Sunday Sermon [Courage]

Hola Everybody,
Yes, I haven’t written in a while and that includes writing that doesn’t usually appear here (my short stories and nonfiction essays). I have to find my niche in this world… somehow.

Here’s a poem by Anne Sexton that inspired me. They are particularly poignant considering the poet’s own life. The last two years have been challenging for me and I can relate to the words that follow Hope it inspires you as well.

Courage

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It is in the small things we see it.
The child’s first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.

Later,
if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
cover your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

Later,
if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

Later,
when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you’ll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you’ll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you’ll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out.

— Anne Sexton © provided for educational purposes only

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Tags: Poetry, Anne Sexton, Courage, Transformations

Excerpt: Your courage was a small coal/ that you kept swallowing.

Noche Buena Heist

Hola mi gente,
“Happy Holidays!” for those who don’t. J

The following is fiction. It is based on actual events and is the foundation for one of the stories in my book of short stories I’ll never finish tentatively titled Ataques de Nervios (Nervous Attacks) or 704 E. 5th St. (or some shit like that). However, I have taken huge liberties with parts of the story, the characters, and time line.

12-26-16_-what-really-matters-noche-buena

Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.
— H.G. Wells, The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman

 

It’s so cold she can’t feel her feet. She’s wearing slippers in the midst of a raging Nor’easter. She’s afraid and her threadbare coat can’t protect her from the 40-50 mile per hour winds. It’s the night before Noche Buena and she’s alone, keeping vigil outside a home in a white section of lower Manhattan, but she’s here because her kids are in need… there’s no one around and she despairs. Her hands are numb from the cold and her feet ache.

It seemed as if it were hours ago when ‘Galo left with Gangster with instructions that if she saw anyone, she should whistle. In actuality, only minutes have passed. Now she wonders if she can whistle, her face is frozen, and they’ve been gone so long. What if the police come?

Finally, they come rushing out the building with stuffed pillowcases and as she starts to run with them she falls, she can’t feel her toes. Gangster and ‘Galo pick her up and they make their way hurriedly back to the Puerto Rican section of the Lower East Side, which takes too long and she’s crying, she’s in agony. ‘Galo stops to look at her feet and mutters, “Shit!” under his breath.

They hurry home.

They finally get home and by then, she’s crying in agony. ‘Galo takes off the slippers and thinks she has frostbite. She weeps, but tries to stifle her cries, fearful she’ll awaken the children. Unbeknownst to them, her oldest son, all of five-years-old, watches through a crack in the bedroom doorway. He’s afraid.

They call ‘Galo’s sister, who takes one look at the stuffed pillowcases and looks down at the young mother, as if noting her lack of moral standing. What kind of mother are you? Her looks seems to say. ‘Galo asks her to look at her feet and the sister says it’s not frostbite, but that she should go to the emergency room anyway. The young mother refuses, afraid. Afraid of the consequences of the act she just helped commit and afraid of what they may say about her toes that throb with a dull pain now.

They give ‘Galo’s sister a gold watch from the stolen loot, and she’s delighted. It’s an expensive watch, very pretty. She gives the young mother another look condemnation and admonishes her for behaving in such an un-Christian manner. The young mother says nothing and thanks her for looking after the children.

That Christmas was a good Christmas, or at least the children thought so. There was food, there were gifts under the tree, and the young mother seemed so happy though her children asked when they noticed that she limped a little when she walked. She had a brand new pair of boots, the only concession she made for the oldest will always remember the James Bond attaché case, complete with gadgets and it even shot rubber bullets if you pressed a hidden button. He also got a chemistry set that he used for hours upon hours… She made sure her children got our gifts before ‘Galo and Gangster would leave with the bulk of the loot, returning only when the money was spent on drugs. She didn’t even get herself a decent coat. However, her children got warm coats, gloves, scarves, and long underwear.

Her son never knew why she was crying that wintry night all those years ago. He thought they were fighting. But he was not surprised at her sacrifice — the choices she made so that she could make sure her children were and had what they needed. Somehow she always made it right, even if it meant compromising her values or her reputation. She didn’t care, only her children mattered. Still, she was ashamed and part of the reason why her children had perfect posture is because she taught them to walk tall, with their heads held high. It was the last bastion against the shame — that she made certain her children would walk proudly.

