by joe courter
Welcome to 2013. Once again, the media fell for and/or promoted apocalyptic crackpottery. There was the “harmonic convergence” in the ‘90s, Y2K fearmongering at the turn of the century, and then the recent Mayan calendar hype on 12/21/12. And through it all, life goes on. Hysteria sells newspapers, and it makes for simplified stories not encumbered by complexity and, well, scientifically based facts.
This is especially true with regard to climate change. The deniers keep getting a place at the table, thanks to their corporate sponsors and a refusal to “take sides” by the media. Sometimes side-taking is needed, because not all belief systems are true, no matter how sincerely felt or how widespread they are held!
With racism, sexism, homophobia – progress is happening worldwide on these topics; of course, not without reactionary holdouts. But these issues are resisted by dogmatic religionists mostly. The belief systems that deal with economics and corporate interests, they are supported by huge, wealthy public relations machines, “think tanks” and media outlets committed to opposing anything that infringes on their “free market” ideology. Thankfully, their mountains of money were rejected by voters, and we don’t have a President Romney as we move into the coming years.
But that is not to say the battles are over. This month marks 40 years since abortion was made legal by Roe v. Wade, yet that right of women to control their bodies is constantly being chipped away at. There is the unquestioned, gigantic part of our national economy swallowed up by the military-industrial complex. And the dumbing down of our education system coupled with the social breakdown of our culture as more and more crap media seduce people to lose their compassion and solidarity with their fellow humans are as much to blame for the gun violence of recent years as the weapons themselves.
People live lives that don’t give them purpose and meaning, and even if their economic situation is good, life can still feel empty. From violent video games to the seemingly innocuous “funniest home videos” where we laugh at other people’s pain, the sense of community that makes us human is weakened and atrophies.
Give up? Hell no. I am proud to live in a town where we fight back, where the past decades have seen real progress in the quality of life. Could it be better? Sure, always, but we need to support and enjoy what we’ve built here. Strong independent businesses, parks and bike lanes, a rich music and arts scene, multiple farmers markets, and elected officials who actually give a damn (despite the rather crudely handled meal limit issue, and the well intended but “mistakes were made” biomass plant saga).
I get thanked a lot for “what I do in the community,” but without this community, we would not have what we’ve got, and I would not be who I am. Thank you, Gainesville; let’s keep making it better.