Eggs

I could still taste the runny yolks in the back of my throat as I walked along the red-brick sidewalk, my vision blurred slightly by the few persistent tears I couldn’t quite manage to suppress. The only thing Jeanine does worse than babysit is cook eggs. She definitely can’t cook eggs like Mom, who cooks the bacon first and uses the bacon grease to fry the eggs. And she can’t cook the eggs like Susan, the woman who used to be our morning babysitter. Susan was better because she didn’t even usually cook eggs, and made us toast with gravy instead. She called it S.O.S., or stuff on shingles. She said some people think the first S stands for something else, but we should just call it S.O.S. instead. She was way nicer than Jeanine, but she got a regular job so she couldn’t be the babysitter to come wake us up for school in the mornings anymore. Now it was Jeanine and Gerry, they took turns on different days. Gerry is really pretty, with blonde hair and a friendly smile. Jeanine is always in a bad mood. Gerry doesn’t make eggs, she usually gives us a choice between cereal or oatmeal. She says “do you want cold cereal or hot cereal,” because she says the oatmeal is hot cereal. I like both better than eggs.

Jeanine made fried eggs this morning, like usual. I told her before that I only like scrambled eggs, but she doesn’t care. She set our plates on the table in front of each of us, and I could see right away on mine that it was going to be tough to eat these eggs. The white part was slight gooey in some places and burnt in others, and the yellow was the same way. She told us to hurry, so I started eating my toast, trying to think of ways to get out of eating the eggs. When Tim was little, he used to hide food he didn’t want to eat under a little ledge that was part of the way our kitchen table was shaped, so he could come throw it away later. This table wasn’t like that, so I would have to come up with something else.

Eat your eggs, she told me, as I tried to work out a plan. She stood and looked at me after she said it, so there was no way out. I cut off a little part of the white, and accidentally got some of the runny yellow leaking onto it. I brought the fork slowly to my mouth, wishing it was cinnamon-flavored hot cereal instead. I tried chewing for a second, but knew I needed to get it over with fast. I swallowed, and felt the sliminess of the egg in my throat. Before it got halfway down, I felt my stomach heave. I hate throwing up, so I fought it back. It came out as tears, instead, so before she could see me cry I stood up and yelled at Jeanine.

“Your cooking is gross! I wish you weren’t our babysitter!”

I left the house right away, and on the walk to school I settled down some.

***

I don’t know how I always let him get under my skin like that. It was a perfectly good morning, with the only exception being that it was my morning to go wake up Colleen’s kids. She’s good friends with my mother, though, so going to wake up her kids, feed them breakfast, and send them walking to school before I go to school myself two or three times a week isn’t so bad. But this morning it was a little harder than usual, because I was running a little late. For a family that doesn’t have much money, the kids are sometimes very spoiled. I had a hard time waking them up, as they usually just roll over and go back to sleep after the first one or two times I rub their shoulders. So today I had to resort to yelling, a good old “rise and shine” like my dad used to do.

They finally started getting ready, so I went downstairs and started their eggs. Five kids, five eggs, five pieces of toast. It’s not so bad; I can usually whip it up in about ten minutes, if I cook two or three eggs at a time. Of course, their stovetop is uneven and the frying pan slightly misshapen, so sometimes the eggs don’t cook very evenly. I finished buttering the toast while the last three eggs were cooking, put the food on separate plates for each of the kids, and took them out to the table.

The middle kid glared at me. He has never liked me, and I’ve never been able to figure out why. I think he might have a crush on Gerri, the senior cheerleader who wakes them up when I’m not around. I don’t think she even makes them breakfast. I looked at the clock and realized I needed to get going if I was going to be on time to school. I told the kids to finish their breakfast, and while I tried to remember whether I’d brought my geometry assignment, the middle kid pushed his plate away and started screaming at me. His brothers and sisters started laughing when he stormed out the front door, so I told them to finish their breakfast. I already at some oatmeal at home, but if the kid wasn’t going to eat his egg I didn’t want to let it go to waste.

Gone Fishin’

Gone Fishin’

Last Friday I went with some friends down to San Pedro, where we hopped on a boat and went out into the ocean for some evening fishing. It was my first time on the ocean, which was quite a pleasant experience. It was also my first time fishing since my early teenage years, and I can assure you that there is quite a difference between fishing on the ocean and fishing in a small Midwestern pond. Once I got the hang of it, I began reeling ’em in. I managed to catch six fish total, two sculpin and four halibut. One of the sculpin was too small so I had to throw it back. I had the other filleted on the way back to shore and ate it for dinner Sunday night. The fish was tasty and the fishing trip was a lot of fun.

In other news, I recently stumbled upon the following quote from Alec Baldwin:

“What Vick did is, obviously, senseless and reprehensible. But I believe Vick, as a wealthy and talented athletic superstar who performs his job out in the open before crowds of amped-up and highly opinionated fans, suffers an unfair disadvantage as compared to, say, the heads of a meatpacking plant or the directors of a medical research lab where animals are suffering the cruelest imaginable abuses behind walls and doors that remove them from our sight and, therefore, judgments.”

Alec Baldwin expressing his views on the Michael Vick case in the Huffington Post.

While on one hand I tend to agree with the spirit of what he’s saying here, he does seem to oversimplify a bit, lumping arguably legitimate causes (food and medical care) in with much more difficult to defend practices, namely a barbaric entertainment ritual and senseless gambling. Anyway, I just thought it was an interesting topic.

