An article by Sha'Tara, local writer and friend.
THINGS OR LIFE?
[observations from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]
Riches, riches, riches. The world runs after riches as a cat runs after a laser beam. People rush to buy lottery tickets, hoping for the big win. They pay their fees at the bingo halls, hoping for the prize. They enter all kinds of promotional gimmicks by corporations, hoping to be the ones to win that one car, truck and camper, or that all-expenses-paid trip around the world. And for rich or poor, the filing of income tax provides another opportunity to take advantage of legal loopholes and keep something back to be wasted somewhere else.
Some people spend the first half of their lives studying to earn degrees in medicine or law to enable them to earn the big salaries later on, dreaming of that special mansion on a hillside with the curving cement driveway and the majestic oaks in the front yard, the pedigreed hunting dogs in the kennels, the Jag in the garage... Some work to get on Wall Street and learn to trade stocks, making friends with the rich and famous. Some enter politics, hoping to go all the way to the Presidency or Prime Ministry. Some head for Hollywood, hoping to be discovered.
When all is said and done, the majority spend their lives dreaming of riches while spending the little they have on providing the money for the few to actually become rich, that is, to have more money than almost anybody else. After all, that's really all there is to being rich: it’s a relative concept, all you need is to have more than others.
Things, things, things. To be rich also means to own things. The more things, the more one is rich, or so it should go. In today's world, of course, that is hardly true because the availability of things is quite mind-boggling! Even the poor can have an incredible assortment of "things" in their apartments. We surround ourselves with things, some useful, most wasteful, some just to decorate a place or to give us a sense of belonging.
What are our things but idols? They make us feel a part of something, of the hustle and bustle which we want to identify with. What is a thing which does nothing else but make us "feel" but an idol? We feel some sort of life come from these things and yet they are quite lifeless. Worse, most of them were not made to actually please anyone but to realize a profit or, for some, merely to produce something in order to earn money for food or shelter. The motive for the creation of our things has nothing in common with the proposed use of the thing itself. Philosophically speaking this means that the majority of our things are lies: interesting, isn't it?
Well, why shouldn't they be lies? The system which spawns them, the global capitalist system that is, is nothing but a lie in itself. It exists for itself, feeds those who serve its immediate needs and sucks the lifeblood from the rest of the world.
Why do we feel such a powerful drive to have things? Partly because the system, particularly through education, has been telling us that we are evolved beings who came from primordial ooze (I love that term!) to become what we are today. We developed large brains which in turn allowed us to develop skills which the other animals have not gained yet, or may never have. How the system has made use of that silly lie and our woeful ignorance to make us believe in our own superiority, and to do its bidding. We are civilized! We are intelligent! We are special! We are great, the greatest! We are proud of our race, of ourselves, of our pride! We have not only survived life against the greatest of odds, but conquered our world... we can watch baseball on a large screen TV: wow! Heroes, supermen... did I miss any superlative attribute which declares to the cosmos that man is at the top of the power pyramid of success?
Come on, do you really believe that? That a being who can't survive in the wilderness while a common mouse does, quite well, is superior to the mouse? Man lives an artificial life, and the cost of that life to the environment is increasing day by day. Is that a sign of superiority... or madness?
I would rather possess the natural attribute of being able to live naked in the wilderness, eating whatever nature provides, sleeping in old logs or in trees, than be able to write the wisest of books, be able to design a warp-speed craft to cruise the stars at will, to be able to conduct a famous orchestra or write a musical masterpiece. Why? Because I would be one with the natural then, a part of my world, not living at odds with it. I would be living in peace with my environment as opposed to the enmity and conflict we have for one-another now.
I could love this world, but could this world ever love me? Just by being I am an aberration in the cycle of earth life. I don't fit in and it rejects me as a legitimate life-form. Unnatural needs are what separates man from his environment, explaining why he has little or no natural feelings for his world; why he remains an artificial creature and the very worst parasite and predator ever to exist on this earth. Even the dinosaurs could not have been as bad. I doubt that they ever planned the total destruction of the earth just to prove a point. Man has done that, and come closer to actually doing it than he ever will admit. Now he is destroying the very biosphere, the very living environment, the only world he can exist in. Does that denote wisdom? Intelligence? Mental superiority? Or just plain stupidity?
