Want Sanity? Boycott Corporate Media

They lie, terrify, confuse and divide us

              Media coming to get you Photo by Matt Chesin on Unsplash

The world’s top “influencers” aren’t sexy people on TikTok. They are the CIA, the military-industrial complex, and the corporate owners of broadcast and print media. The media they control influences billions of people. For our own health and the world’s, we need to stop watching, listening to, and reading them.

How do you feel when you watch Fox, ABC, MSNBC, PBS, or other corporate news? Are you afraid, confused, sad, angry, discouraged? Maybe with a little American patriotism mixed in? If you have such a reaction, they’re doing their job.

Social critic Jessica Wildfire wrote, “You are always being shown what to think, especially when you don’t realize it. The shows you watch inform how you act. This is how “mind control” actually works. Nobody needs to put a microchip in your vaccine. They’ve got your eyeballs.”

While media outlets have always reflected the views of their owners, they have in recent decades been structured into a network of platforms, broadcasting the same corporate message in a bewildering variety of voices. In the 1950s, The CIA established a program called Operation Mockingbird to recruit a small army of media figures to shape public views of reality. They created what Frank Wisner, then head of the CIA’s Office of Policy Coordination, called his “Mighty Wurlitzer,” of propaganda (named after the huge organs some theaters had at the time) “on which I can play any tune I want.”

The CIA is far from the only agency using media to shrinkwrap our minds. Big industries, governments and advertisers lie to us constantly. A hundred years of psychological research has made them extremely effective persuaders.

                            Photo by Sara Gacic on Unsplash

Here’s how they roll

Fear — George Grebner, researcher of 20th Century journalism, wrote, “Fearful people are more dependent, more easily manipulated and controlled, more susceptible to deceptively simple, strong, tough measures and hard-line postures…. They may accept and even welcome repression if it promises to relieve their insecurities.”

That’s why, all our lives, media has been working to terrorize ua. I grew up fearing communism and the threat of nuclear war. We kept hearing that the Russians wanted to destroy us. We were told to build fallout shelters in backyards and hide under school desks in case of nuclear attack.

After the Soviet Union fell in1989, we were taught to fear terrorism..Media constantly reported on ‘terror plots’ narrowly thwarted by the FBI, plots usually hatched by FBI informants themselves. We lived with a backdrop of color-coded terror threat levels that meant nothing except “be afraid.”

Then fear shifted back to Russia and China. Russia will sabotage our electric grid. China will freeze us to death next winter. All along, we are taught to fear crime, stranger abductions (featured on milk cartons,) and other people, especially those of a different skin color.

With the pandemic, extreme fear of disease and death has replaced foreign threats. Stay inside! Stay home! The air is full of deadly germs. Ignore how the system is systematically robbing you and killing all life on Earth. Fear COVID!

Distrust and division –If people came together, the rule of the 0.1% couldn’t last. The rulers know this and have developed a hundred ways to divide us, starting with racism. For two hundred years or more, Americans were taught that white people were superior. Racism didn’t exist; we rarely heard the word in the media. Black people’s poverty was their own fault. Many white people dutifully took their rulers’ side against inferior people of color.

By 2019, though, that scam wasn’t working so well. The misery of the entire working class had reached the point where a multi-racial working class movement was a possibility. So media changed the story. Suddenly liberal, mainstream media outlets like the New York Times featured racism all the time.

Not that there was any chance the 0.1% were going to make the slightest amends for slavery and Jim Crow. The goal was to make sure white and Black people didn’t unite. So, we saw media reports that Black Lives Matter were burning down cities. White supremacist militias were coming to urban centers with their guns.

Our rulers aren’t one-trick ponies, though; they divide us in all kinds of ways other than race. Sex, gender identity, age, nationality, citizenship, religion, political affiliation, taste in music, and more are all used to separate people. On social media, algorithms literally divide us by our beliefs and attitudes into a thousand different echo chambers who never talk to each other.

Confusion — William Casey, director of the CIA under President Ronald Reagan, is widely reported to have said, “Our disinformation program will not be complete until everything the public believes is wrong.” To confuse us, they lie regularly, change their stories frequently, and force-feed different information to different groups.

In media reports to Rightist audiences, caravans of unarmed, desperate refugees from Central America became an invading army. In reports to liberals, the unarmed Capitol Hill rioters of Jan. 6, 2021, became an insurrection. Donald Trump’s win in 2016 was due to Russia’s buying $247,000 worth of Facebook and Twitter ads. Readers may believe one of these stories even now, but they are media gaslighting us, seeking to confuse us until we give up and say ‘whatever.’

Promoting war, austerity, and separation

Why are they doing this? First and foremost, the Mighty Wurlitzer plays to gain support for rulers’ wars and aggression. That’s why we hear about how badly China treats the Muslims in Xinjiang and the protestors in Hong Kong. These stories come from people found and promoted by the CIA or their regime change friends at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). As if the US were really concerned about protecting Muslims. (Like they protected the Iraqis and Libyans!)

