To Strike Fear into the Hearts of Plutocrats...
(A Pep Talk)
We live in dark times.
I have witnessed the events that brought us here over the course of my life with a sort of morbid ambivalence: Half of me resigned to complacence and gallows humor at observing the utter folly that defines decisions made while spitting into the Teeth of History--the one and only true guide to future state affairs; the other half keen to lash out on occasion, in defiance of the overwhelming impotence I feel at witnessing the devastation that results from such easily avoidable mistakes.
Those who have not forsaken the study of history, I am certain, can relate.
A few things first, for the sake of symmetry: I was about halfway gestated when the heinous Kent State Massacre occurred in the first week of May 1970. From a certain vantage, then, I was a reliable witness to the 1970s--the last decade when something like common sense, compassion and integrity characterized the actions of the U.S. government. This can, perhaps, be contested: There was, after all, the war in Vietnam--perhaps, the purist omen of things to come in subsequent decades. Barbaric and immoral, that war--which had become vastly unpopular a few years before I was born--saw some of its most disturbing crimes occur in its second, 1970s-era phase under Richard Nixon. My first lasting television memory is of helicopters being pushed into the South China Sea from the deck of the U.S.S. Hancock on April 30, 1975--the day the Communists overran Saigon. I was four and a half years old.
Still--and this became apparent as the '70s wore on and my powers of discernment grew--we were all in it together back then. It didn't just seem that way, we really were. I am a firm believer in the notion that children are possessed at times of almost pure perception--something about how irrelevant nonsense has yet to intrude upon and constipate their nervous systems. The most plangent thought I came away with as the 1980s were set to outstrip the hectic, eclectic '70s is that we were all in it together. Pleasant vibrations were the rule. There were few signs of the tension and fear to come. Now, in my forty-fifth year, I am loath to bring out that memory but strictly seldom...as if by not doing so I might terminally dim the beauty of that fair age. For I was, then, as near happy as I would ever be living in what has since devolved into the hollow wreck of a country.
The '80s brought many notable, often ill-favored changes. As regards zeitgeist, things came completely unraveled. I was too young at that age to know precisely what had happened, much less why it had. Things just felt different...certainly by 1983, if not before. It was a palpable sensation. What I failed to realize at the time was that it was my first experience with true loss.
For one thing, it was as if suddenly there were all these reasons to fear that the world might at any time go up in a few hundred mushroom clouds. I was introduced to the idea of nuclear weapons when I was eight--an older cousin of a friend conspired to tell of weapons with the power to "blow up our whole town" that could be aimed right at the White House...or anywhere else, he insisted. The concept lacked teeth, though, until 1983, when ABC televised The Day After. After that, I struggled to think of much else for some time. That...and what was going to happen if my father lost his job in the steel mill where he worked. It was one of many mills that had supported generations of families where I grew up; but now, for some mystic reason, they were all being shuttered, as the bulk of the U.S. steel industry was shuffled off to Japan.
These were not minor things back then--indeed, far from it. They were as real as the good will, serenity and altruism that I recall from my first decade. Now, suddenly, you were being told that every stranger you encountered was a potential rapist or murderer. I have known for some time that this was done deliberately, by the government of the country I was born in; I also know, largely, why it was done. Why it is still being done. And why other things, many of them far more nefarious, are being done. To say that I am disturbed by this intelligence is to make a grave understatement. I am, in fact, often furious to the point of distraction.
From Reagan and Central America and the Iran-Contra debacle ("Contragate"...worse than Watergate) and the resultant crack epidemic that wrought havoc across the land...and H.W. Bush and the first Gulf War and Panama; to Clinton and Ruby Ridge and Waco (both direct violations of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, among other laws...along, of course, with every law of God and man), NAFTA, Bosnia and the repeal of Glass-Steagall; to the stolen 2000 election, 9/11--and the two resultant wars (and myriad ancillary crimes) by the Bush-Cheney cabal, including the near total collapse of the world economy; and, now, the do-little-to-nothing gatekeeping Obama administration, which has increased government surveillance of Americans in all areas and has taken us back to those dread days of the mid-'80s, when the world was profoundly unstable because of witless animosity foisted by the U.S. onto Russia.
Add to this the environmental crucible that run-amok capitalism has engendered, and the sordid circus that is the 2016 Presidential Election--where Bernie Sanders, the only decent candidate in the whole affair and by far the most popular, has seen his candidacy incessantly sabotaged by the system itself--and you have a gross litany of total failure and dissolution. All of these horrid insults to democracy--just the highlights, as it were--right off the top of my head. This is what extreme right-wing nationalism and deregulated capitalism have wrought in this country--an unconscionable and unpardonable fascist mess. The behavioral sink is epic. These people have had their chance, and they have bitched things up royally. How much more of this utter nonsense are we going to abide? The Moral Majority clearly lacks moral maturity. I mean, like, these are supposed to be the "God" people. The religious ones. Indeed, the Christians.
Hardly. They are inhumane hypocrites. The truth is not in them.
I pity kids growing up today--a lousy thing to feel for anyone at any age, I realize; the sensation, though, persists. I have, alas, no children of my own, though I am quite fond of them. I admit that it was absolutely deliberate that I don't have children. Think what you will of that.