Columnist Paula Morris – “Book Club”

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Editor’s Note:  With this article, Paula Morris – the former Newbie in Graham – becomes a regular columnist for the Mountain News.  Paula felt that since she has been in Graham for over a year she can no longer claim newbie status, and we concur.

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Since moving to Graham from Illinois, I have had the great fortune of meeting many lovely ladies.  Several of these, including myself, have formed a book club that meets once a month to discuss a particular book and share a meal, drink a little wine, and enjoy each other’s company.  This month’s book was:  “Death of the Liberal Class,” by the former New York Times foreign correspondent, Chris Hedges.

 Earlier this week, as I was driving home from the grocery store, I was blocked by a tractor sitting in the middle of our neighborhhood’s access road.  The man driving the tractor was someone I have seen doing gardening work for one of the residents.

 As it was impossible for both tractor and my car to fit on our one lane drive, it became necessary for both of us to move over a bit and allow the other to pass.  In doing so, we had the opportunity to greet each other and chat a bit.

 I complimented him on the nice work he had been doing to the neighbor’s yard.  He thanked me and informed me that this was just an odd job that he was doing because he knew the neighbor from way back.

 I asked him what he usually does and that was when I heard his story.  He was a construction worker who got laid off, went on unemployment and subsequently has now run out of benefits.  He is still unable to find construction work, so is doing whatever he can to make ends meet.

 He told me that he and his wife have had to move from their large home with a three-car garage, to a small two-bedroom bungalow with no garage that they are renting.

 This very nice man said he was willing to do most any kind of odd job in order to pay his bills

 This got me thinking about the book I just read for book club.

 Chris Hedges writes about the fact that the “liberal class, who was supposed to be our (society’s) safety valve, has become cornered and weak, and is engaged in the politically safe game of attacking barbarism, communism and Islamic militancy rather than attempting to fight the mounting injustices and structural abuses of the corporate state.”

 Hedges defines the liberal class as media, church, universities, attorneys and the Democratic Party.

 He says: “We naively believe in law despite corporate control of Congress.”

 As a result, we have Congress defending large corporate interests, perpetual war, and Wall Street, and relegating our farmers, factory workers, construction workers to the trash heap.

 The liberal class has turned coat and gone to bed with the large corporations.  Why?  Because they have been co-opted by money!

 No one is advocating for the average citizen.

 My sister has a story that illustrates this dynamic at work.  She worked for a large medical insurance company.  Last year, this company decided to “outsource” their billing and underwriting departments to India.

My sister watched as one by one everyone around her was laid off.  She had the distasteful job of actually training the group of workers from India who would replace her and her department, who by the way, would be receiving less than a quarter of the pay my sister did for the same job.

 Anyway, our book club has a variety of age groups represented.  We range from 20’s to 60’s.  One common theme was voiced by all of us:  What can we do to address the many issues facing us right now?  Most of us verbalized feelings of helplessness.  We discussed how the media distracts us with “infotainment” rather than news.

 We have rising food and fuel costs, unemployment with increased outsourcing of jobs, more and more people without healthcare, wars, climate change and environmental disasters, increasing political corruption, corporate take-over of the globe, two political parties basically saying the same things, increased invasion of privacy, and on and on.

 Hedges book discusses revolution versus rebellion.  We wondered what either of those might look like.  We decided that we can “rebel” individually against an injustice happening right now, or we can form a unified front again injustice and fight to change the whole system.

 In other words, form a revolution.

 After enjoying vegetarian tacos, hummus with pretzel chips and strawberry cream cheese pastries, we couldn’t decide on a single thing except to have another glass of wine.

 Nevertheless, future conversations on these issues are planned with the ladies in my book club. 

 People talking to each other, discussing creative ideas and mulling them over – these are the things that are needed in order to sustain each other and our communities.

 As for myself, I have been addressing these concerns on blogs for years, and have become frustrated beyond measure.  The powers that be are deaf dumb and blind to us!

 The standard calls to action – writing letters to the editor, calling our representatives in Congress, and candle-light vigils – have all been met with silence. 

 A major protest that I participated in on the Eve of the Iraq War shut down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago for several hours, and attracted the attention of several police and news helicopters.  However, the event was reported by Big Media as only “several hundred people were marching,” when in fact there were over five-thousand people according to several alternative news sources.  My conclusion is that major media is complicit with corporate interests and government blackouts.

My theory…..we need to form local pockets of self-sustaining permaculture.  Neighbors and communities need to assist each other in getting off the grid.  We need to refuse to buy corporate-made junk or services.  Rather, we need to form our own co-ops of medical care, food and other services, using barter, trade, and local currencies.

 Of course, once the powers that be find out about us….no telling what they will do to curb this audacious human independence.

©  2011  Paula Morris

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5 Responses to Columnist Paula Morris – “Book Club”

  1. catalina says:

    So stop whining, join the Graham Self-Reliant Community, donate to the Eatonville Family Agency, which provides services to about 1200 people – almost half the population of Eatonville – which will be closing its doors on Sept. 1( if it doesn’t receive funding before then), and, while you’re at it, work to get a progressive (they’re no longer called liberals) elected to county positions and state positions who will support services to the poor and a jobs bill. As they said in the 60s: Think globally, act locally.

    • Paula Morris says:

      catalina,
      Although I appreciate you commenting, I have to disagree with you.

      First off, I do go to the Graham Self-Reliant Community meetings. I have no money to donate to anyone….not even enough to make it to the end of the month as I am on Social Security and retired now. (I am looking for a part-time job if you know anyone).

      About “progressive” and “liberal” being the same: If you read Hedges book, you will see that they are in no way equal. I consider myself a progressive, meaning that I would like to see progress –as in moving forward. Liberalism has taken a turn for the worse and is moving backward. In my article I listed what Hedges considers liberal in our society, i.e., churches, universities, the arts, etc.

      As for “whining,” my article was meant to provoke thought about serious issues in our world and to hopefully provoke some action to combat the demise of our country. I have been an activist for a long time. I have helped society by being a nurse for 35 years, a psych nurse for 22 of those, and a Masters level psych therapist for at least 8. I am presently working on creating a “permaculture” on my daughters and my land and don’t consider talking and bringing up issues to be “whining.”

      Your name calling is a sure-fire way to halt progress. We who are on the more progressive end of the political spectrum need to advocate for each other and stand together. Being negative isn’t helpful.

  2. I think money goes, where money is. It’s very difficult to get off the grid; we have gotten use to warm water and warm houses. But the day will come when it becomes a revolution and the average citizen will stand up and cry, “I’ve had enough and I’m not taking this anymore!” I think it’s beginning; people are willing to give up much, their houses, credit ratings and security for the freedoms to do what they want.
    Keep writing, the pen is mightier.

    • Paula Morris says:

      Thank you Pat.
      I agree, it’s difficult if not impossible to get totally off the grid. The tipping point is coming though and their may not be any “grid” left.

  3. Admin says:

    Paula, I certainly didn’t consider your article taking on a tone of whining. It just stated the facts and ideas that might be possible to put into action.
    I have also been getting on my soap box for years about what we can do to fight the onslaught of the multi-national corporations takeover of everything in this universe.
    I feel we can fight back with our hard-earned dollars by buying (if we can) products made in this country. I am also starting a website that will feature items and companies that supports the “made in the USA” mindset. It will provide some place to search out these quality products. Money talks.
    My motto is “Bring back manufacturing and you’ll bring back America”. So each of us can do something one dollar at a time!

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