The Bridge Home

the bridge home

 

When the holidays are upon us, the bridge home seems to be a more rickety bridge than usual.  Family life can encompass the best of days and the worst of days.  Remembering that what we fear in life is losing control of our selves, family can induce a loss of self and soul that has us wanting to scurry for the first rabbit hole that we find. It can also hold us in its embrace when the sorrow is too much to handle, and we are overwhelmed with grief.

Home for the holidays with Barbara Stanwyck  living in a perfect New England home, snow bound with a horse drawn sleigh at the front door to bring you into town for the last minute pound of butter or canned milk, was too pretty.  It creates in us a longing for something that does not really exist.  It always made me ask as a kid, “where do they go to the bathroom?”  You never saw in those idyllic movies where and of the “crap” happened.

christmas in connecticut

Life in 21st century America is a dollar driven life with things and events symbolizing an upward mobility and a sense of abundance that is not on the horizon for most Americans any more.  We have what we have, and we have to find a way to be content with that because the upward mobility american-dream-thing is a rapidly vanishing fantasy that is as equally unpalatable as Barbara’s dream in a 1950 Christmas in Connecticut movie.

Even our beloved states of longing seem to vanish with the advent of capitalism replacing democracy as not only the economic system of the american people, but as the form of government and the types of lives that are permitted under this new umbrella of global aristocracy. We have become income driven–not values driven.

As Americans we inherited a transcendental philosophy that was born out of the writings of Emerson, Alcott, and the 19th century Concord Literary Society that became know as the 1st revolutionaries in American Literature.  That period of American History became engrained in us, representing a value that was greater that what money could buy.  The early Transcendentalist saw the natural elements of life as the template to a free and loving society.  It used the natural to remind us of life and death.  It used humanity as the test center that attempted to illustrate that a society, a neighborhood was greater than the sum of its parts.

Communities and families died and suffered and lived and enjoyed life together.  The small town, dirt-road, trails always led to somewhere you wanted to be.  After all it was the the trotted road the got the wear.  Families are pretty much all that is left of this inter-dependent way of life; and families are hanging on by a thread as the holy dollar calls the older brother to Cleveland, and the younger sister to Huston and the parents had to retire to Florida as the Massachusetts economy became too expensive to purchase on a fixed-income.  So middle sister, who was fortunate enough to find a husband and a job in the home town, is now the only member of the family left in the home town.

Is it still home town when everyone you know has moved on or moved away?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is only food and companionship and love that make it happen.  It is not a commercial holiday.  Except for food, the stores have to be clamoring for your Christmas dollar there is no Thanksgiving gift.  And I am grateful for that fact.  Department stores and Big Box stores could starve to death on Thanksgiving and I would have one more things to be grateful for.

I want to make a wish today.  I want to wish that everyone who reads this essay will find a way to promote this message to everyone they know and meet.  I want this holiday to stay free of commercial broadcasting and that there will never be such a thing a thanksgiving music..  I want everyone to be as persistent as they can be to call families together for this once a year gratitude day.

I want the bridge home for Thanksgiving to be free and easy and spontaneous and not filled with expectations.  I want every one who wants to be home for the holiday to be able to get there.  I wish that this message get read by people who are just on the verge of wanting to get home to be spurred homeward by the sincerity and forgiveness that this holiday promotes.

 

Happy Gratitude Day, 2013

Charlestown, RI 02813

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corporatist liberalism: the wise men’s christmas gift to america

i like what I think that means.  Well, I don’t really like it, but I like that it describes a lost and forever meandering democratic party that certainly is not my father’s oldsmobile; god, it is not my father’s democratic party either.  It is neither democratic nor a party.

The last decade, the first decade of the 21st century is not off to a very good start.  With enroning, and iraqing, afganistaning, and now providing health care mandates that institutionalize the health of the insurance industry, we are not in very god shape at all.  Earlier in the year when I wrote about the potential revolution that might emerge from looping off 20 % of the middle class and letting them fall into the fault line of the economic earthquake we just went through, I got hate mail back suggesting that I ought to leave the country of I was not satisfied with how things were done here…

I could venture a guess at what party affiliation they might have, I would not want to insult the many friends I have from the other side of the aisle.  I am aware now more than ever that it is no longer a republican thing vs. a democrat thing, it is a have and have-nots thing.  The lobbying industry which represents by an over whelming majority the mega rich and the corporate obtained wealth, are running the show.

