by W.R. Weiland
For thirty-five days the United States Government shut down. The inability of “leaders” of the free world to come to an agreement on the appropriation of funds led to the closure of the Internal Revenue Service, NASA, the Department of Labor, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the EPA, and the Food and Drug Administration. Arguably, the shutdown effected the lives of everyone a part of the nation’s society, and those tied to our society at some capacity. From home buyers that waited on federal mortgage loans, graduate students delayed in research efforts as they anticipated federal grants, to air travelers placed at higher risk as airport security suffered, and as the hundreds of thousands of federal employees that went without paychecks for a month, some of the effects of the shutdown are obvious, and the less obvious, I believe, will soon surface with time. From December 21st until January 25th, my attention was not so much focused on the politics associated with the shutdown, but with the underlying root cause/s for the event. The philosophy that has emerged from that month long period of observing, listening, and contemplating the government shutdown, its causes, its effects, and the reaction to it is what follows.
The recent government shutdown that unfolded near the end of December through the better part of January revealed several significant complications that each and every one of us should acknowledge. If these complications are heeded appropriately, perhaps our society and others will begin to heal from the moral and ethical degradation that has occurred. Maybe you recognize the complications, and probably you witnessed additional aspects that have been left out here. It is important to remember the value of perseverance over the value of money.
Since December 21st, we have all been influenced by the shutdown to some extent. For some, the inability of a government to thrive under moral terms and ethical approaches brought with it the early stages of hardship. For many of us, it has exacerbated the social and civil turmoil that permeates our society and which decades of unethical and out of touch politics have created. For all, the 2018-2019 shutdown resides as a period in history that we should forever recognize as a moment to reflect on ourselves. That is, our moral and ethical stance. We are currently in a position to define who we are as individuals and the kind of society with which we want to associate. Again, it is important to remember the value of perseverance over the value of money.
Despite the attitude and debate that has transpired with the shutdown, we are all living in a moment that is prime to rekindle our independence as individuals. This shutdown has demonstrated that, as individuals, we have become far too dependent on Government. This isn’t to say that a governing body has no place in society. Surely with an ever-increasing population there will be ever increasing issues that an organized body of governance will need to address. The problem is that the system in place today has traded ethics, morals, and common sense in a rigged race for “progress,” with greed fueling the competitors.
In keeping with the philosophy of The Marsh, and utilizing it as a way to encourage readers to evaluate their relationship with Nature and immerse themselves back into a more meaningful life by learning to listen and understand the language of Nature, let’s ask ourselves, what is money to Nature? If we think of Nature as the naturally physical and biological that make up the world we know, we find that we are just as much a part of Nature as, say, the birds and forests. Oddly enough, however, we know that other than sharing time on this Earth with those birds and forests, we are very different. There is a government among Nature, and we might point to the laws of Nature, call it “Nature’s way,” or relate the challenges of life to the phrase coined by 19th century philosopher, Herbert Spencer, “survival of the fittest.” Though our disconnect from Nature and the causes for that disconnect could be explained through a complex history, it is greed that, as it slowly seeps into society and influences generations of individuals, acts to separate us from that other part of Nature which we have cast aside and regarded as separate.
What is money to Nature? Our civility has been defined by the personal value we’ve given to the idea of money. It is this value that has led to our slow separation from the rest of Nature, seemingly creating a world within Nature, but completely separate from it. The irony here is that it is the challenges we face as humans that is a result of living in this world separate from Nature, but still guided by its laws. To that end, what is money to Nature?
Our time in this life is but a blip in Nature’s time, yet we are living in a moment to reflect and ask ourselves what we value. Though it is money that we all seemingly live our entire lives chasing after to survive, most of us value something much more real and personally meaningful than the idea of money. We can find that meaning in Nature, for it is the rawness, the hardiness, and the endurance of the Nature we find ourselves surrounded by that is reality, and it justifies our fascination with this seemingly other world.
The idea of money, and the drastic attempts to secure and ensure more of it has been the demise of many societies throughout history. If the greed that has swept over our government like a wildfire is not soon at least partially controlled, the very money fueling it, we will soon realize, is valueless when we’re left trying to live in a world absent of ethics and morals. Our nation’s debt is now at approximately $21 trillion. Money is a loose conception, an idea. When it’s gone, Nature, that part that we have largely separated ourselves from, will persevere.
The 2018-2019 government shutdown has revealed some prominent aspects of society, the politics that dictate it, and the individuals a part of it. And, despite the dark side that the shutdown has exposed, real individuals, armed with the right ethical approach, a set of morals, and good hearts persevered in the absence of a functioning government.
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The journal excerpts to follow reflect the human challenge, Nature’s challenge, the idea of purpose, and acknowledging how to understand and persevere during our time in this life.
7:08 am: Sunrise: 1/29/19
West side of the Sinepuxent Bay looking east down the cut of an inlet. The sun appears from the horizon, separating two very different worlds. One is occupied by the individuals struggling to find meaning in a world that has poisoned itself with greed, and the other that struggles to remain a reminder that there is something much bigger, much more powerful, and far more important than the riches which greed has encumbered us with.
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We are all struggling to survive. It is how we meet that struggle that defines us. One must only silence a busy brain and observe to understand.
An old man splits firewood on the side of his property tucked away in the woods, as a turkey buzzard soars overhead, scanning the ground below to take back what the Earth has let go.
A white BMW speeds through an intersection, its driver dressed in a suit heading for his next meeting. A Bluetooth set reminding him of the riches he must chase.
A father and his boy returning from a cold afternoon duck hunt on the Sinepuxent Bay. The driver watching the father and son is reminded of the life he traded for man’s riches.
A tall stranger contemplates these things, gazing toward the island once referred to by Natives as “A Place Across.”
The sound of waves gently greeting a bulkhead as the January wind challenges the sea birds’ afternoon patrol. A couple is gathered at the same precipice, oblivious to the grandeur around them as they peruse online shopping carts.
Two worlds, seemingly a part of one, but all together separate.