Use Your Illusion II 34


In my previous post, I explored the notion that we live in a shared illusionary state that keeps us from truly understanding the reality of our situation.

Americans have convinced ourselves that we have zero control over our country much less the direction it takes or the policies it imposes on the rest of the world.  Of course, nothing could be further from the truth as the choices we make on a daily basis have a direct impact on our society and promote those ideals we would see flourish despite a flurry of words to the contrary.  Our actions as a nation, as trite and tired the saying, always speak louder than our words.

Eating the typical diet in this country will make you sick and fat and miserable while at the same time ensuring the companies who make and distribute those heavily-processed foods control the supply chain from seed to shelf.  Ignoring voting and politics as some sort of game for suckers and fools will kill you as well, it just might take longer depending on your specific resources and circumstances.  The country we live in was created by our personal preferences and predilections as both consumers and citizens over the course of 230 years.

How long until Americans remember that We The People starts and ends with Me The Individual?

We fight the same battles for the same hills only to retreat into stupified apathy as soon as the firing stops.  We must take personal accountability for the part we play in the American Empire, good and ill, rather than shirking that duty.  Not accounting for our failures as a nation ensures we make the same mistakes each new generation.  The chain must be broken if we are to progress beyond our current benighted and barbaric state into something resembling progress and sustainability.

Loving what America could be and being disgusted by what it has become needs to be part of the conversation if We The People are to break free from this Möbius strip of societal devolution.

It doesn’t take a grand conspiracy to control a free society.  All it takes are a people willing to trade thier freedom for ignominy in exchange for fast food, fast cars and fast facts.  A prideful people, full of anger and envy and fear, who can be easily shifted this way or that.  A confederacy of dunces has kept Americans under control for years without even bothering to hide their incompetence.  Good thing they aren’t as smart as they are cunning or we would have been beyond saving decades ago.

All we would get from the Internet today would be our Two Minutes of Hate and morning calisthenics.

I am stunned it isn’t already too late given the totality of control.  That we are actually beginning to see the emergence of a counter narrative to off-set the lies and half-truths from our official one is another shocker.  Many people are using the plethora of historical information and analysis at our finger-tips to better educate ourselves in ways that were previously impossible.  The system is pushing back with all its might, but the Internet may be the wild card no one accounted for when they designed our modern propaganda machine more than thirty years ago.

We possess the power we need to effect an immediate and permanent cure for our malignancies yet most Americans choose the illusion, refusing to use its weaknesses to create a more logical and equitable reality.

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34 thoughts on “Use Your Illusion II

  • Aunt Sam

    Appreciate this…

    Sadly, most do not want to recognize, much less accept the facts concerning the factual data on any subject that requires them to expend time and energy in changing the harmful to the beneficial.

    I am a strong supporter of your stance on nutrition and ‘know what’s in the food you eat’ and all related issues – especially when it comes to accept personal responsibility.

    Happiest of Holidays to you and yours Jason!

    Rec’d.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks, Aunt Sam. It is our Achilles Heel to be sure, this abject distaste for the truth.

      Happiest of holidays to you are yours as well. As an Alaskan native myself, that is the time of year I remember most from being a kid.

      Isn’t Fur Rendezvous this time of year?

      • wendy davis

        I haven’t read Pollan’s book, but I am frquently pissed off at those who in this country make jest of, or speak diatribes against the poor in this nation who have gotten fat and diabetic, and blame their ‘choices.’
        I saw a documentary maybe half a year ago that explored this subject. It turns out that there are many, many neighborhoods in this country where the ONLY outlets for food are either fast-food chains, or bodega/quickstops, neither of which sell healthy foods. For many inner-city Americans, there is not a single grocery store within a mile; many have no transportation, and public transportation is often highly unwieldy; it can take three buses to get from Here to There, if you can get There at all.
        I have lived in rural areas where the same was true; I have hitch-hiked 12-17 miles for fresh groceries to augment the canned crap in the local stores. I sure couldn’t do it now.
        The unavailability of good food needs to be addressed, and the difficulty/imposssibility of choices acknowledged.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          The lack of “choice” is purely a reality created by government policy. We heavily subsidize cheap, non-nutrious calories in the form of commoddity corn while leaving wholesome, organic growers and producers to their own devices.

