Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Choose Freedom

"We have been created for greater things, not just to be a number in the world. Not just to go for diplomas and degrees, this work or that. We have been created in order to love and be loved."

-Mother Teresa

It's been two years since the first post of Escaped Wage Slave. Number 394 will be it's last. It would be an interesting study by a grad student as to the content. Personally I feel it chronicles a return to lost good mental health.

Mark Ames' "Going Postal" was an inspiration. A working thesis within the book has a sympathetic slant to the modern workplace shooter, doing good investigative work on many instances. Each case study is a mini-slave revolt and that perspective appeals to me. Every wage slave has a limit to how much he or she can endure physically, mentally, and spiritually. Most die of work related induced heart attacks at home, unreported, it seems.

My particular breakdown (or breakthrough, CA speak) came after three years in an institutional setting. I was a free spirit, surviving from good economy to good economy, working hard when I could, winter lay offs were not unusual. I hired onto my first job with a time clock at 48 years old. I thought I had it made, a "job for life", so to speak. Head down, mouth shut, nose clean - an easy walk until retirement.

My first 6 weeks or so, the lunch table talk was about "Eddie", the union steward out on disability. I listened everyday to what type guy he was and it was quite obvious some of my co-workers had problems with him. I was working in the system with two other new guys, we didn't know what to think about this unseen, unfelt force of nature coming over the horizon returning to work. The eye-ball roll was the common denominator when people said his name.

He did his homework when he was gone. He said to me when we met, "I heard you were a good union man. We need more." This greeting ingratiated me, as I thought of myself as a good union man at the time. He next said in a haunting, foretelling way, "I Googled you. Brought up seven pages." I often wondered why the institution never did the same. At this date, my future in the regular 40 hr world is sealed closed by a simple Google search.

I dedicate Escaped Wage Slave to Eddie's memory. Without an iota of knowledge about Marx or Bakunin, he was the finest union man I ever worked with, simply because he knew right from wrong and was willing to back it up. The people in his unit he dutifully represented for 17 years and 5 contract negotiations didn't back him, unappreciative of the fruits of collective bargaining, and found it easier to shirk work and kiss ass. Forgiveness is needed all around in this instance. I truly want to let go the ill will I had when I left. I grieved hard and silent for the 6 months after Eddie's fatal coronary and the remaining "trustees" never softened up on his memory. I found that deplorable, and now with no workplace representation there was no low-bar that my co-workers wouldn't go under, or so it seemed, to keep this "good job". I internalized all the ribbing among the crew, even if it wasn't about me. I've learned now not to take ANYTHING personally, but it is a hard concept to apply sometimes. Words were like knives.

It wouldn't be fair to the story so far if I didn't take responsibility for actions, words and deeds during this three year time frame. I was out on my own, freedom and alcohol drunk, sex addicted, political passionate and emotionally driven in all manners. As I swirled into a negative tornado, I became intolerable as the bullies I later decry. It's been a self discovering journey to this day with slip ups and embarrassment along the way, but healthwise I'm in a good place ready to grow. Bad thinking habits ARE hard to break. This is a Bully Nation. It seems economic survival demands a emotionally abusive attitude. I can't live like that anymore. I'm looking for a different model.

I learned much on this blogging journey. I made some new lasting friendships of common thinking. I strengthened many long time relationships. I lost camaraderie because some are uncomfortable with the subject of society sickness and the individual mental illness that is it's collectivization. I've come to the conclusion many people enjoy their oppressed situation, want to stay ill and victimized, and refuse to help themselves. It may well be an easier path to go down. I intend on going in the other direction and wish to surround myself with people that think that way, too. My first instinct is to help. Rebuffed, I won't stick around to hear their sorry story. I've realized I can't change anyone but myself.

I mentioned Mark Ames, but other authors are influential as well. Daniel Goleman and Tara Bennet-Goleman's books on "Emotional Intelligence" and "Emotional Alchemy" are tremendously important and need to be read. The Dalai Lama, Krishnamurti, books on meditation by Levine, Kornfield and numerous other authors appeared in my life at the proper time, as the universe deems it. Searching for answers will bring you to the feet of the great teachers and best received with humility. At the start of this episode I probably should have been given drugs and told to sit in the corner. I chose to just sit without the prescription, and it took a few weeks, but the practice of meditation gave me the space to sort out problems. I highly recommend it to battle stress. It does take a certain concentrated effort. I consider that time my daily General Strike, the only time when I'm truly in charge. Yoga is in my life to improve my meditations.

I grew up and out of the labor movement, that is, the formal structure of trade unions. These organizations have awesome potential power for social good. Their leadership at the top are either too corrupt or stupid to fight back. For every Eddie there are thousands of greedy, venal, chauvinistic workers reflecting and responding to the pressures of capitalistic debt-ridden daily life. Until these unions call all their people in and teach them to behave like human beings, instructing them on group dynamics and respect, on compassion for all people, or just point out to them how they are hurting each other on the jobsite, I don't believe fighting for another 25 cents an hour is worth it. I must point out the groundbreaking work of Dr Donahue and Mr Lynch at the school of IBEW NECA 134 for their efforts in this regard. Their seminars to the 3rd yr apprentices and construction industry forewomen/men is a model to be replicated. (

I still recommend working under a collective bargaining agreement if you have to work at all. I just wish I could offer a sense of community with the contract.

