Do you, as I do, find yourself looking around to the realization that things are getting a little weird around here? Do you feel that things have gotten out of hand and out of control? Do you feel like maybe we are sitting in a bit of hot water? I sure do and to the point where I often, more and more it seems, just want to throw up my hands and surrender.
To surrender would certainly be one response to these times and an understandable response at that but let’s do keep it in mind that surrender, though it may appeal to a certain part of our personality, comes with its own set of consequences. One possibility might be that all those things that make us uncomfortable will just right themselves like a spinning top that eventually resolves its wiggle and finds balance or another possibility is that the water, getting hotter and hotter, begins to boil and the frog, poor frog, is boiled to death.
I know that I am personally drawn to both possibilities. Some days its easy to become the rock over which the water flows, a place where I turn away from the struggle and allow peace into my mind and a certain trust in the oneness and perfect balance of the universe. At other times I want to rise up and face this beast head-on, throwing aside any fear or confusion that might come between me and the energy behind my purpose. Again the word balance comes to mind and the idea of the person in meditative posture and the living creature in movement and action, cutting wood, hauling water, surviving that is.
There was a time in the not too distant past when a certain amount of people decided that they did not wish to be ruled by kings, tyrants, churches or other impersonal authority figures. It seemed to the modern mind a natural evolution of sorts moving from the authority figure as overlord, parent or guardian to the status of an adult who has taken on the responsibility of one ready to determine their own way forward, to discern for themselves the meaning of right and wrong and the pleasure of living in a world where justice was the norm rather than the exception. In this we came to that notion of a democratic society where the people themselves would determine their collective and individual destinies.
Democracy was of course not born in the United States as some might have come to believe. Democracy has been tried in various forms in other societies, in other times and places but its roots I would think go far back to the time of tribes and small groups with similar interests. It might be said that the democratic approach was the natural approach from which we all ascended. In other natural news however it seems to be just as natural that out of those small groups and tribes, that from time to time there would be those whose cleverness and might would be used not for the good of the tribe but as a means of taking power away from the group to be used for their own purpose and intent. In those times as it is in our own, I think that it would be obvious and fair to say that, quoting Frederic Douglas, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
This I believe is our position today. The people of this country formed a union with the understanding that the newly formed nation would be a democratic nation not ruled by Kings, Churches and tyrants but by the people themselves. This was, without going into the details of the failures then, an imperfect attempt at democracy and missing some key elements it was bound to evolve, readjust itself or fall flat and fail in some areas. We have seen, over the course of the last couple hundred years, the results of our failure to be adamant about our inclusion of “all men” and of course all women as well. The struggle for a truly democratic nation is the result of our failure to have a truly democratic nation as if we could somehow fool ourselves or even worse to attempt to circumvent true justice and “liberty for all”. In the case of some things, truth and justice to name a few, pretense can only hold out for so long as some things, as stated by the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, cannot be hid for long.
We have before us, whether by accident or by design, come to a place where the self-serving nature of those who have come to have power over us, over this tribe that is, has put all of us, our tribe and those other tribes that we share this planet with, into a place of great danger, danger beyond any that we have seen before and the people, like the deer in the headlights or the frog in the pot, have become, for the most part paralyzed into inaction and that, at the very moment when action is most needed. Like the deer or the frog, it is time to drop our fear and jump.