Ok, I've resisted the urge to say political things--as if there is any kind of statement that isn't political. What I noticed while I was sick and curled up like a dog last week was that we have lots of entertainment to numb our brains with, lots of it. It's easy to trick ourselves by saying that what we watch is just resting our brains from the work we do, or that we are actually jumpstarting our brains. No. It's numbness. The way i know it's numbness is that I started getting agitated because I thought a basketball documentary on ESPN had aired and I missed it. Now, granted I was nursing a sinus infection and nasty cough, but I was agitated and cranky. If I get that agitated over a documentary about sports, then surely I would get even more agitated over something that would really matter, right? Nope, not that either. I turned through the news channel section at one point trying to find something that mattered. The dude on FOX was mad at something, nothing in particular it seemed, but since he was mad it was entertaining. The dude on CNN was talking about some court case I hadn't followed, but he did it like it was the most important thing in the world (the more I listened, though, I actually filed it away somewhere behind Andy Griffith reruns in my mind's priority list). The worst was when Nancy Grace came on to talk about that same case, it actually seemed to be even less important than before, mainly because she is so ridiculous. The woman on MSNBC was talking about how little attention has been given to the war in Afghanistan and how neglected the vets from the Afghan and Iraq wars have been. Finally my quest landed on something that mattered at last, but by then I couldn't hang with it. The sensationalized political anger of FOX and the caricatured condescending air of Nancy Grace had sufficiently doped up my neuro receptors that when I actually came across something that mattered, it drowned in the backwash from the over-stimulated, sensationalization of the stupid. This is scary.
That's why I like Ten Years and why I really like this song. It's a song about how we seem not to notice the writing on the walls, even with casualties of war all around us. The men and women who come back from the MIddle East wars have experienced things most of us don't understand. In the same way that our brains get attuned to banality, those who return have had their brains attuned to battle zones. What is to stop us from having real conversations about the nature of those wars or the circumstances American soldiers face when they return home? The only thing that stymies that conversation is our addiction to entertainment. We can take real information for a little while, like eating broccoli, but we are addicted to the sugar rush of overblown. In the meantime, power is being shifted around and killed for across the world. Many have put themselves in the middle of the danger, either fighting to maintain the peace or rescuing those who suffer. Yet, one of the casualties of the war is our attention span. We've forgotten how to read reality, even as it repeats itself over and over again. It may be because our brains are in danger of flat-lining.