It seems that as never before, at least since the Civil War, has this country been so ideologically divided. The fractures appear to be between what are known as liberal/conservative labels, but in truth, there are several dozen cracks–small groups who have their own personal issues.
Some are interested in health care reform, others in gay rights, others in abortion denial, tax reform, regulators or not, first amendment issues, church/state, and on and on. We artificially call people liberals, socialists, fascists, communists, conservatives, neo-cons, right-wing evangelicals, wackos, reactionaries, anarchists, you name it. Some of us fit one category and some of us fit partially in several. We are all at each other’s collective and individual throats on any given day.
People have solutions or not. Obama urges that we sit down and bypass the rhetoric and get down to details–look for common ground issues and build on them. Others want utter purity within their ranks and will give in on nothing. The GOP increasingly becomes branded as the party of “NO!” Tea Party adherents in more than a dozen organizations emphasis different core issues. Plenty of people are more than happy to give lip service to any group to gain their vote.
Fran, who is a great blogger and posts often on Facebook, decries this labeling. Many others do as well. Some decry the fact that those in powerful positions cause much of our dismay, by “modeling” bad behavior and making it “okay” for others to come forth with their favorite brand of bigotry. Those who feel put upon decry their martyrdom, and those who are accused of the outrages point to their own martyrdom imposed from the other side. We talk past each other.
We are the product of a lousy inadequate public education system that leaves us ill-prepared to evaluate the problems of our day. We are victimized by a co-opted media that no longer has much of a clue as to what journalism is supposed to do. We are the recipients of too much wealth and “stuff” and have developed the attention span of gnats. We are lazy and want others to do our thinking and research for us. We are susceptible to the “snappy retort” the glib “sounds good” bite.
We, all of us, are mired in way too much rah rah flag waving exceptionalism. If we are “best” then somehow, others must be less. If Episcopalians are best, then Baptists must not be. If Toyota is best then Kia can’t be. We are dualistic to an extreme. If there is left, there must be right, and if there is right there must be wrong. We like tidy columns like that, even when it leads us to “sides” that are separated by an increasingly uncrossable chasm.
Our churches, those valuable places where so much good could be done, are often times just exactly the opposite in that they claim exclusive ownership of the “interpretation” of God. Mainstream churches have lost their way, sliding into secular happy religion, while the Evangelicals are trapped in a rigid sense-deprived world that demands pure faith against physical realities.
Wherever we look, we are asked to choose. It is the battle cry of big business. Our car/computer/kitchen cleanser/potato chips are better than theirs. Pick us! Buy us! Taste test us and them–See! We are better. They suck. Polls are run now, not days later, when we have had time to digest, reflect and work through new information, but now, as it’s happening. We have the clicker in our hand, dial it up for “like that” and dial it down when you don’t.
The immediately generated “public opinion” is pulled from the copier and sent off with a click to all those that need to know, and adjustments are made on the fly. A little less emphasis on “green” power Senator, the voters are projected to not favor that so much today. We can perhaps mold, manipulate that opinion later on, if you truly care that much about it. The election is the thing today. Stick to the script of what works.
We are caught, you and I with having nobody out there that we can rely on for truth much any more. Everyone has an axe to grind it seems. Everyone is lying or cheating, or somehow disguising who they really are for whatever they think is some greater good, for the moment. I may be a philanderer, an abuser of the public funds, but hey, guys, you need me! I’m convinced only I can save you from yourselves. So I tell myself, and will tell you if you catch me in all my naked wrongness.
I have not a clue how to get beyond this. I can only, it seems try to carve out my little corner of sanity in an insane world. I’m a offender. You come here to read my “witty” repartee, my sarcasm dripping with some truth and a lot of anger. Occasionally, I write uplifting stuff, but truly, you come for the ball-busting screech at the other side. That makes you chuckle and nod, or it makes you angry enough to write comments dripping with your own sarcasm and lauding my lacking mental faculties.
I am part of the problem, yet I have no clue what would work. They are wrong, and I want to state that very clearly. And so I do. You right wing wacko! Get a brain, get a life! And then I confess my sins and promise to do better. But you see I don’t.
As the snow starts and we face another long week of being locked within, I’ll give it some thought. But I don’t think I’ll come up with an answer. After all, I am right, right?