Sunday, March 06, 2016
The Civilized World
Like every work day, I was giving Miguel the Monster a ride to work. He was trying to "help" me.
"You gotta be hard, man. Nobody gives you nothin'. They're all takers."
Miguel and I had become brothers in anger - a dangerous thing, I know. During his day labor days Miguel had been ripped off by construction foremen who stole workers' labor. Everyone claims to hate theft - unless it's done in the name of the system. But unlike the other 99%, Miguel fought back, tracing the guy's home address through the thief's license plate and then drilling a hole in every tire of every car at the house. I found that refreshing and told him so.
In return, Miguel cracked up over my catch phrase, "You can't pray your way off the cross." He uses it all the time. As an illegal worker, he's a hunted animal - and always will be. Raped and robbed by our civilized system, made scapegoats for the ills of our greediness by cutthroat politicians, and forced to endure the hopelessness of life as a wage slave, Miguel's life here in paradise is to be a hand-to-mouth existence until the day he dies. He's forced to get by on the kindness of strangers - such as my giving him a ride each day (something I'm more than happy to do).
But anything can be taken too far. Miguel once bragged of him and a buddy of his knocking out a guy's tooth because they wanted the gold cap. That's when he became the Monster. "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" Who actually believes that?? But forget it and we all lose.
I'd told Miguel of my impending water vending venture, that I was having literal nightmares over not wanting to do it (like every job). That's when he told me I have to be hard. See, Miguel's form of "help" is to make everyone else just like he is (which is pretty much standard practice wherever you go). He tells me he'll rough up the seller if I can't get what I need. "No safe place. Go anywhere in the world, there no safe place." I would say that's the totality of Miguel's life experience.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the San Francisco suicides by highly embedded upscale teens. Their lives on the surface are the complete opposite of Miguel's. I've never broached this subject with him because I don't want to hear the usual discourse of "They've got it made!" Nobody's got it made, it's just treachery of a different sort. And it's equally murderous. Whether it's Miguel knocking out a tooth, or slave traders stealing labor, or corporate VPs firing underlings to hide their own incompetence, our pretense of civilization is only that: a pretense.
Insulated suburban teenagers are likely to still have their souls. They know there's no point to living in the world without a soul. They have yet to make the transition to the "adult" lies that we live by, bribed to close our eyes and call ourselves holy. I too died at seventeen. My body has stayed but there's no point to a life of drudgery. These teens killing themselves are our canaries in the coal mines. We think we're clever not to heed them ("What do I care if a couple of birds died?") but we all know what happens to miners who ignore this message. Remember this when the dying time comes for you. It's all connected.
When I hear people talk about a future where our insanity goes on forever I can only shake my head. Believe me, corporations and money and armies will be things of the past in the next century, our belief in those relics as saviors vanished forever just as with witch burning. We'll look back at these lying times as sick and savage, survived only by divine intervention. Right now the world is like Nazi Germany: you might not be able to stop the crimes of the state but you will be held accountable. You can bet your life on it.