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Harrison Bergeron/2081

The following post is a report I did for a college course, a critical reading report. I like it, so figured why not post it? Let me know what you think. If you haven’t read this story, you should!
1961 was a big year in American history in pop culture and the political sphere. This was the year JFK was inaugurated, we sent a man to space, the Berlin Wall began construction and Lenny Bruce became the first man to say “cocksucker” on stage. But 1961 was also a time where America was at war, the Cold War. The Red Scare was rampant and communism at the time was what radical Islam is today. In this same year, Kurt Vonnegut wrote the short story “Harrison Bergeron.” “Harrison Bergeron” is a tale of a distant future, set right here in our United States, where the United States we know of today is no longer relevant. Instead, there is an authoritarian government in place that has made each and every individual equal to one other by way of handicapping the more fortunate. The 211th, 212th and 213th amendments to the constitution have resulted in the intelligent having their thoughts suppressed, the strong and athletic are weakened, and the beautiful are masked. Then along comes Harrison Bergeron, an immense man who is very intelligent, good looking, and is attempting to “awake the masses.” At first read Vonnegut’s story seems to be no more than a social critique on the dangers of egalitarianism through communism, however, it seems to be more than that. “Harrison Bergeron” is a testament to the greatness and importance of democracy in America, shown throughout the text with the characters, setting and theme.​Many characters appear in the story and each one holds a vast amount of importance to the story. Vonnegut first introduces us to Hazel and George Bergeron who shed some light on what living as an average citizen in Vonnegut’s vision of 2081 America is like. George is very important due to the fact he is very harshly handicapped by force of the government; George is depicted as having heavy braces and weights on his body to undermine his strength and wearing earpieces that suppress his thoughts. Establishing these characters right off the bat shows just how oppressive the government is in its quest for equality. Other important characters are the ones depicted on TV. Day in and day out the citizens are watching the same ballet show, where the ballerinas are a perfect representation of the government’s oppression. Bounded by physical and mental handicaps, masks to cover their otherwise beautiful faces and the forcing of them to consistently perform the same routine is an allusion to the twisted control of the government. Combine the everyday citizen and these ballet shows, and the final product is the docile population an authoritarian government prays for. Finally, we are introduced to Harrison Bergeron on the TV after escaping prison. A quintessential example of everything this government hates. He arrives on to the scene as a criminal who defies the government and proposes the idea of a Monarchy to those watching the show. In the story he is quoted saying, “I am the Emperor! Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once! Even as I stand here, crippled, hobbled, and sickened – I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!” The two vastly different forms of government we are shown in this story show how Vonnegut is critiquing both the Left wing and the Right wing in America. The communist government in power represents the left while Harrison Bergeron’s proposed Monarchy represents the right. By doing this, Vonnegut is telling the reader that a fair democracy is the best form of government.

​When looking at the setting of the story, we see very obvious references to communist governments. The year is 2081 and set in the United States, just not the same one Americans are familiar with today. Probably the most distinctive characteristic of an authoritative government in the setting would be the news and ballerina program. It was made clear that the ballet show they were watching was an exclusive program that was all the citizens were able to watch. This is clear evidence of hindering the thought processes of the citizens to make them more docile. There is no greater way to control the ideas, beliefs and opinions of a society than to have control of the media/press. To understand the real critique of Vonnegut, the real world political setting of the time; in the 1950’s we see the book The Authoritarian Personality by Thedor Adorno. Adorno believed in Critical Theory and his book brought to light the idea that the presence in a society of Christianity, capitalism, and the patriarchal-authoritarian family created a character prone to racial and religious prejudice and German fascism. Today we call this Political Correctness, which labels nearly anything said that is slightly controversial as racist, sexist, homophobic or islamophobia. This is a classic tactic used today by the left and a warning made by Vonnegut to highlight the dangers of political correctness. Taking this into consideration, we can again see how the setting of both the book and the references to its time period are evidence of his support for democracy and protection of free press.

