That Tightening in My Chest

These days, it seems like it’s getting hard to breath. My chest is tight, my vision
is blurred and every instinct in my body is firing off neurons attached to
fear, anxiety and doom. I can’t look up at a passing airliner anymore without
my heart skipping a beat; as its dark silhouette cuts at the sky. It didn’t
use to be this way. In fact, there was a time when I was content with being
productive and believed that my place in society was secured by my drive to
participate.

It began to come to a crash at around thirty. At the time, I felt enlightened. I felt
like I was become free from the shackles of society and culture. With the
loosening of the chains of expectation and results, I could begin to explore my
‘true self’.

That was certainly the case for a while but then things began to change. I made different choices and took on new
responsibilities. With those came a new set of expectations and results. So
now, here I am, aware of my growing neurosis around the culture that I live in
and feeling completely enslaved by it. The worst part is; it not my own demise
and failure that bothers me the most. It’s the fact that I am very much aware
of our collective demise that really gets me.

It’s as clear as day from the perspective that I am standing at. I mean hey, when you
let go of all the societal expectation but haven’t vacated society itself, what
are you left with? Pretty much nothing because you have managed to fail at all
else but the one thing you do gain is perspective; and I’ve got it in spades.

I look at us and I am, frankly, appalled that the rest of you can’t see it. How in the
world do you think we can possibly continue on this way? Are you really under
any delusion that, somehow, this all ends with roses and parades? Do you really
believe that this human experiment is going well? Wake up buddy and look
around. You can’t find peace in war, prosperity in poverty or thriving human
systems in failed attempts. One does not come out of the other. We are doomed.
Bummer.

What? You think we have another chance to vote our way out of this mess? Really? Our
political leaders are consumed with the same plague that consumes each one of
use – consumerism: The need to fill an unfillable hole within ourselves. I mean
hell; our entire economy’s health is actually measured by our affliction. In
fact, it needs us to consume in order to continue to run. It’s got a name. We
call it the Consumer Price Index. There is no political solution to this
problem.

Oh, I hear you. You folks think that there is a religious solution to the problem.
Right. OK. Well then, keep going to your big box church in the mall and pray
for a way out of this one folks. Just because you highjack Jesus and tell everyone else that they are lost without knowing him your way, doesn’t mean you’ve found the way. The idea that those of religious orders are somehow exempt from the consequences of 1000 generations of humanities actions in the world is just crazy. You are accountable for the action of all that came before you in the choice that you make for those that come next.

 I would agree that the solution is bigger than us. I would argue that the tenants of Christ’s gospel message are the key to our woes but Religion itself is dead. There is no solution in bigger churches, louder music and more money in the offering bin.

We are in trouble people and we had better stop looking outside of ourselves to find a
solution and start looking inward to find the problem. That’s right, I didn’t
say look within to find the solution I said problem. I’m not so sure there’s a
solution to be found inside but I’ll be damned if we are not the heart of the
problem.

We spend so much time and effort to save the whales, save the dolphins, save the
flowers, and save the planet. Hello! If it wasn’t for us, these things wouldn’t
be in trouble in the first place! Aren’t we the ones that need some sort of
saving?

This is what I believe people are really upset about these days. I look around and I
see so many other people who are braver than I am standing up in their
frustration. As I just sit here and ring my hands over these trivial things:
how am I going to pay for our health insurance? How am I going to pay this
months’ rent? Can I really afford to take my wife on this date?

Other people around the world are standing up and demanding that things change. Now
that this movement has come to our own doors, we mock it. We laugh at those
folks in New York, Seattle and San Francisco protesting and occupying space in
the name of change. We point out that they don’t even have a unified message
when in reality, they do.

They are saying loud and clear, ‘I am tired of being afraid. I am fed up with being push
around. I damn sick of being lied too and I am going to do something about it;
even if it means just occupying this space.’

Isn’t it time we all stood up? Surely its time we all woke up. There is a haunting
reality out there folks and we all need to look it square in the face to come
to terms with it: we are nearing an end. I don’t know what kind end or how it plays
out but I think we need to stop fearing it and start embracing it. I think it
starts with standing up from where you are seated right now, take a deep
breath,

Now let it out

…and say out loud,

                                “I’m tired of being afraid.”

 

…say it again.

 

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