There is No Bad Experience for a Writer: The Reality of the Times

I must credit the title of this short essay to a friend of mine whose health I am currently deeply concerned about. In fact, he is a man who is not unlike a mentor to me. I should also explain clearly that he cannot be accused of implanting any of the thoughts beyond the title in my grey matter. This is me just grabbing a ball that was thrown my way and running with it; or perhaps it is more akin to sauntering vaguely Westward like an owl with a broken wing and a dead mouse in one claw. Perhaps I should be skipping happily Eastward instead, merely being happy to be alive. But that could be explored in the future, assuming my mortal coil and the remains of the dead rodent I bear retain enough nutrients and calories to repair my broken wing. Yeah, the wing will likely heal.

As you may have guessed by now, the meat of the subject at hand is politics, economics, life, death, pain, suffering, and finally hope. It is surely the job of a gifted wordsmith to describe their understanding of their perceptions of the times as well as they are able for the posterity of history and progression of human thought and action; or at the very least to assess the current health of society at large. Unfortunately, I could not find a gifted wordsmith, so I feel compelled to write this rather trivial piece of literature myself instead.

We are currently living in an illusory global financial emergency and an actual, yet not fully acknowledged global environmental melt-down. Even first world countries are currently being cannibalized by regional and world powers through finance or war. There is general material instability among the vast majority of the world’s populace and total lawlessness in some places; Somalia is a good example of this. Then there is also the ever-present vexation of actual starvation for far too many.

Probably more importantly, there is a proliferation of conventional and nuclear weapons; which may actually make our species susceptible to near catastrophic global annihilation. The threat of nearly global nuclear destruction has surely been perceived to be more likely in the past. Yet this threat remains, and has become a part of everyday life that is nearly a joke for the simple reason that there is nothing anyone thinks they can do about it. A wise man once said to me: “Sometimes [Impartial Juror], you’ve got the choice of either laughing or crying.” He always laughed after repeating this anti-platitude. So perhaps it is healthy that we can laugh about it; but it doesn’t mean we should merely brush off the danger as if it doesn’t exist. Nonetheless, I will always be grateful for this wisdom that was passed on to me, and laughing.

Americans live in a society where a nearly half of the population simply lives from one paycheck to another, and a third are near bankrupt. Under such circumstances there is surely going to be some inordinately common and serious social turmoil in essentially all of our lives. Only the most well-to-do are able to avert such serious situations as possible evictions, divorces, addictions, physical illness, mental illness, or even actual starvation.

It is during these times of turmoil that many of our elected officials find the audacity, excuses, and audience that will support their policies of regressive tax policies and cuts in social welfare programs despite the clear evidence that such policies are actually counterproductive. How do they do it? The short answer is that they divide and conquer through manipulation using fear and intimidation. The long answer is a different article entirely.

Should it be any surprise that it seems like everyone knows somebody who is absolutely in complete crisis? Somebody  who has had or is having part if not all of their world shaken so violently that the magma at the center of their planet is in danger of exploding out of the globe and destroying an overwhelming amount of their health, security, and happiness? And who is benefiting from all this misery? Is the answer not most assuredly that the global elite are the only ones profiting from this suffering?

With that in mind, I admit that I too am a part of this shared, sustained, national trauma.  It has become an accepted part of life in our society that, not out of callousness, but out of sheer necessity, nearly everyone is jumping from crisis to crisis trying to manage situations that are often inevitably unmanageable, forcing us to leave some behind.

This sort of lifestyle takes a toll on people. The effects have become evident in every community in this nation. We must bring this to an end. We have to make this rock bottom and rise again. If we don’t take action soon, I fear we will not have the resources or freedom to act at all. In fact, we need to take action yesterday ladies and gentlemen. I have some ideas, and they will be forthcoming in future posts.

All that said, I must admit that it’s good to have something to write about. There is no bad experience for a writer, just material. I think my pal is right about that. Though I wish the material at hand was more positive.

So, let’s inject some positivity into this post in the form of a song about a woman, a single brave woman who made a difference. Let us not forget that we all can. Furthermore, alone we can make waves, and together we can move oceans.

This woman had the determination we have lacked, the passion we should be adhering to, and the kind of courage we need, Mary Harris Jones, Mother Jones. Her story always gives me strength and resolve, and Ani Difranco has paired up with Utah Phillips to write an inspiring song about her. It encourages me and gives me a sense of hope for humanity whenever I listen to it. It reminds me that if she alone could make so much of a difference, together, we can make all the difference in the world. So, without further ado, let’s listen to a song about the most dangerous woman in the world! May Day is coming!

Thoughts on exceptional people

I have spent my life trying to find exceptional people. There are fewer than I would like, and many have not made it this far. Exceptional people have throughout history been persecuted by average people because they are ahead of their time, hence they often oppose the status quo, and by extension are mysterious. Mysterious people are unpredictable to the average person. Unpredictability leads to fear of the unknown, which leads to persecution.

For their ideas extraordinary people have often lost their lives, been isolated, demonized, discredited, and criminalized. I will point out some poignant examples of historical and popular figures I feel fit this description: Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Alex Jones, Jesse Ventura, Bradley Manning, Jullian Assange, the Dahli Llama, Ai Weiwei, Martin Luther King, Nicola Tesla, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Galileo of Galilee, Copernicus, Socrates (assuming he is not fictional), and Jesus of Nazareth (assuming he is not fictional).  This is but a tiny list that consists largely of “Westerners” and is severely lacking in women (this is why we need “women’s history”) that I have come up with basically off of the top of my head.

There are also entire cultures that have been persecuted. The Jewish (culture of) people have been persecuted throughout the Jewish Diaspora and continuing on into modern times. There is a disproportionate amount of exceptional Jews because of their societal values (not to mention their cliquish tendencies) and it has gotten them into a lot of trouble. The Gypsies have historically had the same problem, as have the people of Tibet, and the Native Americans (who were also persecuted for their land).  You may disagree with the specific people and/or cultures I have given as examples, but I trust you get my point nonetheless.

Fear is dangerous. We should do our best to not fear each other unnecessarily. Bear in mind that just because a person or a group of people seem mysterious or unpredictable that it doesn’t mean they are bad people. Remember that we are all here to do good, at least in our own minds, unless we are actual sociopaths (which is hard to prove). Remember that we should always err on the side of liberty. We would do well to base our reactions to others on the actions of others, not on their words or ideas. Remember that we should not try to cause each other pain as a result of our fear of the potential actions of others.

A wise man once told me that anger is an emotion that is secondary to pain. As Buddha said, “life is suffering” (the corollary is also true – life is joy). Therefore, we all suffer pain. When we suffer pain we are prone to lash out and cause others pain. This is where we have the opportunity to stop the cycle of pain we cause each other. This does not make us dangerous people. It makes us human. Don’t let society tell you that you are anything less.

Society will judge you based on what it thinks you may do if it deems you an unpredictable person. Mysteries and unpredictability are scary to societies too. The fears of society often lead to us giving up our liberties. Let’s remember the words of Benjamin Franklin (often attributed to Thomas Jefferson): “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” We would do better to live in societies based on mutual love and respect for each other rather than societies based on fear of each other. We would do well to resist rigidity and give those with thoughts different from ours a chance. We will surely suffer for it if we don’t. Be courageous enough to suffer and not pass the pain on to anyone else; that is what an exceptional person does. Have the courage to be exceptional.

If you can, forgive the “preachy tone” of my post.

With love and respect,

“Impartial Juror”