August 2007

A nation of lemmings

By Galen Larson

In 200 short years we have ruined the greatest nation in history.

In our headlong rush to be the best, we have become the worst. Born with a silver spoon in our mouths, we pretend to be benevolent toward other nations, yet step on their necks to pay for our road to ruin. We are an uncaring, uneducated, boorish group who only see in material visions. We let money and greed guide us. We want the most with the least labor and cost, not even concerned with saving for the future.

We’re in the fifth year of a disastrous war that has accomplished nothing but the ruination of Iraq. Our health-care system turns sick people onto the streets if they don’t have insurance. Our leaders lie, cover up their lies, then defy Congress when it tries to investigate the cover-ups.

Why aren’t people marching in the streets over these outrages? Because we have become a nation of lemmings, heedlessly following one another along a preset path.

Our leaders take us down that path so they may reap obscene amounts of profits and power. The problem is they care nothing about others’ well-being, only their own, and expect to be revered for it. And damned if we the people don’t accept that!

“We the people.” I cringe when I hear the term. It shouts to me of that passage in the book of babble that refers to people as sheep. There is no other animal stupider than man. Sheep raise their heads so it is easier to cut their throats — as does man, bravely and honorably going to wars started by those who seek more profit and power but never show up for the battle themselves.

Why is it that the youth of other nations can seek their education here and find it while we make excuses for the dumbing-down of America’s young? We ply our children with sports and couch games that require dexterity of only the fingers. This may come in handy as we ignorantly thumb our noses at the Third World nations that are overtaking us.

We have become a nation of lemmings, not leaders. We are encouraged to be led by a few in our eating habits, living accommodations, transportation, expenditures and a mindset to serve and protect them without question. We are no longer individual thinkers or doers; we follow a preset road to the Holy Grail of greed.

We have also become a society of right-nowers. We want our food, our entertainment, our health right now without any effort. There is no future or past, just now. There is no allegiance to family, friends, employers or employees. We refuse to take responsibility for our actions. Everything is always someone else’s fault.

Through our laissez faire attitude we have invoked the old axiom, Let George do it, and has that come true! George and his cronies sure did it to us.

We have become corporationized. Multinational corporations run our country. And that’s OK with us lemmings. As long we are entertained by news of Paris Hilton and her ilk, we are easily diverted from events that should concern us.

We are no longer the United States of America; we are divided over trivial matters we can or will do nothing about anyway.

Divide and conquer is the corporate strategy. First, get us out of rapid transit — buses, trains and street cars — and into individual means of transportation — automobiles that use a commodity easily controlled by a few, petroleum. Make us depend on it. Next, put small food providers out of business, squeezing out small grocers and farms. “Big is better” supermarkets sell us not a choice but what provides them with the most profit.

Control seeds through genetic engineering. Use tons of artificial fertilizers and insect repellants manufactured by — who else? — the petroleum industry. Not only has that industry taken control of us, it has changed the atmosphere of the world, sterilized our soil, polluted our water, and now is in the process of commandeering the world’s remaining potable water.

In a worst-case scenario, we can abandon our cars and walk, we can maybe grow our own food again, but we cannot do without water.

Corporate interests buy the politicians through lobbyists (there are some 40 lobbyists for every Congressperson). Who is your elected official listening to? You, who gave your sweat and blood and $10 campaigning for him, or the corporate lobbyist who can deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars to get him elected?

Of course, in the end, it doesn’t make much difference whether your candidate or the opponent gets elected they are both bought and paid for. 

In the distant past, some people ran for office to do something for their constituents. Now they run for themselves and the corporations. They have changed the slogan, “No guts, no glory,” to, “No guts, more money!” There are no more great statesmen, no Jeffersons, Churchills, Franklins, to give us the quotes that used to inspire us, such as, “United we stand, divided we fall.” Well, they have divided us through religion, race, sexual preference and politics. Now the meek shall inherit the earth — yup, in a space just 6 by 6 by 3.

We’ve allowed our country to be torn from our hands. Our corporations have fled overseas. Cheap, poisonous foods and toothpastes, dangerous toys and merchandise are imported from China. India has taken over cyberspace. Unions are a thing of the past. Everyone is buying foreign-made vehicles because they’re better-made. We have become a service industry supported by minimum-wage jobs selling fast food to an overweight nation with no national health insurance.

The cliff is just over the horizon, fellow lemmings! Come run with me!

Galen Larson writes from rural Montezuma County, Colo.