          I live in “inner city” DC and every farmer’s market in the city takes WIC and food stamps and are held in every ward at least once a week. There are also alternatives in regular grocery stores, but those would require a person to cook their food from scratch rather than prepare a boxed meal.

          This is also not a poor versus middle class versus rich thing either. The entire country eats like a bunch of kids without adult supervision. We stuff ourselves, gorge ourselves really, on fat and sugar while eschewing those foods that will keep us healthy. Simply eating carrots and apples everyday will make most people healthier. Both items as well as many other choices are widely available at reasonable prices.

          While I will agree there are systemic issues to this problem that need to be addressed at a policy level, the simple fact of the matter is that we have changed the way we grow and eat food more in the last 50 years than we did in the previous ten thousand. The film Food Inc. goes into that fact much more deeply.

          We have always had a class stratification in this country, but poor people were never fat and unhealthy because of it. What we choose to eat is directly responsible for the health of our bodies and more often than not Americans choose easy poison over the slightly more difficult to prepare healthy foods.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          The lack of “choice” is purely a reality created by government policy. We heavily subsidize cheap, non-nutrious calories in the form of commoddity corn while leaving wholesome, organic growers and producers to their own devices.

          I live in “inner city” DC and every farmer’s market in the city takes WIC and food stamps and are held in every ward at least once a week. There are also alternatives in regular grocery stores, but those would require a person to cook their food from scratch rather than prepare a boxed meal.

          This is also not a poor versus middle class versus rich thing either. The entire country eats like a bunch of kids without adult supervision. We stuff ourselves, gorge ourselves really, on fat and sugar while eschewing those foods that will keep us healthy. Simply eating carrots and apples everyday will make most people healthier. Both items as well as many other choices are widely available at reasonable prices.

          While I will agree there are systemic issues to this problem that need to be addressed at a policy level, the simple fact of the matter is that we have changed the way we grow and eat food more in the last 50 years than we did in the previous ten thousand. The film Food Inc. goes into that fact much more deeply.

          We have always had a class stratification in this country, but poor people were never fat and unhealthy because of it. What we choose to eat is directly responsible for the health of our bodies and more often than not Americans choose easy poison over the slightly more difficult to prepare healthy foods.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Scratch this second one. It was unintended repetition of a point I don’t think needs to be made twice.

  • Carey Rowland

    There is plenty of disgust out there on both sides. I don’t see how much more of it could actually contribute to constructive public dialogue.
    The devolution you describe needs to eject from the Mobius strip. What will it take to make that happen?
    I’d like to see more specific info about the emergence of this “counter-narrative.” If we suppose that your insightful posting here represents that narrative, then what is the next level of it?
    At this crisis point, what can propel us beyond complaint to constructive collaboration?

    • Jason Everett Miller

      The counter-narrative happens online and then around the kitchen table. It is the place where our manufactured reality diverges from our perceived reality by way of our continued reluctance to eat what we’ve been given.

      As to moving the country beyond mere complaint, we all have a chance to make different choices as both consumers and voters. We can choose not to buy things we don’t need from companies we know nothing about. We can decide to show up twice a year, every two years to ensure our demands are being met.

      We need to shake off the tupor and apathy and find some way to create a new reality rather than succumb to the one we’ve been given.

  • dickday

    Many of us are killing ourselves. And in fact, by harming ourselves we are harming our society at large. Yes, he said has he took another toke off his cig.

    Diabetes alone is out of control, a regular plague that can be blamed upon the supplier as well as the user.

    I certainly do not have the answer. Ads, especially in the middle of the night tell you that without exercise and diet, pills will bring you to health. Oh and these weights that look like penises…hahahah

    Or if you get big and fat like me, well just undergo surgery to change the character of your stomach.

    Yeah, health care means responsibility for the individual and for government as far as I am concerned.

