Monday, November 3, 2008

Bucket-head Nation

I have new vision of the United States. I call it "Bucket-head Nation." My inspiration came from a humorous scene in Werner Herzog's latest film, Encounters at the End of the World. The scene portrays students in an Antarctic survival class wearing buckets on their heads to simulate the zero-visibility, white-noise conditions of the Antarctic tundra. The leader of the bucket-heads had the objective of leading the other bucket-heads to a location specified by the instructor. They failed this task twice because the leader of the bucket-heads misguided them. The scene ends with a shot of the disgruntled bucket-heads in a confused, clustered entanglement. Sound familiar?

Lately I've been having recurring conversations about the bucket-head nation. I had a conversation the other day with a good friend, who admitted that he wasn't registered to vote because the United States government and everything that spawns from it does not affect him. This is the bucket-head dilemma. People tune out of what's really going on in their neighborhood, in their community, in their city, in their state, in the United States, and in the world. The mentality is this: "What goes on doesn't affect me, and I can't affect anything as an individual." I am devastated to realize the bucket-head mentality is ubiquitous. The bucket-heads are my peers, my friends, my professors, and my family. I am a bucket-head, and you are a bucket-head.

When you deny the homeless man down the street of your spare change, you are a bucket-head. I am a bucket-head.

When you drive your car a distance you could ride a bicycle, you are a bucket-head. I am a bucket-head.

When you buy cheap products, regardless of their sources or their manufacturers, you are a bucket-head. I am a bucket-head.

When you relinquish the right to vote or to become an activist, because you think you can't change anything, you are a bucket-head. I am a bucket-head.

When you continue to support corporations and governmental leaders that have created our devastating economic crisis, you are a bucket-head. I am a bucket-head.

When you support a war, declared with falsehoods, that has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians, you are a bucket-head. I am a bucket-head.

Why are there so many bucket-heads in this nation? To quote Guy's latest blog entry: "the truth is damned inconvenient." The truth that the United States funds and perpetuates a war in the Democratic Republic of Congo for control of metal and mineral resources is inconvenient. Freeport McMoran needs those resources for the 2.6 billion cell phone batteries the American public demands by the end of 2009. Our cell phones are a convenient mode of communication and we need them. Would you still need your cell phone if I told you that high demand for cell phones and other electronic "goods" is responsible for the death of 6 million Congolese people since the resource war started in 1996? You would probably shrug and admit that you won't give up your cell phone; it's just too inconvenient. What if I told you life is a hell of a lot more inconvenient for the Congolese women being raped and assaulted every day than it is for the average American? I haven't given up my cell phone yet. The blood of the Congolese people is on my hands, and it's on your hands. If this information has hit you in the gut, lift your bucket off and become a friend of the Congo. Chances are, your bucket is steadfast on your head and you won't take it off for 6 million men and women you've never even met. The truth is that the citizens of our country are not willing to give up their convenient, inexpensive lifestyles to relieve people around the world of their hardships and suffering. We have the power to make conscientious choices when we take off our buckets and fully realize that our individual actions do create ripples around the world. When more people become bucket-less, attuned to their potential to affect change, the travesties of greed, violence, and selfishness may be more difficult to sustain.

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