Monday, December 17, 2012

The frustration of the United States

Which can be summarized pretty easily: it takes a huge amount of energy to get people to change things, anything, and almost as much energy to try to get folks to even look at the world differently. The tragedy in Newtown is an example of this. With regards to action and getting people to do something, I remember hearing about a person who was visiting Seattle from France who went to the Fremont Sunday Market, a popular street market here, and who was shocked by all the anti-Bush stickers, shirts, and buttons she saw. It wasn't the content that shocked her, but the fact that if anti-presidential expression to this level had been going on in France it would have been the preface to a revolution. Instead, people bought their anti-Bush stuff, wore it, and largely sat on their asses.

Sometimes even the act of saying you want something changed, no matter how small or trivial, is looked at with fear and incomprehension. For instance, a few days ago I was walking around Seattle and passed a bar that had a sign out saying "Bring back our Sonics!", the basketball team that left a few years ago. Because there's a proposal to build a new stadium in the works, a group of nicely dressed guys and girls, said "Bring back the Sonics? Someone should tell them the Sonics are back". They seemed genuinely confused that someone would put out a political opinion on a major street.

In general, our society reflects pretty well the idea reportedly expressed by Frederick the Great, which was that he didn't care what his subjects said, as long as they obeyed.

We talk a lot, and we obey a lot too, whether out of apathy, laziness, or something else. 

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