I feel obliged to share my feelings, and observations surrounding the change of government, which is nigh upon us… So much anger, fear, retaliation, increasing wrath, and escalated shouting contests… insult upon insults. How is any of this helping? I am terrified at the perceived gap between the forces that would shape our future. Are we even likely to know what the big shots really have in mind for our country, and perhaps the world’s future? I think not. Leaders lead by example, politicians tell folks what they want to hear… and if they can’t get the folks’ attention, they ratchet up the dialogue, and start scaring the living hell out of them…
I am fearful like never before about the future. The new administration (to me) represents everything that opposes a civil, just, and fair world. They’ve used some of the most base techniques available to sell their message. Intimidation, bullying, mocking, and lying, all are masked, or justified, behind a perceived higher calling: “We’re LOSING!”…”We don’t have time to be politically correct”…”Get over it!”…”Stop Whining!”, “Man up, Snowflake!”. In response, I’ve delivered insults calculated to shut the offending party up forever… to slay them dead in a duel of words…or more simply, I’ve tried to emulate my foe.
I’ve heard enough, and I’ve said enough. Actually, I’ve heard variations of the same message since I was a child. The ends justify the means. Sadly, I’ve concluded that this is entirely untrue. Every decision a person makes, every moment, every day has a consequence. I’m insulted, and I insult. I’m scared, so I scare… It never ends… I used to know lots of people whose political affiliation was some where, and so far away from my own that it was a miracle we could communicate at all. Before the advent of social media, if someone was insulting, ugly, or just plain rude, we could choose to work it out, or just part ways. Now, instead of that, the feud can grow and grow like a wild fire, dragging bystanders into the fray…or oddly, if a person offends my kingdom, I can banish them for eternity with a single “block”, and avoid any further contact. But to get along, we need to find common ground, and that takes some effort. With musicians, it’s amazing to me how quickly we can come to blows over a difference, yet both be delighted at Mother Maybelle Carter’s guitar playing.
Today, I’d rather be happy than be right. Offending someone, somewhere, will not, nor could not improve our relations. Yet, from my “side” of the political divide there are endless grotesque drawings, televised shamings, and broadcasted embarrassments directed at not only representatives of that new administration, but by implication, at those who voted for them. The internet was new to me when the Obama administration was sworn in. I couldn’t believe the things that folks posted on their social media page, what was being written by journalists in the news-medium, and by what I’d hear on the radio, or television. None of this helps… and, of course, it was exhilarating. The little doubt that nags as I hit the “post” button, to retaliate, is shoved aside by the delight in shutting down the adversary.
Therefore, as an alternative to crawling in the muck, I’m going to propose a solution. Get involved! Start at the local level: Run for office, organize a union, volunteer at Planned Parenthood, or the A.C.L.U.. Give money to a cause that you root for…and stop getting dirty as if that was your only choice. My Grandmother Isis used to tell me “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” If we don’t know how to get along with folks, find folks who do, and ask them how they do it. Consider places in the world, throughout history, where civility has been abandoned, and see where it got them. The rage that comes from fear, the alienation that comes from being on the right side are powerful, and attractive incentives that would have us surrender to our base-most instincts. Are these helping anyone right now?