This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

A portly man sits in a gilded chair atop a dais. His hands are folded over his long red tie which cascades down his belly like a bloody waterfall. One hand lifts to cover a yawn, then descends below its partner to scratch a deep red, neglected rash on the underside of his belly, the part that hides the zipper of his navy blue suit pants. He makes a mental note to to ask his assistant to make an appointment with his doctor only to toss it away to make room for the delicious cut of beef and the pungent cigar his favorite lobbyist had given him. He longed to be free of this drudgery and enjoy them with him. And his family, of course.

He clears his throat and looks around and straightens his back. A thumping, beating sound, the type of sound you feel more than hear, vibrates through his ribcage. He coughs on the loosened tar. A draft tickles his fine hairs and sends a chill down his spine. He leans to his side and asks his aide to close the window. The sound deadens as a quieter, almost timid one finds its way back to his ear.

A hunched and sweaty man read breathlessly from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle to the chamber of bored and aggravated senators as the glassy stare of the portly man bore into him. Between every word the chants from outside would rattle the windows, rattle his chest. The horrible sound of glass shattering. The image of his daughter’s mangled body on the hospital bed, only 26. He trips over the next word and his legs are about to give. He reads on even though his daughters matted hair and the tubes from her mouth bleed into every silent space.

The windows continue to rattle. His mind wanders out of the chamber, past his daughter’s dreary hospital room, through the rattling old windows to the mass of protesters outside beating their voices against the capital building’s walls like would-be trumpets at Jericho. He was with them, no, more than that he was them. He stood there holding a heavy poster-board in one hand and his daughter in the other, he chanted with them for the powers that be to do the right thing.

So long ago.

Long before he became a senator. Before the complications and attacks on his integrity. Before the piles of gifts, ignored, and the expensive dinners, politely enjoyed. Before the car crash, before the promised check. Before he stood up from his seat, book in hand, to stand up for the wrong thing. Before long it became too much.

“Alright, alright,” the portly man booms from his dais, waving his hand dismissively in the way a father would dismiss a child from an arduous punishment. The hunched and defeated father slumps into his chair mid-sentence as the other continues. “That’s enough, senator, that’s enough. We’ll table this issue for another time. And really, I never expected this from you who seemed to like the idea of ‘free’ healthcare.”

“It isn’t free if the taxpayers have alre-“

“Now, I said that’s enough.” He repeats in the same fatherly tone. “You made your point quite clear that you didn’t want the vote to go through today, and I think we’d all like to go home to our families.”

“Of course.”

As they descend the steps of the capital building to the deafening singular voice of the protestors chanting “do your job” the portly man adjusts his suit and lifts his head high. He wraps his heavy arm around the slouched shoulders of the tired and worried father slipping a check into his coat pocket and whispering, “you did the right thing.”

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Rhetoric

Rhetoric against rhetoric. people exclaiming words they have no true grasp of against others doing the same. What has my country come to? A bunch of loud mouth idiots getting mad at each other over beliefs and systems they grew up in without thought to the true implications or the veracity of what they believe. That’s not even the worst of it, it seems that it’s become almost a badge of honor to believe in and remark about something they have no idea about and you’re almost ostracized for having a well thought out, logical, and nuanced opinion on a subject you may actually know a thing or two about. People don’t understand that what they say and what they write, the words they use, have power. Actual power. Power to bring together or break apart. It seems, sadly, that more people are concerned with the latter than the former. It is truly terrible that an individual with a nuanced and thought out belief system, one which considers and adapts to new information, is a pariah, and outcast, an idiot among violent, mouthy parrots.

There is almost a fear, for the aforementioned reason, of being a nuanced and articulate human being, and a fear of nuanced and articulate humans. We are a tribal being so it makes some sense; no individual wants to be cast out of the necessary comfort of being accepted. One almost has to adhere to some rhetoric or another just to be accepted.

It’s laziness, people don’t want to or don’t have the time to consider a fully fleshed out new idea. They have other shit to do like take care of their families and work. They don’t have time to think for themselves so they latch onto rhetoric that is most similar with the ideals they grew up in. Circumstantially it is understandable, however when it is that persons job to be nuanced and considerate, such as a political pundit or writer then it becomes a problem. Normal people rely on them to tell them what is happening in their world so when a new policy or law is passed and then filtered through whatever rhetoric each particular “news” outlet employs and is then absorbed by the american public through whichever source they have for whatever reason adhered to they believe they know what their talking about and have the best most unbiased information they can. When in reality they are talking about the same exact thing only looked at through their own semi-chosen lens. Anger and distrust and even hatred will then stem from this.

It is particularly sad because it truly doesn’t have to be this way. If we were to get the full story or the true top down perspective of each issue we can look at its implications and consider for ourselves the true outcomes of each decision made for us by our leaders.

This is the most painful thing for me because people will stick to their given rhetoric or beliefs and defend them like their lives depend on it causing truly unnecessary pain and division. It’s almost like we are at war with ourselves being pitted against each other for the pleasure of those so far above this strife, the necessities of daily work and family. They don’t have to adhere to rhetoric, they create it. The saddest part is that like them we can also create our own rhetoric. Most people fear to because they may be wrong. That’s the beauty of it though, we can’t be wrong because there isn’t a wrong or a right, there is only cause and consequence. This means there are only things you do and the things that result from such actions. For example what happens when you punch someone. Depending on your strength you could cause considerable physical damage, this affects how they are now experiencing their life, with pain. Now ask yourself if you would like to experience life in such a way. If you said no then why would you want another to experience that pain? The same goes for our words and legislation. So next time a piece of legislation, such as a prop, comes up for a vote first ask yourself if you’d like living under that rule, even if it doesn’t affect you personally. If you said no, vote it down, if you said yes, vote for it. We live in a democracy where the rules are made by us, not some god or king, us. So be considerate because like it or not we are all in the same boat here.