|Subject: For Whom the Bell Tolls
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Date Posted: 13:02:35 04/06/01 Fri
It's Friday, April 6th, 2001. And a man decides to take a hammer to the Liberty Bell. Hmmm. Is there a metaphor to be found somewhere in this event? Of course. There always is. The creative spawn fiction, and the creative often suffer from overactive imaginations. They see symbolism everywhere. Perhaps they see it too much. I myself have been said to be guilty of this. To all of you creative souls, I salute you.
But what can be said of the actual event, all metaphors aside? Who knows? We'll have to delve into the motives of the man with the hammer. They say that he wasn't politically motivated. I heard that on the radio. Supposedly he described himself as a "wanderer" from Nebraska. Hmph. Go bust up a monument in Nebraska then! I just say it was another fellow American citizen that succumbed to some sort of stresses inherent in our society. Indeed, I bet his actions were not that well-thought out. In other words, he didn't have any deep philosophical reason for it. And THAT'S what scares me. There can be people who do things that may seem, on the surface, to be motivated by strong feelings and intense mental conviction and whatnot.
But here it was probably just some half-crazed man with no real reason for hitting the Bell with a hammer other than JUST GETTING NOTICED in a very desperate way. Thoreau said "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" or something like that, right? Well, I think America is especially full of people grown or growing desperate because they feel like they are forced into quietude. They are frustrated because their pleas and their worries and their fears are not addressed. Are not listened to by others, peers and superiors alike.
The point of this rambling? Well, the above word-wandering touches on one of the recurring themes I happen to see in American life. Again, perhaps I suffer from over-symbolization of life. Perhaps, as I have been told countless times, I overanalyze things. But meaningless events are always the scariest things. This guy with the hammer could quite possibly be ASOCIAL, something perhaps far more frightening than anti-social. The fact that he was heard screaming "GOD LIVES ON!" could mean nothing or everything. That's the recurring thing I see in my observations of the admittedly tiny slice of American life I see everyday: the disturbing way I see people becoming asocial, not right or left or what have you, but JUST NOT CARING! They just want to get noticed, to be the extremely lonely individual, to achieve some sort of Existential ideal within their own lives.
Again, I have always thought America a place with the potential for becoming the nation that balances the wonders and horrors of the whole planet. But most often we suffer from the Western need to go to extremes. I believe we have taken the concept of "rugged individualism" to too much of an extreme. Thus the lone nut phenomenon. The unabomber and the man with the hammer hitting the Liberty Bell. Maybe they'll be cell mates.
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