As I sat down to compose this, I was waging a (minor) internal battle with myself. Facebook/Twitter or blog? Given the subject I want to tackle that either can be described as: 1 or A, ironic or possibly: B or 2, “well of course dummy.” I felt the need to commence this piece with a dash of humor (granted, my default mode) because what I feel the need to say here isn’t funny, and hasn’t been for quite some time. I look at the world at large, and my native land in particular and I find myself drifting out of my preferred mode of speech and asking myself; “WTF!” In my humble opinion we have truly lost it my fellow Americans.
“I have come to the conclusion;” as John Adams states in the opening moments of 1776, that politics, in fact in many ways life itself is no longer about Republicans, Democrats, Plutocrats, Autocrats, Right, Left, or Center. It is not about Conservatism, or Liberalism. What it has evolved into (or devolved to) is this, the practice of CONTRARINISM. We have somehow found ourselves at a point in time in which it is not about finding a middle ground. It is about criticizing any and every gesture, sound bite, photo opportunity of what used to be referred to as “the Loyal Opposition.” Even (perhaps especially) our reactions to tragedy is fueled by this overriding rule. I cite two recent examples. First, the flooding in Texas. I would argue that even the hardest hearts, even the one’s who felt the need to view the disaster in Biblical terms, didn’t view it without compassion. Yet, a huge part of the debate (debate; really; people were dying, livestock killed, homes and businesses destroyed; that is not a subject for a debate, it is a subject for rescue, for mobilization of disaster relief, at the very least for prayer or, if you prefer, as Pope Francis recently said “Good Vibrations”). Instead the news outlets, and certainly the internet, felt that the really important thing to discuss was that a handful of Texan politicians, who had denied relief to the victims of Sandy Hook and were now at the front of the line of the “hat in hand” crowd needed to be castigated: well, “shoe’s on the other foot now,” or “what goes around comes around,” or even “payback’s a (fill in the blank) ain’t it?” Yessss! this is what all of that suffering was about. An opportunity to rub someone’s nose in the mud of their own shortsightedness. The second is the recent church massacre (which in strictly non political terms is precisely what it was) in Charleston. A recent sampling of my Facebook friends (not just Facebook in general, but my friends, and for what it’s worth I have never felt the need to make “agrees with everything I say and do” part of the criteria for being my friend. For one thing, not only would it narrow the field considerably, but I would have to “un-friend” my own self, and then who would listen to me prattle on? Sorry, default mode as I say). But, once again I am seeing so many postings specifically dealing with the reactions of politicians, especially the one’s jockeying for position for the Presidential primaries and even about the current POTUS, who, while certainly still in a position to have his voice heard and to attempt to shape national policy, is certainly no longer (despite what many may want to believe) running for anything. Once again, CONTRARINISM is the philosophy that has become our overriding way of dealing with all and sundry. An argument for stricter gun control laws? An argument for more stringent security measures? Second Amendment; right, wrong, repealed, beefed up? Once again: really? Here is what we need to be focused on right this instant: NINE PEOPLE ARE DEAD. Their families, their friends, their coworkers, devastated. I’m sorry folks, and arguably I am part of the debate myself just by publishing this, but a portion of the body politic has been ripped violently from the whole. As my Jedi self would say: “I feel a disturbance in the Force.” I am not expecting this little think piece to change many minds. It most certainly will not change any feelings of “us versus them.” And, once again, for what it’s worth, the whole “versus” should always be a tip off that perhaps you are heading down the wrong path unless you are talking about a sporting event. I would suggest however that at least we take a moment to mourn the victims instead of going directly to pointing fingers.