i: WWII troop slang for military bureaucratic bullshit. The word implies the regulations in question are so silly and trifling they don’t measure up to the level of bullshit.

ii: Cowardly, a wimp.

-Urban Dictionary

Last week U.S immigration officials raided seven chicken processing factories in Mississippi and arrested 680, mostly Latino workers. Families were ripped apart and stuffed in metal transports like the countless birds plucked and deboned to make dollar menu meals. Are you still lovin’ it?

In 2014 an animal rights group claimed to obtain undercover footage from inside the largest of those seven chicken processing plants in Mississippi owned by Koch Foods Inc. The video shows chickens being tossed over high walls, strung up by their feet, doused with boiling water which melts their feathers off their scalding flesh while they’re still alive. Bagawwk!

After watching the video it’s difficult to say who we treat worse: animals or humans. Maybe it’s one in the same. Think about it. We stuff humans and livestock into cages, have a global history of cooking people alive through a variety of methods and not too long ago were still stringing people up by their feet. But hey, have it your way!

In all sincerity, the parallel process of atrocities committed against living beings will persist as long as we stand by with blinders on, fearing to connect the dots. Then again, as a chronically traumatized species we’re conditioned into blind, voiceless terror, immobilized by generations of discrimination, exclusion, personal abuses, the stress of daily life and headline news. Our fight, flight and freeze responses are in so many ways, completely understandable and forgivable and at some point become our responsibility for healing. Peace comes about each time we decide to exchange superficial convenience and paralyzing fear for compassion and the daring challenge of awakenings. I say this while simultaneously acknowledging the straight jacket of systemic oppression and a general aversion to mornings and risks; however, pb&j’s are delicious, nutritious, cheap, ethical and acceptable no matter what time it is. We can pack them for our enlightenment field trip.

When we see people stripped of their rights, dignity, safety, tortured and abused, it’s easy to commit those same offenses against other animals. We become numb to the pain we cause as a result of the hurts done to us, find ourselves unwilling or unable to heal, and wind up repeating shadows of those offenses on everyone and everything we encounter; the very unfunny cosmic punchline.

When the powers that be decide to classify anyone who doesn’t look, think and act just like them, as somehow less worthy (or bagels) our world becomes one global, inhumane society.

Gimme Shelter

The outdoor shower from a house we rented on Martha’s Vineyard. We had to shower outside because every summer the indoor bathtub filled up with raw sewage from overpopulation and poor plumbing. The house is now being condemned but wasn’t far from it when we lived there. The people who mow lawns, make up hotel beds, deliver bread, care for the dying and take out the trash also need a place to live but are increasingly being priced out into the street.

Capitalism requires capital, a word which means assets, wealth, importance and death. The western capitalist is skilled in all aspects of this definition via his or her trade. The most ruthless among them are bred to go, fight and win at all costs. Case in point, the Varsity Blues scandal. We’ve created a society that’s placed survival in a gilded lock box on the highest shelf, accessible only to those willing to lie, cheat or steal our way in, leaving the rest of us to squabble like dogs over scraps.

 Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge.”-Ken Cuccinelli

Has Ken ever tried living on minimum wage? Does Ken know some people are born without legs? Has he ever tried bettering himself while working double shifts and overpaying rent in a dangerous neighborhood to a villainous Land Lord? Has Ken ever tried living as a black person, a trans, queer, Bi or gay person, a woman or the child of a single parent? Could he focus at work all day after another sleepless night thanks to dreams full of terrifying flashbacks which could be helped if only we could afford and find a decent therapist willing to treat complex trauma who also understands our cultural background?

Sorry we’re all such massive tax burdens Ken. Thanks for the poignant, albeit insensitive reminder. Enjoy your lonely millions. Maybe you could buy a new heart. It seems like yours is broken. I’m truly sorry for whoever or whatever did this to you. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.

