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Wall of Silent Screams

There are times when there is so much bad news it creates a wall of silent screams. Headline after headline supports the ambition of centralized power that holds humanity in a prison of dread and fear. This is more than just a feeling, it is the body's sense that everything created is about to crash. A tsunami coming in slow motion and you know there is nothing you can do to stop it.

More than the threat of fascism it's as though life itself is atomizing into drunken parts. My own body losing muscle, my head unable to think, my fundamental ability to survive lost. Something much larger than politics is invading my universe in a way that I cannot walk through. This can't be explained by the economy. It is an organic response. Should it be ignored or should I try to understand it?

To admit to my own vulnerability is not weak, it's a maturation of my ego, a willingness to move beyond my self interested fantasy to see what is happening outside the bubble. I look for the skills in others I do not possess and call on the skills I have to build a community.

There have been other people I admire for the skills and abilities they bring. I look for strength in diversity. I look for those who can do the things I can't do and feel gratitude for all that they give. I go to them for advice and give advice when I am asked for it.

The hub of community where people have learned how to be contributing stakeholders brings me a sense of peace and comfort. However, as much as I respect them I don't always agree with what they say and do, and so we must learn how to communicate without injuring. My community is not my possession but part of the wealth that I enjoy.

Life is easier when the place we live in is not threatened by authoritarian institutions. Part of my humanity is to keep learning how to engage with my neighbours so they are safe - because when they feel safe it makes my world safer to explore.

There is so much more I need to learn about being human, about how to endure discomfort, uncertainty, or pain. How to find relief from anxiety.

Karen Armstrong writes that compassion is the way we find relief from fear of the unknown. A society that honours equality is more confident in searching for ways to solve community problems such as alienation and loneliness. We feel safer to help those who need help. We learn how to be experienced stakeholders. We can develop the insight that our wealth is the quality of our relationship to one another, and that collecting stuff does not satisfy forever.

But now, in the democratic world, we are threatened by a hatred for the other. The blaming is isolating us into fierce camps. Will we be investing in weapons so that communities protect themselves from the outside while living in denial inside?

Hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, road rage, intolerance are not separate issues - they all arise from decades of structural abuse. We cannot trust the police, the courts, the teachers, the policy makers and our doctors when civil society dissolves into a cauldron of competing egos filled with disappointment, dreading what the future may bring.

Resisting trends that we do not agree with is one way to maintain sanity. When Bertrand Russell responded to an invitation from Sir Oswald Mosley to debate  fascist ideas, he did it in a way that clearly defined his values without insulting the values of his friend.

"Thank you for your letter and for your enclosures. I have given some thought to our recent correspondence. It is always difficult to decide on how to respond to people whose ethos is so alien and, in fact, repellent to one’s own. It is not that I take exception to the general points made by you but that every ounce of my energy has been devoted to an active opposition to cruel bigotry, compulsive violence, and the sadistic persecution which has characterised the philosophy and practice of fascism.
I feel obliged to say that the emotional universes we inhabit are so distinct, and in deepest ways opposed, that nothing fruitful or sincere could ever emerge from association between us." Bertrand Russell

We must call on our own humanity to protect what we hold dear, and cannot expect to be protected by abusive power if we disown our civic estates.


  1. Chris Hedges makes my writing redundant with his clarity


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