Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blame Is Better to Give than Receive

One of my favorite expressions is "He who abandons a sinking ship that doesn't sink, needs to be a very good swimmer." Or at least look presentable in his Speed-O's and bathing cap. This is the time of year to be getting some laps in at the old swimming pool unless you can walk on water.

I've written about the six phases of a project: Enthusiasm, Disillusionment, Panic, Search for the Guilty, Punishment of the Innocent and Award/Honors for the Non-Participants. We use this model of dynamic interaction in our everyday interpersonal relationships (how quickly do couples go from 'we're thrilled we're having a baby' to 's/he forced me into this child' all the way to how the child, once born, is treated within the family).

Whatever we do for a living and wherever we do it, the same pattern holds true. We all cheered Digby when he volunteered to lead the team that would turn peanut oil into jet fuel, but once it was demonstrated that it absolutely, positively couldn't be done, all we could do was shake our heads and roll our eyes when Digby's name was mentioned ('I coulda told ya...').

Look to our nation's capital if you want to see a collection of people dedicated to the proposition that government of the people, by the people and for the people should go chase itself, Lincoln be damned. But, if you watch only one minute of C-Span it'll prove my point, all of them are so relentlessly polite and respectful to one another while being disagreeable in the most agreeable way imaginable. Thank goodness for The Loyal Opposition and My Distinguished Opponent. Whom else would we, currently in charge, blame for all manners of awfulness and illness if we didn't have The Other Guys and Gals?

During the last Presidential election, we couldn't give the party residing in the White House the heave-ho fast enough--and for good measure, we made sure the same party kept both houses of our legislative branch. By last year many decided that arrangement wasn't our cup of tea and went in a completely different direction. Sure, we picked a lot of 'Washington is the root of all evil' cats and kittens to replace the inside the Beltway boys and girls we had. And yeah, then we sent all those outsiders to Washington where they...umm...became...well, they became....oh dear. Next position, please.

All, or nearly all, of the 'issues' and 'hot buttons' that have driven our national discourse over the last three (and more) years are still with us like Banquo's Ghost. They've actually gained a few pounds and some fellow-travellers. We have more wars, less money, more anger and fewer reasons to be hopeful than at any point in my almost fifty-nine years here on The Big Blue Marble (I'm not suggesting cause and effect and would ask you refrain as well).

I'm sad not so much that we seem to have lost our way (an unoriginal thought we've often had in our two hundred and thirty-five year history as a nation), but that we're not inclined to want to find our way back to who we are. We decided, it seems sometimes to me, to settle instead of to continue to strive to succeed. It's as if we got to the Mississippi and said to one another, 'y'know, California and The West are fine ideas, but who really needs 'em?'

We don't even hear the cognitive dissonance as the gap between what we say and what we do grows wider. Vox Populi has been replaced with STFU and e pluribus unum is now rendered as nolo contendere and is usually part of a plea bargain for time served coupled with a weepy-eyed televised apology where we take 'full responsibility' whatever that means.

If our children ever figure out what we allowed to have happen to their dreams, they'll murder us in our beds and they'll be right but everything will still be wrong. You can break things only so often and only so badly before they cannot be made whole again. We may be nearing that moment, Armageddon, End Times, Oops!, whatever it's to be called. We will not have to worry about what the day after that happens is called because we will not be here to experience it. But don't worry, we'll blame somebody (just not ourselves) because
that's how we're wired.
-bill kenny

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