I’ve been spending some time on the blogs lately and wow, the rage and hopelessness are overwhelming. Rage from the cuckolded tea party, rage from the flummoxed left. And everyone’s outrage is The Worst Thing Ever.
Ask any politically involved person, right or left, what their pet peeve is. You will not be disappointed. You’ll get a menagerie. You’ll get a virtual petting zoo.
Ninety-nine out of a hundred blog posts say the same thing: “Look at this! This is some pretty messed up stuff, right here!” And, mostly, they’re not wrong. Mostly they have a point; they’ve got more points than a junkie’s arm.
We live in the golden age of protest. This is a good thing. Petaflops of data confront our legitimate grievances daily. But, in our connected world, where the cries of foul spread with the speed of light, they tend to crowd one another other out.
When people don’t pay attention to our issues because they’ve already spent it on theirs, we get louder. Soon we’re screaming at one another like strangers trying to communicate in different languages. Loud begets loud and rage begets rage; while the actual horrors and crimes go on unabated.
I’m as guilty of this as the next guy. I too am driven to sputtering anger because my life-or-death issues go nowhere and yours are petty. Call it the vanity of the dispossessed. But I’d like to find a better way.
Let’s try a thought experiment. Rather than argue about what the most outrageous injustice in American society is, let’s stipulate that they’re all equally true and terrible.
Let us stipulate our powerlessness. Let us acknowledge that we are grotesquely, overwhelmingly, fatally outnumbered by money.
Let’s stipulate that our votes don’t count, they don’t count our votes, and they never give us an authentic choice in their sham elections. That it’s all theater to keep us in a stupor, slack-jawed and drooling on factory-farmed, GMO-engineered, brain-slowing fast food. That we have no community, we have a feed lot, where, swathed in our own fat, we are herded to our obese doom by a vanishingly small, irresistibly powerful cohort of overlords. That we are seven billion anonymous, servile, interchangeable, disposable, expendable mounds of protoplasm, slouching towards oblivion in voiceless silence.
Let’s stipulate that corporatism, militarism, neo-feudalism and cartel-capitalism have stripped us of everything, including the last shred of our human dignity. Let’s admit that they have turned us against ourselves, that we are so debased we throw feces at one another and call it politics. Let us conclude that they own and control each and every lever of power and influence in the whole wide world. Let us concede, deep in our feeble, reptilian brains that the Pump Don’t Work ’Cause the Vandals Took the Handles, and the Vandals ain’t us.
While we’re at it let’s bring all the conspiracy theorists together, the 9/11ers, the Kennedy assassination cabalists, the Birthers on the right and the Truthers on the left, throw a big banquet for them and publicly admit that they were right all along.
There, I think I covered everything. So, what does that leave us besides mortally depressed?
Only this: our imaginations. They’ve bought our politicians, our media, our environment, the air above our heads and the shale beneath our feet. They bought our ballparks and burned their brands on them. But they don’t own our imaginations, not yet.
So, what if, just for kicks, we used our imaginations to imagine a better world?
I know it’s hard. We have an endless buffet of problems and famine of solutions. Every day brings another Cyprus, another Syria, another industrial disaster, another slow-motion genocide; it’s unimaginable.
But let’s try to imagine it anyway. This is just a thought experiment; for the moment, let’s put aside our individual versions of hell and force ourselves to dream.
If my dreams could come true, we’d have an adequately-funded government. We would tax wealth, not income, because that’s where the money is. In my world we’d be able to walk the streets without fear of getting shot and if that takes the repeal of the Second Amendment, so be it. We’d avoid wars like the plague and use the money we saved to eradicate plagues.
I could go on, but I don’t want to exhaust your patience. I’ve kept you away from your protests for long enough. So I’ll leave you with one simple question.
When you dream of a better world, what does it look like?