“It’s too late to put flowers in gun barrels”
From Jonathan Ray
First, they came for the elections, but we grew up hearing that “voting doesn’t matter.” A slow boil of district manipulation and a thinning pool of viable candidates bore that out, but turnout was dismal, and symbols are important. Every election since the turn of the century has revealed more systemic corruption. We have lost a little more hope and a little more will to command our “leaders” with our voices with each lap around the ballot box. Long gone are the days when we could trust the word spoken from a podium. We had a glimpse of another way, but he showed up with a mysterious bruise and got quiet pretty fast after that.
The cabals, cartels, and corporations that put most candidates on the stage are not interested in our will. This time we would have been screwed either way, but with this administration has dissolved the facade of eligibility. Now the idea is out there that any asshole can hold an office, and it seems that any useful bastard will. A certain pall fell over the world on Election Night. It felt like a tectonic shift, or something happening in an invisible dimension. It was as if some significant changing of the guard had taken place at a level that even silenced Congress. Half the nation reeled with disgust and anxiety and the other shot off fireworks and felt empowered to out themselves as demons. Everybody got duped. Some got evil.
Next, they yanked the reigns of the media. The big networks danced to the tune of their sponsors and partner agencies. The internet gave us grassroots reporting, but the corporate bullhorn blasted from all sides the idea that dissent and conversation about corruption are “fake news” now. The division is everywhere because it is the priority and the agenda. Now is the moment where we are just about ready to tear down the last shreds of the veil, thus the efforts to keep us apart and at each other’s throats are mounting. The TV, radio, and print that used to deliver at least a degree of truth sold out to shareholders years ago. This legacy media (for with alt-this and post-that on every corner there is no actual main stream anymore) are purging the web of independent voices along with the snake oil, psychological operations, and doom dealers. Hijacking online conversations is a growth industry, employing perhaps thousands of human trolls and perhaps millions of tireless “bots” to control the narrative.
Weaving spiders are busy indeed. The alphabet agencies, be they spies or corporate mouthpieces or Google itself, tell us who to trust and who to scoff at, and we let them. We haven’t had to do real research since these little portals arrived in our pockets. Taking blue pills was easier than looking for ourselves. After generations of learning to look to Big Daddy for answers, it was child’s play to pull the wool over our eyes. Then the tools of research became the means of censorship. The big bang of available data that happened when the Internet went live is slowing down, and attempts are being made to reverse its flow so that it can be contained and controlled for good. Leaks continue. We can hope that stubborn defenders of truth will continue to burn holes in the dragnet and allow the flow of uncollared information.
Then Congress rolled back progressive laws but told us that only hurt “snowflakes.” We figured hate crimes and transphobia and racism were overblown. We didn’t think the Klan was even really a thing. It seemed like a joke or anachronism. How wrong we were, and how lucky we were to have such delusions as others watched their backs for lifetimes. Local governments are busy shadowboxing with political theater for the benefit of their base. Politicians treat bathroom laws and other rollbacks of LGBTQ rights as a priority to impress the evangelical voters. Nevermind what those same creeps get up to in bathrooms and hotels off the clock.
Meanwhile, real issues like infrastructure, education, safety and economic security are passed to the next official to deal with, if at all. The hollow men in expensive suits wrap themselves in the flag, drop crocodile tears paired with cherry-picked Bible fragments, and utterly ignore all requests to join the rest of the world in the 21st century. As long as they keep getting paid for their votes and avoid each other’s deep-dirt blackmail schemes, the circus goes on as it always has, and we get fed to the lions when we demand bread.
Then they began to shut the gates. In a brief but ominous symbol, the Statue of Liberty was unlit for a time. Only a few noticed enough to ask why, but it had a dark resonance. Fear had trumped love, and our nation of immigrants started turning people away as if that would affect a trend toward homegrown, often white terrorism. After decades of war, thousands have nowhere to go, and years of conditioning have made us associate the wrong countries with terrorism and job stealing. Our “job creators” are the ones moving all the work offshore to their tax havens and secret banks. Our “protectors” are the ones starting fires all over the world.
However we may live as individuals, America knows in our gut that we have become everything we once opposed. But no one can handle that, and many can’t even recognize it, so the masquerade goes on. A war on terror never ends, it just ramps up and creates an endless cycle of blood for money. See also the wars on drugs, crime, poverty, and so on. Like cancer, there’s more money in research and feel-good branding than a cure. The institutions of these troubled times work to entrench and preserve themselves rather than solving the problems that were their reason for existing.
Meanwhile, the growing police state has started stopping people on planes and stranding them in airports. They started making lists of “bad” nationalities. Men in brown with dogs and guns are at the borders asking for papers. We know where that leads. The mask is slipping, and the face is all too familiar. How long now? Do we need to endure this again? What lesson have we ignored that demands a retread of humanity’s most famous dark night of the soul?
The military is becoming the corporate police, leaving endless streams of well-meaning youth to return home as shattered shells of themselves with no structure of psyche repair in place. The beat cop is a dying breed. City police are militarizing and in some districts are goaded into procedural racism, thrill-kills and property theft which they can practice with impunity and even reward. Private mercenaries are being hired to destroy dissent to environmental and social abuse. Every peaceful protest attracts provocateurs in anarchist drag who come to break windows for the camera and frame organizations that seek reclamation of peace and justice for the people. “See, these people are out of control!”
Then the tear gas and rubber bullets can fly. Soon the privatized prisons will be full of stoners, activists, and people of color, as was the intention in ’68. First we had “Free Speech Zones,” then they started criminalizing protests, but we assumed the stories we heard about these movements were true tales of violent mob rule. We figured we had nothing to shout about until we did. So now what?
It’s too late to put flowers in gun barrels, but there is another way to invert our predicament. Turn inward and to each other now. These are the times we expected. Cross the artificial divides and build bridges where you may. Resist the death grip of the old institutions as we quietly make them irrelevant. Authority was never the friend of the people, and the pretense is finally falling away. The Germans lost the war, but plenty of Nazis got new jobs and learned to take new shapes. They won, in their way, and you can see it in the way things have gone with the Allies. History repeats and mutates.
Here we all are, and it is up to us to awaken and stop the historical cycles of abuse. This time of fear porn and hate bait is the moment for vigilance and courage, self-empowerment and cooperative subversion. The human race is on the table, about to have its organs harvested. The anesthesia needle floats just above the skin. We have excused our complacency for too long. We kept our noses in the arsenic lace of the virtual world when our duty was always to direct experience and action. Now is the time to RISE: resist, inquire, subvert, and engage. I leave it to you to choose your path.
Jonathan Ray is a writer, father, mystic, and musician working out of Tucson, Arizona. Driven to uncover, understand, and heal, he thinks of himself as a “conspiracy therapist.” Exploring the connections between the visible and the invisible and helping others to rediscover and empower the parts of themselves which have numb in our collective switch to survival mode is his life’s calling and the theme of his works.
Jonathan’s writing and music can be seen at apocalypsefatigue.org, named for the stage between the revelations of the world’s woes and the inspiration to embody solutions through action.