ROFL: Random Outbursts From Lar! LarryNocella.com

4Jul/11Off

It’s Never Too Late to Be Eternally Vigilant

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. - Thomas Jefferson

I once went to a Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd) concert where he sang his song "Mother." The lyrics ask a lot of questions, and the projection screen behind him "answered" each question with writing on "The Wall." When he sang, "Mother should I trust the government?" the screen behind him answered, "No… fucking… way." And the crowd went nuts.

In a visceral, abstract way, it was fun, but beyond that, it was weak. Too easy an answer, but one too many people use. Yeah, fuck the government, dude! Okay, let's assume that's done. The government has been fucked. Now what?

Um. Er. Well.

Too late! The warlords have taken over. Some billionaire paid off security dudes and purchased all the food from the store. Did you try to stop them? Well that's why his hired security detail kicked your ass. And so on.

You wouldn't know it from my writings, but I'm actually not in love with politics. I feel more like I'm in a torrid romance with it, a volatile love-hate affair. Our relationship would make a great black and white art film with subtitles. Politics and I would alternate between screaming matches, steamy sex, brooding and smoking in outdoor cafes. It would be tedious and repetitive, but film critics would love it. Normal people with tastes uncorrupted by overexposure would hate it.

On one hand, I see politics as a beautiful emergence of the human animal from primordial reflex. Instead of resolving conflict with physical violence, we use politics to sit down and talk or take a vote, so the largest number of people are happy. Some might end up unhappy, but at least no one ends up dead.

On the other hand, I see politics as annoying, a tangled bureaucratic nightmare where a bunch of petty jerks try to boss people around for no good reason.

But no matter how discouraged I get by the bad parts, like the beret-wearing fellow in the previously mentioned art film, I always come back. I take very seriously Jefferson's comment that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

That's why I see participating in politics like all my chores. Even if I don't like it, I have to do it. The price for a clean home is taking out the trash. The price for a healthy body is eating right. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I stay vigilant by following what's going on in the halls of power. Then I send a letter, make a call, write an email, vote, and every now and then get in the streets with a sign.

This July 4 weekend, while I don't expect everyone to be as geeked-out as myself on politics or news, I would like to suggest everyone pay a little more attention, or if you already are, get more people to do so. I know there might be a lot of groaning, but that's because making politics boring, petty, confusing, etc. is all part of the powerful's plan to shut people up.

There is a reason you're encouraged to laugh at or dislike every aspect of government, unions, working people, the poor and lawyers. It's all part of the grand plan of the powerful to remove the limited options the less fortunate (meaning, you) have to exercise power.

A popular meme is "government is the problem." This was famously said by Ronald Reagan, who once held the highest position possible in government. He might as well have just said, "I suck so bad that I am the leader of what causes all the suckiness." The truth is, government is NOT the problem. Government is essentially what makes civilization run. Without civilization, well, me might as well not be a unique animal and just be like fish in the sea, the strong eat the weak and nothing ever changes that.

I want to see people pay more attention because some of the ideas being kicked around in politics, based on this "government is the problem" mentality are darn scary. Most of all I cringe whenever they discuss raising the retirement age to pay off their drunken spending. I'm trying any way I can to avoid being a cube jockey one second longer than I have to. Elevating the retirement age is just one more obstacle in my way.

I want to encourage more people to get into politics because I think most people are like me: we work to live, not live to work. However, some of those in power (and an army of duped workers hoodwinked by illusions of honor and responsibility) want us to work until we drop dead.

Economics, however, is only part of the issue. There's also a lot to be said for human evolution from ignorance and the expansion of the human family.

Back when the Republican party co-opted the Tea Party movement, a lot of teabaggers said, "This is the first protest I've ever been to." That really bummed me out, because a lot of those people were old (as in ancient) which indicated that they lived through the civil rights era, the Vietnam war era, and several other key events (9/11, Iraq War, Afghanistan War, gay rights) in U.S. history and they never once openly petitioned their government. Not once.

What finally got them off their complacent asses? When the president tried to give them cheaper, more reliable healthcare. Well, technically when some lobbyists hyped them up through a propaganda network (Fox News, of course) and convinced them that more accessible healthcare was somehow bad.

Now I don't expect everyone to agree with me, so if I'm voted down, I'm voted down, but I would much rather lose a fair vote, and not have pro-powerful agendas pushed through without any resistance or awareness from thinking, working people.

If you haven't interacted with your government until you've got one foot in the grave, I'm sorry to say you haven't been eternally vigilant. That doesn't mean it's too late to have an impact. No one lives forever and no one can live up to Jefferson's ideal, but like most ideals, its worth comes in reaching for it. Get involved no matter what your age. If you enjoy Independence Day, please do what you can to make sure it retains its meaning.

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Larry Nocella writes the blog ROFL: Random Outbursts From Lar! at LarryNocella.com. He's the author of the novel Where Did This Come From? The world's first CarbonFree(R) novel according to Carbonfund.org. The book is available as an Amazon Kindle eBook. It is also available for reading online. P.S. You don't need a Kindle to read Kindle eBooks. Download the FREE Kindle app for PC, Mac and smartphones. You can then purchase Kindle books or download free ones. Enjoy!