I was having dinner at an unremarkable neighborhood traittoria the other night, when I glimpsed something remarkable.
The busboy, having been asked to toast the bread for an adjoining table, threw the basket of bread on a counter with a naked ferocity. His fists were shaking and I looked around to find that no one was taking notice of this guy’s presence, let alone the rage in his face and body.
I felt a tension in my neck, and I realized that, being me, I had two choices, neither of which, alas, involved shining the moment on.
I could either: a) feel more stress as a contagious link to another person’s hostile energy; or b) enact an experiment to see whether or not the heart of this person could be positively impacted by a warm connection.
I chose the latter. When the busboy approached to slam glasses of water on the table, as I had seen him do on other tables, I headed him off at the pass.
I lightly and quickly touched his shoulder, looked him in the eye and said, “You’re working really hard tonight.”
His dark eyes softened in the warmth of recognition. I saw his anger literally dissolve.
I began to wonder about the power of recognition and support. How it could be used to change the sense of isolation many people talk to me about. How connection can change the way we live and feel.
I’m not saying that every angry person can be reached or so easily converted to having a softer attitude or position. I am saying that there is a danger of total disconnection between people, if we let it be. This could be one reason depression is so common.
Maintaining the appearance of well-being and prosperity is the normal state people strive for, no matter how they feel. In the act of masking ourselves, we often lock other people out of our reality, dismissing the importance of contact and connection; erasing the truth that other people have an effect on our well-being.
We all need to be addressed with tenderness; the kind that acknowledges our human connection.
Not talking here about a sexual thing. That’s a different matter.
The heart of human support is not as powerfully available via technology, I believe, nor does it have to be a major event to participate in the give and take of it.
Connecting with other people from the heart is a daily practice, and is, along with laughter, a mighty powerful anti-depressant.
Another word for this is
As in, this is all we need.
If your mother was mentally ill, undoubtedly Mother’s Day, for you, was not the holiday it was supposed to be. In fact, the very existence of mothers who are emotionally and psychologically unfit to mother, as well as the experience of having a mentally ill mother, is still taboo and most commonly, a conversation left unspoken.
When a mentally ill mother “passes” as normal, often there is no one who reflects back to the child that there is something seriously amiss in the behaviors and expressions of the mother, and yeowwwww, that lack of acknowledgment and support hurts. The kind of hurt that is lifelong and personality bending. Dark secrets are held in the hearts of these children, self-esteem is nowhere to be found, emulated or developed, and shame is deeply felt.
For every Mother’s Day tribute urging a shout out and outpouring of gratitude for Mom, there is a bellowing rebuke to those for whom celebrating Mom would not only be crazy, but wrong. For every sentimental essay and love letter to mother, the woman who “taught us to be women and men”, the message is a queasy reminder that no such role model was present for children who lacked the loving reflection and guidance of a mentally well mother.
For every Mother’s Day article advising that we seek to be better daughters and sons, the missing piece is that if a mother is mentally sick, chances are 100% that the child has tried just about everything to win the impossible love of that mother. These children can legitimately be regarded as experts in the strategies of being “the good child”. They were experts as children. They had no choice. Children who fail to be loved by the mentally ill mother become grown children who feel that they, themselves, are at fault, for failing to be “good enough” to be loved by Mom.
Today, on Mother’s Day, I salute all those who were cast into this role as “the good child”, having to survive a mentally ill mother. Your job has been to separate from your mother’s illness, a heroic task; and acknowledge the loss of the mother you wanted to have, one of the hardest psychological truths in life to face. I hope that on each Mother’s Day, and the days in- between, you are able to understand and celebrate the love you have to give, and the fierce strength in you, that kept you alive! Bravo, and remember: The world is full of people who can and cannot love. Choose only the lovers.
The soundtrack of our lives in America is the drumming of approaching war. · Washington Is Beating The War Drums — Paul Craig Roberts (6/17/2014) is an excellent article for anyone wishing to be educated about America’s imminent war plans.
Meanwhile, we routinely remain enthralled in personal nonsense while this obvious beat for war grows louder; the thrill of shiny new cell phone technology , reality show competitions, and new faux communication devices, are powerfully distracting us.
Kim Kardashian’s wedding wardrobe is not even halfway out of our sight, as the world deepens its animosity with American global ambition and America sharpens its cases for war.
Whether warring with Russia or Iraq, it appears as if the extreme nuclear potential, and what this means for the planet, is not given a whiff of care or thought, apart from the goals of reaping more power and control of the world.
