It’s Just a Ride
In April of this year, ‘American: The Bill Hicks Story’ will be released in theaters nationwide, a somber reminder that although he has been gone for 16 years, his message is as timely as ever. As the aristocracy wrests more control from the people, and the middle class shrinks toward nothingness, we stand on the verge of a precipice. Union busting, financial privateering, city councils squeezing us for every penny, you name it…the very infrastructure that made this country great is unraveling. But where are the voices? In a polarized media, we only hear the loudest, which are invariably the most extreme.
But perhaps the voice that we need the most has been silenced for nearly two decades. Bill Hicks. The outlaw comic. The outlaw philosopher. A man that reminds us that some of the greatest humor is borne out of the most horrible things. For the most powerful weapon in his arsenal was insight. His ability to see through the veil, and into the heart of absurdity. The abyss of hypocrisy. And though this abyss can weigh heavily on our spirit, it cannot crush the laughter out of us. When hearing overzealous Baptists speak, I am often reminded of Bill’s retelling of a performance in Alabama. Three hardcore Christian tough guys push him around and say they don’t take kindly to his attacks on Christianity. He responds simply by saying, “Then forgive me.”
The power of Bill lay not in his quick, acerbic wit, which he possessed in spades, but in his ability to see the Kool-Aid for the poison that it really is. When you know that you yourself are full of shit, then it follows that everyone else is as well. And in this epiphany lies the threshold to freedom. Bill became aware of this, and so was no longer bound by the chains of ideology. And we raptly listened because within his words lay the pathway to this threshold. The pathway that he left us nearly 20 years ago:
“The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think that it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly coloured, and it’s very loud and it’s fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question – is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us. They say ‘Hey! Don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride.’ And we…kill those people. Ha ha ha. ‘Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride. SHUT HIM UP! Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and family. This just has to be real.’ It’s just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter because: it’s just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings, and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourselves off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here’s what you can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defence each year, and instead spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, for ever, in peace.”
We need you more than ever, Bill.