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Rambling Ruminations - Stephen P. Pizzo
Thursday, 17 September 2009 06:21
by Stephen P. Pizzo

I spent the weekend brooding. Maybe it was having hope, dashed for so long, again dashed. Yes, Barack Obama is shaping up as just another mediocre politician.

And then there's the still rising tide on the ignorant-right.

(Errant Thought: No wonder right-wingers get all worked up over Darwin. After all, under Darwin's rules it's always the least adaptive among a species, those slowest to embrace change, who are among the first to go extinct. Trouble is this time, if they get their way, they'll be taking the rest of us with them.)

Anyway, it just struck me this weekend that we're going to need something a lot more real than Barack Obama before we get anything like “change we can believe in.” We need one of those “when an immovable object meets an irresistible force,” kinda moments. And my instincts tell me we're likely to see just that. Because something's gotta give when a system of governance seizes up – as our clearly has – at the moment the nation – and mankind itself – are confronted with do-or-die challenges.

I don't need to list these challenges, because they're on the news every day: Are we going to respond to the changing climate – or just ride the extinction express to the end of the line? Are we going to reinvent a sustainable, more equitable financial system, or fire back up the one that just ran us all down? Are we going to start treating health care as a fundamental human right, or keep on selling it to those who can afford it, like Twinkies, Thigh Masters or the latest Ipod?

This weekend I came to the conclusion that the American system of government not only won't respond appropriately, but can no longer do so, at least when it comes to the really big problems. The reasons are many – most involving money, of course. But at this point those reasons are really quite irrelevant. Those problems have long since morphed from simply problems impacting our system of governance – to being our system of governance.

At times like this I always reach for my tattered and dogeared copy of Edward Carpenter's “Towards Democracy” which I open, like Christians open a bible, to any old page, which almost always turns out to be the right page, at the right time.

Here's what I opened to Sunday night: (Full text here)

Excerpt: From “Towards Democracy,
Edward Carpenter – circa 1880

Do you suppose it is all for nothing that disbelief has gone out over the world; that weariness has taken possession of the souls of the rich, and that fatal darkness enfolds the head of wealth and education;

That men disbelieve in the human heart and think that the source of power is set otherwhere than in its burning glowing depths: that the powers which they worship are but so many withered emblems of power—dead scoriae nodding and jostling over the living lava-stream ?

Do you suppose it is all for nothing that the eyes of brothers avoid in the street, and none sees what is before him; that the heel is upon the head, and Earth alone regards the faces of them that are oppressed—that the stones in the wintry fields are become confidants, and the ground is sown with compressed thought, like seeds?

Do you suppose it means nothing that that which satisfied once satisfies now no more, but unrest and hunger are eating through men's souls ?

That a new need gone up is more than all precedent, and History shrivels before the will, even if it be only of one man; that the pilgrimage has begun, and men are leaving their long-loved homes by thousands—and the tenderest-hearted are the first to sever the old ties?

That expediency and logic expostulate in vain, and man has become wholly unreasonable, and are calm to drop utility into the bottomless pit; and the wise cover their lights, but the fools flash theirs and are whirled away—like fireflies in a thunderstorm?

Do you suppose it means nothing when the godlike Hand comes forth—the awful hand, sacred with the kisses of the generations of men?

When the hand of Necessity comes forth from the cloud and covers dark the faces of them who have never known it, turning them back from their ruin—but stands in the clear sky, beckoning bright, like a pillar of fire for weary fugitives?

When the awful vision moves across the sky, and the earth is electric under it—and the grass stands stiffly, and the blue thistle in the hedge is erect with meaning,

And men are amorous for the naked stinging touch of the world, and to wrestle limb to limb with the wind and the waves;

When poverty and hardship smile for their espousal, and fierce endurance is fused in one passion with love, and the glitter of concealment is torn away, and the loins are compressed and the eyes aflame with lust,
Towards that which shall surely be born?

When Wealth is slowly and visibly putrefying and putrefying the old order of things; When the surface test is final—the rainbow-colored scum —and society rotting down beneath it; a trick of clothing or speech, metallic clink in the pocket, white skin, soft hands, fawning and lying looks—everywhere the thrust of rejection, the bond of redemption nowhere; the sacred gifts all violated stale and profaned—men and women falling off from them listless, like satiated leeches;

When Labor is not loyal and true, nor the Laborers loyal and true to each other; when a man has no pride in the creation of his hands, nor rejoices to make it perfect; when machinery is perfectly organized and human souls are hopelessly disorganized;

Do you think all these things mean nothing?

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