Monday, November 24, 2014

Bear Heart

A black bear staggered past our porch as we practiced tai chi. I wondered if I was the only person mildly alarmed at the enormous shadow cast on the yard. David continued with his slow and deliberate movements. I kept losing my focus as I listened to the chuffing beast as mist rose from his hirsute primordial mask. Over the next few days in the Poconos, I would see black bears wandering around the rented cabins of summer homes. As long as I didn’t make eye contact, they seemed like the typical New Englander: cold, pre-occupied, head and eyes focused on the ground, steaming along toward whatever task they had assigned themselves to be done immediately.

The next day on the way back from the local bar, David parked the car along the road to pick flowers. A giant behemoth lumbered across the dirt road. Once again, I appeared to be the only person to take note of her. I noted that I was referring to the bear with a female pronoun. Apparently I decided that this one was female and the previous was male from my 100% non-expert intuition. David was immersed in the task of flowers, the elderly neighbors had mysteriously disappeared when I turned back around and saw the black shadow rolling through their yard, rummaging for the apple cores, animal guts, chicken bones, sweet n’ sticky mulches of cruciferous vegetables and rotting fruit flesh. A pizza sat on the passenger side of our car. I slowly rolled the window up as I distanced myself from the old Chevy which was now a bear bait trap. But the bear was busy, her heart was set on a particular pile of garbage and cans. David came back with stalks of wild flowers, oblivious to the gobbling and snorting noises behind a cabin.

Iron Bear Heart.

I received my Navajo spirit name at a sweat lodge in New Mexico. We were set up in the rough outdoors of a friend’s backyard. The half- acre of land was filled with snakes, tarantulas, and mosquitoes. The spirit/sweat master told me that I had to give him a gift or offering to receive my name. Thoroughly unprepared for a new name, much less the offerings in order to receive a new name, I rummaged from my belongings looking for something to give. I took a handful of organic almonds and soaked them in water overnight. The next morning I peeled away the skin to the reveal white, pristine stones. The sweat master had mentioned at our first breakfast that almonds without the skin was healthier. I thought my offering showed that was I was not only concerned about good health, but that I had been paying attention and had applied a lesson to a recent scenario, which is the ultimate sign of respect for a teacher.

The sweat master -an old, pot-bellied white man in a poncho who had a penchant for flashing topless pictures of women from he saved on his cell phone- accepted the offering with a solemn dignity. In turn, his silence made me feel dignified. After a moment he started flipping the nuts into his mouth like he was at a baseball game and the regal silence was broken by his chomping and pacing up and down the camp grounds. He came back with a name: Iron Bear Heart. he told me that I could shorten it to just Bear Heart.

I wonder what triggered that name. The previous evening the sweat master had joked about how loud I snored. But also I had been appointed a fireman on the first day of the sweat lodge.


The crowd nodded in appreciation at the honorific title. I was entrusted with the task of creating the fire, finding the smooth, clean stones to toss into the blazing pit, and culling these rocks until they were glowing red kernels. Once they were at the precipice of exploding, the firemen carefully picked up the stones with two sticks (they break very easily when they’re that hot), walk down the fireline and carry the fiery tablet into the sweat lodge tent. Once inside, the tent was tightly resealed with layers of blankets and leather flaps as the fireman placed the stone in the sweat lodge pit, The spirit master chanted a round of mantras. Then water ladled over the pit would sizzle and precipitate into scalding hot white clouds of steam. Drums banged, chants were shouted, as sweat retreatants sat on the cool mud.

An occasional traumatized tarantula would be captured inside the tent and tossed. The hairy and poisonous arachnids were so drunk from the throbbing drums, falsetto war cries, scalding heat, that they would crawl into or onto any person or object exiting the dark inferno. The firemen were the only people honored enough to leave the tent, retrieve more stones, and bring back more heat.

