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Young Person's Guide to Democracy

Here at the beginning of the 21st Century, as we head into a time that resembles the end of democracy... heh, resembles... we here at The Corpuscle would like to leave a little something behind in the hope that someday gonads may once again thrive among what, in the Olde Days, we used call "Free Thinkers".

Inasmuch as old farts are evidently of little or no use anymore in keeping freedom of speech present in our lives, nor common decency toward our fellow beings, nor civilized behavior, nor the desire for verifiable knowledge about the world, nor free thought, we orient our sights toward the Youth of the World. Good luck, kids! It's your world to screw-up now!

And so herewith, eighteen pieces of unsolicited advice:

First, masturbate if you want. It's your goddamned body. They are trying to train you to become a consuming cog in their production machine. This means the first thing they need to do is cultivate in you the notion that you don't actually belong to yourself. Dr. Jocelyn Elders got hounded out of office as Surgeon General of the United States of America for suggesting the obvious -- that kids ought to be taught how to masturbate. What else do you need to know about The Man and his attitude regarding who owns your body? Playing with yourself is probably the first genuinely powerful political act you will undertake. Beat off for Jesus, or Democracy, or Free Thought, or whatever your particular personal values are. Or, you know, just jerk-off for yourself. That is, after all, kind of the point.

Second, celebrate weirdoes. The Man wants all of us molded into cogs in His machine and weirdoes only gum up the works. Weirdoes have bumps and teeth in all the wrong places. Weirdoes have to be pounded into shapes acceptable to the rest of the machine. Otherwise, what is their use? You want to fight The Man, then make friends with nerds and homos and lonely kids and kids with greasy hair and pimples and anybody else who The Man wants you to hate. He wants you to be cruel to each other so you can learn how to be proper bullies. That keeps you alone and isolated from each other, and that makes you powerless against Him. Yes, that's right. Being kind and decent to each other is a way of fighting back.

Third, remember this: We're all in the same effed up boat. What do you want to make other people's lives miserable for? If you want to take out your aggressions on somebody, take them out on those who are aggressively trying to make you into a drone, some cog in their machine. They deserve it. But spice it this way: be funny. Take the piss out of the Machine-oids in the name of everybody's freedom -- including the stunted freedom of the Machine-oids themselves. Mess with them, but try to mess with them in a way that helps them see what cowardly weenies they are. The more of them you can free up, the easier time of it you are going to have for yourself.

Fourth, your job is to make the world into a place you don't actually mind living in. Ultimately, you don't know why you were born, and you don't know why or how or when the world is going to croak you. You can look at this purposelessness as a burden, in which case the easiest thing to do is to surrender and become a cogoid. Or, you can look on this emptiness as a blank slate -- a medium upon which you can write your own life. You didn't ask to come into this world and so, in my book, that means you are under no obligation whatsoever to mindlessly accept what you've been handed once you got here. Own this emptiness you've been handed.

Fifth, find out what makes you feel. Look, everybody knows life can be upsetting and depressing. Of course there are chemical reasons for some kinds of serious depression, and don't take that possibility in yourself lightly. There are things that can be done for that sort of thing so try not to suffer more than you have to. But your run-of-the-mill depression, the kind that comes with just being alive, is good for The Man and bad for you. It softens you up. It makes you pliable. It makes you vulnerable to The Man's machinations. If you are depressed and can't figure out something to care about, care about finding something to care about. Explore. It might be that the thing that's scaring you and making you shut down your feelings is the frightening amount of freedom you've been handed. You don't have to swallow all that freedom at once. Take a small part of it, take the freedom you have to explore, the freedom you have to not necessarily accept the role the world is trying to make you play. Go out and do something you haven't done before, but make sure it isn't something that will hurt you or hurt somebody else -- you can't find the full measure of your genuine freedom if you are dead or have crippled yourself, or if you have killed or crippled somebody else.

Sixth, here's something you can believe in even when it feels like there's nothing at all to believe in: There's always something you can do to make things better. Look, when you get to the end of life and all your options have shut down, maybe that isn't true anymore. But, screw it, I think when I get to that point I'm still going to choose to believe it. Why? Why the hell not? How am I going to find out that there's something I can do to make things better unless I believe that I can? Maybe I can't make things much better, but better is better. Believing otherwise is giving in to The Man. People who want to make things better are troublemakers and The Man hates troublemakers.

Seventh, The Man wants you feeling weak. The Man wants you feeling that there is nothing you can do about things. The Man wants, for example, to hand you voting machines that allow for fraud, and He wants you to just accept that. The Man wants to lie to you about there being WMDs in Iraq and -- listen carefully here -- he doesn't care if you actually believe Him. He only wants you to behave as if you do. See, it doesn't matter to The Man if you believe so long as you don't make trouble when he lies to you. This is how your elders have failed you. You should be outraged. It's their willingness to ignore the fact that they've been lied to that is sending you and your mates off to get killed.

