The Rat is Back.

He’s burrowed a little hole into the leaves stuffed into the tortoise pen.  Marcia and I have been discussing whether to poison Rat, catch him in a have-a-heart trap (we have a big one that we’ve used for squirrels) or call pest control.  Rat comes out to eat the bird seed that gets sprinkled around the tortoise pen from the feeder suspended above the cage.

I’m drinking ginger tea to settle my stomach.

In the late 1980s, I was sure that the economy was coming to an end.  Everything felt fragile.  I intuited that the stock market was about to crash.  Then, on 10/19/08, it did.  With the financial world reflecting my internal state, I felt terrified.

Thirty eight years ago, I felt deeply that big change was on the way.  Then, it seemed like things just froze.

Things are thawing.  Not just the glaciers, but American certainty that life in America is good and will continue to get better, defining good by how much stuff we have.

This time I’m watching the market crash, but I’m not feeling frightened.

Just experiencing some dread.


We caught a possum in the have-a-heart trap.

My courageous wife held the trapdoor open for Possum since the door would not prop up.  Displaying open-mouth grimaces, hunched against the other end of the cage, the possum would not exit.  Pushing the door up with a stick, we withdrew.  From the kitchen window, I watched the possum flee.

The obvious metaphor is that fear can prevent us from making choices that would transform our world.  A relatively small amount of fear can be useful, providing impetus to gather resources to face an unfamiliar task.  An ongoing experience of terror, simply ceasing, can feel like a major change.

It seems like the media, both the corporate media and alternative media, are compelled to have us focus on our fear.  Cooperating with the government, the corporate media without much creativity can drive up viewership by passing on what the government would like us to feel frightened of.  Lately, the media and the government have not been sharing the same fear frame.  While Republicans still seek to scare us that Terror is close by, the media is working the story that our economy is on the brink.  Still, the media cooperates with the government by not revealing the causes of the circumstances behind what we should be scared of.  With the toppling economy, that is beginning to change.

By keeping us frightened, government keeps us in our traps, traps with doors wide open.  Unwilling to examine how we got where we are, we don’t make the choice to change the world.  In coverage of the economic mess, the media is starting to explore the repercussions of deregulation, lack of oversight, little accountability and, most of all, the absence of transparency.  As society starts to use these sleeping muscles, perhaps the mainstream media will allow us to see the way the U.S. policy has polarized the world, leading to horrors like 9/11.

What was the possum doing in the rat trap in the first place?  Possum was looking for garbage in the dark.  One way we can prevent ourselves from getting trapped is by making sure that we legislate that things be clear.  Transparency is vital to a healthy society.  A lesson of this recession is that from now on, we don’t allow government or corporations to hide their garbage in the dark.

Turn the lights on.  It’s time for transparency’s return.


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