|Choosing Sides (CAI2019)|
If you believe, as many do, that the Earth is headed for a major meltdown regardless, you decide how to act.
- You can choose to do everything in your power to fight the inevitable, stave it off.
- You can choose to do everything in your power to make what's happening less terrible for everyone and reduce the overall damage.
- You can choose to do everything in your power to save you and yours.
Humans are simple creatures, in the end. We will always act to save us and ours, first and foremost. It's our doom.
There are those that are accumulating control over all the world's resources within the systems everyone seems to agree to play under. There are those who will suffer and die early deaths because they lack access to even the basic resources to live. And there's the giant bell of the curve, the rest of us, who are being forced to choose between one or the other. We either pursue capitalism, unabashedly using the rules to make our own way as clear as possible in the giant mess of the world, or we fight against it, asking for more in increasingly desperate ways as the cuts and demands of our World Owners come ever closer to our own skin.
Increasingly, it seems, there is nowhere to be in the middle. Like two side consolidating over an invisible line a mile wide, we are being forced to flee one way or the other, to the illusory and temporary safety of a trench. Either we're in the Rich trench, or the Poor trench. If we choose to, even mildly and politely, fight against the current state of capitalism, currently being unabashedly exploited for the benefit of the Rich, we are not worthy of being part of the Rich. We will end up among the Poor, the story tells us, and so we must not stand against the wrongs we see. We risk ruining our potential to be pulled in as the Rich pull in on themselves and hoard the wealth of a world. The only world for miles around - so many miles of space we haven't definitively found another.
It's a time of choice. I spent my best adult years building the life that capitalism made for me, the step up generation of more education, the potential to eliminate Want, Fear, and Insecurity from the daily experience of our family line's DNA. I have a strong mind and will, and that bent very well to the needs of people working with various levels of Power in service to Rich People. I learned so much, and I enjoyed quite a lot of it. I didn't question about sides. I was making my way through the capitalist game as best I could with what I had and the experiences I could get. I figured everyone else was doing the same, so if I got ahead, that must be my doing. It must be because of how hard I work (I worked hard), how smart I am (I am smart), how well I interpreted the systems around me (I am an exceptional systems thinker). And it was, it was those things. And also, that I had the ability to get an education. And also, that I was a polished, articulate, attractive, young, white, person. And also that I happened to ask the right question at a specific time, or someone was looking out for me that I didn't know about for reasons I will never know. And a million other factors, not the least of which is the exploitation of people all over the world to make clothes cheaply enough that I can afford to buy them on what I'm able to earn in the system I'm engaged in. I was dealt a hand, like every person is born dealt, and I worked with that hand as best I could, working with the luck I got. My hand was better than a lot of people, and worse than some. I am stronger and more determined than most people, but lazy compared to some. This is life for every person. What hand are you dealt, and what can you do with it?
Do is a funny word, because what does it mean? Does it imply that we need to play to win, to end up among the Rich when the walls go up and the prison industrial complex takes to the streets? Does it imply that we use our life to resist what feels inevitable, to the risk of giving up on the good life of peace that we envisioned for ourselves, and that we extend that risk to our children, our families, our friends, our employers?
This is a time when we see people choosing, all around us, choosing a side, and sticking to it, plugging their ears against the case of the other, then shouting with anger or derision that the opposite is true. This is a time when those of us who just want to live a peaceful life of creation feel torn, pushed, forced to participate in a war we didn't want to see happening, to flee to one trench or the other, fight the oppressor or fight for ourselves by joining them.
Walking a middle path is hard. We can't do it alone, but it's so hard to band together when our interests and what pulls us feel separated by so many different factors.
I don't know my path. I don't know where I end up, or the cost of the choices I will have in front of me in my lifetime. I don't know the extent of my strength of purpose or character or will. I am holding fast to a notion that peaceful coexistence is possible, because in that case, there are no sides, there is just the pursuit of peace. If enough of us believe that, that there are no sides, there is only the pursuit of peace, then maybe that can become the consensus view of reality. Maybe we can start acting like that's possible, and deciding big decisions based on that. Maybe. Right?
I mean, maybe.