When did we stop being alive? Doesn’t it seem like someone should have told us? Hey! Yo! You! You’re walking around, but you are dead.
Most of my dreams (the very few I remember) are yawningly prosaic, focusing on minutiae from my daily life. But I had one big archetypal dream and it involved President Kennedy. He was teaching a class and i thought “oh my! No one has told him he’s dead! We have to let him know….”
I had dinner tonight with my new friend Susan. I was saying that I felt change was in the air. That I felt hopeful that some of the seeds my generation planted might start to come to fruition.
I don’t know how old Susan is, but its decades younger than I am. She has a PhD in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from UC Berkeley and she’s brilliant, thoughtful, and observant.
So it pained me that she said she really didn’t see that happening anytime soon. Because people are asleep (or, I think, perhaps dead). They don’t care.
When an election was totally stolen, absolutely cancelling out the principles on which this country was founded, I thought people would rebel.
When we were robbed by the rich – plutocracy run amok, I genuinely thought there would be rioting in the streets.
This year, when the Supreme Court of the United States held that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment, (thus allowing the current nod-nod-wink-wink buying of elections to proceed apace unencumbered) I felt ill – truly creeped out. I thought, ah yes, we will look back and say “There! That’s when it happened….”
Except, I’m not so sure that’s right.
I think it was before now.
I once had Marianne Williamson as a teacher – she’s the woman from whom Nelson Mandela got that great quote about “it is not our darkness that scares us, but our light” and is the person being the campaign for the department of peace. Oh yeah, and she wrote 4 New York Times bestsellers. Anyway, she was talking to my generation, to those of us who felt we dropped the ball, that the Boomers as a generation sold out. She said: “Look. Here’s what happened. We were idealistic – we were going to change the world. Then they came in and murdered all our heroes and in our grieving, they dangled materialism in front of us to assuage our grief – and we went for it. So, forgive yourselves and get back to work!”
I think it started then – after John, Bobby, Martin. But then the 80s sealed the deal. I think that’s when we started to become the Corporate States of America. When every city started to look the same. When people started watching more and more TV. When liberal arts degrees went out the window and college became vocational education. When people stopped thinking. And soon, living.
Because people who were REALLY alive would not have let the America who put a man on the moon start slipping really quickly to the back of the bus. There was a story on Cnn.com the other day (hardly a hotbed of crazy leftwing liberals) about how America has the most expensive “health” “care” in the world and we’re #37 in overall health and well-being. Greece and Iceland are ahead of us! I mean – America? Is this REALLY the best you can do?
I don’t watch TV, but they play it at my gym. So when I’m plugging away on the elliptical or treadmill there it is. Is America really THAT inane? I think of the Roman emperors “Feed them bread and circuses.” Man, it’s not even good bread, people.
My friend said that during Obama’s campaign she got hopeful watching the populace get engaged. But she’s been disappointed subsequently at how people have gone back to apathy. To sleeping.
I’m hoping that this nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico awakens people.
But then again, on the drive home from the city tonight I heard a guy on a radio talk show brag about his 3 vehicles with V-8 engines. The host said “we’re all paying for your 3 V-8s” (meaning through things like the travesty in the Gulf) and the guy basically said “I simply don’t care” (though he was far less articulate than that).
How did America get so dumb? So asleep?
I think one part of the answer is that when people feel powerless they cease to care.
So that will be my next blog entry – riffing on my friend Myra’s thoughts about incremental change – how to get people to know they CAN make a difference.
But before I get back to my usual stance of “our thoughts create our realities, so let’s focus on how we can make it better” I have to grieve just a bit.
When I was in 3rd grade they wheeled in a TV on a stand to my classroom. This was not a usual thing in a Catholic grade school in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. The teacher told us that “The Russians” (ooh! Scary! The Enemy) were putting a rocket into space. We saw it on the news. Our teacher told us we had to study REALLY REALLY hard or before you know it, the godless Russians would be running our country and there would be no more Catholic schools. And we would not be free.
We DID study.
In 1969 I was in Ft. Smith Arkansas. My husband was in the Army and mercifully in Arkansas, not Vietnam. His grandparents came down to visit us. And we listened to the transmission from space of a man walking on the moon.
I grew up thinking – knowing – that this was the greatest country in the world.
When did people stop caring? When did we become a plutocracy? I don’t always agree with Michael Moore, but on this count I do — Dude! I want my country back!