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Posts Tagged ‘people i love’

…besides my heart. Because he is most definitely in charge of that. I love this man.

There’s yesterday’s 0p-ed, for example:

For a nation that can’t stop bragging about how great and powerful it is, we’ve become shockingly helpless in the face of the many challenges confronting us. Our can-do spirit was put on hold many moons ago, and here we are now unable to defeat the Taliban, or rein in the likes of BP and the biggest banks, or stop the oil gushing furiously from the bowels of earth like a warning from Hades about the hubris and ignorance that is threatening to destroy us.”

Then there were his insightful, prescient comments a week earlier:

The response of the Obama administration and the general public to this latest outrage at the hands of a giant, politically connected corporation has been embarrassingly tepid. We take our whippings in stride in this country. We behave as though there is nothing we can do about it.

The fact that 11 human beings were killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion (their bodies never found) has become, at best, an afterthought. BP counts its profits in the billions, and, therefore, it’s important. The 11 men working on the rig were no more important in the current American scheme of things than the oystermen losing their livelihoods along the gulf, or the wildlife doomed to die in an environment fouled by BP’s oil, or the waters that will be left unfit for ordinary families to swim and boat in.

This is the bitter reality of the American present, a period in which big business has cemented an unholy alliance with big government against the interests of ordinary Americans, who, of course, are the great majority of Americans. The great majority of Americans no longer matter.”

Bob Herbert manages, column after column, to beautifully (and sorrowfully) emphasize how the rights and well-being of the American people have been pummeled, mocked, ignored, and slowly crushed by the bloated, enormous, monstrous corporations. They’re not human beings, but they control the health and future of our people and planet infinitely more than any of us do as our democracy fades into a plutocracy. So I swoon a little bit (instead of weeping) as Bob Herbert, week after week, keeps the pressure on.  We all owe him not just our thanks that he points out how in a time of crises in the seas outside Gaza, in North Korea, in the Gulf, in our inner cities and in our air, we remain plagued by ineptitude and inaction. We owe him everything we can do to get out there ourselves, write letters ourselves, and do whatever little we who are not unemployed and broke can do to protest the slow and grim degeneration of the Republic into the Empire.

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Our President gives a speech tonight, blah blah blah. I’m watching it right now, and I gotta say, sorry Mr. President, but you have a real scene-stealer behind you.

I love this guy. I can’t even pay attention to what Obama is saying. I’ve heard it all before, but nothing changes. But there’s one thing that can still make me smile: Joe Biden. Watching him grin, clap, smirk, preen, swoon… I mean, really. He should have been the winker in that VP debate in ’08. Oh look, he winks too…

I think I should go back to paying attention… as in, adoring Joe, and wanting to pat Nancy on the head. She’s so earnest. I feel like she needs a little chirpy hug. Or one of Joe’s winks.

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Okay. So I am sort of a fan of Mandy Moore. As in, I inexplicably love her as a person despite, you know, not knowing her. Whatever, man.

mandymoore

I don’t know how it started. It wasn’t her early music, for sure. But I didn’t dislike her for it. I remember seeing her on tv from time to time and thinking to myself: “She seems like a sweetheart. I like this broad. I had better not tell anyone.” Of course, being myself, I told everyone. I went to see her films. I bought a cd. I listened to it occasionally. It was silly pop, but hey, I can make room for some of that in my life. So for years, unbeknownst to Ms. Moore herself, we shared a steady but slightly embarrassed relationship. I would get drunk and tell people I was a fan. I would go on lengthy talks about how I bet she was really cool to hang out with, and my theory that her earnestness might lead to her making a sort of decent album one day.  Friends had to listen me chat about how yeah, she did some cheesy movies, but she was always polite about it and self-deprecating and spoke about how she wanted to be a better artist. I would wake up in the morning and think: “Damn! I told people how I feel about Mandy again! I have to stop doing that!”

I need to point out that, despite my bizarre faith in Mandy Moore, I wasn’t under any illusions about some of the stuff she had done. I only saw the film How to Deal when my sister told me it was the most hilariously terrible film I would ever watch. She was right. Manos: the Hands of Fate and Troll II are certainly joyously bad, but much of the awfulness is because they are both (I don’t really know what to call them) sci-fi/fantasy/supposed horror films. They have a lot of room to be stupid. How to Deal tried to deal (ha!) with teen ‘problems’. Instead, Mandy Moore put her arms above her head at many points in the film, doing a weird swaying thing. I don’t know what it meant. God, Mandy, that swaying!! That fucking swaying, and those little turns!! Please, why, please, explain it to me. And! Alison Janey! I’m sad you were in that. Still.

