Sunday, September 22, 2013


by Ray Jason

The chicken is in the cayuco
         My new neighbors seem to like me.  This is quite lovely - because they are dolphins.  And it is even more wondrous because they are a mother and her child.  Today is the fourth morning in a row that they swam a lazy circle around my boat. 
Each day I greet the sunrise with an enthusiastic blast from my conch shell.  It connects me with my post-civilized, feral self.  It also seems to amuse the nearby creatures of the sea and the sky.  No people are disturbed, because I am the only human animal in the vicinity.  More importantly, it attracts the mom and her baby dolphin.  They arrive just after I serenade the sun with my tribal horn.
Yesterday, the little Indio boy who sells me fresh coconuts from his tiny cayuco, also brought along a live chicken.  Although he offered her at a good price, I declined.  But I did buy some of her eggs.  Their yolks are so intensely
orange that they match the morning sun nudging above the hazy horizon.  They are tasty and nutritious and perfect with my Tarzan Tea.  That’s my name for the water from the young coconut that I open with my machete.
I call my neighborhood the Archipelago of Bliss.  It bequeaths me immense joy – mostly because it is totally removed from the “real world.”  As I sit here with my notepad and pen, I am completely severed from anything modern, and totally immersed in many things primal.  Everything around me is ancient and elemental.  This same type of flora and fauna has been here for over 100,000 years.  The mangroves, the howler monkeys, the birds in the shallows - all preceded any human presence.
I call my slow simple life, the Way of RATAWI.  That is an acronym I created which stands for Reading and Thinking and Writing Inspirationally.  My day revolves around those axis pursuits. Interspersed with them, are swimming, rowing, exploring, healthy eating and observing my neighbors - be they animals, clouds or planets. 
When I need supplies or fellowship, it takes only a few hours to sail back to a little town abundant with eccentric characters – sailors, backpackers and surfers.  Usually, about a week of visiting friends, replenishing my cupboards and emailing out essays is sufficient.  Then I head back out to whichever vacant anchorage suits my fancy.

        Needless to say, most modern people would find this sort of existence … terrifying!  The lack of around-the-clock stimulation and incessant electronic connectivity would be barely survivable.  Even my friends, who seemingly find merit in my life path, are probably troubled by it on some level.  “I mean, come on, Ray, this sea gypsy stuff is fine for a while, but isn’t it time you came home?”
When I respond to such well-intentioned counsel by explaining that my life is blissfully happy and meaningful, they chalk it up to my lifelong, unrepentant romanticism.  But it is not my romantic disposition that inspires me to surrender to the embrace of nature.  On the contrary, it is my capacity for perceiving reality that keeps me out here wandering the Wide Waters.
My exile from “The Great Frenzy” bequeaths me a much clearer perspective on it.  If you stand a foot away from the Statue of Liberty you will not see it as well as you would from 100 yards away.  Because they are so close to it, my friends cannot perceive how degraded the USA has become.  Yet from afar, it is so obvious that I now jokingly refer to it as Insaneistan!