A deadly nuclear possibility was well understood by our once- in-a-lifetime peace President, John F. Kennedy.
He knew specifically what a nuclear exchange would mean.
Against the outrage of the military and his own Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kennedy enlisted the seemingly unlikely Nikita Khrushchev as a partner in averting such a disaster.
Therefore, thanks to Kennedy, and Khrushchev, we are alive and able to learn from this example. But will we?
While being human and far from perfect, John Kennedy grew quickly while in office. He was a former Cold Warrior who had the unique ability as a world leader to learn and foresee the potential for the end of the world not only for America and Americans, but for everyone in the world. He deeply cared about all people surviving, as inconvenient, and personally deadly, as his caring proved to be.
Did you know that he secretly instigated a correspondence with Soviet Premier Khrushchev to build a peaceful alliance during and following the Bay of Pigs invasion? “The Bay of Pigs” invasion, and what it was all about, is hardly known by most Americans.
It is well worth studying as a landmark event that marked the potential end of the world that was successfully avoided, chiefly because of Kennedy.
Are you aware of his reaching out to Castro to begin a commitment of peace between America and Cuba during that fierce Cold War era?
Or that he refused to send combat troops into Vietnam, against the almost unanimous urgings of his Joint Chiefs of Staff?
All of this proved deadly for Kennedy. Yet, I can’t help wondering if our leaders were to follow in JFK’s footsteps in urgently negotiating attempts for peace in the world, what would our world look like today?
Kennedy’s growth as a being of peace, his deepening of personal and worldly wisdom and his clarity of vision as a leader is remarkable to discover.
The brilliant book, JFK and the UNSPEAKABLE, by James W. Douglass, is a thoroughly researched and enthralling account of the factual record of John Kennedy’s leadership toward peace, behind the headlines, and how he died.
To say the least, a mere peek of Kennedy’s courageous trajectory makes Obama’s “evolving” on gay people, for instance, appear as petty, cowardly, and transparently political as it is.
With the knowledge and understanding of specific actions and aspirations for peace that Kennedy was in the process of putting into place up until the day he died, would we not mourn the diminutive slide show of our current “leaders”?
As the bad news rolls in from antagonistic locations and the question of American military “support” looms larger, I can’t help but wonder.
What would John Kennedy do?
During a talk on December 17, 2012, at the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC, in which Phillip Seymour Hoffman spoke with New School of Social Research philosophy professor, Simon Critchley, about portraying unhappiness on stage and screen, there lies a moment of blazing insight into the struggles Hoffman was potentially grappling with.
When the interview was nearing an end, and Critchley was looking down at his notes for, as he said, “anything else intelligent to say”, Hoffman leans in to ask, now in retrospect, a startling, naked question.
“So learning how to die is learning how to live?”
He faltered as he seemed to try to get the professor to take seriously the question and give a real answer.
Somewhat apologetically, he said this must be basic for the professor, but again asked with a shy intensity, “Is that what that means, right?”
The professor goes on to pontificate on philosophy and how Socrates accepted his death and the hemlock, when he didn’t have to.
This was one moment when I wanted to jump into the screen and stop the action, for it was an urgent and immense moment, Hoffman’s question, his vulnerable need, and it was lost in the haze of philosophical words.
It was also evidence of a classic balancing act that I imagined Hoffman to be grappling with.
The balancing act of being alive.
In his case, balancing life with death.
It seems he may have been asking about why he flirted with death.
Specifically, whether there was the redemption of knowing life more intimately from circling death.
I think that anyone who responded to Hoffman’s death—be it with anger, shock, grief—felt also a ping of familiarity.
Though it may be difficult to consciously identify, there is a link between his story and our own.
Don’t we all balance our truest moments of aliveness with projecting personas that adapt us to everyday social situations and professional scenarios?
This is a sort of death pose we adopt—the moment by moment death of who we really are—often without knowing it.
Do we even know what it feels like to cast off the shackles of socialized behaviors and glib responses to get a peek of who we really are? What are the feelings lurking beneath the automatic ways we have learned to relate?
In my work, I get more than a glimpse of what is real for people; what they deal with beneath the social mask.
While it is very moving to be trusted enough to be allowed inside, it can be alarming, as well.
The disparity between how a person truly perceives herself, vs. how she has learned to respond to life publicly, is a testimony to the strength of survival.
It is also a deeply poignant portrait of loneliness.
For, only she herself, alone, converses internally in the most authentic telling of her truth.
