from 10 august 2003
blue vol II, #92
Opinion Archive

The Road Not Taken
Thoughts while passing the point of no return

by John Kaminski

Sometimes when we're traveling, we get so engrossed in our own conversations we fail to see significant things. We speed by these emotional landmarks without noticing them. It may be the very thing we've been looking for all our lives, but we miss it for a distracting remark that happens to turn our heads in the wrong direction at that very moment.

Think of what constitutes the point of no return. The days that follow ignorant and unwise decisions are always filled with grief and remorse. Sometimes, in the distance between the moment where we passed it and the spot where we realize we've passed it, the epiphany dawns on us - there is no turning back, despite all our fondest wishing and hoping, despite all our teary promises to do better next time. Real life has no reset button. Then comes that hollow time, with its aluminized applause of silence, when understanding crashes in on us. Some mistakes, like the death of your mother or your son, simply cannot be corrected. Sometimes, in this life, there is simply no going back.

So it is with the American dream, lying crushed in the bleeding dust of official lies presented as eternal truths by neatly dressed young people trying in vain to speak English correctly in front of mobile television cameras, saying things like "the American people support what has been done in Iraq" and trying to show their spontaneous sincerity as the scripted words slither from their painted lips.

America has been twisted from an example of hope for the world into an armed robber intent on fleecing everyone it meets. Just recently, America has changed the world from a place of hope to a place of fear.

We pass by these significant events as the newsreel of our memories unfolds before us. We show appropriate horror at the mangled bodies of people we never knew, then go on about our business - to the mall for those birthday presents meant for people we hardly know, to work on time to meet the daily shift quota, or to our homes to retreat from the daily assault of debilitating images that assail us by using whatever substance pleases us at the moment. So many events we try to pass by and forget. Some can't, but most do.

In the days following these events, we try to rationalize that some mistakes can be corrected: we can go to court and demand a recount for an election that has been so obviously stolen; we can catch the perpetrators of a stunningly horrific crime and try them in a court of law in accordance with the finest traditions of democratic justice; we can appeal to the better natures of elected officials who pass laws without even reading what's on the paper; we can take to the streets to protest decisions to drop nuclear weapons on peasants far away; or we can point out to anyone who'll listen that our leaders are lying about everything they say.

But in the days after that, we learn to our shocked dismay that the courts are closed to people without flashy pedigrees, that elected officials seem not to want to catch the villains who perpetrated a shocking mass murder, that legislators only really listen to representatives of large companies who can fund their vacation homes, that large protests are really great social events that accomplish nothing, and that precious few people really care whether our leaders are lying or not, as long as we have our homes, our paychecks, and our cold beer and warm beds.

Most fail to perceive that if you fail to adequately protect what you have now, chances are good that you won't have it for very long. I'm talking about the future here, although you probably didn't realize it.

Listen, can you remember that sound you heard when you passed the point of no return. No, of course not. You were busy. Talking about something else.

Since the turning of the millennium, we have passed by four events that have changed the consciousness of our nation and the world forever and irrevocably.

  1. The stolen election of the year 2000, in which the surreptitious denial of voting rights to tens of thousands of people of color and manipulation of computerized voting systems turned the vote count in favor of fascism, turned America into a police state. Few then were prescient enough to have predicted democracy would soon die, but it has.

    Now there's no going back. The deed is done. The Constitution is nullified. Habeas corpus is gone for the first time in 800 years. The police can come into your home at any time for any reason. People can be executed without legitimate trials. All as a result of a fixed vote. We should have seen it coming. But we were talking, and the moment passed by. Now, no amount of second-guessing can turn back the clock. Just look at the political opposition, acting as if nothing really serious has happened, that they can fix the difficulties with a few pieces of legislation. And still America slumbers.

    But there is no going back. Democracy died when a bill was passed by those who didn't even read it. The new American way. Goosestepping in silence. And all across the political spectrum, the phony functionaries who grovel for our votes (and who will ignore us when they have them) act as if this shameful occurrence was normal. Perhaps it IS normal in a society of treasonous pigs with no scruples, which is apparently what America has become. Just a gaggle of dishonest accountants who don't really care where the numbers come from
  2. The mass murder of many thousands of people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania was blamed on Arab terrorists minutes after it happened, yet all the top officials insisted during those tear-stained days that they had no premonition such a monstrous event could even happen.

    Do you understand how those two thoughts do not and cannot co-exist in the same logical space? And if they don't, and you do understand, you also understand that your entire sociopolitical paradigm was shattered that day, because you know 9/11 was the handiwork of the rich manipulators who run our society, a hard-hearted ruse with which to plunder Arab treasures to the robotic applause of the drugged-out and brain-dead American populace
  3. America dropped radioactive bunker buster bombs on defenseless peasants in Afghanistan, leaving them to twitch in the dust as their children developed horrific red tumors on their heads. This was billed a direct response to capture the alleged perpetrator of the 9/11 horror. Yet when the alleged perpetrator was offered up for trial in a neutral country, the U.S. ignored him and continued bombing. And it turns out the war in Afghanistan was planned long before 9/11. How can you launch a war that was planned before the crime was committed, and then insist the war was in response to the crime? Did we miss all this? Were we talking about something else when all this happened?
  4. Now America can bomb anyone it wants to for any reason. The reasons don't have to be the truth, or even grounded in reality. They can be total fantasy. This is the scenario we are now witnessing in Iraq, where even proven presidential lies barely raise eyebrows and most agree that Iraq needed to be bombed because the president and the TV anchors said so. What was it we were doing when this became a logical action? What trip were we taking when we missed that point that honesty was no longer necessary for doing business in the world? And once they decided they could kill all those innocent prisoners at Guantanamo without real trials, where we going then? What was the sound of the Constitution being ridiculed by federal judges and taken away forever? Did you hear it? What did it sound like?

