Kin Lane

Ensuring You Feel Helpless And Move Out Of The Way Is Deliberate

I am not going to vote, it doesn’t matter, is one of the most obvious and common forms of this expression. I’d say anti-government and anti-union narratives are the second most common, with a long, long list of them following after that. I’ve lost hope at several times in my life. Most notably in 1996 and then again in 2016–whoa, I never made that connection before. In 1996 I was swept up in the Oklahoma City bombing investigation, and even though I had no involvement, I did have other things going on, resulting in my entire world crashing down. In 2016, it was the election of Trump, and the loss of key family and friends that sent me into depression and hopelessness–ensuring that I felt hopeless and was out of the way.

The outcome of both of these episodes ended up with me seeing that ensuring that individuals feel helpless, are unable to take any action, and are appropriately out of the way, and able to be manipulated is a key feature of the way the US system works. The centers of power want you feeling like you can’t make a difference. They do not want you voting, marching, or doing anything else that might become an irritant for them. God forbid, potentially make any change. To do this, it requires a regular stream of stories that contribute to an overall narrative of hopelessness, and that there is nothing you can do to make a difference. Don’t even bother. You’ll never make any change. Just stay home. A playbook many of us follow, while asserting the stance that we are right, and anyone else who does try anything different is bad, ensuring that we are also feeding into the overall narrative “they” want us subscribe to. In addition to being out of the way, in these states we are even doing their bidding to help keep others down, grinding down the people around us with our own pessimism and nihilism.

Not only are we out of the way, we are actively keeping others down. Nice work! Someone wants to go to a protest we will make sure they know the FBI rendered protests meaningless in the 60s. Someone wants to vote, we will make sure they know it doesn’t count. Someone wants to write a story about change, we will make sure they know that nobody will read it. It is fascinating how we all fall for this play book of the rich and powerful. Not only are we giving up, we are actually going to spend any energy we have keeping others down, or at least depressed as fuck because of us. Depression is a bitch. I’ve fallen into these cycles on a regular basis. To prevent myself from falling prey to this narrative, I have to work extra hard to stay educated and active. I’m not unrealistically optimistic about my activity, but I do stay in motion enough to keep the moss from forming on my shoulders.

The challenge with not staying out of the way is that you have to learn to navigate within the machine. You can’t just stay at the fringes. You have to spend a lot of time reading. Not only reading online where algorithms can get you working for them, but through magazines, books, and other direct sources. You also have to spend time frequenting the centers of power in government, corporations, and other institutions. You can’t exclaim that you don’t frequent these places because you are an outsider, and they are wrong, when you think you are right. You need to frequent these establishments, learn the vocabulary being used, and immerse yourself in the politics (within reason), and get to know the rhythm of the machine, so you can recognize the sound of those gears when they are in operation. You can’t stay on the sideline, otherwise eventually you will just be ground up by the machine.

I am always looking for ways to encourage my helpless, pessimistic, and nihilist friends out of this narrative trap. Honestly, I rarely have the answers. I almost never shift their behaviors. However, I have to keep trying. If nothing else, I will just write about it, and help remind myself how I can’t go there. I have to keep digging out. I have to keep scratching. I have to keep crafting and telling stories. Otherwise none of this matters to me. Honestly, I’m not doing it for me, or for everyone else. I am doing it for future generations. I feel like it is our kids who need the most light in their worlds, otherwise they’ll never even be given a chance to live. We’ll overload them with all the burdens of life before they ever even get out of the gate. I am doing it for them, because I understand that much of the weight I carry was given to me by the adults in my life as I went from teenager to adult. I’m not going to do this to the next generation. I want to better equip them for the future, even if that future is very hopeless at times.