“I’m all lost in the supermarket, I can no longer shop happily, I came here for their special offer, a guaranteed personality.” The Clash
In the United States Congress is made up of two chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate, in Washington D. C. The chambers are filled by direct elections in the fifty states by the American voting public. Statutory law is proposed and created by Congress, with the White House as bully pulpit.
Many of those laws have been progressive, from the activism at the turn of the 20th century to the New Deal in the depths of the Great Depression to the Civil Rights bills of the 1960s.
Many of them have been regressive, such as the marriage and property laws of the 19th century, the Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930, among other protectionist laws, and just about everything the GOP has done in living memory, bad laws in lieu of good ideas.
Many of them have been bone-headed, from the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 to Prohibition to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the last based on glib lies eagerly believed.
Some of the laws Congress makes are homeland lifestyle laws. They are about America, about our allegiance and attachment to its ideals, interests, and traditions. They are about embracing a way of life. When they address the way we live now, they are about what makes life liberty and the pursuit of happiness a real way of life, not just foggy notions from long ago.
They are stale toast when they try to recreate the past.
The most recent attempts to fossilize American values are from the font of the Make America Great Again Wall of Shame Rantings of POTUS. The Big Man in the Oval Office is a race-baiting tax-dodging whore-monger atheist mouthing Christian platitudes, although it doesn’t seem to matter to his zany supporters. They rally around the red hats. It’s spooky Americanism in the Haunted White House.
Homeland legislation has often been the purview of the good old boys in love with the good old days. Their guiding principle is “In God We Trust” and God forbid anything change anytime soon. Even though change has accelerated by leaps and bounds in the past one hundred years, and even though Orange Julius can’t keep his mouth shut, the conservative order in the United States is not very much different today than it was one hundred years ago during the reign of Silent Cal.
Thank God Congress is coming back into session next month, the week of Labor Day. They may only work 138 days a year, but they have their work cut out for them. If the United States stands for anything, it stands for free enterprise. It stands for capitalism. It ultimately stands for consumerism. In the mid-1950s the President of the National Sales Executives had already blithely declared, “Capitalism is dead, consumerism is king.”
Even President Donald Trump, with his fast fast thumb on social media, and incredibly busy with issues such as body-shaming Senator Elizabeth Warren, trying to remember that Dayton, Ohio, is not Toledo, Ohio, and the mental health menace of Xbox, is cognizant of what really makes America great.
“The WTO is BROKEN. NO more!!! Today I directed the U.S. Trade Representative to take action so that countries stop CHEATING the system at the expense of the USA!”
Make America Great Again and Again!
“The fact that I have gone through a three-year vicious Witch Hunt, perpetrated by the Lamestream Media in Collusion with Crooked and the Democrat Party, there can be NO WAY, with the greatest Economy in U.S. history, that I can be losing to the Sleepy One.”
Make America Great Again and Again!
“My Approval Rating on Economy is at 52%, a 4 point jump. Shouldn’t this be at 100%? Best stock market, economy and unemployment numbers ever! Most people working within U.S. ever! Low interest rates, very low inflation! Country doing great!”
Make America Great Again and Again!
President Trump has embarked on one trade junket after another over the past year, and sent proposals to Congress, and taken to Twitter, going hard after Europe South America China with tariffs tariffs tariffs to protect American jobs workers businesses, humping the notion that the business of America is business. He has gotten on top of the bedrock of nationalism and shouted his message for all to hear, both prophet and salesman.
It is nearly incredible and just about impeachable that he hasn’t focused his tweeting laser eye on yoga.
There are many things that threaten the American economy, from unemployment to energy prices to fiscal crises to cyber-attacks to data fraud to extreme weather events to large-scale involuntary migration to illicit trade to asset bubbles.
If there is one thing that is a clear and present danger to the well-being of Main Street and Wall Street, it is yoga.
Although yoga pumps tens of billions of dollars into the economy, it is only one of the arms of the practice that is the spigot, and that is the physical aspect of it, from studios to mats ‘n’ stuff to groovy outfits, and ancillary products and services like seminars supplements physical therapies alternative regimens and R & R.
The danger yoga poses to the American economy lies in the rest of the arms of the practice, some of which are so antithetical to the American way of life as to be nearly treasonous. Even though the commodification of yoga is a done deal, even the body beautiful, the face of the myth of success, is on shaky ground, since one of the aspects of traditional yoga is acceptance of one’s body, to be at one with it, in all its imperfections.
