The World is changing one thread at a time

How to Change the World When it Feels Like Nothing is Working

So Gay or Equal Marriage is picking up steam and looks like it’s going to become the status quo soon. The idea that gay marriage is now accepted in America is amazing, but it most definitely ain’t everything in this fight. We still have some Gordian cultural knots to undo. How about something I’m familiar with like custody rights for transgender people? LGBTQ adoption? LGBTQ job security? How about the inherent patriarchal and misogynistic imperative in marriage itself? How about the fact that black people live third world lives in America? How about the prison-industrial Jim Crow 2.0 complex? How about the crime against humanity: the Drug War?

If you want to change one part of society, you have to change all of society. It is one big interlocking machine where all parts are connected. They tell us that Utopian thinking is harmful, and we’ll just end up with another Soviet Union or Maoist China. I’m no fool; those corrupt regimes murdered countless millions of people. Well, guess what? So did the United States in North America. Well, unless you think the Redskins, Braves, Indians, or whatever caricature name you want to call them are even people at all. Let’s ask Chief Wahoo! or Chief Noc-A-Homa what they think:

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Utopian aspirations are at the core of the American experiment. But, hell, this ain’t no utopia yet. This is a place where people are lining up right now, freezing in tents in the cold, so that they can buy something they’ll probably use for a month or two, for 15% off. But if you asked these people to camp out against the usurious and corrupted banks at Wall Street, they wouldn’t even so much as click ‘like’ on Facebook.

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There is a dream that lives in each of us that is real. This dream is diametrically opposed to the gaudy Wal-Mart monoliths that beckon us with siren songs of “percent off,” “high-definition,” “buy one get one,” and “live better!” Put wax in your ears by turning off your TV. Let me tell you a secret. You cannot resist these sirens. They do focus groups, neural imaging, polls, statistical regressions, and experiments costing millions of dollars to ensure that 90% of you will do exactly what the commercial says. You are a good person, but they have you trapped. Even mighty and independent Odysseus knew that he would fall prey to the wily ways of those who spend all of their time learning how to be as seductive as possible. Learn from the ancients; they dealt with the same problems we do.

One timeless problem that has vexed people is excessive alcohol consumption. I used to drink alcohol a lot. A LOT. But I quit. I’m definitely not going to say that one should or should not drink, but I want to point out something about my experience. I drank because I was scared. I was scared of a world that wanted me gone and dead for who I was on the inside. It gave me some comfort, but it had side effects. In the long run, I overcame the fears I was running from, but I was still drinking because it was addictive. I tried to gain control over alcohol using the basic means with which one usually stops a simple habit. But this didn’t work. Gaining control over alcohol for me required that I first abstain completely and second understand it as a net-negative, personal toxin to me. This was a moral choice in that I said “my life is superior if I do not drink alcohol, therefore I will not drink alcohol.” It’s akin to saying, “doctor, this medication you gave me for my blood pressure is causing side effects that I cannot handle, and I believe I should switch to something else.” And lastly, I had to acknowledge that once the booze got into my brain, it started working just like those Wal-Mart marketing execs to get me to drink more. I won’t say I was “powerless” as the AA folks like to say because that’s a bit of a hyperbole, but I’d rather not have this devious sonofabitch lurking in my neurons trying to spin me like a Fox News commercial in an old-folks home.

So, the lesson I learned, and I think everyone could learn from is that sometimes you have to be careful what you allow into your environment. In America, we have the freedom to be a fool. God bless our freedom to be foolish because one man’s foolishness is another woman’s enlightened activity. George Carlin said that the world is a freak show and “in America you get a front row seat.” That’s because we allow our neighbors to be freaks and fools in hope that they’ll see for themselves the truth of reality and be able to put wax in their ears or abstain from drinking when they need to. Nobody wants to remain a fool forever, but there is a mighty power in being foolish sometimes.

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To call on another ancient symbol, the Tarot card The Fool which is related to the Joker in a modern deck of cards is the first card in the story of The Fool’s Journey. The Fool starts out as a knave, completely blind to the avaricious predators that lie waiting for him. He or she, it is a rather androgynous figure, encounters many travails along his path to wisdom. He sets out against the world and stakes his claim. He falls in love and learns the lessons that make him into the also androgynous figure of The World, a figure who has seen thick, thin, high, low, and all that existence has to offer.  He is slighted and maimed and rocked with revolution. But he or she the mighty Fool finds wisdom by trusting in the truths he found along the way.

We have those truths now, thanks to the Internet. We are no longer blind to the facts and realities of the world. We see exactly what is going on around us. But we don’t know what to do next. I’m here to tell you that you just do it. You stop drinking. You stop shopping at Wal-Mart. You turn off the TV so you cannot be manipulated by the commercials that are more powerful than street drugs. You make the substantive steps to change your environment, so that you can be more powerful, knowing that you might have to put wax in your ears from time to time. When you do this, we do this. When we do this, the world changes.