Thursday, December 16, 2010

Death and Taxes

Hal Pepinsky,,
December 16, 2010
At the age of 91, my mom’s body is deteriorating. So is her earthly connection to those her bodily self has known.
I’m just 26 years younger. Always have been in this my own corporeal lifetime. My mother was born to die. She bore me to die. I can attest that her life has been rich; I am grateful for our lives together.
I was born to die. That’s our lot. In human earth time, some of us have a few minutes in human company. Others live up to and over a century. All living individuals, from bacteria to whales to redwoods, are born to die. So I ask myself, why fight it?
I have chosen not to fight to prolong my bodily existence. I will certainly die some time, I hope suddenly but hey, that’s not up to me. I had minor rectal surgery to close up a fistula recently, and told the surgeon at first meeting, I don’t want a colonoscopy because if I have colon cancer, I want it to be stage 4 by the time I get my diagnosis. That way, I won’t get hassled by doctors and nearest-and-dearest if I opt for purely palliative—pain reductive—care. Given that my body has stood by my social toll on it all these years, why not let my body rest as painlessly as possible? I just give thanks to a body that has carried me through so many human lives in a single lifetime. I will not go out fighting to keep this body alive. I feel that my body deserves a more grateful, celebratory exit. That is my life and the death it entails.
While in my body, I hold heaven and hell on earth to be my sacred trust—to distinguish the two and share in the urge to give love of life precedence over urges to destroy life to save it…heaven and hell as I was born to live and die experiencing joy and suffering among my own kinds.
It is axiomatic to me that measures that make rich people richer at poor people’s expense are human hell at its fieriest. I was born in the USA, the global center of rich living off backs of poorer and poorer people at a global height. In my country, what is now called Wall Street collapsed in 1929. President Franklin Roosevelt pushed the Social Security Act through Congress in 1935. The idea that government would guarantee the money you put into a pension fund has been under attack since, the first time I remember being when Richard Nixon took office. Bush II’s first economic initiative in 1991 was to allow people to invest in Wall Street instead of in a government-guaranteed pension fund. Imagine if workers had converted their government social security funds into private hedge funds.
9/11 gave Bush an out from a sure-fire loss on convincing to adopt his privatization of national pension funds. In the current compromise between President Obama and Mitch McConnell, what workers have invested in a supposedly federally guaranteed pension fund has become subject to the same compromise that governs stock prices—economic expediency on the backs of the most socially vulnerable. And in the agreement, the haves get to pass on more of their corner of wealth on to their own chosen heirs. Wealth continues to become more concentrated at the expense of personal and social security. Love and peace--hal

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