Being a Modern Heretic
It’s not easy going against the grain in any time period, in any society. In our present crumbling America, it may be more difficult than ever.
When you oppose both authoritarian political correctness, and the all-encompassing greed that has produced an unprecedented disparity of wealth, as I do, your prospects in all ways will be severely limited. Family and friends roll their eyes, at best, and at worst shun you. Prospective employers are not impressed.
It’s hard to enjoy anything when you’re a heretic. I should have been more thrilled than I was, as an old-time Washington Senators fan, to see the Nationals win the World Series. While I watched more baseball than I have in many years, and was happy over the victory, it was impossible to ignore the diminished level of play. This is probably even more the case with professional basketball and football. Since I can’t watch such a bad product in silence, I am not a popular guest at parties.
How does anyone watch commercials these days without becoming apoplectic? Much of the time, you can’t even tell what product is being promoted. And they are dumbed down dramatically, like the morning talk shows, which revolve exclusively around fluffy celebrity worship and cooking recipes.
I recently made my annual pilgrimage to the cinema. I normally average one picture at the movies each year. That’s more than enough. Going to see Joker with my son was an enjoyable overall experience. Joaquin Phoenix gives a stunning performance. But I couldn’t help but notice that those harassing a good-looking woman on the subway were white businessmen in suits. Seriously. They were actually throwing french fries at her. Does anyone do that to attractive females? At any rate, this upholds the tradition from all superhero films; neither Batman, Spiderman, or any other superhero will ever encounter a Blood or a Crip, or a Hispanic gang, in the mean streets of Gotham City or New York. In Hollywood, it’s white skin heads or Russian gangsters who commit street crime in our urban areas.
Why doesn’t some political candidate run on a platform that features a promise to rid us of those annoying automated menus, which every business and government agency feature now? Or on a promise to ban traffic light cameras? Or to abolish all toll roads? Does any citizen like these things? Wouldn’t that be a winning platform?
Going back to Hollywood, I’m the only person I know of who has criticized the absurd whispering dialogue in every film now. Combined, of course, with the blaring effects from every non-dialogue sound. What kind of filmmakers want to make the crucial conversations between characters difficult to hear? Maybe I ought to jump on this bandwagon, and start advocating for my books to be printed in a smeared or blurry style, so that readers can “enjoy” them in the same manner.
Why don’t people RSVP appropriately any more? This has been going on for twenty years at least. Whenever we’d sent out invitations to our children’s birthday parties, we were amazed at how few people paid attention to the request to RSVP. Then again, how many people don’t answer emails or phone messages? On Facebook, I have noticed that those I sent them to have “seen” my messages there, and yet not replied. When I asked them if they could at least extend me the courtesy of a reply, they simply ignored that as well.
We are living in a collapsing civilization, that is filled with impolite people who don’t seem to have learned, or remembered, the very basics of civil interaction. How many people have you held a door open for in public, who simply brush by you without an acknowledgement? Shouldn’t saying “thank you” be automatic in certain situations? But then again, we’re dealing with an increasing number of people walking around in public with their heads buried in their smart phones, like zombies, who seem to have forgotten the “look both ways” before you cross the road thing, which they all were presumably taught as preschoolers.
Carrying that a bit further, what do we make of people who you pass by on the street, or in the workplace, who stare silently back when you extend a simple greeting? How do you not respond when someone says, “How’s it going?” Maybe it’s just me, but an alarming number of people seem to fall into this category. The great Ambrose Bierce probably defined “politeness” accurately when he called it “the most acceptable hypocrisy.” Still, without simple manners, sincere or not, it’s impossible to have a civil society.
I’ve commented before on how physically unattractive Americans are becoming. A frightening increase in the average weight of males and females of all ages, along with the popularity of tattoos, and an uber-casual style of dress, has built a populace that is now largely as unpleasant to look at as they are to work or socialize with. Social justice warriors, feminism, overt favoritism, unclear rules, expectations and standards of conduct, which can unpredictably result in onerous punishments, have created a toxic stew which everyone has no choice but to consume.
What makes this all the more tragic, and hopefully rescues it from the “get off of my lawn” old-timer mindset, is that we have the wealth, and the technology, to create a world far better than the one Baby Boomers like me grew up in. Life expectancy should be through the roof. Instead it’s actually declining now in America. We should probably have a ten hour work week, at most, by this point, given artificial intelligence, scientific advances, and increased productivity. Instead, most Americans have to work longer, for less pay, than ever before, just to join the 70 plus percent existing from paycheck to paycheck. Maybe if they’d release the papers of Nikola Tesla, we’d have things like teleportation, or universal free energy. Or those cool flying cars from The Jetsons I fantasized about as a kid.
Not only should our infrastructure have been upgraded significantly over the past 60 years, we should have heated highways by now. The technology is there- ask the One Percenters who have it under their own driveways. Free Wi-Fi should be available for the masses. So should rapid mass transit. That would all be possible, with a different set of priorities. Instead, our horrific leaders continue to pad their own pockets, ignite one senseless war or occupation after another, and recite platitudes about “education” and “a strong defense.”
Politicians can seemingly keep the sheeple voting for them simply by buttering them up, by telling them they’re the “greatest” people, who live in the “best” country. I think the fact that American voters return 96 percent or so of our wretched incumbents to office in every election alone requires a much different adjective than “great.” The fault lines along Donald Trump’s personality have assured that this mindless partisanship, based exclusively on issues that don’t dramatically impact anyone’s life, will continue to dominate our electoral process. This also guarantees that the people in this country will never get any viable kind of “representation” from our political leaders.
I could go on. Why do I wind up sitting at a red light so often during a simple commute? Has anyone analyzed how traffic lights are seemingly coordinated to not be synchronized, to increase traffic rather than to make it flow better? The madness of policing for profit, asset forfeiture, the wild disparity in sentencing in our injustice system- the list of my complaints about modern America is endless, as anyone who knows me can tell you.
Donald Trump’s recent bragging about what was probably a fake assassination of a fake terrorist, mirrored an identical non-incident during Obama’s administration. Right down to the staged photo from the White House. What’s crucial here is that Trump, like Obama, Hillary Clinton, and seemingly all of our leaders, now openly endorse the assassination of others. This is a sea change of enormous proportions, and tells us all we need to know about our present collective morality.
I know there are others out there, who don’t like what’s happening, who notice all these things. But there is an understandable reluctance to speak out, a reasonable fear, that modern heretics will wind up thrown in the water to see if they float, or burned at the stake.
Maybe there won’t be a literal witch hunt this time. After all, there aren’t very many of us.