I was told how difficult the honor was going to be, but I didn’t have much trouble with the spiders, stones, or heat. The only thing I had a problem with as a fireman was the fire. Constant rain during the weekend sweat lodge, constantly threatened to drown the pit and rain drops tapping against the glowing stones, released bolts of heats as I quickly rushed back to the tent.  Dealing with the heat, juggling stones, walking up and down the line, and plucking off tarantulas,was all done shirtless, pantless, and shoeless. It was preferred to just wear a simple pair of shorts and some sort of bandana wrapped around the head. So perhaps the sweat master saw something in me: a willingness to walk barefoot in the forest, to be covered in mud, half-blind without glasses, and carry stones which could cause third-degree burns? Or simply someone big enough to be yelled, a cartoonish ox to be yolked into the merciless task? Whatever the case, this sweat lodge is where I earned my fire badge and my name.

Strangely enough, in Buddhism I received my Bodhisattva name and it was Chakri Sengge, which translates as Lion of Iron Mountain. Apparently when people look at me they see iron.

You thought it was be as big as your head, but heavier; weighing about 30-40 lbs. Shortly after getting your Native American name you began picturing your animal and its heart. You imagine this this throbbing mass of water muscle and blood cartilage sitting on a butcher’s wooden table. You wonder what it would be like to become the name, to ingest the thing you were named after, to eat the honor.

The first ceremony is be raw and ritualistic. A snipped and thin outer layer of the heart would be consumed like the body of Christ. The actual bear heart meal requires more time and preparation. A bear heart is too tough and leathery to eat in significant portions without some sort of cooking.

You marinate the heart overnight in something citrus and tart to cut the bitter iron taste. After 10 hours of soaking, the heart is soft enough to allow an expert carver to create his design. Slicing the heart into filets, you lay the strips out onto a baking pan.

After pre-heat, you place the filets in the oven for over an hour, sealing in the juices, orange zest, and blood sauce. Then the filets is cut into chunks for a salad or bean stew. The meal is completed with some dark red wines. Leftovers str dried for jerky which goes well with beer on a summer day, when black bears roam through the backyard as you try to do tai chi on your porch.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Top 10 Fake Scandals Under Obama

Top 10 List of 100% fake-ass imaginary scandals and crapstorms constructed entirely by Fox News and GOP handlers that were picked up by mainstream press to waste 6 years of time with sheer lies.
1. Obama's birth certificate (it's real and he has both kinds)
2. Solyndra (profitable renewable energy company that paid its loan back)
3. Cash for Clunkers (extremely successful, minimal glitches, fixed quickly)
4. Fast and Furious: bogus bogus bogus.
5. IRS targeting Conservative Groups (nope, in fact liberal groups targeted)
6. ACORN corruption (nope, zero, zilch, nada)
7. EBOLA is going to kills us all!! (and by everyone I mean one guy)
8. ISIS is going to behead us all! Damn you Obama! (Bye, Felicia!)
9. Obama is going to take away your guns (he should but, sadly, he's not)
10. Benghazi!!
Honorable mentions (sorry, you didn't make the cut. Try again next news cycle): Obamacare Death Panels, Michelle Obama is force feeding your kids vegetables, Obama hates white people (via Glenn "Kanye" Beck), pal'ing around with Sal Alinsky, Rev. Jeremiah Wright is Obama's main Mau Mau homeboy, Dept. of Agr worker Shirley Sherrod is a racist and discriminating against white farmers (here look at at this edited footage from Breitbart), and....'radical' fist bumps.
Now let's play a fun game called "Accountability." If you systemically and maliciously spread hundreds of fantasies and made-up stories, force Congress to hold hearings on these fabulations, find false witnesses and fake experts to co-sign your bullshit, then you lose your license to call yourself a news organization. You lose your press passes, your airwave slot as a TV news organization. By FCC standards you are treated as pure entertainment, and must wear a tinfoil hat to any government event you now have to crash with Ted Nugent and Meat loaf!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Millionaire Club

OIFIX - optimum fixed income fund

OIIEX - that’s the optimum international fund

OILGX - large cap growth pool

OILVX - large cap value

OISGX - Optimum small midcap growth

OISVX -small mid-cap value

I wrote down the acronyms as the voice on the phone went through the different options, the premium level of management this fund has and how they will do the work for you.

