Monday, January 16, 2017

Do All The Rubes Have Tickets?

Ein Mensch Ist Kein Tier

Denn wie man sich bettet, so liegt man
Es deckt einen da keiner zu
Und wenn einer tritt, dann bin ich es
Und wird einer getreten, dann bist’s du.

As you make your bed, you must lie in it
No one else makes it so, only you
And when someone kicks, it will be me
And when someone gets kicked, it will be you

--  Kurt Weill / Bertold Brecht; "Meine Herren, Meine Mutter Prägte",
(aka, 'Denn Wie Man Sich Bettet') from Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahoganny (1931)

This week, a person with no mainstream political experience will be elevated to Chief Executive of the Federal government -- a businessperson who easily displays his prejudices through a spiteful, narcissistic, adolescent public character which no American now living has ever seen in an elected official at that level.  No one knows what to expect, but the level of apprehension is palpable.

That display continues, and the apotheosis of such a person to that powerful a position leaves many people around the world profoundly uneasy. His inauguration  this coming Friday is expected to be a gaudy show, a celebration of triumph for, as someone once said, "decayed roués with dubious means of subsistence and of dubious origin ... vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, [and] pimps...".

His continuing display of ignorant bile has caused a number of leading Democrats to state publicly they will refuse to attend some or all inaugural events -- in particular, the swearing-in ceremony. There is certainly going to be some level of public protest. If things get ugly, it will be very public.

A friend noted over the weekend that an earlier post appeared to suggest turning inward as a response to recent political events -- that we might ignore raised voices or emotions and instead focus on a balance with a wider universe. That we keep family and friends close, and reduce our connections to only those things which nurture us and are necessary.

We live with one foot in the Cosmos and one foot on our dirty linoleum floor. Any insight I possess about what to do while we're there is subjective. I may have my own answer to a basic question -- What Do We Do Now? -- but it only applies to me. It's ignorant and rude to assume a personal understanding is a universal constant. If there's consensus in a larger group that everyone believes essentially the same thing, that's a different matter.

Some time ago a friend mentioned that the Dalai Lama was allegedly asked by a person who just bumped into him (at a hotel, or some public venue) what he felt the central tenet of Tibetan Buddhism to be. The Lama is supposed to have replied, " ' Just do your best.' "  I'm not a Buddhist, but I take the Lama's observation to suggest that Existence is too complicated for any person to say why they Are, and what the end results of their thoughts and actions will be. Be kind; act with compassion. Do the best you can. I'd like to aspire towards that, so; works for me.

As a comparative comment on purpose and values (and in his case, resistance), Albert Camus believed the fact of humankind was the only justification for right action, of a demand for a better world. 
I continue to believe that this world has no ultimate meaning. But ... it has no justification but man; hence he must be saved if we want to save the idea we have of life. With your scornful smile you will ask me: what do you mean by saving man? And with all my being I shout to you that I mean not mutilating him and yet giving a chance to the justice that man alone can conceive. (Resistance, Rebellion and Death)
That works for me, too.

America is about to collectively leap off a cliff into unknown political, and social, territory.  I don't believe it's a time to turn inward; we need to listen to the voice in the pit of our stomachs which is saying Fuck this; I vote No; you don't do this crap in my name, and we need to act. Collective is good -- in fact, it's essential -- and while I don't believe in passive resistance, I don't favor violence because I know where that goes.

It's a real conundrum, deciding how you live your values. Everything I read on the Intertubes seems to be some variation on "This analysis will explain why we lost" -- more circular argument between Hillaryites and Bernieites and Masters of the DNC over who was right and controls that party, or academic analysis about what the election means in a Marxist or Other context. I'm sure that will make a number of people feel better, or at least useful.

The sense I get is of a vast, collective indrawing and holding of breath, as we wait for something to happen. The problem is, that Thing already has happened.  Now, we have to do. The discussion needs to be around what.

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