That Trapped Feeling

In the 1983 film, The Dead Zone, Christopher Walken portrays a man who comes out of a coma and finds he has both telepathic and precognitive abilities.  Upon shaking hands with a Presidential candidate, Walken’s character perceives that the candidate will win the White House and will subsequently launch a nuclear attack on an enemy, only to discover, too late, that the supposed provocation was a false alarm.  By then, the missiles can’t be recalled.  It’s a safe bet that those who voted for the guy didn’t sign up to be incinerated, but in the end, that doesn’t matter—there’s nothing they can do.

I don’t know enough about how the U.S. military’s nuclear launch systems are set up to know if such a scenario is possible.  What if the former guy had had a raging temper tantrum involving some foreign leader and had decided to deploy so-called tactical nukes?  Would the armed forces leaders have complied with the orders?  I’ve seen speculation on that very point, so apparently, it’s not a totally fantastical situation.

Where I’m going with this is that, the more I read about the current state of affairs in this country, the more trapped I feel.  While certainly the current guy doesn’t induce quite as many nightmares as the former guy, nevertheless, the status quo hasn’t changed much in terms of foreign policy, nor is it likely to.  The former guy talked about reverting to an old stature of isolationism, more or less, but it didn’t materialize in terms of troops stationed around the world.  The new guy also gave lip service to ending the endless wars, but is now hedging on the May 1 timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan.  And anti-China and anti-Russia propaganda programs are increasing, rather than de-escalating.  Plus ça change…

I don’t want that continual ratcheting up of our country’s aggressive posture.  I don’t want the U.S. to dominate the world militarily.  Nobody I know wants to see our armed forces on overseas tours forever.  Rather, people would prefer to have our crumbling infrastructure repaired and replaced.  Have our schools modernized and fully funded, with teachers given the supplies and equipment they need.  Have enough food and affordable housing and healthcare for all.  I can’t conceive that anyone, given a choice between having troops deployed in a Middle Eastern country and having a place to live, would choose the former.

And yet….here we are.  The former guy and the current guy both ran on platforms that included “downsize military involvement” planks.  No matter which one we selected, we got the same result, for practical purposes.  Didn’t happen last time, not looking good this time.

What about the climate change crisis?  The former guy denied the existence of global warming.  The current guy has made a lot of noise about addressing this critical issue, but won’t support banning fracking or discontinuing oil subsidies. 

Healthcare?  The Orange One attempted to destroy the Affordable Care Act, that cobbled-together stopgap measure, while the new Occupant has sworn that he’d veto a Medicare for All bill if it came to his desk.  Either way, the 99% loses out.

We had two viable options last November, as always.  Sure, there were more than two candidates on the ballot, but no third-party contender had a chance, the way our political structure works.  We had a choice between unthinkably horrible and mostly undesirable.  I didn’t want that.  Lots of people didn’t want that.  But the Progressive guy on the Democratic side was essentially forced out of the race by the party on whose ticket he ran.  That guy, who openly spoke out for massive change in favor of the 99%, who actually embraced the policies overwhelmingly favored in every poll….didn’t get to run in the general election, thanks to the people in charge of the Democrats. 

So the Progressives sucked it up and made lots of noise about moving the new guy to the left, holding his feet to the fire, and somehow bringing about the miracles that will salvage the country.  How’s that working for them?  Some successes thus far, albeit watered-down, along with a pile of disappointments. 

But no matter what anyone does, no matter how many petitions are circulated, letters written, protests mounted, polls taken, we the people are still not getting what we want.  There is no security these days, in any form.  Forty percent of citizens are living paycheck to paycheck; many families are one small mishap away from disaster, no matter how hard they work and how careful they are.  The fossil fuel companies, Big Pharma, Big Ag, Big Insurance, dozens of other huge corporations, and worst of all, the MIC, are calling the shots.  Actions are being taken in our names, day in and day out, that we never signed up for.  We’re consistently given two bad choices to vie for the Oval Office, and even then, no campaign promises are kept.  They say what they have to say to get elected, and then all bets are off.  If voters are frustrated and cast ballots for someone else next time, it’s a matter of a new face, but the same old shell game.  I don’t know what the answer is, but on my bad days, I can’t shake the feeling that there’s nothing anyone can do to stop the downward spiral.  We have no say whatsoever when it comes to that launch. 

