Politics & Boredom

I've been watching with interest the incidents of unprovoked police brutality against the Occupy protesters. Most people can't figure out why the police would do harm to people who obviously pose no threat to them.  But I've seen it before.  It's a trick prison guards have been using for years.

If a person feels a sharp, unexpected pain - say, a jab in the ribs with a billy club - their first instinct is to lash out at whatever is causing that pain.  Being a prison guard isn't exactly the greatest job in the world.  They're overworked, underpaid, and generally treated like crap by their employers.  There were times I actually felt sorry for them.  My sympathy usually evaporated fairly quickly, as the guards' working conditions tended to make them surly, and mean-spirited.  They would invariably take out those frustrations on us.

They were trying to provoke us into doing or saying something stupid, which would then give them an excuse to beat us down, and toss us in the hole.  I caught on pretty quickly.  Some guys never did get it.

They did this, essentially out of boredom.  It was a little excitement to break up their day.  I suspect the actions of the police are a little more politically motivated.  I think the police are actually trying to incite a riot, thereby discrediting the movement.  It is my hope the the protesters see this tactic for what it is.

There is an upside. A sort of conditioning takes effect. Consequently, I can now take a fair amount of pain, and still retain my reason and restraint.

We could always tell if an inmate was new, because whenever a guard did something senseless and mean, the new guy would always ask why.

The guard's answer was so consistent, that I actually think it's a part of their training.

When asked, "Why?"  The response was always, "Because we can."

Early morning weirdness

I came across this, and while watching, something odd happened.
People often make fun of the way Carl Sagan spoke (billions and billions).  For me, it's easy to overlook, because what I hear -- what comes through the loudest,  is his genuine love of science and nature.

Like my father, I'm not exactly what one would call emotionally demonstrative.  Unless one counts being perpetually glib as an emotion.

So, I was surprised when tears began to well up while watching this.  For a number of reasons, I suppose.  Pride in what we've accomplished.  Grief for what we've lost.  For an instant, I was 9 years old again, and all that hope and wonder came rushing back.  But only for an instant.

Then the memories of all that has happened since intruded.  All of the imagination and vision that put us on the moon has somehow turned into pettiness and cruelty.  Once we had leaders who imagined the world a better place.  Now we have those who can't imagine anything more that their own immediate self-interest.  We have others who believe this world is destined to be destroyed by some mythical deity, and are scrambling to get what they can from it before the end.  They're blind to the inherent conflict between their supposed beliefs, and their actions.

It took a relatively short time for humanity to somehow become less human.  To become a people who cheer the death of one of our own who can't afford to stay alive.  People who consider compassion and empathy to be character flaws.

There is a difference between being pragmatic, and giving up.

I admit, my ignorance on a wide variety of subjects could fill volumes...or, actually, not.  But I do know one thing with a certainty I've never felt before.

The past should never hold more hope than the future.