​At first glance the theme of this story may be a warning of the dangers of authoritarian governments. Some may argue that it is social/political satire on the quest for social equality. The social satire argument is good argument when looking at the story at face value, solely for the fact of how ridiculous the idea of red noses to make you uglier sounds. And while many can find a Lenny Bruce/George Carlin-esque sense of humor in this story, there is also a very serious tone in “Harrison Bergeron.” This serious comes into play when showing the reader the dangers of an authoritarian government. Evidence of this is slightly more present and most that was touched on earlier in this analysis. But I will acknowledge the fact that this is a critique both not on one side of the political spectrum, it is a critique of the dangers of radical takeovers by either the left or the right and the undermining of democracy.

​Kurt Vonnegut is a great political satirist and you need look no farther than “Harrison Bergeron” to make that clear. By presenting the dangers of communism, he was able to critique the left. By showing the dangers of monarchies through Harrison Bergeron’s force he was able to critique the right. By doing so, Vonnegut was able to show just how absurd the dominance of two ideologies is and just how dangerous it is. Having only two battling ideologies like we do in the U.S. inevitably leads to far-right and far-left parties. One of those parties takes power, and we get authoritarian governments. This was never more relevant in U.S. history than the 2016 race when it was not Trump vs. Clinton, but actually was fascism vs. socialism. Vonnegut’s text “Harrison Bergeron” was a testament to the greatness and importance of democracy through the story’s setting, characters and theme.

War on MSM

There is a war on the media in the United States today. A war that frankly, the mainstream media appears to be losing. While I am not proclaiming that the mainstream media elite is going down anytime soon, their credibility is falling. I mean, who you can you trust?  Fox news is conservative propaganda pulling for the republican party. MSNBC is liberal propaganda pulling for the democrats. then there is CNN which pretends to be moderate, but I think we all know which way they lean.  Now personally, I would say I lean socially liberal, fiscally conservative and libertarian in regards to government involvement. What the fuck should I watch? The answer is everything. Never get your news from one source, despite what your party affiliation is. In today’s world of “fake news” no one should trust anything they hear and should realize the extreme differences in opinions between the news networks representing the two leading political ideologies.  Turn on Fox news you’ll  believe that there is war on Christmas, Muslims are coming to bomb everything around you, Mexicans are jumping the border like a triple jump, Hillary is the head of a pizza eating child molesting ring, and white males are the most oppressed people in the world. Turn on MSNBC and they’ll have you believe that every immigrant coming here wants to be your friend, every Muslim is peaceful, Donald Trump wears a pointed hood in the oval office, and white people are the devil and they’re all racist.  Granted I dislike both news networks due to the fact they are so divisive, but I still watch them. As should you. Watch Fox news, CNN, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera, BBC, etc. Hell, you should even listen to Alex Jones give his theory on intergalactic child-molesting reptilian elites putting fluoride in our water. The point I’m trying to make is this:  don’t turn a blind eye to anything you hear. Don’t brush it off, and most importantly do not accept it right off the bat. We should all question everything from the first time we utter the greatest question ever asked; “why?” I pray for the day that the American people will wake up to the lies and propaganda right in front of their faces. The media corruption is not limited to only tv news, but also advertising.  The constant repetitive fucking in the ass of America by the airwaves filled with commercial about nonsensical products. None of us need anymore McDonald’s, Coca Cola, pizza rolls, Domino’s, or other fattening product that continues to dumb down our society. I pray for the day that we all wake up from the vicious cycle of abuse we are in by the corporate elites. I also want to make this very clear: the undermining of the press is the first step towards authoritarianism. As always, stay aware. Stay vigilant. 

Heaven: Is it that great?

 

Am I the only one who thinks Heaven sounds pretty shitty? I think I’d rather take a cheese grater to my nipples than spend eternity in a place where I can’t even be stoned whilst singing hymns.  Growing up a Christian, Heaven was the predominantly confusing aspect in the bible.  The bible’s viewpoint on this magical kingdom is derived directly from who? That’s right, the king.  How many times have you heard a king bad talking his own property?  I’m interested more in the most-viewed yelp reviews of Heaven’s slums before trusting the words of a genocidal tyrant. Because really that’s all God essentially is; an omnipotent, bloodthirsty, incest condoning, pro-slavery tyrant.  The idea of a God who requires you to come into his house every week to sing to him and beg for his love in order to evade an eternity of suffering. This doesn’t sound like a very loving God to me.  However, these are tiresome oft-repeated arguments and points.  My issue is with Heaven and the weird flaws that most don’t seem to tend to.

