~I have managed to scrape together some Wisdom in the fifty odd years of my adulthood and that has led me to realize that the most Essential Spiritual Lesson is how one takes Responsibility for one's Powerlessness. That may seem a bit contraindicative, so let me say it again with more emphasis: the most Essential Spiritual Lesson is how one takes Responsibility for one's Powerlessness.
Okay, hold on to that thought, we'll get back to it.
There is a man who has demonstrably saved more souls than Jesus Christ ever did or ever will and most of you have never heard of him. His name is Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov. He is a former lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Defense Force.
"On September 26th, 1983, Colonel Petrov was watch officer on duty at the Serpukhov-15 bunker near Moscow, monitoring for a US missile attack on the Soviet Union.
Suddenly, the computer-based warning systems reported several US Nuclear Missiles approaching Soviet territory. Colonel Petrov believed the information to be false and did not alert the Kremlin to the data he was receiving. Given Cold War tensions at the time, such information would likely have convinced the Soviet leadership that the US had launched a first strike attempting to "cut off the head" and they would have launched their forces in the belief it was a "counter-strike", not a first-strike."
In other words, he prevented a global thermonuclear holocaust provoked by a computer glitch. [Source]
That could certainly be a good example of 'taking Responsibility for one's Powerlessness' - Petrov certainly would seemed have been utterly Powerless in that moment, but choose to take on a terrible Responsibility - but that is actually not my point in relating the incident. I relate this because I believe this event was the key, the turning point, to what has happened globally in the years since.
Clearly, this would have scared the crap out of the Soviet leadership and then their American counterparts once they found out about it. But most importantly, I believe it laid the psycho-political ground work that caused the Soviet leadership to reject the Cold War paradigm and that led to the ascension of Mikhail Gorbachev. And his efforts to reform the unreformable led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“Hold on a minute,” you're thinking, “What does this have to do with the title?” Trust me, I'll get to that.
Many had predicted the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, most notably Zbigniew Brzezinski, but all those predictions largely cited Muslim demographics as the principal cause and estimated the collapse would take place, well, right about now.
That it came two decades 'too early' badly disrupted American planning on several levels. The key areas of disruption were economic and domestic politics.
The American Economy has been – and largely still is – centered around War Production since World War Two. Having a war that we had been planning to continue for another twenty years or more suddenly just stop threw the war planners and manufacturers into great confusion...and distress. A lot of money was at stake and there was all this talk about a 'post-war dividend'.
The problem for domestic politics was less obvious, but actually more acute. In the later course of The Cold War, The Powers That Be had made alliances with two volatile groups, the Neo-Conservatives and The Religious Right, in order to maintain political control.
With the end of The Cold War, these alliances now become problematic, something that was clearly demonstrated in 1992 with the defeat of George Bush Senior for a second term in the White House and then underscored with the ongoing troubles of the Clinton presidency.
These groups needed to be neutralized and how better than to give them a president they could love who would turn out to be a total dud: Dubya.
Remember pre-9/11 2001? Remember his numbers were in the crappier? Remember “That's My Bush”? He was well on his way to a single term, watched over by a loyal courtier of The Powers That Be: Richard M Cheney.
But Evil Dick was a very resentful man and he had plans of his own.
The vigilance of the Clinton White House regarding Jihadis was defused into wild goose chases after suicide doctors in Oregon and hookers in New Orleans, all in the hope that 'something would happen', maybe on an Oklahoma City scale, and then Dick and Rummy, backed by one faction of The Powers That Be, could proceed with their agenda regardless of what most of the rest of The Powers That Be wished.
We now see how that turned out; two unwinnable wars, the Patriot Act, a global financial meltdown, and finally the most marketed president in our history. Some days it seems like we've been living out an alternative history scenario. This was not The Future that most of you envisioned ten years ago.
In the context of 'taking Responsibility for one's Powerlessness,' we've done a pretty lousy job, being terrorized and bullied by madmen, ours and 'theirs', into coming very close to destroying our entire country and possibly the rest of global society, as well.
It is out of this decade of madness that both Truthers and Birthers have been born, mirror images of each other, both driven by an existential paranoia and deep seated feelings of impotence, and seeking some reason for that solely outside of themselves. Of course, this type of paranoid thinking is an American tradition, going back to the Masonic Conspiracies of the 1820's.
A key metaphor to explain how this works is the FEMA Concentration Camp meme. Under Bu$hCo, it came from The Far Left. Under Obama, it's now coming from The Far Right. And each is saying exactly what the other said, only the focus has changed, the paranoia simply shifting with 'the party in power'.
That the so-called 'camps' are abandoned military bases 'converted' by KRB, an old Cheney company, is the giveaway; it's a corporate boondoggle. Billions were allocated for “National Security”. KBR ran up some new concertina wire and slapped on a few coats of paint, and 'poof!' new Detention Facilities. If they spent even ten cents on the dollar I'd be surprised. And these joints probably could not keep my cats detained.
But they make a great excuse for freaking out and ranting endlessly about THEM [The Hosts of Evil Motives] and, in the final analysis, really just giving up. “How can I prevail in the face of such concerted evil?” That is NOT 'taking Responsibility for one's Powerlessness.'
This brings us to Shit Happens.
Remember Colonel Petrov? In that situation, there were vast amounts of War Panning and Command Structure in place, set up over decades and costing trillions, and in spite of all that is was only the action of a single, and highly ethical, military professional that saved the world from a disaster of obscene proportions.
I don't know about you, but that turns my bowels to water. So, yes, I abuse the metaphor, but Shit Does Happen.
Most of us cannot face such a random form of terror.
A sociopath games his way into power and randomly allows nineteen lunatics to kill three thousand of his fellow citizens so he can implement his personal political agenda.
A mass marketing blitz propels a highly charismatic member of a traditional underclass onto the presidency, something that tens of millions of the so-called 'Superior Race' will never, ever have a chance at doing.
No, that is a Loss of Control that is utterly intolerable for all too many people. Even if an Evil Cabal is controlling things, well, shit, at least somebody is In Charge!
Funny thing is, the Birthers have a far better case than the Truthers.
Over four or five years all the various documents could have been switched out. That would be an easy low key operation and in venues where no one was really paying attention at the time.
As opposed to running miles of wire and planting tons of explosives in three of the most heavily trafficked buildings in the world, all in utter secrecy and with not a single one of the large crew of highly skilled technicians ever saying a single word about it.
I'll let y'all 'do the math' on those. But both are just delusions used to avoid the far more frightening reality that no one is really in control, that all too often Shit Just Happens.
That certainly does generate "existential paranoia and deep seated feelings of impotence.” To deal with that level of discomfort, one that makes you want to claw your skin off, that requires a lot of Spiritual Work, which brings us full circle: the most Essential Spiritual Lesson is how one takes Responsibility for one's Powerlessness.
Most do not have either the Patience nor the Willingness to do that kind of Work. They're much 'happier' indulging in the above types of paranoia. Those have a comfortable structure, much like porn does, and to surrender that would cause both embarrassment and a form of withdrawal, as well. Like the addict confronted with recovery, an 'old self' would have to 'die'.
One can change nothing in the thrall of such delusions.
To change the world, one needs Power. To understand your own Power, one must acknowledge one's own Powerlessness. That is a relative, not an absolute, state. When you see what you are Powerless over, then you see where you do have Power.
Then, and only then, can you take Responsibility for your own life and begin to change what can be changed...and being in that place is both terrifying and invigorating.