Guest Post by Hal Manogue
Many Americans today, just as they did 200 years ago, feel burdened, stifled, and sometimes even oppressed by government that has grown too large, too bureaucratic, too wasteful, too unresponsive, too uncaring about people and their problems. I believe we can embark on a new age of reform in this country and an era of national renewal, an era that will reorder the relationship between citizen and government, that will make government again responsive to people, that will revitalize the values of family, work, and neighborhood and that will restore our private and independent social institutions.
Ronald Reagan the accomplished actor and 40th President of the United States expressed those thoughts in one of his speeches. Reagan used his acting talents to the fullest while he was in office. His wit, vitality, and sense of fairness are well-documented, and most political leaders say he made a difference in the way the political game is played today. But, the one thing Reagan didn’t do was put the country on a course of reform that revitalized the values of family, work, and neighborhood. His political era is considered one of the greediest in our history.
There was certainly major economic success in the Reagan years, but the true political social reform that Reagan mentions is nowhere to be found. Our private and social institutions did experience change in those years, but the pace of that change is still not in sync with the ever-changing human psyche. There was more economic separation between the haves and have-nots during the years following the Reagan’s years, and much more separation in our perception in terms of identifying the motives behind our two political parties.
Social reform, as prison administer Mary B. Harris said, is a journey not a destination. Our political and economic systems are not fixed in a certain place or time. They expand as we expand. Our beliefs create that expansion, and our dreams fuel the consciousness units that make social and political changes a reality.
Susan B. Anthony said:
Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputations… can never effect a reform
And, Marian B. Edelman, the founder and President of the Children Defense Fund, described our current reality like this:
We are living in a time of unbearable dissonance between promise and performance; between good politics and good policy; between professed and practiced family values; between racial creed and racial deed; between calls for community and rampant individualism and greed; and between our capacity to prevent and alleviate human deprivation and disease and our political and spiritual will to do so.
Our dualistic mentality is obvious in our political beliefs and actions, and our two party lawmakers are a shining example of the ineptness that exists in our dualistic system. Political separation creates social and political catastrophes. A social reformer is a political adjuster that has the ability to blend thoughts and instigate actions that turn democratic debacles into social expansion.
Edelman explains the process this way:
If we think we have ours and don’t owe any time or money or effort to help those left behind, then we are a part of the problem rather than the solution to the fraying social fabric that threatens all Americans.
We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.
The challenge is to incorporate a sense of community in our diversity, and be flexible enough to bend in that wind of contrast. Stiffness is not a sign of strength― it is a sign of ignorance.
Living Behind Beauty Shop explains how communities can experience unity in the tumultuous waters of change. The story demonstrates our ability to produce a social system where, as Cicero said,
The good of the people is the highest law.
Living Behind The Beauty Shop is about a Middle Tennessee boy who understands that greater reality where the psyche is able to communicate with the self that is experiencing other dimensions. The boy, Mase Russell, is living with Down syndrome. He is considered disabled in our normal reality, but he is far more enabled and connected than we are to that stream of consciousness that flows through all of us. He is able to communicate with other aspects of the self while dreaming, and he accepts his dream experiences as real. He is even able to remember those experiences and express them in his own way. His family begins to sense that his disability is a challenging gift not a sentence of suffering.
His family is like any other family. They experience the typical dramas that we all create in our waking reality. His grandfather, Warren Russell is a wealthy business man that lives on his family’s 2000 acre farm in Leipers Fork, Tennessee. The farm was a land grant given to his triple great-grandfather after the American Revolution. Warren and his wife Claire considered the farm their rite of passage until they both experienced a near-death experience on a trip to Florida in their Cessna. After the accident Warren decides to donate 1000 acres to a non-profit foundation he formed called Perception Farms. Perception Farms is a self-sufficient community off the grid that gives the homeless a fresh start.
His daughter Cindy realizes that she’s gay after she marries her college sweetheart. She returns home from California and finds an ex-nun, who is now called Margie, at one of Perception Farm’s fundraisers. Margie discovered her true sexuality when she was in the convent. They become partners and decide to have a child using the sperm of their friend Alan Sutton, a well-educated and athletic individual who works in the shoe business. Baby Mase is born with DS and the story follows his life and the experiences of the family as he becomes an accomplished poet and artist.
Years later, Mase finds Mischa Eddington who is another Down syndrome artist, in a local college art class, and they develop a close relationship. Together they watch members of the family experience the pains of getting older. They offer the family another perspective about that aging process. The family realizes that Mase and Mischa chose to be born with Down syndrome in order to help others see that there are no boundaries or limits in physical life unless we put them there through our beliefs and perceptions. They show us that other realities are just as real as our waking reality.
When we consider that consciousness does not have a beginning or an end in the non-physical world we can better understand that the people we call disabled or homeless are actually teachers who choose to experience life in extraordinary ways. They teach us that putting limits, judgments, and sterilized beliefs in action is the art of separating one aspect of the self from other elements of the psyche.
Hal Manogue is an author of a recently published book Living Behind The Beauty Shop. Down syndrome is one of the main issues in his novel. He may be found at www.livingbehindthebeautyshop.com and www.halmanogue.blogspot.com.
Born in Philadelphia, Howard (Hal) (Howie) Thomas Manogue spent the first twenty-one years of his life conforming to logical beliefs and rituals. He spent the next twenty-six years of his life rebelling against those beliefs and rituals in one way or another. For the last twelve years he has devoted his life to dissecting beliefs and that journey has taken him through the history of religious thought and the intricacies of philosophy.
Retiring from the shoe industry after 35 years of “sole” searching, Hal discovered his real soul when he started writing poetry in 1996. His first book, Short Sleeves A Book For Friends, was self-published in 2003. His second book, Short Sleeves A Book For Friends 2006 Collection, was released in May 2006. His third book, Short Sleeves A Book For Friends 2007 Collection, was released in January 2007. Short Sleeves Spirit Songs was published in July 2008. Spirit Songs Echoes of Silence will be released in 2011. Essays from the book, Short Slee Insights: Live An Ordinary Life In A Non-Ordinary Way (published in May 2008) have been republished in other books and newsletters around the globe. All these books are available on his Web site: http://www.shortsleeves.net/.
Hal’s poems have been published by Mystic Pop Magazine, Children of the New Earth Magazine, New Age Tribune, Seasons of the Soul Newsletters, The Ascension Network, Lightship News, and Writers in the Sky E-zine. On his blog, he has published over a thousand essays on consciousness. More of his essays can be found on ezinearticles.com, bizymoms.com, authorsden.com, holistichealth.com, and newagetribune.com.
He works as a free-lance writer and is published all over the world. Hal currently lives in Brentwood, Tennessee with his wife, Joanie.