Too busy to work

Today was a busy day. It seemed way to busy for someone who doesn’t have gainful employment, or any employment that generates an income. I’m just about to need a dip into the savings again…kind of sucks but I am very fortunate to have that option right now. I want to be independently wealthy, so I don’t have to chastise myself daily for not having a job. Independently wealthy isn’t really what I’m after, truthfully…just want enough to maintain the standard of living I enjoy (or accept) now – rent for reasonable lodgings, food, reliable vehicle, health care, a few creature comforts, e.g. internet, laptop, cell phone, books, guitars. Middle class environs. Nothing terribly upscale, just want some autonomy and independence. Not asking for luxury, really. But again, I am very fortunate and grateful for the current circumstances.

This is an insane world right now. Outside this country, there is COVID. Inside this country there is COVID, and conspiracy theories galore. People have lost their minds following a psychopath with no sould who makes fools of them every day. In spite of his exploitation of these people, they pledge allegiance to him, would give up their lives to defend him, seriously believe every thing he says. They’ve spun themselves off from the White House drama and into this nutsy cuckoo Q-Anon conspiracy cult. Some pundits claim Q is the alpha-numeric designation for a uber-high government security level for the Department of Energy. I say it’s the recurring character on “Star Trek:Next Generation” called “Q”. That character is an advanced life form, displaying as human, that delights in tormenting Star Fleet members with clever (at least in its estimation) logical and moral tests. Q appears in the garb of many figures in human history, frequently problematic characters such as martyrs, royalty, despots, etc. He (the character is clearly male-identified) enjoys having the Star Fleet officers, no exclusively human ones, defend the morality and purpose of their existence. To further complicate the dramatic scenario, and because this is an advanced life form, Q is endowed with supernatural attributes, materializing whenever he pleases and is least expected, and manipulating physical reality for the unwilling (and unknowing) participants involved. Frequently, participants do not know they are subject to reality at the whim of Q, so free will becomes a little sketchy. Because this is a television show, some of the plots are interesting thought experiments.

In the case of conspiracy theorists in the mythic Q-Anon assemblage, Q is a real person, no less deity-like than in the Star Trek world. Q has nearly super-human knowledge and big-picture perspective from high-level security clearance that ordinary humans do not typically attain. Accordingly, when Q tells the masses to watch for how many times the former-President or former-Vice President references the number 17, they should interpret that as a sign. A sign of what, I am not sure, but since 17 is the alpha-numerica designation for the letter Q, that has been deemed an esoteric signal. Again, of what I do not know, and I am not sure THEY know, either. But, no matter. In this context, Q manipulates reality for the faithful, who anxiously await the next bit of “evidence” that a giant conspiracy exists. A conspiracy that is meant to trick them, undermine them, give undesirable others advantage over them. Power. Again, it’s all about power. The Q-Anon followers are the people who, for a variety of reasons, are feeling the most powerless, and moreover, the most dis-empowered by external forces. Disempowerment by external forces is a conspiracy if ever there was one.

The phenomenon of conspiracy theories has persisted throughout history, and I contend that it has more frequently been disguised as mythology. The ancient Greeks and Romans, the Norwegians, the Vikings, the Africans, and the Hindus all manufactured theories about that which could not be understood. There were myths about where we come from on this planet, why there are seasons, why there is night and day, where babies come from. There are myths and lore to explain the attributes of plants and animals, and to explain the flow of water. In nearly all cases, there is some super-human or supernatural entity that has decreed those circumstances, or who can change and maniuplate our reality. These mythologic perspectives have varied little from theology in most cases, and polarization around those similar explanations of our shared reality can become…war. Persecution. Challenges to physical reality, and physical well-being. Humans conjure a mythology to explain the unexplainable, and then oppress themselves by discounting ordinary humanness. Then, we fight over which version of the deism is correct, and my god becomes more powerful than your god and we’re reduced to playground bullies with complicated weaponry. Damn those opposable digits!

