Pinpointing the causes of a nation’s decline is not always easy. Picking the moment when it started going down is even more difficult. Perhaps the major difficulty in both of these cases is that everyone has an opinion and a lot of the most powerful and forceful opinions are coming from agents of the decline who may well opine that it is not in decline at all. I can’t believe I wrote that last sentence AND left it in. Possibly that is an example of my own individual decline or some latent desire to write a Broadway musical, but I digress.
Some might say that a bad government came out of nowhere and hijacked the nation and rode it into the ground. You could make that argument; America has never seen a government like this. Some might say it is a cultural thing, exemplified by the fact that two thirds of the nation is overweight or obese. You could make that argument. Some might say it was caused by turning away from the official text of the doctrine of the God that watches over them. A lot of people would argue that. Some might say this and some might say that. Some might say that agents of a foreign power caused the condition.
Yadda, yadda this and... yadda, yadda that. Down it goes no matter what anyone says. Maybe it’s a natural phenomenon similar to autumn; brown, dead leaves falling, stark trees and hard winds coming. Maybe that’s what all that excess flesh is for; to protect you against the pending, cold winter.
You would have to be pretty dense not to see the persistent and incremental loss of basic freedoms. You’d have to be dense or distracted not to notice the blatant, justifying lies; the manufactured boogeymen, the atmosphere of impending terror and all of the reflex actions taken by the government for... your own good. What kept you nailed in your seat while the ship went down? Was there something good on TV? Had you fallen and been unable to get up without the help of a winch? Was it bread and circuses? Was it the fear of being singled out and censured by the rest of the crowd? Did they call you Chicken Little?
Maybe another illustration would be more helpful. How do people become slaves? How are they placed into the position where they can be enslaved and trafficked by whoever is playing that role? I’ll wager that you become a slave when you cease to be your own master. You become a slave when your higher ideals are discarded for the benefit of your lower appetites and when superstition prevails over reason.
Was it fear, stupidity or hunger than kept you locked in the house and nailed in your seat? Does it matter once the chains go on? It matters only if you get a chance to regain your freedom. In that case it’s always good to know what the mistakes were that you made; if you get the chance... if you get the chance.
The Constitution and The Preamble and The Bill of Rights were based on observations made concerning the past. The authors knew about the dangers that could threaten a nation. Everything they wrote down was put there for a reason and all of it was based on events that had happened before. These documents were created as a protection against these events. Over the course of time quite a few examples of these dangers reared their ugly heads in many places around the world. Generations of Americans agreed that they had a good thing going.
You can look at it two ways. You can subscribe to the concept of ‘the barbarians at the gate’ or the ‘danger from within’. Over the course of history both of these have acted out many times in other lands. America has had to deal with both conditions; the threat- whether it ever got that far or not- of foreign invasion, as well as the assault on national interests abroad and internal problems of large magnitude; the Civil War, Joe McCarthy, the Nixon White House and the present Bush administration. It was America’s charters, her documents and laws that protected her. It was the checks and balances of her system that, intended for the common good, always brought her back to the center. Well, as Yeats once said, “Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.” Is that what is happening now?
In order for America to go down, they have to compromise her charters, annotate her documents and change her laws. You need a really good reason to do this. To enslave a people in a democracy you have to get rid of the democracy first. You have to frighten the people about foreign enemies and internal dangers to the point where they will let you get rid of their democracy. Most people, given a moment to think about it will choose to live on their knees as opposed to dying on their feet (that is human nature), at least for the moment- and then you can change something else and then ask them again and then change something else. That’s how it gets done.
You don’t dismantle a country in a few days. There is so much that is involved in the process. You’ve got to weaken it here and weaken it there. At a certain point it will still be standing. It will look like it always did and then all you got to do is pull out this thing here and... fascinating to watch it all slip away and come tumbling down... just like controlled demolition.
There are some interesting comments to this blog entry that relate to fungus growths and mushrooms.
Scroll down to number five and begin reading. Fairly engrossing stuff; something to think about. There’s a lot of hope there and it may be all we have to hope for given the long and accelerating, greased slide- down the behavioral sink.
It’s not the government that takes your freedom. You give it up. You cut a deal. You make a tradeoff. Are they gaming the system? Of course they are. Have they got control of the media and the armed forces and the police? Sure. Is it over before it’s over? No. No it is not.
The same force that inspired your documents and charters lives in you today. You may have a problem finding it right off. After all, you’ve piled a lot of crap on top of it and being as it is a fire like the one symbolized by the torch carried by that lady in the harbor, when it burns crap, it smokes. You’re going to have to clear away the crap and you’re going to have to feed that fire with some other things you may not have seen in a while. You’re going to have to look for these things; these virtues and ideals that you misplaced or replaced with something you found more flexible for your fancies and appetites.
When you find these things you are going to be able to see a little more clearly. First off, the smoke will have dissipated and secondly these things are going to help; these ideals and virtues have that capacity to help you see better; to think and feel with more precision. You’ve got to find your way back to who you are. You’ve got to remember what was important to you. One of the unfortunate things about losing something is that after awhile you forget it was ever there.
We have the power to change the world. Look at the impact a single individual has made in the past. Look at the inspiring tales of our heroes and legends. Look at the desperate times in which they labored and what they were up against. Despite the terrible conditions, despite the enormous bloodshed, history is filled with tales of courage and triumph. There are a lot of good examples. How are you doing with that at the moment?
You might have to change yourself first but you CAN change the world. Just a handful of people forged this nation and look where it went. Think about it. Think about what you might do if you decide not to slide down that sink. Ask yourself what is most important to you. What are the things you could not bear to lose? I’ll wager that if you are a real human being that your life is not first on the list.
'I Am Alive' is track no. 8 of 12 on Visible's 2007 album 'Almost A Capella'
Lyrics (pops up)