Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"The Beginning is Near"

I think I have End Times fatigue. Global thermo-nuclear annihilation, rogue meteors, swine flu, AIDS, alien invasion, pole shift, climate change, Y2K, 9/11, planet Nibiru, The Austrailan Jesus that looked like Mark Twain in a jean jacket, Economic Meltdown, ETC.: I've followed them all closely. It's a family tradition that wasn't supposed to be.

I don't know what stressed my parents out more, The End being so close, or The End not showing up . The more elusive the American Dream became for my parents, the more attractive The End became. When I was much younger, say 4, God (speaking through my Dad) and my Dad both told me that we were in the tribulation, and the shit could be expected to hit the fan at any moment. In the interim, i was expected to not touch my penis, pursue a business degree and keep my hair short. The notion of the apocalypse is a large part of what made it possible for me to live in a fundamentalist household. For those of you that have had empathetic relations with fundamentalists, you know: The idea that their suffering through life could be shortened through divine destruction has an understandable appeal. It's no fun being right all the time.

I'm over 40, I'm not a fundamentalist, and I'm not miserable enough to want the entire world to end just so I can stop pretending to be a good person and have my debt wiped. But still, I cannot get enough of the apocalyptic notions, especially when served up with conspiratorial zeal. Tasty. I feel compelled to engage in them. I'm addicted to the high that the specter of doom provides. Just a little suspension of disbelief, and BOOM- Aliens could be living among us, but as trans-dimensional algorithmic forces engaged in the hijacking of the human narrative in order to steer us into a side gig of creating an artificial life form for them to mate with and spawn the next big thing in Life. Or somesuch.

The conspiracy threads on the web, true or not, often entertain me far more than the bland, rehashed, blockbuster narratives of the broader culture. If we agree that truth is stranger than fiction, and say the most extreme conspiracy/doomsday stories are fiction, then that just makes life even more interesting, as far as I'm concerned. I see it as our modern mythology. Metadata. A conspiracy/doomsday story, true or invented, will only live and grow if it appeals to the kind of anxiety that we are addicted to as a culture.

It's natural for people who feel powerless in their lives to be prone to the doom-adrenal fix . Sudden, immanent annihilation of the status quo can be seen as a beacon of hope to people with lots of credit card debt and hateful spouses. "I feel powerless to change the circumstances of my life, so, please, can we just get this over with? Jesus..." The prospect of extinction can become favorable to the onus of reclaiming personal sovereignty, or even just continuing on. I can see lust flash in the eyes of the true believers as they enthuse about the Apocalypse. I think the apocalyptic fetish of our culture comes largely from a national sense of powerlessness and hopelessness.

We were raised on a stress inducing diet of dueling doomsdays, economic boom and bust, energy scarcity, Them against Us : forever! (…er, until the apocalypse). The specter of Doom spikes fight or flight adrenaline, and our eyes widen and we get high on worse case scenarios. A thrill here and there is nice, but It's become a chronic condition in vast numbers of the modern world. And that's not healthy.

It's been shown that prolonged stress can be very hard on a human. It clogs arteries. It's been shown to actually gnaw at the nubs of ones chromosomes and fray the ends like an old shoestring. Stressed humans are not as effective. Stressed people are more prone to violence and illness. Meanwhile, we have become addicted to our media prescribed stress. We're hooked on fear- the MSG in our media diet. We wouldn't eat the nightly news without it, not with the low content infotainment they serve up.

We need 100% real journalism, at some point, for a healthy society to live and grow. A focus on collective human issues instead of the partisan cock fighting. The cocks like to fight, and they like us to watch and cheer them on. We like to watch, cheer and support as a passion pacifier . Eventually, soon eventually, some one has to rise above the cockfight and point out to the spectators that the arena is on fire.

So, how do we make a break from the chronic stress we feel on a national and global level? What would ease our collective survival anxieties? Perhaps working on a pressure point to release some blocked energy? ( Hello Wall Street)

Robert Sapolsky, a neurobiologist from Stanford, studies the deadly effects of chronic stress in humans and other primates. Here he describes a moment in the day of a typical baboon colony hierarchy;

"You've got some big male that loses a fight , he chases a sub-adult, who bites an adult female, who slaps a juvenile, who knocks an infant out of a tree; all in 15 seconds. A huge component of stress is a lack of control, lack of predictability. You're just sitting there watching a zebra, and somebody who is having a bad day comes along and it's your rear end that's gonna get slashed. It's tremendously stressful for the folks further down on the hierarchy."

