Friday, October 14, 2016

We, the Huddled Masses

In 1883, the American poet Emma Lazarus wrote "The New Colossus" for an art auction aimed at funding construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Twenty years later her sonnet was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal's lower level. Since then her words have been used many times, mostly by politicians (JFK and Obama to name a couple) looking for soaring rhetoric to describe the glories of life in these United States, particularly the second stanza which reads:

     “Give me your tired, your poor,
      Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
      The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
      Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
      I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” 

Maybe we should move the Statue of Liberty from New York Harbor since, let's be honest, it ain't working here, considering all the homeless in every American city. I for one have been a tempest-tossed huddled mass yearning to be free for most of my adult life, and looking around I see I have plenty of company. 

News flash: None of us are free! We are constantly fed lies by the media, and I don't just mean Brian Williams I mean all of them. And by our politicians like Hillary Clinton who claimed she dodged sniper fire in Bosnia but oops it was just a young girl who kissed her.  And by large corporations like Samsung with their exploding cell phones and VW with their phony emissions controls. We mustn't leave out Donald Trump who claims the latest allegations of his sexual misconduct by a reporter from People magazine couldn't have happened because they were in a "very public area with people all around," when it actually took place in a private bedroom and nobody was a witness.  

Then there's the idea cooked up by a series of politicians way back in the early 1900s, including Herbert Hoover and continuing up through Obama, with a lot of help along the way from the National Association of Realtors, that signing on to a lifetime of mortgage payments and getting stuck in one place for your whole life constitutes "The American Dream," along with a full-time job for your entire productive years with weekends off for good behavior. The final piece of the happiness pie according to those people behind the curtain controlling the messages we, the huddled masses, receive is that marriage and family are necessary for true happiness. (Just ask the Menendez brothers about that one since you can't ask their parents.)

No wonder antidepressant prescriptions are up, along with addictions to drugs and alcohol: We are all the huddled masses. The antidote: Put down the cell phone, turn off the TV and grab a book (or two or three) on Buddhism and meditation. Join a yoga class, go for a run, walk outside and breathe the fresh air. Try thinking for yourself for a few days and soon enough you'll stop huddling and stand up straight.

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