Archive for October, 2013

Who cares? Who really cares that I’m alive right now. Or if I die.

October 28, 2013

(This is about extinction. Ours actually. We’re well down the road on this…)

Alive or dead isn’t real important I’m thinking.

After all, I just am.  I just occupy space and time, which moves on without really noticing or remembering for very long.  Why should it?  It has bigger missions to record.  Presences and events harder to erase or to forget.

Like extinction.

Extinctions get recorded…but not necessarily remembered…because remembering requires the presence of beings capable of long term memory…and capable of passing on recollections important enough to remember.

And passing along important information requires people being interested in knowing what happened — and in it’s importance.  Extinction kind of closes that book.

While I’m here and present…and engaging enough, I am.  I am cared about – mostly by people I care about.  Most others really don’t give a damn.  I understand that.  I probably won’t get a medal or a monument.

And to others less cared about, whose lives may have become intertwined with mine for a moment or two…or a lot, but superficially…I will be remembered (as will they) – as long as the memory endures and is useful to create, or to complete, a lesson or a story – and will be forgotten as soon as the story teller no longer has the need to remember…or dies.

To those I care about and who care about me, the relationship is important because we “care” about each other. Caring connects us.  Caring amplifies the value of our relationship.  It increases the likelihood that the memory will be passed along a while longer.  Caring increases the likelihood that we will do what we need to do to preserve the relationship.

To the others who remember but don’t really care — we are mostly just aspects of each other’s story.  Small or large pieces of the real and fabricated and embellished stories we tell ourselves daily so we can remember who we are…or who we are trying to be…if we don’t already know.

Of very little consequence, when you get right down to it.  Unless one leaves a huge footprint of course.  But even big footprints in time are forgotten — completely.  Erased.

Not like dinosaur bones which lay there, buried for millennia until some species shows up – and evolves to the point where they are smart enough to recognize their importance and historical significance.  Like “holy shit…there were some pretty huge hombres here before we ever developed a cranium large enough to house a walnut sized brain!”  Wonder what happened?

Point is, if there is a point here…that we are getting pretty damned close to extinction as a species…without seeming to “care” a ‘whit nor a tad’ that all will be lost and gone in pretty quick order — because we never institutionalized the importance of the evidence of great extinctions the earth has gone through – that we have been aware of since we made plaster of Paris dinosaurs as little kids.

We made them, we painted them, we named them, we learned about their relative ferocity – and we leaned how they became extinct.  And, I recall as a 7 year old boy being tucked into bed by my Dad — who helped peal the rubber molds off the dry plaster of Paris dinosaur models without tearing their long necks off — being somewhat afraid that maybe it (an extinction) could happen again in my life time if we weren’t careful.  “That was millions and millions and millions of years ago son…you’ve got nothing to worry about.  Goodnight…sleep tight.”  Indeed.

And, as if by magic, here we are – half way down our own personal, species specific extinction highway – not giving a damn — barely even recognizing the huge consequence of what’s going on — because we just don’t seem to have a reference point set of recollections and memories that would make all the dead solid evidence that our world is turtling at the speed of light — important enough to us to actually care about.

Instead, we revise and obfuscate the story we hear and see being told — and deny the evidence welling up around us that the end is nigh…and greedily buy into the ‘bought up experts’ testimony  which maliciously “changes the ending” of the extinction story — to make it less scary — which everyone in their most quiet and reflective moments, knows is true.

And then we put all the grim and impending extinction stuff together with what we already know…that nobody really gives a shit if we’re alive or dead anyway.  And we immediately come to the conclusion that it’s hopeless to fight extinction that global warming…and oil industry water contamination through tar sand operations and shale fracking…and utter and complete contamination of our oceans…and the bioengineered eclipse of agriculture — because it’s all just too big to deal with. And that the deal is basically done.  Game over. Sure seems that way.

Maybe some future evolved species will find our tiny and insignificant fossilized bones a billion years from now…and will wonder what the hell ever happened to these creatures.  They were all over the place – built buildings and temples and banks and oil companies and tar sands oil extraction facilities, and nuclear plants all over the place.  Seemed so smart. A bit war like, perhaps.  Wonder how they managed to erase themselves off the face of the planet.

They’ll never figure it out.  Stupidity doesn’t fossilize.  Our secret is safe. Bottom line, we didn’t care enough – for our families – or mankind — to see and understand — what we knew and understood from the age of plaster of Paris dinosaurs.

Maybe way down under it all we decided we just weren’t worth saving.

Simple subtraction, really…

October 1, 2013

Shutdown!  

I’d really like to say that my baseline was a stable, predictable, optimistic, and essentially fair play kind’a of world.  Where most people were pretty OK with their lives…where there were very few who didn’t get enough to eat, or didn’t have a job or a place to live…or who were falling through the cracks. Or who couldn’t get ahead if they really wanted to.  And where most everyone had at least the belief that their children’s lives would be better than their own.  And that would be mostly true, I think…but it wasn’t always so.  And it isn’t now.

And, to be honest, I’d have to acknowledge that the “state” I’d like to call my baseline didn’t really last a long time — if you were counting in years of stability and security and predictable-ness and fairness and OK-ness…when the world seemed to have a social conscience — and took care of people unable to stay inside the system…or who started out too far behind.

