We're setting sail
To the place on the map from which no one has ever returned...
Avarice and greed are gonna drive you over the endless sea
They will leave you drifting in the shallows
or drowning in the oceans of history
Traveling the world, you're in search of no good
but I'm sure you'll build your Sodom like you knew you would
Using all the good people for your galley slaves
as you're little boat struggles through the warning waves,
but you don't pay
You will pay tomorrow
You're gonna pay tomorrow
You will pay tomorrow
Save me, save me from tomorrow
I don't want to sail with this ship of fools
— Ship Of Fools, Karl Wallinger & World Party (1987)
I often refer to the "elites" who own and run the United States. In America you become a member of this group if you own enough stuff and use the power which great wealth confers to influence how things go. Here's a good-enough definition of elite—
A group of people considered to be the best in a particular society or category, esp. because of their power, talent, or wealth.
An elite defined by money or power is not an elite at all as far as I'm concerned. Generally speaking, in this country, these people are really just a bunch of assholes tied together by limitless avarice, an insatiable hunger for control, bottomless personal insecurity, flaming untreatable narcissism, and the like. Do you realize how many people have to be stepped on in order to acquire a billion dollars in this country? Lots and lots, believe you me. By any reasonable definition of mental health, many of the so-called "persons" in this so-called elite should be put in a padded cell where they can't do anymore damage.
Let's talk about a real elite, people with rare insight into the human condition. Who am I talking about? I'm talking about you, the regular readers of DOTE, the cognoscenti, the tolerate-no-bullshit people.
I'm certainly not talking about those sorry, kiss-ass Washington think-tank hacks and fools who work at the Pew Research Center
Stand up and take a bow. Pat yourself on the back. I tell you this depressing but true stuff every day but you keep coming back for more. Perhaps you are like reader Steve, who recently said—
Reading [DOTE] on a daily basis reassures me that someone other than myself sees the absurdity in the human condition. It is a daily reminder that I am not totally insane.
That's Steve's reason, but there are many others. For me, the main reason is not wanting to be alone on this planet. I've got you, and you've got me and each other.
If we are an elite, we're certainly a peculiar one. We've got no money, no power to speak of, not really much of anything tangible. We're not a real community, either. In a community people need to occupy the same, well-defined physical (geographical) space. But my readers are scattered all over the world, connected only by this website and the intertubes.
But make no mistake about it, regular readers of DOTE are an elite. The common thread is insight, not "power, talent or wealth." And another important thing which ties some of us together is that we don't want to sail on this ship of fools into an extremely depressing, untenable future. Who are these fools? They are just about everybody else! Nearly all of these seven billion humans. Especially the billionaires!
And these fools think the planet Earth is their special vehicle, what we call a ship of fools. They think they are entitled to wreck the joint. They think they own it, that it is theirs to do what they want with.
But you know we're only renting, and we have an obligation to leave the place in at least as good a shape as we found it in.
Unfortunately, wherever these fools steer this spaceship Earth, we are bound to follow because there is nowhere else to go. After several million years, the Earth will recover but the fools will be gone. That's the good news.
So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut used to say. I know there must be several thousand people—not tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands, certainly not millions—who might join us here on DOTE, but have not done so for various reasons. Maybe they don't know about this website. Maybe they do know about it but don't want to read here for personal reasons. Maybe they don't like me. I can be an arrogant prick, at least in print (but almost never in person).
But all of the "right people" are welcome here. The other seven billion can kiss my ass.
It might be useful to remember that—
It's not your fault. There are no earth-shattering choices left for you to make.
Of course there are personal choices you can make. And necessarily—
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
So, thanks for reading! I am grateful to reader Craig, who reminded me of this great World Party song, which I used to listen to over and over again the late 1980s. Way back then, I wasn't quite sure why I liked Ship of Fools so much, but I certainly know why I like it now.