I’M GETTING TIRED
Of trying to figure things out, in a world that’s changing faster than sleep-deprived parents can change a newborn. It often involves the same material, too.
Although I feel there is plenty of reason for hope, recent events have left me wishing a little more optimism could sneak in, and a shorter timeline.
It’s a danged long tunnel and that distant light at the end of it so many are hailing is still a long way off. I‘ve thought that from the beginning, grimacing when someone would glibly declare, say last spring, that they’d have to put off their trip to Jamaica until fall. Fall 2021 if you’re lucky, I would think to myself, and now even that seems bullish.
I was a big fan of the TV political thriller “24,” and it seems like this year 2021 came in and announced, ominously, “Previously — on 2020…” I know, “24” was way too violent, and some felt racially insensitive for portraying too many bad guys as Middle Eastern, but the writing was brilliant. And every time you heard “Previously…” you knew things were going to get much worse than you could have imagined from last week’s episode.
BUT I’LL BE PATIENT
It’s coming. I think Uncle Joe is spot on in leveling with us that things are going to get worse before they get better but my gosh, what a welcome change — even if it isn’t good news, just gimme some truth, as John Lennon wrote in 1971.
“I’ve had enough of watching scenes
Of schizophrenic, ego-centric, paranoiac, prima-donnas
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth.”
I think we’re all with you on that, John. Unfortunately, truth has become a quantity more rare than rhodium in the 2020s. Or, maybe it’s the cheapest, because everyone has their own. Lennon’s cynical assessment of all politicians may have been dismissed at the time by many as radical and over the top, but… maybe he just had a crystal ball looking half a century ahead to 2020. Egocentric, paranoiac, prima donna…
Truth would be a return to some normalcy, some sanity. Sadly, in four years, tens of millions of Americans have turned their backs on the truth, and facts, and science.
President Biden will be giving his inaugural address the day you read this. It will be the most important speech of his life, as he attempts the seemingly impossible task of trying to heal the terrible divisions in our nation today, or at least start the process. We all wish him well. But, I think we all have to pitch in. How? Man, that’s the million dollar question.
But we’ve just celebrated the birth (and life) of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and he had a few simple but powerful ideas about that.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
So I’m tired. Sometimes feeling overwhelmed and powerless in the face of recent events and the last four (or 12) years. (The racism really erupted when we elected a black president.)
SO WHAT? GET A GRIP
I‘m a privileged white guy who barely knows even the meaning of oppression or long, fruitless struggle. It was a wait of nearly 250 years before kidnapped Africans got the chains of slavery undone, and that was just the beginning of their struggle to this day, 155 years later. Dr. King and millions of other Americans were born into that awful, bloody history, and they marched on, non-violently, with love. And they brought change.
So, reconciling with Fox patriots who are understandably a little weak on their U.S. history (though absolutely certain of what they know), seems a lesser effort. I mean, what are they going to do, try to overthrow democracy and hang our elected leaders? C’mon.
How about this? The next time you encounter your squirrelly cousins’ delusions on social media, pick up the phone and give them a call. “Hey Rudy, I saw what you wrote, can we talk about it? Nicely? Because you know I love you, and I want to understand.” And then — ask, don’t argue.
Inform but don’t insist. Don’t lose patience. Respect their beliefs, while trying to get at the basis for them. Don’t try to change their mind, but maybe give them something to think about. Above all, listen, with open mind and heart.
Will this work? Heck if I know. But it seems better than the way most of us have been handling it (block, unfriend), and it just might chip away while maintaining friendship and respect. (Mike Bone, you’ve got a lot of work to do with your Peach State posse.)
A thornier path, perhaps. As a political commentator it’s my job description to point out the things, especially in local government, that I think are not being done right. (And sometimes, the good stuff.) To give voice to the outrage I hear from our community on certain issues. To try to untwist the complicated, hidden agendas and facts.
I regularly become unhappy with those officials I see as intentional perpetrators of ruinous policies, especially when it seems done for personal benefit, for greed and power. But I must always remember to condemn the actions but not the person, and sometimes… I forget. If there is a consistent record of it, I feel obligated to call for that person’s removal from office, as I did for the incumbents on City Council and the School Board in our last election (well, our last several elections). That may require questioning not only their actions but their motives, and then it becomes tricky. But I‘m trying.
It’s a stretch but I‘m going to try to always remember that we’re all Americans, all Santa Monicans, all on this ride together, and all good guys who love our country and city.
If, as I believe, the biggest disasters present the biggest opportunities, hoo boy, are we ever lucky. Buckle up.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 35 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org