Don’t Be An Idiot, America
No hyperlinks. No pithy bull shit to distract you. Just a hot take on a fucked up year in a stupid-as-sin country filled by people about to make a catastrophic mistake.
Let me be frank: if I’ve done my job correctly, this little missive will include something to piss off everyone. I hope you’ll read it through if only because I’ve patiently listened to all of your bull shit this year. Some reciprocity would be nice.
We Americans have suddenly come to see ourselves as old and mature. We are, after all, the big boys on the block with the nukes and the diplomacy and the two World War championships and the trade deals and the movie studios and Chris Brown and the “brand.” I could write for days alone on the disparity between influence and wisdom, but we’ve other, more sinister shit to get into today.
We are not the sagacious elder sitting around the table of human affairs waiting to dole out golden advice. We are high school seniors — prickly adolescents who have confused the “American Century” and the 9/11 dust up over by the cafeteria for a profound midlife crisis ushering us into our golden years. We are hormonal and dumb with all the physical characteristics of adulthood and none of the perspective. None.
The Post-War era was nothing but our national pubescence and oh what a joy it was.
We grew in leaps and bounds into an awkwardness marked by a lack of self-control, mercurial confusion and strange, unpleasant odors emanating from our body-politic. We got punched in the face more than once. We hurt people we probably shouldn’t have in ways we won’t fully regret until much later. We saw ourselves as suave and debonair when really we were gangly demi-rapists trying desperately to fuck anything exuding the slightest aura of seduction. We pretended we understood philosophy and our place in history when our repertoire of accessible experience was barely significant enough to rate us as qualified to wipe our own asses.
Ike, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan: the names illicit all the mixed emotions of respect and loathing and begrudging thanks that we attach years after the fact to the beleaguered high school teachers who taught us everything we knew. Quietly they were just as fucked up, if not more, than any of us. At best they gave us a reality check. At worst they damaged us in irreparable ways.
There was Coach Bush and oddly-powerful Equipment Manager Cheney who taught us how to hate and shoot from the hip when the buzzer was running low against our cross town rivals. He helped us channel an ocean of fraught emotions into decisive, if stupid, actions that we could justify however we wanted because of that crude gymnasium ideology: “to the victor go the spoils.”
Then in Senior year we got an earful from Mr. Obama, our civics teacher, who spoke ever so eloquently. He pulled back the curtain on our Kafka-esque government, removed the scales from our eyes, showed us how things really worked, exposed us for the first time to rational cynicism.
Now it’s the day of graduation and we’re staring ourselves in the bathroom mirror and we don’t know what to think anymore, much less what to do, but we’re adults, right? So we grease up our hair and put on a cap and gown and go out on that stage and shake the principal’s hand and tell the world what we’re going to do with our lives.
I feel like the ghost of dipshits past, floating behind you. I’ve been here all year waiting for the perfect moment to scare some fucking sense into you all. The time has come.
So, please, let me read the constellation of ugly prophecies dotting our national shoulders like so many zits.
You are a lazy mother fucker, America. Intellectually, physically, emotionally — you are sinfully sloth like, a willing participant in a society built with machines and bricked in conventions designed so that you can do the least amount of work and still get by while absolving yourself of any spiritual guilt for the things done in the name of your comfort. The end goal of your life as it stands today is not justice or progress or the emancipation of humankind from bonds of mental slavery but an enduring catatonia of ambivalent oblivion spent staring into a fucking screen, idolizing a catalog of two-dimensional non-issues that exists completely outside the purview of relevance.
You cling to culture like an orphan drags her rag doll from foster home to foster home. It is your last, soiled reminder of what you think you were. You’d rather die at the stake than adapt or evolve because change is scary. So you guard the same tired shit as if it’s a precious, sacrosanct relic from the holy crusades of your ancestors when, in fact, it is a withered turd wrapped in butcher paper.
You jerk off to fantasies of bodies you will never conquer, but will spend your entire life chasing because something inside tells you that’s what will really make you happy. But that something is a lie seared on your soul by repeated viewings of desire pornography foisted on you by legions of pushers in Los Angeles and New York and Chicago who want nothing more than your lifelong compliance in a rat race of commodity consumption that ends with frustration and a pervasive feeling of emptiness.
You aspire to upward social mobility, because money does make things infinitely easier, but you haven’t had enough of it to know that it will not buy you happiness or enlightenment or peace. The more money you have, the more sleazy people will want things from you and then you have no authentic relationships with other living beings, just parasitic interactions that hurt your insides so much you have to temporarily anesthetize yourself with a third home or a boat or a trip or a jaunt on Rodeo Drive. But the pain keeps coming back and will never stop.
You may just be lucky or conniving enough to do what it takes and dick over hundreds if not thousands if not tens of thousands of other human beings in a now global chain of Machiavelli-adjacent market causality built to satisfy your greed pharmacology. More likely than not, your mobility will be retrograde. Maybe you’ll get dicked over for college acceptance or a promotion and you’ll blame a minority or “political correct” libtard culture or uniformly sinister cabals of corporate shills for gutting the middle class with no ability to acknowledge that the sacred cow of bedrock American prosperity was cleaved away from both sides. Middle class wealth and opportunity got sucked up in the name of a failed welfare state and an astoundingly foolish faith that the exponential growth of corporate profits would sustain an entire nation from the frothy top on down. You will not admit that members of every political party, race, creed, gender or sexual identity joyfully played their part in that ceremonial slaughter.
