Here I am, back in the good ole U S of A.. It’s 6:45a and I’m wide awake. I’ve been awake for a couple of hours now, adjusting to the time difference I’m sure. I’m laying on my friends couch, the same couch I’ve slept on dozens of times while visiting her in New Orleans. The daylight begins to appear behind the blinds, and I walk to the curtains to take a look at the outside. Drawing them back a little, I realize there’s houses, with yards.. She lives in an apartment complex, and until this moment id never looked out of the window. The curtains always stay closed, and I’ve only known what’s within the walls of her home. Within her apartment complex. A HUGE possum awkwardly makes its’ way along the fence, and I’m kinda shocked by its size. A woman in the yard to the left is sat out in her yard, reading the Sunday newspaper.. Unaffected by the creature that’s just passed her by. To the right there’s a street legal, off road capable vehicle (pictured).. Painted in camouflage, and an American flag hanging, resting over the property. These subtle differences in the way of life here had been lost on me for so long. I thought about the boy that might aim his BB gun at that possum some day.. Or his older brother that might shoot to kill. I thought about how huge the vehicle is, compared to the tiny Fiats and Citroens of Europe. I thought about how many tiny cars are over there, some with their difference in fuel, to cut down the high costs of transportation… And how pricey small cars are in America… Usually purchased because their “cute” and a novelty. I thought about the distance from my friends house in Metairie, Louisiana, and mine in Pass Christian Mississippi.. A good hour and half away. For people in England, and Europe in general.. A trip to visit a friend who lives that far away is planned a week in advance.. It’s budgeted.. and it’s a treat.. Because even in the smallest, economical car… It comes with a price tag. At $8 a gallon, how can it not?
As I looked out the window, I was flooded by the number of things, I never knew I took for granted living here in the United States. Ways of life that had become my normal. I thought about the fact that right now, the United Kingdom is being battered by its 8th named storm of the season.. Lives and landscapes forever changed by natures’ fury, and yet I’m sure most of my friends here in the US have no idea. If it doesn’t impact what we know as life, we don’t hear about it, and go about our days as if nothing else exists outside of our walls. I think about Hurricane Katrina.. And how catastrophic and devastating it was for us… How we couldn’t believe that we were left stranded in our streets for so long.. Why it took our protectors so long to protect and help us.. And how many times since Katrina, I’ve heard it used to make a point.. That if it had been a tsunami in Japan, or or an earthquake in Nepal, for example, we’d have help there the same day.. How we help third world countries but don’t take care of our own homeless veterans. I have to wonder just how many third world countries, tsunami and earthquake victims.. Refugees of war that it is we, as a nation, have helped? I doubt it’s many at all. I’m sure that by the time every “charitable organization” takes their cut to maintain themselves.. There’s little left to provide relief.. It’s just another industry. It helps us feel better about ourselves to throw a couple dollars in a bucket.
The truth is, we don’t know what we don’t know, and the good ole USA does an impeccable job of filling our minds with mindless drama and entertainment, that we don’t have time to step outside of our own world. It’s a doggy dog world, and we are cattle, raised in a farm that demands the disease of more. More clothes, more things, bigger houses, newer cars, more land, more money… Bigger… Better… The good life… Because we are America.. The biggest and the best.. We are proud to be Americans.. Offspring of our forefathers.. All immigrants that fled our bloodlines roots to find this bigger better land of the free. “There are no cats in America, and the streets are paved with cheese”… That’s the line in An American Tail that sold me.. As a child, sitting in England.. AMERICA…. I remember feeling euphoric at the thought of the land where dreams come true, anything is possible, and everyone is rich.. The God of all countries.. It’s what I moved here looking for, like so many others.. An escape from the struggle that life is for so many people… Yet no matter how much we acquire, we stay busy on our hamster wheels trying to get more.. It keeps us quite self absorbed, and leaves us little time to think about the rest of the world. When the rest of the world invades our individual lives .. It’s usually thru fear.. Media gives us breaking news of a terrorist attack.. Or a natural disaster .. Our humanity feels bad for the victims.. We wish it weren’t that way “out there” but our animal instinct is too busy trying to make sure we “survive” that we “can’t” do anything about it.
I think about the word “survive” and how it’s had so many different lives within my life. I’ve survived childhood.. School yards of bullies.. A parentless home where we learned quickly to fend for ourselves. I’ve survived decades of mental illness where I’ve wanted to take my own life and on several occasions, I’ve attempted. I’ve survived heartbreak, and moments where emotions weighed so heavily in grief, sadness and anguish that I couldn’t see how I would go on. I’ve survived homelessness and dereliction.. Living in the back of an old station wagon in a junk yard, with no clue where my next dollar came from.. But when $10 dos come my way, I used it to buy diapers and orange juice for my son, because I didn’t need anything that bad. In that memory I can feel the humanity alive and well in my soul, and it’s a feeling I want more of. I’ve survived cancer.. An illness that’s taken the lives of my mother, grandmothers and grandfathers before me.. An illness I never thought I could beat. I’ve survived loving paycheck to paycheck, no matter how much money I earned.. It never felt enough… The struggle really was real… Because I hadn’t yet figured out that I didn’t need all the materialistic things I’d buy to justify all the hours that I worked. I’ve survived 9/11, hurricane Katrina, a broken down car thousands of miles from home, camping alone in the woods where there are bears, road tripping around America, backpacking alone around Europe, drug addiction, stereotypes, my own negative thinking … Life…. I’ve survived life… And until it’s my time to go, I will always survive life! If you’re reading this, then so have you… And so will you … It’s okay to let go of the fear that we won’t survive..
