Tuesday, May 19, 2015


People can complain all they want about how popular superhero movies are...but the simple fact is that we need superheroes right now. Every day we're inundated with news and images reminding us what an ugly, dangerous world we live in. It's easy to become depressed and cynical. Superheroes remind us who we are as people. Or, at the very least, who we should be aspiring to be. ~ Michael Williams
Back in the early 80's, I watched a Sesame Street "Bert and Ernie" skit which originally aired in the 70's. In the skit, Bert and Ernie are about to go to sleep. But Bert verbally observes that he hears water dripping, to which Ernie replies, "I probably left the faucet on a little bit when I washed my hands." Bert then tells Ernie that he can't sleep when he hears water dripping, and asks Ernie to do something about it. So Ernie gets out of bed and turns on the radio. Bert then tells Ernie that he can't sleep with the sound of the radio, so Ernie gets up again and turns on the vacuum. At that point, Bert gets up and tells Ernie to "just stay where you are," and then turns off the vacuum, radio, and faucet.

Superheroes are one of many creations that were born in response to the news and images which quickly become overwhelming when they are given even the slightest attention. Whether Superheroes are the radio or the vacuum is beside the point--the point is that a faucet is dripping, and the dripping faucet should be addressed. Superheroes simply show us how best to deal with the symptoms.

The dripping faucet's goal is to use news and images to fill us with fear and foster a cynical view of the world. This fear is meant to drive us to exchange real liberty for the illusion of safety, and the cynicism to convince us that we are blameless when an entire village is bombed out of existence in the pursuit of one terrorist--as long as the village is on another continent. When confronting the faucet, The Most Basic Question should be asked: is this true? Is the news true, and do the images present a true representation of the world in which we live? This is not to ask whether or not there are riots in Baltimore, but to ask why the riots are happening. This is not to ask whether airplanes crashed into buildings in New York, but why someone would be driven to do such a thing. The "what" is not the question answered by the images of the news, but the "why." The news presents the images, and then tells its story of why we are seeing them. And if the "why" is not true or accurate, then the faucet should be turned off.

When one is told what to think on a repeated basis, the process of thinking for one's self becomes difficult to the point that the ability is often lost. It can be regained, but it will not be regained without shedding that which inhibits the process in the first place. And so it is that "ridiculous" questions must be asked: are the riots in Baltimore happening because police are shooting black people, or could the actions of the right hand be responsible for the reactions of the left hand? Were airplanes really crashed into buildings because terrorists hate America because of its freedom, or is it possible that the past military actions of the current victim were actually the provocation? These are not conspiracy theory questions which should be avoided out of "respect for the victims," but questions that everyone should ask themselves whenever confronted with news of overwhelmingly clear-cut hate, racism, terrorism, or any number of other -isms which so conveniently explain the images presented in the news. The world may be more black-and-white than we know, but if it is, a true explanation will never be found in the commercials which fill the space between commercials (<---not a typo).

Turn off the television. Turn off the radio. Stop personally electing, enabling, legitimizing, and sanctioning lesser evils--the act of submitting a blank ballot is the loudest vote anyone can cast, and is the greatest--and only--humanitarian act that can be performed in a voting booth. Stop...and think for yourself. Ask questions, and don't react when some of the answers aren't what you think they should be. Don't think of yourself as being better than anyone else, and you will understand that it is natural for all people to want peace. Hate, selfishness, and aggression are fostered traits, and legislating these traits is merely one of many profitable ways to cover up their noise. It is only by stepping back, examining, and removing the fostering process that progress will be made towards peace...and quiet.