Our democracy fails us. I am tempted to just say that democracy is a lost cause, but I know that I say that only because the extent of what we are willing to call "democracy" is not truly democratic at all. At best what we really practice is elective democracy which I wouldn’t consider a healthy governance in the best of its examples, but certainly not to the extreme level we use it. Currently, there are 100 senators to represent the lives and opinions of US citizens and 435 representatives from the House. That is a total of 535 humans to represent 325.7 million people, and that number probably doesn't include citizens who don’t have documentation. But we all know that this part of our system is rigged. Not only do we pick and choose which citizens can vote in the first place, our votes are treated like a strong suggestion, easily disregarded and those 535 really have the final say. But we also know that for the most part, those senators and representatives, those 535, those symbols and voices for the 325.7+ million people, their votes and voices are being bought and sold by big corporations. Capitalism is not only our economic model; it is our political model, hidden behind the thin facade of democracy. Eventually our capitalist motto “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” was replaced by “man up," a phrase which affects every person within our society, man, woman, and everyone in between. This phrase instills a culture of striving, perseverance, endurance, and certainly a strong work ethic but these positive traits are far outweighed by the toxicity it leaves in our bodies, our minds, and particularly our hearts. It demands that we sacrifice and deny our higher intuitions, our moral compasses, and vulnerabilities. It encourages us to deny help or the admittance that we would ever need it. It encourages us to isolate ourselves and others, to be made untouchable, cold, lonely, self-serving, silent, and to partake in or turn our gaze from violence. The Lakota people have a word for the accumulation of great wealth. They consider it as a mental illness. The word is "wetico." The literal translation is "to eat the lives of others.” I am not radical or original in anything that I have said thus far. It is all being said by people across the nation and across the world. I am 400 words into this essay response to a question regarding the climate crisis (which concerns all matter and life on Earth) and I have not yet spoken of anyone other than humans. And I could keep going. I haven’t even mentioned how our societal illness effects class, race, ability, gender, sexuality, or literally any group of people. I read the prompt and thought of people first. And I’m embarrassed about that. On an intellectual level I can understand and stand behind all that I’ve written. I can slander capitalism and the mentalities it cultivates in us. But I am a capitalist. I live my life in such isolation and self-service that all I can try to stand up for is my own species in general. I’m so self involved that I don’t even know how to hear all the plights of the non-humans, and sometimes even when I can, I consciously turn my gaze from it. I rolled up my window as we drove past the feedlot because the result of the cattle's violently cruel containment offended my nostrils. I know that was a disgusting thing to do. And it was. That’s the first thing. When we actually think about the way capitalists treat and encourage others to treat the natural world it is so obviously and profoundly degrading and genocidal. We want to rationalize it so much. And we need to so badly to just live our daily lives! To just get our basic needs met! To live in the first world, day to day shit! We don’t have a good relationship with the Earth, and I wish it were better, but it’s too late! We don’t accept excuses for rape. We don’t accept excuses for racists. We will have to change our daily lives. We will have to find new methods to get our basic needs met. We will have to change our day-to-day shit. We will have to.
Published on 1 June 2018