Monday, June 29, 2009

Celebrity Deaths and The Realm of Petty and Shallow Minds

It's been one of those strange weeks when the dark and slimy side of human existence struggles for dominance in the world of chit chat. No where has this been more apparent than with the death of Michael Jackson. His dual existence of musician and depraved degenerate has exposed most of the world as no more evolved than some malicious nasty ladies sewing circle that meets once a week to spread lies, untruths, juicy rumors, innuendos, and vendettas disguised as truth.

I've spent some time this last week trying to figure out how we got to this low point in human existence and as far as I can tell by the most cursory of reading, society has always spoken ill of those not physically in their presence. It's always thrived on the nasty little rumor that requires whispered embellishments and embroidered lies to make it more interesting, more valid somehow. Throughout time it was never enough to merely have a lover, but to make it interesting one had to have a lover that was bad for you, or married to someone else, or simply so precious that everyone coveted him or her enough to make up nasty lies out of jealousy and spite.

No matter what the excuse, such malicious gossip is still the realm of  shallow and petty minds. It was once confined to the most isolated and inbred of small towns and communities, but in the last couple decades, it has taken the place of real news, investigative journalism, and politics that feeds on  the insignificant  crap that appeals to the lowest common voter.

Where it went really crazy was with the Clinton presidency. There was and still is a group of small-minded power hungry thugs that just couldn't accept their candidate lost so they resorted to the last refuge of small minds everywhere: they made the bedroom a public arena. They spread semi-truths and innuendos. They wasted taxpayer dollars and precious government resources better spent doing things for the people instead of feeding a demented sewing circle of vicious little gossips.

From this peeping tom sickness grew the obsession with same-sex relationships, other people's marital affairs, petty habits, strange societal quirks that didn't directly affect those most concerned about them, financial scandals that were once the private business of the consumer and his or her banker, and a compulsive and sick desire to deify anyone who was anything near celebrity status because if there's one thing gossip does well is expose the boring lives most people live--lives so tedious they have to go outside themselves for anything remotely entertaining to talk about.

And on a societal level, the more one group trashed another group, the smaller their ability became to converse about anything more profound than who was doing whom. Characters on sitcoms became more interesting than the people in real life. At no time did this become more evident than when I spent a couple months on a temporary job. Every day my co-workers would gossip in great and delighted malicious gossip about the minute details of some people's lives that I didn't know. It amazed me that everyone knew these people, that everyone had something "juicy" to contribute to the details being discussed. I didn't realize the people they were talking about as if they were longtime friends they grew up with, married, dated, buried, and moved away from didn't exist except as characters on a TV sitcom. It was during the decade I didn't have a television. I was astonished to discover these people I heard discussed every day were not real. I knew nothing about my co-worker's families and loved ones, but I knew every detail of the television characters they so ardently discussed...without owning a TV. They cared about them more than they cared about themselves or each other. It's all they talked about day after day.

At the same time I was living in a small and very inbred community of people who had known each other for several decades. The level of conversation wasn't any different. No one talked about things or ideas. They talked about the people who weren't there. And they talked about them in bad and hurtful ways. I saw a mean side of these people that eventually made me move away from them. They became in my mind no different than the people who trashed gays, liberals, immigrants or those who didn't come from their social class. They were bigots of mind and spirit even though they considered themselves open, tolerant, and filled with peace and love for all humanity. The hypocrisy of their disconnect from what they believed and what they lived sent me running away from them as fast as I could because I felt they were a disease that would inflict itself on me if I stayed too much longer.

For those who think my reaction to petty gossip was extreme, look around you. Look what it has done to our towns, our communities, our countries and our world. Spreading the simple lie is the quickest way to control a population and anyone who spreads lies and malicious gossip about others can never call themselves truly free. They are trapped in the tedium of their own lives and unless they hack off a limb or something, they can't escape and they're doomed to just degenerate into the type of people who will never be able to enjoy someone like Mozart because of his personal flaws or refuse to see the contributions someone like Michael Jackson has made to music culture because of rumors surrounding his personal flaws and sicknesses. And these same people will mourn Farrah Fawcett, a woman they knew just as little, whose personal life was just a patchwork of gossip they gathered from tabloids and each other. Because she was pretty, they assumed she was perfect. For her they saved their praise.

But no one is perfect. Everyone has their dark side, everyone has their secrets, their evil little personality twists that stay locked up in public and sometimes goes stark raving mad in private. Where it crosses the line for me is when people who have no business, no say, no right to interfere in someone's private life, make it take the place of truth, honor, integrity, and the right to live as mutual consenting adults in a world of our own choice. To them I say it's time to get a life of your own. You're way overdue.

As for Michael Jackson, I spent many happy years dancing to his music when I still had functioning knees. I'm sorry for his private life, but seriously, it's not about me. It's between him, any potential victims, the families of those victims, the authorities, the deals they made or didn't make. For me it was and still is all about the music. That's the only part of it that is any of my damn business, and so for all those delightful dance parties that defined the 80's and early 90's for me, I say rest in peace and thank you.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Murdering for Jesus

I'm descended from a long line of survivors, people who lived through horrors most of the people I call my friends can't even imagine. In too many of them the scars never healed properly. They lost something vital to life, some integral part of self that left them incomplete human beings. The other ones, the ones who did manage to put the pieces of themselves back together again came out stronger and more alive than when they went in. It almost made up for the ones that came out severely damaged for life. Almost.

