Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Death of Respect - American Nightmare part 4

The foundation has been laid in the previous three posts for what is really wrong with America, at least in my view. The rampant consumerism, marketing-driven unrealistic expectations of rewards and image, fundamental competition in all areas of life - these are the columns on which our demise rests.

Respect is dead in the United States, or dying a miserable death. And that will tear us apart.

All of this competition has made us mistrustful of one another, and with good reason - there are far too many people who have learned by example - too many cutthroat assholes who will steal your candy without remorse or penalty. It's 'just business.'

All of this marketing has made us feel like we have rights and privileges that we are owed and guaranteed, even if that means someone else has to suck it up.

All of this consumerism has made us chew up the planet and spit it out like used gum, and then we want another piece, another dose of temporary flavor, another spree so that we have that one more item tucked away - we need it, right? We need a new blender. We need a new set of flatware. We need a new sweater. We need new jeans. We need a new car. We need a bigger house. We need - but do we, or is this just what we are being taught, or more precisely, trained to think?

Because these trappings, in the eyes that the media and marketers give us - these equal success and comfort, and if you don't have them, then you're down the scale somehow. You matter less.

I. Call. Bullshit.

Want an example? Pay close attention to how people drive in this day and age. If they have a big expensive SV, then they will do things like ride the center line, maybe it's becuase they don't know how to drive a truck, but in my mind, it's at least partly because they feel like, in some way, their vehicle should have greater access to the roads, greater freedom of movement. Haven't you seen the Lexus ads? Why don't you yield, then?

In my town, people pass each other on the right, sit in the fast lane, zip through yellow lights, do rolling stops around corners - all of this is just another way of asserting that the laws don't really apply to us - not really. We are privileged and for police to enforce these laws is absolutely senseless to us. But it's not - these laws were written by people who thought that we should respect one another. Now that we don't (as a culture), these laws seem beneath us - too much to ask of us. Are we really so put upon to be five minutes later?

Mama Monster put this excellent post on her blog,a nd I have mad respect for her for her choice that day. I am so jaded that I see a man stand by the side of a road, read erports of professional panhandlers making more than I do - I can't help but feel like I'm being cheated, and that, in itself, is an example of the death of respect. I don't consciously look at them with contempt, but it's there, somewhere, because of the media portrayal of, hopefully, one case out of ten thousand.

And everyone does deserve the same respect and compassion - we all do. But we're all using different measures and attitudes to make up our minds. We have different levels of education and understanding. The media treats us all like sheep, dumbs it down to an eighth grade reading level, simplifies things until true meaning is completely glossed over. We lie to each other in an attempt at currying favor. We manipulate facts to make them support this conclusion or that one. We've lost the fundamental need for Truth with ourselves and one another - we have no respect anymore even for that.

Ever fudge your taxes? Ever lie to a cop to get out of a ticket? Ever take more change than you were due with an inward smirk?

I have done all of these things, and probably worse. Because I'm no shiny pillar of towering strength in a world of weakness. I want new jeans. I'd be stoked to win that lottery thing. I am mistrustful and suspicious and jaded. I am materialistic and snobbish and self-important. I am a product of this society, and it shocks me that the next batch is coming out worse than I am.

Because I can see myself clearly, and make some amends for myself - give a little back to the world in some sense. I hope. And I'm trying to re-learn respect. I'm really trying. Because I don't like being part of the problem.


Alan said...

You betta WORK that truth to power, Warrior-Poet!! You stepping all over my toes!!

Once I was stopped along with two other cars for crossing illegally through a gap between the crowded and trapped "express" lane and the free and open local lanes. Ol' Dude rolled up behind the three of us who had snuck through, his lights flashing and his siren going "BEUWRPP!!" Then he stopped in front of us and dared us to go around him. We parked and he went from car to car handing out tickets. I couldn't do anything except inwardly applaud. I swear. Even though I was convinced that its assinine to make us stay trapped and crowded when we could cross over into freedom, I also knew that if everyone did it, it'd be chaos and danger for the people driving in the local lanes as people drifted out slowly in front of them without an entrance lane. So I took the chance, broke the law, and got a ticket which I paid without complaint. Not only because I was wrong, but because Johnny Cop had balls big enough to pull THREE OF OUR ASSES OVER AT THE SAME TIME. Gotta respect dem big balls, dude.

Alan said...

I meant the cops' balls, btw. :-D

The Neighbor said...

I gathered that. It doesn't take balls to blog; it's not like I'm sitting before congress calling them out one by one.

That's not until next month.

Alan said...

Yeah, but no. It takes balls (and ovaries) to blog since it's disclosure of a special nature, and you're putting it out for any ol' John Voyeur, or Cantankerous McHatesEverybody to come along and spew vitriol all over your innermosts.

I didn't want you to think that "Gotta respect dem big balls, dude." meant that I was just laying back in the cut checking out your balls, be they big or otherwise. Because, you know ... awkward. I mean, it's not that you don't probably have a fine well-balanced pair that have been wonderfully functional and has caused many a gal (all Lookers by the way Boopila tells it) to moan in some Ned-engorged pleasure ... but you just probably don't need me, a dude, and your brother of the heart, to point it out. :-D

The Neighbor said...

How about we agree to stop talking about balls in the literal sense altogether?

Alan said...

Yeah, see, like I said. Awkward.