Once upon a time, when my now-husband and I had just met & we were completely out of our minds for one another, we spent a weekend together, both blithely using debit cards that had (unbeknownst to us) ceased to be connected to bank accounts containing any money at all. So, Heineken mini-keg: $12, plus $36 overdraft fee. Bagel with cream cheese: $4, plus $36 overdraft fee. Two tickets to see Shrek 2 at the drive-in movies in Fairlee, VT: $10, plus $36 overdraft fee. You get the idea. It is worth noting that we both also had credit cards the whole time, but didn't use them. Together, we racked up something like $800 in overdraft fees over the course of three days. It was awesome. Bank of Evil was 100% unmoved by my argument that persons experiencing unprecedented levels of love-hormones should be granted amnesty from stupid financial decisions, just as deer in rut should not be hunted.
Among all those transactions, best of all was: custom $12 roll of Jenny Holzer-inspired Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise American flag mailing labels, $36 overdraft fee. There is something absolutely perfect about that, no? The medium is the message. The same bank that about 5 years later would be receiving a multi-billion-dollar bailout from me, the love-struck taxpayer, for big-time mortgage naughtiness, was prim and remorseless about my bagel, my stickers, and my post-grad-school poverty.
Yesterday, I read this story about jailed & tormented Chinese women dissidents. Wow, I thought. I wonder what they were doing, that was so scary to the government? Answer: they were planning a series of protests against sexual harassment of women on public transportation. Really? Mentioning that it might not be OK to grope people as they make their way in the world is scary enough to throw some women in jail, transport them far from home, and threaten them with gang rape? Just like, some guy running away from the cops because he owes child support is scary enough to warrant shooting him repeatedly in the back & then claiming he is a taser-thief, because you need some shred of evidence to sort-of begin to excuse your actions?
Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise may sound like the "discouraging word" that is seldom heard on the mythical Range, but I don't see it that way. I see it as an invitation to wake up & stop pretending that what is happening is really not-happening. I see it as an invitation to notice when I am the one abusing, when I am the one being abused, and when I am observing these abuses happening in the world. It's a way of looking at the world with a sense of, Huh. There that goes again. Whatever they're/we're/he's/she's/I'm calling it these days, its true name is Abuse of Power. Don't be fooled. Don't let anyone try to talk you out of what you know.
I have come to the conclusion that it is time to bust out those overdraft-fee labels & post them widely. If you'd like some, send me your address & I will mail them out to you ASAP.
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