Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lessons learned?

69 years ago today, there was an attack on our troops and civilians at Pearl Harbor. The very next day, we declared war on Japan and entered into the second most deadly conflict of the century (the first being the war to end all wars, but who's keeping score).
Conspiracy theories abound as to the behind-the-scenes workings of our government before the attacks. Some say Roosevelt was just itching to jump in the ring with the rest of the world and kick some Nazi ass, others say it was a clear cut invasion and attack on American soil...sounds oddly familiar...oh yeah, 9/11!
In both cases however, Americans stood behind their commander-in-chief and marched on christian soldiers towards casualties, catastrophe and more coffins to ship home. At least one could argue that we "won" the second world war, if such a word can be used in the description of war.
So, what is it about us Americans? What is it that makes us so infatuated with conspiracy and intrigue while simultaneously so apathetic to the destinations those paths lead to?
There is clearly a stark disconnect between the search for knowledge and taking action once knowledge is obtained. I say search for knowledge with a hint of reservation because in reality, there aren't that many people who search for knowledge, despite the fact that we all love a juicy tale of deceit and betrayal - which is pretty much the story of our country for the past century.
It's a bit like environmental catastrophes. We really abhor seeing little baby birds and fish covered in our waste and slime, but we don't wanna have to exert ourselves to see to it that it doesn't happen again, or even help out once it does. But we can talk about it over coffee, cursing somebody else for ruining the planet as we sit in our cars in traffic, neglect to recycle, leave the water running and keep the lights on. It's the American way! We're the best and it's always someone else's fault. Woo hoo!
The unfortunate side effect of our yarn yearning, apathetic ways is that the message gets to the government.
For example, Obama's recent bow down to the Republicans extending tax breaks to the un-fucking-necessarily wealthy. When asked by a reporter how the American people can trust him after he clearly stated in his campaign and into his presidency that he planned to terminate said tax breaks, his response was vague and dodgy at best. He said that while he still opposed the tax breaks, he has to give way in order to move forward. He said that he didn't need to convince the American people that these tax breaks were shit, he needed to convince the Republicans. Um...what? Since when do the people WE elect into office get to override our wants and needs? Oh, that's right - since we do FUCK ALL about it...
Obama said that the American people were very clear on the state of the economy, that they knew these tax cuts were more than just superfluous but indeed detrimental to the health of the economy if allowed to be renewed. Well Mr. President, if that's what we're so sure about, why the fuck would you go against that? And if we're so sure about that and as he put it those tax breaks are a "pillar of Republican policy," why would we vote in Republicans? Could it be a potpourri of various issues...for one, you have no spine and secondly, neither do we. The Republicans have enough for both of us, and that's not something we should be ok with. Neither side is in a position to make choices FOR us, they make them BASED on what we NEED and WANT. Any other arrangement is a clear violation of their duties as elected officials and our duty as citizens.
As Franklin once put it, "A republic madam, if you can keep it."
The more I see, the more I become depressingly realistic about our abilities.
On this anniversary of a clear, literally explosive wake up call to pay more attention to the goings on of our government and those we interact with, I see little progress and evolution of the people, for the people and by the people.
Sorry Mr. Franklin, sorry.

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