Crabs in a Pot

We won’t take up too much of your time this week. We have work to do, a garden to tend and some lumber to saw, and you have already spent enough time worrying about the condition of the world. We’ll venture a guess that just outside your door, the world is doing just fine, and that’s the place where we need to focus our attention right now.

There’s an old fable about crabs which seems fitting in dark of today’s headlines. It goes something like this:  A bucket of crabs does not need a lid because any crab trying to escape will be pulled down by other crabs also trying to exit the bucket.

For the purposes of our discussion, the “bucket” is the ongoing drama crowding the streets of some of our cities and dominating the pixel narrative. Here is a short list of some of the crabs. First there are the election year crabs which have repeatedly shown that they will use any tragedy to further their goals, no matter the collateral damage. There are media crabs that make their paychecks and maintain their stock prices by feeding us broken news 24/7, and thanks for the hours of “live” video loops of that street corner where someone threw something at a police officer, or might.

There are the drama crabs, addicted to the rush of brain chemicals that accompanies fear and anger and shocking images. Like a drug addict, it feels awful, but at least it feels. Enter the virtue crabs eager to demonstrate their superior morality and lecture you, because if you’re not as outraged as they are, you’re part of the problem.

Finally we have the crabs overwhelmed by anger and desperation from being crushed at the bottom of the pot for so long and who have given in to the baser animal instincts on the ragged edge of what remains of their humanity. They are a small minority of the crowd, but they are the easiest to manipulate.

Yes, manipulate. There are signs of a chef or two somewhere in this hell’s kitchen, turning up the heat, flooding social media with inflammatory posts, organizing the transport of “protesters” hundreds of miles to cause trouble in someone else’s city.

Sadly, if we could crawl out of the pot we might be able to see and address the real problems now obscured by violence and stupidity:  The persistence of racism, the increasing coercion of the oligarchy, and the long suffering debilitation at the roots of our economy by parasites.

Make no mistake – what forms the “pot” and turns up the heat is economic. The real tragedy is that we will soon be offered the same old false dilemma in an election between more government in support of crony capitalism or more government to coerce a more egalitarian society and redistribute wealth.

Most of us long for a more egalitarian society. That ideal is one of the things that defines our way of life. But neither side of the left/right divide seems to get it. The left thinks the ideal can be coerced by government and having achieved that, a healthy economy will follow. The right correctly believes that a rising tide of economic health will lift all boats, but they deny the existence of oligarchy busy drilling holes in all the smaller boats.

Perhaps saddest of all, despite the parasites and the drillers of holes and the crab mentalities, across the board, most of the things being protested were improving. The numbers are clear on that, but truth takes a back seat to narrative in this world.

If you’re reading this, chances are that you enjoy the luxury of being able to choose not to be pulled into the crab pot. Spend time in gratitude every day for that blessing. Focus on what is real and right in front of you, your family, your friends, your community. Nurture these, strengthen these and do what you can to insulate them from the heat of the crab boil.  

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