And finally, via greenlagirl I found this fascinating site that serves as irrefutable evidence that democracy is a farce: MAPLight.org. Enjoy!

Letter to the Editor

The Offending Article

My response:

In Thursday’s letter, R. Stan Marsh misrepresented socialism. He claimed that socialists are “essentially advocates of centralized control over people’s lives under the guise of democracy”. Our right-wing President throws the term democracy around when it suits his purpose. Wasn’t the spread of democracy our reason for destroying Iraq?

Mr. Marsh is right that our Constitution doesn’t mention democracy. It also doesn’t mention a republic. Our government is a constitutional republic. Our “republic” is a representative democracy. The “constitutional” part refers to the fact that we are neither governed by the people, nor by the representatives of the people. We are governed by laws that must fit into the framework of our Constitution. Our Constitution provides safeguards against “centralized control over people’s lives.” Our conservative President commented on 18 April that, “…the Constitution does not stand in the way of the people’s representatives…” Our President puts the will of our legislators ahead of our Constitution, except when our legislators do not share his views.

The real issue is that he calls our legislators “the people’s representatives”. Perhaps true at one time, corporate capitalism has usurped this founding democratic principle. Unlike our President, socialism does not seek to toss out the cornerstone of our constitutional republic, the Constitution. Socialism seeks to restore democracy to the legislative process by counteracting the imbalanced representation caused by gross disproportions in the distribution of capital. While socialism seeks to legislate fair business practices, right-wing legislation consistently protects big money and tramples individual rights.

Desperation

All that my life seems to be is a series of subtly unrelated events. Without rhyme or reason, and without direction or meaning, all I’ve seemed to do is accumulate seemingly meaningless experience as I blindly play with the strands on the web of life. Alone at the center of the universe, it seems as though I’m merely a spectator of the events that unfold and gradually become my life. Trying to make sense of this confusing mess is like trying to devise a method for cold fusion. Philosophy seems to have lost me, because I keep bringing myself to some sort of existential depression by getting caught in a paradox of circular thought. It is as if I know what I want to believe, but I’ve forgotten how. I haven’t been able to invest any faith into specific ideas, and the only things I have faith in and believe to be true, I don’t understand. I have lost my sense of truth, wisdom, and understanding. I don’t know if I ever had any of them. I no longer have any idea how to believe, how to love, or how to live, and I am quite convinced that I never knew how. It altogether seems to require so much effort, without a goal of any significance to what I long for. Is it ever worth it?

Manifesto of a Young Idealist

It has come to my attention that we as a society need to make some very important changes in the way we are living. We live in a material world that is built on the institutions of money, property, and prestige. We are conditioned to focus on how we measure up to such societal standards and to neglect our very own well being. We lack balance, and our poor health as individuals reflects our poor health as a community. Our well being is dependant on our various aspects of our health, many of which are neglected due to our busyness in pursuit of material objects. Spirituality is something that we seem to be lacking, yet the spirituality that is present is separated from the rest of our lives. As a society, we seem to think it necessary to keep our spiritual lives separate from our social lives, thus causing harm to both aspects, according to our including social media expert toronto. We are self-centered as a society and on the individual level, in a sense that is detrimental to our race and life as a whole. We seem to find it difficult to share our healthy behaviors with others around us, whether it be spiritual health, or other aspects of our health. On the other hand, we tend to promote unhealthy behaviors in each other. These problems stem from the fact that we have very little sense of community and a warped system of morality.

Our morality is based on the materialistic aspects of life, and the rest is left to moral relativism. Living in a society that is increasingly dependent on government, we tend to look to the government for laws. The basic idea being that, rather than exploring ourselves and discovering morals as they relate to our lives and experiences, we look to government to have our morals imposed on us by the elected officials. The individual has become so used to having a government around to decide right and wrong, we are left with little to have to decide for ourselves. We begin to believe that if it isn’t illegal, it must not be wrong. The very idea of this is absurd, let alone the idea that 250 million people (in the United States) would allow a collection of corrupt politicians decide how they will live. It is the easy way out. To throw our hands up in the air and say “well, I’m not qualified to decide what’s right and wrong, I should leave it up to the professionals”. We depend on government to decide for us, because in order to discern right and wrong for ourselves, we would then have no excuse not to follow the rules. When we define what we believe to be wrong, we must swallow our pride in order to continue doing what we consider wrong. We must either become hypocrites or mend our ways.

I have experienced in my own life many of the negative aspects of our society, as well as many of the positive aspects. I have found that the two aren’t very different, at least to me. If one fully devotes oneself to either, then it seems to work out just as well either way. We have a tendency to believe, in either situation, that all is well, regardless of whether or not it really is. My contention is that one can work on oneself until the end of time, but if one is still living in a dysfunctional society, progress will be limited. As Studs Terkel said, “how could you be raised in garbage and not stink of it?” I believe our society to be dysfunctional, which is the cause of our dysfunction on the individual level, and it I don’t think that it will be long before we as a society do ourselves in, taking others down in our fall as well.