A Baboon colony that he had been studying in the wild for a number of years suffered a tragedy that yielded a provocative finding. The colony came across an abandoned camp and rummaged through the rubbish. When meat was discovered, the most aggressive alphas, the source of the stress that trickles down through the colony, took it all for themselves. It happened that the alphas contacted a fatal ilness from the meat and all died. The colony continued, sans abusive alpha class. Health improved, violence went down, prospects of longevity went up. As outsider males entered into this liberated colony, they were adjusted or rejected.

The events of one day dramatically altered the stress level, and well being, of a colony for generations after. They Occupied DoucheBaboon Street in the midsts of a self created Alpha Male Meltdown. Having suddenly lost the stress of unpredictable hierarchical abuse, and feeling life without it, the colony of baboons was inspired to perpetuate it through regulation and enforcement.

In my experience, being proactive in civic and social solidarity can serve to cure apocalyptic anxiety. We have an opportunity to have national dialogue beyond the arena of partisan politics. I think most will agree that there must be an intervention in the corporation/lobbyist/politics game. It's an easy thing to rally around. . There are solutions available. That hasn't been the issue. The issue has been lack of participation in the governance of our nation by the best and brightest members of our society. The Fat Cats have thoroughly dominated our political sandbox with their buried offerings, so that any one who jumps in to earnestly shape solutions runs into shit. What decent person wants to jump into a sandbox full of shit? It's too big for one personality to handle cleaning out. We all have to get our hands a little dirty on this.

We need our system of representation gutted and retro fitted before it will have the integrity to move effectively in asserting the will of the people now clamoring for attention. Mike Gravel's proposal of a National Referendum should be dusted off. Everyone votes directly, bypassing the house and senate. Initiate the new and improved tamperproof ballot process nation wide, put a muzzle on Wall Street with a public examination and auditing until sanity has a say in the matter.

The etymological roots of the word apocalypse are "revelation, disclosure, uncover". The modern interpretation, "a cataclysmic event", I think, applies to those that are invested in a concealment. As the scale of the corruption and collusion becomes more apparent, more and more of the population will have to face their personal responsibility in allowing the scam to have happened, or even their collusion in it. Our economic system has been brutally ravaged. I think a certain level of shame is responsible for our not talking about it; shame for having suffered the brutality, or shame for having profited from it. The people flowing into our streets are an apocalyptic force, in that they are uncovering and revealing the truth of our condition. This is where the helpless are very helpful, coming down and showing up to sustain and support as the reality of the occasion percolates. They may not know why they are there, but they feel why. It would be a shame to remain shameful when the opportunity to reveal and heal comes on this scale.

I think that the reality of our condition, as a country, a species, a planet, has been badly photoshopped and edited far out of context. I don't believe that the solutions for our collective well-being are as difficult and abstract as we are led to believe. The impotent alphas that need big stacks to compensate for the lack in their souls have the bullhorn and are writing the narrative. In that narrative we are all doomed without them. Without their guiding hand we will start having sex with donkeys and burning the elderly for winter heat (I suspect that that would not come to pass, though I concede that isolated instances could be inspired by the suggestion). We are due for a new narrative. We can pull out the hook and clear the stage of the hacks. The finiteness of the world has never been more apparent, and at the same time, blithely dismissed as an issue of any real importance.

The age of sustainability is dawning, casting long shadows of the dark age predators exiting the stage.

Rats have chewed their way into the pantry, which isn't surprising. Not bothering to patch the holes has compounded the misfortune. At this point they almost have us convinced that it is their pantry, and that they are busy working on fixing it up. We get the updates from the cockroaches that scurry under the blocked door. We neglected to notice that the cats we hired to patrol the scene were becoming fat, not with rats, but rat kickbacks from our stash. They stopped bringing us heads and gall bladders some time ago, and we were happy not to have to deal with the little messes.

As this recent movement swells, I believe that the already overstated rhetoric of apocalypse will grow as well. I'll start: This is an apocalyptic event. The Occupiers are the revealing, what gets revealed behind the corporatist veil of WallStreet/Washington with be The End of something. We can be minion victims of the mighty corporate menace, or the producers of the show, willing pull the plug of a vulgar and abusive segment.