From Suburban Subdivisions To Sadr City
An Ode To My Comfort Level

by Phil Rockstroh

September 20, 2004   


(Swans - September 20, 2004)   There are no oak trees to be found in the Oakdale Estates subdivision. Years ago, they were cut down to clear the property for development.

Do the residents of Oakdale Estates ever contemplate the irony of the situation?

Or that: Here in the United States of America, in the "Land of Liberty" -- dissenters are shunted into "Free Speech Zones."

Where are our much-vaunted "liberties" to be found in present day America...perhaps among the phantom oaks of Oakdale Estates...? And it seems as though their loss is missed and remembered to the same extent as the subdivision's felled trees.

As we sit stranded in traffic on evermore congested "freeways" -- we Americans remain steadfast in our belief that automobiles provide us with freedom...rarely considering the fact that, in all likelihood, a bank or finance company owns the vehicles...and, in order to meet our loan payments, we must continue to work ever-longer hours...spending evermore time stuck in those self-same vehicles in order to reach the jobs that devour our "free time" so that we can afford the exorbitant price that the "freedom" to "own" an automobile "provides."

If this is our standard of freedom, is it any wonder many Americans believe that our soldiers are dying daily in Iraq to "keep us free?"

If we look closely...we can catch a glimpse of the freed souls of the war dead...now lounging in the cool shade beneath the trees of paradise of Oakdale Estates.

For we American will think of our war dead often...yes, of course, we will...about as often as the residents of Oakdale Estates think of the dispatched oaks.

And we Americans will mourn the dead of the war in Iraq...to the same degree we mourn the loss of our right to dissent.

But rejoice: We're free to continue working for the freedom to be owned by the corporatist class.

And our soldiers are free to continue to kill and be killed for our right to be oblivious to their deaths.

This is the best of all possible worlds, in the best of all possible lands -- why would anyone ever raise a harsh voice in protest against it in the first place?

If you lament our losses, then the terrorist will have won.

You see -- unlike the terrorist -- we have the freedom to choose to lose our freedoms and not give a damn. And that is why they hate us.

It's why John Kerry was sent to Vietnam to kill godless Gooks. It's why George W. Bush faced down (make that: went face down into) blizzards of Bolivian powder with unwavering resolve. It's why we must continue to mindlessly labor for our corporate masters and to continue to consume without question or compunction.

It's why it's our obligation to medicate ourselves with antidepressants...because if we were to feel the sorrow of the world, then our soldiers will have died in vain.

They must die so that our comfort level can be maintained. And we must do our part and strive to remain comfortable.

They should erect war memorials in honor of us Americans here on the home front: Perhaps...a statue that depicts us...sprawled on our sofas, TV remote fixed in our hands, steely in our resolve to remain distracted.

But as for the present: We must not waiver from our mission. Our foes are legion. Vast armies of awareness must be ignored into oblivion.

The treachery of this enemy, also known as knowledge, is not to be underestimated...for it exists to destroy our way of life and it must be met with resolute ignorance and unflagging indifference.

If not, the empire may falter and fall.

Then who would keep the peace by waging perpetual war...what nation but the United States of America would be a beacon of banality for all those would believe ruthless ambition is highest human value...whose citizens would wage wars for consumer goods and conquer and kill in the name of God and major appliances...who would sacrifice the natural world for a Big Gulp soft drink...who will waddle around shopping malls and man the food courts and slouch vigilant over the all-you-can-eat buffets...who would readily sacrifice their children to the Moloch of Instant Consumer Gratification...who would unconsciously worship this deity who is the one and true ruling god of this empire of endless burgers, bunker buster bombs, pharmaceutical imperialism, focus group fascism, brand name colonialism, theme park hegemony, commoditized idiot ascendancy...who but we Americans are suited for the monumental task at hand...who but us can obsessively concern ourselves with celebrity gossip, bling-bling acquisition, so-called reality TV contrivances, professional sports piffle, and the like -- as the Artic glaciers melt, the world's oceans are depleted of life, and the greenhouse gas-insulated atmosphere boils...who but us can manifest as adroitly the gigantism inherent to species extinction -- by letting our bellies and suburbs sprawl, our dwellings bloat into McMansions, our egos grow tumescent with entitlement -- as the finite resources of the earth dwindle...who but us Americans could led the world towards catastrophe and remain arrogant and unconcerned?

And believe me -- we have our reasons for our outward obduracy. For deep within the guarded gated community of our minds, we Americans know this: Those who survive us on this abiding earth will remember us and grieve our passing to the same extent the residents of Oakdale Estates mourned the memory of its namesake oak trees.

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US Elections & Democracy on Swans

America the 'beautiful' on Swans


Phil Rockstroh on Swans (with bio).

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Published September 20, 2004
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