What Do You Call A Mentally Ill Society...?

Rhetorical questions are meant to be pondered but not explicitly answered.

It's an interesting concept, considering that rhetoric itself is the art of persuasive speech...a method of communication designed to manipulate and change the proverbial hearts and minds of an audience rather than to create a dialogue leading to shared vision and action.

The rhetoric of this country has long been to convince us that we are one people and yet, also meant to fear one another based on skin color, religious preference, sexual orientation, gender, economic status, education, native language or political affiliation.

The message is clear-don't forget you're American (no running off trying to form your own republic or country), but don't get too cozy with your neighbors. Unless they are exactly like you. But not too like you. 

And yet, new science shows us that we are all connected. Fractals, chaos theory, self-organizing systems-they all speak to the intricacy and order that emerges from living systems that are profoundly interconnected.

Indigenous world views have long pointed out that everything on this planet is entangled-relatives, they say, and necessary to the living systems that sustain both our lives and theirs.

So when I hear about another mass shooting or another American who has gone off the white-washed reservation of "normal society", I have started asking myself, "What is the nature of the relationship with our society that demands this kind of reaction?" Why does a white male, who supposedly occupies the highest rung on our Ladder of Being suddenly go out and use his privilege to destroy the very fabric that has held him aloft?

Living systems change and evolve-trading entropy and decay for usable energy that feeds the system and allows it to engage with the environment more effectively. Dying systems are ones that try to remain stable and free from change or the influence of outside forces.

And yet, America is a country that insists on preserving structures that do not serve the people they claim to represent. People find that freedom is selectively applied and experienced, yet is used to justify claims of national greatness. Genocide and slavery still exist and still go un-acknowledged or addressed.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a concept many people are familiar with. The notion of having two sides in one person. The noble doctor and the uncontrollable sociopath. The words that contradict the actions.

America is a young country with a murderous and unaccounted for rise to power. Whether our direct ancestors were recipients or perpetuators of the mechanisms employed to create the United States, there is still have a reckoning to be paid if we want to survive our current system.

If we do nothing, we can expect more violence and mayhem to occur.  Nature is actively working to trade out the entropy and dead weight of principles that do not match our lived realities. We can either let go of notions that are clearly wrong: that everyone has equal opportunity in this system, that the atrocities of slavery and indigenous genocide happened "a long time ago", that we are one nation with liberty and justice for all-OR-we can continue to clutch them, and our guns, as the land burns around us. We can begin to notice the impact our corporations have on our water, our food, our education and our health and say no. We can listen to the wisdom of the people who know this land and how to live with it instead of against it.

Discomfort is part of growth. It is part of evolution. Instead of fighting against change, perhaps we would be better served as a country to embrace the points of tension and pain, to bring them into the light of conversation and compassion and to tend them with the openness needed to create a space large enough to rail and regret and rise again with the joy of new beginnings.


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