“You know something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is,
do you, Mr. Jones?” - Bob Dylan: Ballad of a Thin Man
“What the hell is happening to our country?!!!” Ah, there’s a question. One that has been thoroughly examined since forever and answered expertly by barbers, taxi drivers, mansplainers and just about everyone who has an opinion. Which is everyone.
But in light of the January 6thhearings, the recent Supreme Court decisions, the continuing epidemic of mass shootings and the continuing refusal to take the most basic steps to deal with the situation (as so many other countries successfully have), it is a question that is more on our minds than usual. Which means it deserves some serious thought a few yards beyond “opinion.” Something attentive to reality (no conspiracy theories, please), tied to facts, historical data and actual thinking. A carefully crafted point of view that shines light into the dark corners of things we haven’t wholly considered or have been purposefully hidden from us.
To that end, it’s helpful to look at the question from multiple angles. Here I offer four different perspectives of a complex question, none of which alone can explain what’s happening or offer guidance as to what we might do next, yet each of which is worthy of consideration and further investigation. It is in the conversation between the four that we just might move from where we are stuck, get the wheels rolling and the moral arc leaning again in the right direction.
You see, I’m already claiming a right direction and some might take issue with that, that I’m not following the Fox News motto (ha ha!) of a “fair and balanced” report (a motto dropped in 2017, not because they finally owned up to the bullshit, but because they needed to distance themselves from founder Roger Ailes when he was caught in a sex scandal). So let me be clear. The “right direction” is based on the following:
1) It is better to serve and celebrate life than to cause death and destruction.
2) It is better to love than to hate.
3) It is better to promote the highest values of the Constitution than to tear them down.
4) It is better to serve people over profit.
5) It is better to speak truth than tell lies.
6) It is better to win fair and square than cheat.
7) It is better to be educated than ignorant.
8) It is better to support a point of view with facts than insist that whatever you believe is true because you say so.
9) It is better to include and welcome people than exclude and put them down.
10) It is better to hold people accountable to the law regardless of wealth and status.
11) All American citizens should pay taxes.
You get the idea.
What that in mind, a brief overview of each of the four levels:
1) Political: What precisely has happened in the last 50 years to lead us to this place where one party does nothing but try to block any bills proposed to help American citizens improve their quality of life, to protect them, to safeguard the guarantees of the Constitution?
2) Sociological: What are the spoken and unspoken narratives that drive these hurtful actions, that justify them, that create the spin that makes them palatable and acceptable to a gullible public?
3) Psychological: What are the collective psychological traumas, wounds, complexes, attitudes that make people vulnerable to political decisions that work against their own interests, that makes them willing to give up their own power to despots, tyrants and fundamentalist easy-answer thinking?
4) Mythological: In the greater world of archetypal energies that have always been and will always be, what myth are we living? Where are we in the cycle of collapse and renewal?
Stay tuned for the five-part series.