My apologies for the prolonged absence.
I sit in my travel trailer, purchased in mid-October, on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park, in an unincorporated burg on the outskirts of Desert Hot Springs, California, very near to my beloved mother's parents' spiritual home, Palm Springs.
Our arrival a week ago was a huge relief, to say the last, after what has been a punishing, months-long ordeal I simply have no vocabulary and am too broken and fatigued to describe. When I set out, I invoked transformation via self-sacrifice, and I invited spiritual kinship with those of our country most plagued by its injustices and inequities. I did so assuming I could "witness" these human strivings and anguishes, and so carry these people's sufferings through pure compassion to the higher self, Atman, the center that is both precisely within and precisely without, the same center in all-- as has seemed the purpose of my subjective experience since I succeeded in Awakening in January.
As it turns out, something far more extraordinary, harrowing, and, yes, miraculous unfolded. I know not to what end-- for, much to my ego and pain-body's dismay, it has yet to end. One calamity has followed another; indeed, even here, safe in paradise at last, as my pain-body has relaxed, uncoiled from its long-held defensive posture, I awake to the sad knowing that the crunch in my lungs and plague of aches throughout tissue and bone and sinew are pneumonia-- or uncertain worse.
Through miserable happenstance and mounting afflictions of random, indifferent chance, I became wholly like those I sought to witness. I inherited-- or, perhaps earned?-- the existential plague that stains them, and impairs every moment of their lives-- so that, no matter how faithfully they apply themselves to it, every one of them is denied forever, sheerly by unending heaping cascades of miserable circumstantial errors and calamities, the fruits of the American Dream.
Success myths contingent on vague notions of "hard work" mean naught when the fabric of one's daily existence is hounded by calamity after grim calamity. Unfortunately, I did not also inherit the grit that sustains them, that so empowers them to perservere when all sense would register suicide to be the appropriate response to such overwhelming, merciless misfortune. Fortunately as I write on the desert and reflect on my own personal and costly perils of the prior three months, I find that by choosing to face these tragedies privately, and persisting through them more out of habit than as some act of virtuous will, I have come to taste the practical grit that pushes them forward in spite of their successive misfortunes-- a precious strength in these tough times, indeed.
In 1993, my freshman philosophy professor at KCAI, Hal Wert, joked about this calamity phenomena as "the speeding Coors beer truck:" whether Socrates, Keostler, Kierkegaard or Sartre, his answer to any my idols' "profound truths" was ever the same: truth of Self and its intentions/will matter not in a universe where our human striving is negated when our inherent and ignored human frailty suffers the impartial, swift, and unmerciful blows of random chance-- and when random chance delivered his final blow at last, he prayed often to teenage laughter in class it would be in a sudden and cold strike of a speeding Coors beer truck so that he might go out in a bath of blood and his favorite beer, and something akin to glory.
What seemed a ticklish, churlish performance to my 18 year old self now seems at 41, after having witnessed the gravity of heaping calamity on those who have the least and suffer it most, as well as measured on myself, who finds himself having less with each passing affliction, to be the wisest instruction any teacher has ever blessed me with-- one that instills utter compassion because those of us who have not the financial resources to cure calamity and misfortune without pain know not that the gravity of these burdens magnifies by orders of magnitude as each piles atop the prior unresolved; and that growing gravity invites ever more calamities to join the fray and guarantees the misfortunate afflicted will never break free from the pile.
For the poor of this country, those left out of the American Dream-- regardless of what diddling name the PC crowd chooses to assign them-- suffer an unimaginable indignity that prohibits them from ever gaining ground, and it's simply this: calamity attracts ever more calamity, and where the privileged have resources to cure each with swiftness and so decrease their gravity and continued likelihood, the poor are ever-buried, inescapably, by hardships that mount mercilessly ever, each drawing in the next, like friends calling each other to join an amazing party. Certainly the poor are denied access by virtue of institutional bigotries on both sides of the political divide; however, no poor Sovereignsbeing so afflicted by bigotry's disdainful curse has a chance to stand against and rise above it when fate levies a torrent of accidents, one atop another, upon the poor and their families, that erodes the ground beneath them continuously, as retreating waves suck slippery the sand beneath our feet out to sea and leave us to sink ever lower into the slick, chilly slurry beneath.
