By Mike Johnson
Newark, with its large, black population, is one of the most economically depressed cities of America, with a whacking 30% unemployed. The local authorities have come up with what looks like a novel way of making people feel better about themselves and their wretched lives – renaming streets, parks etc with more optimistic, feel good names. So, 10th Avenue, where a vicious murder took place, might be renamed Renewal Avenue. The most hopeless and depressed street in town may become Hope Street and so on. (I have made up these details since I am relating a BBC radio story which I cannot as yet find on the net with a quick google search)
Of course there is nothing new in this. Back in the bad old days of Soviet Russia, streets, avenues and squares were given names that reflected official economic optimism. Reconstruction Ave, Prosperity Drive, Happiness Highway… that kind of thing. It’s an effort to try to convince people that things are better than they really are. Large corporates and their tame governments have quickly grasped the principle that you can, with constant effort and repetition, get people to believe the opposite of what they actually experience. How many fingers do you see?
With the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) having just officially declared 2014 to be the hottest year since records began in the late 1880s,
I suggest we use the Newark initiative to counteract some of this negativity around man-made global warming. Islands and coastlines sinking could use place names like, the Highlands, and Cliff Edge; drought stricken regions like Texas could adopt names like Sweet Rain Park and Rushing Waters Avenue; flooded areas… but I can’t continue with this farce. The irony has become strangely leaden. It’s no longer funny.
It’s not funny because the Newark initiative is cruel and contemptible, and treats its victims as fools. Is an unemployed person going to feel any less separate and alone walking down Togetherness Road? Are we going to be any less affected by global warming because of official optimism?
In the meantime, fueled by official optimism, the logical absurdities roll on. Have a wonderful 2015 everybody!