Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Ours is a grey world, devoid of color. Even in our most pleasant moments we can only see a brighter shade of grey.

Clarity has lost its meaning. We are comatose in life, numb to the world. We are Sleepwalkers.

There was a time when a fair amount of effort was needed to get by in the world. Work was hard and raising a family too important to leave to strangers. We read the paper, watched the news, and took an interest in our neighborhoods. We knew our neighbors, could tell whose kid was who’s at the ballgame. We cheered the local high school team even if we didn’t have kids in school. Community was important; school boards and city council meetings had more than a couple people show up.

It took time and effort to be an American. It wasn’t easy but it was life.

Now we have raised the ramparts and retreated into our homes. Fear has us hermetically sealed in visqueen and duct tape. We haven’t talked to our neighbors in years, couldn’t tell you who they are or what they do.

The bright, mindless orb at the center of the living room commands our time and our soul. We stare deeply into its core; it takes over all mental function, deadens our nerves and our sensibilities. We are numb to any stimulus, any human tragedy. We have become lost in a dream. It tells us when to cry, when to laugh and worse, what’s fantasy and what’s ‘reality’.

Our leaders have taken advantage of this. They use the orb to weave a dreamscape that is accepted as reality. The thread of this weave is so tight, so interwoven that it has convinced us all that only these men can tell us what is real.

Our muscles atrophy from lack of use, reticent silence hardens vocal cords. In the throes of this slumber, we move like cattle across history, more livestock than alive. The Dream is comfortable; it warms us and gives us a sense of security. The Dream lies.

The lie of the Dream – the warmth we feel comes from fire stoked with our dried up souls. The ‘security’ is the refuge of the grave; a cold, hard box six feet down.

We sleepwalk the same road as our neighbor. Raise the same sleeping children; make love to the same sleeping spouses. His life is as grey as ours; the Dream makes them inseparable.

There is no distinction, no difference, nothing unique. Humanity has abandoned the gifts of clarity and purpose. We lost the will to break free of the chains of conformity.

Some succeeded – Gibson, Kerouac, and Thompson. They kindled the fires of disorder – but when they left us, the fires dwindled quickly. They lived and died their muse but that passion left with them. Their lives may have sparked movements, perhaps even a philosophy, but that too eventually faded into the dust that covers their graves. Their images have become cartoons, billboards and brightly colored product packaging that sells toothpaste and tampons.

Libraries are full of the promises broken by the Dream. Sleepwalkers pack theaters, ballparks and auditoriums in vain attempts at touching reality, sampling life without the Dream.

Hollywood shows us baneful possibilities 120 minutes at a time. Television, the mindless orb - that visual landfill, regurgitates ‘soylent green’-like pabulum packaged fresh for Sweeps. The garbage left behind by aging hippies and pissed off British punks with bad teeth is recycled and repackaged to support our ‘haute couture’. Our feces becomes high fashion.

Humanity is a retread.

There is hope, but it is a flickering candle on a leaky boat in the eye of a hurricane. Gibson, Kerouac, and Thompson had moments when that candle shown brightly. They offered to bring that light to the people. But the Dream Merchants hunted them down and, extinguisher in hand, snuffed them out. The Sleepwalkers must remain asleep.

The Dream Merchants have grown larger than life. They compete with one another for control of the sleepers. Sleepwalkers are guided from faction to faction, oblivious to the game. We tune our televisions to CNN until we are told to turn the channel to Fox.

Dream Merchants control the herd; guide us from cradle to grave by slick marketing and focus groups. Those that break free are preyed upon by wolves hired to keep the herd intact.

But these wolves aren’t real. They’re just as asleep as the rest of humanity. They are only cattle chosen to maintain the engines of the Dream.

Dream Merchants were Sleepwalkers once. When they saw the Dream for what it is, instead of trying to break free, embraced it.

They have no loyalty to the herd, no sentimental connection to history or tradition. They are like cannibals, gorging on the minds of Sleepwalkers, drawing sustenance from lost human spirit.

Humanity has always had the freedom to choose. This is no different. Sleepwalkers choose their lot in life. The Dream is not a prison. These chains have no locks. To leave the Dream, one must only open his eyes.

With eyes open, we can see the sun brand new. Time becomes a companion, not an enemy. Life returns to our colors, they brighten and shine. Small things, once ignored, are given names and cherished. Our purpose in the community becomes important to us again. Our lives have value. We see the other Sleepwalkers as we would lost children at the zoo. They see us as a threat. We approach them help, they recoil in fear, screaming for security.

That’s where many of our heroes fell short. They wanted to wake the Sleepwalkers, shake them loose from the Dream. But the choice to release the chains must come from within the Dream, not without. As Sleepwalkers, we hold tight to those chains, refusing to release them for fear of reprisal from others. We dare not stand out from the herd.

It is the nature of the Dream to make all choices for the Sleepwalkers. When a sleeper rebels and makes a life choice on his own, the Dream weakens and reality may peek through.

To break free of the Dream, Sleepwalkers must be provided with real choices that matter. Those outside the Dream must make ourselves known in their world as an opportunity, not as an obstacle. Instead of the same grey-green existence they are used to, we show them a bright colorful new one. Many will pass us by, fearing the change, disgusted at the disturbance, the unmitigated gall of offering a challenge.

Those that make the choice to seek us out, loosen their grip on the chains a bit. They see in our faces, our joy. They can tell that we are experiencing things that they haven’t and it frightens them. Most will stop, not going any further at this time. They will have to be content with this brief glimpse of freedom, enough to carry them to work or home less grey than before.

But there will be those who are tired of the Dream. Those who have been suffering in silence because they did not have the courage or the opportunity to break free, will find us. It is our shoulder that will support them when reality overwhelms them. It will be our strength that will revitalize their will when the Dream Merchants reproach them for straying from the herd.

As the times demand more attention and the real possibility of civilization’s collapse slowly enters our conscious mind, the Sleepwalkers must be shown how to be awakened. Our numbers must grow.