Responsibility?

The New York Times reported in a February 22, 2013 article, Mindful of Bubbles in a Boom for Deals, by James B. Stewart, that according to Thomson Reuters, in the first two months of 2013, there have been more than a thousand mergers and acquisitions, valued at more than $162 billion, which is more than twice the increase over the same period in 2012. At this current rate of mergers and buyouts, the total for 2013 could be more than $2 trillion, which will greatly surpass the $1.57 trillion in 2007, before the financial crisis spread across the world.

The last few years have witnessed increasing reports of record levels of corporate profits, while layoffs and unemployment increase, leaving citizens and governments virtually powerless to institute any substantial changes, with most governments also unwilling to even attempt to institute changes to improve the lives and income of working people, the 99%.

Yet, our various media sources, politicians, and scholars continuously pump out reports of how so many economic, social, and environmental conditions continue to deteriorate, heightening the sense of crisis, fear, and powerlessness in the hearts and minds of so many billions of people. That is, if those billions of people are actively paying attention rather than attempting to seek some balm of escapism from their feelings of powerlessness, or even shame.

Responsibility?

How can we effectively and morally discuss the issues of responsibility for these gargantuan challenges we are all confronted with, in terms of the average citizen worker and consumer?

I cannot find within myself any moral right to suggest that unless everyone does at least something to begin to turn back this tsunamic tide of decline in our quality of life that they are irresponsible: I suggest that, whether considered consciously or not, each person has the unquestionable right to live their own life as they must, as long as they are not directly responsible for any damage to anyone else’s life and limb. That said, then how can we effectively discuss the issue of responsibility, a subject which is paramount to any relational, social, or political condition?

I suggest that we each consider if there is not, in fact, some minimal efforts we can make to both improve the potential of our own lives and the lives of most people who share this planet with us: Each hand lifting water at the edge of the ocean could create, if not literally, then at least figuratively, a tsunami of change which could be seen and felt by most who cared to look. What change could this be, what would it look like? As for responsibility, it would not actually require all of us to be responsible for that effort, for that commitment to change, only a tipping point of a few million, but those few million acting in some sense of a chorus of unity, a chorus of recognized and committed responsibility, freely chosen and freely given in a sacred and compassionate act of sharing.

It is really quite simple, but not easy: The United States represents the most powerful economic and political force among all the nations of this world, and historically presents itself as the model of democracy and human rights.

However, much of that presentation is a great deception, a deeply embedded lie, arising for the most part out of our own willingness to be decieved, lest we risk the pain of coming face to face with how our own culture and government actually places very little value on our individual lives, and has never actually attempted to create a social and legal structure to provide for the general welfare, in grave contradiction to what the Preamble of our Constitution claims.

How much unity of voice would actually be required to change our social and legal structure, how much expenditure of energy would we have to invest in order to turn this great battleship of our country around and begin to change our system, to bring forth “a new nation, conceived in liberty for all”? I suggest that if some few million of us only spent five minutes a week for some six or seven months engaged in the same general conversation about the proposal on this site for a set of major Constitutional amendments, then we would witness the “tsunami” of potential change happening right before our eyes and within our hearts: We just have to agree and commit to this singular, united effort, and consistently devote a minimum of five minutes a week, discussing this proposal with our families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

At the same time, we must be ever vigilant about becoming invested in efforts for social and political changes which only address symptoms of what ails our nation and our world, rather than what is really missing from our fundamental social and political structures. We can too easily be drawn into actions which might make us feel better about ourselves and our sense of commitment, but will not actually bring about the fundamental kinds of changes which will generate new roots sprouting with ever-lasting green shoots.

As I said, “it is really quite simple, but not easy.” And the world has never witnessed such a small but united and powerful commitment. We just have to do it. Five minutes a week for some six or seven months. Do you have a place in your heart to commit to that few minutes a week?

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Support. But Not That Kind!

One woman thought that my asking for “support for a Constitutional right to vote” meant that I was asking for money, but I was not immediately aware of that enlightening and amusing vignette: This attractive woman about 25 or 30, dressed a bit “up” for PT norms (aging hippies blended with LL Bean/Land’s End shoppers) responds to my standard opening rap (which is always preceded by making eye contact and greeting people with “Good Morning,” or the opposite: no eye contact yet, so I say “Good Morning,” which, as most humans will react, usually gets me the eye contact response. So now this lovely lady is standing a short arms-length away from me and digging into her pocket book which is slung from her right shoulder. I had interpreted her positive response–“Oh, yes,” (or something similar) to mean that she was going to show me a copy of the leaflet that she was already carrying with her, which I suddenly felt excited about. You see, what is equally amusing–to me, anyway–is that I had no clue that something was going on other than my delusion that she was about to enthusiastically show me my leaflet! One of many examples of how one can miss the boat while living in one’s own little world.

But no. She started by fingering a dollar bill, which I thought she was just moving out of the way as she searched for the copy of my leaflet. But no. Now another dollar bill appears and then there are a bunch of them and her hand is rising out of her pocket book and I suddenly say “Oh no, I’m not asking you for money, I’m asking you to support the issue of a Constitutional right to vote by considering my proposal (our-I think I usually say “our”–which is perhaps a bit deceptive, but there are people who “support” my proposal, so it’s probably not truly being deceptive–or is that just a rationalization?).” So then she smiles and puts her money away and says “Oh, of course,” and then takes the leaflet and walks away.

On another day, one guy apparently thought I was infringing on the sacred space of American Consumerism: “I’M SHOPPING FOR GROCERIES!” he complained as he walked away to his car.

Life can sometimes be better than the movies (It’s better because you get to be a walk-on in your own life).

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Nostalgia: Synchronicity

Today, immediately after I took up my normal position outside the rear door with my poster and leaflets in hand, “Penelope” and her husband, the trickster manifestation of Odysseus, came walking past me, as if to reiterate some importance they held for me, since I had never noticed them before our October 18th interaction as reported in “Nostalgia.”

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Nostalgia

“Good morning. I’m asking for your support for a constitutional right to vote and for the elimination of private money from our federal elections.”

The man I addressed possessed a certain bearing, a certain stature. He was about six feet tall, apparently fit for a man in his 60s or 70s. As I looked at him, and as I finished my request, I could see a woman I presumed was his wife and who was now some ten feet or so just past him outside the back door of the Food Coop. Her face suddenly brightened as if she hoped (or so I imagined) that her husband would make some positive response to my request.

Instead, he replied as he retrieved a shopping cart, “I’ll think about it.”

A second or two of pause: “I’m thinking about it.”

Another second or two, and he concluded, turning away with his shopping cart, “Ok, I thought about it.”

And with that, the woman’s face fell, and he proceeded to follow her into the Food Coop.

Some minutes later, I saw them emerge from the back door of the Food Coop, and I could see them proceed silently towards a new Mercedes sedan.

And now I imagine that the woman’s face had brightened as if she had been a Penelope, and with hope earlier, as if her husband might finally return to her, within her nostalgia, as Odysseus.

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