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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Apathy


"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do noth-ing."
Edmund Burke.

OK, apparently that popular quote is a paraphrase and can't be found in those words anywhere in Burke's writings. But Hunter Thompson liked it and I like it, and that's good enough for me.

My previous post was either my response, or refusal to respond, to people who were attacking my apparent political activism with regard to my Zen practice. The essence of my response was that zazen makes me see more clearly and helps me do a better job of whatever it is that I'm doing. Zen does not endorse any particular political view, nor does the practice of zazen inculcate one. Enough said.

What I'm addressing here is the criticism I have received frequently (though not on this blog, unfortunately) for being concerned with things I can't change. It's that psychological truth that gets reduced to spiritual babble in that AA prayer, among other things, which encourages you to have the wisdom to know which things you can change, and which you can't, and to not waste your time on the latter.

Which is good advice. I really do try not to worry about things I can't change. I can't change the weather. I can't change the past. I can't change your mind. But I live in a country which is still supposedly a democratic republic, which was the first nation (in our history) founded on the principle that each and every voice matters in the way we govern ourselves. Being a citizen of the United States as it was founded by our forefathers, and for which our ancestors (in my case, my father's generation) fought and died in WWII and other necessary, real wars, is not just about listening to canned news on the Faux channel (and note where Gunslinger Cheney is about to Meet the Press, within the hour as I write this). It's not just about being cannon fodder for a greedhead foreign invasion. It's about participating in a form of government that was, in its time, the greatest experiment ever undertaken in the history of governments, an experiment set up out of necessity to prove a thesis most of the world's population at the time probably thought was absurd: that a free people, given education and access to real information, could govern themselves.

If one more person comes up to me and tells me that "the elections are over, give it up," that person is going to need a foot doctor and a proctologist. Because to change the way this country is governed is not only a right but an obligation of citizenship. The kind of ignorance that tells the populace that they are unable to do anything about the laws that are passed, or the way those laws are enforced, is exactly what the Bush Cabal and the Christian Reich are promoting. If you want to be governed by a fascist elite, there are plenty of countries where you can go. Where you'll never have to make another decision for yourself about which church to go to, or which newspaper to read, or which TV shows to watch. If you go to one of those places, you'll never have to think about right and wrong again. The government and the church (or the lack of one) will make those decisions for you.

But this country is my country. It is the country our father's generations fought and died for. If you voted for George W. Bush, especially the second time, and if you endorse the Patriot Act, if you are willing to give up in one fell swoop 230 years of American democracy, then get out of my country. Because you are an American traitor.

And if you don't vote, what's wrong with you? Apathy will lead us back to the tyranny we fought against, tyranny with so many faces and so many names. If the Clampdown comes, and you didn't try to stop it, what kind of collaborator are you?

Historically as a people we are blind. What's unique is that we have a structure that lets us wake up when we are ready. I just finished watching Vol. 7 of Ken Burns' excellent PBS series Jazz on DVD, part of the context of which is the return of Black soldiers to this country after WWII, soldiers who had fought and seen their comrades die along with the White soldiers (though not beside them, as the military was still segregated). Returning soldiers whom the restaurants wouldn't serve. Not that racial injustice is something I can address summarily in this context. The point is blindness. All these people were opposed to Hitler, but they couldn't see the Hitler in their own minds. This is why thinking clearly is so important.

So just because the Bush cabal hasn't come after you yet, or you think they haven't tapped your phone or looked at your internet searches or checked out your bank account, don't think they won't. Don't think that because you're a White boy who still considers himself a member of the middle class, that you'r invulnerable or immune. Because once they put the boot down they won't stop, and to paraphrase Orwell while we're getting away with paraphrases, the future will consist of a boot stomping on a human face, forever.

"First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me." (Pastor Martin Niemöller)

By the way, here's a link to a couple of very interesting anti-Bush commericals that were too radical for Move-on.org. Be patient, they take a minute to load. Enjoy! http://www.thememoryhole.org/pol/bush-hitler-ads.htm

This post is dedicated to David B. and everyone else who's made it to 49 without going blind.

5 comments:

TheMemoWriter said...

I have really enjoyed what I've read on your blog so far. I just happened upon your blog by clicking the "next blog" button on the screen. I haven't read everything yet but I've bookmarked you. I practice yoga on a regular basis and have had mixed results getting into a good zazen routine. I know that it would be very good for me, and what you're saying about mental clarity makes lots of sense. But I still find it hard to get myself to meditate. I haven't read all of your blog yet but I plan on going back and reading it soon.

BTW, If you ever want to check out my blog, I've attached a link: http://thememowriter.blogspot.com/

Thanks!

p.k. said...

A successful democracy relies on an educated electorate. Boy, are we in trouble! More people would rather watch sports (I'm not dissing the Olympics!), weather, and entertainment instead of watch or read the news. Any news we do get is most likely to come in the form of sound bytes, not in-depth information.

By the way, have you noticed a trend in APOLOGIZING? While some people exhibit foot-in-mouth syndrome, doesn't it defeat the purpose of meaningful debate when one has to apologize for every single statement one makes? We have become a society of wusses who can't take a stand on anything for fear of creating too much of a stir.
-pk

TheMemoWriter said...

PK, I agree with you for the most part. I believe that people should only apologize when it is warranted. But when it is warranted, they tend to do a terrible job. Often what they offer isn't an apology at all. And I do find that annoying.

BTW, Bob J: I got your comment and at the risk of sounding dumb...what was the plausible and defensible reason for going into Iraq that you haven't seen mentioned?

billgates said...

I just have a couple of questions and an obersavation for you Bob. What makes a war real or not real? Are any wars really neccessary?

The following two quotes from your post are a bit puzzling.

" But I live in a country which is still supposedly a democratic republic, which was the first nation (in our history) founded on the principle that each and every voice matters in the way we govern ourselves."

"If you voted for George W. Bush, especially the second time, and if you endorse the Patriot Act, if you are willing to give up in one fell swoop 230 years of American democracy, then get out of my country."

Seems that everyone is entitled to a "voice" unless they disagree with you! In which case they need to get out of "your" country. Or am I reading this wrong?

Bob J. said...

I was gonna write a response to tmw's question in his second comment, and to billgates, but I realized it was gonna get sort of lengthy. I think I will just put it in a new blog entry, hopefully later today. Thanks for the comments!