FEAR ITSELF

PART TWO IN A SERIES.

LANGUAGE WARNING:  Because of the nature of this piece and the message it conveys, I’ve granted myself the luxury of profanity to a degree uncharacteristic for The Knucklehead Logs.

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I recently saw a facebook meme that said:

“1944:   18 – 24 year-olds stormed enemy beaches, parachuted behind enemy lines, charged into battles and almost certain death.
2015:  18 – 20 year-olds need ‘safe zones’ on campus to protect their fragile emotions from ‘offensive’ words.’”
To which my reply began with:  “Fuckin’ A, Bubba!”

Now, this meme was from a right-wing entity and I’m not sure which “offensive words” they were referring to, but I have my suspicions and I consider racist language to be the most offensive thing any human can utter.  With that said, this isn’t really about language.  It regards the pussification of America and what trembling, shrinking violets we’ve allowed ourselves to become—the obvious exceptions being the young Americans answering the call of duty in the armed forces, many of whom are overseas taking fire on several fronts as I write this.

Domestically, though, yeah.  We’ve become a society of pussies.  In many ways.

It looks different on the left than on the right:  If I’m to believe MSNBC, conservatives appear as white-knuckled, wide-eyed paranoid nutjobs hiding behind locked doors clutching their guns, waiting for the non-whites to come and get them, mis-quoting the constitution and calling everyone to the left of Cheney a commie while praying to the Ronald Reagan shrines in their living rooms.  Whereas if one believes FOX, liberals appear as nudist tree-hugging forest nymphs, practicing only the most politically correct yoga and tai chi moves while singing Kumbaya and suckling organic mocha-chinos (made with milk from free-roaming, college-educated cows who enjoyed a nice massage and serenade as they were milked) from the government welfare nipple, giving one another pixie-dust enemas and inviting terrorists into their living rooms to share some fine wine while burning Old Glory in the fireplace.

Before I go on though, I feel compelled to set the record straight:  American liberals—real ones—are a scrappy lot. We brought you ALL of your rights and it was a bloody fight—for which you’re welcome—and in the ‘60s, when American liberalism had teeth, it was the right-wingers who were covering their pious, sensitive ears.  So, regarding our growing hypersensitivity to language, as far as simple profanity is concerned I dunno how this issue got politicized in the direction that it did.  But regardless, suffice to say that we’ve allowed our P.C. hypersensitivity bullshit—and it really is bullshit—to grow to such strength that we can’t get our message across.  This makes it hard for us to have the dialogue we need to have if we’re going to unfuck our country.  It’s hard for us all to talk openly if we can’t…well…talk openly.  The right says that the left is too concerned with speaking in politically correct terms and in many cases, goddammit, we are.

This is not to say that words don’t matter—if you use the “n” word around me you had better be ready to go to the mat—but short of a few third rail words such as that and other race-baiting terms, it’s stupid and dangerous for We The People to find yet another reason for division in our common language.  We’re in bad need of things that unite us and besides, our actions matter much more than our words.  We’ve gotten to where we’re more concerned with what we call something than we are with what we do about it. It’s embarrassing. Fercrissake get a grip, put your feet on the ground and dig into reality.  You’re needed.

And conservatives:  STOP IT already with your whining about the ‘war on Christmas’, or people speaking other languages here.  This is America; the concept of ‘foreigner’ and ‘alien’ doesn’t apply here if you think about it.  This country’s existence, and the constitution on which it was founded and on which it operates, are the very fucking definition of inclusion.  We have cultures from everywhere on Earth represented here; that is a matter of great pride to anyone with a brain.  So yeah, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you live in a FREE COUNTRY, which means you have to allow non-Christians to call the holidays whatever the fuck they want.  Deal with it.

But our fears don’t end with language.  We, as a culture, have become afraid of common, everyday situations.  Interactions with strangers, for instance…like being afraid of stopping to help a brother or sister who’s broken down roadside (or just broke) for fear of…what?  The boogeyman?  Being sued for something that goes wrong while helping someone?  And yes, that does happen; one of the chief ills of our society is the sickening amount of consideration and power allowed lawyers and their burgeoning industry of frivolous lawsuits.  Another thing that could never happen in a rational society, but never mind.  Suffice to say that if people are afraid of simply passing the time of day with, or helping, a stranger, then one has to wonder how the hell these Americans would handle a legitimately dangerous situation.

