Am I with You, George?

by Ansar Ahmed

Every time there is some news about the economy not doing too well, or some kind of underhanded business dealings exposed, or corporate corruption that will cost the average citizen (while maintaining the status quo of the business elite), I start to expect some kind of a concurrent announcement from political authorities about how we need to attack some foreign country. There is a strong correlation between the two. After all, one of the best fixer-upper for a downwardly mobile economy is to spend more on big-ticket items. At one time, that used to be highway construction and restoration. This still happens; but smaller strips take longer days, unless the area falls within the residential periphery of someone influential. Far more attractive now is to wage war. I do not have to explain that either of these, more so the latter, keeps a whole lot of people employed while pumping money into industries that require massive capital; people who earn will obviously spend more than those who don’t, and businesses that have projects will thrive better than those that don’t. In effect, this forms the perfect economic cycle. If anyone needs a clue as to where governmental spending priorities lie, all they have to ask are questions about the size of the labor involved and, more importantly, the cost of the items/materials used. Inimitable is the turnaround time for the production line.

Sometimes the political announcement will skip its place and come before the economic news. This is courtesy of the close-knit relationship and tie between the corporate quarters and the political elite, and more importantly, of a new world environment where the powerful seek retribution as the weak terrorize, an environment where there is conveniently a permanent threat that requires a permanent response. We have also come to a point where corporate greed has surpassed all records (and the past record was pretty impressive as it was) and runs directly and closely behind the political blasphemy; and we have come to a point where there is little distinction between the voices of the lay illiterate person and the powerful legislators.

Some will say that America is finally united in an opiated state, and we are enjoying it, while at the same time being absolutely fearful of the unknown. Words of anger and hate, songs of anger and hate, messages of anger and hate keep us united in a way that peace and calm could not, even though the logical mind would agree that a calm resolve is far more effective than an angry resolve. There are sporadic interventions upon this unity by momentary lapses of opiation created by everyday life–crime, election campaigning, and the like. The America that I have come to love is indeed the "kinder, gentler" version, whether it ever came into practice or not, and never the "kick butt" attitude of the high school dropout teenager who loiters around in street corners looking for scapegoats to explain his own unemployment. Greatness is evident in a smile, even under extenuating circumstances, more than in a raised brow. The smile not only covers the pain, it helps ease it, and provides the owner of the smile with a more sensible way of dealing with insensible matters.

There came upon us a moment when ignorance stopped being blissful; it became downright heavenly. None were exempt, nor spared, from this ubiquitous effect. Not the rich, nor the poor; the powerful or the powerless, the old or the young, the educated or the illiterate.

However, there is trouble in paradise, and more so when, over time, people who were not asking questions are doing so, and also when it became time to prepare for winning elections. Close to September 11 (which by now has become the only demarcation of human periods–forget BC, AD, Cambrian, Cretaceous and the like–it is the pre 9/11 or post 9/11), the hysteria, the heightened emotions, was massive. Even if for a moment, all who possessed any sense or logic were caught up in the horrifying events, and there was national, dare I say global, unity. That soon gave way to newer and additional horrifying feelings for those who would be stereotyped, and to anger for those who would do the stereotyping. Anger belies logic, and fear sometimes carries the face of the guilty. And so it was–the New World Order began. Previously, long-term feelings of horror and anger were kind of limited only to those who were affected directly by militaristic events.

In the New World Order, conditions are not static, nor were they ever expected to be. Some governments have renamed Offense as Defense; Defense retains its dictionarial meaning, and therefore, logically, any action taken is for the sake of defense, a noble cause in itself. The only offensive party is the enemy, and political murder, even where children are victims, has become legitimate to the point where those of us who claim some sense of sanity remain silent observers. Such is the power of political propaganda–it makes us hate strangers who we were unaware of even until recently; even eliminate them. Even as politicians continue to vehemently pursue the justification of their actions to improve the economy and maintain the economic hegemony (more so for the sake of votes than for the economic benefits), a rift became apparent–that which has started to divide the politicians from the people, the Republicans from the Democrats, the Europeans from the Americans, and the curious from the opiated. Never have we seen stranger bedfellows, never were we so apprehensive, never so pained. For, in the midst of everything, each one of us, in the privacy of our own minds, know that a plethora of wrongdoing is happening in a variety of quarters unbounded by nation, religion or ethnicity. As many of us struggle silently solving each wrong in our own ways in our own minds and in private quarters, and as we defend our public thoughts openly backed by no more than our own cultural identities of every dimension, all we know is that "what is" will not do. And we seek a pre 9/11 world, one which at that time seemed so replete with unsolvable problems, but now far more attractive than what we have.

Not all of the readers of this piece will agree wholeheartedly with me, some will not understand fully; but that is OK–I do not agree wholeheartedly with everything, nor do I understand everything fully. All of us, however, have an opinion. Let us agree to disagree, but not kill our children for the sins adults commit. God bless America! And Curse the rest of the godless world, except those who are "with us" even if they themselves be godless? Nay! God bless the World and its entire People, each single one of them! For we are all His children.

Dr. Ansar Ahmed is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Baldwin-Wallace College.

He can be reached at: aahmed@bw.edu

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