Beacon of Shame


Warning: My circuits are overloaded, breakers tripping. There will be interruptions in the flow of this piece.

I ran. I ran and saw in the distance a child with a prosthetic leg—metal from her knee to her shoe. As I neared, I could see that the area above the bend was also artificial. I felt bad, passing her, my legs moving without an ache or pain. And I thought of war, the children whose limbs have been blown useless or off by US imperialism.

Home, I checked Google News. The top item—Anthony Wiener, his aide, and her apology for calling a former campaign intern a slut and a bitch.

Tripping backward to yesterday: I was online, awaiting the Bradley Manning verdict. (His commander-in-chief declared him guilty before he was charged.) After hearing the verdict, I listened to Jeremy Scahill rip the mainstream media for lite coverage. Scahill said the couple that crashed the state dinner at the White House received more MSM attention than the court martial of Bradley Manning.

We could call out the MSM for their corporate mission statement: No news is good news. But nothing would change. Because the owner class pays well to promote certain narratives and obscure others.

We know that meaningful information can be accessed online, as we ourselves are accessed and assessed by the NSA when its employees examine our searches, social media sites, wherever we keyboard for reportage and opinions from those we trust, and to watch video footage of what is being done in our names. The Security/Superiority Complex can find, mine, and scrutinize almost everything users do on the Internet. Without prior authorization to excavate, analysts can dig and sift. Are they curious about my efforts to find instructions for drying hydrangea? So far my pursuits have yielded only enervated blooms but GET this: Within the word hydrangea are letters that spell danger. And blooms could be code for bombs. Whoa, there’s also hydrogen, if an “o” is borrowed from blooms. If. If. If.

If my computer’s history is groped, this could be my profile: Missy Beattie is a neurotic, paranoid, diabetic, vegan political radical with cauda equina syndrome who is fixated on icasualties.org, drone warfare, war widows, civilian deaths, world poverty, civil rights, grief therapy, bedbugs, organic coconut oil, gastritis, Harvard University’s Justice with Michael Sandel, Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Prison Break, Orange is the New Black, gardening, Dr. Mercola’s supplements and Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping your way to happiness), romantic deception, sociopaths, side effects of statins and antidepressants, the tastiest, low volume colonoscopy prep, flu symptoms and homeopathic treatments, norovirus transmission, and germaphobia.

I trip more with a Washington Post online article (July 31, 2013) that’s an advertisement for tourism, near the disaster site of Fukushima, describing “Nakoso Beach as a symbol of recovery, its seasonal opening day this month feted with hula dancers and hopeful speeches.” It continued though with a minor contradiction— “recovery is tenuous.” And on July 29th I’d received a message with a link to a different story, one whose implications are devastating to our ecosystem.

Tripping again, I opened an email from G., someone who taught teenagers for 40 years. He referenced a book, Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse, by Annette Fuentes, and followed with:

Our solution for schools, as this book documents, is to impose restrictive controls, to attempt to monitor any and every thing … the NSA does it … the schools do it.

Am I surprised?

No … what I am is saddened. I used to believe that America was a city on the hill, a light to the world. It is not … it is cold, rapacious, and often evil society … not founded on the rhetoric of democracy we have been taught … but rather of a greedy, selfish, cruel, and ultimately vicious society. As we treat our kids, they treat the world. It isn’t that the schools, highly vilified, didn’t do their job … they did. They produced a bunch of psychopaths … a population convinced of the moral superiority, and doing the morally repugnant.

I once believed as G. did—that America was a beacon. I remember the feeling, that swelling in the chest, as I belted out: “My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.” Now, shame. As wilted as the hydrangea, hanging upside down in my bathroom, and with breakers tripping, I am overloaded by the injustice of avarice and predation.

Missy Beattie does not have diabetes. Does not take a statin or antidepressant. Has not had norovirus infection or cauda equina syndrome. Has not had bedbugs.  And isn’t really paranoid.  Email: missybeat@gmail.com.







Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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