Man surrounds himself with dead things he makes because he is completely alienated from the rest of the world. He is alienated even from himself. It is a fact that the more individuals pack themselves in city apartments, living on top of each other, the more lonely they are and the less they trust one-another. Weird? More than weird. Not so long ago, when settlers or pioneers lived miles apart, they would travel those miles to visit one-another. They would leave their cabins unlocked so that if they weren't at home, any visitor could still enjoy their hospitality. In such times, crime was practically unknown. People were closer to the land and had a better sense of value. They didn't have a lot of things, but they had a sort of trusting brotherliness, a natural dependence, not only on one-another, but also on a Creator, however they touched that being. In a natural setting, the reality and need of faith increases dramatically.
Now, people surround themselves with meaningless trinkets and lock themselves in with alarms and guns to protect their silly loot. They will sit amongst their dead things, bombarded by the inanity of disk jockeys and talk shows but will look suspiciously through the peephole at anyone knocking on the door. This is progress? We don't care what poison any yahoo pumps into our brains, into our memory banks, but we are afraid someone may want to take our DVD player? What sort of values do we operate from? What sort of life is this? Why are we like that? What has created our paranoia? Indifference? Lack of discernment?
This pathetic life we now fearfully scamper through, waiting to be pounced on by the known and unknown hawks: the bankers, the lawyers, the doctors and dentists, the politicians and crooked cops, the corporate CEO’s, the muggers, the rapists, the serial killers, puts us in much worse conditions than the field mouse. Such disempowerment demeans us and turns us into denatured creatures of darkness. What is wrong with us? We seem so smart, yet are so incredibly stupid and vulnerable. To add to our problems, we know that no one in this world outside of ourselves really cares for us. Someone may care for our money, our handshake, our look of admiration, our adulation and worship, our body, our mind, our labour... but no one really cares about us--as human beings. Ultimately, we are all alone with ourselves. To those who prey on our fears and weaknesses we are but resources, functions that must be made useful and “productive” in the marketplace.
There is a wall between individual human beings that nothing in this world can bring down. Even the closest loving relationship always has a wall between the lovers, even if that wall is only the privacy afforded by the lack of thought communication. We can't read each other, and that is likely our main problem.
We resolve that and we've resolved the rest, because to read each other, we must have total empathy for each other. If we have that, it means we have tapped into the life force of the love energy field of the Creator. It means we have finally found the source from which we emanate as human beings. It means we have unraveled the mystery of man. It means we are no longer afraid to be what we are. It means we no longer have to pretend to be superior life-forms, whether special, evolved, civilized, chosen or otherwise, because we are none of that; we only believe we are and that particular human belief is based on false assumptions rife with dire consequences.
At this point in our so-called development (I can't honestly use the term "civilization" since that is collapsing) we remain an overcrowded bunch of disconnected, confused, mentally unbalanced (and quite dangerous) beings unable to reason the why’s of things. We should properly be walking in abject self-loathing and repentance for our past temerity and on-going stubbornness in refusing to face the truth of our screwed-up nature instead of strutting around in our covered-up humanity; instead of going from store to store looking for that Calvin Klein or Victoria's Secret fig leaf or from sale to sale for more loot to drag into our dens, adding to our fear of the proverbial thief in the night. Yet who can stop him? No alarm system, no pit bull, no Smith and Wesson, no world-class police force can ever stop that thief.
I wish for someone to take pity on us; to approach us with the ability to make us see ourselves as we truly are; with the wisdom to convince us of this; with the strength to make us change our warped sense of value. There is, or there are, such beings, of course, but the problem remains that we must of our own free will go to them. They are here, always, but because of our false sense of superiority, we refuse to acknowledge their presence. And if we did, would we listen? Did we listen 2000 years, or 4000 years ago, for that matter?
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, `What shall I do? I have no place to
store my crops.’ “Then he said, `This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ (From the gospel according to Luke)