I was listening to someone whose title was as a financial advisor and wealth manager. This person was now my wealth manager. I listened to her run down the mutual funds bundle I had bought into that offered quick-reacting, flexible market watching and advising from some unseen Wall Street overseer. I had bought my way into the club of the advised and wealthy.

I listened to her and then observed myself  asking questions with detached amusement. I guess I found it funny because I’m not wealthy. Like most Americans, I’m just in rehearsal to be wealthy.

I’ve been playing this part for years. My Dad was a stock broker and he would encourage us dressing up in suits. As a child I would wander around the house in oversized sports jackets smelling of mothballs and Old Spice. I would gaze at myself in the mirror as I fixed my father’s cufflinks and imagined where I would go in this costume: a board meeting, a press conference, Geneva, an alfafa farm, my Alpaca ranch. Perhaps I would jet off to Rio for carnival or ‘copter into the Atlanta for Freak’nic.

In this instance, my imagination was encouraged and inflamed by my parents.

Yes, visualize it, make it your own.

I then went on to spend my college years  and early 20s in a series of low-level jobs. I stopped ironing my pants and wore jeans. My collared shirts hung in my closet as musty relics. My jackets had dust on them. The idea of getting involved in the arts seemed counterintuitive to my childhood dreams of Robb Report, real estate purchases. My parents were apprehensive that I was headed down a dark path of sitting around a chintzy kitchen tables with piles of bills as I wring my hands for the camera crew filming me for a political ad.  

Bye bye suits and ties. Hello sweatpants and sneakers. My wardrobe underwent a stunning transformation from aspiring wealth to despondent poverty. A few years ago I was raising money for a Buddhist organization when a sudden reversal happen. I was showered with money, more money than I had ever been given in my life. And clothes too. From a wealthy donor I was given Armani, Gucci, and all the brand names.

I fondly remembered my childhood while I wore these clothes...and then I gave most of it away. The money was donated to charities, I kept the minimum to pay my rent for a few months when I had to go home and visit my parents. Most of the clothes I donated away to charities  or allowed people to auction them for a good cause.

I still have a small and random smattering of fancy threads. Bruno Magli leather jacket or Sean John suit, or a $600 pair of sunglasses that I can’t wear will pop up in my one of my boxes. It’s like remembering a former life or dream life of the future.

In the last year, I earned some extra income and knew that I had a choice. I could just blow this money on living in New York City, which would happily gobble me back to basics. Or I could do what my parents did and put something down on my future. As a person in my 30s, I thought it was time that I actually thought about what life would be like in my 40s and beyond. Investing in my future was something I had always done on a symbolic level. A stock here, a small fund there, a life insurance policy when I was in my 20s. But nothing major.

I began thinking about what life would be like with an investment. I would actually have something to look at when the stock market ticker flashed across the screen. I would lament the economic downturns as if they were a personal affront to my safety and celebrate Wall Street when the earning records were broken. I would be in the wealthy club, without actually being wealthy...yet.

So now I am listening to where this chunk of money is going to fly off to and do work on my behalf. This money is going to copulate and repopulate itself based on the energy of untold market powers. These powers are rarely understood by anyone in the market itself. It’s more of a religious faith. Fix it Jesus. Fix it, Nikkei. Fix it Dow Jones!

All it takes is a certain amoutn of zeroes and ones on a spread sheet to buy in. No class or race status checks. This is money is actively managed and rigged to rise to the top. I have bought myself a seat in the back of the room, near the swinging kitchen door on a footstool. But still it’s a seat.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Next Logical Step

We crouched over a steel table top while looking at our Indian entrees. My date was describing his graduated thesis. I jabbed at my curry lentil goop as my mind wandered.

It’s called the next logical step.

I’m sorry...what?

Human beings are engineered to expect more. After his years of research and interviews, he found that jobs with clear, logical steps of promotion have a much higher rate of happiness than jobs with undefined standards, even if the latter category is of a high-paying profession.

Apparently doctors in hospitals have terrible job satisfaction because once they become a doctor there is no clear progression to being head of a hospital. You can remain a doctor forever. Conversely, dentists go through numerous levels until they own their own office. Dentists are happier than doctors.

But there is a profession that pays a lot less that but has a very high satisfaction rate: professional waiters. This isn’t the part-timer student waiters and artists. We’re talking about the actual professional high-end waiters. They tend to be very well-adjusted and happy because there is a clear line: busboy to waiter to head waiter. Then host, bartender, bar manager, restaurant manager, owner. The path is laid out very clearly. The key to happiness is having clearly defined logical steps. Even if it takes 30 or 40 years, if we know what the steps are, then the human mind is comforted, happy even.

The catch? Once people arrive at the final destination in their steps and there’s nowhere else to go, then the depression returns. Associate Professors are happier than tenured professors who have no foreseeable way to becoming department chair. Assistant directors are happier than film directors who see their job as a resting place. Credit card companies have picked up on this career-ladder mentality and now have a periodic table of elements to designate member status by gold, platinum, diamond, onyx. Car rental services and airline companies now codify different customers into even smaller categories of rank and privileges.

I thought about the next logical step to love. Does this explain how careerism killed love? You go from date, to dating, to exclusivity, to engagement, and then marriage. Where is there to go after matrimony? Some would say the next step is car, home, kids. But these are no longer elements associated with civil union. Unlike in pre-Baby Boomer America, today’s society sees elements as very attainable steps people can make by themselves or in uncommitted partnering. Disconnected from being important and widely-recognized ‘logical, next steps,’ to being married,  then marital relationships become a trap.

When all of our society’s happiness is subconsciously built on career ladder-climbing and ‘the next goal’ then marriage becomes a bit of a dead-end. No one gets promoted to ‘bronze, silver, gold, platinum marital couple’ after being together a certain number of years and completing certain requirements. Recently the matrimony industry has started to panic. Silver, gold, and diamond wedding anniversaries weren’t enough. In fact, the annual recognition of time spent together can often make couples more melancholy if the relationship has stagnated. The time lapse begins to create an anxiety of expected and continued depreciation in relationship value. There is nowhere else to go but continued stagnation and then death for many wedded unions. 

Adultery and divorce are common, reactive panics to an unforeseeable and possibly depressing future with no clear line of progression. The simple fact is that marriage was a contractual agreement that commodified sex/love into property value and inheritance. But now that the latter has been removed from the equation as essential, what is the solution to fill the gap? Re-do your wedding vows. Re-educate, re-commit. Spend money on a ceremony to reiterate to the world ‘yep, we’re still here.’ Would this be necessary if husbands and wives weren’t looking for some additional element, some next step after being together for so long that separates them from other married couples?

Even recommitment ceremonies can’t mask the problem we have created in our career-drive culture when it comes to the matrimonial dilemma: there is nowhere else to go once the vows have been exchanged. We are just left with ourselves and all those suppressed unresolved doubts that come bubbling back up in quiet reflection. I continued picking at my curry and stared out the window, out on to the sidewalk. Men, women, children in different pairings walked by my reflection, before disappearing into the night.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Journey to a Meditation Cushion


Do you have a lighter?

I picked up my pace as I saw two men move toward me with their hands in their jackets. Something wasn’t right. I switched into defensive mode.

Hey, do you have a lighter?

No, I’m sorry.

Stupid nigger!

I continued walking back home from the University of New Mexico library. The two figures -white men- increased their speed to keep up with me. I caught the sneer of one of them and the smirk of the other from my side view. I could hear their breaths flush with each other as looked at their fists jammed into their pockets. They were waiting for my reaction.