They also have domestic motives. COVID narratives full of fear and confusion have divided people even more sharply than racism. Mask and anti-mask people, vaccine promoters and resisters aren’t even speaking to each other. Either way, we’re told to stay home and be safe. How can people organize or fight for change when we’re hiding in our homes? It’s like a police state without the police.

This is how important narrative is. Society, as Australian journalist Caitlin Johnstone says, is made of story. We gain our perception of the world from what we are told and shown. What most people are told is what corporate media chooses to tell us, and that story is 50% illusion and 50% lies.

What can we do about being lied to all the time? TBH, social media isn’t that much better. We need to talk to real people. See and hear what’s actually around us. Stay sane. When your coworker harangues you with propaganda and calls it science or news, ask them where they learned their story. Why should you, or they believe sources that lie so consistently?

 — — — — — — — —

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter, on Facebook or on Medium.com.  Hire me for freelancing, editing, or tutoring on Linked In

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Eat Right for Your Body and Planet

                  Photo by Raul Gonzalez Escobar on Unsplash

If we would like life on Earth to continue, what should we eat? On one level, this question look silly: how can one person’s diet make a difference in climate change and mass extinction? On a deeper level, our food choices are crucial. They determine our relationship with Earth and with all living things.

Not that your personal diet makes a big difference to anyone except you and those you eat. But changing social norms of eating could make the world healthier and happier. If we change our attitude toward food, we will be better able to fight for the animals and plants that feed us.

We should eat as if Earth were sacred to us. Eat as indigenous people have done; they lived successfully here for thousands of years before industrial civilizations. What would Indigenous approaches to food look like in 2021?

Eating animals – yes or no?

Most indigenous people, even those who gardened, hunted animals for food. Unlike plants, animals (like us) have to eat other living things to survive. But indigenous people respected and honored plants and creatures who gave their lives to be eaten. They did what they could to create habitat for them and regarded them as family.

In places where adequate food can be grown and found, vegetarian and vegan diets can be healthy for individuals and planet. But in drier, higher parts of the world, crops are very hard to grow, so people have to eat some meat. And for genetic reasons, some people seem to need animal protein.

Meat-eating can be done with minimal cruelty. Wild, free-range, and compassionately farmed animals can have pretty good lives until the end. Corporate-farmed animals are a whole different story.

Feedlot cattle, pigs, and chickens are crowded together with no chance to move around. They produce huge amounts of waste which turns into the greenhouse gas methane. Steers need about 410 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. They also consume large amounts (variously estimated at 2.5 lbs — 6 lbs) of commercially grown grain for every pound of beef.

As regards climate change, feedlots are bad, but well-run pastures for cattle are good. Veganism is good, but it’s not the only way.

Honorable Harvest

It’s not just what we eat, but how we obtain the food and treat the creatures we eat. In her book Braiding Sweetgrass, Native American botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer explains the rules of what her people call an Honorable Harvest of both plants and animals.

● Take only what you need. Never take more than half. Don’t waste. Natives in the North central part of North America depend on wild rice that grows in water. European visitors wondered why Natives didn’t harvest more, since food often ran short in the winter. They don’t take more, because they need to leave some to grow back, and some to feed the animals who live there. Contrast that with settlers who killed off the passenger pigeon and almost exterminated the buffalo in a few decades.

● Take only what is given to you — there’s a difference between a free-living fish who bites a lure and one raised in packed conditions on a fish farm. The wild-living ones had happier lives. The fish farms pollute and spread disease.

● Non-food plants deserve to live, too. In an Earth-centered agriculture, farmers would not poison all the other plants and insects with chemicals. They wouldn’t plant monocrops over vast areas. We would integrate the Natural world into agriculture, like on this farm.

● Treat everything we eat with respect and gratitude.

● Share what you’ve taken with others. Give back to the animals and plants by improving their habitat.

Eat locally

These days, people eat food from anywhere, at all times of year. This is not healthy for our bodies or our planet. Shipping stuff and people all over the world is a major cause of climate change and ocean pollution.

Anishinaabe leader and former Green Party candidate for Vice-President Winona LaDuke became a farmer in her 40s. In this TED talk, she describes the health and productivity benefits of growing plant varieties that are right for your area. She showed off dozens of multi-colored varieties of corn which are rarely grown in corporate farming, but do well in different localities and are much higher in vitamins than the usual hybrid yellow sweet corn.

We can eat locally through growing our own, through Farmers’ Markets, or community-supported agriculture (CSAs, those boxes of produce delivered every week.) Some stores try to buy local and tell their customers the sources of what they sell.

Herbicides, mechanized farming, over-irrigation and mono-cropping have worn out huge tracts of land and decimated birds and insects, raising risk of famines. But LaDuke showed examples of small urban farms growing astonishing amounts of food, like these in Milwaukee or these in Cuba. Such farms are feeding thousands of people and building up local economies.

