Today, I look around this country I love and do not recognize it. The nation I grew up believing in has gone. It has become all the things it once stood against. It has become a nation of hypocrites.
It criticizes Islamic nations for restricting the rights of their people. For their mistreatment of women. For their intolerance of other religions. Yet here in this country, we deny marriage and family to our gay citizens. We pass legislation to restrict women’s access birth control and mandate invasive procedures should they choose abortion. We declare this country to be a christian nation and defend antisemitic or antimuslim hate speak with our freedom of speech, but conveniently over look our freedom of religion.
We criticize China for it’s human rights policies. However in this country, we refuse to provide even basic health care to every one of our citizens. You must pay for the privilege of maintaining your health, but financial ruin awaits you if you get cancer. We criticize China for restricting their people’s internet freedoms. Yet there are no less three bills before our legislature to do just that.
We applaud and encourage people to stand up to the dictators and tyrants who live in excess while they starve. Yet when our very citizens cry out against the level of influence the 1% have over how this country is run, they are told to disperse or are arrested. Our congress members spend more time fundraising than legislating while Super Political Action Committees funded by billionaires decide who gets to run. Our democracy is pay to play.
We’ve surrendered our freedoms. We’re legislating morality. We used to pride ourselves as being a melting pot nation, but now we’re just a nation of xenophobes who don’t even like our own citizens. Maybe we don’t like those things about other countries because it hits so close to our own. We had better start liking those things, because we’re very quickly becoming a Christian Iran.
The other day I was getting irritated at a bunch of stuff. Since this is a frequent occurrence, I didn’t pay much attention to it. Then a tiny little thought crept in and asked a question. Is all this stuff related? A simple question that begs some difficult answers. Warning: I’m going to sound crazy and delusional.
I’ve always been curious as to how the political right ended up being composed of the groups it has. These groups would seem to have completely different ideological and philosophical views. I never understood how the religious groups and the corporate giants could be lined up so neatly on the same side. One group is all about love and sharing and family. The other is about squeezing the last penny out of employees, customers, and anyone else who they think might have money they could take. Let’s look into this a bit by examining a few of our issues in this country.
Climate change is happening. Regardless of whether we’re causing it or it’s a natural phenomenon, we should be taking steps to make our environment more habitable not less. This is a problem for a wide variety of industries because it means they have to invest in new technology and machinery. That means spending money and not making money. After all, they’re goal is to make a good quarterly statement not look decades down the line at how much the weather might suck. It benefits them if we’re not to blame for climate change.
Then there’s the idea that God would not let us ruin his world. He’ll let us commit genocide, ethnic cleansing, forced relocation, and all manner of crimes against humanity, but not spoil the good Earth. It sounds crazy, but that’s the view held by some of the people in charge of our environmental policy. While I’m not suggesting we worship the Earth, I would think the religious folks would want to take better care of a world created especially for us.
So how do you get a group of religious people who live primarily in the Southern (read hotter) states who rely on agriculture a great deal to take a your corporate view on climate change. Well I would reach out to my friends in the media and give voice to the loudest groups who don’t care what they sound like. It would only take one interview question about whether they believed God would allow global warming (a tragic misnomer) or one article on a protestant website. They whip up a frenzy among the fundamentalists, and the next this you know they’re back big oil’s candidate for presidency.
Surely the information will get out right? That’s what the internet is for right? Well, not so much. Let’s talk about big media, the entertainment industry, tech giants, and parent’s watchdog groups. Oh my, where to begin? I don’t even know.
Let’s start with TV, America’s babysitter. Parents rely on tv to keep their kids occupied so they aren’t bothered by them. Unfortunately, not everything on tv is suitable for kids and monitoring what they watch is just too much damn work. So parents form groups of busy bodies that would find something objectionable (likely something their church told them was bad), and complain loudly about it rather than turn the channel. Seriously, these people go through movies and shows frame by frame (1/30th of a second) to find something that might look from a certain angle like a penis.
They complain to their congressman, the congressman forms a committee, the committee tells the studios to knock it off, and we get a decade of overly sanitized television. There are two things that are important here. One, these groups are very organized, extremely vocal, and can get people elected. Two, they are easily influenced and will not stop watching television.
That said, they are the problem. Any thought provoking television will either offend them or get them in an uproar about something, and if that something is directly tied to profits or re-election then it’s a problem. Now, the thing to do is proccupy them with a bunch of crap.
There’s a reason the top headlines are about sports and celebrities. It fills the gaps where meaningful information should go. I’ll bet at least 9 out of 10 people couldn’t tell me who the Koch brothers are, even though they’re a huge part of our political landscape. Big media plays along and in return the government helps them squeeze every penny out of mindless television, crappy movies, and overly cloned pop music. All so parents won’t have to be bothered to watch their kids.