The other one laughed as they tailed me down the road. Instead of turning down a side street toward my house, I took a detour along the main road and bright street lights.

I sized them up. If it was just one, I could probably take him down. But there were two of them. And their hands...what was in their pockets? Maybe one of them was the son of a policeman or security guard nearby? Who would believe me vs. them?

I began weighing the risks and rewards of offensive strike vs. defensive silence, keeping them at a safe distance, examining other potential problems, increasing my vigilance in the dark areas of the street, looking at their jackets to make sure nothing leaped out.

Years of training, suspicion, defensive techniques, and cultural calculations ramped up in preparation. I kept them in my side view with a safe distance: far enough away to prevent them from striking me in one lunge, but not too far that they would slip into my blind spot behind my head.

Their laughter and smirks faded into a confused look. Their pace slowed down but they continued trailing me. Finally, a flash of disappointment. The two figures moved off into a different direction.

I looped around my house to make sure they weren’t following me. I walked through the door, dropped my bag, and went to my meditation cushion. I sat down.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mother Squire

Mother Squire spat in my Dad’s face. I imagined it was hot, red, tobacco-laced saliva filled with bile and disappointment. My father spat back at her. It was their first and last meeting.

Mother Squire was my great grandmother and the matriarchal anchor to my family’s name. We only knew her name as Mother Squire, like the Queen Mother or Mother Russia. She was in her late 90s by the time she passed away a shriveled, bitter pit. I never met her, but I feel her in my bones.

I can deduce certain things about Mother Squire from the bits and pieces I have gathered over the year, as well as a few pictures. As a young woman, Mother Squire was beautiful and striking. When I was a child, I saw a portrait of her sturdy, proud frame fitted with an elegant day dress. Mother Squire had numerous physical advantages. She was strong without seeming hulking. She held a shrewd look in her eyes without coming across as craven. Her hair was straight and falling to her shoulders.

She was beautiful, and by that I mean that she was light-skinned. She could ‘pass’ for something other than pure Negroid. For many blacks this was advantageous. Pure, unmistakable blackness was a curse in and outside of the African American community. Mother Squire could pass for -if not white- then at least half of something: Cherokee, French, Spanish.

In family folklore she was walking down the street one day when a couple of mean-looking Irish men were staring at her. One of them asked the other ‘who is that?’ The reply that came back was of boastful providence: that’s the woman I’m going to marry. That was my great grandfather.

It was a match made in mutual disdain, anger, and atheism. The young and fair Mother Squire had arrived from Barbados. Her initial encounter with the black community met her redoubled horror at a) the poverty of education and economics assigned to the general group and b) the realization that she was -despite her best efforts- a part of the un-touchably cursed class.

My great grandfather (who I will call “Dale” not just because it seems to suit his nameless face but also it’s my Dad’s middle name which he was given in honor of a great relative he never saw) was an Irish man, newly arrived in the country who worked his way down to Central Florida. Dale proposed to the young Barbadian beauty. They were married almost immediately, for Mother Squire’s satisfaction of moving herself out of the untouchable class through matrimony through the lowest class of white, the Irish; Dale the reasons for sudden marriage were probably more lustful in aspiration.

The young couple started a life together in Central Florida, two island immigrants who were probably not fully aware of what their racial classifications meant in the new world. Dale either changed his name to ‘Squire’ to pass for English land gentry back in his homeland, or adopted the new title upon arriving in America. The truth is that it didn’t matter because when Dale met his future wife he was dirt poor.

At the end of the 19th century, Irish and Blacks shared a similar status in America until Irishmen learned how to ‘pass’ into the mainstream. Poor, divided, and at the bottom of all status, there was an furious rage that transformed into purges:  paroxysmal spasm of Irish riots, lynching, shootings against their black brethren. This volcanic river of sulfurous rage carried the couple into marriage, family, life, and death.  

