- I've been an internet-based essayist for the last 5 years,
and I'm a fan of many other internet authors. One of the most provocative
is John Kaminski, a staunch (and often incendiary) opponent of the Iraq
war, and the War on Terror. The best indicator of a political commentator's
effectiveness is not his ability to persuade people, but rather to get
them THINKING. Kaminski's latest essay, "The Corpse of American Culture,"
certainly achieved that with me. (www.rense.com/general63/cropslt.htm)
- Reading this piece, I experienced a rollercoaster of
emotional reactions - shellshock, anger, amusement, and sadness. The reasons
for this were numerous. Firstly, it is a stunning "coincidence"
that on the morning I read Kaminski's piece, I was near completion of an
essay of my own, entitled "America: Land of the Free and Pathological."
In my commentary, I made several observations that parallel Kaminski's
-- i.e. American "culture" is built on lies meant to appeal to
our egos and distract us from what really matters. Kaminski offers an effective
example of this in the recent baseball steroid controversy, explaining
that some of America's greatest "heroes" were cheats, and her
national pastime a sham. Several months ago, I wrote a piece with some
fairly similar observations entitled, "The Cultural Plague of Professional
- Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that Kaminski invaded
my brain in an act of "psychic plagiarism," ala Johnny Depp in
the movie Secret Window. (Actually, Depp's character didn't invade anyone's
brain either, but I digress). Indeed, this is not the first time I've noticed
this curious phenomenon. Quite a few times, I've had to scrap or rework
entire essays, because someone else has beaten me to the punch, and/or
made an argument more effectively than I ever could. We are all tapped
into the same cosmic wellspring, where great ideas are not so much invented,
but DISCOVERED. And this isn't the first time I've read something by Kaminski
and thought, "Damn, I wish I had written that."
- Kaminski's indictment of American culture also aroused
anger in me. This is an old and impotent rage I've felt for years, directed
at no one and everyone. I can't help but feel bitter over having been born
and raised in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century.
It is a raw, statistical fact that America is a more infectious breeding
ground for emotional dysfunction than any other culture in the history
of the world. If you doubt this, consider the following:
- The United States has born and raised 76% of the world's
serial killers, even though we hold just 3% of the world's population;
we sport the highest rate of childhood murders and suicides among the world's
26 wealthiest nations; the highest rate of obesity of any nation in the
world; the highest incidence of the eating disorder anorexia; the highest
rate of adolescent drug use of any industrialized nation; and the highest
rate of adolescent pregnancy in the Western world.
- I am embittered, because like millions of my contemporaries,
the poison talons of American culture did not leave me untouched. Before
I'd grown out of adolescence, I'd battled an eating disorder (anorexia),
depression, suicide attempts, and Munchausen syndrome (the act of inflicting
injuries on oneself.) Again, it is undeniable that these pathologies exist
almost exclusively in the United States, and have only fully manifested
in the last few decades. I can't help but wonder how different my childhood
might have been if I'd simply been born in another place, at another time.
And I can't help but grieve for the millions of souls who are suffering
the tortures of emotional dysfunction.
- The reasons for our collective dysfunction have been
enumerated ad nauseam; our hopelessly "dumbed down" public schools;
our chemically-laced air, water, food, and soft drinks, poisoning our bodies
and damaging our brains; our rancid and spiritually vacuous culture centered
around a media that markets murder and sadism as entertainment; our bought
and sold "elected" officials, who make life and death decisions
based on their own financial interests, and for whom "truth"
is just a matter of semantics; our economy, which is guided by the principles
of "win at all costs" and "screw everyone but me";
our corrupted religions, which have been usurped by political extremists
and completely robbed of all spiritual meaning; and the monstrously hideous,
cement and brick, Godless "architecture" that makes up most American
- As I make these observations, my bitterness grows and
the rage consumes me. Can you blame me? We all suffer as the result of
our collective dysfunction. Consider the major news headlines of the past
week: John Couey's confession to the murder of nine-year old Jessica Lunsford;
the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube; and the continuing tabloid
saga of the Michael Jackson trial. On the surface, these stories may appear
unrelated, but Couey, Jackson, and Michael Schiavo have one thing in common:
they have all intentionally destroyed innocence. They did so without the
slightest twinge of remorse or hesitation. Human beings only do this when
they are completely and utterly immersed in self. This is the pathology
of narcissism, and it is more pervasive in the US of A than any other country
in the world.
- Stating this opinion does not make me anti-American.
It makes me a concerned and responsible citizen who wants desperately to
awaken others to the unlovely truth. The United States, while bestowing
her citizens with opportunities and privileges not found in any other nation,
has become the supreme manufacturer of mental illness - violent, self-destructive,
and sociopathic pathologies. We are going to destroy ourselves if we do
not recognize the enormity of this obstacle before us.
- And herein lies an opportunity to rise above bitterness,
and find hope. An interesting fact about emotional dysfunction is that
it has the ability to both paralyze its victims, and set them free. People
who struggle with mental illness have only two choices: they can live in
denial until their lives spiral completely out of control, or they can
journey inward and confront their demons head on. I speak from experience
on this. I have no doubt that I am a stronger, wiser, and happier person
for having discovered first hand the pathway out of dysfunction.
- The first step out of dysfunction is to recognize that
your way of seeing the world is fundamentally flawed. You have been programmed
to believe that your interests are separate from everyone else's; that
in order for you to win, someone else must lose. Remember, mercenary competition
is the key tenet of every aspect of American culture. The desire to be
better than others stems from the belief that you are INCOMPLETE, and in
need of an elusive, future reward in order to find happiness. This constant
seeking of future fulfillment blinds us to the rewards that ALWAYS exist
in the present moment.
- In his book The Power Of Now, Eckhart Tolle speaks directly
to this taproot of emotional dysfunction. He argues that the most fundamental
step toward good mental health is to stop anticipating some future gratification
(a tactic the ego uses to ensure its survival), and learn to be fully conscious
in the present. Tolle speaks with urgency on the threat that the "egoic
mind" poses to mankind's future: "If they do not free themselves
from their mind in time, they will be destroyed by it. They will experience
confusion, conflict, violence, illness, despair, madness. Egoic mind has
become like a sinking ship. If you don't get off you will go down with
it. The collective egoic mind is the most dangerously insane and destructive
entity to inhabit this planet. What do you think will happen on this planet
if human consciousness remains unchanged?"
- Tolle's question is rhetorical. We see the answer manifested
every night on the evening news. We are going to change our minds, or we
are going to die.