Thursday, January 12, 2012

Commonwealth of Convenience

As anyone knows who has been part of a movement, a demonstration, a campaign, or a strike, struggles undertaken for the most limited and prosaic goals have a way of opening the most profound and lyrical sense of possibility in their participants. To experience even briefly a movement’s solidarity, equality, reciprocity, morality, collective and individual empowerment, reconciliation of individual and group, is to have a foretaste of the peaceable kingdom… Once we have experienced solidarity, we can never forget it. It may be short-lived, but its heady sensations remain. It may be still largely a dream, but we have experienced that dream. It may seem impossible, but we have looked into the face of its possibilities.

Ronald Aronson in his 1995 book Beyond Marxism reminds us that dreams help create our physical experiences. We dream and create, but we forget our ability to do so. Joseph Schumpeter, the mid-century Harvard economics professor, said that our dream of a perfect democracy would eventually lead to some form of socialism. In his book, Capitalism Socialism and Democracy, Schumpeter said that there is a creative destructive factor innately association with capitalism.

Schumpeter’s dream of socialism is far beyond the social concepts of Marx, and his successors. It is a system described by William Morris in his 1884 book, Justice. Morris explained his dream system this way:

What I mean by Socialism is a condition of society in which there should be neither rich nor poor, neither master nor master’s man, neither idle nor overworked, neither brain-sick brain workers nor heart-sick hand workers, in a word, in which all men would be living in equality of condition, and would manage their affairs unwastefully, and with the full consciousness that harm to one would mean harm to all — the realization at last of the meaning of the word commonwealth. Commonwealth is a familiar word, but most of us have no idea what it means. Morris defines it in terms we understand. A commonwealth is a utopian state where all individuals take responsibility for their actions in one way or another, and each person helps expand the system in a unified way.

Liberals and Conservatives want to experience a commonwealth of convenience that doesn’t make waves in their established and comfortable system. Both parties negate the true meaning of a people’s commonwealth. They fight against a people’s commonwealth using jaded words and iconic symbols that have little intrinsic value. They use prejudice and judgmental mental ovens filled with partial truths to produce half-baked results, and then take no responsibility for their inept results―it’s always the other party’s fault. They consider the people and their needs after they conform to the political lobbyists that control them. The tail of government is wagging the people, and the people lick the bones of a disintegrating system.

Perhaps it’s time to expand our constitutional power, and elect a group of social reformers who know the meaning of commonwealth rather than politicians who are shackled with the chains self-serving conformity and redundant thinking. Reformers are people who are not motivated by the fear that engulfs this wasteful system. They are not afraid to be part of a system that encourages and cultivate a stable commonwealth that serves the good of all.

When we look responsibility in the eyes, we see that most candidates stand on a platform of superficial change. They become pawns in a high-powered political party game that condones conformity, and ignores the voice of the people. Independence becomes dependence, and responsibility is shrouded in a veil of economic chicanery.

The book, Living Behind The Beauty Shop tells the story of how one man and his family change the dynamics of social, political, and economic life. Perception Farms is a commonwealth built on second chances and self-responsibility. Perception Farms gives people a chance to experience the real meaning of utopia.

Living Behind The Beauty Shop is about a Middle Tennessee boy who understands that greater reality where the psyche is able to communicate with the self that is experiencing other dimensions. The boy, Mase Russell, is living with Down syndrome. He is considered disabled in our normal reality, but he is far more enabled and connected than we are to that stream of consciousness that flows through all of us. He is able to communicate with other aspects of the self while dreaming, and he accepts his dream experiences as real. He is even able to remember those experiences and express them in his own way. His family begins to sense that his disability is a challenging gift not a sentence of suffering.

His family is like any other family. They experience the typical dramas that we all create in our waking reality. His grandfather, Warren Russell is a wealthy business man that lives on his family’s 2000 acre farm in Leipers Fork, Tennessee. The farm was a land grant given to his triple great-grandfather after the American Revolution. Warren and his wife Claire considered the farm their rite of passage until they both experienced a near-death experience on a trip to Florida in their Cessna. After the accident Warren decides to donate 1000 acres to a non-profit foundation he formed called Perception Farms. Perception Farms is a self-sufficient community off the grid that gives the homeless a fresh start.

His daughter Cindy realizes that she’s gay after she marries her college sweetheart. She returns home from California and finds an ex-nun, who is now called Margie, at one of Perception Farm’s fundraisers. Margie discovered her true sexuality when she was in the convent. They become partners and decide to have a child using the sperm of their friend Alan Sutton, a well-educated and athletic individual who works in the shoe business. Baby Mase is born with DS and the story follows his life and the experiences of the family as he becomes an accomplished poet and artist.

Years later, Mase finds Mischa Eddington who is another Down syndrome artist, in a local college art class, and they develop a close relationship. Together they watch members of the family experience the pains of getting older. They offer the family another perspective about that aging process. The family realizes that Mase and Mischa chose to be born with Down syndrome in order to help others see that there are no boundaries or limits in physical life unless we put them there through our beliefs and perceptions. They show us that other realities are just as real as our waking reality.

When we consider that consciousness does not have a beginning or an end in the non-physical world we can better understand that the people we call disabled or homeless are actually teachers who choose to experience life in extraordinary ways. They teach us that putting limits, judgments, and sterilized beliefs in action is the art of separating one aspect of the self from other elements of the psyche.

When that happens, we find ourselves living in the beauty shop of life, which is filled with exterior self-serving nothingness.

No comments: