This “Horrible” World…?

One of the reasons I don’t write books that have overt and graphic horror in them is that they remind me too much of the state of the world. Admittedly, the world has been filled with horror since the first carnivore arrived, consumed another creature, and then was flattened by a tsunami or fried by lava exploding from a volcano… or something like that.

In dealing with horror, I much prefer the quiet kind, the kind most people don’t see or from which they avert their eyes, pretending that it doesn’t exist, or that it will go away if they don’t dwell on it, but these days, the world seems awash in crude violent horror, perhaps symptomatic of the age of excess which we appear to be living.

The excesses are everywhere. There are those that make the headlines day in and day out, such as the growing income inequality between the richest and the poorest, and contrary to popular American opinion, that inequality is almost everywhere, except paradoxically, Scandinavia [which, interestingly enough, was the font of excess some thousand years or so ago]. Or the excesses in faith/religion, with rampant fundamentalism on one side and the greatest percentage of atheism measured in history on the other. This religious extremism sees Christian fundamentalists insisting violently on “the right to life” and unlimited human birth, while largely ignoring all the poor and starving children created by unlimited birth once they’ve been born. The Islamic fundamentalists are even worse, beheading infidels, insisting on the right to essentially enslave and deny education and rights to women, and justifying the right to execute anyone who “leaves the faith”… or draws cartoons of Muhammad. Then there are the apolitical excesses of various governments that will not hesitate to stoop to anything to maintain their power.

One of the greatest excesses, especially here in the United States, is that continuously perpetrated by the media – trumpeting anything that will make headlines to titillate the jaded American masses (which include all too many theoretically educated Americans who still cannot stop watching the media parade of daily horrors). What makes all this so pathetically and ironically amusing is that American society today is far, far safer than it has ever been. I’m not turning my eyes from the current injustices, or excusing them, but today’s discrimination against blacks, immigrants, and others, or the current gender inequalities, is nothing compared to the true horrors of a century and a half ago. And this media excess creates almost a carnival atmosphere that keeps telling people how horrible things are while, at the same time, fueling the anger and resentment on both sides of every issue… and the ignorance. How can the approval rating of Congress be less than ten percent, when over half the voters in almost every Congressional district think that their representative is doing a good job?

I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the HBO series, Game of Thrones, is doing so well. It typifies exactly how the media represents current society, if thinly disguised as a “War of the Roses” fantasy knock-off. What tends to get overlooked, in the nature of quiet horror, is that such a depiction is effectively creating horror that is far less quiet…

… such as a political/governmental system that is becoming almost completely dysfunctional, such as an instant gratification culture that hasn’t the patience to work out problems, such as a culture so obsessed with wealth and celebrity that it rewards and glorifies those who reach the top, regardless of how such wealth and fame are achieved, such as….

But detailing more would delve too deeply into overt horror, and I’ve already exceeded my horror tolerance for the moment.

2 thoughts on “This “Horrible” World…?”

  1. Tom says:

    You often write about balance. I do not recall reading in any of your books where you offer a solution to achieving balance without significant cost. Perhaps this is because the stories need to get to a critical excess before action can return a balance. With your experience within our government, do you think that any small group of people with average civil service power could combine to re-balance the excess they see in government? Is it even possible? Or have we in the USA moved too far from republic toward empire?

    1. Despite what everyone seems to think, the problem isn’t government. The so-called excess in government comes from the people. The subsidies and tax breaks for the wealthy and the powerful come as the result of massive campaign contributions on the part of those with either great wealth or great ability to deliver votes. The often, but not always, excessive funding for income and social support programs result from the votes of people who believe that they, or many Americans, cannot make a decent living without government support. Both groups are trying to maximize their interests through government. The situation is complicated by the unpleasant fact that only government can put restrictions on large and powerful entities, whether those entities are the Department of Defense, General Motors, the Koch brothers, Amazon, or Microsoft, or upon millions of Americans who are primarily interested in paying the lowest price for anything, regardless of the upstream or downstream consequences.

      As a politician I once worked for declared,in private, “The sum total of all the private and personal interests never adds up to the common good.” Why not? Because almost everyone wants what they want without fully paying for it. American government essentially began as being composed of only those elements which were the bare necessities for a nation, a framework, if you will, providing a national defense, a postal service, and not much more, with a legal and political structure theoretically allowing states and individuals to work out their problems under law. The problems began to pile up when the industrial revolution took hold and not only allowed, but practically required the concentration of wealth and power, while the legal and political structure provided no checks on the abuses such concentrations engendered. The concentration and abuses proliferated until the political structure reacted… but increasing technology allows and requires greater concentration of economic power, creating an ever-widening gap between those with power and those without. The only way those without can see to keep from being further disenfranchised is through greater government intervention. Those with power regard that intervention as a threat, and react in turn. The “political” compromise has been to give both sides more than is wise for maintaining a balance.

      Because both those with great wealth and power and those who have neither wealth and power feel that the other wants and has too much, neither is currently willing to give in… and any “reasonable” attempt to achieve a balance is currently doomed to failure and likely will be until the situation worsens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *