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March 20, 2006 0800 PST (FTW) - ASHLAND -As Bush’s poll ratings continue plummeting, as the stench of Washington’s cesspool of corruption wafts across the nation, and as one courageous Senator, Russ Feingold, introduced censure of the President, I continue witnessing the clueless left clutching teddy bears and hoping that somehow, some way, the 2008 elections offer the promise of “taking back America,” a phrase that I have come to loathe in the last five years as the nation sinks more blatantly and precariously into the quicksand of fascism. Although I have long ago said my good-byes to “hope,” I cautiously embrace options, and in the following essay, I intend to clarify the difference between the two and enumerate a few of the options I have come to believe are available to those who clearly recognize that we are living in a fascist empire locked into the Terminal Triangle of Peak Oil, global climate change, and planetary economic meltdown.
For a number of reasons I perceive hope as detrimental to our sanity and survival. First, I have no interest in “taking back America” because the America to which most left-liberals refer when mouthing this empty slogan is not an America that I want back. I want no part of “lesser evils” and political parties that collude in the demise of the nation, the planet, and its inhabitants. As long as any of us “hopes” for the return of that America, we delude and infantilize ourselves, waiting like toddlers for the appearance of Santa Claus. Tragically, the plump, jolly St. Nicholas the left longs to have back is not a pal, but a predator who delivers economic, environmental, social, and spiritual devastation in packages with more appealing gift-wrap.
Living as I do near the U.S.-Mexican border, I was privileged for some years to teach in Mexico where I learned far more from my students who were university-educated professionals than they could have ever learned from me. They taught me much about their culture and their country’s politics. In those days I believed in “lesser-evils” and found it difficult to understand the complete absence of hope among educated Mexicans for political change in their country. While I learned much about the depth of corruption in Mexico, its abject, merciless poverty, and the barbaric lengths to which its corrupt underworld of politicians and narcotraffickers were willing to go to maintain their power, what was most valuable was finally comprehending the attitude of my students toward all this—an attitude which was virtually devoid of hope. While their perspective may be labeled by some as “passive,” I witnessed in awe their determination to create options in their personal worlds because they had come to fully understand the futility of trying to alter the big picture. Because they had no illusions, they had no hope, but they did have options.
The ruling elite of the United States and its corporate media in giddy complicity, have created an almost impenetrable illusion that this nation is a polar opposite of Mexico. When I cross the border, get stopped by a Mexican police officer making $300 a month and slip him $10 not to arrest me, confiscate my license, and impound my car, then return to the U.S. and tell my friends about it, heads shake and distressed expressions appear on faces, almost always followed by the words, “Those poor Mexican people; their nation is so corrupt.” These days, when trying to explain the depths of corruption in the United States, I’m fond of saying that America is quite simply, Mexico with makeup. When American citizens thoroughly understand that, they will stop “hoping” and have more energy available for creating options. As Catherine Austin Fitts is fond of saying, we spent two years of time and energy trying to get a lesser-evil elected in 2004 when we could have been creating sustainable solutions instead of supporting yet another rigged election.
So when we’ve “gotten it,” what options do we have? Bear with me if some of these suggestions sound too elementary. I’m laying out a process here:
So it has been as I have discussed September 11, 2001 with hundreds of people. Quite often the response is, “I don’t want to know the whole truth.” That is always a prerogative to which one has every right, and it must be remembered that if one stops there, the remainder of reality always awaits revelation. Like the full disclosure of ugly secrets in dysfunctional families, owning and assimilating the abhorrent realities of our government is a process that requires a willingness to invest time and energy in developing one’s learning curve, not to mention extraordinary courage.
One of the most important concepts activists need to understand is that money is not the enemy and that people who know a lot about money are not necessarily rich, greedy extortionists. In fact, they are natural allies for economic transformation.
An enormously important piece of this, of course, is eliminating personal debt, particularly in the light of the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Laws.
Paralleling the transformation of the community is the re-making of one’s inner world. In fact, one will impact the other as Catherine Austin Fitts explains in her wonderful article Coming Clean.
Recently a friend remarked that I seem more relaxed and less stressed. I replied that one reason might be that I have stopped trying to change the world and the country and am focusing more on changing myself and my community. Without thinking, the words, “I feel more hopeful than I have felt in years,” came out of my mouth. Later as I reflected on my comment I realized that, for me, genuine hope is a byproduct of channeling my energy into sustainability on the local level—a cellular awareness that no government, politician, or political party can or will reverse the unprecedented, catastrophic challenges that human beings have created in the past five hundred years. Only we can do that, place by place, as, in community with each other, we enliven and expand our options.
**Carolyn Baker, Ph.D. is an adjunct professor and freelance writer living in New Mexico.[an error occurred while processing this directive]