Sunday, February 7, 2010

on the WTO and my recent discoveries

It has been said that our gift has human beings is to be able to learn things and to understand, to be self-aware and ever growing. Tonight, with my heart and mind heavy, I would have to say that it can also be as equally great a curse.

I am learning more now, in the past few months, than I have ever learned. I have been reading, researching, digging into history with my heels in the ground. I have found documentaries, footage that the media hid or twisted, copies of documents proving that our government funded bloody massacres and coops to overthrow democratically-elected officials in order to pillage their resources. My eyes have been opened. Not gently, no, they have been yanked open to a bright and simultaneously dark world that I never knew was out there. Most people will keep their eyes shut their whole lives. But once someone’s eyes have been opened to a world like that, they can never look away. A world of truth that many people will never see, nor have the desire to see. I can’t look away.

It’s like a traffic accident you drive by on the freeway and can’t take your eyes off of. You don’t want to see, but at the same time you need to. You desperately want to know what really happened. It’s more than that. You need to know.

Some say that sin is the human condition. I would argue that further and say that the human condition is not only wrongdoing, but also ignorance; not only ignorance, but intentional or deliberate ignorance. I talk to people every day who don’t believe in recycling, or climate change, or peak oil, or corruption, or what our future bleakly looks like. That being said, I am still usually the crazy optimist, in spite of people who intentionally choose to avoid seeking truth. But it’s hard sometimes.

Raised in a conservative and simultaneously loving and wonderful home, I have always trusted and loved my country. I said ‘one nation, under God, indivisible,’ and I meant it. I thought republicans knew everything and liberals knew nothing, and now that I’m mostly liberal I realize that neither side knows much of anything that the other side doesn’t know. I debated Creationism in class, I wanted to be a journalist, I voted for George Bush, I though America was a wonderful and generous country and I was proud to be a part of it. I had an amazing childhood. Maybe that’s why becoming an adult forming their own opinions is so difficult for me.

Beyond all the politics, beyond all the anti-American sentiment overseas, I guess I am truly amazed at the same sentiment boiling up within me. I am outraged, I am furious, and I am livid. I feel that I was personally lied to, that I was intentionally deceived, and I want to march into the streets with thousands and scream that this nation is not what we think it is. That these stars and stripes do not stand for freedom any longer, at least not to those calling the shots. That our country occupies, takes what they need, and leaves. That our history of massacre dates back to the time of the pilgrims, and has changed little since then (save the introduction of weapons of mass destruction to more effectively exterminate our opposition).

The more I know, the more I am sickened by it. The more I know, the more I want to say. But the more I want to say, the more words fail to be enough.

My life is changed. Radically. Though that in itself is beautiful, I’m not sure where I go from here.

“I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'
Well, I'm not going leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, Goddamnit! My life has VALUE!'”
-Network, 1976

(you should listen to this next song to get the real feel for the lyrics and what it means... it's about the stand off between the WTO, IMF, and World Bank in 1999 and their protestors. Moving, to put it mildly.)

50 Thousand Deep – Blue Scholars
(based on the Battle of Seattle, 1999)

November 30th, 1999
No sunshine

The body rock stopped, probably got caught by the cops
Nearby, somebody got shot
But parties don't stop and the parties don't care
It's a stick-up, it's why we got our hands in the air

Still demanding a share, refrigerators bare
'Cause they wanna see trade get free and not fair
But we are not blind, we are not there
We don't got time left to spare to not care

On the last day of November, swellin' in ranks
Went to chant down the mighty IMF and World Bank
A gathering of people in peaceful assembly
Onward to Westlake to disrupt the entry

Walk along steady, riot squad ready
To protect every last dignitary's ass
But this started when they herded us like cattle in a fence
Protesters gettin' restless without an exit

They threatened to arrest us, we pushed back and then
A hail of rubber bullets hit teens and old men
I admit, had to split when the first gas canisters hit
Felt it burn in my eyes, nose, and lips

They tried to blame it on the anarchists, garbage
I was there, I'll tell you right now the pigs started it
But they distort it in the news
Talkin' bout stompin' down Niketown wearing their shoes

But the body rock stopped, probably got caught by the cops
Nearby, somebody got shot
But the parties don't stop and the parties don't care
It's a stick-up, it's why we got our hands in the air

50,000 deep, and it sound like thunder when our feet pound streets
50,000 deep, and it sound like thunder when our feet pound streets
50,000 deep, and it sound like thunder when our feet pound streets
50,000 deep, 50,000 deep

Yeah, now, the body rock stopped, probably got caught by the cops
Nearby, somebody got shot
But parties don't stop in the south
So take your shoes off when you come into my house

I had to duck out 'cause I knew I stuck out in the crowd
After many years growin' up brown in this town
Now this is what democracy looks like
Not what you all had in mind for tonight

Mr. Mayor, shell-shocked for 5 days straight
Press conference, lookin' constipated and pale
Tossed a homie in jail, wasn't even protesting
Wrong place, wrong time, learned a quick lesson

But this is not a question what we did to deserve this
Rich kids went and got arrested on purpose
But was it worth it? My first inclination
Globalization is the root of the pain

Made the reason that they left and the reason that we came
Catch my breath, blood pulsates my brain
And they called it a riot?
Huh, I call it an uprising

And they call this a riot?
But nah, I call it a uprising
And they call this a riot? Nah man, f*k that
I'm a call it a uprising

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