Anyway, digression aside. Mandy Moore did things I wasn’t wild about, but I persisted in thinking she was going to do something pretty good one day. Then Mandy Moore did something which kinda broke my heart while also delighting me. She totally started dating Ryan Adams.

I Like This.

I Like This.

There were a whole lot of feelings I had about this. A) I love Ryan Adams. B) I like tall people. C) Mandy Moore seems like one of those really nice people who meets assholes and jerks and doesn’t feel a need to prove how morally superior she is to them, but just kinda smiles and makes the best of it. D) Does this mean Ryan is into dating tall people? Cos I’m as tall as she is. E) Why do I know how tall Mandy Moore is? F) Whatever, so I do. G) This is the only celebrity relationship I approve of. H) I hate celebrity relationships. I) I never want to know a single thing about their private relationship, because that is creepy J) All the same, I will feel devastated if they break up K) I probably shouldn’t live vicariously through this relationship L) Does this mean Mandy Moore will write a good album soon? M) I feel so proud of them both. Look at these two kids, growing up! N) I am getting old and sentimental.

Well, obviously a lot of those thoughts were silly (were they?) but L was actually rather on-point. Because this year she released Amanda Leigh, an album which is not bad. In fact, it is kind of okay. Okay to the point where I kinda listen to it more than occasionally. I wasn’t mad about Wild Hope. Wasn’t into that album of covers. I tried to like them because I could tell she was really trying to become a decent song-writer, but she wasn’t there yet.  On this new album though! There are some good songs on here!

‘Merrimack River’ is rather lovely. And ‘Pocket Philosopher’ is charming, holding itself back from unbearable perkiness. It makes me wanna restrain my own hyperness a bit and try to put some balanced rhythm in my walk. The album is pretty without being totally fucking boring. It’s not perfect, but it’s perfectly listenable. I still think she could benefit from going on-tour with Ryan Adams and getting really fucked up on stage every night, doing shots of whiskey and trying to figure out how to play the guitar while wobbling around. I feel that would be good for her as an artist. But that is probably why I am not a musician, and a poor blogger: because I like to have some beers and try to sing Ryan Adams songs before getting tired and watch Stella shorts. Still. Listen to me Mandy! Get drunk and tour the country! Yeah!!

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At last.

MichelleObama

The media’s coverage of Michelle Obama has been largely a depressing affair. Right when I was starting to be captivated by her intelligent and sharp speeches, the cable news networks had one of those moments they live for. Michelle Obama said something which they deemed unpatriotic and they proceeded to cover her statement with as much stereotyping, negativity, and general bullshit as possible. Far from using her provocative words as an opportunity to gain insight into the minds and hearts of people who are not wealthy old male WASPs, they fell back on their favorite games of demonizing, wilful misunderstanding, and engaging in outright racism while pretending they’ve somehow been victimized (see: Sonia Sotomayor). Her role in her husband’s campaign was drastically altered. I was completely depressed about how this interesting woman was being relegated to weird stories about her arms and the clothes she bought and which designer she was wearing etc etc: ugh argh curses.

So imagine my surprise when I began to read The Washington Post’s front-page article by Lois Romano about Michelle Obama on Thursday. I couldn’t believe it. Here was intelligent insight into the First Lady which was encouraging, refreshing, which was not about clothing! In fact, there were actual signs for optimism!

Although Obama’s job-approval ratings have soared, the first lady — a Harvard-educated lawyer — wasn’t satisfied with coasting. She is hiring a full-time speechwriter and has instructed her staff to think “strategically” so that every event has a purpose and a message.”

This sounds promising.

In the past couple of weeks, Obama has been more vocal about the specifics of the president’s health plan, and she will play a substantive role in promoting it. She will soon announce the creation of an advisory board to help military families. And she will be the face of the administration’s United We Serve, a summer-long national service program, which she launched on Monday. Even her social events have a message: She let congressional families know that before the annual White House barbecue today, the 500 guests are expected to show up at Fort McNair to stuff camp backpacks with goodies for the children of military personnel.”

Really? I am loving this.

…Obama wants to continue to offer opportunities to people like herself. She grew up in working-class South Chicago, in the shadow of one of the most elite private colleges in the country, the University of Chicago. Yet Obama recalls vividly that when she was a high school student hoping to rise above her circumstances, the university seemed far beyond her reach. She was determined this would not happen at the White House on her watch.