Concocting a story line that personified immutable circumstances like weather is not terribly different from personfifying uncontrollable circumstances of any other kind. The point is the attempt to explain the inexplicable. Why are there poor people? Why are there mentally ill people? Why is there poverty? Why is there drug use, and crime, and homelessness? We have no real answers to those questions, and they seem to be unacceptable to us at this juncture. I believe what is really unacceptable to us is living as feral street animals live, clawing and scratching for every scrap of survival, never experiencing the confidence and security that we will have what is necessary to live. In the case of feral animals, they have not been shown love or nurturing, so cannot respond to caring touch later in their lives, even when the threat of non-survival has been removed. I believe it’s much the same with us humans, where scrapping for survival in the concrete jungles of our reality has rendered us incapable of responding to care, and nurture, and frequently reason. This is the state that produces a mob of people who shit on the floor of the U.S. Capitol because they’re pissed off and feeling that it’s fair play, since in their minds they are the ones being shit upon.

I have tried diligently to listen and try understanding this Q-Anon viewpoint, if there is one. I am not clear they have any view, only rage and darkness, but that’s just my opinion I suppose. Those who have spoken publicly about what exactly the conspiracy espouses have rattled on about Satanic pedophilic cabals in pizza shops, but that’s a little far out even for them. The more centrist of the group seem to believe there is a political conspiracy, designed to strip certain people of their inalienable rights and manipulate certain aspects of legal and societal reality. I can go with that. Where it falls apart logically, though, is their perception of how this manipulation is manifested, and who is ultimately responsible. When this first started, it seemed fairly easy to rationalize the movement as a product of socio-economically disempowered margins of our society, poor and uneducated specimens who are easily manipulated by charismatic figures with ill intent. OK, sure…that has happened before in human history. Hitler, Idi Amin, Sadam Hussein, etc.

Unfortunately, that’s the simplified version. What compicates my attempt to understand this Q-Anon movement, however, is the diversity of their followers. There are people of color represented in Q-Anon ranks. There are women. There are scholars and military officials, law enforcement officers, executives. That the hell? I suppose there are the oppositionally defiant amongst us, and that defiance is equally represented across identity groups. In a way that’s a good thing, because nobody wants to see an entire identity group in lock step like robots who’ve lost their humamn agency. It would be equally simple to explain this away on the basis of race alone, particularly when the public face of Q-Anon seems to be pretty white and pretty male. That could be intentional, or media bias, who knows, but I would really hope that no self-respecting woman of any race or ethnicity would be caught dead wearing moose horns, nonsensical tattoos, face paint, and a 6-foot spear for causes such as these. But, that’s also my opinion.

I suppose the common bond for all these folks is dissatisfaction. Some articulate that as opposition to “big government”. The government intrudes too much on our personal choices, they say. If we want to deny sale of a cake to a same-sex couple, we should be able to do that. If we don’t want to wear a mask during pandemic response, we should be able to make that choice. If we want to go to bars during pandemic, without a mask, and slobber all over each other, leave us alone to do that. Don’t tell us what to do, and let us do whatever we want to do. If people would just get off our backs about liberal radical-left crap like that, everything would be just fine and we wouldn’t have to erect a gallows in the front yard of the Capitol. We live in America, many say, and we are not free when government tells us what to do as much as it does. So…down with government! Down with the liberals! Down with…anything we don’t like.

Well, that’s very nice, people. But…it comes up a little short in reality. And that’s what we’re dealing with here – reality. If you are using public streets, and public facilities, and want to call the police when there’s a stray dog scaring your little Scruffy, then you have to remember that it’s not just YOUR tax dollars paying for those things. All of our tax dollars are paying for that stuff, so even if you want to claim your business is private and your religious preference disagrees with how I live my life, you really shouldn’t get to make any of that an issue unless you’re off the grid entirely. However, if you’re using the airwaves, and you have a brick-and-mortr business on a public street, I don’t see where you get off denying me service. But, the law is not always blind, particularly when the legal gatekeepers are myopic at best. But I digress. My point is, all of this my way or the highway posturing is simply a function of power, our attempts to control things we feel are out of our control. We feel out of control in our lives in general, and this is how we retaliate…let them eat cake, but not MY cake.

