Sunday, July 31, 2011

What Did It Feel Like?

I wonder what it felt like back in 1930, after the stock market crashed and unemployment was rising and the economy was tanking. The US was in the midst of the Great Depression, and with the luxury of hindsight we can look at the charts and the numbers and see the progression, the spiral downward. But what did it feel like to the people living it, at the time it was happening?

Did they know that they were living through a period that would be talked about for decades, and perhaps centuries? The communication technology that we have today didn’t exist then, but newspapers and radio existed, and word of mouth has historically spread the news. So were people talking about the Depression? Was it dinner table conversation?

I’m amazed by how the majority of the US population has largely ignored the financial crisis that began to erupt in 2008 and continues today in an even more unstable system. It’s a fading memory in the collective national consciousness.

Out of five close friends that I interact and communicate with on a regular basis, only one of them is paying attention to anything beyond the headlines in the news. He understands, as I do, that the future of our way of life, and that of the world, hangs in the balance as we speak.

The negotiations that are public, like the debt ceiling debate/farce/spectacle, but more importantly, the negotiations going on behind closed doors, are beyond the control of most of us, individually. We are not in a position to affect the outcome of these negotiations, and our future, on a macro-level, is beyond our control. And from all appearances, the decision-makers themselves have lost control.

It seems easy to say, “Let’s throw these guys out and put some people in office that will act like adults and get the ship turned around”. But in order to do this, we need an honest political system; we need an honest way of choosing honest men and women. Therein lies the problem. Our system is corrupt, and a corrupt political system will produce corrupt politicians. We can thank the US Supreme Court for legalizing the purchase of our politicians., but that’s a story for another day.

So this is how I feel at this historical moment in time. Frustrated. Angry. Helpless, with regard to fixing the roots of the problem: the corrupt political and banking systems.

In all honesty, I’m kind of shocked that more people don’t see what’s going on. Why isn’t the current state of our nation the primary topic of discussion around the watercooler and at dinner tables? Why aren’t people absolutely outraged at what the sell-outs we call politicians are allowing the banks to do to us? The politicians are in fact facilitating the rape of our country; where is the outrage that none of the criminals have gone to jail?

For all of our apathy in the face of an imminent crisis, I think the tables might finally be starting to turn. With the debt debate/farce/scam being played out on TV and the papers and the internet, more and more people are waking up to the fact that the government and the financial institutions are in this thing together, each as guilty as the other. The mainstream media is doing a good job of keeping up the façade, but there is a small percentage of the people who search out the facts and tell their friends and family, and slowly, like a drunk coming of a four day bender, people are opening their eyes and not liking what they see.

I think it is only a matter of time before we reach a tipping point, but what that time frame is, I really can’t say. It will most likely be a rude awakening, long after the point of no return, as I believe we’re there already.

As we spiral downward, I feel a very primal kind of fear. It’s not a surface-type fear, more of a general sense of uneasiness and uncertainty.

Angry. Frustrated. Uneasy. A macro-level helplessness. That’s what 2011 has come to feel like for me. I wonder if this is what it felt like in 1930?