Monthly Archives: October 2010

Bread and Circuses

I’d like to start this entry with a history lesson.

from here

Back in the day—and I mean way back in the day, in ancient Rome—Roman politicians were getting nervous. See, when you’re not really “of the people, by the people, for the people”, the people tend to find out eventually. They also tend not to like it. The bottom of any pyramid is bigger than the top and much less dispensable; if it should decide to move itself, well, that’s probably the end for those at its peak. Instead of trying to please the Roman populace by treating them justly, the politicians decided to use other means. That is, bread and circuses.

One thing that can bring about an uprising is easy to understand: the people’s basic needs are not being met. Everyone has to eat. It’s necessary for survival. (Well, unless you’re a breatharian, but that’s a discussion for a different entry.) If your government is supposed to be taking care of you but you can’t even get enough food in your stomach, something is obviously wrong. Maybe you’ll start to wonder what else is wrong…or maybe you’ll just be pissed off and round up a group with pitchforks. Anyway, Rome’s politicians understood this—the guys were greedy, not stupid—and so they provided free bread. Hey! Free bread! Regardless of what else is going on, awww, my government loves me enough to keep me fed. Sweet fellas. This means of placating the populace still goes on today. In Egypt, for example, bread is very cheap to ensure that citizens, regardless of poverty level, can afford to have enough to eat…which is all the better to keep the eyes of the people off their “democratic” dictator. So long as their stomachs are full, the idea goes, they won’t notice anything else.

So what about circuses? Do people have a deep-rooted need for them, too? Well, no. But what politicians have a need for, should they be trying to keep their agendas unscrutinized, is distraction. Poor people could go to these grand complexes to enjoy themselves, laugh and be merry, and forget how much life sucked the rest of the time. It’s not like the government exactly had to con them into distraction, either; if humans then were anything like we are now, and I expect they were, it was all too easy to distract them.

from here

Today, the idea of bread and circuses is very much alive right here in the grand ole U.S. of A. We are all about instant gratification, we are utterly self-serving, and the people at the top of the pyramid realize this. Hey, they’re pretty much the same way. So we have our bread: our WalMarts, our fast food restaurants, places we can go to get cheap food that, on the whole, is terrible for us. And we definitely have our circuses. Television, Facebook, cars, so many shopping options that it is ridiculous…I could go on. Our whole freaking lives are spent circus-hopping.

Why do professional sports players get paid more than teachers? They’re just a playing a game. Kids can play football out in the backyard, and though it may be nowhere near as exciting, it’s still the same game. Well, that’s because this is what has become a priority in our lives: entertainment. There are people who want to distract us and, dammit, we want to be distracted. It isn’t even always about the rich trying to get richer anymore. People are being killed in pointless wars, people are dying of starvation and easily treatable diseases, people are living in cardboard boxes and under bridges and on sidewalks, almost everything we use has been linked to cancer at some point, we poor poison onto our skin each time we shampoo our hair in the shower, the earth is dying around us and we just don’t want to see it. We would rather bury our heads in the sand than try to take a stand.

I can’t say I don’t understand this mindset. Actually, I understand it very well. It is terrifying to see all the things that are wrong in my community, my country, and my world. Some of the things that are bad are things that it’s probably impossible for us to fix. But there is so much that we can do, and even if it’s scary and even if it’s hard, it is worth doing. Why?

For one thing, we can’t be happy like this. If you’ve ever poked your head outside the box of your own superficiality, you already realize that. So many Americans are depressed now and while, yes, it has a lot to do with personal issues and past traumas, I believe it also has a lot to do with the fact that we are taught to lead such empty lives. Even those who go off to college to “better themselves” rarely go for an education; they go to get a job. With that job, they hope to earn money to buy all the things that they couldn’t buy before. I’m not trying to get all hokey on you, but I mean it when I say that material things will never make us happy. Ever. I have to believe that there is some deeper core of humanity than greed, and unfortunately, I also have to believe that we as a society have lost our connection to it.

Not severed the connection. Simply misplaced it.

I guess everything I wanted to say in this entry comes down to something pretty simple. We live in a world of bread and circuses, and this world is both an illusion and a delusion. There are people who use their positions to perform tricks meant to get us to not look past the rabbit being pulled out of the hat. There is our own fear and greed that asks us to clap for the magicians, to pretend the illusion is real until we honestly forget that it isn’t. But that is not magic. Things don’t happen just because we want them to. Things happen when we work to make them happen.

You can eat the bread if you’re hungry. You can visit the circus. But realize, please, that there is a world outside of that. I believe that it is a world worth living in. I believe that it is a world worth saving. Because it is our world, and when the bread runs out and the tent collapses, whatever we’ve made it into will be what we have left.

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TiLT: Joy to the World, Your Arms Kept Me Warm

Things I’m Loving This Thursday…

from here

♥ Hunting for indie/folk/alternative Christmas tunes. Christmas music is one of my guilty little pleasures. I can listen to it any time of the year. Mostly I like traditional tunes—“O Holy Night” is a favorite—but sometimes, you just gotta jam it your style.

♥ The lovely, perfect Autumn weather we had today.

♥ Free cake. There are so many birthdays happening this week. They come with cake. Homemade chocolate cake. Red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. Mmm, cake. And, yanno, I happen to like the people, too. (;

♥ Publishing Escaping The Box’s first post! Check it out? More is coming very soon!

♥ Working on Christmas presents.

from here

♥ Bringing my cold weather clothing back to school. Sweaters and hats and scarves, I love thee~.

♥ Seeing all the kids I work with in their cute little Halloween outfits.

♥ Great song covers.

♥ The way my World Religions and World History classes work together.

♥ Learning about Buddhism. Yes, I like learning about other religions in general, but…well, the Three Turnings of the Wheel, in particular? Such cool, interesting concepts in those teachings.

What are you loving this week? (:

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Let It Go

from here

I’ve never considered myself an angry person.

Sure, there are things that happened in my past I find hard to let go. There are people who can set me off with a word. And, okay, occasionally, my anger is misplaced. But doesn’t that happen to everyone? I’m willing to bet that most of us have snapped at someone who didn’t deserve it. It’s normal. But normalcy, I’ve found, doesn’t always make right. We’re also conditioned to accept bullying, to accept being mistreated, to accept many forms of discrimination. And so I wonder…how much of this anger is healthy, and how much of it is harming us?

I went through a number of years where I couldn’t have a good relationship with my mother. I don’t mean where I didn’t, I mean where I couldn’t; it seemed like five minutes spent together would inevitably turn to bickering. We didn’t understand each other. My grades were a constant source of friction, then my perceived godlessness, my disrespect. She thought it had to do with my self-confidence, how much time I spent on the computer, the people I hung around, and the fact that I just didn’t seem to care anymore. This was true only in the most surface way. The thing is, most twelve-year-olds don’t have existential meltdowns. People assume you’re supposed to still be talking about your future as a vet, not questioning God and life and purpose, certainly not struggling with depression. Yet there I was.

My family didn’t know how to talk to me, help me, or even discipline me because they had no idea what I was going through. I don’t blame them; no matter how much you love someone, you’ll never completely understand what goes on in that person’s head. But as much as I don’t blame them now, oh, I did blame them then.

It’s hard when the people who are supposed to be closest to you don’t understand you. Hell, it’s hard enough when some of the most insignificant people in your life don’t understand you. We all have very different ways of thinking and different ways of dealing with things. What hurts you may not bother others, and what you laugh off could absolutely kill them.

Here’s my point: life isn’t easy. When people are thrown together in something as crazy as our reality, disagreements are bound to happen. People are going to hurt you, and they are going to make you angry. Sometimes it may be bad enough that you will want to hurt them. Sometimes it may be bad enough that you will want to hurt yourself. Sometimes it will be what haunts your dreams at night. You’ll spend years gnashing your teeth without knowing why. The entirety of your pain may boil down to a moment. The person you love most in the world will, somehow, someway, someday, let you down.

You are going to have to let it go.

No. Listen.

You are going to have to let it go.

from here

I wasted a lot of my time when I was younger being miserable. I came to understand eventually that I needed to be the one who pulled myself out of the pit I was in, but it’s taken me much longer to understand that I had managed, in my time spent there, to make that hole even deeper.

Keeping so much pain and anger inside of you is not healthy. Yes, you can wield your hate against people; you can turn it into a weapon, and you can turn it back on them. But if someone stabs you, stabbing them isn’t going to make your blood stop flowing. You can use your anger to push you forward, which might work until you realize that the person you’re angry with doesn’t care what you’re doing or, moreover, you don’t even like what you’re doing. You’re fulfilled by doing the things you care about because you find joy in them, not because someone else can’t stand them.

It sucks that you’ve been hurt. If you’re thinking you didn’t deserve it, you’re probably right. You probably didn’t. None of us really deserve the hateful things we do to each other. But keeping it with you is not going to help. It’s only going to hurt you more.

Stop hurting yourself.

See, forgiveness is not always for the person you’re forgiving. At least, it doesn’t always start out that way. Maybe someday you can forgive them because they are fatally human, but that’s not what I’m asking you to do right now. I’m asking you to forgive them so that you won’t have to lug those emotions around anymore. It doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in a position to have them hurt you again. It just means you have to try and let go of the pain they’ve wrought before.

It’s saying, “What you did may not be okay, but I will be okay.”

It’s saying, “What you did was not my choice, and I won’t carry it around with me anymore.”

It’s saying, “This is not worth ruining my life over.”

After that, you can figure out whether you want to split ties. You can decide whether that particular person’s company can make you happy in the future, whether it’s a relationship you want to keep, or whether you should go your separate ways. Whatever you choose is okay. You also don’t have to do this all at once. Go ahead and get that anger out. Write down, or say, or scream, exactly what has happened to make you feel the way you feel about a particular person. Often at the end, when you are raw and tired from the release, you’ll find it much easier to let all of that stuff go instead of packing it back inside.

I’m not an angry person. But at some points, I definitely have been. Now, if I am going to be angry, I am going to be angry at the things I can change, not at people. Christians say that we should love the sinner and hate the sin. Well, I am fully prepared to be furious at injustice, at the senseless suffering that surrounds me, at homophobia and racism and a myriad of other terrible things. Funnily enough, though, the only thing that can fix these—that can heal our broken world—is a whole lot of goodness and love. Hate doesn’t fix hate. Love fixes hate.

Forgive the people who have hurt you. Most of all, forgive yourself.

Then the healing can begin.

from here

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TiLT: Walk My Way

Things I’m Loving This Thursday…

from here

Knowing that it’s almost Fall Break.

Listen. No, we still aren’t official, and the day we could be appears to rest far, far in the future, but there are more things we can do than I originally realized. We’re holding a candlelight vigil for the six GLBTQ youths who have recently committed suicide on October 20th, and while the fact that this happened is terrible, the fact that we will be allowed to recognize it is not. Ideally, the day before the vigil will be used for speaking out for those who can’t speak for themselves anymore. We also plan to participate in the It Gets Better project. It feel so good to be doing something.

Talking with Geoff about our Unitarian Universalist Group finally getting the acceptance it deserves. Hearing about it was good enough, but hearing about it from him and seeing the expression on his face was even better. I can hardly wait for our next meeting.

Spending Thursday night with friends. I can’t really imagine much else I’d rather be doing than hanging with Alex and Kyley.

Jamming to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros as I write this.


♥ Mountain Day Weekend.
It was pretty fun this year, and I definitely enjoyed spending time with my mom and brother. (Even if Kyley and I appear horrified to be trapped inside the Berry Bubble, it isn’t always so bad.)

Seeing things I love from the perspective of someone new to them. I could probably rewrite this as “Watching Alex discover RENT and appreciate Berry’s gorgeous campus”.

New blogs. That would include Escaping the Box, a blog I’ll be co-authoring with Alex and another friend from our hometown, and the restarting (again! haha!) of Alex’s personal blog, this time called A Pundit in Progress.

Alex. He has so much to do with stuff this week, he might as well get his own damn heart.

My roommate. While we’re talking about awesome people, Anna doesn’t get enough recognition. You guys, my roommate is incredible. For serious.

Getting my lab exam and World History midterm out of the way. So much stress. So glad they’re over.

Random lyric snippets that get stuck in my head.

Life.

What are you loving this Thursday? (:

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