Monday, January 26, 2009

I think that there are way too many people throwing around the word "change" right now. I get that our new president was elected based off of a campaign rife with promises of "change", as if anything really changes in the long run. Sure, there might be less torture, less taking away of civil liberties, maybe even a shred of diplomatic and domestic decency...for a time.

But let's not kid ourselves; lines were crossed over the past eight years. For every step behind the line we've taken as a country we've taken two past it over a very long period of time. And as long as there continues to be a wishy-washy, less-than-transparent government I don't think we're ever going to make it back to the line in the sand. We'll just keep drawing new ones and saying "this will be the line we never cross". And then when the line is too far behind us to see it even when we turn around and peer into the darkness, we'll draw another one. This will be the line we never cross. And then this one. And then this one.

Politics won't change because too many people are rich off of its teat. Elected officials make millions in donations and fundraisers. Lobbyist groups make millions for their specific causes, not caring from where the money is taken. Cures for life-threatening diseases and conditions are slowed to a crawl, not because we can't fix all of it but because of inane religious beliefs and the fact that there's no money in the cure, only in the medicines manufactured solely to surpress the illnesses but not enough to make you independent of the drugs.

Change takes sacrifice from everyone. And right now, not enough people are willing to sacrifice. Politicians don't want to give up the donations they get from pharmaceutical companies, so they won't push for universal healthcare or tie government funding to measurable goals. Without these mandated goals, those same companies have no reason to strive for cures; they make too much money off of making a drug to treat every illness you didn't know you had.

People whine about taxes while their schools and roads are falling apart. Parents talk a lot of bullshit when it comes to giving their children the opportunities that they never had themselves. They'll rail on about the poor conditions of their childrens' gymnasium, the lack of computers in the writing lab, the outdated textbooks...right until you ask them to do their civic duty and shell out some cash to pay for all of this publically-funded knowledge. And then those same parents will bury their heads in the sand right next to the line we crossed eight years ago and tell us that they pay enough already and to get someone else to do it. There are TVs to buy, boats, cars, vacations to pay for. They'll say they don't owe anything towards education because their kids already graduated, and they'll wonder why their grandchildren dropped out of school because they can't get the attention they need in a class of fifty for geometry.

The idea of "we're all in this together" went to hell the minute Gordon Gecko told people that greed is good. The minute somebody told the wealthy CEOs of companies that if they piss excellence that it will trickle down and enrich the lives of all the little people below them, the ant drones who serve their food, cook their books, teach their children. And rich people swallowed that tripe hand over fist; they couldn't get it all into their gaping maws fast enough.

You want change? Real change?

Too bad; that ship has sailed. The government gave change a boatload of money and it sailed away as fast as it could.

There are two things that will never change: greed and people.


People don't change. Sure, they get fatter or skinnier; there's always an ugly duckling who turns into a beautiful swan. There's the homecoming queen who turns into the town whore. But those people never really change; they only got what was eventually coming to them. Deep down, people are who they are. They're raised a certain way; their life experiences shape their behaviors.

Doctors can try and walk you through your experiences. They can tell you that none of it is your fault and that you can learn from your mistakes. Sometimes, they're even right; that's not the point. You can learn anything and everything you've ever wanted to know about yourself, but you're still you. You're still the person who made those mistakes and lived those experiences.

They are as much a part of you as your eyes, your hair, your skin. You can't just decide that you're not "that person" anymore and start over because every time you look in that mirror it's still the same person looking back at you no matter how many hours you've spent on a couch shelling out $100 an hour to cry about the time you told your parents you hated them. Or when you watched a life-long friend cry his eyes out because you just had to loudly make fun of him in a crowded cafeteria just so that other kids would think you were cool.

You are who you are, and no amount of self-awareness is going to turn you into someone else. The only thing that seems to ever work in changing one's perception (for a little while, anyway) is tragedy. Two things about that disturb me: one, that a person's only change to better themselves comes after something terrible; and two, that even doesn't last.

Eventually, everyone ends up where they always were. You really do want to draw a new line in the sand, only you'll find that the old one is just where you left it: right in front of you. And if you squint hard and look out into the desert, you might just see something scratching new lines into the sand ahead, a trail of money swirling around in its wake.

"Plus de choses changent, plus qu'ils restent les mêmes."

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