leave you with this…

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