Not unlike 150 years ago, there is a shared feeling across political allegiances that we are deep into a renewed civil war over rights and values, over the very definition of what it means to be American—especially in an extended time of pressures from outside forces like inflation, war and climate change. We’ve seen judges rip away abortion rights with invitations for more, a yet-looser attitude towards carrying guns, and halt the government from being able to address emissions that threaten to hasten climate change.
From that perspective, it is no wonder that politics, the game-like outer expression of all this introspection, feel more out of control than ever. States with Republican legislative majorities are limiting voting and allowing for the overturning of election counts; voters, meanwhile, are choosing more extreme candidates on all sides. Donald Trump, who may be facing criminal charges from the January 6 insurrection, reportedly is ready to announce he is running again, along with a Joe Biden who is resisting calls about stepping aside over age…
The fundamental question here: Have our values changed or are we seeing them as if they have as the result of temporary political realignments and now-constant bombardment of made-up issues and invented disinformation campaigns. Have we truly decided that the American Dream is about protecting a predominately white, Christian male culture becoming another of many minorities by demographics, but exaggerated by our most extreme politicians or by Fox News or some competing cable network?
On one hand, we can enjoy the ignorance of most members of our society, our nation…as to what civil war really means. Ignorance that extends to the processes already in motion to bring the birth of the death of a nation into reality. That is as it always is.
That mask of ordinary life is as much a protective shield for those who would split our lives asunder…as serve government to cram us into the steel helmet of unity. That, too, is as it always is.