Today is the second day of having the Boss in my head by way of the song No Surrender. About this point in times past, I would sing a bit of the song to my son, lodging it in his mind which somehow usually seemed to dislodge it from my own. The problem is he isn’t around and likely too young to know the song well enough for it to work. I needed to find someone older, but since I live like a shut-in, my options are limited. This is where you come in. I have a friend who reads my blog and is a huge Springsteen fan, so I am counting on him this time. I would put in a line or two, but since I doubt this article likely would fly well with the Boss, I had better not to avoid a potential lawsuit.
The reason I got this song stuck in my head is a mystery to me, but because of it, I got to thinking about the era when he was topping the charts with his Born in the USA album and so ended up watching an interview with him from 2016. I found him a man of insight and restraint if wrong in predicting the American election results. He spoke some about the changing times and effect of industrial migration along with the problems it created in the lives of blue-collar America. The songs he sang.
Afterwards, as I tried to sleep, something I usually try to avoid, I lay thinking about the time of the war in Vietnam and the impact of that conflict on the world. I recalled working with a refugee from Laos and the stories he told me of a jungle littered with the bodies of American soldiers killed in action before he fled his native land. Communism and capitalism both vying for survival or domination over the minds and wallets of the world while these young men on every side died for ideas many likely had never thought about much before getting shot.
A decade later we watched the wall come down as the cold war seemed to come to its end. A new world full of nuclear weapons and a single superpower. It looked like the West had won. But things had changed. We were re-evaluating things and trying to create a utopia where discrimination would be a thing of the past. Freedom was our birthright. Everyone was an iconoclast, and the rights and liberty to be different and accepted were paramount. Gradually it altered institutions. Churches changed their approach to accommodate the young. Schools taught diversity. It was no longer acceptable to marginalise anyone. Words I never heard as a kid were everywhere. Homophobic, diversity, marginalisation, patriarchy, acceptance and so on. We worked and embraced this new utopia. What decent person could find fault with any of it? Having grown up as a poor kid with immigrant parents and subjected to a certain amount of bullying for it, I could personally sympathise. Affirmative action came, and I was still too young even to pay attention.
In the meanwhile the same corruption resident in all humanity, having brought communism down, was quietly working in boardrooms and meetings all over the world. Money was made but never enough of it. Business studied the consumers to devise new ways of extracting money from them. Governments took their cues and taxes increased almost as fast as spending. Everyone wanted something, and everyone got something. Government debts rose at pace with consumer debt. Responsibility and conscience never entered the equation. The next generation would be born with bills in hand.
Neither government nor business respected the consumer any more than a farmer respects his cows. We were a resource. We stopped respecting each other. We stopped respecting ourselves.
A new youth was rising. Children when terrorism gripped the world one fateful day at the turn of the century, they never knew a world with the security of my childhood. They would be taught to embrace everyone except us, the white male patriarchy. We were to blame for the economic futility greeting them in early adulthood. We had trampled upon women and minorities since the dawn of time. Groups like Kill All Men, laws against “man spreading”, and more were the reality these young white men would regard as normal. ” Girl Power”, and “He for She” was all the rage. Many elected to play video games instead of engaging the world that hated them for having the wrong skin colour and genitalia. Many are still there playing the games. Transgender identity was suddenly “en vogue”. Homosexuality and trans-identity activists had fought hard on the science of biology demonstrating real status and won. Suddenly we heard about social constructionism obliterating all biological justifications. Self-identity reared up to trample all those caught off guard. If one felt like a tree, then one must be a tree. If one had a God complex, one must be God. Then along comes Antifa to replace the structure of the west with anarchy and usher in post-modern communism. As near as I can tell my actual non-imaginary offences are these. Against women; I am male. Against racial minorities; I am white. Against homosexuals; I am heterosexual. Against Transsexuals; I am fine with my male identity. Against social constructionists; I accept reality as I see it. Against Antifascists: I would prefer not to beat up veterans in wheelchairs or children. As for white supremacists, I have never considered them anything but stupid criminals, but I can certainly see how their ranks will swell if white men continue to be blamed for everything uncomfortable. Surely in a democratic system, the vote of the white male has little political power and hasn’t had power for decades.
Most assuredly the hardest part of defeating your enemy is figuring out what to do when he gives up, but if you fail at that juncture, you will never win against the insurgency. You will not create peace until you can agree with those you have vanquished and in that negotiation, the power does not lie with the victor. In the end, you will usually pay for everything he wrecked as well as everything you wrecked in the war if you get off easy. That is why all the old religions insisted upon so much death in victory.
If your values coincide with this identity focused individualism, I must urge you to stop and think for a moment. Whatever we do in life we are responsible for the outcome no matter how far our objective is removed from the result. How confident are you that you want to back the worst possible outcome of tearing down the structures of our past society. In our nation, since my childhood, we have made great strides toward being an inclusive community. What we see now is not about advancing gradual improvement but a total tear down. Such things as expecting perfection from police who work in some of the most stressful conditions well beyond what our imagination can even conjure are utterly absurd. Calling for people to disrespect them or openly resist them is no less so. The world we leave behind will be our legacy, and if we are arrogant enough to destroy every house our fathers built, we better have some outstanding blueprints and deep pockets.
If it has never occurred to you that some of those who are in power, hold on to that power out of a sense of responsibility for all the weak and vulnerable rather than greed, then you are not intelligent enough to replace them. If it has occurred to you then why in the world would you want to? As for me, most days I would go happily to the Gulag of the anarchist or the execution of Kill All Men just to be done with the entire sorry mess, but there are still a few so called white male patriarchs with a bit of fight in them. If what I described in the preceding seems to match your idealism and you would like your turn at “running” things keep pushing those buttons.
Maybe pack some extra panties because it could be a long haul with some upsetting experiences outside the “safe spaces”.