The Blessing of Society
Author: Andy Carloff
"Society in every state is a blessing..."
-- Thomas Paine, Common Sense
What of value?
Interaction among human beings has provided us each with unique, fulfilling experiences, fond memories, and satisfied desires. When humans gathered together to share their culture among each other, to find something common in others that may form the base of a unity, they formed society. As they collected together, working and living together, they created art, poetry, and music, forming the results of their culture. What exactly brought appeal or created interest was their culture, while the songs and the paintings were just its products. So the true culture of a people cannot be defined by its best painters and writers, but by the unique attributes of these artists that allowed them to gain popularity among their fellow men. The intercourse of these shared interests among a collective of people may be defined as the society of the people.
What of virtue?
I walked down the cold, harsh streets of a city that had forgotten that liberty was the mother of order. A city that had the highest yearly murder rate, comparable with the death toll of some civil wars, accompanied by the most unforgiving police brutality, coupled with ancient legislation that had never been removed. Trekking through the darkness of night in a war zone, humping everything on my back that I owned, maybe twelve pounds. "You want me to carry anything?" she asked. "Here," I handed her my trench coat. "That's sweet -- you gave me the lightest thing," she said. She was beautiful and I felt that every time I remembered her, I would think that I fell in love with her. Maybe it was because we were honest or had to cling together for unity. But I remembered her as someone I cared about.
What of meaning?
I had been told by everyone that college was such a radically different place that high school. Only several weeks here, and I decided that it was "High School, Part 2: Indoctrination Continued." Yes, there was a campus, and you slept right next to your school. So, by the age of 18, you were given some responsibility. But freedom of speech was a joke as I noticed my anti-police brutality posters were immediately torn down within two days. I talked to the local population, approached girls wearing Misfits shirts and introduced myself, asked if they liked Crass or punk. I found an overwhelming consensus among the people that in regard to politics, apathy and ignorance reign. "If it doesn't effect me directly, I don't care about it," and that was the first difference between life on the streets and life as the privileged class. As a campus kid, partying and going to class, politics is a matter of discussion. As a homeless, Anarchist squatter punk, it is a matter of life or death.
What of purpose?
As a gutter kid, I was privileged to among a society of people who would die by yourself for what was right, or who would rip you off without a second thought. But maybe not all of it was cut and dry like that. As for those whom you did learn were your family and could trust, they became everything you had. I remember walking down the pavement, looking to the glorious sky, and just thinking, "Wherever I'm going, I'll get there somehow, someday." Dreams and memories of having a home with a real family flaunted my mind as the darkness above swirled by the great Pacific front. I felt that there was a true blessing of society when I had my arms around a girl who said that she cared about me. Gentle finger tips slowly running the length of skin. In college, I talked to one girl for fifteen minutes, and found that she would secretly smile every time I said something witty or real. Upon departing, I said to her, "It would be fortunate if we were to have sex." Every encounter from there on, she imagined that I didn't exist.
What of creativity?
It became quite evident in college that the middle class may have the wealth of gold and the depravity of the soul. Because "Politics doesn't effect me directly" was probably the excuse of every European nation that didn't oppose Hitler's regime, but it is the American swastika shining forth now. People are scared to death to say what they really think, to the point where they lose the ability to think on their own. When a young teen agrees with the older kids in his school that sex is the only valuable asset a woman could provide, he may just be suppressing his childhood dreams of meeting some girl and falling in love. And so it becomes reversed when he is speaking to his girlfriend, and claims he wants affection, when the goal in his heart is sex. Scared to death to say what we want, because we're afraid that it'll make us look weak. The lives of this American society are based on deception. Truth is the casualty and sincerity the victim. And maybe there are some, who will say that a man is perverse if he outrightly states that he desires sex, just as there are some who will say he is weak if he outrightly states that he desires affection.
What of hope?
Running through the ghetto, fleeing from the scene of a crime. It was just my turn was all. I had shoplifted well over $100 worth of merchandise from a store. The alarm went off, I took one look back, and ran. Just a young punk caught up in this society. In some nights from that moment, I would look desperately for one lover, and ask that she would spend some time with me, because all I wanted was warm flesh and the stars. So that maybe we can drink to the morning, and tell each other what happened to us as children that still gives us nightmares, and maybe those midnight screams will stop. We were afraid to speak our minds in a society where independence is shunned, but we had the courage to trust how we felt. We had the boldness to trust that our friends would respond to our happy memories with smiles, our sad ones with kindness -- and those terrible predictions of dying alone were received with heart-felt promises of family for life. I walked up to a girl I barely knew and asked her if I could kiss her. She gave me an awkward look, but then said "yes, but only here," pointing to her cheek. I did, and then I gave her some avocadoes that she said she loved. I only gave them to her after I kissed her, because I didn't want her to say yes for that reason, and even if she said no, I would have given them to her.
