Stuck in the Middle With You


“The IQ and the life expectancy of the average American recently passed each other in opposite directions.”

— George Carlin

Thanks to Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan for the title of this piece.  No other words seem to adequately describe my daily visits to CounterPunch and a few other websites where truth and intelligent analysis are valued and sought after commodities.  And now that I’ve successfully conned Jeffrey St. Clair into believing that I have thoughts and ideas worth contributing to one of just a handful of bastions of sanity still standing proud in a world gone mad, I feel a closeness and comforting camaraderie with the small but powerful community of truth-tellers like never before.  Clintons to the left of me, Bushes to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.  We’re in this together boys and girls, and it’s highly likely that the ride’s going to get even wilder.

This is not to say that we’re all in agreement on every single issue.  It is, however, safe to assume that Ted Cruz, Karl Rove, and Rush Limbaugh have never visited CounterPunch.  Safe to assume that Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger, and Glenn Beck have absolutely no concept of what it means to have a social conscience.  It is also safe to assume that, aside from a few goons from the CIA, NSA, and FBI who monitor suspicious and seditious activity, most of us who visit websites like this share a similar value system.  We have fully functioning brains and passion in our hearts.  We already know enough to be dangerous, yet we thirst for more knowledge.

We are not the average Americans spoken of by George Carlin in the above quote.  IQs aside, to a varying degree we counterpunchers understand that the human race has reached a moment in time where just one more careless move by any of the clueless, greedy people in positions of power could be the dreaded finger on the doomsday button.  It is our job, nay duty, to save the world from the clutches of war profiteers, industrial polluters, banksters, religious fanatics, and other assorted fools who constitute the vast majority of the citizens of Empire.  Emphasis on “vast”.  Failure to do so will have dire consequences.

Those of us stuck in the middle are sometimes fearful to speak out on issues dear to our hearts.  Here, in the belly of the beast (U.S.A.), and elsewhere in the various suburbs of Empire, citizens are told what to believe.  We’re required to praise the military, salute the flag, stand at attention while our national anthem sings praise to rockets and bombs.  We’re supposed to accept any lies our leaders can conjure up, justifying the slaughter of civilians in foreign lands.  We’re told that our military forces(the finest in the world we are assured) are fighting for freedom, democracy, truth, justice, and the American way.  We’re supposed to thank them for their service while they overthrow democratically elected presidents and bomb previously free and happy fellow-humans into oblivion.  Citizens of Empire are fed a constant diet of lies, and they’re just as happy as they can be, because their government/media assures them that they’re the exceptional people.  And, of course, they are.  Exceptionally gullible, violent, and an inspiration to quotes like the one from George Carlin at the top of this page.

Those of us stuck in the middle are all too often quiet about our enlightenment.  We fear sharing our knowledge because we understand fully that anyone who dares question the official story line opens himself up to severe criticism from the throngs of red, white, and blue, flag-waving cheerleaders for the grand illusion.  Empire’s exceptional people don’t want to be told that they’ve been living in a Matrix.  Don’t want to know that there’s a man behind the curtain.  And if we are the ones who try to tell them so, then we become pariahs.  Untouchables.  Or worse yet, unpatriotic, un-American, and of course conspiracy theorists.

For those of us stuck in the middle, it is difficult not to theorize about conspiracies.  What the Hell are we supposed to do when we hear the exact same lies as those who live in the Matrix?  Truth is an elusive beast at best, and even here outside the Matrix, it seems we can never know anything for certain.  For example:  Paul Craig Roberts and others provide very convincing evidence that the recent Paris violence was another false-flag event.  Just another Kennedy Assassination, Gulf of Tonkin, or 9-11.  Knowing what Empire’s government is capable of, I’d tend to buy into Paul’s theory, but I don’t know for certain, and may never really know.  It is enough to know that the U.S.A. is waging a proxy war in Syria, is responsible for a quarter of a million deaths, has precipitated the rise of yet another terrorist organization (ISIL), and is the reason for the current refugee crisis.

It is enough to understand that (using John Pilger’s insight) the U.S. Empire has, since World War II, meddled in the affairs of no fewer than 69 countries in a never-ending quest to control the world economy.  Untold millions have died and perhaps billions have suffered thanks to U.S. bombing invasions, overthrow of elected governments, assassinations, election fixing, and crippling sanctions.  It is enough to realize that, in virtually every case a whopper of a lie was told by the U.S. Government and repeated often and loudly by corporate media.  And with each lie, Americans have lost a few million more brain cells.  Do IQs ever drop into the negative range?

It is enough to know that American war crimes have been supported by virtually every one of our elected national representatives, and in our names.  Enough to know that practically every single person in a position of power in the U.S.A. has been bought and paid for by Wall Street military-industrial interests, and that those few honest folks who slip through the cracks of the system are systematically eliminated by corporate cash, or by whatever means necessary.  We miss you Paul Wellstone.  Those of us who are stuck in the middle hold these truths to be self evident.  Although we’re a tiny minority of Empire’s population, we are a dangerous minority to the power structure.  But rest assured that you’re not alone.  You’re stuck here in the middle with me, and once you’re here there’s no going back to the Matrix.

So how do we fight the entrenched power structure?  They laugh at us when we march through the streets in protest, keeping us in line with their legions of policemen in riot squad gear.  They tell us where and when to march, and arrest us if we show the slightest signs of disobedience.  They watch us at airports, giving us grief, threatening us with no-fly lists, demanding that we grovel and obey.  They record anything we write which might be construed to be too far left of center or even subversive.  Big Brother has his eye on us all…all of us stuck here in the middle.

Those of us here in the middle gather together around the warm glow of CounterPunch every morning, eagerly devouring the wisdom du jour, heaping praise on our brethren of like minds, maybe writing a complimentary email to an author, and basking in the glory of our own personal enlightenment.  A mutual admiration society.  So the obvious question is; how do we spread the word to the minions of clueless?  Truth doesn’t spread as easily as peanut butter.  How do we do it?  Is it even possible?

I asked George Carlin this very question the other day.  Actually he’s been dead for quite a few years now, so I asked a website full of his most memorable quotes.  It replied:  “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”  We are faced with a daunting task indeed.  But we must try.  I must admit that my own attempts have not been extremely successful.  The exceptional people don’t want to hear what I have to say.  Friends have become ex-friends.  Lots of them.  But those people live in the Matrix and have no concept of reality.  Their world is made up, and has been spoon-fed to them from birth.  Few will ever escape and see the light, no matter what anyone says.  These were hollow friendships.  I don’t miss them.

But there have been successes.  There have been times, during serious conversations with people still hopelessly lodged in the Matrix, when I’ve seen an unexpected spark of intelligence.  A light goes on, if only for a second.  More often than not, they extinguish it in fear.  Nothing is more painful to those within the Matrix than the truth.  But on several occasions I’ve seen friends and acquaintances rise up in righteous indignation and step out into the light.  It doesn’t happen immediately.  For those who’ve lived their lives in darkness, the light of the truth can be blinding.  One spoonful of truth at a time.  Baby steps.

Remember that when you attempt to awaken sleeping minds, you’re not likely to find success very often.  These people have been mired in deep slumber for their entire lifetimes.  They’ve bought into the American Dream lock, stock, and barrel.  George Carlin reminds us that “The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

You and I have the potential to rattle a few brains…awaken a few lost souls.  Somebody has to stop earth’s collision course.  Together we can do it.  We are all Neo.  We are all The One.  We are stuck in the middle, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.  Would we?

More articles by:

John R. Hall is a writer living in Hawai’i.

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