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5/29/2008

I recently had an invigorating conversation with someone about the state of the nation. I’m not just talking politically, I mean socially, economically, where we stand in the international scene, the full nine, cross-category.

It occurred to me at one point in this conversation, when we touched on the social influence of celebrities, that we don’t have those public figures to ignite our minds and educate us on the various inequalities we coast through daily.

See, at one point, the name John Lennon came up. His influence during the 60’s and 70’s as a driver for change was nearly immeasurable. Granted, his execution could sometimes leave room for consideration, but that said, his undying commitment to the peace movement drove people to protest and be vocal.

Do yourself a favor. Go rent The U.S. vs. John Lennon this moment. It’s a startling indicator of what can be (and has been) done at the executive level, but also provides substantial insight into Lennon’s influence during his lifetime.

Put it this way… the song “Give Peace A Chance” turned out to be the initial catalyst for Richard Nixon labeling Lennon a marked man. When you see the reasons why, you’ll be impressed.

Point is, in 2008, a point where America is facing new challenges daily, there isn’t a single public figure trying to energize the masses and make them understand the relevance of what’s happening right now. Nary a soul.

It’s interesting, back in the 60’s, there were a bevy of musicians who used their star power to inform the public on what was going on, specifically with regard to the Vietnam War. What amazes me now is that the laundry list of actors, musicians and socialites who spoke out so avidly against the Iraqi insurgence and the plight of the Bush administration have now gone largely silent. All those puppets who met their untimely demise in Team America haven’t made a peep since around the time that very parody hit the silver screen.

In fact, many of them and their kind have moved onto other causes. George Clooney has decided that Darfur is where we need to focus our efforts right now. Sharon Stone has spoken out so strongly against China’s treatment of Tibet that she’s proposed the recent earthquake was a Karmic force of destruction. Even the almighty Bono, once famous for prank calling the senior Bush during concerts and proudly bearing the stars and stripes in the lining of his jacket during the 2002 SuperBowl is fighting the good fight for South Africa.

Yet not a soul seems to care about what’s going on here. Gas prices are escalating while third world countries are paying mere pennies per gallon for petrol. The economy is taking a massive hit and people are losing their jobs left and right. And of course, our misplaced occupancy in the Middle East has cost us an unnecessary amount of loss with little relief in sight.

Have we all moved on? Do we just not care? Are we that apathetic that the pages of People magazine carry more importance than The New York Times?

I don’t necessarily think that’s the case, but I do think that as Americans, we tragically find ourselves constantly living and thinking within our respective silos. That is to say, we exist with little knowledge of what goes on around us, let alone outside our borders. I wish it weren’t so, but sometimes we need a wake-up call, and more often than not it needs to be very, very loud.

And very, very visible.

The days of the modern revolutionary are long gone. Figures like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin don’t fit into the scheme of things these days. At least that’s what society tells us at this current point in time. And this generation has yet to have that Lennon-esque entity who can redirect minds into more selfless avenues. I personally wonder if it will ever happen at this rate…

It’s remarkable how far we’ve fallen. We’ve gone from hopeful musical artists like Lennon to entertainment showcases such as Hannah Montana. We’ve gone from purposeful, convicted athletes like Muhammad Ali to grandstanding showboats like Floyd Mayweather. And politically, we’ve gone from energetic, believable leaders like JFK to the sad pissing contest that is the current primary election.

I think that last comparison offers a nice segue in that it recalls my prior Hill-Dog-inspired rant, in which I lamented the “Cult of Me.” I really think that we allow our interests to become self-serving and hardly look outside to get a whiff of what’s wafting around out there. We need an observant parent to tell us to go outside and play sometimes.

Unfortunately, we’re beyond unsupervised at this point. And I couldn’t even point you to one public figure who could take the reigns and lead our carriage to the truth.

I wish I had a better ending for this entry other than to say I refuse to sing or quote “Holding Out For A Hero.” That song makes me nauseous.

5/20/2008

While I have not voted for or endorsed her, I have begun to feel that Hillary Clinton is the perfect representative of the American attitude. It pains me to admit that, but as the weeks and months have dragged on, I feel it's all too true.

For the record, I don't mean that as a glowing endorsement... rather, it's a sad realization.

Y'see, Hillary is in a position right now where she is hard-pressed to obtain the Democratic nomination, and it's highly unlikely she will. Nevertheless, her dogged determination to press on is a perfect representation of one of our nation's biggest traits.

Not perseverance... rather, selfishness.

Yeah, I said it. Hill-Dog is being incredibly selfish right now. From where I sit, watching her work the scene, listening to her speak about how she won't stop, I get the impression she feels this is almost her birthright.

Meanwhile, she's been warding off accusations of arrogance by waving her 1,718 delegates as though they were a cudgel.

Yeah, she's close, but much to her (and I'm sure her husband's) dismay, no cigar. Whether or not Obama goes over tonight is a non-factor, quite frankly. Hillary should have pulled out a long time ago for the greater good of her party.

However, when have we as Americans (in general) ever been willing to do something for the greater good? How often do we put our own agendas on the shelf to make way for something collectively better for all? I'll bet you're scratching your head as hard as I am.

Folks, we cannot hold ourselves in such high regard. Yes, it's important to do things that are right for us, but we seriously need to abandon the "Cult of Me" and get selfless, for Chrissake. I see it all to often, professionally, personally, even amongst friends and family. Everyone has their best interest in mind and few of them have the well-being of others floating around in their noggins.

The phrase "it's all about me" has become one of those irritating cultural buzz terms, being emblazoned on coffee mugs, bumper stickers and t-shirts, filling the void of the long-outdated "have a nice day." Even the shift in phraseology is unique... we went from wishing others well to trumpeting our own importance and value.

However, it's created a real ugly mindset that we have to break soon. We are in no condition to think selfishly right now when the economy is in the crapper, the environment is gasping for air and the political climate both domestically and internationally is as volatile as ever. We need to put ourselves aside, roll up the sleeves and do what's right for the greater good.

And this is why Hillary has never had my vote, nor will she ever. I know candidates love touting themselves as "average Americans." The term "man (or in this case woman) of the people" has been tossed around so much, you'd think it were a Frisbee. While I appreciate the sentiment behind that intent, I can't stand the thought of mirroring one of the plebeians' worst qualities. Not that Hill-Dog would ever admit to it, but c'mon. It's there. It may as well be her campaign slogan at this point.

Her single-minded goal to push on until there's nothing left to push isn't admirable, it's detestable. You can't put the Party's reputation at risk just because you're close. Not only will you damage their status, but you also walk away with egg on your face that many people won't forget.

Any surprise John Edwards finally stepped up to support Obama after months of non-commitment? Any surprise that many of her previously pledged superdelegates have jumped ship?

See, that's what happens when you work in your best interest only. Everyone else becomes disinterested. Life lessons, people... throw out that stupid coffee mug.