She’d teach them [her children] these things are nothing, the clothes, toys, and furniture. These things fool people into thinking they must stay where the things are. Leave it all, she’d teach them even . . . all your dreams of safe, calm places. Go with what is most terrifying. … Always choose love over safety, if you can tell the difference.
– Josephine Humphreys Dreams of Sleep
Last week’s essay was okay, but it did not go far enough. (It did not, in fact, go as far as it promised to.)
Let me try again – to see if I can clarify the Essential Principles which underlie our Choices. As, when we are weeding our garden, we need to be clear on – WHICH are the crops … and WHICH are the weeds.
(or, as Ms. Humphreys says, in the above epigram – “choose love over safety [if you can tell the difference]”)
When we make a choice, WHAT should we look for?
What are the principles which must be upheld if we are to Survive? (… and Thrive)
For me, the most succinct way to express the Primary (most essential) principle is – Family.
With this (simple) word, I mean to invoke the best qualities of a healthy family –
Let’s work through last week’s examples to see how Family contextualizes those choices. Mmm?
War is so far in violation of the principles of Family, that it may not be (conceptually) easy to see them at the same time; but, the way one treats ‘the enemy’ (in time of war) will likely constitute the grossest and most extreme violation of love and family.
By the time one finds oneself fighting in a war … someone else has already decided that the principles of Family are to be forsaken.
Bierce (who, by the way, fought in the Civil War) offers:
Gunpowder, n. An agency employed by civilized nations for the settlement of disputes which might become troublesome if left unadjusted.
And, (as I have shared with you earlier) … Bierce also instructs us as to the cause of war :
Peace, n. In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.
If, instead of regarding others as would (any) predator, we considered that everyone is a part of our Family (Bierce is suggesting that) – we could have peace (instead of recurring wars).
And (since, as a planetary family, we’re still in the awkward stage where we have outlawed killing but still have not outlawed war) … any war (these days) must be seen within the context of our choice – to pursue profits rather than peace.
Greed / unbridled selfishness, deception, and exploitation … these things are antithetical to Family. Indulging them … is the alternative to Family (and is the path to destruction.)
Our laws –
Good parents never give up on their children.
What kind of father would deliberately choose a path knowing that it will lead to a world wherein his own grandchildren will be hard put just to survive ? (in order to favor short-term profits to huge corporations) ? ? ?
Well … this is how our laws are currently structured.
Such a choice is more than simply antithetical to Family … it’s criminal (on a vast scale).
(and we must find a way to change it !)
The non-distribution of Wealth & Power –
One of the crucial Battles in the Great War of Ideas – is whether it is necessary to exploit others (in order to prosper).
In the (1986) film – The Mission, the Church in Rome (which was in bed with the Slave Trade) made a decision – to shut down the missions (in South America) which were prospering even though they were not based on slavery, but on respect and cooperation. (It was bad for business. Better just to get rid of them. Profits were at stake.)
Any time a person or a group exploits another – the principles of Family are being violated. And such a choice leads away from Sustainability.
Americans are fond of the idea that it is a basic human right – not to be exploited. ‘If you (who govern us) are determined not to respect us [and treat us like Family] – then we will revolt!’
[Remember the Boston Tea Party?]
This why our country was formed.
“If you refuse to treat us like Family, then we will leave your family and form one of our own [so that we won’t have to endure being systematically exploited by you]”
The reason that mistreatment and exploitation are not sustainable – is because people have limits as to how much abuse they are willing to tolerate.
[We’re all the same, after all. (in the important ways)]
Since the wealthy 1% deliberately maintains the (already exorbitant and still-widening) gap between themselves (the super-rich) and ‘everybody else’ … this treatment constitutes (willful) mistreatment and deprivation. They treat the 99% in the same basic way that a (more powerful) nation treats a weaker nation which they happen to be occupying. [and those who rebel are labeled as “insurgents”.]
And, while this unenlightened and greedy minority has arguments [which they may believe] -as to why this is necessary … I do not believe it.
(They are wrong – both morally and philosophically.)