[I have a friend who is an amazing writer but he tends to abandon his writing projects often. I wanted to save his writings for posterity and make them more widely available. The MonkeyPope Archives contain his collected works.]
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
A friend sent me an excellent article from Esquire about Idiot America; primarily about the debate between intelligent design and evolution which leads into an argument about the eventual dumbing down of America, our now intrinsic mistrust of scientists and experts, our faith in faith at the expense of fact, and uh yadda yadda. I recommend reading it, especially if you’re stupid.
I have to say that while I serve my country, she sure does piss me off on occasion. Iraq. Afghanistan. New Orleans. Judith Miller. Cheney. Deficit. Oil, oil, oil and lies, lies, lies. And far too many Americans trying to keep their plastic smile on their plastic faces and not acknowledge the crimes our government, the administration and us citizens commit daily. How does that relate to the above paragraph? I don’t know. Gimme a sec…Ah, people are stupid and they don’t think. They do with little regard for the facts of the situation and the consequences of their actions.I was talking to a friend while eating at a greasy Mexican restaurant (the kind where they have a take-out window and one too many things on the menu that translate as tongue) and he expressed interest in becoming a diamond seller after the military.
“No!” I said, “You can’t do that! What about conflict diamonds? What about fueling a market of falsely inflated prices for a product that has no real intrinsic value or use? Diamonds are evil.”
He replies calmly, “Oh, you say that, but they’re no worse than the clothes you wear, bought at Old Navy made in some sweat shop. Or the car you drive, guzzling gas exported from a monarchy that cuts off people’s hands. Or the life you lead. Everyday we do things that exploits others that we don’t see. So why shouldn’t I make money off of diamonds?”
I countered weakly, something about choice and necessity, but really, he had a point. And this is what kills me about Americans — they just don’t give a shit as long as they’re comfortable with their lives. I’m as guilty as the next. I want my cheap clothes and long drives in my auto-mobile.
But I hate that type of immoral rationalization that my buddy used on me. It’s that type of rationalization that leads to bad, bad things. I’m sure the administration used a similar rationalization about detainees and torture.
“Well, let’s put ’em off of U.S. soil so that our own laws won’t apply to them.”
“As long as we’re doing that, let’s classify them somehow so that the Geneva convention won’t apply them.”
“Oh good. Well, as long they’re really not subject to any laws, let’s set up…uh camps where ever we want, to do…whatever we want without any sort of checks and measures.”
“Awesome. High five everybody!”
The initial idea was to protect U.S. citizens by detaining potential suspects and extracting as much intelligence as possible. But it obviously got out of hand.One of the books I’m reading at present is “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” about the Nobel Prize winning physicist. He helped to develop the atomic bomb and when he describes those times, it’s nothing but excitement and discoveries and science. After the first successful detonation, everyone was sky high, congratulating one another, except for one guy. Feynman asks him what’s wrong and he replies, “It’s a terrible thing we made.”
That’s another issue — people get too caught up in the moment and neglect to think of the consequences of their actions. As a soldier, that’s something I think about all the time, but I think I’m the exception to the norm. I overheard some guys talking the other day and one said to the other, “Man, I am aching for a firefight once we deploy. Unload some rounds on some hajis.”
Simple bravado and boasting? Maybe. Probably. I know I ain’t in the Peace Corps, but why? I guess that’s what we’re trained to do and it doesn’t sound nearly as cool as, “Man, I can’t wait to learn about the Iraqi culture and help create peace and stability so that the Iraqis can have a truly autonomous free country and we can go home.” Yeah, that sounds like a gay fairy farting. Ooohh, excuse me.
Anyway, Thanksgiving is upon us and I will give thanks for all that we have here in the good ole U.S. of A. and I’ll make a little prayer for the soldiers abroad, for the innocent caught in the crossfire the world over, for the exploited, for the refugees, for those who understand how much they have to be thankful for. And to Idiot America I will say a toast before I gorge myself on far more food than I need. Then I will lay down and feel the guilt of over-indulgence.Thanksgiving is a good time to sit back and think about our lives and about the decisions we make and the impacts they carry. So maybe next year, the whole world will have more to be thankful for. Cheers to that and to all you comment spammers out there, Happy Thanksgiving.