12.01.11 I can. You can. We Can

Generally speaking, as a species and as a country, we seem to be in a time of deeply rooted denial, slowly giving way to stark reality relative to conditions we have long taken for granted – conditions like global environmental stability, predictable weather patterns, relatively predictable crop conditions, populations and systems in place to provide for our needs of transportation, income, housing, administrative governance, and the like.

But these conditions are degrading, and we are just beginning to recognize how widely and completely.

Leading this decline is a man-made phenomenon of economic contraction, made more unstable and persistent solely by our resistance to innovation… innovation in the way of adapting our reactions, our approaches and our systems ahead of collapse, which is otherwise imminent.

For instance, relative to food production and consumption, during times of such contraction, we should decentralize ourselves and our systems; that is, redistribute our population into the countryside and, in doing so, reclaim agriculture from monopolizing corporate interests, thereby revitalizing and diversifying food growth, distribution and access to consumption, particularly in times of weather-born, economic and political uncertainty.

Don’t know how to do that?

A centralized educational system assures you don’t. Decentralizing education also into rural areas and redesigning core curricula would help assure those who wish to pursue such a lifestyle could do so reliably, by imparting specific skills useful in meeting such goals.

At our base, many of us have forgotten how to value independent thinking and action because many of us no longer even recognize what it is, let alone how to engage it.

We’ve forgotten how to think and act independently while aligning our efforts with others toward a common goal and assisting one another in achievement. Yet, this is our one and only path to recovery in times of crises… regardless of scale.

Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics officially reports unemployment at around 9% – a relatively steady decline from a peak of around 10 % this same time last year.

However, as of November 4th, John Williams’ of shadowstats.com reveals an unemployment number closer to 23% – a relatively steady climb from a low of around 21% this time last year.

Why the difference? There are all sorts of measures useful in skewing statistics. If you wanted to shrink a number and make it look at if unemployment were not so bad, you might suggest that those whose unemployment benefits have completely run out are no longer considered. They are of course, still unemployed… but not factored. These folks may have switched from unemployment roles to welfare roles.

You might also fail to count folks who have been out looking for a job so long, they have become habitually depressed and discouraged and are now not only without a job or welfare, but have finally become homeless.

No one seems to count those who have fallen so low as to or commit pretty crimes to win jail time in order to secure housing and a meal, or those turned away from jails due to overcrowding and lack of resources and who have simply removed themselves from the equation through suicide.

This improbable adherence to status quo and broad scale, systematic resistance to adaptation and innovation seems to endorse anarchy as a way of life or death as a way out. I’m not okay with that. Denial isn’t a terribly productive state from which to attempt to exist.

Unfortunately, denial is about the only state the US Congress seems capable of these days. Unable to come to a joint-decision on common sense budget cuts, the so-called “Super Committee’s” late-November failure at reasonable consensus will trigger deep, unexamined, across the board spending beginning in 2013. Having long been ineffective, it is sad to see Congress now becoming utterly irrelevant. But they are. It is what it is, so, enough about those in power incapable of critical analysis or productive action. Let’s look closer at the consequences of this state of affairs and what we as individual Americans can do to help realign our path forward.

Regardless of how statistics may be factored and flawed, on occasion, they match up and stand up to common sense. Those are the statistics I pay attention to, and here is one of those examples.

It was recently reported that 1 in 4 Americans don’t get enough to eat on a daily basis, and suffer hunger. One in four. That’s 25% of the population.

Now, most people don’t choose hunger as a lifestyle, so what would prevent them from obtaining food? A shortage certainly, but there is no food shortage inAmerica. So why else might children and adults not be getting enough to eat?

Food prices could play a part. Indeed, despite a strong supply of food and 25% less demand by those not eating any, food prices have continued to climb, as much as 20% in recent years according to a variety of reports. Gas prices and extreme weather are often blamed, as is excess profiteering in the game of commodity trading and speculation.

If American jobs paid income relative to the rate of inflation, food prices would still be relatively manageable, and food would still find its way to the kitchen table – in those cases where people still have a home for themselves and a table to put in it.

So, this leaves jobs. Without adequate paying jobs, or any job at all with which to earn a “living” and thereby live through the purchase and consumption of food, people go hungry. A lot of people. Twenty five percent of people – nearly the same statistical number of those who also happen to be unemployed.

Is Congress to blame – well yes, as they have allowed the corporitization ofAmericaand every system we’ve come to rely on. And we are to blame because we’ve elected ineffective leaders. Really, it’s just a massive cluckercluck of interrelated, corruption, denial and collapse.

Our complacence, our deference, our assignment of responsibly to others has now made us dependent on fragile systems monopolized by commercial entities influencing governmental policy to keep it that way. After all, what better market to squeeze and leverage than a country full of co-dependent consumers with no knowledge of how to do anything differently?

But that doesn’t mean we have to be doomed, unless we just want to be. And some admittedly do. But not me. And probably not you. Life is simply too full of endless promise to let that happen.

Somehow… contrary to pre-programmed consumerism mentality advanced by conglomerate entities interested in profit over people… real, everyday, average Americans are beginning to do things differently. A simple sense of self will, community and faith are causing them to step outside of their own need and help those who are even more disadvantaged than themselves.

They are relying on common sense rather than just PhDs. They are reaching out to their neighbor, with real hands, not just the internet. They are rejecting contradictory rhetoric in favor of reality as they and others are experiencing it. They are working locally for one another, not in some centralized operation stationed in some centralized urban location serving a cental bank account removed from shared costs, invesments and rewards.

And they are acting in the interest of someone besides themselves to help another stand.

This Thanksgiving, two women stood out in my mind as examples of dogged self determination, and persistent devotion to humanity in the face of overwhelming odds.

Five days a week, public school chef, Cheryl Barbara prepares and serves along with her co-workers, lunch to kids in a severely disadvantaged district inConnecticut. She knows many of the students she serves ‘go without’ on daily basis, and she knows the food she personally provides for them may be the only food they see throughout the week, which is why she goes beyond planning means like ‘Pasta Mondays’ to make up for a deficit in weekly nutritional needs, and tries to provide a little extra sustenance to those kids who may not get a meal over the weekend at all.

Elderly, Miss Georgiana volunteers five days a week at St. James’s Christian Café inNewark,New Jerseyto cook up warm meals for an average of 150 people who are typically in additional need of shelter and fellowship. Every day she rises and serves the need beyond her own… like Cheryl, she serves beyond her fatigue and frustration. Even with a broken arm and a dilapidated, burnt-out shell of a kitchen, Miss Georgiana serves – that was, until Chef Irvine of Food Network’s Kitchen Impossible stepped to the plate and revitalized her cooking space.

In a disintegrating system of food production, distribution and consumption, there is no doubt in my mind that these two ladies provide a critical and direct physical link to the survival of hundreds of people on a daily basis. That is a tremendous load to bear and tremendous calling to serve. Yet they do it… without padded salaries, accolades, recognition or even any certainly of tomorrow. They just answer a higher calling, find the strength, the creativity, the means… and they simply do it.

So, let’s help these ladies, and everyone else out there who may not have the opportunity to share their story, but who do the heavy lifting nonetheless.

Let’s expand our capacity to care and assist. Let’s elevate our expectations, beginning with ourselves and reach out to elevate others.

Let’s act independently in the spirit of cooperation and togetherness to get ourselves back on the track we know is waiting for our decision and participation. I can. You can. We can. That’s the real promise of today and tomorrow. So, in the spirit of Cheryl and Miss Georgiana, let’s just do it.