The Cult Of Selfishness

The words “Proud to be selfish” were scrawled on the stark white poster board. The young man who carried it strutted around like an insecure rooster. Of course, he wasn’t wearing a mask. His eyes darted back and forth as if he waited for someone to either challenge him or pat him on the head and say good boy, you’re such a good selfish little boy.

As I tried to understand why someone would be proud of such a thing, the pieces of the last few years began to connect. It was as if all the bits and scraps of a box filled with memories of those who came before him upended itself into the present. And the evidence stood in little territories of time as it screamed to be heard over anything else.

I saw once again the parade of drama queens with their incessant need for attention. No matter what the topic, what the reason for the gathering, whether it was a wedding, a funeral, or a conversation, they had to drag it all to the center with them in the middle.

They were shaped by the TV talk shows, the garbage that passed as news, the programming on every channel filled with pathetic stewpots that bred the roots of selfishness. Celebrities who did nothing to earn their place in the country’s living rooms. Influencers who peddled themselves for money.

No one talked. Everyone yelled to drag it all to the center with them in the middle. There was no right. There was no wrong. There was no middle ground or compromise. It was all who yelled the loudest, who stood on the biggest pile of unearned privilege.

I saw a world where everyone wanted to be special at the same time, and no one won or lost anymore because competition was suddenly bad. It affected self-esteem. It created insecurities. It kept the mediocre from rising. It kept everyone from being special. Everyone got a participation trophy, whether they won, lost, or surrendered.

The plague of specialness that created such privilege also bred a nation of petulant toddlers who believed their needs were more important than those of others. It helped them drag the country to the center with attention-hungry Karens in the middle who didn’t have to compete anymore to be better inventors, creators, workers, or human beings. Their privilege, their specialness was all they needed.

The emerging Karens evolved into the entitled who parked in no parking zones, the special snowflakes who cut to the front of the line, the privileged ones who whined when the rules didn’t allow them to do exactly what they wanted, when they wanted, and without any regard for others. It was and continues to be all about them and no one else.

It’s why white male Christians whine about persecution when all their presidents but one have been white, male christians. It’s why privileged little Karens think face masks that protect others are a threat to their freedom. It’s why for years privileged white men shaped what the rest of the country was allowed to watch, to read, to perform. The tyranny of the few in America has always dictated what art was funded, whose sexuality was acceptable, and especially whose bodies were controlled.

But even that wasn’t enough privilege for the selfish entitled toddlers. They wanted it all. Because they couldn’t control every aspect of life, because others were beginning to demand their share, they whined even louder about persecution and victimhood. They held the whole pie and complained because the rest of the world wanted to split a piece of it among themselves.

That was who that pathetic young man represented to me, those whiny attention seekers who wanted everything for themselves, especially the attention, the privilege, the right to be above everyone else even if there was no reason for it, nothing they did or were that gave them that coveted spot.

They wanted to park in a no parking zone when no one else could, but they should be able to because they were more special, more entitled than anyone else.

They wanted the privilege to walk unmasked into a supermarket, a restaurant, a crowd of people. They wanted the businesses to open so they could make money, even though it put the workers at risk.

The special people created a nation where selfishness became its own reason for existing and only benefitted them. But the facade is beginning to crumble as all facades eventually do, because at the root of their selfishness lies a tragic truth.

Those who demand special privileges, those who deliberately draw attention to themselves by yelling, by complaining, by whining, by standing on street corners with signs that say Proud to Be Selfish are failures, losers, shallow excuses for human beings.

They are takers, not givers. They are users, not creators. Deep inside they know they’ve lived a meaningless existence, that everything they tried ended up in failure. They know without the props of success they are exposed as failuress.

So they buy the big houses, the expensive cars, the designer labels, the exotic vacations. But none of it makes them better human beings. Inside themselves they suspect they’re not all that special. They are merely privileged.

So they whine in the hopes that no one will notice or make them change, because nothing terrifies them more than change. It means they must examine their own lives for the flaws they know are there but they’re too cowardly to confront.

It’s easy to just let selfishness become the default setting of privilege. It’s easily maintained by forming groups that keep out everyone else so the privileged can continue to tell themselves how special they are to exist in such a perfect world.

