There is no Escape

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

Every  once in a while we try to escape to one of those rare, childlike,  stay-in-your-pajama’s, popcorn-munching days when we can block out the fear of a  collapsing economy and hide from a repulsive culture that seems to embrace  everything that is bad. Lately it just doesn’t work.

Settling  in for an original “Star Trek” TV series episode  called “A Piece of the Action,” I was shocked as it seemed more like a mocking  commentary on our current crises.Searching  for a space vessel lost 100 years earlier, the crew of the USS Enterprise arrives on the planet Sigma Iotia II. The planet has been  “contaminated” after salvaging a book from the lost vessel called Chicago  Mobs of the Twenties; a book they now venerate and base their civilization  on. Conventional government had broken down and society was now a tumult of mob  bosses, crime, death, and revenge; it could operate no other way. One can’t help  but think what an appropriate Rahm Emmanuel/Barack Obama scenario it was; similar to when Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals contaminated our own civilization.”One  book on the gangs of Chicago did all this?” Bones asks. “They evidently seized  upon that one book as a blueprint for an entire society,” Spock replies. “This  society must become united, or it will degenerate into total anarchy.” What  happened next astounded me as I crunched my popcorn. Someone asks Spock to “find  a solution on the sociological computer.” After running it through the beeping fictional machine he  replies, “it’s futile…there is no record of such a culture based on a moral  inversion.” Just as I thought. When asked if he were giving up he replied “No…  I’m merely saying the computers can offer us no logical, rational, factual way  out of our current dilemma.” Instead of escaping, I was painfully flung back to  reality all the way from another galaxy.Perhaps  some music will help. I turned to Camelot, a musical adapted to screen  in 1967 which I’ve watched many times. This time though, King Arthur and Camelot  are America, and their illegitimate son, Mordred (who I am now imagining as a  smaller, but just as thin and arrogant Barack Obama), suddenly arrives on the  scene, bitter at his own childhood abandonment and bent on revenge.  “Revenge, the most worthless of causes,” King Arthur laments. Mordred has come  to spoil English democracy and laws by finding Camelot’s weakest link and  collapsing it from within. He is successful and they ultimately spiral into  civil war and the death of the Round Table. Camelot is no more. No escapism  there, it doesn’t even seem fictional anymore.

Now  I turn to the old BBC TV series, “As Time Goes By” starring Judi  Dench as Jean and Geoffrey Palmer as Lionel; a widow and a  divorcee who rekindle their long lost romance. Jean and Lionel are at a party with a much younger crowd. “They  all look 12 years old,” Lionel quips. Jean is left alone to mingle for a bit and  is approached by a talkative young woman who banters on, eventually asking Jean  “Does one breed or not?” “It’s such a responsibility,” Jean answers, “…finding  homes for the puppies.” The woman then informs her she is talking about kids not  puppies. “There is so much to think about isn’t there?” the woman opines,  “breast feeding, global warming… school fees, the rain forests, genetic  engineering… I’m green you see, that’s  half the problem. It makes you feel good about yourself but it can be awfully  depressing. I mean, what does the green child have to look forward to?” Lionel  walks up and dryly responds, “blending in nicely with the lawn I should think.”  The original air date on the episode: 1992. I guess it should have been no  surprise considering the United Kingdom had one of the earliest Green Parties in  the world and a Manifesto for a Sustainable Society as early as the 1970’s. If  art reflects life, then young Briton’s in the early ’90’s were already so  entrenched in the “green” culture, it’s no wonder that decades later “green” has  wrestled the world to the mat with a victorious pin.

I  decided to turn on the radio where Pink Floyd were singing their refrain, “Hey  teachers! Leave them kids alone!” While I’m sure it wasn’t lyricist Roger Waters  intention, I couldn’t help but think, “what does the green child have to look  forward too? They’ve been brainwashed by teachers and parents for decades.” I  sighed and turned off the radio.

I  decided to try a musty old book I’d recently acquired titled, Helen  of the Old House, by Harold Bell Wright. With a copyright of 1921, I  expected a quaint story about days gone by. Instead I got a dynamic story for  our times outlining the influx of Communist/Socialist agitators across America  after the end of the First World War. Labor union violence was turning formerly  peaceful towns into riot scenes. Simultaneously, corporate greed, selfishness, and exploitation of workers  for profit is dealt with head on as a perversion of Capitalism in a Christian  country. The main agitator at one point declares:

The American people, they are asleep. They have  drugged themselves with their own talk of how safe and strong and prosperous  they are. Bah! There is no people so easy to fool. They think we strike for  recognition of some union, or that it is for higher wages, or some other local  grievance. Bah! We use for an excuse anything that will give us a hold on the  labor class.

It  is as if the book were written in 2012. Like something from the Occupy Wall  Street movement, he continues:

…then, comrade, you shall see what will happen to  your capitalist vultures and your employer swine, who have so long grown fat on  the strength of the working class.

Wright  finishes his description of the agitator by writing:

A moment longer he stood as if lost in the  contemplation of the glory of that day, when, in the triumph of his leadership,  the people of the nation he so despised and hated would rise in bloody  revolution against their own government and accept in its stead the dictatorship  of lawless aliens who profess allegiance to no one but their own godless selves.

Helen  of the Old House is long-lost required reading for all Americans. While I  did not find the diversions I longed for, I found instead prophetic warnings  passed to us from the most unlikely and least obvious sources. “Escape” will  have to wait another day.


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