"The art of politics, under democracy, is simply the art of ringing it. Two branches reveal themselves. There is the art of the demagogue, and there is the art of what may be called, by a shot-gun marriage of Latin and Greek, the demaslave. They are complementary, and both of them are degrading to their practitioners. The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. The demaslave is one who listens to what these idiots have to say and then pretends that he believes it himself." ~ H.L. Mencken
Put Your Money Where Evil's Mouth Is
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I'm not normally into science fiction, but like so many others, I was taken in by "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. I had no interest in seeing it at first, but I heard so many good things about it from so many different people, that I eventually did. I have to confess, I was taken in immediately by Cate Blanchette's opening narration: "I feel it in the water." A sentence like that leads you into a mystery. It is deliberately provocative and ambiguous. In these cinematic masterpieces, it lays the groundwork for what is to follow.
And what followed, as far as I'm concerned, were three films that, for the first time I can recall, took all the tricks of the current film industry--digital enhancement, use of miniatures, filming in front of blue/green screens, CGI techniques, camera foreshortening, advancements in set design, costuming, makeup and prosthetics--and used them to express the pathos of the story. Anyone can create whole other worlds now with a little CGI and a big enough budget, but Jackson was the first to make it express something more, that inexplicable reason we seek out and react to art itself.
This is particularly the case with the part of the story that deals with Lord Denethor. For the six or seven people who have never seen these films, Lord Denethor, the steward of the throne of Gondor (in the absence of a legitimate king), sends his son, Faramir, into a pointless battle, while Denethor slowly descends into madness. Jackson brilliantly juxtaposes Faramir's pathetic, little army, as they approach certain doom, against Denethor sitting down to dinner. As the arrows fly at Faramir and his brave knights, the end result, which even a simpleton could have predicted, is symbolized in this close-up shot of Denethor's mouth as he eats:
Some might argue that the reference is too obvious, that perhaps the director is hitting the viewer over the head with anti-war propaganda. I disagree. As a former supporter of George W. Bush, his lies, his wars, his aggression, and his blood-stained mouth, I originally saw these films as justification for what I thought was a just war. (In a later article, I shall explore my former neocon views further, in an effort to purge myself further still of these shameful remembrances of my past.)
But make no mistake about it, that mouth is the mouth of evil. It is the mouth of "our" government, and every self-satisfied politician who voted in favor of the Iraq Resolution. I also ate in this manner, for more years than I care to remember. It sickens me. The only thing I can think of to make myself feel better is to vomit it all back up. I intend to do so. Here's how.
Unlike previous tax years, where the government saw fit to rape me beyond withholding by demanding further payment on April 15th, this year I will be getting a rather large refund from both the federal and state governments. All part of their desperate attempts to stave off the inevitable, brought about by their meddling in the free market, of course, but it's money back in my pocket all the same.
One of the reasons why I'm stuck in a job with no meaning has to do with poor financial planning, as well as my rather irresponsible way of looking at a load of money like what I'm about to get back from the thieves in the highest offices of government, and seeing so many consumer goods I could get. The latest gadget that caught my eye is the Kindle. But if it weren't the Kindle, it would be something else, I can assure you. Therefore, I have to remind myself what the purpose of a large windfall of money really is: to invest so that in the future I can do what I want with my time. The Kindle will have to wait. However, I have decided that something far more important needs to happen with this money than even my own freedom from meaningless work.
According to this link, about 1.4 million Iraqi refugees have ended up in Syria. According to this other link, one in five Iraqis has been displaced, to countries as warm and welcoming as Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Persian Gulf States. If you're like me, living in relative comfort and reading this article while bloodying your mouth with food and listening to your iTunes, you should try imagining for a few seconds that one in five of your fellow cube-mates at work, or one in five people in your neighborhood, has been displaced to Canada or Mexico, or even a neighboring US state where less fighting is taking place. Now try to imagine that the reason he has been "inconvenienced" is that an invading army, one that is increasingly disillusioned, has flattened his house, while seriously damaging yours. You were able to stay, returning to your familiar cubicle while eating your lunch, but Bob and his wife and kid had to go, because the duplex they lived in is now rubble. That is reality, not for America , but for Iraq and Afghanistan . That is the mouth. That is my mouth. So it is time for me to put my money where my mouth--the mouth of evil--is.
From now on, whenever I get a refund from our benevolent government, it will go directly to assist the innocents who survived what my money has purchased. While the Iraqi Red Crescent can take direct donations, the Afghans would receive help probably from this link. (Since there are three e-mail addresses for the Afghan group, I am assuming that you could send a donation via PayPal.) If there are any other charities that are more directly involved, or have greater efficiency at getting the resources to those most in need, I would appreciate hearing about them, and will update this article as soon as I get the information. But much more should be done.
Everyone who reads this article should find it in his heart to do the same. I am assuming that everyone who reads these words is also mugged by the government each year. Therefore, if your entire refund also goes toward this cause, not only are you helping those in need, but you are engaging in a subtle form of civil disobedience, a silent, charitable protest against the warmongers and cheerleaders of death. It may also be that, depending on whether the government decides to hand out more free bread in the future, you may find your taxable income reduced due to further stimulus packages and your own continued charitable donations to The Cause, which in turn would lead to increased levels of money refunded in the future, and a cycle of increased aid to the homeless, the cultureless, the displaced, the huddled masses yearning to be left alone. If enough people put all of this stimulus to work in like fashion, we may, up until the time that the economy tanks, see a tremendous increase in this sort of protest, one that would be hard for the government to quell without looking like the monsters they are. How many politicians do you think would risk that?
I highly recommend you take time out of your busy day to reflect on these matters.
Once you have done so, feel free to copy the text of this article into an e-mail and send it to everyone you know. Or better yet, show your support for Strike The Root by sending your friends and family a link to this article, or at least links to the charities mentioned above. You may also need to get busy and start haranguing, to get this money and aid to the places it needs to go. There are plenty of legitimate mouths to feed, after all. And time is drawing short.