Mornings on my porch these days are exquisite. I pry myself from my bed and shuffle out into paradise in this (what I call) cool Florida spring. Every day starts out at 70 degrees. Sun flashes through the dense foliage, creating lush shadows and undulating sunbeams flecked with shimmering dust motes. The mockingbird symphony (somewhere between Vaughn Williams and Wagner, I fancy) is backed by a chorus of owls chanting their baritone refrain. If you listen closely you can discern the words. In fact, you may discern any words you want. I choose to hear “what a world, what a beautiful world.” Eight o’clock on a sunny May morning. It’s hard to see anything wrong with the world those first few moments each morning on my porch.
Then I remember. Reality intrudes. The e-mails. That fascinating and disturbing window on the world. After careening through hundreds of them every day, disconnected thoughts begin flowing through my brain, even before I put on the coffee.
When I write something, people are always asking me for references, links or citations, and I seldom can remember them, because I have traveled too fast through too much cyberterritory during the previous day to be able to cite chapter and verse. It’s the ideas that stick, though I often don’t remember which e-mail said what.
This morning it’s this one. We grew up thinking our leisurely middle class lifestyle was the way life has always been. Some of you white haired curmudgeons out there will remember a wacky TV show called “The Life of Riley,” one of those carefree ’50s half hour sitcoms where the bumbling head of household was lovably inept and perpetually bamboozled — and appreciated because of it.
Such an innocent time. One recent e-mail pointed out that this social condition — the very existence of a middle class — was created by the aftermath of World War II, when the government assisted all its military survivors with generous loans. The result was a surge in college degrees and individual home ownership.
First the first time in history, a legitimate middle class was created. It had never existed before, which was something I never realized. But now, today, in A.D. 2005, it was being deliberately exterminated. And might never exist again.
One of the reasons this sad state had come to pass, as I recall, was that these same auspicious conditions for prosperity also created something very dangerous to the ultimate health of the planet — out-of-control human reproduction and an out-of-balance infestation of corpulent human locusts.
It’s like the climate in Florida. Every possible species of animal thrives here. Eagles live comfortably in towns. Alligators grow 14 feet long and aren’t afraid to waddle anywhere, as some people with missing limbs will attest to. Heck, in Florida, the cockroaches — and their Schwarzeneggerean cousins, the mighty palmetto bugs — will stand up and fight you if you get in their way. No foolin’. Life thrives here.
With such a rich country and a government that actually supported its population, after World War II, the population exploded. All over the world, too. The world’s population quadrupled in the 20th century.
So it wasn’t long before our controllers, the rich elite who get a very different education than we peons do, surmised that too many people put too much of strain on the world’s resources. Or maybe it was just their control of the world’s resources that they were talking about. In any case, they developed a plan — they being some think tank called the Club of Rome — that population had to be reduced radically if the elite were to continue to live comfortably in their opulent, Wackenhut-guarded enclaves.
If you’re old enough, you might remember the days when the medical profession actually tried to make you healthier. Rather than today, when all they try to do is rob you and kill you, or at least maim you for life so you’ll be forced to buy more medicines.
Now this Club of Rome thing has reached hyperdrive. Most of allopathic medicines are outright poison, as is most of the corporate food supply. You definitely can’t trust what your doctor says.
And the brave military men and women who devotedly follow the orders of our nation’s so-called leaders? Well, instead of getting free college and a loan guarantee to buy a house, they get a guaranteed case of terminal cancer (cleverly inflicted by their own poisoned ammunition, as well as their toxic vaccinations, so they can spread their maladies to their families and thereby reduce unwanted and unsightly population more quickly, not to mention the benefit to the government that paying parsimonious death benefits is much more economical than shelling out for lifelong medical care) — all this, of course, assuming that they survive their military assignments, which, in this sad day and age, has become less and less likely.
Now, some of you, particularly some of you young whippersnappers, might say to me: “You’re living in the past, Old Geezer. You’ve got to get with the program.”
They don’t realize what the program is. They’ve reaped the harvest of living in a very fortunate time, for some. And they can’t see beyond the parameters of their own pleasant porches to understand the world is really not something of their own creation, but rather it is something they just happened to stumble into, and most of us never really perceive what we have been given, or who has given it to us, or what plans they — the ubiquitous, amorphous and unidentified “they” — have in store for us.
The thought that our middle class lifestyle is going the way of the dodo bird really saddens me. How lucky we had been to have had such an elysian existence for so long. I console myself by thinking perhaps it was only karma that it had to end, since the vaunted American way of life was constructed on the extermination of the native Indians, nourished by the blood of innocent black people lying dead in the fertile Alabama dirt, and sustained by the blood of the unsuspecting peasants all around the world who never possessed this kind of leisurely life in which we have for so long langoured. Perhaps it is only poetic justice that we would one day wind up in the same condition we ourselves (OK, or our forebears) have inflicted on so many others. What goes around comes around, right?
In the same way that religious hysterics always predict Armaggedon in their own generation (trapped in a blindness that prevents them from seeing the mathematical unlikelihood of any such prediction), another e-mail pretended to know what the overall plan for the decaying United States was, that it was being brought into line by the global elite to simply be another province of the World Management System, and hence Bush and his psychopathic partners were being instructed to destroy America’s reputation and make it the pariah of the world, so it would be attacked by a new coalition of the outraged and dragged down to the level of, say, Zimbabwe, so it would be easier to control by those who control everything.
That the U.S., with the help of quislings like Bush and Clinton, was simply being set up to look bad, so that the rest of the world would eventually get fed up and destroy us as being a menace to humanity, which we definitely are.
It is hard to deny that this is the way it looks. More and more you read stories that America has lost its mind. And a cursory review of history, objective history, clearly reveals that it never had a heart. Oh sure, the people had a heart. People everywhere have hearts. But once things congeal into a monolithic government, the heart seems to disappear, and wholesale rape — even of one’s own self — seems to inevitably be the order of the day.
So, as I sit on my porch, and a new strand of spring green ivy creeps eagerly up the weather-rusted screen, stretching out its tendrils to greet the infinite possibility of a new day, I review the two remembered e-mails, which forewarned of the death of the middle class, and the deliberate sabotage of the American dream.
And then one other e-mail flits across the clouded screen of my bittersweet attention. It was from a doctor in Pennsylvania who often buys my books, and sends me both frequent contributions and books she thinks I need to read (and she’s always right about that).
In her note was a stark fact. Since 1970, the percentage of population diagnosed as sociopathic (who the heck knows how they quantify these things?) has tripled.
For those who have trouble with the word, a sociopath is simply someone without a conscience. “Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others,” according to The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.
As you may have realized, this is now the new way of life in America. The diagnosis, according to standard medical textbooks, is clinically deranged.
I mused momentarily on that scary fact. It explained a lot of things. Combined with the corporate consolidation of media in the late 20th century, it explained the death of popular music. And the loss of conscience in our nation’s newspapers. Perhaps it even explained how a whole society could fail to object to an unjust war ostensibly waged on its behalf that was murdering hundreds of innocent people every day.
It explained the effects of Prozac, Ritalin, fluoride, and beyond that, the heartless zombification of America. It explained how everyone could overlook the facile lies being used to justify the sociopathic behavior of America, because sociopaths do not object to sociopathic behavior. Why should they care? It’s not their problem.
As you know, a simple mind like mine tends to reduce these complexities to simplicities by saying the real problem is religion, on the theory that once they can make you believe things that you know in your reasonable mind are not true, they can make you believe anything. But I won’t bore you with any more of that just now, although this is definitely not to say I won’t in the future.
So as the sun streams through my dusty porch, and little lizards frolic on the languid leaves of the elephant ear plant that climbs high up my mottled Australian pine, and the squirrels fight the sparrows for the last few fragments in the bird feeder, I make a mental note of things I must do to face the day, items to acquire, people to meet, foodstuffs to purchase.
In the peace of the spring sun I notice that missing from my list is anything about whose life I may improve or what wrong I may attempt to right today, and as I write today I make a mental note that this may be the very difference from the world we have and the world we want.
And the porch tells me, go outside now. You have done all you can do here. But keep your eyes open for something you can do for someone. It may make all the difference in the world, not only for the world, but for yourself.
Love is contagious, you know. And the revolution for a decent world begins in your own heart.