Falling Out of Eden…Again

Once upon a cruel and linear time, a trailer park in Middle America degraded into a cesspool of chronic malaise. Though they weren’t a really bright bunch, it became so unbearable that the Trailer Trash looked for a sign, a flashing icon, a modern saviour…anything that might save their sorry asses.

Then one day, a strange man rolled into town in a shiny black Mercedes-Benz. He proclaimed that he would save the Trailer Park from Wretchedness through Religion. Firstly, the strange man pulled out a large volume called “The Good Lord’s Handbook on Human Etiquette”. He taught that boinkin’ your mother ain’t morally right and other shocking commandments soon followed:

1) Do not steal from your neighbour’s yard.
2) Do not beat the kids up every morning.
3) Do not boink your mother’s stolen dog while beatin’ on your neighbour’s kids.

The Trailer Trash were upgraded to the Trailer Folk once the Fear of Eternal Damnation was properly begat.

One day, after a particularly rowdy Confession period and payment of alms to the increasingly large Church of Eternal Damnation, a silver Cadillac arrived. A man in a crispy suit stepped out and announced that he would save the town from Dogma with Politics. The man promised that his system would clean up the town better than Morality ever could. He taught them many laws and such finer details as contained in by-laws. He promised them many promises and Government was born.

Shortly ever after, the paper mill flourished, the rubber stamp store grew and the tax office taught the Trailer Folk how to give money away with dignity. By power of the Constitution, they were upgraded to the Trailer People and given a set of constitutional rights that were later quietly amended with important clauses and sub-clauses.

The Trailer People didn’t understand many of the laws. They didn’t understand many of the by-laws. They didn’t even understand their constitutional rights and they sure as heck didn’t understand the tax system. An expensive Federal Commission on the Usefulness of Homogenized Government was created, many sub-committees were formed, and a Ministry for the Efficient Dissemination of Reports from the Federal Commission on UHG was established.

One day, after the Trailer People had finished working 8 months to pay their income taxes for the year, a snappily dressed man arrived in the municipality in a red Porsche. He told them that he would save them from Bureaucracy with Capitalism. He sold the Trailer People the American Dream and they learned about the Almighty Dollar, the importance of Good Credit and the Pursuit of Happiness through scrupulous purchases from multinationals that offer Brand Name goods at bargain basement prices. An Exploitainment Industry was also created so that the Trailer People may be constantly reminded of what the American Dream is all about. They tried this new scheme on for size and had up to seven days for full refund. They were now coined the Trailer Target Market through a large advertising campaign that was both humorous and endorsed by celebrities.

Seven days passed and the Trailer Target Market became too busy to get their money back. Many were holding down two or three jobs while others were unemployed because they didn’t have What It Takes. The Trailer Target Market were now divided into three classes: the lower class, middle class and the Celebrities. So, even though Happiness was always for sale, no one but the Celebrities could afford it.

One day, after the No-Money-Down Independence Day Sidewalk Sale, a distinguished woman with a proper goatee arrived in the Multiplex Development in a green Volvo. She stood before them with a small handheld microphone and explained that she would save them from Poverty with Education. She taught the Trailer Target Market the importance of Economics, Political Science, the History of Western Religion and the greatness of Corporate-Sponsored Science.

The Trailer Target Market took many written tests and bought many heavy textbooks. Soon, some even achieved test results that were near the National Average. They learned to ask more questions in class; questions that were grammatically correct, questions that were phrased coherently, questions that were approved within the Academic Curriculum. They began to understand that Religion, Politics and Capitalism have always existed for the Greater Good. The Trailer Target Market were soon called the TTM as acronyms became exceedingly necessary.

As the TTM became ever more efficient units of production and consumption, they found that ten cups of Coffee, two packs of Cigarettes, and a case of Beer did not relieve their Consolidated Debts nor help them get through the day anymore. Even the Pharmaceuticals in their medicine cabinets, in their meat and poultry, in their water and in their Genetically-Modified foods could not cure them of their many aches and pains, their many diseases and discomforts, their many stresses and depressions. The only ones who were not on the five-year Hospital Waiting List were the Shiny Happy PeopleTM and that was only because they were genetically-engineered to ignore discomfort, stress and disease.

