I quit the public health job. Gave a month's notice. Trained a replacement who still has that rosy save-the-world shine. Got the f*ck out.
A decade of study and work in the public field, only to discover what I knew before I did all that moving and grooving and research and yelling and planning and cajoling and presenting and writing and nutting up for one more recommendation to the Board.
This is a prison world. First the walls were built. Then the process began to lock down every single gate (farmers run out of business, don't drink the water, eat the food, breathe the air).
Most of the gates were closed down years ago, but the gates had been painted with images of children laughing, gorgeous bursts of flowers, fecund fields of fruit and veg, people dancing and laughing and f*cking (but tastefully, have to mind the censors). And because we were all so terribly busy, too caught up to look closely, we believed the images mirrored the truth. Then we began to believe that the images were the truth. (It looks like food, smells like food, tastes like food - how can this not be food? and then we eat it and get sick, yet again.)
I spent two and a half years working to increase the health of a population of 38,000. But what I discovered was that the folks in charge didn't actually want the work done, just the image of it. The most important thing was that it look like what we were doing supported increasing health. Lots of noise and wind and the moving about of furniture. But at the end of each day, it was still about keeping people in boxes all day, breathing moldy air, teaching and forcing a life of the mind.
Slavery has come a long way in the past fifteen thousand years. On one side of the cost-benefit analysis is keeping the slaves ill enough to not rebel, so what little available energy is consumed with baseline survival, time and money spent on the prescription meds and surgeries and treatments and distractions needed to stay in forward motion. On the other side are slaves so ill and demented that they can't work, so sick and crazy that they are impacting the slaves who have learned to like their cell. I've spent the last decade watching how money flows in and out to hold that razor balance.
They paid me well to organize the slaves, make them appear more happy, less ill. Sick people are less rebellious (although some folks are required to act out their rebellion through violence and mayhem so that there can be a group to blame for the crawling fear and 3 am dread we feel). But in the end, being paid well for that kind of work is misery money. No real joy comes from that kind of cash.
But underneath the acknowledgement of all of this, is the knowledge that the walls were raised, the gates locked, but that ultimately we all have a key. We've forgotten where we left it, but we do have it. Maybe this too is a belief that will ultimately die, like all of the beliefs before it. But for now, it sits there. The knowledge that there is a way out.
But as I write this, all I can think about it is: who is reading this and what will they do with any info I post here? Who reads my emails and texts, listens to call, follows browser history? How many people are killed each year for telling the truth? How many hunters are there?
I've started following a blogger who knows she is being watched, and yet still crafts these defiant, mysterious posts. Layered with symbolism and clues, the tightly packed one or two paragraphs require reading and rereading to begin to see beneath the surface to what she's saying. It is high art in the information age. I'm grateful to read it.
Likely, I post this because of her. For how far she is out on the limb, sending posts from that edge.
Maybe it's to tell myself what I told her: Make art. Tell the truth. Be free.