Most importantly, she taught them what really matters.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, please consider helping me out by sharing it, liking me on Facebook, following me on Twitter, or even throwing me some money on GoFundMe HERE or via PayPal HERE so I can keep calling it like I see it.

Responding to Fear

Hola mi Gente,
Have you ever felt that someone or some thing, or some situation is just right? Have you ever followed that inner feeling? How was that? Then again, I know many people who had children on account of a “feeling.” LOL!

Responding to Fear

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Nothing in life is to be feared; it only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
— Marie Curie

 

A shadow is created by blocking, deflecting, or otherwise obstructing light. Wherever fear comes into existence, it lives, grows, and remains a part of us by embedding itself between the light of creative vision and our intuition. It is the shadow, not a lack of ability, that is the biggest obstacle we face today as a global community. The shadow, as I see it, is the space between what we want and what we get. It’s the distance between who we are and who we are meant to be, with the biggest, deepest, and widest gap occurring between the present crisis and our vision.

Look around at what has so many of us mesmerized: paranoia, worry, doubt, disease. They cast a spell on almost every aspect of our lives. Fear prevents us from seeing or feeling clearly. It blocks the natural flow of our creative energy and hampers our ability to be radically innovative. We seem to be caught in a collective state of generalized anxiety that makes solutions impossible or paralyzes their implementation. When we do manage to get started, it is fear that often calls us back at the first sign of disappointment or problem. Fear, as a friend likes to say, keeps us “stuck on stupid” as in the example of the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. It stunts our growth and suffocates our awakening, causing us to repeat painful and habitual patterns of behavior and making us lose sight of our vision (or uncommon sense). In order for us to envision and create a greater society we must get past this fearful landscape.

Historically, creative people have often felt separated from their communities. It’s as if their ability to see clearly between what is and what could be serves to stigmatize them. Innovators are often ridiculed, their ideas and insights too far ahead of the curve of conventional wisdom. This isolation strikes fear within us: we fear that if we express our ideas, or rock the boat a little, or act on them, others will ridicule us. Shit, we are in the midst of an election cycle predicated on fear. The truth is that our visionary thinking is the only thing that will save us. But people are afraid to follow their own ideas. They’re sure they will be perceived as crazy, or radical, or — gasp! — outside of the political norm.

We are defeated not by our uniqueness, but by our fear of the unusual, the new, the strange. We live in a society obsessed by numbers and norms, with its averages, means, and medians spurring us to believe in something called “normal,” which has little to do with being real. The idea of “average” or “typical behavior” is nothing more than a mathematical conceit.

Similarly, we fear information that challenges our ingrained worldview. Most of the resistance we see today is really about killing the messenger than a defense of reason. Those frantically screaming against health care as a human right, or decrying free education, or those who have made it their business to discredit all forms of science, are protecting hidden agendas composed of fear and loathing.

We fear losing as self-doubt zeroes in on the space between our potential and insecurity. We’re not thin enough, smart enough, or committed. As a nation too many focus on what we can’t do, rather than what we’re capable of. We’re too late with too little. Such doubts and fears make us hesitate at a moment in time in which we can ill afford to hesitate. Others fear innovative ideas succeeding and taking hold because it means their worldview was wrong — fear of success. Many fear death, or loss of control. Whatever the case, it’s fear-based living at a time of crisis.

A sure recipe for catastrophe.

The people who insist that true innovation cannot be implemented demonstrate a complacency that’s both ignorant and disempowering. Awakening to our full potential is not a spectator sport. If we’re going to respond the challenges we face, we must act and act thoughtfully with foresight. Whenever a group tries something different, there’s an initial period of turbulence. Many people, fearful of new ways, mistake the turbulence for change itself and decide they would rather go back to the “good old days.” In this way, we dismiss the world of potential and vision for a past that never existed.

