Atonement, Time, and a Missive on Oligarchy

By Bob Howard

It’s Yom Kippur as I write this, a “day of atonement” among those who share the Jewish
faith. For those practicing, a fast started yesterday at sunset, and continues until the sun
drops below the horizon today. Atonement, confession – even the scientists recognize
the efficacy of these rituals in regards to curtailing “bad behavior,” lying, cheating, and
stealing. The consensus seems to be that we are inherently flawed beings, but that by
ritualistically confronting our damaged nature, we can rebut our basic instincts.

My primary sins these days are crimes against the relentless march of time. There’s
too little time, and I waste too much of that which has been allotted to me. Right now,
time is stacking up against me. I desperately want to do some digging and planting, to
get our winter crops in – but the last two weekends were spent fencing off a portion of
the yard to keep the Kiki-dog in, and this upcoming weekend Trish and I are heading
south once again, to help with an estate sale. Bitter timing too – we will be missing the
wedding ceremony of two of the more wonderful specimens on this planet: Miraculous
accumulations of stardust, beauty and creative force, Rebecca Lee and Timothy “SS”
Frank have thrown their lots in together, and this weekend friends and family gather to
celebrate their union. I’ll be there in spirit, guys – imagine me guzzling the champagne
and passing out down in the dry creek bed behind the yard.

Atlas Drugged

Makers and takers – that’s been a loose theme of the Republican Party this election
season, and it has gotten me to thinking: I do believe there are makers and takers in this
strange society of ours, but I guess I’m not convinced the politicians actually know which
is which. The employees on strike at the FoxConn mega-factory in China are the ones
who actually make loads of our little gizmos and gadgets. I mean, they are putting those
pieces together, really doing the work. Those workers, being paid some thousands of
dollars annually for their time and the toll piece work takes on the human body, are the
ones doing the building. Oceans away, some executive in a finely knit mock turtleneck
(I don’t think they all wear suits anymore…) is patting himself on the back and taking
credit, in the form of tens of millions of dollars.

A friend of mine and I were talking about this – the whole “less government versus more
government” argument – it’s a debate that misses the mark. Regardless of the shape
and scope of our ostensible government, we are always being governed by this tiny
fraction of the population who control vast, growing, and almost inconceivable amounts
of money. They are a government who was not elected, and they work constantly to
lighten the restrictions on how they can act. This is essentially an unaccountable shadow
government, and human rights be damned, they answer to the almighty dollar. And, as a
result of their chosen object of deification, we also worship at the same hollow altar, for
now at least. But backs are starting to turn.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.