Monday, April 8, 2013

Heal Thyself

There's a phrase attributed to Jesus in the Bible, "physician, heal thyself."  It's usually thought to be a proverb meaning that you should take care of your own business before anyone should have confidence that you can take care of theirs.  I'm using it today literally, because it's become all too clear that people need to hear it.   Here's why.

It may surprise some of you that there is a segment of the population, not insubstantial in number, who believes that somebody is on his/her/its way to save us from all the degradation we've made for ourselves on good old planet Earth.  Some of these folks think its ETs, or extra-terrestrials, who are on the way.  Some say it's EDs (extra-dimensionals) or what one might think of as angels or spirits, who are our cavalry.  Some say it's "positive military"  or veterans who will, in one fell swoop, take out the corrupted institutions we currently live with, in a lovely coup, and hand us back a perfect world--a golden age.

Of course, religions tell us of external saviors too, whether it's the second coming of Jesus, or the conquest of Kalki the Destroyer, or the arrival of the Red and Blue Kachinas.  And there's some pretty interesting groups of folks who claim to BE the saviors-- one says it's going to foreclose on the banking system and the government and give us each a big pot of money for past abuses (yes, there is such a group, and they do say that's what they're doing).

Now, I can't say that Jesus isn't on his way, or that Kalki won't ride in on his horse and destroy everything, or even that foreclosing on the Federal Reserve wouldn't be a dandy idea.  Moreover, I'm one of those who would have no trouble accepting finding a space ship on my lawn, or an angel in my hall closet, since I think it's utterly ludicrous to think that the entire Universe (and all the other Universes we might not even know about) is all here to house just us.  But I have a feeling--just a hunch--that if any of these folks are around, it isn't to save our sorry behinds with no input by us.  That would be the cosmic equivalent of the wealthy parent who bails their kid out of jail and buys them a great lawyer to get off charges of stealing cars, and is then surprised when the kid does it again.  I'm guessing the Universe isn't quite that stupid, no matter how convenient it would be if it were.  Instead, what seems to be occurring is that the truth of the corruption, fraud and abuses of various systems is being disclosed, and we're supposed to get the message and DO something about it.

In the last year, we've seen many scandals come to light.   We've seen officials in the Catholic Church be tried and jailed for their roles in covering up sexual abuse of children.  We've seen creepy old guys get outed for being sexual predators. We've seen that the banking and financial system is rigged with rate fixing and rife with fraud on those of us regular folks who are referred to as the "Muppets" for being dumb enough to trust known thieves with our money.  We've seen people who blew the whistle on government abuses and corruption getting jailed, slandered, fired, or worse.  We've seen the political discourse devolved to the place where we're actually going to debate about whether someone who works full time doing jobs that we acknowledge must be done for society to run "deserves" to be able to raise their children slightly above the poverty line, or well below it.

We're seeing a debate over whether it's "ok" or even desirable for the big, powerful military to murder Americans who it claims are "terrorists" if it's inconvenient to capture, charge and try them in a court.  We're seeing evidence that our "foreign policy" of bombing people who may have an intention to harm us, but who haven't done so yet, is killing lots of innocent people--even babies and children--along with the supposed "bad guys."

We've seen payola scandals, campaign finance scandals, and a Supreme Court decision that basically places the stamp of approval on huge, multinational corporations being able to buy the government under the pretense that bribery through campaign donations is "free speech."  So we have the information we need.  We know what the trouble is.  And yet we sit and wait.  We keep working and paying taxes to the government who's tossing it at unwinnable wars, while its representatives get rich, somehow, to the tune of tens of times what they make in Congress, and we're not even supposed to wonder what it is they do to "earn" all that extra money.  We keep buying the cheap crap that's made Walmart the size of most small world economies.  We keep reading the news and shaking our heads and tsk-tsk-ing how terrible it all is.  And then we go back and keep putting one foot in front of the other, plodding along like a broken old nag with blinders on.  We keep waiting for the savior to arrive.

But for a long time now I've been convinced that, whatever saviors are lurking out there (and I don't presume to know which, if any, that might be), the truth is that the things wrong with our systems, our culture, and our world are merely a larger reflection of the things wrong inside us as a people.

For example, we hear that near slave labor with people locked inside compounds for 36-hour shifts is what's required for us to get our $5 t-shirt, but we say, well, yes it's terrible, but they wouldn't have any job at all if it weren't for the sweatshop, so buy away.  We see the continual unrest, thievery and corruption that it takes to keep the middle east holding the oil straw to our greedy lips, but we complain bitterly that we simply must keep using more oil than the whole rest of the world; we couldn't possibly make our cars get better mileage, ride the bus, or walk a little more.  We read the articles about pesticides killing off the bees, sickening people, and causing the security of our food system to be in doubt, but the pull of the three-dollar frozen "pizza" is just too strong and we just can't bring ourselves to say that these chemicals must be eliminated, even if in the short term it causes some problems--like a pizza that costs three and a quarter.   And we know that our defense of this "way of life" has caused millions of deaths, countless wars, and the degradation of everything we touch, but we've got our big screens and our SUVs and so we give it a big "whatever" and keep right on going.   We want everything to change, without changing anything.  

But lately as we see all the scum rising to the surface of the pond, it's becoming astonishingly clear that all the eggs we've been busily stashing away in our western cultural "baskets"--the economic and political systems that are equal parts smoke, mirrors, and BS, the idea of government "looking out" for people, the notion of "safety" being achieved through militarism,  and the delusion that the piper will wait forever to be paid--are rotten and beginning to stink.    And there's a basic truth that I learned a long time ago:  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  So here's my best advice:

You can't really expect people to treat you better than you treat them, or better than you treat yourself.

You can't really think that anything's going to change when you don't demand that it be different, and you keep rewarding the bad behavior with your vote, your loyalty, or your dollars.

You can't really figure that other people are going to make a difference if you won't.

You can't really expect people to be measured and respectful in their dialog if you aren't.

You can't really expect to have rights when you rush to give them away, for supposed "protection," every time a threat comes round the corner.

You can't really expect a ceasefire to hold if you won't even unload your gun.

You can't expect to take a grand journey if you won't even take the first step.

So, the real question shouldn't be whether it's Jesus or ETs or Kalki who's coming to save us.  The real question is when we're planning on getting off the couch to save ourselves.

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