This is a common condition for people.
This is why, I believe, we are fascinated with celebrity mental disturbance.
In the most extreme cases, we see those who appear to have everything, as with Phillip Hoffman.
Everything we can see about his life has the golden glow of prosperity, fame, winning the fortune of life’s best bonanzas.
Obviously, whatever went on inside of Phillip was discordant with what we might expect from a gifted, brilliant winner of a coveted fame; a professional artistic place in the sun.
Whether you explain by calling him an “addict” or perceive his true psychological condition to have been devastated and fundamental, appearances did not align with truth.
This is where we are most gripped with his death, along with the total loss of a beautiful artist.
This is also our story.
The balancing act of being truly alive.
Chances are, you are well aware of what reality television is doing to your brain.
Remember the fried egg drug commercial?
The one with the “this is what drugs do to your brain” voiceover?
It turns out that having your brain become a fried egg is only a relatively bad thing.
Scientists are now reporting that after only one hour of watching any reality show, when at the same time accompanied by reality “star” voices or “vocals”, the brain disappears!
Yes, you heard me.
Gone. Finito. Buh-bye.
The primary cause is something called EBMD, or Epidemic Brain/Mood Degeneration.
This is a source of acute concern in the brain sciences community, although neither the FDA or the MDA will confirm the findings.
Furthermore, the media networks are insisting that this is an old study, with CBS and many cable channels leading the defense of reality television by moving to add real actors and legitimate celebrities, outside of reality television, into the reality products.
In so doing, they are at least admitting that a dimension of the brain damage from reality programming has been caused by a flood of talentless, mentally empty real people “scripted” into the reality show.
One cannot help but muse that these mentally empty reality “stars” serve as role models, aka audience brain disease entry points, providing repeat reality show viewers a rocket trip into the mirroring and mimicking of specific style, pacing, and vocabulary of emptiness.
Apparently, there is no turning back.
The epidemic of EBMD is nourished nightly and spawning into new generations, even as we breathe.
Thus, it is believed that America is suffering from a genetically driven shortage of on-air talent, leading directly to the empowerment of the stupid.
Not only is this fatal for the soul.
It can finally be said that stupidity in any dosage, let alone viewing and inhaling it on television throughout the week, is deadly for the healthy brain, as well as for the psychological health of the human being.
The question, of course is, as always, who stands to gain from these deliberate brain-killing productions?
Inevitably, the answer is to look at the sponsors.
There the culprits are, offering the perfect pills as antidotes for the brain-dying side effects from reality programming.
The pharmaceutical companies may be sinister, but they sure have a secure business going.
Let’s have a look.
First you kill off the brain, by funding and airing the reality show.
Then you sell the brain-dead audience the promised “cure” for the resulting depression, anxiety, early-onset Alzheimers, inflammation, sexual dysfunctions.
Be sure to quickly race, sotto voce, through the possible death warnings attached to each pill product.
No danger here to the product.
No one has the brain power or sensitivity to the word, “death”, anymore.
The blasting life and death volume of reality show scenarios and music have eliminated the nerve veneers.
And so, the selling of poisoned pills for the side effects of the disappearing brain, caps off another episode of brain evacuation.
There is hope.
Alternative health advocates still advise that EBMD need not be a death sentence.
Yes, the return of the working brain is possible, but only by eliminating all reality show programming.
And probably by eliminating all poison pills, as well.
It’s still a free, if much more difficult, country.
Robert F. Kennedy once said that where something is perceived to be wrong in our country, “people should be angry enough to speak out”.
It seems clear that there are fewer American citizens than ever before who dare to “speak out”.
Rather, as in regard to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, those who question the official findings of the Warren Report are routinely marginalized as conspiracy wackos.
On this 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I am reading with great interest the responses of the American people regarding the ongoing debate over whether Oswald was the lone killer of President Kennedy, or what exactly his involvement really was in the killing.
Even though, according to noted forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht, 85% of Americans do not believe the findings of the Warren Report in asserting that Oswald was the lone killer, a great many people are irritated, if not enraged, that there is continued heated discussion and contention expressed about who killed Kennedy on this mournful 50th anniversary.
The psychological need to wrap things up and to delete troubling unanswered questions is a worthy subject to consider.
The ferocious need to throw reasonable unanswered questions into a history bin and be done with it is a curious thing.
We can understand the desire to feel personally safe and secure.
When the temperature of these normal security anxieties overheat, and the media often has a hand in jacking the thermostat up to frighten people, it is understandable that denial becomes an ever more vicious weapon of necessity.
