Jan 25, 2019

The Point Is to Change It

All suffering begins and ends in our brains.
By Josh Liveright / filmsforaction.org
The Point Is to Change It
Human rights activist and CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin on Thursday interrupted a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, DC as she spoke out against the coup attempt being orchestrated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other anti-democratic forces. (Photo: Screenshot/Twitpic/@dancohen3000)

Two years of hysterical ranting about Russian meddling in our so-called democracy. Obsessive focus on impeaching Trump for collusion with a foreign country. And crickets about US maneuvering to topple the government in Venezuela which certainly has more consequences than mere Facebook memes designed to swing votes.

As far as I know, there are only a handful of politicians condemning Trump's actions. AOC, Ilhan Omar, Ro Khanna, Bernie Sanders (kinda), and the current target of Dems condemnation, Tulsi Gabbard, who says:

"The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don't want other countries to choose our leaders--so we have to stop trying to choose theirs."

Filmmaker Boots Riley (Sorry To Bother You), completely shut out of the Oscars race, even though the mediocre Bohemian Rhapsody became an awards season darling (oh but I digress (or do I?)), has been one of the strongest voices of dissent:

"It's not about whether you think Venezuela is a good socialist country or not- it's about people understanding the influence that the US and the CIA have on the world and conspiring to take down anyone who takes a bit of power away from the ruling class."

So why the crickets (or silence as even my own dad didn't get the reference)? What comes up in my unintegrated brain is that people love war. The US takes our hard earned money and invests in war and we all stand by and do little about it. Again, we're more interested in impeaching Trump than fighting for what's real:

"I mean when you look at human nature and you see all the spite and the anger and the hatred... If you really looked at that and thought, where did that all come from... wouldn’t you just want to spit out that apple [from the tree of knowledge]? Thing is, people love war. They love it. Instead of doing what we’re hardwired to do, connect, when all that fear and anger bubbles up, fighting each other is always the right answer. We’d all rather fight some bullshit war than sit down and drink tea, find out how much we have in common with each other... You want me to be honest with you? Connection sucks. All it brings is pain. And I want to avoid that so here I am, looking for a story. I’d rather get beaten, maybe even killed, than confront what’s important, what’s meaningful. Then I can check out. Check the fuck out completely. I crave warfare in order to feel something about the experiences I have become completely hardened to in my real life. War is a game and I know how to play it really well."

That's a speech from my play, Illumination Rounds. The character, Dante, is a war journalist, a man filled with demons, who experienced tons of trauma both in war and in his personal life. He's also an addict and does what all addicts do, avoids pain at all costs. Also, all addicts have trauma experiences. They are looking for comfort so it makes sense that they'd use. It's ridiculous to shame them because almost all of us have a relationship to avoiding pain. What doesn't make sense to me is empire neocons/neoliberals always seeking power. What doesn't make sense to me is this obsession with wealth and domination. Venezuela has the largest oil reserve in the world, so yeah, I guess that part makes sense in terms of the "economic growth" and greed aspect. However, we have a rather large crisis on our hands, the complete annihilation of our biosphere. Need I say more about that?

Our brains see no way out of this. So we support leaders who believe in endless war, the growing class divide, and the story of separation from our life source, the biosphere. It's time to look at who is actually speaking for life and who is perpetuating suffering, addiction and death. And it's time to realize that only we, with courage, are in a position to cause transformation. It starts by changing our minds about how we move through the world. It starts with realizing that the root of suffering isn't something manufactured for our distraction, like Russiagate, it's happening all around us and we've become so myopic. If you think about it, impeaching Trump will do very little except make our addict brains feel good for maybe a few weeks.

Back to Venezuela, if you believe Hillary or Obama would have made different choices, you're fooling yourself. The US has "interfered" in Latin America at least 56 times since the late 1890's according to one source I read. I use the word interfered tongue in cheek because in several instances it was so much more than that. A history of bloodshed in fact. Here's a quote from the open letter written yesterday by several scholars and experts:

"The United States government must cease interfering in Venezuela’s internal politics, especially for the purpose of overthrowing the country’s government. Actions by the Trump administration and its allies in the hemisphere are almost certain to make the situation in Venezuela worse, leading to unnecessary human suffering, violence, and instability." And a link to the whole letter:


I'll add that it will make the whole world worse just like our takeover of Iraq did as well as our "interference" with so many other countries. And if you still think we live in a democratic society, welcome to the Matrix, Neo.

The point is to change it. Since all suffering begins and ends in our brains, maybe we can start there. And I have to hand it to anti-war heroes like Medea Benjamin (pictured above) who somehow get the message out through their activism. Caitlin Johnstone gives her a full on hero's nod and I concur:

"Medea Benjamin is showing the way for anyone who’s sick of standing by feeling helpless while the US steamrolls another nation beneath the treads of its insatiable war machine. If you’re looking for ideas on how to disrupt the narratives of war, she’s setting a very good example for everyone."

And the link to Johnstone's recent rant:


I fear that those of us concerned about the bigger picture will still hear those crickets as folks get distracted by recent events like Roger Stone's indictment or Nancy Pelosi's "courage" in standing up to Trump. Yet, I remain optimistic that humans are looking deeper. Considering the scope and breadth of propaganda in our current global landscape, awareness seems to be on a spectrum. Gradations from asleep to awake, picking and choosing what's true, waking up to one truth and shutting the door on others, based on endless algorithmic programming. We're up against a lot and it feels overwhelming.

On a daily basis, we're fed this story that we're powerless. It's ripping us apart. So we all could use a break. And yeah, I believe all problems begin and end in our brains. In my healing practice the main intention I have for my clients is to reclaim feeling, reclaim essence (our authentic selves). I often explain how casemaking, judgement, analysis, comparison and interpretation are uniquely human and often data misreads. Because without them we experience a direct connection with life. With these data errors we can easily create a story of separation and suffering. Once we reclaim a direct relationship with feeling, with essence, we can begin to rewrite our narratives, befriend our authentic selves, and fear begins to fall away, making room for freedom. Then something surprising happens, we reclaim our own power, and from this newfound place of power, we can take action. It all starts in the human brain, where else?

I'll close it out with a snippet of dialogue from my play:

DANTE (wheels spinning): Did you ever think what would have happened if Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten the apple?

VIRGINIA: That’s just another fucking story.

DANTE: The apple from the tree of knowledge. Good and evil. Right and wrong. Ugly and beautiful. Well if they hadn’t eaten that apple, we’d still be in Eden. Paradise.



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