The senator from Philip-Morris yields to the senator from Wall Street.  We have a House of Lords and a house of commoners.  I am represented by a house of commoners elected official who never returns phone calls, does not have an assistant return phone calls, but regardless of what i say into the phone or by e mail, I can be certain to receive a stamped form letter thanking me for my interest in government and directing me to all his accomplishments that i can witness on his constituent funded web-page.

I waiver between feeling as if I am cynical and pessimistic and on the other hand thinking that I have a vision of a failing American Empire that might have a sliver of a chance of being saved if enough people get on the same page and recognize that we ought not let the America of our father’s and fore fathers be hijacked by the wealthy aristocrats of greed, and ego induced policy makers.

Don’t you dare–don’t you dare tell me that I ought to leave this country.  Who do you think you are to automatically assume that I do not love America as much as you do–and maybe even more because I understand that not all enemies of our nation are riding on camel backs in the middle east.  We have enemies to our national good right here under our noses.  They are the people who because of their current financial margin of comfort, have no ounce of compassion for the poor, the homeless, the aging sick, the families who have lost all to enron, or lost all to fraudulently administered gate-keepers of the health care system.

Here is one good example.  A decent hard working family man with a high score on his financial reports payed his monthly bill on line.  He paid it after 2:00 p.m. on a Friday.  The bank created a policy that anything posted after two on a friday would not be “technically” posted until 2:00 p.m. the following Monday.  In the mean time, he thought he was safe since his money had been deposited so he proceeded to make several business purchases, as well as several small purchases, like a $2.00 coffee, a few items at a grocery store and, a prescription at a pharmacy.

Because his payment was posted after he made these purchases over the weekend, he was charged a $35.00 fee for each item over his card limit….This created something like three-hundred and fifty dollars worth of over draft charges.  You would think that that would be enough to drive one over the edge, considering that all the purchases amounted to perhaps under $50.00.

Here is the kicker.  The interest rate on his 6.5% credit, RETROACTIVELY, got raised to 29%……

Why is congress not angered by this?  Because the banks are too big to fail.  We did not fully understand what that meant when we spend a trillion dollars recently helping these poor bankers out of a jam.  You would think that if anyone had a boot strap to pick themselves up with, it would be the banks….

Too big to fail means simply this–they are bigger that the government, they have no law of the land to answer to.  They are new members of a global aristocracy and America can not stop them.  They are too big to fail.

So corporatist liberalism is that faction of democratic legislators who small minded-ly propose limited, ineffectual laws that are not so much designed to help the american people as they are designed to get them re – elected.

When you get up Christmas morning and see your new health package under the tree remember to thank a congressman with a vote of confidence even if it actually a worst plan that the one we suffer with now…Or as David Brooks wrote in The New York Times earlier this summer,

“[Obama and Clinton] Democrats learned never to go to war against the combined forces of corporate America. Today, whether it is on the stimulus, on health care, or any other issue, the Obama administration and the Congressional leadership go out of their way to court corporate interests, to win corporate support and to at least divide corporate opposition.”

Merry Christmas, and Oh yes—–ooh, ooh ooh all the way to the corporate banks…

The Insurgency of Transcendental Politics

The snow fell, fast and the wind drove the light, flaky snow into mounds of white powder that were waist high.  The color of the woodland is such a stark grey against the titanium white of winter in a first snow-fall.  Church was cancelled as was the Louisa May Alcott Christmas tea and reading that we were going to host as a Unitarian event.

We are particularly fortunate to have our own Walden Pond here in South County Rhode Island & an opportunity to host meetings of a Transcendentalist Group on a pond formed by the same Wisconsin glacier that formed Walden in Concord. Years  ago, early 1970’s, I had an opportunity to name a clinical service of the mental health center and I chose South Shore Mental Health because as I saw it, “Washington County was a government catchment area and South County was a state of mind.”

South County has always been a state of mind to me.  I would come down here from Providence to a cozy cabin near Charlestown Beach and the feeling was like the one one  gets from listening to a movement from the Beethoven Pastoral Symphony, upon arriving in the country on a summer’s day.  South County always meditated me, it draws me closer to the nature of the sacred and it pulls my thinking mind into submission as surely as does a Gong Bath.

