Humans: Art is the Living

There will be no announcement.

When it happens to you, there is no time to ask “What?” or “How?”

You run.

Because you didn’t consider this to be a reality other than a “distant dystopian future one day maybe” – you didn’t prepare, you’ll only react.  But it will be too late. Like most humanity throughout history, you stay put until it’s too late, “because it could never happen here, not like that.”

Rest assured, you are not alone in feeling this way. It’s the way of the human psyche.

Germans, rest of Europe, Asia and the world – all of humanity in the past thousand years would agree. Stick your fingers in your ears, or play your favourite tune, log into virtual reality and repeat: “It will never happen here.”

But it happened there, everywhere. And it will here.

For as long as we continue to be reactionary.

For as long as we keep expecting “things to work themselves out.”

For as long as we continue to be cowards who wait on others for salvation instead of doing our own part – daily.

For as long as we keep actively ignoring the independent voices (the ‘crazies’) as we always have.

There is no magical God or superhero waiting to fix this mess.

We are all leaning on an invisible moral pillar.

It’s just you and me.

Can we stare fate in the face and stop playing house? Because we won’t have a roof over our heads before we know it.

This requires great sacrifices, like most things worth doing.

It might require you to unplug from the very system you’re feeding – the one that’s slowly chipping away at you, your relationships (all kinds), your family, your neighbourhood, your city, state, your nation — your life.

Our vanity, lust for fame and wealth, the cult of self, “top dog” mentality and the relentless competitiveness (to no avail) – it’s no less destructive to us and our societies than the jihadists that scare us shitless.

Who needs terrorists when we can self-destruct with such speed, so gloriously?

Mirrors can be scary, even when you feel fine. But you always have to look, because you want to make sure you look fine.

So take a look.

It’s the ‘survival of the fittest’ here – a term that’s been bastardized and utilized by the very people it applies to the least: the apes of society, the self absorbed, the cowards with no character, the leeches, the liars, ‘the cutthroat businessmen’ who don’t know the first thing about business or the world — they all lack depth, emotional intelligence and the core essence of humanity: love and compassion.

But together, with them, we have created a vacuum. Because in greed, gluttony and lust we decided to dance along. We are not just enabling. We are creating alongside them a psychologically, financially, and environmentally unsustainable world.

For a paycheck.

For a false sense of (temporary) ‘good life,’ safety and security.

So we can fulfill our own version of the ‘American dream’ anywhere we are despite how deadly it turned out to be for all.

Sadism dominates the culture. It runs like an electric current through reality television and trash-talk programs, is at the core of pornography, and fuels the compliant, corporate collective. Corporatism is about crushing the capacity for moral choice and diminishing the individual to force him or her into an ostensibly harmonious collective. This hypermasculinity has its logical fruition in Abu Ghraib, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our lack of compassion for our homeless, our poor, the mentally ill, the unemployed, and the sick. … We accept the system handed to us and seek to find a comfortable place within it. We retreat into the narrow, confined ghettos created for us and shut our eyes to the deadly superstructure of the corporate state.

Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

Trump did not start this fire.

It was already burning – in the open. But we dismissed it, and we let it burn – from the safety of our own glass houses.

Now it’s too late.

Trump is answering people’s calls and cries. He’s speaking to the desperate and vulnerable –  like many have throughout history.

Like Hitler did.

It could be Trump. It could be anyone. Names don’t matter.

None of this happened overnight. If you didn’t see this coming, that’s the real tragedy: that history repeats itself. And why?

Because “we all know about how men like Hitler rise to power and it can’t happen here.”

But do we?

Do we really know that much about our societies, the world, nature, and more importantly, ourselves? Do we take the time to learn how it all intersects, affects and influences our daily behaviours, thoughts, and us?

Be honest with yourself.

We’ve barely just begun to scratch the surface.

I know because we create this beast — the death of humanity — time and time again. The same one we, humans, keep meeting throughout history. It doesn’t exist without us.

We created it, with our own two hands.

I know you see it.

Because nothing exists in a bubble.

And you’re not that dumb.

We made our own bed.

And that’s why the most retrograde forces of American capitalism are so enthusiastic about the Christian Right, because if Jesus is going to protect you, you don’t need health insurance, you don’t need a labor union, you don’t need a living wage. So it’s been a deeply destructive force, generated out of the South where a lot of economic despair resides, but it’s certainly pervasive now throughout the entire country. And you know traditional journalism is to give voice to those who, without your presence, would not have a voice; that’s why we have journalism. It’s not even a religious tenet, necessarily. Journalism is not about amplifying the voice of the powerful or celebrities. Then you’re a courtier, you’re not a journalist.

Misery’s Reply: A Conversation with Chris Hedges on Religion, Poverty, and Crime

I type this as I see ‘end of the year lists’ and ‘award shows’ all over the internet. None offer anything new or inspiring. We all acknowledge this, but we keep up the pretense and we engage full time (really, we love art though). And like anything in life, we’ll come up with a half baked excuse as to why — to justify it to ourselves, because it keeps us from facing the real music.

We have created an echo chamber which only serves the needs and objectives of the rich. All while we let real art, humans, which create the only culture worth having, wither away and die.

We all have our reasons, right? We can’t unplug because [insert slew of reasons here]. I say this with no resentment, I say it with sadness because I know it to be everyone’s truth. But when do we stop rationalizing this nonsense?

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George Ritzer,  The McDonaldization of Society

At this point in time, we are trapped. But we don’t have to make it worse.

Can we try to make this pleasant? While we still can? Can we hear one last beautiful song in case our Titanic sinks?

If you have an audience, it’s on you to play that beautiful song for the people — to make them feel alive. And if you don’t like the responsibility, then you don’t deserve the audience or the power that comes with it.

If you want to do your part, begin today.

Begin by looking at other humans with love and compassion – we’re all struggling and lonely in the digital age.

Begin by picking up a piece of art that you’d normally not pay attention to – it’s the only way the world will keep spinning with any humanity in it.

Begin by appreciating the creations of others without making it about you. There is beauty all around, everywhere.

Begin by celebrating the achievements of the regular Joe, and of each other. Our ‘mundane’ lives are what’s worth celebrating – yours and mine.

Begin by giving a platform to those who need you most – not your fetishized heroes. Be the voice of the unheard.

Whatever you do —

Stop feeding the beast. It won’t spare you.