    AND TAKE PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES OFF THE AIR. DOCTORS PRESCRIBE; NOT CNN.

    Oh and nice post again Jason.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Hey, Dead Eye, thanks for the kind words again. I am in the same boat with certain things as well, as hard as I have worked to change many others.

      I probably drink too much and I certainly smoke too much, though I am well under half a pack a day most days and I haven’t drank myself into a mindless stupor for years. Well, for months at any rate. I am happy to say we will be quiting again on the first (we quit last year on the first but I got laid off nine days in) and that will require me to cut back on the drinking since they go hand-in-hand.

      One thing I am happy for is our diet has been mostly transformed these last few years into one that is supplied by the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market and Whole Foods for the most part. That, more than anything, has made us feel vibrant and healthy. I haven’t been sick or seen a doctor in over three years, but I am pretty militant about the illogical disaster that is the modern American medical system.

      I agree that we need to stop advertising pharmaceuticals on TV and doctors need to think for themselves again, but this nightmare system we have is every bit as calcified as our government. Moving it (and the government) in a direction that is beneficial for us all will be the work of decades, requiring a kind of patience and persistence that today’s Americans simply aren’t known for.

      We The People are the biggest problem right now, as much as it pains me to say it.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Where to begin? I though I articulated a new reality by inference – citizens who vote in every election and make more meals from scratch than they purchase in a box or from a box.

      Everything else can be straightened out over time, but those two are essential in the short term if we are to effect long-term transformation of our country.

      We must stop fighting the same battles over and over again. This is going to be a decades-long project no matter when we get started, so the sooner the better in my book.

  • MBH

    I love the notions of counter-narrative and internet-as-wild-card. Certain messages just can’t be assimilated into systems of control. For instance, the Buddhist concept of awakening will always be locked-down (in a good way) into Reality. It’s hilarious to watch the tea-baggers scream “Wake up America.” As if anger and anti-government sentiments were the secret of Nirvana.

    We have — each one of us — a mind-boggling responsibility. You are the world. That is karma. You are responsible for everything that you perceive! There’s no one to blame but you!

    That’s tough to digest for most of us. But the more that we talk about it — the more that we feel responsible for all that we perceive — the more likely change will occur.

    Here is something that is so true, we find extreme difficulty swallowing it.

    • dickday

      Ever hit a link and you listen to something for an hour and forget where you got the link. I mean by the time I got to part V and then part I…

      This Watts is something. How talented. Just as an orator/professor he has all the talents of Bishop Sheen.

      I could go on for hours here. I mean, if you skip the Gospel of John, the Gospels speak more of the Son of Man than the Son of God.

      Well he shuns John not. Instead he goes to the Greek, which is original…not Hebrew and notes that Jesus referred to himself as a Son of God.

      I am elated to have found this man. I have not Watts for you, but I have Waits:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVJAW-ag7fs

      Oh and if you have never been dead, how do you know what being alive is? ha

      • MBH

        That voice is strangely soothing. I was jaw-dropped at the first note. I’ve never heard him before. Thank you.

        My favorite part of the Watts lecture is towards the end of part three. He’s describing how Christ was trivialized by being “kicked upstairs.” And you can hear someone in the crowd have a moment of enlightenment and say: “Ohhhh wowww!” It’s at about 9:45.

      • OldenGoldenDecoy

        Ya’ know Dick . . .

        I pushed, pulled and carried that old upright piano of Waits’ back in the early 70’s… Spent hours in the studio with him… Spent more hours trying to find where the hell he was hiding out at when he didn’t show up. hahahahaha

        But … What a writer, what a cat, what a raconteur . . .

        Just a regular SoCal kid from Pomona, California.

        And think hard it is to make Dylan sound good.

        ~OGD~

    • *

      Thanks for the Christmas present! Watts is enjoyable to listen to! I love the knife-in-the-back comic delivery he uses! Definitely gets your attention and makes you think about the substance of words, thoughts and ideas!

