I woke up this morning with a word. Well, actually, a complete sentence and an unsettled feeling. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading about rams, canals,goats and horns, that I woke up with my heart racing, my blood pumping and a word: Amazon is the Anti-Christ.
Now for you scientific folks who look to Stephen Hawking for the definitive word on God, you might want to hang tight. I’m not a linear thinker. I’m the sort that has to go around my elbow to get to my mouth but, eventually, I get there.
Like a lot of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about this notion that somehow or another after all that bloodshed, we’ve brought freedom to Iraq. Media has such a nifty way of tying everything up and bundling it off. We say things like “War Over” or “Troops Come Home” and the bulk of Americans go hop-skipping along, off to do their part for freedom’s sake — shopping.
Remember way back when, back when Destre, Carson and Grant’s daddy was an Army Ranger and not a tombstone in Arlington, when we were told the best thing we could do on behalf of our country was to get back to our normal routine of shopping?
We walked away, confused, with a shake of our heads and muttering “numbskull” and “dip-sh*t” and for about six weeks we collectively grieved.
But then oh-what’s his face came out with that patriotic Red, White and Blue song of his about putting a “boot up you arse” and everybody started making trash heaps out of all their Dixie Chick CDs, stomping on them with boots and running over them with John Deere tractors.
Nobody ever hears from the Dixie Chicks anymore. We taught those girls not to mess with the good ole U.S. of A, didn’t we?
We like the mythology of war — this notion that America represents the collective conscience of the world and that anytime we do something in the name of Democracy it’s for your own good, even when that something means blood runs in your streets and shopping for a loaf of bread is a matter of life and death.
We really hate thinking about the reality of war. Nothing is more unsettling to us than to be out in public, say like at the shopping mall over Labor Day weekend and seeing a young man with a titantium rod for a leg. If it weren’t for that distant look in his eyes, you might think he’d injured it in a car wreck. But that looking-off-over-yonder gaze, well, everybody knows what that means — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. P.T.S.D.
There’s a bunch of Americans who don’t believe in P.T.S.D. They think it’s just one more way to bilk the American taxpayer because, yeah, that’s the first thing on the mind of a boy or girl who has just seen their buddies blown to Kingdom Come– How can I spend the rest of my life living on the public dole?
I have to do that a lot, otherwise, my heart starts racing again like it was when I woke with a start this morning thinking that Amazon is the Anti-Christ.
I did a brief little poll yesterday. I asked people if they read or cared about the book reviews on Amazon. Collectively everybody said that yeah, they read them and yeah, they mattered. One fellow even said when he didn’t pay attention to the reviews and bought the book anyway, he was usually sorry he had.
Now I know when I asked that question folks were probably thinking that the reason I asked it is because I care about who is reading my reviews over at Amazon and if the reviews are hurting or helping the sales of my books.
But I wasn’t thinking that at all.
I was thinking about freedom and what it means when we as a nation go put our boot up the arse of another nation in order that they, too, can have a democracy like us, so that everyone in their country can be reading Jonathan Franzen’s latest epic. Because it seems to me, in my convoluted way of thinking about these matters, that freedom has nothing to do with the individual or his or her pursuit of happiness. It’s all about product placement.
It’s all about Wall Street.
We tell ourseleves that we are a free nation but then we folo our peeps to see what the next hot item is so that we can all collectively run out enmasse to buy it. We wouldn’t want to be left out. That would be weird. To not own one of what everybody else owns.
Because shopping is the one true thing that binds us together. Not God. But Amazon.
Men and women have fought and died on battlefields all over the world so that you and I can can have freedom. (It occurs to me that the people who actually practice freedom are those who volunteer to protect it, given that only one-half of one percent of the nation’s population serves in the military. The cost of bearing the burden of democracy – government by majority rule – falls on the shoulders of a minority.)
These few suffer and die for the collective good of us all, for freedom’s sake.
Freedom to read what everyone tells us to read. Freedom to listen to the same damn Lady Gaga song that everyone else in the nation is listening to. Freedom to wear the same Nikes and North Face that everyone else is wearing. Freedom to live in the gated community where everybody else we want to emulate lives. Freedom to attend the same church that all the other people just like us attends. Freedom to watch Eat, Pray and Love, because, Lord knows, watching somebody else do it is so much easier than praciticing it ourselves.
I was just thinking that freedom ain’t what it used to be, back before Wall Street figured out that technology is a great way to manipulate the masses without us even being aware of it.
Amazon really is the Anti-Christ.