Editorial By Ray Shell
My Nephew invited me to dinner last night and afterwards over a German beer he admitted he was terrified of the future, I told him that at 21 years of age the future could appear to him as scary; he went to say that because of the state of the world generally and the current British economy specifically he felt trapped in a mess he’d done nothing to create and it wasn’t fair his generation was suffering for it. I was about to tell him that it was the Young who my generation was counting on to correct, balance and create the new economic schematics that will make the world a better place for his cousins, my Grand Children but I couldn’t say anything, I just took another swig of the Zywiec beer he’d served with dinner.
“The mainstream is a curse!’ he said. ‘Everything that’s wrong with society is because of the degenerate mainstream…it scares me that to be successful I have to embrace the Satanic mainstream…” My Nephew lives in Brighton; the best way to describe Brighton for my NYC buddies who’ve never been is to imagine standing in the middle of Washington Square Park looking uptown and imagine the whole of the East and West Village being bordered on the left side by Jones Beach but a Jones Beach full of clubs, al fresco restaurants with street artists and performers creating a cool bohemian ambiance; that’s Brighton as opposed to London. My Nephew says London is the devil heart of the British mainstream and refuses to spend any time there let alone venture into its darkness to find a job he could easily get, he is a talented IT expert and has saved me much cash by keeping my computers purring. He did admit he is afraid of London primarily because the death rates of Black males in his age group was higher in the capital than normal because simple spats and arguments led to altercations that led to violence and death; a daily occurrence in un-Godly, mainstream London. He concluded by saying that even though he’d received interest from the music industry he’d decided not to pursue what once was a dream because he would not deal…in any way…with the mainstream.
I tried arguing that embracing the mainstream didn’t mean that he’d have to sell his soul like he’d heard his former heroes Jay-Z and Kanye had done to get success so he asked me what was a viable alternative; everyone he’d once rated including President Obama seemed to be under the mainstream spell and people, he did trust like his parents weren’t reaping the fair share of their honest, hard labour. They’d always told him to study, get excellent grades to get a good job and all would be well; my Nephew closely watched his parents for 21 years play strictly by the rules and on Sept. 29 their home is being repossessed. They are 18 months in arrears and their lender refuses to take into consideration the 144 consecutive months they’ve paid their mortgage in full and on time. ‘It isn’t fair!’ I thought my Nephew was going to cry. I tried to comfort him as best I could but his words troubled me and as I took the 46 Bus from Hove to Hollingsbury, I thought about the implications of his fears and where my head was at when I was his age.
In 1972, I was 21, in Philadelphia onstage at the Schubert Theatre performing as a member of the Mercury tribe of the Broadway show HAIR, sharing the stage nightly with Meatloaf, Stan Shaw and Donna Summers’ sisters Andrea and Linda Gaines; it was the most incredible time of my life being part of one of the most notorious and fun shows ever produced. We were the Aquarius Kids our message of beads, flowers, freedom, happiness, and love became a global mantra; it was said that us HAIR kids and the ideas we stood for helped to end the Viet Nam war. The Age of Aquarius was supposed to signal the dawning of a brave new world and we Children of the Summer of Love were meant to be the Keepers of the Flame, our lives were meant to be dedicated to raising the positive consciousness of all mankind but nearly 40 years later the only things that we’ve consciously raised is the price of oil, food and the world’s population. There are too many of us consuming an ever dwindling pool of resources that will never be replaced and we don’t seem to be doing anything about it. The emerging Eastern economies don’t seem interested in tightening their belts; they want more of what the Western economies have been hoarding for themselves since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution: More wealth and more power.
My Nephew says a revolution is coming; he’s right, in fact, this revolution has already started. It’s not a revolution for peace and democracy, it’s a revolution of the wealthy and the consumers they feed on. The revolution will not be a class or race war it will be a war between The Haves and The Nothings.
Our coming generations will literally have to prove their worth by paying, in advance, for their right to live.
Governments around the world are tiring of taking care of those who don’t contribute, create or produce; to consume is not enough one must have a tangible economic value, in other words, it’s OK being poor as long as you can afford it. The sick, and the unproductive poor will be the first casualties of this economic purge; the young will have to show economic promise from an early age or they too will be thrown into furnaces and eliminated for the greater good of a mankind based on wealth, productivity, and consumerism. Our coming generations will literally have to prove their worth by paying, in advance, for their right to live. It’s been happening for years in the guise of random genocide in so-called commercially unstable war zones and because of the frightening escalating depletion of the world’s resources, future Governments will be forced to do the unthinkable. Based on our shameful conversational history I can’t see Western governments who’ve swollen the bellies and car tanks of their blinded citizens with cheap food and fuel making the obvious, intelligent moves like rationing and redistributing, food, fuel and resources, reducing fishing quotas, an immediate deforestation ban with scientists and Governments working together at a global level to give our Earth a chance to recover and replenish itself after a century of cancerous consumption.
No I can’t see our Governments doing the positive because there is too much money involved; too many self-interested corporate, global billionaires wanting more of the status quo and in their view getting rid of the non-productive dross who add nothing to anyone’s quality of life, who cannot or will not work to pay their own way is a cheaper option than continuing to subsidize the multi-trillion pound/dollar/euro/yen etc. Nanny State; I do hope I’m wrong.
My Nephew says that there are millions like him who have decided that inertia is best, non-movement better than a deathly forward march to the inevitable waiting, gas chambers.
My fellow Children of Aquarius I implore you to do what you can to petition your Governments to stop and consider the rampant consumerism that they’ve led us to believe drives our economies. Demand to know: What changes are they planning for our economic futures and when are they planning to implement those changes? Children of Aquarius we must use our art like we did years ago to lift the consciousness of our audiences and educate them about the needs of the most important Mother of us all, Earth. If we don’t take care of the Earth we will be the eternal losers; make no mistake the Earth will, in the end, take care of itself, it’s been around for about 4 billion years, we’ve been here maybe 250,000 and in the last century we’ve fatally demonstrated that Mother Earth would be a lot healthier without us hanging about raping and poisoning it; It’s time to do something. If we don’t, we as the world are hastening the day when my Nephew’s fears will surely become a nightmare reality.