Mama

Shepherd of the Hill Lutheran Church Faith Clowns at the 1989 Lockport Canal Day’s Parade.  My mother and I are pictured on the right.

Recently I decided that the only way to truly come to terms with my twenty-eight year relationship with my mother has been to write a book; the crux of which will address the fundamental issue of whether it is possible to overcome the path ‘nature vs. nurture’ sets out for us.
Though, while the book will use the experiences (and their reprocutions) of dealing with my mother through the course of my life to illustrate the point, it will not necessarily focus on what, specifically, is awry with the relationship.  It will describe events that have shaped my relationship with my mother – events that have left such a bitter taste in my mouth that I cannot see her, or even think of her, without the flush of memories coming forward to explain her present actions.  For my mother will never change.
When I was ten years old, I lived with my mother for one year.  During that year, I walked in on her with a boyfriend a total of five times (that I can remember) – the last, of course, on my way home from school; in the living room – them on the floor.  It is hard to think how she could not have thought I would walk in on them; although, now it is quite clear that she just did not care.
When I was ten years old, she sent me back to live with my father because she had (supposedly) fallen in love and planned on moving across the country to be with the man “of her dreams.”  (Two years later, he of course admitted that he was still married and would not be leaving his wife.)
When I was twelve years old, on visits to see my mother over the holidays and summertime, she began taking me with to sit in one of the booths at the many lounges she hung out in.  I busied myself with books and art projects; and (of course), I was constantly made fun of by all her booze-hounding, bar-friends for being such a nerd.  [At this point this posting will be upgraded to PG-13…] This same year, she started calling me a “cock block,” for (apparently) my visits with her prevented her from feeling she could go balls-out on the drunken, bar-room hook-ups.
By the time I was sixteen, my mother had set me up on a blind date with one of the twenty-one year old bartenders at her current watering hole.  The date began with the guy being so drunk he slammed my hand in the car door; and ended with my walking home to my mother’s after the guy tried to convince me to stay at his friend’s party by licking my ear.
Every boyfriend that has ever broken up with my mother has been blamed on me; every thing that has gone wrong in her life has been attributed to my presence.  She has shamed me, rejected me, yelled at me, picked on me, and hurt me so many times it is more logical to keep track of the times she has not done me wrong (for the bookkeeping would be much simpler).
And I just can’t stop asking for more.
No matter what my mother does to me; and no matter how much her behavior crosses over the border into abuse, I just keep coming back for more.  She is my mother – for some unseemly reason I feel a sense of obligation towards her more than anyone I have ever known.  It is, perhaps, for the very reason that I am used to her abuse that this is the case –  but whatever the reason, I continue to set myself up for it.
So the question remains (which is the centerpiece of my book):  is it possible for me to overcome this cycle of dysfunction and be the better person I wish to be?  Regularly, my mother tells me I am a bad person; compares my actions to hers (when they are in no way comparable); and, spreads such vicious lies and rumors about me within her family that they all seem to believe I am nothing short of a monster.
My relationship with my mother is one that is complex and yet (paradoxically) reducible to nothing more than typical.  I am sure that I am not the first to have this (seemingly) bizarre relationship with one of her parents; and I am sure I will not be the last.  But on the evening of having seen my mother for the first time in almost two months – when she announced she is marrying a man she has known for three weeks; I take pause.  I take pause and I remember that to come to terms with such a relationship, one must overcome it.  
The only question, then, is:  how?
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Deletion City. Population? You