The crumbs and shreds I have pieced together is that Squire’s were very mean. As they grew older they got meaner until Mother Squire met my father one day and decided she didn’t appreciate his greeting toward her, or perhaps she was so senile that she mistook everything as an affront. The spit flew. My father had the same mixture of Irish whiskey and Caribbean run that inflames our blood, so he promptly spat right back at her, in her wrinkled cataract-milky eyes. A mutual understanding was born from that point on between the spitters and they would never speak to each other again.

I imagine my father’s spit must have been clear, smelling of Coca-Cola and hope. There was probably none of the chalky bile of disappointment in that first shot. I can see her red spittle, thick and sparsely dispersed like shotgun pellets, hanging from my dad’s hair.  

These are the lasting visual pictures I have of Mother Squire: one as a young, pretty girl being tailed by a ruddy-faced Irishmen with only 20 cents in his pocket. The other picture is as an old, dry, bent switch; a branch snatched off from the tree to inflict punishment and express anger.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dear Damn Dems: An Apostle's Epistle

Dear American Democratic Party,


How are you doing?

Wasn’t that last episode of “The Daily Show” amazing?

Anyway, now that we’ve gotten the small talk out of the way we need to chat for a moment. Or rather I need to talk as young, educated, progressive, socially-conscious voter. And you need to listen.

First, I’m writing to express my condolences and offer comfort in your hour of need. Second, I also wish to give some of my own personal insight into what’s been going on in America from my viewpoint. And finally, I have gathered the thoughts of others in this letter for your meditative contemplation at what went wrong. We want you to have a seat. This is an intervention.

Six years ago you ask for the votes of progressives, liberals, women, people of color, college students, gays, urban residents. After 2008, when you got all those votes from a quilt-patch coalition that voted for the promise of a new America, you appeared to become immediately scared of the people who didn’t vote for you. You sell all out of these people (aka 'your base') to run to the right-side of everything (aka not your base, the people who dislike you). You compromise and capitulate before negotiations begin on any important policy. You don't want to really talk about income inequality, don't want to take on corporate elite, didn't activate Occupy activists, didn't regenerate your Unions, ignore the millions of hungry/angry activists on college campuses who are waiting for something to get behind, don't talk about tackling college debt.

When Obama was elected in 2008, you had both Houses of Congress and you spent the first critical years of an early administration compromising with GOP (Obama at fault here in a big way), giving tax breaks to the wealthy, extending the Bush tax cut when those hundreds of billions could have been used to rebuild infrastructure, create millions of jobs, and dramatically improve the economy. You have one of the most successful presidents who has given millions healthcare, reduced the deficit, improved the economy, and then you run away from him. You don't tout any of your accomplishments, you don't inspire. You appear to be a feckless, phony, and wandering herd who has grown so scared of FOX News and conservatives that you try to pre-empt their critique by shooting down your own base while remaining bland and non-threatening. Even after you've compromised your voters, values, and positions, the GOP still attacks you time and time again regardless of facts, experts, or the well-being of anyone. And then you are surprised when your base doesn't show up in midterm elections. You don't give them anything to vote for except fear of the worst case scenario, which we will now see for the next two years.

Now I want to talk to you about the primary driving factor in politics and in this country, which is fear. Fear and doubt are deep and invisible things, yet they can motivate people to do very real harm. I believe fear is a part of a short-term as well as long-term systemic disease in our system.

Certainly big money is a contributing factor along with the monopolized right-leaning media. But these aren't the material causes (the seed), just the factors that contribute to the rapid exponential growth of this cancer. But there is a deeper fear that is historical and must be addressed/

America has its own strange paradigm of fear. We fear losing an empire we never really should have had. Our government, our economic regulations, our mentality, and root philosophy is not set up to be an empire, yet all of our work after World War II has been geared toward this incongruent empire drive. By the end of the 20th century we had a quasi-empire. Roughly 5% of the world's population (that's us) controls about 20-25% of the world's economy. We also spend twice as much as any other country on bombs, planes, and tanks. We have military bases in over 100 countries. We are a nation straining to hold on to something we shouldn't have gotten. We seeks to hold the upper hand in our currency and value. We do this through corruption, financial blackmail, coercion, and our military. This corrupted economic, diplomatic, and military strain to maintain as much power abroad has now come home to roost in America in the last 30 year.