“No one there had ever reached out to say, ‘Hey, maybe there’s a place for you here,’ ” Johnston said. Obama has either visited or invited to the White House students from 30 Washington schools, and she was instrumental in developing the first White House summer internship program specifically for D.C. high school students.”

Are you kidding me? I can’t believe it. I’m surprised and angry it’s taken this long to involve DC kids with the White House, but I am beyond thrilled it’s happening.  And why is it? Because Michelle Obama is sensitive to people who aren’t able to go to elite private schools, to the people who live so close to so much wealth but do not share in it. This is getting inspirational.

“She also intentionally served a formal dinner to the nation’s governors on mismatched china — 28 years after Nancy Reagan famously complained because nothing matched and proceeded to spend $200,000 on a new set of Lenox.”

Oh, so you have a sense of humor too. Stop it, I feel dizzy with joy.

Obama tasked Rogers with ensuring that every social event has a populist component, as she did last week when Duke Ellington High School students attended workshops with jazz greats. Rogers said that the Obamas want to convey that coming to the White House is “just a home visit.” That’s why, she said, the first lady hugs so many people who walk through the doors. “You try to take the fear out of just the mere awe of walking through the gates.”

Fine, Michelle. Are you proud of yourself? You just want to live in the White House and do all these wonderful things and make sure “every social event has a populist component” and you don’t care if it makes me tear up? What if I can’t handle this? After years of living next to DC and watching wealthy elite families roll by, well, I just might not be ready for you to come in here and start trying to make the most famous residence in the nation accessible to the people. Have you thought about that? After eight years of people basically spitting in the face of the poor you come to town, and then one day there’s a  garden for DC students and then suddenly all White House events are supposed to include everyone… Where is the gradualism? How are we supposed to process all of your awesomeness? I want you to know, Michelle Obama, that if you keep this kinda shit up I might be all “Eleanor who?” soon, and that would make me feel bad for about two minutes. Then I will look at this picture of you gardening, just like Eleanor, and I will be swooning with adoration for the both of you.

Michelle. Being Awesome. As Usual.

Michelle. Being Awesome. As Usual.

I guess I’ll just try to live with having an incredible woman as our First Lady. A woman who, yes, is a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a lawyer, a woman who wears J. Crew and has nice arms and charms old Queens into hugging her. But she is also a seriously great human being who is actually using her power and voice to do good things for the people who need them the most. At last.

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On June 14, 2009 The Washington Post’s Book World ran a beautiful collection of memories/vignettes by Latin American author Eduardo Galeano. I imagine I would have been entranced by the piece regardless, but I was in the midst of reading Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America which meant I spilt a lot of things in my excitement. The essay is a lovely introduction to an author who I had never heard of until I read The Shock Doctrine a few months ago. I ordered it on-line right after finishing Naomi Klein; a few days later I discovered Barack Obama was given a copy of the famous yellow book by Hugo Chavez, and its popularity skyrocketed. Then Thom Hartmann, a favorite person of mine, reviewed said book for BuzzFlash. At that point I was getting pretty excited for my own copy to come.

For people who do not know much about Eduardo Galeano, as I knew nothing till recently, he is a political and historical writer/poet who hails from Uruguay and focuses largely on the history of the Americas and of the oppressed. He writes about the pillaging of his home continent and is able to say why this has happened, who has benefited, and why it is still happening. This has meant, since life is the way it is, that he’s had to flee for his life and live in exile more than once. Since Open Veins was published in 1971 he has continued to explore the history of Latin America and the world through his work. His most recent achievement, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone will be released this month.

eduardo-galeano

There are several aspects of Eduardo Galeano’s style which I find immensely appealing. The obvious is Galeano’s incredible storytelling skill, which is bound up with one of my favorite traits in an author: his interest in others. Pause for a moment. It’s assumed that writers simply must be interested in other people and the world, because what else is a story? This is absolutely false. A great many authors (just like a great many people everywhere) are interested entirely in Themselves, and their writings reflect this. No matter how they may turn a pretty phrase, no matter how stinging their hilarious sarcasm may be or how accurate their analysis of a certain situation is, they are primarily writing about Their moods, Their troubles, the wrongs They have suffered, the indifference/superiority They feel, how They cope with the world and get by. They are writing to be adored, to be seen as brilliant, but not because they are burnt up about the way things are or should be. I would call them the anti-Kurt Vonneguts. They are so unlike the man who could write absurdly and be sarcastic and tell the truth and feel complete compassion for our species while deploring the state we’re all in. That is the sort of author who really has something to say of value. The best writers, in my opinion, are writers who are passionately interested in what it means to be human, in how society and humanity work and fail, in the pain of being alive, the injustice, the loss… and have this anger at suffering actually mean something because they are passionate about celebrating life. Eduardo Galeano is this type of writer.

