Hey, Who Took the E off Human?
They're still coming, those swarms of shiny bright Japanese beetles that fly in, land on a bush and munch it to death, simultaneously screwing two by two on top of each other. They're seriously disgusting, screwing while they ravage, but I have to admit, they're pretty. Their copper coloring glows in sunlight, like nouveau money. They remind me of all that shiny bane capital savaging the civic and industrial plantings of the once united states, screwing us as they go. I am trying to stand my ground, at least against the Japanese beetles , with a squirt bottle and prayers for the dead to be reborn as something actually of benefit to the common good, like a schoolteacher or fireman. But I'm American, so I don't seem to be getting anywhere.
If I sound obsessed and exasperated, I am. These infestations are breathtakingly hellacious. They are destroying the bees' workplace and the birds' food. They make investments evaporate right before my eyes. They've left the burgundy sand cherry droop without leaves, the dune roses shrivel and the hibiscus can't bud. There is no way to stop the destruction. Despite weak sprays like pyrethin, there isn't a killer remedy or repellent out there. Where's Monsanto with Roundup that really works?
Worse, there's no consolation for coming out of the garden and into the news. I just can't get away from murderous infestations of voracious greed. Grab and go, fast food's m.o., has become the American way of life. Vulture capitalists suck the life out of perfectly healthy companies. The vampires leave Detroit demolished, Headstart stuck, Medicare infirm, roads and bridges falling down. My local school district, swarmed in summer by the McMansion crowd in Landrovers and Lexuses, has to summer feed more than 125 kids lunch or they'll go hungry.
As I just lamented, there's no roundup you can squirt. The world is so totally schmucked up, the same money shine, soul sick men keep coming back to keep making the same death and destruction headlines that eat your heart out. It isn't just Larry Summers. The banksters who monopolize the money have swarmed to feed and fatten on vital necessities like electricity and aluminum. Read the news this week about Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan. The lawyers, think tank billionaires and multimillion dollar insurance company CEOs are systematically eating away Medicare, reducing payments so doctors don't want to deal with it any more. Those of us in the land of the fee who don't have gazillions stashed in the Caymans are doomed to die without medical help, kinda like my bushes. Read all about it in the Wall Street Journal.
When there was a Life of Riley, he used to say: "What a revoltin' development this is." Yesterday the insular nitwit in the White House was standing his ground in a gigantic Amazon distribution center that munches to death local communities by deliberately staffing the places with minimum wage temps. Perhaps this guy's nervous system, like that of the beetles in my garden, was paralyzed by the spray of too much repellent. Over and over like a broken record, he's going to make a grand bargain with the homegrown ideologically zealous Taliban who've infested the common good. Instead of charging forward to save the pay by spraying Republicans with reality-- the one repellent that just kills them, this time he's saying "Help yourself", cordially inviting them to cut corporate taxes and strip the treasury of its life support. Tiz like the beetles sucking the life out of my dune roses.
Changing faces on the same old selfish behavior seems to be our favorite way to recycle trash. The wheel of Samsara spins, and insanity becomes a word in everybody's language because we do the same old thing over and over, each time expecting to get a brand new, different result. Or actually hoping we don't. Maybe insanity rhymes with humanity because the same dirty tricks still trick people again and again to self-destruct.
The preferred weapon of crass destruction is, as always, coldly calculated, cynical hypocrisy. It attacks like a swarm of brightly colored Japanese beetles, ready to eat away everything we've planted to dazzling effect. Just look at the surge in the war against abortion. Republicans about to lose the health care battle, because people are discovering the new programs actually makes life easier for them, need a new issue to galvanize their dis-eased legions back into voting frenzy. Slipsliding away on the tracks of the history train, they can't use immigration or gay rights or economic justice as a whip. So they're doing what men who suddenly feel impotent always do: beat up women. They're spraying their hatred state by state. The same don't tread on me loudmouths who so glibly proclaim liberty at all costs-- hands off my money, my gun, my business, my right to not wear a helmet, be fat and smoke, are now gobbling up any liberty a woman has left. Hell, they treat their gun dogs with more respect.
What makes these garden variety busybodies so voraciously feed on others? Is it because they don't have to face the consequences of their demands, like the Neo conmen who demanded war because they themselves didn't have to fight in it? Is it because they don't have to clean up their own mess: they can so carelessly walk away and let others to do that?
Is it because looking in the mirror and minding your own business is about the toughest thing you can do? So many responsibilities and decisions, so much uncertainty and flexibility and insecurity from too much change. How frustrating to avoid causing hurt or real harm. It's so much easier to distract yourself from your own doubt and worry by attacking others, isn't it? Yiddish has a word for that disgusting mind set: farbissen. It means wanting others to be as unhappy as you.
The Buddha had a word for it too: meditation. Get familiar with your own fears, hopes and ignorance. Live with it. That way you transform your shit into wisdom that helps others transform too. Having a human life is a full-time job: you've got to be aware of every last consequence of every action and thought while constantly aiming for the common good. The multitasking that gets you a head is nonstop awareness that nothing you do or think spins out to hurt or harm. The late Trungpa Rinpoche graphically described such discipline as mental toilet training: not flinging your infection-laden shit onto others.
I've found when you try to live and let live, you discover how hellishly hard that is. It's not just plagues of Japanese beetles. My mother always said, and she said it a lot, that it was much easier to scream at others and carry placards in protest on a sidewalk than to right the wrongs of your own life. Protesting was a distraction from what should be the real focus: cleaning up your own act. Actually, "if you can't stop fighting with your sister, how do you expect to bring peace to the world?" is how she so annoyingly put it.
I think the Buddha had the same idea when he asked us to embody our earned wisdom, not turn it into agitprop and demagoguery. We don't proselytize because we don't have the time. Watching your step is all consuming, and once you get how hard it is, you know better than to throw stones at others. I vow not to kill, yet I'm out in the garden every three hours spraying the life out of Japanese beetles. My intention is to save plants. Hopefully that saves bees, helps the birds and chipmunks and keeps on brightening people's spirit as they go by. It's a choice.
Frankly, every single second of life, we're confronted with choice and consciously or not, we act on an option. Nothing is simple or given. Real growing up is getting over that childish idea and learning to swallow doubt, like a salty, bitter anchovy. The trick of growing up is to stay aware of all the consequences of all your thoughts and actions, ones that spin out now, ones that will reverberate tomorrow. It's realizing you are a player on the team of life, something larger than yourself. You're not alone here. That's the firewall between the human and the humane, and nobody seems to be getting through it any more.
~Sandy Garson "Wordsmithing to attest how the Dharma saved me from myself!"
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