Not a word from our sponsors, since I don't have any--just a word--a word that will come to mean everything some time soon. The last few weeks, I've been posting about things that I hoped would poke and prod you enough to make you rethink some of the things we've all believed were true, or at least to start looking into them yourselves. Stuff that leads someone of even moderate intelligence and skepticism (and I'm sure you're all above average in both) to think that perhaps we've been hornswoggled, as they used to say in the Westerns.
My initial reaction to such things when I have learned about them would have to be censored even on late-night television. To put it mildly, I was pissed. As I've shared recently, I always had a fairly high regard for America and Americans. Of course there have been times when I didn't like what I saw, but overall, I believed in our system and our ideals.
Trouble is, lately it has been becoming increasingly clear that both the system we thought we were operating under and the ideals we thought were being upheld on our behalf were equal parts smoke, mirrors, and BS. Over the last year or two, I've realized for the first time that our problem isn't one side or the other, but both sides being corrupted in a very systemic and intractable way. No one's been considering whether our collective resources should buy guns or butter (for those of you who took Econ 101), but merely how to get all the guns and all the butter under the narrowest control in the shortest time possible.
We've all been, for quite some time, riding a train that doesn't exist--an illusion. We've thought that our train, the economic and political system, is incompetent, stupid, and wasteful--if it were a movie, it would be called The Three Stooges Run a Country-starring Executo, Legislato, and Judicio. In truth, it seems that our system is quite competent, pretty clever, and very efficient. It's just that it's trying to accomplish different goals than the ones it tells us it's trying to accomplish.
For example, if the last few years were a government trying to keep an economy growing, reduce unemployment and make regular people more prosperous, it has quite obviously sucked at it. But it has been amazingly competent if, as I now believe, it has been working to scare people so that we will focus on their game of economic collapse and doomsday three-card-monty while they work on their real goal, which was to make history's largest transfer of wealth to the wealthiest among us, grow the government to the point where it tells us what we're allowed to eat, drink, and think, suspend civil liberties we were told were "inalienable," and position our military industrial complex to take control of the most desireable and valuable resources throughout the world. Capiche?
Ok, now here's the hard part--before anyone thinks I'm advocating anything to do with torches, pitchforks, or hoisting anyone on pitards. It's happening because WE are making it happen. Just like the serial battered woman keeps finding guys who beat her until she fixes her own emotional problems, we're getting this result because collectively we have valued money and power and our own comfort over the common good. We've ignored the plights of the rest of the world so long as we have our Xboxes and plasma screens. We've ignored the damage we're doing to our environment so we can keep driving SUVs and consuming plastic junk wrapped in plastic. We've ignored investigative reports that tell us all the ways our government is corrupt by blaming it on "gotcha journalism" or the evil "other party."
We've stuck our noses firmly in front of our Jersey Shore and our Farmville to keep from looking around at all the neon signs pointing at the fact that something has gone terribly wrong. We've turned up our I-pods and smart phones to keep from hearing the voice in our heads that's telling us it's time to smell the coffee. Last week, our government openly and triumphantly announced it assasinated an American citizen without even a trial, much less a finding of guilt, and when I looked at the comments on the mainstream news web article about it, there were at least as many saying that the guy deserved it because the government said he was a terrorist as there were saying it was wrong. As a country, we have decided it's perfectly ok for our government to kill us, as long as they call us a bad name first.
So now the word. The word is Love. Not the smooshy, teenage, TV show, or sexual variety, but the real thing. The kind that means that the system doesn't work for us until or unless it works for others too. The kind that makes us do unto others as we'd have them do unto ourselves. The kind that doesn't allow for the "screw the other guy-I've got mine" mentality that we Americans have elevated to an art form.
It is my firm belief that the wheels are quickly coming off our illusionary train. Every day, if you look, there's disclosure of another way we've been laboring in delusion--missing trillions in budgets, protests, scandals, abuses, conspiracies, plots, exposures of lies and omissions. Some--maybe even most--are starting to see the man behind the curtain who's operating this great and powerful wizard that has bullied and threatened and cajoled and stolen its way to dominance in this world. Many are beginning to see that our country has become more about stealth and secrecy and lies than about truth and justice. Some of us are even starting to get the message that the man behind the curtain is, in fact, us. And I for one am ready to try something different.
In the time to come, we're likely to continue to see the disclosure of an unflattering and unwelcome truth about what we've allowed to happen in our world--what our indifference and preoccupation and self-absorption has brought to life. When that happens, as much as we'll want to play the victims of people with an unending supply of greed and lust for power, we need to remember that our world is what we've created. And the only way to start changing it is to change us. Give up the out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality that lets us ignore that our government murders people every day based on lies, innuendoes, accidents of birth and calling them bad names. Give up the fear of the unknown and the hatred of those who are different or with whom we disagree. Insist on justice, not vengeance, toward the people who have engineered our train of delusion and deceit, because we were at least conductors. Stop blaming and pointing fingers and start examining and considering--especially self-examining and self-considering. And above all, start doing unto others. If we don't, we may just find that this train we've created runs right over us.