When i stop and think about it, i vacillate between being bored and fascinated with a lot of the news stories of our time.
It makes me wonder just how people get so wrapped up in it, so consumed with passion for an issue that all perspective is lost and they become willing to say or even do anything to win a point for their side.
This past Thanksgiving weekend, the family offsite was held near State College, Pennsylvania. A cute little college town with a big football habit. A football habit that is so ingrained, so passionate, that it plainly overrides other natural tendencies, such as condemning those who aid and abet child molesters. How is that relevant to what i’m driving at here? Because a population so obsessively dedicated to one cause for decades can get to this dangerous line of thinking. Sure, abusing children is bad, but we’ve gotta think about how this looks for Blue.
Sure, twenty children shot in cold blood is bad, but it can’t be the guns’ fault, ’cause that’d be so bad for Red.
Blowing random people up with drones makes me squeamish, but if big Blue says it’s okay then we’ve got to live with it.
But the excuse-making, despicable as it is, is just the final product; how did we even get here? i mean, how many of us go through our days and (possibility of getting shot up notwithstanding) worry about whether or not you’ll still be able to buy big clips of ammunition? Is abortion really a daily concern that’s more important than others? Does our policy towards Israel really sit at front of mind when you wake up in the morning? Don’t get me wrong, these are important issues, and we’d be poorer for it if there wasn’t passionate support or opposition in these matters.
But these days i wonder, weary as i am of so many of these issues, are we as a society angry about them over the substance, or angry in the name of the overall narrative of our side winning or losing? Like being up in arms about a pipeline in the middle of nowhere. Or a poor vegetative woman in a hospital bed? Would we be pretending to be terrified of and protesting the welcoming of soaked, bedraggled women and children from the middle east if Red didn’t make boring, page three news about poor foreign people into page one news about scary, known Muslims?
Maybe thinking about these issues as zero-sum wins and losses for your side is what’s helped lead us to this position where intransigence is the order of the day. A formerly tenuous peace where reasonable-yet-opposed people could understand abortions might be the only thing in some truly awful situations has become a situation where unwanted ultrasounds and denial in all circumstances are trotted out in an all-out war effort against. Or the reason that ideologically, taxes must only ever go down even as things that we all agree are important languish unfunded. Compromise is like a tie, and you know who likes ties? Soccer fans, and liking soccer is like being French. Oh wait, we like the French now.
And what’s this say about the rise of Trump? Is he the red team’s Ray Rice or Barry Bonds? Intolerable, except to the extent that he plays for your team and is winning. His ideas are objectively horrible and impressively impractical and logically inconsistent, but if you want red to win, maybe they’ve got to become your ideas, too.
It’s one thing for a politician to say anything to win; at least half of us are worse than that–we’re willing to listen to anything to win.
This doesn’t lead anywhere good.