Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mad As Hell!

Peter Finch as newsreader Howard Beale in the movie Network, for which he won a posthumous Best Actor Oscar

Like many of my gender, I used to be an angry young man. In my more mellow middle years, I am generally not an angry man anymore. I find contentment and fulfillment in my personal life, my relationship with family and community, my readings, musings, listenings and explorings, my doings growing and selling organic food.

However, when I read of the increasing corporate and government control of things dear to me – food, liberty, nature, health, peace and quiet, income, due process, human rights – it becomes easy to slip back into a bewildered quiet rage and shake my head at the folly and meanness of those that lead so many into fear, depression, anxiety, panic, resignation, complicity. On the food front alone, our leaders turn a blind eye to enormous threats to our welfare: GMOs whose effects on human health have not been independently assessed receive easy approval of infiltration into the foodchain; wild salmon populations are jeopardized by lack of monitoring and regulation of fish farms; confined factory farming continues unchecked; corporations like Monsanto are granted immunity from prosecution; bees continue to be killed off by neonicotinoids and other pesticides; glyphosate and other chemicals, toxins and heavy metals continue to work their way into the water supply creating severe health hazards for humans, amphibians, birds, wildlife…

It becomes easy to sympathize with the television newscaster Howard Beale in the film Network, played by my namesake Peter Finch as he loses it:

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s no one anywhere that seems to know what to do with us. Now into it. We know the air is unfit to breathe, our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had 15 homicides and 63 violent crimes as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in a house as slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster, and TV, and my steel belted radials and I won’t say anything.” Well I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad. I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crying in the streets. All I know is first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, “I’m a human being. God Dammit, my life has value.” So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” I want you to get up right now. Get up. Go to your windows, open your windows, and stick your head out, and yell, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Things have got to change my friends. You’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”