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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

America the Beautiful

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and ask myself if the reality I am living in today is the same exact reality I was living in yesterday.  I truly ask myself if our society is getting crazier by the minute or it it has always been this way.  Perhaps the transition to full fledged adulthood is realizing that no matter how hard you try to stay out of the mess, you are still a part of it.  As children, the lucky are able to get protected by the evil and darkness in the world.  But who is there to protect us when the bubble has been popped and you are out there on the streets to fend for yourself?  It's man against shark; only the manipulative survive.

Lately it seems that my dreams have more sanity and make a whole of a lot more sense than what I observe in reality.  Though I try to find the goodness in everything, it is hard to ignore the writing on the wall.  Let's examine American society.  Many Americans are still out of work and are still hurting from the economic recession.  Despite the SOTU last night and President Obama promising that those people out of work will find jobs and will soon be able to support their families again, the light at the end of the tunnel seems very dim.  Note that I am an Obama supporter.  However, you also have to question the intentions of our government, especially when so many of them are out of touch with mainstream America.  Democrats and Republicans alike are in it for themselves.  And when you take a look at Congress, over half of them (Reps and Dems) are millionaires.  Sure, many of them grew up in working class households and saw their parents struggle (take Obama for example); but we have to ask ourselves now more than ever how democratic things really are.

These days it seems everything is all about money.  Every media outlet pretty much is connected to corporations that dictate what they report about and how they tell a story.  If a news source is connected to a particular food company and there is a nasty e coli outbreak, the severity of what's reported depends on the interest of the company.  If the e coli is in broccoli from a competitor, then the reporters might drum up the severity.  However, if the outbreak is in a batch of vegetables from the parent company, the news might not get reported at all.  Have you ever thought about that the news we get trickled down to us is all connected to corporations' deep pockets that may or may not want you to know the whole story.  If a story hurts the image of a corporation and risks a loss of millions, then we get fed lies on top of bullshit (if we're lucky) telling us that whatever problem at hand is not that big a deal.

It is especially scary now that American society has been dumbed down.  Our educational system has become a big bureaucratic factory that churns out children to memorize and recite figures that may not have any consequence to critical thinking.  In the SOTU, President Obama said that we need a nation of thinkers and innovators.  How does testing and measuring up the wazoo achieve this end?  Don't throw the baby out with the bath water; remodel the bathroom, that's all.  We are training kids to learn without actually learning.  We should be training kids to think independently and creatively.  Kids should be taught to think outside the box and color outside the lines.  At the rate we are going, we will have a bunch of robots who do not know how to question and challenge the status quo.  We all know what happens when we teach kids to be compliant and learn without context.  They end up supporting dictatorships and totalitarian governmental regimes.  Is that what we want?

What's worse is that many people do not think anymore.  They read things on the Internet on sites like Twitter and Reddit and accept it as fact.  What happened to looking things up in an Encyclopedia and doing research at the library.  Do not just accept something just because you read it online or are told so in a news report.  Analyze and question.  Read multiple sources.  Look at another site (other than Wikipedia) for basic information.  I admit that I too have become lazier in the digital age.  Why read a book when I can just 'google it'?  And thanks to technology, language has begun to fall apart.  With texting and Facebook, people would rather abbreviate and take short cuts.  Is it too much to ask to at least be grammatically correct when sending an e-mail?  What has happened to language?  What's worse is that there is little separation between informal and formal language.  Soon every child will be speaking in 'text speak'.

What I find most frightening, however, is how saturated our society has become with violence and fear.  It seems to be a mundane occurrence nowadays to hear about school, mall, and movie theater shootings.  'Oh, there's another crazy person who got a gun and shot 14 people dead.'  Or what about this 'knockout game' phenomenon.  Violence has no purpose; it's just violence for the sake of violence. There is no goal of robbing someone of their wallet or shoes, though I'm sure that still happens.  It's violence because what else is there to do?  I feel that we have reached a point where things are turning into Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel, A Clockwork Orange (though the movie is excellent, the book is better).

If you haven't read the novel, do yourself a favor and read it.  It takes place in a future England where all rules and structure have broken down.  Teenagers run rampant in the streets doing drugs and having sex.  They speak a whole new language, 'Nadsat'.  In fact, when reading the book, you need a dictionary of Nadsat handy because words do not mean what they used to.  For instance: clothes are 'pletchkos', friend is 'droog', person is 'veck', and money is 'lolly', 'cutter', or 'pretty polly'.  Adults are in fear to walk the streets, especially at night.  Gangs roam free; the main character, Alex is in such a gang.  They spend their time raping and pillaging all while completely doped out of their minds.  I truly feel that our society is turning into the world Alex inhabits in A Clockwork Orange.  Youth lack the respect for authority.  If children get in trouble at school or get bad grades, it's the teacher's fault.  If a child gets in trouble with the law, it's society's fault.  There is little culpability and personal responsibility any more.  Without the boundaries, guidelines, and rules of authority, society will be ruled by youth who lack self-control and laugh off authoritative discipline.

Add to this the calamity we face with our climate.  By now, if you do not believe in climate change, then you're a moron.  Sorry, but you are.  And know that when I talk about climate change it's not 'global warming' in the sense that everything is getting hotter.  Oh, we're having a severe winter, so much for climate change!  Actually, think of it more like GCV: Global Climate Volatility.  Everything is in extremes.  Some parts of our country will have more rain and consequently more flooding.  Other places will have unprecedented droughts.  And note that flooding and droughts may exist in places where the opposite was once true (ie. places with too much rain previously had none).  And if we look at the country right now, pretty much everywhere is experiencing an awful winter with record low temperatures and tons of snow/ice.  The weekend brought winter to places in the South that have never or hardly ever seen snow/freezing cold.  Climate change means that things are off kilter.  Climate is no longer as predictable and constant as it once was.

This will have effects on many things in our lives like resources and mobility.  I predict that in the near future, we will not be able to travel by airplane or possibly by car because the weather is too unpredictable.  Tornadoes, violent storms, blizzards, and hurricanes are increasing in ferocity and frequency.  Isn't it strange now we hear about 15 full strength tornadoes hitting an area all at once?  When towns/cities/states go through an unprecedented weather/nature event, people run to the store for canned goods and water.  People want gas in their cars and heat/AC in their homes.  The more out of whack things become, the more people are overutilizing these resources and placing a strain on natural supply and demand.  Not to mention that with massive climate upheaval, crops and livestock will become affected as well.  Imagine placing an extremely obese human onto a tiny scale meant for half the weight.  How long before the scale completely breaks?

I don't know what it will take for all of us to stop and listen to what we are doing to ourselves.  We are eating ourselves alive.  We must stop, evaluate, and recalibrate the direction we are moving as a global society.  Unless we are planning to build a space ship and explore the possibility of colonizing other planets (oh wait, that's happening) then we must take care of what we have.  I believe there is still hope to turn this nightmare around and wake ourselves out of this crazy daily existence we call reality.  Things are happening; some of us are waking up and realizing that we're laying face down in a pile of sewage, garbage, and radioactive waste (metaphorically).  I just wonder how many horrors must take place before everyone wakes up and smells the blatantly obvious.

What's the answer, you ask?  Love, compassion, positivity, and unity.

It may sound hippy dippy, but it's true.

Love and Light,


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