They

Saw the following quote on a friend’s Facebook page today:

“Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice . . . you don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own, and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls… and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue d-ck that’s being jammed up their a–holes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth. It’s called the American Dream cause you have to be asleep to believe it.”
– George Carlin*

So, bottom line: they own me. They are doing spurious, indiscreet things to me. The idea that I have any choice, any freedom, any ability to better myself – that’s all crap. They own me. So when I wake up and realize my life is crap, I have no one to blame but myself them. THEM! THEY did this!

So who are “they?”

Membership in the Club of They seems to require a whole lot of money. The Occupy Wall Street crowd insists that they are “the 99%,” meaning that those in the top 1% of income or wealth are “They.” So if 99% of Americans are poorer than me, I’m “They.”

But that begs the question – wasn’t George Carlin one of “They?”

Certainly he was in the top 1% of wage earners in the United States before his untimely death. Certainly he had far more cash than was necessary to fulfill his basic needs. Certainly he was not one of the bourgeois plebeians that “They” take such delight in exploiting. Indeed, so many who decry what “They” do are “They” themselves. But Carlin can say all of that with a straight face, and nobody calls him on it.

Or take Roseanne Barr. She has called for the return of the guillotine to behead “They.” She defines “They” as anyone with more than $100 million of personal wealth. The problem is that you only need a tiny fraction of that total to put yourself in the “They” echelon in which Barr herself undeniably resides. So enjoy your 99.7 mil, Rosie. Another few hundred thousand and your head comes off.

Here’s another problem. Over the course of my life, I’ve met more than my fair share of “They.” I’ve met rich dudes; I’ve met political dudes; I’ve even met presidents and former presidents. I’ve never encountered a single person in that echelon who was aware that they were metaphorically violating me on a daily basis. Indeed, most of them were preoccupied with how they could use their wealth and power to build a better world. If they have a failing, it is that too many of them see their efforts as being thwarted by the mysterious “They” who, unlike the beneficent, George Carlin and Roseanne Barr-like Rich, live every minute to find new ways to screw you over.

And, in every case, “They” are slightly different.

For the Democrats, “They” are Republicans who hate the little guy. For the Republicans, “They” are the Democrats who hate America. Those slightly less non-ideological still see a nebulous “They” out there that gives them an excuse to pretend that their lives are beyond their control and therefore beyond their responsibility. There’s a warped sense of security in that, I think, but it comes at way too high a cost.

This is the primary problem that comes with seeing the world through the narrow prism of politics. Politics is adversarial by nature, and someone has to lose in order for someone else to win. That provides intellectual justification for “They-ism,” and becomes a quick route to demonization. If I’m virtuous, then it follows that They must be evil. And, in both cases, the virtue and the evil are both vastly overstated.

I am making a concerted effort to stop looking at the world in purely political terms. In most endeavors in life, my success is not predicated on someone else’s failure. Conversely, if someone else wins – and wins big! – that doesn’t mean I’ve lost anything. And the minute I cede responsibility for my life to the vile machinations of some nameless, faceless They, I banish myself to an intellectual cul-de-sac that justifies a life of continual failure.

I refuse to do that.

I have a family that I love that They can’t take from me. I have a relationship with God that They can’t touch. And I have a faith in the divine that makes everything that They try to do to me ultimately and utterly irrelevant.

And there ain’t nothing They can do about it.

* I saw George Carlin live in concert at the Universal Amphitheatre in 1987. I tried to heckle him. It didn’t go well.

Galactica or GINO?
Correcting the Stratfordian Caterwaulers

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