The body can be improved upon, but it’s not a lump of clay in search of aesthetic perfection. At least, not if you exist outside the star-studded world of the stars and pro sports. Its objectification only serves the merchandiser, not necessarily the consumer.
Tom Brady, the star quarterback of the New England Patriots, makes about $40 million a year. His football fans far and wide are who ultimately fork over the $40 million. When it comes to being careful with the merchandise, Tom Brady pays all the attention in the world to his body. Practicing yoga is partly exercising the body, but the $40 million part of the practice is exercising the brain.
Practicing yoga is having a fan base on one, you.
Old-school yoga is the problem for the United States. If it ever gains a foothold it could be dangerous. If it got out of hand it could threaten the consumer society that makes America as great as it is. At the very least, Aparigraha – meaning non-covetousness – should be outlawed immediately. The consumer society is predicated on coveting a bigger house bigger car bigger clothes and the newest gadgets, never being satisfied. It’s a wild goose chase, but it’s what makes the world go around.
“There’s nothing I’d ever buy, but I love consumerism,” said Johnny Rotten of the punk band the Sex Pistols. “I like being there, in the shopping malls. It’s wacky.”
Buying into non-consumerism is throwing the flag into the mud and trampling on it. The American government has often intervened interfered intruded into life in the USA in order to advance and preserve what it considers the aims and ambitions of its people. The country may be doing great now, the economy is booming, but if the growth of yoga is left unchecked, and its precepts go invasive on native soil, it could cast a spell, causing a downward spiral in the economy.
The virtuous cycle is all about disposable income demanding more stuff and manufacturers ramping it up to meet the demand. Business spending on technology, productivity, and capital goods is a significant factor in sustaining the economy and raising the standard of living, but the mainstay is consumer spending. It is 70% of gross domestic product. It is the most important driving force of the economy.
When consumer spending drops off growth slows, prices fall, and deflation creeps in. If it goes on too long, and the economy steadily contracts, the result is hard times, recession and depression.
The ground rules of yoga are anathema to capitalism and consumerism. It’s not just Aparigraha, either. The eight-fold path is meant to lead to a purposeful and meaningful life, by way of truthfulness and continence, among other things. There is little in the way of truthfulness on Madison Avenue and almost no continence. Self-discipline and spiritual observances are a a big part of yoga. They ain’t a big part of going shopping. Samtosa is defined as contentment. If that concept ever got adopted, there would be hell to pay at the shopping mall.
In the United States, society is structured in such a way that many people are regarded and regard themselves as profit-generators. Everyone else is either helping or hindering you on the yellow brick road to Fort Knox. It is a selfish way of life, but a way of life that has led to the good life.
No one wants to go back to the Great Recession, much less the Great Depression, or any bust of any kind.
Yoga has been integrated into the fabric of life in the USA, but only the get up stand up part of it. The other parts don’t fit well. They fit so badly, indeed, that alarm bells are clanging coast to coast. Parents and school boards in Georgia, Alabama, and California have gotten yoga expelled from programs in their states.
Orange Julius and Senator “Moscow” Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP need to take a hard look at the Russian city of Nizhnevartovsk, where yoga in all its forms was banned in 2015, under the rubric of it being foreign and subversive. The owners of the city’s yoga studios received letters telling them to close up shop and “stop spreading new religious cults and movements.” Classes at a stadium and public meeting hall were suspended. Schools and local physical culture centers were advised in no uncertain terms to cut out the asana and meditation practices of “an occult character.”
That’s the spirit, comrade!
President Donald Trump has torn more than one page out of the Russki playbook. Ronald Reagan said “Tear down the wall” in the 1980s, referring to the Berlin Wall. President Trump has rephrased the phrase, saying “Build the wall” in the 20-teens. It is time he includes the practice of yoga, and its foreign influences, to the blacklist where all the other foreigners his wall is designed to keep out of the homeland are listed in black and white.
Bad ideas are as bad as bad people. The Trump Wall is meant to keep bad people out of the USA. It needs to be built higher to keep out bad ideas. The ideas and beliefs that make up the practice of yoga are a menace to the zeitgeist of the USA in the 21st century.
Consumerism and affluence may be a corruption of the American Dream, but it’s all we’ve got. Yoga would have us believe it’s best to never buy anything you can’t carry in your tote, the tote your children are carrying. They think that’s the future, but there’s no future in that. Bigger is better in the USA. Loyalty and permanence are undermined by consumerism, but that’s the way it is.
Get to work, Congress. Do the right thing by the homeland. Yoga can go back to where it came from.
Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.