John Kaminski: Horror In Your Own Home
Horror In Your Own Home
Ignore What Your Children Are Learning At Your Peril
By John Kaminski
This is a note to parents. You could consider it a warning, but it's really just a congratulatory note, reminding you what you have done to your children, by not paying sufficient attention to the world around you.
I myself receive many notes from people telling me they can't watch the TV news anymore. It's just too depressing. And confusing. I also especially get this in conversations with many people I consider less politically aware than myself. They know something is wrong with the newspapers, or the stories they hear on the boob tube, but they just don't have time to analyze their own confusion and sort out the wheat from the chaff. It all sounds so much alike, one false claim after another, and besides, who has the time?
And even if we did have the time, what could we — as ordinary individual citizens — actually do about such doubts. Amid all this flag waving and these terror alerts, who would listen?
There are more important things to do, aren't there?
I mean, so what if children are being blown to bits for reasons that are lies in some faraway country! Life must go on, and we don't have to hear about that, do we? As long as we're not forced to see the photographs, a few deaths over some abstract political debate don't really bother us. It's not our problem. Hey, we have a problem with a neighbor's renegade dog that is far more important to us.
I mean, so what if the corrupt and insincere thugs who run for public office have done away with all the laws that made our country a free society. It hasn't really affected our lives, has it? We still have our bills to pay, our obligations to meet, our kids to get to school. So what if the cops can now come into your house without ever telling you? How does that affect us? We obey the law and have nothing to worry about, right? No big deal.
I mean, we have our lives to live, and if the elite billionaires who dominate all our public institutions want to create situations that simply make more money for themselves, what has that to do with us? We still have our jobs (maybe), our friends (if they actually are our friends), clothes to iron, school pictures to pay for, school board meetings to attend, church charity drives to contribute to ... the minutiae of one's life, particularly if there are kids to be considered, are just endless, and in our drive to get the best of what we want for our offspring, we have to focus on the here and now, in our immediate neighborhoods, to make sure they fulfill their obligations and get the best of what is available to set up their futures, right?
News from some far off land, or partisan ravings from some disgruntled political observer really don't fit into the pragmatic schedules we set for ourselves. And we must stay focused on those, lest our whole lives suddenly veer off course. After all, abstract political arguments don't pay for four years of college. Or braces.
Yet, there are moments, often when our kids are asleep, when we wonder why and what we are doing all this for, all this running around, all this planning and execution of trivial details. Often at these times we often wonder what we ourselves are doing, and what our kids are actually learning. Who will they turn out to be?
And when we really think about those things, sometimes the epiphanies that seize us are shocking indeed.
Consider what kids are learning today by observing the current public dialogue.
Growing up in America today, our president and our leaders are teaching our children that it's OK to kill someone if you suspect them of harboring ideas that the United States of America is committing crimes in other countries. No more of this right-to-a-fair-trial, innocent-until-proven-guilty crap. Just kill them if you suspect them of opposing American ideas. Just blow up their countries and kill whomever you like. If you have the weaponry, you really don't need a reason. Might surely makes right. That's the new reality. Just listen to all the new presidential candidates. That's what virtually all of them are saying.
And that's what are kids are learning today, plus the finest people in our communities — the judges and doctors and lawyers — are all in agreement that this is the way we should be behaving. So show your flag and get with the program. It's how you'll get ahead. America committing crimes against other countries? How absurd. We would have heard about it on TV if it happened.
Hey, it's what the American government has done, is doing, will continue to do. If the American government says someone is a terrorist, well hell, they are a terrorist, and they can be put in jail forever with no trial, no lawyer, no appeal, no visitors, and never get out. They can even be put to death by a 2-1 vote in a military tribunal. None of this appeal crap, where convicted killers can hang onto life for years with tricky legal maneuvers. Just kill them. Get it over with.
