Planet Waves | Genexhibitionist - Oct. 2000 | By Maya Dexter


Cosmic Dance by Elizabeth Lyle.
You say you want a

Genexhibitionst | by Maya Dexter
Planet Waves

The world is in a strange state these days. We are poised for something -- hanging breathless in a state of ideological limbo. You can sense the collective gathering of will, the quiet preparation for a transformation completely different than anything mankind has ever seen before. Change is on the wind once again. The growing numbers of protesters and the flow of alternative foods and medicines into the mainstream registers as a stronger beat in the unsteady pulse of the planet. But she is volleyed back into intensive care by the millions of people who consume voraciously without ever considering the origins of those goods. She gasps as countless masses try to fill some emotional void with mountains of things, destroying delicate ecosystems in the process. So the impending change slowly sifts out into two factions: those who would kick the current paradigm to the curb and start all over, and those who would use any means necessary to keep things just as they are. Both sense that a time of reckoning is drawing near. There is pacing in the throne room as the peasants gather angrily outside.

Thanks to the Internet, awareness is spreading at an unprecedented pace. Email forwards outlining corporate deception concerning such things as the safety of our water, our food, and the ground we stand on keep us up to date in mere minutes. Posts describing the atrocities committed by those who once swore to protect and serve us bring the trials and abuse of every man, woman and child directly into our own homes. At least in part due the easy dissemination of information, the sale of organic products is nearing ten percent of the groceries purchased in the United States. We've come a long way from dark co-ops filled with dried beans and unappetizing health foods. The number of recycled products increases every day, and sustainable sources of fuel and power are quickly being (re)discovered. We know we're on the right track because as people slowly begin to insist that their environment be safe and healthy, the shouts from the propaganda machines get louder and increasingly shrill. The time is ripe for a revolution.

But what is called for is a different animal from the revolutions of the past. This is not about any oppression we can perceive so easily. At first glance, most of the western world looks relatively free. We live comfortably, eat well, choose what we do for a living, and have a modicum of control over our lives. Indeed, the subjects of Louis XIV stormed the palace for the kind of comfort we have right now. When you look below the surface, though, it becomes apparent that freedom is an illusion. We are still harnessed by church and state, only now most folks belong to the Church of the Almighty Dollar, and worship the most ruthless and uncaring lord to date, religiously proselytizing or destroying all heathens that block the road to a higher state of possession. The "church" mandates money and control above safety, awareness, healthy relationships, and compassion. The unholy alliance of the two powers is what we call capitalism and is what has brought us to the brink of survival. Sure we're free, so long as we follow the rules, and those who do not are quietly murdered, or at least taken away for a long time to a place where they cannot be an example of insurrection, which might as well be murder. We are given elaborate toys to play with and covet so that we do not notice the walls that surround us. But a beautiful prison is still a prison. And these days the bars look an awful lot like a double helix.

The largest part of the injustice we face occurs on a molecular level, which makes it even harder to perceive and confront than your run of the mill social injustice. We cannot squint hard at our breakfast and see that our eggs carry the influenza virus that we will be fighting next week, or that the genetically altered corn flakes in our bowl are the source of the migraines we've been suffering from for the past few years. It is impossible to glance at the dirt and grass on the side of the road and sense how it is different from anything this planet has seen in its entire existence, thanks to us. How do you observe the poison in the plastic shoes on your feet (the ones you chose in order to save an animal)? Indeed, this is all so difficult to discern on a sensory level that it requires a certain level of faith, and to further confuse things, some of the prophets are false.

Only when we begin to comprehend the full extent of the damage does the truly brutal realization settle in that it doesn't have to be this way. But because it takes a well-equipped laboratory to prove any of this, the facts remain out of sight and awareness lies just out of the grasp of most people. Yet if the lid to the box can just be reached it is full of dangerous and terrifying knowledge, and one awful truth always begets another in a volatile chain reaction of understanding. But to those who choose to never even extend their hand, who instead choose to look away and deny, those of us crying foul seem like Chicken Little.

Denial is easy to achieve when, along with a lack of basic sensory clues, an army of lab-coated executives is asserting through false data that their chemical manipulations are safe. When those statements are corroborated by their former- and future- coworkers, the ones currently employed by the FDA and USDA, all the official facts point directly down the path of denial. Unfortunately, the public will always accept a scientific assertion of the safety of something. Conversely the burden of proof weighs heavy on those scientists who would declare a substance unsafe, until hard evidence can be procured (and often after it is available), and those concerned with safety are called alarmists and are marginalized. But really, this deception cannot possibly go on indefinitely -- how long can anyone believe the big bad wolf telling you you're fine while you're surrounded by stomach? Still, there are those who find it warm and soft in there, and are perfectly happy to stay. You can wave in their faces a thousand pages of hard proof, and they will simply look around you to see the television. It's frustrating for sure, but I honestly think that more will come around when they begin to feel digested.