Our society is plagued with many problems. We recognize these problems, a step in the right direction; however, we seem to overlook the fact that there is a common cause behind these problems, and until that cause is dealt with, we are going to continue to be plagued by problems of increasing urgency and quantity. The old saying says that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, yet we continue to exert so much of our time and energy on solving these problems, just to find that more problems keep arising. These recurring problems seem to stem from the same cause, and still society as a whole doesn’t acknowledge this. Problems such as high crime rates, low moral standards, drug abuse, prostitution, rape, suicide, and abortion are just some of those that we are dealing with today. Others that have sprung up on a global scale include overpopulation, the failing state of the environment, and the extinction of many different species. There have been many problems that have come and gone, often resembling those that are present today, but the overall status seems to remain the same. People are too concerned with working against the individual problems, rather than dealing with the dysfunction that these problems stem from. We have so many different activist groups that are determined to take on these problems, one by one. The dysfunction that is tearing us apart includes the very fundamentals upon which our society is built, such as the establishment of property and power, our control over nature, and our lack of community-oriented lifestyles.

Our establishment of power and property seems to be one of the biggest causes of our problems in society today. Unlike any other society, and unlike any form of wildlife, we have decided that certain parts of the world are property. We even for a period of time labeled fellow human beings as property. It is appalling that while we were able to so quickly understand that human beings are not property, we still haven’t admitted, as a society, that there is nothing in the universe that should be property. It all belongs to the Universe, as do we. We must recognize that what we have is a gift, and it is to be embraced with gratitude, rather than assuming that we earned anything, and that because we earned these things we can and should take them for granted and deem them “ours”. We have placed it in our power to take various parts of nature as our own, denying others the right to make use of those resources that were meant for all of us. The establishment of property is not only counterproductive to individual wellness, but it is also detrimental to society as a whole. To look at it from a political standpoint, one would think that socialism would counteract the establishment of property, and that in effect would make it an ideal form of government. Well the downfall of any form of economy in our society, in my opinion, doesn’t lie in the way it deals with the distribution of this property, but merely the fact that property is still an institution. Capitalism reigns in our society because it gives individuals the ability to amass property and therefore assert power. Those who have the property and power are inherently going to control the government. Those in control are surely not going to work to change the system that got them where they are in society. So, in defense, they push down other economic systems to protect their own property and power. Following the trend of the society from they were spawned, the capitalists pushed down and forced conformity upon any system that didn’t follow their example. Just as capitalism does this to other economic systems, our system of totalitarian agriculture does this to all other forms of living. It is the form of self-defense that wages war on the competition, rather than allowing for healthy competition, allowing the individual to choose what works best for him/her. The fact that nature thrives on diversity shows this system to be unhealthy for both the society and the individual.

The establishment of property goes hand in hand with our practice of totalitarian agriculture. We as a society believe that the earth was made for us, and that we are free to do what we want with it, no matter what harm comes to the earth or even to ourselves. We take control over the productivity of the land and soil, determining for ourselves what and how much “should” be produced. This is explained by the story of Genesis. We lived in paradise, but we ate from the forbidden tree. The fruit of this tree was the knowledge of good and evil, the knowledge of what is to die and what is to live. We took these decisions into
our own hands, saying, “We eat wheat, we will let it live, and we will clear land to ensure that it has room to thrive. We have no use for the bugs that eat our wheat, so we will exterminate them”. Our practice of agriculture forced us to spend all of our time working to ensure the production of food. Before agriculture, we ate what God provided us with, and all was well. We labor under the assumption that, if we do not force the earth to produce, she will not produce. We have populated the world to a point where earth cannot support us without being raped. We maximize production, only to see the population continue to rise. It won’t be long before agriculture can no longer supply us with what we need to survive as a society, yet we continue to increase production. Each year for the last hundred centuries, we’ve increased production, only to see another increase in population. We make more to feed everyone, yet every year there are the have-nots who go hungry, and the haves, that have an overabundance. In a system of property, where we take it upon ourselves to decide what is fair and what isn’t, we’ve made it so that those who don’t work to ensure that the earth will produce “enough” go hungry, while those who do so are rewarded with too much.

Our society has long neglected to give the individual what is necessary to survive. Our individual wellness includes three different aspects: mental, physical, and social. In the modern age of working for a living, our wellness is often neglected, or at least unbalanced. It is necessary to have a well-rounded level of fitness, yet this is uncommon in our society. We must spend our time laboring in this system to provide what we need to merely survive physically, and often we neglect the other aspects of our wellness. We are not well rounded, and often once our mental fitness begins to suffer, the remaining aspects of wellness tend to follow. When any one aspect of our fitness is neglected, it keeps us from reaching our potential in the other areas. People in our society tend to find an aspect of their wellness that is most appealing to them, and they work solely on that aspect. We don’t have time for all three aspects; we spend all of our time working. Most of the industries, businesses, and careers in our present society tie back into agriculture, or are at least supported by those who work to feed themselves. Our society is bent around providing the population with food, and we have gotten way out of hand with it. Why do we need such an elaborate system to keep our people fed? People labor themselves to death just to provide themselves with nutrition and some material comfort. All of this labor focused on providing, and little time is left to work on us. We are slaves to a society, and we ourselves are the slave drivers.

