Fat Lazy Bees

Clint Eastwood made a sensation with an empty chair. It may not have been political. It may not have been wise. But he is neither a politician nor a sage. He is a dramatist and he created brilliant theater. He also pointed out the real reason for political conventions: they have nothing to do with education, with laying out of policies, with convincing anyone of the message of the hosting party. Conventions provide entertainment, nothing more nor less. They are designed to offer lollipops as rewards to the party faithful, a panorama for those who love spectacle, one grand Barnum and Romney (in this case) circus for the already believers. The number of balloons is more important than the number of wise decisions, assuming there are any left to be made.

You know who sits in the empty chair? You do, and I do, and the rest of us who still believe that democrats and/or republicans uphold the dignity of the democratic process. For it is democracy herself that used to occupy that chair, a system with an even chance for the average Jane to make a decent living in an equitable environment. The chair is empty because our basic institutions have abandoned it. Never mind the financial and banking institutions: when did you last see a neighborhood banker in a grey suit who even knew your name let alone respected you. You are a nuisance to him, unless and until he can empty your pockets.

And it's not only the financiers that have abandoned democratic principles. Have you looked closely at the health and medical institutions lately? I hope not, because you were most likely dismayed at the contempt shown for the well being of the patient. There is at least one famous medical institution that puts research grant money way ahead of patient care. And it is not alone.

There are exceptions, of course, like some beautiful people who have recently helped my new hip and myself make friends with each other. But shouldn't the honest and trustworthy be the rule, rather than the exception? Trust today has turned to ruthlessness and greed, to avarice and lack of respect. Those are pretty wobbly underpinnings for any society and ours is pretty wobbly.

Recently the Pentagon proposed awarding medals of bravery to military personnel who operate remote-controlled weapons that can wipe out cities 7500 miles away. That would leave thousands of empty chairs, wouldn't it? Does anyone care about the morality of killing parents and children in distant lands? Where is the bravery in sitting in an air-conditioned room and pushing a few buttons so that armed drones can wipe out families unnamed and unknown? Should it be called the WE WIN medal? What exactly would we win: incivility, heartlessness, brainless savagery? The empty brains that dreamed up such an abomination, to glorify death to others as a national goal, should qualify for a few empty chairs in our national prisons.*

Eastwood's empty chair symbolizes the deterioration of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. It's the loser's chair that every one of us occupies, because we have allowed the Drone mentality to dominate our thinking. According to Wikibooks, "the drone is often described as simply being a fat, lazy bee that is unable to care for himself".

Medals for fat lazy bees? Is that what we now stand for? How about an award for the health care workers that are responsible for my being able to stand on my own two feet. How about a Citizen's Award for those who help democracy once again stand on her own two feet? We could even call it the Panda Prize, for those who, against all odds, looking at insurmountable challenges, faced with certain loss, somehow pull off an unimaginable feat that has the rest of us cheering and makes life seem joyous once again.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2012

*Those of you interested in the Drone Program can find more information at this site.