Wednesday, July 31, 2013

American Karma

I think a lot on the karma manifesting around us now: the huge, complex issues of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, questions involving our privacy but, also, what we expect our country to do in an age of terrorism. We want to be safe and protected- it's only natural, of course- but we (also) want to feel immune from surveillance and domestic trampling of our rights and Government interference.

Part of this karma involves the split in our country- more intense than at any time since Vietnam. No one detests Republicans more than I, but do we really have to be so polarized that someone believing differently is demonized? I'm as guilty as anyone of that; I freely admit my bias in favor of the ways that I see historical American promises of full equality to all citizens, and my resentment of anyone, who tries to marginalize anyone, for any reason.

And so I plod along, one of millions, doing what I can do- (which isn't much)- and trying my best to be a decent person... and looking for one way every day to do something kind for someone else.  And now, through this strange new world of the Internet, I reach out into cyberspace, because that is one way people connect nowadays.

But what, I wonder, does "connection" mean?

A 2009 poll conducted by a university asked Americans how many people they felt they could talk to on a scale of 0-100. This number would include spouses, lovers, partners, family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. To put it another way: if you learned you were dying or had a huge crisis,  how many people are there whom you could turn to and truly share your innermost feelings?

The average answer in 2009...?

One.

 Yes. One. The same university did the same poll in 1969. At that time, the answer was Two. Two people. And now, forty years later, despite the phenomenal reality of the Internet and social networks and computers etc, we are- as a people- more isolated than we were then... on average.

Perhaps I live in a bubble? Perhaps I've made a few good choices...? But I feel fortunate in that, however difficult life can be, however lonely, however challenging it is for any artist and humanist in
this day and age, I feel connected to many people, connected enough to share whatever I'm thinking and feeling, be it living with HIV, or aging, or anything else Life throws at me.

I wonder: is that somehow connected to living in the Bay Area? Or to finding my own spiritual core? Or is it a gift of the counter-culture, in which I was a part as long ago as the 60s and a choice millions made to esteem values other than "success" and "materialism"? I honestly don't know. I do know that, for me, blogging- this new form of sending messages out into the universe, messages which might reach people I don't even know socially- doesn't seem like a cry in the darkness of a lonely world, or an effort to connect from a life with only one other living soul who cares....

I see it as a way to share as if, whatever the limitations of this world may be, or the reality of city life, or urbanization, or separation from the land, or the gradual fracturing of family structure, the dissolve of a unity that churches used to address, we are still one people. And however isolated things may seem, we do speak the same language, feel the same things, share the same aspirations and yearn for closer bonds with others.

And so, whatever the challenges we face- the uncertainties of the ecological future, the bewildering state of denial which so many embrace (and here I mean the right wing, the homophobes, the racists, the people who would deny health care to the needy or eliminate food subsidies, etc)- even so, I still believe in human goodness; in our ability to reach each other; in the transforming power of love and the reality of higher Consciousness, of which we are all part. For myself, I know that to be true. And so blogging becomes a form of prayer, in a way, words spoken to the universe, words sent up like hopes or white candles, lit with a sense of reverence....