Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Rites Of Fall

Fall is once again in full bloom. The leaves are turning, temperatures are moderating, and children are once more back in school. The Rites of Fall are likewise in full bloom. 

No, I am not talking about the World Series, the beginning of the football season, or even pre-season hockey. I am talking instead about something with far fewer rules, far more bad behavior, and far more devastating results. In other words boys and girls, election season. 

We are once again in the midst of what is simultaneously the most interesting, most boring, and most despicable of human behaviors. Trapped in front of our televisions and radios, we are subjected to a non-stop stream of "half-truths, mistruths, and outright lies" (a quote previously misused by a local Toledo politician which I just love).  

Understanding our addiction to these evil technologies, our politicians take advantage of our illness in order to subject us to an endless stream of fertilizer and hatred (most of which is wild mis-characterization) in order to convince us that they are to be trusted enough to lead us. Like hunters who are not content to shoot a prey chained to a stake, they must also spray bullets all around, wounding innocent bystanders in the process.  

This behavior crosses all parties lines, is participated in by liberal and conservative alike, and even crosses lines of gender. Nothing is sacrosanct, nothing is off limits, and nothing is out of bounds. The normal proscriptions against attacking women, children, or beliefs goes out the window in the headlong struggle to achieve a little power and a fat government paycheck (or the equivalent government funding)

All rules are out the window in this ultimate fighting match where winning is the only measure of success. Each contestant slings filth in every direction while simultaneously decrying the practice. No blame is accepted, no guilt is felt, and the only respite taken is one used to beat one's breast while asserting a claim of being the victim of an unfounded character attack. 

 Fortunately for all of us, the regular season is short and the playoffs are well under way. The coaches, fans, and press of this bloodsport, blinded by an almost religious fervor, run helter-skelter down the field, keeping pace with the players themselves. At break neck speed and completely out of control, the process races along to the finish line; crushing contestants and bystanders alike in its furious pace. Our only salvation is that in but another few weeks the winners will be crowned, the losers will be able to seek redress in the courts, and flush with new won power our leaders will all go back to "business as usual". 

This is the world that we have created in our own image, cage matches where two enter and one leaves. This is what we have done with the legacy handed down to us by a group of dedicated revolutionaries 232 years ago who risked their very lives to provide us with a freedom that we have turned into little more than a pay-per-view gladiatorial spectacle. 

And perhaps these competitions, like those in the past, signal the end of an empire. Perhaps we have finally bastardized the process beyond all redemption, and like the Roman Empire, begun our slow decline into oblivion. I still hold out some vague hope that such is not the case, but I will leave those conclusions to the judgment of history. Meanwhile like it or not, these are the true "Rites of Fall".


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