He is a man who sees people, who takes an utter interest in everyone around him. Unlike people who lock their doors when driving through a crummy neighborhood, Galeano is the kinda guy who would hop out and start asking questions and making friends. Unlike our mass media which is devoted to keeping its eye on the lives of the wealthy, Galeano does his best to yank our attention to how the conspicuous luxury at the top rests entirely on the backs of others. As I’ve read our major newspapers and magazines through our Great Recession I’ve been thoroughly sickened by the obsessive focus on our elites giving up a yoga listen here or a cruise there. Only recently did the lives of our worst off get any significant attention, and as usual it was up to Barbara Ehrenreich to provide that voice.

The United States is a country with some of the greatest extremes between the rich and the poor in the industrialized world at the same time as there is the greatest divide between the two in human history. Normal people who think of themselves as good have been taught to ignore poverty; if they see it they learn to blame the poor for not pulling themselves up. The media encourages this attitude and works to exacerbate it by shows, news programs, and articles which demonize the poor, the minorities. It becomes so easy to forget the existence of people who have lives unlike our own, and easier to forget about our culpability.

The segregation between NW and SE DC is tied in to our country’s tendency to threaten, oppress, bomb, and intervene in other countries. A man like Hugo Chavez becomes an easy target to demonize because we know so little of the lives of the people he represents. We take so little interest in the lives of others in our own communities, and then we pay even less attention to the lives of the dispossessed around the world who make our lifestyles possible. Our elites attack anyone who does not show subservience to our ideal lifestyle, they chant their mantras about letting the free market decide and accuse anyone who wants to do things differently as being an agitator, a communist, a real mixer. I don’t mean to say the US has never done any good anywhere. That’s baloney. But there have been some real crimes, and they have not been redressed; many are on-going. Oppression and wrong-doing are not things which only Happen in the Past because We Have Good Intentions and Are Different. Because of this we need to hear someone like Eduardo Galeano, who goes through the world telling us the stories of people we’ve refused to listen to.

The highlight of the stunning essay that was featured in The Post provides a heartbreaking example of what I’m talking about:

The Bolivian town of Llallagua lived from the mine, and in the mine its miners died. Deep in the shafts in the bowels of the mountains, they hunted veins of tin and lost, in a few short years, their lungs and their lives.

I spent some time there and made good friends.

The last night, we were drinking, my friends and I, singing laments and telling bad jokes till just before dawn.

When little time remained before the scream of the siren that would call them to work, my friends fell silent, all of them at once. Then one asked, or pleaded, or ordered: “And now, my brother, tell us about the sea.”

I was speechless.

They insisted: “Tell us. Tell us about the sea.”

It was the most difficult challenge in all my storytelling life. None of these miners would ever know the sea; each was doomed to die young. And I had no choice but to bring them the sea, the sea that was so far away, discovering words that could drench them to the bone.”

That is why Galeano is a great writer. More than that, it is why Galeano is a necessary writer. He brings to the forefront the voices of men we’ll never hear, a reality intertwined with ours, a reality we depend on, and yet is mostly unacknowledged. Celebrate Columbus Day and go to the mall. Yeah, he didn’t really discover anything and he enslaved, raped, and murdered the people of Hispaniola, but that’s not cheery. Let’s make that a side note in 9th grade history, explain “sadly slavery was acceptable back then”, talk about cultural relativism and point out that Columbus was only acting in the way his hierarchical, isolated, racist, sexist had taught him to behave, and move on. We won’t have to draw a connection between those crimes and how we ignore , rationalize and marginalize them, and then see how they relate to the crimes and injustices of today. The subtle dangers of such thinking are a huge threat. By not calling things by their name and denouncing them we can pretend they don’t exist and keep going to megastores because clothing and food just pop up here like that don’tchaknow?

