Saturday, November 11, 2006

Need I say anything more?

Monday, August 21, 2006


My Boiling Blood, My Falling Tears, my dwindling fears.

There was a time when I feared things like war, terrorism, and natural disasters. I hoped that our government would be able to set aside their differences once they were confronted with indisputable truth or eminent threats. But that feeling is slowly going away, along with my hopes. More and more these days, I find myself angry, and complacent. And I don’t think I’m alone.

Three years ago, if the news networks told America that British agents had broken up a plot to blow up multiple airplanes crossing the Atlantic, and were tracking more than 20 more possible plots, air travel would have come to a screeching halt, and their would probably be a rush on duct tape and canned foods. But today, we just get pissed, and barely skip a beat. Is this what we have been reduced to? What ever happened to the values instilled in America since 9/11? You know, those “family values” like preserving life, protecting the homeland, and the Moral Majority?

When I was a young man, I had faith in things. Simple things like the gift of the American Constitution, that I can feel proud of my country, and that if I was scared of something, I would be safe at home. My teachers and civil leaders told me these things, and I felt free to prove it to myself. I was told that I had a say, that I had a vote, that my opinion mattered, and that my government was my protector. For 28 years of my life, I believed these things, and they made me feel proud, and safe, and free. It took 6 years to lose my faith, but I never expected to loose my fears.

The old fears I held were enough for anybody. They were healthy fears, held by many people. They weren’t overbearing, they just sat on the periphery of my mind. They were not eminent fears; they rarely came to the surface. My faith in America, and the leaders we were given the right to choose, kept those fears in perspective; at bay, but no longer. Today, my up is down, my black is white, and I don’t know what to fear, for my faith is almost gone.

It’s like a sensory overload. We’re designed to feel fear; fear of death, fear of ridicule, fear of loss. It’s a necessity for humanity. It keeps us from hurting ourselves, helps us to judge the risks we choose to take or not to take, and it guides our moral compass. Couple that with the Chicken Little campaign tactics of the Bushites, and the numerous social failings of their 6 years in power, and it wouldn’t take much to sent our democracy over the cliff.

People wonder why, after decades of decline, violent crimes committed with guns are on the rise. In my home town of Philadelphia, there were 377 murders last year (2005). As of June 2006, we had 185 homicides, compared to 176 the year before according to the PA Uniform Crime Reporting System. And Philly is not alone.

Rates are on the rise in California, Texas, Flordia, and Alabama. Some say that it’s weak gun laws; others say it’s the other way around. Some blame poverty; others blame movies and video games. While most of these opinions have merit, I have another theory: the loss of faith that leads to a lack of fear, stirred up with a dash of emulation.

When one is forced to fear something all of the time, they are forced to change how they live day to day in order to deal with it. Some will over-react to protect themselves, buy a gun, or spend huge amounts of time and money to prevent the possibility of loss. Others just shed their fear. So, in fall-swoop, such a state of fear will cause a population to either arm and fortify themselves, or just loose the fear entirely.

When people loose their jobs, or pension funds, or life savings; when a bread winner finds that they can no longer support or protect their loved ones; when ones faith in the ground beneath them is shaken, it is our moral compass that keeps us from resorting to a life of pillage and violent sustenance. As I said before, that compass is guided by our fears. Some fear public ridicule if they are caught cheating while others fear the karma. Some fear jail if they kill another person, others just fear having to face the families of those who’s death they may have caused. But that compass is set by example. We are given our moral template by those whom we look up to. If your father does not respect private property, theirs a good chance you wouldn’t either. This is why many people turn to crime, but this is far from and exclusive path to a life of crime. The loss of fear is an enabler; a co-dependent so to speak.

By now, some of you are probably asking, “Where is he going with all this Faith or Fear crap”? I’m just trying to pointing out something that many might have missed while pointing their fingers at “Grand Theft Auto” or “Biggie Smalls” for the increase in crime. America has been driven to the edge of a cliff, and most of us can’t tell how close we are, if some even realize we’re off the road in the first place. We are loosing our fear of looking bad as a nation because we already accept the fact that the world is starting to hate us. We are loosing our fear of stealing because we see CEO’s and politicians robbing America and the world blind. We are loosing our fear of loss because we have lost so much, and we are loosing our fear to kill because we see our president has little respect for human life. It is a sign of the times, a sign I thought I’d never see in my beloved country.

As a nation, the Office of the President is our collective father figure. Since its creation, this office has protected us, nurtured us, led us, and comforted us. The men who have occupied that office have been sworn to an oath to be America’s moral compass. Some have shined in their position, as others have stunk. But it was always our choice, be it informed or not, that gave those men the mandate to serve at the pleasure of the American people. And when our president screwed the pooch, he didn’t last too long. It was never about the man, it was always about the office. So much for the good old days.

The most obvious incident concerning the lack of a good moral character in the White House was the open discussion of Bush’s reading of “The Stranger” by Albert Camus. In the middle of an alleged effort to win over the hearts and minds of the Muslim world, press secretary Tony Snow tells the world from the podium of a White House briefing (temporarily held in an elementary school) that he and the President of the United States had an enjoyable discussion about a book that is based on a man who shoots an Arab on a beach, and feels absolutely no remorse for his actions. What the fuck were they thinking? This was in the middle of the Hezbollah/ Israeli war. It’s like they were goading the Muslim world just like Hezbollah goaded Israel and it don’t stop there. When he went to meet with Anglia Merkel, the German Chancellor earlier this summer all he could talk about was that damned suckling pig? Less obvious, and more likely to just be Bush showing off his diplomatic tin ear/forked tongue style, but it’s a far cry from the veiled public language heard on the Radio and TV during the Cold War of Kennedy and Reagan.

