Eulogy for the American Dream

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Evil is the oil that has kept this country running well beyond its life expectancy.

And it has left me in a state of constant dismay to know the things that I know now – to know that there are these ruralites all around us, so consumed by hate and cocooned in ignorance – to know that there are families being ripped apart who will never be reunited – to know that depraved illiterates have access to all of the military might in the world – to know that millions of American minds and hearts have been irreversibly compromised by propaganda that has taught them that their enemy is the “atypical” person standing next to them, and not the stormtrooper with a boot on their neck.

I lament everything as it is. I lament the manufactured idiocy of my country. I lament the slowly growing worldwide embrace of ideologies for which we have all of documented human history to prove are evil. I lament that you don’t even have to go a century back. I lament that that information is literally in the palms of everyone’s hands, and it has seemingly never mattered less. I lament the life of relative peace I thought I would be fortunate enough to live. I lament the very basic joys and pleasantries that have been ripped out from underneath me. I lament the progress I thought society had made before I realized we still had thousands of miles left to go, and were rapidly running out of time to get there. At times, I lament that I am even smart enough to care, because all caring has ever gotten me is pain.

I never wanted any of this. I never wanted to be an “activist.” I just wanted to be an artist. (Historically, those two things have always gone hand-in-hand. But these are different times. The music industry is a corporate shell now. There is no renaissance for us.) But where there is a need, you do your best to fill it.

Unfortunately, right now, what the world needs most is a miracle. But the only miracle I can see is how any of us who still feel anything for our fellow man are even managing to keep it together at all. But still, every smile has to be feigned. Every television show and movie that attempts to paint some idealized version of a world that doesn’t exist tastes as much of propaganda to me now as the tales Trump supporters tell themselves about an America that was never there but was somehow stolen from them, while they trample all over the unmarked graves of an indigenous people their ancestors all but wiped out.

It’s a miracle we aren’t just dropping dead from grief, as we are forced, once again, to helplessly watch empathy slowly suffocate from behind bulletproof glass.

And it is reflecting upon these things that I begin to wonder if I ever even deserved any of the aforementioned “joys and pleasantries” that I clearly took for granted before this dark paradigm shift began to happen – joys and pleasantries like being excited to go out and see new faces, without wondering if there were Swastika armbands hiding in their closets. Or stepping onto a stage and not picturing myself getting shot by some poor, misguided soul who spent one too many hours listening to incels scream at him on Youtube.

I mourn that kid I was a few years ago – that kid who was eager to create, who still believed in the American Dream. I miss the temporarily embarrassed millionaire who didn’t know there was some alt-lite on the other end of the phone, savoring their undeserved power to tell him “no.” I miss simply feeling doubtfully that I was powerless, instead of knowing certainly that I was. I miss the kid who didn’t wonder how many throats he might have to cut in his lifetime – how many grifters he might have to fend off to protect his loved ones when it all finally burned to the ground. I miss not stocking up on water bottles and rations because my trust in my fellow man to take care of Mother Earth and his neighbor had been chipped away to nothing. I miss when my real “passion projects” came together in notes and colors, and not torrents and time capsules.

More than anything, I miss when this kind of thinking was objectively paranoid and irrational. I miss Y2K, when everyone was naive enough to think that the United States of America could be undone by reset clocks. I miss when that crazy person standing on the street corner with a sign that read “the end is near” was just some drunken bum in a trench coat, instead of a scientist in a lab coat, or a historian holding a stack of books in place of a piece of a cardboard box.

Ignorance is bliss, but denying reality only works for so long, until it eventually encroaches on you like a thick black ink and wilts the Dream to ashes.

Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust.
-JM


“Snowflake’ is a term used by sociopaths to discredit the notion of empathy.”

– John Cleese