In effect, being slaves to this society, we have little time to work on what is necessary for us to work on. There is no time to live when we are fighting to stay alive, and that usually consists of working to feed ourselves and, in effect, the rest of the group. Throughout the years, life has lost many of the things that once held this society together, such as family and community togetherness, morals, and respect. It isn’t because evil people came along through the years and degraded these things, or that people decided that they liked it this way better. This was inevitable. With such an increasing population, and a growing segment of that population which can not or will not support itself, we must work harder and harder to keep things going. Society has grown immensely. There are jobs that no one could’ve imagined thirty years ago which some people make careers out of. Life isn’t about living anymore, it is about making a living. We have such an intricate system set up to govern our people, and that alone provides approximately five million jobs in the United States alone. This form of government is set up to show us what to do, what not to do, and punish us for breaking the rules. We are constantly showed what is “wrong,” yet people continue to break the law, get arrested, go to jail, and possibly even be put to death. People wonder why there is such a high crime rate if everyone knows that these things are wrong. Well the problem is that people don’t know that these things are wrong. They know that these things are illegal, but that doesn’t make it wrong, especially if they don’t get caught. If we taught our people how to discern right from wrong, we wouldn’t need to punish them for doing wrong. They either wouldn’t do what was wrong, or they would do it and then, on their own, face up to the consequences. This is because in a system in which everyone has a common set of values and morals, unlike our system, people immediately accept the responsibility of facing the consequences of their actions before they have even acted. In our society, there is no one around to teach a child that drugs are bad and teach them why they are bad. All kids hear is “JUST SAY NO!” Well, what do you think that kid is going to say if he hasn’t learned that drugs are bad by the time he is offered his first hit off a joint? He’ll say, “What the fuck were those guys talkin’ about? From now on, it’s ‘Just Say Hell Yeah!'” Maybe down the road from his own trials and tribulations, he’ll learn that drugs are bad, and he’ll wonder, “Why didn’t I believe ’em?” He didn’t believe them because they didn’t teach him. They told him.

It truly takes a village to raise a child, and our village is to big and to busy. So what happens if we continue the way we are going? People will continue to go about life, making a living, and neglecting their own health. Push yourself to an early grave, because at least then the work will be over. A lucky few find something appealing, something that catches their eye, something to believe in. Those lucky few find the will to live and a reason to seek peace of mind while pulling off the whole “work” thing. Well, I suppose I’ll be one of those lucky few, and I wish to make myself happy by teaching others, and if the best teacher is example, well by God I better get to work on myself.

American Dreams

To the editor:

This letter is written in response to Larry Knilands’ article on August 19th regarding democracy. There are a few points that I would like to make about democracy.

Democracy seems to be the most practical system of government that we as a society have come up with in the last ten thousand years. As we’ve all been taught, it is the pinnacle of government in modern civilization. It is a goal that all should strive towards and put their faith into. The salvation of modern civilization lies in democracy. Sorry, but I can’t buy that.

Our society is based on a product-oriented economy, hence capitalism and democracy are, in fact, the most practical method of running things. But let’s look at where these methods have gotten us, so far. Overpopulation, drug abuse, violent crime, pollution, and corruption are all rampant in our modern society. All of which are American dreams. In the name of “advancement”, we continue to bite the hand that feeds us, Mother Earth. In the name of democracy, liberty, and freedom, we push our ways on everyone else, resulting in a society to which all must belong. Our way has resulted in a world of conformity. A “global village” with a “global economy”. Nature abhors conformity, as does the individual. The problems in our society are merely a result of living product-oriented lives governed by a corrupt system that refuses to recognize that there isn’t any “one true way”. Democracy is the excuse, and genocide is the action. We hide behind the idea that democracy and capitalism is the right way to do things, allowing us to therefore conclude that anything else is the wrong way. “We the people” refuse to let anyone do things any other way, because we must defend and protect our own way. Is this really worth defending? Is democracy really “the basis of our well-being”? I think not. Look at our country, our problems. Sure we’ve got the whole material wealth and world power thing going for us, but look at our people. Suffering, dying, killing themselves, all in the name of democracy, all in the name of money, power, and prestige. The “equality of sexes, races, religions, and ages” that you speak of is non-existent. I don’t see any of that where I’m sitting, but maybe things are different for you. You speak of America as “a fertile field from which to find ideas and values”. Whatever. Most of these ideas are founded on the same principles. There’s nothing new in what we’re postulating about government and economics and technology. We’re finding more and more ways to let the same old stuff control us more and more. The growth that comes from this “fertile field” is composed of more bars to the same old cage. Our science, technology, government, economy, and way of life altogether are the causes of our problems. Yet we continue to look to those for the answers to our problems. You speak of “thinking and problem-solving”. How can even pretend to solve the rest of the world’s problems if we can’t solve our own. Korporate Amerikkka is a big-business machine, reliant on systems of money, property, and prestige. Korporate Amerikkka is guilty of genocide, homicide, and stands directly between “the people” and liberty. We call this freedom? Patrick Henry said “Give me liberty or give me death.” If this is liberty, if “democracy is the basis of our well-being”, then I think I’d prefer death.

Not long after sending this letter, I received the following from a friend-of-a-friend—the spelling errors are his:

Young Mr. Corning,

It is gratifying to see a person of relatively tender years espress an interest in political science.

Unfortunately, I find you attempt at this seriously flawed, your arguments lacking in merit, and your approach intellectually lazy. I shall not attempt the thorough analysis provided by Mr. Young, but I will offer a few thoughts. In keeping with your anarchistic tendencies, as well as my own democratic principals, you are of course welcome to take them or leave them, as you see fit.