I have never understood people who found history boring, or those who didn’t understand why I could never read enough. When I set out to college I just wanted to study history, literature, learn more about philosophy and religious history. How could people not want to spend time studying what human experience has taught us, and what is has not? How could anyone not want to commune with past minds, to see how others found our world? Do people not realize how neat it is we are here, existing? Maybe not, since a great many of them seem eager to shut their minds and hearts down with whatever they find as quickly as they can. Perhaps history books have focused too much on the winners, on analyzing how people have risen to power without asking why, on following a sequence of events without asking what they signify. Perhaps literature classes have too often asked their students to focus on the style of the writer, to monitor what themes and motifs are employed. I know I’ve been frustrated repeatedly by professors who kept wanting me to write about how Hemingway or Morrison were doing something when I just wanted to talk about why they were writing, what they wanted to tell people, what their purpose was for each book. For sure there are those who write conscious of the symbols they employ, who use repetition to reveal something quite meaningful. But to miss the forest for the trees is a great and often-repeated crime when teaching literature and history. The best wonder why, and so many don’t ask. Maybe they don’t want to have to live with the answer.

Eduardo Galeano is writing spectacularly beautiful books that bridge the gap between history and poetry/literature. This is heartening. He looks at the marginalized, the disposable people of the world, all the Surplus Humanity. He dignifies them, he makes them more than statistics of tragedies, or tools/means to perpetuate our lifestyles. He summons up the power of a real artist and uses it to step into the role of a prophet. He’s what I think of as a connector, a person who points to something here and something there and explains why it’s like that. This isn’t rewriting history, and it’s not empty art, but living words which seek to break the grip that this bland, drugged, sanitized worldview has on so many.

As he says so poignantly in  Days and Nights of Love and War (translated by Bobbye Ortiz):

“One writes out of a need to communicate and to commune with others, to denounce that which gives pain and to share that which gives happiness. One writes against one’s solitude and against the solitude of others. One assumes that literature transmits knowledge and affects the behavior and language of those who read…One writes, in reality, for the people whose luck or misfortune one identifies with – the hungry, the sleepless, the rebels, and the wretched of this earth – and the majority of them are illiterate….Our effectiveness depends on our capacity to be audacious and astute, clear and appealing. I would hope that we can create a language more fearless and beautiful than that used by conformist writers to greet the twilight.”

Those are meaningful words, those are ideas to remember when we talk about reality if we want to describe it with any relevance. Galeano reminds us that there are those who will never see the sea, and whether or not it’s fair, the facts of our very different lives are bound together. We don’t live in a vacuum; rather, our every move and every act is connected to everything else. Whether we like it or not that’s the way it is. If we recognize that perhaps we can work to make some real good happen and end some of the injustices around us. The worst crimes happen because we refuse to admit we are involved and turn inwards. Galeano challenges us to change the way we see things and one another, and live in not just our own small world but with everyone else too.

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A great but sad post on Joan and Richard Feynman.

Glenn Greenwald discusses Dan Froomkin’s dismissal from the Washington Post.

Aung San Suu Kyi celebrates her birthday in prison by sharing cake with the guards.

Well, that about sums up how I feel about that.

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1.) Pretty much everything.

chris hedges

Here’s a very brief introduction in case you’re unfamiliar with him. Chris Hedges was born in 1956 and began working as a war correspondent in 1983. He constantly worked in the wrong place at the wrong time, such as Sarajevo, El Salvador, Iraq, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Sudan, the Gaza Strip, Yemen, and Colombia, and that’s only the beginning. After decades of witnessing the horrors humanity is capable of he returned to America and went back to school. His writing shifted from covering the worst events in the world for papers like The New York Times to analyzing and (often) condemning the underlying system which creates such events.

He’s written some highly informative (and some very controversial) books: War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, and I Don’t Believe in Atheists (a book whose name alone caused a lot of people to go apeshit). He now writes a weekly column for the online magazine Truthdig. Before talking about why I admire his thinking so much, I think a few excerpts would be a good idea.

“Corporations have intruded into every facet of life. We eat corporate food. We buy corporate clothes. We drive corporate cars. We buy our vehicular fuel and our heating oil from corporations. We borrow from corporate banks. We invest our retirement savings with corporations. We are entertained, informed and branded by corporations. We work for corporations. The creation of a mercenary army, the privatization of public utilities and our disgusting for-profit health care system are all legacies of the corporate state. These corporations have no loyalty to America or the American worker. They are not tied to nation states. They are vampires.”

