Coming Unglued Will Not Help Us Get Unstuck

Miner Problems, Major Paralysis – Published on Dissident Voice, by James McEnteer, Sept. 25, 2010.

… We are stuck with a militaristic foreign policy. We pursue global military dominance as our tattered social safety nets fail to relieve the desperate conditions millions of our citizens must now endure. We are stuck with an unworkable capitalist model. But the tiny percentage of the ultra-wealthy who control our media and our government like it this way. They’re doing better despite the widespread suffering. To consider another economic system is Unimaginable! UnAmerican! Our dysfunctional “freedom from government” is tops in the world. No? 

Nobody – rich or poor – wants to pay taxes so public services are deteriorating and disappearing. Our roads are bad. Our schools are worse. Our libraries and police departments are underfunded. Occasional acts of billionaire noblesse oblige – Zuckerberg donates to Newark! Gates pledges billions against AIDS! – make headlines and substitute for sustainable public policy planning. California spends more for prisons than for education. That’s criminal.

The State of Virginia recently executed a retarded woman, though hundreds of studies show the death penalty does not deter capital crime. On the contrary, state sanctioned murder only adds to the climate of violence in our country. But God help anyone (except He won’t!) who dares challenge the right of citizens to carry concealed assault weapons in church.

No mass rebellion is likely. We are too wired up to act. Oldies watch the CBS Evening News. Kids are plugged into Play Station. Everyone in between is attached to their Blackberries, I-phones and myriad digital doodads. Recent research shows that unless you unhook from your techno-fix sometimes you cannot process the information you’re receiving. We are too addicted to our gizmos to understand or evaluate what we know.

Even adults like to believe there must be some responsible person somewhere who can clear up traffic jams, rescue lost miners or attend in a rational way to the disappearing American middle class. But as our shrill, primitive political rhetoric demonstrates, nobody wants to be the grownup in America. Public officials and political players prefer to point fingers and call each other names than to grapple with problems in an honest, pragmatic way.

That’s much easier of course, though utterly unhelpful. Coming unglued will not help us get unstuck. If our species goes the way of the dinosaurs it will be because we failed to grow up. Christine O’Donnell may be right about evolution after all.

None of our problems is inevitable. But we show no sign of gearing up to liberate ourselves from any of them. Instead we double down, hoping to grab what we can before the whole show folds, which all but guarantees that fold it will. Our fate resembles that of the trapped Chilean miners, forced to endure a long, excruciating survey of their potential demise. Is this our grave we see before us? Except no one is coming to save us. It’s up to us. So if you feel moved to pray for those trapped miners, you might also spare a few words for the rest of us. (full text).

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