May 10, 2004
Ten years ago, after a standoff with adversaries that they believed were evil emissaries of the forces of darkness, members of the highly armed, extremist religious sect, the Branch Davidians -- led by a fanatical leader who believed he had been anointed by God to bring to fruition a holy war that would usher in the Kingdom of God on earth -- perished in a conflagration of smoke and flame inside of their isolated compound located near the wastelands of Waco, Texas.
Presently, another twice-born, fundamentalist, Texas transplant occupies another isolated compound located in another wasteland (this one located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave) who believes he has been anointed by God to lead a holy war against the evil emissaries of the forces of darkness and he seems hell-bent on shepherding his own highly armed cult of the clueless toward a fate defined by smoke and flames.
That is unless we awaken to the situation and escape the compound of this sect of apocalyptic madmen known as the Bush Davidians.
But is a mass awakening even possible at this point in time?
All indications augur a bleak prognosis: For example, recent public opinion polls show that the majority of Americans still believe that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and that the Iraqis were deeply involved in the terrorist attacks of September the 11th, 2001.
In the most resent surveys, when questioned about this lack of awareness, 57% of Americans answered:
While the remaining 5% could not be surveyed due to the fact they had switched off the ringers of their phones for an extended nap and could not be reached.
This begs the question: Given the abysmal levels of mass ignorance, mass denial, and/or mass delusion at large -- are Americans even up to the task of understanding (much less maintaining) their rights and freedoms? Or has the pervasive and pernicious disconnect from civic life (or, perhaps, even the ability to function at even the most rudimentary cognitive levels above brain-stem function) grown to such an extent that a majority of Americans is even capable of apprehending the dire circumstances that confront the nation?
(It would seem that not only have we chosen to ignore an elephant standing in the living room of our collective awareness -- but we have covered him with nondescript upholstery and now see him as part of the furniture.)
My motive for bringing this up is not to be provocative; I'm asking because I'm chilled to the core of my being afraid... I'm in the thrall of a sitting-bolt-upright-in bed, quaking-with-night-sweats terror...
Nor am I coming from a lofty moral plane on this one -- I'm coming from a pounding-upon-the-ground despair -- a scanning-the-line-of-the-horizon-searching-for-any-sign-of-hope desperation -- a shaking-my-fist-at-the-indifferent-sky rage -- Truth be told: I'm outright mortified as to where we as a nation are headed.
It seems to me as though we're an empire of sleep-walkers trudging toward the precipices of the plummeting realities of the larger world...
A problem better illustrated by the following:
The question teases and torments me: Are present-day Americans as out-and-out, spittle-dribbling-on-the-short-bus stupid as it would appear? Or are they simply sleeping the untroubled sleep of those unfazed by their corruption?
I'm aware that asking questions such as these are not going to win me praise or popularity; though, I'm not vying for votes to become a sort of Anti-American Idol, either. Although many inside and outside of the United States seem primed for such programming fare.
I must concur: Instead of being subjected to anymore slick, corporate crooners -- we could use a few more divas of dissent; for, at present, we are up to our pop culture-saturated ears with commodified, Clear Channel-approved court minstrels, ceaselessly warbling paeans to Celebrity, Country, and Consumption -- the Holy Trinity of the Holy Corporatist Empire -- an empire -- which seems to be populated almost entirely by truckling, lick-spittle court jesters, crusading religious fools, and proliferate village idiots -- A land where, conversely, it is those who possess a modicum of knowledge, depth, and insight are the objects of ridicule and scorn.
If you wish not to be taken seriously in the United States follow this advise: simply display any degree of knowledge regarding the subject of which you speak... Caveat: That is, display knowledge on topics other than those relating to crimes committed by celebrities, reality TV minutiae, and infomercial con-jobs for getting rich. (You know, all the truly admirable deeds and doings we will be remembered for by posterity. We should all be most proud.)
Oddly, we do not seem to suffer a disconnect on the subjects enumerated above: I suspect this is due to the fact that people pay close attention to the things that are important to them.
