May Day Street Theater – Corporate Zombies vs. Village People

This is the script for the street theater production that was performed tonight to kick off Occupy Toledo‘s May Day Fest week’s worth of events:

May Day Eve Celebration

Occupy Toledo

April 30, 2012

“The Corporate Zombies vs. The Village People”

Gather around, friends, and hear a story as old as humankind; or rather, hear a story as old as human unkind.  The story is of the many versus the few.  The players names may change, but the plot is the same.  The few have grabbed power for themselves, while the many suffer.  Sometimes it is the peasants versus the Lords of the land.  Other times it is simply the 99% versus the 1%.

In today’s scene, in this land called the United States of America, once again, the land is divided, and power is not shared equally.  The few, the 1%, have shielded themselves from accountability, by hiding behind non-living corporate entities, a phantom called “corporate personhood.”  The few, the 1%, have become corporate zombies themselves, disconnected from humanity, unable to act justly and with compassion.  In this pathetic state, the corporate zombies have managed to distract, divide, and simply overrun the will of the people.  The corporate zombies have even managed to infect many of the people into believing that rampant injustice, economic slavery, and environmental destruction is the best that we can do.  The corporate zombies have convinced many that corporate rule is too big to fail.  The corporate zombies have convinced many that we the people are too small to make a difference.

The corporate zombies mock economic fairness.

The corporate zombies mock democracy.

The corporate zombies mock equal justice.

The corporate zombies mock environmental stewardship.

The corporate zombies mock human rights of all kinds.

The corporate zombies mock accountability, responsibility for their own actions.

But, alas, there is always a plot twist.  Every time that the few, the 1%, grab power for themselves and bring suffering to the many, people arise to expose the absurdities of rampant injustice, to throw off the chains of economic slavery, and reclaim the earth as the home of all, not a place to be raped for the wealth of a few.  In today’s scene, a group of villagers arise (that would be us).  This group of villagers can see past the propaganda of the few, and boldly declare, “The Emperor has no clothes!”

The corporate zombies may mock economic fairness; they may mock democracy; they may mock equal justice; they may mock environmental stewardship; they may mock human rights of all kinds; they may mock accountability.  BUT, the people of this village, Toledo, Ohio; the people of this village, the United States of America; the people of this village, planet Earth, will arise and declare, at first softly, but then, louder and louder:

 

We will, we will mock you.  Mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you!

 

Let the games begin!

But first, a message from our un-corporate sponsors:

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from Corporatitis, an inflammation of corporate power in your life?  Do you, or someone you know, suffer from low wages, poor working conditions, and crappy benefits?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from lack of health insurance, access to needed health care, and an over-exposure to for-profit health care?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from trillion dollar corporate bailouts, costing trillions of dollars, destroying the economy and mortgaging your future?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from greedy money changers, taking kick-backs on every economic transaction you make, and then reducing your life to a credit score?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from greed-induced environmental destruction, having to live with poisoned air, water, land, homes and bodies?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from dependency on energy and utility companies who are the most profitable companies in human history, yet cry poverty when asked to invest in alternative and renewable energy sources?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from greed-induced wars destroying countless lives around the globe?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from an industrial agricultural food system that produces less and less nutritious foods, while destroying local farmers and our environment?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from a political system where so-called democracy is bought and sold to the highest bidder, and you are left with false choices, where true change is not an option.  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from a small cabal of media conglomerates who spoon-feed you crap, hoping to convince you, or at least scare you, that you can’t afford justice, economic fairness, or a livable planet, so you had better just get yours while you can?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Corporatitis, an inflammation of corporate power, affects tens of millions of people, and it can be debilitating.  However, most people suffer from Corporatitis Minor.  While Corporatitis Minor is a serious condition, and should never be left untreated, Corporatitis Minor is much more treatable than the dreaded Corporatitis Major.   Corporatitis in its worst form, Corporatitis Major, can consume one’s very soul, leaving only a shell of a human being, unable to accept accountability for one’s actions, or to demonstrate compassion to others.  These ghoulish creatures become known by many titles, sometimes “CEO”, “Public Relations Manager”, or “Security Trader.”

These ghoulish creatures are doomed to walk the earth in a non-living state, like zombies, walking the earth, mindlessly and heartlessly feeding on the flesh of the living, in their vain attempts to satisfy their endless need for more and more profits.  Entombed within the phantom of “corporate personhood”, their only hope is to be stripped of the mythical powers that imprison them, which are typically represented by “Logos.”  We the people will strip these corporate “logos,” these “marks of the beast,” from these corporate zombies.  By stripping these corporate logos, we will help free those suffering from Corporatitis Minor, and offer some hope, some possibility, that those suffering from Corporatitis Major can return to the land of the living, and reclaim their place in humanity.

To all those suffering from Corporatitis, there is something we can do about it.  First, we start with a week of daily occupy movements, to purge ourselves of these corporate parasites and phantom persons.  Occupy Toledo’s May Day Fest is just such a remedy.  Though, be warned: treatment for Corporatitis may result in an increase in economic fairness, blossoming democracy, a return to equal justice, a reclamation of environmental health, burgeoning human rights, and a natural inclination to take responsibility for one’s own actions.

Do not be afraid, surround these corporate zombies with the power of the people.  Without their corporate bank accounts; without their league of lawyers and lobbyists; without their private security and control over the security state, they are really quite helpless — even pathetic.

Feel free to run circles around them if you like!

And what do we say in response to the Corporate Zombies mocking justice and democracy for real persons:

We will, we will mock you.  Mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

So, let us begin by stripping these corporate zombies of their corporate logos.