Through the years, the 40 or so that I have been coming and going from this glorious section of our state, I have seen too much development, too many farm lands going to build commercial zones and residential plats, as my father use to call them.  The problem with the plats is that they are not built with any intention of they being able to create and sustain community.  One hundred houses can replace a potato farm without as much as a community room established where neighbors might meet.  How different a plat might be is 10 to 20 of the four hundred acres had been designated for use as a community garden…

I have seen people move in from big cities from the north or the south.  They come to get away from the urban culture and the first thing they do is cut down every tree, and pave a driveway, then seed a lawn…The consciousness is not there to preserve the glorious and sacred aspects of the land, it is exploited by developers, purchased by city folks and treated like a bedroom to the city from which they have just emerged.  Now the difference is they use more gas and oil to get back and forth from the city.

Well, as I often do, I am straying.  I wanted to write a few words this morning about just how fortunate a community we are here in the remaining woodlands and ocean side arena of South Shore.  There is a group of people as interesting and as nobel as our cousins in Concord, Massachusetts were one-hundred and fifty years ago.  There the seat of American Literary and liberal theology sat as a genius cluster of early Americans came together to celebrate the lives and loves of people & nature and the divine with no intervention necessary from ancestral religions to assist.  These 19th century Transcendentalist worshipped a way of life that at its very foundation saw the oneness and the unity of the universe as the organizing principle of their lives and their community.

As we approach 2010, it seems very clear to me that perhaps the same principle of oneness is again at the foundation of our gatherings, through the Songha, the Unitarian church, The Artists Way, & through our food co-op, and our community gardens and our sustainability principles operating through bartering systems.  We are returning to a way of living that is asking of us that we fall off the commerce  grid, dust off,  and pick ourselves up in a new village where caring for each other is the method of attaining mindfulness, sustainability, and a peaceful serenity that is at the core of our real “social security”.

As the American dollar grows thin, and our unemployment rate rises, and as a decade of 6% inflation is being predicted, we are not at the end of a big recession, we may well be at the beginning of a 2nd Great Depression.  More & more of our middle class is entering poverty each week, some for the first time in their lives.  Economic recovery for many Americans will not come with an upward blast in the stock market numbers, for most Americans in poverty or entering poverty the stock market is as distant a concept as the several trillion dollar deficit, or the impact of the rain forest in Peru on the price of homeland security.   We have to face it, accept it, most Americans do not know how to interpret the writing on the walls of the cave.

The Great American Empire and its “democratic-imperialism” may well be a “thing” of the past.  Large centralized governments with the ability to cast out safety nets is not in the cards, not in health care, nor in job creation, & certainly nor in banking.  The wave of the future is globalization and we are not anytime soon going to be hired to run the world from the perch of the North American Continent.

We are in line for a major paradigm shift.  “Think Local,” ought to become South County’s mantra of sustainability. Here, in our towns and villages we do not have to be afraid of socialism.  We know the liberal benefit behind helping each other out, because, for the Grace of God, I may be the next one to find myself without a boot-strap.  We are in a war in the middle-east and we are in an economic war at home.  In the same way that I do not subscribe to drone bombing missions, I do not subscribe to the “hope” that this or that form of American politics will fix me.   In Health and in Mental Health, I have to be pro-active.  I can use the mindfulness of the Songha and the Unitarian principles of oneness, along with the support of the local Artist’s Way to find Grace abundantly  and to supply Grace liberally.

In January I am planing to bring together a group of people and practitioners who might be willing to toss around the concept of sustainability as it applies to the fields of health, mental health and spiritual growth.  I am envisioning a kind of Pastoral Counseling Center with a variety of dimensions to the services provided as well as a variety of educational forums and public hearings to function as  outreach for this young idea.

If anyone reading this blog installment would like to read the seeds of the proposal, please write to me and I will send you what I have.  I am adding ideas, newspaper articles, opinions and new thoughts on the topic as they emerge.

Have a Happy Holiday, what ever you choose to celebrate at this solstice time of the year.

the kidnapping of amerika

180px-Pledge_salue

I have no photos to accompany this post.  I have no clever words & I find myself very angry and sad as I sit down to write this.

