Bread & Circuses

In Damned, Dangerous, Difficult, Persistent, Profound, Rain, Spring on April 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm

“… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses” ~  Juvenal, Satire X, 100 AD

Anyone who clings prayerfully to peace in their hearts in a seeming drought time of peace on this earth, may actually find more comfort and do more good in the tiny crevice in which you endeavor than trying to commune on the streets with any passing soul.   Every time I go the the White House, I come home almost worse off than before I went, to see how utterly few people really seem all that concerned about anything beyond themselves.  You can cultivate a greater sense unity and community by writing comments on a website.

No wonder President Obama seems so cut off from ordinary, suffering Americans.  They sure aren’t holding his feet to the fire.  We entirely do get the government we elected, and if we don’t elect to see beyond the tip of our noses, our politicians will return the favor by ignoring us every bit as equally.

The security apparatus in full force doing its job with humorless reserve and barely veiled contempt for any soul so brazen to dare express an opinion is but a tiny factor in the fear factor that reigns our land and peoples’ hearts, souls, and minds.  It is almost pitiful that they (the security guards, and the invisible creepy network crawling in all the ether of cyberspace), don’t get more challenge.   We, the people, are truly keeping their job completely boring.

People dutifully constrain eye contact to the ground, never daring to commit the sin of interacting with a non-corporate person, a merely breathing semblance of flesh, obviously incapable of achieving the only legitimate human personhood of  the Corporation.

You can follow the money in and out of any labyrinthine complex of killing you want, but the military complex monster feeds at  Simpson’s millions of teats, which are all military and not remotely maternal, while everyone goes about their narrow business with nary a  wrinkle in conscience.

We, the coalition of the willing at the noontime GDAMS (do love the acronym!)(http://demilitarize.org/), fueled poetry, beauty, wrath, and determination, but we did not seem to spark a glimmer of curiosity from the passer-bys and “ordinary” tourists who outnumbered us by the hundreds.  I sometimes have sympathy with the ranters on the Times site who get so angry at all the people who vote Republican, venting that their fellow Americans deserve to perish in the divide and conquer stew stirred by our politicians.

But, the important thing about being this disgusted by the inexcusable apathy of our populace is that the same level of apathy existed in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in nations across all the sands of time and history.

Small, dedicated coalitions of the willing met in cyberspace, met in public squares, to far greater oppression than the smug derision we meet here. They were, and still are, being beaten, tortured, imprisoned, and killed for daring to express a simple opinion. And Asmaa Mahfouz’s group suffered years of pitifully tiny protests, vastly outnumbered by scary, black-clad, masked military who seemed to have no law, either moral or man-made, keeping them in check before a genuinely loving, liberating sense of unfettered freedom bathed the country and spilled across the world in tangible waves.

The President, be it Obama or Bushes or Clintons, on further reflection, is utterly representative of and emblematic of a populace cowed by standardized testing. Standardized testing is the epitome of tyrannical control which dictates a narrow frame of a concept with equally narrow answers, and allows no possibilities for subtlety, contradiction, irony, metaphor, or poetry. If you don’t pass the test, you won’t get into the right college, and if you don’t get into the right college, forget about trying to shape opinion or be a leader anywhere in the world, not anywhere from your street corner to the remotest pixels of cyberspace. Never mind debunking the concept of right and wrong answers with heartfelt spectrums of the rainbow…

Don’t step up to the plate at the comment page, don’t throw a curve ball, don’t risk falling utterly flat on your face. Never mind that the test makers have no interest whether anyone passes or not. They just want to make sure as many people as possible get tested over and over again so that they can get their fees. In fact, testing could almost generate more money than bomb-making if they attain enough of a monopoly, because people can take tests over and over again, but they only get to die once. The education monopoly has its insider funnels going straight to the White House, as Sardonicky shows is feeding our military industrial complex.

What if you graduated from the best college in the world, but not a single soul voted for your comment? What if the dropout had 5,000 people agree with him? Pointing out that global military spending reached $1.6 trillion in 2010? While how much is spent on peace? What even qualifies as peace when everything from our farming to shelter to clothing to energy to consumerism is anything but peaceful, in every mercenary step of the way from assembly to sale? How hard is it to come up with even a softball critique when you can’t walk two steps into hypocrisy somewhere in this world?

This leveling of the information age is the most truly democratic in all its brutality and glory. And I find it impossible to read what I do about all the crazy ways of the world and not try to demand that our we are worthy of our politicians, and our politicians are worthy of us. Others gave up and went to monasteries. The President’s own sister works tirelessly for peace and few outside her circle hear her message. But at least that is one less bomb thrower in the world.

But if you look back at how big the protests were in the 60s, how much of it was because of the draft? A lot, I am told. Most people aren’t going to leave the shell of their immediate sphere, and by the time a threat is at their door, it is too late to protest.

So, pass the popcorn. The circus continues, and there’s a closer ringside seat in the commentariate than on the actual streets….

  1. You have a point. The demonstrations are feeble, futile and depressing, the pickets of the few ignored by the many. So we turn to the blogs, visited by the few, where the words are woven and rewoven into closet fugues that have no chance of ever breaking out. What’s to be done?

    OK, ignore the Dems and the Reps for starters, because what’s the difference? Found a third party, then? We already have a few of those, some with a plank I could support, but bottom line ignored like our brave picketers and witty bloggers. What’s to be done?

    The draft probably was the agent that moved us to the tipping point in the seventies — and slow it was in coming, even then. And yet the draft still lives. We have all been drafted, not just the male teens and twenties, into a march leading to serfdom. Few objections to this draft, in fact, many willing enlistees. What’s to be done?

    Even Mother Nature has put us on notice. The Lord’s rain falls on the good and the bad, alike, and so will global warming with all of its corollary upsets in the social fabric. Imagine the impatience of the scientists who sift those scary numbers day after day while noting the feeble, futile and depressing inaction all around them. What’s to be done?

    If it isn’t too late.


  2. I liked Mitch Snyder’s idea for _creative_ non-violence. Since we live in a hugely militaristic society, the status quo tends to push peaceful people into inaction…Mitch was super pro-active, but it was an uphill battle every step of the way. I even volunteered at the shelter in my teens, but even then, there were very, very few of us. It became dispiriting, and I left for college, only to hear years later he hung himself.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitch_Snyder) But that work made me more willing to branch out into all kinds of activities at school.
    So, if we each individually fall somewhere in between peaceful inaction, or peaceful transformation of society, we can write the blogs and commments we can, go to the protests we can, make the friends we can. We are part of the society we are indicting for inaction. It’s a day to day question of what, concretely, and creatively, we can do to create peace, right where we live, and for the larger world.

    I was just a little irritated this afternoon, but it’s good not to lose perspective about how important it is for peace to be every step for each of us. The people who were at the protest were THE BEST. Their hearts were really into it, they were sincere and generous. A handful of sincere and generous people really can transform the world…

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