Let us line up and take turns, one by one, take a logo, strip it from the corporate zombie, and place the logo in the dustbin of history.

First up, we have The Banking and Finance Industry, aka, “The Money Changers”

The Money Changers mock economic fairness.

The Money Changers insist on reaping huge profits on financial transactions while producing little of real value.

The Money Changers have created a casino economy where they are the house that doesn’t lose, taking their cut whether their gambles with other people’s money wins or loses.

The Money Changers drain off hundreds of billions of tax dollars as a reward for crashing our economy and creating the largest recession since the Great Depression.

The Money Changers then have the nerve to try to reduce the meaning of human life down to a credit score.

And what do we say in response to the Money Changers mocking economic fairness:

We will, we will mock you, mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

We the people will take back our economy.

Next up, we have the Military-Industrial Complex, aka “The War Profiteers”

The War Profiteers represent one of the most profitable businesses on Earth.

The War Profiteers literally make a killing, and people are dying for their business.

In our most recent wars, tens of thousands of Americans have been killed and maimed; and over one million Iraqis and Afghanis have been killed.

This corporate zombie feeds off the flesh of the dead.

The War Profiteers mock the value of human life.

And what do we say in response to The War Profiteers mocking the value of human life:

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

 

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

We will inspire human life, not kill it.

 

Next up, we have the Energy Industry Profiteers, a.k.a., The Billionaire Polluters

The Billionaire Polluters are addicted to petroleum, coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy sources which cannot be sustained, and are destroying the planet.

The Billionaire Polluters resist alternative and renewable energy sources, willing to sell their Mother Earth for a buck.

And what do we say in response to The Billionaire Polluters who mock Mother Earth:

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

You may have the energy, but we have the power!

 

Next up, we have the Media and Communications Moguls, aka “The Propaganda Profiteers”

The Propaganda Profiteers dominate the news industry, silencing diverse voices, and silencing dissent.

The Propaganda Profiteers sellout democracy by pandering to unlimited corporate campaign contributions.

The Propaganda Profiteers dominate our entertainment industry, distracting us with inane entertainment, and cramming advertisements down our throats any time and any place they can, gladly taking the hugely profitable role of shill for consumerism.

The Propaganda Profiteers sell a cheap imitation of the truth while justice is denied.

And what do we say in response to The Propaganda Profiteers mocking truth and justice:

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

 

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

We the people are the medium for change.

Next up, we have the Industrial Food Profiteers

The Industrial Food Profiteers are much more interested in producing food products that can be genetically modified, recombined, packaged, and marketed for maximum profit than they are interested in nourishing humankind.

The Industrial Food Profiteers destroy the livelihoods of small, local, and family-owned farms.

The Industrial Food Profiteers erode topsoil like crack from a crack pipe, and pollute our environment and food with toxins.

And what do we say in response to the Industrial Food Profiteers for making a mockery of one of the most basic human needs — the need for nutritious food:

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

 

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

We will nourish a food system that nourishes people.

Next up, we have The Health Care Profiteers

The Health Care Profiteers purport to run a health-care system.  However, we know that this so-called health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.

Each year The Health Care Profiteers kill over 20,000 Americans each year because of the lack of health insurance.

This Corporate Zombie literally feeds on the sick and injured, the most vulnerable in society.

The Health Care Profiteers mock health care as a human right, denying sick and injured people help that they need, all in the name of profit.

And what do we say in response to The Health Care Profiteers mocking health care as a human right:

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

 

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

We the people demand universal health care now.

 

Last but not least, we have a potpourri of purveyors of personhood of corporations over human personhood — enough corporate misrule to piss off real persons of most any variety.  This is a cabal of Sweat Shop Operators, Environment Destroyers, Labor Rights abusers.

These corporate mis-rulers mock labor rights.

These corporate mis-rulers mock making a decent, honest living.

These corporate mis-rulers mock environmental responsibility.

These corporate mis-rulers mock human values, in order to make a buck.

And what do we say in response to these Corporate Mis-Rulers mocking laborers and mocking the planet in which we all must all live:

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

 

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

We the people will end corporate mis-rule.

 

Now that we have stripped these corporate zombies of their “logos” and placed them in the dustbin of history, we offer these logos up as symbols of the oppression of the people.

[Take DUSTBIN OF HISTORY and place in front of wall (with flame symbols)]

During May Day Fest Week, we will add to this wall symbols representing oppression and barriers to justice and democracy.

[Phoenix egg piñata arises from behind wall.]

We the people, though beaten down, will rise from the ashes, like a phoenix.

We the people will rise above the forces of oppression and the barriers to justice and democracy.

We the people, will end corporate mis-rule!

Let us break open the Phoenix egg piñata to launch Occupy Toledo’s May Day Fest, as we join millions of people around the world in celebrating where true value comes from in our economy, that is, from the honest labors of real people, not from corporate shenanigans, accounting tricks, money changing, or raping Mother Earth.  Let the people rule!  Let May Day Fest begin!

[The Village People take turns hitting piñata until it breaks open, spilling goodies for all]

POLITICAL CARTOON: CEO Jesus Takes May Day Off

CEO Jesus Honors May Day Strike!

Jesus Cartoon: CEO Jesus - May Day Strike

CEO Jesus is willing to honor the worldwide general strike called for May Day.  Of course (probably golf course), taking off May Day doesn’t mean that the help necessarily gets the day off.  I mean really, who’s going to caddy for me on my day off?!  Jesus is likely more familiar with May Day than most Americans, since May Day is celebrated as a labor holiday in virtually every other country besides the United States.  And even though Jesus has established citizenship as a U.S. citizen, he may still have some familiarity with the customs of his old stomping grounds elsewhere in the world.  So, be like Jesus, take May Day off!

