A recent coffee shop exchange reminded me of a polarity Ive been considering for decades. My companion expressed the opinion that his government, in the form of the NSA, could listen in on any conversation it fancied if it meant closing in on those who would disrupt our freedoms. Of course for me that means the apple cart of our cherished illusions, all those kindergarten fantasies that lace our social rituals with relevance. The cynic in me silently replied, the freedom to do what, purchase food laced with poisons, drugs we don’t need, vehicles with built-in obsolescence, electronics which infiltrate our privacy second by second, vote in rigged elections for representatives who have ten times the debt of college graduates and who can only obey their hidden financiers without fail…
Fortunately the good neighbour in me refrained from such vituperation, offering instead my measured critique of big government gone bonkers with ballooning budgets and well-oiled bureaucrats and their operatives with nothing better to do than be nosy. The words ‘Kafkaesque and ‘Orwellian’ also remained unspoken. Yet the exchange took me back decades to others of similar ilk, when I’d come to the decision, probably by the mid-seventies, that there were two types of citizens: those who distrusted their governments as a matter of course, assuming them to be the pawns, either witless or willing, of vested interests who transcend any electoral process, and those who trust their governments implicitly, either through naivete bred from ignorance, fear bred for conformity, or an instinctive terror of standing out from the crowd to be counted. And after all those decades the split seems just as obvious: the conspiracy and cover-up crowd assume officialdom is lying as a matter of course and the stand-by-the-flag flotilla still revere the various institutions of state if not all the individuals transiting through them. They see rotten apples while I and my like see rotten barrels.
At the time Vietnam and Watergate were the headline examples of political deceit and the high price to be paid from its timid tolerance, although undoubtedly the assassination- soaked sixties formed a formidable background. Even as a high school history essayist with limited research at my disposal, it was plain that November ’63 was a carefully concocted conspiracy orchestrated from the highest levels to achieve very specific goals. As Kevin Costner playing Jim Garrison in Oliver Stone’s JFK says “It was a coup d’etat with Lyndon Johnson waiting in the wings”. I was 17 when engaged in that history class exercise and it took me a few more years to see the British deceit in the Suez Crisis of ’56 and the French virtual genocide of Algerians in the same time slot as equally worthy of my righteous condemnation. Of course the old hacks and diplomatic lifers of the West would guffaw at me and my kind’s naivete, citing, if they bothered at all, attitudes like the Mr. X character in JFK (Donald Sutherland playing Fletcher Prouty) saying “Kings are to be killed, Mr. Garrison” and “The authority of the state over its people resides in its war powers “.
But that I understand, despite taking another tack. They have invested in careers and belief systems and can either see no exit or desire any reprieve. Political junkies are much the same as their religious equivalents: mainlining the tenets of their belief systems for so long, they cannot conceive a life without their ideological drugs. A careerist in Christianity is a careerist in the Foreign Office is a careerist in Banking is a careerist in Intelligence is a careerist in agribusiness is a careerist in the military is a careerist in NGO’s is a careerist in medical research. Sacrificing the paycheck and the pension for the finer points of destinations on the much-touted-but-rarely-adhered-to moral compass is generally not worth the suffering, especially when the higher-ups are still gorging at the banquet and getting all the gold taps in their ensuites.
Me, I’m still trying to figure out why the new toilet tank has such a miniscule flush and where I might partake of an affordable lunch. And yes, I know I’m privileged to eat lunch at all. That there are millions who do not have that option is no secret, as both me and my coffee shop companion would agree. He, I suspect would pity their fates with a genuineness bred from his sincere Catholic faith, while I, a metaphysical researcher of long standing, would wonder why they. as souls in spirit with as free an incarnational choice as I, would choose such a life. The evidence accumulated from past and between-life research is so far slim, as it has focused on the largely middle class first-worlders who have the money and leisure to so explore. Regression research has yet to ensnare, for example, Africans, as far as I’m aware, though I suspect tribal shamans could tell us a thing or two if the lines of communication were opened. My small amount of personal research in this direction has revealed tribal and family loyalty to be a prime mover for such souls and a reluctance to pick out a more advanced, sophisticated and likely busy urban society. The white man may be crazily destructive and almost brain dead in his relationship to his environment but the third world villager or nomad could still learn a lot from being thrust into the deep end of his gene pool.
It has become obvious however, from the research that we do have, that souls will switch from the repression and cruelty of slave life to the seeming freedom of the white owner of such and that the beneficiaries of the the Empire wielding nations have taken a turn in the ranks of the colonized, not to mention the many examples of Nazis reborn as karmically-conditioned sickly sufferers in the present day and many modern day Christians who distinctly recall being observant Jews about to be trashed by their oh-so-willing oppressors. Similar examples from other ethnic rivalries abound, the lesson being, over and over, that only walking a mile in the other guy’s shoes will show you how they felt when doing the inflicting or submitting.
So while almost completely distrusting the government, whether it’s Harper covering his ass and throwing Nigel Wright under the bus, CSEC secretly bugging airport terminals and the minutae of travelers’ private lives, or the Cheney cabal manufacturing consent with conscious deceit to justify the invasion of Irag, punishing Joseph Wilson for not going along with the charade and then pardoning that oh-so guilty operative from his just desserts, or any number of other grotesque underminings of our supposed democracies, I would have to admit that a short stroll in their footwear might reveal unsuspected circumstances leading to their devil-may-care chicanery and convincing simulation of gangsterism, perhaps not unlike those of some long past incarnation faux pas of mine own.
Although frankly I doubt it. When I survey the remnants of my ‘bad boy’ activities in the so-called past of this planet, as I attempted in You Are History, I see actions executed from a complex of motives, mostly in shades of grey and not the rampant darkness I see about us now. Would the modern perpetrators propose the same? Perhaps, but they’d have to fess up to begin with.