Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Abyss Within

                                  "First you've got to get mad."
                                                  - Howard Beale, Network

The lights go out. Minutes before, the nicely dressed man in front of us was reciting what's what in the world. A moment ago we watched yet another series of images describing the deaths of yet another dozen innocent civilians- another "isolated incident". Now we're looking at our reflections in the small black tile.

The handsome man tells us not to worry- that the authorities are on top of the situation. Now we're left staring at some amorphous figures sitting on a couch. With microwave dinners and artificially flavored carbonated drinks in hand they're staring at us with an expressionless gaze. What are those figures thinking right now? If they could talk what would they have to say?

Minutes earlier they might have dispassionately watched the faces of other people much like themselves flash across the screen- people who are no longer alive. "Those poor families! Damn those gunmen!" they might say.

However, once the lights go out, those same people would immediately forget those dozen now-dead civilians and start screaming over the injustice that is the temporary end of their publicly funded programming. They'd wait a couple seconds until the power goes back on. Then they'd continue to care about their fellow countrymen until the next story scrawls across the screen.

But what if the power doesn't turn back on? What if those amorphous people sitting on the couch were the ones on the screen the man with nice hair was telling us about? What would they have done in the same situation? Would they have fought back? Would they have jumped over one of the small children in a final act of self sacrifice? Would they have yelled, in one last lively gust of passion "By my life, and my love of it, I will not die today without taking one of you dogs with me"?

How many more bombings, shootings, and culturally self-degrading television programs must they see until they get mad? How many more bombings, shootings, and culturally self-degrading television programs must you see until you get mad?

I'm sorry, but did you evolve in 80 years time? Are you beyond violence now, or are you so removed from it you've grown forgetful? Are you too morally self-adulatory to succumb to ruthless barbarism? Did the greatest qualities of your ancestors die off, or is valor no longer in with the times? Is your greatest weapon a virtual French flag spread over your profile pictures? Never mind who's watching the watchmen. What happens when the watchmen can no longer watch you? What happens when they're too busy watching themselves and their families? Who will save you then? Who will save you when everyone but you is dispassionately sitting on their couches ready to see your name scrawled along another headline?

If you're offended by the above paragraph you're part of the problem. If not what are you waiting for? Plug out, tune in, and for God sake get mad!