    • wendy davis

      My stars! I had read Watts forever ago, it seems, but I never gave him that voice or accent or the decided humorous lilt to his voice! Thanks.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      “Thou art God.” I grok, though you are right that most people are unwilling to accept the level of personal responsiblity inherent with that belief.

      I am adding this link to my favorites, so I can spend some time listening to Mr. Watts. His thoughts remind me of a modern incarnation of Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason, though I suspect he won’t end up in a French prison because of them.

      Thanks for the added nuance! I didn’t really consider the spiritual aspects of the debate. Namaste.

  • *

    Excellent post Jason! There’s lots of counter-narrative around even where I’m at, but little direction in how to focus the energy effectively as a brute force of public opinion to let Congress now public power isn’t measured in just campaign donations alone.

      • A Guy Called Lulu

        You, the one who has great vision, describe possibilities and I agree with you that what you speak of is possible. It is a great vision. And you are right to demean my vision. The last time I saw really cool visions was when psilocybin turned my minds eye into a three dimensional kaleidoscope.
        You should go nationwide with your vision, the country is waiting for it. I think it might sell. The people are ready for it. Just tweak the message and buy lots of TV time.
        The teabaggers and the corporate pirates and the religious nuts and the spiritual searchers and the winoe’s and the war mongers and the soldiers and the peacenicks and the bloggers and their gurus and the sick and the lame and the smart and the stupid and the cynical and the gullible and the rich and the poor and the educated and the lazy and the creative and the dull will all come to see that there is a better way and they will see the SAME better way when they get on the internet and they will unite for the common good in their quest to make a better, more liveable, more sustainable world. They will all wonder why they didn’t do it yesterday because yes, they could have and they still can. They really can and no group listed above could stand in their way.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I appears as if you reads different blog or simply disagree with the idea that we are individually responsible for the world we rail against.

          I paint no grand vision beyond eating your vegetables and voting in every election but most especially the primary election.

          This appears to be a cynical response to the best shot we have had at something resembling progress in more than a generation.

  • stillidealistic

    Thanks, Jason…you must get tired of pounding the same drum over and over, but it must be pounded.

    We may not, as individuals, created the problems in this country, but, as a group, we sat back and let it happen. An uninformed electorate has allowed itself to be put into slavery, by the simple act of doing nothing.

    Slowly but surely, person by person, the Congress has been taken over by the lobbyists. The only truly bi-partisan thing the Congress has ever done is to sell out to the special interests and betray the country.

    They have kept us busy with bumper sticker issues, while they feathered their nests and created an atmosphere of hate and distrust. They have made us what we are, but we allowed it. As long as things were going along pretty good, we averted our eyes, and let them go about their business.

    Now we find ourselves living in a country where greed is king. Few look out for the good of the whole, and few are willing to do the right thing if it is the least bit uncomfortable. You can hardly tell the good guys from the bad anymore.

    For those who scream “the government is too big and intrusive,” all I can say is, you made it big and intrusive because you kept doing things that made the government need to protect us from you. You don’t want the government in our business unless it suits you…you have no problem involving the government in what goes on in our bedrooms or in our doctor’s offices, but you don’t want them to keep the greedy bastards of the world from raping and pillaging our economy or care for us when we are sick and can’t afford to see a doctor.

    So, yes, Jason, lack of personal responsibility is the root of most of our problems on one level or another. Until we have an informed electorate that actually goes out and votes and then spends a portion of their time working for the common good, things will only get worse. If we do not rise up and demand that our Congress be accountable to us, not the special interests or the greedy, we will continue this downhill slide.

    WE dictate what the companies make and sell. WE let them stuff sugar, fat, salt and fake food down our throats. We buy and throw away all the crap they clutter our lives and our landfills with. WE are more interested in the sex lives of the celebrities than we are in what is going on in the world.

    I know it sounds trite to many, but WE ARE THE CHANGE WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR. No one can do it for us, or without us.

    Whew!

  • igotmyreasons

    The internet gives us the power to be heard? Deep!!!

    LOL. Seriously, I agree with this. You might enjoy my last two posts, somewhat similar.

    Peace and have a great holiday,
    Fred