"All the world is a stage."   — Shakespeare

Walking Dead.

Eschatology is a word I found, the way you would find a interesting and dusty book misplaced in library shelves, in a textbook on the writings of Isaiah. It referred to Isaiah’s fixation on the way that the world would end. Eschatology, properly refers to the study of the end of times, I think it’s a convenient way for theologians to avoid discussing THE END OF THE WORLD!!! all the time. 

Now it seems lay-folk are using zombies for that. Right? I can talk about my obsession with the inevitable falling apart of society without being actually crazy if I’m calling attention to how silly it all is by preparing for the ZOMBIE apocalypse instead of the wrath-of-an-angry-god-evil-government-takeover apocalypse. Why? Why do we even care? 

I’m slowly developing a theory about this. I think is has to do with our perception of change. We are good at noticing when something moves, but we tune out what is standing still. We miss microscopic change and only see the dramatic. Children only grow when we are away and they only grow up fast when we compress the past into slices of “remember five years ago.” What we compress are the millions of minutes where nothing happened but everything was changing.

As part of my economics training I studied the economic history of the United States. I, like the scholars I studied, went to the data expecting to see fireworks, violent change, drastic swings in the economy, and there certainly were spikes in the indicators. Runs on banks, Black Tuesdays and depressions, but the surprise is that neither data nor anecdote deliver the precipitous calamitous change we expect to see. The great depression didn’t start or end over night. We find a pattern of where instability and change are the rule along an overarching trend, but we only remember stories of how different things were 50 years ago. 

The concept is this: when we sit down and think about how things were 20 years ago - remember no cell phones, no less internet, we are amazed, but then it wasn’t that big of a deal. Sure there was hype about the first mobile phone, but it was just another new thing. Calamity and revolution are continuous and evolutionary. Remember Darwin didn’t document men exploding from the wombs of apes, he documented changes in the size of finch beaks from season to season. 

Everything is changing. Everything is falling apart, and everything is ending. Always, and right now. But also not for a very long time.  

I look back and remember feeling more secure about the future of the world. I remember that politicians were nice. But when we look back we don’t control for the bias of nostalgia. 

We talk about how nice politicians used to be, and how unruly they are now we forget another congress so dysfunctional there was a war to settle their differences. And the media, Fox News and MSNBC may be biased, but in Lincoln’s Illinois each town had two newspapers, one Whig and one Democrat, without even the guise of impartiality. 

Things are always crazy and changing and careening out of control, but we forget that even in the madness that infects our planet from end to end life keeps on getting lived. For better and for worse people keep on surviving. 

An actual dusty book that’s laying next to my keyboard starts with a fantastic paragraph, the first two clauses of which have long descended into the chasm of cliche, but only so because it could have so simply have been penned today or any day, and that is precisely my point:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way -- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the superlative degree only.”                                                                                              

I’m saying that Dickens saw what I see. Everything is in turmoil, and everything is changing, but that’s exactly how it’s always been.

And zombies have always been a problem.

hypersmash

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Comments

I used to say — and considered myself minor league profound in doing so — that the only thing that remains constant is change ... and the speed of light. The latter was disproved some years ago (the speed of light does change infinitesimally when projected through a diamond) so now we are left with: change is constant. And that is good. You mention destruction (falling apart) but don't forget that the yang to that yin is creation. The Hindus had it right, in a fashion, with their ever-changing, ever-the-same cycles of birth and death and re-birth, repeat.

But let us not fall in to the trap of "it was always like this." Yes, politicians and the people they represent have always been venal, self-serving and short-sighted. Prong to jumping to conclusions, whipping up mob-action, and acting in destructive — self- and otherwise — fashion has been part of our modus since homo habilus picked up a sharp edged rock some 2 million years ago.

Conspiracy theorists and wack-jobs have always been with us, but they usually operated in the shadows and influenced few. People always grumbled in their beer but beyond the 5-6 other grumblers at the bar, the effect was minimal. With the advent of the Age of Technology, the shadows are been vanquished and many who had no pulpit beyond the beer-stained counter, have a WordPress site and Facebook page and are basking in the warm glow of the Internet.

But these techie things are just information tools. On the 'good' side are those that understand that and use them to provide knowledge, fortunately. Information can be of a true and a false nature, knowledge is what allows us to make the distinction.

While the creation-destruction cycles continued unabated, and information wells become deeper and wider, I can only hope that our capacity, capability, and appetite for knowledge keeps pace. From this we will be able to separate the zombies from the zombie bills. 

Don't Touch My Jet!