If we look at the things America fears and compare them to what might be considered legitimate cause for fear in any rational culture—or even in American culture, just a couple of generations back—it’s alarming to see what shrinking violets, what paranoiacs, what fucking pussies we have become.  All of us, liberals and conservatives alike.  As an American Liberal and proud member of the street forces in some important movements, I’m always glad to point out the pusillanimous nature of our modern culture, especially my fellow American liberals who need to grow a spine and a pair.

My Dad served in the Navy in WWII…he was the most educated, gentle, lion-hearted, brilliant, kind, visionary man I’ll ever know, as well as being a pillar of his Northern California community and a great leader, despite having grown up in the Oklahoma dust bowl.  Yet for all his accomplishments, for all the laurels, the respect, gratitude and accolades from the community, he cussed like a fucking sailor, didn’t hesitate to call people out on their bullshit, or to gently enlighten them if they were innocently ignorant.  He never worried about offending sensitive ears or sensibilities, and NEVER shrunk from throwing reason and facts into the face of opposing ideologies.  Nor did he fail to hear them out and consider their view.  He lived his life, professionally and personally, according to the tenet that “opposition to your point of view is an opportunity to grow”, a quote I never heard from his mouth, but a tenet which I’m proud to say he instilled at the core of my being.

My Dad’s generation—the greatest generation—faced WWII and quite literally saved the world.  My generation paled by comparison, but we rioted through the sixties and brought about a new age of social awareness and justice, not to mention several very important laws.  Compared to the comportment of modern day Americans, We of the Sixties were super-heroes, doing unimaginable things like actually going outside and facing down authority just because we knew it was wrong not to do so.

Sooo…how did we Americans lose our balls?
Or did we?

If it’s a generational thing, how come we have so many kids volunteering for the military when there are so many unstable powder kegs in the world?  The G.I. bill?  VA health benefits?  Baloney.  To sign on the dotted line and become the physical property of the U.S. military when there are wars on several fronts takes big brass attachments, no two ways about it.  And look at the shenanigans in the realm of outdoor sports; the bar continues to get raised to an extent that is clearly and admirably insane.  We Americans are as capable of courage as we ever were…it’s just lying dormant in most of us, and in our collective zeitgeist, as we sit on our asses watching 500 channels of nothing or surfing facebook.  We drive down the street in the safest cars in history, surrounded by a protective web of laws so ingrained into our psyche that people regard them as physical barriers and will step off the curb in front of a semi truck because they have the right-of-way.

I think most of us are in bad need of differentiating between perceived problems (as fed to us by news) and the actual threats to our culture and our nation (such as corporate control of our country and environment; emaciated schools and infrastructure; an uneducated, ignorant and gullible voting public unable to perceive what actually qualifies someone for office; efforts to develop green fuels being strangled by big oil; the ugly return of Jim Crow laws, etc etc).  And I think that if most of us stayed physically active and took actual risks once in a while just to keep things in perspective, it could only help.  Whether by rock climbing or engaging someone in the ‘other’ party in political debate, we have to break the hell out of our comfort zone and get comfortable there…because that comfort zone is shrinking to a fatal degree.

We can all clearly see the struggle coming for the survival of our country.  We’ll need people with spines, people with teeth, and we’ll need them to be informed of actual facts.  Strife has always brought out the best in most Americans while bringing out the worst in some; this will be no different.  But we need to be a garrulous, intrepid, INFORMED culture if we are to survive things like the battle against corporate power.  And we won’t get there if we’re all a bunch of lazy pussies.

And to my fellow American liberals:  Show the fuck up, don’t just talk about it.  Be there on voting day.  Be active and engaged in the process of governing your country, not the comfortable, armchair process of talking about it.  If you’re doing it right, it’ll take effort and feel like a job; it’ll feel risky and rude as you challenge people to do research and to think independently about issues…and hopefully to see them from a different perspective.  Your country needs you in a very real war against domestic enemies.  GROW A PAIR.  NO SNAGS ALLOWED.

One thought on “FEAR ITSELF”

  1. Largely agree with most of this . . . but you may not like my conclusion. Simply put, my Dad (also a WWII Veteran and one of “the greatest generation”) often said “the fish rots from the head”.
    If the POTUS is a pussy (and he clearly IS) . . . so goes the nation.
    Just watch ANY “man in the street” interview and you will be more than convinced just how stupid Americans are today . . . even college graduates cannot point to France on a map . . .

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