Caren Black | May 18, 2017 | TEOLAWKI Times
When my husband pointed out an online Business Insider article about America’s crumbling infrastructure this morning, I laughed. We always shake our heads when reporters sound alarmed and rather indignant that America's decay is showing. “This is, after all, America!” they gush, “How could this be happening??” - or something of the sort. What, exactly, did they think 2005’s global oil peak meant?
My apologies! I need to remind myself that in “their reality” Peak Oil never happened. It was just one of those – you know – conspiracy theories.
When we’d stopped shaking our heads this morning and returned to the day’s tasks, my mind inexplicably unveiled a stage scene from Streetcar Named Desire. Suddenly, it occurred to me how closely most Americans have come to resemble Blanche DuBois. The central character of Streetcar, Blanche, as you’ll recall, is a middle aged single woman whose fading charms are not enhanced by her superior attitude nor her embroidering of the truth. Having little but deaths and meaningless seductions to her credit, she turns to her sister Stella and brother-in-law Stanley whose home and livelihood she condescends to use and discredit.
With respect and apologies to Tennessee Williams, let me present the contemporary American as BLANCHE L'AMERIQUE:
(Standing CENTER, her palms up, shaking her head in disbelief)
I don't want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don't tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth. Truth is fluid, don’t you know,like a great river, bendable, and like a river it reflects back your own beautiful image. We are genteel, we l'Ameriques. We come from a long line of the ingenious, the industrious, the clever. Having great wealth sometimes makes a people lonely. They must stand and fight all alone. But, a cultivated people, a people of intelligence and breeding, can enrich the whole world immeasurably!
(Contemplative, crosses DOWN RIGHT)
We have always depended on the kindness of strangers. And, most have been kind. They have given us lands and riches beyond measure. And, we have given much in return! We’ve brought them capitalism and democracy. We’ve brought them electricity. We've developed their resources. We’ve cultivated their land with crops, which we then bought, and we gave them part of the money and cities to live in. We have these things to offer, and the centuries do not take them away. Physical beauty may be passing. A transitory possession. But beauty of the mind and richness of the spirit and tenderness of the heart – and we have all of those things – aren’t taken away, but grow! Increase with the years! How strange that we should be called destitute or "in decay"!
(FADE to BLACK)
Like Blanche, America is past middle age. The flower’s faded, the promise gone, and the rapacious, genocidal, avaricious, gluttonous core around which our nation’s image has been wrapped is exposed. The shiny infrastructure insulating the l'Ameriques from the truths of their Exceptional Way of Life has frayed. Meltdown is imminent.
Yet still, American writers and the public react with surprise as these stage props fail. "But wait!" they say, "Our ruling class is on our side!" If confronted, they may admit, "Oh, yes, we’re aware that our ruling class has been engaged in some…unfortunate business abroad. But those foreigners were bad people. Those were ignorant, savage people. Those were…well…ah...brown people. Red. Even black people. But not here! Our ruling class would never do those things here! There must be some mistake. Our ruling class is on our side! This is America!"
Shouldn’t that be Stella’s cue?
(LIGHTS up on STELLA, STAGE LEFT, standing in front of a mixed crowd all holding signs in various languages. We recognize Russian Cyrillic letters, another Slavic language we’re uncertain of, the logograms used in Asian languages, at least one sign in French, and numerous signs in Spanish “No al imperialismo!” STELLA confronts BLANCHE,DOWN RIGHT.)
Don't you think your superior attitude is a little out of place?
(ENTER UP CENTER, the expensively dressed, cigar-chomping BANKER, accompanied by THUG dressed as a terrorist)
(Crossing DOWN RIGHT, followed by TERRORIST who grabs BLANCHE and roughly drags her OFF RIGHT)
C'mon, girlie! We've had this date with each other from the beginning!
(EXITS RIGHT. BLACKOUT)
Faded Promises and Lies
The flowers anew
Returning seasons bring
But beauty faded
Has no second spring