Sunday, September 14, 2008

Salvaging the Truth, the Nation, and (Perhaps) My Soul. First of Three Parts.

It's Go Crazy Time again in American politics.

Let's go back about a year. It was evening in America and we were waking up from a long Rip-Van-Winkle nap from reality to find our house was on fire. Our debts were spiraling out of control. We were being evicted from our homes. Our children were still not home from the wars we had somehow gotten ourselves into during our restless unconsciousness.

We were modeling democracy for the world by torturing the guilty and innocent alike in secret prisons. We were confusing poor, undocumented Mexican factory workers with dangerous terrorists, and ignoring the thousands of new, very real terrorists our mistaken policies were creating around the world. We were the laughingstock of a terrified planet.

Even as the foundation of our liberty cracked and the edifice of our greatness teetered, we were still giving the last few pennies of our children's milk money to the fabulously wealthy as a reward for setting the fire.

But we seemed to be waking up. We had realized that electing leaders based on their ability to distort serious issues, lie shamelessly, pray to Jesus loudly in front of the cameras, mock their opponents, and assemble truth-mangling hit squads was not going to produce an Abraham Lincoln or FDR anytime soon. We were coming to consensus that "swift-boating" was a bad thing, even when it felt great, and had decided not to do it anymore.

But then, to paraphrase Al Pacino, "just when I thought we were out, they pull us in again."

If the last two weeks are any indication, we as a people just may vote to ignore the flames and go back to bed. Who knows what will await us when - if - we wake up again.

So I am seeking a separate peace with my nation's group fantasy. The GTL will find his serenity, even if the rest of you all go mad. I am working on my New America Project: Love everyone. Share what I have. Talk to anyone honestly. When I get angry, look at my anger from the outside and not feed it. Show respect for those who show me none in the knowledge that to do otherwise is suicide to my soul.

When the hurt beast that is trying to drag us down to Hell rears up in front of me I will remember and try to embody the words of Rilke in the third Duino Elegy:

gently show him daily a loving, confident task done,
-- Guide him close to the garden, give him those counter-balancing nights . . . . . . Withold him . . . . . .

Coming: Part II: an inventory of known knowns, known unknowns, unknown unknowns, and maybe a migraine

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