watch us as we watch
the moon and all the watchers
the moon, black and red
What right do politicians have to declare war? Only some of them know the battlefield, the machines, the ways of combat. Only some of them know what it’s like to see life hang on a thread.
What right do businesses leaders have to take control of farms? They know nothing of the soil, of the land. They can take without giving, sell without making, and in the end they are the ones who become rich.
Corporations are built on the backs of the hard-working. Empires are built on the blood of the brave. Every person who has ever brought destruction knows that destroying is easy, that it does not require knowledge or hard work or bravery. All it requires is the knowledge and hard work and bravery of other people.
Other people, greater people, who still make the mistake of destroying themselves. The fire takes all, and they fuel it.
All leaders have to do is light that first spark.
This is a game. I keep forgetting that this is a game. There are things in life that matter, things so much more important than this, and yet I let this one stupid thing, this game, define the way I feel.
You don’t fold if no one raises the stakes. You keep playing. The game is played on simple rules, simple principles, and results are logical but not always immediate.
But if you define yourself in terms of the game, if you let your very identity ride the numbers that they use to define you, then you become something no better than them.
You become insane.
"We never sold out. We had nothing to sell."
These are from the parody of a Linkin Park song. Anyone not familiar with the band may assume it refers to some unsuccessful sale they had. It was actually my dad who pointed out how clever the line was.
It plays at the dual-meaning of the term “selling out.” We all know the figurative definition, but to truly sell out…doesn’t there have to be something to sell?
With that, I think I can finally put Bill Watterson’s philosophy into perspective. I mean…if I were to produce a song, right now, and everyone loved it and a movie asked for the rights to it, I’d probably sell it. I mean, what’s stopping me? I’m not exceptional in music, I’d never written a song before, and I have no desire to pursue a career in song-writing. But if song-writing were my passion, and I’d already produced a number of songs that were not commercially successful but that portrayed my ideals as an artist, then there would be something at stake.
It’s all about what’s at stake. If my talent was drafting designs for stuffed animals, and everyone loved these stuffed animals, then I’d have myself a career. But if my talent was writing a comic strip, and the comic strip portrayed all sorts of important ideals, and some syndicate demanded the right to turn my characters into stuffed animals…well…I don’t know.
I have no idea where I stand on this. If Bill Watterson changed his mind, I’d be first in line to get me a giant stuffed Hobbes and entire collection of t-shirts with beautiful artistic landscapes on the front and reprinted strips on the back.
So, I don’t know. I just…
I don’t know.
While leafing through my history notes, I remembered our studies detailing the rise and fall of the ancient Abbasid Empire. Though this name has fallen into relative obscurity, much can be said about reasons behind its collapse. If I remember correctly, the primary cause was corruption, as well as the stupidity and excesses of the ruling class.
And then I think…in terms of world history, what will be said about our society, about modern American society? Will we fall into obscurity as well? We have something that is relatively new in historic terms, a middle class, and yet it seems clear to me that the middle class is still very wealthy in relative global terms. The point: whatever blame is placed on the supposed ruling classes, on the rich, should be applied to the middle class as well.
Though I have discovered some interesting statistics about the wealth and excess of many Americans, I will not post them here for fear that this will just digress into preachy, self-loathing banter. It’s not productive to just point out what we’re doing wrong, but it may be thoughtful, at least, to draw what we’re doing right, and to maybe push forward the hope of building on these feats.
I mean, a lot of things are good right now. The economic recession seems to be ending, if it has not yet ended. The creativity demonstrated by capitalistic institutions have been impressive, and though capitalism is known for promoting greed and consumerism, it has built some nice things for us. More than this, though, I feel that…
I feel that people, in their nature, are good, but that in all of them is a greedy and selfish side that wishes to conquer and deplete. So long as we keep this side in check, so long as we attempt to suppress forms of media that continually promote “avarice and excess*,” we can continue to build and go from there.
Otherwise, we’ll just be another display of human stupidity that goes into the history books as a waste of ink.
*This phrase is attributed to Bill Watterson in an excellent speech, attached here