Power is addictive, and corrosive, and totally necessary. Power makes it possible to move, to move our bodies and change our reality. The necessity of power transcends context, transcends politics and philosphy and religion and gender and race and any other context. There is horsepower, firepower, mind power. In every context, the presence of power is immutably contrasted with the existence of powerlessness. We like to have power, we don’t like to be powerless. We perceive of powerlessness as inability, stasis, restriction, limitation. In some cases, those may be the inevitable outcomes of powerlessness. I contend, however, those are temporary situations, and power may be dormant but not eradicated. When a bird, flying at full speed, crashes into a wall or a window, it may crash to the ground, motionless. It is stunned, and will lie motionless for a time, unable to gather its faculties (literally). Barring external intervention, when left to its own devices the befuddled avian traveler will literally shake off the cloudiness and return to the skyways momentarily. Unfortunately, sometimes the initial crash puts the creature out of business permanently, and therein lies our decision point – how do we avoid the crash? We should be allowed to fly, wherever and whenever we want to, and we shouldn’t crash into walls. Whose fault is it that we crashed?

Therein lies the rub. Why does it have to be anybody’s fault? Shit just happens? Indeed it does…shit just happens. There are accidents. There are walls. Sometimes we don’t look both ways when flying, sometimes the wall is in a bad place. But when you have to share your space with several million other birds, the sky gets kind of small. You have to look out more carefully, you have to put walls in decent places, maybe you have to slow down a bit, or put warning flags on the walls. Whatever it takes. Whatever you do, though, won’t eradicate the opportunity for a crash. It may give you the best chance of avoiding one, but there’s always a chance. There is no guarantee that you’ll be able to fly whenever and wherever you want to, without risk of intersecting with someone or something else and needed to modify your course. That is not a limitation on your power, that’s an acceptance of reality.

This Q-Anon stuff, and just about all of the -isms (sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, heterosexism, etc.), reflect a bitter and hateful way of controlling what we cannot control. If you don’t sell me a cake for my same-sex marriage, that’s kind of mean, but it won’t change the reality of me having a same-sex marriage. If you don’t agree with same-sex marriage, I would advise you not to have one, but you’re not going to change anything for me by throwing me out of your cake shop. That is just your little pissy effort at controlling something you find uncontrollable, and about which you feel powerless, which is homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Go ahead, knock yourself out. If that’s what it takes to get you through the night, then have at it. I figure it’s not enough, because trying to control other people doesn’t stop with cake. It goes to pharmacists ruining COVID vaccines because they don’t agree with it and think injections are planting tracking capability in the recipients (not sure what they are thinking, since the vaccine is a clear liquid, but whatever). It goes to unethical teachers teaching children misinformation about American history, about reproduction, about sexual orientation. It goes to politicians lying to citizens about issues that will impart terror in the minds of those dependent on them for information. Those are just a sampling of places our powerlessness can lead us.

The bain of powerlessness is despair. When you can’t get up, and you feel that nothing is ever going to change, that’s a hopeless spot. When you’re in a hopeless spot, and a chauffeured Rolls Royce speeds by and splashes mud on you, you not only feel that nothing is ever going to change, but that you are the lowest of the low. There are obviously better circumstances for other people (hence the Rolls Royce) and there must be something fundamentally wrong with you if you’re the one in the mud puddle. It takes a lifetime to realize there’s nothing wrong with you, there’s something wrong with the system that separates the Rolls Royce passenger from you. There’s something wrong with all the people who fight to keep the Rolls Royce passenger in the back seat of that luxury car, as though it is deserved in some way. And if that is deserved, your place in the mud must also be deserved. I say that’s a lie. I say it’s just too difficult for some of us to get out of the mud on our own. We need help, but if we’re climbing up the walls of the Capitol and shitting on the floor inside, we’re not helping anybody. I don’t always expect the Rolls Royce passenger to help anybody – things are working quite well for them. I do expect, however, the other people in mud holes to help each other. We don’t do that, preferring to believe the Rolls Royce chaffeur about how the world works, not even for them, but for their boss. They lie. Of this I can attest.

Michelle Cusseaux, unarmed woman killed by police in Phoenix AZ August 14, 2014.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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