I walked over to our sound booth the other day and was talking to a friend who was running the board. As we’re talking, he is nonchalantly replacing batteries in a microphone. And I notice the batteries he is using are different looking than the kind I use at home.
His box says “Industrial” on it which, of course, means that these batteries pack more punch and last longer than my trite consumer (residential?) batteries.
And this bothered me on two levels.
Firstly, how in the world can the battery companies do this? They sell me batteries that could easily be more powerful and durative and yet don’t? They obviously have the capacity to make my bought-at-the-grocery-store batteries better, but choose not to?
I mean, seriously? It isn’t like the Industrial AAs are bigger than the idiot-consumer (normal) AAs. They are the same size and contain the same capacity. And yet one has more power and lasts longer.
This is the basic equivalent of selling me a half-full Coke. And this would never happen. There would be outrage in the streets! America would not allow herself to be deprived of precious High Fructose Corn Syrup!
"I’m still thirsty! They could have put more Coke in that bottle! Someone throw a burning trash bin through a window at Gap or Starbucks!"
Like…who would accept being sold a 500ml bottle with 250ml of liquid inside?
And then it hit me.
The second level on which this bothered me is that this is exactly what we all do. No, not buy half-filled Cokes (perish the thought). We ARE half-filled Coke bottles.
We all have more to give, greater capacity that remains unused. We are regular batteries with industrial capabilities.
We are living below capacity. We are holding back potential. We are using 70% of our lives and telling people we are beyond maxed out. We have been lied to…by ourselves.
We are capable of more. We have capacity for greater. We settle and hope that no one will notice. We bury our conscience and call our excess capacity “margin”. We keep it there “in case we need it”. In reality, we keep it there as a buffer, never intending to touch the space we’ve quietly carved out for diversion and distraction.
We would never buy a half-empty Coke. I may never buy non-industrial batteries again. And yet we present lives that very much resemble those things. We have held back fullness.
One wonders if that doesn’t hold fullness back from us…
Shipping containers on top of abandoned silos in Johannesburg, South Africa make for unique student housing accommodations.
- Jerry Seinfeld
We have lost the art of protest.
We no longer know persecution.
Even in those instances when Americans rise up (think of any Starbucks-window-smashing instance of the last 15 years in Seattle) it is for nuanced, subterranean persecution that is rife with plausible deniability. Oh, the World Bank is spying on you and your stoner friends? OK…
We don’t know what it feels like to really rise up because we have no clue what it means to be really held down.
We are silenced by comfort. Our two-ply world soothes us into acquiescence of all that is driven towards us.
We are silenced by entertainment. Our universe revolves around advert-driven spectacles and pseudo-celebrity rubbish.
The enemy plays the long game. We are lulled to sleep by bread and circuses. No one is hungry and everyone has a flat screen with fanciful moving images to permanently distract.
We are so comfortable that we don’t notice injustice. We don’t see beyond the surface. We don’t look past the shiny exterior of life to ask difficult questions. We fear that obtaining answers may require action that would lessen the amount of bread and the quality of circus we currently enjoy.
So what if my football fandom causes brain injuries?
So what if my fashionable closet is born on the back of child slavery?
So what if my food was harvested by unpaid immigrants?
So what if my secret internet habits prop up the global sex trade?
So what if my hotel room is cleaned by a woman who has no room of her own?
So what if my taxes pay for things to which I am morally opposed?
So what if my coffee is bankrupting farmers and enslaving families?
So what if my phone, tablet, and computer were all put together by Chinese slaves who find suicide to be a better fate than labor?
About the time I get agitated enough to do something about it, my favorite show comes on. Maybe I’ll speak up during the commercials or between bowls of ice cream. Maybe I’ll tweet about it or like the Facebook page of one of the great causes out there. Maybe I’ll medicate with more half-hearted attempts at raising awareness, knowing that they’ll never make a difference and I’ll never have to really lead the charge to make a change in the world.
We don’t know how to rise up.
We don’t know what it means to be held down.
The haunting question is, then…
What if we are the oppressor?
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