But mostly, it was there for us to rejoice in — for the time it was…and the entire country was proud of what we had accomplished together.  Mostly.  And we did so because the world we lived in then, was — we believed — the direct result of our intrinsically good ethical deportment and moral beliefs.  We believed in fairness and honesty, and in equality under the law…and in helping our neighbors, if they needed support getting through rough times – or had an unequal, or unfair, start.

And because we believed that we were the soul and the heart of America and of the corporations and companies who employed us – our leaders there, believed that their business involved a social responsibility with the people who worked there, and with the communities they worked in…and that they had a social contract towards preserving and strengthening the greater good.

We (or people much like us) ran those companies then – and we worked in partnership with them.  Their ethics were our ethics…their morality was our morality…their sense of community was our sense of community.  This was long before someone decided that Corporations existed solely to increase shareholder wealth.  Corporations actually felt they had social and civic responsibilities there for a minute of two.  They even acted out of those beliefs.

And through the years — after the great wars — and after the great depression – and after the great social wars on racism, poverty and unfairness were fought…we built social systems and established social mores…and a whole bodies of law…that reinforced and supported and inculcated the ethics and values that we all felt good about – that we believed would insure that stupidity and greed and mean spiritedness and abject evilness would not occur in our world again. And after 50 or so busy years of securing our future from those whose malice we feared — we felt mostly safe and secure that what we wanted to believe to be true and good, was safeguarded from corruption.  Because we believed we had successfully beaten “them” back to where they belonged.  Where we wanted them to remain.

Then the subtraction started happening.  Chipping away.  Chipping away.  Subtracting incrementally…but with determination and completely focused and deliberate intent. Undermining the bulwark of the social and legal and legislative protection that we had constructed to protect us from them — and that we believed would keep the darker impulses of human nature we knew men were capable of — from intruding back into our world.

Slowly – the presence of malevolence is first sensed…then finally is recognized as being real. But, we’ve been aware that there has been something malevolent playing with our American dream for quite a long time now.

For most people of right reason and good intention and good-will — the awareness and acceptance of threat comes slowly.  Most people of right reason and good intention…and of good will “don’t want to believe” that others “don’t care so much” (or at all)…or that they are facilely “mean spirited”…or that they will deliberately do things that are unfair or mean without concern, or that are intentionally hateful…or are so entirely self serving that subsequent hurtful impact on others is never considered (or is considered intentionally).

Most people want to believe that everything is — and will be, OK in their lives…and will remain so forever.  Because that’s the way they are.  We are.  It takes a lot to force essentially nice and good people to see what “is”…and to accept that what they are seeing is real – and that it is not a benign force, but rather is deadly fearsome.

Good and nice and socially committed people seem to require things to be dire – to reach impending disaster status – before they are moved to do anything.

That’s kind of where we are in the subtraction game right now.

Enough protective social and civil law and electoral law — and financial system oversight and due process controls — and social and safety net support services and funding – and civil rights and search and seizure and privacy law has been striped from our carefully constructed “evil doers retaining wall” – where we are finally now looking at the beast at the gate. And recognizing that we may well have already allowed evil doers to destroy the country we loved and were so proud of…and fought for…and now, can’t quite believe has been ravaged to the degree it has.

We’ve had the shit beaten out of us when you get right down to it.  We’ve given up the better part of the bad guy retaining wall.  Rights and protections – and oversight bodies and regulatory process – election laws that once kept the process and elected legislators from being corrupted by big money and people with “exclusive” agenda…and elimination of basic privacy rights and due process access to recourse for rights violation.

It wasn’t always this way…

And I think it’s important for us who lived in the day when we were proud of who we were and what we stood for as a country — and when we thought that evil had been beaten back, and thought that life was pretty OK — to spend a few moments imagining what our response might have been in 1970 — if someone had even suggested that assassination of the troublesome was acceptable…or that rendition and torturing uncharged prisoners would ever be acceptable or allowable…or that wars could be initiated and funded on specious lies…or if banks and securities ever made sense to be allowed to merge — and then be allowed to plunder without consequence.  Or that corporations would ever be allowed to take horrendously huge risks that potentially could destroy a world economy — or contaminate the gulf of Mexico — or the entire Pacific ocean…or a whole world ecology…at the public’s liability.  Or that we would ever accept that “habeas corpus” (the corner stone of our justice system) should be suspended without any dialogue whatsoever…or that we would ever allow the voting rights act to be subtracted from…or that we would ever tolerate the insanity of allowing corporations to be classed as citizens…and be allowed unrestricted influence in the election process at every level…and in the implicit (and overt) bribery of candidates before they ever hit Washington. Nor would we have stood a second for the un-funding of safety nets for the poor and the marginal and disadvantaged in perilous times…or to even consider threats to social security and medicare. Or to allow a political process to degenerate to the point where a handful of sociopaths can obstruct due process.

And we need to tell our kids about what it was like — once upon a time — when we felt ok and safe in America…before the subtraction started.  Back before we stopped fighting for what we believed in.

We got a lot of work to do to folks…

Note:  This blog was previously posted on July 4th under the same headline, and has been slightly modified.