CNET’s Technically Incorrect blogged last week, reporting recent studies published at University of Colorado on the top reasons people delete from Facebook.  We’ve all been victim of it in the past; in fact, many of us have probably had deletion parties of our own.  But as the technological phenomenon of Facebook has rapidly become an overused and overworked site, it would seem that this emphasis on deletion would have gone the way of Myspace (so to speak).  In other words, as Facebook has become commonplace (and a candidate for technocratic entry into Webster’s dictionary as a household term, such as “to google”), the seriousness of this phenomenon should also have burgeoned into the general cliche the site, itself, quickly became.  To be even more specific:  who takes Facebook so seriously, anymore, as to delete woe-be-gone friends?
According to the University of Colorado study, the top three reasons Technically Incorrect cited for deletion were:  (1) too many posts about mundane details of life; (2) political or religious postings that were in some form disagreeable to the deleter; and, (3) inappropriate or racist comments.  And, rightfully so, Technically Incorrect then cites all the things wrong with deletions on these levels.  Facebook and status updates are all about posting mundane details about our lives.  Facebook is supposed to create a globally inclusive place for people to feel connected – even when they are just connecting by virtue of complaining about the tuna salad sandwich they had for lunch.  We are supposed to love our friends and their ideological quirks.  And when a friend makes a seemingly out-of-line comment that borders on racist or offensive, we are supposed to consider the times we have done that and/or embrace the tolerance of postmodernism that we like to blanket under the umbrella of being “culturally relevant.”  Facebook is for being aware and connected, and as Technically Incorrect comments, it is more about connecting in a world where it is so very hard to connect.
It seems, though, that the deletions go much more deeper then just this University of Colorado study, though.  For in considering the nature of my own deletions, I can see that the issue is much larger than just people becoming offended by my brazen comments and ridiculous postings.  Just today I realized, in fact, that one of my husband’s family members had deleted me; apparently out of feeling offended by my posting of hilarious (but fake) Onion news articles on my page every so often.  It was in this realization that I understood this Facebook deletion issue is much greater then we all thought.
Through those mundane connectivity postings that cover our newsfeeds and top stories headlines every time we log in to the famed site of over 500 million users, we seem to now believe we have come to actually know the people with whom we call ourselves “friends.”  That same study that Technically Incorrect cited commented that “the study showed 57 percent of those surveyed unfriended for online reasons, while 26.9 percent did so for offline behavior.”  This is a disturbing trend, for in seeing this statistic at a happenstance, one might conclude that we are now (more then ever) judging people from their online activity rather then that in person.  Is this why my husband’s family member defriended me?  Because my online activity was something she did not want anything to do with?  It is beyond disturbing that we are judging people in this manner, for in doing so we have begun to completely depersonalize the very experience of human interaction.  We are actually judging books by their covers (despite our grandmothers citing that old adage to us over and over again).
But it grows deeper than that.  It would seem that in our effort to become more inclusive with the world community at large viz-a-viz the social networking giant, we have in effect isolated ourselves even further.  Deletion is not the only phenomenon at this point; now privacy is as well.  After all the hub-bub over privacy violations committed by Facebook and its advertisers, an entire cadre of privacy features popped up that allowed users to block anyone and everyone from seeing their data, photos, videos (you name it) – whether they were friended or not.  I am not arguing, here, that privacy features should not be available; however, I do think that all Facebook has done in adding these is create a new air of privilege that is just not real.  And of security, for it is naive to believe that selecting “Only Me” on who can see your information truly means it is only you.  And it has done a disservice to society at large, for through the acts of deleting people for various reasons; and blocking others from viewing certain things on your page, Facebook has now given us a whole new way to isolate ourselves from each other and create our own net-based cliques (much like the ones we knew all-too-well in the hallways of high school, only now there is no personal contact).
“Will she be my friend?”  “Why did they delete me?”  “Can I see their pics?”  These are the questions that are now at the forefront of our minds as we turn on our computers and almost instinctually navigate to this dreaded page which means so little, and yet is taken so seriously.  And (just as in the real world) – you are always in the haves or the have-nots.  You are either the friended or the deleted.  The viewer or the blocked.  Anyone who takes these types of social networking Internet sites so seriously deserves to be caught up in this world – a world which exists only on a machine, from the quiet of home.  Facebook is not a book club, where everyone gets together and sees each other in the flesh – where the group cannot just delete someone from the club because they said something the others did not like; or where a member cannot erase the memory of a particularly bad hair day with just the click of a button.  It is not a book club, or a church gathering, or a family reunion, or any other social function in which people actually interact in the flesh.  What the secrecy and deletion era of Facebook has brought upon us is not only a discussion on the etiquette of the Internet; but one of the way in which we conduct ourselves in society at large.