It doesn’t really matter what they call themselves, how they identify to cover up their flaws. Church member. Party member. Gated community. Living among those with similar flaws doesn’t fix their problems. It normalizes them.

But the wall their privilege tried to erect between human beings, the bricks they thought held it up, is beginning to crumble because it was built from the fear, the hate, the despair these selfish entitled overgrown toddlers felt at having to compete in an equal world. It was built from a horrible truth they suspect. In a fair world they would end up on the bottom.

That really isn’t something to brag about, no matter how good you think it looks on a sign.

Crazy Ass Bear’s Personal Website

Writing During A Pandemic

People often ask me if I based the character of Dada Roach on trump. I didn’t. I began writing WHEN THE LAST TREE DIES in early Spring of 2016. He was still the joke candidate then, the buffoon few took seriously. No one saw the hands in the background who greased up the strings, the greedy bottom feeders who knew an ignorant, narcissistic baby-man was the perfect tool for all their schemes.

These same puppet masters knew he embraced the racism that was an ugly secret America tried to hide from the world, the sickness they pretended wasn’t as bad as it was, the ugliness they thought was easily covered up with a few nips and tucks here and there. They were experts on how to use it to stay in power. They spent decades dividing the country from itself, creating us and them realities that benefited the privileged and the wealthy. They loved his racism because they often shared it themselves.

But more than anything, they saw his corruption, his mind-boggling stupidity, his cruelty and inability to feel empathy were the perfect distractions to cover up a multitude of their own crimes. They crawled from their Wall Street sewers, their oil-drenched bunkers, their hate-spewing churches, their gated cesspools of exclusion and dragged their totally inept puppet into the office of the presidency.

It’s a mistake to think there was an ideology behind their manipulations, that some inner fervor drove their perverse actions, or some patriotic fever propelled their outright disdain and destruction of democratic principles. The manipulators were motivated by only one thing: greed.

It drove them as nothing else drove them. It covered up their insecurities, their lack of awareness, their minimal gentleman C educations, their ugly, empty souls. Among them were a greater percentage of child molesters, racists, misogynists, and sociopaths, because as long as they could make money off each other, they looked away from the things that turned a normal person’s stomach.

But the important thing to realize, and what I wrote about in my first book, was that none of what they did, none of the enabling of an incompetent, useless bag of flesh they let loose to inflict so much damage on the world, was new. They weren’t the first to install an incompetent puppet as their plaything. They weren’t the only ones who stole from the poor to give to the rich. All tyrants are funded by the greedy.

History is full of such despots and their enablers who seized the opportunity for their own gain. trump and Dada Roach are one and the same in the sense that all tyrants are the same. They are all insecure, psychotic, narcissistic despots who surround themselves with sycophantic butt lickers. Dada Roach is an ugly archetype based on all the ugliness that came before him. So is trump. So are his enablers. So are those who own people like that because all tyrants have hidden masters. It’s the ugly truth they deny to themselves until the moment they are publicly hanged as their masters leave town under the cover of their demise.

The tyrants and events that create them don’t change, but the world I began writing the first book in did change. The mindless obedience to grifting preachers who co-opted religion to make themselves rich was coming out in the open. The opulence of their lives sprawled across social media and exposed the mansions built by those who struggled to survive.

It revealed the congregations who reached into their pockets not for salvation, but to feed greedy, obscenely wealthy preachers who convinced them from their tax-free megachurches that buying them mansions and private jets was the one true path to wealth. Greed became the new god and the desperate developed a powerful hunger for it.

The ugly god in my novel was based on the one religious cult leaders use to keep the more gullible of their congregation in line. Like their god, mine was not a holy man who preached love, compassion, and peace. He was a soulless, ugly manifestation of the emptiness inside those who needed a symbol to manipulate the cultists. He was cruel, controlling, and terrifying.

Like my god, their god was only a tool to inflict hate and divide the country from itself. Their god had enemies, harsh wrongs, and conditional rights. Their god picked the pockets of the stupid and the gullible so the rich could become richer. There was very little difference between Preacher Billy and Dada Roach, just as there was very little difference between them and what passed for preachers in this country. They were all the same kind of grifter, whether it’s your soul they picked or your pocket.

