I have mixed feelings this Fourth.
You who read me here, you know I am a practical progressive, believe in compassion and justice, and utterly deplore the current administration’s delusional justifications for its program of malicious mischief. With the anti-Americanism rampant throughout Trump’s cabinet and appointees, it is embarrassing to be an American, these days.
It is shameful that more rational and humane voices are drowned out in the mob’s chorus of nationalistic fervor. These years will be named in history as the era of White Supremacy empowered by massive ignorance and greed. It is the era of toxic capitalism, as evil a thing as the toxic socialism: they both create chaos in their extremes, in which there is nothing but growing desperation for the majority of American citizens; and desperation is a root cause of rising suicide statistics, of escapist entertainments and distractions, of losing our grip on civilization.
But that’s not the whole story.
We are in a time of wakening, of growing awareness of the beliefs that have bound us to tribal thinking, and every day thinking, caring, and the acceptance of responisbility move us towards a higher level of civilization than technology has ever achieved on its own.
I read a quote yesterday, an assertion that America’s true greatness lies in our ability to see and correct our faults. Adding that, however far from them we are at a given moment, this nation strives towards the ideals stated in the Pledge of Allegiance, the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, I agree.
I believe that this mad era will pop like a noxious swamp bubble, that we will claw back our humanity and wisdom; for another generation or two, the best of what we are will override the worst, until our children’s children’s children have forgotten what we are remembering now: that it is our responsibility as adults and as citizens to keep an eye on the flow of power and to keep it from bursting its boundaries and flooding catastrophically again. That will no doubt happen again, because there is nothing like success and well-being to fuel complacence, and the taking-for-granted of blessing earlier generations bled for.
After all, we have been here, exactly here, before. If you doubt it, do some research on The Gilded Age. There are some excellent documentaries on Amazon Prime.
So today, the 4th of July, 2019, I will be figuratively and literally be turning my back on Trump and his imitation of power, his imitation of the authoritarians he looks to as role models. I keep faith with those who think and careand take on the responsibility to rise above the swamp sucking at our feet. Every day, more of us awaken to the atrocities this administration perpetrates, and there are more of us than of them: all we have to do is vote, and vote smart.
That’s what this day will be about for me, today, and tonight, every fireburst in the sky will be light blasting away the darkness.
Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
(excerpt from WH Auden’s SEPT 1, 1939)