  1. Your response to Mr. Young indicating that you had drafted your letter to the press in a hurry, and did not wish to delay its submission until it met your exacting standards smacks of intellectual laziness. If you are going to write something, and particularly if you are going to expound a political philosiphy with the express intention of getting a reaction from the public at large, at least take the time to do it right. The fact that you cannot seem to complete a project is a poor excuse, and suggests that the work submitted is of inferior quality. You take issue with our elected leaders, suggesting that they have no ideas to offer, and provide little leadership. On the contrary, I can think of few political leaders of any prominence who would so casually fashion a political philosiphy. I do not have the solution to all the world’s woes, but I am confident that it is not contained in someone’s hastily written, poorly reasoned submission to an editorial page. I am equally certain that society suffers from an abundance of poorly reasoned political arguments. We don’t need another one. If you have something to say, at least take the time to do it right.
  2. Regarding your dubious claim that democracy is the cause of pollution, overpopulation, drug abuse, etc, I sould submit that these conditions (with the exception of overpopulation) have existed from the dawn of time, and exist in nearly any politcal system. Indeed, history has demonstrated that the governments most effective at controlling drug abuse, violent crime, and any number of other societal ills are the most repressive. Mussolini really did make the trains run on time, and not a few Argentinians shamefacedly admit that they supported the repressive military governments of the ’70’s and ’80’s, because at least they kept the streets safe. Regarding genocide, you might consider that the term was invented to describe the systematic slaughter of millions in Europe during World War II. The government involved was decidely undemocratic.
  3. Regarding overpopulation, this is a pretty complex issue. It stems in large part from the fact that fewer people die today than used to. We could of course go back to the merry days of the plague, but I would hardly see this as an improvement. To the extent that capitalism (not democracy) had contributed to this, it has done so by providing the highest standard of living in history, and consequently, the longest life span. What would you suggest as an alternative? A massive war, to lower the population? Perhaps the Chinese system of forced abortions, sterilizations, and infanticide? This too, is not a democratic ideal.
  4. While you suggest that anarchy is a natural system of government, and many communities have existed for thousands of years, without the need of government, you fail to indicate what any of these communities might be. Before you mention it, forget the American Indians before Columbus discoved America. Nearly every tribe had a well developed social structure and manner of governance. Not a few of them engaged in reckless behavior, which had a permanant and negative effect on the enviornment. The only reason they did not cause more harm to the enviornment was that there were simply too few of tehm scattered over too great an area. Some of them were also pretty ruthless in their dealings with one another. The entire idea of community implies some sort of rules or agreements regarding the rights and duties of members of the community, i.e. some sort of government. Anarchy is neither natural to humanity, nor to most other animal species. Apes have communities with clearly defined and understood rules of behavior for the members. Oh yes, different groups occasionally fight one another, indicating that group violence is neither unnatural or limited to humans. You could, of course run off to the wils of Montana, and live in a cabin, alas Ted Kazynski, (sp?) but I do not think this a practical solution, even if you share some of his contempt for technology. Anarchy is a pretty stupid idea, when you get down to it.
  5. While decrying societal woes, you offer no practical solution at all. You fail to take note of the great deal of social progress which has taken place, much of it the direct result of political action in a democratic society. In my own relatively brief lifetime, I have seen some considerable strides made in controlling pollution, and tremendous progress in promoting racial and gender equality. What do you suggest which would produce a better result, or even equal the success of democracy? I believe Winston Churchill was correct. Democracy is the worst form of government there is, except for all the alternatives.
  6. Don’t use the term “Amerikkkan Kapitalism,” unless you want people to laugh at you.

Old Mr. Baker,

Let me begin by saying thank you. I am glad to see that someone saw fit to read and think about the letter that I sent, let alone respond to it. Most of the response that I’ve seen, so far, is more along the lines of “hey I saw your letter in the paper.” That’s all, not many really read it, not many took the time to actually think about it, and hardly anyone has thought to respond to it. So thanks, to both you and Esti, for actually challenging me and forcing me to use my thinker.

In your response, you talked about intellectual laziness and taking the time to do things right. While I certainly don’t argue that I am not guilty of such things, I must caution you with this. Those who live in glass houses should not cast stones. Do not attempt to use my personal shortcomings to discredit the message that I intend to carry at least until you free yourself from such burdens. But let’s get to the gist of things, shall we?

I did not intend to imply that democracy is the cause of the problems I mentioned in the letter. It is quite apparent, however, that any rational thinker would take what I said to mean that. (I knew what I meant! You should have, too! :-) ) I do intend, though, to say this: none of the current establishments in modern civilization seem to understand the urgency of our situation. For the environment, for our posterity, and most importantly for our own well being, we must change the way we view the world. That is my proposed solution, which I consider to be a necessity for the sake of the aforementioned reasons. These are the things that really matter, and no system of government that focuses on regulation, administration, and commerce is going to do anything to further this cause. They do what they must to ensure a forum in which property is sacred, and money a deity. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. This is what they are concerned about, and certainly not those things that I mentioned above. If we are to ensure these things for our future, we must subscribe to a system that will focus on these. I am certainly not interested in making “the trains run on time”, no more than I am interested in guaranteeing corporations the right to rob the people blind. I am interested in educating the people of the world about the nature of our problem, and discussing issues that are of dire importance to the survival of the society and the individual. We have seen how our current republic has addressed such issues (legislation and programs which prove to be relatively ineffective), so why do we continue to look to that republic for answers? Just like a friend mentioned last night, “Well, plan A didn’t work. Let’s try plan A”. The answers to our problems will not be found in allowing elected officials to do the footwork, they will be found in the mass enlightenment of the people of our society. We must all know and understand the situation in order to do anything about it. In short, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” and our government has shown that it isn’t a part of the solution.

