November 27, 2007

The Spirit of The Age

A few months back, one of my myspace friends brought to my attention a pair of online feature length films - "America: Freedom to Fascism" and "Zeitgeist".

Now, as some of you know, I've pulled back a lot from my "Dean for America" days, in terms of my political activism and such, but I'm a sucker for a good documentary and I always obey instructions from beautiful women (ladies, take note, but don't abuse! :-)), so I checked them out.

Now, "America: Freedom to Fascism" is, for the most part, a tax protest film. Again, for long time readers of my other blog, you all know that tax policy is a pet peeve of mine, and not the way that you might expect. Even as someone who's had my own run-ins with the IRS over the years (and thank God THAT'S finally cleared up), I firmly believe that paying fair taxes is, in principle, a fundamentally patriotic act. Citizenship is a privilege, blessing us with all of the things contained in the Bill of Rights and, for those of us fortunate enough to make it, the promise of prosperity in a free market economy. Of course, free markets only work if certain people don't succeed, so it is the responsiblity of those who do succeed, largely at the expense of others, to return a portion of that prosperity to promote, as they say, "the general welfare" - which largely includes things that are in the best interests of everyone in the society, but, more often than not, there's no profit to be gained by doing it so no private entity would ever try to make a business out of it. Things like public assistance, infrastructure maintenance, etc.

In short, America is a club, and your income taxes are your membership fees. And, the higher your club status is, the higher your fees.

And, let's be honest, compared to the rest of the industrialized world, our tax rates are extremely low.

Is the system perfect? Clearly not. There is tremendous inequity in the tax code right now, where labor & wages are taxed at a higher rate than accumulated wealth. And don't even get me started on corporate or farm subsidies. And government funds are perpetually misappropriated by lawmakers for pork barrel spending and the seemingly generational cycle of frivolous wars.

But, the fact of the matter is, all of those issues could be largely corrected by a more informed and engaged electorate who made their representatives act in a more responsible manner with their money.

So, the minute that film opens with a guy actively looking for the law that requires him to pay taxes... well, clearly he and I are coming from different perspectives.

(incidentally, the law he's looking for is The Internal Revenue Code of 1939).

Did I mention that the filmmaker in question, Aaron Russo, had about $2 million in tax liens he owed to the IRS, prior to making this movie?

"Me thinks he doth protest too much"

But I'll get back to Mr. Russo in a minute.

Point being, I kind of slammed that first film, and since I could never seem to find any information about what exactly the other film, "Zeitgeist", was about without actually watching the entire freakin' movie, I kind of let that one go.

Until about three weeks ago, when, as a result of a chance meeting during AFI FEST, I got to go to the closing night gala of the Artivist Film Festival - basically, a festival for films focusing on social & political activism. It was a rockin' good time (especially the reception afterwards, where I was deliberately trying to get a cute girl to give up her dirty secrets in front of her boyfriend during a game of "I Never" - like I said, I'm naughty sometimes. ) - but the big winner of the festival was, you guessed it, "Zeitgeist".

My new friend who helped organize the event said he'd gone to AFI FEST to avoid the protests outside of his own festival, especially since the director of Zeitgeist was allegedly getting death threats.

Curious.

Since they had some free copies, I got a DVD and finally camped out to watch it this weekend.

The 2nd & 3rd sections of Zeitgeist are kissing cousins to "America: Freedom to Fascism" - it's all about 9/11 conspiracy theories and how the Federal Reserve and the Income Tax Code are all a massive scam intended to extract wealth from the population at large to finance the construction of a one-world government that controls the population with implanted electronic trackers.

So, first a comment about 9/11 conspiracy theories: I remember when the whole thing first happened, and one of my friends immediately said that he thought the Federal government had something to do with it. And, at the time, I just rolled my eyes and said, "Come ON, man! Even if you think Bush is a bad president, do you really think he would actively allow the murder of THREE THOUSAND AMERICAN CITIZENS?!?!?"

That was 2001.

As of today, three thousand, eight hundred, and seventy-six American citizens have been killed in Iraq.

Needlessly.

I don't know the details of the physics and the arguments about airplanes and NORAD and missiles and controlled demolitions. Frankly, I don't care.

All I know is, the president has demonstrated that he is a man who will do just about anything that will advance his own agenda.

And a man who will do anything, by definition, is a man who cannot be trusted.

