What the Brexit, Donald Trump, and Rock Climbing All Have in Common
How is it that these seemingly impossible things keep on happening, and each time they do, we look surprised?
I’ll tell you how. We’re all too comfortable to care. In fact, we’re so distracted by the relative ease of our lives that even when an event of cataclysmic proportions happens, a week later, we’re back to watching cat videos. It’s like Marie Antoinette saying “let them eat cake” – we’re literally that out of touch. “Oh my,” we say, “I had no idea there were that many racists out there! Say, barkeep, pour me another $8 microbrew, would you?”
Of course, the Brexit, like the rise of Trump, is not about racism. It’s about poverty, hunger, fear, anger, desperation, and people screaming their lungs out for something – anything – radically different. Where do you think racism comes from, anyway?
You have two groups of people in the first world (you know, the place where the big decisions that affect (destroy) the rest of the world tend to happen). There are politicians, and there are citizens. Politicians, as we all know, are those people who care (with very few exceptions) about one and only one thing: elections (translated: money and power). They have the sole goal of winning votes. Whether or not the world goes to shit is irrelevant, just so long as they can buy another jetski, or whatever the fuck millionaires buy these days.
Citizens are a little more complicated: they fall into two opposing categories. Behind door #1 are the citizens who are, plain and simple, ok. Sure, these folks are worried and anxious about the state of the world – they could use some student loan refinancing, they wish health insurance was more affordable, they’re scared of Zika virus, etc. But in the end, they have never in their lives worried about getting fed, getting potable water, getting shelter, getting educated, getting clothed, etc. They probably never will. And they know this.
Then, there are the first-world citizens who are quickly falling into third-world realities. And if you don’t think there’s third-world parts of the first-world, you’ve never been to the bible belt, the rust belt, the sun belt… fuck it: any part of America where WalMart is a place that rich people shop, meth is not a drug but a way of life, and mountain dew and little debby count as food groups. Turns out, this is a significant part of America. They are uneducated, economically irrelevant, believe in outdated and obsolete moral frameworks and religious institutions, are made fun of by the mass media, are legitimately afraid of their ability to make ends meet, and are mad as hell. They aren’t getting what they grew up thinking they deserved. This group is very dangerous.
If I were a politician, and all I cared about was getting re-elected, which group do you think I would pander to? Donald Trump still look like a moron to you? At least he figured out the right answer to THAT question. Of course, he’s put his money on group #2.
Look, if I wanted to win a football game, you think I would fill my team with a bunch of fat bloated comfortable yuppies who would be just fine regardless of the outcome? Or would I recruit as many dumb angry hungry white people as I could find? You better believe I’d take the team that is so desperate they would cheat, lie, steal and die trying. They’ve got so little to lose. Meanwhile, anyone who can afford a mac computer, an iPhone, and rent in or near almost any major city in the country, has comparatively little to gain. A little more comfort? Yeah. But their basic needs? No.
I’m not surprised at the Brexit. I’m not surprised at Trump. I’m not surprised that extreme sports are on the rise, and that more and more people are seeking out dangerous adrenaline pumping challenges. None of this is surprising in the least, and it all points to one very obvious thing. The first world is comfortable to the point of apathy, and (perhaps even more dangerous) boredom. How can you expect someone to care about changes that they know will have very little actual affect upon them. They won’t live or die by these changes; the only thing that will change is the color of their iPhone cases, where their organic mangos are imported from, and what country they go to visit on their extended vacations.
Oh, I know, I know. YOU care. YOU pledged support to a kickstarter. YOU signed the online petition. YOU shared this post with your Facebook friends. It just so happens, that none of that shit matters. What matters – what actually, realistically, unfortunately, and for better or worse matters – is votes. And the people who are voting are the people who are scared, hungry, and angry. And what they want is change.
But not the kind of #Change Obama preached. The change they want is a revolution. And that is what they’re (we’re) going to get. Can you imagine a world where Donald Trump is president, the USofA is building a wall across their southern border and carpetbombing the middle east ’til the sand glows, Great Britain is gone from the EU, millions upon millions of refugees are turned away from everywhere, and each subsequent month of the year is the warmest on record since the NOAA began recording that data?
I can. In fact, most of those things have already happened, or are well on their way to happening. In fact, I don’t know if I can imagine anything else.
But it’s all good. I’m not sweating it. After all, I’m in the first group of first-world citizens. I’ll be ok. I’m just blowing off steam.
Say, barkeep, another $8 microbrew? Fuck it, dude. Let’s go climbing.
Full disclaimer, before the hate comes pouring in, I earn well beneath the poverty line, but DEFINITELY consider myself part of the group of citizens who is comfortably numb. Not absolving myself, just calling it how I see it.