I thought back on how a very powerful elected representative from Kansas rationalized the taking of human life being compared to the killing of pigs. He later called his statement “a joke” during formal testimony before an Appropriations Committee hearing.
It knocked me back to a time when my own mother was abused by local growers. She picked strawberries to support her little family.
Picking strawberries. That sounds so simple, funny, idyllic and childlike, doesn’t it?
Do you know just how hot it can get up here in a Shasta County summer? While you may wisely repair to your air-conditioned life support system, your giant flat-screen TV and an icy-cool cocktail, the migrant farm workers repeatedly genuflect and kneel in our fields to a minimum wage, higher power, never complaining about the maximum heat for fear of losing their jobs. They are powerless to do much else than hurry the crop, deny the thirst and the pain. Not too funny.
Go back in time yourself for a minute: Maybe someone caused you some temporary anger and indignation once. Can you still taste the bitterness of someone secreting salt into your coffee? And even more shocking to you might have been what moved the responsible scoundrel to instantly seek sanctuary behind the old, uncaring staple, “Oh come on! It was only a joke… lighten up!”
Maybe you can go deeper into your past, remembering a public embarrassment at the hands of a classmate or sibling who cowardly retreated under the same cloak of, “Come on, don’t tell. It was just a joke!” No matter how “funny” others may find it, some jokes can be carried too far and the barbs can hurt us for a lifetime.
In case you’ve been distracted by your PS-3’s, higher gas prices, X-Boxes, higher food prices, satellite TVs and higher priced fees and fines, legislators this session are considering several controversial bills that supporters say will decrease illegal immigrants from invading our country.
So while the frequency of fear and hate reaches our numbed senses we may find ourselves under a heightened alert. While deeply un-American and improper the incoming “jokes,” they seemed painfully plentiful before Cesar Chavez Day.
With seemingly Machiavellian calculation, the dehumanizing anti-union, anti-NPR, anti-Net-Neutrality, anti-NEA and anti-people-of-color-bashing going on all around our children is clearly to me for the soulless sake of profit and prestige. I think the collaterally incessant, vitriolic press sets a voracious and ominous model for our children to carry. Are we that easily exploitable? Are we just tax-cattle? Are we eventually going to just gobble ourselves up?
I taught and modeled for my kids, there is never a “right-way” to do a wrong thing.”
Others may teach and model, "If it doesn't harm MY family, then, it's okay..." or, “Shut up! I can quit smoking and drinking anytime I want!”
It is frankly scaring the "Shitaki mushrooms" out of me to also witness what seems to be a predacious and assertive attack on the under-educated American poor, middle-class and the marginalized migrant workers by some unscrupulous corporate, judicial, political interests and ambitious media outlets.
Now, that's not to say all rich people or judges all have bad behavior, for example:
With only about 400 of our fellow Americans over-stuffing themselves with over half our national wealth tells me there may be some other problem makers in our midst who are not nasty, dirty, job-stealing illegal immigrants.
Anti-union campaigns are a-mix with hate-filled gabble about illegal immigrants stealing jobs from Americans. Conservative talk-shows issue a frequency of hate-filled, dehumanizing comments about unions, immigrants, democrats and teachers as the real enemies of America. Just examine the media and public relations thrusts the Koch Brothers (pronounced “Coke”) are funding.
We see that tax payers just bailed out Wall Street and the big banks, yet we see them all enjoying record profits and executive compensation, perks and bonuses skyrocketing.
The Big Corporate Growers from the '60s and '70s preyed on the poverty and ignorance of Mexicans and actually brought in illegal immigrants to try and bust the unionization bravely fostered by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. That's not what America is supposed to be about. There is plenty of money to go around ... and plenty of corporations rationalizing their Machiavellian and calculated methods for acquiring more and more of it without regard for the harm done: That could be called sociopathy. Are there more crooks in the suites than are on our streets?
Look at this from Publishing Giant, GANNETT (USA Today) in 2010 alone:
Chairman, President and CEO: Douglas H. McCorkindale
Total Cash: $4,050,000.00
Total Compensation: $20,669,885.00
President, Newspaper Division: Gary L. Watson
Total Cash: $1,475,000.00
Total Compensation: $5,250,833.00
President and CEO, Broadcasting Division: Craig A. Dubow
Total Cash: $900,000.00
Total Compensation: $3,600,689.00
President and CEO, Newsquest Media Group: Paul Davidson
Total Cash: $975,780.00
Total Compensation: $3,526,641.00
Chief Administrative Officer: Thomas L. Chapple
Total Cash: $750,000.00
Total Compensation: $2,944,619.00
That’s five people making $ 35,992,667.00 dollars per year. I wonder how much a reporter gets?
I guess what I am saying is, that we are in an alarming cultural mutation where people are acting-out in poor examples of the very tyranny, greed – corporate or otherwise – of what America was supposed to be against. What Jesus himself was written to be about when he confronted the “Money Changers”.
We are all capable of so much better. I believe there are three kinds of Americans:
1.) Many who are good, empathetic beings who seek peaceful solutions.
2.) A minority of people who are part of our problems.
3.) And, a majority whom appear lulled into corporate-crafted, convenience-oriented-comforts, who are numbingly comfy just being a part of the landscape.
The lot of the sociopathic insurance companies, Wall-Streeters, banks, satellite TV companies, phone companies, big box merchants, judges, lawyers, politicians, spin-media and big corporations... Guess what? They bank on you … being number three. Actuarially.
In America today, there are more television and computer screens per household than bathtubs. That statistic truly concerns me. We may have more American brains being washed than bodies.
Alan Ernesto Phillips is a proud son of Shasta County, a proud father of two daughters, and a local musician. He is a parenting educator, chemical-dependency counselor, victim-awareness counselor and developmental-asset builder and trainer. He also is a Clio and Telly award-winning filmmaker who produced and directed political campaigns for congressmen, senators, governors and one president (Ronald Reagan). His clients also included Coca-Cola, NIKE, CBS News and NOVA documentaries. He is a current board member and public affairs officer for the Northern California Hispanic Latino Coalition.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.