Social media, following mainstream media, has a way of putting and keeping the focus on what I call “branch issues.” Branch issues are secondary problems. The term is from a metaphor given by Henry David Thoreau, who wrote in Walden,
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.
Branch issues are all the rage in the media, very rarely is a root issue given the light of day. Root issues are things like the childhood trauma, monopoly policing, compulsory education, interventionist war, and inflationary central banking. This is in no way an exhaustive list, but the deepest root of them all is the belief that some people have the right to hurt or steal from other people without just cause (eg. self-defense). The roots are the primary source of nourishment for the branches. Think about that.
Root issues are best left undisturbed if you want to avoid ruffling the feathers of powerful people.
But branch issues are fair game. Well, they’re often much more than just fair game. They’re very useful in keeping the masses from looking to deep and discovering a root. Branch issues get 24 hour coverage because of how profitable they are. Not only do big media companies get the political privilege of staying in business, but they also get to increase their ratings by increasing sexy branch issue coverage.
Fear sells, and the powers that be know this very well. Every time a politician opens their mouth he or she is generating fear, usually on the basis of classifying people, and them pitting them against each other. Blacks vs. Whites. Men vs. Women. Rich vs. Poor. Majorities vs. Minorities. There is literally, and I do mean literally, no end to the ways that you can divide people based on some characteristic and then fluff up related problems to stoke the fire.
This new “Me too” campaign on Facebook (and elsewhere?) is yet another example of stoking a branch issue into a distraction. What is the “Me too” campaign? It’s the campaign for women to share the following on their Facebook walls:
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
My first reaction to this was a bit of umbrage on the part of lumping the many degrees of sexual harassment in with the many degrees of sexual assault. They aren’t the same. One’s speech. The other is violent action. And within each are several degrees of severity. I think lumping these all together allows women who’ve only experienced the former to latch on to the pain of women who’ve experienced the latter. That seems disrespectful and dastardly to me. Not to mention completely unscientific. It also seems to indicate that women can’t tell the difference, that they are too stupid to, or something. Give me a break.
I shared that first reaction on Facebook in a couple of places and got some interesting discussion going. But as I thought about it some more, I realized what was going on here, as I’ve already indicated.
This is a branch issue. Nevermind the umbrage I took initially. That’s irrelevant, really. What this little campaign is doing is burying far more serious root issues.
Me too. I had a body part removed as a baby.
Me too. I was yelled at and hit as a child.
Me too. I was forced to endure an intellectual prison for 12 years.
Me too. I was bullied. And I bullied.
Me too. I’m regularly threatened with prison if I don’t pay tribute to my political masters.
That’s just some of the effects of the root issues I listed above in my life. Consider everybody else in the world.
How many people are murdered every day by American bombs? How many people have their life savings devalued by the Federal Reserve every year? How many children are being traumatized and imprisoned by the adults in their life, who themselves were traumatized and imprisoned as children? How many women and children are being failed by their governments and communities and being taken and put into bondage? How many people are being failed by their governments and being made the targets of terrorists? How many people are being beaten, raped, and murdered by unaccountable and unbankruptable monopoly policing?
How many people are getting rich off the dissemination of and distraction by branch issues?
Like Thoreau said, there are a thousand people hacking at the branches of evil for every one striking the root. I hate being among the ones. We need more ones, goddamnit.