Anarchy – “the total absence of government” – is something that is inherently impossible to achieve in any society. Government is defined as “the institution through which a society makes and enforces its public policies”. I think that by virtue of being a society, a society must have public policies. In order to have public policies, that society must have first made such public policies, and by virtue of having public policies must enforce them. Anarchy seems to be an imaginary thing when looked at in that light. Therefore, I must conclude that anarchy is not the solution that I claimed it to be. Moreover, I think that I labeled what I think is the most ideal form of government as anarchy, while a direct democracy was what I really had in mind. I will address that topic more in a bit, after I address a few other topics. First of all, it is my duty to volunteer that I am quite guilty of intellectual laziness. Luckily neither of you failed to point this error out to me. I believe that this problem has been the biggest cause for the difficulties I’ve had in getting a point across. Nonetheless, I will attempt to make myself clearer. To begin with, I must talk about our current government. As Esti, et al, has pointed out, we do not live in a true democracy. We live in a republic, which is more or less a representative democracy that is headed by an executive officer, such as a president, prime minister, or premier (president, in our case, of course). While I am not particularly fond of our government, I must admit that it is ideal in many respects. I do not intend to focus on what type of government we do have, though, but rather what type of government we don’t have. The only true freedom can come from anarchy, as one source stated, but true freedom is not what any of us look for, anyway. There must be some sense of belonging to a group, some larger organization of like-minded individuals involved, because we are social beings, and alone we will perish. With that in mind, I contend that a direct democracy (a society in which the peoples will is translated directly as public policy) is the only truly ideal form of government. It allows for the freedom for both the individual and the group.

At our current population, it is neither realistic, nor possible, that a direct democracy could work. This, of course, brings me to the topic of overpopulation. To say that overpopulation stems from “the fact that fewer people die than used to” is quite inaccurate. This notion suggests that the birth rate has remained the same for the last ten thousand years or so, while the death rate has dropped sharply. On the contrary, Mr. Baker, the birth rate has risen sharply in the last ten thousand years, while the death rate has remained relatively stable. It is quite evident that overpopulation is more realistically attributed to overproduction. In the last ten thousand years, production has continued to increase along with population. Technological advances that have increased life span have occurred primarily in the last three centuries, while technological advances that have increased productivity have been occurring for the last ten thousand years. The world population didn’t suddenly start to boom three hundred years ago; it has been growing exponentially since the dawn of civilization in Mesopotamia. Let us open our eyes and see that any continued increase in production will result in an increase in population. It has happened that way for the last ten thousand years, why would this year be any different? We’re back to the idea of plan A. Each year, it is decided that we will increase production (whether to feed a growing population or line the corporate pocket, all the same), and each year, the population grows. The first step in dealing with the population problem is to stop the overproduction. The solution is, of course, not war, not infanticide, not sterilization; rather the recognition that so long as we continue to do what we’ve been doing, we will continue to get what we’ve been getting.

My goal is simple, therefore my solution is simplification. The solution I have in mind is a deconstruction of the complex world that we’ve made for ourselves accompanied by a return to the simple life that was there all along. My goal is for humanity to live among creation again, rather than continuing to try to conquer and rule over it.

As you mentioned in item 4, “nearly every tribe had a well developed social structure and manner of governance”. Their social structure and manner of governance was ideal for them for many reasons. Such things were not put in place by a political doctrine or code of law, and the leadership was not limited to those trusted few. They, as a tribe, collectively came to understand what worked and what didn’t work for them, through thousands of years of trials and tribulations. Whatever worked for them was passed on, and whatever didn’t wasn’t. It was a matter of social Darwinism, if you will. That which worked survived as policy. Their systems of government, morals, ethics, religion, and all of the components of their culture grew up together, and therefore worked together. They had no need for separation of church and state, because it was all the same thing. This is of course, not to say that these tribes were perfect, nor is it to say that we should try to live the way they did. They embodied what I consider to be a true community, which is what our goal should be. There should be no one true way, but many ways for many peoples. Rather than one society with many different cultures, I think we should strive for many societies, each with its own unique culture. It is much more effective to raise a generation in a society with just one culture than in a society with diverse cultures, because to do so promotes the awareness of the posterity. In a society with many different cultural backgrounds, it is much easier for the individuals to be confused as to what they should believe. Raised in a society of one culture, the individual will see and understand that culture at work, and will therefore know that it works. In a world where so few people know what to believe in, each generation becomes more separated from the beliefs of the previous generation. The individuals are then more apt to use what is there for all of the wrong reasons, corrupting and destroying the systems that once were pure and innocent. I must reiterate, I do not strive for an absence of government, but rather I strive for a society in which there is one unified system of governance, religion, spirituality, belief, lifestyle, etc., in which I can truly be free. I strive for a society in which I know that my way of life is not the one right way, but rather just a way that works for me. A world in which there are many different societies that act in the same manner, doing what a society is supposed to do: provide a way of life for all of those belonging to it. This is a goal that cannot come over night, and most likely will not happen in my lifetime. It is something that can be achieved, as the problem of overpopulation is dealt with. I put my faith in this. I intend to do what I can to educate others and serve as an example that being confined to this society is no excuse for complacency and/or giving up. I do what I can with what I have, and what I have is a desire to change the world for the better. It is only through working out my own problems that I will be able to do anything for anyone else. With that in mind, I look forward to the future with hope.