Shortly after I received notice that my position – along with a number of others – was being terminated, I heard from a highly placed source that the company’s CEO told the CFO, “Do whatever you have to do, but do not touch my jet.” At the same time that he was laying-off 40-odd people, the CEO was rewarded with a 16 million dollar annual compensation package and the thought of relinquishing the leased corporate jet was strictly off-limits. Great messaging. Wall Street loves it while Main Street fumes. But really, does anyone care? (Remember the Occupy movement? Whither the Occupy Movement?)

I was reminded of my now 5 year-old departure from employment in Corporate America recently while perusing the front page of the Sunday NY Times’ business section. There I read a piece under the banner “The Infinity Pool of Executive Pay.” The story documents how despite the “modest” rise of 2.8% in median total pay among the top 100 CEOs (of American companies with revenues greater than $5 billion) to more than $14 million, typical “perk” packages were up almost 19% at over $320,000. Corporate funding of personal travel is one of the most flagrant applications of perks and certainly Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts is the most high-flying example of (ab-)use: he logged over one million dollars of PERSONAL travel on his company’s $65 million jet.

Of course Mr. Wynn is not alone in milking the perk teat of America. The article goes on and on documenting the Larry Ellisons (Oracle; $96.2 million), Rupert Murdochs (News Corp.; $22.4 million), Mark Parkers (Nike; $35.2 million), and Robert Igers (Walt Disney; $37.1) of just about every business silo (technology, media, health care, manufacturing, etc.) in America. In this post 2007/2008 super recession era of Dodd-Frank rules and Securities and Exchange Commission investigations, you would think the 1% might tone it down a bit. You would be wrong. In fact, the (super) rich continue to get richer and the poor? Well, they will just show up on your nearest mall exit or intersection island, sign in hand, but invisible.      

But what about the “fact” that a ‘rising tide lifts all boats?’ Perhaps that was true when the boats were dinghies and the tide wasn’t a tsunami. But the fact is that between 1960 and 1980 the top 1% of income earners took home less than 10% of all US income. Today that 1% pockets 24%. This discrepancy has grown so markedly and assuredly that now the much vaunted 1% control 40% of the US wealth whilst the bottom 80% income earners have a mere 7% of the nation’s wealth. In 1980 CEO pay was 42 times that of the average worker. It is now over 350 times. The numbers are numbing and it makes a person wonder why there aren’t pitchforks and burning torches aplenty (more on that in some future post!).

This is not new news. Mother Jones illustrated this succinctly, if colorfully back in 2011. More recently a video was created based on the Mother Jones data and that 6-plus minute long piece visually summarizes the expected, the ideal, and the reality of our growing income inequality. While the 80% continue to show declines in share of income, the plutocracy groweth. This is really not sustainable over the long haul, though one could argue that we had much the same rates of inequality in feudal times and they seemed to last…well, a long time.  

This is not an appeal to light those torches and hoist high red banners at the barricades, but rather a plea to attack the issue from three angles: the shareholders perspective, your pocket book, and via benefit corporations. But, before we get there, let’s explore the good, the bad, and the ugly of income inequality.  

(Next: Your Inequality is My Opportunity)

H

 


As the principal of Clayhaus Photography, Jeff Clay specializes in fine-art landscape, architecture, and travel images. He also does portrait and event photography as a partner in Perfect Light Studios. Finally, with a background in information technology and project management, and as sole proprietor of Clayhaus Consulting, he works with non-profits and small businesses to help implement Internet and social media campaigns. He lives in Salt Lake City, UT with his wife, Bonnie and their three wild and crazy retrievers.

 

War

Three days ago, I was sent an article, titled The Last Letter. A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran.

 

Tomas Young wrote on behalf of the millions of souls brutalized in one way or another and the million plus lives taken, including 4,500 (or more) US troops, in a war entered through trickery, a grand game of bait and switch. He showed me how I had looked the other way, in apathy, in naivety while the country's leaders sought not but their own gain at any cost.  Tomas is dying from injuries received during that war. I have no doubt he served bravely, and I know he is dying courageously, and openly, sharing his truth from the core of himself, unfiltered. His clarity is exquisite, as though he has taken my face in his hands, and spoken to me from the depths of his soul until I could only experience his truth and I am not the same. My very sense of patriotism was used to manipulate me to cry war upon peoples of a country more than likely innocent of the charges levied against them.

 

I began to question, to wonder, how many wars the U.S. has fought. An awareness I have felt but not looked at, began to creep to the forefront of my thoughts. I learned that generation after generation, through 60 plus wars since 1636 (that’s roughly 1 war every 6.28 years for 377 years), we have fought one bloody war after another, in the name of freedom, in the name of God, for the love of country and family. I began to question what does centuries of battle reflect of our collective consciousness? How does it affect us and our thought, our families and day to day home life, our relationships and our clarity as a species?
 