I've spent a lifetime dwelling on this as I lived with the war wounded who couldn't deal with the pain so they passed it on and raised children with anger, with bitterness, and sometimes an outright hatred of human beings. Considering what some of them went through, I can't judge them for this. In fact, because of it I became a person who is reluctant to judge, who tries to understand the depth of wounds, the reasons for the missing pieces of humanity. I've always wanted to make up for what they didn't get a chance to experience: tolerance, acceptance, equality. I felt it was my obligation, the reason I was born. I was one of the balancing stones of the next generation. I never questioned this role. I just knew it as mine.

And yes, I've spent a lifetime balancing out the selfishness around me by being unselfish, especially when it was difficult. It's so much easier to want than to not want. We have to train ourselves to not want, to let someone else have, to stay out of the way of someone else's happiness needs. I'm kind to people others are cruel to because I know how it feels to have others be cruel to me based on things that exist only in their own fears. I've always figured people's lives were their own to live and as long as you didn't hurt the other animals, no one had a right to tell you how to live. And hurting someone was not an excuse and killing was always wrong, no matter who did it.

I learned these valuable lessons from some of the most fucked up people on the planet. But the strange thing is,  because of what was done to them they developed a sort of reverence for tolerance, a kind of wistful optimisim. It was their version of religion and they worshipped daily on their dreams of a world that wouldn't do to their children what was done to them. 

An important lesson I learned was that  in spite of the horrors they went through, in spite of the mean cruel side of humanity they had to endure, not one of them killed another human being over some mythical god. In fact, if war taught them anything, it was that religion was the biggest obstacle to peace and harmony in the world.

That doesn't mean everyone in my family were pacifists who embraced all humanity as their brothers and sisters. Hate is an evil disease and it gets passed on to the nicest people and turns them into not so nice people. Often I would look at some members of my family and wonder what they would have been like without war, what would they have been like without having to survive hate and others trying to kill them just because they believed differently or didn't believe at all. And I often wondered what they did believe because for the most part, they kept these things to themselves as they had learned it was not something safe to talk about openly. Power was too unpredictable and it had a way of turning on you when you least expected it to.

There's a lot of Atheists in my family, especially the ones who almost died from someone else's religious hatred, and especially their children, of which I am one. No god would stand by and let what happen to them happen so I never believed in one. Believers like to say there are no Atheists in foxholes and to them I say it takes war to make people stop believing. It takes hunger, and fear, and the loss of most everyone you know and love to convince you god is a figment of a special privileged class who have never had their beliefs tested by too much reality. It takes reading history and paying close attention to how the unholy churches and their evil minions killed millions over many generations simply because they believed differently. It takes seeing the pattern of hate emerge over and over again to finally understand it is not some god who is preaching hatred from the pulpit, from the radio, from the television screen. It is not god, but it is some mean fucked up excuse for a human being who is spreading that hatred.

And yesterday, that hatred caused the death of a doctor, a man who had dedicated his life to helping other human beings, a man who was gunned down in church, of all places, in the house of the god these hatemongering fanatics believe is so loving and kind and honorable.

I understand who these people are. I grew up with some of them. They are people who are lacking in basic human compassion, who believe their hell on earth is punishment for being human. They are pitiful and weak excuses for human beings. They are easily led, easily controlled  by those who have ungodly agendas. They hang on every word the hatemongers spew as if it were the word of their own god. They don't see themselves as the manipulated fools they are, the tools they are to further an invisible agenda by those far more rich and powerful than they will ever be. They listen and hear them say go and kill for me, go take out this symbol so we can exploit it for political gain. Their puppetmasters don't care about the families, the loved ones, the communities that suffer. It's all about politics and getting someone to murder to further an agenda.

This is who killed this doctor and the other ones. This is who blows up buildings and clinics. This is who kills indiscriminately in war and turf battles. This is who kills over an imaginary god only they can see and yet want to inflict on everyone else. This is who the real terrorists are and it's way past time we started paying attention to what they are doing, what they are trying to destroy. It's time to make them accountable for their actions. Put them on trial for the accessories to murder they are, for the treasonous bastards they are, for the hatemongering bigotrys they perpetuate in the name of a political agenda designed to enrich and empower them further.

It is time to put the blame where it truly belongs, on those that led yet another  poor stupid manipulated idiot to kill--the O'Reilly's, the Limbaughs, the Gingriches of the world. It is their agenda that drove this man to kill another human being. Not god, not the easter bunny, not the tooth fairy, but soul-less, empty hearted men who care nothing about humanity and want only to enrich themselves further, steal even more money and power, spread even more hatred and intolerance bnecause in the end they know the one truth they can't hide from: as human beings they are complete and utter failures and history and the generations within their own families will forever remember them for this failure. They will serve as cautionary lessons to wiser and more educated generations to come, just our generation learned from the horrors of our parent's generation that some people are just plain evil.

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