Trapped in the System
In the United States we have seen our way through yet another voting season. Election time is supposed to invoke feelings of freedom, liberty, and civic duty. Democracy, after all, is a rare and honorable system to be a part of. However, I am not reminded of these things. Voting season makes me neither excited nor proud. In fact, all it really reminds me of is school.
I have been in public school, part of the system, since I was a wee tyke. A few years ago I graduated college and thought, “maybe I’m through with school for a while.” But the system had other plans. All elements of adult life in contemporary American society are basically just school.
Well-meaning elders constantly ask, “So, are you going to grad school?”
“What’s the point,” I reply. “When I already feel like I’m in school all the time anyway.”
We are still stuck in the school system even after we have grown up and gone to work. Teachers and principals are replaced by supervisors, but they serve the same purpose. There is always another project to work on or assignment to complete. Make sure you put your name on your work and pay attention so you’re ready for the parent-teacher conference…I mean, evaluations.
As a kid, when you are done with school you can go home and watch cartoons or whatever. You are set free from the system for the afternoon. As an adult, when you are done with work you can still go home and watch cartoons or whatever. But you are never, ever free from the system. It is there at work, and it follows you home.
Tired of having to do stuff at work? Well, you get to go home and think about insurance policies, finances, and an overall plan for your future. These things are built up like they are difficult and important, and that may be. But they are still just more tasks that someone in charge is telling me to deal with. More worksheets to fill out. More homework. But instead of a teacher being sort of mad when you miss your assignments, it is the doctor refusing to give medical attention. But it is still the same old story. Jump through these hoops, do what we tell you, or suffer.
Thinking about finances, insurance, retirement, and all the obligatory grown-up stuff is like studying for a final exam. You know it’s important, but just can’t bring yourself to really care. It doesn’t help that these things are spoken of in a pass-fail kind of language. Either you are on the track to success, or you are completely wasting your potential.
It should come as no surprise that work and home life in America are both just like public school. Our entire society and the government we live under is just a giant version of your local k-12. We live under a system of law and order. This is a good thing, but once you start to see a speeding ticket as the same thing as, “no running in the hall,” or a noise complaint as, “no talking in class.” And the government gives more homework than anyone else. It’s their fault we have to do all the insurance work, just because some of the other kids were irresponsible. And sometimes, the government even makes you stay after class. Is jury duty a reward for living under a fair system, or is it detention?
And then we are sent ballots in the mail, and made to go to polling places, to exercise our right. Apparently, it is our right to take a test. Fill in the bubbles. Make your selection. No pressure, its only the future of yourself and your nation at stake.
The biggest obstacle to voter turnout in America isn’t voter I.D. laws or anything stupid like that. It is a general system overload, and the apathy and rebellion that go along with it.
We are stuck in school, stuck in the system, from cradle to grave. This is just the way it is. And even though there is nothing to be done, sometimes a person just has to stand against it. Just to keep from going nuts.
And that brings us back to election season.
Refusing to vote is like not doing your homework. It is a silent protest that really only hurts yourself. Still, it makes you feel like you can escape the system. Even if only for a little while.
And it beats looking up to the sky, shaking your fist, and shouting, “STOP TELLING ME TO DO STUFF!”