Earlier this summer, the MSM lauded President Bush’s admission that statements he had made in the early years of the War on Terror may have been insensitive, and as such, may have given the wrong impression to the Muslim world. After making this concession, he pointed out one line in particular, “Wanted, Dead or Alive”. I think that I speak for every American when I say that this is the only incendiary line that I whole heartedly agreed with. So why did he apologize for that line specifically? If he wanted to apologize to the Muslim world, why didn’t he point out “this is a Crusade”, or “they hate us for our Freedom”, or “Al Qaeda/Saddam, there’s no difference”? Who was he really apologizing to? He can’t even own up to his own mistakes, and when he say’s he is, he screws it up again.

Personally, I think he owes America a few apologies: One for not delivering on his “Dead or Alive” promise, and another for converting the hatred towards America of a few thousand Al-Qaeda hardliners’ into half the world’s hatred towards America, and the numbers keep growing. More and more, it seems as if the Muslim world got just the impression that the Bush Administration was aiming for.

It’s no secret that the Neo-Con’s were itching for a war in the Middle East. Starting with the letter to then President Bill Clinton insisting that we invade Iraq, to the plot to paint a U2 spy plane and fly over Iraqi airspace, and the rumors of U.S. backed covert operations in Southern Iran in the spring.

These efforts are still in full swing today. The refusal, even years before the Hezbollah/Israeli war, to talk to either Syria or Iran is the most dubious. You would think that a smart player on the world stage would try to ensure that our potential enemies remained fractured. Then we find out, from anonymous administration officials that Bush didn’t even know the difference between Sunni and Shia.

This is beyond my comprehension. His family has been in business with Sunni Arabs for at least three generations, both in and out of public office. Subsidiaries of Dick Cheney’s Halliburton were selling oil drilling equipment to Shia Iran. His father was the head of the CIA, and the Vice-President during the Iran/Iraq war. I find ignorance of the situation on the ground impossible to believe. I think it more probable that Bush and his Neo-Conservative backers more likely just didn’t care. They wanted their Middle East war, by any means necessary. And all the while, as the Shia and Sunni continue to find common ground, the political modus-operandi of the Bush Republican party has fractured America into multiple pieces.

So what happens when fear of everything leads to fear of nothing? What happens when your moral compass no longer has a healthy fear to inform and guide it? And when you look to your role models, what happens when they seem to have no morals themselves? Do you lose your faith in morality itself? Some may, but most can hold on to what they believe is right, but only if they are not provoked.

Now, let me ask you a question, the question I hope that, by now, you will see coming? If you lose your fear for thing you know you should fear, and you lose faith in the system set up to protect your community; if you loose you ability to provide security for your loved ones, and you don’t know if things will ever be safe again; if your world seems to be falling apart, and you turn to your leaders for moral guidance, only to find that they are thieves and murderers who’ve been lying to you from the start, what would you do?

I have no children, so I’m not so susceptible. But this is human nature. When your existence is in jeopardy, and you see those whom you are supposed to emulate committing unspeakable crimes for less, morality runs the risk of being left by the way-side. When you see the U.S. Attorney General justifying torture, beating people up don’t sound so bad. When you hear that the Vice-President’s old company has stolen billions of dollars from American tax payers, you and me, with the help of the VP, robbing liquor stores don’t sound like such a big thing. When the President of the United States invades a country to gain control of its oil, burglary seems like small potatoes. When you find out that the Bush administration had been breaking laws left and right, and have left America morally and financially broke, all while their friend are the only people who benefit from such acts, you begin to believe, MAYBE CRIME DOES PAY. And when the Republican controlled government drags us into a war with dubious evidence that costs the lives of hundreds of thousands of people on both sides, human life tends to lose its value.

It all starts with the loss of fear, though not everybody will fall to such extremes. But many will. Different people will react in different ways. For me, I’m loosing fears every day, but I never looked up to anybody in the Bush Administration. I don’t fear flying anymore. After 9/11, I had to get extremely drunk to get on a plane. Not today. If I’m on a plane and someone gets out of line, they’d be lucky if they can limp of that flight. I used to fear not living to a ripe old age, but I’m over that too. Fear my government? Yeah, sure, maybe a year ago. The simple act of writing this on my computer has been turned into something I should fear. Not anymore.

I do still have one great fear left. I fear that the window of opportunity to pull our country out of the abyss is closing fast. I fear that America has lost control of herself and I fear what may need to be done to save her if we wait too much longer. And I fear that this fear may too be lost soon.

We need to find faith in our leaders again, and we need to find it fast. We need to stop the fear mongering perpetrated upon us by our current leaders. We need a strong moral leader again. My boiling blood, my falling tears, my dwindling fear, this is the new mourning in America.

What fears have you lost?
What faith shakes beneth your feet?
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Most of all, fear not the
healthy change.