Healthy foods

Speaking as a nurse:

● Protein: There are many sources besides factory-farmed meat. In addition to organic, free-range animals and wild-caught fish, there is now artificial, lab-grown meat. It’s corporate, but it seems healthy and tastes good when I’ve tried it. There are also plant-based meat alternatives like Seitan. Tofu is a good source. More adventurous people could try eating bugs and worms, which have been made into some good tasting stuff, and use much less land and water than cattle.

Beans and nuts, IMO, are the best foods in the world, the life force in a very small package of protein, fat, and carbs. Also, eat fruits and vegetables. Olives might keep us fed in a warming world.

● Commercial grains like wheat and rice are grown with large amounts of chemicals, farm machines, and genetic modification. And they are not strictly necessary. Other starches like potatoes, starchy vegetables, fruits, and yams can replace some of them. Or buy/grow organic grains.

● Eat things that don’t need refrigeration or freezing, shrinking your carbon footprint big time. If you do need a freezer or fridge, get a horizontal (chest) freezer that opens from the top. That way, all the cold air doesn’t fall out when you open it, saving electricity.

         Energy-saving freezer Image from Istock

Lots of people are panicking over the pace of global warming and the massive changes it will bring about. We could all starve, but if we learn to eat in harmony with Nature, while working to restore Earth, we could slow the warming and keep feeding ourselves. When Cuba’s food and fossil fuel supplies were cut off at the end of the Cold War, they survived by making rapid food changes like the ones in this article. They now lead the world in sustainable agriculture. Maybe we could do that, too.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter, on Facebook or Medium.com. Hire me for freelancing, editing, or tutoring on Linked In

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Economics for a Sacred Earth

How a Nature-based economy could save us

“There is something fundamentally wrong in treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation.” Herman E. Daly

            Photo by Elizabeth Lies on Unsplash

Modern market economies are based on a series of lies, and these lies have brought us to the brink of disaster. We may have gone over the brink already, but Nature has formidable healing powers. If we replace a market system based on maximizing wealth, with a sharing economy based on the well-being of all, our sacred planet may still recover.

The most blatant lies say that Earth’s resources are inexhaustible free goods, to be scooped up and sold off for the profit of whoever can exploit them. Nobody owns the minerals, the oil, the jungles, the oceans, the animals or plants, so any corporation with guns and bulldozers can take them.

The second, related lie proclaims that people are motivated by bottomless wants and prize material possessions over other values such as human connection or a healthy environment. So increasing material wealth increases human well-being.

These lies are easily refuted. If resources were inexhaustible, why would corporations be using ever-more dangerous, expensive, and destructive technologies to get them? Why would we be fighting wars to get at readily available minerals? If endless material desires were the humans’ natural state, why would we have want-stimulating advertising, aimed at promoting dissatisfaction with our lives?

How money drives misery

“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Oscar Wilde

Before industrial capitalism and its marketing narratives, people were happier with far less in material goods. A study of indigenous Australians by the University of New South Wales and the First Nations Foundation found that, “Wealth was more commonly perceived in non-monetary terms, such as caring for family. Few participants expressed a desire to be rich or have a large amount of money.” Before capitalism, we weren’t “consumers;” we were citizens. Some indigenous cultures still live that way.

Industrial market-driven societies give everything a price, which we mistake for its real value. That is why, as Adam Idek Hastie says, “Under capitalism, a forest isn’t worth anything until it’s cut down.”

Equating a thing’s worth with how much money it will bring in the market, gives no value at all to Nature until it’s turned into products. That’s how corporations find it rational to permanently pollute water, the eternal source of life, in order to extract oil, another nonrenewable resource, which is then simply burned.

Modern finance capitalism has made the price/value disconnect worse. Business journalist Hans-Jürgen Jakobs says, “The people who control the international finance economy have next to no contact with the businesses they own. All they care about are abstract numbers and hitting abstract targets.” Why would they care about their businesses’ impact on their workers or on Nature?

Professor Kathleen Vohs from Minnesota University found that, when people think about money, they “think transactionally, and they become more callous towards other people.” Now imagine those other people are far away, don’t look like you or speak your language, may not be human, and you will never meet them. Do you see how money-based economies can lead to horrors like slavery, factory farming, or mountaintop removal mining?

An economy of gift

Money did not always rule us in this way. Indigenous people traditionally used gift and barter as their means of exchange. They were materially poorer than capitalist or socialist societies are now, but their lives were richer in connection and mutual support. They were also sustainable; they didn’t have to destroy Nature to survive.

Imagine an economy in which things people need — such as housing, food, clothes, and tools –were treated as gifts. People who have them share them. Exchange without price may sound ridiculous to minds raised on capitalism, but indigenous people have employed gift economies for thousands of years.

Can we have gift economies in our complex capitalist world? People are creating them. One example is the Buy Nothing project, in which local groups in 44 countries (so far) “creatively and collaboratively share (through online connections) the abundance around us.”

Sharing is gifting. People are sharing bikes, cars, homes, and other things you can see on the website shareable.net. Companies like Uber and AirBnB have monetized sharing, which IMO damages but doesn’t completely negate the benefits.

