Echo’s of an America that Might Yet Be

a love song, for the feminine aspect of "media" -
the conciliatory side of the Fourth Estate,
from a retired warrior poet ...

First, I must express that America is a most dangerous Idea.  Those who seek power, to dominate, to enslave, ... these are frightened of what America actually is.  They want to eliminate the true America from History.

Second, I must apologize for having to use the least poetic way of expressing what “Media” is.  That term itself is sad, abstract, and does violence to what people working in this social realm do, who in the not too distant past were rightly called members of “the Fourth Estate” for their value to Society.  It is a most honorable profession, and the Founders pointed to this when they included the privileges of the Press at the beginning of the Bill of Rights: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances".

Were we to carefully contemplate, as poets sometimes need to, we would learn to see that a Society is a living organism, not an abstract mechanism.  This “media/press” profession works in what has to come to be called: the heart of the heart of the social organism.  Media can mediate the balances and harmonies in the living bloodstream of ideas, which helps the people they serve come to a honest and real self-understanding.  Media/press stands in between a government and their people.  Who do they serve?

And yes, I know that commercial based news organizations do not seem to be doing this art at all well.  In fact, major commercial Media, in treating the whole four-year presidential election Rite like some kind of horse race, or popularity contest, establishes that they (major Media) haven’t a clue as to what America truly is.  America is an Idea, and a political contest that is not about Ideas misses the whole point.  And, I use the term “Rite” for a reason.  Every four years we have this potential Rite, for public service is a sacred trust, and this Rite ought to renew the American Spirit - the Idea, but instead the vain and the ambitious eat at this Idea like some kind of treat served especially for the arrogant and ignorant.

Somehow major media doesn't get the truth that rides in on the intuitive words "clown car", when it comes to the talentless folk trying to win the Republican presidential nomination.  Why does this aspect of the media/press not get it that truly qualified Americans do not want to run for office, because the excesses of media/press scrutiny lack any sense of sane limits at all.  We do not have a "right" to the intimate private lives of public servants.  No one is perfect, and the major media/press confound the situation by asking all manner of silly and inappropriate questions, while at the same time accepting any lie without batting an eye at all.

Do we want/need a media/press that gets to admit no weaknesses for themselves, while judging the rest of us for our smallest flaws?  The English poet Yeats wrote at the beginning of the 20th Century: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."  Clown car indeed.  The promises of every single presidential candidate, of whatever party, run afoul of the reality that the Legislative Branch, was by the Founder's intentions, given more powers than the Executive Branch.  Americans have constructed a Myth around the office of the President, all the while not really knowing their own true powers as "We the People".

Major media/press tend in this to be more of a problem than they are a solution.

This situation is, however, not what any single aspect of this “media/press” - this information/knowledge commons does, but rather how the totality works together. We know today, for example, that “social media” supports the birth of revolutions; and, that the Internet, via smart phones, gives instant access to much of what goes on everywhere in the world almost immediately.  Modern “media” - in its world-wide wholeness - is largely free from commercial restraints.  This is no small or inconsequential matter in the history of letters.  Were this not the case, many governments would not try so hard to control and limit people's access to the truth, to control our thoughts, and declare that nothing is private and cannot be invaded using the magic incantation: "national security".

I am concerned here with helping at least some members of this heart of the heart become better able to care for and support Americans (the People of Peoples) through what is obviously a grave crisis of maturation.  The Revolutionary War tore us free from the powers of the aristocrats of blood.  The Civil War kept us from falling into the confusion of not understanding the importance of unity - out of many, one.

The current War, which I am calling the Grandmother War, may well be the last chance to save the American Spirit from Itself, for certain very powerful inclinations, in too many of the entrepreneurial aspects of that Spirit, seem unable to discipline themselves for the benefit of the whole.  As well, Presidential elections continue to bring out the worst in many of us, for ambition towards power is never really a virtue.  Such ambition is too self-absorbed in its own righteousness, from whatever part of the political spectrum it arises. 

What point is there to tearing down America in order to show how good you will be in fixing it and making it better?  There is nothing wrong with America.  Nothing. The problem, as it were, is the language used to convey the Meaning of our public life.  That language is abused, tortured, and fallen.  It will take a media/press savvy and wise enough to realize that giving so much time to angry voices will not improve either the self-understanding of Americans, or any kind of wise Way of facing the dire sea of troubles we all face.  All of us, rich and poor alike.

