Autumn equinox, 2008 A Humanifesto
To those of my friends and family who are still undecided about this US Presidential election of 2008.
I believe that your vote in this election will determine the future of this country and the planet.
What is coming up is not just a vote between two political parties but between two distinct ways-of-life that currently divide our country into two warring halves, not unlike the time just before our Civil War nearly 150 years ago, or the time of our Revolutionary War in which 1/3 of the population was for the rule of King George, 1/3 for the risks of freedom and independence, and 1/3 undecided. Sound familiar?
I’ll typify the two ways-of-life with these phrases: the “I’ve got mine and I’m going to defend my right to get more” way-of-life (the way we HAVE been conducting ourselves) and the “evolving into being more human way-of-life and encouraging others” way of life.
The “I’ve got mine” way-of-life has proven in the last eight years that it doesn’t work in our time and in this place. The “free hand of capitalism”—with its unregulated greed and corruption, often set up by the earlier Dem/Rep administrations, e.g. Clinton and Reagan—has resulted in a host of plagues: from the drill-drill-drill like there’s no tomorrow philosophy, to the American-the- Global-Bully philosophy, to the “benefit the most wealthy and the corporations and it will trickle down to the people” philosophy.
The planet and our people aren’t going to be able to suffer any more of this. Systems—ecosystems (including water and air, inalienable human rights), financial systems,. housing, public health (cancer clusters from toxins)–are already collapsing.
Many of you have heard me say that perhaps it will be best if the global financial systems collapses, if the petroleum-based transportation systems become unaffordable, if our chemical-based food systems collapse. Then we’ll be forced to live off the land again, in communities that are at a human scale, within walking, bicycling. and donkey-cart distance.
We might have a shot at becoming natives in our home watersheds. If we return to local rule, will we become cooperating communities or will we guard the boundaries of our property with shotguns? Will we hoard or will we give our excess production to the weaker members of our communities, the elderly, the children, the disabled?
I can imagine downsides to this scenario. A collapse of our global economy could aggravate our fearfulness, lack of compassion and stifle our collective vision. The attendant suffering that would accompany a worldwide collapse of the industrial way-of-life would be gruesome both to witness and experience.
The corporate-government cabal (particularly the greedy, “I have mine…and I have yours!” way-of-life, runamok capitalism) may be even freer to pursue their dreams of empire and conquest, mining resources and conducting warfare and intimidation from satellites and outer space.
I know this lies behind the fear many have of gun control. If a totalitarian government takes over this country and the planet, how will we defend ourselves if we don’t have an armed local militia? In our country’s past, we have faced this serious concern, often with disastrous results (local posses after the Civil War, for instance.)
What’s the possibility we could have a totalitarian government in our lifetime? Frankly, I believe this to be one of the grave possibilities at stake from the consequences of this election. Once significant time passes, and this window of closes, as our freedoms are eroded in the name of national security, the military and corporate interests will continue to consolidate their power. This scenario— freedom fighters in the countryside and a totalitarian government in control—as sci-fi as it seems today, could become reality in the near-term future. For now, we still have a chance to turn back the forces that consolidate power to themselves, a chance to return power to the people. There are those who think this assessment is too optimistic, that we, a manipulated and fearful population, have already lost our freedom. Many credible scientists think that we are already living on a planet that is dying, slowly but surely.
I suspect that many who are against gun control are those who may want to defend themselves from their neighbors, if the going gets tough. THIS is what I am calling the way-of-life that must pass if we are to move on: the fear of each other, of our neighbors. The “I’ve got mine” and the need to defend it at any cost way-of-life will kill us all. The fear they have fed us feeds paranoia. Is it too late to imagine peace, as John Lennon suggested?
The alternate way-of-life being proposed, that I will call a more human way-of- life, holds a lot of unknowns, much as the Jews freed from Pharaoh faced the
uncertainty of a free life in the desert compared to the certainty of being fed and housed while enslaved. To me, it’s understandable that a good half of the country are fearful of an unknown future, preferring a status quo that harms them to the uncertainty of freedom. Of choice.
