Friday, November 18, 2011

Examining The Occupy Movement: Government is of, by and for what? PEOPLE!

“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

       President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

“Democracy is direct self-government over all the people, for all the people, by all the people.”
       Reverend Theodore Parker (1810-1860)

“There are more and more people in the streets in this time of stunning disregard for the health of social service in our nation…”
       The Very Reverend W. Mark Richardson, Ph.D. (Grace Cathedral, October 21, 2011)

“To restore prosperity we must return to a spirit of shared sacrifice. But our elected representatives have failed to find the courage to create a tax system that will allow us to contribute to our own prosperity. This must be done while removing loopholes for those who refuse to pay their fair share. It also is the legitimate role of government to provide oversight of the economy. Overstimulation and a lack of regulation - as we have seen in the stock and housing markets - create unsustainable bubbles.”
       Steve Zolno (“Why We Need To Tax Ourselves”, Open Forum on Democracy, San Francisco Chronicle, November 18, 2011)

Recently, there have been letters to editors of newspapers, in this and other countries, decrying the unruly crowds of protesters who have set up encampments. “These are nothing but filthy homeless encampments,” one such writer whines.

Homeless and homelessness. The problem of homelessness has been a long-standing and neglected fact of life in the United States. And now homelessness has unwittingly become the symbol of that travesty has been made of our economy by people who have believed themselves to be privileged to ravage the financial infrastructures of the world, while they were in administrative positions charged with responsibility and oversight.

The foxes are in the henhouse, folks.

The headlines cry out about the inequities, the plunging rate of job availability and the rise of unemployment. Wall Street, rewarded for their reckless gambling with public money (that is, money belonging to the public) by having been bailed out with more public money from our Federal Reserve, are now reporting record profits. Fancy that.

The foxes are in the henhouse, folks.

Articles report on the 10%-15% rise in health insurance rates, while professionals have made meager 3% raises or had to take pay cuts in order to keep their jobs. An article a few days ago asserted that 20% of a family’s income goes to health insurance. My own family pays as much for health insurance as we do for housing. Fancy that.

The foxes are in the henhouse, folks.

Administrators cry, “We must cut the budgets! We must cut services! The costs are too high to be sustainable!” These very administrators, working in industries ranging from healthcare to education to insurance to government (local, state and federal) cry out for across the board cuts, cuts, cuts! And they give themselves, either by the conceit of vote or by acclamation, raises, bonuses and benefits that the average person cannot obtain in the marketplace. Fancy that.

The foxes are in the henhouse, folks.

Lobbyists have bought out our administrators in exchange for the many quid pro quos that will allow their masters (“captains of industry”) to hoodwink the public into thinking that the health and wellbeing of our nation, of our people costs too much. The silent assertions are: caring costs too much and people are not worth the expense. Fancy that. How does that notion make you feel? Do you think that this is true?

The foxes are in the hen house, folks. The hens are gone, now. Where will the foxes go from here? What will they raid next? What will they kill, aside from dreams for a better life?

This life that we lead is all about life. “Progress” has been advertised for generations as moving all of humanity toward greater equity, but the reality is that a few people have been carving out territories and staking claims where they have no right to do so, and we are all the poorer for their sins and their reckless disregard.

The protesters have taken to the streets, as well they should. The foxes are currently hiding in their henhouses, but their mass media slaves have either been told not to report on the protests or to spin tales of omission and that complain of all the rabble and the noise and the homelessness and the filth, if they do report. And some of the public buy into this notion, hence all the whining I see bouncing out of the editorial pages.

All these filthy people, where do they all come from? They are saying something, but their message is unclear. Because their message is unclear, we don’t need to listen.

However, this nation was formed to be a more perfect union. Democracy was supposed to work for all people, not just some.

As we enter into this winter season of caring and sharing, we need to be not for ourselves alone, but for our neighbors and our neighbors’ neighbors, we need to be people helping people. Because our administrators won’t do this, we must. And we must consider casting down our administrators, because they no longer work for the people, but for themselves and their industry masters alone.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Friend

Morning and sunshine greet your smiles
—on them, evidently, each day relies!
While light quietly casts you over miles
of forms and pathways well-traveled,
the presence of your warm shadow signifies
your arrival for fun, discussion and laughter
over all the world’s revels and riles
(though key mysteries might need to be unraveled
in a follow-up phone call, well after),
and though you and the sun make way for moon wiles,
memory of your smile lingers; a light that never dies.

