A Sinking Ship

Roland Stahl
February, 2024

     When I was a little kid growing up in the 50s, it was assumed, literally as an article of faith, that the United States of America was the greatest step forward in the political evolution of nations.  America was always right; America could do no wrong.  In the midst of the chaos and treachery in the rest of the world, the Beacon of Liberty, Truth, and Justice in America will light the way forward to the ever more glorious future of the human race (with Americans at the head of the pack, of course).  And blah, blah, blah.  

     But over the course of my lifetime, I have begun to question the premises of this logic.  First there was the Native American genocide, which was very similar to what the State of Israel has been doing against the Palestinians since 1948, and for pretty much the same reason (they have the land and we want it.  I keep waiting for the Israelis to offer free blankets infected with smallpox to the Palestinians ~ I know those blankets are wearing thin, but can there be anything more incredible?  [ ~ yes, as a matter of fact, since you mention it, how about landmines disguised as toys so that children will pick them up and be blown to bits? I pass the shoe.]

     Then, with the last few demoralized Native Americans swept under the rug onto reservations (places where no one else wanted to live anyway), the always-right Americans imported Black Africans into their country to work on their plantations as slaves, rejecting any idea of human rights.  Actually, slavery has quite a long history ~ did you know that the prosperity of ancient Athens was based on its extensive population of slaves ?

     Perhaps it is time to take another look a the idea of Freedom.  What, exactly, is Freedom, anyway?  In the early days of this country, “freedom” meant freedom from religious and political oppression, but it gradually evolved into the notion that everyone should be “free” to do whatever one wants.  Accordingly, persons, companies, and corporations engaged in a mad rush to exploit the earth and its people for personal gain.  In classic Gilded Age style, the powerful people, through manipulation and bribes, secured the complicity of the government, in such ways as granting logging permits for free (or practically nothing), so that the corporations could rape the planet of its protective green cover of living trees in order to fill their pockets with gold.  And the scale of the larceny has only been increasing with each passing year.  

     Does Donald Trump have any idea how wrong he is with his slogan of America First ? It is not only wrong ~ it is stupid.  If there be any hope at all for this poor planet and its warring millions, the whole earth must stand or fall together as One, not as each tiger trying to dominate the rest of the jungle.  If Donald Trump wants to play King of the Mountain (vide: King of the Hill) with Vladimir Putin and all the rest of the rampaging idiots, it really shouldn’t take an AI program to figure out where that’s going to end up.  I suppose it is natural, and historically almost universal, for everyone to support one’s own tribe or nation as always in the right, and anyone who differs is therefore wrong, but somehow we have to get beyond that and come together as One Planet instead of a Jungle.  

     “We have to get back to the Garden.”  That’s the meaning of the biblical story ~ there were our first People, living on the earth in a perfect Garden, overflowing with vitality and life, and it was Good.  But it was through their own error that they lost the garden.  If God and perfection start at the top, the downward path goes through conflict and war, and ends up with violence, rape, and genocide, with death at the bottom.  Just as it is often said that God creates the human being as deviation from Perfection, as a means of existence at all, with all one’s faults, and that it is the path of each one to find one’s way back to God (yoga, e.g.), so, having lost the Garden, where all was Good, here we are, far below, with each one at some level of warring with one’s neighbor, and our path is to work our way back up the hill to the Garden, where we can once again live in peace, in union with God.  

     The way up is always harder than the way down, but only in the beginning.  Eventually the upward path becomes easier and the downward path becomes harder.  The way down is easy and fun for a while, but it leads to death.  The way up leads to God.  To survive and grow, we have to go higher Up to the Light, not Down to the Darkness.  

     The earth is a sinking ship, and, not only are there some obvious loose canon caroming around the deck, but most of the other canons are just as loose!  In a ship where one canon breaks free of its restraints and caroms mindlessly around the deck, it is a very serious problem, leading to the probable destruction of the ship in short order unless the canon can be restrained in time.  But if every canon on a ship be without restraint, the resulting mess will resemble an army in which every soldier is marching (and shooting) in one’s own direction to one’s own drum.  [I apologize for my cascading metaphors, but you can’t look directly at the sun without going blind . . . ]

     Lately, in the wake of the genocide in Palestine, it is hard to look beyond the unbelievable atrocities there, or to look, dumbfounded, as the American President slavishly supports the Israeli pogroms (rubbing his hands with glee, salivating at the burgeoning sales figures for American armaments, and giggling conspiratorially at the leaders of ExxonMobil, as they count their money, probably smoking Cuban cigars under their green eyeshades), but, lest the destruction of Ukraine fall into the cracks of yesterday’s news, let me share this joke, at Russian expense ~ there was an Englishman, a Frenchman, and a Russian who happened to please some magical spirit who then promised to grant a wish for each of them.  The Englishman said, “I want a country estate with a big garden, walnut trees, and a pack of hounds.”  Granted.  Then the Frenchman said, “I want a Chateau on the Loire, with vineyards and servants.”  Granted.  Then the Russian said, “I have a nice little house in a valley with five cows, but my neighbor on the other side of the valley has 100 cows.  So my wish is to kill my neighbor’s cows.”

     I guess the blind or asleep constitute at least 90% of the human race, and for them, life just goes on while they watch, passively, as the idiot box has taught them to do.  But for a visionary, or even anyone fully awake, it is very hard to watch this old earth crumble.  I hope that some of Timothy Leary’s space ships managed to reach habitable planets.  Here on earth, however, we are on the Eve of Destruction [cue: Barry McGuire].  


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