-From ‘Why I Am a Socialist’ 12/29/2008

Inverted totalitarianism, unlike classical totalitarianism, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. It purports to cherish democracy, patriotism and the Constitution while cynically manipulating internal levers to subvert and thwart democratic institutions. Political candidates are elected in popular votes by citizens, but they must raise staggering amounts of corporate funds to compete. They are beholden to armies of corporate lobbyists in Washington or state capitals who write the legislation. A corporate media controls nearly everything we read, watch or hear and imposes a bland uniformity of opinion or diverts us with trivia and celebrity gossip. In classical totalitarian regimes, such as Nazi fascism or Soviet communism, economics was subordinate to politics. “Under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true,” Wolin writes. “Economics dominates politics—and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness.”

-From ‘It’s Not Going to Be OK’ 2/2/2009

“Massive military spending in this country, climbing to nearly $1 trillion a year and consuming half of all discretionary spending, has a profound social cost. Bridges and levees collapse. Schools decay. Domestic manufacturing declines. Trillions in debts threaten the viability of the currency and the economy. The poor, the mentally ill, the sick and the unemployed are abandoned. Human suffering, including our own, is the price for victory.”

-From ‘The Disease of Permanent War’ 5/18/2009

“The consumer goods we amass, the status we seek in titles and positions, the ruthlessness we employ to advance our careers, the personal causes we champion, the money we covet and the houses we build and the cars we drive become our pathetic statements of being. They are squalid little monuments to our selves. The more we strive to amass power and possessions the more intolerant and anxious we become. Impulses and emotions, not thoughts but mass feelings, propel us forward. These impulses, carefully manipulated by a consumer society, see us intoxicated with patriotic fervor and a lust for war, a desire to vote for candidates who appeal to us emotionally or to buy this car or that brand. Politicians, advertisers, social scientists, television evangelists, the news media and the entertainment industry have learned what makes us respond. It works. None of us are immune. But when we act in their interests we are rarely acting in our own. The moral philosophies we have ignored, once a staple of a liberal arts education, are a check on the deluge. They call us toward mutual respect and self-sacrifice. They force us to confront the broad, disturbing questions about meaning and existence. And our callous refusal to heed these questions as a society allowed us to believe that unfettered capitalism and the free market were a force of nature, a decree passed down from the divine, the only route to prosperity and power. It turned out to be an idol, and like all idols it has now demanded its human sacrifice.”

-From “The False Idol of Unfettered Capitalism” 3/16/2009

I am a big fan of unpopular truths. Shouldn’t we all be? If something is true, if our logic says “this seems accurate” and yet our deeply in-grained prejudices and need to conform and be comforted jerk us away from it… still, the facts remain. Sometimes I get pretty upset after reading an article by Chris Hedges, like the most recent “The American Empire is Bankrupt.” Not exactly fun stuff. But it would be wrong to let my own discomfort get in the way of facts (or prophecies). Now, things in this country might not be as bad as he believes. It would be nice if they’re not really. But there is still a world out there where billions of people, billions, live lives of unimaginable poverty compared to my own. The things I like to believe can never happen to me have happened to them. What makes my own life so immune?

One of the most frustrating things about reading history books is how time and again a small group of people who are doing very well by their own standards are utterly convinced their way of life will last. Then it ends, and the whole process starts all over again. No one learns any lessons (as in, maybe we shouldn’t have such an unequal distribution of wealth; maybe we shouldn’t concentrate all the political power in the hands of one or two people; maybe we should stop making war; you know, the usual) and the whole cycle repeats itself. I love where I was born and sometimes I love how I’ve been able to live, but I know it’s won’t last. As it shouldn’t, because it’s based upon a rotten foundation.

The word ‘prophet’ has multiple meanings. When I use the word prophet I mean the voice in the wilderness, the Cassandra who is able to see what is coming and tries to warn people to prepare. Many prophets, like Jeremiah and Jesus, were social prophets. They looked at a deeply unjust society and tried to convince people to treat their fellow human beings with the utmost love and respect. They tried to convince people to acknowledge that there is a part in each of us that wants to possess, that wants to make things permanent and to hide from a world where ultimately everything must pass. It’s not a popular message with people who aren’t ready to hear it, so they’re usually killed as soon as someone gets around to it. Our culture has a created a media which is loud enough to drown such people out from the conversation.

Chris Hedges seems like a sort of prophet. He’s made himself live looking at what is uncomfortable and horrible, and he’s come home to ask all of us to change our lives. He wants us to not live by slogans, to care about what happens to one another and accept responsibility for that. It doesn’t always make for pleasant reading, it doesn’t stroke egos, and no one anywhere is right about absolutely everything. But his intentions are good, and his knowledge of the world greatly exceeds my own. He is a person worth listening to.

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