20 thoughts on “That Trapped Feeling

  1. magnificent exegesis, denise. americans will have 2 choices [but only if they are sufficiently inspired or detrimentally impacted enough]: launch a french-style revolution, or deracinate from the US to a more favourable, less aggressive, and more environmentally sustainable ecesis. if not, they are too deluded or drugged donnards to react, and will persevere denitrifying in their self-imposed ‘la dolce vitae’ zeitgeists.

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    1. There are multiple causes for the inertia in this country. First, the dumbing-down process that began some 40 years ago has resulted in a frightening level of ignorance among the general populace. Critical thinking skills are quite rare anymore. Second, the vast majority of citizenry is constantly running on ice just to survive. It’s all they can do to live indoors, pay utilities, and afford sufficient food. They have no time, energy, or opportunity to consider a revolt. Third, there are circuses aplenty, along with ceaseless propaganda. Fourth, there’s the pull of family and other networks; few people have the strength of will and emotion to leave the country of their birth and separate from everything and everyone they’ve known. And that last factor I can empathize with. I could imagine moving somewhere a little north of the border, but don’t know if I could put an ocean between myself and my brother and my few dear friends. Rick would never leave the area where his family lives.

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      1. it seems implausible to me, as a calvanist-presbyterian-raised and -indoctrinated fool, that others could not also open their hearts and brains to an entirely different orbit of habitation than the one w/ which they were enshackled by… but then everyone is different, w/ diverse experiences. no one should be classified as verisimilitudinous w/ my own ambit, hauling off to japan in 1962, and embracing zen buddihism was metaphysically mind-altering.

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  2. I’d consider you to be in the minority, Jeanie. I have no idea what the statistics are in the 21st century, but I’d bet that the majority of the U.S. population doesn’t live far from where they were born. If one has a family life that’s even relatively congenial, it’s not usual to move away, unless a professional career demands it. I’d venture to guess that the same is true throughout much of the world. Were my mother still living, I wouldn’t locate more than a couple hours away. I was about two hours’ drive from my hometown when I lived on the island, and it was a constant underlying thorn that I didn’t get back to visit more than a couple times a year.

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  3. you can agree, i surmise, denise, that your circumstances were diametrically different from mine: your mother was indubitably involved w/ your life. mine was emotionally absent. it carved my 8-yr old heart to an unforgettable cleavage… un-ratiocinated and mal-understood… that, when i returned home from school at 8, my mother would be lying down in her connubial bed beseeching me to “shush! be quiet! i’m trying to sleep” when i was trying to sing her a lullaby b/c she seemed so exanimate all the time. needless to convey, my mother, unlike yours, was so dismissive that i felt no attachment to her whatsoever… thus manumitting me to escape when the opportunity first presented itself. everyone has a selcouth tale to tell that guided him/her to unique ambits of behaviour and geographic loci.

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    1. Actually, my experience was similar to yours, except my mother began to pull away when I was 10 or 11. By the time I graduated high school, she was self-medicating to the extent she was a near-zombie much of the time. I had my own mental and emotional crisis when I was 19, but Mom didn’t want to hear about it and paid no attention because her “stories” on TV were her entire focus. At the time, I was bitter over her indifference. Later, I realized she suffered as much angst as I did, and could never find her way out.

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      1. we understand our flawed parents w/ more compassion when they are dead, which is sad, is it not? like you, i was never able to ‘be’ inside my mother’s head, even on her deathbed; the entry-way was blocked… from both ends.