Was it like T. S. Eliot's "not with a bang, but with a whimper"?

Right after all those wonderful millennium fireworks celebrations, we came to a fork in the road, only almost nobody noticed, because we were all too busy having so much fun and congratulating ourselves about what a wonderful world we had.

Since that magical moment, we have been travelling full speed down the wrong road, with most of us still pretending that everything's OK, that when we wake up in the morning, things will be as they always have been, the stock market will rise, certain alluring items at the store will be on sale, that our jobs will be there and we'll always have plenty of gas in our cars. What was it we were talking about when these events happened? What did we think about them? What did we do about them?

What will you be talking about when you pass the point of no return? Baseball? Dietary supplements? Social obligations?

We're going full speed down a road of no return. We took a wrong turn at the millennium fork. Plenty of people noticed, but nobody said anything. We were all making too much money, all having too much fun.

Had we been a realistic, functional society - one that cast our focus on the health and maintenance of our lives and our world rather than one that seeks to escape from our responsibilities because we are so afraid of death - we could have learned plenty from those four post-millenium events that have so profoundly changed our world for the worse

Were we not led in the wrong direction by the pathetic prostitutes we see on the TV screens every night, we could have found out that Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush conspired to deprive over 90,000 people of their legitimate right to vote. I'm not saying any of the subsequent events would have changed if Al Gore had been the president (after all, Bill Clinton bombed the hell out of Yugoslavia at the behest of the International Monetary Fund, and the murderous masquerades in Waco and Oklahoma City were not exactly good advertisements for an open, honest government), but it doesn't seem as likely that Gore would have rammed the Patriot Act down our throats, despite the fact that it was written by Democrats, or bombed New York City on the basis of Dick Cheney's think-tank report. Who knows? Maybe he would have. The people in OKC sure think he might have.

The great lesson that has been missed by the stifling of the investigation into the World Trade Center disaster is the opportunity to see a continuity of manipulative aggression in the foreign policy of the United States throughout the 20th Century. I mean, the situation now is not that much different than it was in the 1890s when a stock market crash was engineered by rich industrialists, and then a new grand plan of imperialism was undertaken by U.S. presidents that resulted in major carnage in the Philippines, Cuba and even Hawaii that rivals in dishonest insincerity what has recently taken place in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Had there been a legitimate and independent investigation into the horror of 9/11, more people could have seen that the land of the free and the home of the brave has been provoking wars for profit around the world throughout the 20th Century, and that even the U.S. motivation for participation in World Wars I and II are subject to alternative interpretations that clearly reveal the main cause of them was manipulative profit-seeking from Wall Street and Washington.

A truly legitimate investigation into the grand deception of what is called 9/11 might also have revealed that it doesn't really matter who is president - that the tyranny and the murder goes on no matter who is president, because that's the way it has always been in America.

A real investigation into 9/11 might just have allowed us the opportunity to at least hope for a humane world, and possibly work toward one. A real investigation would have enabled us to see, perhaps, that American capitalism engineered by behind-the-scenes billionaires, funding both the Bolsheviks and Hitler, has caused all the wars of the 20th Century.

But now the cat is out of the bag for all the world to see. Naked and vicious power, with nothing - secular or sacred - able to stand in its way. No reason needed to use it, only an impulse toward gluttony by a sufficient number of godless petronazis mouthing religious phrases to keep the evangelical zombies lulled ecstatically in their apocalyptic aspirations.

As one commentator said the other day, the neocon conspiracy that has grabbed control of the United States and its military might is now much more dangerous than Hitler's Third Reich or the Soviet Union's Red Menace ever were, in part because there is no one to stop America from turning the whole world into a radioactive wasteland like the one that now exists in Iraq, but also because there is no voice of freedom anywhere in the world able to stand up and oppose the American Zionist propaganda machine that trumpets is new, horrid messages that twist the truth and obscure the atrocities. Like "freedom is economic slavery" and "democracy is a one-party system where all opposition is treason." The irony is that the rich patricians uttering these sadistic slogans are the ones who are the real traitors to the people of the world, and everything human and holy.

There was a time, not too long ago (I'm thinking '60s or '70s here), when idealism could have prevailed, where the noble nuances of selflessness and concern for others could have determined the future we have chosen for ourselves. But corporate fascism belittled and marginalized such quaint sentiments as inferior to naked profits and sophisticated selfishness, and now we are travelling down a road on which there are no U-turns. Although it happened very recently, we are well past the point of no return, and the road not taken will forever haunt us in our dreams, in each needlessly dead body we see sacrificed on the evil highway of pure profit.

What was it we were talking about when all this happened, and how important does it seem to us now, now that we can no longer turn back around, and make all those needlessly dead people live again?

And we teach our children that stealing money from the dead is all we need to make us feel good. Rejoice, ye faithful, this is the new American way.

Surely, this is the point of no return. We passed it some time ago. What was it you were saying when we passed it?

–   John Kaminski

John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the coast of Florida and can't believe how many Americans just don't care about the world they live in. Autographed copies of his collection of Internet essays, America's Autopsy Report may now be ordered ($18.95, plus $5 shipping and handling) by writing to him at 250 N. McCall Rd. #2, Englewood FL 34223, or by e-mail through Pay Pal.

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