I need to speak. The urge is too strong to ignore. To say that I am appalled by what happened in Florida is not as true as I would want it to be because I have been appalled by so many similar events in the recent past that disgust has been replaced by a kind of fury with which I am finding hard to cope. To say that it is time to do something about the problem produces in me laughter of the kind that comes with listing to someone who is professing absolute and obvious bullshit. It has been time for a very long time and not much of anything meaningful has happened to deal with the appallingly absurd and impossible reality that our current reality. The tragedy is that life goes on as usual even though what is usual is wholly unacceptable, so far beyond the pale that beyond the pale is what is accepted as normal.
I do not know what to do. I do not know who to talk to to get something done. I do not want to go on this way because life is not very pleasant. It can only be pleasant if I ignore what is going on around me and I do not know how to be so ignorant. I cannot live decently when I know that kids are being killed in their schools on a regular basis. How could I claim to be a decent person if I could do such a thing?
I have suggested to some who might have at hand the opportunity to do something big enough to help us get out of the rut we have accepted to be a permanent feature of our existence; tragedy followed by well wishes followed by no meaningful action at all to change the conditions that allowed for, caused the tragedy to occur. “Here we go again” is about another turn on the carousel that goes nowhere, only in circles. We learn nothing from our tragedies because we do not want to think too much about them because we want to get on with living the good life even when we get glimpses of how bad life is for others, those directly affected by the tragedies we behold and then try to push out of our consciousness so that we can “go about our business.”
This is pathetic. We have become pathetic. If the slaughter of babies at an elementary school did not bring about mass action of some meaningful kind, then we are beyond pathetic, patently inhumane. Consider what we want to forget, the terror those kids felt as they saw their classmates murdered after hearing their screams and watching blood drain from their little bodies. How the fuck did we manage to go on without doing something sanely drastic to make sure that something like that incredible tragedy would never take place again.
Within days, if not hours, we were back to living our lives as we had before the massacre, back to work, back to spending to keep the economy alive, back to forgetting well enough to live the lives we have become used to living, lives of unconsciousness that allow us to proceed as though nothing terrible ever happened. And, when it comes to seriously considering root causes of the ugliness we paint over, that we will not do for to do so is to make us aware of at what cost our good lives come, at the cost of others, even babies, living terribly, sometimes in terror, cost we are willing to have THEM pay as long as we can afford admission to the next dumb ass block buster movie the advertising agencies promote with our stupidity in mind.
I hate Facebook. When I pay attention I discover what I hate to know, that day in and day out most people choose to ignore or, at best, only lightly involve themselves in the process that should be our salvation, the democratic process. I read message after message of trivial things right there in the midst of critically important events taking place. I find little in the way of conversation about taking meaningful action. Fucking postings of disagreement or disbelief do not do shit. Messages circulate and too few are willing to get off the carousel, to take the time to really take the time to think about and offer up suggestions for new directions. Saying what someone has already said, even if it it good, does not help push thinking toward proposals for solutions.
My mission now is to find find a few people willing to look at the big picture, the causes of the agony that humane people should be feeling these days. I am determined to find a few people who will spend a good amount of time to look deeply into how we function as a society and what it is that causes so much disfunction. I want to take about that which is responsible for school massacres and that which is responsible for economic misery so many experience, for people treating each other badly, for some having very little–some not even enough–and others having so much that they can buy anything they want including the decision making processes by which society determines what is right and wrong, legal and illegal, acceptable and unacceptable.
I want to converse with a few people who want to do something potent by act and by scale. I want to work with people who believe that the good of the whole, that the flourishing of humanity the basic cause for right action and decent behavior, is their life cause, who understand that the truly good life can only be established if humane principles serve as motive for what we do as a society of human beings.
As I have said before, I have a good sense of what the root problem is and I know I know what it is because so many atrocities can be shown to have been carried our and allowed in the name of profit.
I have for many years now, as an educator, as a teacher of teachers, as a student of human behavior–as a reader of lives lived, in fiction and news (and not the stale psychology) come to know of many things of which we do not speak, of the cruelty of our system, of its inhumanity, of our willingness to allow others misery so we can live well.
I suffer from a troubling illness and I will call it awareness combined with empathy and compassion. I find it near intolerable to know of others being harmed, having their lives ruined, sometimes taken, for the sake of what is good for the American way of life, for the good of American, defined as economic prosperity.
If a few people wish to explore the miserable to expose what should be obvious, that capitalism as we know it is a predatory form of economy, we can start by looking at the kid of inhumanity it has produced–wars, mass poverty, environmental degradation, child abuse, debauchery (think about all of the stories surfacing now about wealthy men abusing women because they possessed enough money to do so with impunity). Our system, looked upon with open eyes, an essential component of it is nothing less than rape, rape in a variety of forms, from rape of intelligence in schools that promote the system over the truth, rape in the form of wealth from the many to allow others lives of luxury, of other nations for commodities and cheap labor, for democracy so that a few could have what they want while the rest would pretend that they lived under a system of government that was for and by and of the people.
Here is a recruiting quote from the book Bitter Fruit by Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer. The speaker is a man named Edward Bernays, a man who worked as a publicist for the United Fruit Company who helped to convince the United States Government to overthrow the democratically elected reformist government of Guatemala in the 1950’s. I quote him because he speaks to the fact that many of wealth and power have not respect for democracy or the rights of human beings to live decent lives. He writes that,
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…it is the intelligent minorities which need to make use of propaganda continuously and systematically.”
If you understand the magnitude of the comment, its relevance for the way we live our lives–if you want to do something to improve this society so that it does serve the people, the whole of the people, please let me know. I am desperately trying to discover a way to cope.