So, until next Sunday, with the next edition of CEO Jesus, Doctor Jesus, Comedian Jesus, General Jesus, Country Club Jesus, etc., let me know what you think.

SONG: Occupy The Streets

Here is the world-wide web release of the soon-to-be-hit single, OCCUPY THE STREETS, by Darryl Stipes and Josh Boyd, a Black Hawk Studio Production.  Darryl is producing Occupy Toledo’s upcoming MAY DAY FEST Free Concert.  Hit the streets, again, and again!  THANKS Darryl!!

The Poor Have Suffered Enough

The Poor Have Suffered Enough-POLITICAL BUTTON

The Poor Have Suffered Enough-POLITICAL BUTTON

The Poor Have Suffered Enough-POLITICAL BUTTON

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To even have to say that the poor have suffered enough saddens me.  I would have to rate compassion as one of the top characteristics of what it means to be human.  Unfortunately, the predilection to cause or allow to continue suffering as a way of learning seems to be commonplace.  I’ll be the first one to say that you can learn a lot from suffering.  If you smacked me in the side of the head with a 2 x 4, I suspect that I would probably learn something.  However, that is a crappy reason for smacking somebody on the side of the head with a 2 x 4!  Suffering happens.  I suspect that enough suffering happens that we don’t need to cause it, get in the way of alleviating it, or ignore it for there to be plenty of raw experience of suffering to learn the particular lessons that suffering has to teach.  Like many things in life, I suspect that our attraction to suffering as a means to teach people is closely related to our desire to control other people.  Compassion short-circuits the desire to control other people through suffering, because compassion links others’ suffering to our own suffering.  I think that most people would agree that wanting suffering for oneself is not healthy.  Unfortunately, many fewer people would agree that wanting suffering or others is not healthy.  The idea that people should suffer for their own good is commonplace.  I think this actually means that other people should suffer for our own concept of what is good.  But, how can suffering be not good for ourselves yet good for others?  It strikes me that lack of compassion is the true poverty.  Although quite conveniently, many people might even be willing to tolerate that as long as it doesn’t involve financial poverty.  The simple reality is that many people would gladly trade their spiritual health for financial health.  When asked the proverbial question, “your money or your life?” most people would probably have to think about it for a while.  However, I don’t want to get caught in the either/or thinking that spiritual health is necessarily in conflict with financial well-being.  If we took care of first things first, our spiritual health, which is a communal project, treating one another with love and respect, then we should experience community in such a way that our financial well-being is not threatened.  There is plenty of resources on the planet for the need of all.  There are not enough resources on the planet for the greed of all!  Now, in the rough-and-tumble world that we live in, I believe that those who are spiritually healthy do not generally end up materially wealthy.  I believe that this is due to the simple fact that spiritually healthy people, that is compassionate people, do not commandeer a lot of material resources for themselves in a world where people are starving to death and don’t have the basic necessities of life.  It seems inescapable to me that the only way to get around this reality is to somehow believe that poor people deserve to suffer.  Thus, I pose the simple statement, the poor have suffered enough.  I’d like to think that this is not a question, but a fact.

POEM: Free Will Compelling

I find the experience of free will very compelling.

I like this simple one line poem because it juxtaposes two seeming opposites.  Free will is often viewed as some kind of absolute.  Compulsion is on the other end of the spectrum, except that we also typically view it as some kind of absolute, that which one has no choice about.  Of course, this reminds me of perhaps the only quote I can recall from the complex, sophisticated and difficult-to-read author and philosopher, John Paul Sartre: “We are condemned to be free.”  I view neither free will nor compulsion as absolute.  Free will always has limits, and the very existence of free will and human beings bring some freedom to any situation no matter how compulsory we view it.  However, let’s get back to the poem.  What I mean by finding the experience of free will very compelling, is that it is predictably surprising how free we are, meaning that we always have a choice in any situation.  By exercising our free will, our awareness of this essential and irreducible freedom can grow.  We are faced with an infinite number of choices at any given moment.  If you don’t believe this, you may have just flunked the first question of a creativity test.  The reason I like Jean-Paul Sartre’s quote so much is that it also juxtaposes two apparent opposites.  Being condemned, or forced, to be free.  Of course, this is what drives John Paul Sartre into an existential frenzy, being unable to pin down any ground of our being, or God, he is left with a conundrum of being condemned by some unknown or unknowable reality, yet mystically or coincidentally, he happens to experience the good fortune of gaining freedom within this reality.  In fact, freedom can be viewed as a nuisance, in that facing that infinite number of choices at any given moment, and seeming to have no ultimate basis for making any particular choice, leaves us to our own subjective devices.  I actually find it kind of funny and ironic that Sartre felt so compelled to find the determinants (sic) of free will.  Of course, I’m teasing him a bit.  More fairly, he did groundbreaking work in epistemology, the study of the limits of human knowledge.  Quite obviously, one cannot find the determinants of free will.  However, one may be able to map out certain boundaries to where and how free will operates.  Since he won the Nobel prize for literature, I’ll assume that is genius exceeds mine in this respect, or perhaps, no one could understand what he was saying and thought that giving him a prize might be appropriate to not appear stupid.  In my own experiments with free will, I feel compelled to experiment more — to exercise my free will more and more.  This seems to be more practical than writing a 300+ page book about the structures of consciousness.  But that’s just my choice…

POLITICAL CARTOON: CEO Jesus – Rendering Unto Ceasar

CEO Jesus Loves Tax Time!

