The Insanity of America

stop killing our children“Only in the insanity of corporate America can nonviolent animal rights activists be charged as terrorists while a white supremacist who gunned down African-Americans in a South Carolina church is charged on criminal counts. Only in the insanity of America can Wall Street financers implode the global economy through massive acts of fraud, causing widespread suffering, and be rewarded with trillions of dollars in government bailouts. Only in the insanity of America can government leaders wage wars that are defined as criminal acts of aggression under international law and then remain, unchallenged, in positions of power and influence. All this makes no sense in an open society. But it makes perfect sense in our species of corporate totalitarianism, in which life, especially the life of the vulnerable, is expendable and corporate profit alone is protected and sanctified as the highest good.”
−from “A Haven From the Animal Holocaust” by Chris Hedges,
posted August 2, 2015 on Truthdig

In my last blog, I wrote about war. I’m against it, in case you didn’t guess. But even as I wrote the blog, I found myself thinking, What’s the point of saying this?

Most people are against war. At least war as a concept. And we’re quick to say we are because, frankly, the saying is easy. But while you and I are condemning war our government girdles the earth with its weapons, its troops, its secret agents, it covert operations. War and near-war and the bloody aftermath of war, all of it is as constant as the weather. All of it merely something to complain about.

Chris Hedges, whose words I borrowed to open this piece, was once a war correspondent for the New York Times. When the U.S. invaded Iraq, he refused to maintain the official “neutrality” demanded of a journalist and was forced to leave his coveted position. (Somehow it’s considered neutrality when reporters repeat the official government line on such matters.) Now he speaks his truth through an Internet site called Truthdig. Unfettered, he talks of war and much more.

Chris Hedges is one of my heroes. When he speaks, people listen. Lots of people listen.

I am a children’s writer who has been around for a long time. My voice reaches a few folks.

But here’s the question I keep asking: What changes when either one of us speaks, Chris with his big voice, me with my small one? Not one cache of carefully aimed nuclear weapons will be shut down because of our words. Not one child sent into the world with a gun to “defend our freedom” will come home early. No person of color incarcerated for a petty crime will be released. No corrupt, self-serving bankers prosecuted. Our polluted planet will find no reprieve because we have spoken.

Chris has named it correctly. Corporate America and the government owned by corporate America is insane. Consumed by greed. Blinded by power. Lost in a vision of profit that obliterates all in its path.

And even as I speak, repeating Chris’s words and adding my own, I have a vision of our voices disappearing into cyberspace, floating out there somewhere between here and the moon, gone . . . gone.

Is the pen truly more powerful than the sword? Or do we simply soothe ourselves, Chris and me and all the other “truth tellers,” with words? Suckle those words like a baby with a pacifier. Do we believe in change? Truly?

I’m no longer sure I do, and I’m not sure the world around me does either. I have a sense that we have lost hold on that most American of all dreams . . . a belief in the future.

Yet I find myself saying it, needing to say it, and carrying in my heart other voices that say it, too: This blue-green earth is so precious. All who share it with us so precious, too. We must name the beast intent on destroying us. Name it and name it and name it!

And once we have named it, we must turn and bless one another.

9 thoughts on “The Insanity of America

  1. nancyboflood

    Yes, and thank you, Marion, we must each raise our voice and name it, name it, name it – nothing else has the power to change this world, to diminish the greed and violence, but the incessant echoing of voices. Thank you.

  2. Sarah Lamstein

    Yes, name it and act. Grab a cause and fight for it with your body as well as your outrage. That’s all we can do.

  3. Joanne Toft

    I know this feeling as a teacher but you do make change. It is change that happens quietly, slowly child by child and person by person. It is a change we seldom see but is there in the souls of your readers. As a teacher I some times get a peek at this change when a past student, now adult, connects with me on Facebook. I watch in amazement at the actions they take, the small steps to improve our world. I can see the seeds of our early discussions, projects and readings come to life in how they have chosen to be in this crazy world. I believe in the future!

    1. Marion Bauer Post author

      I am glad to hear from a teacher who believes in the future. How could any of us teach without that? And I do believe in it, too, not in the larger sense of impacting government action–that feels hopeless–but in the every day sense of the hope invested in every loving interaction we have.


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