We Are What We See: Accepting Responsibility for the Present State of American Politics

I recently picked up a book by accident, and though it seemed no accident that I’d spend the next 45 minutes reading while the MTA’s appointed Sherlock Holmes solved the mystery of who pulled the emergency brake, it really was just coincidence. The book, Dinty Moore’s Between Panic and Desire argues in a rambling fashion that perception, indisputably guided by our subconscious projections, has become so skewed that what we call reality in realtime, is little more than a pre-packaged get out of jail free card allowing us to look the other way.

So when we’re realistically speaking or selecting political candidates based on what we deem realistic, we’re essentially lost in our own worlds. That is, we’re not acting on our best interests because we see what we choose to see. And this, in turn, makes decisions at any capacity, difficult by nature and only easy when our actions and beliefs are aligned and go unquestioned. Because a lie is only a lie if you’re caught in it, right?

As I myself look the other way countless times, reaching into empty pockets with a sense of helplessness that drives one foot in front of the other, I confirm one of my greatest fears: We as humans might be taking the easy route — the path of ignorance — on purpose with our misguided realities falsely projecting onto everything in our destructive paths. However, it was the idea that our misinterpretation of, and assumption-driven responses to monumental happenings in our shared history have rendered us handicapped in the way of perception and comfortable dismissing what we cannot easily digest.

In other words: If you see something, don’t say anything or you might just find yourself involuntarily tangled up in others’ unwanted complexities.

But if you happen to come across a right or left wing biased article on Facebook, chastise any individual who dare challenge your views, log off, and declare your intention to move to Canada to anyone still listening.

Better yet, don’t vote at all, blame those who do, and write in your chosen candidate’s name on the ballot, whether or not he is nominated at all.

Back to the book, though. It outlines political and economic shifts that had acute cultural impacts on how we recall our own history. Undeniably, these impacts were so great that they altered the lenses in which we recieved the world around us. The Cold War left our nation paranoid, and our realities, when forced to come to terms with threats to our perceived safety, were shattered entirely. We traded our inflated hopes to achieve prosperous liveswith a new self-projected “realism” rooted in unsettling panic that we were no longer safe in our own homes.

The birth of television of course, was little help, with its information overload, spoon-fed to open mouths ready to accept anything the news declared as hard evidence that safety is a suede couch. The media is the media, but we’re all playing on the same team, Right? Until we’re not. And isn’t it about as coincidental as continuous conflict on Keeping Up With the Kardashians that over sixty years have passed and anytime we come across the local news, we take pleasure in knowing without really knowing. It’s 2016 and we’ve seen so many political scandals, missteps, and power-hungry presidential successors that waking up seems almost a chore best saved for tomorrow’s to-do list.

Chores, right? Why do them when someone else will, and who’s to blame if the shit piles up so high it hits the fan, right? Not your fan not your problem.

Here’s a question you can mindlessly answer: Do you recall ever smiling with joy while breezing through mindless chores, meant only to instill a sense of responsibility, or was it simply worth it to smile once rewarded? Wake up, America. I know you’re tired. This, of course, is a factor directly linked to the general disregard this nation has for our health, and this is a reality much better viewed from the perspective that we all live forever because we haven’t died today.

But you see, it is your problem. It’s our problem and the last time I tried to solve a problem it was a flat tire on I-95, 10 minutes into a two-hour road trip. My solution was driving manically, smoking my last cigarette and cursing any one I could think of for my carelessly leaving the driveway with a visibly struggling set of wheels. America, man, we try to run at the speed of light in the opposite direction of our present issues, with a taste for extremities that only goes to show we’re governed by such a broken system, that running from ourselves seems like the only answer.

Perhaps in a world where many political analysts predict a sudden death match between a woman and man who, aside from opposing party affiliations, are strikingly similar in their charmless, power-hungry quests for white house views. The 2016 election reminds me of all the girls in middle school who would call you their bffs unless you made the mistake of getting up from the lunch table to go to the bathroom or something. Then you’re just some bitch with a fugly hairstyle that spends too much time taking mirror pictures for Myspace. Ah, such is life with two faces. Sounds exhausting if nothing else.

But, exhausted or not, we find ourselves at a fragile point that will determine our collective growth or dissolution. Knowing this, empty arguments about the 1% and percentage of truthful consonants and vowels spewed rapid fire by presidential candidates seem less worthy of spotlight. Relevance lies in responsibility; remaining informed, taking a stance, and opting to forgo your morning chai latte on election day, but all of this requires you to shake of the daze allowing you to find comfort in blind ignorance.

