With all that's going on in the world these days, I shouldn't force myself to go looking for things to upset me.
I woke up, read the paper, and was gripped with absolute enimity. New Orleans is underwater, thousands upon thousands of people have been left with nothing, countless people dead or injured... and there's looting going on. Not people panicked for clean water or medicine, but folks raiding stores and ruined homes for appliances and clothing, to sell to the victims at high prices, and then justify to reporters and police that they "deserve" the things they stole! And now there's a shoot-to-kill order in Louisiana to prevent such things (to which I say, "Bravo and aim for the brain!")
Because, as a society, there are always new levels of low to plumb. Whatever the horrors we face on a daily basis, there is always someone around the corner waiting to exploit your tragedy for their gain.
Look at the gasoline situation. Because oil rigs were damaged, because there is a coup going on in Nigeria, the price of gasoline - a necessary and vital evil in this society - has skyrocketed over $1.50 more per gallon over the past two weeks. Most of those "in charge" will say that is because the price of a barrel rose because of these problems, etc. But tell me - look me in the eye and tell me - that the oil companies are NOT benefitting from these higher prices. Tell me that there are execs who are not sitting back, puffing on a cigar and hoping that the world-wide misery lasts forever. Tell me that, then tell me another one.
(And hey, all you hard-line conservatives out there who voted our current administration into office, I want you to fix things. You did this. I didn't vote for things to go this way. My guy didn't make it to the White House (but... but... things might still be this bad if HE had been in office... right? Yeah, sure...). So I'm holding all you Red Staters responsible for the current situation in the world today. We are the single most-hated country in the world (sure, we sneer at Luxemborg, but they're not ruining anyone's lives), our "liberation" of Iraq was a land-grab excuse that backfired on us all, we're mocked, scorned, abused and are both directly and in-directly responsible for world-wide famine. Don't throw your fucking flag in my face, don't tell me that if I don't like it I should leave - where is there to go? - don't whistle Dixie, piss on my head and tell me it's raining. Don't blame the war (we started it - yes we did! Don't quote 9/11 at me, either!), don't blame the hurricane, don't blame the Democrats or Republicans (neither party is the real culprit - the current administration is made up of something different entirely), don't blame Pat Robertson and his cry for assassination, in fact, don't blame anyone at all but yourselves. You pulled that lever - you prolonged this agony. Now go and do something about it. If my guy had won on my vote and things were still this bad, I'd be out doing something, trust me. But this ain't MY fault and I'm not footing the bill for it. If you voted Red and you're bitching about the high price of gas, point the finger at yourself. Fuck you - fix this!)
So with all that - and an ongoing family crisis, and friends of mine in severe pain caused by others - what do I do?
I look up Citizen Kane on Netflix to read the bad reviews.
There are reviews that give this movie a single star for its efforts. People bandy about "boring", "predictable", "disappointing", etc.
And there it was: the familiar rage.
Because, really, it had begun to dissipate a tad. I turned the page of the paper and saw just how many people were rallying to help the flood victims down south. Because as loathesome as a civilization as we Americans can be, we do chip in for a crisis. We dig deep when it hits home hard. We put aside being our ugly, Capitalist selves, as a whole, and help out others who are hit with tragedy. We did it for the Tsunami victims, too, so it's not just empathy for the home-grown. Looters be damned - you're all scum and you know it - the rest of the country is heeding the call.
And the gas will eventually come back down to something we'll all consider reasonable, though we'll never see a $1 in front of that decimal ever again. We won't; trust me. But it'll happen. And we'll all start to wise up and clamor for hydrogen fuel cells, which will someday turn Big Oil into Big Hydrogen. And the circle of life - in this case, the snake eating its own tail, for that is our civilization - will go on.
After my umbrage had subsided, and I started to see the good in the world, I just HAD to sabotage myself. I had to go looking for trouble. And stupidity. And arrogance. And yes, there is such a thing as a wrong opinion. And being contrary for the pure sake of things.
But for fuck's sake, there was a review on there that actually used the age-old, Internet message board battle-whine: "It's the worst movie I've ever seen!"
And they were talking about Citizen fucking Kane!
You know what the worst movie they'd ever seen before that was?
The Godfather, Part II.
And that's when my old friend outrage showed up, bags in hand, ready to stay. I had him pull up a chair, and we played "Live, live, die," the rest of the afternoon.
Because these are the clowns upon whose backs we're riding upon. These are the looters in cyberspace. They're ransacking our culture, rather than our goods. They're dumbing down our society and poisoning our collective subconcious with their asinine spoutings. I don't know that there's enough yang out there to counter this yin. I really don't.
And just as they were out to upset people, there I was, feeding into it, begging to be upset. I walked into the trap clearly marked "Trap: Do Not Walk". I did it to myself. Because I wanted to be outraged. I want to know that there are wolves at the door, even if I have to go out and leave a trail of M&M's for the wolves to follow. This is my disease. I was the guy at Roarke's Drift calling up neighboring villages and asking them to send more Zulus.
It's me. I've come to the conclusion that I can't bear to see the forest for the trees. I have to look at the garbage littering the beauty. I have to see what I know I'm up against, even if I have to use binoculars and a road map.
I'm not seeing the generosity; I'm seeing the parasites. I wasn't seeing the five-star ratings; I was looking for the one-stars.
And if I don't stop doing this to myself, I'm going to go mad.
And the only comfort I'll have, as I rest the gun barrel between my teeth, is that I was right all along.
And dammit, that's hardly a comfort!