Cultivating Compassion

I’ve found it hard to write, lately.

It isn’t that my thoughts have dried up. I recently finished two seriously eye-opening books: one on the history of the Mongols (yes, Genghis Khan and his sons), and the other Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Cold fusion continues to heat up, and now NASA is investigating an effect that could — could — represent a violation of, or at least an extension to, the classical laws of momentum conservation, which could one day translate into a real “space drive” of the sort I read about in my uncle’s 1930’s space operas. I’ve been thinking a lot about the inevitable death of capitalism, and the closely-related issue of racism in the United States, and the rapid descent of American exceptionalism into an openly violent surveillance police-state, and what might replace the whole bloody mess. There’s always global warming to talk about, and the economics of oil. Then, of course, there’s the buffoonery of the American political system: despite two centuries of the Pageant of Idiots every two years, I think we’re scraping new lows this year; Gods help us next year as the now-perpetual Presidential campaign-and-money-pit turns into a full three-ring circus complete with flying pigs (wear a hat).

But somehow, it all seems distant. Noise. Like mosquitos farting.

The move to California has been a big part of this, I think; an anticipated effect, actually, which I’m glad to see. My chakras are re-aligning.

I’m happier. I’m starting to feel at ease in a way I was never at ease in Colorado. That makes it hard for me to write, because a large part of my desire to write in the past was discontent. I need to learn to write from a different place.

Maybe from a place of greater compassion, and hope. I’d like that.

A couple of weeks ago, someone wrote to the editor of the local paper with a long screed about how Social Security is a Ponzi scam, how it should be ended and its illegally-taxed money be returned to the rightful owners who paid into it, yada, yada.

About two days later, someone wrote a calm, well-reasoned response that basically boiled down to, “What are you smoking, man? It’s really bad for you.”

In Colorado, I would have been the fellow writing the response. And I’d have felt utterly alone, because this script — I call it the Ponzi script, and I suspect it comes to the masses through Fox News, though I think it’s actually older than television — is widely-believed by the hordes of Fox-watching “conservatives” of Colorado, even though it makes less sense than a rain umbrella for deep-sea divers. It isn’t merely that the “facts” are wrong; it’s that the whole narrative is incoherent, betraying a near-total ignorance of what Ponzi scams, Social Security, investment, retirement, and old-age support are about, to say nothing of exhibiting an apparent inability to think critically at all.

Here, someone else wrote that response, and I didn’t have to.

It seems minor, yet for me, it’s profound. Someone else wrote a response. Someone else gets it.

This isn’t about Social Security, nor is it about someone agreeing with me. It’s about the fact that, while facts and reasoning and mathematics perhaps can’t solve every problem, they can do a fine job of filtering out the complete lunatic bilge-water, on which any of us can so easily and unpleasantly drown. They can also lead two people who have never met and don’t listen to the same mind-numbing propaganda, to nevertheless come to a common understanding of how things work, entirely on their own.

It’s about sanity.

The Ponzi script is insane, and it’s only one of dozens, perhaps hundreds of equally insane scripts that permeate US culture, and dominate thought, discussion, and even legislation in many places in the US — Colorado most certainly among them.

So far, it doesn’t seem to include here, though I can’t speak for Sacramento or Orange County. This place seems sane. It isn’t just my head saying that, but my heart and … well, my chakras.

I have a good friend who is just back from six month in Bhutan, and she says that her return to US society in Boulder has been brutal and unspeakably lonely. I’ve encouraged her to write about the details of her daily life in Bhutan; I suspect that what will come through is an image of sanity.

I remember a therapist telling me once, a long time ago, that when you live in an insane environment, you end up questioning your own sanity.

It’s nice to know that here, I don’t have to question my sanity every time I argue against the Infallible Word of God (as delivered by Glenn Beck) that the sky is blue.

I will probably post less frequently for a while, as I try to find a different mode of writing. In the meantime, the third movement of the symphony is coming….

 

This entry was posted in General.

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