What does it mean to be a patriotic American in this day and age? If we shop at Wal-Mart, we may be under the impression it means buying red, white, and blue plastic crapвЂ”extruded petroleum from China, of course. Newspapers suggest that being patriotic means supporting the wars du jour, rooting for the home team and providing support for вЂњour boys over thereвЂќ by forking over streams of taxed money while our infrastructure at home crumbles beneath our feet. For many of us, the Decline of the American Empire has removed any meaning of these words.
Many of us feel completely estranged from our government; could it be because it is largely populated by well-paid corporate puppets? Hmmmm? Do we have much of anything in common with these people? They make laws that invade the privacy of our lives to the nth degree and imprison us in record numbers. (Yes, America, Land of the Free, has more prisoners than anywhere else, both in percentage and in total numbers, including China and Russia.) They take our earnings and spend it frivolously, or worse yet, funnel it directly to their corporate leash-holders. They make corporations effectively (legally) вЂњpeopleвЂќ so they can have free speech, entitling them to do much more than our free speech entitles usвЂ”and yet, these corporations masquerading as people are never held accountable for their crimes against humanity and our planet (the same thing, really). Our so-called leaders have no idea of the everyday lives of the people they are said to represent. They are divorced from the reality in which we currently reside.
The decline of Empire can be, letвЂ™s face it, a little scary. Unemployment figures do not include the vast percentage of Americans who are not working. It is unfortunate to live in a society where access to dollars is the way of getting food in our bellies and a roof over our heads, when increasingly fewer of us have access to this consensus reality existence. Corporations that have spent the last decade greedily counting debt as assets continue to go after debts owed, in a vain attempt to squeeze blood out of this turnip economy and citizens. Families are doubling or tripling up and homelessness surges at the same time vast numbers of houses in many neighborhoods are unoccupied, because no one can afford to live there. Can our government effectively do anything about the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico? Obviously not. Our president and his hired hands are either not interested or not capable of effecting change or healing. I wash my hands of their bullshit.
Regardless of political affiliation (if any) or religious notions (if any), most people know instinctively that what has been presented to us as America the Beautiful is a sad imitation of what once was. Traditionally, Americans were role models of the world due to our innovation and creativity, independent spirit, gumption, and robust vigor. Beautiful! LetвЂ™s do it again, fellow Americans! ItвЂ™s time to debunk the fiction that has somehow become fact. Our government is not us. The wars they fight on our behalf are not us. The economic and ecological disasters they induce are not us. We are much more than they give us credit for.
Many of us are unemployed or underemployed, and our numbers are increasing daily. I have very few friends with regular full-time jobs, and I know very few people who are gainfully employed doing what they invested in college to do. Even those I know who are in need of income are prohibited from working above the table, because their earnings will go directly to the black hole of corporate debt. Our lives are very different from what is portrayed as a вЂњnormalвЂќ American life. Every day, more and more of us are denied access to the money economy. And then what?
If we are unable to roam in the economy of the Almighty Dollar, we may find ourselves blessed with an abundance of time. For some, previously occupied with school, work, and consumption, this is a heavy burden, and often results in a dependence on drugs, tv, etc.вЂ”anything to distract from what is real and present in oneвЂ™s life. For others, we begin to explore the path before us. The Depression-era mantra of my childhood comes to the fore: use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without. This is quite a difference from the infinite plastic dollar store mentality of old.
Our abundance of time and our interest in being present in our own lives provide us many openings to challenge ourselves and explore opportunities we did not realize we had when we were entranced in working, consuming, and screening. For one, we can become producers! What does this mean, to be a producer instead of a consumer? It means staying away from stores and providing for ourselves. For some, itвЂ™s a garden or homestead animals (even and especially those of us in urban areas are exploring these options), and reclaiming skills and knowledge from the dumpster of history. For others, itвЂ™s teaching what we knowвЂ”sharing knowledge freely for all of us to make use. We build structures as the need arises, out of materials at hand. We make music and sing songs that poignantly share our feelings of sadness and revelry. We write our own myths and stories, and we share them with the children we raise with love and a vibrant vision of our future, instead of handing our progeny over to uninterested poorly paid wage slaves who instill them with rote pledges and busywork and an envisioned future of nothing else.
We can challenge ourselvesвЂ”put constraints on our daily lives and see what comes of our experiment. What does it mean to live without a screen for a week? without a car for a month? without a job for a year? What happens when we stop frequenting stores and start getting together with our friends and loved ones? What kind of stories do we enact? What kind of future do we create with and for each other? To continue our reliance on the declining Empire is to prop it up, to keep it alive; even in its brain-dead state, it consumes vast amounts, converting life to death on a scale previously unknown. To explore the economy of the community is to enliven it, to make it real; we focus on turning death into life. To share this reality with others means building up a new paradigm on the rubble of the old. The phoenix rises in our hearts and minds. With all our power, what will we do?
This Independence Day, when we get together with those we love, letвЂ™s talk about things that matter. LetвЂ™s explore ideas and issues in which we ourselves can make a difference by becoming involved, by adapting our lives to reality as it presents itself. Talking about our shared realities is a first step in figuring a way out of the American maelstrom. We can acknowledge our past as a dysfunctional nation, and embark on a path of renewal and fecundity. We plant the seeds of hope within our hearts, and plant the seeds of change in our daily lives. ItвЂ™s a choice. We can do way better than Empire, and all it takes is our first baby steps at figuring this out. The untrodden path beckons us to our fates. We need not work through government, nor try to change it. We are fully capable of leading ourselves, without corporate meddling. We are unstoppable.
вЂњOut of nothing we will imagine our values, and by this act of invention we shall live.вЂќ
вЂ”Hakim Bey, вЂњOntological Anarchy in a NutshellвЂќ
We can heal ourselves of the physical, mental, and spiritual trauma weвЂ™ve endured, being brainwashed in The Land That Got It All Wrong. We care for and heal each other; we listen, touch, and love. We care more than weвЂ™ve ever cared before. We start at our doorsteps and heal our neighborhoods and communities in the same way. We reach out and heal the ground beneath our feet and the trees above us. We rip up lawns (bioconcrete) and plant prairies and forests. We share our living habitat with the entire community of life. We have power with, not power over, and itвЂ™s a feeling beyond compare. We become honest with ourselves and each other, no longer living up to what we are told is вЂњnormalвЂќ or вЂњidealвЂќ, but reaching within, we pull through our innermost being the beauty and love that are our birthrights and share them with everyone we meet. ThereвЂ™s a lot we have forgotten about what it means to be an authentic human, but I, for one, am interested in recovering that knowledge.
I want to reclaim what it means to be a patriotic American. Forget Corporate America; I am talking about We The People. I want the world to look at America with pride once again, to shake their heads and say, вЂњThose crazy Americans! They go beyond what is known to forge lives worth living!вЂќ I am a pioneer, and so are you. It is a role thrust upon those of us who are strong enough to adapt into What Comes Next. We have ginormous brains and unlimited creativity in our toolkits of change. We are well equipped to move beyond business as usual, into fecundity and abundance. Will we find the garden of Eden waiting patiently beneath our feet? We have no idea how we may emerge from our chrysalis, but my heart is yearning to break free and find out.
Living simply: Finding real happinessGaylord’s stock takes a bounce higher this morning on Wall Street