Sunday, October 29, 2006

keep em doped on Old Navy, The Gap and MYSPACE

I'm really pissed off this week because Rush Limbaugh accused Michael J. Fox of faking his Parkinson's disease and because these assholes are against stemcell research and would rather throw away unused blastocysts than allow them to be used to help save lives. I'm also pissed off at the death toll in Iraq, at the rhetoric around the midterm election and at the fact that if some people in my hometown have their way, our beautiful public land and art park will transform into a casino and a mall. A friend of mine told me that she was canvassing against this nightmare scenario and was told by one woman "but we really need a closer Nordstroms." Nordstroms, by the way, is a 20 minute drive away.

Consumerism is our new drug and we jones for our new video ipod the way Rush Limbaugh jones for oxycotin.

Remember John Lennon's Working Class Hero?

Keep you doped on religion and sex and tv
And you think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see.
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be
If you want to be a hero then just follow me.

Follow him indeed. Is that why we're all so afraid to stand up and publicly renounce what has happened to this country? Are we afraid that heros are all killed? I've already heard people say "Barak Obama would be a great president...if they don't kill him." I certainly hope that they didn't mean he would be killed for his ultra left politics because this is a guy that wouldn't appear with Gavin Newsome a couple of years back because he wanted to distance himself from the gay marriage issue. Hardly a lefty crusader. Don't get me wrong. I'd support him. I like him. He's as left as we're going to get in this country. Hell, the republicans went after Bill -Welfare- Reform-Clinton like he was frickin' Fidel Castro so why wouldn't they go after Barak.

Like I said, I like Barak. He talks pretty. I'm in a wait and see place however because I remember another guy who talked pretty by the name of Mario Cuomo. Everyone wanted him to run for president. I remember one of his most inspired speeches about allocation of public funds " I would rather have my children walk to school than drive to nowhere." Then he cut funding for schools and roads. Hmmm. As he himself said "You campaign in poetry, you govern in prose."

Why are we so fixated on leaders to answer all our problems? It's no different than being doped on John Lennon's religion, sex and TV. We infantilize ourselves by appointing ersatz mommies and daddies to make our decisions for us. We freely give our power away in virtually every aspect of our lives. We do it in the political arena, in the cultural arena and on the home front. How many times have you heard: "My husband is going to kill me when he sees how much I spent on this" or "I'd like to go out but my wife won't let me." From the micro to the macro none of us (including me) want to take responsibility for our own lives. We've all been raised to seek protection in the cloak of plausible deniability but honestly, aren't we all complicit in so much of what is going on in our country? Is a change in party leadership going to fundamentally change the World Bank? The lack of comprehensive health care? The corporate concentration of the media? Sure maybe a little, but not NEARLY as much as we can change it if we stop being great big babies complaining about all the monster shit piling up in our backyard and then going out there and feeding the beast. If you feed it, it's going to shit.

Take the Walmart phenomenon for example. If we all stopped shopping at chains - problem solved. No legislation needed, no trade limitations, nothing. Don't even think about saying you need to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond, The Gap, Banana Republic, Walmart, KMart, Target, Barnes and Nobles, Petco, etc, etc, etc. If the well being of the world and all it's inhabitants is not worth paying a couple of dollars more or driving a few miles further or god forbid not buying yet another thing you don't need then stop complaining about the state of the world. You're feeding the beast.

Start by considering with every purchase the following questions: is this something I want or something I need? If it's something I want, do I want it because I will derive pleasure from it or because I have been convinced by external sources that i want it? If you determine that it's something you want because damn it, you just want it - a cd of great music or a warm and attractive sweater - consider if you can buy it elsewhere to support the independent business person. You might find that if you load up on less stuff you don't need, you'll have more time. Less stuff means less to maintain, pick up, clean. You save on cleaning and on shopping time. You save gas money that you would have spent going to pick up the stuff. How many people wake up one day and realize that buying stuff has become their avocation?

How about FOX news. So many people I know get worked up about that one. I stopped watching TV in 1997 and I have sooo much more free time than people who have to get back home for Dancing with the Stars. Fox news doesn't bother me because I don't watch it. What bothers me is that fact that lots of other people are watching it. What about the fact that I am missing Stephen Colbert and John Stewart? That is truly sad, but when I miss them to the point that I feel a void, I go to the internet and watch some clips. The added benefit is that if you don't watch TV or look at glossy magazines, you aren't bombarded with images of stuff you're supposed to think you need when in reality you wouldn't have even wanted them if they weren't artfully packaged.

So what does this have to do with Republicans and the big bowl of wrong they've been serving us? It's just one step at a time folks. We can't necessarily beat the voting machines this time, but if we start to change our own lives we can create a ripple that will spread and it will eventually dawn on these guys that their supreme power over us requires our complicity. If we start living our lives in a mindful way we might discover that we don't have to be complicit.

Let's imagine for a moment that thanks to a new war's say Iran.... George Bush and crew call off the election in 2008. Will we go out into the streets? Will we go on a general strike? If we did this and took other steps, we could force an election; force an end to the war; force use of alternative fuel sources; force government support of stem cell research; force stricter environmental regulations and diversification of media ownership; force stores like Walmart either die on the vine or move to a Costco model of paying union wages; we could force out the multi-million dollar "healthcare" industry through boycotts and through using alternative healthcare source in order to force our government to implement socialized medicine; our witholding of consumer dollars can force other countries to pay their workers a living wage; our walk to the independent movie house or trip to the library can force TV networks to program semi-intelligent shows with adequate actors, etc, etc, etc. I could go on. Trust me on that.

What a terrifying and exhilarating moment. The moment that we realize that we are not helpless. The moment we realize that everthing we do has an impact - has importance. My son was telling me about a scene in the film BEYOND RANGOON in which several Burmese are confronted by a soldier with a gun who is most likely going to kill them. One of the Burmese men approaches the soldier- whose gun is cocked and ready - and goes right up to him. He hugs the soldier. The soldier breaks down, throws off his helmet and gun and joins them. We all have that power, it's just a matter of how we choose to use it.

Last quote of the blog is from POGO: We have seen the enemy and it is us. I lied. That's too negative. I end with one from Mr. Shakespeare instead: "We are such stuff as dreams are made on."

1 comment:

Alison said...

Hey Carla,

Fantastic blog! Love the Joni Mitchell songs interspersed in the previous post!! And okay, okay, IK have a little buying things habit. It just crept up on me, I swear. All through my twenties I was Ms. Goodwill...

I love you, I love your perspective, and I want everyone to see your show!!! And they will!!!