A nation of madness

Dead in the Water

Jacob Stewart, Columnist

These are the times that try men’s souls.”

It’s quite a line, and it was fitting when Thomas Paine wrote it in his pamphlet series, American Crisis, back in the winter of 1776. The colonies were fighting a losing war up to that point, and General Washington, encamped at Valley Forge, was a man running out of time. However, the tide turned. The colonists were victorious, and America was born, with Washington being named as its first president, and for what?

To become a nation ruled by a tyrant surrounded by sadistic sycophants? To embrace hatred through racism and fear mongering?

To cheer when tired and unarmed men, women and children are assaulted with tear gas after a journey few of us here would even survive through?

I originally thought that I could write something optimistic. I had plans to talk about the poetry and fiction slams. Perhaps I could have even spent time reflecting on the Plains Writers Series that I took part in as an attempt to promote my book.

Yet here I am, sitting in my office crafting another assault upon this, our destructive nature.

Some might say that this is all just a phase, that over time we’ll overcome and find ourselves in a better situation with a better president. Yet for those who use that as a sense of comfort, I would only ask you to take another look at the title of this piece. If you’re confused by it, allow me to explain.

Back in the 1950s a project called MKUltra was sanctioned, allowing the CIA to conduct numerous tests on Americans that focused on the concept of mind control.

One of those tests included the use of LSD, and some of those subjects just happened to be convicts (Alcatraz was one of the prisons that took part in the project).

Instead of being able to control the minds of the prisoners, the CIA often found that the drug made them paranoid and violent (just the thing you want for those in the prison system).

In fact, it is rumored that Whitey Bulger, the infamous Boston crime lord, was one of the subjects before being released to build his underworld empire and the relationship with the FBI that made him nearly untouchable.

Yes, that is something our own government did, all the way up to the 1970s.

The America we dream of is nothing more than that, folks. It’s one of those moments where we wake up to the ugly sound of an alarm, and after desperately hitting the snooze button, we try to gain just a few more minutes of sleep, a few more minutes in the dream, only to find that it is gone.

We claim to have so many virtues and assert the idea that our nation is the pinnacle of civilization.

Yet here we are, in a society that sells arms to third world dictators, starting revolutions and stepping back, doing more than watching as they turn on each other, and yes, deploying tear gas on children, all while claiming that this is the land of the free and the home of the brave.