How black must your soul be, to see others as impediments, or nonentities, or pariahs? What particular lack is contained within the person who would see the suffering and tragedy of others as fodder for expostulation on what is wrong with our country, as if those who are poor and starving and dying were doing so only to inconvenience them? What does it take to look at another human being and feel nothing: no sense of compassion or remorse or even pity? How low must your belly drag on the ground, that you would not empathize with those who have suffered grievous loss?
I do not know. I'm not sure I want to know.
They exist, however. Worse still, they command the power to communicate their darkness of spirit and lack of humanity to many millions more, who lap up their inhuman dogmas and incorporate them into their own lives, stripping away any of the more positive human emotions and replacing them with the darker animal forces of our nature: anger, greed, distaste, disgust, hatred. At a time when the power of oratory could be used to unite, to heal, to empower, to redress human misery, there are those who would look you in the eye and tell you that those “other people” are not worth your spit. They would have you believe that every person out of work is a goldbrick; every single mother, unlovable; every sick person, unworthy; every poor person, bereft of ambition. They would point to their own up-bringing and how “no one handed me anything,” forgetting how parents struggled to keep a roof over their head or clothes on their back, working long hours rather than playing with them. They would dehumanize anyone who does not fit their mold, to gild their vacuousness and puff up their superiority.
They care as little for those who follow them as they do for those they regard as the dregs of society. Why should they care? They have their money, and their palatial homes, and their booze, and their drugs... they got theirs, and why should they care if you don't have yours? You didn't work hard enough, or long enough, didn't save enough or spend enough, you didn't show enough drive. In short, it's “all your fault,” unequivocally. Makes no difference to them that your company sold your job to a foreign country for a tax break, lining the CEO's pockets with more ill-gotten gains, causing you to lose your home and your health insurance just as your child got sick with a chronic disease. They retreat behind their gates and their closed doors, light their cigars, sip their wine, and as far as they are concerned, the world they rail about does not exist anymore. Your hardship is your own problem, buddy, not mine; I may have made my millions off the sweat of your brow but that doesn't mean I owe you a thing!
For them it is about wealth and profit and gain; words like “charity,” “compassion,” “empathy,” or “duty” are meaningless and not a part of their lexicon. They have no connection to greater humanity, save that the rest of us are their playground, their scapegoats, and their money supply. Once the door closes, we are just a bad memory, to be taken up again the next day in sociopathic rage over the next perceived indignity to their person or “their” country. They represent a minority of us, but you would think they speak for every man, woman, and child... save those they detest and dislike.
Their popularity is only owed to the dumbing-down of the nation. The poverty of ideas and inspiration that plagues us is a direct result of the constant hammering of these self-important, self-aggrandizing, self-satisfied reprobates, who feel that society at large is a waste and that “every man for himself” should be our mantra. Give me my freedom, they say, but take theirs away while you're at it. We don't need more money for education, or social programs, or health care – if you haven't got that stuff, it's your own fault! And so, those who faithfully absorb this amoral tripe do the bidding of their unseen masters, voting down those who might make a difference, voting away their rights, voting away the things that might make our nation great again, all for the love of some fatuous mountebank whose venomous diatribes have little basis in fact, but are spewed at such a high volume and frequency, that they must be true.
We are being played, taken advantage of by these social leeches. By handing over the keys to the kingdom, we assure our own doom. What possesses us to cede our freedom of action and thought to these barking dogs of doom? Are we so pathetic, so helpless, so lacking in personal integrity, that we have to be told how to act and how to vote? What happened to the strong, resilient, innovative, forward-thinking America, that fought world wars, sent men to the Moon, and built some of the great wonders of the modern world? What happen to the rugged individualists, the pioneers, the ground-breakers, listening to their heads and their hearts, blazing new trails for themselves and the nation? What happened to thinking for ourselves? What happened to an appreciation for and a dissemination of knowledge that sparked revolutions in science and engineering? Have we given it all up, to be coached by insensitive, uncaring, unfeeling monsters of iniquity?
This world we live in now is a direct result of mental ennui – it is too hard to think about the fortunes of others, when we must work our fingers to the bone just to stay afloat. We have no time to analyze the problems of society – best we dump them on others. We let ourselves be drawn to beautiful speeches and pretty words, the Pied Piper voices that call to us and tell us they will solve our problems, when all they wish is to retain the power they have so desperately been scraping together for decades. We let others do our thinking for us, and simply follow, lambs to the slaughter; then, it dawns on us that things are getting worse, not better, and we grumble and curse, but ultimately extend no effort to change them with the power we do have. We become mired in an endless cycle, pulled down into the muck we create when we do not extend the slightest effort towards enforcing our will, leaving change to forces comprised of those living off of us, and those who have time on their hands.
This cycle, a by-product of another American revolution, has damaged us. We let go of the wheel, perhaps thinking, wrongly, that the important battles had been won, and life in the United States would continue on peacefully, the wrongs righted. Instead, with little guidance offered, we let political parties seize control of government, carving up the nation, and beginning a war of words and actions that leave us now in a hole we did not see being dug.
It starts at the ground level, where we educate the next generation. The dumbing-down process has extended to how we deal with education and knowledge; the advent of the Internet, far from making us smarter, has actually allowed for the dissemination of more information of poorer quality, which our children now take as gospel. So many battles have been fought over political correctness, science vs. religion, and the quality of teaching, that little attention is being paid to what is taught. Stripped of the time required to prepare decent and detailed lesson plans, teachers are forced to rely on textbooks riddled with inaccuracies and obfuscations, perpetuating stereotypes and false information about our nation, its history, and its heritage, while simultaneously spending more time on rote learning and regurgitation. Schools have become less institutions encouraging the growth of learning, and more testing mills, with teachers emphasizing the knowledge needed to pass standardized tests, lest the school districts lose funding. We no longer teach children how to learn, only what to learn, and much of that apocryphal or riddled with inconsistencies and incoherence.
At our current pace, our robots will become more like us, and we will become more like them. They will learn to grow, adapt, and change; we will follow commands, thinking in patterns, unable to cope with the changes around us. We will have traded free will for a free ride, and in doing so, be stripped of our humanity. We must break the cycle now – our planet needs more free thinkers, not fewer, and those minds need to be put solving the social, political, technical, and environmental problems that vex us almost constantly. It all starts with education, an opening of minds rather than a closing of hearts. If we become mere machines, then humanity, no matter how many billions of us there are, will have truly died.