The “I Am” Sickness

by Mayuri on August 24, 2011


Our Belief in Separateness is Leading Us To Serfdom

Joseph Stilitz has done it again. He succinctly outlines the causes and impacts of the increasing disparity between those who have and those who don’t. The title of his article brilliantly says a lot: “Of the 1%, By the 1%, For the 1%”. There are some amazing statistics out that illuminate this disparity in a way that make it more personal for us living in the United States. For example, that 400 families in the US have the same wealth as the bottom 150,000,000 million Americans.  On the world stage, the top 1 % own 97% of the wealth. In the US, that percentage is 1% owns 40%, but it is a growing disparity.  In the 1980’s , those percentages were 12% and 33%.  So, we are being impacted too by this disparity  and the statistics are changing at an alarming rate. As Sitiglitz pints out “we’re doing inequality on a world-class level”. In my experience, we in the first world were congratulating ourselves for not feeling subject to the lack that so many people in the world have been experiencing, which has been denial of the worst kind- we are special and it won’t happen to us- that’s what happens to “them”. Evidence of our belief that we are separate. Even as we watch protests in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, we are not recognizing it is increasingly the same situation at home. This is hubris and narcissism, not of the same order as the 1 % , but remarkable none the less.  The Pancha Mama Alliance  workshop I attended last year had their own sobering statistics such as if you have food in your frig, a roof over your head and clothes in your closet, then you are better off than 83% of the world’s people. So, we were innured to what was actually happening  and we just continued on a with our lives, in denial and/or lack of interest because we believed we weren’t impacted by this inequality, until the economic crisis of 2008 brought us up short.

It is worth outlining what Stiglitz says in his article, both because it will help you understand the mechanics of what has been happening, as well as to provide some needed information that will help  launch us into our discussion  about the total self-interest of the ego.

Firstly he talks about how US, citizens have been doing worse and worse which does not bode well for the long haul. Shrinking opportunity means the human capital is not being used- that means our most valuable asset-, us, the people. Secondly, there are distortions in the economy that lead to inequality, such as preferential tax treatments for special interests(GE is paying little or no tax on billions of profits), monopolies (the banks and increasingly corporations)and this leads to  undermining the efficiency of the economy.  Wealthy Americans got a free ride when capital gains tax rates were lowered , because that is how most wealthy people make their money. Antitrust laws are not being enforced  and lobbying has  allowed the manipulation of the financial system have all been, as Stiglitz says  “a god-send to the 1%”.

Thirdly, and what Siglitz believes is the most important, is that a modern economy requires what he calls “collective action”- a government need to invest in the infrastructure of the country, in education, and in technology.  Our infrastructures are suffering because the more divided in wealth disparity a country becomes, the more reluctant the wealthy are to spend on common needs, because they personally can buy them themselves. They don’t have to rely on government for parks, or education, or medical care or personal security.


The problem is that all these factors become reinforcing of each other- wealth begets power begets wealth. So the 1% has no restraints on it and it doesn’t pay any price for being out of balance. Even the new economic globalization emerging rules favor those who have.  We are moving more and more toward serfdom- something we believed that as human beings  we had grown out of after the dark ages. In addition to disparity, the mounting evidence of this is the growing loss of collective bargaining rights by the worlds’ workers and the loss of impact of the vote by a country’s citizens.  Examples of the latter are the Supreme court paving the way for corporations to buy government by equating them with individuals  although they have vaster resources and no soul and electronic voting which, as we have seen, is much more easily subject to manipulation.

It seems that we are doomed to repeat history. The end  of every world empire in the past was presaged by a growing disparity between the rich and the poor.  That was true of the Roman Empire, the British Empire and now the American Empire.

This 1% don’t seem to recognize is that we are all in the same boat- that if that boat is leaking anywhere, it is leaking for them too.  Or they don’t care- which means they have no compassion, which means no hearts. I often wonder if there is a belief by those who accumulate more than they need, at the expense of others, if they believe they are not going to die. That the money they accumulate somehow is the security that doesn’t actually exist. They don’t know there is actually no perch to stand on, and that each of us is going to die, and that we actually can’t take any of it with us.

So, whether we like it or not, we are all in the same boat, and the crew of that boat is all of us. It does seem that the crew is becoming polarized though- there are those who still insist that greed, arrogance  and hoarding are the true reference for navigation, while many others are recognizing  that we are headed in the wrong direction, and for those there are, as Hathor says,  “new stars in the sky of our minds” and  “we are setting our beacons on these cosmic beacons”. If we look around, we can see the forces of mutiny are growing. The financial crisis of 2008 and catastrphe in Japan in 2011 are making the reality of oneness more visible to us all.

I recently saw the movie I Am by  director Tom Shadyac.  It is a documentary  that has wonderful interviews with scientists, phikosophers, mystics, and poet who are all asked the question “What is wrong with the world and how can we fix it”.  I highly recommend you see this film- it is so wonderful seeing consciousness coming into  the movie theaters and thus touching the audiences. The movie title is in a sense the description of the problem. When British philosopher and writer GK Chesterton was asked this question in the 19th century, he responded “I am”.

I amness is a belief that we are separate human beings. When we believe that, we don’t experience or recognize we are part of the greater whole. We don’t realize the effect on us if someone is angry or starving. Instead of collaberation and cooperation, we respond with competition and hierarchy. When we believe we are separate, we  have lost contact with our dual nature of spiritual and material, and we are caught only in the physical, the material- we are out of balance.  We believe we are the center of our own little worlds and believe our own little actions are what support us. We hve lost contact with love, with our hearts, with the possibility of oneness with reality. We have lost contact with Beingness, out true nature.

In Tom’s movie, this economic greed and compulsion is likened to acancer- nothing in nature takes more than it needs except a cancer. The choices he voices  about those separate entities running amock are allow them to destroy us, run, become one of them, or heal them of their “mental illness”. Healing requires consciousness.

So again we come to consciousness. We need to apply love, compassion, sympathy and understanding even as we take our own conscious right action.  These are all aspects of being. It is not about fighting, nor about giving up, but bringing as much consciousness into the situation  and our actions as we are able. Consciousness can turn the tide from competition toward cooperation. Toward our hearts where consciousness lives. The scientists in Tom’s film have been discovering consensus decision-making in all animals from insects to primates. It seems that true democracy is in our DNA, so even science is recognizing  aspects of being in our humanness.

As Desmond Tutu says in the film “The sea os only drops of water that have come together”.


Sme scietists in Tom’s movie


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