Wednesday, December 02, 2015

New Column

Well, a week or more ago I posted a piece on how fear causes problems. Right now, they are still counting bodies from a mass shooting by what looks to be three murderers who attacked a center for people with learning disabilities. At the moment they are saying 14 dead. How does this happen? Were these foreign born or US-raised terrorists?
    The information remains sketchy, but considering that I expanded on how fear diminishes us in my most recent Skunk Magazine Drug War Follies column, I thought I'd post it here. It's not on the money, but it's part of what explains things like today's mass killing.


Too Much Damned Pain in This World. What can be Done About It?

By Peter Gorman

I know you all understand that there is a lead-time when it comes to magazine publishing. It’s generally a couple of months. So what I write about today has to still be fresh by the time it reaches you. That’s not always an easy guess for what material to cover. But what I’m writing today, and yeah, it’s serious shit this time, wrapped in sadness, are things that I would give anything to be old news by the time your read it.
    The news right now isn’t good. Yes, up in Canada you’ve had the sense to toss your very Conservative leadership and that’s fantastic for you. Here in the US, we had the great sense to do the same 7 years ago—though our incredibly short-sighted, misogynistic, pro-birth, anti-human, pro-rich, anti-poor, bible-toting, beer-chugging, anti-pot, asshole-stuffed Congress has done its best to hamstring him.
   And yes, there is good news in a lot of states concerning the cannabis movement and with the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration being called out in a lot of quarters for saying that marijuana has no medical use and serves no medical purpose.
   But so much of the rest of the news seems to be filled with palpable pain. We’ve got racial tensions blowing up due to cops killing a lot of people for no apparent reason other than that they panicked and decided to shoot, over and over and over. We’ve got hate groups putting up Facebook pages claiming to be university white supremacy unions. We’ve got ISIS recruiting thousands of disenfranchised kids from all over the world to take part on their insane and apocalyptic war meant to bring on the Endtimes. We’ve got the USA mostly keeping boots off the ground in the on-fire Middle East while our drones hit as many civilians as they do bad guys. We are watching whole countries being bombed back to the middle-ages. Millions of Syrians have become refugees because their civil war, the war that’s been going on for five years now, is being fueled by immeasurable hatred. Millions of Iraqis are being displaced as well as their cities and towns are torn to pieces by half-a-dozen different murderous factions.
   We’ve got a huge swath of Brazil facing starvation and displacement because of a dam collapse that released a huge amount of very toxic mining waste into the Doce River there.
   We’ve got climate change that is causing unprecedented extremes in weather patterns and events.
   We’ve got extremist groups in several parts of Africa that are committing atrocities against humans at astonishing levels of frequency.
   We’ve got planes being blown out of the sky and the Paris attacks and millions going hungry and homeless and left helpless and hopeless in nearly every corner of the globe.
   We’ve even got ego wars raging in the legitimate and legal cannabis business world in Colorado and elsewhere.
   The list of horror and sorrow is long. Too long. Yes, nature, through disease and cataclysmic events will always make life on Earth a bit harrowing, keeping us on our toes.
   But the madness men are creating seems to be escalating once again. The pain and suffering men are causing one another is horrendous.
   And it is all caused by fear. Fear of not being seen as strong enough; fear that people will discover your penis is small; fear of the other skin colors; fear of not having enough; fear that someone else might have more than you; fear of an unseen god who apparently demands bloodshed in his name; fear of our own shadows.
   That fear consumes people. That fear drives anger and rage and negativity and finally, it drives all of the sickening things that men do to one another.
   And while that fear was once a necessary part of man’s existence—fear of drought, not enough water for everyone’s camels at the oasis, virulent diseases, pestilence, and just being mauled by large animals of prey—it’s become as useless an appendage as an appendix. We can overcome those things that used to terrify humans while still maintaining the fight or flight reflex for things like tornados or wildfires. But to maintain the fear that people had as a safety valve 150,000 years ago, that’s no longer necessary as we’ve conquered most of those negative realities. There doesn’t need to be famine anymore. Or lack of water.
   The question is, how can we eliminate the fear. If we could do that, the negativity would dissipate of its own accord, and the brutality would vanish. Because if we could eliminate the fear for long enough to work in unison with one another, we’d find what we already know in our hearts to be true to be true in reality as well: That there is enough for everyone. There is enough food, there is enough water, there could be enough shelters, there could be enough doctors and nurses and whatever the hell else the human race needs to live.
    If we could work together we cold reforest the Sahara, replenish and refresh the oceans. We could all be sipping on good fresh water and we could all have basic plumbing and we could have a world where people do not have to hide in fear from the next massacre or the next drone bombing or the next fear-fueled teenager killing people in a movie theater.
   It should not be so hard to eliminate the fear. I wish I knew how. I’ve tried to raise my own kids not to be fearful, not to be so fearful that the heart fills with hate and rage. But then my kids were not raised on the US dropping napalm on them, or on Boko Haram slaughtering whole villages or on ISIS’ death wish or any of the other wretched things men do to one another. It will take a lot of work to eliminate the fear not just from the perpetrators of that horror, but the fear that’s been instilled in those who have suffered through it. How well do the Bosnians and Serbians get along after what they did to one another? How much fear and hatred still exists in the hearts of the elderly Jews who saw their families put on trains and sent to the incinerators? How do we eliminate that fear? What do we do?
   I wish I knew. Awareness of it is the first step. Speaking out about it—not me, not just here, but by good men and women everywhere, all the time—would bring further awareness. But how do we get to where we’ve got the mass to allow the changes to begin. Not the numbers: There are already a whole lot more good people in this world than bad ones, the fearful ones. How do we get them together to stand up and point out the fear, to start working to eliminate the issues that cause the fear?
   A lot of you younger readers are going to inherit this world. We hippies thought we would have it all set up and peaceful for you by now, the second decade of the Age of Aquarius. We didn’t get it done, but it still needs to be done. And it can be done. I’m not the guy with the answer. I do see the problem. Fear. Eliminate fear in men’s hearts and the rest will take care of itself. I wish I were smart enough to have the answer.
  Now, remember how I started this? About magazine lead-time and trying not to be dated by the time the reader reads this. Well, I would love nothing more than to discover that every bad thing I’ve mentioned and all the ones I didn’t were gone by the time this hits the newsstand and I was completely outdated. That would be great.
  Okay. Sorry to go so heavy, but I needed to say that. Take a breath or three, fill a bong. Come up with answers and let’s make this world the one we want it to be.
It would all be funny if people weren’t dying and the prisons weren’t full.

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