Underlying this spiritual ugliness was a vile racism that needed only a quick prodding from professional haters to ooze out from under the rock where it lay since it lost the Civil War. But it was no surprise it did. After all, America was the only country that embraced the symbols of the defeated, the Confederate and Nazi flags. Other countries realized the danger of letting images of the conquered fester in sight of the losers. They put them in museums like the relics they were.

Underlying the damage done by the tyrants and religious cults, is the damage inflicted on our environment. We are killing ourselves and the planet with pollution, with dirty water, and poisoned food. The unwillingness to acknowledge climate change and global warming are common threads woven through all my books. Denying or ignoring them will not make the problems go away. It will only accelerate the damage done to us and the planet.

And it was only a matter of time before the neglect of these issues met up with a virus that didn’t care about politics, race, economic status, or party affiliation. It was the perfect storm of greed, hate, and indifference meeting in one self-inflicted catastrophic event.

But this time, something happened to change the predictable path. The tyrants no longer led. The people quarantined in their homes with time to think, to pay attention, to share ideas and dreams with each other all over the world. They discovered their power and it helped them confront the ineptitude, the indifference of their leaders.

This is also a process that began to take place in my second book, WHEN THE LAST RIVER DIES. I wrote about the tools of recovery, specifically the use of music and love to heal the deep wounds of the devastated world the survivors inhabited. I wrote how they shared their songs to gain a sense of self and place, to reserve a place inside the history of a world that no longer resembled the one they once knew.

I saw this sharing come to life during the quarantine. Music, stories, art, dance, creativity, love and a sense of belonging began as a wave shared from homes all around the planet. The world began to experience so much together that was the same instead of different. The divisions became more apparent, more absurd, more unwanted, more unnecessary. The world came together and shared one common experience. There is no going back from that place. Everything that happens now and in the future will grow from that one shared moment in time.

That’s why, as I write the third and final book in my trilogy, WHEN THE LAST OCEAN DIES, I am much more aware of the time in which I write my words. The first two books were things I saw, fears I had, dreams I wanted to believe. I thought often I was alone in those things, that the world I saw was not dying, that hate was not consuming humanity, that we weren’t destroying each other for corporate masters who saw us as nothing more than tools to enrich their bank accounts. But I was right. The words I wrote were much more true than I ever anticipated.

That’s why I pay much more attention to what I’m writing now. It’s not just a fictional account of fantasies in my head. It is a piece of what will become a history of these times. It may never be a huge piece of it, but individual threads are still vital pieces of the tapestry. I am one of those threads and what I have to say, what I see of the world now, what I experience is also the story of my characters.

I was halfway through the book when the pandemic hit. I was writing about the difficulty my characters faced in finally accepting the world they once knew was gone forever. I remember how I struggled to explain what they felt when they finally accepted there was no normal to return to, when they accepted there was no back to come home to. I have been rewriting that section because now I know exactly how they felt. And because I want history to know how I felt during this time, what compelled me to write what I did, what I saw, what we all lived through together.

One day we will come out on the other side. But eventually we will understand as my characters come to understand, the other side is just that, the other side. Those who can adapt will survive. Those who can’t will be like the statues coming down all over the world. They’ll be left alone in pieces no one can put together again, because the paradigm shifted and they were unable to change with it.

Kate Taylor’s Amazon Author Page

So They Grew Meat

Scientists grew meat from the stem cells of a cow. Pasty white meat from an animal that was never really an animal, just something scraped into a Petri dish. It even has its own Wikipedia page.  Cultured Meat.

Seriously. This is the Internet. Of course, it has its own Wiki page, probably within minutes of it emerging in strands from the dish, just like our ancestors did eons ago on the banks of Lake Ooze.

Then, of course, the scientists shaped it into a burger, because if its anything geeks know well, it’s the shape of fast food. Sadly, even after mixing the pasty stem cell “meat” with bread crumbs, seasoning, and frying it in an heart-choking amount of butter, it tasted meaty in texture, but the flavor was nothing to get overly excited about, they determined.