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    2. Well Miss Jeanie, since you’re warm and generous invitation to visit you on such a fascination filled upstart of land tethered in a sea somewhere south of China; temptations have been nibbling at my heals. I took some time yesterday to study the map and consume some historical vowels and consonants that sought to describe your far away place. As Alfred Korzybski rightly pointed out, the map is not the territory; but those false representations most certainly stirred a lustful longing to be there now. From the tip of Halcon, to the rapids of the Bongabong River, and the toe tantalizing sandy beaches, it all seems magical and the place where dreams disappear into marvelous being.
      Life has smiled on you and your commitment of belief that all experience is alive with potentiality is being fulfilled within a multitude of relationships with the seen and ethereal. You’re a lucky girl to have opened your awareness to these powerful possibilities and it’s no wonder you have been honored to enjoy time within such a alluring swaddle.
      It also makes my happy you were able to do some mind altering before you nestled in to Island life. I’m sure everything around the frame you inhabit appreciates your rare perspective and feels comfortable opening up to you in their very uniquely animated fashion.
      There are things we have been all hamstrung by; circumstances some may say, but in this life being that everything is appropriate; I’m hoping that the bow of some ocean going vessel severs those confounding hamstrings and creates safe passage toward your mind bending Mindoro.

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      1. please, utejack, BE the bow of that ocean-going vessel and sever the terrestrial ties that bind, if just for a moment, to spread your goodwill and magical spirit across mindoro’s coasts, over her massifs, through her jungles, and along her streets. do festinate, as i would be honoured to accompany you, and the luxury of time-protractions is no longer available to me.

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  4. You got me thinking, Denise, when you mentioned Outlander the other day. Time travel seems fascinating and it appears to provide the traveler with interesting opportunities to “tweak-times”
    outcome. It got me to wanting to hold a conversation with a time traveler from 200 years into the future. I’m not looking for reassurances from them. Just a sentence or two about how the future earth inhabitants diagnosed the diseased minds that have fallen prey to the vultures of capitalism.
    We don’t get to choose our place or time in the sun upon entry to this human experience. But I believe it is true that creation had us squirted on it’s pallet when it smeared us into existence. You are just the right hue and the proper stroke of the brush for these moments.
    Maybe you should see things from the portico of the White House for once. DT & JB both had the same view. It might look something like this.
    There’s that same artist from Ohio standing beneath my balcony telling me to stop the military shenanigans, quit the corporate giveaways, level the economic equality, stop the hate and bigotry, eliminate the environmental degradation, etc. etc. etc. Isn’t this the person BO & GB warned us about? You may think you are an army of one, and that your efforts are fruitless. But I beg to differ, if ever so gently.
    I believe that there are many bodies coming onto this grand canvass that were squeezed on the creators palette for just this time and will meet the needs of the master artists plan for the composition. Stay true to your nature and remember that the final depiction needs you to be the very hue which you were composed to portray.

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  5. Your comment touches me immensely, Utejack. I can only say “thank you” for your kind words.

    As for time travel, my mind always gets snarled up when I think about people from one time going backward and changing things. How can that work? But I guess that, because it’s fiction, we simply have to accept that everything works out. I recall the Star Trek episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever,” and note that when Kirk, Spock, and McCoy go back to 1930s Earth, Spock makes sure that none of their actions changes history.

    I like your analogy with hues and a palette. Not only imaginative, but superbly fitting, I think. Several decades ago, a wise friend told me about a theory he’d read, which said there were so-many-thousands of people born in our era who were put on Earth to manifest the transition that has to happen. They [we?] are all like-minded, intuitively cooperative, and together, form a critical mass that can save the planet. That theory makes sense to me; it resonates. Also, a spiritual advisor I knew was fond of saying that we all choose to incarnate at particular times, in certain places, for very specific reasons. Obviously, there’s no scientific basis for either of these concepts, but I can’t say that I disagree with them. The best we can do with our lives is to honor Gandhi, and be the change.

