It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else,
that prevents us from living freely and nobly.
~ Henry David Thoreau
|Adbusters Corporate Flag|
You know, about the Dream. The American Dream: Justice, Freedom, Equality? Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Oh, that's right, the American dream has fizzled along with your investments and savings—if you've been so lucky as to have saved at all.
Really though, are you still dreaming?
Or are you weary to your bones?
The dream, as James Truslow Adams wrote in his book, The Epic of America, is the "[...] dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement..." Yes, life should be better for all. It should, dammit. Now wake up from the dream. (If you are, in fact, still dreaming.) Because that dream is over. Poof.
Things are beginning to get a little ugly on Wall Street (as if they were not already grotesque). And elsewhere. Police and protesters are clashing across America. Our government's leaders praise the youthful anti-establishment protests overseas, but in America—Land of the Free, Land of Hope and Promise—peaceful activists are being arrested and even run down by police scooters. Who knows what's next.
"...It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it..."
I can't help it, I wonder what's gone wrong.
Our young have taken to the streets in an assemblage of civil disobedience, giving temperate expression to anger. I pray it remains peaceful. They do, we do, of course, have every right to protest. As we should. We must rise against corporate greed and confront Wall Street, the banks, the thieves with their crimes! After all, our government (ha!) simply won't do it. They won't. They prefer to bail out the thieves. With our money.
We are still a nascent country. We are still trying to find our way and we are floundering. Worse, we are drowning in our own greed. And make no mistake—it's not just Wall Street or big corporate or the banks. It's a two way street. Greed runs both ways. Greed throws rationality out the window. Greed takes hostages and then forgets about them. Disposes of them. Makes casualties of them. Greed never looks at the fine print. Greed signs contracts while disregarding consequences. Greed makes ill-advised and just plain wrong decisions. Greed gives bogus advice.
"...It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."
What we are sorely in need of, as individuals and as a nation, is self-actualization. You laugh. Bwahaha! I mean it, we need to get ourselves self-actualized and but quick. Has our collective dream become solely the pursuit of mounds of money? Does that trump all? I think not. (Though many's the time I've been mistaken.)
The disparity between the wealthy and poor is profoundly absurd. And no matter how one spins this dubious distinction when it comes to a full stop it is transparently clear that it's a dizzy and thickly layered black blotch against humanity.
I'm still dreaming...
What if, my OWS and Working America and Adbusters friends and All those interested in reform—and I don't care from where the financial backing comes—what if we considered doing more than just hanging around financial centers throughout the country. Now that OWS has gained momentum, what if the cause were to use the cash to find us a new leader—hell, we should All use our cash for that purpose—to broaden the candidate pool (the pool obviously ought to be emptied, political parties sucked down the drain, cleaned and re-filled with a fresh, clear, odorless solution), and not another politician chained to big corporate and financial institutions, but someone, some thing, who's nested in the loamy grass of the earth. Someone, some thing, that understands the heart and soul of a country, its people, it's greatest desire, its dream—we could search Thoreau's woods and root him out—and what if we stood him firm on packed soil (though he may not come so willingly—who, what, in their right mind would)—brushed him off a bit and tossed him into the pool (which has been cleansed of its greedy, beastly, sell-your-soul-to-the-devil political system that has never truly represented We the People)? What if? What if we rewrote the whole damn system?! Our new earthly candidate won't need to answer to or feast with the great corporate powers that be. The People will back him! You think he'll get eaten alive like a vegetable? The People will back him! He will serve humanity. Humanity will feast!
Uh, I am having night sweats. I am turning and tossing...
Oh, dang, I just woke from my dream!
... But it's all right, it's all right
You can't be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day
And I'm trying to get some rest
That's all I'm trying to get some rest.
* * *
Paul Simon turned seventy yesterday. When he wrote American Tune back in the 1970s our country was in high turmoil. We were in the midst of the Vietnam War, the Pentagon Papers were laid out for public consumption and horror, and the Watergate scandal sealed Nixon's fate. The American people had been mislead and violated.
History does have a tendency to repeat itself.
And then comes Simon with his textured and rhythmic, So Beautiful or So What, which the Rolling Stone declared "His best since Graceland."
The road to America's self-actualized soul is littered with obstacles. The journey is long. The GPS is our collective conscience. I hope we never lose sight of it: our destination—our Dream. I hope we've enough fuel to get us there.