The High School of Life

Much to the chagrin of my youth (or rather, my denial over the fact that I am no longer a teenager crushing on a new boyfriend, while flipping burgers in my local Wendy’s) – my 10 year high school reunion is now upon me.  I am not going; yet, more than the event-itself, the words “10 year reunion” leave a strange taste in my mouth; that is hard to pinpoint, yet impossible to ignore.
The nature of the last ten years (of course) can be described as: quick, indecisive, unexpected, and (in a nutshell) other than what I planned.  If I were going to my high school reunion, I’m sure I would run in to many others that followed the same path.  There would be those who were going to make it big, and now still work as baggers at Jewel.  There would be those who said they would never get married or have children, and are now endowed with a spouse and enough children to man a little league baseball team.  And I’m sure more than anything, I would especially find those who everyone thought would fail, and now are doing more with their lives then many of us could even imagine.
The whole point of an high school reunion is to get together and see how everyone has changed.  Who looks older?  Who looks young, still?  Who has put on weight?  Who has had kids?  Who is still single?  What are people doing with their lives; and how does it compare to what they wanted ten years ago?  It is an end-all-be-all reconnection of people who promised never to fall out of touch, yet inherently did.  And much like the last dance of senior year, or of the parties after graduation before everyone went off to college, it is a night of empty promises and self-reflection.

In other words, it is like going back in time and having one more night of high school.  Yet the truth is that high school never ended. 
High school is about looking at each other and either quietly or loudly judging them.  It is about teasing people because they are band geeks, or avoiding the bullies.  It’s about thinking that the Associated Student Body is actually vital to the school, and that Model UN will really help save the world and all it’s problems.  It is about the cafeteria; the homeroom; the PE teachers that everyone hates; and the cool kids versus the strange ones.  And there is an overwhelming sense of conformity – within your own group; and within the school.  It’s about ditching class to hang out with your friends, and about playing the part of a mini-adult not yet old enough to make it in the world; not yet smart enough to know that this mini-adulthood is the best time you will ever have.
On this night of my 10 year high school reunion, I realize that life is nothing more than high school.  Ten years ago people were judging each other for their looks, their ideas, and their plans – today it is no different.  People still bully.  The cafeteria has just been renamed “the breakroom;” homeroom “the cubicle” – the PE teacher is now your boss, and we still all hang out with the types of people we did all along.  Tonight at the reunion, they will look at each other and judge for what has been done and (moreso) what has been left undone.  There will still be people trying to fit in with the popular crowd.  There will be people making their careers out to be more than they are; their happiness out to be something it is not.  Even the reunion of the high school class resembled high school – with its lack of support in planning, lack of funds from the school, exclusion of people who would have gone or helped, and the drama that surrounded the event.
What comes with this unchanging reality, though, is that unsettling truth that while we may still live in a real-world version of high school, we are now much different then we were ten years ago.  In other words – in an ultimately paradoxical way, we are faced with the contradiction of living in high school, yet no longer having its comforts.  We still may cling to the same groups of people we once did when we were freshman and sophomores, struggling for survival in the teenage jungle; but the friends we have not seen in ten years will not be seen for another ten more.  At my 10 year reunion, people will make promises to each other; they will say they will keep in touch – but just as the promises in the yearbooks and at the graduation ceremony, ten years from now we will be wondering where everyone went.
But the conformity is still there.
And this is the main reason I am not attending my 10 year high school reunion.  It isn’t so much because I live all the way across the country from where I grew up; or because the cost of airfare and travel is more than I can afford right now.  It isn’t really because the notification was short, and because many of my real friends are not going.  These all weighed in to my decision to stay home, but ultimately it is because after years of branching out; doing my own thing; living my life according to my rules – this one night would call everything into question.
A very good friend of mine responded to my question as to whether he would be attending the reunion by saying: “you know, I have spent the last ten years of my life trying to forget about that place, why would I want to go back now?”  I think this hits home for many of us who decided not to go.  I loved the people I was friends with, but I hated the experience of being immersed in the chaos, the judgment, the drama, and the conformity.  By choosing not to go to the reunion, I am not rejecting the people or the event – and I will always try and stay in touch with those for whom I cherish some of the best, and most valuable, memories.  
But I reject the high school of life; and I am much better off for it.