I won’t fill up even more corners of the Internet with arguments as to why a racist, slandering, self-appointed king of the 1% might not be a positive shift in how we will come to perceive the world around us. As it is, I view a world in which the possibility of strong-arming individuals with a history of fighting losing battles with honesty, to be a desolate wasteland fit for kids who listened to parents’ warnings not to attend art school. If ever there was a “great” America worthy of nostalgic desire to return to, it was the nation before we removed the training wheels. With fleeting moments where hope was not a telling sign of a fool, but it fueled all who worked with innocent beliefs of goals attainable and trust that it was possible to reap the fruits of honest labor.

Rest easy knowing much of the world’s collective crises are less visible from behind designer sun glasses — that is, if you can rest at all at a time like this.

Living really is quite easy with eyes closed. And life would be a hell of a lot easier if bands were still making music like the Beatles.

This nation, even in times where our spirits mirrored the dark times following tragedy, has been forced to collectively experience history as one, and though we percieve it in entirely different manners, we must not let feelings of confusion guide our actions. We must not blindfold ourselves with the belief that we are not significant — a belief that serves as a crutch justifying the decision to watch Real World re-runs because it’s easier to digest a fake world and it makes for better dinner conversation than political views anyhow.

The most easily Googled statistics reveal how deeply rooted our fear of ourselves is. The belief in a world so cold and cruel only because we see it as so. In terms of percentages, 73% of eligible voters fail to see the reality of our nation’s ability to be both tragic and thriving, a fate we will ultimately endure collectively regardless of who’s responsible for gluing pennies on the teacher’s desk when she leaves the classroom. It seems like a big joke worthy of Saturday detention, but we can’t dismiss it as so. Because it’s not what it seems. It’s a growing threat to our future, and even the girl who ran the fastest mile in PE class is no match for reality as it exists. What we call reality is so skewed by our own projections that we now exist in a world more akin to my first bad trip than anything else.

Unable to comprehend the shifting world around me, people move about but I have no control. I cannot navigate a world that caves in as quickly as it expands with no regard to my need for control governed by time and space. In this moment, contentment is found only after throwing in the towel. Admitting defeat because I’d much rather watch The Apprentice than chip away at the surface of our nation’s possible futures. Now, drugs and politics are like apples and oranges, in the same fruit basket, one will never make the first move and introduce him self to the other. So they sit and passage of time lends to the inference that otherness must be combatted and just like that you’ve got the War On Drugs and the true reason behind the orange’s growing absence in fruit salads.

Interactions that require courage are best reserved for Tinder anyways.

Contemporary society is guarded by nature. We’ve inherited a defensive lens, shout out Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, because only the strong will survive to see the outcome of this presidential election. Strong, here, is not defined by your ability to post mindlessly on the Internet and call this your civil duty to be politically involved. It’s 2016 and I’m more frightened that not caring is in again and I’ve missed the boat. As if cutting my own bangs at the tail end of post-hardcore’s downfall wasn’t enough amidst the rising popularity of robot music. Only now, we’re not melodramatic degenerates confessing our deepest insecurities on AIM because we’re too busy sharing articles from The Onion without reading them.

We’re of the digital age, and we’ve got buttons to push and profile pictures that require routine maintenance.

Despite the trust issues thrust upon us, do remember one thing: Realistically (and I use this world at it’s most surface level) Democracy is not comprised of individuals with the option of participating in the whole. As fate and Fight Club will have it, you are not a unique snowflake, but you are not trash or crap either, and you most certainly aren’t the exception to the impact of collective experience as you may have been raised to believe.

I’m scared because the television doesn’t remind individuals of their value or pivotal role in the bigger picture. Of course not, because the inadequate feelings of longing for handcrafted fantasies change how you view the world, and they’re best watched in HD. They perpetuate the very defining poor practices of individualistic thinking: Televisions encourage indulgence, lack of awareness, and serve as a portal from existence in the present. Alan Watts wrote, “You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing,” but you’re just watching television so who really cares anyways? This world is shit the same way this world is an awe-inspiring blissful paradise, so long as you see it as so. This, of course, relies on your projection of these mindsets, schools of thinking capable of molding an entire culture’s way of thinking.

Amidst this sure shift in politics, culture, and time period- all determining our ability to see the light at all, even one glowing in plain sight offering hope at the end of the tunnel, why is it we so comfortable sitting alone in the dark? I guess you’re not to blame if you can’t be identified as the problem. Darkness is convenient in that sense, but darkness and light, well, they’re all relative and relatively interchangeable, depending on who you ask.

If only you knew you were a part of a whole, and not a singular entity existing apart from those who make up the whole around you. In a world where you can indulge limitlessly without participating or assuming responsibility beyond your individual point of view, blindness may as well be a couch fit for a king. And after decades of Disney classics, who wouldn’t aspire to be a Mufasa at the impressionable stage in which you find yourself a Simba?