Every man is to be respected as an absolute end in himself; and it is a crime against the dignity that belongs to him to use him as a mere means to some external purpose.

Immanuel Kant

I look at 21st century American culture, all-pervasive pop variety, and note: what else but crime upon crime against dignity. To what purpose?

It was a damp dark night. The kind of night where the mist refracts all the infinite rays of light into lonely glows and muddled reflections, courtesy the grit of the street. I walked with a drunken shuffle; to many drinks they said. Hell, what do they know? It’s situations like these you try and scurry home to your sanctuary for much needed rest from a three day long drinking binge as the cold wet pavement offers no comfort here and it’s a well known fact that wild beasts lurk in these shadows. They sit and wait for some poor soul like myself to wander by so that they can latch onto them until their host is empty of spare change or friendly jabber. And as I fade to and from existence with each passing street light something grabs tight.

Old glory sat there cold and lifeless, wrapped around a pole as if it was still clinging on to life that had left it long ago. Twisted over and over on itself with its dignity smashed. It shivered alone in the cold, wet air with no one to tend the wounds. This was a truly gruesome sight where I only caught a glimpse of the perpetrators. Men with chains and knives all taking cheap shots just for the hell of it. Men who scattered like cockroaches the second a light comes on. It sparked a thought of the peculiar type that are painful from the moment they enter into existence up until the point they are forgotten. And its thoughts like these that are not the sort to leave politely or in orderly fashion. Thoughts of old men with fake southern drawls and dusty grey hair from too many days at “The Ranch.” Thoughts of those bastards putting the toe of his snake skin boots right into the side of the red and white stripes; right below the ribs but just above the hip in the real soft spot that stings like a hornet and burns like the white hot coals. This was but one sad thought in a long chain of sad thoughts that proceeded afterwards, each more terrifying than the previous that finally culminated with the dark realization that this is only the beginning.

And while I was standing there staring at I almost felt the residuals of the kick. A slight sting but not in the side, not in the soft spot, but right in the very core of my heart near the interchange of all emotion processing and within a deep abscess reserved strictly for guilt and shame. Being young and naïve with the fight of some wild boar drunk with rage I feel urge to hit back, the need for payback. Get the fuckers back and hit ‘em where it hearts. I want to be able to say I gave a damn; that I didn’t lie there and take needlessly while I get the shit kicked out of me. But deep down I know that it’s folly and the only thing that it helps is my own ego. Without method it’s wasted energy and as Dylan would say its only dust in the wind, but even with all the golden idealism my blind rage fixes nothing.

But at the core of all this political confusion and disgust one can figure that it’s not even the near the nerve center for the problem. No one man can fight a war and we’ve all become so lulled to the daily beatings that no one even cares anymore. It’s such common place that it’s considered only being realistic to assume and accept the listless transgressions by our civic officials. Even if we didn’t have our Myspace’s to update, or Wii’s to play we’re still so detatched from these leaders that no one knows how to go about getting any change. Not the kind of change that some non-binding resolution would bring, or the kind of change some political correspondent talks about to sway public opinion, but rather real change at the peoples request.

I suppose that’s half the struggle with it though, coming to grips with the fact that all these animals out here in the world want to customize their ring-tones and define their online presence to indulge in and enamor themselves in the glory of their own life. But maybe it’s more of my unbounded idealism leftover from being young and naïve that hope remains that maybe, just maybe, someone out there is tending the horns of change so that when the time is right we’ll all hear the call to act.

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