"Some people drink Pepsi,
Some people drink Coke,
The wacky morning DJ says democracy’s a joke."
- Cake, Comfort Eagle
We’ve got to stop placing all of the peace eggs in the election basket. Even if the current power structure of murderous buffoonery is dismantled in November, our culture will still be woefully sick. John "the Swan" Kerry, now resembling an orange sporting two embedded black eyed peas, says, "Send more troops!" What? Kerry may save us from Bush, but he won’t save us from ourselves, the ugliness in Iraq or our voracious appetites for the world’s resources. Ralph’s going to save us from the corporations. Not that I disagree with Ralph, but can we save the poolside dialectics for November 3rd? Just keep spewing that unabashed liberalism and let’s see where that gets us, again.
We all know it’s about money–white money. This entire election process is part and parcel of a bad standard model, a model of white male constructs of divine providence, hierarchy and dominion. After voting in South Carolina’s Democratic primary, I ran into an old friend who was the director of the SC ACLU for many years. I lamented about the state of politics and the country’s sad choice between a green snake in green grass and a rattlesnake. At least, I rationed, you can hear a rattlesnake and know where he’s at. He thought about it, and pointed out that he would rather have a friend that bites him occasionally rather than one that’s out to kill him. Touche. Perhaps the green snake is a bit more venomous than we care to admit.
Sure, elected politicians play a valid role maintaining the republic because they support the illusion that the masses are in control. And if there was anyone on the horizon who could actually inspire people to vote, we might have a different ball game. But no matter how lofty or dignified you try to paint the process or the notion of "leadership" or the image of the so-called statesmen, the world of politics is and always will be inextricably mired in the lesser realms of ego, greed and power. It takes a certain type to wake up and think he’s God’s messenger and he alone can lead us all to a better life, traits cultivated and encouraged by the bad model.
Geographical insulation, poor education and effective propaganda all contribute to America’s inability to extend human qualities to people much past Canada. But there’s no excuse for our lack of historical context–the collective knowledge of the word is at our fingertips! What the pharaohs could have accomplished if they only had Google! But the constant barrage of non-sequitur corporate media and the carrot of consumer bliss have deadened our ability to advance simple theories. We have become comfortably numb.
We can’t continue to operate as if our individual choices don’t really matter. I know plenty of activists, the so-called intelligentsia with their Sam’s cards in their pockets who find it way too easy to justify their lifestyles and consumer choices. It is this self deceit regarding the processes that afford us our many extravagant indulgences that created the dysfunction now threatening the quality of life for everyone on the planet. Critical thinking and genuine activism is needed to restore equilibrium, not just a Democratic White House.
Consider a trip to the market. If people were in the habit of "actualizing" instead of hiding comfortably in their own reality, they would recoil in horror at the sight of dyed red flesh and green styrofoam and would never eat animals produced by factory farming given the cruelty involved and the resources squandered. They would be outraged at the excess packaging and proliferation of disposable items in near-capacity landfills expelling toxins into the air, soil and water. They would be saddened to know how millions of animals die annually in this country in maniacally perverse LD50 tests so they can have that clean, fresh feeling when they jump into their own version of the hamster wheel. On the trip home, they could well imagine pumping red blood straight into their gas tanks.
And how does one navigate through all the masterful subterfuge and lure of pretty lights, bells and the sexual promise that off-roading and plastic surgery holds? Voting or possessing civic duty or the spirit of volunteerism will not do it alone. The only way to liberate ourselves from bad imprinting is to introduce reason and rationale to our consumer practices. If we can get past our self-involved American attitudes, our ability to associate cause with effect will help us to resist taking the line of least resistance. Get a bus schedule, employ responsible consumerism and cast a vote every time you pull out your wallet!
This affront to our civilization goes much deeper than the sullied business of politics. Be civically active, but if we are to gain peace and the general salvation of humanity, we must first create and sustain personal philosophies of interconnectedness that are of a higher order. Mentor and retired union organizer Lou Cole always warned me, "If someone can lead you in, someone else can come along and lead you out." He never led me anywhere, but he damned sure inspired sparks of independent thinking that took me great distances. No one can lead us to a deliberate life. We have to get there ourselves.
WENDY BRINKER is an artist, writer and filmmaker in Columbia, SC. She owns DRP Media and co-hosts a morning talk radio show, the Seed Show. She can be reached at: email@example.com.