California Dreaming or a Nightmare?
What can be said about this culture of contrast? Is it the land of milk and honey or is it the electric shock
dispensary of the asylum? The latest developments that have caused the lights to go out are but the most visible consequence
of a society that lives on another planet. The miracle of an economy that had been the envy of the world, is now the model
for Third World IMF intervention. So who or what is to blame for this madness? The truth is that nothing has really changed
on the Left Coast for decades. The home of the culture of self absorption has just reached a new high. The disconnect with
the rest of the world has just been pushed up another notch. Any serious analysis of the cause for the recurrent power outages,
will clearly identify that the politics of denial are the source of the immediate shortage. But that political mindset is
but the reflection of a metaphysical cosmology that has been metabolized into the culture. The energy that this process excretes,
may well be the solution to the current power crisis.
When a people deem it is appropriate to legislate that services are required to be provided, below the real
value of their costs, bankruptcy is inevitable. This is just stating the obvious and exploring the intricacies of the tragic
history in those decisions will be left to others. What is much more compelling is to inquire how and why the residents of
this paradise are so willingly to act as if they are in leave of their senses? The how may be a little easier to understand.
They have developed a culture where it has become socially demanded that any form of behavior is tolerated. No limits of constraints
to self expression has become the mantra of the beautiful people. The institutions of traditional mores were abandoned. The
youth were educated to accept a total relativist outlook for their life. And public officials, courts and the bureaucracy
were transformed into the guardians of this 'New Age'.
As for why a society would be willing to stray so far from conventional thinking, we must delve into the reasons
that so many people have flocked to this Mecca of perceived Eden. The unbridled growth in California's population over the
last half century has been a direct result of a Dream. The hope and desire for a better future, has always been a basic human
motivation. So what made this fantasy different from the one that my forefathers had when they immigrated to America? I submit
the notion that one could live the 'easy life' is at the heart of that migration. Most people view a better life as a result
of hard work, thrift, common sense and a plan for its realization. But this kind of outlook, has become abhorrent to the hip
sophisticates and the image that they aspire to achieve. This account may not directly explain or apply to the same degree,
for the countless influx from across national borders. Ironically, they more often fit into the traditional model of seeking
a better life for their families. Yes, their swollen numbers add to the problems of ever increased demand for greater levels
of services and infrastructure, but they represent the success that the idol builders have had in creating and selling the
reverie to the rest of the world. The loss of personal accountability always reverts back to a choice in conflicting values.
And when the culture rejects the constraints that 'Reality' always imposes in the end, you get a disconnect that will transform
the dream into a nightmare, with the hallucination and withdrawal that each addict experiences.
As one of the diminishing few who was actually at Woodstock, the prevalent criticism that it all goes back
to the counterculture of the 60's is far too simplistic an explanation, and ignores that the vast majority of my generation
has become the current pillars of their own communities. Most of us are quite different from the public persona that wears
the label, made in California. It is not my wish to impugn every resident. The very same critique can surely apply to inhabitants
of NYC. But for the rest of us who bear the burden of shame for our own elected representatives, should admit the causes of
this dilemma. With the prospects that imminent 'brown outs' will transmigrate to other regions, we need to realize that the
aftermath of a severe economic downturn in the land of Free Ardor may well infect the rest of us. Niagara will still flow,
but there is no assurance that the circuits in the brain of the cultural elite's, will produce any juice. What they have made
has already turned sour. And there will never be a quick fit for a problem that has festered and degenerated for decades.
When you look at the rotating lights dim in your own neighborhood, maybe then you will look into the eyes of your children
and ask yourself; have the values that you have taught them blurred their sense of enlightenment? We can build more power
plants, but we can't impart the proven lessons of life, once they have grown . . . For you Mamas and Papas, California Dreaming
SARTRE - March 23, 2001