The old hippy in me is cringing. For this historic New Year of 2012, I’m surveying the state of things in the West, particularly in America, and wondering what’s been in the Kool-Aid, particularly the variety that the American left has been drinking. What on earth ever happened to public outrage? Or protest? Or any sense of anger translating into action?
The figures continue to be bad around the world. By way of example, the latest American figures show that half of all Americans are struggling to get by on low incomes. The financial markets continue to worsen, soon to eclipse those of the 1930s. Millions of people have been turfed out of their homes, surrounding homeowners have lost $1.86 trillion in home value, 13 million people are out of work, and the collective wealth of American households has dropped by $16 trillion.
Last week the journalist Christopher Hitchens died. Thousands of column inches have been written about Hitch – brilliant journalist, iconoclast and, most noisily, atheist. For Hitch, like Richard Dawkins, was a bully atheist – not simply a non-believer, but an anti-theist, desirous of crushing the all notions of faith in anything other than what has been scientifically ‘proven.’
Although I found many of Hitch’s ideas about organized religion and religious myth refreshingly contrarian, like many atheists, Hitch confused religion with belief in the divine or indeed a sense of the spirit. To him all spiritual or religious devotion began and ended with literal belief in the white-bearded being sitting on a cloud.
Anyone who believes that the Occupy Movement is a ragtag batch of hippies who have had their day now that the police are cracking down had better look again both at the churches, the civil rights leaders and religious leaders now joining in the fray.
Yesterday, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, veteran of four decades of civil rights protest, showed up at Occupy London’s headquarters at St. Paul’s cathedral, during their ‘Occupy Everything’ day of protests. He likened the Occupy movement, which he called a ‘global spirit’ now sweeping the world, to the civil rights struggles by Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu chose the same day to release a message of solidarity with the Occupy Movement and appealed to Trinity Church in South Africa to house the protesters.
Today, while watching a barn raising during an episode of Living with the Amish, the British Channel 4 series I’ve blogged about earlier which arranged for six British teenagers to live among the Amish and Mennonites for a summer, (watch it here on: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/living-with-the-amish, I was moved by the simplicity of the message and struck by how many our current problems could be sorted out by some modern form of barn raising. And apparently, according to the reaction of thousands of British viewers, I am not alone.
In this episode, the three British boys join 40 male members of the community to do all the carpentry, while the three girls joined dozens of women in cooking a vast lunch for the 80 neighbors. Within five hours the main body of the barn had been raised, and by sundown, the last nail was put in place. But even more astonishing to the teens was the simple reminder, as the Amish narrator Jonathan puts it, of ‘what can be achieved if we all stand together.’
The other day my husband Bryan shared with me a video of one dog risking his life, crossing a busy highway to save another dog, which had been hit by a car. If you haven’t seen it on my Facebook site, here it is:
On Thanksgiving evening, while pondering all the things I could be grateful for, I and our family watched the first part of a series called ‘Living with the Amish.’
Britain’s Channel 4 had selected six typical British teens to fly over to the US and live among the Ohio Amish for six weeks last summer. The kids were a sociological pick-‘n’-mix: posh Etonian George, spoiled and pampered party-girl Charlotte, trendy Jordan, who was looking forward to spending time among the ‘minimalist’ Amish, sassy Siana, who has three fashion blogs, and James, who’d lived in foster care and hostels ever since his mother had been put away for arson.
During my Bond Tour, I have been continuously asked by radio show hosts, but what about the rights of the individual? What about enlightened self-interest as the chief driving force of business, education, sport - everything? Aren’t all better mousetraps the result of pushing ourselves as individuals? How will we ever achieve anything significant – or win at anything - if we don’t focus on number 1?
Today is 11-11-11, which is being talked up as some sort of portal to a new world, so I began assembling this blog at 11 am, just to keep in the spirit of things.
Actually I am asked, quite frequently, about evolution, and how I think it is going to go down. Are moments like 11-11-11 some sort of ‘sign’ of new consciousness that will suddenly envelop us like fairy dust and signal the start of the realm of the good and the true?
To that I have one stock answer. It’s going to start small and grow big, and it’s going to take a lot of conscious hard work.
I left America for England in 1980 to research a book about Kathleen Kennedy. Immediately I fell in love with London, and not long after fell in love, and as I got further and further entangled with the place – first with husband, then house and children, business and pets - I basically never came home.
I am back from whizzing around America once again, and in every city I visited, there was an Occupy encampment. As the movement gathers steam worldwide, I am amused by how much the press has really missed the point of what is actually happening and what this reflects about our current society.
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