RELIGION – relic of tribalism ?

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

Okay, I get it.  Religion has inspired great acts of compassion, it has led man to creatediversity spectacular works of art and architecture, it has provided us with beautiful literature.  So, before you light the fires around my stake, consider this.  Perverted interpretation of religious belief has also caused immense human suffering, it has destroyed cultures, it has promoted the degradation of our earth and natural resources in the name of an unproven, man-created god.

Tribalism was essential to ancient cultures to preserving their beliefs and insuring their survival.  The caveman with the biggest clubs usually won the battle.  Armies with the most manpower prevailed over weaker enemies.  Scorching the neighborhood was an acceptable price for winning.  My God-belief is better than yours.  He (yes, most violence in the name of God worships a male entity) needs my defense.

WE ARE NO LONGER CAVEMEN.  With the historical destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 the USA entered mankind into a new paradigm of warfare – a pattern embracing the ability of one culture to bring annihilation to the entire planet.  Unfortunately, we continued to maintain the caveman attitude of tribalism.  We continued to thump our scriptures and proclaim limited access to an omnipotent deity  through a religious philosophy of exclusion – only this God is real, only this belief is true, only this scripture is valid.  It is rampant tribalism with a continuing caveman mentality.

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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shop ’til you drop

“A world without weapons, without McMansions in sprawling suburbs, without mountains of unnecessary packaging, without giant mechanized monofarms, without energy-hogging big-box stores, without electronic billboards, without endless piles of throw-away junk, without the overconsumption of consumer goods no one really needs is not an impoverished world. I disagree with those environmentalists who say we are going to have to make do with less. In fact, we are going to make do with more: more beauty, more community, more fulfillment, more art, more music, and material objects that are fewer in number but superior in utility and aesthetics. . . .”CHARLES EISENSTEIN

“Black Friday” – the one day of the year when retailers realize a joyous financial profit on their books or a sad red bottom line to present to their stockholders.  We have been bombarded since before Halloween with ads for everything from two brand new vehicles (his and hers) in the driveway to watches that tell you what gender your baby will be to beer that will make you the most interesting man in the world.

Seriously, how many of us can afford one slightly used car let alone ‘his and hers’ brand new, expensive, bells and whistles-loaded marvels of the automotive industry?  Where are these people who can actually afford what Madison Avenue is pitching?  I believe these ads to be nothing more than a conspiracy by the powers of capitalism to make most of us feel inadequate and wanting.

“Oh, Lord, what a failure I am because I cannot buy that new cell phone for $800 nor afford a contractual plan that costs $150 per month.  I must be lower than tub scum and certainly not as worthy as the Joneses next door.”

So, what do we do?  Beginning Thanksgiving night before the turkey has settled and the dishes washed, we shop til we drop.  We pack the car with friends or kids or spouses and head for the nearest WalMart or to the high-end stores at the mall or to the box stores littering our streets at every corner to acquire “stuff” that will probably be stored away or thrown out before black Friday arrives next year – to the attic or to the landfill.  And, to add insult to injury, we have racked up credit card debt that thrills the card-holding companies in downtown Manhattan charging usury rates for the money which we don’t really have obliging us to spend the rest of next year paying back.  Whew!  Wasn’t that fun?

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How about something different this year?  In this capitalistic economy running amok, first of all shop locally – support your neighbors and community members by choosing thoughtful gifts that will be around long enough to become vintage or at least remembered.  Forget about those silly stocking stuffers packed with stupid, useless trinkets.  Fill the sock with lottery tickets.  In most states, the money goes to worthy causes like education or senior citizens and your gift recipient will remember you for eternity if he/she wins big.

Shop as if the earth’s ecosystem depends on us for survival because it does.  We don’t need more plastic with a 1000 year lifespan in landfills and the oceans.  We don’t need more aerosol products to pollute the atmosphere.  We certainly don’t need another squeaking, squawking, tear-producing doll that little Missy will throw in the closet the day after Christmas.  When we shop let’s think everlasting, meaningful.  Let’s imagine that item we are about to buy gracing someone’s life for years to come.  And let’s get over the idea that a silly gift is more appreciated than our time given in selflessness to others.  Time is an extremely precious commodity as valuable as diamonds or gold.

We have been fed a crock of nonsense.  There is no scarcity.  There is no deficiency.  There is no reason to hoard or enter wars for the earth’s resources.  When we turn our backs on the demands of out-of-control consumerism foisted on us by rampant capitalism, we will see the real beauty of our world in art, in music, in thriving neighborhoods, in nature, in enchantment, in the diversity of cultures, and in necessary goods that enhance our lives.  There is no shortage when we escape the ‘shop til you drop’ mantra.

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I will not!

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.  But those that will not break it kills.  It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.  If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” ERNEST HEMINGWAY

broken hearted

The very good and the very gentle and the very brave – let’s focus on those words.  The world system seems to despise those who have a moral compass, those who are peacemakers, those who have the courage to march to a different drummer.  Governments, religions, and financial systems do not honor a man/woman who answers their demands with “no, I will not live that way.”

