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What do you give a damn about?

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a story about an American citizen who is being held prisoner in Iraq by the American military, without charges. That article has been sitting on my desk for all of that time, and every time I look at that article, I’m deeply troubled.

You see, the problem is that if the American government can merely take American citizens abroad as prisoners without any criminal charges or plan for a trial, then we effectively have no right to complain when other governments do the same to our citizens, and… and…

… and I know what’s wrong with the case, and why it’s a gross violation of the law, but every time I look at the article and I start to get my dander up about it, this little thought comes into my mind: Over the last four years, we at Irregular Times have described a wide variety of some amazingly abusive and dangerous activities of our own government, and yet…

…yet, to tell the truth, most Americans don’t really seem to give a damn about it.

So, what I’m wondering, quite sincerely, is this: If Americans don’t give a damn about torture, or war crimes, or about being lied to by their government, or about having their constitutional rights stripped away, or having untreated sewage “blended” into their drinking water, and so on and so on… Well then, what the hell do Americans give a damn about?

I’m serious. I really want to know, because I can’t fathom from my own little narrow personal perspective what could be more important that the government stripping away America’s traditional foundations of liberty. See, but that’s me. Today, I want to know what you give a damn about, if it’s not the things that I give a damn about.

I want to try to understand just what is occupying the minds of Americans these days, so leave your comments here. Tell me what you give a damn about, and I promise I won’t make any negative comments about it. Here’s your one chance to talk about what matters to you without any backtalk from me.

Bring it on.

16 comments to What do you give a damn about?

  • Kirk

    Listen, I just care about my family, and about making sure they’re well taken care of. Then, I want some peace and quiet on the weekend. So, take your high and mighty liberal moralism and shove it, okay?

  • HareTrinity

    Oh, because sewage in drinking water isn’t going to affect your kids, Kirk?

    Hey, why don’t you NOT COME TO THE SITE if you don’t want to hear their warnings?

    You must be the type of person to go concerts just to boo the bands…

    And JClifford, am I allowed to backtalk them?

  • I care about the same things you do JClifford and I have the same dismay as you about the mindset of the bulk of the American population.

    I have an elderly aunt (90 yrs old) who is Republican and the only reason she voted for Bush was because she liked his wife Laura based on reading their biographies.

    However, just today my hubby received a DVD by Dahr Jamail of a video taken by an Iraqi doctor documenting the flatening of Fallujah and the killing going on there.

    I will be going to a Meetup tonight to talk of MN DFL and Democratic Party strategy.

    My personal goal is to unclog the toilet (rebuild local political party infrastructure), clean out the cesspool (the state & federal legislatures), fertilize the seedbed of political participation (the grassroots), and cultivate the garden (America) to grow lots and lots of flowers and trees, each having their own beauty.

    These are the things I care about so that there will be happiness for the eyes, nose, and ears, joy for the spirit, and peace within the soul.

    And all you shitheads who have noting positive to contribute can go Cheney yourselves.

  • Becca

    What do I give a damn about? Good question. I care about people not being so f–king destructive to each other, and I care about making life better for animals. I’m only 25, and I suppose I’ve only been thinking about this kind of stuff for a few years…so that’s all I’ve got so far.

    I care about America, but probably not as much as most people who visit this site. I could never love any country enough to kill for it. There are still places in this world that are beautiful and pristine, and if America ever gets completely FUBAR, I’ll gladly live somewhere else. Just because I was born here doesn’t make it the only place in the world worth inhabiting. And I know that “one person can make a difference,” but… Sometimes you gotta know when to fold ‘em—especially when faced with what I perceive to be massive ignorance and stubbornness. I’ll do what I can to make the world a better place, but I’m not going to waste my life trying to enlighten people who don’t want to change. I’ll go live on an island and be self-indulgently happy instead.

  • Jennifer

    Shove this, Kirk.
    Go ahead, spend your quiet weekends mowing, watching the tube, washing your SUV. Those of us who give a damn about more than that, like clean water and accountability for those in places of power to name a few, will continue to voice our opinions. I believe that’s the whole point of these topics.
    JCliff, I care about my family and making sure they’re well taken care of. I love quiet weekends also. Even more than that I love America… the fact that we can HAVE discussions such as these. I love the fact that I can walk down the street wearing a t-shirt that says PRO-CHOICE and not have stones hurled at me. I love the fact that someone else can walk down the same street wearing a shirt that says PRO-LIFE as well. And perhaps share a smile with them.
    And I give a damn about everything that you said also. I am terrified that the liberties I’ve taken for granted my entire short life will not be around for MY children to enjoy. Because if stuff like this is going on right now, right under our noses and no one gives a damn because it doesn’t affect their day-to-day lives, how long before what our government is doing WILL affect our day-to-day lives? I, for one, give a great big damn about that.

