The U.S. Of A resembles one giant dysfunctional family. Those on the left regard their cousins on
the right as malignant idiots. Those on
the right regard their cousins on the left as elitist saboteurs of
democracy. The squabbling is
endless. Tempers flare, voices are
raised. Weapons are brandished and occasionally they are used to murder people.
Before Donald Trump came to office this friction stayed mostly within a healthy
parameter. We were engaged in The Great
American Debate regarding the nature and function of government. Sadly, History has shown that we are capable
of doing terrible violence to one another.
The extremist talk that's making its rounds scares the hell out of
me. When a spokesman for a powerful gun
association accuses "Liberals" of brainwashing and manipulating high
school students, I wonder if he actually believes what he is saying, or whether
he is saying these things as part of a script.
Either way, such ideas reek of malice. I don't trust extremists on
either end of the spectrum. We're
losing the moderate center, and we're losing it to those who have some
concealed reason for inciting animosity between Americans. I don't know what a
functional family looks like, but I imagine it's one in which members support
one another with compassion and generosity.
This is not what today's America looks like. Instead of mutual support
I see hostility, contempt and rancor. I see blame and a
failure of individuals to critically examine their own thinking, just in case
they might be wrong about some of their beliefs.
It is vital that we always hold up our beliefs to scrutiny. We should examine our own minds and belief systems with great care. People hold their opinions with tight death grips because they are frightened. That fear generates bloodshed.
One of our greatest disasters is the connection between
politics and money. Only the rich can
afford the towering cost of running campaigns.
Thus we are dominated by the agendas and tactics of the rich and powerful. We ARE an
oligarchy. We are actually
something far worse, we are a Kakistocracy.
That's a newly popular word that originated in ancient Greece. It means "government by the
worst". Every day we are regaled
to a cast of venal operators whose appearance suggests that they are wearing
horror movie clown faces. If we need a
reform urgently, before we reform gun laws, before we reform immigration
policy, before we change ANYTHING, we need to reform campaign finance. We need to bring a new method of choosing
the people who make the laws by which we are governed. We need to get money out
of politics. I don't know how we'll
achieve that. The fox is already
guarding the hen-house. We need
something akin to a revolution, one that is miraculously shorn of
American culture is a multi-headed hydra. It's brilliant and it's toxic. Over the
decades, life has become more and more expensive in the U.S.A. This "free" country charges an
exorbitant price. The complex demands of a consumer society weigh heavily on
its citizens. Young people are
especially vulnerable when they feel an avalanche of expectations laid upon
them. If they're to have a decent
future, if they're to 'get ahead' they need to have stellar grades, be models
of civic action, join clubs, demonstrate competence in multiple disciplines and
volunteer to help the afflicted. It doesn't hurt if they're also athletic and
good looking. Who can fit into that
template? Who can get into an Ivy
League school and graduate with an MBA and show the drive that's required in
our heated business world? What about
the average kids? It's said that
everyone is good at something but the complexity of our culture is robbing
ordinary people of a future All the
while a torrent of image and information comes pouring through the Internet,
television, movies, radio, advertisements and smart phones. This information chaos skews our
perceptions and encourages depression and confusion. Take a look at any waiting room or bus stop.. The people aren't talking to one
another. Their eyes are glued to the
screens of their phones. Americans may
be the loneliest people in history.
Recently a depressed and unstable eighteen year old murdered
seventeen high school students with an AR-15 assault rifle. Today
I heard the tape of a 9-1-1 call
made by this child about a year ago, just days after his mother
died. I felt such pity for him. I couldn't help it! I'm outraged at his evil, but I imagine that
he felt abandoned and terrified.
In a nation of more than three hundred million people, there
are millions who aren't being seen and cared for. So many people fall through the cracks, yet we are armed to the
teeth and waiting for some catastrophe so we can discern which are the good
guys and which are the bad guys. We are
better than this. Our president
suggests that we give weapons to school teachers, that they may protect their
students. This epic dumb idea will
create a new class of suicides. We'll
be adding Death By Teacher to the already climbing incidents of Suicide By
Cop. We aren't going to purge this
nation of firearms. Guns are deeply
embedded in our national DNA. There are
immutable historical reasons for this situation. Guns will always be a part of our cultural nervous system.
It would be better to try to stop being crazy. Because we are...crazy...we're bat-shit
crazy. Our minds can only cope with so
much signal intensity before they start to smell like fried wiring inside the
walls. That's where I would start,
anyway. I would accept the fact that I
am crazy, I'm disturbed and I need to look for someone who can help me. If I
were to pin a diagnosis on Americans it would be that we suffer Bi-Polar
Disorder wrapped up in a mantle of PTSD.
Maybe I'll call the Norwegians. Or the Dutch.