And so while we wait for the truth to catch up to the liars, we do what we can. But while we wait, corporate criminals kill thousands of people slowly without threat of prison term, budget millions for settlements and sweep facts under their rug. The planet groans. We stage massive protests that are largely ignored by those not sympathetic to the protection of our fragile ecosystem. We flood corporations with letters protesting the use of harmful products, which they largely ignore in light of rising profits and the assumption that those writing aren't buying them, anyway. Entire ecosystems decay. We barrage government officials with faxes, calls and letters asking them not to support legislation that would allow aforementioned companies to do more grievous harm than ever before. And they reply with form letters thanking us for caring enough to write, but they have already decided against our suggestions. I'm sure they would have time to write personally if they weren't so busy decorating their new vacation home, funded by corporate lobbyists. I hate to sound so negative, but the fact is that it is very bleak, and sugar coating it is exactly what keeps us spinning our wheels. So we are hopefully beginning to see that the usual channels aren't working. Very few are listening to our pleas, even fewer are acting on them. Perhaps it's time to try something completely different.

Wait, before I continue, let me say that there are some things that are working. Entire countries are shunning harmful substances. Groups around the world are destroying test crops that are a threat to the environment, and are consistently getting away with it, even in court. The lawsuits are trickling in and Monsanto and the likes are losing big time for polluting buildings and neighborhoods and acres of farmland. As a result of time and money lost, some companies are slinking away from risky ventures like agribusiness. The difference between these actions and those listed in the previous paragraph is that corporations can't disregard a direct hit to the pocketbook, because that's the name of the game. They can ignore angry voices till the rBGH cows come home, but if there aren't obscene profits to harvest, it makes the planting not worthwhile.


How did we get this way? How can weas a society so cheerfully ignore the increasing urgency of the situation? We just shrug our shoulders, throw the kids in the back of the SUV and truck off to Wal-Mart, thinking someone else will deal with it. But that kind of apathy begets a generation exactly like the one before. It all begins at the beginning. We teach our children how to think and behave, and right now our children are taught to conform, and aren't taught to wonder where things come from or how they got there. Intelligence Quotient, accumulation and trend-savvy are revered above emotional intelligence, self-respect and compassion. And it's no wonder they're taught that way because by and large that is what we were taught. We are caught in a vicious cycle where fear dominates freedom, where might is right, and we learn it all before we've even entered school. When it's this deeply ingrained it's no surprise we're at a loss when it's time to show our children something different.

So what do we do? How do you fix a world where 99% of everything is wrong and can be traced back to unconscious social conditioning, that psychological butterfly fart that causes the ego hurricane decades down the line? That is the trillion-dollar question. I almost didn't write this article because I couldn't answer it, but I ultimately decided I needed to ask the question -- there can be no answers until the questions have been asked.

I do know this: we have the capability right now to make a sweeping, permanent change. The Russian Revolution occurred when less than three percent of the population -- only a couple thousand people -- risked everything to fight for political freedom. That's not so unreasonable. There are thousands of people in every corner of the world, from New Delhi to New York, who are concerned about healing the planet, who think people are more important than profits. What is missing is a willingness to shun the rules and risk everything to bring about change. Not that I am advocating violence, mind you, in fact I abhor it. Moreover, violence is mostly unnecessary in the information age. But as long as we languish in the prison of rules we will cover very little ground beyond the worn path along the inside edge of the bars.

It seems like once again it all boils down to fear. Countries like Yugoslavia, South Africa and Chile recently instigated drastic changes when they decided they had nothing left to lose. For them there came a breaking point when there was more to fear in things staying the same than from the repercussions of acting for change. Call me impatient, but I can't wait that long. I don't want it to get to a place where every other person is dying of cancer, or is born with a disorder. We can't wait until we're all gasping for air for the no-holds-barred battle to begin, because then it will be too late. The time to act is now -- no, yesterday -- so that someday we can sit in the grass and watch our grandchildren climb trees and run in wild fields. I hate to advocate fear, but maybe it's time we decided as a culture what we are more afraid of: letting go of the need to acquire more stuff, or watching ourselves waste away in a protracted suicide by creating an environment entirely uninhabitable to Homo Sapiens. Perhaps the best way to achieve that is by measuring the worth of ourselves and others not by whose head we step on to reach the top, but rather how many hands we can grasp and raise up. And (I redeem myself) this is achieved through love, not fear.

Realistically I understand that these things have to happen in steps. I guess I know that it's inconceivable to go from a bleary-eyed, consumerist, illusion-based society to an earth-loving, self-loving, compassionate, aware, progressive system in one dramatic action. Perhaps if we are willing to risk abandoning our fear, one by one we will find a way beyond revolution to evolution.

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