Saturday, November 9, 2013

There is a difference between accurate time-keeping and musical chimes that also tell the time

Finding and naming an enemy and then setting out to destroy that enemy, within our borders, or without, is, at its root, how too much of contemporary politics is played. Playing to collective fears about that enemy, through  both exaggeration and willful deception, as well as outright lying, is included in this new norm. Monsterizing the enemy, demonizing that enemy, and catastrophizing about the likely outcomes if the enemy is not subdued, another form of deploying the apocalypse, is one of the reliable signs that moderate thought and reflection have been replaced with toxicity and too often hate-mongering.
For those on the right, government has become the monster, the ever-growing and never-succeeding attempt by the 'state' to take care of its people. No opportunity to point to the horrors of government mismanagement and waste and over-reach is missed by those seeking to curtail its power and to obsess over its evil nature, especially when they compare how it operates with the wild west where little to no government appeared to block individual freedom. And from their "slay-the-dragon" of government mind-set comes the concomitant finger-and gun-pointing to those whose lives depend on government assistance, as if those people were not "up to" the task of being a citizen.
The social divide that occurs when the rich and powerful, whose richness and power have grown exponentially in the last decade-plus, disdain those whose incomes and mobility have been fossilized and even atrophied, as the price of the growth in income, investments and political power of the few, is not merely another rendition of racism, without the criminal charge, but it also points to future generations of fewer and fewer "success" stories in which the poor climb out of poverty because they will never acquire the means to achieve that climb: a full and equal education.
The right would have us believe that teachers unions are the demon that precludes student success in public schools; they are, after all, sucking up all the money being spent on educating students. However, evidence to the contrary, that in countries where all teachers belong to a union students in public schools are doing very well, would tend to neutralize the false allegations against teachers' unions in some countries like the United States.
Where programs of economic austerity are in vogue in governments, there will be the inevitable and predictable decline in upward mobility, especially noticeable among the most disadvantaged. Starve the body, and the mind shrivels along with the ambition/inspiration needed to make the sacrifices necessary for that Himalayan-like climb. These right-wing expressions of "responsibility" and budget-cutting, as the necessary, if apocalyptic and exaggerated, steps to fiscal balance, all come at a very high, if less easily decipherable cost. Generations of young children, whose family support programs are being cut by those so fixated on their own political ambitions, cemented into their misguided readings of religious texts, are being thrown under the bus of reduced expectations and curtailed hope, in order that some politicians can continue to climb to power on lies we all know, including those who tell them, that cannot be support by empirical evidence.
And while they are telling those lies, they are also denying the empirical evidence that our (that is all of us) planet is experiencing a serious change in climate, one that threatens make it difficult for people to breath, and to find and drink fresh water, and to harvest clear land.
So, for them, is it reality that is the enemy, and are they determined to create a Gatsby-mansion and parties, for themselves and their neighbours, while the rest of us fade into the nothingness they already believe we really are?
Unfortunately, our nothingness does not compute with their perception of our identity. We are not reducible to some photo-shop version of what they would have the world believe we are. Our "nothingness" and our "unimportance" shakes itself off and puts on the nations' uniforms, and enrolls in the most accessible schools, and takes the risk of a burden of student debt, and waits on tables, drives taxis, and even cleans to make ends meet, and also teaches our children, and inspires their dreams, and arms them with skills that the rich would have us denied, so that they can preserve their bubble of helium-filled self-absorption, without having to give thought or care for the rest of us....and they are spreading their propaganda through their ubiquitous media outlets, striving for "ratings" and "income" while ordinary people are abandoning that dream, returning to a more simple, and less costly and more collaborative mind-set and lifestyle.
The pendulum may already have begun to swing back to the centre, to moderation and to inclusivity, not merely of those living gay and transgendered lifestyles, but of those without whose presence, and work and insights and inspirations we would all be the poorer. And when those feasting on their wealth and their fame and their power come to realize the significance of those less fortunate among us, for so many reasons, the social clock will chime with real musical notes, not just the hollow sound of 'accurate' time-keeping.
We need the music from all the 'notes' and all the 'instruments' of our society, orchestrated into a full symphony, not just the jangling of the coins of the rich.

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