Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Time to grow up (it can be safe and fun)

I find myself in my mid-forties with two baby boys to raise. My wife always really wanted children, so I became convinced to try the experience. We met in our thirties, and now we have adopted later in life. Parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever love. That is also the Peace Corps slogan, since parenting is a wider activity of raising your life to higher levels by growing yourself with the world. I’m challenged every day to juggle many activities and remain hopeful and positive, when it’s so easy to get frustrated and blame one responsibility for overwhelming another. If life seems to be in the balance, it's because life is found in the balance. There is no us versus them, there is only us.

Us isn’t the same as U.S. The United States is another matter. The U.S. really needs to grow up. It took a privileged position in the world, made itself out to be a leader and a god, now it needs to act like one. With greater power comes greater responsibility to act beneficially. Admired for its strengths, loathed for its mistakes, the unsustainable U.S. lifestyle is now coming back to haunt us as developing nations multiply the consumer footprint and accelerate global crises. Who is to blame for food shortages that will kill millions and create riots and coups? Is it the price of oil going up because of the mismanaged U.S. dollar in cahoots with Chinese exploitation to manufacture, pollute, and ratchet up the economy so some appear to get rich quicker while everyone really suffers? How wealthy are you if your world is dying, how long can you fiddle while Rome burns?

I’ve heard that oil is now beyond normal supply and demand forces in its inflation, due to unregulated hedge funds for the super-rich speculating on commodities for more personal gain rather than helping humanity. What about the biofuels debacle? Let’s turn food into fuel, make cars compete with people for survival, oh that was brilliant. Meat eating is extremely polluting and inefficient, so engineers patent more untested chemicals and bioproducts to crank up industrial supply for unhealthy demand, even as more Chinese want their meat too. No one is blameless, and there are so many problems to solve, but clearly a lot is due to unsustainable, highly exploitative industries that the United States helped to pioneer, with its supposedly free and fair society that really was subsidizing and protecting irresponsible owner classes. There were a lot of golden opportunities and good intentions that got lost to corruption by the few, allowed by the many.

So I went to bed last night worrying about this stuff, wondering if the Mormons are going to survive to inherit the Earth because every Mormon has a year of food supplies stored up, it’s a commandment or something. I have a few months of supplies I got after September 11 so it’s time to check the expiration dates and replenish them.

Last night I had a dream that showed my wife and I walking down into a valley on a narrow road that led back up again on the other side. It was a straight single lane, and my concern was for us to get to the other side before anyone else came along. But when we got to the bottom, a herd of cattle suddenly appeared coming down from the other side toward us. Hey I yelled, you’re supposed to take turns, you’re supposed to let people up the road before sending anyone or anything in the other direction! But whoever was driving the cattle ignored me, so my wife and I had to run back up to where we started. Fortunately we found a little side road on the top again, where we could get out of the way of the cattle and let them by. Then we went down and got to the other side. Later I had a related dream of going up a steep suburb hill to a higher place where I would be picked up in a van by friends.

The meaning I see is that the dip in the road is the low point that the world is hitting, and we all need to get through it before things get better back on the high ground on the other side. There is no choice really, this is the straight path forward. Unfortunately there are those who are opposing growth and herding people in the backward direction, threatening to trample those who try to honestly get ahead. Don’t get caught in fears or anger that this is happening however, just find the safe places in your life to let the threats pass, and make your wiser moves forward with your loved ones when you can. Two steps forward, one step backward, is frustrating but worth it if we learn the patience and steps to finally make it all the way. Higher friends are waiting at the top of the steep growth incline that leads through our daily lives, we can and will be met and saved in the most practical of ways.

I reported in this blog a couple months ago that the number of challenges had increased dramatically in my life and the lives of those around me. Encouraging and helping each other, we’ve been learning to meet those challenges. Sick people are recovering, financial hardships are being managed, new opportunities are being realized. After some stumbling, I’ve even found some windfalls and am feeling fairly secure for the moment. That could change, but I cling to the necessary sensation that there is a road we’re on, a purpose and a way ahead. Call it blind faith, or call it knowing better from too many years of experience that giving life a chance to work itself out is the only sensible option, even if I have to learn the hows and whys as I go. The universe is far too complex and plentiful and successful to believe my cynicism (or anyone else's cynicism for that matter) that the complications of human negativity can ruin things forever. Everyone does need to grow up however.

What impels and compels that necessary growing up? Responsibility, which is the opportunity to focus and learn new vital skills. Serious responsibility, like that which a parent must accept for a vulnerable needy child. Parenting makes many people grow up. Parenting is also for a vulnerable needy humanity, for a vulnerable needy environment, for a vulnerable needy planet. Things only look so bad now because so many people are still rejecting the responsibility to not let the greater life slide into the pit. Suffering is real, and so are the ways out of suffering.

We all need to parent the self. We must find the real reasons to drop the bad behaviors that never really worked anyway. We can look for the strategies that help everyone live together, not just us versus them. There’s this myth that groups of people are opposed, that we can’t all work together to survive and thrive, that we have to suppress one group to raise another. That’s the kind of thinking that allows the rich to exploit the poor, the powerful to pollute the planet. It’s false, and the more you practice the corrupt behaviors that got us all into this mess together, the more you will need to dramatically, perhaps traumatically, reverse direction. See, the thing with the cattle herders in my dream is, they’re going backward too along with the cattle.

So to everyone I wish safe passage through a difficult time on a planet that’s going through a very delayed, and now very steep, learning curve. I sincerely believe that the universe provides, so the more we practice the energies of safety and sustainability for ourselves and everyone that we can reach, the more the entire system comes back to vibrant life to sustain us all.

Excuse me now, I have a cute demanding little guy to chase and feed and count my blessings for.

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