For the foreseeable future, there will still need to be money, and a gift-related form of that, Universal Basic Income (UBI) already exists. UBI is money given by society to everyone. Why can’t we expand UBI everywhere?

Credit unions are forms of sharing money. Alternatively, we could leave money out of the story and gift people housing, food, and healthcare directly, as countries like Finland do.

Think locally

A sacred Earth economy would have to be more local. No more picking up a fruit grown in Chile on our way to work in Chicago. Instead, we could grow lots of food in urban farms like these in Milwaukee. Shipping stuff and people all over the world is a major cause of climate change and ocean pollution.

Workers and users living close to each other know of each other and might care about things like product safety, working conditions, and the environmental impacts of products. People living around the world from each other probably won’t.

What couldn’t a sacred Earth economy do?

In a sacred Earth economy, Nature wouldn’t be brutally exploited, and workers would not be driven by the threat of hunger and homelessness. Could such an economy create large numbers of cars, airplanes, or bombs? No. Could it provide cheap fast-food hamburgers? Probably not. Would people buy lots of plastic junk? Not so much.

Then it gets more complicated. Would we still have computers and smart phones? What about travel? What about the Internet? The hows and how-much of these things still need to be worked out.

Things we would have more of

● Agriculture –Without mechanized, petrochemical farming, many more people would have to be involved in growing food.

● Environmental restoration — there would be a lot of unmaking, replanting, and cleaning up to do.

● Creativity, art, and fun are always wanted and needed. People would still invent things and do science for the common good.

If a gift economy sounds like a recipe for poverty to you, it’s not.

In his research on gift economies, scholar Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift, and Common as Air found that “Objects will remain plentiful because they are treated as gifts.”

Native American botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer wrote that gifts in her culture are passed around to those who need them, gaining value each time they are passed. Gifts create a personal relationship, very different from the shallow market relationships we are used to. They lead to more exchange and cooperation, instead of exploitation of each other and of Mother Earth.

We could learn to live like that.

— — — — — — — — — — — –

Thanks for reading! Please share, comment, or steal! Follow me on Twitter, on Facebook or on Medium.com Hire me for freelancing, editing, or tutoring on Linked In

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make Earth Sacred Again

Reverence for Nature could stop Big Money’s destroying the world

Indigenous people hold on to their wisdom, because they know the day will come when their knowledge is needed for Earth to survive.” Robin Wall Kimmerer

Image noah-buscher–unsplash

[Author’s Note: I am not indigenous to North America. I have two generations of ancestors buried here, and two more born here. I cannot speak for indigenous Americans or anyone else, but I have been trying to learn from them and other wise people. We are all indigenous to Planet Earth.]

 — — — -

Industrial civilization and its religion of wealth have brought the world to the brink of destruction. Possibly we’ve gone over the brink already, but if we learn and follow indigenous practices and wisdom, if we honor Nature in all we do, She may still have the power to recover and save us.

There is no time to waste. Oceans are heating, acidifying, and suffocating in plastic waste. Rainforests are cut down, burned, turned into plantations and cattle ranches, killing billions of animals. As fossil fuel emissions cause rising temperatures, and deforestation causes drought, whole continents burn, while corporations dig and drill more oil and coal from ever-dirtier sources.

Perhaps well-off people in air-conditioned, fireproof houses or bunkers can endure extreme heat and drought, flood, fire, and storm, but animal and plant life cannot. Without them, how will we eat? How will anyone survive?

Changing political parties or even economic systems won’t change our doomed trajectory. Capitalism works too well at producing economic growth, gouged from the natural world. It has to go, but what will replace it? Socialism has its own record of environmental devastation.

For 500 years, industrial societies have taught us ways that are killing us; now we need to unlearn them. Sri Lankan essayist Indica Samarajiva wrote, “We have been taught that resources are inexhaustible, greed is good, and that anyone saying otherwise is just a dumb communist. Western consumers have accepted consumer culture as a substitute for culture and consumer goods as a substitute for good.”

We have learned to value money more than the world that gave us life. As Charles Eisenstein wrote in Sacred Economics, money has literally become our God, the unseen and incomprehensible force that controls everything that happens. Whatever you think about religion or about the idea of God, you will probably agree that worshiping money is worse.

Money-worship has already led to horrors like slavery and colonialism which have killed tens of millions. Samarajiva says colonialism, capitalism, and climate change are the same thing — tearing up the land to find resources, oppressing brown people to get them, and destroying the human environment through their consumption, because it all makes money.

Even those who claim to believe in God live as though money were their master. In our system, money brings power, which brings more money and more power. Billionaires are celebrated and give their advice to politicians. Somehow, I think Native elders could do that job better.

We need a new belief system, or a very old one: toward money, toward Nature, and toward each other. We need to collectively move away from money as God. Whatever one personally believes, our society is ordered around service to capital, and individuals can’t change that. We need to redirect our reverence to the Earth that created and sustains us.

