Divert your eyes. Not looking at something means it isn’t really there. Or so goes the thinking of big dumb birds.
According to popular legend, when an ostrich spots something unpleasant–such as a hungry tiger charging its way–the bird’s gut instinct is neither to flee nor to fight its impending foe, but to bury its head in the sand.
If 21st century America were a bird, surely we would be an ostrich. With our heads implanted in the soil, its easier to believe what we’re told by the more refined politicians: that our scariest enemies are the wacky Muslims two seas and half a world away.
We’ve discovered in 2007 that the only way to pry ostrich heads from the cold, hard ground in which they hide is to do so gently, gradually, politely. You can’t force them; otherwise their necks will snap and life as they know it will be null and void. Presidential hopeful Mike Gravel is learning this lesson, albeit too late. We as citizens have been appalled not at Gravel’s message, but at how he’s chosen to package it. Confronting the truth is hard enough as it is without having to be jolted back to reality by a grumpy, 77-year-old battle ax scolding, “wake up people!”
So we shun Gravel. We call him insane, we call him rude, we call him pompous, and (with a bit of help from biased pollsters posing as language experts) we even learn to call him funny.
Gravel is furious about what he perceives as corruption within the ranks of his political party–not only because he feels corporate manipulation of a democratic election is morally wrong, but perhaps also because the big businesses that pay for his competitors’ advertisements haven’t given him a dime. Too many people misinterpret Gravel, or are so put off by his passion that they disregard his message altogether.
I continue to struggle with the monumental challenge of convincing people to peak behind the curtain. If some awful conspiracy were taking place at our expense, most people would rather not talk about it. The popular political candidates inevitably are those who comply with corporate interests. The main political battle has less to do with Democrats vs. Republicans than it does with People vs. Corporations. We have fallen into a political atmosphere of spectatorship, led there–ironically–by the once radical Baby Boomers who today fall uncritically in line.