That Way Madness Lies


by Roxanne Tellier

I had really hoped that taking a week off for a ‘mental health break’ would allow me to come back to the column with a fresh, breezy attitude, and a determination to sort through complicated ideas with ease and élan. 

Didn’t happen. I’ll probably need way more than a week to get from here to there. I’m dealing with a ton of bits and pieces of life, some parts being more digestible than others. Nothing to see here, folks, move along – it’s just the stuff that life is made of.

That’s what being a human is about. At any given moment, every one of us is processing what’s going on in and around our lives, and somehow still managing to put one foot in front of the next to get through the days. We give very little thought to all the kinetic activity that surrounds us daily. We balance the input and output of our own minds as we perambulate through our days.

In life, and in general, we are more inclined to favour solutions that cater to our own wants and needs. That doesn’t always sit well with those in positions of power; the powerful also want what they want, and they are more likely to land up in situations where that is exactly what they’ll get.

When we’re in our peak adult years, dealing with finding love, growing our families, and focusing on bringing in enough income to pay for our needs, we usually don’t have a lot of time or headspace for worrying about external events. These are years in which we eschew too much philosophy, or follow much politics, favoring expediency over worrying too far ahead into the future.

It’s understandable that most people are too busy getting through their lives to worry about what can feel like abstract questions, compared to quotidian details. The cynical will say that we have always been pawns in a larger game, and that we are all victims of the lies of politicians and the powerful, therefore, complaint is pointless.

I have always had issues with situations that feel unfair, that slant towards the rich and powerful, and that leave the poorer and more vulnerable unprotected.  But now the situations are more alarming, more encompassing, and contain more potential for long term disaster than ever before.

I can’t go for that. No can do.  I’m a human being, and whether I like it or not, my life is impacted by political decisions. And my kids and grandkids, who will be around long after I’m gone, deserve a better planet than the one I’m currently poised to bequeath them.

Take human-caused global warming, for instance. This is settled science. There is no further need for debate; deliberation, in this case, is being used as a stall tactic, by those who profit from fossil fuels. We need to prioritize clean air and water, for ourselves and for our heirs. We cannot allow foot dragging and obstruction.   

The public health crisis caused by COVID-19 is not faked, a conspiracy, or a ‘false flag.’ It is a very real pandemic ripping through the fragile bodies of people all over the globe, that has killed over 5 million people, and ruined the future health of millions more.  There can be no excuse for failing to join in the fight against this virus.

The trial of a 17-year-old boy whose mother drove him over state lines, carrying an AR-15 that he was not legally allowed to own, and whose actions set into motion the death of two people and the near mortal harm of another, should have been a no-brainer for anyone with a shred of common sense; the deaths would not have happened had the boy not entered the picture. Yet, he will likely go free with a slap on the wrist, and a hero’s welcome from the Second Amendment brigade.

Meanwhile, had he not been white, he’d likely not even have made it home from that fateful encounter. This is more about race than it is about guns, but those with their own priorities have highjacked the case.

Hysterical reportage from the U.S. has decried a shortage of people needed for low paid, low benefit, positions. These are often the same jobs that just last year, at the height of the pandemic, were considered ‘essential.’ Not essential enough to merit a living wage, but ….

Yet studies have shown that there are many seeking employment, but not being hired. And one study showed that the assertion of a truck driver shortage was untrue; there’s tons of able, licensed, drivers. It’s just that those drivers are unwilling to play by the same unfair rules and pay scales that were commonplace pre-pandemic.

Turns out there’s lots of people looking for jobs, but the jobseekers are as capitalistic as the potential employers; they know about supply and demand. You need supply – they’re making demands.

In the early months of 2020, when the pandemic first hit the planet, the cost of energy was down. People were working from home, and offices and factories were often closed or idle. The roads and airports were empty, and gas prices were low. As the economy slowly gears back up, the price of gas is on the rise. That’s not attributable to presidents or prime ministers. It’s a global phenomenon that should have been expected, had we been paying attention. 

Donald Trump’s Big Lie is the fabricated conspiracy of a poor loser, bolstered by the seditious and treasonous in his cult who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. And yet there are many, even sitting in the halls of Congress, who deny Biden’s election win, and who plot to overthrow the legitimately elected POTUS. Democrats need to put some bite into their investigation into what was most definitely a coup, planned by the former president and his minions.

Far too much of what passes for terrestrial news, over the last five years or more, has been crippled with misinformation, lies, and even deliberately manufactured counterpoints to reality. That’s not what ‘news’ is supposed to do; news is meant to simply illustrate important events and to warn the viewer about events, financial issues, traffic issues, or weather that might impact their daily lives. Instead, the news has been commercialized, and is now partisan.

That is simply not fair, or right. The average person makes dozens of miniature decisions during even the most boring day. Asking that same person to now ‘do the research’ and parse out a dozen different possibilities to determine the veracity of what they are being told is simply asking too much. The news is not supposed to be political. Ain’t nobody got that kind of time.

Live long enough, and you’ll see everything, they say. I know I would never have dreamed that there would come a time when people in power would play quite so fast and loose with the truth. When Sean Spicer’s vehemently insisted that trump’s inaugural drew more lookyloos than Obama’s, we laughed. When U.S. Counselor to the President, KellyAnne Conway, used the phrase ‘alternative facts’ to defend Spicer’s lies, we crept a little closer to madness. And on almost every day in the four years of trump’s presidency, we were bombarded with more lies, more misinformation, more deliberate manipulation in the truth, culminating with a criminal disregard of the safety of the U.S. citizens trump had sworn to defend and protect when he took the oath on that very inauguration.

He’s been gone a year, and he’s STILL lying. No one should have been surprised that trump lied about having won the presidential election; he’d primed millions of his supporters to believe exactly that, since he won the first election, and somehow whined about that. He taught his cult to ignore what they saw with their own eyes or heard with their own ears, and to only respond to what he and his minions told them was real, and he very nearly succeeded in a treasonous coup to overthrow a free and fair election.

In order for trump, his family, and his defenders to survive and thrive, they needed to alter how people perceived reality, and to pervert justice. They did both of these things very well, and continue to manipulate the rule of law to their benefits in 2021.  

Each of us, no matter where we are, or where we live, wakes up every morning and deals with all the machinations of the day. It’s asking too much of us that we also contend with an altered universe where things may or may not be as they seem, where we are manipulated into believing whatever works to benefit the rich and powerful is good and necessary, while our children’s and grandchildren’s futures are being gambled away for the temporary gain of the few.

We have to learn from the past. We have to see that manipulating reality, and demanding the wholesale swallowing of lies are the tools of those that seek to destroy democracy. We cannot allow our human rights to be perverted for the benefit of the few.

It’s simply too much to ask. And that way, madness lies.

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