Welcome to Accident, Maryland

In the town of Accident, lawns are cratered from the impacts of meteorites and loose pieces of passing jets. People who would never consider sitting in a tree during a thunderstorm regularly commit themselves to four-wheeled suicide machines for work and pleasure. Hometown boys and girls volunteer for slavery and the slaying of enemies, because they need the work. No one deliberates for very long before taking action – or inaction, as the case may be. People huddle anxiously in front of their televisions awaiting news and updates about the gods, who live outrageously as only immortals are able. “We work hard, and we play hard, too,” they say when prompted.

In the town of Accident, they’ve never not been at war. The Indian wars, the wars for political independence and/or somebody’s freedom, the mine wars, the war against nature – it’s always the same terror, a cold winter coming on with hunger already showing its sallow face. Better stock up on happy meals. The wolf must be kept from the door, they say, placing bounties and sending their crack shots off into the wilderness. Their love is a jealous love, but their friendships are chancy affairs which they feel free to walk away from as soon as the other turns out not to be a comfortable mirror image of themselves.

In the town of Accident, license and power are frequently dressed up as Freedom and led around the streets in an open cart. On Memorial Day, they serve magic funnel cakes that reappear as often as they are eaten. Here is the church and here is the steeple, and here is heaven right now where we can enjoy it. Why seek enlightenment if you can’t know when you’re enlightened? Knowledge is fucking, this we know, for the Bible tells us so! (“And Abraham knew his wife Sarah, and she conceived.”) In the town of Accident, no one can conceive of different ways of knowing. In their public schools, children learn about frogs by picking through their corpses rather than by sitting quietly at the edge of a marsh for several years.

In the town of Accident, New Agers view nature as a treasure house of archetypes and spirit guides, and spokespeople for the extractive industries wax rhapsodic about Mother Nature and Wise Use. Their mythology employs a special, arcane term for the outcome of conflict: progress. They think that those who do not know the truth – such as the people in all the neighboring towns – will be much the worse for it, so they’re really doing them a favor by burning their crops and houses and killing all their fighting-age males.

In the town of Accident, a single backward glance can turn every accident into a happy one. Perhaps it’s true that, as our mayor says, mistakes were made. But Someone has a plan, and we’re all in it. This, in fact, is the pinnacle of wisdom: to know that there is not and has never been such a thing as Accident. Spread the word.

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