All the same, there is a difficulty.  We’ve forgotten where the real power lies.  We - Americans - have, as is obvious when we ask the right questions, more in common than there are differences.  We are neither just black or white, rich or poor, republican or democrat.  Rather, we are, fundamentally, all Human Beings, and the coming storms will rain on us all.  No one will be able to hide, and the social tsunamis coming out of history’s future will not obey princes, any more than they will obey paupers.  A house divided against itself will fall, and commercial media seems hell-bent on keeping the divisions alive, because (I suspect), political savagery makes for a better story.

People are really not as angry as they seem.  Frustrated, depressed, ... certainly.  But the deeper emotion - the more powerful emotion - is sorrow.  We grieve.  In the last decades, filled with the murder of too many of our beloved and needed leaders, real hope seemed to disappear.    We grieve over lives destroyed in 9/11, or over the rough seas of endless vanity wars, which have killed and harm so many of our best children.  Everywhere Americans have reasons to grieve.  Yet, American movies have happy endings because we - Americans - believe happy endings are there to be had.  Where in all that negative and angry verbiage of the political campaigns is a recognition of the far greater part - the things we get right, have gotten right, and will continue to get right on into the future.

People watch the local evening news.  This person was shot in a nearby neighborhood.  These kids died in a car accident.  Those families lost their apartments to a fire.   That news is not the truth.  That news is cherry picked for the ugly and the awful, the tragic and crazy sad.  The reality is that the far far greater part of that community had people who were not shot that day.  Did not have their kids die in a car accident; and, whose houses did not burn down.

Somebody has to remind us of why America is America.  Why people want to come here.  It is not that the People don’t know this, but it is hard to remember - this part of our own hearts - amidst the constant angry noise.  Sure, America is somewhat the world’s adolescent child.  We were (and are being) given birth out of the rest of the peoples of the world, in a grand experiment by the Genius of History, in order to discover whether or not a free people - free of ancient traditions and languages and cultures - could find a Way to govern themselves. 

America is also, and has been for most of the 20th Century, the Hope of the World. Millions want to come here.  More millions want us to rescue them from the despair of their own lives.  That this is not always possible, does not change what dreams come from the mere existence of a place like America.  The Beacon of the City on the Hill warms many hearts that suffer.

There is also a great confusion, which too is true everywhere.  This confusion is to fail to distinguish a People from their sitting Government.  All peoples endure governments, which arise from an aggregation of pirates, wolves, and other selfish folk, that gather wherever power can be grabbed, stolen, or bought.  But the Russian People, the American People, the Chinese People are not their sitting governments.  These Peoples are that which endures the excesses of those who cheat and steal and murder for the love of power and of money.

The American Experiment was an effort to create a society where the People ruled, not aristocrats of either blood or wealth.  The constitution begins: “We the People” and ends in the 10th Amendment: “powers not granted are reserved to the People”.  Our central governments, at the National, State, or municipal levels, have a temporary and limited grant of power from the People.  The American People are the real government, and Washington D.C., and Wall Street in New York City, have to follow our rules.  In fact, the rule of law is meant to apply to all.  No exceptions.  Factually, the only truly Just Laws come from the Consent of the Governed.  That is the fundamental social contract on which the American Experiment was based, and its time for the People to remind the politicians, and the financiers, just who is in charge.

Such a process of reminding, we can hope, will not need to get too ugly.  If some in the media/press start to change the language they use, a song just might be heard - a forgotten song of the real meaning of America

It is basically a simple attitude adjustment.  A little lesson in Civics.  The American Experiment is a most beautiful Idea, and it would help a lot if at least some in the media/press would let the voices of the poets and sages that are out there come along and remind all of us  of that simple fact.  Voices without an agenda.  Voices in celebration.  Walt Whitman’s joy in the enduring nature of the America people needs to never be forgotten.

Like him, we sing America.  We sing Her shadow and Her light.  We sing America, and America sings us.  Each individual human being is a work of Art.  And, a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people, is also a work of Art.  Lets turn back on the light of the fire of truth, and with that drive back the fearful and crazy dark. 

What might we see, with the right kind of illumination?  Much is already there in the wisdom of the poet-singers, from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen and from Woody Guthrie to Paul Simon.  Media/press needs to celebrate the common folk, which make America possible. 

There is both a collective unconscious and a collective imagination.  Our modern Age is not just a vanity of historical crazy.  It is Myth in Action.  This Age will be remembered, in part, as the first century of the Third Millennium - an Age of Crisis so profound that the Hopi Indians of America's Southwest called it, in their oral histories and prophecies: the Day of Purification: a thousand year alchemical transformation of the interior life of human beings.

