Thursday, September 6, 2007

Would you like to talk about outrage?

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.


Distributorcap said...

jess, great great post -- so many thoughts, so many that i also think. when do we get really outraged, when do we get really angry -- and yes, this is our country too -----

yes i am better off now than i was 7 years ago --- but SO many people are not, and so many families have LOST something invaluable -- sons, daughters etc to the idiocy, mistakes and evilness of someone who has decided to dictate what he thinks is right

oh i can ramble but wont

thanks for this post

Anonymous said...

Jess - This is a great piece of writing and the ideas and feelings you express here are so incredibly relevant.

We are one of those families who are not doing better 7 years later for a variety of reasons, but I can tell you that I'm making less in real dollars, as is The Honey. His job is more stable, but he's earning less and that shrunken salary isn't going as far either.

I particularly like your mention of the liberals leaving Germany and the ramifications of that. It's something I'd not been aware of. So I guess the question remains at some point (the tipping point?) country or family. Will that be a necessary choice down the road?

Like you , I don't know.

Splotchy said...

The fact that you are engaged in encouraging.

The fact that so many others are engaged is encouraging.

The fact so many people protested the war is encouraging.

It's always a struggle. Things worthwhile have rarely been given freely -- they have been fought for.

Don't give up.

pygalgia said...

Jess, I so agree and understand.
I go to anti-war protests. I call my (useless republican) congress critters. I volunteer for candidates that I believe will be an improvement. And I blog, in hopes of spreading information.
But I do feel like I should be doing more. That, somehow, I should be doing something that would have a greater impact. I'm open to other ideas.
And, because I live in a city, I don't own a pitchfork.

Dr. Zaius said...

I'm with you! Angry villagers with pitchforks and torches is one of my favorite images!

"What if liberals all left America today?" Who would take us? There is no equivalent of America to go to. Canadians don't want us, neither do the Europeans.

The unlit match is a perfect metaphor. Not knowing or having a lack of control over the future is always the most troubling of nightmares to have.

Jess Wundrun said...

to all thanks for your support. It's nice to have a blog to go to when you have your Howard Beale moments!

Anonymous said...

Jess, came over from DCup's place. I trust her judgment, and on reading your post was immediately struck by both the clarity of your thoughts and the impression that we're both left with similar questions about how to fix this schism in American perceptions of The Way Forward.

I've recently been thinking (and blogging) about the commonalities we all share, and how decent people of whatever party are disgusted by our current involvement in Iraq and by corruption and hypocrisy in government.

If we all, of whatever party, got our voices together, this war would end a lot sooner.