The Random Rantings of a Madman which follow were submitted by a loyal Pappillon reader, with the request that they be published, though anonymously. Whilst we do not normally allow unattributed work here, in this case I am making an exception and I hope you'll support my decision, read on, and challenge yourself to address the issues that "Mr. X" raises in his commentary.
"I feel somewhat guilty that the events that took place in Texas yesterday [5 November 2009] neither surprise nor have much of an emotional effect on me. If anything, the only emption that I've been able to drudge up is surprise as to the number of people that are outraged.
It seems that there is a logical disconnect, in otherwise intelligent people, that I have a hard time understanding. They can see where "we" are at war with "them", and they believe that there is a justification for torture, bombing and killing as means to a greater moral end. But they are absolutely stunned that anyone opposing culture acts in similar ways, under similar rationalization.
Now please don't jump to the easy conclusion that support the murder of the people down in Texas, or that I find it in any way justifiable. Quite the opposite, I find it absolutely morally reprehensible and if I wasn't so emotionally exhausted by the last 8 years of horror I think I'd be devastated by the loss of life.
My purpose in writing this is to try find a better understanding of WHY this happened (happens). You see, I think this is our greatest failure as a country. Worse than "weapons of mass destruction", or worse than fucking up in Iraq, or worse than losing ground to the Taliban in Afghanistan, is that fact that - in our haste, and in the emotional confusion post 9/11, that we failed to discuss "why?" Instead, we permitted rage and thirst for retribution to trump logic and clear thought and, I believe, allowed those who would ultimately benefit from the tragedy to take even greater advantage of us.
We can predict what is going to happen, and what has already started to happen next. During the process of public analysis, a his will be parsed down to its most sensationalist detail. Families, friends, and FaceBook entries will be trotted out and poured over. Catch phrases and images will be drilled into our minds. Dem and GOPs will argue over who's fault it is, and pundits will analyze what this could possibly mean to the next election or piece of legislation. No one, however, will want to talk about why.
Why would someone choose to die? Why would someone choose to kill? What would drive an otherwise seemingly intelligent, capable, and rational person...who trained and worked and dedicated himself to helping other people, to dive off the precipice of so called "sanity" and randomly and summarily execute other living human beings?
Insanity, right? I mean - that's the standard answer, isn't it? I'm sure evidence of insanity will be shown to us by the "authorities" when convenient or necessary to do so. I'm sure that this is just another one of those anomalies. This is like the Unabomber, and Oklahoma City, and the Twin Towers, and the USS Cole, and the African Embassy Bombings, and so no and so on. These are just random anomalies in the system, right? Just crazy fanatics acting suddenly, unpredictably, and without provocation.
But when does that explanation cease to satisfy even the least critical of us?
At what point are we prepared, as a culture, to look beyond the simple and seemingly illogical explanations and search for the root causes of our national troubles (as manifested in attacks on America and "The American Way")?
I look to my Catholic friends and find men of science who believe unequivocally - and will attempt to convince you of the same - that bread and wine turn into actual flesh and blood. I look to my Christian friends who condemn the banking industry for our ills, but who then reach out to third world countries with mirco-financing programs (banking is banking, right?). I look to my atheist liberal friends and see them dismissing the moral authority of government only moments before they lead their troops into the battle for state-sanctioned marriage rights.
I don't even know what I don't know, but I can start with what I do know.
- We are good at selling things. Really good at it. There are people....businesses...corporations and entire industries dedicated to one thing and one thing only...getting YOU to buy their shit [Editor's Note: this opinion is of the author and the author alone - it does not represent the views of this website or any other contributor or commentator.]. This isn't' a secret; at this point its not even an embarrassment. Implausibly, this has become one of the very basic core beliefs of GOOD in our society. The good man, the good American, the successful person that we all admire and strive to be is the guy who can get MORE OF US to buy MORE OF HIS SHIT.