Whether Caucasian rednecks such as my sister Ashleigh and her friends sweltering in the Red South, or the long-suffered African Americans in South Carolina or Chicago's Roger's Park, or the First Peoples virtuously enduring the abuses of a tyrannical government of the very kind our so-beloved Second Amendment was engendered and remains amply defended to cure, it's utterly clear to me that the poor, no matter their education, "protections," nor "access," are incapacitated before fate's unyielding and indifferent might when it inflicts its relentless torments. And despite any notion of social progress under neoliberal charlatan-POTUS "Barry" Obama, none of privileged-us has fathomed that cascade, and so none has truly remedied what afflicts those who suffer our seemingly magnanimous civilization's cold indifference. And the "liberal" ideologies we so righteously espouse that we suppose liberate the poor from bigotry's oppression fail to account entirely for the even greater significance of accidents' oppressions.
No amount of virtuous adjustment to the system can account for this: once a a storm of hardships starts its course-- say an unanticipated pregnancy two very young people are utterly unprepared for, the most common of these and typically the first-- more and more follow, ineluctably-- often involving the death or deportation of an invaluably generous family member, without whose grit and presence survival of prior assaults would have been impossible, and without whom facing the future ahead looms even more unendurable. Viewed in sequence and en total, they appear rightly to increasingly attract each other-- one begets two, two three, three five, five ten, and so forth-- and the so-afflicted have no purchase to shelter themselves from the storm, nor capital sufficient to remedy those crises most urgent, until tax season of course, at which point retailers and manufacturers are only to willing to promise speedy narcotic relief and ultimately distraction from the slew of misfortunes best upon and oppressing every anguished minute of their existence-- one of the Narcissistic Paradigm's nastier and more sadistically parasitic actions.
Somehow, they find quiet, steady hope despite their hardships-- if such a word can adequately describe the inequity of their circumstances-- and as I traveled, listened, and suffered-with-them (Latin: com passio), I realized these hopes were misplaced in a notion of "hard work" and an investment of college that are more a debt-afflicting lie that burdens them further with an expected yolk of indentured servitude worse than any predatory mortgage, and that blatantly fails to fulfill it's false promise of liberation in a society where such a thing as liberty is in short supply for even the most liberated of liberals.
Even worse, there is a plague of presumed purpose that has shadowed the species since the days of the god-kings holding claim and sway over primitive grain surpluses-- the genesis of property ownership, currency, and the rights of kings-- that has found a heinous and ugly, narcissistic bent in the wake of the failures of the Boomers' naive, narcissistic, halcyon hippie days and has been given eager idiot blessing and full berth by the likes of Madonna and Oprah and her shamelessly proffered prosperity gospel doctrine, The Secret: the notion that for each of us, "success," however measured, is "meant to be"-- a delightful reward bestowed by something we call "the universe" for the inherent goodness of our character.
I've long bristled at this bogus assertion of purpose whenever I've been complimented with it for any of my prior successes. Previously, ignorant of the acute depth of iniquitous and senseless suffering of my fellow-and-sister Americans, I've simply and correctly stated that the bulk of our species on this planet-- billions upon billions-- live and die in continuous, deepening anguish and affliction traps that I simply cannot accept are "meant to be" for them in any rational or virtuous sense if the same statement applies to my good fortune; why am I more special before the eyes of this supposed "universe" than so many, many more of them? Indeed, I've correctly asserted, any "success" we Caucasian First Worlders With Means can claim for ourselves is largely a matter of the good fortune of being born on this continent to this people and of this race, nationality, and pedigree, and I cannot and will not accept any casual celebration of its concurrent fruits as somehow purposed for us by virtue of our inherent worth when the vast rest of the world lives in senseless anguish and dies in utter obscurity-- incarnate souls, equal to any in this country, who suffer and whose equally worthy, distinct personhood is forgotten entirely by so-called History the moment they draw their last breath.
