I don't use this account for anything to speak of, and nobody reads it, so it is a perfect place for me to flex a few brain muscles and see if I can get this moribund mentality of mine to come back to life.
When I was young I used to write long entries in my diaries practically every day, and I was working feverishly on fiction (and when even younger, poetry) in every available moment. I had a tremendous flow of ideas - good, bad, or ridiculous, but at least they kept coming, and everything I learned or encountered appeared to me mostly as "How can I write about/with this?" I was in a state of enthusiasm. And utter egotism, which is inseparable from being an artist, at least while you're actually doing the artist stuff.
Now I had personal physical and mental stuff going on that slowly eroded that enthusiasm. But the last ten years or so, the horror of living under the Bush administration killed it dead.
There may be those who object to my calling it horror, but I really don't give a damn. If it wasn't horrible for them, fine. It was horrible to me. I never used to be a political person. When I first moved to the US I couldn't have told you which party was in power, which party Reagan (who was president at the time), Lincoln, Kennedy or anybody else belonged to, what their platforms were, and so on. Nor was I interested. I paid no attention to the Clinton "scandals" or any of the other screechy idiocy coming out of Washington in the 90's. I didn't care about any of that. Still, it was around that time that the astonishing idiocy of the screeching did begin to set off a sort of vague alarm, just because it was so off the wall, so over the top and unaccountable. And even more than that, how incredibly mean-spirited and counterproductive it all was. But I had no idea of how fearsomely corrupt and vicious politicians and their resulting actions could become.
That Bush (or Cheney and his gang) started a war after 9-11 was appalling to me. How much worse an idea could there be than going and murdering a bunch of civilians after a bunch of civilians in this country had been murdered apparently by a gang of thugs? Yeah, way to show the world how much better we were than the thugs. You don't start a war over the actions of a handful of criminals. You bring the criminals to justice. (As Clinton did after some other thug bombed the Twin Towers in the 90s.) To go to war was exactly the wrong thing to do. Going into Iraq later on obviously had nothing to do with 9-11 at all, it was just Bush and Cheney taking advantage of the moment to start an unrelated war Bush was on the record about wanting to start even before he came into office. Watching large chunks of this country respond with wild enthusiasm to blatantly stupid and lying war propaganda was even more disgusting and depressing.
Well, I've seen a lot more of the same since then and things have only gotten worse. The right wing in this country went over the cliff a long time ago, and at this moment, even as more and more relatively sensible people begin to object to them, they seem to be gathering momentum in their plunge to the bottom. The problem is that as they plunge they are dragging the rest of the country along. I don't know how this is all going to play out. It is very uncomfortably reminiscent of Weimar Germany, and also of ancient Rome in the violent, chaotic days before it gave up on being a republic. Whether we are in for some kind of Hitler or Mussolini, a final implosion of what little remains of democracy in this country, or just the self-immolation of the Republican party (or some combination thereof), I have no idea. I do think things are going to get worse before they get better, if they do get better. The sound and fury and general idiocy, anyway, are mostly smokescreens to distract from the actions of the plutocracy which is the real power trying to overturn the 20th century here, in Canada, in Europe and other wealthy nations, and doing its very effective best to prevent most of the rest of the world from even arriving at the Industrial Revolution.
All of which is sort of my worst nightmare. I grew up in a peaceful country at a relatively peaceful time. The US was at war back then too, but Canada wasn't involved, and war seemed an archaic remnant of the uncivilized past that only primitives and extremists would still indulge in. Well, I still think that's true. The very difficult education I've had to undergo in the past ten years or so consisted of watching what little civilization the West has managed to accumulate being systematically undone by a bunch of primitives and extremists in this country, and how shockingly easily they have managed to do it, and to systematically destroy the economy as part of the same process.
The part that I think really wrecked me, though, was not so much how easily fooled many people are, but much, much, worse, with what vitriolic glee so many of them seize any offered opportunity to blame and hate, and attack verbally or physically; how strangely uninterested they are in facts, reason, or fairness. This has been utterly bizarre to me, because I think the dominant theme of my life has always been to bend over backwards, even to the point of self-damage, in the effort to be fair and see the other's point of view. That has always been a reflex, just automatic, compulsive even. It has come as a tremendous shock to me that so many people simply have no impulse whatever to do that. Just none. They want to be right all the time, and lambaste anyone they disagree with as wrong -- without first taking the trouble to carefully research and establish with as much impartiality as possible, whether in fact they ARE right about whatever they are asserting.
Seeing that, for a long time, shattered my faith in humanity and ultimately even in myself. It took a number of years for that to happen, and all while my faith and love for humanity was eroding, I was writing less and less. It's stupid, really. It's not that I ever thought mankind was all sweetness and light, hell no. But I guess I never really could believe that so many of them were just so goddam petty, willfully stupid, and mean. That seems that to have depressed me far more than it had any right to. It got to the point that I couldn't get much interested in my own thoughts or ideas any more, because, you know, what the hell does it matter? Nothing matters, because mankind is beyond hope. Even though I know that there are many wonderful people, many people I love and admire. But it's the yahoos who carry the day, the reflexively smug who are impervious to years and years of presented facts, the Big-Endians who fight to the death with Little-Endians -- unconcerned that there might be some actual problems that need solving, like possibly the fact that the planet is being ripped apart for short-term profit without the least thought to long-term survival, stuff like that.
Well, the planet is being violated daily, and the yahoos are having their wars, and the Big-Endians are squawking at the Little-Endians, and there are a lot of very mean, loud, nasty, complacent and irresponsible people out there, and they couldn't be more proud of themselves for it. It's taken many years for all of that to percolate through my head, and the final result has been some very black sludge I couldn't stomach at all (talk about a messed-up metaphor!) However, after throwing away that horrid old coffee, another thought has finally occurred to me.
So freaking what? Yeah, there's maybe 20% of humanity that is vile or clings to others who are vile in order to amplify its own shaky self-importance. So what?
The truth is that, depressing as that might be, it's always been the case. Always. What I'm seeing isn't new. It's stupid, wasteful, depressing, all that, sure. But it is not new. This sort of thing has always gone on, and there have been many previous times when stupidity, credulousness, and the manipulations of plutocracy underwent big spurts of power. The medieval era in Europe being one example. That followed a time in which pagan knowledge was systematically destroyed, and it didn't end until some surviving bits of that knowledge began to be recovered, at which point there was the Renaissance and people began to consider being a bit rational again, at least from time to time, and there was a revival of art, science, medicine, hygiene, and eventually the modern era (which I hope has not ended, although I really have to wonder sometimes). I hope we are not going to enter another medieval age (of which the plutocratically-controlled police state, I think, is just a modern and even worse incarnation). There is nothing for the average person to gain from that. Being a peasant or slave is not a lot of fun, and neither is having your intelligence and individuality stultified in the name of conformity and obedience.
Even so, and despite the lesser, meaner spirits among them, human beings as a species are an infinite well of creativity. I think the idea that the rich and educated are "genetically" superior to the poor and uneducated (an idea I see being tossed around these days to reinforce the plutocracy) is not merely wrong, but absolutely and intentionally vicious. The richer classes have more opportunities to express and develop their abilities (whether they take advantage of them or not); but the latent brilliance and goodness of mankind is distributed throughout all races, classes, and nations. Despite propaganda to the contrary, there is no doubt that if the entire educated ruling class of the world was eliminated in one sweep, within a generation and probably much sooner than that, all kinds of talent would emerge from "below" that showed the same intelligence and competence, and the same mental varieties both good and bad. (That's a whole story in itself, come to think of it -- the eventual corruption and complacency of the vibrant new generation that had so much originality and promise at first.)
So yeah, we are stuck being a bunch of very ingenious monkeys who at least in some cultures, much like chimpanzees, are unable to control our tempers and throw screaming tantrums and initiate battles at the slightest affront, and who also tinker up machinery and politics that can be fun but are sometimes quite capable of ending our species -- as they have already ended so many others. We may just be stuck with that, despite the lifelong struggles of many, many great men and women to drag our species into a realm beyond it. We should be capable of living decent, happy, reasonably prosperous and productive lives, making the world a more fun, beautiful, healthful, and friendly place to live. We have the intellectual ability to create that kind of world. There is no real reason why we don't. But maybe after all there is: that, ingenious and clever monkeys though we be, in the end we are just too blasted irrational, selfish, and complacent.
But well. Fine. That may all be true. But I have realized finally that I don't need to apologize for the fact that I freaking hate complacency and mean-spiritedness, and above all that combination of the two that creates that weird pride in being a selfish, knee-jerk-reactive, ignorant bastard that seems to define a certain type of American at this point in history. I have, in this lifetime and every other lifetime, been one of those yearning for the Renaissance. For democracy, not oligarchy. For a fair chance in life for every human being, and in fact for all life forms and the planet as a living whole. I think it's immoral that hundreds of thousands of humans are sacrificed working themselves to death for virtually no pay in factories so that a handful of opportunists can make vast fortunes. I think it is insanely immoral that we continue to pollute this planet when for the past 40 or 50 years we could just as easily have been cleaning it up and finding ways to have a civilization without wrecking the place where we live. I think it is criminal that people in this country are milked every way they turn by "health" insurance companies, banks, and employers, and that they have to start their careers, if they want to get educated, with a crushing debt load which I suppose will ensure their peasant-like compliance for the rest of their lives. I could (and I suppose I do) go on and on and on about all the unfairness and exploitation and general nastiness perpetually perpetrated in this world. But damn it. I can have fun YELLING about it! I can fight back, even if it is only in my own little personal way by writing stuff that at least expresses my faith in the essential decency of human beings, despite all the yammering from the minority who prefer to be indecent. So you wanna fight? You want a row? I’m ready, yeah, finally I’m ready, if only in my own mind. Which is important, since that’s where I was being defeated.
Frankly, if you don’t fight for what you believe in, you have just right there and then done yourself in. The “enemy” doesn’t have to do a thing. I couldn’t write, not because the world was so ugly and bad, but because I let myself be discouraged by it. It’s as dumb as that, just that dumb and clichéd. I gave in to all the ugliness and lost hold of the joy and fun and soaring expansiveness that is the quintessential expression of life, of oneself.
Upon consideration, I think it is a hell of a lot more fun to fight than to give up. It is more fun, also (although I do think this statement borders on the immoral), to work at creating a perfect world than to be in one. Not that there’s much danger of our being inundated with perfection anytime soon.
In short... as Mehitabel, that much abused, much abusing, and eminently unvirtuous and rowdy feline used to say, "There's a dance in the old dame yet!"