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This Article is Different from Most You Will Read On This Blog. It’s Angry and It’s a Morality Lesson, Too!
When’s the Last Time You Looked at Yourself, Deeply?
Morality and ethics are things we used to learn at home from grandparents and parents, on the street from public servant role models (police, firemen, etc.), at school, in church. Now we pack our grandparents off to the nursing home, our public servants are thugs, sluts and thieves and our teachers aren’t much better, and who, really, goes to church anymore and who can really say they know anything about their religion or denomination, too? We’re in a very pitiful state as far as our morality and character are concerned, and our ethics is even worse.
So the theme of this blog is a quote from a beloved teacher, model, human being, St. Francis of Assisi, who said, “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” (Patron Saint of Ecology, 1181-1226) If you think about that statement, it should switch on some lights…somewhere.
It’s very true, though, when you think about it. If you tend to treat things, animate or inanimate, sensate or insensate, traditions or customs, without respect, love, compassion, sensitivity you’re very likely to treat other people and other living things the same way. And you know what? Generally, that disrespect and lack of compassion is just how you feel about yourself, we are told. Low self-esteem, low self-respect is usually reflected outward onto others, the world, people, creatures of all types.
This weekend, I visited the Iroquois festival at the Iroquois Museum in Cobleskill. There I enoyed demonstrations of Native American survival techniques, examined artifacts, viewed artworks, and learned a lot about the culture of the Iroquois Confederacy a “republic” of six nations. The Iroquois call themselves the “Haudenosaunee“, which means “People of the Longhouse,” or more accurately, “They Are Building a Long House.” They were politically sophisticated and tolerant, had a highly developed culture and religious system. They were matriarchal, a woman was head of the clan and picked the chief, and they were matrilineal, you took your mothers clan name and belonged to her clan.
What’s a North American native culture to do with a 12th century Italian saint? Well, they both stressed oneness with nature and creation, respect of others, the necessity of a positive compassionate relationship with all of creation for survival. Something we have lost touch with today.
After that elevating exhilarating experience, I found myself traveling down Rt 9W, just a mile or so before the entrance to the NYS Thruway when I saw something that was simultaneously horrific, saddening, ugly, and overall upsetting. It was the very image of what we as human beings have become today, and I decided I would share the sight and my thoughts on this blog.
There they were, three beautiful animals, less than perhaps 50-100 feet from each other, along the roadside, DEAD! Not killed weeks or even days apart but merely hours, judging by the condition of the corpses. Now I’ve seen death in so many ways in my career and just wandering the world but sometimes the way it happens to be presented just hits you in a certain way. This was a revelation, a shocking revelation of what we human beings have become: The AIDS epidemic killing all of creation. But we’re worse than a mindless virus, we claim to have a spark of divinity, freedom of will, intelligence, gifts that should make us a force for good, not a dark cloud of evil. These creatures were killed by humans in their machines and apparently by humans who had not a whit of concern for their actions nor any sense of compassion or responsibility. Like so many of you out there.
Yes, you are a restless bunch. Can’t stand still for long, have to move, gotta rush to get nowhere, gotta have that new toy but can’t reason Why? The commercials tell us to rush, we need IT now! And you respond by rushing and buying it. How’s that make you feel? A bit depersonalized, taken advantage of? Less than the person you’d like to be. Does it make you feel angry to be used by businesses, industry, government, others? Are you angry? Are you taking it out on the world. I’d guess yes, from where I’m observing. And it’s happened to you so insidiously, that you haven’t even noticed, have you?
Now take a step back and look at yourself. Now look at your children, if you’ve taken the time to produce any or ever had the notion of sharing your life with anyone but your iPhone and your Twitter or FaceBook cyberfriends. Are you constantly checking whether someone wants to message you, needs you to exist? Have you tried leaving the cellphone or the iPhone home and taking a walk…alone? What do you see? Do you like it? (Probably not.)
You hide the elderly and deny the naturalness of aging, you hasten the dying process in the ill but deny death, enjoy wanton and unprotected lust and then spread disease or kill the unborn and then preach chastity, you hurry to get nowhere special and when you get there you can’t wait to get to the next stop, you do most of what you do not knowing (or caring) why we’re doing it and just do it to get it off the list, you rush through every minute of the day without appreciating it or being in the moment even once and then whine that the day’s gone by already (whose fault is that?), you complicate your life with concrete things and lose the connection with the mysteries of life and can’t even visualize much less think in terms of concepts or the abstract. You eat three times more than you should, weigh at least 25% more than you should, but then complain that portions are small and that you’re overweight and unhappy. And you’re angry, fuming. Anger is ugly and does ugly things! Worse still, you deny you’re angry!
One of the ugly things your anger causes you to do is harm the helpless and the innocent, and that’s where my concern for the morality of these developments comes into the discussion. The more you do a behaviour, the more it becomes habit, the more habitual it becomes, the more it becomes your character; your inner voice, your conscience, is a product of all of that. Your good-bad, right-wrong decisions are your morality, and what you do, how you live is your ethics. You are how you live. Are you afraid yet? You should be.
Our entire culture has become toxic.
Back to the Iroquois, the once great Native Americans. Look at what the American culture has done to them and how we’ve accomplished it: Invasion, cheating and dishonesty, eradication by the use of superior weapons and technology, importation of disease, import of an alien culture that is incompatible with centuries of tradition, disrespect for the native culture, forcing alien forms of government on the people, robbing them of their culture, their ethnic pride, their values, and then abandoning them to decline, disease, social degradation, and ultimately disappearance. In other words, we strip them of their dignity just as we strip all of creation of its dignity. And we do this for the worst of reasons and for short-term satisfaction and gain, imposing permanent damage and destruction, and move on to the next victims. Just like locusts devouring one field after another; simply destruction to feed our own perverse drives.
The three dead young raccoons were symbolic of what you’ve become: insensitive, self-serving, unrepentent, uncaring, black holes sucking up everything, destroying it and giving nothing in return. It’s sad, isn’t it?
What really makes me kind of giddy in a sense is that most of you have no connection with anything really, you’ve created a world of dualities for yourself: you and everyone else, America and the rest of the world, the 1% and the 99%, the good people and the Jews and Muslims, the church-going Christian in church and the church-going Christian out of church. That’s just to name a few of the dualities you’ve set up to make yourself acceptable. You’re so one-dimensional you need to create dimensions outside of yourself. And still you pray, you attend worship, you read the bible, etc. and you learn nothing, your life is still…emptyness. Too bad!
People, there’s got to be an Aha! moment in all of this. That moment where you have that certain revelation, that conversion moment where you say to yourself, “What the #*%$&* am I doing? Where the #*%$&* am I? Where the #*%$&* am I going?” Are you getting closer to climaxing in this orgiastic frenzy of for lack of a better expression, sin against nature?
Take a moment and look in the mirror. What do you see? Now, peel away that surface and what’s under there? Can you really live with that?
Yes! The world is your mirror. It’s what you’ve become and what reflects back on you. You are indiviudally and collectively responsible. We used to talk about duties and obligations but nobody liked that; those words sounded like someone else was pulling the strings and you were all simply being told by big brother what to do: Do this! Don’t do that! You must…! Now we talk about responsibility and following your conscience…what conscience? How responsible are you for what’s going on around you? If you feel you’re responsible have you done anything to correct the wrongs and the evil around you? Or are you irresponsible?
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