A person of some prominence and respect in ecclesial circles was recently opining on the events of the past week or so, referring to the political polarization and the “soul-searching many are doing about the failure of America’s promise…”
This person goes on to describe an awareness of “the distance between our national myths and the realities they disguise.” There was further commentary which spoke to a certain pessimism regarding our capacity as a nation to deal with change, and that “we are just not that good at grasping a clearer reality if it challenges our prejudices, or acting on a higher moral and ethical level, if it involves personal sacrifice.”
This sums up my feelings regarding the behavior and language of many during the pandemic and the recent election cycle. Certain behaviors have angered and mystified me, in light of what one might think would be circumstances calling for a collective concern for our well-being, where unity of purpose would be a powerful tool in addressing the viral assault on our health.
What has unfolded instead is a disheartening selfishness and refusal to accept reality. What seems practical and beneficial to the community is indeed questioned and doubted and cast as the dubious efforts of a “lamestream” media and the “radical left” to undermine the policies of an administration who many were led to believe had the best interests of the nation in mind…
The “failure of America’s promise” has never been so painfully visible. “One nation, under God” has become at least two nations with a plurality of understandings and misunderstandings of God, hand in hand with selective, self-serving, and often tortured interpretations of scripture.
Many are convinced of an autocrat’s legitimacy, and they are apparently more than ready to heed his calls for revolt. Despite overwhelming evidence that there was next to no election fraud, despite widespread evidence that the coronavirus is as lethal as ever, many have chosen to stigmatize reason and logic, and to vilify people who heed the science. They’ve responded to the perverse and empty rhetoric of a tyrant and other political opportunists who love nothing more than to stoke hatred and ignorance and small-minded provincialism.
I suppose there is reason for pessimism, but I have a feeling that we are going to survive all of this– the pandemic, the political upheaval. Everything. If we have been paying attention, we have been learning things as we go– about the fragility of this grand experiment we call American democracy, about the comforting predictability of science properly done, and about an unquenchable desire among enough of us to right wrongs and make life better for the people of Earth.
Sounds pollyannaish, I know. But I prefer pollyanna to Darth Vader and all the sons of bitches who have never and will never learn that their lust for power is by its very nature simply ambition run amok. A sign of weakness and dysfunction.