Indeed, to suffer and die without consequence nor remedy, let alone reason, a plague of unstoppable cascading misfortunes is the greatest indignity a Sovereignsbeing can endure-- presuming the Ego has some measure of significance in the ontology of this tiny vicious species tormenting itself and its brethren on this remarkable jewel chasing an unremarkable star in one bland galaxy of what we thought were billions and now think are unimaginable trillions, lost in a seeming-boundless thing we call a "universe," in which not even the magnitude of human striving so significant to narcissistic we could possibly matter a whit in the scope of its vast seeming-eternity. It is in the relativity of Self that we suppose Ego's import; but down where the spirit meets the bone, we harbor a greater existential terror-- that all that we are is entirely for naught-- and that is insult beyond ken for the sufferings we endure, which for us personally seem as great as the "universe" itself.
Our lives and their successes only have consequence because we are White First Worlders With Means-- even those of us who claim some flavor of favored-minority status (of which I reluctantly admit I am a bland white one: the recovering yuppie gay-divorcee). It is a grievous insult to assert that our lives are favored by virtue of our characters' innate worth before something we have absolutely no ken of when so, so vastly many more are fate-plagued worse than Job himself and allowed, unlike Job so-loved by Yaweh, no recourse but death, ever silent, to escape these relentless existential torments. And after discovering first hand what I knew rationally but had never afforded myself opportunity to experience in the fullness of my entire Awakened Self the senseless afflictions of heaping accidents on the poor...
None of them, even the so-called Alt-Right my peer group currently so revile, endures this string of care-less and unjust hardships because "it was meant to be"-- because these are an adequate reflection of their characters' worth. And no matter what their ideological affiliation and regardless of their ideologies' failure to comply with sensible-ours, that kernel of iniquitous and injust hardships unite not us-all but those-who-have-the-least of all stripes and colors, and those who, quiet frankly, deserve the most help from those of us who can, from those of us who insulate ourselves with such narcissistic congratulations of self-worth from their senseless and cruel sufferings because, our "virtuous rewards" so imply, theirs also was meant to be. And no amount of label-changing, Facebook "shares" and up/down-vote "likes," righteous bone-throwing "charitable giving," insultingly pretentious "community development," and the occasional hour "donated" on an thinly peopled picketline ever succeed remedying that dirge of relentless misfortunes. Indeed, it's all salt on a blatantly ignored visible wound that only festers more with the passing days neglectful platitudes.
To those who slave in suffering their entire lives, certainly they share the love of narcotic pleasures we so enjoy and defend-- infotainment, processed and organic foods, prescription drugs, plastic-and-silicon techtoys, Facebook-- but those pleasures that "reward" us only acutely magnify their suffering when they can catch them in those brief moments of surplus means. Uniformly then, they console themselves with abundantly available religions of the afflicted, cheaply offered under everwhite steeples cemented in nearly every intersection in any accumulation of souls outside of the liberal and godless cities-- ostensibly to give meaning to the unmeangingable via absolving them of their "original sins" which so clearly have been the cause for these miseries beset upon them ("it was meant to be") and providing them with a path of supposed virtuous, moral living, claiming that dutiful obedience to these bewildering and inscrutable codes will liberate them from the tyrannies of their senseless misfortunes bestowed upon them by a lovingly vengeful "god." In bitter truth, the afflicted cling to these "faiths" because beneath it all, they promise a "revelation" of total and unmerciful, exacting and just retribution for their enemies, whom they blame for their miseries, and as a bonus they are promised an eternal reward that looks an awful lot like the posh gilded homes and neighborhoods and celebratory comforts the wealthy of each generation enjoys in those particular times while the plebes rot. What they fail to appreciate in their jealousy of the rich and this fantasy of eternal reward based on it is that such plenty every rests on the backs of those whose vitality the rich suck to the bone to service their comfort; presuming their enemies will be cast into oblivion after sufficient brief suffering, there will be no vitality to engine their reward for its promised eternity.