War is the greatest institutionalized stressor. My empathy for the people of Iraq and the brutal repression of my so-called government puts my heart in pain. I think of my friend and his family in Baghdad everyday. I'm so appreciative of the people that brought us together because I was injected with secular hope when I needed it the most. I am proud of my small role in the antiwar movement and request many more to rise in indignation what is being done in our name. Labor hasn't stopped one bullet or missile being fired, nor has institutionalized religion. This apple is red and shiny on the outside, rotten and wormy inside, I'm afraid, for these two society pillar groups. Since the beginning of these wars I have been distressed and I know I join millions across the globe calling out "Shame" to the military/industrial/congressional complex that continues to kill for profit. I applaud each and every activist antiwar soldier today. These people must lead. This madness must cease now.

Two years ago my blood pressure was sky high. My diet was sugar, caffeine, sodium, carbs and alcohol. My arrogance made me the smartest person in the room. Hypersensitive beyond belief. Wound up tight or totally exhausted. Believing rumors of rumors, my thoughts and feelings were real, for sure. At my core I was afraid.

I've learned what bubbles up from the mind isn't necessarily true and often valueless. I desire to have a better filter of what I allow my senses to experience. Surround myself with caring people and learn to care. Popular culture and mass market consumerism has a way to deceive and draw me back to hurtful behavior and speech. I am ready every waking moment to change and beyond some morning grumps, I work hard on maintaining energy levels, allowing life to pass through me, taking nothing personal. The more I learn, the less I know these days, while always striving to learn. Healthy and aware with love in my life, I intend to move in a different direction than the tone presented in EWS.

It's called personal empowerment and all I'll ask of you is to wish me luck.

I don't know who has looked at this blog. I never put a counter on it. I got few comments. I suppose I'll leave it up for a year as is. I have no intention of logging in and editing anything, but I suppose I might. I want to start a new blog of healing content and if anyone would like that address, drop a note.

My best wishes for good health to all.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

One Step Forward, Two Back,0,4869113.story

Now Powelson's son, identified in court papers as T.G., is one of 20,000 students across California whose mental health services may be in jeopardy in the new year because of a line-item veto by the governor. In October, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger slashed $133 million in funding for what are known as AB 3632 services, a 25-year-old program that requires state and local education and mental health agencies to jointly provide education-related mental health services.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rant On, Charlie

If we often define "freedom" in entirely political terms, we will understandably focus on the recent assault on civil liberties, notably in the United States. Yet in today's all-encompassing, profit-driven Marketplace (erroneously termed a "society"), most people are "indefinitely detained" in economic servitude. Abjectly dependent upon imperious corporations for survival itself, an employed person readily sacrifices his first and fourth amendment rights in order to earn a paycheck in the privately-owned workplace.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Army Against One

Several police patrol units went to the Oak Lawn Hilton this afternoon after learning that a man who brandished a gun at his former workplace in Ford City in Chicago was in one of the hotel's rooms, authorities said.

Before police could locate the man, he had turned the weapon on himself in an attempted suicide, police said. According to hotel manager Rick Harmon, the man survived the attempt and was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn for treatment and a psychiatric evaluation.


Police officers prepare to enter the Oak Lawn Hilton this afternoon. (Chicago Tribune/Warren Skalski)

Before arriving at the hotel, the man reportedly created a disturbance at his former employer in Ford City by brandishing the weapon and then leaving behind a suicide note, authorities said.

There was no barricade situation at the hotel, and no hotel guests had to be evacuated, authorities said.

"At no time during this unfortunate incident was anybody at the hotel at risk," Harmon said.

Both the Chicago Police Department and the Oak Lawn Police worked together to keep the situation under control and contained. They did not even draw their weapons at any time during the situation."

-- Wendy E. Normandy

Monday, December 20, 2010

Joy To The World,0,3428487.column

Regardless of the time of year, Americans are stressed, and often it's job-related, experts said. Three of four Americans surveyed this year said they experienced an unhealthy amount of stress, according to the American Psychological Association's 2010 Stress in America survey released in November. The association didn't provide comparison figures for earlier years but said stress has been a continual problem for the last several years.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dismally Hard At Times

And what is CBT?

It is a form of talking therapy that encourages depressed patients to exchange their self-destructive thoughts for healthier ways of believing and acting.

It is the modern equivalent of telling people (gently) to shape up, smarten up and take responsibility for their own lives.

Except that you could not possibly convey that time-honoured message with such stark clarity these days. Apparently, we are all too fragile to hear such sage advice: the shock might send us rushing to the medicine cabinet.

That is a terrible shame. All the antidepressant drugs and therapy-speak in the world cannot take away the simple, honest fact that life for all of us can be dismally hard at times.

For most of us, though, the healthiest option is to face our problems vigorously, rather than disappear down a black hole of antidepressant dependency.

That is an especially important message to spread during this economic downturn. Times are getting harder.

But instead of grasping for tablets, we would be far better off being encouraged to rely on our own resources — positivity and self-reliance.

Read more: