Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Triple D: Depression, Disease & Defense

Part of the "disorder" of depression - for some a huge part, I am sure - occurs not because of any disorder within but from the disorder without.

And there is plenty of disorder from without. A lot of people make a lot of money from disorder, whether it's selling self-help books, advertising cleaning products, handing out traffic tickets or building or fending off bombs.

I would say that many of the depressed have some predisposition not necessarily towards gloom but towards awareness and reality - seeing things as they are and feeling the urge to flinch or withdraw. We're all asked and even expected to participate in very convention lives, to "play by the rules." But too many of the rules these days are being created by businesses and a government which do not have our best interests at heart. And some of us not only sense that but SEE IT, clearly, starkly, in bold relief. But there is little relief, and we're not easily relieved.

Those who suffer from depression are not easily relieved. Career success, grand accomplishments, notoriety, popularity, even fame and fortune can't relieve us enough. Money can't buy you love, and it can't buy a lot of other things we need, too.

For real health, we need respect-worthy neighbors and a respect-worthy society, a culture which exudes virtues above and beyond power and might. For my health, we need a natural world that is at least being preserved, if not restored to rebound afresh. And we need a government which serves the best interests - the long term best interests - of... Jeez, I'm wandering off into dreamy platitudes here. Sixties shit. I've said it before, said this and a lot more. But then, on days like this, this is what I do think needs to be said most, however hokey, however hopeless.

You know where I'm going without me having to say it. Our country, beloved and beleaguered, has seriously lost its way. It just would take TOO BIG a leap of faith to believe we are anywhere close to the right track these days. And that sorrow, when I look around and feel enough passion and purpose to write to you, creeps into my bones, my insistently melancholy bones.

Yet I look outside, and it is a lovely day - so sunny in February, and I know I am lucky to be here, sitting in a decent public library in the Texas Hill Country looking out at so much sunshine - even if the days ARE just a tad too warm for comfort for this time of year (even in the bright rays, there is that specter of global...).

We, I say "we" as Americans, host a bunch of disorders besides depression. We're dis-eased, like so many hundreds of millions who are bored and so, to relieve their boredom, punch the remote control - not a very inspiring way to fend off boredom, but very insightful as to how lost we are. Besides their few good moments, aren't those millions of TV viewers treating their TVs like self-administering morphine vials, taking tiny hits.

That's what this is all about, this depression of ours, this dis-ease we live and feel, this sucking up to the war-mongers to defend us from ours fears which may be vague but which are really a lot closer to home than half a world away. We are afraid we're pissing our lives away, thinking we need to bond with our friends over the ads flashed before us during the Super Bowl. Just morphine, even if all taken together in friendly rooms, huddled together on couches with TV trays, Velveeta and Lite beer.

Maybe not realizing all the while that we're still being taught to love battle and war and to depend on the very "enemies" we're told we're afraid of. The implications are clear: that winning (marking and crushing enemies) is the only victory, that martial law, like a Mean Daddy God, is the highest law, law of the highest order, hellishly heavenly. But really, as every armed conflict shows, there is no order in military order. Order is an ongoing thing, a sharing of civility. And the military is just not civil; that's why we're the ones called "civilians." No, the military, like sports, is so brutish it goes against the grain of rules and against the grain of civility and civilization. So it's not an order, an answer, but more an end game - or an end to games. Why glorify it? Why then even duck out of issue by even saying you "support our troops"? I don't want anybody to die, but it is each person's responsibility to not participate, solider or not. I say to every soldier: You might want to believe it, you might even feel it, but there is no god on the side of war or warriors. The only blessings you really get are political and sentimental from those who are twenty paces and a thousand miles behind you - and themselves duped into believing that bad behavior is necessary and that bad news is good news in disguise. Well, if you think about it, and whether you believe in God or not, there are no disguises. But the good news is that your life is your own to live as best you can. You can be a hero if you speak up for peace and against any injustice, any cruelty - even the slightest slip. And yes, you are a hero if you desert or leave, go AWOL, do what it takes to get out of wherever you are and go to a peaceful place so you can be good by doing good.

Some of us who are depressed and ill at ease are some of the most intelligent, the most sane, the most aware, the most idealistic and patriotic people out there. We're just not sure how to defend ourselves and others against all those ads, against the propaganda, against the deadly sin of pride, against all that conventional oblivion, before the boob tube and before our own beliefs. We're not sure how to turn the tide on that defense that is so offensive.


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