Jesus Cartoon: CEO Jesus - Rendering Unto Ceasar What is Ceasar's

CEO Jesus really loves tax time!  Of course, Jesus opposes Imperial Rome just as much as Jesus opposes Imperial United States.  And what’s the best way to bring down a government?  De-fund it!  If paying taxes is evil, then getting the government to pay you must be good.  Now, if you are an individual and the government pays you, then that is no-good, lazy, welfare behavior.  But, if you are a corporation, then it is good business AND morally commendable.  What could be better than to get paid to be good!  And the corporations said, “Let just us reign.”

So, until next Sunday, with the next edition of CEO Jesus, Comedian Jesus, Doctor Jesus, General Jesus, Country Club Jesus, etc., let me know what you think.

Feeling Clean and Safe in Downtown Toledo

Last Friday, while making a sweep of sign posting for Occupy Toledo, I had an encounter with the Clean and Safe Patrol.  Apparently, the Clean and Safe Patrol is an arm of the Downtown Toledo Improvement District, Inc., a 38 block area in downtown Toledo.  An uniformed man riding a bike grabbed the sign I was posting in the middle of posting it.  He declared that this was defacing government property and that they would take the signs down as fast as we could put them up.  I don’t know if that was meant to be some kind of challenge or something, but I just went about my business, as they apparently went about theirs.  In this regard, we’ll just have to let the signs speak for themselves.  Oh, by the way, the signs were bright yellow with simple messages such as “no war”, “stop sexism”, “stop racism”, “abolish corporate personhood”, “stop greed”, “Justice for Danny Brown“, “end homophobia”, and “end corporate welfare.” God forbid that we pollute proprietary business ventures with simple messages of social justice.

Being a former resident of Dearborn, Michigan, I can’t help but be reminded that the motto Keep Dearborn Clean had to do with way more than trash and graffiti.  Keeping Dearborn Clean was really a not-so-subtle code word for keeping blacks and Arabs out of Dearborn.  My experience with the Clean and Safe Patrol seems to have more of a slimy and fascist feel to it than the clean and safe feeling to which they seem to be aspiring.  But hey, if we can’t have justice, we should at least have a clean and safe facade in which to conduct our businesses.

I suspect that Occupy Toledo will be a job creator for the Clean and Safe Patrol.  Maybe we can get a grant or something from the Lucas County Port Authority for such economic development.  I suspect not.  Nevertheless, operation “signs of the times” will continue unabated, and partially abated, thanks to the city of Toledo and the Downtown Toledo Improvement District’s Clean and Safe Patrol.

I’d Give My Right Arm for No Arms

I’d Give My Right Arm for No Arms (bomb graphic) – FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

I'd Give My Right Arm for No Arms (bomb graphic) - FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

I’d Give My Right Arm for No Arms (bomb graphic) – FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

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This design is a really bad pun for a really good cause.  The phrase I’d give my right arm for… paints a rather dramatic picture of what one is willing to sacrifice for something.  Of course, this design carries it even one more dramatic step farther, implying that one might even be willing to give up both one’s left and right arm to end up with no arms if that means disarmament, both literally and figuratively!  I find much inspiration in people who are willing to put some skin in the game.  I find all the more inspiration in people who are willing to put some bone and sinew in the game as well!  What would you be willing to sacrifice for no arms?

In Politics Stupidity Is Not a Handicap

In Politics Stupidity Is Not a Handicap–FUNNY PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

In Politics Stupidity Is Not a Handicap--FUNNY PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

In Politics Stupidity Is Not a Handicap–FUNNY PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

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This funny quote from Napoleon Bonaparte  is particularly funny since Napoleon certainly had many encounters with all types of politicians, so he should know.  While I don’t think that intelligence is necessarily associated with politics, I think that a deficiency of certain types of wisdom is widespread.  Politics is fraught with expediency and compromise.  This marginalizes other ways of living and relating to one another.  Ironically, the quest to triangulate thousands of expedient compromises, even with the intent to preserve and enhance human life, invariably degrades our collective humanity and individual worth in relation to the body politic.   This is another case of vainly seeking to achieve certain ends by means incompatible with those ends.  This necessarily disconnects the natural order of things, that means and ends are connected; and when the connection between means and ends is severed, the meta-message is that life (or politics) doesn’t make sense and that sensible solutions to community problems are irrelevant.  This state of affairs continues because sensibility is not the primary concern, rather, it is power.  Power can be wielded sensibly, but power has the “privilege” of operating insensibly, according to its own whim or interest.  One does not have to have intelligence to wield power, therefore stupidity is not a handicap in politics, the wielding of power in relation to others.  A wisdom that views means and ends as inseparable needs to face the difficult work of forging a way that is far less expedient.  If we didn’t negotiate away (compromise) human rights regularly, then large-scale human endeavors would require an even larger scale of work necessary to preserve human rights.  This is a primary reason why I see anarchism and its critique of large-scale enterprises as so important to understanding the large-scale dehumanizing forces in Western civilization.  If we were committed to healthy human relationships, we would not engage in large-scale enterprises which run over human rights.  Of course, this is seen as impracticable or unattainable; thus, the pervasive sense that individuals or small groups cannot make a difference.  This fatalism is a logical read of the logic inherent in these larger systems.  The systems do NOT value you.  That’s because valuing you has been so compromised out of the system.  People become means, not ends.  Invariably, when people are treated as means rather than ends, they are treated meanly, like so much building material in the dreams of others who wield more power.  For better or worse, the only way out of this seems to be the masses rising up with their own inherent power derived from their will and consent and overthrow the dehumanizing powers that be.  Now, this takes more than wisdom; this requires courage!  I encourage you to rage against the machine.  I encourage you to live in ways that inspire others to fully live and not compromise themselves as they internalize and model so well the compromising of others inherent in modern politics.  To live free is not a guarantee that you “win” (as in the conventional wisdom), but to center your living around the fact that being free is winning.  Live free or die.  The second comes to all of us.  The first is optional.

