John Boston | Zimmerman Was Right: We’ve Got to Serve Somebody

John Boston

It’s certainly nothing new, this concept of rape, loot, lies and pillage. I’d rather not go back to it. Year in, year out, my request for a Christmas or birthday gift is the same. I’d like a time machine. And, I’d like a personally customized version of the old TV commercial invention — The Colgate Toothpaste Invisible Protective Shield.

CTIPS was this island-encompassing domed plastic lid. Once you ducked under, it theoretically saved your useless bacon against everything from pterodactyls to mothers-in-law, which, in many cases, are one and the same. Time traveling back to distant realities, you’d need an invulnerable upside-down giant tea cup to fend off Mongol archers or superstitious peasants who frequently ask: “Hey! It’s 602 A.D. Why is that guy wearing cowboy boots, a Rage-Against-The-Machine T-shirt and — JEANS!?”

Not my favorite conversation starter: “KILL HIM!!!”

War. Big war. Small war. Sneaking up on middle age, will I get to witness history’s oft-repeated ultimate intolerance here in our wonderful experiment of America?

In my Steampunk model time machine of bolts, dials and whistles, could I have a modern function where you just ask your vortex-busting appliance: “SIRI. Whisk me back to the first murder.” Or: “Take me to the first episode of Rage.” Or, “Driving directions please — First Act of Intolerance.” Where did this all start?

Some uncle’s monkey just wanted to possess something not his, then whacked hairy auntie over the melon with a rock. Maybe there never was that first human homicide. Perhaps we’ve been killing each other since before the dawn of tacos, back when we were all one-cell thingies.

One-Cell Thingies. Good name for a rock band?

History is just stuffed with stupid. And blinding hate. And the undeniable passion for the destruction of self and others.

Recently, I had a nifty conversation with an old pal. Gifted problem solver, thinker and dear soul, he feels our current Rip-Your-Jugular-Out-&-Beat-You-To-Death-With-It trend will end when, together, we’re forced to face some common and epic tragedy. Billion-foot-tall tidal wave? Asteroid the size of Uranus hits Glendale? The Hart district votes in Critical Race Theory?

My pal, a noted politician himself, rightly recalled 9/11, when Islamic terrorists blew a chunk out of America. He reminded how we all banded together. For about 20 minutes. American history is chock full of periods where we’re far from being of one mind and purpose. But this current phase in which we’re drowning? It’s different. Disturbingly different. I mentioned Mongols — the old-time religion scourges? Warriors with the Outdoor Voices and disfigured heads? There’s always been barbarians at the gate.

The current problem? The barbarians are already inside the gate, nursing bile lozenges, squinting over imagined grievances and destroying for the same motive as our long-ago friends from the Asian Steppes — plunder. Today, our public servants in kleptocracy call that — “redistribution.” Much of humanity’s story is to justify, then celebrate insanity. No glib letter to the editor will ever change that.

I used to think that this over-the-cliff movement to destroy a pretty darn good system, America, would not visit during my lifetime. I figured Armageddon wouldn’t knock until late 21st century. Silly me. Armageddon? It’s here.

How’d that happen?

A sardonic smile visits when I think of Robert Allen Zimmerman’s famous lyrics from his 1979 song, “Gotta Serve Somebody.”

“You may be an ambassador to England or France, You may like to gamble, you might like to dance, You may be the heavyweight champion of the world, You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls But you’re gonna have to serve somebody…”

The renowned musician touched on a profound and largely unrecognized truth of life, one they never teach you in school.

We’re always praying. We’re always serving — something. Sloth. Victimhood. Kindness. Meanness. Family. Addiction. Abundance. Light-heartedness. Approval at high costs.

Every utterance from our mouths, every — every — thought from our size-one brain, is a prayer.

Claiming a disease, malady or affirming, with self-deprecation, a wretched lot in life as your very own prized and holy possession? It’s all prayer. And prayers do get answered, be it as a twisted, black heart or a cheery Mary Poppins outlook on life so rosy you just want to choke her.

Zimmerman? He went on to croon an absolute pillar of truth: that we may serve the devil, or we may serve the Lord, but — we’ve got to serve somebody.

Something terrible has happened to us, to our America, even our Santa Clarita. I can feel it, see it, taste it, touch it, hear it, read it, smell it. We’ve sunk into something vile. Something of our own making. It’s our constant, unnoticeable daily prayers. Our supplications get stamped — “APPROVED” — then mailed back as answered. Our failed governments. Homelessness. Drugs. The daily pornography pouring into our ears, eyes and hearts through big screens and smart phones. We worship stupidity and ego. Depravity, oblivion and insanity. Self-righteousness, the devilish identical twin of ego. Even self-loathing, for ourselves and country. We made these things. In the silence, through our prayers. Most of us will create more dystopia for ourselves, family, community and country before the end of today, Friday.

Myself at the top of list.

Prayer? Done right, it’s how we joyfully become the person we’re supposed to be. Done wrong? It’s how we rob ourselves of our day.

Robert Allen Zimmerman was spot-on in his wonderfully clear lyric: “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord/But you’re gonna have to serve somebody…”

Zimmerman? Most of you know him by his stage name — Bob Dylan.

Prayers? Bad. Good. They always ended up being answered.

I need to be careful, become more Cyrano than Caligula in my satire. Wouldn’t want to pray into existence yet another disfigured limb of an America that is unloving, filled with fear and rage, void of love, freedom and monkey business.

Contritely, I wish for better things ahead for my country.

John Boston is a local writer.

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