It would be very easy to say that based upon the nature of man as he has shown himself throughout history, the only destination is self-destruction. We are in an escalated time of war, hatred, greed, and all of the things that spell disaster.
I see things symbolically. When I was working for the man who would later become my partner, for a business in New York, I remember walking down the halls feeling as though the file cabinets on either side of the hallway were falling in on me. I felt the same urgency as Chicken Little in the story saying “The sky is falling, the sky is falling”. It was this sense of urgency that caused me to push my boss into opening our own business, and we did. Not a month later, the company that we worked for went bankrupt.
During George W’s second term as president my friends would complain that he was going to get away with everything, it seemed that everything was working out for him. Yet, my vision this time, was of a dam with a hole, and like the story of the little Dutch Boy, he had his finger in the hole. However, in my vision the holes kept coming – more and more until the entire dam collapsed. This was, to me, what began with Bush and would continue with whoever became president after him. The impression that I was left with was that there was no system, not corporate, not governmental, not environmental, not social and not religions that would be sustainable for much longer. What we needed was not just change, but transformation from the ground up. The dam could not be salvaged or patched, it had to be demolished and rebuilt.
I used to paint furniture. As an artist, I would use furniture as my canvas. One day I found this perfect desk. What I should have done was sand it down to the bare wood, then prime it and begin painting. But that was too overwhelming a task, so I just primed it. The paint was not holding, so I would pile on another base coat. I kept putting paint on top of paint and although it looked beautiful when I was done, I could not sell it – or even use it because I had added too much good paint to the bad. Some things need additional coats, and others need to be stripped down to the bone and built up from scratch. This is where we are.
Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. “ Regardless of a new administration in the White House, the solutions to our economic problems are being sought at the same level of consciousness that created them, which has been – take care of the corporations and they will take care of the people. Make sure that the banks have money and they will spread it down to the people. I guess it is just a continuation of trickledown economics. What would constitute change – real change? It would be working from the bottom up. You see, even if the banks are willing to give people credit cards again – the people are not going to be so willing to take them. We are becoming debt phobic.
Between the years of 1988 and 2006 the average wage in this country rose a total of about one percent. During that same time period the average cost of living rose over ten percent. How was that gap supposed to be filled? I know, credit! Credit that we could not pay because of the gap, if we could not afford, on the average wage to life, how could we afford to pay a credit card with growing interest rates? Why did no one look at these figures and anticipate a problem? The answer is greed. And it is that greed that prevents the kinds of change that we need now to guarantee the future.
The government should not loan money to investors to buy the bad debt from banks, the government would take the bad debt itself, declare a moratorium of up to two years on foreclosures and renegotiate the loans so that the people could catch up. The government would focus all of its attention to creating jobs and keeping people in their homes. Nothing would stimulate the economy more than for people to have disposable income, not more credit. Nothing would improve consumer confidence more than to feel safe within their homes and with their healthcare. We are giving the thieves who stole the cookies from the cookie jar, money to replace the cookies. There is no change here, just a new twist to an old knot. With the number of homeless and unemployed expected to continue to rise, I wonder who the economy is picking up for. But it doesn’t matter.
There is something else happening that is an deeply difficult issue to tackle and therefore an issue that is not addressed. People have paid money into social security and into their pensions in the belief that these were up there with death and taxes in terms of things that we could count on. Today people are reaching retirement age with nothing, social security that is not enough to live on, Medicare that is not enough to keep one healthy, and a pension that has been stolen by the same corporation that promised it.
We have no trust, we have no reason to trust. A terrorist attack is only one of many threats to our lives that we live with, losing our homes, our ability to feed our families, our ability to provide the education that will safeguard our children’s future, and the healthcare to keep them alive should they become ill. Keeping the homeland secure should be much more far reaching.
The only thing that the people are able to count on is that they have the power, the right and even the duty to change the system.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.-
We are a skyscraper that is on fire on the first two floors, the occupants of those floors are dying, but the people in the penthouses are feeling safe and secure. But soon the fire will eat its way up to the top, and although some people on the lower floors are close enough to jump to safety – that can’t be said for the high income floors. But we won’t address the basement until those in the penthouse are affected, which of course will be too late.
Add to this we have a growing climate emergency, which the huge coal and oil industries do not see that it can be addressed adequately for at least a few decades. The scientists tell us that we don’t have one decade if we don’t start transforming our way of life today. North Korea is desperate to attack someone and prove itself as a major military power. Israel is desperate to bomb Iran. And all of the fundamentalists of all religions are excitedly awaiting Armageddon.
If this were a novel, no one would be anticipating an happy ending. But there could still be one, a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a new generation of Senators and Congressmen. President Obama was not just elected by those who were of voting age. He was elected because of the hard work of many young people who were not yet old enough to vote but will be not only old enough to vote, but interested enough to run for office in the year 2012. Those who will be voting in that election will have a different agenda and enormous power over communications through the internet.
The generation of the sixties had great promise and hope of a world in which there was peace, brotherhood, and an end to war. Sadly, their hopes were dashed and their faith was shattered when their candidate for President lost the election. They became cynical believing that they were up against a system that they could not, with all of their work and enthusiasm – defeat. Some just withdrew, some decided that if you can’t beat them, join them. This is not the case today. The young people of today did win, and they did change the face of the country. They are empowered.
Seeds are being planted now in every area of life. The technology exists to end consumption of fossil fuels. These young people are growing up in a time where greed is not good. They have a voice and they will use it loudly.
Things change, the world changes, and it is very hard, even in our own personal lives to know the exact date that it happens because we are not aware of the change until we are well within it. From there we look back and say, “yes, it was around that time that….”
Monopolies were one banned because they inhibited free competition. We decided free competition was not really necessary. The next generation of law makers will rid the world of monopolies, not because of their impeding competition, although that will always be a part of it, but because by their sheer size they threaten the global economy, as is being proven today. They will create the kinds of far reaching changes that will pave a new path for the world, a path to sustenance. It will be a world where everyone having some, is more acceptable than some having everything. I see the new government supporting education, healthcare for all and self sustaining communities. Where fossil fuels with be the alternative and fuel created by the Sun, the Water and the Wind will be the norm. The new leaders around the world will come to see that if everyone has the same size guns, they become a useless weapon. Then a handshake and a helping hand will be the weapons that end hostility, instead of life. After the darkness of path that we have set before us, I see a new path, and I see the first steps on that path coming in 2012.