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  Art For All PeopleŽ    We Talk Contemporary Art    April 2017
THE ENEMY WITHIN

We’re living during a time when nearly everyone seems to believe in outside threats.

You know, you’re walking down the street or worse yet, sitting alone in your lovely, quiet home when suddenly, you see the boogeyman wearing a dark mask and clothing … slowly lurking around you.  You’re not sure what he could possibly want because hey, you’re barely paying your bills, your life is holding on by a single thread and practically everything you own has come from a garage sale, so what the hell?  You’re not Warren Buffet.  You’ve barely got a pot to piss in.

But there he is, looking right at you, wanting everything you’ve got ... including YOU.  Needless to say, you’re wetting your pants.

Look … we all live in the actual world where this scenario is possible. When you consider Hollywood horror films where everyone is a victim about to get whacked and then throw in all of the crime that’s reported on your local news, plus you hear about cyber breaches and witness the results of heinous terrorist acts in the world, well, it’s no wonder everyone is walking around feeling like victims in waiting.

Plus … you must factor in our seeming obsession with crime.  I mean, look at all of the crime shows on TV.  “CSI” isn’t just a television show.  It’s a big-money franchise.  The same goes for “Law and Order” and dozens of other television crime shows and franchises – including some shows on PBS for God’s sake.

Then … throw in commercials about home security companies and crafty devices that promise to keep “you and your family safe” while you’re sleeping at night and government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration and your local police department and more and more jails being built and so on ...    

Well … it seems like “all crime all of the time.”  Doesn’t it?  Did you realize that crime is BIG BUSINESS?  Lots of people are profiting from crime and perceptions of crime and guess what?  It’s often NOT the criminals.

Crime rates rise and fall.  Tragedies DO happen and yes, there are security breaches and we SHOULD always be aware of our surroundings and be on guard for any unusual activity and report these things to our authorities.  God bless the authorities.  They’re usually overworked and underpaid.  We NEED them.

But here’s the thing…

Most of us are going to live perfectly safe lives, free of lurking, outside threats.  Yes, crime and terrorism and security breaches are indeed happening more frequently, BUT they remain aberrations. 

NO ONE is coming after YOU.  In fact, no one is even thinking about YOU, let alone targeting you for some act of ill will.  Truth be told, I’m more concerned about …

THE ENEMY WITHIN.

During my career as a journalist, I’ve covered many, many stories about companies, government institutions, politicians, celebrities and everyday people.  And I must say that usually when they’re in crisis, it’s NOT because of some “outside threat” that has targeted them.  I’d say that 80% of the time, it’s attributable to something they themselves have done.

Usually these stories are about some company that’s in financial turmoil and they’re laying off workers or their CEO did something shady or the government entity didn’t follow proper procedure or the politician got caught with either a “live boy or dead girl” or celebrities are getting into fights with whomever at some club or everyday people are getting busted for drugs or DUI … you get the picture.

There is no bigger threat than the enemy within. I think that if we did a better job of “policing ourselves,” we’d make the jobs of law enforcement people much easier.

Our nation lost the “War on Drugs” decades ago.  These days, people actually WANT pot, cocaine, meth and whatever else is out there for them to consume in large quantities.  I think the latest figures show that more than 80% of all illegal drugs in the world are consumed right here in America ...

We’re drinking huge quantities of alcohol and eating fast food like there’s no tomorrow … we’re currently experiencing an obesity epidemic and sharp rise in diseases associated with it.  This includes heart disease, diabetes and other health issues ...

We’re gambling away more and more of our money as more cities build casinos in an alleged attempt to generate more revenue for their struggling economies …

We’re watching on average upwards of six to seven hours a day of television and we’re blasting our ear drums out with those ear buds that so many of us are wearing …

We’re texting WHILE we’re driving … even in high traffic jams … and many of us are still smoking despite the Surgeon General’s constant warnings …

We’re constantly playing video games and our addiction to hand-held devices is causing us to substitute technology for true education …

Look … I could go on and on.  And believe me you, I’m just as guilty as the next person, so don’t think I’m on some high horse here.  Yet my point is that at some point, we’ve got to develop some semblance of self-awareness.

There’s no boogeyman out there coming after us.  The boogeyman has his own problems.  He is NOT thinking about YOU.  Not everything is about YOU.

I say that the biggest enemy we’ve got remains the enemy within.  We are doing ourselves more harm on a daily basis than any boogeyman could or even cares to.

All terrorists need to do is sit back and watch our reality show.  We’re doing more harm to ourselves than they ever could.  Yes, they can hurt us and attack us physically and mainly, psychologically, but they cannot harm us like we’re hurting ourselves.  Right now, we’re doing a bang up job of it. Pun intended.  Sorry.

We are more politically divided than ever.  All the boogeyman needs to do is sit back with his feet up, chomp on popcorn and watch us implode.  We’re destroying ourselves.  At the end of the game, he can swoop in and collect the spoils.  Whatever remains anyway. 

I hate to be a downer, but this one has been floating around in my head – literally for years.  I’m glad that I’m finally forming the words and chatting with you about it.

It just seems to me that if we truly want to be safe and happy, we’d treat ourselves and each other with a little more respect.  Hedonism seems like fun, but it’s actually hurting us along the way - and in the end.  Hedonism is hell on wheels. It always takes us to extremes.

We deserve better.  We’ve GOT to give the enemy within a major smackdown.

I’m telling you, yes, we’ve seen him many times and … the boogeyman is US.

 

 

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