        Although many react to this tragic decline with anger, my response is sadness.  The founding documents of the United States are so brilliantly enlightened, that they almost take one’s breath away.  As someone who is aware of more than just the whitewashed version of U.S. history, I realize that from the very beginning we did not live up to many of the principles in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.  (Slavery and Native American genocide are the obvious examples.)  But the concept of government of, by and for the People, was such an improvement over rule by monarchs or mullahs, that it deserves the utmost admiration. 
And there were periods when America did seem to be that inspirational Beacon on the Hill.  We had citizen legislators rather than professional politicians.  We got things done of genuine value to the planet, such as the Panama Canal.  And we interceded to subdue vicious tyrants, as in WWII. 
But shortly after our greatest triumph, the seeds of our tragic demise were sown.  When the evil of Hitler was vanquished, we did not dismantle our war machine as we had done after WWI.  Instead the Military Industrial Complex made its gruesome entrance onto the global stage.  An enormous secret alliance of military and industrial and financial and espionage beasts spawned a lurid Leviathan that needs to engorge itself on Perpetual War in order to survive.  President Eisenhower warned us about this monster in his farewell address, but his message went unheeded.
As a result, money and madness wormed their way into the American body politic like devouring parasites.  Now we are controlled and manipulated by “career politicians.”  We no longer build canals; instead we sell high-tech weapons of death and mutilation.  And rather than playing the role of schoolyard monitor to the world, we have become its most feared and hated bully.
This is not just personal opinion; this is verifiable fact.  Most of the members of Congress are not schoolteachers or shop owners. They are multi-millionaires, who enrich themselves even further once they are in office.  In a Republic, elected officials are supposed to represent the needs and interests of the people.  Here is a short list of things that our government has imposed upon us in recent decades.  I bet that neither you, nor anyone you know, asked for any of these.
·       More than a dozen separate spy agencies, who can’t seem to communicate with each other, but who have no problem invading every aspect of anybody’s personal life - including phone calls, emails, online purchases etc. 
·       Economic and monetary policies that enrich Wall Street and the obscenely wealthy, while destroying Main Street and the middle class.
·       The militarization of local police forces.  With tanks and battlefield equipment, they look like Galactic Storm-troopers rather than friendly neighborhood cops.  Is the police mandate still to protect the citizens and solve crimes, or are they “gearing up” for expected mass social uprisings?
·       An Imperial foreign policy with over 700 military bases blanketing the planet in more than 110 countries.  Our “statesmen” claim that this global presence is in our national interest, and enhances our safety.  But only a fool fails to see that this over-reach is spawning new terrorists every day, which actually decreases our security.
·       The perpetual misallocation of money and mind-power on the development of ever more horrific weapons of needless destruction.  The litany seems endless, because it IS ENDLESS!  Atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, neutron bombs, napalm, agent orange, chemical weapons, depleted uranium, white phosphorus, biological weapons and drones.  And now the DARPA maniacs are working on robot soldiers, weapons in space, and cyber combat.
·       The privatization of prisons.  By making incarceration a “growth industry” they have incentivized the imprisonment of our sons, daughters and neighbors.  And what kind of heinous criminals are we being protected from?  Mostly drug users and minor dealers.  The prison industrial complex is a shameful, hideous racket.

       Now that I have shared this little “government in action” sampler with you, I’ll repeat my question from a few paragraphs ago: “Did you, or anyone you know, ask for any of these things?”

        Unfortunately it is not just politics that has declined so shockingly in the U.S.  It is society as a whole – what I term the “Un-culture.”  America has become a nation of obese, dumbed-down, television addicts, who live vicariously through a galaxy of the most vapid, self-absorbed “stars.” 
The average person spends an enormous amount of their time fixated on their Smartphone.  They sit on a bus texting their 347 cyber “friends” while being unable to make a new real friend in the seat beside them - because that person is buried in their iPhone43.
The movie industry, which both shapes and reflects the public consciousness, can no longer make a film about the complex joys and sorrows of actual people.  Instead, they spew out preposterous comic book superhero fantasies that grotesquely distort the true human condition.  This produces a population of dangerous male adults with violent juvenile values.    
To highlight how sad and ludicrous daily existence in the USA has become, here are some of the categories in which America leads the world:     
·       Obesity
·       Teen pregnancy
·       Lawyers
·       Murders
·       Adults who believe in angels
·       Incarcerated citizens
·       Laws
·       Mental illness
·       Fast food consumption
·       Rapes
·       Military spending
·       TV viewing
·       Prescription drugs
·       Arms sales to foreign countries
·       Divorce
·       National debt
·       Plastic surgery procedures

       Hopefully, you are a lot less inclined to chant “We’re # 1” or “U-S-A” after seeing that list.  Although I jokingly refer to it as Insaneistan, it should be clear from my synopsis that the situation in the USA is not funny at all.  It used to be wonderful in so many ways, but now it has deteriorated so profoundly that it is just a sad, tragic caricature of its former greatness.

        It’s twilight now; and I’ve added a touch of rum to my Tarzan Tea. I chuckle while pondering whether this is to avoid melancholy or to embrace it.  A black-crowned night heron glides by, and the kind words of my friends revisit me.  “I mean, come on, Ray, this sea gypsy stuff is fine for a while, but isn’t it time that you came home?”  Fortunately, I AM HOME!  And even though my neighbors may be dolphins and egrets and spotted eagle rays, our world is sweet and genuine and enduring.