#58 Rats and Ships

All Rights Reserved © 2002 Thomas W. Day

It's been a while since I've Ranted.  It's been an eventful year for all of us, me included.  Eleven days before the media decided that "the world changed" for many Americans, I changed my own world, for good or bad.  On August 31, I quit the best paying, most secure, least challenging job I've ever had. 

After thirty-five years of continuous employment, I became unemployed at the end of August.  On purpose.  Go figure. 

Less than a half-month later, a bit of the country was in flames and all of it was, officially, in a recession.  I'm not sure if it's better or worse to be unemployed during a recession.  But, so far, it certainly feels better to be unemployed and happy than it did to be employed and miserable.  And that is something it took me 40 years to learn.  I may be a Rat, but I clearly don't know how to work a maze and there's a lesson in here, somewhere, but I'm not bright enough to uncover it.

In times of political crisis it's usually a good idea to be as politically correct as possible.  Keep your head down.  Stay in the middle of the pack.  Don't make waves.  All of these are valuable clichés that my father did his best to instill in me; and he failed.  I don't know why.  I'm probably not smart enough to listen to good advice.

So here goes.  I'm about to stick my foot into a trash can, once again.

Something that really grates on my frayed nerves is the phrase the media keeps repeating, "everything changed on September 11."  Or "the world changed" on that date.  Every time I hear or read those phrases, I want to puke.  Or go find a news writer and beat the snot out of him/her. They're a bunch of spoiled and gutless wimps, so they'd be easy to beat up, which is an appealing aspect of the second option.  I'm old and need defenseless targets.

Nothing about the world "changed" on September 11th, 2001, except that the nightmare that most of the world has lived for the last forty years finally came to us; Americans.  Nothing about September 11th topped the kind of terror the 20th Century stuck to Vietnamese, Koreans, Argentineans, South Africans, or many of the residents of eastern Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, and Indonesia.  It's been a pretty awful several hundred years for a lot of the world. 

In our country, the media has never been lazier than it is today.  Mostly, because our "fee press" is owned by major corporations who have no interest in freedom, democracy, progress, justice, or anything else that might lessen their stranglehold on the world economy. 

If it weren't for the internet, there wouldn't be any useful information at all.  That's the way of democracy, though.  Something usually comes along to keep us from destroying ourselves.  When one voice of truth gets bought out, another takes its place.

For me, damn little changed on September 11th.  It's just more of the same, nasty stuff.   Any idiot who lived through the 1970s and 80s ought to have some grasp on how the 3rd (and most of the 1st) world thinks of us.  We're the country who set up strawman dictatorships all over the world, governments who tortured and enslaved their own populations to make the world safe for our corporations to exploit everyone's natural resources.  We knocked down democratically elected governments and assisted in the assassination of the leaders of those governments, when they weren't friendly to corporate interests.  Even when those corporations were multi-nationals who were behaving damned unfriendly to our own working population.

In the late 1950s, we picked a backwards Third World nation as a safe place to "make a stand" against communism and practiced every sort of terrorism known to history on that country's population.  In the 1960s, we dropped napalm and phosphorus bombs on rice paddies and straw hut villages, for Christ's sake!  We used untested chemicals to indiscriminately defoliate that country to make it easier to find and kill the population.  On the basis of that war, alone, we're the Twentieth Century's most careless polluter and the damage we did to our own citizens is still being discounted and suppressed.

And we had a President who planned to collect and imprison Americans for disagreeing with his "right" to carry on this national terrorism.  As usual, this didn't even shake up most of the freedom loving citizens of the U.S.  That President was re-elected so he could finish his damage to the Constitution and that Third World country.  Fortunately, for freedom and democracy, bits of history's best written Constitution brought Nixon down.  That and his own arrogance and stupidity.

So,  I'm supposed to have had my innocence damaged by September 11th?  I haven't felt innocent since 1968, when Chicago's finest went gonzo on American kids who mistook the Constitution's guarantee of free speech as some sort of protection on the streets of Chicago.  I need a spell checker to type "innocence," that concept is so foreign to my world view.

The folks who are in charge of setting the world right make me nervous, too.  If it doesn't bother you that our conservative, religious nutballs are supposed to make the world safe from their conservative religious whackos, I'll be jittery for you. It's one out-of-control system against another.  A true holy war, in every sense of the historical term. 

This may be "America, the land of the free," but there have been people working to change that for more than 200 years.  That crowd is back in charge.  I've lived through Eisenhower and Nixon and their mouthpiece, Joe McCarthy.  I suffered with Nixon and Spiro, Ronny and George the First.  I hope to survive our current corporate stooge, George II.  But I don't have to like it. 

So far, I don't have to be quiet about it.

January 2002

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