When I was five, and my sister four, we were taken to see “A Christmas Carol”, which was playing at Radio City Music Hall. My sister came away from this experience absolutely petrified of the Ghost of Christmas Future. She had recurring nightmares about skeletal hands and hooded figures emerging from our closet.
I was not frightened of such things in my youth, and calmly explained to her that since the closet in the room we shared was closer to my bed, the Ghost of Christmas Future would probably try to get me first; whereupon in doughty eldest-sister-with-ADD fashion I promised to kick it’s bony ass. This did not, however, stop the nightmares. We hung a Charlie Brown laundry bag from the doorknob of the closet to ward off the fearsome spectre, but this did not assuage my sister.
My mother came upon me logically trying to explain to my sister that the Ghost of Christmas Future wasn’t real and that she was being stupid for being afraid of it. Mom didn’t like this attitude much and so I was asked what I was afraid of. I was a very pragmatic child who feared no imaginary beasties, and so my reply was burglars. I was then asked what I would do if a burglar broke into the house, and answered that I would very calmly and rationally explain to the burglar that what they were doing was bad, naughty and wrong, and for them to please stop and go away. Surely the power of my precocious and towering five year old intellect would reach the most hardened criminal and cause them to see the error of their ways!
Children are wise in that they haven’t learned their wisdom through pain. They don’t lie until they learn to do so, they are born with an innate sense of right and wrong; they don’t operate from a place of fear or hatred by nature. These things are taught, and adults do not have this luxury. I am still afraid of burglars, but I am now a 47 year old woman. I own a gun and numerous sharp and pointy objects. I know how to use them all and would not hesitate to do so to defend me and mine. It would not be my first choice, but it is a choice. I would much rather deliver the five-year-old-version of me’s lecture on the burglar’s morally reprehensible behavior, but when you’re dealing with someone who is beyond reason – someone whose eyes are alight with the lust to do harm, it matters not whether they are driven by an addiction to heroin or an addiction to governmental power. They’re getting ready to do you in and take what all you’ve got. You’d best act now and lecture later, or you won’t get an opportunity in future to lecture at all.
I have spent a lifetime learning to control my temper. The really sad part of that is that the sheer level of my success can be determined by how very few people have actually seen me in a state of beserker rage. I’ve done a very good job. I find myself wondering if I’ve done too good a job.
We blog and blog, we preach to our choirs, and what actually gets done about the problems we address? I’ve lobbied Congress directly. I’ve marched in the peace marches. I’ve spent money that could have been used for food or car repairs on getting down to DC. I’ve spent time that could have been used to get my house all kinds of shiny magazine-ready on the peace movement. I am a patient woman who values peace, but I am really starting to chafe at the lack of viable change that I am seeing. Indeed, I see actions that move us three steps back for every deceitful article or pundit that comes forward and says we’re moving one step ahead.
I find myself wondering why I’m having a childish, naive argument with the burglar when more properly I should be tearing the gun out of his hand by any means necessary and putting him out of our collective misery.
When does the effort to resolve things in a peaceable manner become arrant cowardice? How long must we stand idly by while our fellow hard working and law abiding citizens are robbed, cheated, lied to; while they lose their homes and jobs by the thousands; while they face death by spreadsheet and death by corporate irresponsibility? A slick media and marketing machine works day and night to grind down the people’s knowledge of these horrors and turns them into not much more than domesticated animals waiting for the fleecing – or the slaughter. Our supposed governmental representatives blithely raise ignoring the will of their constituencies to an art form, while blatantly and openly continuing to accept payments from corporate interests. Journalists and IT workers and financial whistleblowers and biological scientists with integrity are thrown into the same unmarked grave as any tell-all sex workers who have serviced the corrupt organized criminals who are still running our nation and indeed entire parts of our world. Our military and innocent Middle Eastern people alike sacrificed by the thousands over almost a decade now on the bloody altar of a twisted military/industrial complex demon which makes the Ghost of Christmas Future look like a fucking boy scout.
This demon, unlike the one my sister feared, is all too real. My fellow citizens are not stupid to fear this demon, and I would be stupid to try to continue to have a rational conversation with it.
Five years old or forty seven years old, I still want to kick it’s ass.
Go ahead. Tell me why I shouldn’t.