An old/new Religion

“Upon suffering beyond suffering: the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness, and separations. A world longing for light.” Crazy Horse, Oglala Sioux leader

Economist-historian Richard Smith wrote, If we want to save the planet, corporations would have to be nationalized, socialized, completely reorganized, or closed down.” Earth-destroyers like armaments, chemicals, and mining would have to go first.

But how could a program that involves shutting down large corporations and militaries be implemented under a corrupt capitalist government? Could a program that calls on people to stop driving, stop eating factory-farmed food, do more physical work and care more for others go viral? I have to admit; such changes sound politically impossible.

What might be possible is a spiritual movement to restore the Earth to its rightful place at the center of life. Where we recognize Her as our grandmother and all living things as our siblings. An Earth-centered faith might lead to a society in which it would be unthinkable to pour chemicals into a river, or to make pigs live in tiny cages 24/7, or to leave thousands of people sleeping in the street.

Imagine living where people revered Earth, not money. A world where people spend days restoring wetlands or growing food, and being happy to do what they considered Creator’s work. Imagine a world where helping others, both human and nonhuman, was a prime motivation.

Does that sound impossible to you? Maybe, maybe not. Religions have transformed the world before. Christianity so changed the Roman Empire that it collapsed. Islam swept the Arab and Persian worlds from rule by warlords to unified societies with laws that tried to be just. Faith leaders like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. have led movements that changed societies.

I think Islam might be a model, because there will be fighting involved, and they were good at that. Indigenous societies also have their warriors.

Belief may not move mountains, but it can inspire action that restores them. We could choose beliefs that revere Earth and show us our place as part of Nature’s community, not its lord and master. Maybe faith in Nature CAN go viral.

Some possibilities for living with an Earth-orientation:

● Devote some time each week to caring for Nature wherever you can find Her. Grow organic food. Restore damaged lands. Plant trees.

● Learn from animals and plants by spending time with them.

● Create or join a gift economy like the Buy Nothing Project to make money less important in our lives.

● Pay attention to your body. Bodies are our closest connection to Nature and the greatest gift we will ever be given. Honoring the body is honoring Nature.

● Fight against militarism, racism, and materialism, as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us.

● Support indigenous people’s movements opposing pipelines, protecting rainforest dwellers, supporting Native sovereignty, and returning land to the tribes.

● Find indigenous teachers where we live, on-line, or in print who can guide us toward living sustainably. IMO, every level of government should have an indigenous council to advise it (or replace it).

Learn more:

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants Robin Kimmerer PhD. The best thing I’ve ever seen teaching Native wisdom to non-Native people.

Pagans in the Promised Land Steven T. Newcomb — Describes both the U.S. Government and Christendom’s predatory policies against Indigenous American Tribal communities.

Learn about De-growth, shrinking the economy and enhancing quality of life.

The Red Deal Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth, by The Red Nation.

Read about indigenous movements in Africa.

Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition, Charles Eisenstein

 — — — — —

Thanks for reading! Feel free to quote, share, or steal, with or without attribution. Follow me on Twitter, on Facebook or my blog The Inn by the Healing Path. Hire me for freelancing, editing, or tutoring on Linked In

Posted in healing, spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Animals Are Getting Fat

Same as with people, toxic chemicals cause their weight gain

                                          Photo by Kat von Wood on Unsplash

Obesogens are everywhere

What are some of these chemicals?

Why I’m Angry about This

What you can do

Posted in healing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


Photo by Sandy Kumar on Unsplash


In what bandages have you wrapped yourself?

What splints do you wear to protect your injured places?

How does that padding limit you?

What have you lost in trying to be safe?


Remember as a child, when you ran free, tumbled and played

Remember being yourself, before the world taught you how to be

Someone else?

Before you were wounded, before you were

Bullied, chastised, ignored into the splints

And casts you wear now?


You may have forgotten those feelings; we all forget sometimes.

But your body knows who you are.  Maybe

You still need those bandages, maybe you don’t.

Maybe those old wounds are actually healed by now.

Could you take off some of your wrappings

And move how you want to move?


Can you imagine how it would feel

To run, to fly, to sit still when that is right

To tell the world, ‘This is who I am. Accept me

Or let me go?’


Can you imagine being free?

Can you accept life’s responsibilities,

And find freedom within them?

Sending you the courage to find out.

Thanks for reading! Please share. Follow me on Twitter, on Facebook or my blog The Inn by the Healing Path. Hire me for freelancing, editing, or tutoring on Linked In



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Leaving Las Vegas

Giving up technological fantasies, embracing Nature

                            Photo by Lyle Hastie on Unsplash

Not unique; not an outlier

We have been warned

Revolution would be a start

                           Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Secrets of Successful Seniors

We’re not making money, but we are contributing.

           Photo by Gita Krishnamurti on Unsplash

The good thing about getting old is people don’t expect as much of us. But even when we’re not doing, I believe we still have responsibilities to the people around us and the world that has given us so much.

The world is going on without us, but we still have valuable parts to play. We can be active in ways we don’t always recognize. These 11 practices can help seniors play our roles well, make us valuable contributors to society, and might make our own lives more rewarding.

