There are many reasons to be angry, no doubt. Many reasons to be grateful for the miracle of life, also, though those reasons seem not to be as compelling, as demanding of action, as the reasons to be mad. I’m thinking about the myths we are fed here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Not that every nationstate does not have its myths, every culture its signature values, but… fuck.
I think about the record disparity in income we have here now in the land of the American Dream. Men with $35,000 toilet bowls and others, homeless, arrested for shitting in an alley. What kind of disgusting person do you have to be to shit in an alley? Can you blame a cop for roughing up a despicable fucker like that?
America is ruled by advertising, has long been, but now the ads come directly to our pockets, targeted by algorithms that single us out by expressed preferences. We elect our public representives based strictly on advertising, branding and marketing. Everything we see or hear is “brought to you” by some corporation with the money to bring it. Sponsors pull out, the show is over. Ten million people used to watch that shit every week, then something that couldn’t be spun quickly enough is said by the host and, bye bye. Corporations taking principled stands. We will not support a celebrity who makes a stink when everybody else on TV supports the next war. Fuck that, we are Americans!
As individuals, we are powerless in the face of what is done in our names. The champions we are sometimes allowed to vote for, and I think of recent liberal icons who have been devoted, flexible servants of the status quo, Bill Clinton (the “best Republican president of the 20th century”, our “first black president”) and Barack Obama (“the first black president”), are also men who will make every necessary compromise without flinching. Every president has to pass the psychopath test before being put on the ballot of one of the major parties. Some are better than others, but each of them, in crunch time, will do what needs to be done. Usually that involves dropping some massive fucking bombs and selling billions in the latest killing technology to despots. Few of us get excited about it anymore. “It’s just the president being presidential,” spoken in the way disgusted but resigned Red Sox players and fans used to say “that’s just Manny being Manny”, referring to the mercurial superstar’s self-centered childishness.
So we cultivate honesty in our dealings with others. Sometimes that is more fruitful than at other times. Not everyone is comfortable with everything being on the table. Honesty, really, what is that shit actually? How fucking honest do we want to really be, anyway?
Many people I know have stopped watching the news. You have a famously rabid bullying (though obsequious to superiors, allegedly) war hawk from the Cheney-Bush administration, elevated to sit at the president’s right hand, foaming at the mouth about Libya-style regime change in Iran. Everyone recalls how well that went. The Koch brother’s personal former congressman, elevated to Secretary of State recently by the world’s greatest deal-making winner, vows the most severe sanctions in history if Iran does not stop pursuing nuclear deterrence against the U.S., does not stop meddling in the Middle East. He announces this with a straight face: Iran must get the fuck out of fucking Yemen or we will fucking fuck you up. Says this as we are giving massive military support to our close democratic friends in the House of Saud as they pour the explosions and famine on impoverished Yemen. So, to avoid massive aggravation, you tune out, turn off the news. Go on a nice vacation, come back, feel a bit better that life is still good.
Not a bad move, my friends. Take a nice trip, recharge your batteries. Look after your health. If there is nothing we can do about the kind of country we live in, the kind of world we leave to the future, at least grant us the serenity to accept that and try to live as well as we can. Our lives here are only the wink of an eye, after all, and each of us is suspended by a strand of a spider’s web during that wink. It behooves us to look within, find peace, be grateful for every beautiful thing in our lives, do a little good wherever we can. It does.
There is something perverse in me that cannot look away. I am driven to gather the available facts, try to understand, to put the jagged puzzle pieces together in this dark, stinking room. I am fucked up. I get that. But it is my life, and my world, and it burns me sometimes that, no matter how clear and convincing the truth is, that mere truth doesn’t mean shit against a nicely spun pile of steaming horse shit. Hell, in our new post-factual world, you don’t even need to spin that shit– just keep it constantly coming. Heh, you completely dizzy yet, motherfuckers?