What would you do if you came across a man strangling children or you knew that a wedding was about to be blown to pieces instantly killing the innocent and beautiful bride and her happy groom, slaughtering and maiming most all of the guests, or that an entire neighborhood was about to be intentionally and heartlessly leveled, killing many, men, women, children while leaving the living to grieve the loss of their loved ones, their homes, their food, their lives?
What would you do if you woke one morning to find that your planet was burning, that your oceans were dying, that your air was black with the smoke of burning mountains and towns, that your food was poisoned and that the dirt below your feet was washing away?
What would you do if you turned to the news and found that it was all controlled by a handful of men who were bought and sold to big-brother type, government propagandists from secret agencies that controlled all the news, all the social and political conversation and anything having to do with every election or any candidate who chooses to run for an office?
What would you do if you stepped out the door to find a world full of human machines and a planet that served as nothing more than the factory floor where worthless products were mass produced for consumers who are less and less able to afford even life’s most urgent necessities, food, shelter, healthcare, education?
What would you do?
It has been said that democracy dies in darkness but as we look around searching for democracy we find, as we scan the political world for life, that democracy dies just as well, just as surely in the full blazing glory of the brightest sunshine, under the glare of thousands of lamps and under the scrutiny of a million cameras, microphones and play-back machines. Unfortunately it doesn’t stop with just losing democracy; we’re also killing millions of people, either directly or indirectly and of course destroying the planet too.
Our world and our democracy have never been so thoroughly analyzed, scrutinized, contemplated and considered as they are today. Millions of eyes from coast to coast and around the world watch, read and hear about US imperialism and its highly publicized version of democracy through the thousands of T.V. news outlets, newspapers, radio shows and podcasts, that so consistently and so loudly hail out the latest breaking stories, half-truths and outright lies which are spewed into the public ear and eye like oil from a gushing well, yet democracy dies and our world is becoming uninhabitable.
We have pundits, reporters, editors, publishers, show hosts, DJ’s, writers, actors, P.R. firms, add agencies, operators, gadflies and ordinary jerks like me that provide a constant barrage of news, news enough for every man woman and child to drown in and yet democracy dies. I begin to suspect that democracy is not protected by a top story, leading headline or breaking news but something altogether different from the loads of information we attempt to digest every day. The roving eye and constant noise of our media is not saving democracy. I suspect that it is in fact, one of the leading causes, like poison slowly administered over time, that is killing democracy.
The public for whom all this energy is spent thinks it is well informed. It is not. The public thinks it is engaged. It is not. The public thinks that by simply knowing a vast trove of half-truths, down-right lies and the rest of some half-told story, that they are righteously prepared to voice an important opinion or cast the educated and decisive vote, every once in a while, when called out by the billions of dollars in advertising propaganda that is foisted upon us every couple of years, whether we want it or don’t, but they are not. The public mind thinks it is saving democracy, it is not.
The halfway educated and seriously misinformed among us are enough to trouble and corrupt any democracy but as concerning as that intentional corruption of information may be, there’s another element, more dangerous, more paralyzing than the first, which is the numbing of the collective mind of millions of humans that might, even without the constant barrage of information and misinformation, might be moved to an actual compassionate response to the terror and atrocities that we are so constantly reminded of. But as it is we are so desensitized that minor murders, rapes and wars are hardly given any space in our worried minds. We rely now on super-sensational mass-murders, all out genocide and death by starvation to rile us up, while the news of those everyday things like rampant racism, rape, police brutality and murder have become movement issues, cultural issue news stories that will be addressed eventually, incrementally.
The everyday things that go on in this world are so horrific and disgusting that if shown even a portion of the real thing with its real stench, real blood, real torn flesh and the very real abject desolation and degradation of life induced by these tragedies that are provided to the world by the ruling powers, most news watchers would find themselves on their knees, retching out the bile of complicity that we share. Instead we are made to feel better, safe and well protected. We watch the news and have an emotional response, a knee-jerk reaction we feel that in our awareness of feelings of empathy that we have done something. We have not.
We are shown pictures of men and women in suits that look pretty good, well-to-do even, in-spite of the chaos and destruction that they advance with the cashing of their checks and the shaking of hands before flying off to somewhere far away from the horror of their responsibility.
We are tempted to join the debate to further our complicity, maybe throw out a snarky tweet or a cryptic meme concerning events so atrocious that no sane person with a heart should ever have to even hear of or see them. We too will take vacations.
We find that we must settle for settling, settle for the news that numbs and produces apathy because the real news when pulled out from under the rubbish, is not fit to print and that naked truth which still remains hidden, it may be that no one wants it anyway, it tells too much about who and what we’ve become.