by Angel Cruz
Every major news story today is a testament to our helplessness. Waves of disaster, violence, and humiliation flood our screens and we can’t look away. All of these stories of mass murders, natural disasters and political regress are all connected. It is what happens when a society falls inward, where its people forget the power of democracy. The same power which may never have been fully utilized has to be, now more than ever. If we continue seeing the spectacle as outside ourselves we will let it continue indefinitely.
The disaster of Puerto Rico has been years in the making. Ever since the acquisition of the island it has always been treated as peripheral. It’s a colony in all but name, where its people have been subjected to miserable neoliberal managing, all leading up to a debt crisis on an already poor society. This has led to a supremely poor infrastructure that could not withstand these hurricanes — hurricanes which have been predicted in magnitude by climate scientists for years. I don’t think it’s arrogance to say that we could have done better. Where a people are not allowed to fully self govern and who have been, for years, swept at the wayside, it can only end badly.
In Las Vegas we find the culmination of our sins. It is becoming all too clear that shootings in America are a matter of when. The policies we have let slide by the NRA have created a cyclical event of tragedy … where the most damaged among us can gather an insane number of weapons and fly completely under the radar … when after the tragedy we can talk about anything but how this is systemic. Profits are to be made and there is no sensible gun control policy that can stop it. We live in a sick society that venerates success and ostracizes mental health. We cannot not change anything and be surprised it happens again.
We are constantly embarrassed by an entitled buffoon who is the supposed leader of the free world. When he is not rallying football players against him through insulting people’s right to protest he is intensifying every point of conflict in our society. Although the Republicans are divided in how to gut health care for every working class citizen, they are looking to destroy our already thin social safety net in other ways. They offer no option to illegal immigrants but to hide in fear of a government they desperately want to be a part of and increase the budget for the military to $700 billion, which proves we are never leaving the Middle East (there’s still money to be made). Ripping apart regulations and increasing tax cuts for the wealthy — this is a recipe for the next financial crisis. How much of our livelihood will we give up until we see these politicians never had us in mind?
All of these seemingly disparate events are just the aftermath of us not caring enough. Not caring enough to look beyond the two slim options we have been presented. We have only ever staved off the total collapse of our society, but never to look at the fundamental elements that bring about these crises. It has always been how we manage the fruits of our labor. We need to realize that we don’t need an upper class strangling us to give up our wealth to them, and collectively decide that we are competent enough to create our own destiny. Or we let it all continue as we wait desperately for handouts from the very same people who have created and/or exacerbated our problems.