Apparently, this need to not be stirred or deeply psychologically unsettled was the country’s gift to the Warren Commission.
I say this because of the key unanswered questions that political scholars, such as T. Jeremy Gunn, director of research and general counsel on the 1992 Assassination Records Review Board, as well as such respected historians as Gerald McKnight of Hood College, and David Wrone, emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens point, continue to raise.
I certainly have no clue or evidence on this case, but I find the desperation to leave it unquestioned a great fascination of our times.
I was 9 years old on November 22, 1963.
My clearest memory is of watching, live, on real-time television, Jack Ruby killing Lee Oswald.
I could not stop saying that the event was not “real”, by which I meant that I saw the set-up of Ruby’s access to Oswald, as well as the two guards on either side of Oswald positioning their bodies away from Ruby and his gun on Oswald.
Now, that’s a lot to inhale and perceive as a 9 year old.
I was haunted by this.
Yet I have to believe that this dramatic event, in the midst of the main event of the killing of JFK, was gleaned in this same way intuitively by others.
Who knows what this might have generated if people in power had closely sought answers to Oswald’s killing, beyond the apparently rather thin investigation into Jack Ruby, his life, and possible motives and entanglements with the assassination.
Being both cursed and blessed with a non-stop questioning mind, I
remain today filled with fresh questions.
Why are Americans so unwilling to seek clarity about important events that appear to be left unexamined?
Is denial a human defense that has become epidemic in our country?
Is denial the only hope for some to escape the deeply troubled state of terrified unknowing?
Most importantly, why have we stopped questioning and where does this state of unquestioning lead us?
As the tribute screenings unfurl on network television this 22nd of November, let’s see how much time and energy will be spent in the telling of the official lone gunman story.
How many unanswered questions will be presented and honestly pondered in the media coverage on the event of John Kennedy’s death?
Why is it considered wrong to keep questioning an essential American story when the facts are as riddled as Swiss cheese?
Will questioners always be consigned to belonging to a mentally unstable or naïve group of outsiders dismissed with names like “conspiracy theorists”?
Why not respect those people who dare to question and who refuse to be bullied away from healthy truth-seeking?
I can’t help but think about how this wrap-up of the 50-year-old criminal tragedy reflects our current society’s habits of turning away from questioning and demanding the truth from the government right now on so many issues.
Further, how we as a people are distracted to the point of stupidity by celebrity feuds and fashion rather than encouraged to use our brains to think and question.
For those of us obsessed with the freedom that comes from knowing the truth, especially when we are asked to believe a lie, we won’t stop asking questions.
It’s a schitzy time to be an American.
Since 9/11, more and more we have turned away from our individual lives and instead have taken on, in an utterly virtual way, the woes of the world.
With daily visual world news loops of hate and blood, the media has us by the neck, and we can’t let go.
I don’t know about you, but I’m betting those who join me in being a boomer did not have much of an education about the world and the news exterior to America as we grew up.
With the exception of my 5th grade teacher who was obsessed with both Indonesia’s President Sukarno and the historic Suez Canal Crisis, I don’t remember thinking about, or being asked to imagine, the world outside of the United States.
The exception was Vietnam, but my education barely touched the war or that area of the world.
My teachers were specialists. My drama teacher one of the founders of the La Jolla Playhouse; my English teacher a Shakespearean actor.
And on it went, entertainingly.
The academic ambiance was perfect for imagining poetically the infinite possibilities of life and art.
It was as if the bigger world was optional; an elective course of interest and study, for those who found it so.
I’m not saying that this was a good thing, simply that it was a fact and an ambivalent blessing.
Disimilarly, anyone and everyone today who watches the news is in the grip of a mandatory advanced world affairs education.
How are we doing with this?
On the one hand, naturally it can be said that the insularity of the latter midcentury was an unreal, even narcissistic bubble of innocence for a majority of middle and upper class Americans, as for the average American teenager.
Summer days were endless, as were the joyous, creative, nutritionally brilliant bubbles of music pouring out of the transistor radio as my friends and I lay on the warm La Jolla sand.
It seemed that we were all dreaming, as the Mamas and the Papas sang in “California Dreaming”. Dreaming was the main thing to do.
Today, dreaming is a thing of the past, as the media deluges us with footage of daily violence in faraway places, as well as in our own backyards.
This is hard core education, not the stuff of dreams.
Our necks have all been twisted in the direction of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East.
