By: W.D. Noble
Well, it’s all over but the shouting – both the holiday season and 2010 are all but done. I can tell you that there were plenty who were pistol-whipped with the butt-end of 2010, courtesy of other people who don’t give a damn about any of the Rest Of Us.
The lesson of this year isn’t new – seems a different crop of us get to learn it every hundred years or so; during the Gilded Age, the plutocrats responded to the nascent labor movement with tear gas and bullets; driving by every so often in their Packards and Rolls and Pierce-Arrows to survey the carnage.
Sooner than later, not only the working class but the government connected the dots and realized that absent some strong corrective action, the workers were all too likely to put a revolution in play, with a very uncertain outcome for everyone. To keep Jefferson’s ideal alive, they regulated the rich. For almost a hundred years, it worked.
There was only one real problem – the rich learned their lesson, and spent the intervening time doing things like buying media outlets and crafting their message. We cooperated by abandoning any interest in real education – and the result is that, incredibly, people have lined up in droves to vote against their own self-interest. The Kool-Aid has been consumed; the twin gospels of ‘no-poor-person-ever-gave-me-a-job’, and ‘if-we-leave-taxes-alone-someday-we-too-will-be-rich’ are now considered Holy Writ, economically-speaking – and those of us who act as modern-day Cassandras are shouted-down in an orgy of semiliterate, misguided ranting and Voodoo Economics.
The only trickle-down any of us are going to feel is what’s running down our neck while the one-percenters tell us it’s raining – but that’s a tale more properly left for 2011.
The notions of reason and logic are thin on the ground of late; we’re being told to barter chickens for medical care, that our history needs to be rewritten to satisfy a cabal of poorly-educated zealots, and that our enemies are under every bed in the land – but we can deal with them, too, or so we’re told – if we simply build the walls high enough, build enough bombs, and let our rampant xenophobia and radical religiosity have their way.
I’m of the belief that there are enough of you within metaphorical-earshot of this message to perhaps make a difference – but, as I’m fond of saying, it’s time to pick a side.
I’m hoping you’ll side with reason.
To those of you who practice some form of religion, I hope you see that by siding with reason, you’re not abandoning your faith – if anything, you’re giving it an opportunity to continue, rather than chasing down the rabbit-hole of all-or-nothing zealotry. Following a faith and then downing on everyone who doesn’t think like you doesn’t make you a saint – it just makes you an asshole and a zealot, and there are more than enough of those in the world. (That’s the thing about zealots; once they’re in charge, they have the habit of turning on anyone who disagrees with them, even slightly – and that could be anyone. Even you. Certainly me.)
To those who don’t follow a faith, I’m hoping you don’t let the years you spent in the closet while both experiencing and avoiding the rampant persecution of the religious community poison your thinking – most religious people in America are decent folks who share your desire to be left alone. Complaining about a nativity scene on someone’s front-lawn isn’t going to garner you any points. If your convictions are well-grounded, then you won’t care – you’ll view that expression as a First Amendment right, which it is. Remember that regardless of whether you were hounded by Fundies or fondled by priests at an early age, downing on only one religion doesn’t make you an atheist, and rejecting only one god doesn’t make you an agnostic – it just makes you a bigot, and there are enough of those in America.
Reason, logic, and connecting-the-dots are the only things – along with the informed votes which come out of those actions – which are going to save America. It’s too late for anything else, and relying on Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, magic, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not just illogical – it’s lame.
One thing’s for certain – we can no longer afford a community of non-religious people who see fit to stay in the closet and not get involved. That here-and-now perspective you bring to things is vital. Bring it.
We also can’t afford an insular religious community, which washes the car on Saturday afternoon, then gets up on Sunday morning to shower, shave, dress in their best and drive past homeless shelters and freeway camps, prisons, hospitals, and nursing homes – to a glittering building where they congratulate themselves on being the Best People On Earth.
In 2011, get active. Make it count.
Be good to each other. Take an interest in what’s around you.