We are already dead

This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people. This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this. I could have gotten one more person… and I didn’t! And I… I didn’t!

Face it: we’re already at fascism. If America descends further into totalitarianism, will I feel I had done enough to prevent it, or will I be like Oskar Schindler at the end of Schindler’s List, who lamented the inadequacy of his efforts even though he did more than most?

In steeling soldiers for battle, military commanders sometimes use the time-honored psych-out of convincing the troops they’re already dead. These officers know that when soldiers believe they’re already dead, even metaphorically, it helps them shed a measure of caution that can be deadly in combat — if not to the individual, then certainly to the unit. If you’re already dead, you needn’t fear death. Sometimes this psych-out is accompanied by the assertion that one may earn back one’s life only by proving one’s valor on the battlefield and crushing the enemy.

With too few exceptions, our leaders today in politics, business, and the media are fearful soldiers who do not realize we are already dead, fighting (if they fight at all) as if they still have something to protect, as if a degree of moderation will somehow avoid total disaster. Well they don’t, and it won’t. There is no cautious route to survival through this landscape. Their half-measures will avail no one. They will end in a gulag (as some of this evil regime’s political enemies already have), broken physically by their pitiless captors and psychologically by the knowledge that, when they could have done more, they didn’t.

I fret, I vote, and I write — in blogs, to my elected representatives, in letters to the editor. But I’m polite. I don’t burden others with my politics unasked. I don’t harangue my apathetic friends and family. I don’t demand action from everyone I know. I know how busy they are with important things. Things that seem important.

Is it too late to put on the brakes? Are we still sliding down the slippery slope of this well-worn historical path or have we already sailed off the precipice into thin air? And if we’re doomed to plummet all the way to the dismal bottom of this madness, will I be able to say I did all I could? Or will I be muttering in some windowless cell, “I could have passed out flyers. I ate out too much — why didn’t I donate more? I could have called some voters. I could have knocked on doors. I could have volunteered for a campaign. I could have run for office… and I didn’t. And I… I didn’t!”

We are already dead. Might as well act like it’s not too late. We have nothing to lose, it’s all already lost. Might as well fight like hell without fear. Fight to earn back our lives.

Cross-posted at http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/9/25/25627/9133.

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