Friday, April 09, 2010

I know I haven't posted here for a while..

posted by The Vidiot @ 7:52 AM Permalink

...because, well, there's so much going on in my life (raising somebody else's kid is NOT easy) that what constitutes the 'real' world just seems so insignificant. And frankly it is insignificant.

Even the recent release of the video on Wikileaks -- showing an Apache helicopter killing a bunch of folks on the ground in Iraq, thinking they were carrying guns, but they were really photo journalists for Reuters carrying high-powered cameras -- is insignificant.

Yeah, those guys in the helicopter killed a bunch of innocent people, and they did it with complete and utter disdain. No big whoop. It happens every day all over the planet in different ways, but with the same result: the powerless get murdered by those with the power. Whether it be because of bullets coming from an Apache helicopter, or an unmanned-drone in Afghanistan piloted by a couple of government yahoos sitting in a double-wide trailer smack dab in the middle of the Nevada desert. It could be because a health insurance company denied critical treatment for a very sick person or the police assume a black kid in the projects is carrying a weapon and shoots him anyway. It could be GM seed crops failing, bankrupting and poisoning vast swaths of people or it could be the result of a government's policy of choosing to fund the military over food aid for its people. Folks get murdered every day for plenty of reasons and some in the most banal of ways, but unless they're part of the underclass, the murderers are powerful and go unpunished. And that's the way it is.

I'm not a pessimist about this stuff. I'm not throwing up my arms and saying, "Well, there's nothing I can do about it, that's just the way it is." I'm just doing the only thing I can do; raise this kid to NOT be a criminal, keep this home, help Dr. Vidiot follow his path, complete my graphic novel, and, with Dr. Vidiot's help, open as many eyes as I can.

The only thing that makes the release of this video different from all the other regularly occurring murders I mentioned is that this one is on video and it is clear, short and digestible. It's a perfect format for the short attention span of the the American public. And as such, it can become a teaching moment. Though, it's NOT a lesson on "This is one particular incident that needs to be addressed" or "how can we stop this indiscriminate killing." Rather, it's a chance to discuss what supports such actions, what the logic of institutions are that are a part of instances like this one, and how we, as people created these institutions, the ones who participate in it help maintain them and how it is we, as people, who can change our minds and NOT support them any longer.

Let's step back. Just look at your own place of business. Lots of dumb things happen in the course of the day that are the result of certain procedures that were instituted and then followed, with no discrimination between whether or not that procedure should be followed for each different scenario. For instance you may need a sign off on everything, from the most important contract to the smallest mailing label. How impractical is it to get a sign off on 3 lines of text? Yet, the system says you must do it, no matter if it takes you the entire day to track that idiot down for his signature. It's the logic of the system that says "you must have the signature for everything." Your own logic that says, "This is ridiculous and I'm not wasting half my day on this" doesn't count. You MUST follow the rules or you will somehow be sanctioned for not following the rules. And even if you went ahead and didn't get the signature and all went well, you'd STILL get sanctioned for not following the rules. Do a job long enough, and you stop thinking "I'll just use my own logic here" and you follow the logic of the system around you because it's just, well, easier and more comfortable to do so. (What's worse, nobody knows who instituted the rule, but that's another type of discussion best left to Dr. Vidiot)

Well, apply that to the institutions around us, the big one in particular being the logic of the Nation State. Sure, as a person, we're like, "How could those guys shoot at those people with such complete and utter disregard for human life? I could never do that!" and you never could. But if you had been trained like them, lived their lives, followed their path, were embedded in the institution to the degree that they are, you would've surely done the exact same thing.

But here you are; you think like you, you live your life. And when it comes to the logic of the Nation State, it is your choice to follow it. I know, everything in you says you must follow the herd, don't step out of line. Hell, I can feel that fear and panic welling up in me when I think about stepping out of line and I KNOW another reality is possible. This is what socialization does. It forms you and makes it hard to slip out of that form.

To combat that, I try to use images to move my head out of the herd. Here's one image I use:

Another is an image I use is of a crowd moving down the street and one person trying to walk the opposite way until they make their way to the edge and step outside the crowd. There, they can sit down, even lie down and relax, watch the birds and observe the others as they march mindlessly down the path. Maybe it's hokey creative visualization crap from the 70s, but I like it.

Sorry this post was so long and rambling. There's a lot of thinking that gets done when I'm managing the mundane tasks of maintaining Casa Vidiot. Not all of it is clear, but the feelings behind it are. I know a saner reality is possible. I'm just beginning to articulate it. Please bear with me.

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At 6:21 PM, Blogger The Sailor said...

In my case I called it 'growing up' but there's not a lot to be said for it.

I use that term because now I can inhabit the herd and they don't immediately try to eliminate me.

But the herd has infected me with their values.

25 years ago I realized I can't control how the people around me affect me. But I can control which people I'm around. This realization obviously has limitations.


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