If we allow ourselves to be led by a creative vision, we will never lose. We can let go of right and wrong, winning and losing, approval and disapproval. Right now, we are on the cusp of a new world emerging and behind us an old world imploding upon itself. The only rational response to fear is to fully embrace this new world. Our potential can only be realized by working collectively. This new world has been on the cusp for a long time and it has nothing to do with some bullshit calendar and everything to do with being awake, and we have heard it speaking all our lives.

Stop the fear, motherfuckers.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

I am the Warrior

Hola mi Gente,
I am conflicted about having to be inside a jail for eight hours a day, five days a week. If you’re not vigilant, being inside a jail that much can suck the soul out of you…

The Awakened Warrior

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Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
— Marie Curie

 

I sold my son on education using the archetype of the Scholar-Warrior. After watching an old Bruce Lee movie, he wanted to learn the martial arts. Having studied Lee’s original art, Wing Chun, myself, I made a pact with him. We would both study with a master if he took the oath of the Scholar-Warrior. Of course, I made the whole thing up. LOL

Actually, there are precedents for the oath of the Scholar-Warrior. Throughout history and across many cultures, scholar-warriors weren’t just fighters; they were often learned men and women who were versed in a wide range of disciplines. They were familiar with poetry and the healing arts, for example. They were protectors not destroyers.

We live in a different age, of course, but I would submit that the times we live in are screaming for more Scholar-Warriors to come forth. We cannot count on our leaders and government to be brave on our behalf; they are beholden to legal fictions (aka Corporations) endowed with the rights of personage. I would say that a failure of courage all around is at the root of most our problems today. Doing the right thing is a reward itself. Scholar-Warriors do not look for credit…

The word courage comes from the French coeur, meaning “heart.” Courage is a power that comes from the integration of the heart and brain. Brave, on the other hand, comes from the word for barbarians and was used by the Romans to describe the daring of the “wild people.”

For me, courage is the willingness to embrace challenge. Courage isn’t a single trait so much as a combination of a range of qualities: willingness, persistence, intent, valor. Real courage faces reality head on and when change is called for, accepts the need. It also calls for intelligence in that it calculates whether the means justifies the ends.

The irony is that seemingly unremarkable individuals commit some of the most courageous acts. Julia Butterfly Hill was only twenty-three when she climbed 180 feet into an ancient redwood. She lived in the tree for two years, saving it from destruction and in the process inspiring a generation of environmental activists.

I tried to teach my son that within each of us there lies a sleeping scholar-warrior and that part of our life’s purpose is to awaken that warrior. Sometimes it takes an extreme situation for the inner warrior to emerge. Many of the heroes we celebrate were initially reluctant everyday people taken by surprise.

I had a friend, Freddie (who has since passed away), who with no thought to his own safety acted on a situation. It was late at night and he was on his way to the corner bodega when he came upon a rape in progress. Without hesitation he tried to save the young woman. The cowards turned on him, beating him so badly that, among other serious injuries, they broke his eye socket, causing him to lose sight in that eye. Freddie was one of the funniest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and when asked, he said he wasn’t a hero. For him, he was just doing what needed to be done.

I don’t consider myself a hero. I am just a son of the human species who was taught that an injustice to one person is an injustice to all. If I am a scholar-warrior at all, I am a warrior for Truth.

Today, we’re at the political mercy of a relatively small group of bullies. This is how I view most of what goes under both political parties in America today. Much of what they do is based in fear and loathing. A woman once spit at me because she didn’t see me as a human being but as a receptacle for everything she hated. To her I was a thing; I was the “other.” Her fear and ignorance compelled her to see me as a scapegoat for all her frustrations. Bullies bully because they are rarely confronted, growing bolder with time. Push back against a bully, and his or her fear stands exposed. A scholar-warrior can stand up to them.

Lucky Babcock is an example of a spontaneous scholar-warrior. One day she was minding her own business looking out her window when she saw a man throw a woman to the ground and rip her blouse off. Lucky, then sixty-six years old, grabbed her cane and raced down two flights of iron stairs. “I felt like I was flying. I put my hands on the rails and just threw myself down four steps at a time.” She used her cane as a club and drove the man off.