A presidential campaign, while full of portent, is merely a stage show, played against a background of rising seas, coming plagues, and a complete metamorphosis of Western Civilization - a dying into a new becoming, as the poet Goethe wrote of all “organic” changes.

Some candidates are “lightening rods” for the growing disappointment of the citizenry in their political leadership.  As the Founders understood, in the Declaration: “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

Ordinary Americans, the true government, suffer a sea of woes.  Their patience, while remarkable, is near its ending.  More and more the basic refrain is: Enough is Enough.

If we ignore what the candidates “say”, and pay attention to what the ordinary extraordinary Americans “do”, we gain insight into the real nature of a free people, and their wise and instinctive understanding of the social contract: “work hard, play by the rules, and mind your own business.”  Since the financial crisis of 2008, it has become more and more clear that the 1% of the 1% has violated that fundamental agreement needed for a sane society to function in a psychologically healthy way. 

If we follow the news of the strange, we see everywhere the fracturing of the souls of sensitive human beings unable anymore to make sense of this world.  These are the canaries in our social “coal-mine”.  School shootings, endless increases in drug use, --- these people are not tuning in, but they are dropping out.  They are also getting more and more frustrated and angry.

Governments, confronted with this increase in social chaos, tend to tighten their controls.  Surveillance increases.  Local police are militarized.  The socially deviant young are relocated to prisons.  Voting rights are constrained.  Laws are passed which make the protests, so common in the ‘60‘s and ‘70‘s, now defined as “domestic terrorism”.

Tragically, whatever pressure is asserted by those who insist on "their" right to rule, the human spirit is incompressible.  That Spirit  will not be confined.  Armed revolutions become sane to many.  If those in the Fourth Estate - especially those whose natural tendency is for compromises of the heart - were to begin to find a way to let the poets and sages be heard once more, the collective social heart of the heart might just contain the song that is needed, the music that soothes the savage breast.

More than anything, what is needed, is Art.  Political campaigns and the news stories that report them, are about as artless as it is possible to be.  The American People want to believe in themselves.  Let us help them find such graces as are needed, for all the world will benefit thereby.

It should not be overlooked, and ought not to have to be stated, but the organic living development of the history of Peoples reveals that what makes an American, an American, is a slowly being born Universally Human trait.  That trait is everywhere in the world.  What being an America is, is not confined to the geographic America.  A most modern example of this gradually unfolding human truth is a man, holding some grocery bags, standing in front of a tank in Tianamen Square.  He refuses to Consent.

Make no mistake ... there is a war going on in America, but it is between the ostensible government and the real government.  “We the People” are the real government, and the holders of a temporary and limited grant of power from Us, are making war on Us.  On their own People. 

Whether it is through gerrymandering, or unreasonable voter registration rules, or killing our children in unnecessary wars, or stealing the wealth in the Social Security Fund and spending it on corporate welfare, or legislative gridlock,  - there is a long long list of politicians not serving Us, but serving others instead.

What is broken then is not the American People, but the political class which has lost its Way.  Yet, instead of this political class confessing to their constant overreaching, they claim it is the Nation, the Country - that it is America that is broken.  America, its True Spirit, is not broken, just somewhat forgotten.

Think about it.  The People still get up every single day, and go to work, creating the wealth through their labors, and creating the future by raising the children, well all the while the ostensible government makes this harder and harder and harder, by ignoring our needs in favor of the unjustified hungers of the 1% of the 1%.

The movie (which does not even have to be made, if people just read or otherwise hear of it): The Grandmother War, is about what We can do to right the ship of State, for certainly the holders of wealth and power have no desire at all to do what needs to be done.  Only We the People, acting outside of politics, can - with wisdom - do what is required.  Who else has paid the costs, and borne the sacrifices.  Not the politicians, who vote for wars and then stay at home out of harms way.  We the People always do the hard lifting, and if I was a politician looking at these next years, I’d get down on me knees, confess, and beg forgiveness.  The French fixed this kind of selfishness with Madam Guillotine.  We can do better, so lets get about it before the angry passions connected to too much sorrow and pain get further out of control.

Joel A. Wendt*, warrior poet, ... and some other stuff:

“America Sings” - a poem: PNfKPWswe-w
“the Grandmother War”: a tale needing to be told:
“I - an individual human being - no longer Consent”: 
In Silent Rage Against the Dark - The America People: Tasks, Trials, and Aspirations
National Insecurity
The Real Traitors to the Republic: Major Media
the village at the foot of the mountain