I’ve been stewing, but also silencing myself a lot over the past few months. I severed pretty much all ties to social media (I deactivated my Facebook in January), in part because I felt that my being on it wasn’t helping anything. Any time I’ve felt like I had something to say, it also felt like someone else could say it better and would make it more eloquent. I guess you could say that I really sunk into the name of my blog, and realized just how much I don’t know, and that’s made it hard to write, because I’m pretending that something makes sense to me enough that it’s worth committing to type. However, I find it useful sometimes to keep writing, even if it doesn’t make a difference, even if it doesn’t change anything, even if no one reads it, just because it documents how I’m thinking right now, and then I can see how I change over the years. So here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about, and feel free to watch me try to spin a coherent story out of the muddled mess of my mind.
I’m searching for the story that will set us free, that will cause people to leave the caged system we’re trapped in now for actual freedom– where everyone’s worth isn’t tied up to their bank account, where people take care of each other and share because the whole is better off when people work together. I guess I’m a socialist, but I’m more a democratic tribalist? I think systems break down when there are too many people living in the same way. Nature promotes diversity, not monoculture. I think a major problem with the world right now is that there’s a story that success is measured by what people own. I think success needs to be reimagined as community bonds– have you participated in the world around you, have you loved thoroughly, have you brought joy into peoples’ lives, do you have people who will gladly care for you? I love Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem about success:
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.
…I don’t think there are many governments that I can think of that encourage this type of success. GDP is the measure of success for a country, even though things like war and toxic waste cleanup stimulates production while endangering peoples’ lives.
A little-paid-attention-to fact about the beginning of the USA… The founding fathers wrote and imagined a different type of government than any of them had experienced or seen before, and it was more than two years after the revolutionary war ended that they came up with the constitution… Which means, for a few years, the founding fathers tried other types of governing that didn’t work as well as they wanted them to, and they wrote the constitution to address the problems that they wanted to solve. Just because they found something that worked for a while doesn’t mean that they developed a flawless system. It worked if you were part of a specific group of people– I acknowledge that many groups were marginalized, discriminated against, or actively persecuted as a result of the development of the creation of the USA government, like First Nations’ peoples, African-Americans, basically anyone not white-cis-het-anglo-saxon-protestant-male. It doesn’t surprise me that the system of government that was created by a bunch of white guys ended up privileging a bunch of white guys– if it’s hard for people to not otherise people now, in an age of blogs and social media and skype, where people can immediately share their personalized experience of what the world is like, imagine what it was like back then, when communication took weeks and most people were illiterate. My point being that it was hard for these few men to come up with a system that would benefit people that weren’t like them because they may not have understood why such a thing would be desirable (and when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression). I know I’m not the only one searching for a different solution, and I get regularly frustrated by my inability to come up with something different. Not feeling smart enough to sort something out is an unusual feeling for me, but this problem has me utterly stumped. We clearly need a system that addresses the inequality that has stratified the gap between wealthy and poor, but how do we go about making it happen, and what should it look like? Continue reading