WWH–Do you ever get the feeling that you’re living in a huge insane asylum? If not, just read what some media outlets consider “news”: “Doomsday Prophet, Followers ‘Flabbergasted’ World Didn’t End.” “Jennifer Anniston Debuts New Dark ‘Do—Her Chocolate BrownLook….” “Kutcher to be paid less than Sheen — Only $750,000 per Episode.” “Brad Pitt’s All-Beige Getup.” “Lady Gaga Introduces Mom!” “ More Post-Royal Wedding News!” “NFL Football Lockout: How Much More Can Football Fans Take?” “Trump Bows Out.”
Oddly out of touch with reality, don’t you think? Sleight of hand, diversion from the real problems of the world today. The economic woes of our country. The tragedy of war, our children’s lifeless bodies being silently sent home (no longer, front page, nor even back page, news) in wooden boxes. And then there’s the massive growing body of the unemployed in our country. The man downtown living in his car, or in his cardboard box. The escalation of drug use, gang recruitment, and violent crime amongst our youth. New harmful drugs being dealt to our young every day, like this new one – Molly — that is spreading like wildfire in our suburbs, taking kids unaware of what is or isn’t in it.
Anything to escape, escape the harsh realities of the world today. Like employers shipping American jobs overseas, the vanishing job opportunities for the young and old alike.
And politics going on as usual, protecting the rich, the haves, while the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us is ever-widening.
So, give us something to take our minds off what’s real. Give us drugs, give us video games, reality TV, give us…entertainment! Tell us about Jennifer’s new ‘do, Ashton’s humiliating salary…while the rest of us try to figure out how we’re going to put food on the table for our kids this week, how we’re going to keep our kids away from the gangs riding the streets, looking to pull them into their fray.
Keep us from thinking about what we’re going to do when we’re laid off at 55 after working the same job, the only job we know, for 30 years. Wondering about who’s going to hire us and how we’re going to be able to pay for health insurance, while the politicians talk about privatizing health care, cutting Medicare, allowing us to have “more choice.” (Code words for more choice to have no insurance at all, to leave quality health care to those who deserve it, yes, those who can afford it.)
The Super Bowl, the World Series, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol. . . show us all the American Dreams the majority of us will never have a chance to achieve, that our children, who still believe, who strive for, are getting farther and farther from ever achieving. Show us the miracles that might be.
Remember when you were a kid and you were told you can become whatever you want in this country? You could even become President? Remember just a few years ago, how that fading promise was brought briefly back to life with the electing of an African-American President? Ever so briefly our dreams were revived, until it turned out that this president, this politician was, after all, just another politician. Remember when you were a kid and if your family was having trouble your neighbors would come to your aid, help you out? Now, it seems, it’s every man and woman for themselves.
We follow our sports, we cling to our celebrities, our reality TV stars — see, they’re telling us, even real people like us can make it big! But it’s all lights and mirrors, hocus pocus, sleight of hand, the Grand Illusion.
The Truth seems to be that America is a culture fading fast, a shadow of the great nation that it used to be. Where employers no longer look out for their employees, where parents no longer guide or parent their children, where the government no longer protects, or even pretends to protect, its citizens from hunger, urban blight, ill health.
It’s been a long time since FDR and the New Deal, when, no matter how corrupt politicians were, they still tried to improve the lives of the (now rapidly vanishing) middle class of America. Medicare, Social Security…these are now outdated ideas. With occasional revivals – for example, take the crazy notion of universal health care, the right of all people to be treated for illnesses, most recently endorsed by the Clinton and the Obama Administrations. But still the politicians on the right attack these ideals of the common good with their very slightly veiled agendas to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. These are the people that supposedly represent us. And these are the people whose words need to be closely examined, their real, underlying goals revealed.
We can’t depend on the politicians of our two-party system to change the status quo because they are, for the most part, representative of the power elite in this country. They have a monopoly, stranglehold, on our government. They are representing not the guy living in the cardboard box, the teenage boy being drawn into a world of drugs and violence, the middle-aged man losing his job of 30 years, but the Ashton Kutchers, the Lady Gagas, the football heros, the Donald Trumps, of this world, the haves, the two-dimensional characters that the media wants us to think we know, to commiserate with over their losses, while another baby dies in the waiting room from an operation her parents couldn’t afford, another homeless alcoholic’s body is found next to a garbage heap in an alley, and another once-respected former worker’s home is foreclosed on.
This is the American Dream gone wrong. This is an American Nightmare. And it’s time we stand up together, open our eyes, and say in a very loud voice: “Enough is enough.” It’s time to stand up for our rights and demand changes for the majority – the hardworking citizens of the working and middle classes, the backbone of this country. It’s the only way we’re ever going to get back to the America we once knew.
Besides appearing in worldwide hippies, Mitchell Waldman’s essays, fiction, and poetry have previously appeared or will appear shortly in numerous places, including the Rochester Times-Union, new aesthetic, Wilderness House Literary Journal, eFiction Magazine, Connotation Press, 63 Channels, Moronic Ox Literary and Cultural Journal, HazMat Review, Longshores Literary Magazine, The Battered Suitcase, Eclectic Flash, Ink Monkey Magazine, Innisfree, Poetpourri, the Advocate, Mobius, the Parnassus Literary Review, Desperate Act, and Poetry Motel, and in the anthologies, Beyond Lament: Poets of the World Bearing Witness to the Holocaust (Northwestern University Press), America Remembered (Virgogray Press), and Messages from the Universe (iUniverse).
Mitchell Waldman is also the author of the novel, A FACE IN THE MOON, and co-edited (with Diana May-Waldman) an anthology, entitled WOUNDS OF WAR: POETS FOR PEACE. (Check out his website at http://mitchwaldman.homestead.com for more details).