Before I end this letter, I must address just a few somewhat off-the-topic items. First of all, you mentioned in your response: “regarding genocide, you might consider that the term was invented to describe the systematic slaughter of millions in Europe during World War II.” I thank you for sharing that with me, but I fail to see how that is relevant to the topic at hand. Genocide, defined as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group”, did occur before World War II. Just because there was no word to describe it does not mean that it didn’t happen. I maintain that the United States government has been, and still is, guilty of just such an action.

The second topic at hand is your mention of “the highest standard of living in history”. Of whose standard are you speaking? Based on what and how much we have, in a material sense, I suppose this is a rather accurate statement. Based on the degree of comfort, happiness, spiritual well being, and overall wellness of the population, I’d say we’re not doing so well. I must stress that long life and material prosperity are quite undesirable in the light of what we’ve given up to get such things. You can have all of the material things you want, but I’m holding out for serenity, peace of mind, and happiness for myself and my loved ones.

Finally, I will end on this note. I don’t intend to stop using the term “Korporate Amerikkka” (as opposed to “Amerikkkan Kapitalism”) and those who choose to laugh can laugh all they want. I find it more saddening than humorous that this description is a fitting one.

Detached

So the old saying goes: “life’s a bitch”. In my eighteen (well, ok, seventeen years and eight months) years of experience, I’ve come to know this old saying as truth. It is too easy to get into a habit of living life just for lack of alternatives. We don’t see any means of enjoying life other than material comforts and sensory stimulation. Living life in such a way leads to the end of life. Just as the larger group of individuals in the world today are killing themselves in this sense, so is the global human community, or civilization, as we call it. Modern civilization, dating back to the dawn in Mesopotamia, is hell-bent on destroying itself, just as the individuals are. Another old saying states “ignorance is bliss”. Our civilization is ignorant to its self-destructive tendencies just as we individuals are. We have lost the wisdom of how to live, and in its place we’ve created the art of making a living. What is the difference between knowing “how to live” and “how to make a living”? Knowing how to live involves the promotion of life, in all of its many forms. Choosing to hold the essential aspects of human life, and all life, as sacred. Knowing how to make a living is an understanding how to fulfill our material urges, whether it be food, relationships, sex, physical or psychological desires. Acting only on our desires, in spite of any damage of life involved, whether it is our own or another being, is what making a living is all about. An attempt to satisfy unlimited wants and needs with limited resources, “making a living” almost necessitates the harming of life, including harm to those around us ourselves. In “making a living”, we’ve destroyed much of the life on this planet, and that which has suffered the greatest is human life. It is not common to find an individual, much less a group of people, who knows how to live. Quote the contrary, however, we’ve all become very skilled at making a living. We are taught from day one to fend for ourselves, to use the social structures and natural phenomena to satisfy our desires. Yet we aren’t taught the importance of thoughtfulness, whether it be in regard to life itself or in regard to the people around us. We haven’t been taught that rather than trying to satisfy all of our desires, we should focus on satisfying only our needs. Our needs are all but neglected in this day in age, and we’ve come to deny that most are valid needs, other than the physical needs, which are often recognized yet still neglected. We’re killing each other and ourselves. Our “civilization” is nothing more than a machine of death.

Another Manifesto

I was introduced to a twelve-step program, a spiritual fellowship of men and women living without drugs, in July of 1997. The people involved explained to me that there were easier, more effective, and safer ways to live than the ways I followed at the time. It took some time to get used to that idea. With a little time and understanding, I think I now have a better idea of what recovery is. Putting what I have learned there into practice sometimes presents something of a dilemma, but as they say, “progress, not perfection.” I do believe that I have made progress. There is no doubt in my mind that the environment of loving and caring that I have experienced in recovery has shown me a way to live in which I can accept myself for the way I am, whereas before I was critical and unforgiving with myself. To put it simply, recovery has made it much easier to live in my own skin.

Having divulged my experience with recovery, I would like to share my thoughts on the fellowship. The fellowship has given back to our society what so many of us long for and cannot find, and that is exactly what it is: a fellowship. There are many fellowships among our society, but all too often people find it difficult to feel as though they belong. Recovery has expanded the horizons by creating an environment where people feel as though they belong, and that they are loved. This type of environment tends to promote positive behavior and growth. This, of course, is not to say that there were no good fellowships in our society before, nor is it to say that everyone will be satisfied with recovery as a place to grow. Recovery simply provides a place where people who previously felt no sense of belonging can belong, while promoting a set of positive behaviors to replace the negative behaviors that were killing the members before they found each other. I think that a set of fundamental truths and principles regarding human bonding—compassion, which seems to be lacking in many of our society’s organizations and fellowships—is the heart that beats in recovery. It seems as if everything in our society revolves around “money, property, and prestige,” a cycle that is specifically warned about in the program of recovery. Although it is not possible to always dealing with those matters because they are so rampant, recovery provides a place to build a foundation on a firmer principle, that of mutual support. This is not something new that has been discovered uniquely by those in recovery. However, society tends to teach us, among other things, to “look out for number one,” or focus on taking care of ourselves, without letting anyone or anything stand in our way. In places like recovery, people can learn otherwise. Life takes on whole new meaning when it is lived in a supporting, loving environment. These are things that our society has taken out of our lives, but they can be regained. Recovery has brought back to life something that society has taken from us. The problems treated by recovery are not characteristic of humanity, but characteristic of our society. That is the primary focus of the message I hope to carry. Our society fails to teach us how to live, but there is still hope. We can be taught, and we can restore things to the way they ought to be.

