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Standing At The Window. March 25, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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You always loved this time of year.  The promise of Spring, the chance at last to throw open the window and just stand there taking it all in, the warmth of the sun on your face incongruously mingling with the cool breeze playing through your hair.  The impossibly blue sky presaging the Summer of your life, full of hopes and dreams and opportunities, the air lightly scented with snowdrops and daffodils and the sounds of  children playing…

But today is different.  Today, this 25th day of March, you’re standing at the window, standing in the window, with the sun on your face feeling like ice compared to the searing heat at your back, the furious inferno of friends and fabric clawing at you like a rabid red Cerberus, the sounds of children crying in the street below swallowed by the roar of the flames, the shrieking of women and steel and God and the blood rushing in your ears, the molten air filling your lungs with the acrid smell of burning wool and bone and your own singed hair, and through tears of pain and anguish you look up to see the red flames and the white smoke and the dirty blue sky, and you lean forward, not by choice but because there is  no choice, and follow your hopes and dreams and broken promises to the crushing pavement eight stories below.

One hundred years later, we’re standing in that window, all of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, lured out onto a parapet of false promises, driven ever closer to the abyss of withered aspirations and diminished dreams.  We have a choice, or so we’re told, of sucking it in and making sacrifices for the “common good,” of working more for less pay, of peeling back our benefits, of giving up the rights our Sisters died for, our Brothers fought for, our Parents demanded…  or we can cling stubbornly to our Unions, our Workers’ Rights, our expectations of safe conditions, our delusions that we deserve to retire with dignity and some small measure of financial security, and watch the Captains of Industry take their factories overseas where reasonable people are just grateful to have jobs,  places like Malaysia and Bangladesh where corporate assets aren’t troubled by safety and environmental regulations, where injured or sickened or just plain overworked employees can be discarded and replaced by anonymous hands and backs beyond counting.

We know they’ll do it.  Hell, they have done it.    Just look at the empty factories littering the American Dream-scape, then look at the fine print on the products you buy, the labels on your clothes.  Supply-side economics holds that it makes great sense to manufacture our shirts in Bangladesh, where just this past December dozens of women jumped to their deaths from their burning high-rise garment factory because the exits were locked.

One hundred years later, people, and what have we learned?

We’ve learned that individuals may be powerless in the face of Corporate greed, but great congregations of workers are not.  We’ve learned that if we don’t demand  to be treated fairly and decently, we will be treated as expendable chattel.  And we’ve learned that Government Of the People, By the Corporations, For the Filthy Rich is complicit in the auctioning off of the American Dream.  The hard-won rights our parents and grandparents scraped together and cobbled into a life worth living are being pried from our hands with assurances that it’s for our own good, that it’s the only way our economic system can compete, that if we don’t capitulate we can kiss our jobs and our dreams and our futures goodbye.

In truth, the problem is not just with a culture of corporate greed and exploitation, with “fiduciary duties” paraded as an excuse for sucking workers dry, but with a system of government in which spineless, self-serving Corporate Whores craft legislation and loopholes which fatten the purses of their Patrons at the public’s expense.

Modern multinational corporations are beyond the reach of reason, separated at birth from their hearts and consciences, blinded by the vision of uncountable profits, their greed metastasizing into a frenzied feeding on the hands which turn our wants into their widgets. Our arguments on behalf of Noblesse Oblige fall on ears deafened by the Siren song of Fiscal Fundamentalism.  We appeal in vain to a sense of decency which we wrongly believe must be in there.

But it’s not in there.

No, my friends, if salvation from unbridled greed and uncontrolled consolidation of wealth is to be ours, we must wrest it from those who are charged with representing us, but who are pressed hard to accept the filthy lucre showered on them by their corporate keepers.  We need to see the problem clearly, to speak the truth loudly, to do the daunting deed of rallying our Brothers and Sisters to the cause of interdependence, of mutual respect, of standing together with arms interlocked lest we fall, one by one, through the window of opportunities lost.

United we stand; divided, we are all tottering on that terrible parapet.


Thanks to Tengrain over at Mock, Paper, Scissors for the writing prompt, and for his frequent support of my humble efforts.


1. jomegat - March 26, 2011

That is a powerful essay.

2. Frau Biergut - March 26, 2011

It’s now called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. (Paraphrased from George Carlin)


3. Paul in ABQ - March 28, 2011

Thank you.

4. littlebangtheory - March 28, 2011

Thanks, jomegat.

And Paul, you’re welcome, with my apologies for putting you in those burning shoes. I just needed it to feel personal and immediate and requiring our undivided attention.

Frau B, you’re right in some respect, but I believe it’s those who are asleep who are letting this happen without objecting. Unfortunately, if enough of us frogs are slowly brought to a boil, there will be nothing left of us but trifling nibbles at the soirees of the Filthy Rich.

5. susan - March 30, 2011

Last week I read a book called ‘The Nature Writings of Carl Jung and the following excerpt fits well with your beautifully written essay. I don’t anticipate enough people becoming aware the building’s on fire but I’d be glad to be wrong.

‘Civilization is a most expensive process and its acquisitions have been paid for by enormous losses, the extent of which we have largely forgotten or have never appreciated.’

6. littlebangtheory - March 30, 2011

Susan, our collective amnesia is carefully cultivated, the distractions choreographed. The American Idle are busy Dancing With The Stars as Rome burns.

I too would be glad to be wrong, but like you, I’ve been paying attention.

Thanks for the wisdom of Carl; it’s as apropos of our present times as it was of his own.

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