While we may claim we care deeply about freedom (how many Americans can even name their congressperson?) and the welfare of our children (how about then: let's raise taxes to levels whereby we can adequately fund public schools?) and the eternal light and love of the bright baby Jesus (uh huh: Americans are really going to work up a lather of deep passion for a god who would be naive enough to tell them to love their enemies, would judge them on how they treat the poor, and would warn them about the soul-decimating dangers of worldly power. -- One can certainly see how that the application of those principles would be a big hit from Wall Street to Strip-Mall America. And besides: that sort of thing might put a slight crimp in Donald Trump's ratings...)
People dream up gods that are representative of the things that they care about. Accordingly, the Greeks worshipped deities of Democracy (Athena), War (Aries), Love (Aphrodite) -- even wine (Dionysus).
This begs the question: If gods of democracy, freedom, compassion, and peace don't provide our dry dreaming souls with enough divine fire to spark the wildfires of passionate belief, then what kinds of gods would we find scintillating?
Forget drunken Dionysus, the god of wine and excess -- what we could use is a god of prescription drug benefits. And who the hell needs cloven-hoofed Pan, god of the woodland, meadow, and pasture -- it would be more fitting for us to have a god of the strip mall, landfill, and subdivision development. Who the hell needs gold-hoarding Saturn -- we are in dire need of a God of impulse buying sprees and then a redeemer god of clean credit reports.
We have no need for cathedrals and holy communion -- we crave convenience store communions, dispensing Big Gulp sacramental sodas and providing drive-through window confessionals and super-sized Eucharist burgers, with extra guilt, plus a side of polyunsaturated pseudo-salvation.
It's time we summoned up a more factual form of fantasy; it's time we admitted that the god of the American fat-ass consumer would not be a cloud-dwelling, white-bearded, old fellow, draped in divine robes -- but, more likely, would take the form of an omni-chinned, shopping mall-waddler, clad in celestial stretch pants.
But, in fact, at this critical time, we do not need any god at all: What we Americans need is a goddamn alarm clock (a damn loud one) -- because it's high time to wake the hell up.
No. We can no longer afford the luxury of hitting the snooze alarm and continuing to somnambulate through our lives as normal....
No. We mustn't bray, "Awe mom, I don't wanna go to the school of reality."
No. We can't be lulled back to sleep by post-liberal lullabies of economic globalization nor Neo-Conservative fairy tales of American hegemonic dominance enforced by overwhelming military might.
No. We can't sleep in -- then slouch from bed and devour the last remaining resources on the planet in a long, lingering brunch....
For, truth be known, we Americans worship a god whose name we dare not utter -- not even to ourselves. He is the god to whom we give our most fervent devotion: the God of Death.
And from Waco to Fallujah, we spread the grim gospel.
It's time to wake-up and smell the cataclysm: Our president, a man who controls an arsenal of weaponry that carries a potential for destruction that our monkey minds have not evolved to comprehend, is a fundamentalist religious head-wound who believes it is his sacred duty to deliver us to the Kingdom of the One True God by waging a time-ending war that will forever banish all traces of evil from this sin-sullied earth.... And you know what? He might accomplish precisely that -- by setting events in motion that will engender human extinction... (which is, of course, the only sure way to ever eliminate all sin.)
Ten years ago, the ashes of David Koresh and his followers, freed by flame, floated sin-free from their incinerated compound up into the blameless expanse of an April sky.... Now: From within the besieged confines of the Bush Davidian compound, America's cult of the clueless clutch their bibles while huddled amid the dry kindling of our obliviousness....
Forget alarm clocks. We require smoke alarms -- with their volume capacity raised to the level of air raid warning sirens -- emitting a high-pitched, ear-piecing:
Or, there is the tragic possibility, we will awaken, too late, choking on smoke as a curtain of implacable flames looms before us.
Cough... cough.... choke....
Queue eternal, sin-free silence...........
· · · · · ·
America the 'beautiful' on Swans
Phil Rockstroh on Swans (with bio).
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