Eighth, go to the web and look up a guy named Clark Kent Ervin (yes, he was named -- at the urging of his older brother -- after Superman's alter-ego). He used to be the guy at the Homeland Security Department in charge of making sure that outfit wasn't bullshitting us about making us safer here at home. He found problem after problem with that agency, failure after failure, and he had this annoying habit of actually telling the truth in public about these failures. And so he got fired. Nobody was outraged. Nobody was fired for shutting this guy up. Nobody had to pay any price whatsoever for their so totally bullshitting us. And this is how your elders have failed you again. They did not rise up and demand that they stop bullshitting us. Your elders are cowards. Your elders have become what you should be terrified of becoming. Always tell the verifiable truth, and demand the verifiable truth from others -- always, always, always the truth. From your parents. From your teachers. From the people who are purportedly "running the country". No more bullshitting. You know bullshit when you see it. This is your special talent. Never lose it.

Ninth, argue with those who want to subject you to the rules and regulations of their religion. If you want to have your religion, fine. Just remember it is your religion and you've got no right to cram it down other people's throats.

Tenth, fight back against those who want you to shut up.

Eleventh, grant to others the sort of freedom you want for yourself -- that's the only way you will ever get and keep it for yourself.

Twelfth, don't let yourself be mindlessly sold to. What sort of mindless idiot buys the products The Man wants you to buy just because He wants you to buy them? You don't have to be A Star in The Man's eyes. You don't have to be one of His Special Cogs to be worth something. You don't have to own all the right crap. What're you, stupid? Why are you giving him money? He will only use it to gain more power over you. Use that brain you've got in your head, will ya?

Thirteenth, I like to party as much as the next guy, but keep this in mind, too: staying doped up or totally slacking off isn't Resisting the Man, or Saying No, or anything else supposedly Brave and Radical like that. Tell the truth: it's rolling over on your stomach and spreading your ass-cheeks for The Man. Get. A. Clue. Don't pretend you are doing something you are not.

Fourteenth, be brave enough to stand alone when what you are standing for is the right thing. Being brave can be scary, so that means it can be fun, too. You like roller coaster rides? You like haunted houses? You like driving fast on dark roads? Try just being brave! Thrills! Chills! Spills! And don't forget to be stubborn when they are trying to make you think something they cannot prove is worth thinking. If they beat you down once, it will be easier for them to do it the next time. And the next time. And pretty soon you're stupid, just the way they want you.

Fifteenth, educate yourself, otherwise you will never be able to know when you have to brave and/or stubborn about something. They want you stupid and uneducated. Look at the school systems they are inflicting on you. They don't want you studying the truth in school. They don't want you learning science, for god's sake. At least they don't want you learning anymore science than that which will make you a useful cog in their machine. They don't want to teach you about sex. They're willing to see you die rather than teach you about sex. If that's not proof they mean to make you stupid, I don't know what is. If they won't make your schools smart for you, then you will have to make them smart for yourselves. Challenge your parents, your teachers, your school boards, your civic leaders to make your schools smarter. You might even catch them off guard one day and they'll accidentally end up doing it. If nothing else, think of the fun you'll have calling them frauds and being totally in the right.

Sixteenth, the world is worth making better, if for no other reason than the simple fact that you and your compatriots have to live in it. The world will be better for it if you can help nudge America closer to what she purports to be. You won't succeed. No one will ever completely succeed because the real America can only ever exist as a dream. But in the real world, better is better. Never forget that: in the real world, better is always better.

Seventeenth, don't forget to have some fun along the way. In fact, make sure that you do. Be kind to the good people, and the sad, and the lonely, and the odd, and your friends, but never forget to heartlessly mock the frauds. Not just now when it is easy for you to mock people; do it for the rest of your lives.

And finally, eighteenth, never forget this: your mind and your body and your heart are not charitable donations you need to spend the rest of your life being grateful for; they are the price the world has to pay you for dragging you into this life. The world doesn't own them. You do. They are the wages of life. Don't be a fool and end up spending them on somebody else's crap.


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Some of us old fogies could follow some of that advice, too. In fact, I think some do. We are not our ancestors, and don't have to make the same stupid errors. And truth-telling is essential. You're always zeroing in to the heart of things.

Keep it going!

Indeed, some of us old fogies do try to keep up with some of that advice. It sounds exhausting, but really it's just, um, what's the word I'm looking for... oh, that's right, invigorating. Yeah, it's our job to keep hanging on by our yellowing fingernails until enough of the young ones coming up arrive, cavalry-like, to save the day. They'll thank us for it, in the end. Well, they probably won't, but that's all right. Maybe Ken Burns will do a PBS Fund-Raising Week Special on us someday.

Brilliant. Thank you. I believe you've just made it on to the "required reading list" I carry around in my head for my ten-year old.

This is the first time I've read any of your posts (I'm here via Electrolite), but I'll be back.

Kimberly: Yay! Welcome! I love new readers.

Lurker delurking here to say that you've got so much spot-on that I think I may print this out and lay it aside until the new generation currently in my uterus is of sufficient maturity to appreciate it.

Welcome, Nick. But instead of printing out the text and laying it aside, maybe you want to duct-tape it face down to your swelling belly? It's never too soon.

Seriously, thank you. I'm grateful you found something of value in it.

you should raise children

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