Anxiety

Building Bridges to Nowhere?

(Off-Guardian)—There was a wild wind and a wicked sky and a cold cold day. North of here the power went out for a long long time and people grumbled but were secretly grateful for an excuse to do nothing. And then it was back to warm weather expecting rain. But it was a long enough cold to freeze the puddles on the ground and catch ice in unexpected places. The crows slid in a playful flood of black feathers on the snow-ice by the ravine in their quest for scraps thrown there and the raccoons stayed in their dens. It was an unexpected day as far as unexpected can be in these days of predictive unexpectedness.

Some of us of course checked the weather networks to see what was coming but fewer do that these days. Weather reports now are too much full of conspicuous adjectives to startle you into a green panic over the state of the world and we grow tired of the drama. In the old days we’d say it was a funny day and then carry on doing whatever it was we did without a bit of consternation.

We will adapt. We always have. At the end of the day, what are you going to do about it anyway? But a cold day without power is time for tea and reading and pensiveness. A comfort kind of day. Those are the best. Particularly if the book is good.

Unfortunately I was trying to read C.J. Hopkin’s Rise of the New Normal Reich. It did not go well. It hasn’t gone well every time. The book apparently is excellent but it just terrifies me and I can’t read it beyond a few paragraphs at a time. I feel obligated to read this book because I know the price being paid by the author and that tells us more than probably the book could ever tell us.

Just like the covid pandemic, it is the reaction that terrifies. For Hopkins it is the summonings by the powers-that-be, the judicial legal terrorism on a person with an opinion. The return of book burnings… One step away we are. One little step. Although some would say we’re already there.

And knowing all this it feels like a kind of betrayal to be having such a difficult time reading this. It is Hopkin’s usual brilliance. I feel like I have to personally apologize to him for being so cowardly about reading it. What if what they say this book is about is true? And do I want to know? I’ve reached that stage. The Do I Want To Know stage of it all. Somewhat like checking on the weather. We just don’t want to know. For now. At least for now. Just let it all happen and carry on.

But that won’t do of course. Not for fools like us. Whether we were born fools or became fools it doesn’t much matter anymore. If we are the fools or the prophets, we can’t even know. With our horses all saddled up and frantically holding on to the reins we tilt at windmills perhaps or maybe we are not tilting at all. Maybe we are making a difference. We don’t much know.

For now the best that we can do is specialize in our horror. And if reading Hopkin’s is a problem for me, finding my specialty in the horror is even worse. I zip-line through headlines and stories and news events like a firefly on amphetamines, ablaze unpredictably with righteous rage and deadening sadness and routinely flabberghasted but still flying. Corruption? War? Freedom of speech? AI? Inflation? Which one indeed.

I’ve quite given up trying to find the positive in any of this—Climate change e.g. could make Canada the world’s bread basket or won’t it be nice to see India as the world’s new superpower after all they’ve been through. Or something equally trite and positive, those two words being synonymous these days. In many ways you can only be one or the other—frantically flying or brightly ridiculous. The two narratives. Only the two. There are no others. So they say. In between you are a target or you are lost. Make your stand. Pick your side. Sitting on the fence only gives you a sore bum. Bastards judging. Always pushing. Are you with us or against us? Hell if I know. I don’t want to know. I’ve explained that already.

But I can say there is one thing that bothers me and that I want to know the answer to. I am uncertain on what to think.

It is the vindictive glee. I do not like vindictive glee. (I do not like green eggs and ham either but that is neither here nor there except to remind me of book burnings and how sad I feel about the attack on Dr. Seuss.) I want to understand whether it is fair to condemn such ugliness? This “see—I gotcha!” thing out there now with so many of the so-called conspiracy theories proving true and parliamentarians leaping nastily on each other and pundits red smug with spiteful delight. The finally vindicated being vindictive.

My instinct is to condemn it because how can it be that anyone can take pleasure in another’s pain or shame even if they’ve done such damage to us all? But mostly there is the fear that lingers with that forgiving approach: the fear that those at least motivated to change the world with vengeance on their perceived enemies will give up. Even if they are ugly in their attack, at least they are doing something which motivated if only by their anger might change the direction of all of this nonsense. Because it is nasty nonsense now and directions must change. We are flailing in hell. Only the brave-hearted and persistent and single-minded will find their way through it all.

So if it is vindictiveness that makes you fight for peace, then who is anyone to condemn? Doesn’t the ends justify the means in this case?

But isn’t that what the bad guys are doing? My way or the highway. Come hell or high water the Agenda must go on. Despite the legal suits. Despite the farmers and the truckers protests. Despite elections. Despite the suffering and pain of the mooing herds. Despite the truth leaking out like sour whiskey from a broken bottle. We then become them. And was that the only way? I do not know.

For if all these peaceful means do not sway the Agenda, then what is next?

And for some it does not matter who is winning, as long as there is the divisiveness. It is that which we had facing us mooing herds to overcome. It was not the enemy so much. Is it even possible to find a bridge to each other anymore? In this world? I do not know. I only know that it is our only hope. For peace at least. Peace amidst the ruins is better than war in utopia. Somebody else’s idea of utopia anyway because one person’s utopia is another person’s ruins. We should already know that by now.

But this is as dark a topic as can be on which many things can be said and outside the warmth creeps on tender toes in the snow and promises us Spring. On that we can take hope.

Peace. Here. Now.

…and of course the earworm: