Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Maybe I'm just cynical...(RANT)

This is a rant. You've been warned twice now, so don't claim surprise.

The views expressed are my own, no one else's, so don't go writing angry emails to Sam or Blogger or anyone else. Not even me, because you're not going to change the way I feel, so it would be a waste of time. In other words, if you're mad about things I've typed here, then you really need to not let little things get to you so much, and maybe stay away from the internet, or at least forums and blogs. Go outside and take a walk.

If you're a republican, save your righteous anger for something useful, and just don't read this.

You've been warned a lot. Don't say you weren't.

Maybe I'm just cynical about things.
I'm not sure.
Somehow, it seems wrong to me, but maybe it's just me...
Anyway, I should probably explain.
For the last several days, I've been seeing more and more about the president's plan to combat the possible "superflu." Is it just me, or is this coming at a time when we've just about stopped being so goddamn afraid of everything? It's been a good bit of time since the London bombing, it's been a while since we've even heard about anything going down in Palestine/Israel, and the only new news from Iraq is that we're still losing people over there, and while that is certainly saddening and does make me angry, it's hard to be afraid. It seems that the rest of the US, while they may not (and probably don't) agree with anything else I say or feel, have the same lessening of fear. We don't seem to believe anymore that the big bad terrorist is going to release vapors containing anthrax in a transit system, we are no longer afraid that they're going to carry backpack nukes from a near-unguarded strip of coastline to blow up New York, we're not even afraid that they're going to come to our fair cities and spit on the fucking sidewalks. We're not really all that afraid of terrorists anymore. So...
Now there's the big scary "superflu" to replace the big scary terrorist. Before the terrorist it was the commie. Before the commie was the anarchist. Before that, it was usually the last ethnic group to immigrate (or gain freedom, and that's all I'm gonna say about that.) Sure, these were transparent attempts at power-grabbing by one group or another, but we're looking at these things in hindsight. Do you think that most people in the 1950s saw the commie-fear for what it was? I doubt it. I don't even think that most people saw it in the 1980s. Most people just went along with what they were told. "What, Commies are evil, and not even fully human, and eat the flesh of unbaptised babies for lunch 3 days a week? Okay, I'll hate and fear them, too, just like everyone else on my block." It's so easy to motivate through hatred and fear. You can take a large group of people, a nation even, and make them believe whatever you want them to believe. You can make them happily go to die in a hopeless conflict, you can make them lynch their neighbors, you can even make them re-elect an incompetent (and dangerous) leader. The only trick to it is this: You have to shift the fear to something new every once in a while. The people will only fear the same thing for a relatively short amount of time if nothing happens. Then you have to shift the focus of the fear to something new, or else they lose interest, and the level of fear goes down, and they start to notice the things you don't want them to notice. Nevermind that we didn't really do much in Afghanistan except blow up some villages and a few caves, and we never did really find Osama, we're gonna go do some "regime change" in Iraq now. Nevermind that Halliburton got almost all the oil contracts, we captured Saddam. Nevermind that we're still encountering guerrilla-style resistance, and that the US Army doesn't deal with a "war of attrition" well, we got that democratic constitution in place. Nevermind that we've been fighting the "war on terror" for the last 4 years to no real effect, there may or may not be a "superflu" pandemic sometime in our lifetimes, and roughly 1 in 150 Americans could die from it. Are we running out of things to fear? What's next, alien invasion? Angry mobs of cows? Ooo, I know, how about the dangers of dog shit? It's in every park in the country!
In all seriousness, a new mutation of the influenza virus may or may not happen at any time. There are plenty of virii that are in the same boat, but, if just the right new mutation happened, more than just the very young, the very old, and people with weakened immune systems would fall victim (roughly the same ones that are at risk from the ordinary, not-so-super flu.) I suppose my rant is about that, too. I don't like the way politicians in general try to whip the masses into a frenzy with fear, but, at a deeper level, I think they could do a lot better than "superflu."
Dubya, if you want to scare me, you better bring Ebola to the table. Otherwise, just STFU.

You were warned. If you actually read it all, and you're still pissed, GOOD! Do something worthwhile with your anger. Channel it into something constructive. Emails are NOT. In fact, they'd be trashed without reading, so don't waste your time. Unless you want to do something symbolizing the true ephemeral nature of this life, like a Tibetan Buddhist monk who spends days working on an elaborate mandala, made of colored sand spread on the floor, and then opens the doors to let the wind blow it all away. Of course, if you want to write an angry email to me, that's probably not your thing, so aren't you glad I told you? Now go do something constructive with your righteous anger, like cleaning up some dogshit from the local park. It might attract aliens.

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