It is, however, exciting to speculate on meat grown from stem cells. Bland meat that has no flavor. Pasty white meat that you’d never know was “beef.” Many possibilities have been put forth since the meat hit the frying pan.

The professional speculators excitedly surmised there was in this Frankenmeat, the potential to end world hunger. Space techies saw a solution to feeding the passengers and crew on unlimited space travel voyages. Animal lovers saw a way to save the cows at last.

That started me thinking. The meat is bland and therefore interchangeable. Why stop at beef? Why not chickens? Why not fish? It would all taste the same and the only differences would be in flavorings and added fat content.

Think about it. We could send people to explore the galaxy forever. They could continually generate their own meat from a tiny laboratory space. The only problem would be disposing of their waste, clothing themselves, as fabric wears out after awhile, enough water, and, because such voyages would be decades long, disposing of each other.

Then I started thinking some more. All that bland meat that looked and tasted the same. Horrifying as it is for some to admit, the truth is if our stem cells were grown the same way, we could not be picked out from the crowd of other animals on the plate. We’d be just as bland, just as pasty, just as white, although I suspect our fat content might be a tad higher.

When we bury a body, we take up valuable real estate on a planet that is running out of resources. If we can reduce a cow to a mess of stem cells served up seasoned and fried on our plate, we’ve already set aside the ethics and moral arguments.

It’s not a cow anymore. It was never a cow even though it came from a cow. The same argument would apply to us in that situation. It wouldn’t be us in that dish even though it came from us.

What it comes down to is we are not any different than that fried stem cell burger on a plate. That meat is us. We ARE meat when you really do think about it. We are not vegetable. We are not gold. We are not holy. We are meat.

So basically this is the reality we are faced with: humans are greedy, consuming omnivores and I don’t see us changing anytime soon. We’re going to want our “meat” to taste different from other “meat.” It’s why we have multiple flavors of ice cream, multiple arrangements of topping on pizzas, multiple everything.

But the resources are not endless and stem cell meat is just the beginning of new moral arguments over food and survival. Eventually the argument will not be what is meat and what is not meat, but what is Messy Meat and what is practical meat. And because it will all taste the same, some types of meat will have premium labels. And I’m guessing it won’t be the cow that has the expensive label stuck to its Petri-grown ass.

You can argue all you want, but Soylent Green is here. The minute the contents of that Petri dish ended up in the stomach of someone else, we officially became meat. Now it’s a just a matter of adjusting to that reality.

