History Has Its Eyes On Us

When our children and grandchildren look back on this era, the Coughin’ Twenties, what will they say?

When they see how we reacted to a pandemic and chose to let it divide us rather than bring us together, and how many of us rejected medical science and math in favor of hyper-individualistic defiance.

When they see how we glommed on to conspiracy theories and discarded intellectual discernment to choose whichever alternate reality affirms our biases and beliefs.

When they see how the President himself stoked mistrust of our democratic process and tortured the very structure of its fabric, and incited an armed insurrection.

When they see how, instead of learning from these insults, healing from these wounds, and coming to our senses, we chose to listen to the living-embodiment-of-id media personalities, their conspiracies and dissembling, and embrace further, deeper contempt for each other.

Will they judge us harshly? Or will history be euphemistically repackaged?

Will they learn about a mob storming Congress? Will they recognize white nationalists, white supremacists, conspiracists and domestic terrorism? Attacking Capitol Police at the seat of power, in order to prevent the peaceful transfer of Presidential power?

Will they see it as a homegrown American Benghazi? More deadly than the incident in Libya. This time five Americans died from an attack on our soil.

In a year of intense protests, demonstrations, rioting and looting — on both sides :-/ — will they see the double standard? Will they see how the cloak of whiteness somehow charmed security forces into granting the benefit of the doubt to an angry, armed mob who law enforcement knew had been chattering and scheming about 2A revolution for months, and who had just spent hours being riled up with violent, existentially threatening rhetoric before being given marching orders by the sitting President to descend on the Capitol?

We deserve to judged harshly.

I am not the most optimistic person. I’m more of a hope for the best, plan for the worst kind of guy.

When Mr. Trump contracted covid, I thought that the best outcome would be that he’d also contract a small amount of humility and empathy. Just enough for him to charge his administration to focus, pool resources, organize with states and have a coherent message and mitigation/vaccination plan — leadership in a time of crisis.

When Trump devotees stormed the United States Capitol in order to stop congress from confirming the election of the next President of the United States, I hoped for a moment of post-tantrum clarity and sanity.

This is the worst case scenario for a Democracy, other than a successful coup. I mean, where’s General Smedley Butler when you need him. But it wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t a surprise. It was intentional and then quickly got out of hand. Here’s a sample from Wingnuts’ Greatest Hits.

stand down and stand by

come to the rally … it’s going to be wild

trial by combat

we’re going to take them out and have fun doing it

Vice President Pence should be arrested and executed

This has happened multiple times in recent weeks. Trump supporters, armed, storming Capitol buildings around the country for one reason or another, and they’re treated with kid gloves.

We had a %$#@! conspiracy theorist suicide bombing in an American city, attacking telecommunications infrastructure on Christmas Day!

We have a problem. People believe that there are two sides, and then inexorably gravitate to the polar ends of the spectrum. Over every issue, including a viral pandemic. Including an armed attack on Congress and the electoral process — the gears of Democracy.

Someone has to be the adult in the room and stand up to this insanity. Because it’s not the end. It’s the beginning for an emboldened fringe element. There will always be a fringe element, but we can’t concede our parties and institutions and our minds to them.

We can not afford to be both divided and paralyzed when there are so many problems that we need to solve.

Y’all wild.

Look, there’s plenty of things to be angry about. Despite the Left’s faux sense of pious indignation and the Right’s faux sense of manifest destiny, there’s plenty of grievance to go around. Our political leaders are not looking out for us like they should. They give us just enough attention. Just enough.

The folks in the MAGA hats are also getting screwed over, big time. They’re getting crushed by medical bills, job industries are falling out from under their feet, promises to rebuild their economies were empty to begin with, wealth is transferring from their pockets to the top whatever percent, the stock market is booming but their small businesses are being destroyed, the rent is still due, and they’ve got mouths to feed. They’re struggling with addiction, depression, suicide, violence, comorbidities, and the stresses of a changing world and social landscape.

Those are very real stressors. They suck. For anybody. But they’ve given in to the — it’s an oversimplification to say the economy, or racism, or xenophobia or nationalism. It’s a miasma of self-inflicted antagonisms. It’s easier and more gratifying to lash out than to self-examine.

Theirs aren’t the only communities struggling to cope and doing a s$#@ job of it, of course. But damn. You know what they say. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

What I’m saying is this. Our politicians have largely failed us, true. But we are failing ourselves and each other. We’ve got to step back from the edge, hold people accountable, and hold ourselves accountable to our ideals.

We have to stop letting the loudest people suck up all the oxygen in the room. Being loud (having a platform, TV show, podcast, YouTube channel, Twitter, Instagram, book, etc.) doesn’t make them right. It can be refreshing to see public figures who speak their mind and don’t cow to political correctness, but those same people are too often nightmares when they have power and influence. Being brazen or shameless isn’t the same as being a leader. Having followers is not the sign of a good leader.

2020 oozing into 2021. Like…

I don’t know. I’ve been writing and rewriting this blog entry for six months now. I pick it up, put it down, and then the world changes and I start over, never quite saying what I mean to say. Never saying it well enough. Just…

Be good to each other. Keep your boundaries and wellbeing in mind, but be patient with each other. In small ways. And maybe those small acts of patience and kindness will grow and change someone’s day for the better or just help them get through it. And maybe patience and kindness and understanding will change someone’s life for the better.

It’s a start. Stay safe and healthy, everyone.

2 thoughts on “History Has Its Eyes On Us

  1. Well said, Gary. Power over corrupts. Only power with is compatible with the full expression of our humanity. The books about the psychology of narcissism, how decent people can be rendered impotent by the narcissist’s emotional brutality or pulled into the depravity by their own woundedness, and hopefully how we can detect and defuse such individuals in the future, will be legion and fascinating. If ever there were a call for a heightened awareness of and resources allotted to understanding mental illness as compelling as mass shootings, the presidency of Donald J. Trump is it.

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