Written in Australia
In the early fifties, when I was a boy of ten, a new family moved in across the street from my home. They too, like my family had four children. Two boys and two girls. I had three brothers. One older and two younger. Everyone, including our parents were about the same age. We all became good friends.
Our parents would go to parties together. Everyone drank back then. It was the glory years after the war and upward mobility seemed to demand alcohol consumption. My mother liked the father of the other family and my father liked the mother of the other family. There was a lot of social interaction between them. Weekends here and there, sailing at the boat club, afternoon drinks. Secret meetings I’m sure. Though my mother was a Catholic and I feel rather certain she never had relation with the father of the other family though I’m sure she definitely wanted to and so the level of guilt was extreme. She was another suffering Catholic.
My father was not Catholic nor any other professed faith. He would tell us that we didn’t have to go to church to pray to God. All we needed to do was go and sit on the fence and pray. No need for a church building. I wish he would have shown me what a prayer sounded like, but he didn’t. I think that generation, that was originally from the country and had roots in the earth, knew certain important ideas to pass on, though they were caught between the worlds of the earth based knowledge and the new mass hypnotic movement towards this economic abundance being promised and which they couldn’t miss out on. So the information for generational continuance was not passed on. Just bits and pieces were passed.
My father had been married three times before he married my mother. Now this may seem extreme, but for us in the sixties generation we have been with many different people and it was just so back then in our parents time that they got married. I could have easily been married forty times. How about you? My father was 50 when I was born. My mother 33. I was born in 1944.
Now the name of the father of the other family was Bower. He was a pilot in the war called WWII, flying the bomber called the B-25. He had to sip hot drinks off to one side of his mouth because of the concussions he suffered from the explosions of the anti-aircraft artillery shells. He was a gentle and kind man. He taught me how to ride a horse and we’d spend hours and hours with me going around in a circle and he’d give patient and kind instruction to me. I love horses today and I’m a great rider. He was going to teach me how too fly a plane at age 12. We never did that. He shot himself in his head before that. Suicide. No one talked about it.
His wife, a couple of years before his death gave birth to a little girl. She looked just like me and like my father. No one talked about it though. Life just went on. The wife also had a serious drinking problem,
My father, way before these events of such great sorrow, told me this story about Bower. My father became quite serious at the beginning of the conversation and said that Bower had squandered over a quarter-million dollars of his wife’s money on failed business ventures. “He’s a terrible business man. He’s a failure”, my father told me.
I didn’t know him as that, as a failure. I knew him as a friend. A man who had time for me.
In 1958 it happened. And the end for this gentle man came in a smelly basement office of a black jazz joint Bower had bought in the run-down section of one of the so-called great cities of the industrial revolution, Toledo, Ohio. An ugly used up city in the ‘rust-belt’ of the midwest. Our family moved soon after that, just to the other end of the street, to the West end of Front street. Away from the family and the mother of the family without a father.
My family was not happy. We boys fought all the time and today a wise teacher would notice the signs of children living with alcohol and dysfunction and would intervene for the children. Back then it was the alcoholic who got the attention. Many times I had to break up physical fights between my parents; fights which happened in front of my friends and I would implore them, my friends, not to tell anyone. I was so ashamed.
My mother tried to divorce my father a couple of times and I think her Catholic mother would intervene and do some guilt and fire and brim stone story on her and my mother would back down and lose face and drink even heavier. She was going though menopause too but back then they called women hysterical. She was of course.
My father was a top executive for a large glass company. He was national general manager and was responsible for the introduction of the double paned windows now know as thermopane. His goal was to be a vice-president in this company, but it was family owned and secretive and his striving was never fulfilled.
He retired at 65, got his gold watch then went immediately to work for another glass company where he felt he was sure to become vice-president, but he quickly had a stroke and had to retire. He had told me on occasion that “One of these days I will marry a wealthy women and go live in Florida and fish and play golf.” He did. He did just that. He married the woman who had the child that looked like me and who had moved directly across the street from us on the West end of Front street and where my father could be found working in the garden of the wife of the man who committed suicide and my mother was insane with this with the anger and shame and guilt and more drinking and finally my father divorced my mother.
