T for Tom

Cause and Effect

Posted in Prose, Trying To Get Published by johnsontoms on September 16, 2012

There used to be things to get us fired up and point in the right direction. Years ago, the right song or advertisement could spark riots. We seem to have forgotten that actions are louder than words, and don’t listen much to the things going on around us.

Dave Matthews Band released their latest record last week, and among its familiar chords exist a song that implores us to “do something more than believe if we want to change this world.” A simple enough line, but as the album’s lead single, the artist I believe is asking us to pay attention this time. What more can we do than believe?

There was a time when Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” or Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” had an entire nation question it’s position, and at that time it was the Vietnam War. Musicians, filmmakers, authors, artists, vendors, clothiers, everyone set about making their art and products as a piece of social awareness and the public listened – listened until its actions evoked change.

These things have not changed. Artists like Dave Matthews are still making politically charged music, but it falls on deaf ears. Just two years ago The Roots teamed up with John Legend to produce an album of political charged soul remakes, titled obviously enough “Wake Up!” But their effort was judged as a piece of art, not a social tool. Clearly our problems are larger than contemporary. To that effect, we must look broader. How the hell did we ever get to point where no one seems to care anymore?

When will cause be finally linked to effect? All the time grand philosophies answered with minute and hardly relevant simplicities, and the vice versa – that our government (as such a grand definition and entity) should be wrong, it’s problems are with the such and such (abortion, taxes, gay marriage, what have you, none of these are wholly responsible for the mess we’re in). And the opposite summarization – that we have arrived at the problems inherent with such and such and that the government on the whole is to blame.

It would be much simpler still to point the arrows in the right directions, or as they say, pick on someone their own size. When then will the proper amount of effect be given to the right cause? Or when we will finally answer “What has 200 years of imagining the intent of the Founding Fathers given us?” with “trillions of dollars of debt.”

Without divulging into a philosophy worthy of Leviathan, this approach can be used on most of our problems; a scientific method for the living, if you will. I’ve gotten used to calling it, “Don’t overlook the obvious.”

This approach first occurred to me as I was sitting on a river’s edge, something I had done a hundred times during this summer two years ago, and realizing that I was not free to sit along the water but forced to do so – without money, without work, without gas to drive my car, and without any place to be. I wasn’t free, I was crippled. Asking myself then, how did I get here, I could’ve settled with the simple asnwers – had lost my job, hadn’t found a job were the easiest. But there was so much more, and in a grand way could be illumined.

I was useless.

I had lost the job for that reason, and couldn’t find one for the very same. It didn’t mean that some facet of my being could bring about a solution, it meant that I was the problem, and I needed change. These things are not new (and I direct you to Thoreau, or Plato, or Hobbes, or Rousseau).

But where men as individuals have succeeded, we continue to fail as a group. Every year we are presented with new and different problems for the government to fix, asking to cure diseases, fix poverty, feed the hungry, abolish social injustice. Yet, on the whole, it never happens. Why?

Why do we keep using the same methodology that never wholly fixed anything over and over?

All around me people complain of loneliness but never change their environment. All around me people talk of wanting to get fit but never go for a run. All around me people talk about moving somewhere different but are afraid to quit their job. We can’t go on living this way if we ever want change.

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One Response

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  1. Steve said, on September 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    I agree with you Tom.
    We as a people do seem to “want” change, but are fearful of having to actually take any action ourselves to get it. There can be many reasons, even out social conditioning has told us that someone else will make the changes we want. We’re lead to believe in counting on our government, social security, etc., to do it & make things better for all of us.
    At the same time we have become so self-centered, that it’s hard to get a group together for a good cause, let alone get a commitment from anyone to participate and follow through when there is any risk involved.
    What is lacking, I believe are good roll models & mentors. Look at what the media tells us is important: reality TV personalities, sports figures, movie stars. And this is what we should model ourselves after ???
    What happened to honesty, integrity, modesty, compassion, & plain old caring about your next door neighbor? Most people in major cities don’t even know the person living in the condo next door, or the people on the other side of their apartment wall.


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