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Meditations on Independence Day, 2022

When we bought our new house, a flagpole and the American flag came with it.

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

The day Roe v. Wade was overturned, we took down the flag. I don’t recognize America anymore. The democracy I grew up in is languishing and I no longer feel our government represents the best interests of people or planet. It certainly isn’t interested in surviving and thriving for any but a select few power-over people who are impotent, incompetent, and emotionally bankrupt, not to mention unbelievably stupid. These times are the logical end stages of capitalism. We are so far astray we have made money into a god and worshiping that god has us all on our knees and many of us face down in the street being murdered. I’m not celebrating. I’m grieving. I’m angry.

The pandemic years and increasing awareness and visibility of systemic racism brought the discussion of freedom into daily discourse. What freedom is. What freedom isn’t.

Freedom is power. People who work for power with others focus on supporting an equitable playing field for all. That means some people need to lose some power and others need to have theirs restored so we all have equal access to resource.

Power, by the way, is not defined by money. We’ve been culturally brainwashed to believe it is, but it’s not. Who benefits from the persistent and relentless narrative insisting it is? Are you benefitting?

People who work for power-over are afraid. Fear breeds hatred. Other words for hatred are racism, homophobia, and bigotry. Power-over people, like any tyrant, fear rebellion, and all their energy goes into controlling information and brutally silencing dissent or discussion.

What we are allowing to take shape is a dystopian world. It’s not a movie we’re going to walk out of in two and a half hours. It’s not a science fiction book. It’s not a role-playing game.

It’s real, and it’s really happening. Just like climate change, it’s not something to scare or depress ourselves with and then, like Scarlett O’Hara, tell ourselves we’ll think about it tomorrow. Tomorrow was yesterday. Climate change and the end of democracy are not far-off footsteps in the night-dark and scary forest. They’re here. They’re now. They’re in our tent with us.

Here are characteristics of a dystopian society:

  • Communication (misinformation) is used to control citizens.
  • Information (facts), critical thinking, and freedom are restricted.
  • Citizens worship a figurehead or ideology.
  • Citizens perceive they are under constant surveillance.
  • Citizens fear change, new information, or new experience. Anything or anyone different is perceived as a threat to existence. Conformity is paramount. Individuality and dissent are stamped out.
  • Citizens are stripped of their humanity.
  • The natural world is raped, poisoned, and distrusted.
  • Controls force citizens to accept the illusion of a perfect utopian world.

Dystopian controls include corporate, bureaucratic, technological, and philosophical/religious entities.

Welcome to the dawn of dystopia, people. For most of us, freedom is slowly vanishing, but it’s still possible to reclaim it. There are people who see clearly and speak and write the truth. Some of us believe in the common good and in living in service to others, to justice, and to the planet. We can fight. We can refuse to be silenced. We can hold fast to one another and balance the growing hate in the world with our love and righteous anger.

I’ll leave you with a couple of thoughts from Toni Morrison:

“The function of freedom is to free somebody else.”

“Freedom is choosing your responsibility. It’s not having no responsibilities; it’s choosing the ones you want.”

Be well. Take care of yourselves and each other.

Photo by Sue Tucker on Unsplash