Section 3 of Zeitgeist is interesting, because, in one instance, they site someone who interviewed this guy Nicholas Rockefeller, who's supposed to be part of this international banking cabal, where he basically admits that, yes, we want to enslave the world. And, who was the interviewer? AARON RUSSO, the director of "America: Freedom to Fascism"!

Having said all of that, the idea that the US Treasury actually outsources the creation of our currency to a gi-normous private bank is, to put it mildly, unsettling.

But, the section of Zeitgeist that was far and away more interesting to me was the first, which compares the gospels about Jesus' life to other mythological saviors in other, earlier cultures around the world, all of which seem to draw their essential features from various elements, symbols, and positions in astrology.

Of course, he ends by saying that Jesus is, in fact, yet another hoax constructed by the church and the powers that be to control the masses.

I'm reminded of a time, years ago, when my brother and many of my cousins had a real mad-on about the Book of Revelations and the Anti-Christ and the end of days. It seemed like every time I came home, there was new evidence that some new person was really the Anti-Christ. One time, it was The Pope. Another time, it was Prince Charles. Before that, I think it was Ronald Reagan.

Until, I finally asked my brother, let's pretend that someone could give you irrefutable proof that a given person was the Anti-Christ, and you had an exact date and time for The Rapture. Assuming that you know all of this.

How would your life be different?

You're expending all of this energy trying to uncover this hidden knowledge (or, more specifically, to uncover substantive proof to verify something that you're already convinced is true). How would obtaining this proof change your life?

He didn't have an answer.

And it occurred to me that, for conspiracy theorists, the proof isn't for them. It's for everybody else. They already know the answer, but no one else believes them. So they're trying to find the proof that will make everyone else say "OMG! You were right all along! How could I have been so blind, when you saw it all so clearly?!?!"

In short, they're evangelists.

And, like so many evangelists, they're own faith is completely dependent upon everyone else believing what they believe. Because, of course, they're right.

But, in the end, it's an empty pursuit.

Whether Jesus was an actual, flesh & blood historical figure or not (and, in the end, does it really matter? Just like those brothers who are trying to argue that Jesus had to be of African descent because Revelations 1:16 said he had "feet like unto fine brass".... while ignoring the rest of the description in verses that said he had "eyes as a flame of fire" and "His voice as the sound of many waters And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword" - sometimes, I wonder how much religious intolerance and argument could be eliminated if we just made a class called "Reading and Interpreting Poetry" a graduation requirement in every school in America so people can recognize a fucking figure of speech when they see it? But I digress....)

Whether he was historical or not, one of my favorite quotes from Jesus is (and I'm seriously paraphrasing) "The Word is intended for those who can hear it. And those who cannot, it was never intended for them in the first place".

So many of us spend so much time trying to convince everyone else that we're right. We advocate and plead and build flowcharts and make 2 hour movies that we give away for free on the internet or blow an entire day writing incredibly elaborate blog postings on the desperate hope that someone, ANYONE, will listen to us and believe.

Imagine what our lives would be like if we redirected all of that effort back into ourselves. How much more powerful we could be. How transformed we would be. How inspirational our very presence would be.

Our very lives could say more, and move more people, than any film ever could.

I told my brother, as far as you're concerned, irrespective of the signs, for you, the end times are the day you die. So, rather than expending all of this energy, like Prince said:
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby!

And, at that point, when you REALLY know who you are, and what you're capable of, who gives a fuck about the fucking Illuminati or the Tax Code or Building 7?

And that's what I love about the very end of Zeitgeist - because, in the midst of all of this awful evidence, the filmmaker offers a moment of inspiration, to recognize our true selves, our true divinity, with a quote from Carl Sagan where he says that the concepts of division are fading away to a sense of a universal whole, and that a single organism at war with itself cannot survive.

I think the Zeitgeist guy is on to something bigger than even he may realize. And when he understands that, when he speaks to the Nicholas Rockefellers of the world, at that very instant, Rockefeller is listening to God, at the same time that the Zeitgeist guy is speaking to God....

...when he understands THAT fact...

Well, let's just say, I want to see THAT movie.

And, when I get to the point where I look at George W. Bush giving a speech, and I know that, in that instant, God is watching God talking to God....

Let's just say, I'll have a different kind of blog post to make that day. :-)

p.s. Thanks, songstress.
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