The Machiavellian ruthlessness that we used against others we now employ against our own citizens in corrupted media, slashing benefits for hard workers, destroying our own water/air/earth, militarized police, SWAT team raids. These disturbing trends show a clear and present violation of everything a people's republic is supposed to be and more indicative of a corrupted oligarchy that uses every means to cover itself in the flag and the Constitution.

Citizens are blinded to their rapid loss in rights and economic progress by keeping them in a constant state of panic/outrage/fear/rage. And then we let everyone arm themselves so random bursts of violence remind us to be grateful, be scared, only trust the corporate state, the military state. The sad thing is that there is more than enough money to go around. You could continue to improve the lives of everyday Americans and it would still be a huge boon to corporations and the 1% elite. In fact it would probably benefit them the most. But there is no interest in compromise when you can get people to live small, fearful, suspicious of the individuals and collectives, and surrendering to the centralized corporate interests.

That is my understanding of how fear is operating in our country and causing a rapid decay that is not in accordance with natural developments in a society. The strange thing is that despite all this America is relatively healthy...despite its government, despite the rapacious destruction of the environment, despite the backward tax codes, broken court systems, despite the fact that we continue to shoot at our own feet, and hack away at our own legs in fear of others, we manage to hobble along. But this is less because of America exceptionalism and more because our 20th century infrastructure -unlike every continent in the world- has faced no world wars, civil wars, coups, widespread devastation. Our death be one of a thousand cuts if we don't start healing our own hatred, fear, and greed.

In our current political discourse there is a a chicken and egg argument of what came first: the blatant use of big money to turn the US into an oligarchy or the interests/fears of big money? I could see it both ways but I really think the interests of big money is what triggered the steady tearing down of campaign finance laws to create an oligarchy of corporate and super-wealth caste system of inheritance over the last 30 years. These interests are steeped in maintaining an empire which can't be sustained. It just can't. On some deep level we all know that, from any sociologists to the military officials planning drone strikes around the world to corporate interests. And from that there is this senseless lashing out of violence and corruption. We see this play out not only in our elections but in our use of military, in our use of media, in our use of police force, even in our obsession with disaster movies and TV shows. Has there been any more stable culture in human history that is in a constant startle and fear state. Contemporary American culture displays the signs of a culture in panic, hysteria, exhaustion, and desperation. The solution is to remove the causes of this fear and panic. Of course getting money out of politics would go a long way to us being able to sit down as sensible citizens. But the only way out of this fear cycle is to the opposite: strategic love, a fearless compassion willing to explain rather than run, and to appeal to our better angels.

No one gets the gold star for being silently virtuous or smugly aware. Just ask Al Gore. In this arena, an unspoken virtue is flipped into an advertised vice by your opponent. Just ask all the Dems who ran away from the Affordable Care Act and are now packing up their offices on Capitol Hill. But patience, intelligence, clarity, and 'loving-toughness' are rewarded. Use these tools to promote the larger interests and to rebuild this nation. We are counting on you. We, the young progressives, know that the GOP is a bunch of aging robber barons. We know that the Koch Brothers and their ilk are shamelessly looting our nation's coffer and exacerbating the income inequalities in this country. We know that this stagnating economy and increased disillusionment pose the greatest threat to America's long-term stability.

Moving forward there must be some thread of historical understanding in your decisions. If not, then you will be swept back into the paradigm of hysterical fear that seems to grip the political machine. You must explain and clarify your positions, outline your achievements, reward your base, and stop operating out of fear. The reptilian brain is small but deeply embedded. It sees suspicion in everything. The higher instincts of man can override the pesky rodent mind. But you must call upon them. This is politics. 


A Young Progressive