In the future, the historians will earn their daily bread by revealing what is common knowledge to those of us who have endured to this point in America’s second civil war. That is, the historians will take up—singularly—as the topic of their magnum opuses the fact that the war (itself not an immoral or criminal part of life on earth) began with wanton, unchecked criminality.
Once it became clear that the police were not going to behave according to their sworn oaths, Americans in whose veins pumped blood which was hot with rage did not line up according to some contemporary “Blue and Grey” as the Proud Boys and Antifa gangs had hoped.
In the beginning there wasn’t strategy; there weren’t plans. In the place of those things, and others, which always took much time to materialize (and only ever did at the sounding of a long suppressed cry for leadership) the baser instincts of society were unleashed. This meant, naturally, that what we now call the “war” first began as all violent crime begins—passionately. And for any crime to receive this noble description, it can only relate one shameful fact: the violence occurred among family and friends.
People, generally men, who had long felt wronged and unheard by the “man” saw an opportunity to take matters into their own hands. One can almost empathize with these previously caged animals. “Fuck it,” they said. “If there’s no chance of punishment this side of the dirt, I’ll take my chances with whatever comes on the other side.” God Will Judge became the mantra.
Who among us hasn’t heard stories of the bloody red, depressingly black, and intensely personal mayhem that occurred in the year before formal armies were announced and maps redrawn? Tell me I’m wrong. We felt comfortable among strangers—enough even to dull our senses with the poison of the month. But no one would have more than one beer with family for fear of missing the cues proffered that home-cooked meals with just arrived, uninvited distant relatives would end in bloodshed. To live in fear of your own kin? That’s a crime against heaven. And heaven has answered, surely.
Culturally speaking, this played out across the country differently. The blacks, hispanics, Chinese, mooslums, and others—by virtue of living so communally as it was—were on edge all the time (which was not too different from their prior felt experience). The whites? Well, we lived out another chapter of the story. The interstates were filled with murderous travelers. To keep up with the new reality, we put a new entry into the Merriam-Webster app entry of “road rage”. And when people stopped for what would have become road rage crimes in the recent past, this time they didn’t fight or shoot each other. Rather, they shared the stories which, like their vehicles, carried them forward by the latent power of unexploded remains of ancient demons. But most of the time no one stopped. Tailgating still caused anger, but no one stopped driving. They allowed the reflection of the bumper close behind to crystallize their vision of the future close ahead.
Here’s the point. Here’s the part that no historian will ever think to write about or investigate because a negative just can’t be proven—so they say. But I don’t need logic to tell you what I saw. The dead, the victims of these crimes of passion? They never saw it coming.
Are you doing what they tell you? Or are you doing what you want?
That’s it, ladies and gentlemen. That’s the takeaway. That’s Miller’s point. That’s the lesson learned.
In a word, “Don’t do what they tell you.”
Why not? Because if you’re doing what they tell you before the world goes mad, then you will definitely do what they tell you after the world goes mad. Make no mistake, though, the world will go mad. And we won’t all get to be Max or Furiosa.
So in Mad Max: Fury Road there’s an enormous skull thing carved out of a rock face. We’re shown this shrine in the first few minutes of the film. As awesome as the rest of the movie was, and it was awesome, I couldn’t stop thinking about how the megalomaniacs in charge of the barbarian hordes convinced anyone to create that sculpture. I mean the world’s gone to shit already. Why keep up the symbols? Who would even possess the skill and dexterity to create such a large piece of pseudo-art?
But then I think of my time in the service and also in the oil fields. Men are capable of wondrous deeds. Moreover, people love when those in power direct their attention on them. Even I have fallen prey to basking in the limelight of a boss’s approval despite knowing it was unwarranted or wholly irrelevant. And in those moments I can see Mr. Bossman saying, “I want a skull thing,” and men answering, “Where?”
No more, I say.
The more I write, the more conversations I have with close friends and family about things that were previously hidden. Maybe it’s just my family and friends, but if this blog’s content and conversations have taught me any overarching lesson that I would take to the streets Malcolm X-style, it’s that there is no reason–not-a-one–to work a crummy job. If you’re in debt, get your finances in order, stay until you can quit, then quit. If you’re not in debt, quit today. Forty hours a week–wait, who we kiddin’?–fifty hours a week is too many hours each week to spend doing anything other than what you want to do.
Or you can carve the skull thing.
In the end, Mad Max: Fury Road is great fun for adults. Watch it and don’t forget to enjoy yourself.