I have to ask: would it be possible to have some compassion for each other rather than villain-izing each other? We are all one family.
In the 2000 election, I was among those who said there was too little difference between Republics and Democrats. I voted Green Party for Nader, putting the election of Al Gore at risk.
Eight years ago, the political process appeared to me to corrupt those involved absolutely. During the 2000 campaign, where was the Al Gore who rose up after he lost the election to make us aware of the accelerating pace of climate change? If he had been elected president, would that Al Gore, champion of our planet, have been able to surface? Not if his conduct during the campaign speaks to the fetters the political process puts on candidates in the presidential race and after, on the presidency. I and others felt it was time to get a measure of those who thought outside of the party lines, a growing minority.
I justified the riskiness of my vote for Nader this way: a Bush presidency might snap citizens out of their apathy and feelings of helplessness and despair. That for ordinary people to witness what Bush and Rove and Cheney would do with a free hand might move things along in the direction of reform.
Who knew? In retrospect, I don’t think I could be that coldblooded again. Independent sources estimate that one million Iraqi men, women and children have died. These Iraqis, plus our own dead and maimed—all mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters—are human casualties from a war launched on deliberate lies (no WMD, a red herring), fear (fanning the fires after 9/11), and yes, greed (hegemony over the oil fields.)
The evidence is there: they had this planned well before 9/11, back in the administration of Bush I. All they need to do what they want is the slimmest pretext.
And so while important differences may have existed between Dems and Reps as they were in 2000, those differences are falling apart. The differences that divide us now as a country run really deep between two ways-of-life, two visions of the future.
I’ve typified the two ways-of-life with these phrases: the “I’ve got mine and I’m going to defend my right to get more” way-of-life (the way we HAVE been conducting ourselves) and the “evolving into being more human way-of-life and encouraging others” way of life. (Yes, scary and uncertain.) I stand behind my assertion that the two political parties don’t mean what they used to anymore.
The Reps’ charge that Dems only want to tax and spend is laughable after the last eight years. The entire cost of this mismanaged war in Iraq has been funded on money we’ve borrowed from China and other countries. Where is the cost of the bailout of Wall Street coming from?—from us, the taxpayers we are told, to the tune of twice the cost of the war in Iraq. How do I define a mismanaged war?— not enough body armor, poorly equipped vehicles, gross corruption among the corporations/mercenaries in Iraq, poor VA services supporting returning vets and their families, repeated mandated tours of duty.
The Reps’ charge that Dems favor Big Government would be laughable if I were that cynical. Bush and his cronies have consolidated power in the presidency to the point that he could declare a state of national emergency and suspend all our rights if they were able to engineer another 9/11 before the election. I am holding my breath until after the election is decided, praying that they do not take this route to consolidate power in their empire/regime. They have set up the legal precedent for it, which we have allowed.
How do I define a mismanaged economy? No/little regulation on corporations and financial institutions, a “mortgage crisis” in which they say millions of Americans will and are losing their homes, A dollar not worth much and staggering debt. (Put Bush on the dollar, someone quipped.) We WILL be paying this bill and our children and their children, for Wall’s Street’s failure (greed) and the cost of Iraq. And not just in dollars.
We’ve got deeper shared values than the traditional divide between the two political parties: children, rivers, forests, clean air and water…the list goes on.
I don’t want to hear another Dem or Rep debate the value of hunting and fishing. We may be depending on those skills to eat and hope that the environmental rapists (“I’ve got mine…and yours!”) have left us with enough clean water and deep forest for games and fisheries to be responsibly managed to give us some protein.
I don’t want to hear another Dem or Rep debate the best way to keep our current food systems going, one that—thro NAFTA and globalization—has destroyed other local food cultures around the world with our subsidized commodities being dumped into local economies with no court of appeal. In the World Court at the Hague, “free trade rules!”
Is there anyone out there who still trusts the free hand of capitalism (and yes, I tar Clinton and Bush with the same brush) after recent displays of the clumsiness of that free hand, from eroding our labor rights including gainful employment with wages, reasonable vacation and benefit…to the destruction of local economies both in America and around the world?
