by Stephen Cocconi © Updated – 2016
I am grateful, either because of luck or divine choice, to have been born in the United States of America. Growing up in Northern California with its redwoods, Yosemite, the Sierra Nevada, and living so close to the Pacific Ocean, gave me appreciation of Nature. Getting outdoors gave me a place to contemplate and exert myself as humans have done for eons.
The synergy of the south Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, was home to cutting edge thinking way before Silicon Valley took over. I was witness to, and bathed in, a convergence of profound social movements of my life: Summer of Love, Women’s Rights, Civil Rights, Ant-War Movement, Free Speech era, the coming out of Gay and Lesbian individuals of the closet they had been imprisoned in. The theme songs were rock ‘n’ roll; the activities were expansive thinking that rejected traditions without accounting for their cost or pretense. It was a time of personal exploration, rejection of tradition for its own sake, experimentation with drugs and sex, but more importantly asking the question: WHY? The meme of the era voiced it as: Question Authority.
Many of us found ourselves lost or disillusioned by the status quo. We needed to explore. Few avenues were open to our parents in the 50’s to do anything so radical as to question, “what is the pursuit of happiness”? Is it one prescribed notion of a family, house, job, little woman in the kitchen and the man in his suit at the office? It was not a Revolutionary Road (see the 2009 movie by this title). In fact, there was no destination for the individual, just a self-imposed prison cell of social conformity. It was a choice to do it this way, but folks of that era did not believe in their emotions or intuition or the potential for themselves living a “dream” or a “vision” of who they might want to be. No, for them the only choice to exercise the newly reaffirmed freedoms of WWII was to be in lock-step synchrony with other of their ilk – white, affluent, middle class – and hope that one stays far afield from social judgment. In other words, “Don’t be different!” The cattle call for them was: “America, love it or leave it!” (Sadly, it has returned in the 2010’s.)
Yet, only in America, because of the sacred document called the US Constitution, and more specifically, the Bill of Rights, could I or any other seeker of hope or wisdom have turned inward. Although not entirely free of social criticism, there were those of us who rejected conventional religion and learned how to chant, meditate, or have higher consciousness experiences – in-body or out-of-body. But, to be sure America provided a framework of real freedom – the freedom to exercise one’s own conscience as religious practice, guaranteed under the First Amendment, that provided a measure of legal protection. This protection would not be so readily ignored as it was in the early part of the 20th century when the Jim Crow laws in the south shackled in fear
any assertive behavior by a black person and where people were lynched for disagreement.
In asserting my freedom to convey my religious/spiritual sentiments, even at the risk of it being a dissenting opinion, I hereby state that human beings are equal to, but not superior to, all other life forms on Earth. Only in America could I be safe in saying this. I believe God wants us to mature and take responsibility for ourselves and our planet. This is one reason that the Consciousness Movement – which evolved from the 60’s – later became the 2-part New Age and Human Potential movements.
One of the most important realizations to be impressed upon my fellow human beings is that we are citizens of Earth! Even those who mistakenly (giving you the benefit of the doubt) believe that God gave us “dominion” over the Earth, I think he would be rather angry as a father to see how we have messed up his beautiful and precious garden.
Whether we are stewards or reckless and feckless parasites of this planet, one thing has come clear…we are running out of everything! The only thing that there seems to be an overabundance of is human animals, cluttering up the planet. If this statement sounds cold or heartless, to a degree it is …truth is often cold and it cares not about what we believe, think or feel about it. So is the way of the TAO. It merely is what it is and so to is the crisis.
But unlike folks of the recent and popular past, who actually believed that we could “save the planet” the reality is that we need to curtail our habits in a massive way just to hope that the planet decides to save us! With scientists of every stripe weighing in, we know that global climate change, overpopulation, the dangerous shrinkage of drinking water supplies, coupled with the loss of topsoil on the arable land, is quickly adding up to what was recently heralded as an Inconvenient Truth.
Unfortunately for the human animal, there are only two things that outweigh our curiosity and ingenuity are stupidity and arrogance. The only times we seem to favor them less than their more positive counterparts is when we are in a crisis. Once again, a crisis where we believe that if we fix the problem, we return to some presumed state of normalcy. There is no going back because normal, as we once knew it ecologically, no longer exists. Consider that when we throw something away, “where is away“? For the rest of our existence we shall see the Earth claiming more and more of her children, and yes, the vast majority will be because of the exploitation and abuse of the planet from US! No, not just the United States, but the human animal…Homo sapien, sapiens. We are the problem of our own survival! Hence, any argument made before me that talks about the short term troubles of the economy trumping the shorter term doorway that is closing in on our ability to effect Earth’s environment seems incredibly idiotic!
I love being an American. Despite being a person who would work for peace, if foreign enemies ever arrived on our shores, I would be amongst the first to sit atop a hill and shoot them as they came ashore. Not illegal immigrants mind you, but armed aggressors. But it would not be the geography, nor out Madison Avenue way of living that I would fight for…it would be for the preservation of the Constitution and for those of us Americans who believe that our real strength is not vulture Capitalism, but the holy words in practice and in progress called the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. My statements are not so brave when taken in context to the reality that as the Earth’s carrying capacity grows smaller and Americans drunk on personal intoxicants like consumption, mindless technology, television and pharmaceuticals, make us an ever growing target for takeover: military or corporate! (See the movies (or books): “A Handmaid’s Tale” or “1984” or “Gamer”.)
It is time for us as to accord the Earth the same or superior rights that we have as human beings proclaim. And for God sake, it is time to repeal the 1920’s Supreme Court doctrine giving disembodied entities like corporations the same or superior Constitutional rights as a person. Regarding this precedent, and the further advance of corporate power in the “Citizen’s United” Case (just give it a name that confuses the issue) I borrow a religious term “abomination”. Giving an lifeless entity which provides escape for individual culpability is tantamount to giving the heads of corporate power our heads on the chopping block. These autos-da-fé must be cleared from the annals of legal scripture and exposed in man’s thinking. It was and is, the greatest act of religious, business, and social rescission of responsibility for those in financial power. And it would make those money-lenders in the Temple of Jerusalem lick their lips with jealousy!
We have little or no time to pretend any further. Statements for preserving “corporate financial capitalism” as somehow being the only mechanism as to drive real innovation, let alone honest free enterprise, are both horribly cynical and intellectually dwarfing. If high salaries and unlimited consumption act as our only incentive or inspiration then we not only are we doomed, but we truly deserve to be. People fearful of change asserting the long distorted argument “we want to make a better world for our children” need to take a harsh look at what they have created. The current system, and the greed, fear and arrogant assumptions that drove us, can NEVER get us out of this! Stop pretending folks not to see the obvious! And by God, yes God, for those who claim faith in him/her/it, you’d better get behind the notion that it is not so much that God will punish us or take away our world; or that you sitting on the sidelines when the Rapture comes and that you will be marked as one of the righteous 144,000 (that is the number in the bible for you literalists); but that we exercised, free will to sit by and do NOTHING! That is the truth that most of us really don’t want to account for. Whether you are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Taoist, Buddhist, or atheist; when this wonderful planet becomes so polluted because of our actions that we can no longer survive on it, then we will be the plague that God foretold. That is not scripture, but self-fulfilling prophesy!
We are all Citizens of Earth…we all have a stake in its survival. Now let get on with it. To quote President Obama, “Now is the time to put away childish things.” Make choices that put the Earth in exactly the same level of importance that you should hold your children!