 

POLITICAL CARTOON: Doctor Jesus – Pre-existing Condition

Doctor Jesus on Call!

Jesus Cartoon: Doctor Jesus - Pre-existing Condition

Welcome to Dr. Jesus!  This is the debut week for Dr. Jesus.  Of all the incarnations in this Jesus comic strip, portraying Jesus as a healer is probably the closest to reality.  Of course, this comic strip is about parody, not straight up facts — at least not in a direct way.  It may seem strange that Dr. Jesus shows up as one of the later characters in this comic strip series.  Nonetheless, it is strangely appropriate that we would have to wait for the doctor.  If this is not a common straight up fact, then I don’t know what is!  Until Dr. Obama offered his prescription for a solution to part of the many health-care dilemmas in the United States, the dreaded pre-existing condition was one of the greatest scourges in healthcare.  Of course, today, the most dangerous pre-existing condition in the United States is not having health insurance, which afflicts about 50 million Americans.  I suspect that Dr. Jesus would’ve been open to prescribing universal healthcare for those around him.  But, of course, his methods are very suspect, as the biblical record seems very weak on documenting sound billing practices on Jesus’ part.  Oddly, in the most wealthy nation in the history of humankind, or perhaps human unkind, we still seem to be deathly afraid of offering healthcare to all people who need it.  Somehow this seems to be tied to money — surprise, surprise!  Even more oddly, the United States spends 50-100% more per capita on healthcare than those other advanced industrial democracies, which all provide universal healthcare.  Further, these other nations that provide universal healthcare all have healthier populations!  For all the talk of running government like a business, shouldn’t getting the most for your health care dollar be a top agenda item?  The reality is that we don’t care to run the government like a business at all, we want to run the government for the benefit of business, not the people.  So, business runs the government.  Business runs the people.  This strikes me as totally backwards.  Perhaps government should assure that business practices are humane and for the benefit of people.  If the government is of the people, for the people, and by the people, then it should serve the people, not just business people.  Jesus was a profound forerunner in occupying healthcare.  Let us join Jesus; let us follow Jesus in occupying healthcare!

Direction Headed

If Do Not Change Direction End Up Where Headed–PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

If Do Not Change Direction End Up Where Headed--PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

If Do Not Change Direction End Up Where Headed–PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

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This is a great Chinese proverb.  Its simplicity and inescapable logic is a powerful way to break us out of inertial thinking.  Western civilization and its fixation on rationality (which ironically brings about irrational consequences), walks right into the inescapable logic of this proverb.  One of the many dangers in life is being desensitized to the negative aspects of the status quo.  Since we tend to rationalize whatever situation or behavior we are experiencing, and, in this respect, reality has a conservative bent, meaning a tendency or a bias towards maintaining what is already in existence and resisting a different course than wherever we happen to be headed.  I’m amazed at the powerful force that cognitive dissonance plays in the human psyche.  As a former health educator and having some training in human behavior, I was surprised to learn that the seemingly obvious assertion that behavior follows knowledge is actually largely backwards.  While knowledge may very well be a necessary component of a particular behavior, it is typically far from sufficient.  More typically, we engage in a behavior and then do what is necessary to align our thinking, attitudes and feelings with that behavior.  This makes sense if you reflect on the relative difficulty of changing behavior versus thinking.  It is usually easier to rationalize than actually make a behavioral change from whatever present course we are on.  So, cognitive dissonance serves as a psychic energy-saving mechanism by aligning a less difficult process in the face of a more difficult behavior or situation.  Of course, the way we think feeds back into our behavior.  Nonetheless, there is some mystical reality to acting on faith, when and where one may sense that a particular behavior may be better than a current one, but one can’t muster the psychic resources to first change one’s larger set of thoughts, attitudes and feelings, before giving the change in behavior a try.   I have heard counselors and therapists marvel at clients who struggled with many issues related to their thinking, attitudes and feelings, and found help on this front to be unhelpful, until taking the advice of “fake it till you make it;” then, found that when they changed their behavior everything else just “magically” fell into place (and, of course, the helper often received little credit for what seemed like stupid advice at the beginning).  Back to the concept of inertia, I’m reminded of the saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Both of these sayings or proverbs imply that the past present and future are connected – duh!  While this may seem oddly oversimplified, it may just remind the reader that we can change the future by changing the present, just as we can assure more of the same by not changing our present course.  If you want something different, try something different.

One last reflection on thinking and behavior change.  Trying to figure out which comes first, thinking or behavior change, is sort of like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg.  For example, what needs to change for someone to actually take the advice of “fake it till you make it?” — a hurdle that may reap a quantum leap of change.   Of course, this can very well involve thoughts and attitudes.  So, maybe you shouldn’t try any of this behavior change mumbo jumbo (that’s reverse psychology by the way…)

Army of One

Army of One – I’d Settle for That – FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

Army of One - I'd Settle for That - FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

Army of One – I’d Settle for That – FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

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This antiwar design is a take off on the army slogan touting the apparent power of an Army of one.  This seems to play on some steroidal individualism, which is a little ironic since the Army is hardly a bastion of individualism.  This parody is actually based on taking the slogan literally.  Wouldn’t it be great if they were just one person in the army rather than millions?  I’d certainly settle for that!  Of course, the compromising attitude of such a statement indicating that one is just settling, adds to the power of the parody.

