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Community or Asylum

In Chris Hedges article "Welcome to the asylum" he spells out the ways in which civilizations dissolve into madness.

"The quest by a bankrupt elite in the final days of empire to accumulate greater and greater wealth, as Karl Marx observed, is modern society’s version of primitive fetishism. This quest, as there is less and less to exploit, leads to mounting repression, increased human suffering, a collapse of infrastructure and, finally, collective death. It is the self-deluded, those on Wall Street or among the political elite, those who entertain and inform us, those who lack the capacity to question the lusts that will ensure our self-annihilation, who are held up as exemplars of intelligence, success and progress. The World Health Organization calculates that one in four people in the United States suffers from chronic anxiety, a mood disorder or depression—which seems to me to be a normal reaction to our march toward collective suicide."

The Western world who has wholeheartedly embraced unfettered capitalism, without any concern for social consequences, are rushing to follow in this suicidal spiral, and the good citizens question whether they can ever have a conversation with the mad bull-dogs whose jaws are firmly hanging onto any flesh linked to power, no matter how decomposed it might be.

Democracy is supposed to be that conversation that limits the damage done by megalomaniacs. But Lawrence Martin asks if we are still living in a democracy.

"... anyone who scrolls through recent media, conservative media included, might be forgiven for concluding that we have something more closely resembling the opposite. Something more akin to billy-club governance. Think of the ironclad controls, the scorning of accountability, the censorship, the smearing of opponents, the power unto one. The abuses are not just opposition talk. They’re writ large in Auditor-Generals’ reports, in internal documents and journalists’ investigations. Some of the abuses have happened in other governments but have they ever happened on the scale we’ve seen from this crowd?"

You may wonder, how did we get to this point where our elected leaders behave as though they feel contempt for democracy?  Well all you have to do is read a little history or speak to survivors of war to understand that power is based either on contempt for life or a reverence for life.

It will seem outrageously stupid to say that loving kindness or compassion is the only weapon that sustains life, until you visit or listen to some of our First Nations people who have survived the most terrible violence at a time when they were most vulnerable. They have fought every minute of every day of every year since, to mend their broken spirits by re-educating themselves and their children on how to live. The fight is never over as they now are fighting the threat of oil tankers and pipelines, as we all should be.

The tragedy of our age is that, on the one hand we witness the madness of violence and destruction designed by a controlling elite, and dismiss the goodness under our feet as benign.  This is the way power has corrupted our spirit by making us blind with anxiety. 

Anxiety will control and diminish our power as long we fail to stare it in the face, and ask our discomfort to speak to us on a deeper level. What does it mean when our governments have given up on their people and we can no longer hope for jobs, education, health care and a clean environment?

Imperialist nations that thrived on oppressing other nations for their resources are now feeling the violence of the system that fed and controlled them through propaganda and ideology until there was no ideal left uncorrupted, untainted. We live in an age now where we can't escape the immense depth of violence which we once supported through loyalty.

What can each one of us do to re-create new systems?  What do we possess that we can choose to build upon?  What can we believe in?  These are questions to ask ourselves for our answers will be our legacy.

While socialist and capitalist governments have abused power, Pickett and Wilkinson tell us (in an article published in StraightGoods)

"the evidence shows unmistakably that more equal societies — those with smaller income differences between rich and poor — are friendlier and more cohesive: community life is stronger, people trust each other more, and there is less crime and violence. So the deep human intuition that inequality is divisive and socially corrosive is true.

People in more unequal societies have worse health and lower life expectancy; they are more likely to have drug problems and to suffer more mental illness. Measures of child wellbeing are worse and children do less well at school. Rates of teenage births, obesity and violence are all higher, and more people are in prison."

It's time we stopped working for our oppressors by examining the power of institutions and the frames they contain us in, and then by re-creating the world based on social justice, compassion, freedom and responsibility.


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