Monday, October 25, 2010

Walking Slowly Among All the False Gods

IN A CANYON IN SOUTHERN UTAH -- A massive storm system that washed out unpaved roads extends our camping vacation here longer than we intended. But satellites fly even above these desolate and ruggedly beautiful places, so that our electronic umbilical to the real world remains intact.
We who spent our working lifetimes collecting and purveying news tend to develop an addiction to it. Our new age enablers, the cybergods, sate our ravenous needs. Little has changed Out There. The fragile vestiges of the Great American Experiment continue to unravel. Can a democratic republic formed of the people, by the people and for the people actually work, can it endure, can it thrive? Two hundred thirty-four years after the experiment began, the answer is becoming clear: Nope.
Round up the usual suspects: greed, corruption, ignorance,  hubris . . . the entire dark side of human nature. Round and round we go, down and down we go. But then, what else is madness but to repeat the same actions over and over and expect different results?
Many of us -- yet far too few to sustain a semblance of democracy -- will go to the polls in about three weeks to perform our duty as citizens, to vote. We repeat this process of electing leaders periodically, irrationally thinking that this time we will actually put someone into office somewhere who will effectively serve the needs of The People.
The corporate overlords, the war makers and the oligarchs of Wall Street have already decided the election -- $14 million here, $10 million there, small fortunes from foreign billionaires with a financial stake in our lives through the so-called U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The candidates they have purchased and will put into office know what they are expected to do -- speed up the erasure of the last vestiges of democracy -- and they will do so even as they prattle tribute to the great American "values."
In most of the election contests for which we will cast our meaningless votes, we have but two choices: a corporate-owned Democrat or a corporate-owned Republican. The candidates with the most lavish corporate financial support will almost invariably win. The  propagandists of the corporate media tell us that the pollsters expect a net gain of up to 50 seats in the House of representatives for the Republicans.
Not much has changed since we camped out here in the semi-wilderness. We are nested on a hillock from which we can gaze miles in any direction without seeing a fellow human. Our nest is in one of the diminishing number of places in this country that are not "owned" by anyone, because they are owned by everyone. Public land. Protected by the government on behalf of all the people because of its esthetic, cultural or historical significance.
We come to such places as often as we can because we know they will not always be here. Corporations covet the riches to be made by destroying them to extract their minerals, or trees, or what lies beneath their surface, or on it. Whatever can serve their gods of greed.
Gods are everywhere around us: the cybergods who bring us the news we crave even if it's bad, the gods of greed who covet whatever wealth this land promises, the gods of power derived from wealth who are our real government. So too are the gods of the ancient ones who once occupied this land. Images of their gods can still be found carved on cliff faces and rock outcroppings a short walk from our campsite. Their gods were powerless against famine, drought and the guns of the pale invaders who drove them out -- to extract wealth from their homeland.
Nothing changes.
There is a dark side to human nature. There always will be.
It is almost time to go back and live with it again.

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