ARE YOU THE MAKER OR THE TOOL?
by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Believe me, I know it's hard. The Bush Administration says that all detainees at Guantanamo Bay and in U.S. military custody everywhere are - suddenly! - entitled to protections under the Geneva Conventions and you can't help wanting to scream, "Where were you five years ago, before the whole world starting hating us and the U.S. Supreme Court said you weren't above the law. Were you power-drunk?"
Anger and frustration I can understand, but lately, the tenor of my mail has become increasingly disturbing in a brand new way. People have given up. It's making me think a lot about nihilism - a belief that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless.
Why support good candidates? Everyone is corrupt. Why believe what you read in the newspapers? The press are the lapdogs of the Administration. Why vote? The elections are rigged anyway.
Why try to protect the environment? The government is promoting coal and nuclear power while polar bears drown because they're running out of ice to stand on.
Why tell truth to power? The rich and powerful don't care what you think. Why maintain the illusion that telling the truth to the people will make them demand good government? The people are fat and lazy and drugged on television.
"I just don't see the point of the Bush-bashing and cleverly written essays that make some folks feel good, but come the next election(s), even if you win (by default), your party will continue what the other started: murdering and looting - and there will be nothing you can do - again," said one recent letter. "Drive your Chevy or drive your Subaru - they both deliver you to the same destination... . Money and guns are the reality. We've totally lost control of humanity's greatest promise, America. And its citizens are merely slaves."
The reality is money, guns and oil, but you get the point.
In the Summer 2006 issue of "Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures," I found an article by David Korten of the Positive Futures Network which spells out certain myths, or stories, with which for 5,000 years "the ruling class" has been snowing the general populace in order to further their goals of empire.
The stories are:
Do they sound familiar? I can't vouch for the 5,000 years, but these stories, or myths, certainly help illuminate the Kool Aid that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick "Empires 'R' Us" Cheney have drunk to the depths of whatever passes for their souls.
Korten, however, is an optimist. He believes that ordinary people can change the stories. He calls it "The Great Turning."
"A global awakening to the higher levels of human consciousness is already underway," he writes. "This awakening is driven in part by a communications revolution that defies elite censorship and is breaking down the geographical barriers to intercultural exchange."
His examples of change, in chronological order, are the crumbling of the Roman Empire, the creation of United Nations, civil rights, feminism, the space program, the Internet, and the millions and millions of people around the globe who took to the streets in 2003 to protest the American invasion of Iraq.
Is Korten just drinking a different kind of Kool Aid? As someone who remembers the Sixties and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius - "Harmony and understanding/Sympathy and trust abounding/No more falsehoods or derisions ... And the mind's true liberation/Aquarius! Aquarius!" - I am justifiably wary. Back then, instead of peace we got the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, continuous warfare, Richard Nixon and, okay, one catchy song from a so-so musical called "Hair."
I may be cynical, but I refuse to jump over the fence into nihilism. Even if the deck is monumentally stacked against us, I cannot live a life without hope.
Whether we are fighting against slavery or child prostitution or war or genocide, or nuclear power or the death penalty or genetically modified seeds, or fighting for social, political or moral justice - and the outrages have multiplied so exponentially that it's impossible to fight them all - I believe we have to figitical or moral justice - and the outrages have multiplied so exponentially tthat it's impossible to fight them all - I believe we have to fight.
We have to work to enrich the lives of our fellow men. We have to be the maker, not the tool, the hammer, not the nail.
Otherwise, we're just sleepy sheep in the narcotic meadow of nihilism, where nothing ever matters and it's certain that nothing will ever change.
AR Correspondent Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who writes about culture, politics, business and economics. Write her at email@example.com.