1. Keep growing. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Keep making new friends. My mother lived in senior housing and, over her 30 years there, every single friend she had either died or moved to assisted living. She kept making friends with the younger seniors who moved in, and neighbors saw her as their big sister until she died at 91.

2. Contribute as best we can. How? Well, for one thing, most of us can share wisdom. Because the world is changing so rapidly, we might run out of practical things to teach, but we can still mentor younger people facing the universal issues of life.

Helping with children is traditional old people’s work. A lot of seniors — I’m one of them — find children rewarding, especially with our grandchildren.

We can also stay involved in our communities. Older people have more time to go to meetings, write letters to editors, call representatives, be politically active. We can volunteer in whatever ways we’re physically able. Growing food or flowers in a garden is a way to enrich the world with our presence.

Doing too much can mess things up, though. It makes no sense for me to try and help people move stuff or set up their room from my wheelchair. I can give advice, but there’s no reason to get in the way.

3. Accept help when needed. Few people like being helped with things we used to do for ourselves, but sometimes other people can do them better. It’s hard for family and caregivers when we insist on doing things on our own when it’s dangerous, or will take all day, or we can’t do it right.

At the same time, a lot of folks offer help when it’s not needed nor wanted, or when they don’t know what they’re doing. We can accept help when appropriate and still be assertive about what we do and don’t want and need.

4. Care for those who help us. When I worked in long-term care, our staff loved some patients and were happy to help them. We kind of avoided some others. Patients who let staff know they were appreciated made the carers’ day.

In our own lives, we can thank people, tell them what they mean to us, give them little gifts, or food, or money. If we can’t do anything else, we can listen. Ask them to tell you about their life or about their day.

5. Don’t waste. I hate the way our lives fill with plastic. It’s not our fault; it’s how things are packaged and delivered. Buy less of it. The same with other stuff, like vehicles or electronics.

Many older folks try to save money for their children and grandchildren. I think that’s a good idea, but so is giving money away to good causes and people. Money in the bank isn’t doing any good in the here and now.

6. Love our bodies, even when they are sources of pain and worry. Our bodies are our closest connection to Nature. Ignoring one’s body is being thankless for one’s greatest gift. Touch your body, pay attention to it, give thanks for it.

7. Keep moving. A friend of mine just died at 107, and there’s a reason she got that far. She was walking until near the end, but when she couldn’t, I still noticed her moving her feet and arms in bed or chair, trying to maintain what she had. Moving our bodies keeps us in touch with them and with the world.

8. Don’t cling — If I will need a bunch of surgeries, mechanical devices, and medical equipment to make it to age 90, someone else can have my place. It took some years, but I have learned not to fear death. What’s the worst that could happen? I meditate, pray, read spiritual texts, and talk with others about it when I need to.

9. Heal conflicts within the family. Forgive others, ask forgiveness from them; let them know you love them. An unresolved conflict with a parent, child, or sibling is a source of misery for all concerned. Maybe get help with this from a therapist or clergy person. It’s one of old people’s most important jobs.

10. Tell stories from our own lives, our people’s history, folk tales, or other cool things we’ve heard. Stories are the best way to share wisdom and pass on important history. Younger people will enjoy and benefit from them when they would turn off a teaching session.

11. Enjoy each day. Take pleasure in small things, stay connected to Nature. I specially think about enjoying food and music, but you probably have other sources. Time with animals, plants, or children makes us happier and less stressed, which helps everyone around us. Remember to be thankful for all of it!

Old people don’t just take up space; we are participants in the world. If we make the most of our role, we will contribute more and probably wind up enjoying life more.

— — — — — — — — —

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter, on Facebook or on Medium.com. Hire me for freelancing, editing, or tutoring on Linked In. Read my health and wellness books at http://www.davidsperorn.com

Posted in Self-Care Support, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

American Freedom Is A Scam

Marketing consumption, loneliness, and war

          Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Freedom is not free. It takes billions of dollars worth of media propaganda to manufacture the illusion of freedom.” Caitlin Johnstone

The United States’ national anthem calls the USA “the land of the free,” and many Americans love to think of it that way. If freedom means the right to carry guns, drive fast, and shoot off fireworks, the “free” label might be true. Other areas, such as work life, housing, healthy environments and the right to live in peace aren’t free at all. We have freedom for a few at the cost of misery for millions.

American freedom was always a lie. When the Star Spangled Banner was written, the country’s economy depended on over 600,000 slaves. By 1860, according to the US Census Bureau, that number had increased to almost four million, 13% of the population. The anthem actually celebrates slavery and American freedom in the same (3rd) verse.

This disconnect has never changed, and the oppressed groups are not only African slaves or Native Americans. They include most of the working class and much of the middle class. People think they’re free while working 60 hours a week to keep a roof over their heads or commuting 90 minutes each way to a job they hate. Depending on their neighborhood, non-rich people may live in fear of militarized police and of desperate youth driven to crime.

How can a country call itself free while locking up two million people? Or making 600,000 people sleep in the street? Do you think their situation doesn’t impact our quality of life? Can we walk by beggars every day and not feel the hurt around us?