This is, in one of many necessary perspectives, the vital appeal of Donald Trump: regardless of the imparticulars of his outlandish, nonsensical campaign babble, and in spite of his obvious sausage-fingered childishness, under it all was threat of retribution against the ruling class, the long-reviled so-called liberal elites-- which, not too long ago we all fail to recall, he himself was a not-inconsequential member of. That threat from such a man was precisely the "message" these oppressed and miserable poor have been programmed by generations of Sunday sermon apocalypse pornography, and they were only too delighted to accept that a thundering alpha monkey-- a man possessing a magic name-- guaranteeing them holy revenge against the indifferent, unrepentants was the most satisfying and compelling candidate they could ever have hoped for. And the more the liberal establishment shrieked his name and the horrors he seemed to guarantee and impugned his voters as "deplorables," the more they validated his voters' belief in his power against those liberal elites, and so assured him and them of their victory, which was inevitable from the moment neoliberal maven Hillary Rodham Clinton gamed the primary so that no upstart could upend her ascendancy-- and guarantee us now, at the close of what remains of our democracy, that their righteous vengeance will indeed be exacted upon us all-- even unwitting and wholly duped them. Yet despite this assured betrayal of his electorate, should our democracy survive a one-term Trumping, these poor people will remember his legend more fervently than his hallowed predecessor, Ronny Reagan.
Democracy collapses into tyranny when those who can lift the poor out of their misfortunes are too righteously adrift in their narcotic narcissism to actually help those upon whose backs that democracy rests and flourishes. Neglecting them and their cascading afflictions only guarantees democracy's collapse when at last a compelling, charismatic, and outlandish alpha male rises from the pack and promises salvation via righteous vengeance against the bloated, selfish, and ostentatious ruling class. Sadly, liberal friends, this "election surprise" has been a long, long time coming.
If we are to understand this terrifying time, if we are to even begin to fathom the lay of the land itself so that we may hope to find some pathways for all of us out of this mad and maddening mess made by we wicked, wicked primates who have been far too endowed by unwise Prometheus, we must start where Christ and Buddha chose to begin: with those who have the least because they are most-afflicted by accident and calamity's awful mounting gravity. Unlike Christ and Buddha, however, we must not insult their suffering's magnitude and depth with the indignity of "ministering" our supposed "truths" as remedies to them. We must not presume to know anything at all about the scope of their dis-ease. We know not what they endure; thus, we wholly unqualified to name it, nor to suppose what a "socially just" remedy to those inquiries looks like.
What is required by those with the most is radical, selfless sacrifice of comfort: to abandon, as I did, what we have that shelters us most-- the cash to make problems disappear swiftly and with minimal stain and consequence, as well as the narcotic plastic pleasures we reward ourselves with when so-released-- and embrace the courage to truly live with and suffer with them, to know the heap and heft and exhausting, harrowing gravity of accident and its stains upon the innocence of those undeserving souls, and upon the earth we shame, regardless of the pigments or political stripes of those so-afflicted. And we must not tell them, through the insultingly insulating comforts of "social justice" philosophy arrived at in privileged institutions wholly removed from and directly misapprehending of the sufferings they claim to cure, nor in the vicious "self-help" doctrines that profess through supreme knowing validated by the vain claim of Ego-transcended, that only they can free themselves from this slew of torments, what steps they must take to free themselves from what is surely a situation of their own making-- a product of their karma. History bares out the futility of this path; it also makes clear that it exonerates the privileged from the guilt they should be feeling for having failed in their moral obligation to steward all whom their karma stains.
We must sacrifice wholly the comfort of supposed-knowing that so offensively makes us those long and rightly resented "liberal elites" and chose to use our imaginations instead for a purpose tragically unpracticed broadly in this species since before the dawn of agriculture and its poisonous surpluses and their concurrent vanities: we must use our imaginations to experience as the afflicted experience, and suffer with them, and so know as they know, not necessarily to cure their problems explicitly, but to unite in sorrow's trenches to lift each and all of us not out of the miserable gravity of mounting calamities that leaves every one us poorer and poorer by the day-- even those of us who believe themselves to be above the fray, insulated by privilege.
Only that sacrifice of comfort and its blind suppositions before the alter of truth and its anguishes can afford all of us the path that may liberate us from the consequences of our narcissistic paradigm and its vulgar, staining sins.