So. Yesterday, I happened to enjoy not one, but two, delicious extended conversations with women, my age, mid-70s, both long term friends who have been with me during crises that we all survived and that, like all crises that we do survive, have enriched our lives immeasurably.
The first conversation, with Perry (then a new friend, she helped me wash Jeff’s body when he died, on January 4, 2003), over squishy mushroom/pesto/cheese/dried tomato sandwiches and fries out at The View, overlooking Lake Monroe, led us down the path of trying to understand how, why and when I shifted my allegiance in terms of the left/right dichotomy in American politics. Formerly, like her — and like I used to think any right-thinking person thought — I identified as liberal, leftist, at least in terms of the vote.
Underneath, like Perry says she is, I’ve also been a long-term radical, seeking to re-energize myself and others “to the root.” But living in this strange dichotomized world, yes, though I am still registered as an “Independent,” like Perry I did identify with Democrats over Republicans, since that seemed to be the lesser evil.
But something happened to me, something wild and strange. I can’t put my finger on the moment when I turned. I think it was a gradual process. But then again, maybe not. Maybe it was reading Kathy O’Brien’s book Trance Formation of America in the late ’90s that made me question Hillary and finally put me over the top. But whatever the “cause,” in fact, unlike Perry, the result is, I now root for Trump! Not that I don’t cringe at some of his policies, that’s for sure! And above all, I do feel that he desperately needs to walk barefoot in the forest for awhile to begin to connect his being to the natural world, something he’s been able to avoid since birth, due to his position in the “upper crust” of the scrim that is the technological/economic/materialist overlay we’ve cemented upon the natural organic earth-wise profundity that admittedly, very few in the western world identify with at all, or when they do, it’s as an “environmentalist” (or “peace activist”) with their minds, judging anyone who is not an environmentalist (or peace activist) as either evil or crazy.
I used to be one of those self-righteous judgers of others, living in my mind, dragging my body along behind me, flogging it when it flagged, viewing “the cause” as greater than its need for sleep or nourishment or time out. No longer. Somewhere back when I was around 40, I realized that I needed to climb back inside this small quivering antenna for Earth’s wisdom and let her, the aliveness inside this body’s wisdom, both lead and speak.
But back to Trump, and me, and to the fact that I, and not Perry, applaud his outrageous outlier personality that takes swings both right and left, seemingly out of nowhere. Amazed at his vitality, the way he seems to actually encourage others, both left and right, to discount his intelligence, indeed to make fun of him, call him a fool or ignorant or downright stupid. And above all, I was and remain deeply inspired by what seems to be his capacity, unlike that of no other U.S. president except JFK, to at least take a huge swing at “taking down the deep state” that — ever since JFK’s head ripped open in full public view, and further back, ever since the foundation of the “national security state” and the CIA in 1947 — has held the U.S. in the grip of some kind of nearly unimaginable evil that seems to be rooted in pedophilia, satanism, bribery and blackmail.
And no doubt, in this way of proceeding, we could go further back, to 1913, and the creation of the Fed, and further yet, back and back and back, to the heartless genocide of the American Indian where it all began. At least on this continent. But let’s not. To go back forever is to invite a quagmire of accusation, guilt, and shame. Furthermore, however we see the past, our current perspective is mired in a set of assumptions and attitudes and conditionings much of which is unconscious, and/or inherited, even genetic. At least that’s what “I” think.
But then again, “I” may be wrong. And this brings me to the second long croneversation, last night on the phone with my old friend Claudia (with whom I have croneversed since 1985, and who will accompany me to this year’s Crones Counsel in Bellingham, WA). She too, found herself silently applauding Donald Trump’s election while living in a sea of Hillary supporters; she too, still supports him, though, she adds, “I might be wrong.” And, she continues, “I feel that this is what all of us need to say, no matter how strongly we support one “side” or another. I might be wrong.”
Yes. Just that one statement alone might begin to melt the extreme polarization that has us all locked into name-calling from frozen positions that transform instantly, into volcanoes of hatred and scorn when “triggered.”
And yes. Perry and I went some way yesterday, in understanding the different ways we are seeing the world right now. She now recognizes that, though I have strangely found myself moving “right” along the right/left spectrum, I too, identify as radical, and am certainly not an advocate of an Ayn Randian attitude of rampant selfish individualism.
Indeed, as she and I then recalled, both of us flirted with its opposite — allegiance to socialism, communism, whatever you wanted to call it — now its known as “globalism,” or New World Order, a political stance that collapses individualism into “us,” a single world-wide “community” — way back in the ’60s, like all the other idealistic, go-for-broke radicals.
And yet, on the other hand, what strikes me about my own personal attitude, is that for at least 40 years I’ve been acutely aware that the dichotomy of individual vs. community exists in a continuously shifting dynamic balance which must be constantly recognized and renegotiated. That neither “side” lives well without the other. The selfish service-to-self tendency of individualism must be counterbalanced by selfless service-to-others of community, and vice versa; unless we recognize and learn to express our own unique individualism, we end up smashed together in a zombielike slave state of sheeplike conformity.
In other words, both left and right have their specific, and highly necessary, virtues, and yet, when we come down on one side without recognizing the value of the other, we lose our moorings and turn into fundamentalists. Let us remember an obvious physical fact: that each of us stands on two legs; both grip the good ground, balanced, left and right, each leg working to support the body while the other strides ahead.
So then, yesterday, can’t remember why, but all of a sudden I wanted to listen to the original recording of Alice’s Restaurant, as sung by Arlo Guthrie. Somehow, that song, and the funny, whimsical, and yet deeply political, supremely anti-war lyrics and music and asides spoke to my heart.
What happened to us, that we would allow ourselves to forget our laughter, our sense of humor in the midst of deep seriousness?
Let’s get back there. We know we can. Relax and open our hearts.