By Judith Gayle | Political Waves
"THE MORE things change, the more they stay the same" -- that's the old saying that has only made sense to me as I've gotten decades of experience under my belt. I think it comes down to the people who are producing the change; as much as folks want change, they only want it to be good, and that, of course, isn't how the dynamic works. Change is not subjective; it's neutral, even though it doesn't feel that way. Windows most often fly open only when doors shut hard in our face.
Change will always involve losing something to make room for something else, and we howl like banshees if we lose anything at all; as we try to slow up the flow of change to make sure nothing we want to keep is lost, our personal psychology steps up to impose our ancient patterns of belief system, insecurity and tribal allegiance. Now, reflecting the personal changes that are challenging us, we once again find ourselves politically at odds – party-to-party, neighbor-to-neighbor -- in a battle of consciousness. That never stops change from arriving on our doorstep, of course; but it makes the explosion bigger when it finally comes. I think that's what this situation of ours is all about -- building pressure for a blast the size of Tunguska
I'd suppose that's not what you want to hear; reality of this proportion is tough stuff. But the disastrous wobble in systems we're seeing today did not come out of the blue; it's an energy that's been growing and collecting strength by small increments since the founding of this nation. Futurists that had a capacity to understand that things change established that perfect embryo of a Republic that came forth, but some things shouldn't: like free speech and liberties and common interests.
Give them credit for looking past their own class considerations, as did FDR, when they put pen to paper: they didn't say life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for the moneyed, alone. That they had feet of clay, being elitist businessmen who were interested in severing connection with the Crown's taxation, some using slave labor to sustain their own households, should not be dismissed lightly. Matters of economy brought this nation into being; economics, not ideology, split the states for a mighty Civil War; and economy, at this moment, is shaking us like a dog shakes a bone. The Almighty Dollar has been our national religion, and it appears that we have, rightfully, lost our faith.
We, who consume more than anyone else and have a standard of living that has given us the leisure to creatively ponder our situation, have a responsibility to police ourselves; if we were born into liberty, then we have entered into a contract with the planet. To whom much is given, much is expected.
We've called for this meltdown with our emotional despair and creative longing, and if it looks like chaos, that directly reflects our shifting understanding; we saw in Bush's tenure the culmination of all that we didn't want and we're left, now, to figure out what we do want. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a necessary step in the reconfiguration of this new era, that the old economic and political models are too broken to continue, but surviving the shift is going to take all the faith we can muster. I'd suggest we rethink what we put our faith in, and quickly.
That will require some honesty about how we got here, and what we trust. I'm delighted that Obama continues to tell us that he inherited this crisis; it's been coming on for too many years to remember, but that doesn't absolve Bush from sticking a fork in it and calling it done. Perhaps it was the Mercury retrograde and Void of Course Moon that launched the presidential snafus, but the national rescue hasn't started off so well, in these last few weeks; and if it appears that Joe and Jane Six-Pack can't think themselves out of this paper bag, that's because Americans have not been taught critical thinking in decades. Still, we have before us a teachable moment for citizens everywhere -- such a shame that humans seem only able to learn profound lessons through pain.
For all our shining American propaganda, we make progress slowly in this country. In my lifetime, I don't remember a Democratic president that wasn't picking up the pieces after a Republican administration, putting their own progressive agenda aside to right wrongs and mop up. I was too young to vote for Kennedy, who inherited Vietnam and civil rights conflicts among other things, but I worked for him licking envelopes and addressing campaign mail. I've watched the two-party system impede one another, and national progress, since.
Why is it that when things need to grow and change, desperately pushing into the public consciousness as no longer able to be ignored, they meet so much resistance? Because this nation is like a giant pressure cooker, the lid kept in place by powerful global money interests and we only begin to let off steam when the fire gets too hot. Well, baby -- it's hot today; it's a wildfire and it's picking up speed. And, yes, we're finally getting steamed up.
Our new president is peddling as fast as he can to get ahead of the economic meltdown, using the tools he believes he has before him; as this situation worsens, I believe he may consider some of the more radical options on the table, like nationalization of banks
-- but for now, he is intent on pouring money into the system to see if it can stabilize itself. The American people, who have endured years of examples of their pockets being picked, are not happy with as much as a trillion tax dollars going into this experiment; but how happy would they be, I wonder, if we did nothing, as the Republicans suggest?
