We didn’t ask to be Americans, those of us who were born here; just as we didn’t ask to be named the name we go by, as if it is our fundamental identifier, when in fact it is nothing but some random idea that popped into the heads of those crazy kids who found themselves pregnant one day and eventually became our parents. Most humans turned parents, always think they’re being unique and creative when naming baby humans. For the first year or two of the existence of their newborns, they’ll always tell you the baby’s first middle and last name, never just the first like everyone else in the world does once we get past the age of two; instead they repeat that whole baby’s name over and over again, announcing it to anyone who’ll ask, people just walking by at the mall “oh what a cute little baby…. what’s her name?” “Ahhhh thank you. Isn’t she precious? Her name is Maria Teresa Abigail Smith” or “Harley Elena Jacobs”, etc… always that damned middle name, you know, that middle name that you as an adult human will never ever ever use a day in your life, just like your parents don’t and no one else you know does either.
There’s a reason why no one goes around announcing their middle names. Because no one cares; no one asks. So why do new parents always insist on telling everyone the middle name(s) of their kids? (Frankly it’s a good test of the general intelligence, or at the very least the emotional stability, of people, whether or not they spend that first year announcing the middle name of their new babies’ or not. The average mainstream human almost always invariably does (in Western society we’re specifically talking about). It’s just how it is. They don’t even think about it. They’re proud of themselves for coming up with those three names in a row and they want to show it off and grab some of that easy approval from whoever they can whenever they can. If you ever encounter someone who just introduces their newborn to you with just their first name then you know you’re dealing with a more intelligent person who is aware of this odd tendency of most others, and who doesn’t feel any inner need to show off their baby naming skills. They’re comfortable with themselves. Because it’s such a rare occurrence it’s always refreshing.
Regardless of how creative our parents think they were when they christened us with their idea of a killer series of names, we’re still liable to meet a variety of people throughout our lives with the same name. Meeting or hearing about someone with the same first name as you have is a weird enough experience. Your name is John but you also have a coworker named John so when you’re speaking to him, HE is John; but you’re also John. It’s weird. When we meet or hear about someone who has the same first AND last name as we have it’s even weirder. It’s just downright trippy. I’ve always said that one day I’d like to hold a big Ed Hale dinner celebration and invite every person in the world named Ed Hale. Advertise it nationally over a period of six months or more and see how many we can collect together all in the same room. Not only would it be mind blowingly strange, it would also prove a bigger point. Our names mean absolutely nothing in the bigger picture. We may “feel” something about our name or from our name, identify with it in some way, but in the end it’s just a series of words in a certain order that has nothing to do with us.
(In the Transcendence Media empire, the conglomerate of little companies I’ve collected over the last twenty years, my team and I have always marveled at and joked around by all the different Ed Hales there are around the world. We battle them for that ever coveted spot in the top ten of all the major search engines. There’s Ed Hale the balding older business man who owns a sports team and maybe a newspaper in Baltimore. There’s Ed Hale the famous dead race car driver; Ed Hale the American POW from some war in our American past. Ed Hale the dead police officer who became infamous for something. Edward Everett Hale the poet from the 1800s. And then there’s the newest Ed Hale, some loony right wing conservative farmer who got his fifteen minutes of fame for spouting a variety of crazy racist conservative nonsense during the 2008 presidential election season. I’ve recently made “friends” with another Ed Hale, who doesn’t appear to be necessarily famous for anything, on Facebook who sent me a friend request out of the blue a few months back with a message attached that simply said “Cool name man”. I couldn’t decline that request.) All in all the experience has taught me that there is just nothing unique about a name and certainly nothing that we have a choice in unless we take that big plunge and decide to legally change our name to something of our own choosing.