Why Nature Matters

Life moves at a slow pace where I live. There’s a lot of places to walk, to sit and contemplate, to be alone with just the sound of the waves against the shore. I’ve spent a great deal of my life living in such places. I sought them out. I made them part of the essentials I needed in order to live somewhere. I had to be within walking distance of a park, a lake, a river, an ocean. I needed trees, lots of trees, even if they were dry, shrubby water-starved sticks in the desert. They still spoke to me in their language. I still let them fill the empty spaces inside me.
Where I live now is the smallest, least populated place I’ve lived. I’ve noticed in the blissful years I’ve lived here that something is opening in me, a new introspection that comes partly with age, from that sense of having survived all the minor stuff that’s no longer worth wasting sleep over, and partly something else.
That something else is a closer relationship with nature. I’m retired. I have the kind of time I did as a child to just walk around, splash in the water, walk through a pile of freshly fallen leaves, and just sit and think about everything and nothing.
I often stand outside and gaze in wonder at the diversity of trees planted by my landlord. There’s everything from blue spruce to a giant sequoia. There’s fruit and nut trees. There’s trees with pretty leaves in the spring, summer, and fall, and stark, dramatic shapes in the winter. This is a land planted by a man who loves trees, and I am the recipient of the fruits he so lovingly planted.
But it’s the silence that makes my communication with these trees special. It allows me to hear them, to trace them inside me where they influence my thoughts, my emotions, my dreams. I wrote my novel in the shade of their summer and the beauty of their winter. They make me whole.
I’m going to repeat that. They make me whole. I repeat it because humanity lost that wholeness in the last few decades. Humanity lost its connection with nature and so it lost its wholeness. And an empty population is a miserable population.
That misery creates polarized times that demand sides must be taken in everything. It creates people who get up in the morning and choose which side to take that day. It demands a society where every person, idea, injury, slight, or petulant tantrum is examined for either allegiance or betrayal. It creates a society of us and them instead of we and one.
This is a sickness caused by losing the connection with nature. The frenzy and noise of even a few minutes in an urban environment is more than enough to break the purity of the connection. The degradation of this connection infects people by making things that were once cherished and valued, become cheap and meaningless. The simplicity of love, of friendship, of companionship becomes diminished because simplicity itself becomes diminished.
It creates a dependence on things instead of people. The constant storms, fires, and disasters caused by the abuse of our planet creates a fear of nature. It turns nature into something to conquer and exploit.
The sad thing is, when people do this, they further distance ourselves from the very thing they need to heal, the simple thing that is so complex, so hard to attain. They get lost in the noise to the point where they allow themselves to remain in a constant state of war and anxiety with not only each other, but also with their own selves. There is no contemplative silence to feed them.
So they strike out. They blame. They accuse. They find reasons for their misery that have nothing to do with them. They push everything outside themselves. They run from meaningful friendships, from loving relationships, from kindness, from altruism, from compassion. They embrace emptiness because there’s nothing left inside that feeds them. Everything takes from them. Everything makes the hole inside them deeper.
That is why, now, more than ever, we need those quiet places where we can just sit in the presence of majestic trees, and gaze upon awe-inspiring mountains, drink in amazingly blue, green, and turquoise water. We need to just sit and listen and let nature fill the emptiness. If we don’t, then we will destroy each other with our hunger.
Buy "When The Last Tree Dies"

Life Outside The Kingdom Of Singularity

 

I’ve always lived in a world that was more comfortable on the edges looking in than on the inside dreaming of getting out. My family was a culturally blended stew with lots of different flavors, none of which got along well with the neighbors. They survived too many wars, saw too many horrific examples of man’s inhumanity to man to ever stand a chance of willfully joining the human race.

After what they lived through, my parents didn’t really like people much. My father was an unsuccessful gambler. When his winnings bought us a roof over our heads, the next hand took it away. We moved around a lot, often in the middle of the night with little notice. We lived in the car, on the road, in cheap motels. When he drank, the cops came. Sometimes they took him away. Sometimes they left him behind, angry, vengeful, and seeking soft targets.

There was no safe world for us. Most of it was controlled by bland, church-going pillars of whiteness who feared and distrusted our dark, accented, religion-mocking lawlessness. They thought they could save us. They saw us as savages in need of civilizing, so they flung invitations to church like monkeys flung poo.

But we flung it back by refusing to become part of their Borg-like existence. From the outside looking in, it seemed as confining, as limiting as the world on the other side of the door. It angered them. And then it frightened them. How dare we not assimilate. They warned their children away from us. They made us outlaws by default. They left us only one path to walk, our own.

It wasn’t until recently that I began to understand what a gift that was, how unusual it was to walk a path undefined by others. It was a rare freedom, this right to forge one’s own path. It is a freedom unknown to many people.

One place I notice the absence of that kind of freedom is in education . Students are well-trained in their skill set. They are the best at what they do. They can discuss their field endlessly and flawlessly. Until they run into a very large wall.

That is the wall of singularity. They know what they know, and maybe the more creative ones can imagine and implement ways to incorporate what they know into something similar, something that will grow into a third thing. Like sequels, prequels, and remakes. Like cover songs and knock-offs. Like mass produced reproductions.

Members of the singularity know their subject. They can apply anything to that subject: the religion of computers, the politics of engineering, the literature of design.

But then the wall gets them. Then the noose of singularity cuts off their thinking. Then the conversation becomes forced and not as entertaining. It becomes as meaningless as discussing the weather. Yes, it rained in the past. It is raining in the present. It will rain in the future.

But there is no poetry to the rain. There is no search for meaning in the sound of the rain or the feel of it upon the skin. There are no love songs written to the rain. It is all sterile and precise and oh so tedious and boring. It is all so singular.

