Living with rats

By RALPH DOTTERER JR.

In my previous article, I raised the issue that the proverbial “Canary in the mine” was already dead. Signaling that this evolutionary phase of our nation’s cultural transition had reached a tipping point. Bringing with it the radical changes, born of a revolutionary spirit.

Like the culture war of the 1960s, a younger generation now flexes its muscle by coming together as a formidable force. We saw this new challenge to authority play out on New York City’s streets, where thousands of young protestors marched and shouted, “What do we want? Dead Cops!”

In the 1960s, it was my generation that shouted in the streets, “Hell no, we won’t go!”

On college and university campuses, we’ve seen a new push for power by students, where economic pressure through whatever means possible has gotten the Administration’s attention. Some students are now instituting a form of aggressive political correctness, which demands removal of anything they deem offensive. In the 1960s, angry college students rallied in the presence of police wearing riot gear.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, has tapped into this swelling source of power and discontent. He’s been promoting free higher education to a generation drowning in student debt, from their rising school loans.

As a socialist candidate, Bernie Sanders has become a Pied Piper, piping his promissory notes to a generation fed up with the mess the baby boomers are leaving behind for them. As a boomer myself, we’ve evolved into hippies, then yuppies, and now spongies. Soaking in a disproportionate share of the nation’s wealth and power, while we transition into retirement.

These young adults see themselves as having been “sold down the river” of debt, to finance a generation of irresponsible users. After all this expense, we now have 1% of the population holding a lot of the goods, while the 99% are left holding a depleted bag. For all the campaign rhetoric we hear based on “Tax the rich!,” from candidates. Sanders followers believe, only he will change the symbiotic relationship between wealth and power in our current government.

In 1842, Robert Browning published a poem about the town of Hamelin. It featured a greedy government, common people who suffered, and their children, who had to pay the price at the end of the story. Various versions of what actually happened in 1284 differ, on the children’s fate, but all acknowledge a loss occurred.

I’ll give you a brief review of Browning’s poem, The Pied Piper of Hamelin. A small town has been overrun by rats and the citizens now demand the mayor and council get rid of them. During a council meeting, a strange looking gentleman walks into the room. He announces that he’s here to get rid of the rats for a price of 1000 guilders.

The word rats can be used literally to describe the people’s problems. Or “rats” can be used figuratively, to describe undesirable issues gnawing at their lives, including sin.

The excited mayor offered him 50,000 guilders, if this odd character could solve their problem. So the Piper as promised, lured the rats from the town of Hamelin, then marched them into the Weser River, where they all drowned but one.

When the Pied Piper returned to collect his 1000 guilders. The mayor balked at paying, because of their greed, and he said to the Piper, “Come take fifty.” The Piper warned the Mayor and Council, that if they didn’t pay what was due him, he wouldn’t be cheated.

So the Pied Piper went back thru the town of Hamelin’s streets, playing the promissory notes on his flute. But the mayor and council were now helpless, to stop the children from following the Piper to an unknown fate. All because the government didn’t “pay the Piper” what was due, for services rendered.

When the reader is willing to reorient the axis of their thoughts, about this poem. It evolves from a children’s poem to a fable. Like the parables Jesus used in his ministry, fables tell us something about ourselves, hidden within a story. The Bible also tells us that many will hear but only some will understand. In this case it’s the Piper’s tune, that will cause others to follow.

The 20th Century’s most noted dictators, understood the power which could be harnessed by controlling the minds of a younger generation. Their premise was based on; those who control the youth, will ultimately control the culture.

Does that mean if Bernie Sanders if elected president, he would become a dictator? He certainly doesn’t have the flare of Donald Trump or the ability to milk the system like Hillary Clinton. Remember this, the mayor and council didn’t take the Pied Piper seriously either.

Bernie Sanders is riding a wave of support, swelling up from a flow of discontent. Whose participants will ultimately demand the tide be turned in their favor. They see a system of power and greed that’s bankrupting the economy, polluting the environment, promoting abuses between the races and ignoring their plight. Only a revolution will break the strangle hold on this status quo.

We can take the Pied Piper scenario and reorient this concept to Donald Trump and his followers as well. Who feel they’ve been “sold down the river” by a self-serving government and political party that ignores their concerns. In a very public display, we see a political party openly threaten to deny this Pied Piper his due reward.

Those of us who lived in real time, saw the live pictures from Chicago at the 1968 Democratic convention. Angry young adults marching thru the streets shouting, “The whole world is watching,” while Mayor Daily’s heavy handed police force beats the protestors bloody, with their billy clubs.

Pittsburgh has the Three Rivers Stadium, but in July, Cleveland will host the “three rivers convention.” Where the status quo, Piper Trumps followers and Piper Sanders followers will meet in the streets! Hmmm. Of course the media will be in the middle of all this, with cans of gas and lots of matches.

My question is this, will the National Guard stand by and let the fires burn, like they did in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, Md.? Or will it be like Kent State, where the order will be fire!

Peace and love, everybody.

Ralph Dotterer Jr. is a life-long Nittany Valley farmer, hayseed philosopher, barnyard artist and soapbox theologian whose roots in the same soil go back almost 200 years.