It’s not for want of trying. I surely have done that. Ad nauseum as they say. To both sides. Repeatedly. Exhaustively. With patience even. With frustration. With anger. With self-righteous certitude.
Never were two opposing groups so much alike. Never did two loggerheaded enemies share one common mind-set.
I suppose that’s why trying to reason with either is futile.
Right wing fundamentalists of the religious persuasion, and left-wing fundamentalists of the non-religious persuasion.
Neither has any concept of nuance.
Neither will entertain that there is a compromise to be sought after.
They are deranged in exactly the same way, having an operating system that conveniently filters out everything but “their side” and allows them to hold perfectly nicely contradictory views on a range of subjects without ever even being aware that the conflict exists.
Where are the rest of us to fit? How can we reclaim control of the bratty kids we apparently have raised and allowed to run free without harness?
For the rest of us are in the middle, believers and non-believers alike. We here in the center of things recognize that historically religion has much to crow about and much to be ashamed of. We have philosophically pondered and drove ourselves slightly mad at times in attempting to reconcile beliefs with reality and coming up with coherent and satisfying personal ideologies/theologies out of all the facts at hand.
We have arrived and still refine from time to time these beliefs or ideas. We recognize that there is much that is still not a perfect fit. It provides us with intellectual exercise when we wish it, and we shrug and get on with the day-to-day activities of life the rest of the time.
We don’t obsess about any or all of it. We approach it as a puzzle, which we work at for a time, and then leave off for a time as other things impinge upon our time. We see it as a lifelong quest, and part of being human. We have more questions than answers and we are okay with that.
We enjoy from time to time a rousing discussion with people who think differently than we do. That’s when we begin to get in trouble. For we reach out once again to have normal conversation and instead we are ridiculed, be damned, laughed at, and told we are doomed to be either more stupid than a rock or headed for a sea of molten lava for eternity.
We sigh. We shake our heads, we wonder where are all the others like us?
The truth is, the others like us are the majority, yet like the middle in general, we only come out to play when there is something big at stake. An election, a holiday. We require something large to move us from our soccer games and endless to-do lists and planning for down time with the kids.
We, you see, are the great middle of basic ennui. The issue of religion, of politics, of the environment, of anything much at all is “uh, yeah I care, but I’m busy now. Catch me next week, I may have time to squeeze you in.”
See the carers are the ones who get shit done. The passionate ones. They are invested. The “the world isn’t worth living in unless we can change this.” Those people change the world, or commit suicide, or at least think of it once or twice. They have the unfailing optimism that they can make a different. The are unceasing. They get up a thousand times from the ground and continue the march.
They are heroes to me. Well, heroes only if they are on my side of things. Otherwise they are fanatics. Sometimes they get in the way of success because they won’t compromise. But they are the canaries in the tunnels, chirping away to remind us of what needs doing. They make us feel small and selfish too. And that leads sometimes to us blocking them from our view so as not to feel those things.
It is the purpose of every campaign manager to awaken the beast. Whether it be of a candidate or a cause, the point is to “get out the vote” “get the signatures” or “get the funding.” It’s getting the behemoth to move out of the way, and sometimes to actually act.
You see we want to be left alone. We want to believe that the planting of spring flowers, and the trip to Carlsbad, and the creation of that new mousse cake are IMPORTANT things worthy of our time. And the carers are there to remind us of how really unimportant those things really are when children are starving and people are not free. They remind us by their presence that they are better than us, and we don’t like that much.
I’m no different. I just talk about shit more, and call that “my contribution.” I’m not out organizing and marching because it impinges too damn much on what I want to do.
Recently I did my usual stupid thing. Somebody raised the question of petitioning our pool to open an hour earlier. Not content to just nod that I would sure like that, I did what I always do, stood up and offered myself as the “petition” collector. I do such things not out of some humble service offering, but because deep down I figure if I want something done right, I gotta do it.
Put me in a group, and I’ll take it over sure as shit, because I can’t stand wasting time with people who are gonna take a week to figure out the obvious. Sometimes I’m undoubtedly right in this assessment, mostly I’m just an arrogant bitch who thinks I know better.
In either case, I bring the work on myself.
Soon, I was faced with idiots who told me, “oh you shouldn’t do a petition. It’s better to just go up and talk to the administration. ‘They don’t like petitions.'”
So the sheep of which most of America is composed, refrained from the petition. “I’ll sign later after we find out if they are okay with us doing that.”
Yikes people, how did we win a war of Independence with such wimps?
So I called the administrator and set up a talk time. And it went well, and he was distressed that anyone was spreading the idea that the pool personnel were “against the right of people to sign a petition.” And as we all know, the decision to open earlier would be based in large part on how many would actually come an hour earlier, so the petition was necessary.
So then I ran a petition for a week. And I was in and out of the water a dozen times some days, and carrying it in the water and trying to keep the paper dry while people stood in swirling water and signed.
And I found that instead of the thirty or so people I thought I could muster, I ended up with sixty-two signatures. And I turned it in, and three days later, they announced that they would open an hour earlier starting in Mid-May.
And I’m so incredibly glad the process is over, because it impinged on my life and I got shit to do. But I got another dose of how frustrating it is when you try to do something. Thank you vague people who said, they’d “think about it,” while rushing to grab their foam weights and enter the artificially heated pool to “work out.”
And that’s it folks. The planet is dying because we befoul it, and “hey, I’ll think about it, but right now I gotta get that box of rice krispies off the shelf.”
The country is turning over to an oligarchy of wealthy business leaders, and it’s “oh, yeah, regrettable that Citizens United thing, but I’m running late for my hair appointment.”
That’s us. That’s human nature I suppose. That’s me. Unless it becomes something I care about enough to take charge of it.
How to turn that to everybody in the middle land of “not my fucking problem”? I dunno.
I think Socrates had this problem. Jesus sure did. How to get us to move off our butts and fix stuff?
See it’s an age-old problem.
Back to pondering how we ever got out of caves.