The veil is off, revealing the corruption of the chemicals’ (petroleum) industry in its insidious infiltration of our food systems. Consumer protections that European countries provide to their citizens have been eroded by a bought USDA. (Where else but in the land of the free hand of capitalism could consumer protection testing be funded by the companies that produce the products being tested? And tested by our universities!)
Our childrens’ flesh holds over 100 types of chemicals that don’t belong there, including flame retardants (all mattresses sold in this country must be coated with this carcinogen,) as well as various plastic derivatives and estrogen mimickers like BPA and phthalates, found in baby bottles, rubber duckies and shampoos. Where is our outrage?
We have to take responsibility from bringing this to a halt now before it is too late. In the last 150 years, both communism and capitalism have shown themselves to be, in their pure undiluted state, failed experiments, with terrible costs to humanity and the planet.
Haven’t our brains grown subtle enough to envision some mix of the two, along with some wisdom from those who were/are native on each continent and watershed, to make a commitment to peace, to compassion, to enlightened self- and-other interest, to producing enough to take care of the physically weakest among us, children, disabled and elderly? These are the ones who have built and will build our past, our present and our future. (Have you seen the estimates of disabled coming home from Iraq?)
Isn’t it time we grew away from our terrible experiments with primitive technologies, from our two-party political system masquerading as democracy…to exporting our petroleum-based culture via corporate giants like Monsanto and Rand and Cargill…to allowing our food, water and air to be compromised, sold off to profit the short-sighted “I’ve got mine…and I’ve got yours!”
Isn’t it time we grew up as humans, time to throw off the unregulated greed of capitalism and the totalitarian excesses of fascism and communism? Are you still willing to forfeit your rights in order to be “taken care of?” Are we awake enough now to believe that can participate in our government, whether local or national, by voting, by staying informed, by integrating our political life into our daily life, by letting those we’ve elected know what we want—without fear?
We have breezed uncomfortably close to letting (what Eisenhower warned against) “the military-industrial complex” take over. We have this opportunity to vote for becoming more human, for evolving with harmony into the life of this planet and the other beings who live here.
I understand that we have had fear spoon fed to us. It has served our rulers well. They have grown fat off our fear.
I appreciate that letting go of the way-of-life that has made the gears of our culture turn for the past 150 years or more is frightening.
Can we move away from our petroleum-dependency, to technologies based on local weather and climate and the untapped renewable resources given to us there? Yes we can.
Can we move way from being the Big Stick on the planet, to reinvest in our own country, to invest in our children’s education, our aging infrastructure, our vast forests and waterways? Can we do this without becoming isolationists, without seeing all resources as exploitable, as our God-given right? Can we move away from dominating the planet, as we dominated women and people of color? Can we study the web of life and take our place in it with respect, with responsibility? Yes we can and you know we can!
They say we have allies in the spirit world, that an opportune time has come to evolve again. And we must.
If we are going to be conservative, let’s conserve our forests and streams. Let’s revitalize and empower local government. (Gender parity on boards!) Let’s conserve the health of our farmlands.
If we’re going to be responsible investors, let’s be like our Native American forebearers and invest in the next eight generations. (Look at what the “I’ve got mine…and I’ve got yours!” way-of-life has left for the generations to come.)
If we’re going to be risk-takers, let’s step away from this old way-of-life together- -the industrial model of domination, the petroleum era, the unbridled capitalism, totalitarianism, imperialism and war—to a future that is unknowable, yes, and a little frightening, together.
Let’s move together with peace and harmony and compassion for our fellow man. This is the only great experiment that is left for us to choose: to see if we can choose to evolve to become more human.
I deliver this humanifesto as a matriot. A matriot is someone who cares for the health, education, and wellbeing of every person in her/his country…and the world. (Google poet Fran Adler who coined the term.) Thanks to Barack Obama for insisting that one can disagree with the current government and love one’s country .
With great love and faith in our humanity, Destiny Kinal