President Bush recently showed us how people on Death Row should be treated, when during a radio interview, he ridiculed a woman who had been condemned for participating in a long-ago crime that had resulted in a killing. "Please don't kill me," Bush squeaked in a falsetto voice, mocking Karla Faye Tucker, who had become a prominent Christian advocate during her many years in jail.
Some people, even some Christian Republicans, criticized the president for behaving so heartlessly, but hey, that's the way it is now. The president was simply showing our kids how they should behave. You're either for us or against us. If you're against, you know what you'll get. Clarity is a good thing.
That's the way it is now, our kids our learning. We shouldn't have compassion for those who have reformed. If they're convicted, we must punish them. Just kill them, and don't think about what they might have become. It's not relevant. Just kill them.
The same with those blown-up kids in Iraq, especially that boy, Ali, who lost not only his whole family but also his arms.
What do they matter? Iraq is far away and we have our lives to live right here. It doesn't matter that our president used lies to justify the invasion of a nation with a pathetic army. They have oil we want. We have power. It's the law of the jungle. We have the right to go and take it. It's just being realistic. It's the way the world is.
That's what we're teaching our children. If you wave the flag and have enough money to operate in the "right" circles, you can steal anything you want (because you can buy a judge to get you off if somebody tries to catch you), or kill anybody you want, regardless of what they might have done. Life is now all image, and you can get away with absolutely anything if you have the right connections. Do something wrong if you like; then just shape the image to make it appear right. In this day and age, that's all that counts.
Long ago, my father told me this is the way the world is. I refused to believe him, and as a result have no valuable possessions in this world except a rather large and cherished circle of noble friends, most of whom are just as poor as I am.
How we view the world all comes down to money, is what my dad said. That's why politicians go corrupt, why people betray their friends, why real stories of what's happening in the world are not shown on TV.
What most people don't realize is who they are and what they do actually is reflected in the world at large. Since a large majority feels they are powerless and have no influence over events in the larger geopolitical sphere, this is exactly the case: they are powerless and have no influence.
Take 9/11. For more than a year, no one has dared to speak about the embarrassing fact that the official pronouncements on those tragic events that took place do not add up. Wars and laws that were planned BEFORE that sad day were blamed ON those horrid events. But it has not been politically correct to ask those questions. To do so has been considered unpatriotic in this time of national emergency, this War on Terror. But what if the official version WAS a lie? How does that affect us? Do you think more of these things will happen if we fail to catch the grand manipulators in their lies?
And does that matter? Heck, life goes on. All the old sayings are relevant. Go along to get along. You can't fight City Hall. All the noble philosophy in the world doesn't mean a thing when your belly isn't full.
So we are raising a generation of kids to whom morality and fairness, as well and truth and honor, are no longer important. They are inconvenient distractions in the lifelong drive toward the acquisition of material wealth. Philosophy is now a superflous exercise; what really counts is connections. Allegiances to friends and causes are hopelessly out-of-date and quaint but useless relics of a bygone era of civilization.
Now all that counts is leeching onto those in power and getting what one can in the great ripoff that is always taking place — this is what our kids are really learning in school, and the future we can all look forward to.
I am reminded of those long-ago stories about Nazi Germany, when little kids were forced to wear junior SS uniforms and report to authorities on the political activities of their own parents. So what if their parents were taken away: the kids were serving the greater good of the state, and besides, they got extra rations of chocolate to go with their lessons about the glories of the Homeland. More recently, these stories have manifested as incidents of kids who had been put through school-sponsored drug awareness seminars who turned in their own parents for smoking pot, and other affronts to fascist civilization.
So the lesson is — in these times when people ignore what's going on around them, when the greater human values of compassion and understanding have been buried by widespread media conditioning that truth and justice no longer matter, but only adherence to officially approved norms deserve our allegiance — that you better get a grip on what you've done by not paying attention to what has been going on in the world.
The lesson is this: Don't turn your back on your own kids. If they have been absorbing the facile rhetoric they hear every day on TV and beneath the fluttering flags of their own schools, you may no longer know who they really are, or, on this sad day in Nazi America, what they have become.