SEASONAL THOUGHTS, End-of-Year Rant 2014
            I’m scared, and I’ll tell you why.  My wife and I finally had to cave in and buy a large flat screen TV. Our 20-year-old 27” box TV just flat out died a few days before Christmas, so we ventured out on Black Friday to buy a new one with an expected life span of less than half of twenty years. Good thing we got a deal. And that big screen is seductive. But after enduring the seasonal onslaught of loud, excessive advertising (which carefully avoided any connection to religious tradition,) I found myself full up. I want to incinerate those damned little chocolate pieces that ‘ring’ out a carol, and I want to see that little green lizard squished under a car tire. Even the magic of seeing Charlton Heston or Richard Burton in big scale epics on that big screen ultimately faded. I’m worn out. Whole days go by when I don’t turn on my TV.
            But that’s only one thing this season which scares me. On a less pressing level, what about our entertainment culture? Does Disney own everything? It’s got Star Wars, and it owns the Muppets; maybe it’s even got Star Trek. What’s next? Lego? X-box? It owns most of the producers, and their ideas about who we are and how we see ourselves. I was sick of Disney and Disneyland when I was in High School. Their view of fantasy that they offered up is not my fantasy. If I had any kids, I would not foster Disney on them.
            And with such a machine grinding out sappy retreads like the adventures of Tinker Bell, or sequels to Toy Story or Beauty and the Beast dominating all media, (Your purveyor of entertainment!) it is no big surprise there are Mickey Mouse Christmas decorations in all the Hallmark stores (Your purveyors of cheap sentiment!) So I worry what the kids today are growing up to believe about themselves. Are all animals basically little furry people? Do candlesticks talk? Hallmark has its own channel, and Disney has at least one. We are inundated!
            My fear goes further, however, into ‘real life’. Minnesota Republicans Paul Torkelson and Kurt Daudt, now in control of the legislature,  have indicated that tax increases have not been ruled out. Is this a big surprise? You got to stop thinking of today’s crop of Republicans as friends of the people. They salute the corporate masters. In fact, name one political regime, any time, anywhere, that has not raised taxes, let alone rolled any back. The machine grinds on.
            And why is no one else scared? ISIS in the Middle East is driving current world energies, along with its bedfellows, the Taliban.  The world may be facing a conflagration. All it would take would be for Israel to do something really stupid; something offensive and nastily aggressive in Palestine, and all the pent-up forces in the region would pounce on them, before the mighty USA could mount an effective reaction. That would be World War III right there, complete with gas, biological, and nuclear responses.
            This is no joke. I am frightened. I can envision mobs of survivalist posse members prowling my city’s streets, with their ‘right-to-bear-arms’ Uzi’s in each hand, meting out streams of bullets to people they don’t like, for one reason or another. I don’t hurt people, but I know there are people who don’t like me, and I’ll be a target.
            Others are as unnerved as I am by what we’re doing to our world. I watch the way the corporate imperative sweeps all other considerations aside, and it scares the hell out of me. It is our country’s fatal flaw; that we have elevated the drive for corporate profit to the level of the untouchable gods. Corporations own everything that matters, except possibly air and water.
            What is it, really, that scares me the most? It is the unrelenting blindness of the people that live in the same country, state, and city that I live in. it isn’t only blindness, because behind it is a hidden and utter rage lurking below the surface; a thinly disguised racial, sexual, and religious prejudice, unconvincingly denied. It pops out here and there, on occasion, when some Nervous Nellie with a gun in his hand, in uniform or not, who starts a-shooting. It doesn’t matter what kind of nut collector it is, this creature bubbles to the surface of our gene pool. I’m afraid the pressure cooker’s going to blow, like a super volcano, before I can more peacefully live out my natural life.