Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Few Ideas About The Status Quo

Most North Americans understand that their lives are greatly determined by the Latin concept of Status Quo. Many believe that to survive in my society what you really need to know is: "don't rock the boat." Variations on this concept exist the world over but in here North America, in my experience, this rule is absolutely carved in granite. This axiom is the first thing an immigrant is expected to know upon arrival and is learned in classroom and on playground. But, as every rascal knows, you need to understand the rules before you can break them. In other words, the people of the New World love to re-shuffle the deck whenever they can get away with it.

In the axiom our metaphysical lifeboat is unstable and we must be deliberate and careful in making planned moves. Variations on theme are fly low, keep your head down, lower your expectations, be cool, don't stick your neck out, and the idea that no manager ever got fired for buying IBM. On the plus side the strategy is safe, if not predictable. But it can get incredibly boring to live in a world where all you see are sidewalks and floors. Sure you find some cash occasionally, but there are amazing things to see in the big world so most folks learn to live with their heads up their ass only part of the time.

My wife was present at the birth of Greenpeace. Actually, the group from whence Greenpeace evolved. My wife was a member of the Don't Make A Wave Committee which was dedicated to stopping nuclear testing in the Aleutian Island Chain, located directly above Vancouver, BC - our home.

My wife, Valley Wolf, was in Irving Stowes' basement when high school, college, and university students gathered to change their environment and ended up changing the world. This was a classic example of sticking your neck out. And the giraffes of this world, like my dear darling, are setting an example for the rest of us animal folk. They rocked the Status Quo by arguing in the press with luminaries of the day such as Bob Hope and John Wayne, both of whom lambasted the students as Panicky-Petes and Nervous-Nellies who missed the big picture concerning nuclear testing.

History is often cruel and hindsight is rarely pretty but even the most jaded capitalist could hardly justify testing a fissionable device today anywhere on the planet. He would have more success selling narcotics and porno in front of the White House. Ultimately, the Don't Make A Wave Committee, far from what its monicker would suggest, created a tsunami in Greenpeace that has rocked whalers, nuclear testers, polluters, and other planet killers for more than thirty years. Which, again ironically, now makes Greenpeace the Status Quo.

The boat must be rocked if the endless water is ever going to give way to a shoreline. You want to get somewhere you have generate energy and often that means disrupting the Status Quo which, by definition, only has enough energy for itself. Life is pay-as-you-go and contrary to lotteries and Vegas mythology you are never going to get rich. But this doesn't mean you can't change the world around you using a combination of common sense, patience, and passion. That last one is essential when you have to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning to picket the arrival of a dictator at the local airport, hassle with the police at a forestry rally, or attend another bake/thrift sale for your cause. But instead of sounding like some old tired activist who has been hit in the head by too many protest signs and police clubs I finish with an observation on current conditions.

The free section on Craigslist is a social revolution much like the Digger's Free Store in Haight/Ashbury during the Sixties revolution. Some of the older folks who went "shopping" at the free store had to convince themselves they were stealing because they couldn't wrap their head around free. Craigslist is blowing my mind with the volume of wealth that is being shared, transferred, and redistributed as you read this. Wherever Craig is, people are getting rid of cars, boats, furniture, technology, and, of course, crap. (And what exactly is crap? Remember, shit smells great to the fly.) In two years of pouring over the list I have never encountered a Quid Pro Quo expectation from anyone in the free section other than be good to Mom sentiments. On Craigslist, most of the time, free actually means free.

So your generation has the potential to be less materialistic and not possessed by your possessions as was my generation who famously coined the phrase "who has the most toys when they die - wins!" Good luck once again. Being caught up in the Status Quo is boring at best and sometimes nothing is as dangerous as doing nothing at all. But perhaps things are changing in a way that is not destructive, materialistic, or unsustainable. On the edge of the single greatest epochal election in modern global political history, do you believe the kind of change we need to survive is even possible?

© 2008 Leigh R. Wolf

Friday, October 24, 2008

The War on Drugs

The war on drugs is a reverse social revolution where draconian laws are enforced by fascist police carrying out the orders of the corporate agenda. If you are a citizen of the United States you can fight the system from within, remembering non-violence and meditation ( even, steady breathing) are the keys to successful civil disobedience. U.S. citizens are, obviously, in the most danger (political, physical, psychic, emotional, violence) and deserve our empathy.

If you live in outer North America (Canada and Mexico) or South America you can have the most effect organizing and writing down your thoughts and then organising your friends. Someday this war will end and we will all get high in the streets together. But until that day comes I will dedicate my mind and effort to utilize the tools at my disposal.