Compassion is a powerful motivator. Scholar-warriors develop a thirst for compassion. The compassionate are the true protectors of the earth, moved enough to take a principled stand to wage war against injustice.

A newspaper editor in Uruguay who agreed to a duel with an irate police inspector announced he would turn up without a weapon. He was challenged after his newspaper reported the officer was involved in transporting contraband. “I am not going to bear arms against another human being,” he stated. He stood convention on its head and as a result, he gained the support of the press, many politicians, and much of the public. The exposure resulted in a power shift that saw a new party formed and a new president elected.

I could tell the stories of countless reluctant scholar-warriors who almost never get any coverage, but they all seem to share the same quality of people who simply did what needed to be done.

If everybody who cared actually participated, the world would change. But we can’t count on other people — only ourselves. If we each do our part, who knows? But if we don’t, I think we know what will happen — it’s happening now. I’ll tell you today what I tried to teach my son not too long ago. The task of the scholar-warrior is to persist in the face of the greatest opposition. Even if our efforts turn out to be for nothing at one level, our actions still create ripples of effect. Courage isn’t risking ourselves for what we believe in, my friends. Courage is letting go of the belief that there’s something to risk.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Sunday Sermon [Gettin’ Naked]

Hola mi Gente,
Happy Sunday and all that! First: if you want to grow and be an Intellectual just like your Uncle Eddie, then the first rule goes as follows:

Eddie Rule #1 for Intellectual Wannabes:
You cannot disagree with something you have failed to understand.

Gettin’ Naked

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Fear is excitement without the breathing.

 

Have you ever had a dream of being naked? Being naked or partially naked is a common dream theme. It may be a negative or a positive experience, depending upon how you feel about being naked in the dream. The clothes we wear in waking life help identify us — they represent how we want others to see us. Clothes also hide our imperfect bodies and, metaphorically, our emotional and psychological imperfections. In our nakedness, we are stripped of our identity and others can see us as we really are. That can be a scary thing or empowering experience, depending on how you see yourself.

Recently, I was discussing the creative process with a friend who is an artist. Mostly, we spoke about how creating art and offering it to the world for its judgment is often an act of courage. Or, better put, it is often very scary. Who among us doesn’t fear public exposure of our creative ideas because we then will feel naked and vulnerable in front of others, and believe we may end up rejected or laughed at in our vulnerability?

Our creative output usually holds special significance for us. They express something that we have been quietly nurturing in our inner life, sometimes for years, away from the eyes and ears of others. It is risky, or seems so, to go public with them. All of sudden, we’re out there, and despite being clothed, we feel a profound nakedness.

Yet we must find a balance between the need to expose our creations to possible public criticism with the fear that our offerings may be somehow cheapened or ridiculed — maybe even stolen.

People say I am an excellent public speaker but, like many people, I suffer from a fear from being on a stage, or in front of a crowd. Add to the fact that I often am presenting controversial views in front of other professionals who often disagree with me, and public speaking for me can be both a fearsome and exhilarating process. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that being in front of others can be rewarding, and that a part of me thrives on the attention and the adrenaline rush. Perhaps there is a healthy exhibitionism beneath the courage to go naked — but we had better have something to back it up!

On the other hand, after a while, an experience that produced trepidation and excitement can become routine or boring. What for some can be an experience of a lifetime can become tedious for others. We need the courage to go naked, but it is much more than simply overcoming fear. Perhaps stage fright is not just a fear of being out there naked, but a desire to be out there really naked. Perhaps along with presenting our creativity to others, we also need to know that we are pushing our own boundaries, along with those of our audience. We are naked to ourselves as well as to others.

This all involves a degree of risk-taking, to be sure, if only because we have invested so much of ourselves in our product that we do not want to see it flop. We have risked everything — our hopes and dreams — on our creative ideas, and we desire some measure of recognition and reward, whether the rewards are social or financial.