The Shape of Hogwash

As I sit here, watching another worthless piece of drivel on the outdated tube-TV in our overcrowded living room, the denouement (if you can call it that) of the 2003 cinematic production of “The Shape of Things” unfolds before my eyes.  As I watch this entirely unrealistic finale take place (in which the female antagonist of the film commits acts against the protagonist male that are not only unethical, but entirely impossible in the academic situation she presents herself in), I look to my husband and I see that he is absolutely gripped by the moment of emotion taking place on the screen.  His hand is to his chest; he looks completely horrified – I think to myself: “my God, is he gullible.”

But you cannot blame him for being the gullible hubs that he is – he, like all other worker-bees in the film industry – have been trained to fall for this sappy, unrealistic melodrama that permeates the on-screen action today.  Granted, “The Shape of Things” was produced seven years ago; however, we can point to this as the early onset of the new style of filmmaking, which we see hackneyed and overdone today.

The Pattern


“The Shape of Things” sets up the pattern that seemingly all films do today:  we begin with a bizarre and quirky scene.  Sometimes it involves a couple (such as in this film) meeting for the first time; often it involves an action sequence or something that is odd but sets up the plot.  Our hero is now always an awkward male – in the Pauly Bleaker style of awkward linguistics and stereotypically undesirable physical features.  In “The Shape of Things,” we are given Adam, who is overweight, strange, nerdy, and just plain socially awkward.

The bizarre and quirky scene, of course moves on to the incessant dialogue, which also seems to be a contemporary phenomenon in filmmaking.  As was the case in Dogville (which had me begging the TV to end the film by the point where we find out Nicole Kidman is the daughter of a mobster), “The Shape of Things” engages us in an unending series of dialogues in which we witness useless and irrelevant discussion points, that do nothing other than add meaningless details to a meaningless story.   The worst of these is the dialougue between Adam and his soon-to-be-married friends, where we listen to them talk about how they want to get married underwater – a detail which bears absolutely no consequence to the story at large, in any way, shape, or form.

The Plot


You would think that a film which lasts for almost two, whopping and laborious hours would have something of a plot; yet, since we are bogged down with endless dialogue, it is difficult to tell.  The undercurrent of the film, though, is that Adam’s new girlfriend (introduced in the opening, awkward scene), is “changing” him.  The interesting thing about this, though, is that statistically all people in relationships change (and, to be honest, Adam changes for the better).  He starts to take better care of himself, physically.  He dresses with a little more self-respect.  He starts to gain more confidence.  These are things that happen when everyone is in a relationship; yet, for some reason our authors imply from the get-go that this is an intentional doing on the part of the girlfriend.  It is true that there are a few changes that are a little more major and could be attributed to the girlfriend (ala a nose job), but ultimately they are all natural occurences.

In the end, though, we find that she has done this all on purpose, as a means to use him as an art project for her Master’s Thesis.  And so enters the destruction of this film.

The Problem


Evelyn (please note the obvious ‘Adam and Eve’ reference) presents this portion of her Master’s Thesis Project to a portion of the student body, wherein she announces that she entered into this relationship with poor Adam as a means to see if she could “sculpt” a human being.  She has photographs of him.  She has pieces of his diary.  She has his old clothing.  She has films of their sex life.  She makes a mockery of him at this presentation as she turns down a marriage proposal (adding his grandmother’s ring to the art display), and he (of course) had no clue of any of this until this final moment of truth.

The problem, though, is that for this to be even remotely believable, she would have had to do something a little more ethical and sane.  In the real world, Evelyn would have been both expelled from the university and sued for slander and liable.  In the real world, Evelyn would have been required by a judge to take psych meds.  In the real world, Adam would not have just stood there and agreed to allow her art project to remain on display for an indefinite period of time.  The problem is that the “shock and awe” denouement of this film is in no way shocking, and does not inspire any awe – for it is completely unbelievable.

It is one thing for the contemporary film industry to present a style of film that both empathizes with its audience (the awkwardness of being a person in the world) and creates an unexpected twist at the end.  But there is something to be said for doing the latter in a way that people can still relate.  The mark of a successful play, film, or other piece of performance art is that the audience is so engaged, and so affected, that they feel it truly touched a part of their life that they may have previously thought no one could understand.  Long, drawn out conversation about nothing and completely unrealistic scenarios does not achieve this.  Shame on the makers of “The Shape of Things” for taking a potentially interesting idea (the moulding of a human being, and the art of human interaction) and turning it into nothing more than hogwash.

