Sunday, November 22, 2015

When Enough is Enough

It started innocently enough:

She: I actually have Facebook friends who are planning to leave the country now. 

He: I'm not sure I agree with that.

She: Why?

He: Why is now different than all the reasons before? When we learned of the genocide of the native population, why wasn't that enough? The turning away of Jews in '39, half of whom died in the ovens. Why wasn't that enough? Why is now enough? 

I know when enough is. It has nothing to do with events that make us ashamed of being American, make us run toward the light upon the hill and pray we can find sufficient instances of self-less sacrifice to make up for our atrocities. I know when enough is enough.

He waited expectantly for me to continue.

When you KNOW that the people whom you elect care nothing basically about what you think or want or need. When they are beholden in every respect to the corporate interests that pay their way through donations and lucrative post-Congressional lobbying jobs paying hundreds of thousands if not millions in salary. 

When the vote means nothing since every study being done shows that the average folk have almost no influence on decisions in Washington about ANYTHING, while lobbyists get a good return on their investment to campaigns. 

In other words, when we know certainly that all our elected officials are bought and sold or so close to it that they do nothing simply because it's "the right thing to do," without first asking, "are the oligarchs okay with it?"

He nodded slowly. 

There is another, I murmured. 

What's that? he asked.

When you no longer believe that the Judiciary is independent. When the first thing you want to know about any decision is who appointed the majority and the minority position on this case before all else. Because you believe that that fact alone will inform you as to what and why that decision was made. 

When a decision is judged by the judicial philosophy of the majority as a "good" decision, or as a "bad" decision. The good one is from your side, but is cloaked with the aura of "rightness" based on the logic of stare decisis and morality. The bad one is from their side, and it's "wrongness" is attributed to pure partisan bullshit. 

When you have reached that point, then I think you can confidently say, that you no longer have any connection to the moral philosophy of the nation in which you live. 

Sadly, many of us have come to that point. 

If I were younger, I'd probably think seriously about leaving. 

Which raises another new specter.

It's a difficult one. 

You have been warned.

So when you reach that point, the point of believing that your vote is meaningless (except in minor degrees), and you believe that the ultimate judges are corrupted, well it seems to me your choices become quite limited. 

You can of course, chuck it all. Simply divorce yourself completely from the political arena, return to your knitting and volunteering at the senior center (which is really just a holiday of gossip and keeping "busy"). Ignore politics. 

It's too emotional, too stressful. I have no voice. I shall wrap myself in my baking and gardening, and blah blah, oh grandchildren, and let the world go to hell, grabbing as many instances of enjoyment in family and friends, and leave it to "them" to argue about this stuff.

That's one way. 

Or, you will take up your cross and go boldly into the arena full tilt, devoting as much of your free time as possible to making some difference somewhere, content that you are fighting the good fight, and if others do as well, somehow we will right this ship listing so far to starboard that she is in imminent danger of capsizing. 

Or you can leave, moving to a new land with new customs, who is no super power nor with any allusions of becoming one where people are "normal". I have no doubt that one will discover that this too has its own can of sour milk lurking beneath the facade of normality. 

That's a hell of a choice I believe. Retreat into one's cocoon of isolation, thumbing your nose at the world and retaining only that which soothes the senses or at doesn't ruffle the feathers, or admitting that it is OUR job, ours individually as much as collectively to DO SOMETHING to make a change for the better. 

Is one moral and the other not? Is escape to a "new land" immoral? Is it a cop out? Is it the only sane way to preserve sanity in a world gone mad? 

Unlike the fundamentalist who manages always to interpret his/her problems away so that God ALWAYS smiles benignly upon their choices, the rest of us has to wrestle with either of two things: what would God have us do, or what would being a human being require of us. Either one is a fair representation of doing the "right thing" the "moral thing". 

It is so very easy to see why some opt for leaving the country. I refuse to judge anyone who does. I have no outstanding defense that somehow my meagre words amount to sufficient "doing of the right thing." I know those who are working their asses off in attempts to better the lives of others. I know my efforts pale in comparison. 

Can we assuage our guilt of laziness and selfishness by throwing our money at these problems? Is that equal to the laborers who are the on the front lines? I have no clue about that either. It raises another interesting question for the believer certainly, though it may as well for the atheist moralist. 

As usual, I have no answers, but I think the questions bear examination. 

Where do you fall? 

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