Just Being

You know, I sometimes resent being forced to be something I’m not.  In these days of tolerance and letting people be themselves, the bullies have taken over, forcing the rest of us to clean up their messes.  Take politics, for instance.  I have no interest in it.  From the beginning of this nation to the present the political inbreeding has been obvious.  Wealthy families presuming that riches mean you know how to govern—since the beginning they have set the tone.  Voting is always important, but how can you be anything else when you need to be a constant political activist just to assure politicians are actually doing their jobs?  I’m no micromanager—in fact I’m okay with just getting by.  Still, I feel compelled to spend my time keeping an eye on corrupt politicians.  How are you supposed to write books?  Imagine what we could accomplish if they’d just do their job!

Or consider business.  It’s tax season.  Every New Year marks the time when you need to keep track of what you spend on what because accountants, backed by politicians, can’t keep their noses out of other people’s money.  You want to eat?  Find a place to sleep out of the incessant rain?  Then you have to play the capitalist game.  There’s no opt out short of heading under the bridge and going through trash cans for your next meal.  Those of us who are creative don’t really impose our wills on others.  You don’t like what I write?  Don’t buy my book.  (And I speak with authority on this particular point!)  Nobody forces you to look at art.  (Although they do force you to listen to music in many stores, even if you’d rather shop in silence.  This, I think, is a business decision.)

Image credit: Warren K. Leffler, public domain, via Library of Congress

One of the reasons a monastic vocation appealed to me even as a young Protestant was that I need time to think things through.  To contemplate.  To try to make sense of all of this.  I’m not motivated by money or power.  I want to be with others who just want to be.  I’m not lazy and I don’t mind being productive.  It’s just that, well, can’t things not be about money for a while?  Can’t politicians just act like actual adults with a moral center for a time?  The religious leaders who managed to do this were quickly commodified.  In this cloud-smitten winter I’m in the mood for lament.  Some of us want to live authenticly, but those with power and money simply won’t allow it.

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