Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
The moral:It doesn’t matter if you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running
Oft quoted, but little thought is put into the fact that humans are not either lion – predator needing a constant stream of victims, nor bovid ruminating gazelles – which while I have seen many a bovid at the local Walmart is untrue since our eyes are fast in front of our skulls. Our collective fantasy, our dreamland, is that we have to run, and that this running is constant, needed, and as natural as…. well…. whatever nature may look like since we don’t remember that dream….
For those of us who dream we are the lion? We make every day ROI. We take life by the horns. We speculate, we gamble, we take high stakes risks, and to try to get a piece of the pie…. someone’s pie. The lion is here for your pie. For those of us who dream we are the gazelle? We know if we rest (two-week vacation with the phone off), get sick (with or without health care), or enjoy a single pasture because we know the landscape and want to remain for the bounty we find there – we are killed off. We fail to innovate, the lion gets us. If we innovate, we need not be the gazelle or can transform from the gazelle into a… uh, killer gazelle and kill as many dumb grass eaters as we please. In our mind, we believe this is natural. Innovation is natural. Competition is natural. It doesn’t matter than from c-section birth to embalmed death, nothing about the human condition is natural.
Today’s culture is obsessed with innovation and with competition. And with zombies. And with innovative zombies competing to eat brains. And we are told to be more corporate, to be professional, to get up early and run, even if while running we are not entirely sure if we’re chasing or being chased. And whether by zombies, credit cards, bank mortgages, fees, parking tickets, taxes, or small business regulations. As more of us watch as our friends are eaten (unemployment, foreclosure, dithering lives as dog walkers) some of us are realizing that try as we may to be the chaser, we are actually the chasee. Also,our innovation and competition seem to be leaving us disassociated and dislocated and having that not-so-natural feeling in the morning. True, humans are meat eaters (dispite what vegetarians claim), however, humans are also fiber-eating foragers (despite what meatatarians claim). It is this balance of diet that made us settle down and invent community while exclusive diet creatures continue the Mother Nature’s harmonious cycle of painful suffering, privation and fear, and being torn apart by wolves. -To sustain both harvest and hunt, we then needed not run, but to cooperate as we required both grain/fiber and flesh to survive. And who can plant while running? And innovation? We’ve substituted the patient experimentation and dedication of the craftsman for … well… making shit up while we run along. How much better are things constructed these days due to all this innovation? There are barns without roofs that will outlast condominiums built a decade ago. “Do you want a service plan on those speakers for two years” the girl behind the counter asks. “I won’t even remember where I bought this shit in two years” the consumer answers knowing fully well that in two years, speakers not yet invented – but which can transmit Deadmau5 directly into his mind – will be invented and the current speakers will be transferred to the landfill… I mean, the transfer station where it will be innovated into… speakers buried under dirt. And the new speakers? After winning the Lotto? Affordable.
Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
This last statement seems strange. Perhaps communist. However, the Founding Fathers, saw Liberty not in hyper-consumer-individualism-identitymongering, but in individuals cooperating. Barn-raising and the Commonweal of the village green are alien institutions seen more on cookie tins than our lived experience. Running in fear of starvation or the terror of being eaten alive are taught by our institutions – corporate media, schools, and our “thinkers” who tell us that we have “my media” “my internet” (complete with tattoos of corporate logos it seems) and that the consumer is uber alles. Our Americapitalism is as foreign to our shores as theocracy and this “capitalism” and “free market” we practice are not those of our Adam Smiths’ but are survivalist violent and vulgar and operates in hook, talon, tooth and claw as we Road Rage to work and home again. The dream of Social Darwinism gave us Eugenics, gave us Euthenics, and kinda’ the Holocaust – it is some conversation as to what this will do in the mix of the American Experiment.
In our dreamland we have suffered a terrible meme (I know, you haven’t read that word since 1999 as it has been replaced by paradigm/ paradigm shift). This idea of our new and uncooperative land has spread like a social contagion and a new corporatism being passed on like a page out of 28 Days Later. This idea was implanted in us. Like the team of dreamers who delve into the psyche of one man in order to convince him to break up another man… well, a natural person, that is, a corporation – we too have had this same team get inside our spirits and plant a life-changing idea. This idea is so deep that we defend this concept at the slightest provocation because this part of our identity – or more likely an aspect of our natural bodies – that the thought of touching it is similar to considering cutting off/ carving out our genitals. The idea is that we can be rich. We can win. We are the lion. This is strange. Because, as the team of dreamers lied to get their own profits, we too have been lied to. We are increasingly the gazelle. And sick ones at that.
Our idea of freedom so tainted by an inception that was placed inside a dream within a dream we cannot think otherwise. We wish for Wall Street because we think the markets work according to rules and correct themselves and that any “fat finger” placed on the roulette wheel that brings it to a crashing halt was an anomaly rather than the curtain torn down from the Great Oz’s sideshow. We passively think that the market must allow for the government to lend money to banks at close to zero interest only to have the banks lend the money back to the tax payers at interest. That public funded education feeds into private for-profit college, or so students can take private loans – or worse, government backed loans. That subsidies to corporations will trickle down to Main Street. That tax breaks for the rich stimulate the economy more than unemployment benefits. That huge defense spending keeps this nation safe. That outsourcing, “free trade” agreements, or subcontracting critical elements of our infrastructure or wars is a good idea.
Is it this deep inception that keeps us from making the connection between the longest war in United States history and the profits corporations have seen from the most outsourced war? The profits corporations have seen from the largest prison population in United States history? From immigration being a cause celebre among the politicos yet encouraged by corporations who seek to increase the cheep labour pool and to discourage American workers from retaining their high level of on-the-job safety and compensation?
The team must have dug deep into our minds. They must have caused a dream within a dream within a dream – perhaps even two more down to get us to this level. When was the last time we discussed a film without exclaiming, “Dude, I heard [film] made [X(2)] millions this weekend.” In our dream. We thought of that film. This weekend, we dream we’ll make [X(2)] millions. Or is this a dream? Should we jump? Or give the roulette wheel another spin? Lord knows we need to get some sleep. For some reason we can’t place our finger on. We need to get up tomorrow and run. And while we bound down the path burping up our cud, we all dream we’re the lion.