07 November 2009

Messing with the merciless forces of conformity

KABUL, Afghanistan—Some of my colleagues get uncomfortable when I suggest that we are probably misfits of one sort or the other. I tell them well-adjusted people don’t work in Kabul in late 2009, but they dismiss me.

I think they also mistakenly believe that misfit is a pejorative characterization best avoided. One of my greatest fears is that I will conform to the madness of my generation. I am uncomfortable being around any American of similar background who doesn’t resist in some way a way of life and thinking that denies that our nation’s civic values are utterly corrupt and fails to recognize that the quality of political discourse in the States is one of stupid, not stubborn, denial.

I am educated, but I’m not convinced that I am an insightful or an original thinker. But you don’t have to be too bright to cut through the fabrications of the weak of heart and the outright lies of the greedy and evil to see that the national economy is collapsing, U.S. foreign policies are suicidal, that the public treasury is being looted by banks, financial houses, weapons makers, corporations and their bag men and apologists who have disproved every “unassailable truth” of the free-market fundamentalism.

The “respectable” voices in the mass media suggest we listen to the mouthpieces of Republican or Democratic parties, both of which are intellectually bankrupt, while the bullyboys stealing the networks ratings conjure up half-baked nightmares of authoritarian tyranny under the same tired rationale that claims mean-spirited self-righteousness is virtuous. In what kind of society, does anyone care what a warmonger like Dick Cheney has to say about anything?

And then, just too really ratchet up the denial, the dominant political ideologies refuse any meaningful public commitment to transforming systems of production and consumption that are degrading the biosphere into a place that is hostile to the human species and life as we know it.

I don’t know what anyone would want to fit into a civic culture with those beliefs and practices. The only question is how to disengage, survive, and contribute to something better; conformity is spiritual death. Yeah, a misfit.

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