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Used Furniture: The Answer To War
By Keith
Apr 1, 2003 - 11:29:00 PM

LOS ANGELES—As of this writing, the war in Iraq is scheduled to premier tomorrow night at 8:00 P.M. E.S.T. (three hours earlier for viewers on the West Coast). My wife is positively plugged-in to CNN for the trailers, not because she's fascinated by international geopolitics, but because this will be the Mother of All Reality Shows, and it's about to start!

Tentatively entitled "Death 'N Destruction", it will be "Star Wars Bounty Hunter" meets "Survivor", and will feature everything from monster micro-waves to poison gas. What a concept! Bigger than the Oscars, more powerful than the NCAA playoffs, able to pre-empt Major League Baseball's opening day at a single bound. This should be a killer show! At least, that's what the producers are hoping. Personally, I think it will mostly entail lots of footage from missile nose-cams and steaming desert video of Iraqi soldiers surrendering en masse to American, British and Australian journalists. It will be canceled and off the air within a few weeks.

But at the moment, it's hard to think of much else, as this impending conflict concentrates the mind and has everyone holding his breath. Last night my wife and I suddenly realized, upon sober reflection, that most of the furniture in our home was, at one time or another, pulled out of the trash. Other peoples' refuse; Unwanted rubbish. Now this is not ordinarily the type of information that most people would want trumpeted across the pages of a major metropolitan newspaper, but I'm not ashamed. On the contrary, it attests to our resourcefulness in converting the discarded into the useful (recycling), as well as being a statement of my social and political values (Bohemian/Socialist). And though I don't necessarily advocate a life of Spartan self-denial, neither do I have a need to appear in "Better Homes and Gardens". Material modesty is an admirable trait in this age of gross materialism, and I'm pleased to serve as a dissenting voice regarding the pretensions and arrogance of the ultra-consumerist lifestyle. It's a cultural statement, and I proclaim it proudly. We're so poor, we receive food packages from Ethiopia. Our clothes are donated by the homeless. Panhandlers give me money! It's called living by your convictions, and it's an honorable life, uncluttered by ringing cell phones, chocolate martinis and all the other trappings of the insecure Bourgeoisie.

Our country's brand of scorched-earth Capitalism seems to infuriate much of the rest of the world, instilling not emulation but contempt, and is one of the reasons we're going to war. Our values appear empty and difficult to justify, yet we're compelled to fight to defend them against those who find us haughty and wasteful; plunderers of the planet's resources to feed a culture of gross entitlement. The "Ugly American" is getting uglier, and one day it's going to catch up to us. When it does, at least I won't have much to lose in the way of furniture.

War is the absence of reason; an admission that, technological wizardry notwithstanding, our species is still politically primitive, killing each other when we disagree. You know there's something wrong with humanity when the French appear reasonable! Wisdom is borne of experience, and you would think that after 4500 years of civilization, mankind would have learned how to settle disputes without resorting to bloodshed. But it's not to be, at least not yet. Maybe if everyone procured their furniture from the trash, the resultant change in values would more closely mirror the "better angels of our nature", as humility replaces mortal hubris. But maybe not. In any event, war is about to begin. I think I'll make popcorn.

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