The same can be said about our religion. None of us asked to be religious. Though many of us simply are because those crazy kids who found themselves pregnant one fine day and birthed us into this world decided that we would or wouldn’t be just because they were, or weren’t.. Once we become adults choosing whether or not we are religious throughout the rest of our lives is a farily easy task. Many people confront the dillemma of this decision young in life, make a decision and never look back. Some choose to maintain the religion they were born and raised within. Some choose instead to go the way of an alternate religion than the one they were raised in; they convert to Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism or even atheism. (Don’t ever let an atheist fool you into thinking they aren’t “religious”. It takes just as much faith, zealotry and passion to be an active practicing atheist as it does being any of the other world religions of humankind, to believe without a shadow of a doubt that there is “nothing” as much as those who believe there may be “something”. They’ve just chosen to embrace the other side of that yin and yang symbol for whatever reason, and that’s their right.)
The same can be said for our given name. Elton John invented his name. So too did Marilyn Monroe, as did Marilyn Manson, Cary Grant, John Ono Lennon, Woody Allen, David Bowie and many others. It’s easy. There is nothing in the name we are given except the hopes dreams and aspirations of two young starry eyed kids in love. Once we, the children of those kids turned parents, grow up to become adults ourselves, we trade places with them. We become the young and dreamy star-crossed lovers and idealists, believing that our given name perhaps doesn’t suit us as much as it could, that giving ourselveTheres s a new name portends a brighter future. We harbor the same dreams and aspirations for ourselves in that moment as our parents did when they first learned that we were becoming a reality in their lives and chose to name us. The process is a meaningful one, to change one’s given name. But it’s an easy one. Just a few signed contracts more effort than changing our religion.
But the country that we call home, the country that we are born in, and are raised in, that’s a different story. Legally, at least in the United States, by the simple act of being born in said country we become its citizens. Hostages one might argue. From the moment we are born we are referred to and classified as American citizens. Our names and faces go into numerous databases. A birth certificate is issued, birth records are filed in city, county, state and federal government. At an early age we are issued a number that will follow us the rest of our lives, one that we have no choice in obtaining and no option of changing. Then comes a drivers license, a passport, constant subtle demands to pledge allegiance to the country and memorize it’s national anthems, mottos, myths and legends, supposed heroes and alleged villains.
If we are smart, self educated, perceptive, confusion sets in at an early age. We begin to recognize that the so called heroes that we’ve been indoctrinated to revere and admire are often more villain than hero; and the alleged villains that we’ve been instructed to look down on are sometimes revealed to be more fallen hero than villain. The more we learn, the more we discover that as with all countries in the modern world most of what we are taught about our home country and nationality is either a flat out lie or a giant stretch of the truth. There is purpose in this well regulated system of duplicitous indoctrination.
We are instructed that it would be best if we go to college, major in one particular field of study and then get a job for the next forty-five years of our lives which will help us pay a percentage of every penny we earn to the government we are taught that controls every aspect of our waking and sleeping hours as long as we are alive. Hell, they even make us pay, an even larger percentage of any and all money we earned, after we pass on from this world. They conveniently call it an Estate Tax, though it is commonly referred to as the Death Tax.
There are thousands of other rules and laws that are foisted upon us from the moment we are born. There is no choice in it. It is the law of the land. Not just for us here in the United States, but for all human beings, no matter which country we are born in. This is the system. A system of control, of civility, a system to control human beings, so as not to let the natural chaos that runs rampant through the quantum universe thrive in its gorgeous madness on planet earth.
Of course not all of it can be controlled. Leap year is a subtle living breathing example of how chaotic and out of control the system still is. Just ask anyone who was unlucky enough to be born on that one day that only happens to exist once every four years…. tricky that is. So too is the fact that no one in their right mind can honestly claim to know what year we are really in — what a mysterious, elusive and arbitrary idea this is — what year we are in…, considering that there are over one-hundred different calendars currently being used on planet earth, in addition to the fact that we are all well aware that the year that we presently ascribe to today was invented a little more than fourteen hundred years ago. Just restarted the calendar. Started at year 0 right smack dab in the middle of God only knows what year it was — depending on what country you were in at the time the Romans made this decision. Luckily some countries resisted the Roman barbarians we call the godfathers of so-called Western Civilization and kept tracking their own traditional calendar.
