Freaking out a little bit? Yeah, me too.
World events, local events, it seems to be a blur of crises, of things that seem to be so important and dominate our news, only to be displaced by another. From jaw-droppingly bizarre to downright frightening, it is like a psychological whack-a-mole, only instead of being able to whack the little heads, they are everything from snarling beasts to yapping dogs, seizing our attention then popping out of sight, magically obscured by the next creature, the next crisis of the day.
So much of what gets our attention and disturbs our tranquility actually is quite remote from us, and is straight from the bins of the fear-monger shop. That some guy, a guy with lots of money and thus far, no revealed ideology, would decide the best thing for him to do is purchase an arsenal of weaponry and open fire on a concert crowd, shows (again) that we have sickos among us, but that does not directly affect us. Disturbing and horrible, yes, but unless you knew someone there, no impact other than empathy. It is like all the suffering and killing done in wars, and conflicts around the world. We are still here in our town, we can go about our business.
Direct contrast to that was the hurricane. That was and is profound and very real. Seeing it tracking toward us, seeing the shifting probabilities, and then finally having it slowly and relentlessly roll over us, seriously and rightly getting our attention. Trees down, power out, roads closed, flooding, debris everywhere – that was a shared experience. Even the gasoline shortage was a lesson in how fragile our infrastructure is, and that actually was only a category one (or less) storm when it got to us here in Alachua County.
And then there is the harvest of horrors in Washington as a result of, frankly, a political system that has been hijacked due to vast corporate power dumbing down and distracting the electorate, feeding us meaningless nonsense, gerrymandering our voting districts, maintaining a bloated military/industrial complex eating over half or gross national product, and worse still, the valuing of ideology and “winning” (meaning you make the other guy lose), over practical solutions like universal single payer healthcare that are in use all over the world.
Just like tracking a hurricane, we see it coming and feel powerless to stop it. Undoing transgender protections and hard fought rights for the LGBT community. Threats of nuclear war. increasing efforts to outlaw abortion. The deportations of immigrants expanding, the reversing DACA and splitting up of families, environmental standards being shredded or done away with. And now, alarmingly and manifesting right here in our town, a platform provided to an out and out racist and neo-nazi, and we are told to just ignore it?
What is coming at us is not a hurricane. It is a well organized attack on our lives by a small group of extremely rich and well connected elites. We let them into power through our lack of vigilance and their mastery of controlling our perceptions. They continue only as long as we let them. How we turn it around will hinge hugely on the 2018 and 2020 elections, yes, but also on organizing as the opportunities present themselves. Like what we saw with the massive charter school that wanted to muscle into our town – they saw a lot of opposition growing, and chose to go elsewhere. Organizing is work, but organizing works!
It’s all about paying attention, choosing reliable information sources, organizing or supporting organizations, and defeating hopelessness by finding a sense of purpose. Martyrdom not required, but in a democracy, participation is. D