In a sense, you could say it’s strange that I like religion and politics so much considering how little they’ve ever done for me. I’m surprised no one has ever called me out on this before.
But let’s be honest. Has either ever really been helpful to you? If you’re like most people in America today, the truthful answer is a resounding no. It’s why most people try to ignore both as often as they are able.
At the end of the day, though, I’m a sucker for hopeless causes, and I once had a vision that I’d like to briefly share.
It wasn’t mountains that I saw, nor eagles, nor ancestors, nor spirits, nor utopias. In my vision I was in an office in the present day, me and several hundred other people all in this one big office room. It was nearly the size of a football stadium and was crammed from end to end with small beige felt-lined cubicles. Row on row ran the cubes, each a mere three feet high so that even those who were seated could clearly be seen from anywhere else in the room. Each one had its own computer with not one but two monitors. In those cubes and attached to those screens, day in and day out, lived all these hundreds of people.
In a semi-circle around the giant field of human boxes were the offices, each one occupied by one of the lucky ones, the powerful ones, the ones there to make sure nothing would be done wrong and everything would be done right. They were in charge of squeezing more blood and sweat from each of the cubicle workers, eliminating them when possible, and making certain that they never, ever felt safe.
It wasn’t just that the workers had no representation and were terribly afraid of banding together in order to advance their own interests. This by itself, of course, was bad enough. But the workers spent so much energy in their daytime-boxes that they had little time when they got home to enjoy their loved ones, or even very much of their lives. They inhabited a culture that thrived on triviality but failed to properly mark the progressions of the seasons, failed to celebrate, failed to rest, failed to enjoy one another and life itself in a collective sense. They had no place to go and very little to look forward to. Promotion meant hellish increases in labor and mental strain while termination was akin to a little death.
At some point during this vision, I snapped out of it a little, looked around me, and realized that this was no dream and no reverie – that it was actually my real life. This was what it had come to. And for myself and for every unhappy person I saw “living” out in front of my eyes, it was plain as day that religion and politics had utterly failed us all.
It was politics which had failed to deliver us justice or a voice or the ability to speak frankly with one another. Perhaps worse, however, it was religion and spirituality which had failed to deliver us a means by which to cope, to rest, to actually take some semblance of joy and significance from this existence, such as it was.
All this, of course, is too big for me to fix on my own. I see only the politics of corruption, fear, and surrender, see only the religion of irrelevancy and cruel inquisition, yet for some reason I still believe that well-executed politics can deliver freedom, equality, and brotherhood/sisterhood. Still believe that well-executed spirituality can deliver wonder and communion and mystical delight. It is these convictions that compel me to write, to contribute, to at least see if I can wring from my tiny moments of free time and meager reserves of spare energy something helpful, even if only to a few.
So, you may still be wondering, what is this strange place?