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  • The widespread abuse of prisoners is a virtually foolproof
    indication that politicians are trying to impose a system--whether
    political, religious or economic--that is rejected by large numbers
    of the people they are ruling. Just as ecologists define ecosystems
    by the presence of certain "indicator species" of plants and birds,
    torture is an indicator species of a regime that is engaged in a
    deeply anti-democratic project, even if that regime happens to
    have come to power through elections.
    ― Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

    How to make sense of these times?

    For Cowbird writers, we who aspire to be "witnesses to life," it is a unique challenge to toggle between current events, crises and often numbing statistics (4 times more homicides in Chicago so far this year than in New York!), and one’s own personal humble observations and reflections as life unfolds.

    For example, I feel moved to write about the longer shadows and ever shorter days, the pale golden light at sunset, the chill in the air that heralds autumn, and the haunting nostalgia I feel at this time of year, as though something indefinable and precious is slipping away. There are yellow leaves now coming down like butterflies, the smells of end of summer back yard barbeques fill the weekend air, and the beaches are multicolored mosaics of sunbathers, umbrellas, swimmers and volleyball players. The temptation to savor all of this in words is compelling, insistent, visceral.

    But then I am fascinated by items overheard today, such as the mundane unpoetic statistic that the average person is assaulted with over 2000 advertisements a day. How does this flood of messages affect our ability to think clearly, and not be swept off balance into the ever present cultural trance of blatant commercialism and subliminal suggestions? How can I process the ongoing shocks of mass shootings, reports of pending economic disaster, and escalating government abuses of our sovereignty and freedom? Something must be said, if I am to be a "witness to life" in our times and report accurately what is going on.

    But what to say? And how to approach it all, to find a path through the wilderness of news and frightening statistics, not to mention the prevalent dispatches from the $400 million Gloom and Doom industry?

    Where to start? How to put it all in a few diary paragraphs in order to create a composite collage of personal, national and global realities? My personal preference is to write about the beauties of nature, the journey of the soul, the presence of the Divine, and the unfolding of consciousness. But my days are also laced with grim realities, such as the homeless men and women who hang out under our bridges, the increasing militarization of local police, the nearly complete shredding of our Constitution, the UN treaties which yield up our national independence to the exploitative meta-agenda of the Globalists and the six mega-banks who control the world’s wealth.

    Last night, for example Alex Jones (INFOWARS) was on Coast to Coast AM, with four hours of the most spellbinding facts and figures about our current national and global crisis. (You can search for this program on the C2C website, and also follow Alex regularly on The information in that one program was riveting, and I was up for all of it. But what to report from all that, and is this information that belongs if I am going to be a true "witness to life"? Notice that I just drop a reference here, and leave it to you if you want to follow up. But every day, I find myself wondering what to mention, what to leave out, and how to be true to our mission here, of being witnesses, to show each other our individual landscapes.

    We need to wake up, that’s for sure. And we need to wake up soon.

    In the meantime, I will tell you that the late sunset light is turning the mountains bright pink for just a few minutes, crickets are whirring away as though the night depended on them, and I am looking forward to tonight’s Coast to Coast, which will be a four hour discussion on banking fraud. (See footnote, below)

    It’s a wonderful life, isn’t it? As one of my friends often says: “Remember to be kind to one another. We are all we’ve got.”

    And so it goes.

    (Photograph by Alex in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life)

    FOOTNOTE: Saturday, August 25, 2012, Coast to Coast AM:

    Banking Fraud Special: Corrupt bankers and businessmen quietly shape power across the globe. These men and women manipulate complex international financial systems to serve drug lords, politicians, tax cheats, and terrorists. Four banking experts (Robert Mazur, Barry James Dyke, William K. Black and John Truman Wolfe) join John B. Wells, in separate hours, to expose the terrifying truth about the financial fraud industry.
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