When I say that our society seems to revolve around “money, property, and prestige,” I speak of our very fundamental structure. We are, as a society, good for business and bad for people. This is the message that I got from Daniel Quinn and the message I intend to bring to you. Our society is based on creating products, which are exchanged for other products, which are exchanged for labor and service, and so on and so forth. Having lived all of our lives in such a society, it often seems first nature to us. “How else would we do things?” one might ask. We would live the way humans lived for millions of years before our society sprang up, and the way humans will live long after our society collapses. We would live through subsistence. Why live any other way? That is my question for you. Why do we need to create a business out of life and everything that life involves? Why do we need to create business out of anything whatsoever?

There are reasons, of course, for why we choose this way of life, but nothing to suggest that we need to live this way. I believe that the primary reason for living this way is the drive to control our circumstances, and the illusion of power that follows. The fulfillment of this drive is made much easier through money, property, industry, and technology. Our way of life would have never been possible if not for the establishment of totalitarian agriculture. The people of the “Fertile Crescent” began to realize that if they took the food and forced people to work for it, they could force people to do just about anything for food. It all began innocently, for totalitarian agriculture required work. People had to spend long hours working the fields, tending to the crops, because otherwise they wouldn’t get what they planned on when harvest time came around. This was no problem, because this was when people were still living in the garden. They had the entire world to pick at. They had all the food they could get their hands on, as long as they just went out and got it. So why work in the fields? They set up agriculture in order to have control over what they ate. Rather than having to live on what was available, they could make things available and feast on them. Some people preferred to simply eat from the garden, rather than trying to control what grew. Those who preferred trying to control the garden soon learned a new tactic for getting these people to work in the garden. If they stockpiled their harvests, then they would have plenty of food, even during times of famine. By limiting the food to those who did their share of the work, they had soon established power. People had a choice between working and eating or not working and starving. It didn’t take too long for this way of doing things to become automatic, self-perpetuating, and self-propagating.

Now there was no person or group that had to work to keep this system going, because it perpetuated itself. Those in control had a taste of power, and wouldn’t let this system fail. If they let this system fail, they would be back with the masses, hunting and gathering, rather than pointing a finger and telling who to work and what work to do. I can imagine how it is more comfortable sitting on a throne of one form or another than walking around in the woods, looking for a berry bush or wild boar. On the other end of the spectrum, however, people had to work to eat. They had no choice to do otherwise, because this system spread like wildfire. The system quickly spread as far as a person could go in those early days. The system was set up in such a way that it made it nearly impossible for people to find a way out of it. This was the very beginning of the concept of genocide. Cultural pluralism was all but destroyed. In its place, we had a new system of stratification of our people. The division of the haves and the have-nots set up an ongoing struggle to keep this system in check. People grow weary of the status quo, and those who have no power or control frequently challenge those who have the money, property, and prestige. It gives life purpose, you could say. I am compelled to point out that the purpose we had before this system emerged was far superior.

There have been many attempts at forming the “perfect” way to run this system and make it work, but any attempt had to include this system of haves and have-nots. This is why capitalism beat out communism. Communism is a fine idea, but cannot work in a system of power and property because it goes against the very root principles of that system. Communism had no chance of survival in a world of property and power, because property demands buyers and sellers, owners and users. In any system that puts one set of people in control of another, exploitation is inevitable. Communism was a bold att
empt to try to subvert these systems in the midst of a world so entrenched, but it didn’t go far. Those who stood to benefit from inequity stamped it out quickly, and are still stamping it out wherever it might spring up. Again we see how our system of doing things will not stand for change.

The system of property and work soon overtook the entire world, and in order to do so, it had to form lies to keep people from seeing the truth. The system demonstrated that we were, in fact, meant to conquer the planet. It was the destiny of humanity, the divine mission, to rule over all of the planet. This was how the system showed itself to humanity. People of our society were soon led to believe that we as humans are the rulers of this great planet. It was not only our destiny to conquer the earth, but it was our responsibility and obligation. This laid the groundwork for all of the components of our modern society. A set of fundamental principles on which to build an empire was the end result. The rest of the story can be learned in any history book. That history book will tell you all about how life came to be, and how our current empire grew out of a seemingly unsubstantial development in the Fertile Crescent. Those history books will fail to point out, because they fail to consider, the possibility that humanity was much richer when we owned nothing.

Two major aspects of this system disturb me more than anything else: a serious negative impact on the quality of life for all creatures big and small, and the potential destruction of life for the same creatures. I am much more disturbed by the fact that we are so inhumane toward each other and toward our cohabitants than the fact that we have inadvertently threatened the viability of Earth as a long-term home for humanity. It is quite shameful that we have gotten this far in the destruction of our very home without putting an end to the madness. It is blatantly inexcusable, however, that we continue to hurt and destroy our own people the way we do. Saving the world is a great cause, but I am much more interested in seeing that we learn to live with each other, so that saving the world will become not just a worthwhile cause, but also one we are capable of accomplishing. I once heard it said that if we continue hurting the Earth the way we do, she will merely shake us off and continue on, life and all, for another few billion years. If it were merely a case of us doing injustice to the earth, I would probably have different views on the situation. We cannot destroy our home; we will simply make it impossible to continue living here. By letting this system continue to run our lives and our societies, we have neglected the essentials that we need to survive. The task of moving on is two-fold: we must help to spread the awareness of how we hurt ourselves and each other, and we must learn a new way to live so that we can live on and take full advantage of the beauty and joy in life.