I was on a group call the other day, and a guy was talking and he said, “If I don’t feel, it isn’t real.” And then he kept on going and I don’t remember a thing he said after that because I was so riveted by that one short statement.

It led me into an examination of just how many things have gone on in life around me in the last 25 years that I have felt very little emotion about. Or maybe the last 50 years. Or maybe more.

Reaching back as far as the Vietnam War, I remember standing at my dorm room window at the University of Arizona watching the fog of tear gas roll across campus as thousands of students in bellbottom jeans and tie-dye tops carried protest signs, vigorously shouting out against US involvement in the war. It was like watching a movie that had nothing to do with me. I even remember wondering what all the fuss was about. Why did all those students care so much about a war so far away?

Sure. US troops were fighting and dying in ‘Nam. But it was other people’s brothers and husbands, fathers and friends getting maimed body, mind and soul. Other people’s brothers and husbands, fathers and friends dying.

I’d lived a privileged, if rather isolated life, raised on a farm filled with ponies and horses and the beauties of nature. What did I know of war and its consequences? My parents and private school teachers and all of their friends were staunch Republicans, solidly behind the war effort to “stem the Red Tide of communism.” I took their position at face value and adopted it as my own. I didn’t even question it.

In my defense, I wasn’t taught to question. But, then, probably the majority of young people out protesting and getting tear-gassed and dragged off to prison hadn’t been taught to question either.

Somehow—through the influence of some acquaintance, through the immediacy of a death in the family, through a book or through some God-given gift of bullshit detection, they arrived at the place where they did question. And once they started to question, once they started to engage the horror of Vietnam as a reality, once they became familiar with the self-serving political agendas behind it, they began to feel. Sadness. Outrage. Betrayal. Determination. A yearning for peace. An appreciation for love.

The more fiercely those kids felt, the more active in their protests they became.

A formula for disengagement

So, what keeps us from feeling? For starters, media. Watching news clips of battles and body bags being loaded onto helicopters … what’s the difference to my brain between that and watching movie scenes of battles and body bags being loaded onto helicopters? Or the same scenes in video games?

Nada. Nothing. Zip.

Both scenarios are digital pixels flaring two-dimensional images within a flat screen in my living room. My eyes see the pictures, but there’s no battle going on in my living room. No helicopters are flying overhead. The subconscious message being delivered to my psyche along with the news/movie/game is clearly, “It’s not real. No need to feel upset. Everything is okay. You’re safe.”

Not real = no need to get involved.

Infinite amounts of propaganda supporting political and corporate agendas are being pumped over the airwaves. Fifty years ago, you could switch it off. Today? The amount of “spin” we receive hour to hour from TV and radio, social media and our phones, is mind-boggling.

All of it is safely “out there.” Most of it “fact checked” by corporate-paid fact checkers.

And we don’t switch it off.

And we’re kept busy. Oh, Lord, so busy! Running here. Running there. Buying stuff, drowning in debt, working so hard just to keep our heads above water as prices skyrocket and our paychecks dwindle.

And the “entertainment!” Americans watch a cumulative 250 billion hours of television every year.[1] The typical American child spends 900 hours each year in school and 1500 hours watching television. By the time s/he is 18 eighteen years of age, s/he will have seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 40,000 murders and uncounted thousands of rapes.[2]

Can you spell i-n-n-o-c-u-l-a-t-e-d against violence?

We don’t have a moment to think about anything. Unless we deliberately, consciously, step away from the onslaught (And how many people do that?), we don’t have a moment to think for ourselves. Which is, of course, the whole point.

Overwhelm, busyness = numbness = lack of involvement and action.

Bread and circuses baby. Bread and circuses.

Shock and awe

It just occurred to me that perhaps the reason so many people are so overwhelmed right now is because the curtain of the unreal is beginning to dissolve. And the reason it’s dissolving is because things are starting to get personal.

I don’t think I know one person who doesn’t have at least one close relative or friend who isn’t suffering from vaccine side effects or suddenly dying from turbo cancer, stroke or myocarditis.

The aftermath of the COVID assault on humanity seems to be shaping up as a profound wakeup call as people struggle for answers in the face of shocking and unpleasant realities that are striking their own families.

I hate to say it, but I’ve realized facts don’t cut it.

Sure, the number of people at risk of starvation increased from 135-million in 2020 to 337 million by the end of 2022 because of COVID lockdowns, and deaths from starvation rose to roughly 10 million every year (3-million of them children).[3] But that’s just one more TV news report factoid.

It’s a little more impactful when you’re watching a professional sporting event, and a player drops dead on the field right in front of your eyes—as over 895 professional athletes did during competition between January 2021 and August 2022.[4] (As opposed to the annual average of 29 athletes dying on the field every year since 1966.)

But that’s still a distant event witnessed through binoculars or on a screen.

Four friends suddenly dying from turbo brain cancers, a partner’s cancer, decades in remission, exploding throughout their body overnight, children and grandchildren suffering from heart problems and neurological disorders—those things are immediate and heart-breaking.

“If I don’t feel, it isn’t real.” And if it isn’t real, I can keep the truth at bay.

But if I feel … if we all start to feel … it’s game over for the powers that be.



[1] https://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html

[2] https://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html

[3] https://www.actionagainsthunger.org/the-hunger-crisis/world-hunger-facts/)

[4] https://goodsciencing.com/covid/athletes-suffer-cardiac-arrest-die-after-covid-shot/