The MegacityTM had degraded into a cesspool of unrest and well, regional-fermentationalism. There was a palpable sense of déja-vu but the Leaders’ Summit on the Rise of Mass Disillusionment concluded that the only solution was War. The Government and the Corporations worked together to manufacture Numbing FearTM and Threats to National SecurityTM, two new sweet-smelling products that would soothe the population into submission and subservience.

Then one sweaty, smoggy day, a terribly odd creature came to town. The TTM wondered if this was a publicity stunt and asked: “Who is your sponsor?” The creature was small, unfashionable and did not have a lawyer, agent or PR representative to speak on its behalf. It didn’t even have a speechwriter or spin-doctor. It could not provide a press kit nor did it offer any witty sound bites.

“I love riding my bike downhill with the wind on my face. I love feeling the rain on my lips and the sun on my brow. I love the coolness of the tide when it washes over my feet while I walk on the sand. I love the silence of trees and the music in the woods. I like making art. I like spending time with my family and friends. I like the people in my community. I love to play, dance and sing. I am alive.”

The TTM were not impressed. They hated the language of Earnestness. It was so passé.

They asked: “What is your Net Worth?”

The creature smiled and replied: “What is your life worth?”

The TTM, being familiar with Rhetoric through many well-funded Political Campaigns, were equally not impressed.

They demanded: “With what Authority do you speak? Do you have a Recognized Degree or a Best-selling Book? Are you a famous Leader or Guru?

The creature shook its head.

The TTM nodded knowingly and turned to go. But the creature suddenly asked: “Where will you look to find what is called inner peace?”

Utterly bored and then completely offended by this unacclaimed messiah, they rushed off to the nearest Park-A-Lot and drove off in their respective loans-on-wheels. On their cell phones, online forums and focus groups, they bantered on about the inherent clichés in the creature’s responses and published clever editorials that debunked other related myths such as Love, Joy and Freedom.

Alone yet not lonely, the creature shrugged his shoulders at all this fuss and jumped back on its rickety bicycle.

As the creature coasted through MegacityTM, the TTM heard the sounds of Bliss as the bicycle swept past them. They saw the wind brush the creature’s hair and heard the sun kiss the creature’s face. They felt a tingle of Freedom rippling through their abs of steel, the warmth of Joy loosening their ties and relaxing their perms, the flow of Love sailing through their hardened arteries and pumping Life into their blocked hearts.

Though they wondered if the creature was breaking city by-laws, though they pondered whether it had appropriate insurance in case of accident, though they questioned what the creature did for work, though they debated over why the creature did not care about looks, status, possessions or property… they found themselves appreciating the creature.

Well, it did not make sense…it didn’t even earn Interest. But they started to observe a strange yearning…

…and it was different from the yearnings that came after watching Television Commercials, window-shopping without cash or credit, absorbing ads from magazines, billboards or hot-air balloons.

A very distinct feeling came with it.

…and it was no ordinary ancillary product. Nor was it a cross-promotional gimmick, an add-on, plug-in, or prize at the bottom of the cereal box. It felt meaningful, it felt real, it felt like goosebumps traveling up the spine and into the skull. It was like chewing on powerful medicine that was bittersweet going down yet immediately effective.

The bitter taste reminded them that they had been asleep for a long time.

…and it was different from the sleep that came from drug-induced comas or alcohol-soaked slumbers at all-inclusive resorts.

Luckily, the sweetness in the mix provided a gentle chaser to help them wake with no aftertaste.

…and it was different from the awakening that came from designer amphetamines covered by extended health plans, morning talk shows that blared from alarm clock radios or even chocolate-covered coffee beans.

Yes, it is the sweet awakening that comes from receiving a new lease on life yet finding all your debt is forgiven. And it is followed by the awesome moment of choice that comes with every epiphany.

…and no, it isn’t like the choice between Pepsi or Coke, Democrat or Republican, Beavis or Butthead.

…it is a choice that actually makes a damn difference.
~ little woo (2001) shortly after 9-11

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