Yin Yang

PEACE SYMBOL: Yin Yang Symbol 2–BUTTON

PEACE SYMBOL: Yin Yang Symbol 2--BUTTON

PEACE SYMBOL: Yin Yang Symbol 2–BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

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You just have to love the yin yang symbol!  The concept of yin and yang is one of the central concepts in Eastern philosophy, a symbol of the Tao.  The idea of complementariness and interdependence of opposites is essential to understanding life and achieving balance.  Western civilization tends to look toward absolutes and focuses on one or the other side of opposites, that which is considered good.  This is perhaps the foundation of Western imperialism, which presumes an absolute good and then enforces it on the rest of the world.  Imperialism also feeds off demonizing the opposite.  What I find fascinating about complementariness and the interdependence of opposites that seems to naturally give rise to a transcendence of apparent opposites.  Western philosophy includes the idea of some kind of synthesis arising from dialectical conditions, though I think that Westerners tend to reduce this simply to some third absolute rather than what I think is more appropriate mystical other. I am eternally fascinated with the proposition of loving one’s enemies, and I find is perhaps the most challenging practical manifestation of the Tao.  My favorite simple story to illustrate this is about a farmer and his skepticism about being able to determine whether something is good or bad.  The farmer has a valuable horse which runs away, to which his neighbor comments, “that is bad.”  The farmer declares that he is not sure whether it’s good or bad.  The horse returned to the farm with a herd of wild horses.  The farmer’s neighbor comments, “this is good.”  The farmer declares that he is not sure whether it’s good or bad.  The farmer’s son, while trying to train one of the wild horses, is thrown from the horse and breaks his leg.  The farmer’s neighbor comments, “this is bad.”  The farmer declares that is not sure whether it’s good or bad.  The farmer’s nation declares war against the neighboring nation and as the gathering army passes through his province, they conscript many young men along the way; the farmer’s son is not conscripted since his leg is broken.  The farmer’s neighbor comments, “this is good.”   The farmer declares that he is not sure whether it’s good or bad.  Of course, this sequence of events can transpire forever.  I don’t think that such a story an argument against whether good or bad exist, rather it reinforces a deeper wisdom that require some skepticism about affixing unmovable labels of good or bad on any given situation.  What strikes me as the deeper truth is that bad situations can be redeemed and bring about good, and that there is a shadow to good situations that can degrade into bad.  Appreciating and aligning oneself with this flow seems to be the purpose of the Tao.  Of course the first line of the Tao Te Ching, is that the way that can be described is not the way.  Then, ironically, the Tao Te Ching does it’s best to try to describe the way.  Such is the paradox inherent in reality.  This is probably a good reason why a more abstract symbol is appropriate for reflecting the Tao than words.  Sometimes silence is the best.  Or, like I like to say, sometimes buttoning up says it best!

Hate Free Zone

Hate Free Zone – Pink Triangle (Rainbow Heart) – Gay Pride Rainbow Store BUTTON

Hate Free Zone - Pink Triangle (Rainbow Heart) - Gay Pride Rainbow Store BUTTON

Hate Free Zone – Pink Triangle (Rainbow Heart) – Gay Pride Rainbow Store BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more Anti-Homophobia Buttons.

This simple design with a pink triangle declares a hate free zone.  Of course, the pink triangle signifies gay pride which is a reclaiming and redemptive response to the evil and hateful symbol that was used by the Nazis to mark persons as homosexuals in society and in concentration camps.  Some folks, typically religious folks, say that they can condemn people such as homosexuals without hating them, and in fact, love them while condemning them.  I think that this is a tricky a nuanced position the ultimate comes down to one big rationalization: we have the right to condemn others.  This rationalization comes easy because it’s hard to imagine a society with its many orders and stratifications that is not built somehow on condemning one another in one way or the other.  From a religious perspective, I think this boils down to one’s conception of hell.  Many religious folks believe that God condemns people to eternal damnation in some form of hell.  Gladly, I am not one of those folks.  I believe that hell is a totally human creation that completely misrepresents an all-loving and unconditionally loving God.  Hell is a convenient notion to justify one’s own hate and fear of others, and have a justifiable place to condemn those we dislike.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe in hell.  I just believe in hell on earth.  Not the Earth is necessarily a hellish place, but humans certainly do have a capacity to create hell on earth, and there’s more than enough of it to go around. It’s hard to imagine why God would have to add to the hells we’ve created.  I find it quite ironic that John 3:16, probably the most quoted biblical scripture on the planet, is immediately followed, in verse 17, about how Jesus’ purpose on this planet is not to condemn the world but to save it.  Maybe these two things are actually tied together; perhaps salvation is living in the reign of non-judgment and being free from condemning others and what I believe to be the necessary hate and fear that comes with that. Unfortunately, hate and fear are much easier to sell.  Thus, the difficult job and challenge of religion is to demonstrate non-judgment in such a profound way that we don’t have to “sell” it, because we’ve already paid for it with our lives, or how we live our lives.  I think Jesus freed us from fear of death, not from being persecuted unto death.  Both hate and love have a cost to them.  I supposed  the only real question is which of them is worth paying for.

 

POLITICAL CARTOON: CEO Jesus – Birthers

CEO Jesus Arises to the Occasion!