What is Heaven like?  Asking this question to a roomful of Christians will most likely get a different answer from each one.  The one question that will really baffle them is this:  What form will you take in Heaven?  By asking that I ask will you be a child? Will you be reborn? Or will you enter your new life as you left your old one? Say you get decapitated in a 24 car pileup with a door handle in your stomach.  Will you arrive in Heaven with your head in your hand?  Perhaps Heaven has kiosks akin to what we see at Sheetz, with St. Peter handing out those tickets you get a deli.  And on these kiosks maybe you can choose what you’d want to look like.  Could you imagine that with our materialistic society?  You’d have every guy walking around as either Brad Pitt or Idris Elba with no penis being under 10 inches.  Speaking of genitalia, can you have sex in Heaven?   Doesn’t sound much like heaven to me if you can’t have as much fun as you want every once in a while.  I mean even if God were to forbid you from making love, wouldn’t we still have that human intuition to fantasize?  I mean really who hasn’t lusted upon thy neighbor?  In Matthew 22:30 the bible tells us:  “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”  Hence, it seems there will be solely neighbors to lust once entering the pearly gates.  This leads me to ask, will Heaven or Hell be the afterlife of fun?

Hell is portrayed as a place of eternal suffering where sinners will go for their lives that were void of a relationship with God.  However, is it that bad? Will you be able to get drunk in Heaven? Smoke a cigarette? What if you’re lonely at 3 a.m. and want to call up a holy hooker?  And what about psychedelics?  Weed, psilocybin, LSD, DMT, etc.?  You know, those unjustifiably illegal, non-lethal drugs that do no more than expand your mind.  I think if psychedelics were to be unleashed upon a devout Christian in heaven, he’d had a Descartes-level questioning of the Kingdom and would probably dive head first into Hell.  If you ask me, the afterlife filled with drinkers, gamblers, sports addicts, porn enthusiasts, intellectuals, pot-smokers, and other outstanding members of society is much more appealing than an afterlife full of boot-lickers, non-drinkers, non-profane, and just generally unexciting people who sing hymns in unison.  

And you really mean to tell me we will be without sin in Heaven? Say that the 10 commandments are very literal in Heaven. We’d see thousands of men being thrown to Hell by God himself. And what’s heaven if you can’t kill a few people that pissed you off on Earth. What if Jesus is pissing you off? I could imagine Jesus as being one of those rich kids ya know? “Well my Dad owns Heaven so you have to listen to me!” Let’s create a scenario: We’re at the annual Last Upper celebration,that’s everyone in Heaven, sitting at like a 500 mile long table. And you’re sitting there drinking your wine & as you go for another sip Jesus comes by and steals your last piece of mana! So naturally, you backhand the asshole just out of pure instinct. What happens? I mean that’s gotta be a sin right? Sounds like a one-way ticket to hell. So, after being on your greatest behavior on Earth you have to be on just as good of if not better behavior? 

Also can we please stop it with the idea that Heaven has some NSA level system that every citizen has access to. How scared of dying are our religious friends? Not only do we have to have an eternal magical kingdom we arrive at upon death, we are able to watch our loved ones suffer a shitty existence on Earth until they arrive. 

And stop trying to pray to your loved ones in heaven. Don’t you think they have better things to do? I highly doubt your dead father wants to hear about your football game while he could be riding on the back of a pterodactyl whilst having a threesome with Marilyn Monroe and Cleopatra. But all in all. that’s just my opinion, you’re entitled to your own.  But I encourage you to challenge everything you are told. 