Such singularity easily crosses the short bridge to dogmatism. No new input means no new ideas. No new ideas means the existing ones are elevated to the point where they are beyond criticism. They take on a holiness, a religiosity that won’t allow criticism, because the other sides no longer exist.

People become as rigid as their ideas. Change becomes fearful. Differences become scary. Different ideas become tyranny. The more the world around them changes, the more the members of the singularity cling to the only things they know, whether it is religion, science, art, politics, music, literature, murder, mayhem, war, hate, bigotry, intolerance.

This is when cultures begin to die, because it wasn’t their differences that destroyed past civilizations. It was their sameness. Inbreeding of ideas was just as destructive as inbreeding of people.

Over time they were left with monumental stupidity and nothing to repair the damage done to communities, towns, states, countries, and the planet. There was no one left smart enough or educated enough to fix the problems, so the culture died.

We are once again moving in that direction, and we will reach the crossroads fairly soon. Ignorance has a way of taking over because it feeds on itself. But there are a few things to throw in its path that may not stop it, but it might at least slow it down some.

One of the biggest is education. I was one of the lucky ones, as were many of my generation. We had a true liberal arts education, which meant we had to also study math, science, history, literature, and art.

We learned how to think and analyze, something that is rarely taught anymore. It was valued once. Now only outlaws think outside the herd. It’s discouraged, and instead students are taught to focus, to apply precise learning to precise topics and to never deviate from the task at hand.

But we need to deviate. We need to learn how to apply what we are taught to the past, to the present, and to the future. We need to see the historical consequences of actions, and not have them filtered through the cesspools of politics, religion, and dogmatic thinking.

We need to understand what it means to make our own decisions and how to accept responsibility for our own actions. We need to learn to think, to analyze, to discuss, to hear, to listen, and to contemplate.

Because if we don’t, our singularity will be one end of a chain hooked to the nose of our precious little prejudices, and the other end will be held by those who need herds of singular minded sheep to exploit for their own purposes.

 

Nature As Teacher

Religion never found a home in me because the rooms were already full. I was so tightly woven with nature’s threads that religion’s limited spirituality couldn’t break through. Each door it tried opened to a truth far beyond the mere words of priests.

Religion couldn’t compete with an entity that completed me by showing me we were one, not separate. Nature gave me a continuity of self that would never allow me to give away my power to something outside of me. Religion wanted to exert control over me. It wanted to make me something that was not me.

Nature showed me how to find myself in the flow of the rivers as they meandered through canyons, valleys and majestic mountain ranges. I followed my own mind, my own fantasies, my own dreams, and discovered the rivers and I were a circle that nourished each other. An intermediary like religion would only cheapen that relationship.

I saw myself reflected in the depths of a lake’s many layers; the silty gray of thawing ideology, the multi-hued greens of new growth and maturing spirit, the blues of ice and sky, and blinding insight so intense my heart found new heights to test its wings.

I gazed at the ocean as if it were an oracle with answers to all the questions worth asking. I listened to the sound of the waves, the call of sea birds, and the whisper of my feet walking through sand.

I learned I was not separate from Nature. I understood we were one entity with many hearts all beating in a rhythm of different places in the same space of time.

I heard my own breath taken one thousand years ago and then reborn as the whispered sigh of a creek dancing through a break in the rocks.

I heard a drop of rain fall one thousand years in the future as the tear of a love so profound, the oceans wept from its intensity.

I learned I was the crash of a wave against the rocks. I learned I ebbed and flowed. I learned insight meant sweeping over the man-made obstacles that stood in the way of my growth.

I learned about myself in the deep silence of ancient forests, where I heard more than the soft rustle of scurrying feet mixed with the song of birds. I heard more than the trees shaking their leaves and whispering secrets with the wind.

I learned what it meant to wrap myself in the scent of change as it died and grew and died again. I watched as it evolved to a new form, as it embraced a new reality, as it celebrated its new growth.

I learned how to change with the seasons. I learned how to die and be harmoniously reborn in nature’s death and rebirth. I learned I was the waves of the ocean as they formed new inroads into the shore of my understanding.

I learned how to become the mist, the cry of the seagulls, and the call of geese as they flew through the flames of a setting sun.