 

My sense is that because of the centuries of war we all carry, the pain of PTSD is as deep as any imprint of our DNA. We are collectively wounded, fearful and dysfunctional. It could take generations with the soul purpose of peace for the muscle memory of war to be erased. The truth of these centuries is so weighted in quiet guilty awareness, so huge and painful it would be nearly as courageous to speak of it as a collective as it is for Tomas to die. Yet the conversation must be had, in living rooms, board rooms and across the world. It is the fervor behind our self righteousness brought to melodic form in Julia Ward Howe’s lyrics "Battle Hymn of the Republic" an anthem to war that reflects our passion to fight. It feeds our blindness to the knowledge that we must stop warring, especially the battles fought for leaders who have forgotten the sound of a beating heart.

Soul Poison; Robert Koehler asks in his Huff Post blog referring specifically of the Iraq War, “Ten years later, an enormous question looms: How do we get the poison out of our system? I think that’s what atonement means.”  Yes, the poison of this particular war looms large. What I see of my nation’s act disturbs me deeply. We have become global bullies in our sheep minded blindness. We protested. We complained, and then we followed. We allowed the hubris of men who plotted and planned and lied and knowingly we failed to act. At the very least we in the manner of Pontius Pilate  washed our hands of the whole affair, for ten years! We allowed our sons, daughters, fathers, brothers, mothers, to go, to fight and die and kill, simply because we did not unite and stop this war. We could have impeached. We could have turned off the fear mongering media and looked deep for the truth. We could have demanded through voting, uprising, boycotting. We could have been truly "patriotic" and stopped the madness. Democracy in its purest sense allows for this, even demands it. I am more aware now of our collective complacency. I am disturbed as I recognize that collectively we have become so slothful in our more-comfortable-than-anyone-else-and-deservedly-so mentality that we simply did not care enough to see the souls on the other side of the globe as those we would rescue—from Us!  

 

I ask myself what will it take for peace on earth? What will it take to rid myself of the poison I have drunk? The truth of it, for me is that it begins with the courage to atone, the atonement of apathy, ignorance and arrogance. It begins with being accountable to act in accordance with my deepest inner knowing and to STOP ignoring its truth. Yes. It begins by admitting my denial and staying clear, voting, protesting and demanding nothing less of those I have voted in to serve, do just that, serve the people. If my leaders run amok, in this nation I am free to seek, even demand the change of that leadership. 

 

Julia Ward Howe, wrote the lyrics to one of my favorite pieces of music, Battle Hymn of the Republic in 1861 "and links the judgment of the wicked at the end of time (New Testament, Rev. 19) with the American Civil War. The First Mother's Day was  proclaimed in 1870 by that same Julia Ward Howe and was a passionate demand for disarmament and peace. "
 

"Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!"

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace."

What was it that brought this sea change? Gettysburg? The entirety of that war's devastation? I can only guess. But she shows me here that change is possible. I join her in her passion and her prayer, making this my new anthem. As for Tomas? Thank you for your leadership and the truth, allowing me another chance to look at peace and war, head on.

“Glory, glory hallelujah, truth is marching on.”

 

 Images by Jeff Clay: Clayhaus.Net Photography


Shelly Williams has been the Minister of Support, which includes Social Media, for four years at The Arts Organization. Her focus and growing passion at TAO Metaversity is The Academy of Innerdimensional Studies. She is a TAOblogger and has begun a series of blogs intimately focused on Divine Proportion; Excavating the Wealth of the Feminine.

 

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Jeff Clay's picture

As one of those who felt that the invasion of Iraq was unwarranted, unnecessary, illegal, and in the end would be unforgivable, I feel little in the way of moral superiority but more bafflement, sadness, and yes, anger that we continue to allow the saber-rattlers a soap box from which to lead us into unhappy debacle. Was Vietnam really that long ago? The half-life of lunacy seems to get shorter yet. We have the same vultures of regime change and American Exceptionalism yammering for a confrontation with Iran, a mere two years after we left Iraq dictator-free but a shambling sectarian hulk of its former self. We allow these vultures their vitriolic pulpit because we are not taught to question. Questioning is the result of inspired education and can lead to an enlightened citizenry. In this era of enforced austerity I can think of plenty of things to cut from our budget...education is not one of them.

Dancing with Jimmy Under a Full Blue Sky

 "....So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service."                

