Reclaiming America
Within the gated subdivision of the American mind: A monument to my comfort zone
By Phil Rockstroh
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Sep 21, 2006, 01:19

"Mrs. O'Kelly, do you believe in fairies?" "No, I don't -- but they're there." --Irish aphorism

There is something missing in The Oakdale Estates subdivision. Oak Trees. Years ago, they were cut down to clear the property for development.

Is it possible the gated walls of Oakdale Estates are fitted with impenetrable irony shields?

There is something missing, as well, here in The United States of America, Land of The Free. Freedom.

Where are our much-vaunted freedoms in the present day United States? Are they, perhaps, hidden among the phantom oaks of Oakdale Estates?

Sadly, it appears, for a depressingly large percent of our citizenry, the loss of our rights and liberties are missed and remembered to the same extent as the felled trees of Oakdale Estates.

At morning, during their commute to work, the residents of Oakdale Estates sit, stranded in traffic, on ever more congested "freeways"; they, as is the case with most of us, remain steadfast in their fantasy that automobiles provide us with freedom. Rarely do we consider the fact that, in all likelihood, a bank or finance company owns the vehicles, while, in order to meet our loan payments, we must continue to work ever-longer hours and spend ever more time stuck in those self-same vehicles, in order to reach the jobs that devour ever more of our "free time," so that we can afford to pay the exorbitant price the "freedom" to "own" an automobile allegedly bestows upon us.

If this is our standard of freedom, is it any wonder far too many Americans still believe that our soldiers are dying daily in Iraq to "keep us free?"

Perhaps, if we look closely, we can catch a glimpse of the freed souls of the war dead . . . now lounging in the cool shade of paradise beneath the trees of Oakdale Estates.

For we Americans will think of our war dead, often. Yes, of course, we will . . . about as often as the residents of Oakdale Estates think of the dispatched oaks.

And we Americans will mourn the dead of the war in Iraq . . . to the same degree we mourn the loss of our right to dissent. But rejoice: We're free to continue working for the freedom to be owned by the corporate class.

Moreover, our soldiers are free to continue to kill and be killed for our right to be oblivious to their deaths.

This is the best of all possible worlds, in the best of all possible lands -- why would anyone ever raise a harsh voice in protest against it in the first place? If you lament our losses, then the terrorists will have won. Can�t you see: Unlike the terrorists, we have the freedom to choose to lose our freedoms and not give a damn. And that is why they hate us.

It's the reason we must hate them, in turn. It's why our soldiers must find them, face them, and then kill them, without question, doubt nor equivocation. It's why George W. Bush, when it was his time to serve, went, with unwavering resolve, and faced down (make that: went face down into) blizzards of Columbian babble powder. It's why we must never cease to mindlessly labor for the benefit of the corporate classes and never question the sanity of why we believe the act of living far beyond our means is a meaningful way of life. It's why it's our patriotic duty to seek perpetual distraction within the media hologram.

In the end, it�s because if we were to feel the sorrow of the world, then our soldiers will have died in vain. They must die so that our comfort level can be maintained. In turn, we must do our part and strive to remain comfortable.

They should erect war memorials in honor of us Americans here on the home front: a statue depicting us . . . sprawled on our sofas, TV remote fixed in our hands, steely in our resolve to remain distracted.

But, for the present, we must not waiver from our mission. Our foes are legion. Vast armies of awareness must be ignored into oblivion.

The treachery of this enemy, also known as Awareness, is not to be underestimated; for it exists to destroy our way of life and it must be met with resolute ignorance and unflagging indifference.

After the long commute home from work, the residents of Oakdale Estates might, like many of us, sit at the dinner table in exhausted silence or have their minds further churned to spittle, staring stupefied at the television.

If I were seated, among them, I�d be tempted to ask an intemperate question, addressing it to the whole miserable family of the present day United States � to all of us � to my collective family � we � suburban somnambulants, urban careerist cretins, Fundamentalist Christian fantasists, neocon pendants, polite liberal ninnies, vapid trendies, hipster ironists (I plead guilty and offer this piece of writing as evidence against myself), right-wing bullyboys and girls, and all those laboring class masses of wage slaves, who've been rendered mindless by way of exhaustion from long work hours and endless bombardment by the mass media. I wish to ask this: Who is missing from our dinner table? Who hasn't been extended an invitation? Who has been disinherited? Where are the black sheep of the family -- those members neither invited nor spoken about (in a similar manner as those aforementioned dead soldiers, Iraqis, and oak trees) when our clan gathers? What of the inspired misfits, indomitable freaks, defiant outcasts, and magnificent failures -- the sorts who might broach uncomfortable topics, reveal family secrets, or too vividly display our flaws? Where are those who have been cast out, orphaned from our family, and therefore, who, like a tragic hero from myth, are free to blunder upon unbearable truths. Where are the scorned and forsaken ones? All those banished from our thoughts, because they see our family for what it is, not what it strives to appear to be.

We need these wayward members of our family now, more than ever. For this reason: As is the case with nature herself, a nation needs its mutant strains of innovative freaks, because, by introducing variation, they have the ability to transform the closed, negative entropy-generating genetic systems on this inbred planet. Thus, they enable life to diversify and flourish.

In this manner, we might avoid the fate of becoming a global clan of thin-blooded, wall-eyed trailer court imbeciles. Perish the thought of: Planet Alabama. Though it might already be too late. How else can we explain the Bush presidency?

This is why we must perpetrate acts of everyday antagonism; why we must not supplicate ourselves before the bloodless gods of false propriety; why it�s imperative we rage and weep at the memory of squandered oak trees, dead soldiers, and forsaken freedoms.

Now is not the time for paeans to the polite and appropriate. Systems (including empires) don't collapse in a polite and decorous manner. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is one rude bastard. Negative entropy did not attend the finest finishing schools and will not be presented to genteel society in an elegant debutante ball.

There are harrowing reasons for our fear-engendered obduracy and compulsive complicity. For deep within the gated communities of our minds, we Americans know this: That if we continue to ignore the storm gathering outside the insular subdivisions of our cultural awareness, then those who survive us on this abiding earth will remember us and grieve our passing to the same extent the residents of Oakdale Estates mourned the memory of its namesake oak trees.

Phil Rockstroh, a self-described, auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at:

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