politics

The Tragedy of Politics

There’s an inherent human need to look to the past and connect it with what we’re seeing around us. We seek to anchor the new that we see to something more comfortable. It helps us feel like we understand it. Like something beyond our feet has been lit on our path forward helping us to see the newly started all the way through to an understood and predictable end.

Donald Trump is like Andrew Jackson.

The election was going to be a “Barry Goldwater moment”.

Citizens United was a “Dred Scott like decision”.

None are true. No matter how true they did or didn’t turn out to be. History is not something to link back to. It doesn’t repeat itself. It has patterns, but only because it’s full of people. People have patterns. The interesting part of history is when it falls open and expands to show the ground we’ve covered between the notches of the timelines. The passing of time and the progress of man only travels one way though. Forward. Looking back is a lousy way to predict what’s best for the future.

If the history of our planet were condensed into a year, modern humans show up at 11:36 PM on December 31st. The Industrial Revolution happens with 2 seconds ’til midnight. If you do the same to the history of man, that industrial revolution happens in the middle of December. 50 of 52 weeks of our existence happened before there was ever anything more to eat or live in than we absolutely needed.

Things were once very slow. Now they’re not. We’re ill equipped to understand the impacts of our present pace.

Only 56 of the earth’s 5 billion years passed between the first manned flight and space travel. 78 passed between the invention of dynamite and the detonation of the first nuclear bomb. It took us 100,000 years to grow our first billion humans. It took us 12 to grow our last. For an incomprehensible proportion of our time on this planet, almost nothing has been possible. But since things were, the things we’ve done with it are inconceivable. And the speed with which we’re doing it is far too fast to project forward with any honest accuracy at all.

It’s been decades since the human brain was smart enough to operate the world. If you magically deleted from all known data and memory the existence of something like a smartphone, no one person on earth would be able to make it again. As recently as a century ago, you couldn’t say that about any man-made object in existence. Now, you can say it about most things.

If it seems like we’re getting worse at predictions, that’s because we are. Donald Trump trailed Hillary Clinton by the same distance Walter Mondale trailed Ronald Reagan less than 90 days from the election. Teresa May voluntarily called her own election to consolidate conservative power in the UK Parliament because she, and anyone frankly, couldn’t comprehend her losing power. She lost.

This is the new norm. We know nothing Jon Snow.

Here’s an extremely unpopular and uncomfortable truth. None of us know enough about the future at all to feel strongly enough about anything to behave unkindly to anyone because of how they feel about the great unanswerable questions of our time. Politics, after all, is the debate of perpetually unanswerable questions.

When does a fetus become a person?

What’s best for a 300 million person $17 trillion economy?

Which lives matter?

Whose safety and security is most important?

Politically specific questions have no answer. And so politically specific thought has no value. Representative government has purpose. Politics is its unfortunate bi-product for which the rational mind has no material use.

Which leads to a very freeing and raw reality:

If you troll people online for the sake of politics you can’t hide behind context. You’re simply a troll. If you treat a race or ethnicity or nation of origin differently because of your political persuasion, you’re not politically principled. You’re just a racist. If you advocate for stupid unsustainable economic policy because your political affiliation calls for it, you’re not politically compassionate.  You’re being stupid and unsustainable.

And if you act out in murderous violence in the name of politics, you are a murderer. And that’s the only way anyone will ever remember you.

We’re hurdling forward at an irrational pace. Perhaps we always were and we’re just starting to realize it. Motion, after all, is by definition, relative. The only certainty that any of us can depend on is that tomorrow will include things you would not have expected. So when it comes, the only thing you can really control is how you live it.

Will you make it better?

Or worse?

Or will you stand on the sidelines and take sides in an argument that has no end. And has no value? How much time will you spend doing that?

Turn off cable news. Stop cheering or jeering through Tweets. Stop sharing political nonage on Facebook. And go live your life, the only thing you can actually control even the slightest part of, in a way that makes the world a better place.

8 replies »

  1. “Stop cheering or jeering through Tweets. Stop sharing political nonage on Facebook. And go live your life, the only thing you can actually control even the slightest part of, in a way that makes the world a better place.” I don’t think people want a life. They love the warm rush of anger and victimhood better. It is cheaper and healthier than heroin, benzos or wine. I am with you. I too want people to ‘have a life’, but also to get a freaking ‘life.’

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  2. Love this and have recently come to terms with the idea of just living my life. But, I had to laugh at the irony of the “Share this” feature at the bottom.

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      • They won’t because Americans are crying to be heard and climb a totem, but never to reach the top. Our soulless media transfixes the majority to try to attain something they will never reach, so they grasp for antidepressants or their keyboard to let them be heard, but no one will hear them. I like simplicity. Go local. I am a community builder and like it that way. Africa? Nope. I will do my good will here where I live. It is safe and I am fine with that. I love local because I learn how ignorant our youth is right here, why would I want to search farther? I live near the Hudson River. Guess how many people know the history of it? You guessed right. Our youth doesn’t know squat. I can get depressed about our political state, but whatever, village by village.

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  3. When Trump was elected, I realized that more than ever, I have to just live. Do what I can artistically and to improve myself and my community. Intense localism seemed like a barrier against his hate. I am heartened to see that we are functioning despite the federal government, the states are stepping up, and cities too. This is a matter of my white privilege, but for the first time, I do not feel those in power in Washington have my back. The might of the state does not make me feel safe, I feel threatened by it. I feel threatened by a level of uncertainty in the world that I am not used to.

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    • Exactly Candy, just live. They don’t have our back. I will say after Trump was elected I have never in my lifetime (born 69′) has there been so many movements against the government. And that is a good thing. This is our government. Whether Republicans or Democrats, I enjoy witnessing so many people having a say visualized by our opaque media.

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      • Yes the movements AGAINST the government, I wish I would see more effort toward taking over the government. Micah Wright, who wrote the end of protest, spoke of the need for [progressive women especially] to start taking over government at the lowest levels in an effort to steer it in a more humane direction. I am in my 50s and disabled, so I can not answer that call to action. I am concerned that people are more concerned with burning it all down rather that change from within which just feels like pure idealism at this point. But living in Olympia WA, I am proud of my state government standing up to the federal government. I do feel like my state has my back on multiple issues.

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