Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Sadness in the Center

This is a sad post. I have been thinking about it since last summer, when I happened to be flying across the country. I was over, I'd guess, western Kansas or Oklahoma, or eastern Colorado. I looked down and here is what I saw, repeated over and over again:

















A small town of a few dozen blocks, in the middle of endless irrigated fields and scrub land. I began to think of the people who lived down there, and what life had offered them.

This particular town happens to be Holcomb, Kansas, whose name some of you may recognize, as it was the location of the murders made famous in In Cold Blood. Here are a couple of street views of Holcomb:

















This is a view taken from the intersection of Main Street and Railroad Ave.- the main intersection in town.















Here's another major intersection in Holcomb.

I was going to post a few pictures from other similar small towns scattered all across the center of our country, but I think this is enough for people to get the point I want to make.

My very middle class family and I live in Los Angeles. Yesterday, we went to Chinatown and had a very good lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant, where we have run into Magic Johnson, Brad Pitt, Bill Cosby and other such people. We are going to one of hundreds of clubs tonight to see a number of new indie bands. We are an hour away from the mountains, the desert and the beach. We have professional sports teams to see if that's what we like, and opportunities to take day trips to go skiing, surfing, backpacking and tons of other things. We have theaters and museums. Conventioneers and tourists flock to our cities because they want to be here. And if we were so inclined, you know that all of the drugs, cheap sex and any other kind of low life diversion are right there.

Now, think of the people, living in a place like Holcomb, having TV and movies every day showing them what kind of life is lived in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, constantly reminding them of the endless diversions in places like these, and rubbing their noses in the emptiness of their existence. And remember, that by and large all of these people have lived their lives just the way they were told to, working hard and trying to raise decent families. Imagine the desperation that these people must feel as they tell themselves that their church socials and high school basketball games are a decent substitute for all of the wonders that the world has to offer, and which they will never experience. Now think of them getting angrier and angrier as the years go by, as their lives go nowhere, and as they are taunted by the constant reminders of how much life has given to others. And yet, they are unable to put the pieces together and come to an understanding of how this happened to them.

These are the prey of the Republican party, of the Evangelical charlatans, of the conservatives. These are the people who are so desperate to comprehend their misery, the emptiness of their lives, that they will accept the lying, corrupt baiting of the Republicans as a rational explanation. It would never occur to Democrats to increase these people's misery by further exploiting them; it is the stuff of life to Republicans.

These are the teabaggers, the tax protesters, the Sarah Palin fans. The red haze of anger blots out any real vision of the truth, and they are succumbing to the demagogues. They threaten us all as they writhe in their misery.

18 comments:

Poll P. said...

Correct as you are, it was a similar comment from Obama, about 'bitter' people's emotions, that got him in so much hot water during the election.

As a lover of 18th century England, I continue to believe that emotionally-satisfying, intellectually-stimulating lives can be led in small towns and villages, if those communities are lovely in themselves and surrounded by Nature's beauty.

That's not what I'm seeing in your photos. A community this size in New England would be likely to include architecturally-satisfying structures, and cultural enhancements that make those villagers lives enviable.

TRUTH 101 said...

These towns do have their advantages GE. One can stand on his back porch and pee if need be. You can shoot a guy for being in your yard and get a medal for it. Especially if he's a minority. You can leave cars that don't run in your yard. It gives the song "Jack n Diane" by John Cougar a deeper meaning.

You're selling us in middle America short dude.

Derek said...

"constantly reminding them of the endless diversions in places like these, and rubbing their noses in the emptiness of their existence"

Coming from a hedonist. Life isn't the same for every person, and it find it hilarious that you are bashing people who choose to live a different lifestyle than you do. Note that this people aren't your typical targets, wall street executives, republican politicians, or fox news, they are low income Americans who live simply.

"And yet, they are unable to put the pieces together and come to an understanding of how this happened to them."

Funny, because people in rural areas are typically happier and more satisfied with their way of life than those in the city. People who live in big cities are also more likely to develop clinical depression compared to rural folk.

"These are the prey of the Republican party, of the Evangelical charlatans, of the conservatives. "

OF COURSE! It all makes sense now! These people (who are actually quite happy) are "prey" to the republican party! But the gangs, ghettos, and welfare families are firmly in the grasp of the Democrats.

Also, LA is on the top 10 most depressed cities in the US list compiled by the CDC and US Census Bureau.

