12 August 2009

Scary Times, End Times?

For the past 10 or so years I have been uneasy about the world I live in. Not bothered by a specific action, situation, or person. I just have had fairly constant and general feelings of unease. I can't blame it on ThePinkThing, although I have definitely become much more of a worrywart since she arrived on this planet. An only child provides for much fodder in the worrying business when her (or his) mother is inclined that way. Nothing in particular is bothering me about TheHusband (although I wish he would remember to clean his dirty dishes off the coffee table). It's not my job. I changed that a couple of years ago and really like my current position (I am probably in the minority in that I actually like my job). TheHusband's business seems to be weathering the recession or depression or whatever it is, so far.

I am uneasy about the general climate of my country. I am not overtly patriotic in that do-or-die, One-Nation-under-God kinda way. I love my country, but in an abstract sort of way, like you love a favorite uncle -- you love to spend time with him but you don't think about him constantly or even on a daily basis. Not like you love your parents, siblings, or children (if you are lucky enough to love them). Or your best friend. I am grateful that I was born, raised and live here. I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had and still have.

But I feel like my country is slowly and (not so?) silently becoming something else. Not mine. Not a place in which I am comfortable. A place in which people of substance and regular Joes cannot have a discussion about difficult topics from opposing sides. A place where emotions overwhelm rational thought and reason. A place where a dance teacher who proselytizes to young Jewish girls in her class sees nothing wrong with that and literally can't understand why the parents find it objectionable. A place where my father said to me (shortly after the election) "Now we'll see what Barack Obama does to this country; this man who people like you voted into office." People like me? People like me? What was he thinking I am, a Martian? A bogeyman? A dirty tree-hugging Liberal? This was my father, fergoshsakes, someone whom I love, saying crap like that to me, outlining the unbridgeable divide between someone like him and someone like me. A place where compromise and consensus are evil words, not goals to work toward. A place where it's all about winning and getting your way, even at the expense of other people and other ideas. A place where people use fear tactics to bolster their agendas, to separate their group from the "others", to convince their adherents that what they believe is right/good/better/God's will/whatever. A place where things like McCarthyism, fascism, and a Holocaust could occur and/or flourish.

When did this happen? Why is it happening? Am I being overreactive and paranoid? Perhaps. I don't know. I would like to be wrong. But if this is the case, how can we fight it? How do you make someone (or really boatloads of someones) see that this is where the country is heading. People who think that they are Right. And if they are right, you must be Wrong. How do you have a meaningful conversation with people who are uninterested in reasonable discourse and rational discussion?

I just don't have any answers, although I am still uneasy.

10 comments:

John the Scientist said...

Take a deep breath. Read a book about the election of 1801. Remember even Jefferson and Adams fell into the trap.

This too, shall pass.

xinef said...

Well put, and yes, scary.

Janiece Murphy said...

Natalie, that was well written, and captures my own sense of unease very well.

Extremists (of any stripe) make me very uncomfortable. So even though I lean left, the far left gives the chills, just as the far right does.

neurondoc said...

It's not the electioneering crap that bugs me. It's the total lack of ability of the two parties to work together for consensus, instead resorting to mudslinging and nastiness.

It was this article that crystalized my vague worries into a more defined uneasiness last night. So I just spewed it out into my blog. That's what it is here for, right?

neurondoc said...

I am with you Janiece -- I don't like extremism of any kind, including the far left, who are just as scary as the far right, but for different reasons. I am not a religious person, not by any stretch of the imagination. When pressed, I will identify myself as Jewish, because that is my heritage, in the family-tradition meaning of the word, not in the faith or belief sense. Orthodox Judaism gives me slightly less hives than orthodoxy in other religions, but plenty of hives, nonetheless...

Tom said...

"How do you have a meaningful conversation with people who are uninterested in reasonable discourse and rational discussion?"

Unfortunately, the answer is "you can't!" What we have to hope for is that there are people on both sides who ARE interested in reasonable discourse and rational discussion. I believe there are, but their voices are being drowned out.

I am sorry that it's "us vs them" with your father. Both my parents are dead, so I don't know what their response would be, but I'd like to think it would be better than that.

N'il said...

Jon Stewart said it best, I think. The loudest and most extreme people are the ones that get the attention. No one turns the cameras on the person/people saying "be reasonable." Unfortunately, there are many people who are easily influenced by scare tactics of the extremes. And it's hard to be one of those who tries to reason with the unreasonable.

MWT said...

The country is changing. The reasonable, rational majority stood up and said to the so-called "real" Americans that they are done. The so-called "real" Americans just won't shut up about the fact that THEY LOST. And it's high time the reasonable, rational people stop giving the attention that they don't deserve - so they (and we all) can move on to do something of real use.

At least, that's how I see it.

Things are definitely changing, but I think we're slowly heading in the right direction overall.

allrelated said...

Not paro. Well written, my Pal, and yes, irrationality is always frightening when it seems to be gaining the upper hand. I just have to think that all the rational, reasonable people have no reason to make loud noise right now, so the wackos are getting the spotlight. But...why are there so many of them? What happened to civil discourse? Agreeing to disagree?

Let's hope it's just a natural cycle, and soon the Plutonians will come to take their stragglers back home again.

neurondoc said...

Lorraine -- the Alien Master can have 'em...