These contradictions are inevitable in a society that prioritizes individual freedom above the common good. There used to be a saying: “No one is truly free while others are oppressed.” That’s a nice-sounding Leftist sentiment, but the truth is that no one is truly free unless others are oppressed. Individualistic freedom and oppression both represent separation from the mutual connection which is our natural state.

Drivers’ freedom to drive polluting cars keeps asthmatic children from walking outside. Smokers’ freedom might keep them out of indoor spaces. A child’s freedom to spill milk all over the floor depends on someone else’s having to clean it up.

On a larger scale, a property owner’s right to do what they want with their land involves denying others’ freedom to use the property. America’s 400,000 correction officers’ freedom depends on denying freedom to two million inmates, and they go home every night with the knowledge of their prisoners’ lives.

Do you see it? Individual freedom is a scam. It makes us miserable. Aside from sociopaths, most of us need connection to other people and Nature to live well. Going it alone doesn’t work. As Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of “Braiding Sweetgrass” says, “All flourishing is mutual.”

Good up to a point

Freedom is better than slavery, better than imprisonment, better than addiction (three conditions listed as opposites of freedom in dictionaries.) But the main definition, the one marketed by America is ‘the power to do what you want to do.’ And this is only good up to a point.

Children need limits to grow up. Adults need structure to stay sane. We need support and connection; otherwise things fall apart for society and for individuals. Freedom is good, but when we go too far away from our community, we become lonely, lost, and in some cases dangerous.

If a person is denied room to breathe and move, say in an abusive relationship or by an employer demanding a seven-day work week, they would be right to leave, fight back, or demand more freedom. But freedom from responsibility to our children or to our Mother Earth is excessive and will not make anyone happy.

Freedom as marketing strategy

US talk of freedom is an advertising slogan. Older readers might remember the General Motors’ ad: “It’s not just your car; it’s your freedom.” In reality, American freedom is limited to the most superficial things, like guns, clothes, cars, or taste in music. We’re encouraged to show off our freedom by buying things.

May we think of freedom, not as the right to do what we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right. Peter Marshall

Writing on July 4 2021, I get the feeling many believe that making a lot of noise is freedom. In a pre-Independence Day thread on Facebook, some were pleading to prevent fires by not exploding fireworks. Some commenters agreed, but others (all male, I noted), called the post an attack on freedom. “Would you rather be free, or rather be a safe slave?” commented one. Personally, I’d feel freer knowing my neighborhood isn’t going to burn down while I sleep.

Freedom to starve

America’s mythology of freedom is used as club against any government attempt to help people. At age 70, I have social security and Medicare. Those benefits are sources of freedom, and everyone should have them. Because of them, I can go places, do things, have a decent apartment, enjoy life. Without them I’d be miserable or dead. Social support creates freedom. Isolation disguised as freedom creates misery.

When progressive politicians advocate making public universities tuition-free or canceling student debt, hundreds of freedom-loving Americans try to shout them down. “They made the choice to buy something they wanted. They should pay for it,” is one argument. “Why should I pay for someone else’s education?” is another.

Most of the world acknowledges that education is a social good, and at least 16 countries provide university-level education at low or no cost, but Americans think it’s freer for us to live with a lifetime of debt. Conservatives have fought against social security, welfare, Medicare, and other social programs as attacks on freedom. They think helping people unfairly forces some to pay for others and subverts poor people’s independence.

The cruel ideology of every individual for themselves makes most people poorer, more stressed, and more lonely. Studies show people who live in close communities are healthier and happier. When society helps people survive, they become more productive citizens, as many studies of universal basic income (UBI) have shown. Telling people, ‘You’re on your own’ is not liberating; it’s oppressive.

Selling war

America’s so-called freedom is used to promote endless wars. The military claims to be defending our freedom (from whom?) The US government says they are bringing freedom and democracy when they bomb, invade, or sanction other countries. The target countries don’t find freedom, only poverty and destruction, but people who follow American media would think freedom is on the march.

In the minds of US rulers, yelling “freedom” is a way to get people to spend their money, work their asses off, and fight wars. Their freedom is not our happiness; it isolates and impoverishes us. If we first re-embrace connection and responsibility, we will have the possibility of true freedom.

 — — — — — — — — — — — —

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter, on Facebook or on Medium. Hire me for freelancing, editing, or tutoring on Linked In

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Can Own The Earth?

 How can we own our mother? Changing ownership to long-term leases would go a long way to solve homelessness and environmental problems.

          Photo by Charlie Deets on Unsplash

“Under capitalism, all land is seen as a warehouse of potential commodities to be sold to the highest bidder.” Robin Wall Kimmerer

Can a person own a piece of their mother? No? Then, how can we claim to own land? Land is Earth, the giver of all life. We didn’t create it; it created us.

Dictionary.com defines ownership as “The total body of rights to use and enjoy a property, to pass it on to someone else as an inheritance, or to convey it by sale.” They could have added the right to deny other people its use. How does anyone earn the right to exploit their creator and exclude others, no matter who the process harms?