We are labeled ‘unpatriotic’ if we do not toe the current disgrace posing as a legitimate government.  When we kneel in obeisance to compassion and tolerance rather than stand pledging  allegiance to the cloth symbol of a nation, we are castigated as revolutionary and disrespectful.  Well, maybe we are.  All great accomplishments in governing have been manifested by protest.  No, I cannot be silent when brothers and sisters of a different color or creed do not equally enjoy the fruits of the nation they have served in battle and embraced as home.

I will not profess the creeds of religions which deny even the most basic human understanding that all creatures are made in the image of the One whom they profess as God and Savior while simultaneously endorsing locked cages of children on our border and a war in the Gulf which threatens the citizens of Yemen with epic, catastrophic starvation.  No, I will not.

I will not participate in the corporate destruction of our sacred ecosystem for the sake of increased profits of corporations which have abdicated ecological responsibility in lieu of financial extravagance.  While much of the world’s population  lives without the basic comforts of adequate food and clean water, placating the luxuriant appetites of the privileged at the expense of the marginalized poor cannot possibly advance the survival of our species materially or spiritually.

Enough is enough.  Enough corruption, enough hatred, enough greed, enough racism, enough killing.  Where will we choose to stand as our country approaches the threshold of despotic, authoritarian leadership?  As the earth’s ecosystem is screaming “enough” where will our allegiance be placed?  The answer for each of us is within.  When that quiet voice of protest within becomes a scream reverberating throughout the universe, then, perhaps, we can be assured that we have done enough.

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NAOMI KLEIN – capitalism

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photo by PIXABAY

NAOMI KLEIN, “NO IS NOT ENOUGH” “With unleashed white supremacy and misogyny, with the world teetering on the edge of ecological collapse, with the very last vestiges of the public sphere set to be devoured by capital, it’s clear that we need to do more than draw a line in the sand and say ‘no more.’ Yes, we need to do that and we need to chart a credible and inspiring path to a different future. And that future . . . has to be somewhere we have never been before.”

We know, we all know that the violence, hatred, greed and intolerance in today’s world cannot be sustained.  Most of us also know that the destruction of the earth’s resources for financial gain cannot be sustained.  We must transcend to a place where polar bears and rain forests are more esteemed than stock portfolios and asset holdings.  The consequences of ignoring the pleas of nature will be dire.  Do you hear Mother Earth screaming?  No, she’s not calling to us for assistance; rather, the scream is at us for being so stupid and self-indulged.  She knows the earth will recover and flourish – we, homo-sapiens, will not.

Mike Pompeo, our Secretary of State, referred to the melting polar ice cap as ” a wonderful economic opportunity for international trade…..West to Asia shipping routes across the ice free Artic would cut shipping times by 2 to 3 weeks.”  Perhaps Mike would be ecstatic with the prospect of Atlanta, Georgia, becoming a major Atlantic seaport after the waters have risen to cover the entire eastern seaboard.  Charleston and Savannah will have gone the route of ancient fabled Atlantis.  That’s right, Mike.  Who needs polar bears?

Naomi Klein, in her book, is speaking to unfettered capitalism, the kind that doesn’t value polar bears and rainforests.  But, run-away capitalism relies on all of us playing the game of consumerism.  It’s a relatively new game plan that did not exist generations ago when the wood cook stove was an heirloom handed from generation to generation or the wooden furniture was truly made of wood and lasted for centuries.  My grandmother’s first encounter with “throw-away” was a roll of paper towels.  She washed out the sheets and hung them behind the stove to dry.  😍

We can beat the capitalists at their own game.  Don’t buy their products and the money flow reverses.  When the bottom line for stockholders declines, management and ownership will need to change the game.  It’s not at all complicated.  My grandparents mastered consumerism out of necessity.  The family car was not replaced until the wheels no longer turned.  The old Frigidaire refrigerator in the kitchen was not replaced just because it did not have the latest gadgets and dials.  It served faithfully for 30 years with a freezer that served up hundreds of gallons of home made ice cream.  Designer clothes for school were not purchased every year because we all wore clothes without fancy name tags until they had no wear left in them.  Our shirts were JC Penney hand-me-downs.  We learned how to conserve natural resources because we had a deep reverence for the earth.  Too simplistic, you say?  Just learn to say no to the incessant flow of advertising on your media screens and half the battle is won.

Of course the consequences of allowing the corporate world to rape the earth are huge.  But, so are we.  Collectively, we have a voice bigger than anything that comes off Madison Avenue or Wall Street.  Each one of us can decide today to put off that new phone or flat screen.  We can choose to have a vegetarian dinner tonight instead of beef raised on land that once was a rain forest.  We can wear that same old pair of sneakers for another year.  Grandma and Grandpa will be proud of us.  The polar bears will love us.

chief seattle

“This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.  All things are connected like the blood that unites us all.  Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand of it.  Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”  TREATY ORATION 1854 CHIEF SEATTLE