[Though it’s a bit off topic, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least mention that the same can be said for what time it currently is. Depending on where YOU are at this very moment that you are reading this, I can almost guarantee that if we both answered that question at the exact same moment we would call out a series of very different numbers. That is the nature of “time” as we still know and understand it today. Most clock time via the earth’s spinning on its access, based on visible light from our so-called “sun”, and in a bigger way via the earth’s revolutions around this so-called sun. Summer in the northern hemisphere of earth is Winter in the Southern Hemisphere. And vice versa. While some are sunning others are freezing, at the exact same “time”. Certain regions assume without second thought that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Except where it doesn’t. Some assume without thinking that the sun rises in the morning and lights up the sky for 8 to 16 hours a day and then slowly passes out of sight to blanket the earth in darkness for 8 to 16 hours. Of course to others, depending on where they live on this same earth, the sun doesn’t rise, but rather stays up in the sky for weeks at a time, never allowing the earth to see darkness; and vice versa. These are measurements of “time” and yet without them we still need “time”; so we have to find new ways of tracking time, with a non-sunlight based method. Digits, arbitrary digits at that…
(The sun too is an entirely random and arbitrary word/name that does not exist in any real sense of the word. Carl Sagan once remarked how mind blowing and near silly it was that if we ever do find ourselves fortunate enough to discover any other intelligent life in the known universe besides ourselves that we would have no physical way to communicate with them with words or even maps where we live. To most of us saying that we live on earth the third planet from the sun in our solar system in the Milky Way galaxy makes sense, gives us a stable reference point, a sense of stability. The problem is that these ideas are all man-made. They are not constants in the universe. We have no reason or right to believe that any other living beings in this universe would have a clue what a solar system is, or a galaxy, or a sun or an earth or even a planet. They certainly wouldn’t know what “the sun” meant, nor would they know what “the Milky Way Galaxy” was. And forget about so-called constellations. These are the childish dreams of much younger humans who didn’t have the benefit of telescopes… Of course even if we could eventually get these other beings to understand what it is meant by a “constellation”, how would they ever understand our subjective concepts of them, being visible and viable only from our limited vantage point here on earth, and again all depending on where you happen to live on earth.)]
For most of us, leaving the country that we are born in forever and becoming a citizen of another country entirely is not only a big decision but also a major effort. It isn’t as simple as waking up one day and declaring “I’m an atheist or I’m a Christian or my name is now Lady Gaga.” Not only is it involve a difficult series of actions, some of which take years to accomplish, it is also an action that has a certain taboo or stigma attached to it. Especially in heavily nationalist countries such as Russia or China or the United States or Iran. Not every nation state is as laid back as Belize or the Bahamas. The United States in particular is interesting in that it dislikes losing citizens to other nations as much as it seems to dislike accepting citizens in from other nations; ironic for a country that prides itself on being called “the world’s melting pot”.
But what if we are born here, in the United States of America (don’t even get us started on how confounding the actual name of this country is… that’s hours of talking in circles with no proverbial chased tail ever caught, for what and where IS America….?) … yes, what if we were born here in the United States of America and we actually like living here, lies, deceptions, duplicitous indoctrination and all. Sure it’s an evil Matrix controlled by nameless banking elites who are not even from America nor live here whose rules and laws are defended by a heartless military and a faceless police state militia ready to shoot at any citizen who causes a ruckus or says the wrong thing at the wrong time. But what if we still want to live here?
What would make us desire such a state of living? When there are so many other democratic republics around the world now doing a better job at the ideal than the United States is….? Nations who followed the ideals and principles portended by the formation of this ingenious land more accurately than we have managed, nations who are simply pulling it off better than we are presently. The days of the USA being the “best damn freedom loving democracy in the Western World” is a myth that has long since died in the hearts and minds of any living breathing soul on earth with brain power enough to register on an MRI scan. Too many other countries are doing it now, and simply put doing a much better job at it than we are.
But what if we still want to live here? Perhaps it’s our family. Perhaps it’s the technology or the opportunity for capitalist gain. Many still believe the United States is the country that offers the best potential for going from zero to hero financially the fastest, the best for maximizing profits and financial gain. Perhaps it’s just “home” and we don’t want to leave. Perhaps some even believe that America, though not quite ever great as it’s always claimed to be, and certainly not “exceptional” as some love declaring, still holds the potential to be great one day, to truly be exceptional and not just brag about being so. Though it disturbs me to admit it sometimes, I am one such individual.