As I look at the monster truck sitting outside, and how much petrol it’s probably drank.. Just to ride around in a muddy field, joy riding.. I think about how far that same petrol could go back in Europe.. As I think about how huge even a one bedroom apartment is .. How open the floor plans are.. And how much electricity we just run.. All the time… I think about how cramped the small island of the United Kingdom is. How the number of people living there is becoming too many for amount of land they have to build on. As I think about the hundreds of thousands of refugees that have been taken in by the different countries of Europe, who are already in financial crisis’ themselves.. I think about the financial crisis we are taught that we are in, here in America. How our lifestyles keep us trapped inside the prison of paycheck to paycheck. The prison of money. The institution of wealth, and all the laws that have surrounded the right to earn money to survive.
There was once a time when money didn’t exist. If you wanted to eat, you planted some seeds and grew some food. If you wanted a home, you drew from the land.. Mud and trees,… Or mined stone and built shelter .. Shelter from the elements of life of earth.. I wonder if we were meant to take shelter so far .. Creating the luxurious forms of shelter we all take for granted now.. Even in the most basic apartments.. We have electricity, climate control, instant entertainment on the tv.. Which wasn’t even sufficient, so we introduced “on demand” and Netflix. If we wanted to go somewhere, we walked.. Sometimes for days.. Creating new shelters along the way.. We weren’t tied to our homes, and our bills and mortgages… We didn’t have social security numbers that said whether we could work or not … That dictated who was allowed to thrive.. We traded skill set for skill set.. And worked as communities to provide all of the basics. Each skill was needed and as valuable as the next. There weren’t rich doctors and lawyers.. Doctors became rich because fear of dying is so huge. Lawyers became rich because laws became so many, and money became so valuable.. The more money one has, the more skills they can but, and lazier they can be. We buy our way back to the freedom from the grindstone.. Freedom to once again enjoy our earth.. Freedom to travel.. The richest of us but their own boats, build their own oasis’ in their backyards.. Of their bigger better houses.. They fly first class or on private planes to remote islands .. And in those places they have arrived .. They’ve achieved the goal… But I promise you … They still want more. That feel good achievement.
What would happen if currency became acts of kindness, goodwill to others, selflessness… If money were abolished… If love for one another replaced money… If we all did unto others as we want done for ourselves.. I think we Wouldn’t be as fearful.. As stressed.. As angry… As lonely..
Traveling has opened my eyes.. Not only to what I find out there.. But to what I couldn’t see here at home. We took a wrong turn somewhere along our timeline.. A turn that led us right back to everything our forefathers were freeing us from.
“WE, THE PEOPLE…” I wanted to learn about the actual people that wrote our Declaration of Independence. What were we declaring independence from? This is what I found…
So basically, the colonists enjoyed their freedom they’d found in being neglected by the British.. When the British came back to rule the colonists.. The colonists fought to keep the freedoms they’d found.. Freedom from being ruled by a country where money dictated the power.. And taxes were used to keep the money and power in limited hands. This is why the most memorable part of the Declaration of Independence is
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Wow! I have to wonder what our forefathers are up there thinking, watching all that America has become. Have we realized their vision for this great nation? Or have we allowed the same greed and thirst for power that governed Britain in the 18th century become our way of life here in the colonies. “All men are equal” yet the likes of Donald Trump is a front runner for Presidency.
While traveling thru Europe, I heard the same repeated message in several countries in regards to America. It’s the country they are most afraid of.. Not Iraq.. Not Syria.. America.. Because in America we have guns. The look on their faces when I tell them I have a gun back home… It’s unimaginable to them. They tell me stories of how we kill ourselves thru school shootings, and mass murder.. How they’re afraid to be a foreigner in our land because all it takes is a second and you could be dead. I can completely understand their concerns. We have the right to bear arms, and we fight daily to keep that right. The reason our fore fathers gave us that right was so that we could fight for ourselves to keep our freedom, should we ever have to. It wasn’t to hunt. It wasn’t to protect ourselves from enemy states.. That’s what the military was for .. It was so that, in the event our government needed to be replaced, we would have the ability to fight for that. Times have changed.
Americans are beautiful people. America, for me, is home. It still is the land of opportunity, where anyone can make their wildest dreams come true. The civilians of this great nation are as good as any other country I’ve visited. They’re completely unaware that our military is out in the world, terrorizing smaller countries.. Being the present day pirates, stealing oil, raping towns and villages, bombing lands and killing people by the millions.. Forcing families to flee and seek refuge, all in the name of “more”. They’re unaware that while they complain about $3 per gallon of petrol, Our allies.. Our nations friends, like France and England, are paying $6-$8 per gallon, but continue to be “friends” so that it doesn’t increase any further.. Sending their military in to drop a couple of bombs in order to share allegiance. The great people of America don’t know that they’re constantly being groomed by the media.. To only know what the government wants them to know.. To create conflict of interests about things like gun control, and foreign affairs.. So that when our government is exposed, we won’t be able to carry out the wishes of our very own Declaration of Independence.
We don’t know that we are no longer free… We don’t know that we are wasteful of precious resources.. That we are noticeably fatter than any other country.. That there’s more to life than Facebook, binge watching Netflix on 60″ TVs, and driving that 2016 convertible off the lot. While people are living in tents year round as their homes, we cringe at the thought of tent camping for fun, and rent a log cabin or an RV instead. We don’t know how good we have it, because the only thing we are repeatedly shown, is the glamorous lives of those who have it better .. The carrot that keeps us going to work for that paycheck to paycheck life so that the rich get richer.