One thing I learned the hard way is that consequences are spiritual principles. I was arrested for dealing drugs in August of 2003, and used the fact that the police had not let me take my HIV meds to jail with me to threaten a lawsuit against the city. I was a first-time offender and may have gotten a relative slap on the wrist anyway, but even that was too much for me. It wasn't the 300 hours of community service, it was the random pee-testing I was required to do. My addiction still raged. Rather than listen to the universe screaming at me that I had dodge a bullet and needed to get sober, I did something positively insane. I successfully forged my own death certificate, altering the real one of my deceased brother, sending it in posing as him (alive). Even crazier, it worked. I (well, my late brother) got a very understanding letter from the probation officer closing my case. (This is a completely true story, fact-check away, Oprah.)
Well, if you successfully fake your own death, a little word to the wise. You need to move. (Are you kidding? I had a rent-controlled 2-bedroom in West Hollywood!) And you also need to stop doing what got you into trouble, because eventually whoever ratted on you the first time will let the police know you're still up to your old tricks. I was re-arrested in February, 2004. This time there was no bail. My very nice probation officer was very impressed by my scam, but this time recommended I do jail time. I was sentenced to 16 months, of which I did 9. I got out and have been clean for 6 years.
Instead of drugs, now I pick up trash. Along with a few other anonymous activities, it keeps me sober and of service to others.
After so many years not dying of HIV as all around me fell like soldiers at Verdun, I had come to believe that consequences were for other people. My grandiosity (in no small part fueled by meth) led me to believe I could get out of even being convicted of a felony. Prison proved invaluable, as it was the closest I could get to dying without dying, and after two decades under the sword of Damocles, I needed an ending in order to experience rebirth.
Mostly, prison taught me that if you do a, b, and c, d tends to happen. As I watch the debacle of the current political situation, I'm aching for the country to understand this. The meltdown of 2008 couldn't have brought to bear with any more overwhelming clarity the truth that a small percentage of the population cannot hold an inordinate portion of the country's wealth and power without disastrous consequences. And yet the reversion to the status quo that got us into this mess continues apace.
Like I did, the country refused to accept the necessity of real change. This tax cut deal embodies the delusion that we can spend without consequences. The rich can still get 50 cents of every dollar, so in order for the rest of us to imagine we are regaining prosperity, we'll just borrow the money from China. Reagan told us we could all be rich by growing the pie, Bush told us we can afford trillions to fight unnecessary wars, and now Obama seems to have drank the same kool-aid on both counts.
Two percent of the population possessing half the wealth requires poverty. One person cannot have four slices of the pizza pie without someone at the table going hungry. Eventually the people at the next table are going to stop handing over their extra slices -- they'll want some back. This childish math that more borrowed dough is going to grow the pie fast enough to feed everybody well is about as realistic as my imagining I wasn't going to get arrested again after faking my death and not moving.
Consequences are spiritual principles. 66% of the American population doesn't want to believe it; they're willing for Obama and Congress to just get a new credit card. Oh, that'll work. Just like it's worked over the past ten years.
The pie will not grow fast enough, the wealthy and Republicans they have purchased will extend the tax cuts, and the country's middle class will become its working class -- a large pool of cheap labor to guarantee that the plutocracy maintains its wealth and status. But from this new reality, there will be consequences as well. My generation might be too exhausted to put up much of a fight -- I don't even know how Bernie Sanders stood for eight hours. But the twenty-somethings are coming up with the expectations of the social networking class. They will not stand idly by for lives that are less prosperous than both their parents and their grandparents.
The revolution will not be violent, it will probably be digital. The oligarchs will eventually understand the consequences of their actions, and the voters will theirs.
How will Trump’s administration impact you? Learn more