I really believe that Corporate America is playing Middle America and the fundamentalists against the left. The worst part is how well it’s working. The political center of this country has moved so far to the right that Eisenhower and Nixon would be seen as centrists at best. There’s no proof of course. These scenarios are just what I’ve got going on in my head.
I can see a future in America that looks a lot like the present day Middle East. A huge divide between rich and poor with next to no middle class. Councils for morality and decency at the local level of government, and maybe even a house committee as well. My hopes are that this doesn’t happen, I don’t live to see it, or I’ve moved to another country.
This is likely my last post. My need to scream into the void is just that, screaming into the void. I have other obligations and an imploding personal life to keep me busy. Perhaps one day I’ll revisit this place and look back with relief that my fears were for nothing. Perhaps, and I hope this is never the case, I’ll look back and say I told you so.
And may the force be with you
My fellow Americans, we need to talk. You, collectively and individually, are not the center of the universe. Most of you voted for change, but when the price of that change was clear you balked. Logic, reason, and understanding have fallen out of fashion. Now I must be stern with you, so here are some facts.
Your have been robbed. You are still being robbed. The people who wrecked our economy still have their jobs. They work on Wall St. and they will wreck it again.
The government helped them rob you through decades of policy. Nothing much has changed there either.
Health care is broken. It is expensive, exclusive, and unreliable.
Death panels are already here. They are the Insurance companies and their practices are called it recision. Look it up.
Socialized medicine is a good thing. It means everyone gets health care.
Socialism isn’t a four letter word. S-O-C-I-A-L-I-S-M. See it has nine letters.
Yes socialized medicine might raise your taxes. But then you won’t be paying premiums or co-pays.
Church leaders are not objective. Stop getting your information from them. I’m looking at you Evangelists/Fundamentalists.
News organizations are not objective. You should get your news from a variety of sources.
Just because it’s on tv, a website, or in print doesn’t make it true. Do some research before you make decisions.
Scare tactics are there to scare you into a certain point of view. Do not fall for it. Again… research.
Fear is the mind killer.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Squeaky wheels are usually broken in some way. Don’t trust them. Replace them.
The environment is being ruined. We are doing it.
The planet is in no way in danger. We are. Once we destroy our habitats and die, it’ll get along just fine without us.
Our president deserves at least as much respect as the last one. Tomorrow I’ll read about some idiot with no sense of history calling our president a Nazi. Again.
This will accomplish nothing. All of about three people read this blog.
Change is coming. Good or bad, it’s on it’s way. The status quo in our nation is unsustainable. We can make positive changes now, while we still have a choice. That option will not be around forever. Your choice America.
Those of the Christian faith are celebrating around the world this weekend with family gatherings, ham, Charleton Heston movies, and (if there’s time) church. Our Savior died for our sins (thankfully), and then returned from the dead only to go directly back to heaven (for the record I’m Catholic and actually believe some of this). Miracles abound and all are saved. 2000 years later, there is still a contentious debate about those events as told in our holy text. Even amongst those who believe in them. I’m not here to debate happenings that occurred two millenia before I was born.
Lost in the contradictions and minutia of these debates are the meanings behind that text. God laid down 10 simple rules to follow. A reasonable number, and far simpler than the thousands of laws we have to deal with in society. They’re worded in an almost legal sense, so as not to be confusing to us his children. They’re short, to the point, and unarguable.
What happened? Mortal man got into the mix. We’re faulty by nature and we felt that 10 hard and fast rules should be 10 rule with exceptions and conditions. It’s been a while, but I don’t recall and chapter in the bible where we sat down with God and hashed this out. However, they were amended. Examples:
Thou shall not kill, unless they disagree with you or have something you want (ie- land, gold, animals, or different religion, scientist, free thinker)
Thou shall not steal, unless the person who has what you want is not of your faith or not sufficiently pious. In which case they obviously don’t deserve it and it’s yours by divine will.
Worship the one true God, however money, power, and a certain mouse are also acceptable.
The rest of the bible got it even worse. There are hundreds of versions out there that should say the same thing. I saw a passage in one that said it was a sin to eat my steak rare. Seriously? I’m still waiting on a ruling about how dark my toast should be.
I believe God loves us and wants us to be happy. I love God like a parent and understand when I need a little tough love. The rules are simple and can be boiled down to this. Don’t be an asshole and show some respect to your creators (heavenly and local).
Love your neighbor applies to all of them (actual and metaphorical), no matter what religion, age, color, or sex (assigned or preferred). It’s a universal truth. It’s in every religion, though there always seems to be someone who chooses to ignore that part. The disagreements over God’s name, who Jesus actually was, and how well done a non blasphemous steak should be, are unimportant. We’ll all find out the truth in the end.
By the way, who picks the holiday mascots? Was he on vacation when Easter needed assigning? He did a bang up job with St. Patrick’s day and New Years, but a bunny and eggs? I hope there was a memo generated somewhere about this little slip up.