Headed for Trouble

“We hang the petty thieves, and appoint the great ones to public office.” –Aesop
“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” –Emma Goldman
“The problem with political jokes? Too many of them get elected.” –Unknown

Eons back, I took a theater class … and no, not with Sophocles, thank you, nor Shakespeare either … It never helped my acting, damn it, but I enjoyed this story. According to my professor, in the many stadiums and ampitheaters throughout the Roman Empire, archaeologists generally find remains of emperors’ statues. Statues with removable heads. That way, whenever an emperor died, er, left office, only the heads had to be replaced. Thrifty folks, those Romans! Meet the new bboss … same as the old … Now why do you suppose I keep remembering that, in this election year?
Candidates and slogans change. Campaign styles and strategies change. But the system, which no ordinary people seem happy with, remains. Profit, privilege and power for the very few, with a perfunctory, unconvincing pretense of freedom and equality for the rest of us. And the merest whisper of a hint of a promise that we might, just possibly, better our circumstances … if we shut up and soldier. The state lottery gives us better odds! Maybe.
To vote, or not to vote. is that the question? Trouble is, we do not “get to vote” on the most important things. Who will be president, who will be state legislators, who will be county coroner — a position so thankless or unglamorous it usually has only one candidate. Does any of it matter? We appear to think so. But perhaps we merely catch the urgency fever from those who stand to benefit in some way from a given outcome. And I keep wondering … are we actually doing more than swapping interchangeable figureheads here and there, while the empire just keeps rolling along? Some days, I’m just not sure.


About l. l. frederick

I'm pretty ordinary, so I find any number of things in the world interesting, among them: books, music, flowers, food, social justice, politics and (sometimes!) people. As for my writing, I've decided that I can be subtle and tasteful when our only problems are esthetic ones. Or when I'm dead, whichever comes first. In the meantime, read at your own risk.
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6 Responses to Headed for Trouble

  1. Headed for trouble, is ‘Right’ AND ‘Left’! Either way, we are headed for trouble! Thanks Linda. This is right on time!

  2. I absolutely love the story about interchangeable heads for the statues of emperors, Linda. It’s such an apt metaphor for what passes as “leadership” throughout history – a tragic fiction about who pulls the strings and benefits to be sure.

    • Thanks Carol, I’ve never been able to forget it! Though I wish things would let me. And there’s also that recurring thing, pulling down statues to ‘celebrate’ a major regime change. A more modern phenomenon? Better for film or television, perhaps, giving the appearance of dramatic, decisive action. Someday soon, we really need to start using the brains we’re so proud of! – Linda

  3. I think we need to look for good news where we can – TPP is definitely dead now, as is the saber rattling against Russia and an end to “US interference in other people’s wars.” The big question will be is how much leeway Wall Street and the Washington bureaucracy will allow the president-elect.

    • And on past form … maybe not much. It will be interesting to watch … but I hope for your sake New Zealand is a safe enough vantage point. Here at ringside, could be harder to take the philosophical view. And to seriously challenge the military/security budget? I’m not holding my breath — it seems more than any president’s life might be worth. Thanks for the encouraging words, and wish us luck. – Linda

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