  • Visiting Ethicist

    I think there are two responses people have:
    1. Big surprise. This is sort of where I lie. I find it hard to get more outraged, I am overoutraged, and no shouting, marching or letter writing seems to help. I get these annoying letters from my Republican Senators everytime I complain about something. “Thank you for supporting me in my plan to destroy America, with your help I will succeed.” (Paraphrasing there).
    2. You’re just mad we won. This is the typical conservative response. The idea being there are two teams. Us and Them. Any complaint one side makes about the other can only be a kind of taunt (Hey Batter Batter Batter) and has no truth value.
    So… I don’t expect anything to change any time soon.

  • Mike

    Well said, Ethicist…I’ve watched this sort of thing going on for the last 40 years, and, for at least 35 of them I was outraged…And vocalized my outrage to everyone who would listen. What I noticed was there are people who will take a particular side to their politics, devoting their attention to only one facet or stance in the particular platform (Gun Control, the environment,etc)and this will remain the basis of their political affiliation. Seems strange, but when we engage them with other issues, they tend to agree with us in principle, until we tell them that this has been the platform all along of the progressive people…then they fall back on their one issue of contention. When discussing issues with others of a progressive standpoint, I always feel like I’m doing what my dad always called,”Preaching to the Choir”. I try not to get too outraged these days, actually. “Amused” would be a better description of how I feel these days. You see, what I’ve learned in my 52 years on this planet is there seems to be a large degree of truth to the theory of Kharmic Law, which in its abbreviated form says,”What goes around, comes around…and it picks up speed and gains interest.” Yeah, I still give a damn…But it does me no good to allow my outrage to rule my life. Keeping an open mind and hearing what the other person has to say without picking apart their every word sometimes has its advantages.

  • Steve Martin

    [Sound of laughter fades in]

    Oh sure, it’s easy to stand out here and jump around and try and be a…
    wild and crazy guy. I think there’s more to entertaining than that, and
    that’s why right now, I would like to talk about [voice deepens
    melodramatically, emphasizing each word] what I believe.

    [Gentle string music begins to play and continues in background;
    imagine any one of a number of TV shows or movies where a character
    begins to make an impassioned but completely phony speech while his
    cohorts begin to hum “America the Beautiful” and you have the idea.]

    What I believe:

    I believe in rainbows, and puppy dogs and fairy tales. And I believe
    in the family: Mom, and Dad, and Grandma, and Uncle Todd, who waves
    his penis.

    And I believe in 8 of the Ten Commandments, and I believe in going to
    church every Sunday, unless there’s a game on.

    And I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, wholesome, and
    natural things that money can buy.

    And I believe it’s derogatory to refer to a woman’s breasts as “boobs”,
    “jugs”, “winnebagos”, or “golden bozos”. And you should only refer to
    them as “hooters”.

    And I believe you should place a woman on a pedestal, high enough so
    you can look up her dress.

    And I believe in equality, equality for everyone, no matter how stupid
    they are, or how much better I am than they are.

    And people say I’m crazy for believing this, but I believe that robots
    are stealing my luggage.

    And I believe I made a mistake when I bought a 30-story, one-bedroom
    apartment.

    And I believe that the “Battle of the Network Stars” should be fought
    with guns.

    And I believe that Ronald Reagan can make this country what it once
    was: an arctic region, covered with ice.

    And I believe the United States should all foreigners in this country,
    provided they can speak our native language: Apache.

    And lastly, I believe that of all the evils on this earth, there is
    nothing worse than the music you are listening to right now.

  • Gertie

    Ha ha. Except that this is about what you give a damn about, not what you believe. There’s a difference.

    I give a damn about the people I know.
    I don’t give a damn about the people I see on TV.
    Seems crass to you? I think it’s more human.