© 2011 by Elisabeth T. Eliassen

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Season of Giving and Sharing Revisited

Well, we are now on that slippery slope that leads to Thanksgiving, Christmas and a New Year. For many, it is either “Ho, Ho, Ho” or “Ho hum”. For some, it may be an excuse to acquire, an excuse to shop, an excuse to spend and indulge, and for some to boost their image. We have, after all, been well trained to feed the capitalist system by spending.

But, I sometimes wonder if we are really fulfilled by the excesses of Holiday spending. Does spending give us a feeling of power? I know it place stresses on us and our society that are difficult to overcome: financial burdens, obligations, waste creation are but a few of such stresses.

My observations of today’s society is not a happy one for me. I see that there is a great deal of existence and experience that is extremely shallow and solitary, if not outright alienating. Polar extremes of opinion keep people from thinking and acting toward a via media that might prove to make life better for more people. The greed of the top 1% percent, as well as that of those political leaders who are charged with the responsibility of overseeing the general welfare of all citizens, is all too transparent; not a day goes by when there is not some new scandal having to do with public money being misused.

Growing up, as I did, within the roiling foment of the 1960s, it is hard to see that we fulfilled those needs we peacefully marched for. While there is greater parity, there are now even greater divides and millions more examples of small-minded thinking to overcome. We may be created equal, but there is no equal treatment to be had.

Growing up, as I did, in a time of seeming plenty, I look around now and see that current events and trends have people afraid for their financial and personal security. Our natural resources are being consumed at ever greater rates, often expended for the sake of cheaply manufactured items that all to easily become broken and toxic trash. While we pride ourselves for our recycling efforts, but the truth is that much of what America recycles is sent to be processed overseas. While vast amounts of money are spent on maintaining the status quo of toxic and endangered energy, not all that much is spent to develop new technologies that might turn our recycling into more localized business that creates or renews energy.

Knowing this, one thing we can do is conscientiously work to reduce our waste.

During the great SpendFest of the 1980s and 1990s, we were taught that catalog purchases meant we could have anything at anytime. All well and good, but the waste of packaging materials and fuel used in shipping can add irresponsibly to our environmental dilemma. The avalanche of catalogs, themselves, add to our landfill! One of the most egregious examples of such catalog purchasing happens when people order perishable foods, such as steaks, and have them shipped to the giftee—think about the giant box with the additional Styrofoam insert box, dry ice and other materials added just to send a couple of steaks that, let’s face it, aren’t worth all that effort and waste. Much better to send a gift certificate for a lovely meal at a fine restaurant local to the giftee. 

One thing is very clear: More than ever, people need each other, we need to share what we have, pool resources and avoid unnecessary waste.

Here are a few ideas for sustainable, seasonal or year-round giving:

* Buy locally made items – support local business, Made in USA and Union Labor
* Support your local Food Bank and/or Animal Shelter with a donation
* Give gift certificates presented in handcrafted cards
* When there is a two-for-one sale, particularly on food items, take the deal and donate the second item to the local Food Bank or Soup Kitchen
* Re-gift quality items from your home that you no longer need
* Likewise, your local second hand shop is a local business where you can find treasures less expensive but every bit as good as new retail items
* Before running them to the thrift shop, consider donating old, but still useable clothing or new underwear and socks to the local homeless shelter
* Play, Movie or concert tickets make and unexpected wonderful gifts
* Make a home cooked meal or prepare baked goods or jams or candies for friends
* Repurpose baskets with gifts of canned delicacies or crafted items
* If you know do-it-yourselfers, gift certificates at auto parts, hobby shops, craft supply or hardware stores might be just the thing
* Rather than a once-a-year donation to local shelters or food banks, consider a monthly contribution—these concerns don’t just need money at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but all year long!
* Comic pages from the Sunday paper make colorful and compostable giftwrap!
* These ideas may just have given you an idea or two—or twelve!

Obviously, a lot more could be said in this article. The short of it is that we can find new, creative and thoughtful ways of responsibly sharing and caring and celebrating with each other this year. It might mean an investment of more time and thought, but the results can only make you feel good about what you are doing—leading to less of that post-holiday let down.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


O Pure Wind!
O Spirit Divine!
blow through my soul,
sweep me through and through;
sweep away all the noise of my discontents
—blow through me,
as you do through
water reeds and tree tops;
cleanse me, empty me,
until I be a bottomless vessel.

O Spirit Divine!
O Pure Wind!
blow through this vessel
with a heavenly friction;
create of me a bell tone and
send me in the ten directions
—waves of sound you set in motion
by answering this humble prayer.

And when I have been your song,
stretched abroad to the outer
reaches of infinity,
if it be your will,
pull me back,
that I may abide
as an echo
in your bosom,
O Spirit!
O Wind!
O Love Divine!

© 2011 by Elisabeth T. Eliassen