September 1, 2009

We Are Our Own Worst Enemies

If anyone ever tells you that this is the worst, most divisive and precarious time in our nation's history, then they don't know their history. American history - and not the sanitized, sterilized and sermonized white-washed versions we were taught in grade school - is rife with uncertainty and divisiveness. (Does "The Civil War" ring a bell?)

While the basic ingredients in our historically-checkered melting pot haven't changed, the brew is admittedly being viscously stirred to a bitter boiling point by:

(a) infotainment that passes as genuine news and infotainers who pass as actual news people who compartmentalize and sensationalize misinformation encapsulated in 15-second sound bites and catchy phrases because the average citizen has the attention and retention span of a gnat and is too busy **see: lazy or illiterate** to read and research for themselves to form their own opinion, but default to rely on the agenda-driven opinions of the aforementioned infotainers; and

(b) the speed of the internet to transmit said misinformation instantaneously.

Once again, I can't help but allude to Rod Serling's metaphoric Twilight Zone episode of self-destruction through mass paranoia, "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street", where an entire neighborhood succumbs to the sum of their fears and prejudices. Mistrusting, suspecting and blaming each other for the sudden plethora of problems that have befallen them, they eventually implode by destroying their neighbor's homes, murdering each other and ultimately obliterating their entire societal structure. Whereupon the camera pans back and we see two aliens observing and monitoring the carnage. One alien reassuring the other: "You see? They just pick the most dangerous enemy they can find [or invent] and destroy themselves. The world is full of Maple Streets. All we have to do is sit back and let them destroy themselves."

Of additional memorable significance was Mr. Serling's closing narrative:
"The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices. To be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill, and suspicion can destroy, and the frightened, thoughtless search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own: for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things can not be confined to the Twilight Zone. ”

Look around and be very afraid...not of our neighbors...but of ourselves.