There are good people on both sides
Biden campaign cancels Texas event after Trump supporters surround bus on interstate
I've watched in my lifetime the fall of civilizations. I've watched an entire group of people at or near the top of the Maslow pyramid who find themselves tumbling down the side of it to the point that they are happy to have a tarp to get out of the rain. Lebanon, Hue, Cambodia, Rwanda, Syria, and most instructive for me, Yugoslavia. In all cases they had 'help' from the outside. In all cases the train jumped off the track and there was no stopping it. Of these, Yugoslavia was the most disturbing to me as I watched it unfold at a time when I was old enough to understand.
There were good people on both sides who knew each other their entire lives, who lived next door to each other not in some figurative sense but in reality. People who grew up together, went to school, were friends throughout that entire period. Then the madness of Tito's collapse and the slow, relentless, drum beat of nationalism and consequent cult of personality. Suddenly one day a gun went off at the starting line and the neighbors who had been effectively turned by those strong men personalities killed their friends. And much worse.
We are a strong country, stronger than the others on that list, strengthened by our very diversity. I've always thought there were always good people on both sides who saw the center of our country, the middle way, the core of our democracy as something to be cherished far above their own desires, their own demands to be right. But our social glue is thin. We are separated by an ocean of communication.
How many people do you see now that say, let's be calm, let's talk, let's spend a little time going over how things work the best, how our history is a cement that holds the center. How many say 'I don't have to be right, I don't have to win, I only have to contribute.'
I'm an ex English major who hears life in metaphors. I choose to believe the WB Yeats poem "The Second Coming" as something that is more of an outcome that can be avoided than a certainty. He writes, during the last influenza pandemic, words that call out to our times:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
We need to step away from the fire of 'social' networking, away from "Look at how bad THEY are", stop the self indulgent immersion in the pool of being right.
I think of Nietzsche and wonder that he knew so much about Twitter and Facebook:
“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”
We are, I'm afraid, at the edge of an abyss. This morning I felt it gazing into me when I read a mainstream media article imploring calm while contributing in its own subtle way to the fire.
With all of our sophistication, all of our brilliance, all of our exceptionalism, we are a nation of scared adolescents with raging hormones and guns.
And the last lines of Yeats' poem have and always will haunt me.
For months I've been ending most of my posts with a reference to the number of days until inauguration implying that the correction course is just that far away, no more. I find that very hard to believe now. I find it very hard to see a way through this intractable moment of disenchantment with my fellow citizens.
I would love to be wrong.