Jimmy Carter: Losing My Religion for Equality

I was first raped at six. At six years old I was taught to obey, to keep quiet, to be faithful, and to pretend the sickness in my home wasn't there and that I did not matter, nor did my mother. I was taught that to question was not my place, not in the home, not of my father.  To question my clergy was to challenge God, which was equal to delving into the mysteries, where Satan ruled. I would be dis-fellowshipped for "my rebellion.”  And so I lived, enslaved and battered by the loss of my innocence and the sound of my happy heart. Imprinted with that loss I was set to follow a pattern that would lead me for many, many years to seek only that which would affirm my lowly station on earth. I was raised in a culture that taught me to hide even from myself, the Feminine Divine. In that blindness to the feminine within,  I made all of my decisions including the  spouses I  chose. From that same blindness I  carried and gave birth to a son-alone. From that same blindness the choice to give him up was made. In that blindness I was giving away all my power, my softness and stood resolute in my birthright as a female in servitude.

Today many years later, the quote above deepens my calling within to contribute to the healing of the earth through the healing of our families, starting with the feminine. I had not a clear idea, or rather I could not figure where to start or what I could contribute. I began to question more fearlessly than I ever had, or at least more clearly, why are women so poorly treated? Why is the earth run in a patriarchal fashion, men above the women, woman to serve man? Who on earth ever came up with the appropriateness of this, as some "natural" way of things, the collective crushing of the AUTHENTIC feminine footprint upon our psyche?  And more deeply,  what on earth am I doing to perpetuate it? That for me became the bigger question. What am I doing to perpetuate this global castration that literally pushes our feminine expression into a pandemic of prostitution, through one form of slavery or another? What is my role, the role of the female in centuries, if not millenniums of old rituals to subjugate and destroy? After all, this collective castration in slavery and rape is not simply of the female nor is it only perpetrated by the male. It is the castration of the Soul from the breather of Its Life, both male and female, by male and female as though we are somehow separate from one another and at war. The imprint and impact from "she" must be equal to "he.”  What and who on earth deemed this "the natural order of things"? Who on Earth? My first aha; Man. Natural? Hardly. There is nothing natural in being conquered, muted, beaten, nor is there anything natural in muting, beating, and conquering. I refuse to believe that to be barbaric and superior is a natural state.  I have discovered  my first answers.  Man made this, not God, and NO! there is nothing natural about it. For me, these are but a few of the answers. But, it still does not answer for me what my role is in all of this, in my own slavery. How is it that I have become part of the global village that  teaches my sons to rape and my daughters to shut up and swallow? 

The answers began to come months ago at a Crones Counsel meeting when I learned of Half the Sky Movement. This movement stayed with me though I had no idea the gravity of its function nor the plight that it revealed until through a Facebook post I read a quote. "More girls were killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men killed in all the wars in the 20th century. More girls are killed in this routine gendercide  in any one decade than people slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century." Nicholas D. Kristoff, Sheryl WuDunn. I then found an invitation to One Billion Rising

I was the statistic for which one billion men and women are rising. I've lived that story. I was the incested, the raped, the high school drop out. I was the widow, the pregnant teen, the drug addict, I was the cutter, the divorced, abused wife. I was the trip to jail. I was the homeless. I was the ward of the State, the runaway, the sex for goods the dis-fellowshipped and the excommunicated. I was the black sheep, the alternative lifestyle and the dropped off the face of the earth for years at a time daughter. I am now a participant for that which  One Billion Rising rises and I join, my heart filled with the experience of having found in my life the healing power of love. And I am one with the healing and the healer. I now have clear direction inwhich to send my voice. In recognition that all of my life I have been hearing the call to stand in strength and love, my hand and heart open, I join the prayers of a fractured global village in escaping the poverty of thought that oppresses one half of its population, thereby enslaving its entirety.

So in all the passion, fire, innocence, and immeasurable love with which I first held my son and glimpsed the peace and piece of my Feminine Divine, I will share with every Soul I touch, if only for aninstant, this prayer. It is for every Man and every Woman, every son and daughter. And I, newly cloaked in the wonder of my own wealth excavated over the last 44 years, in Divine Proportion say this prayer, spread this prayer, share this prayer. On February 14th One Billion Rising men and women will dance under one full sky.

May the only empty shoes that day be the ones tossed to dance.

(This blog was written and published under the previous title of Dancing With Jimmy Under a Full Blue Sky.)

 Article Links:

   Image by Jeff Clay: Clayhaus.Net Photography

   Jimmy Carter: Loosing My Religion for Equality

   One Billion Rising

   Half the Sky

   Eve Ensler|Tony Stroebel-Man Prayer

   Hypersmash.com


Shelly Williams has been the Minister of Support, which includes Social Media, for four years at The Arts Organization. Her focus and growing passion at TAO Metaversity is The Academy of Innerdimensional Studies. She is a TAOblogger and has begun a series of blogs intimately focused on Divine Proportion; Excavating the Wealth of the Feminine.

                                                                                                                                     

          

 

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