God Bless America

So, I’ve read the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence.  I’ve read articles and pamphlets written by the Founding Fathers.  I’ve read Thomas Payne, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington – I’ve taken American politics and American history.  I have even watched the HBO mini-series on John Adams.  Now, despite the fact that I was not alive at the time these great men in American history were making history, and that I am not an historian and have not done extensive research in the field – I think it is safe for me to say that my credentials (just listed) at least give me the right to say the following:
There is absolutely no way in hell the Founding Father envisioned the American dream as celebrating the birth of the country with blowing off each other’s arms and drinking Coors Light.  Fuck yeah, America – fuck yeah.
And it is not just the celebration of the independence of this nation that has turned into a drunken festival of debauchery, yelling, and carcinogen-rich bar-be-que.  Almost every holiday in the United States, today (even ones that are celebrating the holidays of other counties – e.g. Saint Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo), is accompanied by nonsense I find it highly unlikely the Founding Fathers would have condoned.  If we are going to commemorate the achievements of these great figures in history, shouldn’t we at least consider how they would have preferred we do so?  As humorous as it may be, I find it difficult to envision John Adams and Thomas Jefferson celebrating the independence of our country by doning their best pair of overalls and shooting fireworks off each other – all while seeing who can guzzle more Bud Light Lime before smashing the cans on their foreheads.
Why has this happened?  Is it that the pressures of American society (with a floundering economy, a destroyed housing market, and an endless series of international and domestic hot and cold wars since the early 1900’s) have just driven people to let loose and embrace this seemingly unhealthy behavior?  It would seem this to be likely, except that the holidays ala Bud Light and an unprecedented numbers of “Driving Under the Influence”-arrests have been going on for decades now – for decades before America became the pitiable nation it is now.  On the 4th of July, Americans have been blowing off body parts with unsafe fireworks displays for well over sixty years.
Perhaps it is the Founding Fathers for whom we are to actually blame for this sense of unrestrained freedom we feel we have – this freedom to celebrate in whatever way we want.  If it weren’t for them, we would not have the freedom to set off fireworks, or to even necessarily celebrate for that matter.  If they had not fought for our independence, we may still be paying taxes on -literally- everything, and might not be able to afford the alcohol we consume on this fine holiday in copious amounts.  Maybe if the Founding Fathers had not sacrificed blood, sweat, and (in some cases) their lives, we would not have been as rich with resources and freedom to engourge ourselves on bar-be-que and as lavishly caloric feasts as we do at our holidays.  Every Thanksgiving, the average American consumes over 6,000 calories (three times the daily recommendation).  This would certainly not be possible if it weren’t for the contribution the Founding Fathers made to our freedom and liberty.  Freedom from oppression; liberty to consume and destroy.  Celebrate these American achievements by eating and drinking as much as we possibly can.
There is no way those great men in American history could have foresaw the disastrous affects of creating a nation founded on a cut-throat capitalism and a freedom in democracy that would allow the absolute worst of the state of nature to become commonplace.  At the turn of this 234th anniversary of the founding of our great country, though, we must stop and consider whether they took us along the right path.  Would we rather have our freedom to do whatever we want – to blow off each other’s limbs with fireworks we are not qualified to use; to drink so much alcohol we don’t even know who we are; to eat as many greasy fried foods as we can in a day?  Or would we rather have a little more of a moderation, yet sacrifice some of our freedom?  It is more than that, though, for it is our freedom that destroyed our economy (the freedom of banks from restraints on loans; the freedom of consumers to buy on credit without any concern for paying the bills).

I would definitely have to argue that we must preserve and cherish our freedoms and our liberties; but at the same time, perhaps America still is not ready to have the freedom it has had for over 200 years now.  For the most principle thing that must come with gaining freedom to do all of these things is responsibility – Americans must also take responsibility for the things they are free to have.  I think by and large Americans fail to do this.