He hired a criminal lawyer who took my mother’s small time lawyer for a ride and we had to sell the family house as part of the divorce agreement and my father moved to Florida with his new wife and family and my brothers and I would visit him on Spring breaks, drink a lot and go water skiing on the lake behind his house. Then return to the dismal gray skies of Northern Ohio and try to make a life of it.
I was to be the executer of his estate when he died. He thought I was the competent one of the four boys. I proved him wrong by drinking too much one Spring break and his new wife convinced him to change the will and he did, leaving everything to her on the condition that she pay for our education. She never did pay for anything. He died one night from a heart attack.
The story surrounding his death, as related by her children to us boys was that she screwed him to death. Maybe so. He had changed the will just two weeks prior to his death. It was all rather convenient.
So his new wife got all the money, we had to sell our house and give her some and we were on our own. As I said no money came our way and the last wife drank heavily again, spent all the money then married an Italian man who thought she had money and she though he had money and when he found out she didn't have any he shot himself. Then she died.
Years later one of their sons changed his name to Bower, in honor of his father. Many years later my brother Tom found the girl who was born looking like me and my father and discovered she had just come out of a 15 yr. bad marriage. Same with the others. Same with us boys.
And what was it all about? Money.
This is story about economic trauma. I‘ve called it terrorism because I believe that’s really what it is. We’ve all been terrorized by this system. I’ve always said, “It’s not the people, it’s the system”. Most all people will have their own sad story caused by our system of economics; divorce, infidelity, abuse, gambling, alcohol and drug abuse. I’m not alone. And it’s all severely traumatizing.
There’s another 6 billion plus stories about trauma from economic terrorism. It’s called capitalism by some. Free market by others and Fair Trade and survival of the fittest and the Right of Manifest Destiny (another name for thievery), competition, and whole cultures have been and are being destroyed by this system; the Native Americans, Australian Aboriginal, the Native Africans and the Amazonian Indians and the list is endless because it includes nearly every living being on this earth: Gods, Goddesses and misfits.
The Hopi Indians of North Eastern Arizona, are clear about cultures that have robbed the native peoples of this earth. They say that the foundation of a country that is based on theft, no matter how that theft is defined, be it Manifest Destiny or The Right of Conquest, is doomed to failure because of this moral wrong upon which the country was created. For the Hopi of Arizona, the way out of this abusive relationship is to understand the concept of Right Title ship to Land.
According to Hopi mythology, upon their emergence unto this the Fourth World, after the destruction of the Third World, they were asked by their creator god to go in all the directions as far as they were able, and perform sacred ceremonies given them by this creator god to claim this land as sacred and to keep the Earth in balance. The performing of these sacred ceremonies then ‘gave’ them the right to be on this Earth for they had proved themselves to be worthy of living on this Earth. This they have done to the present day.
When man does whatever he wants to the Earth with no regard for the sacred, this demonstrates the moral wrong that has been carried forward in the psyche of man and is an indicator of the eventual destruction of mankind on Earth. The essential understanding is and I paraphrase Grandfather Martin (the last traditional elder of the Hopi), “Unless mankind understands the sacred relationship he has to the Earth and honors the responsibilities given him to keep the Earth in balance, and the relationship he has to the great powers responsible for Life in the universe, then all is lost”.
When I wrote this I was in Australia, and I had left America for a variety of reasons. One was; I do not wish to experience the coming violent implosion America has set itself up to experience. Fifty years of failed foreign policy called theft, murder, rape and plunder is about to reap its’ just reward and it’s only outcome. My question now; will I experience a similar event happening here in Australia? For wasn’t Australia formed on the same moral wrong as America? Here it was termed Terra Nulius rather then Manifest Destiny but it’s the same foundation. Tierra Nulius means: “There’s no one here.” And if they did find someone they pushed them off cliffs or forced them into the barren places.
The economic system is terror based for it has failure built into it: bankruptcy; poverty; shame; humiliation; guilt; war and death.
Soon, the people trying to make it within this system will stop, then it will change. Until then, it is a system of terror people have been threatened with, and bought into.