A Brief Political Rant

Of the kind those who know me (and only them) will expect.

I grew up on a dividing line. It used to be one where conversations were held. The conversations were usually civil. They rarely came to shouts or blows.

That doesn’t happen much anymore.

I know it can get worse. In the U.S. we’re not killing each other in large numbers. Yet. But from where I’m standing in No Man’s Land, it’s not hard to imagine the current insanity leading to slaughter. It’s happening in other places in the world, and our history is pock-marked with brutal conflict.

And here’s the thing that terrifies me: With all the Us vs. Them jargon being tossed about in the U.S. right now, almost no one seems to realize that we’re all in this together.

People are treating “them,” as absolute enemies. If they aren’t spewing hate and making threats then they’re jeering, mocking, belittling.

But countries are a unit, like a family. All families, like all countries, are a little dysfunctional. You don’t necessarily like your family members all the time, and you will not always agree with them, but if you start viewing each other as actual enemies, the dysfunction tears the family apart. In short, you cease to have a family.

It’s a pity we don’t have a national version of family counseling.

My point is that we really have two options.

Nationally, the U.S. is headed for a cliff. Not like lemmings (because lemmings are, despite popular belief, far too smart to follow each other off cliffs), but like humans who are so engrossed in fighting each other that they won’t step away from the edge, even though everybody knows we’re in trouble.

Education, poverty, healthcare, national debt, environmental issues, the list goes on… We have serious problems that need solving. And we’re far too busy fighting each other to even converse about how to solve anything.

So, speaking to my fellow U.S. citizens. Forget, for a moment, all political affiliation. Stop trying to figure out who’s side I’m on and ask yourself this:

Do you want the United States of America to continue to exist, or do you want us to go down in history as one more failed social experiment? Do you want us to be pointed at as proof that different people cannot live peaceably together? That ordinary folks can’t be trusted with the right to vote because it all goes to hell eventually? Do you want to be the scorn of the world?

Because that is where we are headed unless we can look “across the aisle” and see fellow citizens. We don’t have to like them, we don’t have to agree with what they believe or what they say, but we do have to figure out how to converse with them again, and work with them, because the only other option is to lose our country.

Someone may read this who doesn’t care if the nation breaks apart. They may feel that “their” part of the country will be better off without the hated “them.” I have a hard time sympathizing with that kind of thought, because it’s reductive and naive. This country’s strength and health comes, and has always come, from the differences, the tension, the fact that we are forced to converse with and work with people who don’t share our views. Take that away, and homogeneity will emphasize the weaknesses in each position until we collapse. Those people you hate, also happen to be the people you need the most.

I can already hear the clamor of excuses. The “he started it!” “No I didn’t! She did!” juvenile accusations. Let me get one thing straight: I DON’T CARE. I don’t care who did what, I don’t care what horrible things will happen if “they” get their way. I’ve already heard it, and it is all beside the point.

What I want is people to put themselves in time-out until they calm down. Then I want them to get over themselves and start holding conversations in which they don’t simply talk, but also listen. I want this nation to become functional again.

…And yes, I know it’s highly unlikely that I will get what I want. But we did survive the Civil War mostly intact. I’ve touched artillery-pocked stone that proves it. Maybe, just maybe we can get through this bout of screaming insanity without so much destruction and bloodshed.

And a side-note to friends and readers in other countries. Yes, humanity is like a family, too… even more screwed up than my nation is right now. What happens to some of us, affects all of us. I’m sorry if the dysfunction in my country is affecting you right now.

 

P.S. On a lighter note (and a complete non sequitur) Tracy J. Butler of Lackadaisy created some hilariously disturbing valentines this year. Go forth and enjoy them.

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About jubilare

Just another tree in the proverbial forest. Look! I have leaves! View all posts by jubilare

23 responses to “A Brief Political Rant

  • Deborah Makarios

    Juvenile is the word! Here in NZ we have a bit of juvenile and a whole lot of patronizing, e.g. no you can’t have a say about ratifying the TPPA, or sending our troops into theatres of war, or national asset sales, or – heck, anything serious, but here: to show our goodwill, we’ll let you decide about having a new flag.

  • Colleen Whitver

    Good words.

    On Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 8:05 AM, jubilare wrote:

    > jubilare posted: “Of the kind those who know me (and only them) will > expect. I grew up on a dividing line. It used to be one where conversations > were held. The conversations were usually civil. They rarely came to shouts > or blows. That doesn’t happen much anymore. ” >

  • philosophermouseofthehedge

    “It’s a pity we don’t have a national version of family counseling.” Exactly. Civil discourse is MIA
    Children are not being taught /adults are not following the “live and let live” or “agree to disagree and still be friends.”
    It seems like backwards world.
    All I can hope is what I said to a younger friend who was frightened on the day when Kennedy was shot “This country will survive – we have patterns of laws and justice.”

    • jubilare

      “This country will survive – we have patterns of laws and justice.”
      I hope very much that this will be true this time around. I’m comforted by the fact that we’ve been to this point before in our history and made it through.

      Still, it’s frustrating. What freaks me out the most, I think, is that it spreads like a plague. So many people I know, know better. They know how to use civil discourse, they know how to debate intelligently and they know, or at least they used to know, how to work with those who disagree with them.
      But they’re forgetting it all in their anger and defensiveness. They’re losing perspective.
      It’s kind of like watching a zombie plague, now that I come to think about it. People I know and love change, at the mere mention of politics or social issues, into mindless ravening man-eaters.
      Saints and ministers of Grace defend us!

      • philosophermouseofthehedge

        It is a zombie plague.
        So many do not know any sort of civility – not much for them to model with TV, movies, busy tired parents, over the top celebs. Too many are mistaking and utilizing shaming, guilt, bullying only because someone holds a different idea, and name calling instead of intellect – which takes a bit of thinking and who bothers anymore. You are right. “mindless ravening man-eaters”. Hang on and hope on.

        • jubilare

          You know, it’s strange. Before I knew what zombies were, I used to have nightmares about people I knew (and once, even, my dog) where I would look into their eyes and see, not them, but something else staring back at me. I have to wonder if, in my childish way, I was aware of what was beginning to happen. Or maybe they were just nightmares. Still, it’s horrifying to realize that nightmares can step out into the real world.

          Thinking is hard… it’s easier to just react. I’m disappointed in so many people because they know better, but they’ve started using their intellect only for offense and defense, never for inquiry or understanding. And it’s frustrating to see so many who THINK they are thinking, when they are, in fact, just parroting the rhetoric of “their side,” whichever one that happens to be.
          I’ve come to hate so many words. Linguaphile and bibliophile though I am! Because at present they are only ever used as mindless political jargon. I mean, who even knows what “progressive” or “conservative” mean anymore? Not 98% of the people who are tossing them around.
          *nods* doing my best to hang on and hope on. You do the same.

  • Briana

    I know a great many people who will happily tell you they unfriend and dissociate with those who disagree with them politically because “they” are “wrong” and speaking to them is toxic. Even being associated with them as a “friend” is bad because it implies you approve of their “wrong” opinions and gives the wrong impression to others. I think as a whole we need to find ways to, first, recognize the existence of people with different opinions instead of trying to surround ourselves only with people who mirror our own views, second, figure out how to speak civilly with those who disagree with us and actually try to understand their viewpoint before we dismiss them entirely.

    • Briana

      Basically it’s become some kind of moral duty to shut the “wrong” people down and then remove them from your life. It makes you morally superior to be surrounded only by people with the “correct” opinions. And that’s both dangerous and disappointing.

      • jubilare

        “And that’s both dangerous and disappointing.”
        Yes. With an emphasis on the dangerous. There are so many reasons, reasons upon reasons, not to isolate ourselves from those who disagree with us. Even when they ARE wrong, they can and do teach us things we need to know, stretch our minds, make us see things from different angles. And that’s not even touching the fact that, if we isolate ourselves from them, we can’t influence them at all, either.
        Really, I can find no rational justification for this kind if isolationist behavior. :/

    • jubilare

      Gosh, yes! We are creating virtual enclaves, in which we are sheltered from any ideas that we disagree with… and in doing so, we start to associate any ideas coming from people outside as “tainted” before we even evaluate the ideas themselves. It comes from “them,” so it must be wrong, right?
      And the thing I find most disturbing is that this is being done even by people who, under normal circumstances, are quite capable of thinking things through and accepting differences. Something about the social atmosphere is making people crazy.
      Psychologically, I get it. When people feel threatened or attacked, they get defensive. But these actions are making the situation progressively worse.

      ” I think as a whole we need to find ways to, first, recognize the existence of people with different opinions instead of trying to surround ourselves only with people who mirror our own views, second, figure out how to speak civilly with those who disagree with us and actually try to understand their viewpoint before we dismiss them entirely.”
      Yes. So much yes. This is the solution. If only we can wake people up and get them to realize it.

  • stephencwinter

    My heart is with all peacemakers. It is not a soft option. When Jesus declared them to be blessed it sent him to the cross and the grave. But death does not have the last word. It may be Friday but Sunday’s coming! God bless you.

    • jubilare

      Gah, you made me cry. …I guess I rather needed to cry. Even knowing that Sunday is coming, Friday fills me with fear. I know even He was afraid, and that helps me accept the fact that it’s ok to feel this way. We just have to remember that where we’re standing right now isn’t all there is.
      Thank you. And blessings.

      • stephencwinter

        I went to Luke 19.41-44 to think about your tears and the tears that Jesus sheds on the day of his, so called, triumphal entry. If only you had recognised on this day “the things that make for peace.”
        I started to write this earlier this morning before heading off to some pastoral visits. I found myself thinking about an incident in my life that took place a few years ago now. I won’t go into details now except to say that I think we have fooled ourselves into believing that accumulation leads to happiness and we are wrong. I tried this thought out on some of the folk that I visited and all replied, “You are so right!”
        And one thing that flows from this belief in the priority of accumulation is that it leads to putting all our energy into defending what we believe to be ours by right. The only politics that flows from that is angry, resentful and fearful.
        Jesus is going to the cross when he speaks those words. He knows that only those who follow him on the journey will be truly happy. He said that in the beatitudes. I don’t think it will be more than a minority of the church that really gets what Jesus says but I still pray for the rest. Perhaps,most of all I pray that I will get it.

        • jubilare

          “putting all our energy into defending what we believe to be ours by right. The only politics that flows from that is angry, resentful and fearful.”

          I think you’re very right. Fear and resentment. I didn’t think about it in those terms exactly, but yes. It’s not just the accumulation of material things (though that is a big part of it) but the accumulation of power and status. And when people start to lose that, if only a little, they freak.

          The cross is scary. As it should be, I suppose, but still…

          • stephencwinter

            I think it is also the fear of those who seek to accumulate that leads to fear and resentment, those who regard themselves as the dispossessed. It strikes me that we live with a politics of victimhood. The Nazis played on that sense in their time.

          • jubilare

            Politics of victimhood and entitlement. In advertising, there is a constant stream of “you deserve this!” and never a thought is given to what that actually means. …I deserve a new car? I deserve the best cosmetics? It’s a sales-pitch that gives us a very dangerous message.

          • stephencwinter

            Aye, what a soul-losing message and what a world-gaining one. Don’t folk have any idea that if you gain the world you are in danger of losing your soul?

          • jubilare

            Sadly, no they don’t. Watching it happen doesn’t do much good if one doesn’t ever see the opposite way of life demonstrated. And that’s the fault of Christians. Our words don’t mean much unless our lives demonstrate. And that’s a really convicting thought, for me.

  • stephencwinter

    It’s a convicting thought for me too.

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