Coming as no shock to any listener of of the talk radio show that I have co-produced for more than 13 years, Positively Revolting Talk Radio (yes, that is a double intendre), we are facing some very serious challenges in our country and communities. Over the last month we have focused on the draconian loss of civil liberties & a constitutionally based government, attacks on communities & hate crimes (hey, have you heard? nooses are making a comeback), and also looking at the connections between what is valued in the economy and how people and the planet are treated--- and these issues can get overwhelming, really fast.
It is very important not to allow yourself to be moved into inaction because a problem seems to big. I don't know if you have noticed what happens to people who try to do that in their personal lives (you know, that denial thing-- If i pretend the problem doesn't exist, it will just go away)--I have tried it a few times, and I can tell you it doesn't work. Now, when talking about national and international problems, with consequences of war, peace and democracy, and the horrors being perpetrated around the world in the name of U$ Americans, the moral obligation to act is too great to allow oneself to be overwhelmed.
One of the most important tools we need to take decisive action is good information. Having good information requires that we have a transparency in governance where the press are able to ask hard questions (and moreover to demand answers to those questions). Another important thing to remember is that action is the anti-dote to despair. The third thing to remember is that your sense of humor is essential to your survival.
Yes, ACTION is the anti-dote to despair. When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. How do we get the wheels spinning in a more just direction. How can we be a part of the solution, be the change that we want to see in the world?
This morning, I spoke with Elliot D. Cohen & Bruce Fraser, who have co-authored the book, The Last Days of Democracy: How Big Media and a Power Hungry Government are Turning America into a Dictatorship. The book succinctly follows the interconnectedness of big corporate media, defense contractors, global mega PR firms and our so-called government. It is a well argued wake up call to the fact that the current interlinking relationships between these groups provide an environment toxic to citizen participation in a free society.
This is hardly a new practice, and yet the degree to which the Bush administration has engaged in it to sell the Iraq invasion and occupation, to strip civil liberties, and to launch the war on terror seems like it has taken things to that next level.
Let's start off with the idea of transparency in governance. We have known for decades that the US Gov't will manipulate information and facts to achieve an accepting public opinion for a particular course of action. This has occurred through various administrations, in the U$ and abroad. Noam Chomsky talks about this process in his epic work, Manufacturing Consent.
This is hardly a new practice, and yet the degree to which the Bush administration has engaged in it to sell the Iraq invasion and occupation, to strip civil liberties, and to launch the war on terror seems like it has taken things to that next level. It seems that as the outrages get larger, I tend to feel number, cynical. That's not healthy, I recognize that. Action is the anti-dote to despair-- chant it like a mantra.
The Last Days of Democracy, starts out with a great look at the so-called Downing Street Memo-- this was an absolutely eye-popping leak to the press that proves the point that the U$ was looking for a justification to go to war with Iraq. Rather a smoking gun for those of us who "knew" that the administration was making up justifications to occupy Iraq out of whole cloth. But knowing that this administration lies is not the same as taking action against those lies-- doing positive things to enact a peaceful and just culture.
Moral obligation says act now-- lives are literally at stake. We must end the occupation of Iraq. We must re-prioritize spending, so that domestic human needs come out on top-- we need $$ for health care, housing, and a restored environment. And while we are at it, we should make art, too.
There are many wonderful things that are happening along these lines-- things that make it easy and enticing to act. One of these is a study group forming around the book The Real Wealth of Nations, by Riane Eisler--whom I was fortunate enough to interview recently for the talk show. The basic premise of this book is that it can be used as a text to explore a newish form of economics, while it can be used as an action guide to build our local economy to reflect humane and nurturing values. As crazy busy as I am, I want to participate in this. I want to help build opportunities for people to value each other, to work in partnership and with respect to one another and the earth that sustains us all. It is unsatisfying to only rail against, I need something to rail for.
Dr. Riane Eisler wrote the Chalice and the Blade, which was the book that introduced me to a lot of concepts about actual historical societies that were not based in violence and rigid hierarchies. Her new book takes those ideas and makes them into a very tangible economic system that can work for us all.
She is speaking at First Unitarian Church, at SW 12th & Main, on Friday, Oct. 26th, 7 -9 pm. There is a sliding scale entrance, with no one turned away for lack of funds. You can find out more about it (and download study guides or hook up with others involved in the local study group) by checking their website:
Allow me to end with these thoughts on fear and action, from one of my favorite books of all time, Das Energi, by Paul Williams:
Relax. That's how you deal with fear.
Fear is the greates enemy of awareness.
It leaves shame and guilt far behind.
Fear is the force that holds us back.
And we need not be held back any longer!
There is a way to deal with fear.
First: accept that fear is not needed, that there is never
A reason to let it live. Carry this knowledge within you always;
It is your first line of defense.
Second: Learn to recognize your fears, in all their forms,
In the earliest stages possible.
Any fear killing mantra will do. Say:
I shall not fear, I need not fear. Write your own mantra.
Learn it. Use it. Killing fear is like stamping out a fire. Reflex.
Stamp it out.
Good night and good luck.