Hope for Dark Days
I am a child of the early 50’s and saw systematic income inequality melting. A magical thing had happened. Franklin D. Roosevelt, after fighting Republicans for many years, changed the taxation structure and allowed a vigorous middle class to appear. He passed legislation ensuring that Americans making over $250,000 in 1944 (>$3.2 million today) paid 69% of their total incomes in federal income taxes, after exploiting every loophole they could find. Today America’s highest earners pay just 18% or less of their total incomes.
By the 1960’s the shoe salesman and his family living next door to me owned their home. Wages were high enough to allow people to have hope and a sense of fairness began to spread. Tolerance increased as prosperity took hold, civil rights for African Americans were established and gay men and women could be themselves without a fear of being beaten up or killed. The obedience of the many to the few diminished and a society of people living the dream of ‘equality for all’ settled in.
In the 60’s Stewart Brand and his crew published the Whole Earth Catalogue and opened my eyes and the eyes of many around the world to the connectedness of all cultures around the globe. I saw myself as part of one possible path of exploration of life and not as part of a dominant culture. When I met a Taoist monk whose work was based on ‘do through not doing’ my world was rocked by the possibility of letting go of a constant uphill race and focusing upon the gifts surrounding all of us. His message has been promoted by Jesus, Buddha and many other enlightened souls.
Recognize the dark days ahead. See the emerging partnership between the United States and Russia, working together to keep the black, yellow and rainbow souls we share the planet with from gaining true equality. Feel truth receding, replaced with anger-driven screams and threats. Understand that for the next few decades, the rich will get richer and assume tight control of government, media and finances. But take heart from the knowledge that the human race is approaching a time of compassion and reverence for life itself and each person’s right to not live for the greater glory of someone else’s luxuries. Step back and from a historical perspective recognize that attempts by wealthy autocrats to reverse history will eventually fail and the world will again move towards fair and peaceful times.
Woman have had the vote for less than 100 years. It is important to recognize how recently we emerged from a universally male dominated society based on the premise that ‘might makes right’. Women everywhere on the planet are recognizing their right to full and equal participation in work, politics and self-expression. They will not easily be led backwards in time to become the property of male masters.
There are many who feel the northern hemisphere belongs to white Christian men. Each of these uber proud souls has to look back only a few generations to find they are descendants of immigrants fleeing an oppressive culture. They easily forget that in North America, Native Americans are the displaced but rightful owners of the land. The 60’s gave me a perspective that the human race occupies a planet that must be shared. I learned that the planet is fragile and needs each of us to heal and not harm its cradle of life. Our planet has abundant resources that can provide all with a satisfying life.
Do what needs to be done. Holding on to free floating anger will not advance the cause of humanity. Do not be troubled by the imperfect world we live in.
Many years ago a friend of mine, Lisa Polland, wrote me a postcard with the words, copied below, that might give you hope while we pass through the dark days ahead. “The highest motive is to be like water. Water is essential to all living things, yet it demands no pay or recognition. Rather it flows humbly to the lowest level. Nothing is weaker than water; yet for overcoming what is hard and strong, nothing surpasses it.” - The Tao Te Ching of Lao-Tzu