Austerity in the Time of Suffering

I am drawn in completely by the double-edged sword that is austerity.  As a Friend, simplicity is one of the testimonies that we live by and I try my best to practice.  Queries abound on how to interweave this basic tenet into ones life.  I am sure I fall short, but am not belabored, as this is not the goal, just a practice.

Austerity in its best description is the stripping of the unnecessary.  This has one meaning on an individual level.  It must be regarded as a necessary test towards a path of enlightenment.  Yet, the idea of austerity measures in terms of overall societal measures is a crude and unmeasured test of societies willingness to care for those who are unable to care for themselves.

This current pandemic illuminates the need to address the suffering of the least of those like no time before… at least in my lifetime.  We have an opportunity to truly contemplate a way forward that honors what is true and just.  Imagine a way forward that honors the life we would want if the best of ourselves were allowed to be realized.  I often practice a simple exercise of trying to see the child beneath the battered adult I am in commune with.  There lies the truth of our beauty, dare I say our greatness.

We are a nation that has a long history of battering.  If we are honest, our nation was founded on the principle of battering.  Our economic system prides itself on preying on the weak and uninformed.  It is not surprising that we find ourselves here.  Seeds planted before I was born, indeed generations ago, are bearing the fruit of fear and desperation.  

I so honor and love my great dear paternal grandmother.… ancestor and member of the Edisto Natchez-Kusso Tribe; and can only imagine what great atrocities met my ancestors in order to give birth to a nation so very set on destroying an entire ecosystem founded on respect for nature and love of life.  I draw on her power as I try to impart the same wisdom to my own children.  My heart has been ripped from its quarters as I learn the Secretary of Interior orders Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation disestablished.  What great evil is this that seeks to destroy all that is holy?  

I digress, but the pain is not lessened. Yet there is more.  The over 400 years of slavery that has affected not only those that were stripped of their mother country and mother continent Africa and breathes life into all that we know as this United States of America.  When this atrocity was imagined, not only was my beating heart ripped from my body, now it was subject to the ill will and messaging of a master that was more ruthless than the laws of nature.  What African-Americans have been subject to is preternatural.  There is no level of austerity that will pay back this suffering, yet the criminals that continue to perpetrate the evil that robs American descendants of slaves of all our creativity and contribution to the wealth of this nation continues unfettered and under the rule of an unjust system of law.

Yet my body is still mutilated further as a descendant of a strong and beautiful Puerto Rican spirit.  Again, I stand mute as I see this country’s treatment of that most beautiful island that is Puerto Rico.  There is no political party that sees the beautiful sweet island of Puerto Rico as a home to people that are honorable and generous.  The home to my dear uncle who served this country proudly in WWII and suffered shell shock as a result of service.  That I exist, is ultimately a miracle given this country’s measures to annihilate my ancestors.  I am referring to the not so commonly known effort to sterilize Puerto Rican women in the 1960s, a fruit of a program to control population through the Eugenics board and passage of Law 116 in 1937.

That is my pained heritage, and I sometimes wonder of the great mighty strength that still allows me to exist.  That I exist, I know for a fact is a miracle.  That I must suffer is in stride with that of my ancestors, and is indeed the fate of all humankind as they march the path towards enlightenment.

Yet, I digress again.  Here we are in the present and in a nation that continues to use the least of its population to service a few privileged individuals.  In the middle of a pandemic, the wealthy do not even have the foresight to honor those who jeopardize their very life to deliver food and other necessities.  Indeed, one democratic leader has no shame and in the very vain of the great Marie Antoinette… tells her subjects to ‘eat ice cream’! Indeed, they, this entitled 1%, have enacted a law that further creates a divide that is larger than any worldly canyon between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.  If you have not had time, you must take a longer and harder look at the CARES Act. There is no color, no age, no sex that divides the rich from this need to further their own wealth on the backs of … the working class… the essential worker… the poor and the marginalized of these United States of America.  Further contemplate that this is a non-partisan effort to control the masses. Each party ensures your demise… and entices its subjects to pick their poison.  Further digression… therefore… I will stop.

If there is any piece of humanity left in your immortal soul… stop.  Take a moment to contemplate the full history of where this country came from and what seeds this current government is busy planting for future generations.  Forget your ancestry and just answer the real question… Who among us deserves to suffer?  Is it us?  Is it the poor and misinformed?  Is it the brain-washed and the battle-scarred?  Is it you or your children?  Whatever your heritage, if you are not part and parcel of the decision making elite, you will suffer.  No austerity program will relieve you of this suffering. 

In the end, humanity is only one facet of this great earth.  We need not exist that it may move forward. It would be in our interest to tap into the wisdom of our great ancestors on how to coexist with a power that is beyond us.  I stand here as an example of a life not meant to exist.  Yet the wisdom of the universe decided otherwise.  It is in the honor of this universe that I suffer on the behalf of the continuation of all things that must be.  I plead with you to plant seeds of truth in right thought, right speech, and right action.  For all that is holy and just, plant seeds that honor the existence of all humanity.   -In Peace & Light