Jesus Cartoon: CEO Jesus - Re-Birthers Press Conference

CEO Jesus really rises to the occasion this week of Easter!  What could be tougher than answering the difficult and often inane questions put forth at a press conference?  In his first go around, Jesus’ public relations department really had a big gaffe by sending two women to witness the resurrection.  In Jesus’ day, women were not considered reliable or viable witnesses.  What was he thinking?  Of course, the modern-day CEO Jesus understands the complexities of oppression in Western civilization.  These days, proper paperwork and avoiding getting bogged down in innuendo are the armor and shield of modern management.  There’s no question that many modern folks doubt the actual physical resurrection of Jesus.  For me, that’s less the point than addressing truth in an upfront and Jesus like manner — actually living a life that witnesses to the profound truth that life is stronger than death.   In these modern times, with all of our science and technological sophistication, obfuscation of the truth is as old school as ever!  This week’s parody is on the birthers.  Who needs facts when simple doubt will do?  Why accept evidence when such realities don’t suit one’s biases and bigotries?  When Jesus appeared before Pilate, Pilate mocked the irrelevancy of truth, with his classic rhetorical question, “What is truth?”  In the end, Pilate just tested the political winds and gave the mob what they wanted.  Some things never change.

Interestingly, modern day evangelical Christians seem more interested in proper documentation through theological litmus tests and dogmas of belief in whether one should receive the proper credentials of being “born again” than the incarnate power of Jesus boldly witnessing to the reality that life is stronger than death, and good is stronger than evil.  Rather than exchanging résumés of belief, I would suggest that they will know we are Christians by our love, not our doctrine.  Unfortunately, for human control freaks, the way of love is way too wild and free.  By reducing deep spiritual truths to belief and dogmas, institutional religion is born, again, and competition for brand control become the preeminent reality.  Jesus rocks, quite literally on Easter, but I find that Christianity often gets in the way of following Jesus.  Wherever you are entombed in your life, come out!  Hmm…is that Jesus calling?

POEM: Metaphors be with you

Metaphors be with you

This simple one line poem which is only four words is a takeoff on the Star Wars saying, may the force be with you.  Is it any surprise that one of these four words is a pun?  Of course, I love metaphors way more than Star Wars, which I enjoy quite a bit.  I love metaphors because they can hit you right in the face with an apparent literal meaning while simultaneously launch a much grander and ephemeral meaning.  I suppose that literalists are confused by metaphors.  However, I might note that literalists are confusion.  This poem is also a simple blessing that the metaphor rich reality in which we live is ever accessible to you.  Like another poem of mine, everything else reminds me of everything else.  Rather than a reality that is barren of meaning, reality is so robust with meaning that it nearly busts out everywhere.  So, metaphors be with you!

Will Work for Change

Will Work for Change-POLITICAL BUTTON

Will Work for Change-POLITICAL BUTTON

Will Work for Change-POLITICAL BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more Political Buttons.

I like this simple design because it has two meanings for the price of one.  Hopefully, the obvious meaning is that one will work for social change.  However, the other meaning, that one will work for a mere pittance, is a backhanded commentary on low wages and the all too common inability to earn a living wage for one’s labors.  What may be less obvious, is how I combine these two things in my own life.  First, I will gladly work for social change and social justice.  Secondly, living my life in a simple fashion, which I typically call living low to the ground, allows me the freedom of working for social change, while minimizing the worries of wage slavery, the difficulty of earning enough money for a decent living.  The simple fact is that the less money you spend and the less you consume, the less money you need to live.  Friends occasionally ask me, “How’s the button business.”  I am likely to respond something like, “it depends on what metric you might measure that by.”  The most important metric, the one that I judge my success and my business’ success is “I LOVE MY LIFE!”  The rest is details.

What Are Conservatives Conserving?

What Exactly Are Conservatives Conserving (Earth) POLITICAL BUTTON

What Exactly Are Conservatives Conserving (Earth) POLITICAL BUTTON

What Exactly Are Conservatives Conserving (Earth) POLITICAL BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

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What exactly are conservatives conserving?  This is a great question!  Of course, I love the play on the similar root of the words conservative and conserving.  Conservatives love talking about freedom.  However it seems that if we listen to conservatives we would be free to live in a world that is being consumed by all of its so-called free human beings, and all these human beings would be competing to no end against one another.  Sounds like a crappy version of freedom to me.   Freedom without understanding and honoring the limits of the natural world seems to me to be simply a license to ignorantly destroy the planet and all of its inhabitants.  Of course, the shared reality of the natural world, if it is going to be protected for the benefit of humanity, must put demands and limitations on human freedom.  Human beings, though seen as the pinnacle of reality by many, are certainly not exempt from the feedback or karma that the rest of reality causes in response to our actions.  Oftentimes, when I hear conservative speaking of freedom, it sounds to me like some immature fantasy of being free from anything and everything (or anyone).  However, I believe that true human wisdom lies in discerning what we should do, not simply what we can do (or get away with).  Reality gives plenty of good feedback about what we actually can’t do, so the obsession with freedom seems to me to be a sort of moot question.  Like the existentialist philosopher John Paul Sartre says, “we are condemned to be free.”  Freedom actually isn’t even a choice; we are born free.  Certainly, living in community with other human beings is a complicated and difficult thing.  However, it strikes me as foolish to ignore or greatly discount all the great things that we get from community as somehow too fuzzy or somehow reducible to some  individualistic form of math (the whole equals the sum of the parts, not more) that need rely only on some “invisible hand” to do the difficult and messy work of creating and maintaining a healthy and functional community.  In the end, it seems to me that what conservatives are conserving is the right to be selfish – more of an excuse than a human right.  Then, to get out of this amoral or evil conundrum, they claim that selfishness is the highest form of selflessness or benefit to the common good.  I suppose it’s very difficult to argue against an ideology that creates both its central tenet in its exact opposite.  Let them eat cake and keep their cake to.  What could be more conserving than that?