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  6. I understood my mom from the time I was a teenager, and I realized what her relationship with my dad was like. I had an idea of what she was going through. I just couldn’t get past the fact that there wasn’t room for concern for me. It took the perspective of a couple decades to internalize that she simply couldn’t deal with it all. We were close during the last years of her life, when I was in my late 20s.

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    1. it is fortuitous for your mum that you bequeathed her such intimate comprehensions of her circumstances at such a vulnerable and chaotic locus in your putatively puerile teenaged years, but i suspect you were less self-preoccupied, emotionally demanding and more sage than most teenagers.

      the horror of my mother’s witnessing the drowning at age 12 of her beloved father and only brother, who was 5 yrs old at the time, and being helpless to save them, haunted my mother and chased demons around in her head for the remainder of her life. it was such a catastrophic sea-change in her pubescent years that she was incapable of discussing it w/ any of her children, nor w/ our father who, in any event, was a priapic lothario throughout their marriage.

      if only i had been endowed w/ the understanding you embraced for your mother, i would not have drifted away from her w/ such recalcitrance. i am gratified she did not have to suffer the fardel her daughter’s [mine] near-murder in papua new guinea, as she had died 4 years before.

      apologies for hanging all these personal monstrosities on the drying line of your blog-site, denise; it is elutriating for me, but not for you or your consociate fan-base.

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  7. Your last point first: there’s room for everything positive on my blog, as is the case with most similar entities, I’d guess. Sharing experiences and points of view in a constructive way gets us to a more cooperative, caring world.

    As for the relationship between my mother and myself, she shared many (though in retrospect, not enough) of her life events and thoughts with me from the time I was 10 or so. Some of the things she told me scared and saddened me, made me feel insecure and uneasy. I was simultaneously sheltered from the world of sex and drugs that many teenagers of that time knew, but also quite aware of the dark things that can happen in a marriage. I was overly mature in some ways, and woefully naive in others. That state did not serve me well as the years went by. While my mom didn’t suffer the singular, severe trauma that yours did, she nevertheless bore old wounds that affected her throughout her life. She was the strongest person I knew, in that she managed to maintain an existence and a sane, compassionate outlook. Her coping mechanisms, however, grew more dysfunctional as her marriage to my father went along. I think, had she lived longer, she would have eventually triumphed completely over her childhood and young adulthood and come to a safe harbor of equilibrium, but she wasn’t granted the opportunity. Despite her unhappy life, she sought to give my brother and me a loving environment; the obvious intent and the desire were there, even if she sometimes wasn’t able to carry out her wishes. It was that intent that ultimately kept me from making a break with her, and brought us closer in her last years.

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    1. your mother was kissed by kismet to have her open-minded and heart-embracing teenaged daughter apponere herself to her mum’s beleaguered side at a nexus when most teenaged daughters would be too self-absorbed to give a flip or a sweet-fanny-adam. i tried to probe my mother about her cacodemons but did not have the maturity or sophistication to do so w/ delicacy and diplomacy.

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      1. Well….I was more of a listener than anything else. Mom relayed these feelings and stories that were extremely discomfiting, and I sat in silence, not having any idea what to say. I was completely out of my depth, but she had no one else in which to confide. Again, I was fearful and worried about possible impacts on our lives, but was much too young to be able to do anything. By the time I was old enough to question her, she was half-anesthetized most of the time. And then I moved out of town, so we didn’t have much face-to-face interaction for about 5 years. She was just starting to turn herself around when she passed away suddenly, so I never got to ask her all the questions I’d stored up. That’s a regret I carry with me.

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  8. “The Dead Zone” is one of my favorite movies. Christopher Walken is brilliant in it. Heartbreaking ending, especially for an American movie.

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    1. Definitely did not see that ending coming. But extremely well done, and a highly unusual plot, thanks to Stephen King. Interesting factoid: the gazebo scene was filmed in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The gazebo was a stop on a ghost tour we took; supposedly, the spot where it was built has been haunted since the American Revolution.

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