It is important that we know the world.
September 11 was the wake-up smack in the face for Americans; the force of the attack forcing our mental direction to other lands, to matters of violence and hate, to killing and war.
Of course, we cannot turn back the clock to September 10, 2001.
Further, it is right that we learn not only about the world, but also about the true America, far from the sanitized American island of luxury and supposed noble intents for the rest of the world.
Ignorance and the habits of unconcern for the world are not options for the thinking person, although there are plenty of celebrity media headlines to contain and distract the others.
Still, I wonder if we have gone too far; if the distraction of helpless compassion for brutality across the globe has carried us away from our personal lives and feelings.
Is the world too much with us?
The World is Too Much With Us
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15878#sthash.SNnk126S.dpuf
In this age where cyber, mental, and emotional bullying are increasingly popular, how do we respond to all that, rather than automatically following the old social rule of taking the righteous “high road” of silence, as well as taking the “eye for an eye” animal attack response out of the equation
Some of the hard core moral rules for living in our society need updating, such as not speaking up for ourselves and not telling the truth about others when they are abusive bullies.
We need to update ourselves as adults on how to respond to a bully, and we also need to update how we educate children on this matter.
Our social expectations, and the world itself, have so radically changed that the shelf life of wisdom passed down from other eras is expired; many former social rules are now irrelevant and just wrong.
Many factors come into play as to why this is true.
The primary change in our social culture is seen in the level of unquestioned, normalized public expressions of hate and rage.
The entitlement to act out extreme, outrageous anti-social rudeness in public and private, signals a startling shift in society.
So, it is no longer appropriate to stand back and remain “refined” in the old way (even the word “refined” is practically out of circulation). The Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, 1962, definition: “free from vulgarity or coarseness”.
How is this possible today? We are saturated in vulgarity and coarseness; the prime trick is to maintain a rigid personal (emotional) hygiene.
It is no longer sustainable, or superior a stance, to keep hurts and attacks under cover.
What, then, is the healthy response to abuse?
The old adage, “If you have nothing nice to say about someone, don’t say anything”, used to be as basic as bread.
On the other hand, in the words of Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me”.
There is an old idea of propriety resulting in a response of stoic silence to abuse. It is the equivalent of keeping a dangerous secret.
Dangerous for the keepers of the secret, and dangerous for society on the whole.
No matter how you slice it, taking “the high road” of not speaking about emotional abuse is bad medicine.
Remaining silent can be motivated by a slew of wrong-headed beliefs and feelings. It may be the feeling of embarrassment or self-blame about being bullied, or the discomfort and fear in nailing a bully, or even be in play via an internalized app of instant “forgiveness”.
Whatever this silence in the face of abuse is about, it is getting us into psychological trouble—with ourselves.
A heart-breaking example, although not in the same category, are the studies of children who were sexually abused and did not speak to anyone about it.
Self-loathing, even suicide, is a common tragic consequence for that silence.
The silent stance in response to being bullied amounts to giving the bully a free pass to carry on abuse. Believe it or not, one of the reasons people keep the bully’s abuse a secret is that they: a) are conditioned to feel ashamed to be treated that way, and b)feel it is wrong to say something negative about other people!
As with everything in life, each event must be examined case by case for clarity of guidance, but the point is, passivity is not uniformly a good thing.
When confronted by an abusive bully, whose weapons are emotional and not physical, I say, call them out, whenever you find them.
I have spent a huge chunk of my life embracing the mistaken brainwashed teaching of turning the other cheek, sometimes only to be smacked in the head by a mentally ill bully’s future campaign against my reputation.
The truth is that I have been addicted to finding people likeable and loveable.
Therefore, I have at times overlooked to an extreme, in my early personal life, that there was mental illness in people who reached out to me for understanding, and who one day would choose to make me the target!
Pathological liars and bullies deal in dirt.
Their lies, though toxic, are psychotic casseroles made from scratch, which cannot ultimately bake in the constancy of what is obviously true.
This means that if what is being said has no basis in truth about who you are and how you conduct your life, your own everyday being or presence disinfects these lies.
The problem of reputation-smearing is that there are people who are not in close enough proximity to personally witness the truth about the smeared party, as on the internet, and there will always be people who superficially believe a bully.
In the case of being a public figure, there are ways to deal with bullies in the public arena.
Just ask Alec Baldwin, who no matter what, calls out the bully every time.
In both public and private life, bullies are emotionally out-of-control people, spanning all ages, who need to be treated like wild animals who are sick.