- Those concepts have been extended and integrated into the fabric of our society to the point that one doesn't even really need any shit to sell in order to be "successful." Fame, pride, ego, love, politics, and even religion are all out of the ether. That's perhaps one of the greatest coup's of all. Once we got really good at selling THINGS....once we realized which buttons to push, which emotions to manipulate, which innate desires to play upon....someone realized that sometimes that's just enough. Why bother with pet rocks when you can sell patriotism? You'll sure save a bundle on shipping. And with the age of electronic media and the internet, The Ether became The Ethernet - do you really think that was an accident?
- We also "know" that our success is based on growth. Stagflation, recession, "the worst economy in 50 years!" Right? Sure, we all have heating, houses, indoor plumbing, medicine, flat screen TV's, and The Internet, if you're reading this, while the greater portion of the world is working on clean drinking water. We have PROBLEMS-with-a-capital-"P" because we are not experiencing any GROWTH. Our economy needs to expand, markets need to grow, and our economy...our 401Ks....our safety and security depend on it. This we know. This is why banks can't fail. This is why, regardless of what we know about finance, we're as acutely aware of the Dow as we are the weather forecast. But this is also why war is measured in both the body count and economic cost/dollars spent.
- What else do we know? Well, we know that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle." WAIT, WTF?!?! Yes, we all know that blessed are the poor, and money is the root of all evil, and whatever other platitude of religious conviction that we know to be true out of a sense of religious indoctrination, but which we also know to be true because it is inherently true to our soul. But where in this world do we see those platitudes acted out. Where do we actually see dedication and obligation to family manifested? Likewise to religion, to community? Well, we do see it in the Amish community, peaceful and contrite [Editor's Note: Floyd Landis snark averted, since he wasn't Amish.]. We see it in the Shakers and Quakers, who have all but disappeared but for whom our laws allow exceptions. But we also saw it in the community in Texas last year who had families broken apart and children taken away based on charges that were never brought and information that was proven false. We saw it at WACO. We saw it at Ruby Ridge. Some would say that we saw it at Jonestown.
And what have we learned. What do we know? We sure as hell know that if you try and withdraw, that if you choose not to participate in corporate America, that if you prefer to choose your family and your faith over fashion and fast food, that you better be really fucking careful.
So we KNOW that we use a pervasive media and culture to indoctrinate ourselves into this ever growing, ever expanding cloud of commerce and success. We know that anything that gets in the way of that growth, whether it be religion, or stagflation, or closed markets, or bank failures, is a threat to our security - collectively and as individuals. And we know we're good at it....damn good at it. So God Bless America.
But despite this cynicism (or these truths that should make us cynics), we delude ourselves into believing that we will all get a fair shake. That somehow, the rich, powerful plutocrats who control the media, the corporations that finance the elections, the elite that fund the junkets and lobbyists and the payoffs and board seats.... that somehow those guys are looking our for US - for You and Me. We believe that they're AMERICANS! That they're on OUR side. We cling to the notion that our government, our companies, OUR banks, OUR elite, OUR politicians - no matter how corrupt and evil that we already assume they are - would NEVER consider trying to sell us a war based on making next months quarterly numbers, using the same tools they deploy to hock us Ipods and Sham-Wows.
That's the stuff that communist Russia did. That's the stuff the Nazi's did. That's the stuff that Hugo Chavez does. You see, OUR elite are immune from the temptation of absolute power. The Founding Fathers were talking about Kings and England's of a different time and a different place that is no longer relevant. And besides, even if the elite tried to pull the wool over our eyes again, we're too smart, too advanced, and have too much technology available to be fooled.
Errr...., I mean, since the Gulf of Tonkin, we've become too smart, too advanced, and have too much technology available to be fooled.
Do I have an answer? Sadly I don't. [Editor's Note: Shit.] Is there even an answer? Boy....I'm not sure. Right now, I drown my troubles in a steady diet of tortilla's and Corona, and I distract myself with sports and online porn. Is that enough? Usually. Now granted, there is often a nagging feeling that it's not, but after the shit I see on some days, even I start to pray that it will be enough to keep me from asking too many questions.
What causes an otherwise a otherwise rational man to shoot-up a waiting room? Maybe its better that I never find out.