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Saturday, November 21, 2009


Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Nov 1, 2009 5:49 AM PST

This essay is dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, who dreamed of a freedom that mankind was not yet ready to face. He died moments before Adams, whose last words were “Jefferson lives.” This was on July 4th, the anniversary of the nation’s birth. These former ideological combatants had long ago reconciled, as America must do in order to save itself and the world from self-destruction. Let us henceforth remember July 4th as Interdependence Day.

It is Hallowe’en, the eve of all Saints Day, la Dia de los Meurtos. The children are now in bed, the excitement of the night having exhausted them. They dream sweet dreams of the life their parents promise them, whether or not their parents believe that what they hope for their children will come to pass.

All Saints Day is the day we remember the ancestors who died for their right to believe that the world could be saved through passive resistance of Roman enslavement. In the year of our Lord 2009, we are on the brink of enslavement by the fascist corporate powers that now control the Senate and perhaps the Supreme Court of the United States. Next week, we will know whether the noose grows tighter, as the Court deliberates giving corporations the right to directly buy their corporate puppets in the Senate, without the nuisance of hiding their designs by contributing through PACs.

La Dia de los Muertos is the delightful custom by which our Mexican neighbors laugh at death, which Catholics and other Christians consider only a phase transition from one state of being to another, a literal freeing of the soul. On this day, they honor the ancestors who made them what they are today. Unlike America, with its cult of youth and commercialized beauty, Mexicans and other Latinos revere the wisdom acquired by those who came before them. This is common to many cultures, as anyone who has studied Native American or Eastern philosophy knows.

These traditional cultures do not believe in ignoring the lessons of the past and letting new, untested ideas grow current just because they are superficially appealing. This is conservatism at its best, saving what is good from previous generations. Nonetheless, it can hardly be said that Latin Americans are strictly conservative. As they used to say in Central and South America, “If you don’t like this government, wait five minutes and it will change.”

We can only hope that China will grow with the times as well, accepting that the success of the Party depends on keeping Chinese citizens happy and healthy. It is an encouraging sign that the CCP is promising universal health care before even America, the home of modern democracy. Even as China embraces the path of fascism, the Hive Mind acknowleges that there may be a price to pay for ignoring the needs of the billion and more people whose fate is largely in their hands. A sign of their awareness of their weakness is the continuing persecution of the Falun Gong, a relatively small cult of people who believe that they need not fear phyical death. What can the CCP do but use their public murders to frighten others from the path of what might become democracy?

On the eve of All Saint's Day, Americans would do well to study their ancestors and decide who among them deserve the title of Saint. Among our Founding fathers, surely George Washington merits the honor. He did his duty long after wearying of the responsibility of dealing with war and its aftermath. In war, he was fearless and seemingly under the protection of God, ignoring gunfire all around him in battle, as he urged his troops forward from the front. He had no fear of his own death, only of the death of the American dream.

Having guided American forces through the war for independence against the occupying British forces, he reluctantly accepted the call to serve as President of the Constitutional Convention. After performing this task admirably, he retired to his farm only to be called to serve as our nation’s first President.

Given the keys to this new kingdom, Washington willingly set the precedent that no man should come to embody an entire country, gratefully relinquishing the power of the Presidency after two terms. He knew that America had to be established as having a government of law, not one of men. He had no wish to be king or dictator, however benevolent his intentions. He simply had no lust for power, only a strong will to see that justice be done in the country he wished to be “the most liberal nation on Earth.” He argued forcefully against “factionalism,” or Party politics, as we know it today. Time has demonstrated the wisdom of his words.

If we are to honor the sacrifices of Washington, Hamilton, Adams and Jefferson, we must remember why they risked their lives for our freedom. We must be willing to sacrifice immediate comfort for the satisfaction of knowing that our children sleep soundly with good reason, for we are the guardians of democracy. Freedom is not free, and the price is eternal vigilance. For too long, a complacent America has accepted its good fortune, but is now awakening to the fact that the harvest of the bounty of our labor is being stolen from us by the corporate powers choosing and manipulating our Senators.

Fear comes in many forms. The most insidious and dangerous is the fear of freedom. Many Americans have forgotten what it means to live in a democracy. Millions have consciously decided that they would rather live as slaves of a state with the power to torture and kill at will citizens of nations our corporate puppets deem profitable for their puppet masters. When the Cheney Presidency decided that certain Americans and other citizens of ersatz democracies can be jailed without charge and indefinitely at the whim of the President, alarmingly few protested. They had forgotten or never knew why Franklin said: “Those who would give up their liberty for security deserve neither.”

It is time to complete the revolution. Study well the supporters of the members of the Senate. These men and women can be known by the company that they keep. Lord knows, they are ambitious, but decorum compels their peers to say they are good men and women. So are they all, all good men (and women). Yet we know that they are ambitious. Let us never sacrifice our children again on the altar of their ambition. We need Senators who are unafraid to speak the truth to us, to our peers and to the corporate Puppet Masters directing the St Vitus’ dance of the Senate. Listen to these men and women, and do not punish them when they invariably tell you something that you do not want to hear.

We can live imprisoned by our fear of death, or be freed by the death of fear, in confidence that a nation of the people, by the people and for the people shall never perish from the Earth.

In the words of the Blue Oyster Cult:

All our times have come,
here but now they're gone.
Seasons don't fear the reaper,
nor do the wind, the sun or the rain..we can be like they are.

Come on baby...don't fear the reaper.
Baby take my hand...don't fear the reaper.
We'll be able to fly...don't fear the reaper.
Baby I'm your man...

Valentine is done,
here but now they're gone.
Romeo and Juliet
are together in eternity...Romeo and Juliet.
40,000 men and women everyday...Like Romeo and Juliet.
40,000 men and women everyday...Redefine happiness.
Another 40,000 coming everyday...We can be like they are.

Come on baby...don't fear the reaper.
Baby take my hand...don't fear the reaper.
We'll be able to fly...don't fear the reaper.
Baby I'm your man...

Love of two is one,
here but now they're gone.
Came the last night of sadness,
and it was clear she couldn't go on.
Then the door was open and the wind appeared.
The candles blew then disappeared.
The curtains flew then he appeared...saying don't be afraid.
Come on baby...and she had no fear
and she ran to him...then they started to fly.
They looked backward and said goodby...she had become like they are.
She had taken his hand...she had become like they are.

Come on baby...don't fear the reaper.

Rick Staggenborg, MD

Founder, Soldiers For Peace International
Portland, Oregon

1 comment:

  1. I m re-reading and commenting on this essay almost exactly one year to the day after it was first published. I thought of it when I was watching election news, understanding that the insanity of this election cycle is caused by the naked, unreasoning fear that seens to have gripped America.

    If fear were a disease that killed indiscriminantly, it would be the job of national governments and the World Health Organization to find a cure. Unfortunatey, American and other politicians have already weaponized it. Apparently, some people still think that "duck and cover" is an adequate response to WMDs.


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