I say, expose them, call them out, and step away.
Don’t keep it a secret.
With the exception of being a child with bullying parents, there is power in speech and action.
Standing up against the lies, vocally, publicly, when smears are fresh, is important.
Clearing the record on your own behalf, even in absurd situations, is a much better strategy for dealing with a bully, than is the shame-inducing response of tucking the damaging experience quietly away inside yourself.
Turning the other cheek is a cruel mythology.
Not only does it allow sick people to practice their sickness,
it internalizes helplessness, fear, and insecurities for those who are bullied.
Again, I say, speak up, call the bully on her/his behavior, and cut all ties, when possible.
The single act of calling out the bully is a powerfully self-respectful move that reaps great psychological dividends.
So many people have been taught to not tell the truth about being emotionally abused, and they pay a huge price for this in life and in low self-regard.
To clearly step away from the sick person is vital; to refuse to offer yourself as a whipping post, while acknowledging out loud the abuser, is the act of self-care.
Although the world is a different place than the society we boomers grew up in, the social teachings we were taught in childhood, such as “turning the other cheek” and “rising above” bad behaviors, can still confound us and confuse our actions today.
We do not have to be silent victims of outrageous sick behaviors.
Nor do we have to live lives soiled by acts of revenge and retaliation as a result of being bullied.
Let’s make it a habit to study the old teachings of how to live together in a human society, for there may be shreds of wisdom to retain from the past and carry forth.
For instance, I believe a piece of the high road is still relevant.
It goes like this.
Whenever you encounter a bullying person, you call them out loud for what they do.
You then walk away and stay away from anyone who abuses you.
That’s the new high road.
Friday night on Santa Monica’s popular Main Street, up southbound from Venice Blvd. approaching Pico, a long line of police cars stopping traffic randomly.
Shining a flashlight in the eyes. Asking where you were. Did you have a drink? What was the name of the restaurant?
My understanding is that the police on the streets have the right, and the specific job, of stopping cars when drivers are dangerous.
Protecting the public, right?
My understanding is that this is August 16, 2013, in Santa Monica, California, in America, not August 16, 1939 in Nazi Germany.
Having recently viewed the Woody Allen-supported DVD reissue of “The Sorrow and the Pity”, the story and actual footage of Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II, I was flummoxed to experience, first-hand, a way too familiar scene of corruption and entitled uniformed force of power over innocent citizens in August, 2013, America, innocent drivers in this case. (!)
My understanding, (along with my vivid imagination), is that in America we have rights and privacy provisions for our citizens on the streets, at home, even those coming home from restaurants.
This “understanding” was proved wrong and definitively not the case on this August 16, Friday night in Santa Monica.
Am I missing something? I asked several “cops” what this was all about. “Are you pulling everyone over now?”
One uniformed worker told me, “Only every 3rd car”.
The others deflected my question and muttered, “They have a system”.
Who are they? And what gives them the right to invade anyone’s privacy for any other reason than a clear infraction of the law?
This surely feels like a fascist practice run.
But for what? What’s next? The freedom to grab people after restaurant dinners and demand a recitation of the food they ordered?
How many calories were consumed? What was the ratio of food consumed vs. sips of wine? Did you have dessert? Was it, or was it not, crème brulee?
They’re filming something, I thought, as I approached the uniforms, police cars, and bright lights. Surely it was the filming of a movie, as often happens on the streets of L.A., when there are tall yellow bright lights brought onto the streets and arranged amidst rows of police cars and uniformed men in formation.
But, no, this is not a filming. There is, finally, a flashing sign stating that this is a sobriety checkpoint, this set-up that was visible at 7PM and fully functioning at 9:30PM.
There is no question that when people are dangerous behind the wheel, whether intoxicated or not, it is correct procedure for the police to pull them over.
This was something else. What this was, was an arrogant display of invasion and police force, combined with a suspiciously unconvincing response to the pointed question of what exactly was going on.
In their soggy response, I sensed a rehearsed, minutely shaky resolve in these powerful props, these “police” figures.
It seemed that when questioned, they somehow knew that what they were up to was not precisely up to the law, as we know it.
No backing down, on their part, however, just a whiff of insecurity in their fascist determination, with regard to the unknown and yet-to-be determined response of a random public as they are caught unaware and vulnerable on a Friday night in Santa Monica; trapped by a profound, here-and-now privacy invasion where the invaders are government-sanctioned and armed with guns.
A fascist practice run? I hope not.