You know, over at Zaius Nation there is a post about outrage overload. We all seem to be struck with it.
On the one hand, we wait for things to get worse before we take to the streets with our pitchforks, and on the other, we say 'if we didn't rise up before, why should we start now?'
Perhaps I am only speaking for myself. And it is not an accusation of apathy. Mostly it is a question of effectiveness.
Where is the tipping point?
Some days I am so angry I don't know how to channel it. And I go outside and I take my kids to the pool or to preschool or usher the world around in typically suburban mom ways. It all makes sense to me, it follows an order - something pre-ordained in the American spirit of well-being.
Who the fuck am I to kvetch when I have it so good? Is my life better than it was seven years ago? Hellz yes. My life is.
But then I remember that my life is much better only because in the last seven years I married a wonderful man and started a family. These were extra-governmental incidents. What if one of us, any of us but particularly my husband, got sick? Wouldn't that end it all for us? And how happy can we be knowing that our perch here in the middle of the American Idyll is but a pebble balanced on a rock and we can be knocked from our foundation by the slightest of breezes?
I walk around my neighborhood thinking these exact thoughts. I can ruin a damn fine blue sky sunny day by wondering by what right have I to take it for granted. All of it. And I what I don't know - and can't know, thanks to the slow, steady erosion of our rights - is how much of our America is gone already. I also think a lot about what little German hausfraus of the early 1930's thought to themselves, too. What comforts did they use to assuage their unease? How different are we women, them from me? How much am I willing to overlook to assure myself that all is well for my family, hence all is well for the world?
I mean, I put my personal well-being chit on a place that is marked with my own economic stability. But why should that matter? Though he's not succeeding, in anyone's esteem but his own and those few oil and mercenary exec's who are making out well, what if George W. Bush were able to run a decent economy? What if we were all getting richer instead of sliding backwards as we really are? What outrage could we summon then? I believe the history books will place a date sometime previous to today as the point at which America ceased to be a superpower. Certainly there are liberals who have always felt an unease with that mantle. I never have. One can use power wisely, and for good. Though far far too much on the side of the corporatists, I do believe that Bill Clinton understood and used American power with beneficent aims. So if we were still a superpower today, would that make the senseless slaughter of Iraqis okay? Could we summon the outrage then? But it's true we are no longer a super power, and I feel that very soon our economy will slide into an abyss. Will that bring back the dead Iraqis? What I mean is - if we remained an economic and political power house, would that give us the right to destroy millions of human beings?
Ask the Cambodians, I guess.
I am beginning to feel a shame that I never would have believed possible. Whenever republicans are in control of the country, their minions cry out the mantra: "America, love it or leave it". This was always a taunt. But why would I ever leave? Though now I think about what it will take me to go. Why did my ancestors leave Germany and come here? Why does anyone leave anything they love to go somewhere else. What, again, is the tipping point?
My ancestors left Germany/Prussia in the years just after the American Civil War. They were liberal. It is in my genes. But it has been said that the mass exodus of liberal Germans in the late 19th century made possible the heinous crimes of the archly conservative Germany of the 20th century. What if liberals all left America today?
I am an alarmist. My husband doesn't see things the way I do. He is a 'trees' person, and I am a 'forest'. He believes the forest-fire burning in the east will be put out long before it reaches us. I like to believe we should live outside the threat of fires.
The book "The Tipping Point" has as its jacket illustration an unlit match. So right for us. Is our own forest going to catch fire and burn so badly we'll evacuate? Is the responsible thing for us to leave early?
I don't know.
I don't know.