I have long been disillusioned with the capital/corporate/money oriented fashion that my country has become.  Most of society organizes itself around the acquisition of money.  Now I am aware that currency is only symbolic and that good people make good money in order to do good deeds once they have fully fed themselves.  And it may be only a small number of people who carefully orchestrate and lobby for causes that have very little or few,  socially redeeming features.  But that minority that sits atop of Wall Street has a powerful impact on the lives of the multitude of people on whom these giant cats trickle down.

Actually, I do not like the phrase “trickle-down”.  I prefer to think of it more like they are pissing on us.  Yes, the gigantic, fat, cats of Wall Street are pissing on my American Dream.  And, I have never like it, but now I am beginning to hate it. Now I am beginning to understand how revolutions come about.

Do you know what Wall Street is consulting the American Health Industry to do.  They are consulting our health care system to NOT improve because it will be a financial windfall for wall street if my health care and your health care continues to be broken and continues to break even further.

Wall Street is saying, bluntly, because they are too big to fall, so they can now bluntly say stuff like…

“A Goldman Sachs analysis of health care legislation has concluded that, as far as the bottom line for insurance companies is concerned, the best thing to do is nothing. A close second would be passing a watered-down version of the Senate Finance Committee’s bill.

A study put together by Goldman in mid-October looks at the estimated stock performance of the private insurance industry under four variations of reform legislation. The study focused on the five biggest insurers whose shares are traded on Wall Street: Aetna, UnitedHealth, WellPoint, CIGNA and Humana.”

Right next to Wall Street protecting the coffers of the mega-rich, we have the health care executives calling for actions that would also prevent health care reform:  “The nation’s largest health insurance carrier is urging its employees to lobby the Senate against reform proposals that would hurt the firm’s bottom line, according to copies of e-mails released Thursday by a liberal advocacy group.”

Did you hear any of this on the 6:00 o’clock news?  Did you see this in a local newspaper?  Are people talking about this in beauty parlors and barber shops?  I don’t hear it.  I am not even hearing concern, except perhaps an occasional remark that we should do something because “things” are really getting bad.

Folks, things are not getting bad–they are bad.  China owns us.  We owe our Trillion dollar debt not to our little piece of plastic credit card that we carry in our back pocket.  We owe it to China.  My grandchildren will not live the American Dream.  They will live some bastardized form of a China Dream…

Do you know that small towns in Chili  who were until recently living moderately comfortable lives by buying direct from the market place where the farmers and the manufactures would bring their good, do you know that now these small towns buy from Wal-Mart using a wal-mart issued credit card that carries up to a 50% interest rate….

Why should we care–for God-Sake, Al–that is going around half way around the world and in a different hemisphere. What does that have to do with me, you say….Well  read this, if you dare:

“It didn’t even surprise her to hear about a consumer whose rate went from 8.65 percent up to a whopping 30 percent.

That’s what the companies are saying. “They’re saying they’re forced to do these things to cover their losses due to unemployment and just the general economy,” Hudson said.
But, there’s more insult to the injury. Hudson said the big credit companies already have a lot of your money.
“Even though they got bail-out money — they got tax-payer money — which some people will say, they got billions of dollars, why are you having to still increase these rates for consumers? They’re saying it’s not enough to cover their losses”
“That’s pretty common,” she said Thursday. “Right now we’re hearing a lot of that.”

One more tip: “While you can now, pay off your debt as quickly as possible,” Hanson said. “Try to keep it below 30% of your available credit.”    –bakersfieldnow.com

This is one of my weekly installments on my blog page.  It isn’t pretty.  I have not included smart, cute little drawings or photos with this essay.  I have not done so, because the subject matter is so damn ugly to me.  It is a shame on the amerikan conscience that we the voters have let ourselves be hoodwinked .  While decent republicans argue with decent democrats, a host of indecent corporate thugs have hijacked amerika.  While we sat here discussing if it was o.k. for Jack to love John, or should Mary be allowed to have a private discussion with her physician about an abortion, our country was kidnapped and we are plum out of cash.  We can’t pay the ransom.  “They” will not give us back our government of the people, by the people and for the people.  The Too-Big-To-Fail are turning our democracy into an oligarchy, an aristocracy that will make King George of England look like a benevolent Lord….

I pledge alliance to wall street and to the lobbyist for which it stands, one nation under money