"Your hypocrisy can't reach me!"
|Author's note: This is a fiction piece written for the Short Story SLAM back in May 2004. It is in no way a reflection of my real life.
Channel surfing is going to do me in. I know it. Every day, it's the same old blathering , no matter what channel I choose. My eyes hurt as I cruise through them: CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, the C-SPANs. All of them show the same politicians spewing the same broken promises of reform, ending government corruption, and equality for all but having nothing to show for it. It's vicious and nearly as violent as some of the cable crime dramas to which they vehemently object.
Flipping through, I see Bill O' Reilly on the television screen. Bile climbs my esophagus, and I'm soon on the floor, my stomach lurching. His show is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the fall of American philosophy, politics, and lexicon. He says the word 'patriotism', but he defines it in loyalist terms.
Thomas Paine is probably doing pirouettes in his grave he's so mad.
SI regain my strength and hit the off button on my television. I grasp the edges of the television and pull myself into a standing position. Ignoring the mess I created on my living room floor, I trudge to my desk and retrieve my dictionary.
I sit at my desk, my brand new copy of Webster's Dictionary in my hands. I open it up and flip the pages to the 'P' section.
"Lemme see....pastime, patent, pathetic...a-ha! Patriotism."
What I see after my search takes me by surprise.
patriot-...-ism n. love for, and loyalty towards, one's country
I almost choke, forgetting how to breathe. Hypocrisy in semantics!!, my mind screams. O' Reilly speaks like a goddamn British Loyalist!
"I know," I whisper under my breath to my dictionary, and I chuck my dictionary at the television set. I know what patriotism is, and I know what is it not. It is not blind submission; it is devotion. When one person is willing to take a stand, he or she is patriotic.
I can hear them now, attacking my statements. Have they lost the concept of American patriotism? Are they aware of their glaringly obvious logical fallacy? Loyalism is submission, and that is what they want from us. However, they say the damned word: patriotism. They have no idea what it means in spite of their Ivy League educations. Once upon a time, they must have known. The history that has been taught shows us true American patriotism: speaking out, enlisting courage, and pursuing what matters to us most.
Then there's the rude interruption of my phone's jarring ring. My hand reaches for the cordless phone on my desk, but my hand is shaking so badly from the epiphany that I drop it. Bending down, I push the answer button and place the receiver against my ear.
"Yes, Mister Forrester?"
"Is this a bad time?"
I look over in front of my television set for a moment. "No. What is it?"
"I was wondering how you'd feel about a transfer."
"A transfer? Where? For what?"
"Well, Paula, Mister Hedgeling has recommended you for overseeing Hedgeling Drugs' international expansion."
"What would I be overseeing?"
"You would be overseeing pharmacy operations in Holland. You would have an office in Amsterdam, and we will provide you with an apartment."
"What's the pay?"
"Starting will be about one hundred grand a year."
"Are you serious?"
"If Mister Hedgeling handpicked you, I don't see why he would be kidding about pay."
"I see. Can I think this over?"
"You may, but Hedgeling is going to be in town in a couple of days, and he'd like to know by then."
"Alright. I'll let you know as soon as possible."
"Okay, Paula. I'll see you tomorrow."
I hang up the phone and lean back in my chair. Hundred grand a year working in Holland? It's so tempting, especially when I see a newspaper article about the similarities of Kerry and Bush. Sighing, I decide to clean up the floor.
After scooping up the mess with the newspaper, I place my dictionary back on the desk. Semantics, my mind whispers. Semantics. Everyone's guilty of it, even me. I know I've twisted the meanings of words a few times, but then I came to realize just how foolish I was making myself look. In my attempts to be more honest, I began to see more and more tricksters in control of those in power. Sometimes I still wonder why I didn't become a spin doctor for a living. Then I remember that I can't deal with all that hypocrisy, hypocrisy of my own creation. My own creation! Imagine that!
Now, though, I have a chance to escape the twisting of the English language that plagued the media. Granted, I'd still have to be under the employment of an American corporation. Nonetheless, this promotion could be my way out. I may still be an American citizen and still be answering to this twisted, bloated government, but in this move lies great opportunity. I'll be moving to a land with a much different national philosophy, a less foolhardy government, and so much less to lose. My mind is made up. Hedgeling may as well hand me my plane ticket when we meet up in the next couple days.