Smile! At the Apocalypse
That band name is nice: Panic! At the Disco. Haven't heard much of them.
Today, I tried to smile! at the apocalypse. This seems an apt description of how to confront American suburban life.
At the grocery store, I saw a 5'4" woman stepping into her Jeep Rubicon after picking up a bag of groceries.
The vehicle is larger and heavier than a van that transported a team of seven road construction workers I was a part of six years ago. Oh, what a difference a few years make.
Essentially, the problem inherent in American culture is tastelessness. We seem to follow the promise of gaucheness unbound by reason.
The cliche "If you got it, flaunt it" describes what I'm talking about, but the problem is so much deeper. The 1960s counterculture movement argued that material wealth doesn't mean much, but later, the Reagan years struck back at this sentiment fiercely. And now, under the obscene corporate profits and squeezing of the working class George W. Bush has brought, we're replaying those years.
(Are these two pictures similar or what?)
Here is the movement of mind: "I'm not sure about this, but I want to do it. Now that I've done it, I'm going to praise myself for doing the thing I wasn't sure was a good idea."
Now, we pat ourselves on the back for many things -- for good choices and poor ones. I'm no angel, and most of the people I know are trying to get somewhere, not deciding whether to scale down from the Hummer to the Rubicon. Yet from popular culture to politics, the worse the decision, the more fervently it is defended.
That's part of the reason I'm learning to like Barack Obama: he's the only politician willing to say, "The Iraq War was a bad idea from the beginning." He is right, and no greater contrast could be found by comparing him with George W. Bush.
The latter just scares me, for one reason alone: he does not see brutality for what it is. Bush 43 does not take torture, the rule of law, or habeas corpus seriously. As a youngster from his insecure vantage point, he made fun of smarter students. He started to praise himself for his poor decisions and poor assumptions. And his is tasteless.
There's a lot to get a person down -- bad war, bad economy, tastelessness, and things seem to be getting worse. But I know that that is not true. Things are now as they have always been, and always will be. Tastelessness has not been increasing. My judgments get me nowhere.
So, I guess one shouldn't Smile! At the Apocalypse. One should just smile, and keep religion kindness, and church whoever I'm with.