What do you do when a young boy dies because he is wearing a hoodie? Have we become so paranoid, so filled with fear that we strike out blindly? The news is telling us relentlessly, Yes! Absolutely! It doesn’t matter. Nothing does. Why not murder? Of what worth am I? Or you? These are the kinds of questions that possess the people who kill for no real reason except that they can. It is right that there is outrage over the death of Treyvon Martin. In the face of the kind of unreasoning fear which filled George Zimmerman’s mind that night, Treyvon didn’t have a chance. There is a general coarsening, a cheapening of life nowadays. I see it every day out on the streets. Everyone is afraid of strangers, and ready to strike out against imaginary threats. I am not sure how to deal with this problem. I tend to curl up in my internet cocoon and ignore the death outside my door. Just like everybody else.
But we need to care about this, because it is only going to get worse. Why does everything just turn to crap in spite of our best efforts and intentions? I believe scientists call this entropy. Christians call it sin. For most people it is just how things are, the inevitable disappointment of everyday existence. It dulls the senses and robs us of our emotions. I was reminded of this when I watched the news report about several people discovered dead right across the street from the community college where I had taken classes recently. A neighbor says: “it’s really crazy!” and kind of chuckles to himself. What does this guy think? That it was a little show put on for his entertainment? Wow man! People dead. It’s crazy! no man, it is real life, wake up from your slumber, moron. But I shouldn’t be so harsh on him, he didn’t know what to say to the reporter when a microphone was shoved in his face.
But all of this is illusory. This attitude which turns everything to crap is a sickness. I believe the mass media encourages it. Reality is treated as though it is unreal. Everything is ironic. Listen to how people talk. Every experience is ‘like’ something, instead of being that experience. So what are you saying? That you are checked out somewhere and dumbly and numbly watching all this stuff happen around you as if it were on a tv screen and like something real but not really. Are you that schizophrenic? Do we live in a schizophrenic society that refuses to take ownership of it’s own experience? Such a person can commit murder because it isn’t actually murder, it is ‘like’ murder. When I hear teenagers talking that way it makes my skin crawl. Whoever thought that was cool? I guess the idea is to be totally not present, unreal. Then all of the pain of life cannot reach you.
I find the recent news reports very disturbing. The soldier who killed all those civilians. Why not? What difference could it possibly make? Whatever…..That is another expression which is unexamined for what it represents. It means nothing matters. It means that one thing is as good as another to someone who is as good as dead already. It destroys all experience and turns everything to crap. Youth is poisoned by it. I can remember the unspoken code of coolness. Don’t ever let yourself be thrilled by life, taken away by it’s beauty and promise. Be cool. Yeah, a corpse is pretty cool I guess. Just when you are best equipped to live life to it’s fullest, you are encouraged to sabotage it. You are encouraged to treat life as something to endure. Anyone who shows enthusiasm or makes good grades and genuinely enjoys learning is rejected. He or she just doesn’t get it. What is there to get? That life sucks, of course. That nothing actually matters, everything turns to crap and who the fuck cares anyway. This is the credo of the killer. This is the underlying disease which plagues not only the young but all ages. You can see this kind of uselessness in the trailer parks, breeding monsters. You can see it in the wealthy who don’t have a clue about how to use their wealth except to squander it. So many people despise life and themselves, and I don’t think popular culture is giving them much reason to feel otherwise.
There is a need to look inside our own experience and discover how we really feel inside. It is very different from the way we have unwittingly been taught to feel and think by our culture. Our culture is fucked, except I don’t like to put it that way. Fuck is beautiful and sacred, and our sick culture has transformed it into the opposite, as a weapon to destroy anything good and worthwhile. Don’t let that twisted philosophy dictate how you speak. If we can look to ourselves and be true to that, we discover something very different. We all want love, as uncool as that is. And we want acceptance for who we are, whatever that is, without judgement. We are all victims although we haven’t been murdered yet. We are victims of our callous uncaring attitudes which worship ironic hipness at the expense of our ability to even experience life. The best we can hope for is to have something ‘like’ life.
I wanted this post to be about more than just the usual outrage over these senseless murders. Rather than finding someone to blame, let’s blame us all. For the malaise that breeds these outrages is endemic to our entire culture, worldwide. The solution lies within ourselves and our courage to truly be ourselves regardless of it’s cultural implications.