IN THE United States, 2018 has gone on record for being an unhappy one for gun control. The spillovers from nearly 300 episodes in the country left people dead, injured, hospitalised or scarred.
Nationwide, there seemed to be a striking absence of any form of outrage, particularly over such ‘serious issues’ that involved, over a large number mass shootings, in our part of the world. Perhaps, this had been a reaction to the forced separation of immigrant or asylum-seeking families arriving at our borders and, also, over the ever-increasing income and, perhaps, also the widening of wealth inequality in society.
What is even more baffling is that when protests did happen, they lasted maybe for a day or two and were always confronted with an overwhelming police presence. Interestingly, the rising momentum disappeared like the quicksand. People had been quick to retreat into their homes, close their doors and leave others in their protest lines. In all fairness, it is rare that protests bring about any changes. The government, which prefers to stay on its course for what is best either for its personal or for the political parties’ interests, is unmoved by people’s voices.
The shootings at Sandy Hook and the one at Parkland are the points in the case which were followed by the protest events called ‘emergency marches’ or ‘march for our lives.’ Hundreds of people grouped together in protest against the existing gun laws that have caused the epidemic of mass shootings. This was also done to offset the powerful influence of the National Rifle Association in the United States.
It, therefore, come as no surprise that significant changes in our legislation have not occurred. Our government has become too big, too greedy, and perhaps too corrupt to respond respectably. Looks like the materialistic marches and protests are not the answer to our concerns.
Changes cannot be made at the top and, therefore, must begin at the bottom. However, the problem with that concept is that those at the bottom are so preoccupied with their own survival, oftentimes working two or more jobs, while their brains are numbed through the onslaught of media, drugs, and poor nutrition.
How else may we explain that nobody seems to care that our nation’s children are intentionally traumatised by practising survival skills by way of pretending that they are being attacked and that their lives are at stake? The American approach to our national crises has become a further opportunity in selling more products. We need more guns to protect ourselves than we need more products. Big business profits from creating both are known to have caused and been presumed a solution to our problems. Truly, a win-win approach!
We see the same cause and effect approach to our current opioid epidemic. It has been caused by big drug companies’ aggressive marketing campaigns. In return, they stand to gain from offering drugs intended to end the addictions that were brought on.
The food crisis, on the other hand, is much more subtle than our act of allowing it to fly under the radar of public scrutiny. It starts with the pharmaceutical companies’ role in agriculture, specifically their pesticidal and herbicidal products that are intended to protect crops from invaders by killing them.
Consequently, seeds have to be genetically modified to withstand toxins, creating yet another guaranteed stream of revenue. The fruit and vegetables produced under toxic conditions have remnants of the poisons within them. This cannot be otherwise resulting in increased rates of physical diseases. Livestock is raised faster and bigger through the use of hormones also and antibiotics promoting genetic mutations and greater bacterial resistance.
Further depletions of essential nutrients occur in processing procedures in an effort to produce more foods in less time feeding a growing global population. Therefore, chemicals and additives are used to imitate natural flavours, colours and to extend shelf life. Food has become a science. It is being engineered to create products whose sole intent is to sell more by hooking consumers on their taste and texture while leaving them hungrier, needier and filled with cravings after consumption.
It is not about better nourishment, nor about better health, but about increasing corporations’ ‘stomach’ shares of the food market. Like tobacco, the food and drug industries are all about ‘hooking’ their consumers faster.
The result is obviously a comatose nation. America is drugged starting with the foods we eat, the drugs we take to offset the physical, emotional and mental discomfort we experience from our foods and from the stuff we fill our heads with as on social media feeds, online games and a life on the web. Our ever-increasing isolation causes further epidemics loneliness and increased suicide rates.
The symptoms we are experiencing are those of malnourishment and starvation apathy, lethargy and laziness. Can the fellow Americans no longer think, reason about or fight for bigger issues in the event they are driven by their own survival needs? Most citizens in this country have no more than $400 to their names in bank accounts, work more than one job, have no health insurance or money to cover basic healthcare needs.
If we believe for just one moment that these people have the energy or ability to stand up to corporate and governmental abuses, we are sadly mistaken.
They cannot. That is why a bottom-up revolution will only come about if a few unaffected leaders bring greater awareness and understanding to the people. They are likely to be met with greater resistance as people do not like change, not to mention the attacks from those who stand to lose their power over the people.
The way to change this strange phenomenon or the obstacle is through greater awareness and awakening. Instead of learning battle survival techniques, children should be taught about proper nutrition for body and mind. Instead of submitting to the ‘it is what it is’ philosophy, people should make simple changes in their own lifestyles, by choosing to connect face-to-face again, by choosing to eat real food again and also opting to engage in life again, not just watch others on personal monitors.
Americans, I am inclined to believe, have been kept artificially poor in a rich country, have been kept broke and broken, perhaps ill postured, and hooked to fighting for mere survival. They have been preyed upon by both governmental and corporate greed. America has been brought to its knees by false beliefs and false ideals, signed away the rights of the individual to those of corporations and had definitely made it all sound like that was what we all had wanted in the name of capitalism and in the pursuit of our happiness.
We have reached a critical point in our evolution. We can all be extinguished like the dinosaurs, or we can make the necessary changes, one step at a time, one bite at a time or just one less click at a time. The choice is ours and can be as simple as changing our habits.
Nazarul Islam is a former educator based in Chicago.
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