Monday, November 9, 2009

Tenuous Zen

Is it just me or have you noticed it too? How the national past-time used to be competition, sports, even stock markets, and now the national past-time is just panic? Like, perma-pucker’ed, imminent doom, constant vigilance, zombies around every corner panic? Like, not just fear. Not just “hey, those danged immigrants are stealing our jobs” or “I wonder if I’m going to get cancer this year” but full blown, utterly unreasonable “holy shit we’re all going to die and it’s not my fault” panic.

Panic. I’ve written about flat-earth-ers before, and the kinds of people who will believe literally any scrap of nonsense that comes their way as long as it supports their loathe of whatever political party has wronged them lately. I’ve written about vaccinations. I've written about snake-oil medicine and I've written about superstition. All these things are part of the nation-wide embrace of panic. It seems we don’t know how to do anything else these days.

We are victims. We are crushed by the torturous disadvantages laid upon us by our forefathers and we are knee-deep in regrets for things we were prevented from controlling. We are victimized by our government and by the aliens and by the viruses and by our own lack of self control which by its very nature we cannot, ourselves, control. We are bloody, lashed and exasperated and we are victims to our very last breaths. And the show I saw on tv last night kinda underlines the situation perfectly.

I mean, at least this thing is taking a lot of Europe by storm too, so it’s not just the USA and our nascar-frenzied orgy of fear-mongering. But still. Did you see this? It was a long, three-ish hour “documentary” (I put it in quotes because… well, duh. Really.) allllll about the end of the world and how it’s all nigh and shit. No really! It had the dramatic music, the “white folks” lookin’ all concerned and underground-bunker-y and it had the scientists with their tuning forks and it had pyramids and mayans and it frankly had everything but string theory. And vaccinations.

But the deal was, apparently there’s a Mayan calendar that ends on 12/21/2012. Therefore, we must all assume the earth will burst into flame, all life upon it will expire in a bloody, fiery mess over the course of the next few picoseconds, and the universe will weep for eternity because we poor humans were not attentive enough to the clues to stop it from happening. The clues you see, we’re just not interpreting the right clues, neither have we been provided enough of them. Oh, this crap went on and on, always stopping short of some Jerry-Springer styled revelation from a topless, overweight exotic dancer and the self-styled manhorse midget she loves. But it pandered to the same “can’t look away from the car accident” instinct we all have.

Panic, hate and fear are so easy to come by in our human nature. Screw greed, even that gets old. But Fear? Panic? Just ask a new mom how deep that little font can run! Ask the parents of a couple teenagers exactly how much peace they allow themselves every night. Fear and panic are just about the first instinct we have in this world and right now it seems like they’re the dominating forces of all mankind. So much for the age of enlightenment, eh?

I mean, sure sex sells. Boobs in commercials always brings up the bottom line, as it were. But now our leaders have allowed us to sink deep into the pit of fear and they have seen how easy we are to control when we’re stuck tight in it. Fear doesn’t require answers, it thrives on being egged on without reason. In fact, the farther away from reason a person can get, the stronger the fear will become.

Earth’s gonna’ burst into flames you say? Neat. Let’s all drink. It’s all our fault you say? Bummer. Can’t we perform some kind of virgin sacrifice or something? No? And the Mayans all foretold it? Hunh. And there’s not a damned thing we can do? Okay… sooo….

Well that’s the sticking point, isn’t it? We’re left at the precipice with this kind of situation. We can choose door A or door B. Door A has some lovely parting gifts for us, stale water, canned food, nuclear winters, and the thought of repopulating the earth by means of however many family members and neighbors we squirreled away with us before the end. Door B in comparison is pretty frank. Door B shuns hoarded toilet paper, it loathes the taste of canned mangoes, and it looks at the sun and says “meh”. Door B is my door. Door B is the door that says either it’ll happen (snicker) or it won’t. If it does, and we all die in a white-hot ball of flame and the Mayans rise from the dead and waggle their fingers at our corpses and go “geez you morons, we told you this was gonna’ happen”… I can’t really be bothered with it. I mean, I’ll be dead. And so will you. And in that kind of apocalypse I can’t imagine that I’d mind all too much. Just gotta keep myself busy in the mean time. Ya know? And then if nothing happens, if the sun comes up on December 24th, and then January 15th, and then March 23rd and the end of time itself never fully comes to pass… I’ll frankly be quite glad that I didn’t waste the stomach lining on it. Well, I mean, I’m kindof gnawing my own legs off at the situation right now but I’m sure that’ll pass.

Ultimately, we can panic for the next two years in Door A or we can just let it come in Door B. Que sera, and shit.

And unfailingly, as time progresses, people will choose Door A because that sensation is comforting, it is empowering, it gives them direction in their shitty little lives and it grants them a tiny sliver of hope that after it’s all over THEY will have the power to make everyone notice them. And that’s just so sad.

You win, Cheney. You programmed us right. We are your fear-monkeys now. Lead us not into opulence and comfort but into the valley full of shadows and darkness. We’re all yours. I need a drink.

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