Thursday, August 30, 2007

Malaise and hope


This morning San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll snaps a quick picture of the public mood at the end of this disturbing summer:

We've had enough schadenfreude in the past year. We have seen the mighty fall, or at least resign. We have grasped the nature of the idiocy. What the hell do we do about it? Where do we go from here? You gotta plan, big boy? ...

You've heard of compassion fatigue? I think we have stupidity fatigue. Yet one more administration hack does one more laughably inept or corrupt thing - at first you get mad, and then you want to get beyond the mad. The problems will be there long after the hacks have left town. Yes! Positive thinking! Solutions! And then some fresh outrage comes along, and it's just too awful not to write about - and so it goes.

... there's a lot of fear that things have become so badly screwed up that there is no coming back. Is global warming reversible in any real sense? Is New Orleans ever going to thrive again? Is there any way for the United States to develop a sensible foreign policy toward the Middle East? Will we ever get universal health care? Can Congress really be weaned from the money machine? Will government really give back the privacy it has taken from its citizens?

Boy, I'd take the negative side on each of those propositions in any casino situation. And yet despair and hopelessness are not acceptable, even if they may be realistic. No society is perfect; no answer is complete. The way to begin to save our souls and our minds is to act as if - as if there will be a brighter tomorrow, as if the next regime will be better than the previous one, as if new leadership will make a difference.

Seems about right. Those of us who do politics day in and day out need to remember that a very substantial fraction of folks who seem alienated from, or unconscious of, matters of governance aren't really opting out at all. Rather, they yearn for "something to be for."

Photo by Terry Lorant

4 comments:

Jane R said...

I have a great Dorothee Soelle quote somewhere on this same theme. Will dig it up sometime. Whew, a long week. But I just put up pictures of Maya Pavlova, so go enjoy. (Did you ever have the "Cat Lovers Against the Bomb" calendar? It was published by Nebraskans for Peace. Not sure if they are still doing it.)

Grandmère Mimi said...

Jan, I am a great fan of "act as if", but I've found it hard to apply to the political situation on our country. Thanks for the reminder and the link to Jon Carroll.

We must find hope in the face of hopelessness. Amen to Jon.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Jan, the link to Jon Carroll doesn't work for me. Maybe it's just me.

janinsanfran said...

Wasn't just Grandmere -- I messed up the URL. Fixed.

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