Do I Wake or Sleep?

It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
 - J. Krishnamurti
Remember the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start the Fire"? Undoubtedly the only song that successfully rhymed the phrase "children of thalidomide"? As I watched that music video recently, the flashing images that had once seemed so novel and thought-provoking now seemed a simplification of the increasingly disturbing images swirling in my head. My mind can easily replace the song's fast paced sequential "boomer decades" images and lyrics with a much shorter timespan of frightening images from today:


Kevin Jennings

Jarrett, Dunne

Mao Tse-Tung

Reverend Wright

Flu vaccine

Pelosi is our new Queen


Ayers and Dorn

Van Jones


Cloward, Piven

Health care aid


Cap and trade

Israel thrown aside

Iran wants genocide

I wish we still had Cola Wars

I can't take it anymore...

The Constitution blown away

What else do I have to say?

We didn't start the fire

But it started smoking with Chicago's stoking...

The point of Joel's song may be that the world's troubled state has always been the status quo, but the current reality is that the greatest democracy in history may be about to slink off the world stage with its tail between its legs. That easily trumps Joel's forty-year montage of earth-shaking events. The notoriously corrupt Chicago machine has produced more malfeasance and conspiratorial scoundrels in the White House in the first ten months than Watergate and the Clinton years combined. Indeed, we may be seeing the culmination of decades of efforts by many different factions to destroy capitalism and our Republic. It boggles the mind.

Like Mary Jo Kopechne, Americans are struggling for that last pocket of air near the roofs of their collective cars. Like in Mary Jo's case, I fear no one will save them. Some will say they tried, I'm sure. Sadly, by that time, the dollar will be worthless and our sovereignty will be lost. Glenn Beck may have boiled a "frog" as an analogy for what is happening to Americans, but I feel the situation is more akin to Giles Corey being slowly crushed by stones during the Salem Witch Trials. Each rock Obama piles on brings the Republic one gasping breath closer to death. Insanity and injustice prevailed then as they do now, only now on a much larger scale.

More and more Americans are coming home from their daily grind, stumbling around in a slow, sweaty stupor like Charles Foster Kane wandering the rooms of Xanadu, wondering what it was all for. In the end, they mumble "Rosebud..." the memory of a happier, innocent time, and fall into their beds to a troubled sleep:

And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying...  Paul Simon, "American Tune"

That's usually only if they've taken their Xanax or Ambien to relax and sleep. Finally, they resign themselves to the issue at hand:

Oh, and it's alright, it's all right, it's alright
You can't be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day
And I'm trying to get some rest
That's all I'm trying to get some rest.

In the morning they awake, the sun has risen again, and the season presents its gifts. The solid oak stands at attention as it did in the days of Daniel Boone. Their world seems unshaken for now. They have their cup of java, turn on the TV, and there he is: the self-appointed Messiah. The chosen one who will lead them out of bondage with hope and change. "How does he monopolize every station?" they ask. They keep thumbing the remote. "Why does he want his fingers in our pockets? our homes? our cars? our appliances? our soda and fruit juice?" Some wonder, will he "think to change times and laws" and will they "be given into his power"? (Daniel 7:25, King James Version). No, that's irrational, they rationalize. Everything will be okay. Things always work out, don't they? As a country we've come through assassinations, impeachments, depressions, and recessions. The difference is that we've never had every aspect of our lives so intimately affected by our own government.

Meantime, in the cities and smaller towns across the country, mayhem seems to be taking over. Whatever massaged crime statistics we are fed, the reality is that if you haven't had your identity stolen, been a victim of road rage, had a home invasion, been burglarized, or been robbed at knifepoint, well, you just don't fit in anymore.

Obama knows where he's taking us socially, and so do we. Rules for Radicals is clear enough. Thanks to Saul Alinsky, we now know the real recipient of the very first Nobel Peace Prize: "the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer" (Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals). As a sign of humility, he donated the prize money to charity.

So what are we supposed to do? Like the Handicapper General in Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s Harrison Bergeron, our current President wants to handicap each of us in order to achieve equality for all. He stages daily distractions from the health care bill, the economy, and his blatant abuses of the Executive Branch. Americans with above-average intelligence seem to be controlled by the media instead of a radio transmitter, as Bergeron is forced to wear. It is the media making obnoxious noises in their heads, causing them to lose their focus and become disoriented. When they aren't being told how coffee, wine, soft drinks, cell phones, fast food, and their own medications are killing them, they spend hours watching a giant aluminum foil muffin with(out) a boy in it floating across a television sky. They stare at these images, suddenly unable to remember what they were planning and unable to develop any concrete thoughts.
...And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. (Shakespeare, Hamlet)

Wake up, America. Everything will not be okay. Splash some cold water on your face and look in the mirror. Shake off the grog, the indifference, the despair and depression. Wake up and focus at any cost. We must refuse to become well-adjusted to a morally, politically, and fiscally sick society. We must refuse to allow ourselves to be distracted. We must save the Republic. We must save freedom.

Only then can we dream of Obama's parting words as he leaves the White House:
If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,

That you have but slumber'd here

While these visions did appear.

And this weak and idle theme,

No more yielding but a dream ... (Puck, A Midsummer Night's Dream)

Susan D. Harris is a freelance writer in Upstate New York.