Whether or not you get rich and slimy or poor and afraid, you will feel threatened by everything. Because the thought of changing in any significant way is anathema to anyone raised in the womblike comfort of false supremacy. It will always be someone else’s fault.
You would rather belittle the gun-toting, oath-swearing, Alex Jones © Iodine Pill chomping, tea-bagger for their foolishness instead of wondering what historical process left these people armed and perilously behind the evolutionary power curve. You’ll laugh at their paranoia, but maybe later you’ll understand that people who once felt secure in their country and now feel outright terror for their future are a phenomenon we should all be alarmed about.
Or, alternately, you will see strong African-Americans on television and you will call them “ungrateful traitors” and “thugs” when what you really mean is “nigger,” which is deeply ironic because that hateful pejorative is racial shorthand for “subservient, ignorant, uneducated, docile and possessed.” In the wee hours of the night, you will awake with an aching in your white heart churning with the knowledge that the “n-word” is now a blanket term for social bottom-feeders of all races including you and your moon-faced children.
Under all of this strain you will grow dependent on one of three master drugs that influence our society: alcohol, prescription opioids or religion. The latter being the most dangerous because you will mistake your piety for righteousness. Ours, after all, is a Christian nation favored by God himself. Or so you will tell yourself, because it’s your only hope at achieving stability in this life or the next. You will become a sheep in the flock of some higher power whether it be distilled, synthesized from poppies or preached. You will suck down the fallow seed of momentary euphoria or fickle grace without any appreciation that it is a tool used to coerce your participation in imperial ambitions. The fruits of which you will never taste. Maybe you’ll ask yourself, “did Christ save Rome?” Maybe not.
You will dicker in air-conditioned kitchens and nuclear-power illuminated bar rooms about what sort of sexual expression is natural. You will stoutly refuse to surrender your gun because of a sense of entitlement, but your morality will make you feel queasy about a woman seeking a similar liberty to make her own reproductive choices. You will extol the virtues of planet earth from behind a computer screen where your careful isolation deprives you of the essential lesson of nature: we are insignificant, one and all.
You will nostalgize the infinite length, depth and breadth of history via works of three hundred page historical fiction or two hour long, flag-waving war films without any acknowledgement that the past was equally confusing and fucked and what we know of it has been irreparably swayed by a procession of institutional power.
Maybe you will drastically part from your generation and bury yourself in a blind study of the past, seeking to steer your nation back towards a promised land that never-existed in the first place and can never be duplicated.
Perhaps, you’ll give it all up one day and live in the woods in symbolic protest to the machinations of the world around you. Eventually that world will encroach on you and destroy you and you will be heartbroken because you always thought you alone could make a difference in that promised land.
You will inevitably view your own life the same way the ancients saw this planet — flat, impossibly broad and at the center of the universe. When, in all actuality, it is perpetually curving away from itself in limited space that is no less marvelous or surprise-prone for being one of twelve billion like it that have ever existed.
You are not special in your letterman jacket. You are not experienced enough to make definitive, life-changing decisions. You are bound to the impossible task of making all the right calls and getting a “W” for the team when life is dutifully prepared to give you loss after loss. Your ego is an eggshell that will be cracked time and time again. The big question is whether you’re going to make a succulent omelette with the mess or cry like a little sucker bitch over a fantasy of the perfect life you wanted.
We’re less than two months away from the first defining trial of our national adulthood. We can all agree that the world is fucked and we’re going to see some real shit here in our lifetimes. We’ve got hard decisions to make and much work to be done if we’re ever going to buck the nightmare that haunts our collective future.
A little maturity will go a long way. Choose wisely.
Voting for Hillary Clinton is like going to a shitty college to study something your pops studied even though you know definitively that you do not want his life.
Voting for Donald Trump is like passing on college to go smoke meth behind the field house with that kid from shop class who sells oregano to freshmen and calls it weed.
With one, you’re kowtowing to a status quo of debt and rote banality that just can’t be allowed to perpetuate itself anymore. The hope is that a few short years of study and introspection and growth, you’ll be in a better place to make intelligent, rational decisions about the course of your life moving forward. Which is not to say you wont still have a total lapse of judgement and start smoking meth.
With the other, you’re basically saying your infantile emotions got the best of you, so you’re going to go shut off for a while with some loud-mouthed braggarts, liars and thieves in a dead end scene that robs you of your future while irreparably atrophying your brain and destroying what respect your peers and family once had for you. Oh, you’ll think about your future alright. Unfortunately, the choices you have will be limited to getting pounded in the ass or the mouth by your new bunkmate and cell-block master, Vlad.
Don’t be an idiot, America.
The solution to 1984 is getting off your dumb ass, turning off the TV, reassessing your absolute needs and taking the time to write another book.
Do. Not. Be. An. Idiot.