In my previous post (see below) I talked about the apocalyptic tone of a political discussion that I had with two of my friends last week. The gist of it was that the ever rising gas prices we see are by design and are not due to uncontrollable market forces. Clinton, one of my friends at the bar that night, said that all the talk of oil supplies diminishing is bullshit and that it is only the refinement of oil that is diminishing. That is by design so that the oil companies can jack up the price of gas. Sounds pretty darn likely to me.
As the night went on this tone of conspiracy took hold of me and I could almost smell it in the air. Clinton asked if we had watched the movie "Loose Change" which is a documentary about how 9/11 was supposedly an "inside job" carried out by our own government whose intention was to create a reason for us to invade Iraq. Clinton even proposed an argument that I've never heard anywhere else about why we invaded Iraq: To keep their oil in the ground. It sort of makes sense if you continue with the train of thought that assumes that oil companies are trying to drive up the price of gas by creating an artificial shortage. Pretty interesting theory without a doubt.
We went on like this for a few hours until Clinton had to go home and I went with Mik to hear him play open-mic-night at The Thirsty Hippo. I really enjoyed that night and felt some kind of fiery spark or something stirring in me as I listened to the music, talked to some familiar faces and ordered my last beer of the night. It had all been very fun and interesting.
When I woke up the next morning and went to work, I found myself unloading all of these conspiratorial ideas on my coworkers and asking their opinions, confronting them with a few of the suspicious morsels Clinton had armed me with the night before and waiting for their reactions. I got some odd stares and a few disturbing questions of their own that they threw out. This was work though, it was not the time or place to allow any kind of discussion on par with the night before but I realized that my juices were still flowing with all of these questions and what I started to recognize as real fears. I described the scene from the night before to Michael and Spencer, my coworkers, and admitted that I didn't have any conclusive evidence and couldn't say exactly what definitive beliefs I had about these issues. Regardless, I did feel like the ground was shaking a little under my feet. I no longer felt very steady. I had taken a lot of what we had talked about the night before to heart and now my somewhat stable reality that I was relatively comfortable with the day before was no longer comfortable and I found myself feeling like everything I had come to rely on could really fall apart at any moment. They humored me but we went on to other subjects and got on with our day.
I continued to talk about this stuff to Sam throughout the weekend. I did it all half jokingly because I know her tendency to avoid political discussions that approach anything too scary and conspiracy theories are by nature pretty scary. I joked that I was ready to start buying gold coins and so that we could line our walls with them. I told her how strange I think it is that I've heard the same thing about buying gold now from both Clinton and Glenn Beck. It was one of those "I'm just saying" moments. Meanwhile, I was wondering to myself how much gold we could possibly buy with our economic stimulus refund.
I realized that day, talking to Sam, that I wanted to blog about this because I wanted to understand what I think about all of it myself. Actually getting at the truth of these conspiracy theories is pretty much a full time job. I want to discover the truth about issues as huge as this. But I find myself so easily overwhelmed and unable to track down the truth. I'm not saying that I'm a person who accepts blindly whatever I am told by the media or our government but the requirements of fact checking everything I hear about our economy, military actions and more is difficult to fit in with changing diapers, cooking supper, paying bills, completing projects at work, etc, etc... So, where does that leave me?
I guess I find myself not very changed after all of this typing. I'm still suspicious and I consider there to be a lot of truth in the idea that there are conspiracies motivated by greed that leave the common man, me, my friends and my family as living out the role of sacrificial pawns in a larger game. That's nothing new, right?
I guess what all this blogging is about then is me trying to figure out how much I want to fight back against that role. We took Graham to see "Horton Hears a Who" a few weekends ago. In the end it is one tiny voice that breaks through and lets the tiny people of Whoville be heard and be accepted as actually existing and as important to the larger, giant animals in the jungle that thought they were only looking at a speck of dust. It's a powerful message and I guess what I realize is that it is a struggle that will always exist. The struggle for me is figuring out how to fight against those destructive powers in the world, once I've determined what they are, while maintaining a life that is positive and joyful instead of paranoid. I'm a dad now and a husband. The world looked very different when I was 20 something and single. I was an idealist. Nothing seemed very real to me then. I think that the shaky foundation that I feel under my feet now is a new structure being built. This is my adult life and it's harder because this one doesn't feel like a game, I'm really playing for keeps.
What I get from all of this then is that mere acceptance is not acceptable. You do have to fight back and participate in building the reality that you want to live in. It's not my calling to vet every news story that appears on the internet or take up a sign for every injustice in the world. But I can instill in Graham a healthy questioning spirit that refuses to roll over and accept someone else's prescribed role by living that out in my own life. So: be aware, be happy, be courageous. This is my summation of this two parter blog titled "The United States of Paranoia" and also: don't get so f****** freaked out when talking to Clinton about politics. Done.