I guess the moral of today’s “sermon” is to get out there and do it! Take it off — take it all off! As in love, in the realization of the dream resides self-realization; in its impact is its proof, in our creations we complete ourselves.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Motherhood [The Case of the Layaway Men]

Hola mi Gente,
Today, as I try to do every day through my actions, I honor mi viejita querida… my mother — as well as all the mothers I have had the good fortune to have in my life. Some of the most powerful mothers I have ever known never had children of their own.

  • My aunt, Josefa was a universal mother. She raised more children than you can shake a stick at and if she were alive today and met you, she’d be your mother too. But she never had a child of her own, biologically speaking.
  • I had an aunt in Puerto Rico who received lifetime achievement award from the Island’s governor, literally raised hundreds of children.
  • The woman my son calls mother is not the fruit of her womb. But she is as close to a mother he will ever know.
  • My sister Darlene never had a child but her instinct for nurturing and compassion is present in everything she does.

So motherhood (or parenting for that matter) is not just about biology, though that’s an aspect of it. I think the Mother Archetype is instructive to all of us in that it shows us the heart of the heart of compassion — a role model I certainly needed when I my then seven-year-old son and I were thrust together and I had to be a “mother” to him.

My own mother wouldn’t allow us to have pets, but she would welcome fragmented people into her home the way other mothers collected stray animals. The exiled, the unforgiven, the broken, the traumatized — they were the cast of characters that populated my childhood. And as much as my mother helped these poor souls, a few would turn on her and I would shake my head and ask my mother why she bothered, and she would look at me and say, “There’s a God and He sees everything, it’s not for me to judge. You help because that’s what you are supposed to do.” I believe my mother’s life’s philosophy goes something like this: “If you can help someone but refuse, then you have wasted your life.”

It took me almost a lifetime to understand that wisdom… Basically moms led a hilarious life with her children in tow — here’s a story I always remember…

* * *

05-08-16_ The Layaway Men

The Case of the Layaway Men

 

We were all crying because the bad men were going to take the TV away. There was little else in that living room, I don’t think there was even a couch. We would sit on the kitchen chairs with their seats covered in plastic to watch TV. And that’s what we were doing when these two strange men came into the room and started taking the TV away. I couldn’t have been more than five and my two sisters, Darlene and Yvette, were three and two, respectively.

We were crying. These two big bad men were taking the TV away.

There were two things I remember most about that Lower East Side five-story walk-up apartment. One was that the bathtub was in the kitchen and the other was that it had this long, narrow hallway. So long, in fact, that I used it to ride a tricycle up and down its length. My mother was obsessively clean, the worn linoleum would gleam with floor wax, and we would take a running start in our socks and slide across that long hallway.

However, most of my memories of that apartment weren’t so good because it was the first time I would remember my father’s absence. And, as I was to learn, when my father wasn’t around, things were hard for my mother and we had less to eat, less furniture.

But we had this nice, brand new TV and these strange men were getting ready to take it away, so I cried, and my sisters followed suit. And my mother was standing there, not knowing what to do.

Then she started arguing with these men. At first it was more of a plea. She was actually begging these men not to take the TV away. You see, the TV was bought on the ghetto “lay-away” plan, which was actually a scam to rip off those who had nothing to rip off in the first place. You would put an item on “lay-away” and that would allow you to take it home. You paid for the item in weekly installments. The thing was that the weekly installments often added up to much more than the sticker price. In fact, most of what you got on “lay-away” was used — items that were taken away from other families who had failed to pay the weekly installment. Now, if the question occupying your mind right at this point concerns the wisdom of a poor family having a TV, I have no dialog for you — you have no understanding of poverty. Fuck you very much.

Aside from the long, narrow hallway, it was the only form of entertainment we had.

Soon, my mother was engaged in an all-out argument with the men, who seemed to care less and weren’t even paying attention to my mother. You have to understand my mother is a petite woman who barely measures five feet tall — not an imposing physical presence. So the men were ignoring my mother which made her more pissed off, which made us cry more.

“You can’t do this, Stop!” my mother yelled.

And everything stopped. We stopped crying because we knew that tone of voice. We had heard that tone many, many times before and it usually meant some deep shit was about to go down. So we stopped crying, curious about what would happen next. The men stopped because it was a defiant, authoritative voice. I guess they were used to taking orders and my mother had just barked one out that would’ve made a veteran marine drill sergeant proud.