Perhaps the real question, now, is not whether it is all worth it, or whether the Founding Fathers would have been happy.  For there is no way they could have known what would happen over 200 years after they were all six feet under.  The real question is that with all of the hardships America has now; and with all of the concern we see in the faces of the Americans, at the hands of our freedom; with the amount of self-destruction we see ourselves engage in just in a mere celebration: what are we even commemorating?  A nation-wide depression?  An all-time high unemployment rate?  Starving children?  The loss of our bodily parts in fireworks accidents?  Binge-drinking?  Obesity?  When we are literally incapable of taking responsibility for the implications of our unrestrained freedoms, what is there really for us to be celebrating?
Fuck yeah, America.  Fuck yeah.

I Abstain

Since the beginning of time, people who have spoken truth have been persecuted by the majority.  Perhaps the earliest and best example (academically speaking) would be Socrates.  For merely setting out on a quest for capital-T Truth, Socrates is tried and sentenced to death by hemlock.
Over 1200 years later, Boethius writes in The Consolation of Philosophy
“And now you see the outcome of my innocence – instead of reward for true goodness, punishment for a crime I did not commit … here I am, nearly five hundred miles away, condemned to death and to have my property confiscated, silenced, and with no opportunity to offer a defence, all because of a somewhat too willing support of the Senate.”
Yet, as Boethius also claims, it is only natural that the philosopher put his philosophy into the state-politik, if only for the sake of attempting to further a sense of goodness in humanity.
But Politicians Are Not Humans
Flashing centuries forward, Elizabeth Hawes remembers well Albert Camus’ early reticence towards all things political.  She says in her 2009 biography, Camus:  A Romance:
“Referring to these … matters, he had confided two remarks in his journal in 1937.  ‘Every time I hear a political speech or read those of one of our leaders, I am horrified at having, for years, heard nothing that sounded human.’  One month later, even more emphatically he wrote, ‘Politics and the shape of mankind are shaped by men without ideals and without greatness.  Men who have greatness within them don’t go in for politics.'”
Of course, in the case of Camus we have an utter contradiction, for as we see unfold later in his life, he delves right in to politics to try and prevent the further desecration of post-war France, and to try and liberate the Algerian people and secure their rightful place in world society.  But as with most philosophers-gone-politicians, Camus swiftly fell, even more abruptly and harshly than when he rose.  We can thus use him as an accurate portrayal of the truth to politics.
Camus’ fall, so to speak, occurred simply as a result of his insistence on publishing the truth in an editorial on a situation in Madagascar.  He upset many of the politicians he was working with at the time, though, and thus thrown from political grace to absolute obscurity.  With (literally) the blink of an eye, he fell from the graces of the popular majority and left reeling with the harsh reality that he spoke of in his early journals – that mankind is not shaped by anything human.  Mankind and society is shaped by something that is for the majority, for the betterment of those in charge – shaped by men (and women) lacking greatness to the utmost degree.
But We All Get Sucked In At One Point Or Another
If you were to look at my profile of a life, you would find someone that has recently recovered from the bloody wounds inflicting upon me by the local political vultures – waiting to feast on someone else (or perhaps me again).  I – in the same manner as many others before me – was eaten alive by a group of local political-junkies.  Junkies who could not even get their facts straight; and often supported each other without even knowing the reasoning why.
As a young, fledgling politician, I entered the party of the people, and thought I would be able to make a difference by merely showing up and “pounding the pavement” to reach the voters and influence them to get out and sound their voices.  Soon enough, though, I learned that not only do the voters statistically have no voice; but even in local elections, their voice is only as loud as their pocketbook.  In other words, regardless of what issues are being voted on; regardless of what your candidate says in campaigning, it is an undeniable fact that in American politics it is at least 85% governed by the money.  So much in the way of Camus, if the people who you work with do not want the truth to be heard, it will not be – even if it is merely by way of a slanderous rumor or two through the grassroots of the party.
I went the way of the political dinosaurs in this fashion.  At some point or another, I said something that the “party” did not agree with (and by “party,” I mean a group of paranoid people, all of whom were so busy arguing about who was going to be in charge that they often had no idea what their ideals were, or what, exactly, they were fighting for).  Specifically, I stated that I did not agree with slandering the opposition on our bumper stickers; and, that I would publicly support the candidates with whom I personally support, not only who the party told me to.  This caused great controversy, because by my mere silence in the case of one candidate, I was saying he was a fraud.  Then, I made clear that the party was not as supportive of (us) young people as they could (or were claiming to) be.  In other words, the sum of these three minor incidences equalled (for me) speaking the truth; (for the “party”) speaking in opposition of them.  For this, I was slandered, slaughtered, insulted, accused of being an infiltrator, and a turn-coat; I was brought before the head of the party and asked if I was working for the opposition; and it was said I was off my rocker.  Politically I was blacklisted.
Two months later I was phoned by one of my slanderers and offered a job working on his campaign.  He said he needed someone with my inside know-how; and was willing to “let bygones be bygones.”  I have not talked to any politicians since.
Thus, We Must Abstain

