Barking up the wrong tree
In John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath, “a farmer, due to his default on loan, having his land taken away from him confronts the tractor driver who is knocking down his house. He aims a gun at driver, but he confused when the driver tells him that he takes his orders from a banker in Oklahoma city, who takes his orders from a banker in New York. The farmer cries out: Then Who Can I Shoot?”
In the capitalistic society, where corporations and institutions rein every spheres of human life, people become such confused, frustrated, and bewildered defining a culprit who ruins his or her life that they often bend their rages on the wrongful targets that happened to be in a wrong place at the wrong time.
Under the rule of kings and emperors, the oppressors were identifiable and targeted by the peasants, slaves, or revolutionaries, and destroyed or eliminated accordingly.
However, under the corporate bureaucracies, the enemies are nowhere in sight that the victims who seek to identify the target become more violent and sometimes go crazy to do something that normally is unthinkable thing to do.
Just a day after the last Christmas, a software technician in the small town Massachusetts, who was told by his employer that his wage will be garnished by the Internal Revenue Services (IRS), randomly shot with a AK 47 semi-automatic rifle and shotgun at the staffs in Human Resource Dept, killing four women and three men. (All involved are white, middle-class in the predominantly white community)
Immediately after the massacre, the mainstream media jump on painting the culprit as loner, loser, and mentally disturbed sick man, followed by an unabated eulogy on the victims for three days.
It seems obvious that the killer barked up the wrong tree and chose “fast-food” target instead of daunting foray on the fortified office of IRS for his convenience, since he is not a dim-witted wacko to confuse his real enemy, IRS, with a bunch of personnel staffs who work on orders from IRS. He wanted to have his frustration to be resolved instantly on any circumstance and did not care whether the target is an innocent victim who steps on his toe inadvertently or haphazardly.
His selfish psychic that evolved from the naivete of Steinbeck’s farmer is indicative of the cultural isolation and desperation that the killer has experienced in his forty-year life of the corporate society.
Steinbeck’s farmer has at least displayed the wisdom of hesitation before releasing his anger on his fellow creature and sought to locate who the loan shark is. He might have a roughneck crudeness to travel on horseback to the big city wearing a ten-gallon-hat with a Colt revolver and knock the doors of the Wall Street in Manhattan, a mockery of John Wayne braggadocio.
The bottom line for both farmer and killer is the fact that they would never locate physically who their real enemy is in the corporate society…the farmer easily get lost in one of the banks of elevators in the skyscraper, while the killer with hirsute beard, long unkempt hair and a duffel bag would be caught in the suspicious eyes of ever-present security guards, lookouts, stool-pigeons, and cops hired by the establishments.
Such illusion that the real enemy can be found was also manifested in South Korea last September, when the civic leaders vowed to boycott the Ford products if the Ford Company reneges their promise to take over the bankrupt Daewoo Corp.
The South Koreans displayed their stupidity and ignorance in the global corporate structures that they think the Ford Co. only makes cars…the company has been running a huge financial institution that lends billions of dollars domestically and internationally, and some of the funds that are under the Ford’s management are already in the Seoul bourse and other investment portfolios.
Would the Korean civic leaders have the intelligent capacity to tell their people what portion of capitals running in the industrial veins of their country is a Ford product?
In recent years, the denizens of the corporate earth have been suffering from the strange weather ranging from the savage fires across drought-ridden US continent, persistent floods swept across Great Britain and Mozambique, to global warming that brings so sharp and fast with no time for adaptation.
Contrary to the widely propagated wisdom that the mass media speak on behalf of its audience, the ordinary citizen, no major news corporations dare to raise the causes of the strange weather pattern, only to spare more time for bad weather forecast, since they were owned by the corporations that deny anything to do with the climate changes.
When the funnel-shaped swell of tornado hit the Bible-belt southern Texas town that destroyed most of the buildings, Noah’s antediluvian townspeople gathered in the court of blown-out church and cried out the mercy of their Lord for help and questioned why they were the target of Lord’s anger.
The agencies of culture, namely media, school, church, and corporation, shape most of social consciousness that the weather pattern is dependent on the God’s hand, adjusted in righteous matter in near future, and nothing to worry about it because God is always right and good.
For townspeople, asking Lord’s mercy instead of locating the culprits who caused the destruction of the town appears to be more painless and dauntless to reconcile with their numbness, frustration, and bewilderment, as a software technician blasted off his anger against helpless targets through the barrels of guns.
They are utterly powerless, helpless, and sometimes stupidly ignorant to locate the bogeymen and ultimately end up barking up the wrong tree.