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(DV) Ransel: The Driver







The Driver
by Vi Ransel
December 22, 2005

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Do you really believe your answers
to multiple choice questions
play any part in who you are,
that your identity,
your individuality,
comes from choosing
what's already been chosen
for you to choose by those
chosen to get you to choose
to use what their masters produce?

Ford.  Or Chevy.
Coke. Or Pepsi.
Scott. Or Charmin.
What's the harm in your daughter pining to be a pig like Paris,
or wearing jeans sell-out movie stars and musicians push at us,
or your son idolizing a vulgar, greedy glutton like The Donald,
or your husband worshipping a drug-using, woman-beating sports icon,
or your wife reading the rag mags from cover to cover
to see which star's just impregnated and jilted his lover,
or your boss admiring the wisdom of executives from Enron
for their clever theft of their employees' retirement funds,
or our children watching us try to imitate celebrities
which gives our stamp of approval to role models like these
latest idols of American material excess
whose very lack of character is seen as success,
whose identities we try to buy since we see these leeches as our betters
and we endorse their conduct by buying the junk they shill in an effort
to define who we are -- very few of us could deny it --
but how unique could it be when everybody else can buy it?

Victims of an offer we can't! seem to refuse
buying goods planned for obsolescence and perpetual renewal
while worshipping in front of big-screen color TVs
eating our way to diabetes and heart disease.
And the eating, the drinking, the buying, the legal drugs,
the electronic diversions allow us to accept with a shrug
the lop-sided economy, the devastation of education,
the broken-down, red-and-blue state of our nation.

We do the frenzied, directionless, lemming-like dance
of the meaningless minimal motion
of a mouse-click or the swipe of a credit card
and drown enthusiastically in the plastic consumer credit ocean.
And in this act of conspicuous consumption we explode --
in spontaneous human/consumer combustion.
Not to worry. There are always plenty more where we come from
who've got holes in their souls where their selves ought to be
that can never be filled by the engineered greed, lust and gluttony
which is how we express freedom in the Land of the Free,
choosing goods rather than the direction of our Democracy.

Though we're sold the "fact" that the market is consumer driven
and each of us, alone, is responsible for our purchasing decisions,
corporations spend billions each year to manufacture our consent,
to turn citizens into consumers instead of the drivers of government.
If it didn't work they wouldn't pay to arouse shame, desire and envy.
They do it because they need a rabid consumer feeding frenzy
and our seeing our future strictly as the next thing that we buy.

The irresponsibility they sponsor keeps the profit well from running dry.
They want our focus on the wealth-creating surface of our outside
not the road less traveled to the value we each have on the inside.
They fear we might step off the material path
because it threatens their very survival
if we get over our lust for the vehicle
and learn to love The Driver.

Vi Ransel lives in New York, and can be reached at: