Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Amusing ourselves to death.

What's happening in our country now is not normal.

I mean, in two words, Donald Trump.

Donald Trump peeling the lid back on the festering hate of conspiracy-theorists, race-baiters, racists, anti-semites, and a whole host of other troglodytes.

What's happening in our country now is not normal.

But we treat it as it is.

We go about our way. The news covers its usual trivia. We conduct business as usual.

And no one speaks up.

Oh, I know there are marches.

And people post things on Facebook.

But I can't help thinking we're fighting this horror wrong. That every time we listen to some "entertainment" story on the news--instead of the truth about what is happening and why, well, an ounce of integrity drains from our system.

I applaud Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck. But where are the other CEOs?

And what are we doing besides being grumpy and despondent and shaking our heads.

Neil Postman wrote this in his great book "Amusing Ourselves to Death."

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.

Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.

Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions."

In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.

In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

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