When someone loves you fully they often read you better than you think you know yourself. I’m blessed to have that in my life now.
In a recent dinner conversation where I was sharing with Cori some of the latest US news I had been following, she looked deeply into my eyes and said, “I remember you were agitated about the last Presidential election, but now you seem distraught about what’s going on. Why is that?”
Am I distraught?
Here I am almost 6 months into my move to Canada. Working from home, I like to keep a radio (well streaming on the old laptop) on just to have some human voices in the background. I sometimes listen to CBC, but usually have the station I listened to for years, the Arizona public radio station KJZZ.
During the election of the current president I shall not bother to name by his name, I responded much online with silly ALL CAPS tweets and making a bunch of mocking GIFs and memes. I did a one-time simmary in a collection under the banner of El Orange Chupacabra.
It felt like it provided a bit of a relief from the unbelievable reality, but I acknowledged it’s insignificance. I tailed off, partly from sensing it had no effect, but more because I was sure America would come to its senses.
Then they elected him. And let him install puppets to Cabinet posts, and begin dismantling the systems built to protect the environment, provide healthcare, etc.
And with each week since, it seems like most people would be appalled, angry, disgusted by what is, to me, a plundering of values, ethics in the worst way. Enough lies have been said that we no longer flinch, and they seem to have, like the warming frog pot, turned up gently from warped truths to just outright falsehoods.
How can this be acceptable? Ignored?
In answering Cori I reflected back to the world I grew up in during the 1970s. I cannot say what I thought about government and elected officials then, but I’m sure my assumption was that they took such roles dedicated to public service. To serve all. There was this idea of “the public good” (doesn’t that sound quaint?). That they were mostly trusted to run the operation in the interests of all. [Naively?] I felt no worries about the government being corrupt (well, there was Nixon waving from the helicopter leaving the White House because the system operated as it should have towards evil). I did not seem to have to worry about the environment collapsing. War even seem mostly a thing of history. It was a reliable bubble of optimism I remember.
I symbolize this as the memory of elementary school– when they’d gather all the kids in the auditorium to watch the Apollo astronauts splash into the ocean. We’d be watching on TVs (probably tiny compared to today’s wide screens) mounted on metal carts. It was all a feeling of having unlimited hopes, dreams, for the future.
And so if I have a distraught feeling now it’s the realization of how lost that feeling is. We now expect the least of our government, our officials. We do not rely on them. We doubt them regularly. The environment is teetering on the kind of collapse that used to be just in made for TV disaster movies. Every day’s news is an indicator of kids not having “unlimited hopes, dreams, for the future” but mostly a sense of “all is crap.” What / where do we even have trust now?
We’ve traded HOPE for FEAR.
Bad deal all around.
I see us going on a lot about our regular business (me too) working, making stuff, tweeting, sharing, teaching, presenting, writing, doing errands, waving to neighbors, as if everything is normal. But are things not “normal.” I start to think of the elections of November 2018 maybe not being so different from the ones of March 1933. I asked my parents once what they knew when they were growing up and as young adults, what they thought of what happened in Europe leading to World War II; I was told they just did not get much news, they did not know. They had no info.
Am I paranoid? We have more than enough information, and then some.
This has been bouncing in my head and seemed to be background level worry, until this week bringing 3 days in a row of violent, murderous acts by Americans against Americans. Our elected President, a role that 44 ones prior took to lead an entire country, not a 27% base, is vitriolically casting blame on the media who are, for now while it exists, exercising first amendment rights of expression. He, as some kind of divine arbitrator or what is truth and what is not, and can deem that media who criticize him as “an enemy of the people”? This feels like living in some alt-future novel. But it’s non-fiction. And it’s it ending in happily ever after.
I even start thinking, given the synagogue bombing in Pittsburgh, is it wise to be tweeting smart ass comments? There are people out there targeting, listing, hating, conspiring, to hurt Jewish people (they would not care that I barely practice faith, like that matters). I even briefly went to twitter and changed my display name.
That felt extreme. And if I live in fear, they win.
I changed back.
It’s more than feeling distraught— I mulled over the meaning of the dis-prefix. Resorting to a definition:
dis- a Latin prefix meaning “apart,” “asunder,” “away,” “utterly,” or having a privative, negative, or reversing force (see de-, un-2); used freely, especially with these latter senses, as an English formative:
disability; disaffirm; disbar; disbelief; discontent; dishearten; dislike; disown.
that got me thinking of this thing we call “now” bearing a dis- prefix. “Now” is “apart,” “asunder,” “away,” “utterly,” or has a privative, negative, or reversing force? It feels that way.
I’m holding on to hope for a strong counter message happening with the mid-term elections. It did seem to materialize with so many events up to now, where in a zone of reality and normal forces of physics and reason, should have toppled the mad man egging on the rallies.
FFS get out and vote. I got mine in.
My long distance vote submitted. Will it get counted? Who knows? but I voted. Imagine if more than 47% did their basic civic duty too. pic.twitter.com/5b6vIzAja5
— Alan Levine (@cogdog) October 30, 2018
Welcome to disnow. What could possibly be next?
I think it’s time to go take a walk.