Owners no doubt spent money for those rights, but whom did they pay? How did the seller gain ownership? They bought it from somebody else, who had bought it from somebody else, until you get back to the original owner, a conqueror or King who stole it from the Indians.

Land ownership is possession of stolen goods. When a landowner claims a right to log a forest, mine coal under the ground, or build a chemical plant, because they bought the land, they are confessing to a crime and planning new crimes.

Private property has its valuable sides. People who live on land they own may take better care of it than renters or visitors. But many absentee owners, especially corporate owners, take all they can from land and leave it suffering. When money becomes more valuable than land, we get the environmental destruction and injustice we see today, with many people having no place to live at all.

We need a new definition of ownership and a new relationship to land. Indigenous people didn’t own land; they revered it. Many countries have other ways of managing land. We’re not stuck with letting rich property owners destroy our world.

Rights vs. obligations

In America, we spend a lot of time talking about our rights. People talk about their right to carry weapons, to drive cars, to drill for oil on land they have bought, or to pave it over.

Native Americans are far more likely to talk about their obligations. Nuxalk hereditary chief Edward Moody said, “We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves: the birds, animals, fish and trees.”

If modern land owners, especially corporations, focused on obligations instead of rights, the Amazon jungle would not be burning. The forests of Indonesia would not be turned into coconut plantations. People living near chemical plants would not be dying of cancer.

How did private ownership of property arise?

How did the concept of ownership get applied to land? It started about 10,000 years ago, when small tribes were growing into kingdoms. The first people to say ‘This land belongs to me’ were kings. Ownership gradually trickled down to the nobility and in the last 400 years to the capitalist class and then to the middle class in rich countries.

Ownership of land and the right to pass it on to one’s descendants are pillars of patriarchy and class domination. In nearly all times and places, men have owned land and given it to their sons. Land inheritance gives recipients a huge advantage over landless people and women.

I’m not saying private possession of land is always bad. Farmers working their own land tend to work much harder and better than those who are working for the government. The Soviet Union and China both experienced famines when they collectivized privately-owned or community-owned land and turned the farmers into workers.

This upside of ownership, however, only applies when the owners live on the land and love it. When owned by corporations or profit-seeking individuals, land becomes a rape scene, with most of its native life driven out and its fertility worn away by industrial farming, development, or lumbering. This is why we need a new relationship to land. Instead of seeing it as a bunch of resources to exploit, we need to care for it.

How should land be managed?

Since large-scale collective ownership and unlimited private ownership have both caused catastrophe, how should we manage land? Indigenous people and many other countries have programs that work, but so far the power of money has blocked them here.

Writing on Aeon.com, researcher Antonia Malchik gives several examples. In China, all urban land and wilderness land is owned by the state, and all other rural land is owned by village peoples’ collectives and allocated for specific uses, according to Xinhua.net. Urban land is allocated by the state for specific purposes or sold by granting leases to individuals or private bodies.

In Nigeria, people can’t own land. Instead they apply for a lease to use the land and get a certificate of occupancy, which may be for a few years or much longer. If people break the regulations set out in the lease, it can be revoked and the land re-appropriated by the state.

Scotland allows people to own their homes and farms, but not to exclude other people from them. You can still hike on their land and forage for food in the woods. The USA used to have such laws. Hunting on another’s unenclosed land was perfectly legal.

Russian peasants had the mir or ‘joint responsibility’ system, which ensured that everyone in a rural community had land and resources enough — including tools — to support themselves and their families. “Strips of land were broken up and redistributed every so often to reflect changing family needs,” Malchik writes. “Land belonged to the mir as a whole. It couldn’t be taken away or sold.”

One of Malchik’s Australian readers commented, “Here, my privately-owned five acres is heavily restricted. I can plant as many trees as I like, but I cannot cut down a tree without local government permission.”

A New and Ancient Attitude Toward Land

The economy of the USA is built on private ownership of homes. According to the Census Bureau, 65% of Americans own their homes. Taking home ownership away would devastate millions.

But as in the countries described above, redefining ownership as a very long-term lease with clear and restrictive terms would help everyone. You’ve got it as long as you take good care of it and don’t hurt anybody else.  These systems work better when they are local, when people know each other and the land.

Leased land and homes would not revert to banks in a financial crisis. Government at some level would take them over, because companies would only be entitled to property if they lived on it or were working to make it better. Use it or lose it. Under these rules, government could keep economically distressed people in their homes and bring homeless people to vacant homes.

Bottom line is we need to follow indigenous attitudes to land. Lakota leader Mary Brave Bird said, “The land is sacred. The land is our mother, the rivers our blood.” We have to revere land; it gives us life. It’s not ours to own, buy or sell, but it is our responsibility to care for it.

Watch this video for more on indigenous approaches to land..

— — — — — — — — — — — –

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter, on Facebook or my blog The Inn by the Healing Path. Hire me for freelancing, editing, or tutoring on LinkedIn.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment