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Kingston, NY, Friday, Nov. 6, 2009

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Too Big To Fail
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

Time flies. A year ago, the majority in this nation voted for a change in leadership. Not counting the two months in which Obama influenced but did not lead this country, we are about ten months into his tenure, and as promised, everything has, indeed, changed. George W. Bush breathed a sigh of relief as he handed over the presidency, eager to get away from the crushing responsibility that he botched so badly and the ticking international and financial time bombs he left behind. He speaks now, occasionally but repeatedly, about the joys of picking up dog poop. My mind reels with dark bits of snark whenever I hear this, but the inclination is overwhelmed by sheer gratitude that he's engaged in something so harmless. George was the perfect foil for the corporate coup that has brought the nation to her knees and, according to new polls, somewhat less than 20% of the nation misses him terribly. I'm amazed it's that many.

We had a handful of prominent elections this week and their result reflects the anger and anxiety across the land. The Huffington Post declared it a Republican sweep. Since this was Rightwing territory at stake, I'm hardly surprised, and both the nature of the political dialogue and the lethargy of the Left mark this turning. Those who won the day were mindful of the paranoid Tea Bagger theories proposed by operatives like Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachman, which is a distressing indicator that our political discourse has gone haywire in a big way and that for some of us, reality is not in play. A moderate Republican candidate was so offended by the radical rhetoric aimed her way that she dropped out and endorsed her Democratic opponent. As to turnout from the Left, improvement to their lives has been slow coming and their hopes dampened by myriad delays and political snafus. They stayed home in droves, which is the equivalent of voting against their own best interests. Sadly, I can guarantee them that things will not get better under Republican leadership; the GOP knows how to campaign, but history proves that they have very little talent at -- and only the barest interest in -- governing.

Still, change is sweeping us along and those who interpret it for us are the least likely to appreciate its ramifications. The media keeps us informed of all the juicy insider tidbits and feuds which grab ratings for them but are the equivalent of lolling the day away watching soap operas. We've got big fish to fry, yet we're easily distracted and led to focus on the minnows, to find the one we fancy most and root for it as if politics was a minnow roil, a reminder of why these little fish are called 'bait.' We're still focused on win/lose for the few instead of win/win for the whole of us, which means that we're in for a continuing period of lose/lose. There are days I want Wolf Blitzer's head on a stick and would gladly put my foot though the screen when I inadvertently click over into FOX News to catch a glimpse of the ever-doltish Beck or a smug O'Reilly. Yet playing small is the wrong focus entirely, Beloved. We're like the squirrels here in the Pea Patch, so busy trying to push a nut up the tree that we don't see the turkey vultures circling overhead.

With the radical Right in full attack upon both the Obama administration and the progressive movement, my in-box is loaded with Righty spam of the egregious kind, assaulting Michelle for being 'uppity,' the reality of global warming as a Progressive hoax and, of course, loads of cherry-picked details of the health care propositions to snarl the weary consumer along with sheer falsehoods and skewed interpretations. Oh, and did I mention the warnings about 'demonic' Halloween candy 'prayed over by Witches?' Yeah, I love these e-mails and I really do want to go back to a decade when there was no help for the wicked (me, and likely you) as we moved through our days feeling as if the darkness in our national soul couldn't get any deeper, while fearful that it would -- which it did, hour by hour, for eight appalling years.

Much of this anonymously written propaganda comes with a note that if I don't pay attention now, America is doomed to chaos and despair. Oh, really! Where were all these prophetic voices eight years ago when things were beyond serious, when the Constitution was being declared 'just a gawd-damned piece of paper,' when the Enron boys were gleefully fleecing Grama Mildred and desperation was digging its tap root deep into the nation's soul? Silent as a stone. Since these aren't the filthy rich forwarding to my in-box, I have to assume that the base who supports such behavior approves it and wants nothing more than to continue in this fashion, much like the Republican leadership that has finally produced a national health care proposal that continues to allow people to be dumped from coverage for pre-existing conditions. This makes no sense to me and I can't explain this degree of delusion, but I would be remiss if I failed to mention that those pre-existing conditions range from birth defects in newborns to victims of domestic abuse and everything in between. So, a word of advice should the Republicans succeed in filibustering health reform into dust: breathing is a pre-existing condition so you'd better never, ever cough.

I don't believe that will happen, of course. We may not get all we want but we will crack the wall of corporate power and indifference, and make way for future improvements and enhancements. We can't go backwards, nor do the majority actually want to. In the face of failure and Cosmic grace, the stuck, resonant Republican signature that took us into the 21st century has now shaken itself apart and we find ourselves in the resultant turmoil. If you will allow me a brief 'I told ya so,' those of you who formerly protested that politics were of no interest to you must surely be engaged at this point, aware that the political is extremely personal. Late to this party, many of us are still figuring out where we stand. The moderates of both parties are in civil war with their more ideological counterparts, and too many of us have simply slunk away from the discourse, jaded, cynical and ready to brand the Republic a failed experiment. It's understandable, but not wise. More than half of America's children are reportedly on food stamps or will be before this is over. The economy is still dancing like a dervish on the head of Wall Street's pin, the corporations with the most power to spin us declared too big to fail. My own inclination is to let them tumble down the rabbit hole, but my Depression-era grandparents might call this cutting off my nose to spite my face.

For all the heat Obama has taken over the bail-outs, the banks failing would have brought the nation to a standstill. I don't think many of us are prepared for closed gas stations, empty shelves in supermarkets and sheer panic in the streets. Much of what Obama wanted to do when he ran for office has fallen back to a full-time job of heading off disasters and stabilizing the nation. And whatever our dream scenario was, change of this degree is not easy, as Obama recently asserted. If we're looking for Prince Charming we have to kiss a mess of frogs; our president is kissing quite a few, as well. That's the game of politics that the Founders established, but rest assured that those that obstruct can only delay, not defeat, what is to come.

