by Ray Jason
|Ray on his birthday 2016|
A few hours into every long voyage there comes a precious moment. Most sailors pay it no heed - but I never miss it. Suddenly, the gradually thinning margin of land and sea disappears. The land has drowned. The sea surrounds. The domain of Humanity has vanished. The realm of Nature is resurrected.
Now my only companions reside in the sea and the sky. The only laws are timeless and elemental – the mighty ocean currents and the churning atmospheric systems. Most perceive this vastness as emptiness, but I see it as human-less. Such solitude - such exile - does not trouble me, it pleases me. And it allows me to glimpse the Human Project with a clarity unknown to land-dwellers.
This wet, surging enormity inspires a perspective on our species that reveals it to be both magnificent and malevolent. It harkens up both Mozart and the Mushroom Cloud. It whispers of a planet filled with riches - and the human psyche cursed with a lust for riches. It provides a long lens that helps me focus on the multi-generational march of the human caravan.
The first night out is solace for the soul. The land lights are gone and the heavenly bodies abound. Lying on deck, I am humbled by this majestic tapestry of darkness and light as AVENTURA slides across the sea. So many stars and planets circling overhead and yet so few – if any – that have the right combination of water and atmosphere and temperature to support life.
How do we humans forget this sublime miracle that has placed us on this one lush planet amidst a million lifeless stars that are either ice or lava or dust? How do we lose sight of this foundational blessing? I believe that the answer is that our philosophical focus is too narrow. So in this, my annual birthday essay, I hope to widen that perspective and share some messages from my time alone with Mother Ocean.
Now is a particularly appropriate time to examine the bigger picture, since the U.S. Presidential Election Reality Show focuses much of our attention on trivial and inconsequential issues. This is extremely tragic because the selection of the most powerful “leader” on the planet (at least in FRONT of the curtain) should be a catalyst for discussing the momentous problems that confront us. Here are some topics that almost never get discussed by The Powers That Be - who I prefer to call The Malignant Overlords.
The two great meta-systems that dominate 21st Century human society are utter failures. Our political systems continue to consolidate greater and greater power into fewer and fewer hands. And our economic models direct more and more wealth into fewer and fewer pockets. Even though these massive institutions impact our lives enormously, we rarely scrutinize them. Please allow me to do so with a mid-ocean perspective.
POLITICS – a vile stew of Pathology, Secrecy and Chaos.
The vast majority of humans do not wish to CONTROL other humans. And yet some do. Unfortunately, those with a lust for power can easily fulfill it through politics. They do this deceitfully. They claim that their motivations are service and the greater good, when in the majority of cases, it is personal enrichment. With very few exceptions those who seek public office are not aspiring philosopher kings, instead, they are power junkies, who realize that politics is a convenient way to fulfill their pathological desire to control others. And those with genuine noble intentions, who do manage to get themselves elected, are swiftly co-opted or marginalized or … assassinated.
Secrecy is as prevalent in politics as salt is in seawater. I laugh when people claim that “the whole Machiavelli thing” is just chapters in a book - and that there are no conspiracies in politics. Their common rationale for this is that people can’t keep secrets. When a person is threatened with the loss of a high-paying job or with … death, keeping a secret requires very little effort.
The Manhattan Project, which was the code name for the atomic bomb program, is a great example of a successful clandestine undertaking. From that same era there was Operation Paper Clip in which Nazi scientists were surreptitiously positioned in universities and research centers throughout the U.S. after World War II. This one is still unknown to the great majority of Americans.
More recently, we have the revelations of Edward Snowden, describing the incredible web of surveillance that ensnares most of the planet. How many thousands of people had to perform their jobs secretly in order to install that Orwellian spy grid? And yet most us were not aware of it until Snowden’s disclosures.
And even more recently we have the Wikileaks emails showing how deceitful and despicable the operations of so many politicians truly are. I believe that a careful, unbiased scrutiny of the political landscape indicates that there is far more secrecy than there is transparency.
There is a bully on the global schoolyard! That menace is the U.S. foreign policy establishment. They are religious zealots who worship the god of American Exceptionalism. It is even written into their policy statements. They proclaim that no other nation should be allowed to become a viable threat to U.S. world domination or hegemony.
These are genuinely sick individuals who smear blood and chaos across large swaths of the planet. And they do this without any risk to their own well-being from the security of their limos and their gated communities.
So, essentially Politics allows people who are pathologically addicted to controlling people to come together in secret with other similarly psychotic individuals and spew chaos upon innocent people around the world. Correct me if I am mistaken, but I do not recall hearing this subject addressed in the recent presidential debates.
ECONOMICS – Greed is Gross!
Perhaps our economic meta-system needs to be replaced since on one side of the planet you can choose between 46 flavors of yogurt and on the other side of the same planet people are starving by the millions. Inmates running an asylum could do better than this.
When GREED, rather than maximizing human happiness, is the foundational principle of an economic structure, it is no surprise that the human vultures will capitalize and the meek will not inherit the Earth. Almost every aspect of the modern economic matrix is designed to enrich the already obscenely rich and impoverish the already desperately poor. Tell me who benefits from these standard economic operating principles:
· Sending good-paying factoring jobs overseas
· The financial dictatorship of Central Banks
· Having to buy new computer operating systems every few years
· Industry lobbyists placed in oversight agencies
· Compound interest
· Tax laws that even lawyers can’t understand
· Fractional reserve banking
· Bail-outs for Wall Street and bail-ins for Main Street
· Walmarts devouring Wally’s Hardware Store
· TPP style trade agreements hidden from the public
I cannot think of a single facet of modern economics where an impartial observer might say, “Now that is a good set-up that benefits almost everyone.” Instead, it is an enormous con game that enriches the few at the expense of the many.
So what then is the answer? I certainly cannot speak for you, but I can share with you the secret that Mother Ocean whispered to me – soft resistance. Disconnect as much as possible from anything that the System is urging you to embrace. Reject the ultra-materialism, refuse to support the war machines, scorn the religions that drive wedges between people, ridicule the fools who claim that Humanity’s destiny is to dominate Nature.
Turn instead to those aspects of Life that are eternal and elemental. Find your joy and solace in friendship, in the beauty of the non-human world, in laughter, in helpfulness, in the first steps of a young child or the contentment on the face of an old man settling onto a park bench.
…or in my case, with a steady breeze and a following sea.