What of life?
College parties and nights you think you won't ever be able to sleep. Noise volume increase. I have class in less than three hours. Oh, well... It seems like nobody here cares that by the end of tonight, American Imperialism will be responsible for another 20,000 children starving to death. The point of conversation, of meeting members of the opposite sex for matters of impressment and orgasm, it seems the point of these discussions is music, television, and other forms of mass media. Everyone likes the same artists. And if they don't, they have a sort of patriotic hate towards them, as though the others threaten their own musicians. Among these clashings of social indigestion, I feel like an outcast, the black sheep of a family that comprises 8,000 students. Because when I read Percy Bysshe Shelley, I felt something more than words -- when I watched Stanley Kubrick, I saw something more than images -- and when I looked upon the artwork of any given artist, I see something more than just paper given the compliment of paint. So it seems that I detest the American culture, the heart of their definition of "creativity," and so I detest all those values that allowed them to love such shallow, apathetic, and ignorant artworks. I may see them as shallow and heartless for their interest in artists, musicians, and poets whom have no value, no depth, but alas, I alway see them as shallow and heartless for these interests when they live in a nationa responsible for hundreds of millions of deaths.
What of misery?
I kept tightening my jacket and my clothes. The seventeen degree temperature had gotten to me. A hardwood floor and a sheet ("blanket") was all I had. I kept tightening. Finally, with a heart that understood the meaning of cold, I passed out. But it last for only several hours, and I woke up sleep deprived and with misery. That's what I had to face as a homeless gutter, as a homeless kid on the streets, with no future, and no past. We listened to unpopular music, made up our own poems, and gave the unobserved walls our own artwork. We made a culture out of homelessness, a life out of our misery, a society out of outcasts and dissidents. We took everything that was held for granted by the privileged class, and destroyed it. We based our lives on nothing but contempt for the fact that come sunrise, we would be in prison or dead. Every night, we made a promise to ourselves, that we would never give in to a society that loved beauty more than emotion -- to a society that would be more concerned with the wealth of their superstars than the starvation of their children. As the memories of friends rolled back in the form of dreams, my body kept decreasing in temperature. I woke up cold. There is no way to describe it. Brushing your hand past your stomach to feel the most bitterest cold. And somewhere far away, I'm sure that someone said a prayer that their favorite movie star wins the Acadamy Awards. Thank you, Jesus.
What of truth?
I drank myself into the worst intoxication. Next morning, I would find myself in a pool of vomit, but that would be next morning. For now, I was forgetting where I was. At a university, with frat mates. Kids who thought they were punks. I hated every thread of their soul. I put on some music, some Against Me!. And as the rhythm went through my body, it felt like everything else did, too. Chugging vodka. Just make it so I can't see. Because now I was in a land where I had to be inebriated to be happy. I can remember a special girl, and whenever I was with her, I didn't feel the need to drink -- I wanted to appreciate her with the full awareness of my senses. She was every girl I loved. But there were still nights filled with drugs -- and those substances existed there just because they complimented life. Struggling through the crowd of people, not caring about anything, I just wanted to get fucked up. And that was the vibe these people gave off. Because the kid next to me said, "See, you should love parties -- it's all about getting pussy," and the other one said, "Aw, dude, come on, get more shitfaced." I was living a lie here, at this university. And it hurt so bad, because I still loved my real family, related through love, not blood.
What of family?
I looked around this campus, and all I could see was those who were apathetic and ignorant. Both of society, culture, and politics. They didn't mind that the music they listened to or the movies they watched was manufactured heartlessly by a corporation. They didn't seem to care that, while they gobbled up this heartless, brutal form of culture, hundreds of thousands of people dying because of the government's abusive nature. They wanted to live life easily, see politics in nationalistically black and white terms, see culture in simplistically popular and unpopular understanding. Society, as it exists in its current form, is a curse to the land, and an insult to the living beauty of humaneness. But society, as it exists among friends who have nothing else, is a blessing. It is the stars that make the darkness of night seem well-lit and more meaningful than that of a well-lit day.
About the author
Punkerslut (or Andy Carloff) has been writing essays and poetry on social issues which have caught his attention for several years. His website www.punkerslut.com provides a complete list of all of these writings. His life experience includes homelessness, squating in New Orleans and LA, dropping out of high school, getting expelled from college for "subversive activities," and a myriad of other revolutionary actions.
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