John Dean, ignored hero of the Democratic '50 State Solution' that put Obama on the map everywhere instead of just where he was welcomed, pushed hard to get congressional candidates into place to make a Dem victory more than just another gridlock exercise for the progressive agenda. Since politics is local, and gerrymandered districts difficult to turn, the Democrats did not get quite enough new Blues to make success a sure thing. Obama's stimulus package will make its way through the process but not without a conservative mugging of the money that might have made a difference in the lives of millions.
The list of propositions downsized is depressing; those eliminated entirely are worth opening a progressive vein over. The list of stimulus cuts come courtesy of three Republican moderates
who were sent up to break ranks with their fellows to support the bill, if Dems would reduce their populist spending: larger tax breaks for the wealthy, of course, have been boosted.
As I write, a consensus bill has been hammered out, and I see that the number of jobs it will produce has been reduced, but the Republicans are touting this bill as fiscally responsible; funny how they're suddenly experts on that front. Early cuts to 'Democratic pork' had eliminated money for watershed rehab, school nutrition, broadband, No Child Left Behind, energy loan guarantees, state and local law enforcement, science, transportation needs, Head Start, health prevention activity, school construction, retrofitting and state fiscal stabilization; still ahead, we will have to see how the details of this new bill, which had been deemed 'impossible' to pass through a divided Congress, shake out.
This kind of blackmailing legislative trade-off is called 'process politics;' the wonks call it "sausage making," dicing and grinding to achieve a finished product. If it sounds frustrating and unworkable, that's because we haven't seen it in a while; Bush simply let the lobbyists write their own bills, and then passed them down to his majority party for lockstep votes and quick implementation. We had us a “Decider" not long ago -- not a "Presider
," as Andrew Sullivan calls Barack Obama. So today we have the good of a nation held hostage to three Republican legislators, and a clash of ideology dictating terms as a nation suffers.
The pragmatism that Obama is showing outclasses political ideology, but it hasn't slowed the Right down from obstruction and denial. Their 'good ideas' have been welcomed into the Oval Office, but they haven't offered anything but more of what we've done in the last eight years; so while you're looking for blessings to count, think how this would look if the Republicans had won the election. Remember John McCain cancelling his run for a day or two so he could go to Washington and "fix" the crisis? He got a fine photo-op out of that; and lost a lot of voters who thought he'd lost his mind. He's evidently still looking for it, today, as he leads obstruction for the Right and collects money from Rush Limbaugh's
We could wax on forever about the two mindsets of the conservative Status Quos and the progressive Move Aheads, but the bottom line is that the process itself isn't what we should be observing. It's the iron fist of international money-movers and power-players that continue to try to drown governance in the bathtub in order to take advantage of every market, every demographic, every opportunity to squeeze a dime out of those who have none to spare; the calculated will of those who start wars, move weapons, create chaos and opportunity for plunder. Their internal blunders and missteps are beginning to make them more visible.
In the last 10 years, the top 1% of the wealthy have almost doubled their worth, occulting even the greed of the Golden Age; meanwhile, the middle class has shrunk, the lower class has disappeared into the shadows and the miserably poor are simply left to die
, unnoticed. The infrastructure of the USA is in tatters, having been ignored for so long that no band-aid will fix it; estimates are in the $3 trillion range. Our children are not educated for a global economy in this new century, those desperate to work have no jobs awaiting them, those laid off have no company to return to, and the American Dream seems now to be the illusion of generations gone by. There is no quick fix for this -- and perhaps there is no actual fix for the systems that are swirling the drain as we watch. Perhaps that's exactly what needs to happen next.
In my humble opinion, the banking system is lost and should be reconfigured; Obama is hardly in a position to do that when he can barely get a rescue plan to help the average citizen through a constipated Congress. The Fed is poised on issuing gazillions of paper dollars, weakening the ones you have in your pocket; the Federal Reserve is another thing that needs to be scrutinized and, ultimately, scrapped. There is no fix for what is no longer configured for the public good or the national trust. I suspect that the big powerbrokers went too far in this centuries-old, covert scam; I think they've lost control of it as it burns brightly across the globe. And such an occurrence is, as Obama has told us, a moment of opportunity.
I don't have much faith in the system, at this point -- but I have, from the beginning of this last political shift, had faith that the circumstances would push us where we need to go. Having someone sharp and well-intentioned in place who can step back from the crumbling structures of the establishment to keep the good of the public as his top priority has seemed to me the whole point of these last political battles.
So, where do we put our faith? What can we rely on, at this historical and paradigm-shaking point in time? Not our salaries or savings, obviously; not our property or holdings. Government is struggling, but until it gets worse, we won't get past the traditional process that has us by the throat. We're not in enough pain to rise up and demand truth from our press, or actual reform from our politicians; but we will be. Today a desperate man painted his foreclosure message
on the roof of his house, asking to be heard and causing enough national attention for scrutiny of his circumstance -- if you don't see yourself in this man, you have no heart for what will come next.
I'd suggest we put our faith in one another; I know that seems too modest a plan for such staggering problems, but the answers to complex problems are always the simplest. The source of our good is not the government or our jobs, but the connection we have with the unseen intelligence available to us; we then extend that out to those who resonate with it, who support and encourage and assist us as we walk our talk and meet our challenges.
As elemental as this seems, consider that finding those who will keep us out of fear is critical to shift our thinking toward positive, productive attitudes and help us through the night. Our thought process will indicate where we put our faith -- if we aren't putting it into successfully swimming this current of change, then we are sinking like a rock.
Each of us is a brilliant, bold creative source of light and unless we stand in that understanding, expecting solutions to our problems, we will collapse under the mental/emotional illusion of our circumstance well before the circumstances themselves bite us. Prepare yourself to receive by being aware of how much you have; give yourself away and find yourself in the bargain; if you don't have money, give time -- if you don't have time, give love. Give, because that is the one way to keep receiving from a benevolent and generous universe.
And there's another thing we can put our faith in. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Consider this statement
to Congress, given by Senator Robert Byrd:
While the other side is busy congratulating each other on proving that they are a force to be reckoned with, they have only proved to the American people that they are the guardians of gridlock...While the champagne corks are popping, millions of Americans will open a can of beans and wonder whether they are going to find a job.
That statement was given in 1993, facing down the Gingrich Republican machine who obstructed Clinton's early attempts at populist reform. Reliable old Bobby Byrd has taken on the role of an American Cicero
for years, pointing out corruption and holding forth with passion that is only now beginning to fade, as his body fails; he is a shining example of a human being who can evolve, given his early sympathy with the Klu Klux Klan back in the 50s.
I watched this 91-year-old man collapse at the Inauguration Luncheon where Ted Kennedy suffered his recent seizure; he was fine, he said, just overcome by emotion. He was back in Congress with the next session, literally propped up to breathe a little more fire. We can have faith in Bobby Byrd, and those like him, who refuse to give up even when they're falling down; advocates like Byrd and Kennedy who recognize the importance of their participation, and refuse to give out, even as their energies dim. People like Obama that took on a job nobody in their right mind would want. People like you and me, working together to make this country aware of its problems and coming up with inspired, creative ideas to overlay the old, fading blueprint of corrupted arrogance that can no longer stand.
What stays the same in times of change is a matter of perspective: in a paradigm shift like ours, what stays the same is love of the promise of freedom and liberty, the compassion of public service and the idealism of commonwealth. Our power is within ourselves, it is within our numbers. It is in embracing our reality with determination and confidence, knowing that it's taking us somewhere we need to go. It's in standing up to fear even when our knees are shaking, which is the definition of courage. It's in working ceaselessly for ourselves and for our neighbors, as ourselves. What remains the same is always our transcendent possibilities -- and if our hearts have grown large enough to enfold the vision of healing that calls us forward, then we will find our way through this.
If Bobby Byrd can rattle his fragile old bones out of bed in the morning to battle for the soul of America, if a man can be creative enough to spray paint his roof in Carson, California, and get the attention of a desperate world, if Barack Obama can take time to answer the plea of a homeless woman
with a hug and a promise to see how he can help, then you and I can seize this moment and wring the blessing and good from it, keep our dreams alive and meet fear with creativity and confidence.
My faith is in you and me, and the wisdom of the energies that are taking us exactly where we need to be. Don't doubt you have everything it takes to not only weather this financial storm, but become a blessing to everyone you meet; and if that's not what you're doing right now, then you have missed the gift of the enlightenment that is upon us: please -- consider carefully and choose again.