Fifty Plus: Are you not entertained?
We are ancient Rome. We welcome distractions in our country. Our country is, although it should not be, an embarrassment. We lead in everything that is wrong in a society yet we are the free world. We know it and become apathetic so bring on the distractions. My husband and daughter went to these distractions this past weekend. I had planned to go as well but we just adopted a puppy that was my distraction instead. The list included a professional ice hockey game in Philadelphia, a visit to Eastern State Penitentiary, and, what Americans do best, consumerism. Buy, buy, and buy some more.
As my husband started to tell me about the ice hockey game, he paused and said, “You’re right, we are Rome.” He went on to tell me about the sheer size of the stadium, the music that enticed the crowds, the lights that flashed, and the announcer that topped off the rising frenzy at the beginning of the game. He said he got goose bumps. I would have enjoyed it, especially a contact sport such as ice hockey. Honestly, I miss the days of no helmets. I remember watching a player have his ear sliced off as another player skated over it. I still prefer a minor league game because there tends to be more physical contact. I question myself as to why I am intrigued with this hard hitting game. I realize I’m distracted from the struggle of everyday life but I also remember how much these athletes are paid. Then I realize how important it is to keep me distracted.
The next event was a trip to Eastern State Penitentiary. Again, I would have wanted to see it. The prison is now a museum. It operated from 1829 until 1971. As my husband explained it, the outside is deceivingly small. Once inside, the walls were built so nothing could be seen from the outside. He said it was intimidating, scary, and he got this sense of hopelessness. “I wouldn’t want to have been there as an inmate.” Of course not. It is a reminder of a barbaric system that we are not in. It is a distraction from what so easily could happen to any average American; incarceration for violation of the law. Yet we have progressed since the days of Eastern State Penitentiary. Since the 1980’s we have seen a surge in private prisons. It is profitable to incarcerate people. It’s not me so I can pursue my distractions.
The buying was on-going and the final event was going to Reading Terminal Market. Vendors displaying everything no one needs only wants. The best of foods (well, that may be a necessity), trinkets, and any imaginable needless item to remind you of Philadelphia. Had I gone, I would have spent more than my husband and daughter. Distractions.
I’m tired of it. Tired of it all primarily because of this farce of an upcoming presidential election. Candidates. What candidates? This is all we can produce? People actually believe they are voting for the candidate. They aren’t. They’re voting for delegates that have already decided their vote. The only potential is Bernie Sanders. Humor me. We can agree he has not been purchased. Just listen to him. Yes, he may be idealistic and even unrealistic but he truly wants a country with better balance, opportunity for all, and voice for the people without distractions.
Years ago, I wasn’t apathetic. I cared. I thought there was hope. I participated in what little ways I could. I don’t anymore. We are Rome. Our days are numbered. The times we live in are beyond frightening. It’s madness. My apathy is a mental survival technique for the madness. And so, I shall participate in the distractions just as the ancient Romans did.
From the 2000 academy award winning film Gladiator, ask me, “Are you not entertained?” I most certainly am.
Column by Linda R. Jones