Green Eagle said...

I was not bashing these people. I was trying to show some sympathy for their fate, and some understanding of the way their suffering is exploited by people like you, Derek.

Teresa in Fort Worth, TX said...

You know, most people in small towns like this aren't angry at all. Most of them certainly wouldn't think of themselves as "suffering". The fact of the matter is that most people who live in small rural towns LIKE that lifestyle and are exceedingly happy.

Did you ever stop to think that in a land where there is so much opportunity that if someone WANTS to leave a town like this, THEY WILL? I know it is beyond your comprehension, but there are people throughout this land who are born, grow up, and die in towns like this and wouldn't have it any other way.

If anything, they feel sorry for people like YOU, and wonder about the loneliness and suffering that you encounter every day, where you don't know your neighbors, and your life moves so fast that you don't have time to just sit and enjoy it.

It's all a matter of perspective - hard as it may be for you to understand, not everyone wants to live in a big city....

Green Eagle said...

Terese,

Of course, you are right. I am only talking about the teabaggers and wingnuts, who are filled with rage, which colors everything they believe and do. By the way, there are plenty of them in other places, living out their empty, meaningless angry lives regardless of what surrounds them.

Derek said...

"their suffering is exploited by people like you, Derek."

That is the thing though, they aren't suffering.

"I am only talking about the teabaggers and wingnuts, who are filled with rage"

Yes, I am such an angry person. When liberals say "blood will run in the streets" if Obama isn't elected President though, they are just using metaphors or something something.

Also, can you ever name a violent crime committed by a tea partier? All of the ones I have seen have been by the SEIU, ACORN, or liberal.

Teresa in Fort Worth, TX said...

Dear Green Eagle,
How eloquently bigoted you are. I am sure that you would cringe if someone were to use the word n***er or k*ke around you, yet you have no problem whatsoever using a sexual slur to describe people that you have obviously never met.

I happen to be one of those wingnuts that you feel you know. I happen to have a college education in the field of Civil Engineering. I know these people that you are fond of judging without having actually met. How do I know this? Because if you had ever actually taken the time to talk to a couple of these people, you would find that they are very much like you and your friends are.

The only "rage" that they feel is directed at those who are willing to tell them that they should give up more and more of their hard-earned dollars to a government that expects them to hand their money over and be quiet about it. When this same government won't even listen to them, then you bet they are mad about it. How would you feel if someone took $.40 of every $1.00 you made and gave it to whomever they pleased?

While it may have slipped your notice, look around. Do you see any cars being burned? Trash in the streets? Chaos in the heartland? I daresay that the students at some of the California schools express more "rage" and "anger" than any farmer or housewife from middle America has over the past year.

Incidentally, you have some nerve implying that the lives of people who live in these places are either empty or meaningless. You should be thanking your lucky stars every single day that such people exist in the first place.

Do you wear 100% cotton T-Shirts? Sleep on 400-Thread count sheets? Wear leather sandals or shoes? Anything else leather in your house? Wool sweaters? Do you or your children drink milk, eat eggs, free-range chicken, organic fruits or vegetables, cereal, oatmeal, corn?

Were it not for the "meaningless" existence of the very people who live their lives in the very places that you are so quick to judge as beneath contempt, none of those things would be available to you. You would be spending your days raising those things yourself, and you wouldn't have time to go to the museums or the Chinese restaurants - you would be quite exhausted at the end of the day.

I happen to live in Fort Worth, Texas. Perhaps you have heard of it? (We're located just west of Dallas) While I have lived my entire life near large cities, my husband's family has always lived in the "country" (and he happens to have an engineering education as well, so not all "rubes" are ignorant).

I can assure you, my life is neither empty or meaningless. Most of the time, I am neither angry nor filled with rage - far from it. My life is filled with much happiness and joy. I am living where I am most content. I daresay the same can be said for most people in this country.

Before you go making blanket judgements about those that you perceive to be "less fortunate" than yourself, stop. Just stop. Try spending some time around "those" people. You might be pleasantly surprised...

Lisa from Texas said...

