FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A World Off Balance

Ten days ago, I rolled over in my bed to turn off the alarm and immediately swooned with terror: an incredible wave of dizziness followed even the tiniest movements and I wretched with nausea, falling to the floor each time I tried to stand up. Somehow managing to get dressed, I saw the world swimming in kaleidoscopic waves of rotation, feeling as if the worse hangover I ever suffered had been multiplied by dozens. I was horrified. I have had close friends with brain tumors (one, Elisabeth Targ, died from one) and I was afraid this might be my fate. It wasn’t until Wednesday (just 2 days ago) that the outer world stopped spinning. Before that, I’d spent more than 6 hours in the emergency room in Reykjavík and while there underwent several neurological exams, a CT scan, and the sickening transfer in wheelchairs from one end of the hospital to another for different testing stations. It was finally diagnosed as vestibular neuritis, an inflammation of nerves in the inner ear, completely disturbing my sense of balance and rendering me a tottering mass of wobbling insecurety which might have looked comical from the outside, but which has been incredibly alarming now for over a week and whose remnants have not completely faded. Prednisone helps but my run of that drug is about to end and, as things, “get better” I have had some time to reflect on my own condition and its parallels to the world “out there”.

When W. B. Yeats wrote his prophetic poem, The Second Coming in 1919, the dominant metaphor for a world out of whack was the gyre’s failure to hold the balance. His world, he knew, had fallen off some stable center, teetering at the edge of horrors unimaginable to most at the time in those years just after the First World War but before the Great Depression and before the Second World War. Nothing was right in that world, all looked dangerously tilted.

Yet being off-balance has its own momentum, and there are many who perversely would actually take advantage of it for their own uses. With the IPCC report giving us all 12 years to avert what is likely to be an even greater global collapse into instability, it is with deep trepidation that I consider the world out there from my safe little recovery spot way here in the early winter gatherings of Iceland.

How many of us are walking around already “off balanced” by the constant rush of dire news about the climate or the rise of outright fascist movements all around the world? During this recovery time I have been helping my daughter catch up on missed schoolwork brought about by her own ER trip last week (for a ruptured appendix) and this thought of a world off balance became clearer with each moment we reflected on history together. As my daughter writes her paper on WW2, I saw in her eyes the glimmers of recognition that “things like that are happening all over again”. It’s an odd feeling. To feel so off-kilter that one strains to convince oneself the inner world is not that experienced “out there” and yet, as my return to normalcy is gently transitioning, it seems the world “out there” is, in fact, no more stable, no steadier than that neurologically challenged one inside my inner ear. It is very sad.

I wonder what shifts my children will see in their lifetimes, what enormously off balanced manifestations of the environment will be in the news. Of course, we know what’s coming. Killer storms. Mass floods. Record heat-waves, millions of displaced people fleeing parched landscapes and unstable governmental responses. Armed troops, barbed wire, enormous human misery. Where will they go, and what will they do? Billionaires are buying property in New Zealand, I hear, building “bunkers” to store their “wealth” and isolate themselves from the pitchforks and torches of those restless millions “yearning to breathe free”. From the relatively stable confines of my bed, I wonder, what has happened out there? How can the entire system be so pushed off center that the histrionic posturing of a carnival barker-in-Chief are taken seriously while the “Resistance” ™ refuses to engage in even the most anodyne disruptions of normalcy necessary to shock the sensibilities of the masses towards recognition that things have to change now, or we are all doomed?

It is a moral duty to restore the balance we have lost. Moral because our effort to restore a healthy equilibrium must include what we call Nature for it is the only thing which sustains us and we are now at the point where it is threatened irreparable damage. We may imagine that our vast technological triumphs and the plastic, steel, aluminum, iron and cement cages (cities) we inhabit provide us enough to survive but the very the air we breathe is being threatened worldwide led, in part, by the newly elected supporter of fascism Juan Bolsonaro.

Seriously. An admirer of fascism has been elected President in Brazil and he is advocating even more “development” of the rainforests which give us more than 20% of the oxygen we need to live. This is beyond crazy. Where are the cries for UN intervention to stop this rapacious insanity and instead restore the planet so that we all have enough oxygen to survive? I know, this sounds outmoded (“UN intervention”?) and crazy, but how did we get so far that our planetary life-giving essentials are treated as commodities to be traded in for the short-term profits of a few? Many will answer that that’s been capitalism all along (and agreeing I’ll happily support its overthrow) but still, we no longer wince at the extremities advocated by and spoken of by “world leaders”, chalking it up to yet another piece in the gradualist onslaught of vertigo we are all suffering. There’s no prednisone for this illness. There are no tests needed to confirm that something is terribly wrong in our sense of balance and that this is dangerous not only for us, but for the whole teetering planet.

I’m scared.

This week I had to stop everything, tell myself repeatedly (and audibly) that “nothing is moving”, and basically re-learn how to walk stably on the earth, trusting its solidity to hold me up and support me. And yet, “out there” there is an even greater loss of balance, a lopsided world that appears no less unstable than that little world of mine was last week which caused me to collapse, crawling on the floor in panic, realizing I needed to get to an emergency room immediately. Where is our planet’ s Emergency Room? Who will see us there, test us, proscribe the large does of corrective medicine and remind us to check in a few weeks from now as recovery times vary and could take from 4 weeks to 6 months? Who will tell us that something has happened, and we must get back upright, finding a more properly positioned way of standing in the world, one that keeps the incredibly fragile balance of all creation working so that all of us can live? As I slowly recover my inner balance, I am struck that a larger unhinging is occurring outside me. And we are running out of time. Literally.

Because unless we right ourselves soon, very soon, the falls that we will suffer collectively, will topple civilizations. Maybe even “civilization” itself.

More articles by:

José M. Tirado is a Puertorican poet, Buddhist priest and political writer living in Hafnarfjorður, Iceland, known for its elves, “hidden people” and lava fields. His articles and poetry have been featured in CounterPunch, Cyrano´s Journal, The Galway Review, Dissident Voice, La Respuesta, Op-Ed News, among others. He can be reached at tirado.jm@gmail.com.    

January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposal Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail