In less than a week, I will be turning 27 years of age. With this turning of the clock, it signifies my mid twenties gone, the good times never to return; I am closer to my 30s than my roaring and uncaring college years. To my 22 year old post graduate self, I am now the old creepy guy at the bar. I am by no means an old man – 27 hopefully isn’t even half as long as I will live – but I have lived hard so I hope that my insight, while insignificant and generally rambling, will be of some use to someone.
Throughout my life, there have been two topics I have refused to discuss in public. Politics and religion. I allow others to speak to me about them – to be honest, it’s nearly impossible to avoid it in any public gathering – but I will not divulge the way I feel about them. I have lived in bliss this way. With seething anger on the inside as someone explains to me the value of trickledown economics, I would swallow my pride and calm the beast inside me who wanted to strangle the very throat that was espousing the words directly off the pages of Atlas Shrugged.
I have always been frustrated, angry, disappointed even, whenever a close friend of mine would begin to talk to me about their far right leaning attitudes. I used to be a conservative, way back in high school, borderline naïve at a small all-boys Catholic preparatory school. Hell, my mom regales me with a tale of when I was small child, I asked her to buy me a small stuff animal and she refused. I started ranting about Clinton’s taxes and how unfair it was that a young rotten child like me couldn’t get exactly what he wanted. My dad, at the time a staunch conservative, was blamed for this. “Genetics…” my mother would mutter under her breath as she dragged me out of the toy store.
As I have gotten older, however, I have seen what far right conservative attitudes have brought us. It’s not very far. And it’s terrifying to see how so many have been brainwashed by those with the power to do so and have bought into the narrative.
We live in strange times. Every generation says this but at this point I firmly believe it. We’re advancing further and further both scientifically and technologically to a point that had previously only been imagined in fiction. We will live longer than any other generation on earth. We will, in theory, be healthier and will have the ability to (but sadly, probably not the access to) have treatments for ailments that would have ended our lives just a few short decades ago before I was born. At the same time, we live in a society that, despite all the advancements, has regressed to a point not seen since Upton Sinclair.
Unemployment is down, but part time employment has skyrocketed. 40 hours plus with no benefits, no future, no pension, no real ability to save. Almost every person I know, myself included, is trapped within this area. But we’re all scared. I may not implicitly state when talking to people in general “I am terrified for my future” but goddamn it I am absolutely terrified. I have no student loans mind you, imagine what someone with actual legitimate oh-fuck-I-have-to-hand-over-one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-goddamn-dollars issues has to deal with on a daily basis. We are derided and mocked for still living with our substantially more successful parents in my generation yet there is very little way to escape the nest without good luck or extreme poverty. In the eyes of the right, this is what we should be — slaves to the free market. Unable to think or breathe or act as independent individual human beings, instead drones to capitalism paying our dues to the God of the Dollar so that we too can have a little bourgeois family and a four door bourgeois sedan and a little bourgeois white picket fence. We’ve been told that we should just be happy for work in general and not complain – take what you’ve been given. So we do. We deal with it and we survive.
This allows the corporations to increase their bottom line – look we’re hiring! But the positions are now part time. The recovery is a fraud. Once a worker outlives his usefulness as a part timer and eventually makes too much hourly he will be let go and replaced by someone younger, less experienced, but equally hungry and willing to learn and after a little bit of training will be substandard to the original employee but close enough that no one will notice any more than a slight drop off in quality. Meanwhile, the right has shoveled the bullshit down our throats that if we simply work hard enough and prove their worth, they will succeed. Straight out of the playbook of Rand. We’re living in John Galt’s wet dream and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. They’ve sold us the idea that we’re all just one or two breaks away from making it big and that by rocking the boat we’ll ruin our chance at winning that lottery so don’t upset the status quo.
We’ve been taught that the only way to make money in this world is to do something practical. STEM. Be unable to critically think as an individual or a human being and instead only be able to look at the bare bones bottom line of just about everything. What good is critical thinking outside of abstract mathematics? If you can’t provide anything of real value to the world via your degree you are worthless. What value is that? What are we teaching everyone where this is okay? That someone is sub-human for entertaining the thought of becoming a part of the humanities? Because people literally cannot think for themselves without appealing to the authority of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or some other dingus who is only famous because they can talk louder than other people?
