09 November 2016

Attention


I am utterly gutted from the results of the presidential election. It has me questioning so many things, about America, my place in it, my responsibility to it, and my responsibility to the rest of the world as someone in it.

I sense that the answer to all my questions is "more". But more what?

An evil that will rot the fiber of America has just been granted executive powers. Don't console yourselves that things won't be as bad as you fear. I've lived through this scenario elsewhere, and I know how it ends. It will get every bit as bad as you fear, and worse. One day, it will have gotten so bad that nothing will be able to fix it. Then you will look for someone to blame, and you'll try very hard to make that someone anyone but you.

No, the only sane choice for any sane American is to take the threat seriously and do more to make it stop NOW. Of course it's a cliché to intone Hitler, but yes, really. The parallels and precedents are too chillingly close, too chillingly clear. You need to actively shut down this burgeoning bullshit at every opportunity. Even when it costs you, when it's painful, when it's not fun.

So, more. But more what?

Up to now, I've tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, to keep negative energy from dominating my discourse. I've also refrained from using my position of limited influence as an educator to actively influence others in ways that aren't directly related to what it is I am supposed to be influencing. However, the scope of the present threat is high enough that I'm thinking both of these practices need to change.

The threat to America has the tactical advantage of not having a moral compass. It has no constraint on what it's willing to do to reach its ends. Any expedient, any manipulation is acceptable. While I can't bring myself to abandon my belief that sustainable ends can really only be reached through means that are consistent with the values reflected in the ends, I am beginning to wonder whether in this current context a shitty unsustainability that keeps the patient alive isn't preferable to a dedication to higher principles that lets the patient die outright.

As a result, I'm thinking the responsible thing to do is to turn up the asshole knob several notches in relation to the love, peace, and understanding knob, and then turn the whole thing up to 11. This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. Apologies in advance.

The protagonist of Aldous Huxley's Island closes the novel with the same word he hears at the book's opening: "Attention." It took me a while to completely understand this. Today, I'm living it.

Attention.

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