By Chris Horton
A retired construction worker in northern Maine, a leader in his town, says that we’re headed for a revolution, that things are getting so bad because most people are so stupid that they believe the lies they’re told and don’t really care, but he hopes things keep getting worse and worse for them until they’ve paid the price for being so stupid, and when the revolution comes he’ll sit and watch the rich folk being carted through the streets and laugh while their heads roll.
I asked if he knew any of the stupid people he was talking about, and after some thought he confessed he couldn’t name one, “but believe me, they’re out there!”
A tattooed young man with a hardened face in Northern Vermont – with roots in Massachusetts – talked about all the jobs he’d done and how he hadn’t been able to find work since he got out of prison two years ago. Says he’ll never touch marijuana again because it’s ruined his life. I asked him how many people he knew in Northern Vermont who were involved with the marijuana business. His answer: everyone I know. Would things ever get better? No, people are too stupid.
Crossing the highlands of New Brunswick on Highway 108, the sign said 138 km – 86 miles – to the next gas station. I checked my gas gauge and kept driving. No houses, no crossroads, no stores, just a road through the woods. Or what used to be woods; apart from a few tall trees here or there and sometimes a thin screen of trees on both sides of the road, the forest, for 86 miles, had been stripped bare. Sometimes I could see ridgelines three, five or more miles away, and even from a distance I could see that they too had been stripped bare.
About 50 miles in I stopped at a log building with a sign saying “halfway camp.” There were some men sitting out front and I asked them for coffee. They did up some instant for me and offered me a donut, no charge, and we talked some. The Irving Family they said owned all these woods, owned the provincial legislature and the paper mills and newspapers, TV stations and the gas stations and just about everything else around. There would be houses along the road soon because they were done with the woods for now. Did these guys think this was OK? H*** no but lots of folks like the Irvings because they’ve made everything so green. Did they know any such people? No, they couldn’t say they did.
The sign read Restaurant 11 km ahead, the first store along the road. I stopped when I got there, ordered fish and chips, and fell to talking with a retired military man and his wife who sat across from me. They started in on the Irving story, and added that Irving has been killing all the hardwoods with areal spraying and reseeding with Jack Pines because they grow fast, and that now that the forest has been stripped the (Irving) paper mills are laying off or closing because there’s no pulp wood. But, they said, people still like the Irvings because they do so many good things.
I asked if they actually knew anyone who liked the Irving family, and they couldn’t think of anyone.
I told this story to a man I met in Miramichi, NB, and he told me that they think there’s gas in that highland, that they’ll be drilling for it using “fracking”. But that won’t be the Irving family, because they don’t own the mineral rights. I asked if he believed that and he said No, but that’s what they’re saying.
Visiting with a young farm family in the rural Maritimes – both parents also do work over the Internet – they shared that things were bad and going to get worse, and the problem was caused by stupid people. People like them who really understood were rare. They actually claimed to know these bone-achingly stupid people, but they couldn’t name one.
Watching TV in a Halifax bar, a wonderful folksy ad came on about how the Wells Fargo Bank had been helping this man find success and happiness for a lifetime. I found myself fighting against believing this heart-warming ad, fighting against liking Wells Fargo. I reminded myself of the people I knew whose homes they were trying to foreclose and all the lies they were telling. I found myself feeling helpless in the face of all that great story-telling, angry at all the stupid people who were watching the ad and believing it. I asked the guy sitting next to me, an older truck driver, if he could believe that s***, and he said h*** no! Did he think anyone else did? His answer: “you’ve got to understand, people are stupid!”
So it seems we all believe in a world full of the stupid people who believe the stuff they see on TV. Maybe that’s enough for it to do its job, to leave us feeling helpless and po