As we focus on how slow the ship of state seems to be turning, let's remember that while Obama was doing disaster control in the last months he's also managed to engage foreign countries with respect and defuse their hostility. He has shifted the entrenched Republican meme that government interferes with the public rather than protects it. He has reinstituted a progressive sense of public service and made diversity mainstream. He's passed Hate Crimes legislation, the most Progressive budget in 50 years, and repealed the Global Gag Rule that denied family planning with foreign aid dollars. He's funded stem cell research and renewed respect for science. He expanded Pell Grants and the State Children's Health Care Program, and for all his 'timid' and 'bipartisan' warts, this president has come closer than any in history to passing legislation that will ultimately control the health care costs that are projected to literally bankrupt us in coming decades. This is a national leader concerned with big fish, not minnows; with big change, which is why the Republicans are nearly apoplectic.

I know -- none of this is happening fast enough to impact our kitchen table issues. Okay, let's just agree that politics suck right now and move on from there. Change is growth. It isn't just a shift of scenery or a new set of policies, it's a discarding of what was, to accommodate a new perception being formed. We have a shallow view of what these changes are providing us because, as usual, we're looking outside of ourselves to watch circumstances shift day by day, which lately fits the old saw about rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Change is not always better, sometimes it's worse and often worrisome and frightening. If we think back to our adolescence, we can better understand what growing pains are about: the disturbing period when the face that looked back in the mirror seemed distorted and awkward and hopelessly disproportionate. It didn't last. This won't either. Trust the process.

Our souls are ready for growth and our nation will follow. Our childish preoccupations will be replaced by a different set of personal standards as our awareness increases. On pragmatic levels, growth is understanding, for instance, that 'better' looks like paying off and cutting up credit cards instead of continuing to incur outrageous interest and crippling fees while hoping our Lotto ticket wins. Growth is shifting out of a serf-like hypnotic trance and realizing that living more modestly while doing work that we love is infinitely preferable to trying to maintain the status quo and falling into bed, discouraged and exhausted, every night. Growth is coming to the realization that 'better' is maximizing what we have rather than fretting over what we don't.

We are accustomed to hearing that growth means 'more' because our nation has been run by corporations that have kept us in an addictive consumer loop for generations. We need to get over our adolescent 'more is better' thinking. What if growth has more to do with what's going on inside of us than increase in stuff and treasure, or even stabilizing our rocky circumstances? Does it never occur to us that real growth within our essential Self might mean having less instead of more, might mean getting leaner and more flexible -- sharing instead of hording, saving instead of spending -- and that as we make these internal shifts our circumstances will fall into place to accommodate a new awareness? Politics is a direct reflection of what we think about life, and the political fabric of our time determines our reality. Maybe life sucks because our attitude sucks, and our fears about all that's wrong solidify the worst that can happen. We need to improve our focus, reinforce our vision and bulk up our spiritual muscle if we are to be part of the solution rather than the problem. If we are to contribute to our own wellbeing we have to cease allowing others to define it for us.

The mystics and seers have told us about essential change for centuries. We've been intrigued but few of us have been courageous enough to make the kinds of adjustments in thinking that would have made this passage easier. So now it's crunch time, and while many of us know what to do, others of us just don't want to, but we cannot allow their choices to impact ours. We have the capacity to choose our attitude and our state of being on a daily, even hourly basis. We must decide on our focus and insist that everything that intrudes on it can only inform it, not defeat it. Old news, this. As Milton told us, "The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven."

If we want to be happy, for instance, we must choose that above other emotions. That will require us to put everything else in perspective to our goal. Happy isn't something we do, it's something we are. We've seen countless examples of people living in poverty who seem happy despite their circumstances. What do they have that we don't? Nothing impermanent in the way of joy, perhaps. Nothing to trip them up and deflect them from the essential experience of relationships, nature and self-awareness. No diversions to their authentic needs as opposed to our acquired ones. It isn't circumstance that denies our joy; it's internal poverty of awareness that prevents us from appreciating what we have and trusting life to provide what's needed.

We're living in the fractious period called the turning of the Ages. Every single thing we take for granted is subject to change ahead as we refine our vibratory essence and lift ourselves into a new perception. We either welcome this period of growth and learn how to cooperate with it, or get crunched in trying to keep things the same. Can we let go of the signature energies of the Old Paradigm? Competition, greed, usury, punishment, judgment, elitism will be replaced with collaboration, generosity, just and fair practice, rehabilitation, compassion and equality. If that is what we want, that is what we must practice now, far in advance of it being the working template for our society. It will establish itself in our nation and world as quickly as we can establish it in our own consciousness, not before.

The New Paradigm is now as solid as the Old. Both exist together as one begins to fade and the other takes dominance. Nothing is going to stop the arrival of the new thing we're birthing, and that's the good news. We can assist ourselves, and one another, by making what Neale Donald Walsch calls Intentioned Choice. We can choose happiness if we wish, remembering, as Denis Waitley tells us, that "Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude." We know that a mindset of gratitude increases our contentment, and love is the highest order of emotional wellbeing we can embrace and extend.

If we choose to experience our lives through a focus of patience, that will take some of the tension out of the changes ahead. We can choose confidence instead of fear, working our spiritual muscles to deny darkness entry into our lives. Any positive attribute we choose to experience and remain dedicated to expressing will change not only our own lives but those of everyone around us. The only thing too big to fail is the Shift in which we find ourselves, the experience of freeing ourselves from the burdens of old hatred and ancient darkness and our long awaited entry into consciousness. You and me, we just need to keep kissing those frogs.

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