By Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author’s program note. Before you read this article, go to any search engine and find Peter Finch’s celebrated “Mad as Hell” speech from the 1976 film “Network.” I know exactly how Howard Beale, the character he plays, felt. Disgusted! Infuriated! Past mere anger! A nuclear melt-down gone beyond all these… His was pure rage… out of control rage… volcanic, explosive, searing. It ignited a profound response in the national psyche. And though his words date from 1976, they are as apt today, as perfect a fit today, as unadulterated truth today.
See for yourself…
“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it.
We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
We know things are bad — worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’
Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad!”
And so with this (here abbreviated) speech he got the apathetic up, the procrastinating, the nay-sayers and every Chicken Little in the land. He got the fearful to get up, the people who just wouldn’t say what they saw. He got the politically alienated to get up, the people who never voted and always complained, doing nothing. He got them and all their listless friends and neighbors up, too.
He told them to throw up the windows, stick their heads out and scream their heads off: “I’M MAD AS HELL… AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE!”
And in a minute or less, people, enraged people, angry people, chagrined and shame- faced people were doing just that. And, friend, when you finish this article I want you to do the same thing, for it’s way past time for such a profound tribal, deeply primitive outburst from us the good people who built this nation and who keep it going. We are the tax-paying, America loving, thoroughly responsible, helping others citizens of the Great Republic, the people devalued, diminished, demoted and still asked for more as we seethe while watching others do less, scoffing at us, the heart of the nation.
Open that window!
Throw up the sash!
And SCREAM…. for you and I have taken it all far too long and there is vengeance in our heart…
I’m mad about the fact that we can find billions of dollars to blow up Iraq and Afghanistan but not a penny for our decaying infrastructure. Where’s the logic in this?
I’m profoundly angry about the fact that for each dollar we spend on homeland “security” we feel less and less secure. Taking off our belts, shoes, pants, shirts and everything else has just made us ridiculous, without improving our security one iota.
I’ve had it with both political parties, who think their work consists of charging each other with obstructing the business of the nation when we all know they are both the culprits.
I’ve had it with candidates like Michele Bachmann whose every utterance is another embarrassment. It’s time to call it not just the way we see it, but the way it is. Michele’s an uneducated bigot with sex, particularly gay sex, on the brain. Let’s just say everything about the lady makes me mad and should make you mad, too.
As for Mitt Romney, he’s a pompous twit; after spending millions of the dollars he made by reorganizing companies and putting people out of work, he’s less liked now than when he started. The plain fact is, no one likes him or wants him in the Oval Office.
As for Rick Perry… tell the unvarnished truth. If he created a single job in Texas it was a minimum wage position in the service sector flipping burgers. What he likes doing is signing executive orders executing felons under 18 and the mentally ill. I’m enraged that no one bothers to say that Perry alone executed more criminals in his 11 years as governor; more than all the other governors of the nation combined.
I’m enraged about the “birthers” the people who still waste their time and money with their “proof” Barack Obama is an alien, disqualified to be president. And I’m mad at Obama too, for not fighting for jobs and what must be done to lift the economy and cut the unemployment rate. He’s been advised over and over again what to do; he lacks the grit and fortitude to make it happen and that makes me mad all over again.
I’m mad at the “leaders” who lie to us and pander by suggesting easy choices will solve the nation’s financial problems. Tell us how bad things must get before they get better. Stop lying to get re-elected when your policy back in office is to lie some more to get re-elected all over again.
Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about what has to happen with Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and every single entitlement that exists. Don’t sugar coat the pill… tell the people the God’s honest truth.
And while you’re at it…
Clean up the Internet, too.
I’m mad as hell about
* the jerks who send those millions of emails lying about some bogus legacy and what I have to pay to get it. Use our sophisticated technology. Go get ’em; clear ’em out. Put ’em in jail, or worse.
* the guys who launch viruses, clog the system, bringing down the unwary. It’s time to find them (easily done) and put them away for a significant stretch for crimes against humanity.
I’m mad as hell about our educational “system”
* teachers who cannot teach but can erase and alter standard test results, each one more adamantly opposed to educational reform than the last.
* principals who have none, their only concern to keep the financial tap open whether or not anyone is learning anything.
* students who wear their trousers at the ankle, every inch of exposed flesh cocking a snook at the system and outraging any opportunity to learn.
And there’s more, much, much more to get mad about, to get up and scream about, but let this suffice for now. What we must do is clear… but I wonder if any of us has the guts to do it…. I wonder if I’ve got them myself…. or whether we’ll stay mad as hell while saying nothing, absolutely nothing, which is how we got in this mess in the first place.
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