The pause lasted a split second, then the men continued preparing to take the TV, and we got back to crying.

I remember my mother tried pleading one more time to no avail and then I became scared because when I glanced over to her, she had The Look. I can’t ever sufficiently describe The Look. It was the look of death and it actually made my mother look taller, more powerful, but these guys just weren’t getting it, but we knew. We knew some shit was about to jump off. I felt so bad, I almost warned the men, but, having learned even at that tender age that discretion is the better part of valor, I chose to stay quiet. My mother, seemingly defeated and frustrated, left the room…

And when she came back, she had the largest knife she owned in her hands. It was the same knife used on special occasions for cutting a pernil (roast suckling) or something like that, and she had this wild-eyed look in her eyes. I swear her hair was standing up!

“YOU’RE NOT TAKING THAT TV!!!” She roared. “You will take that TV over my dead body! My children are not going to suffer.” And with that, she yelled her death roar and made her charge, apparently ready to die.

Now, I was very frightened because I feared for my mother’s safety. My mother was small and petite and, after all, she was a woman. Surely, she wasn’t a match for these two big idiots who didn’t even know better. The men, who had until then been ignoring my mother, freaked out when they saw my mother charging them with this huge knife in her hand. They tried to calm her down, but it was too late. Shit, I could’ve told them that. She went after them and the funniest thing happened: The men ran!

Or rather, they tried to run, but my mother had them cornered, slashing at them with her knife and she meant to cut them. Through some miracle, they managed to elude my mother’s slashes and make it out the living room into that long hallway, whereupon they slipped and slid through the length of that recently waxed and gleaming long expanse. Somehow, they managed to make it out of the apartment, though my mother almost managed to stab the unfortunate one who slipped and fell.

But that wasn’t enough for her. My mother chased those men down five flights of stairs and down the street where they had their truck parked. They almost didn’t make it. By then my mother had ripped open her blouse and was yelling, “Rape! Rape!” at the top of her lungs which caused all the frustrated Puerto Ricans who happened to be hanging out on the street corner that fine summer day to join in on the chase of these two men. I know this because I was running behind my mother the whole time.

They jumped in the truck making their final escape in a squeal of tires and a cloud of dust, never to be seen again, a mob of oppressed and upset Puerto Ricans on their tail.

There we were in the middle of the street, my mother with a knife in her hand, clutching her blouse closed. She looked at me and said, “C’mon, let’s go home.” Somehow, I remember, my mother managed to look regal, her head held high, and no one dared say a word to her.

And that’s what we did; we went home up those five flights to that sad almost empty apartment. She put the TV back where it belonged, plugged it in, and told us that we could watch as much TV as we wanted and that no one would ever take our TV away. She left and got some overpriced, stale meat and other things on credit from the corner bodega. It is said that Cuba, the proprietor notorious for once refusing credit to his own mother, took one look at my mother and decided that was not the best time to mention her credit was stretched too far. Later she cooked us dinner, with a Blackout Special as a treat.

And we were so happy.

That was the kind of mother she was: ferocious, fiercely protective of her children. Later in life, it was her power of example that maintained me and taught me never to give up when the odds seemed insurmountable. It was also her fierce love that nurtured and protected me, serving as beacon to a path for becoming a better man. I believe that if I were to carry my mother on my back for the rest of her life, my debt to her would remain unpaid.

I love you Moms.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

The Politics of Fear

Hola mi Gente,
Yesterday was a very challenging day for me… Hopefully, today I’ll have some answers.

Ever simply feel that someone or some thing, or some situation is just right? Have you ever followed that inner feeling? How was that? Then again, I know many people who had children on account of a “feeling.”

* * *

 Gunpoint Democracy_ 2016_ 001

Responding to Fear

Nothing in life is to be feared; it only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
— Marie Curie

 

Today, here in the United States and in many other regions throughout the global village, we live under the shadow of an oligarchy. To be clear, a shadow is created by blocking, deflecting, or otherwise obstructing light.

