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Jack Schimmelman Headshot

Dancing on a Precipice

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As the sun labors to rise above the horizon, I join my neighbors on the precipice of a crater. We peer into the abyss, sleepwalking towards oblivion as Congress fiddles silence that may soon replace the cacophony of dissonance heard in its halls and byways. What do we see when we look straight down into the void? We see our reflections caught in the headlights of ignorance.

It is not enough that 99% of Congress understands that if we don't pay for debts we have already incurred (raising the debt ceiling), our country and, very likely, the world's economies may collapse. We are told we have no wriggle room this time. Open mouths, blank eyes of disbelief will be thrown into a seething cauldron scorching us for decades after we have previously, systematically singed our mother earth.

We continue our somnolent advance. We allow clowns to reinvent reality. These days we do not exhale. We fear ingesting unlimited methane that is belched from the bowels of ideologues and cynics burrowed into the halls of Congress. These are life forms who vote in favor of the promise of their next campaign contribution. Misinformation prances through our collective consciousness as hysteria rises to levels most of us have only read about in our whispered history. To wit: the red scare at the beginning of the century; the deficit fright 100 years later and in between those epochs, all the little monsters that inhabited our empty closets. We need our bogeymen appropriately topped with fright wigs, pancake makeup for the cameras, whether we get dressed on the right or left side of the room or merely in the center with our hands scrunched against our ears, lungs wide open, eyes wide shut.

While we are hypnotically entranced by the spectacle of failure, a blazing summer continues its journey across our beautiful countryside. We wish to board Apollo's golden chariot that charms us as it illuminates shadows, whether we are at an eternally vibrant shore or just sitting peacefully listening to meadows softly sing. Our soul harmonizes with elegance. We hide from hatred. It is summertime and we wish for pleasure not destruction, nor hatred and the Big Lie.

The Tea Party's millions, if not billions, of dollars stand erect at attention ready for the call to undermine all veracity in the public plaza. Loathing echoes throughout the land "it's our country . . . let's take it back!" Indeed. I propose a different cry for freedom. It's our soul . . . let's take it back! (It's everyone's constitution.) The bloodiest war in our history was fought fueled by profound hatred, manipulated by economic forces that profited from such divisions, blood and fear. "It's our country . . . let's take it back!"

Conservatives in the Reagan Administration coined the phrase "starve the beast." They meant that entitlement programs must be decreased in order to reduce the size of the Federal government. Today, given the efforts to set those who become economically irrelevant on a raft on the open sea as we lounge in our beach chairs, we might believe that the intention is to kill the beast.

We are once again faced with monumental decisions that overwhelm us as we are brought back to the precipice again and again and forced to peer into obscurity. Is it no wonder that much of our media worships at the altar of chaos? Chaos sells tickets. We have elevated being transfixed by accidents into an art form. Train wrecks buzz by us so frequently that we can actually believe that this is the world in which we live. We forget our children's birth; our own laughter as we navigate waters that only promise to be rougher.

Take back our soul. There are no answers in the political arena fouled by dark, corrupted currents. We may scream, stay silent, continue to move forward to the infernos dimly seen deep within the crater of our national obsessions, but empowerment starts within. We are the answer. It is not easy and it is certainly not naïve. If and when the quivering illusion of our economy disintegrates, we will have no one but each other. I fervently wish that that cataclysm doesn't happen. The volcano should sleep. We can live together without incessant flames.

During my six decades I have witnessed many movements transform into the ashes of their delusions because they did not connect to the soul of breathing citizens. Movements, political parties, politicians, even empires come and go, but we remain.

I have looked at the profound walls of the chasm deep inside my own heart and when I was ready my eyes cleared, I exhaled and found hope where she had always lived. Within.

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