Daylight Is Always Better: Climate Change, Racism, Oligarchy, Sexual Harassment/Assault, Guns, Etc.

daylight-thru-windowListen, I’m not totally anti-darkness.

For instance, I used to be an orthodox night owl, and once my age/health and career rendered my nightowlism unsustainable, I learned that I sleep better in a room that is totally dark.

However, set aside those few quirky exceptions, and shifting from this ridiculous introduction to my primary point:

Daylight is Always Better

Scoundrels hide in the dark, they meet with each other and scheme, some are scared of getting caught, others are simply waiting to be emboldened to step out into the light, either by recruiting co-conspirators and building strength by numbers, and/or by some mouthpiece or another who succeeds in dignifying the existence of scoundrels and arguing that they have a right to be heard.

The one thing in common between a variety of contemporary phenomenon — climate change, racism, oligarchy, sexual harassment, gun violence, etc. — is that daylight — in the form of environmentalists, groups like Black Lives Matter and Occupy, brave victims of sexual harassment/assault going public with their stories, gun control advocates, etc. — is shining more consistently and revealingly than it has in a long time, maybe more than ever.

The most immediate result of this daylight is media saturation, which has a profoundly demoralizing impact at first. It’s simply harsh to see horrors everywhere you look.

But, on my better days, when I can muster a modicum of optimism, I can just about reach for and try to embrace the possibility that with more daylight on these issues the more chance there is that a critical mass of concerned human beings will demand and eventually achieve badly needed change.

The villains in these situations range from clueless and passively participating, to truly diabolical.

They won’t give up without a fight, and we have to be prepared for that.

 

Guns, Cancer, Money & National Priorities

cancer-gunI’ve written a number of posts in response to the gun violence problem in this country, mostly expressing my dismay and outrage that our government has done little to nothing to address the problem, while thousands die every year.

Thankfully, my life has not been directly touched by gun violence. No one I know has been a victim of a shooting. But I abhor violence of all kinds, and I feel genuine pain and sadness with every death reported in the media and at the thought of the thousands that I never hear a thing about.

And all the while I find it unconscionable that nothing is being done about this.

Over the same period, namely the past few years, another trend was going on that I didn’t see as connected … until this week.

While no one I know has been a victim of gun violence, over the past few years an increasing number of people I know, as well as people I have admired and have been inspired by from afar, have been diagnosed with and/or have died from …

… cancer.

In the past few months alone I have simply lost count. Cancer feels closer to me than ever before, even though I lost my mother to the disease years ago, and even though I’m a survivor myself, of a rare and not terribly dangerous deep tissue skin cancer, diagnosed and treated in 2001, and cancer-free ever since.

It seems that every other day I hear of someone else battling or losing the battle with cancer. Just this past weekend I visited a dear friend in the hospital who has been through unimaginable hell during his treatment.

And today, the thought suddenly occurred to me:

If I’m outraged by the lack of action from our government on gun violence, what about our government’s efforts to address the cancer epidemic, which kills MANY more people per year than guns?

guns-cancer

Looking at the $5.21 billion annual budget for the National Cancer Institute — the U.S. federal cancer research organization — it might seem like our government is doing a heckuva lot.

BUT, when you consider that the U.S. government spends over 100 TIMES THAT ($599 billion) on the military, with over 10 TIMES the cancer budget alone ($64 billion) spent specifically on our new-normal perpetual war, and if you consider that another national and international crisis needing urgent attention, climate change, only gets $21 billion…

… well, that’s a clear case of fucked up national priorities.

Awareness vs. Self-Preservation

burying-ones-head-in-the-sand

“It’s good to be exposed to politics and what’s going down here, but it does damage to me. Too much of it can cripple me. And if I really let myself think about it — –the violence, the sickness, all of it — –I think I’d flip out.”

–Joni Mitchell, from Rolling Stone Magazine, 1969

I think about this ALL the time!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I was choosing to face some gloom, because not doing so would be contributing to the problem rather than the solution, and the toll it took on me was considerable, I just about flipped out.

See, I feel like, if I’m going to be helpful I need to be well-informed. But man, getting informed, reading as much as I can on issues, reading more than one source, reading competing ideas, it all adds up to a lot of exposure to ugly details, terrible injustices, radically horrible attitudes and ignorant ideologies.

And yet, even if you bury your head in the sand, your ass is still sticking up in the air and vulnerable to getting mightily kicked.

I do believe that spirituality can help, I keep doing my meditation and yoga in hopes that being more firmly grounded in the present moment and less susceptible to regret and fear will help, but I still can’t avoid becoming overwhelmed by the unforgiving harshness in the world.

So, what’s the solution?

How do people like career activists and humanitarian aid providers do it, day in and day out in some of the most desperate situations?

Any ideas?

 

Tweet of the Day: #noKXL

Great news for a change!

And I can think of no other organization that fought longer or harder to oppose the pipeline than 350.org.

They deserve enormous praise and thanks.