Is Our Love True(POEM)

A precious bond, an undying friendship

We get along through all the meddling 

Constant smiles and endless laughter

Falling asleep together, awaking after

That twinkle in our eyes forever present

We say “I love you”

We swear we meant it

But is this love, or loneliness resented?

Alone at night we toss and turn 

For it’s a companion we yearn 

We swear it’s undying love 

Tell ourselves it’s so real

Our fear of life, is our love in lieu of? 

Was it my heart or my mind I let you steal? 

Desire of love was on my mind

But did this love come at the wrong time 

Only time will reveal the fate of our love 

Real love will never succumb to Father Time 

Religion Doesn’t Belong in Politics

I’m tired of extremist conservatism. I’m fed up with Christian/Muslim/Jewish fundamentalism. There should be no bible thumping or preaching being done in Congress or any form of government. I have no issue with the religious becoming involved in politics, however, when the Bible is used as a science, historical or geopolitical textbook that’s where you lose me. For instance, a debate was held between my Grandmother, my mother and myself yesterday about Israel and Palestine. I, not knowing the entire history truthfully, did side slightly with Palestine. I stated that I sided with Palestine because it seems there is an ongoing attempt by Israel to “push Palestine into the sea.” My mother took the side of Israel and my grandmother was against building more settlements. This is where I had to bow out. My mother stated: “Russia and China are going to take us over then go for Israel. Once they try to take Israel judgement will come. It’s right there in the Bible.” Then my grandmother replies: “No Sherry, Israel will be taken over. Remember they’re the ones don’t believe in Christ..” Blah, blah, blah. Really? This is exactly what I meant by using the Bible as a geopolitical textbook. Please, keep Jesus out of politics. This is why the separation of church and state was established. It’s ridiculous and it needs to stop. Stay vigilant. Stay aware. 

Love Yourself

I believe the most important you can possess as a human being is self-love. Not self-respect, and not quite a narcissistic view. But a happy medium is what everyone truly needs. When growing up, going through middle & high school I was nowhere near the coolest kid. To be quite frank with you, I had no friends at one point. I took shy to a whole other level; I totally shut myself out. Why? Quite simply, fear of being judged. I was never one who wanted to be the center of attention so I decided to shut out all attention. The only friends I had were a grade below me or younger, who were also nerds. I got bullied(not physically), I was an outcast, I walked a lonely walk home, however, I wouldn’t take any of it back. This all gave me a chance to discover myself. I eventually surrounded myself with those who had similar interests and found who I was. It took time for me to realize that my personality didn’t directly correlate with the materialistic, judgemental, dull people who populated the hallways of my high school. There were a few exceptions of course, and that’s where I eventually fit in. By societal standards I was far from “normal”. I never become the fully social person I am today until after high school. Starting conversations can still be difficult, but I have made major strides. My point is, before you can love anyone or anything else, you must love yourself. Find who you are, what you are, what you want and how you carry yourself. Don’t let others get to you, be thick skinned. No amount of insults or harassments should be able to damage you, you’re better than that. Stay strong, there’s always a brighter side. Stay strong, stay vigilant. Stay weird. 

Narcotic Escape

Life is hard, especially for yourself

Death is easy, for everyone but yourself

Everyone has problems but nothing like your own 

Your mind is a prison and you don’t have the key

Your wife and kids are present, but really you’re alone

You had more than a house, you formed a home

You had the happiness of a family throne 

Outweighed by depression, your family second

No one else could understand your plight 
The mirror reflect no resemblance in sight

A crack rock seemed to make it all right

Run ins with the law made it hard to sleep at night 

Your wife, my mother in constant fright 

What were we do, what were we to say? 

Your monthly check was the only way

You relied too much on narcotic escape

16 was my age when we broke away

I had no idea of what was at play 

Divorce for you was the ultimate pain 

Drowning your sorrows in the bottom of a bottle 

No alcohol for you, no over the counter

Through all these years of constant battle

I still acknowledge that you’re my father

I won’t understand the rush from narcotics

I knew too well just how you got there 

I knew you are not psychotic

Just a man who never quite got it

Now you’re a man who simply had it and lost it.