I learned nature was a piece of my soul, a part of me shaped, formed, and created by a process similar to giving birth.

And all those lessons taught me religion and its unholy intermediaries were irrelevant to who I was, who I was becoming, and who I will become.

Village Idiocy

I recently gave myself a week to be mindless to recover from writing my novel. My brain was tired and I wanted to give it a rest. I tried reading but I couldn’t focus. I tried to work, but nothing inspired me.

So, I turned to the old standby. I played games. I spent a couple days making the world safe from angry birds, shattered lots of crystals, and played card games I once played with real decks of cards.

But even that required more effort than I wanted to expend. So I turned to television. Specifically, mindless tedious stupefying television, the kind most Americans feed on for most of their waking hours when they’re not working.

I’m not an anti-television snob. I do have a few guilty pleasures. I like cooking shows. I like travel shows. But mostly my viewing choices are streamed to my TV, and they have subtitles and lots of dead bodies.

I’ve never watched the popular culture shows, the sitcoms, the serialized dramas with jiggly breasted women and large guns. But my tired brain sent me right into their silicone enhanced arms, and I was astonished at what appeared before me.

As I flipped from channel to channel I realized most of American television was a bunch of little inbred communities populated with the dumbest people on the planet. I’ve lived in small towns and the same kind of tedious gossip that passed for conversation in those horrid little communities, was the underlying “plot” of these shows.

In show after show, no one ever talked about ideas. They talked about other people. No one ever talked about the problems of the world. They talked about who was bedding whom and whose divorce was that week’s meat to rip apart and feed to the hogs. No one ever talked about solutions to world hunger, to the destruction of the planet, or how to make a better world. They gossiped instead.

Exactly like those inbred communities I lived in, the shows were filled with people who said mean and horrible things about other people. They were petty little autocrats who formed sides. They meanly and selfishly created a world of us and them.

And the more I watched, the more I realized they mirrored the nightly news that fed them the worst of ideas, the worst of humanity. The evening news taught them how to fear, how to blame others for the misery of their lives.

At first, just as I felt when exposed to this brain-dead behavior in communities populated with small-minded idiots, I was stunned that people thought this was real life. I was astonished they believed only truths appeared on those screens. I was appalled that for so many, television was their only source of information, that they made real life choices based on the ugly biased bullshit they were fed.

And then I began to understand it was all deliberate. Television was designed to feed into the small- minded idiots in these communities. The scripts were manipulated to create low information voters. It was an industry that spent huge amounts of money to influence what their viewers thought and believed.

I began to see how television normalized the us and them world where everything was always one person’s fault, one ethnic group’s fault, one country’s fault. I saw how it deliberately created the kind of fear that discouraged independent thinking, so they could replace it with the dumbed-down comfort of herd behavior.

Day after day, television promoted the idea that different people were bad. It found ever more creative ways to convince the viewer that independent ideas were bad. And then it finally came right out and proclaimed truth itself was bad.

One of the reasons I saw through the bullshit while others lapped it up was because I didn’t get my news from television actors pretending to be journalists. I read blogs and magazines online from writers with many different points of view. This allowed me to form my own opinions, rather than have them fed to me by actors who wouldn’t know a real news story if it kicked them in their partisan asses.

I know it’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: television is called programming for a reason. It’s funded by people who don’t want the viewer to think or discuss real ideas. It wants them to gossip about each other. It wants them to always blame someone else for problems they created themselves. It wants them to live in fear and in mistrust and to all think the same. And it wants them to severely punish those who are not like them.

But television actually has only one real purpose. It is a vehicle to sell carefully trained and nurtured viewers shit. Lots of shit. Stupid shit designed for people who no longer think for themselves. Greedy people who think they can fill the emptiness in their souls with more consumer crap. People who are lured by sparkly things that will make them better than someone who doesn’t have those things.

Television feeds their viewers envy and unreal desires, and it commands them to step right up, and use their neighbor’s back if they must, to climb up the Randian ladder of disdain and privilege, because only more things will make them happy, only a bigger house, a newer car, the latest toys, will fill that hollow feeling of insignificance in their guts.