Them that’s got, shall get
them that’s not, shall lose
so the Bible said, and it still is news
mama may have, and papa may have
God bless’ the child,
that’s got his own, that’s got his own
– Billie Holiday, (God Bless The Child)
It’s funny how we build thoughts into ideas, concepts into crusades, mole hills into mountains, and pet peeves into perversions. We preach, we scorn, we rave and we rant. We stand on our soap boxes and express our outrage, spitting bile and brimstone in indignation at the very core ideas we embraced long ago, even those that have become part and parcel of what we call ‘humanity’.
For example, this past week we once again had the displeasure of experiencing another Black Friday, an appalling and dehumanizing ritual of consumerism promoted by ‘Big Business’ in the name of the almighty dollar. I’m not sure when this much-anticipated annual display of commercial beastliness became popularized, but it’s certainly become just another symbol of the decline of American ‘values‘ … and I don’t mean the Republican kind. It’s a perverse version of the ‘running of the bulls’ in which the ‘tall and the small’ get to displace their sanity and civility in the name of lethal consumerism. This year’s theme, by the way, was pepper spray.
The ensuing chaos, reminds of the Star Trek episode, The Return of the Archons, in which the crew visits a dystopian world in which a normally ordered and obviously controlled society descends into chaos during an appointed ‘Red Hour’, also known as the ‘Festival’. The residents perpetrate acts of violence and aggression against each other under the rationale that the annual ‘blowing off of steam’ will keep their animal tendencies at bay for the rest of the year.
My concern has always been that in our rush to convenience and the illusion of wealth, we’ve given up our humanity and have passed our day to day autonomy over our minds to ‘big business’. Like the society in the aforementioned Star Trek episode, we have become mindless automatons desiring to be controlled. Unfortunately, we have no all-powerful being, computer or otherwise, that benevolently manipulates us. No, we are left to the ministrations of the heads of ‘big business’, their commercial interests foremost on their agendas. Sounds ridiculous? Well, what’s ridiculous is how painful it is to live under the illusion that we have ‘free choice’ when even a few minutes of watching TV can send us off scampering for the ‘golden arches’ to satisfy a seemingly insatiable ‘need’ for a McRib that suddenly popped into our consciousness during a 30-second McDonald’s advertisement. Yeah, “I’m Loving It”- NOT.
Fingers point in consternation, though rarely at our own reflection. And, then there are the zealots, the disgruntled, the disenfranchised, and the ‘have nots’… Confused? Just wait because this blog is currently OCCUPIED:
Somewhere Nowhere Near Zuccotti Park
Judas: It’s all too easy to sit back, enjoy the show and continue to consume and live in denial that we have any real control of what our nation has become. Show me the money, indeed! That’s why we need to Occupy Wall Street.
Simon: Yeah, well I’m all for it. I mean, things have gotten so bad over there. They’re bleeding us dry and for way to long we’ve stood idly by, lost in our consuming frenzy to even notice that they no longer serve our interests. Sure it’s alway been about money, but I mean, Christ, it’s like I can’t even afford a Big Mac these days!
Judas: Yes, it does rather seem that … well, for a lack of better term, their ‘humanity’ has been lost. It’s about greed these days, you see. The system is rife with it. Corporations, even entire industries, thrive on it. It’s not even about the ‘bottom line’ anymore; it’s about unchecked growth … wild growth that threatens to pervade all that was once holy to us as a nation. It’s a cancer on our society and we’ve allowed it to spread to every fiber of our existence. The ‘system’ is beyond broken.
Simon: Yes! That’s exactly what I told’em. I mean, why is it so hard to understand it’s broke? I mean, Jesus, I ordered a strawberry shake and I expected to get a strawberry shake … not a vanilla shake with some strawberry syrup congealing at the bottom.
Judas: You can call it ‘Big Business’ or ‘Corporate America’, but whatever you call it, it’s just gotten too big for its britches. At some point, and at least I hope this is still possible, it all has to come tumbling down. It’s become a self-serving entity that no longer serves our interests as it was meant to. It has become sullied with thieves and liars!
Simon: Yeah, and then I’m told, “Oh, it’s a strawberry shake. You ordered a strawberry shake, didn’t you?” Like I’m some idiot who doesn’t know the difference between pink and white, or friggin’ strawberry from vanilla! This she says staring at me straight-faced, like this is a poker game or something. I mean you tell me, is that why I go there, to be treated like an idiot?
Judas: But we’re all idiots, because while we were in such a rush for convenience and apathy, we allowed these ‘banksters’ to take over. We gave them the power and we trusted them. Lord, we built an entire so-called ‘corporate culture’ around them!
Simon: Yeah, I mean self-service would be an improvement over what you get there. Do you really think that pimply kid wearing a hair net and scratching his butt is there to serve the customer? Hell no! If he had concentrated on studying in school even half as much as he did on slacking off, he’d might have a real job.
Judas: The problem is not just that the concentration of wealth rests with 1 percent of income earners, it’s that the rest of us, the 99 percent, end up having to pay for their indiscretions. It makes no sense!
Simon: 99 cents? You’re kidding, right? Do you know what you can get these days for 99 cents? Four chicken McNuggets. That’s like a quarter a piece. Now, am I the only one that thinks that’s insane?
Judas: Yes, we may be in the minority, but this occupation may yet prove to be a game of chicken that will decide the very fate of our society. It’s a fight we need to take to every corner on every street in every financial distract of where bankers and stock brokers taint our economy and derail our society.
Simon: Sure, and it’s like in every neighborhood there’s one, filled with slackers who don’t know a ‘yes, sir’ from a ‘yes, ma’am’. And, they’re standing there asking you, “um like do you want fries with that, mister?” – while all I asked for was a cup of water, and a little customer service, you know? Oh, and one ketchup packet? What the hell is that?
Judas: The elite and the influential are also to blame. Fine. They don’t like socialism, I get it. They don’t want their wealth redistributed. They don’t want someone digging into their deep pockets. Well, neither do we!
Simon: So eventually I get my order and the fries are cold. So I say “hey, like these have been sitting there in that greasy bin for like 10 minutes. Do you mind giving me some fresh ones?” But instead of “no problem, sir” I get gum snapping and “do you want me to get the manager or what?”
Judas: Ah yes, the ‘powers that be’ that bend to the whims of the 1 percent. Good luck! The rest of us, the 99 percent, have no say, no voice, no representation. Decisions are made for us in our best interest like we are some idiots. Who knows, maybe we are for giving up the privilege of thinking for ourselves.