I’m angry. And I’m scared. And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.
Perhaps most despicable of all, the right has co-opted religion as their excuse for this control. They are using religion to push their regressive agendas to keep the rich in power and numb the general masses from the fear that they are feeling every day. The evangelicals promising damnation for all those who do not follow the strict path that a thousands upon thousands of year old book set forth for our culture. It is humorous to me that conservatives appeal to the authority of ancient thinkers like those who wrote the bible and our country’s forefathers when they had no concept of what society would become, no understanding of the scientific majesty of the cosmos – these people didn’t even know what a fucking germ was for Christssakes – but yet these are the people we should turn to for our understanding of the universe and how we should treat others.
I’m a fan of God, don’t get me wrong. I was born Catholic and survived almost 20 years of Catholic education. I am also now an atheist. But I am willing to admit, that if I am wrong, and God does exist, I will accept the punishment of whatever non-believing will bring me. But I can be a good person without the existence of God. The Bible exists as a foundation to tell us how to act as human beings. It is nothing more than a social contract so we don’t kill each other (which, shocks of shocks, we do anyway). As Galileo said, “The Bible is a book that tells us how to go to heaven, not the way the heavens move.” In other words, learn your ethics from Jesus but don’t believe that some dingus built a giant boat and then saved two of every animal you fucking moron.
But yet we’re too interested in picking and choosing based on our own agendas than believing the whole of what the Bible tells us. Gay people are bad, the Old Testament says so. Well guess what, the Old Testament has some choice things to say about women on their period too. Or that you shouldn’t eat pork or shellfish. Or that you shouldn’t even have a single sexual thought for a women unless you’re married and if you are married and think someone else is sexy hoo doggy man are you screwed. The framers of the Bible didn’t understand human nature because they were closer to goddamn Neanderthals than human normal contemporary human society. This was not a brain trust here.
And yet, somehow, the right wants us to believe a book rather than science. And people fall for it. People believe that the earth was legitimately built in 7 days. I’m not trying to disparage anyone’s personal beliefs here but in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, to sit there and go “This isn’t true I don’t care” I hate to say it but you aren’t noble, you’re just ignorant. This is where conservatives really get me. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary of nearly all of their beliefs, they can sit there and go “Well I have the right to say that.” You don’t. I can’t look at the sky and go “Guess what guys, the sky is green.” No Andy the sky is blue. “I don’t care, that’s my beliefs.” Are you kidding me? How absurd is this?
The left isn’t free of blame either. Where are the balls on the left? Why isn’t there a single person who stands up and calls these people out on their ignorant and wrong opinions? What are we so afraid of that no one can stand up for themselves? I see suffering every day working in Manhattan. I have watched homeless people die right in front of me. But yet we can’t have social programs because some people can abuse them. We should “drug test people on welfare.” This is really great stuff. If we judged people based on gaming the system, what about all the rich people who ship all their money overseas to avoid paying taxes. Where’s the anger about that? We can only use gaming the system to dog whistle? We can’t use it to expose the fraud that these other people pull?
Why doesn’t anyone stand up and say this is not the way the world should work? Why is there no voice that is there that tells the right that acting like a victim does not mean that you are a victim?
The left’s reform voice is suddenly Occupy Wall Street, which is either trolling us with Justine Tunney or doing absolutely nothing. Instead, we have trolls like Tunney telling us that unions are evil? That technology is the future for the value of society? It’s the same hidden bullshit that the right feeds us about work and worth. Tech workers are wage slaves just like the part time workers are – all because you get fed Fillet Mignon at lunch and get personal shuttles and nap rooms don’t make you any more of a wage slave than the rest of us.
Obama offered us change and nothing changed. And the right hates him for even trying. What do we do with an entire political movement not based anywhere in reality?
To which I ask: why isn’t anyone else fed up with this? How are none of us not mad as hell? How do we take this anymore?