Just a quick note about us small town folk...we have MORE advantages than you so called City Folk...I can Breath fresh air every day of the week, not just when the wind is blowing the right direction. I can see for miles and miles, because my view is not obstructed by billboards nor skyscrappers. I can look out my front door and watch Wild Deer graze in my yard. I can rasie my own food on those Green pastures you seem so upset about. I Love the fact that when I go to the grocery store they know me by name. This is the life that I chose for myself and my family. I am blessed to not have the evils of a large city to influence my childrens thoughts.
As for there being NOTHING to do but watch TV and Movies...Please, give me a break. We might not have the "Culture" at our fingertips, but it is close if we so choose to imbibe. But most of us are too busy with our lives, tending our animals, playing with our children in the fresh air, and enjoying the sweetness of God's Green earth to worry about Television and Movies.
So take it for what it is worth, Don't feel sorry for us who live in a one horse town as we chose this life and we LOVE it.....

Paula said...

I live in a town of around 9 million. I live, with my husband and kids, in a neighborhood within that huge agglomeration, of a few hundred families. I'm active on the neighborhood council. My kids play with the neighbor kids down the block. I spend a hour or two every day, looking out for the childless elder lady next door. I peek in at the newborn my friends down the street feel so blessed to have given birth to. I live in a village. I live in a metropolis. I love it.

Green Eagle said...

This post of mine, as Poll P. predicted, has aroused some interest.

I think the comments deserve a fairly detailed reply. Unfortunately, I just started work on another nightmare $180 million way-out-of-control movie, and it may take a little time before I can write an adequate answer. I will do it, however, you can count on that.

Derek said...

GE, I doubt that any response would be detailed enough to prove any of the malarkey you spew. Good luck in proving that half the country is brainwashed.

Green Eagle said...

"Good luck in proving that half the country is brainwashed."

Nearly half of them voted to put Sarah Palin a step away from the presidency.

Q.E.D.

Lisa From Texas said...

Green Eagle said...
"Good luck in proving that half the country is brainwashed."

Nearly half of them voted to put Sarah Palin a step away from the presidency.

Q.E.D.

The Others voted your devote "Hopey Changey" President into office...How's that workin out for ya?

Green Eagle said...

Lisa from Texas,

Are you proud of being from a state that is in the process of excising Thomas Jefferson from the school curriculum, in order to make room for Newt Gingrich and Phyllis Schlafly?

Are you proud of being from a state whose governor is trying to rile up a violent secessionist movement?

The right in this country has allowed itself to degenerate into a dangerous mass of ignorant,violent suckers, and no more so than in your home state.

Comparing the self-serving demagogue Sarah Palin to Obama is either a sign of grotesque ignorance, or is a deliberately provocative remark undeserving of a serious reply.

Green Eagle said...

Oh, by the way, Teresa, you say:

"How eloquently bigoted you are. I am sure that you would cringe if someone were to use the word n***er or k*ke around you, yet you have no problem whatsoever using a sexual slur to describe people that you have obviously never met."

I've been to five tea parties. I've been following the American right since the mid-sixties. I also have a particular interest in German history from 1910 or so until 1940. If you truly believe what you are saying, you may live in the midst of these people, but you are the one that doesn't understand them.

Derek said...

"Nearly half of them voted to put Sarah Palin a step away from the presidency."

More than half voted to put Biden a step away from the presidency, so maybe you have a point about half of the country being brainwashed.

Palin >>>>> Biden. No matter how you look at it.

"Comparing the self-serving demagogue Sarah Palin to Obama is either a sign of grotesque ignorance, or is a deliberately provocative remark undeserving of a serious reply."

I disagree. Give a serious reply full of facts and lay it to rest. Why not? Don't give the usual "look where she went to school! Her daughter got pregnant while young! She has a funny accent!"

Weigh the policies and effects of each.

Derek said...

"If you truly believe what you are saying, you may live in the midst of these people, but you are the one that doesn't understand them."

If you think Tea partiers have more in common with Nazis than modern Democrats then you are, in my book, a moron. Weigh the policies and leaders.

Tea party: small government, lower taxation, deregulation, increase freedoms, oppose almost any expansion in government power.

Modern Democrats: Big government, more taxation, regulation, restrict certain freedoms "for the common wealth" (mandating insurance, caps on mileage, net neutrality, etc), support most expansions in government power.

Nazis: Big government, more taxation for certain people, strict regulation and protectionism, restriction of many freedoms (more restrictions for some than others, but think speech, right to bear arms, press, assembly, contract, etc), support expansion in government power.

This shows your ignorance so well I wouldn't be surprised if you deleted it.