War on Drugs is about the death toll
Steel wool knits social fabric control
We all want change but not this strange
The War on Drugs: it's only rock and roll

War on Drugs is a war on youth
Government never kind or couth
Censor tunes and leave them Ruins
The War on Drugs: will never tell the truth

War on Drugs is the battle for life
It's a bold misogynist hunting his wife
It's ten million dopes killing their hope
War on Drugs: the wrong end of the knife

War on Drugs is an institution
Government farce feeds no solution
People withstand creating wasteland
The War on Drugs: re-read your constitution

War on Drugs is used to harvest pain
Keeping people frightened keeps poets insane
Choking instead on what passes for dread
The War on Drugs: ground zero for gain

War on Drugs is the war on Iraq
Veterans home smoking junk smoking crack
It all snugly fits with the first sugar hits
The War on Drugs: an old business hack

War on Drugs in Afghanistan
Mission to destroy the Taliban
Which are the thugs that don't want the drugs
The War on Drugs: next step must be Iran

War on Drugs is all about the cops
From narcs to feds to special ops
Losing is winning so we never stop spinning
The War on Drugs: where the buck never stops

War on Drugs asks who is left to fight us
Why spreading the faith does seem to ignite us
The fans back home are delighted and ignited
The War on Drugs: democratizing faciitis

War on Drugs is about death tolls
Steel wool knits social fabric controls
We want no change to our home and radar range
The War on Drugs: who will really lose their souls

Prayer for the Castaways
Everyone hoped they would stop at Gilligan but they went south and busted Mary-Anne. She was 69 years old and even the cops that brought her to the station in handcuffs were blushing. Thank God the Professor has the where-with-all to cultivate his own medicinal marijuana in a secret (island-based) location. After Mr. Howell's diabetes and his wife Luvey's MS both of them are accessing medical cannabis from their local compassion club. Inside sources say that Ginger is safe, well, and living in Amsterdam.

© 2008 Leigh R. Wolf

Thursday, October 23, 2008

(Disquieting) Thoughts For New Parents

The author of this piece is a middle-aged married man, ironically, without any children. The following observations come from first-hand observations of friend's kids, family in general, and looking out over the courtyard of a public housing co-op.

Birth to 3 years: This is as good as it gets. As the primary beloved object, competing with fluffy cat and soft ball, you are truly and unconditionally adored. Enjoy this time, savour every sanguine moment, as you will need to draw upon these memories during your child's late adolescence. Your bundle of stinky joy has the usual number of digits and learned how to communicate on schedule. Time to start the "therapy fund" for the inevitable mid-Twenties blowback.

4-6 years: Pre-schoolers are fun but a handful and even the most enthusiastic parents are exhausted by the time day care blessedly provides its reliable recovery window. For the first time, outside influences begin to cause subtle shifts in your child's behaviour. Your little love bundle is learning from friends, other parents, and events beyond your control like television, video games, computers, and even books. Damage control at this point consists mostly of wiping away tears, patching up scrapes and bumps, patiently explaining what is unacceptable behaviour, and praying that no permanent damage is being done when you’re not looking.

7-10 years: These years represent the last vestiges of pure need. Your child now comes to the world a small force of nature with opinions, desires, fears and frustrations. They still expect your complete attention but rarely thank you for what they perceive as their birthright. Children now begin to sense that some form of independence is approaching and they prepare for their debut by rattling the bars of the cage. You, or course, are the cage. As this is the peak of early consumerism, damage control is now less about consoling words and hugs as it is about money.

11-13 years: The beginning of the “difficult years,” which, once they begin never really end. From now on your child’s perceptions of you range from public loathing and embarrassment to humiliating private shame. Puberty is rarely made easier by parents who begin to act as if a bizarre combination of pacifier and leg-iron. Parents’ roles are swiftly becoming more authoritarian, a delicious irony for those people who swore to do a better job at it than their own parents. Damage control is now handled completely out-of-pocket and is getting dramatically more expensive every month.

14-16 years: The difficult years. Adolescence, like a thick, wet, heavy blanket covers your child like a cold sweat. Strange noises, weird smells, and odd phrases emit from your “baby.” Like most parents you begin to consider exorcism. New friends appear, members of the opposite sex show up on your doorstep, and you are forced to reconsider your list of the horrors that could befall your family. At this point, damage control is done mostly through prayer and/or group intervention. This is why many parents chose this as a good time to enter into a state of total and absolute denial.

17-19 years: Surrender has never looked more honourable. Your child has grown tall and now wants to leave the home. A mixed blessing at best, as you are happy they have so much of the future ahead of them, but then you realize how little time you have left. You must, however, relinquish control and allow your child to roam free. Just make sure you never co-sign on a bank loan for anything without a decent resale value. As for damage control, forget it. From now on all damage is permanent.

© 2008 Leigh R. Wolf