What do we mean by Truth with a capital T?
The Republican Party is based on a growing cluster of denials, distortions and outright lies that some of us will not forgive or forget. Dennis Kucinich put together a list of 35 impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors that included the particulars of lies that pushed us into very costly (in innocents killed and a trillion borrowed dollars) and unwinnable wars. Both the admitted and the unconfessed spying activities which invaded the privacy of millions of Americans, plus the manipulation of intelligence and intelligence gathering agents — go read the list of 35 articles and weep for the shredded Constitution and Bill of Rights, the lost 9th Amendment rights to privacy and to a clean conscience as a citizen. The Declaration of Independence was trashed too. In 8 years of Bush/Cheyny building up their personal wealth with war operations, we lost everything of quality, every virtue, that America ever stood for: morality, integrity, honesty, humility, rule of law., freedom, justice — all out the window.
That’s one inconvenient truth: our loss of everything good we ever stood for.
The inconvenient truth of climate change is another. The inconvenient truths of peak oil now, peak drinkable water now, peak everything on the horizon, as far as the eye can see. The many, many ugly truths of war and waste have been systematically unexamined by our corporate owned mass media who stand to profit by ignoring news unfit for them to print or speak.
In addition to “speaking truth to power” and naming the wrongs, crimes, misdemeanors and dangerous mistakes accurately, we want to speak the truths of pleasure and joy: nurture the deep satisfactions of musicking, dancing, integrating the arts, recreating ourselves in strong local communities that restore human rites of procession, celebration, festival. These joyous events are educational: socialization and learning need not be drudgery. It is important, we believe, to keep the inconvenient truth that faces global reality, and the welcome truths and beauties of our local creativity, in delicate echological balance. No justice without joy, no joy without justice.
What do we mean by Traditions with a capital T?
Those thousands of animistic traditions that peoples all over the world lived by for 99.8% of human existence: feeling the “spirit” in all life forms, honoring reciprocities and gift circulation, maintaining hospitality and generosity, sharing tools and talents in daily life, replanting three trees for every tree cut down, minimizing division of labor, maximizing individuation and Self-expression. Anthropologists have made many different lists of characteristics or culture traits that fit with the amazing diversity of primitive societies, all of them free of the “aggression abroad and repression at home” that always characterizes the rise of so-called “civilization”. We need to reclaim the oldest consensus processes, the New England town meetings that work to keep everyone involved.
Ralph Nader’s “The Seventeen Traditions” (2007) benefited, I am sure, from his sister Laura’s anthropological knowledge of values, beliefs and attitudes around the traditional world. But the book is basically about what Ralph’s parents and siblings valued, talked about around the table, and put into continuous action. A “tradition” is what still works to keep a family together and each individual in it thriving, despite the fact that we live inside “industrial civilization” or on the narrow yellow line in the middle of the “information highway” with traffic zipping by at accelerating speeds in different directions.
To the traditions of classless societies that co-evolved us with Nature for thousands and thousands of years and many hundreds of generations creating languages, myths, dance styles, rich musical creativity, dramas, storytelling, “blueprints” for joyful living, we add the energy of diverse traditions continuing today in all the extended families, small communities, religious institutions of the USA that have survived “the market”. The survival of traditions like Sunday afternoon parades in New Orleans is extremely important. In fact, for me personally, this is what keeps me writing about “truth” and “traditions” as the basis for a party to replace the Republican party; this is what keeps me pumping air through a sousaphone a few times each day, looking for bass lines, seeking out drummers and horn players who can turn the existing world of evil war & waste traditions upside down.
What’s your truth? Which traditions do you count on to make your local everyday world a more satisfying place to live? What wisdom and best practices do you count on to stop the plundering of this planet?