Those of us being used for profits in the money machine end up feeding the beast by default. We need food, clothes, shelter, water, work, purpose and killer filtered selfies to make our ex’s super jealous so we can feel some temporary illusion of love and power. The nobly unfolding path is met with great resistance by those who’ve fallen under the spell of Social Norm; meaning, while it’s not impossible to walk softly, it is dangerous to walk barefoot in the city, especially while being chased by zombies headed for the 7/11.

Capitalists aren’t born, they’re encultured through a combination of toxic programming (seriously, kill your television) and infinite forms of trauma. The root of all human suffering was our initial separation from divine love. The cries of birth are the beginning of our tormented rage and conflicted longing to be both safe and comfortable while enjoying the perks of two constructs at once. Since we cannot simultaneously live in heaven and hell, we rebel against our evolution and have been taking it out on each other ever since.

We’re told financial success is the way of the world, the American Dream we should all want and strive for. But at what cost?

Before I go on sharing more miserable facts about how awful we are, I want to mention it’s not all bad. There are lots of businesses and people doing great things to make the world a healthier, happier place.

Take for example a friend of mine in Asheville NC. She and her partner started a company called No Evil Foods. What stops us from trading that deep fried finger for Comrade Cluck? For the record, I’ve never eaten a chicken finger, comrade, Arctic roadrunner or junkyard dog but maybe the vegan substitutes are a revelation?

Other friends are yoga teachers, social workers, artists, writers, comedians, good parents, fitness instructors, nurses, plumbers, servers, hospitality agents, case managers, baristas, health food store stockers and faithful gardeners of far away sanctuaries. We don’t have to become a big bad Wall Street wolf, though I highly recommend howling under full moons. Better do it someplace out of sight though. Remember Salem?

Back to tar and feathers. According to a 2015 article from Motley Fool, Koch Foods is a 3 billion dollar empire. How did they make so much money? By paying their apparently illegal staff anywhere from $10-$12 an hour to do all the slaughtering for them. The rest is up to us, buying up breaded nuggets, breasts, tenderloins, thighs, patties, strips and half gallon tubs of stolen buttermilk ranch to dunk it all in.

The CEO of Koch Foods has a net worth of over 2.9 billion. He went to Catholic school, his father was a butcher and his grandparents were immigrants. Go figure. According to Wikipedia, he lives a low key life and is toying with the notion of branching out into soy. Can vegans be commodified too?

How do we justify or feel truly satisfied, nourished, happy, if our so-called dreams are built on the exploitation of living beings deemed disposable, consumable, capital? How can the current administration consciously punish people for needing assistance and threaten to take away any hope of obtaining legal status when The Man refuses to pay The People a living wage in exchange for staining our hands with the blood of their profits? Geez Liz. I know, but it’s true.

I once made the terrible mistake of trying to watch Earthlings, a depressingly honest documentary about everything horrible in the world narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. I lasted about 15 minutes before bursting into tears and nearly throwing up. After a cup of tea, a smoke and 2 guided meditations I felt a little better but still wanted to die so as not to go on crushing the planet with the weight of my humiliating needs.

Here Comes the Sun

It’s only natural, as spiritual beings designed for Vastly Infinite Possibilities, that we should find the human experience overwhelming, confining, confusing, painful and terrifying. Any time we’re separated from love we feel fear which triggers a primal hunger that can really only be soothed and satiated by reconnecting with our higher selves which lives in our pineal gland; the place between the two hemispheres of our brain where we can phone home whenever we want. Then, all our human experiences take on a cosmic quality; everything becomes joyful, miraculous, breathtaking, inspiring, amazing, wondrous. Unfortunately establishing and maintaining that natural high requires time, effort, delaying gratification, dying to our egos, dismantling the Matrix, patience, practice, drive, disciple, sleep and probably a boatload of therapy. In other words, lots of work and resources many of us are legitimately challenged to obtain. So we settle for quick fixes to soothe the ache in our yellow bellies which ends up making things harder in the long run but helps us crawl from one day to the next.

Dear chicken little, fear not. If you aren’t ready to fly just yet, crow.