The Good Life

I have a confession to make. Zen Potluck was never supposed to be about politics. Visit my About Page and you’ll read my simple pledge to talk about sustainable, conscious living, and yes, maybe even food.

You see, my partner and I like to cook and break bread together. Regardless of schedules, we manage to commune at the dinner table most days to share a nourishing home-cooked meal and each others’ company. To me, that’s the good life. Plus, I increasingly recognize how solid, present, conscious time is our most precious gift. We don’t live forever, and we won’t solve the world’s problems in at least two lifetimes. So why get all wrapped up in politics?

The 2008 presidential campaign justified paying attention to politics on so many levels. For starters, America was likely to elect its first-ever female or African-American president and move in a promising new direction. So like many I jumped in, became a delegate, got caught up in human interest stories about the candidates and to a lesser extent pure politics. Then shortly after midnight on November 5th, 2008, I turned in with a smile on my face and vowed to get back into the kitchen.

Okay, so apparently things haven’t worked out so well. My president overplayed his compromise card with the opposition party plus handed out too many free passes to Wall Street. He stood too long on the sidelines while Congress and the media framed an absolutely bizarre healthcare debate. He took some hits without swinging back.

As Norman Goldman said today, Obama tried too hard to lead like a genteel legislator, owing to his Senate experience, rather than govern as a hardball executive. Despite posting good results on the Obameter, President Obama unfortunately did not quite deliver the goods that his progressive base expected.

Poof. This week Ted Kennedy’s vacant Senate seat went to a Republican upstart. I think it’s a sad but necessary wake-up call for the Democrats. Hey, enough about politics! Now where’s that salmon filet I was seasoning?

But then Thursday’s stunning 5-4 Supreme Court decision supporting corporate person-hood happened.

Ka-boom. Everything has changed. Every debate, every bias, every affiliation has fallen away and now means nothing in the wake of yesterday’s decision. Every personal aspiration is now open to careful reflection. Heck, today I’ll hug a Republican, because looking at each other, we’re on the same side on this one, meaning we’re equally hosed.

When a corporation is free to steer elections, without limits and with the fully protected rights of a person; when our elected government hands that same corporation billions of our tax dollars as it continues to rake in speculative profits, or increase our healthcare costs by 20%, or pay big executive bonuses while preparing to bankroll the next wave of candidates and initiatives to its liking? Well then, the rest of us living, breathing natural persons are thoroughly, inarguably hosed.

I don’t want to spend the next twenty years fighting this monster. Honestly, I hoped to wrap my current non-profit assignment this fall and just be a musician / writer / chef for awhile. But is it right to fiddle while Rome burns? For now I will contemplate this new drama one day at a time, continue to write and search for meaningful ways to help. Beyond that, I just don’t know yet. I don’t think anyone does.

What will you do next? What can we all do next? Now more than ever, I’ll welcome your comments.

2 Responses to “The Good Life”

  1. It seems we share a few similarities in our sentiment, along with many Americans this week. I got pulled into it all in late 2008 – the whole idea of something new, though not expecting much in the way of economy shift anytime soon. Then, in Feb. 09 I was laid off and all of a sudden had quite a bit of time to catch up on politics and daily news/commentary on a multitude of issues. Throughout the last few months we have all seen many issues come and go with less than favorable, but increasingly not surprising outcomes. But for me, this Thursday was a big slap in the face of the American people and democracy. It is sad to say that I have little hope left and will probably be focusing more now on stepping back, drawing in, and thinking about survival rather than trying to put forth emotion and energy into larger national/global change for the good of the majority of people on this earth. Local community movements seem to be taking hold a bit, and I think that’s where we all need to focus now. The next decade may not be booming (I know I will not be rolling in the cash) but it might be a lot more meaningful and fulfilling on a different level for those of us who are willing to look at our lives and values a bit differently. As for those who are dead set on continuing to run this thing into the ground…well, I hope they are practicing their survival skills too.

  2. Thoughtful post Kris, thanks. Having rambled a bit, I may revise this topic as a shorter question, which I think you’ve nicely addressed. Given recent events, is it best for us to draw back and live intentional, meaningful, fulfilling, local lives; or it it best for us to join forces and challenge the fortified status quo? Spiritually, I much prefer the first option, but my concern is that so many people do not have the luxury of choice. The right answer might be “both”.

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