Whenever fear appears, it lives, grows, and remains a part of us by embedding itself between the light of creative vision and our intuition. It is the shadow, not a lack of ability, that is the biggest obstacle we face today as a global community. The shadow, as I see it, is the space between what we want and what we get. It’s the distance between who we are and who we are meant to be, with the biggest, deepest, and widest gap occurring between the present crisis and our vision.

Look around at what has so many of us mesmerized: paranoia, worry, doubt, disease. They cast a spell on almost every aspect of our lives. Fear prevents us from seeing or feeling clearly. Fear compels us to vote for a “lesser of two evils” as if that were really a choice. Fear blocks the natural flow of our creative energy and hampers our ability to be radically innovative.

As a society, we seem to be caught in a state of generalized anxiety that makes solutions impossible or paralyzes their implementation. When we do manage to get started, it is fear that often calls us back at the first sign of disappointment or problem. Fear, keeps us “stuck on stupid” as in the example of the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. It stunts our growth and suffocates our awakening, causing us to repeat painful and habitual patterns of behavior and making us lose sight of our vision (or uncommon sense). In order for us to envision and create a better society we must get past this fearful landscape.

Historically, creative people have often felt separated from their communities. It’s as if their ability to see clearly between what is and what could be serves to stigmatize them. Innovators are often ridiculed, their ideas and insights too far ahead of the curve of the “conventional wisdom” (whatever that means). This isolation strikes fear within us: we fear that if we express our ideas, or rock the boat a little, or act on them, others will ridicule us. The truth is that our visionary thinking is the only thing that will save us. But people are afraid to follow their own ideas. They’re sure they will be perceived as crazy, or radical, or — gasp! — outside of the political norm.

We are defeated not by our uniqueness, but by our fear of the unusual, the new, the strange. We live in a society obsessed by numbers and norms, with its averages, means, and medians spurring us to believe in a modern myth called “normal” which has little to do with being real. The idea of “average” or “typical behavior” is nothing more than a mathematical conceit.

Similarly, we fear information that challenges our ingrained worldview. Most of the resistance we see today is really about killing the messenger than a defense of reason. Those yelling about fictitious unicorns, or decrying single-payer healthcare, or those who have made it their business to discredit all forms of science are protecting hidden agendas composed of fear and loathing.

We fear losing an illusory safe existence as self-doubt zeroes in on the space between our potential and insecurity. We’re not thin enough, smart enough, or committed. As a nation too many of us focus on what we can’t do, rather than what we’re capable of. We’re too late with too little. Such doubts and fears make us hesitate at a moment in time in which we can ill afford to hesitate. Others fear an innovative idea actually succeeding and taking hold because it means their worldview was wrong — fear of success. Many fear death, or loss of control. Whatever the case, it’s fear-based living at a time of crisis.

A sure recipe for catastrophe.

Those who insist that nothing needs to be done, or that we must maintain at any cost a status quo that is eating us alive, demonstrate a complacency that’s ignorant, disempowering. And dangerous. Awakening to our full potential is not a spectator sport. If we’re going to respond the challenges we face, we must act and act thoughtfully with foresight. Whenever a group tries something different, there’s an initial period of turbulence. Many people, fearful of new ways, mistake turbulence for change itself and decide they would rather go back to the “good old days.” And let me be clear, there’s little difference between Trump wanting to “make America great again,” and Hillary Clinton demanding we stay the course — a course that has seen 95% of the wealth generated in recent years going to the richest 1%. Indeed, we dismiss the world of potential and vision for a past that never existed and a recent past that’s killing us.

If we allow ourselves to be led by a creative vision, we will never lose. We can let go of right and wrong, winning and losing, approval and disapproval. Right now, we are on the cusp of a new world emerging and behind us an old world imploding upon itself. The only rational response to fear is to fully embrace this new world. Our potential can only be realized by collective innovation. This new world has been hovering over us for a long time and it has nothing to do with some bullshit calendar and everything to do with being awake, and we have heard it speaking all our lives:

Seize the day. Go for broke. Walk the walk. Try your wings. Do unto others

Stop the fear.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…