Pogo looks at Chris Hedges “Careerist” Editorial

In response to Chris Hedges’ “Careerists” editorial on TruthDig today (07/23/12),  I let out my “inner Pogo” http://www.truthdig.com/report/page3/the_careerists_20120723/

copyright Walt Kelly, The Pogo Papers, first published in 1953

The only humans who are not contributing to the circumstances of economic and social destruction are the people who are already suffering from the consequences of those of us who are. At the risk of sounding like a Republican, I think, given half a chance, those poor souls would become willing consumers and in turn, conscious or unconscious destroyers themselves.

Chris Hedges says, “The greatest crimes of human history are made possible by the most colorless human beings.”

It’s true, the world’s spin cycle has washed the brightest hues of humanity from most of us.  In real life, we are easily overwhelmed and obviously over-washed.

It’s not just the bureaucrats and cynics–we all “do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death a reality.”

We all contribute, in ways small or large, to a planet hell-bent on hurtling itself toward self-destruction. The complexity of modern life has obscured the cause and effect of simpler times, when losing a crop meant starvation, and when the mistakes could be attributed to a limited population…these days, buying a product that was advertised on TV during a Penn State football game could be considered ‘contributory’ to the culture that supported a monster.

There is incredible danger to finger-pointing, Mr. Hedges, unless one is looking in the mirror while flagging the finger.

Does Hedges have a computer or car or TV made by oppressed workers far offshore?  Did he use fossil fuels on the way to work today or consume a Monsanto-modified food? Is his classy casual shirt crafted by well-paid workers, crafted from unbleached, vegetable-dyed cotton? Did Chris step over a homeless person on the way to work today?

Anyone who consents to paying taxes knowingly feeds the beast. The behemoth has about 20 million government-paid heads in the USA alone. Sharpen your sword, Chris–and break your accountant’s pencil.

Our choices are few: worry, or shrug, or go nuts.

The soulless bureaucrats exist so Chris can opine and I can shine: because I cannot support myself as a writer, I am a jeweler, a purveyor of one of life’s little luxuries. All my diamond cutters and importers signed the anti-blood-diamond Kimberley Accord, every one of them.

I recycle gold, I sell estate diamonds, I donate to charities and walk to work.

I still understand that my actions breed suffering. The Kimberly Accord has huge flaws. The man-made soles on my ergonomic shoes may have destroyed an aquifer in China. The environmentally disastrous proposed Pebble mine in Alaska may be an indirect result of my counseling folks to diversify from paper investments.

I just hope that little acts of kindness and charity mask the moderate evil I abet.

At a time when we need to recognize our own contributions to destruction, to bridge gaps and build coalitions, let’s not make the bureaucrats throw more paper covers over their sins. Instead, pass out Freedom of Information Act forms outside Wall Street firms, raise money and strengthen statutes for whistleblowers, force companies to pay fines, and vote with your dollars. But forgive yourself, at least a little, for not being chased by a despot or starving on the fringes of a desert, or dying from a preventable disease.

All Chris Hedges would have to do for me is a quick re-edit to his TruthDig column today. Just change THEY to WE, and THEM to US.

Just because we’re part of the problem doesn’t mean we can’t mean a little something to the cure.


About wedgeblog

Claire Baiz is a columnist for Signature Montana, a featured editorial writer for The Great Falls Tribune, and a regular contributor to the Folio award winning jeweler’s trade magazine InStore. Claire has written for niche and trade magazines, both online and in print. Contact Claire via e-mail at clairebaiz@gmail.com
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2 Responses to Pogo looks at Chris Hedges “Careerist” Editorial

  1. Mark Mathison says:

    You make many good points for us to ponder over, but I still agree overall with Hedges essay; a majority of people will put their conscience aside if it means loosing a job and they can do so easily once they learn how to compartmentalize their job and their mind. They are exactly what Hitler had in mind when he said “leaders are fortunate that the people don’t think.”

    In fact, I would propose that most people generally spend most of their lives failing to live consciously of nearly everything worthwhile. They fail to consciously promote their family relationships, they fail to use critical thinking skills in their everyday life, they move through the day without seeing the little things around them, and they fail to see themselves as part of a community. They fail to worry about who they push out of the way or walk over to get what they want. But what they do consciously think about is how to get a bigger income and more things that glitter. They have trouble forming friendships, yet they “network” continuously for financial gain.

    I admit that I am a hypocrite at times and I am often guilty of everything I despise, yet I consciously try to keep from becoming a careerist who can’t see beyond his cubicle. I try to live consciously each day and work at maintaining personal relationships. I try to see the big picture as well as the fine details in the world around me. I am willing to leave the security of a job if it conflicts with my conscience. I try not to use so many “I”s, but I admit, I fail in that.

  2. KeenyLenny says:

    I understand your point and I do feel as well that Mr. Hedges mantra is a bit hard to swallow and its easy for him since he’s not a media or tech addict like some of us. But the beauty and poignancy in his writing makes it worth reading. I take his writings as more of a an Orwellian warning to society than a religous creed to follow. But at times what he suggest may not be that great for everyone. He insisted that everyone dump their stocks and his tone is a bit preachy in the sense that we’re at fault because we have a stock 401k plan which is utterly ridiculous. It would be better for the working class to participate in his 401k. Yes hate the banks all you want but why not use them for your gain. Isn’t that the best revenge? If you look at it all, its pretty mind boggling and its just too big for any one person to really contain. There is great woe in the world but to give up and cave in to despair wouldn’t help anyone. There is still hope through technology innovation and human empathy that one day we will learn to adapt and live symbiotically with the earth in a positive way.

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