  • griz

    I care about justice.
    I care about fairness.
    I care about protecting the weak (ya know that is the responsibility of the strong0
    I care about a good single malt scotch (personal preference)
    I care about a good cigar (robusto, with a good Dominican Maduro wrapper) once again personal.
    and last but certainly not least I love beautiful, intelligent women (God Bless ‘em)

  • Ambriel

    What I care about can pretty much be summed up in one sentence. I care about leaving this earth a better (not worse, or unchanged)place for my having been given this life and having been here.

  • I’m pretty much in agreement with Mike’s take on things — karma with a kicker. Only this time, Gaeia is going to kick some serious ass. Humans have been so short-sighted and self-centered that I’ve stopped caring about them in more than a very generalized sense. I wish I did care more, but I’m bogged down in the middle of a never-ending depression and staving off the explosion of my outrage.

    I see so many things wrong and so many stupidities. I’m offended to the depths of my being about much of the pro-business/pro-money legislation being passed by Congress.

    I’m deeply outraged by so much environmental damage as I see the only possible outcome: death and destruction on a scale that that will make December’s Tsunami toll “just another statistic.”

    I’m caught in a vicious mental loop of if we’re overpopulated with over 6 billion people, and the sheer weight of these people is wreacking havoc on all of the environmental resources no matter where they are located, what is gained by trying to save them for another few years as death is the guaranteed outcome for all? Overpopulation is degrading the very qualify of life for most.

    We are being prepared for the next pandemic and haven’t successfully dealt with the HIV/AIDs one, yet.

    But, back to the main thought — how far do we go to stave off death, whether it be from heart attacks, cancers, flu epdidemics, penumonia, etc., when starvation is the specter that hovers over so many? If we struggle to save the elderly, the young, the breeding, doesn’t this just prolong the inevitable: more people alive with progressively declining resources.

    I truly believe that we are heading for a worldwide disaster within 10 years that will be a combination of peak oil issues, environmental issues due to continued global warming, economic issues that will lead to depression, at least one flu-like pandemic, and Gaeia heaving and twisting herself with earthquakes and the like.

    I would wish profoundly that we had more enlightened and farseeing leaders from the local grassroots level all the way up through the international level. I do not believe this will happen.

    Humankind is relatively new at the civilization game. It has yet to let go of many of the trappings caused by “being civilized” that are counterproductive. Few of us would wish to go back to most earlier epochs. Yet, we cling to the same old crap of material wealth, power games, war, intellectual banality, and religions designed in another time and place. This is modern? This is progress?

    Maybe, after the collapse something will emerge that will make sense for the people who are left.

  • HareTrinity

    Those are things I’ve worried about too, LdyGuique, but don’t worry too much…

    Statistics show that (in England, at least) it’s becoming a lot more common for women and couples to not want children.

    In fact, in England (and, for the record, I put it down to good sex education, a shift of society’s values and women’s rights), the birth rate has been steadily decreasing for years.

    Obviously, there have been some worries that this will allow the types against abortion, contraceptives, and so on to take up the majority of the population, but claims such as these, although scary in theory, never seem to come true…

  • […] rackback/

    For those of you who do give a damn, please temporarily go somewhere else on the Web. For those who don’t:   T […]

  • kitty

    I am probibly not old enough to say any thing ,but I care about a lot of the things many of you have said but still being in high school gives me a large disadvantage on people listening to me in the comunity. My schools in the past have made “help keep the rain forest” posters, but I am sure no one listens to those and I think that when all the resorces run out life is just going to go down the drian in a declining spirl twords devestation and depresion. I have a feeling that we are going to mine in the land fills to get the alumonim and iron we need. I do not however, understand why if people know that the land in the rain forests is not fertile they keep cutting it down. Why dont they understand that? And this is where I get outraged at the stupidity of the human race, the polution of the earth is going to drive me insane. I live in a clean inviroment so I do not under stand why if people know that where they live is poluted, then why dont they do something or move. I mean I have clean water and even though I do not like tap water it is clean any way. I should be more greatfull, there are lots of people who would move if they could, and I think whoever the people are who mix the untreated sewage water into the drinking water should get shot at least a thousand times.

    Man….. I really feel like I am preaching nonsence.

    I should really get a life huh?

    My dad always tells me practice what you preach but I dont go cleaning up the roads and recycling things but I do feel like something should be done about it.

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