Manifest Destiny

[The 19th Century doctrine or belief that the expansion of the US throughout the American continents was both justified and inevitable.]

I once destroyed a stack of daily journals, returning early from work, placing them in a garbage bag, and then watching from the fire-escape above as the trash compactor bit down, and pages–covered with my hand writing–cascaded into the air before falling back into the belly of the truck.

Why did I do that? Because when I naively skimmed through those volumes, in search of the gems of wisdom I was sure were there, I discovered something horrifying. A brow-beating bully (Freud’s super-ego), imposed his unwanted advice every night and was clearly not listening to the one who had to live the rest of my life. Otherwise that haranguing would have shifted into a dialogue between my intentions and my experience.

Our society suffers from a similar split. Whereas for me, too many years went by in the grip of a divided personality, in society, the governing class dominates a far larger group of people (“the 99%”). Picking crops or flipping burgers, they wake up discouraged and unrepresented in decisions made by those who pick their pockets of jobs, homes, and their right to vote.

Destroying my journals revealed a situation that needed to be changed if I was ever to live a fulfilling life–in which my dreams might permeate my life, like yeast leavening a loaf of bread. But I discovered that destroying my journals wasn’t enough to silence a critical inner voice that delivered a message that my life was hopeless. I had to also develop a more integrated approach in which voicing an intention became an invitation to embody it.

It’s far easier to identify a problem than to offer a workable remedy, and this difficulty is greatly magnified in our society. As an individual, it is at least possible to grapple with internal disharmony. But what can we do about accelerating income inequality and the concentration of power that perpetuates it? (And it’s not only the rich and powerful who live in gated communities and view their own race, sex and class as insiders with whom they share the comfort of community and an ease of understanding).

While traditions, to which many claim allegiance, tell us that our ‘savior’ walks in the shoes of the least among us, corporations and governments—principle sources of livelihood–expand the ‘least-ness’ of those “saviors” every day. As if the ‘means of production’ needed more power over employees trying to earn enough to support their families, the Supreme Court has now assigned ‘personhood’ to corporations (and the power of speech to their vast accumulations of wealth). With the court of final appeal turning its back on the voiceless and powerless, we may well wonder: If the salt loses its savor, wherewith shall we salt it?

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