Mock Funeral – Occupy Toledo

Yesterday, April 1st, April Fool’s Day, was the one and only performance of Occupy Toledo‘s Mock Funeral — in life (and death) there are no rehearsals, this is it!  If you missed it, I truly hope that you were doing something else as fun and inspiring!  Thanks to all the players, readers, eulogizers, ushers, HOMElessLAND SECURITY, providers of food, and all who helped make Occupy Toledo’s RE-BIRTHDAY possible.  We rose like a phoenix from the ashes!!  Occupy Toledo will re-start the physical re-occupation of Toledo on May1, May Day, the day of a worldwide general strike!  Join us May 1 in Levi’s Square, downtown Toledo, St. Clair at Madison.  In the meantime you can come help plan the occupation of Toledo at our General Assembly meeting every Wednesday at 6:30 pm at Third Space.

Below is a picture of our own Rev. Ed Heilman serving as mock preacher (note the dollar sign on his bishop’s hat and the dollar sign cross on the altar)

Mock Funeral Preacher (Rev. Ed Heilman)Here is Occupy Toledo’s Obituary from the Mock Funeral:

“Occupy Toledo was born October 10, 2011, to it’s parents, the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. Born of hope, Occupy Toledo burst onto the scene in its own charmingly childish way. However, from the birth of Occupy Toledo, few people could understand what it wanted. Onlookers mumbled again and again: “What do they want?” “I don’t get it.” Occupy Toledo flailed around for about 6 months until it realized that it was too small to succeed. After scrutinizing corporate behavior, Occupy Toledo in due course discovered that the nobility of American corporations was unparalleled. The dearly departed realized that in these great United States of America, injustices are so few and far between, that it could no longer even occupy itself. Unavoidably, Occupy Toledo came to its senses, recognized its irrelevancy, and accepted that resistance to corporate rule is futile. Fortunately, in the end, Occupy Toledo had gained at least the good sense to crawl into a coroner’s office and die. Occupy Toledo died on April 1, 2012, due to apathy. Protesters were the Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2011. Gracefully, protesters like Occupy Toledo are stepping aside to make room for the inevitable Time Magazine Person of the Year for 2012: the Corporate Person, born of Citizens United, the true will of human persons across America. Occupy Toledo is survived by countless cousins around the country, many of whom have not achieved enlightenment, so they have not yet abandoned their vain struggles against corporate America, which is obviously too big too fail. The bad news is that Occupy Toledo is dead. The good news is that its condition is stable.”

Below is a picture of our own local activist doctor, Johnathon Ross, M.D., reading Occupy Toledo’s Death Certificate and pronouncing its death.

Mock Funeral Doctor (Johnathon Ross, M.D.)Here is Occupy Toledo’s Death Certificate from yesterday’s Mock Funeral:

“I hereby certify that Occupy Toledo, born October 10, 2011, has died on this day, April 1, 2012. The immediate cause of death was apathy. The underlying causes of death included: 1) an atrophied brain due to an overexposure to TV news and infotainment, talk radio, and so-called “reality” TV; 2) learned helplessness, due to an enlarged gullibility, making it susceptible to corporate propaganda and so-called political pundits; 3) a weakened constitution due to lack of exercising freedoms and widespread metastases of planetary consumption; and lastly, 4) pure exhaustion from running on the treadmills of trying to earn enough to maintain a decent household and fend off crushing debt.”

Of course, after the 1% overstepped their hand with their crass compulsions (by bidding on the Phoenix egg for their breakfast), the Phoenix’s prophecy was fulfilled:

“Hear this prophecy: The crass compulsion of the few to buy anything and everything is complete. The few dare to literally buy and consume the HOPE of the many. Because of this abomination of the few, the Phoenix’s prophecy is complete. The many, the 99%, Occupy Toledo, will be re-born one month from today in this same place. HAPPY RE-BIRTHDAY OCCUPY TOLEDO. Join us on May 1, May Day, a world-wide general strike, for the re-occupation of Toledo. Thus speaks the Phoenix, ‘You, the many, the 99%, shall arise again and be free. Join together with the peoples of this land and from around the world, and the few, the 1%, will be vanquished.’ “

Below pictured is yours truly, Dan Rutt, alias “Top Pun” (it’s just, my pun name), with the HAPPY RE-BIRTHDAY card placed over the tombstone announcing the re-occupation of Toledo.

Mock Funeral RE-BIRTHDAY CARD! (Dan Rutt as Funeral Director)

Here is some Toledo Blade coverage for the Mock Funeral.

If you’d like to read the Occupy Toledo Mock Funeral script, you can re-live the event, or get a greater taste of the drama of the day.  Here is a printer-friendly PDF version of the Mock Funeral of Occupy Toledo.

POLITICAL CARTOON: Comedian Jesus – Tough Crowd

Comedian Jesus Speaks!

Jesus Cartoon: Comedian Jesus - Tough Crowd

Well, this week marks a difficult week for comedian Jesus.  As is the case with many standup guys, one day they get adulating crowds, then the next day they get deeply disappointed crowds.  It is the fickle reality of a comedian.  Upon Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem for Passover, the crowds went wild and it seemed that he could do no wrong.  However, by the end of the week, Barabbas, the crowd-pleasing insurrectionist, would be the flavor of the day.  Fortunately, for those patient enough to stick with Jesus, he’s working on some really great new material for next week, and presaging a deadpan Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesus matter-of-factually reminds his crowd, “I’ll be back.”