I think that most people who read this blog with any sense of fairness will recognize that I advocate much more sweeping and radical constitutional change in the United States than almost anyone with prominent access to prominent media advocates. It is a basic truism (and almost a basic truth) that in order to justify advocating radical change a responsible person must have already found or must promptly find very serious problems and dangers that justify undertaking the risks inherent in making large changes. It is also fair to assume that regular readers will notice that in fact I have often pointed out very serious problems in this country. This post is about the awareness of those problems and dangers which beset our country.
There is a film which by using Homer’s Odyssey set in the south of this country shows a bit of the gritty reality of our near past. It is part of a method of a awareness to watch such films and in that film there is song. The song does not reflect the situation in the film. Go to the next link to find the film However, these lyrics are not taken directly from the film.
“Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0190590/
Big Rock Candy Mountain
C F C
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, there’s a land that’s bright and fair,
F C Am G7
For the doughnuts grow on bushes, and there’s lots of cookies there,
C F C
For the dogs and cats are happy, and the sun shines every day,
F C F C
There are birds and bees, and the bubble-gum trees,
F C F C
by the lemonade springs, where the whippoorwill sings
in the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
It seems a pleasant and fun place doesn’t it? Yet we also live in beautiful world and being aware of it and what endangers it is also a sacred trust. Here is a post where I linked to others sharing the burden and duty of that awareness: https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/bp-spill-environmental-awareness-links-questions/
Let’s get back to that song set in a film reworking Homer’s Odyssey with slightly different lyrics longer and a bit more on our point but similar.
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, the houses are built of blocks
And the little streams of sody pop come trickling down the rocks,
The soldiers there are made of lead, and they are very brave,
There’s a lake of stew, and ice cream too
You can paddle all around in a paper canoe,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
If the soldiers were all made of lead one cannot help but wonder if it would be less important to fight just wars nobly and to seek peace. If ice cream fell like snow and lakes were full of stew then perhaps our agriculture and employment policy would matter less. But for now we must be aware of how living things, people and communities do find their sustenance. Here is a post where I linked to others who were making us aware of what was at risk in the BP-Macondo Oil Leak: https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/the-bp-transocean-gushers-risk-some-links-and-notes/
Now, we can return to song which stands in for many other points of view. I recall, but have not checked, that in the film Brother Where Art Thou? they used the version of the song where the word “frogs” is replaced with “cops”. I think the cops version is the original there would be less food in a world where frog legs were toothpicks and that does not go with the song. On the other hand for someone who wants a free lunch the world would be more abundant if there were only cops with wooden legs and bulldogs with rubber teeth keeping him from other people’s property.
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, the frogs have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth,
and the hens lay hard-boiled eggs
There’s chocolate pie in all the trees, and jam in all the lakes,
Oh, I’m going to go where the wind don’t blow,
there’s a big free show, and candy snow,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
The song is fun. Living in a world where policy is made on the basis of the idea the song represents but reality is what it is would not be fun for a whole lot of people. In many ways that is the world we live in today. Below is a link to a biographical entry describing the life and work of the physician who discovered that the horrors and deformities of leprosy must be understood almost entirely as resulting from the victim’s loss of sensitivity to pain.
The Wikipedia Biography of Paul Wilson Brand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Wilson_Brand
The use of leprosy and its horrors as a metaphor for the results of many of the ills of humanity and society are not starting with this blog post. In fact the next link is one to a poll as to whether the denial of sin by atheists is precisely that kind of leprosy we are discussing:
Old Testament prophets decrying impiety and humanity, Romantic poets decrying the loss of understanding of nature, Revolutionaries decrying the loss of national integrity or sanity — these are all examples of a nation’s pain response and awareness. Life is made less frivolous and harder because of the pain we feel when we want to lose ourselves in the moment or the life time of doing whatever it is we would rather be doing. Documentarians have played an important role in recent decades and over much of the last century in pointing out what is wrong with the world — a useful thing to know.
The first shows a part of the truth of how America becoming play obsessed and focused only on market discipline can play out in a complex world. There is a lot more that is only hinted at such as the destruction of some of the local Mardi Gras and Carnival traditions by visitors who only come for debauchery without the limits of traditions. There is also the fact that things may be much worse than the show portrays in China since they are not exposing anything but what they are told willingly enough.
Chinese workers export Mardi Gras in Mardi Gras Made in China: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436569/
The second film shows how complex struggles of oil and gas profits, ethnic values and wetlands management affect all of Louisiana and the nation. However, this is done in the context of a close-up portrayal of a few crawfishermen in the Atchafalaya who are not even filmed in an entirely accurate or honest way. The film is in many ways anti-Acadian in it biases and is only forced in the other direction by Katrina. The tendency is to represent swampers as typical Acadians and to represent all swampers as more cut-off from the larger economy than they are. But regardless of where it comes from it says good things with important images.
Angels of the Basin: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1338547/
Then we have the vast problem of angry,ignorant and hate-filled black racist destroying this country in so many ways with the support and formation that has poured in from the west-hating Moslem world for centuries but especially the last fifty years. We ignore all the signs and are headed to destruction but at least our reports give us some of the relevant factoids:
Omar Thornton ‘s recent shooting is a good example: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20012557-504083.html
However, we have many others as well. We can turn to Wikipedia to remember the Fort Hood Shooting. However let us not remember how much racial-ethnic and religious and social forms of non-awareness contributed to this disaster. The way we have handled the aftermath is a terrible disgrace as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hood_shooting
Then we have two movies that show a somewhat unfavorable vision of the military and those who serve in it as well as showing why the enemy would not be so ready to flee at their approach. However, the movies are also full both of whole and partial truths as well as humane insights. I recommend watching them both with a critical eye but not disparaging the critical eye they turn towards our country and armed forces.
The Lucky Ones: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0981072/
The truth is that we have so very much to do as soon as possible if we are to be in any way successful as a society. We have many enemies and competitors around the world who will try to keep us from making and then securing the right transitions. However, we are full of internal problems that are far more dangerous. The time to act is here and will not last forever. However, awareness of the pain is the first step towards healing the wounds and pains.
In the models for change I have described here I have set forth a path that can lead to a btter future. But getting there will not be cheap and easy.