And yet the problems of politicians, politics and the government in American society today are much deeper, and more systemic, than just the way campaigns are run.  At its very core, American politics are fed by the American obsession with change, with a better life – and it is only by abstaining from raising our voices that we will be able to let the truth reign free.  In order to be free of the corruption in politics as they are now, we must rid ourselves of them entirely.
A case in point is with President Obama.  He enacted a spirit of drive and change to such a degree that voting in the 2008 election was at unprecedented levels; and yet he has fallen the way of many politicians, and is (in many ways) governed by the interests that support him.  As with all politicians, his political success is determined by how much money he can raise; thus, he is stuck conceding many things in the interest of being able to make so-called change.
But more than that, a politician will argue that “at least Obama is there to make some changes, even if he has to concede others.”  However, the problem is again on a larger scale, for it is in the tying of the hands of our politicians that we see an injustice to people who otherwise deserve the same as those with the money.  For example, why should one lobby group with more money be deserved of a particular legislation, while another lobby group with less money be deserved of nothing?  Why are the people of Iraq being liberated while the people of Sudan are left to be slaughtered?
Yet, to keep it in a more local light – on a scale with which we can actually affect, to argue that we can make change in our community is a matter-of-fact falsity.  And this is for two reasons:  (1) that local politics, down to the most miniscule and seemingly meaningless waterboard position, are run by the example of politics on the grander, more national scale; and, (2) politicians on a local level always have their sights set on the bigger goal, thus they will always act in a way that is advantageous to them – even if it is stepping over and slaughtering other’s character in the process.
Thus the only way to truly make change is to abstain from voting altogether.  For when you vote a candidate into the system as it currently is, you drive them straight into the beast for which they will have to conform to only to survive.  Only by abstaining can we call for a complete reform of the way our politics are handled; only by abstaining can we enact systemic change and make a difference in our community and in our country.  Voting for change sends the message that all we need is a little political propaganda, or flashy logos, to secure a footholding in public office.  By contrast, not voting for anything sends a message that we will not feed the beast any longer.
It is not an anarchy that I am advocating; nor am I advocating for a communism, or a socialism – or really any sort of an -ism (at least in the context of this conversation).  And it is not an overthrow, or a change in governmental systems that I am calling to action.  Merely, I am asking that we act by inaction; that we change our corrupted system by refusing to participate in something so corrupt words like “inhuman” do not even begin to scratch its true nature.
Since the dawn of time, anyone who spoke truth about corruption within the system was persecuted.  In democratic Athens, Socrates was sentenced to death for just inquiring of the locals.  In the Holy Roman empire, Boethius was condemned for speaking truthfully in the Senate.  The likes of Camus, Bertrand Russell, Sartre, Chomsky, Rorty (and some of the most contemporary and well-respected activists and philosophers) are often shunned for speaking out loud the truths they know all too well.  It is one thing to be patriotic and to do your civic duty; it is another to turn a blind eye to what is going on right in front of you.  Abstaining from voting out of ignorance is an altogether different issue; but abstaining to make your voice heard is logically equivalent to attending a rally, writing an editorial, or testifying before the Senate.  If we are really wishing to preserve our “rights” and “happiness,” as we are guaranteed in the most precious words of the United States Constitution, then we must consider what our vote does to that.  If we vote for hiding the truth, we are dealing with a complete denial of those rights.