The world is full of people who are no longer needed. And who try to make slaves of all of us - and they have their music and we have ours - theirs, the wasted songs of a superstitious nightmare - and without their musical and ideological miscarriages to compare out songs of freedom to, we'd not have any opposite to compare music with - and like the drifting wind hitting against no obstacles, we'd never know its speed, its power.

Woody Guthrie

The bigger a country is, I get the impression, and the more diverse its people, the more problems its bounds to have. In the case of America, it also means that many people have problems with the country as a whole. American also, and not maliciously, tend to compare other countries by size to individual states. Maybe it helps them understand mass better, since most of us have a hard time looking anywhere past our own borders. The American education system has a hand in this as well, causing us to pay more attention to our own back yard than to be aware of the fact that we are not the only island out there, floating on the surface of a big blue ball:

The fear of being unorthodox is rooted in the American teacher's soul; you can be fired for treading the path of experimental enterprise.---Anthony Burgess, from Is America Falling Apart?, an article published in the New York Times, November 7, 1971

I think of the word "country" and what it means to this American. It's not just a place with borders and lines, not just a color coded space in a book of maps. For all the modernity we've collected in our brief existence on this earth, we evolved from country, from rural towns and counties, from farming and conquering mile after mile until the entire space was once ours. And we are a borrowing country, one that made little use of who and what was here before us and taking something from every culture that flocked here to check out this new Promised Land. Country has become city, metropolis, with people packed on top of one another if they can't be sprawled about in aching poverty, as I see in my neighborhood.

Almost every author and spokesperson for generations that has had something to say about America has something bad to say about it, and these people tend to be heroes to me of sorts. They are not making statements that are unpopular among society, but they are saying things most people don't want to hear, lest they get the gumption up to be annoyed and/or do something about it, if there is in fact anything that can be done in a country so huge. I never thought it was normal or healthy to have a country of our size, so I also never thought it was right that we would assume so much power or influence over the rest of the world. Slowly and surely, though, we are being seen as real morons, as fakes with secret agendas that as the media is able to dig further and throw harder and farther the shit-stained realities of them, everyone knows about it.

I'm sure bovine, majority mentality exists in other countries, that desire to stay where we are and not rock the boat, to let the government we've elcted into power and therefore have given the right to grow and overtake us and leave well enough alone. I certainly don't have the time it takes to care so much. I've never left America, and I've never seen what other places live like, but that doesn't mean I'm ignorant to the irony of our size and stature. And it doesn't mean I'm fully pleased with where I'm from. What amazes me is that many people, though knowing that government in general is always corrupt and seedy, show such patriotism and pride in America. Truly, it is this system that has allowed me to live pretty well in a low income bracket, so I can't really complain. My streets are always paved (even when riddled with pot holes, as they typically are here), there are always stores open to cater to my every need, and conveniences are abundant.

But I look around sometimes and feel like no one really realizes the world around them. It feels like a huge ant farm, or as Garrison Keillor puts it, "a mall is like a prison where the inmates are sentenced to shopping." We have the most freedom to speak our minds, yet so few seem to do so without giving in to the bias and control yielded by certain forms of the media and television. So I keep my eyes out for the books and albums, where people seem more apt to tell the truth.

It's always that trade off. You want economic serenity, you get consumerism and laziness in the barrage of conveniences it offers you. You want freedom, you get so much freedom that it ensnares and controls you. You want to make a mark on the world but you can't really change anything, or so you're told. Too much freedom in too much space is what is killing us as a country, and it seems there is no way to backtrack, realize that we've made mistakes in that area without having a full scale revolt.

It's not a matter of whether or not you're being lied to, it's whether or not and to what degree you care. When you're such a big place, you can survive with even half of its inhabitants angry and distraught. When there are so many battles being fought simultaneously in one place, all you can do is pick the one you beleive will take you the furthest, for even by not fighting you've picked a side.

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