I have been lucky that in my chosen career I have had the rare opportunity to travel the world in ways that most people never get to. I have lived in more countries and called them home for months at a time than most people ever get to even visit for vacation. ANd though it usually takes me months to start missing home, hell it’s no secret, it takes me weeks just to get over how much I despise about so much of America and what it stands for and does around the world, after a few months i start missing the old place. There is something about the United States that is just deeply embedded beneath my skin. It’s not family. I am not that kind of person. My family could always just come visit when they wanted to and that would be fine with me. No, this is something deeper. More visceral and palpable. Something emotional AND physical, at least in the emotional and mental influence on my physicality.
One of the biggest challenges that we the cognizant have in our quest to make America truly great is in helping the mainstreamers among us understand that we LOVE America, though we curse its atrocious acts and refuse to grovel at its dirty blood stained feet. Though we despise its acts of war, it’s corruption from within, it’s unjust jurisprudence and political systems held together by lies deceit extortion and bribery, we believe in the content and the substance of it’s original founding documents and ideals. And we hope and pray, just as everyone else does, that America can make continuous strides towards staying together, staying safe and secure, and coming closer to representing what it claims to stand for.
We talk a great talk here in the United States. No other country on earth has a more adept system of nationalist propaganda and horn tooting. If we could only live up to that potential one day, even live up to half of it… What a truly great country this could be. For all our finger pointing at the mistakes and errors and even the blatant deceptive and egregious actions taken on a daily basis by a knowing elected body of civil servants, we still cling to the notion that America has the potential to become truly, for once, that shining city on a hill that all the world looks up to, rather than the biggest meanest bully in the school yard that all the world looks down on and fears.
We must never forget for even a moment that the ONLY thing right now in present day earthly society that allows America to call itself “the greatest country on earth” is a trembling fear in the hearts and minds of everyone else who doesn’t live here. With an arsenal of over 8,000 nuclear missiles stationed all over the world, along with the largest standing army with battalions stationed in over 75 countries on permanent military bases, in addition to being the only country in the history of human civilization to use nuclear weapons on another country, FEAR is the calling card for America’s claim to greatness.
We commit more military terrorist acts in a single day than some countries commit in a century. When those don’t work we are also the most skilled country on earth at bringing other countries to their knees using economic terrorism. Military coups are our business. Drone strikes are our “let’s do lunch”. Starving millions of people to death in order to gain access to trade and military secrets or natural resources or full on control of other countries and their leaders is day to day business as usual for the United States on the world stage. It’s hard to accept. It hurts to acknowledge. Its painful to contemplate. But it’s the first step to true freedom, the freedom to decide deliberately whether or not we want to continue to be citizens of such a nation or not. To NOT acknowledge these things and just accept being a citizen of this country because we were born here is not freedom. It’s more akin to communism or fascism. It’s being trapped; perhaps out of fear of not knowing if we can succeed anywhere else. Or ignorance. True freedom is acknowledging all that we are and then still deciding that we want to make a go of it here.
No one I know who has studied and understands the true mechanisms that drive America wants to leave. Instead they have a strong desire to help change America, to help improve it, to help assist it’s growing up and growing into its stated goals for itself, liberty freedom and justice for all. And that’s just the beginning. How about truth and honesty, integrity, keeping your word, being a peace maker rather than the world’s war monger, being a teacher and leader and role model, a beacon of hope and a source of light. A safe haven for the displaced, discouraged, disappointed and dispossessed. These are just some of the ideals and roles that America holds the promise of growing into.
We may complain a lot, petition a lot, march on Washington a lot, demonstrate and protest a lot, opine and editorialize and yell a lot, flag wave (or flag burn when necessary) a lot, shout and kick and scream a lot as the storm-trooper police officers drag us away yet again to jail, but there is reason for it. We are NOT the enemy. We are not hoodlums. We are not radicals. Though perhaps in our idealistic vision for a truly noble America we are radical. We are patriots. American patriots. And WE ARE EVERYWHERE.