Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Forest and the Trees

I've been aware of history and politics long enough to know that this a big deal: the re-election of Barack Obama to a second presidential term despite an almost exactly split body politic. The fact that this election has proceeded through the intricate ways and obstacles of civil society rather than the main alternative -- civil war -- is heartening in the longterm.                                                                                                                                                            

With history and politics and in life itself, it's best to see both the forest and the trees -- the big picture and the details embedded within that big picture.

North America has endured many wars over the centuries. In Mexico, the Revolution was underway a hundred years ago. In the USA and especially in its breakaway states, the American Civil War raged 150 years ago. 200 years ago, the US and Canada were battling it out in the War of 1812. Overseas in Syria now, in 2012, violent, destructive civil war rages at this very moment, and will until it burns itself or most of Syria out.

These alternatives, between civil society competing for power and policy direction in relatively peaceful political ways or battling it out with heavy weapons in a vast, merciless and patricidal bloodletting, are the choices.

Rejoice in democracy at work. Rejoice in civil society. Look for common ground.

Surely most will agree that infrastructure must be shored up, that it's a good thing to do that.

Surely most will agree that there must be a sustainable ecosystem in order for us to survive.

Whatever our feelings are, surely more of us can seek out and find more common ground.

Now, under the shade of sturdy trees in the great forest, let's get to it!

Today's Rune: Signals.   


the walking man said...

Ain't buying it Erik. I do not have any faith that the GOP will tuck tail and begin to actually aid in governing the country and here the newspaper comments are still as caustic. One good thing though now you can smoke some rope on private property in Detroit. Ounce or less and no bounce, we might actually get medicated mellow.

Rebirth is going to happen as we go bankrupt (the government nor Ohio's car companies)

WAS said...

I read and love everything you post, Erik, but on this one I have to respectfully disagree (and thank you in advance for letting me work out my own way to render unto Caesar etc. – I promise not to be too conspiratorial). Here goes (clearing throat):

The idea of a civil society has spontaneously emerged in so many discussions, hopes and prayers in the past few days, but I think we have a lot of work to do to understand what that means. The conflict in Syria, for example, I don’t view it as a civil war. There aren't tribes or factions or sections fighting each other, but an entire populace trying in the face of unbelievable terror to depose a dictator who will kill anything and anyone who dares resist his holding onto Syria as a private fiefdom. The West’s unwillingness to look at it this way is indicative of our unwillingness to examine the artificiality of our own divisions, by which I mean the faux-tribalism of red and blue, a time-tested divide and conquer strategy that allows the social discontent that has emerged from plutocratic militarist fascism to be diverted so the government’s vast stocks of weaponry can continue to be used to turn the earth's vital resources into money instead of eliminating opposition. For all the so-called polarity between parties, races, genders and ages in this country, and all the unresolvable issues that we face as a country, both parties agree about just about everything of substance:

- The economic urgency of fracking, deep water drilling, and lack of private accountability for environmental disaster over concerns about the ecosystem and climate change,
- The vital necessity of taking the 53% of taxpayer monies that actually go to the U.S. military off the deficit-reduction table,
- The overriding importance of lending full federal government support to Monsanto’s efforts to evade its criminal liability (a la the tobacco companies) for introducing life-shortening toxins into the world grain supply,
- The national interest in the President having the right to kill Americans without trial or evidence,
- The financial imperative that the economy, debt and currency be sacrificed in order to massively subsidize spectacularly failed banks (instead of say, printing our own currency).

I’m not trying to shoot fish in a barrel here, but I think one should be realistic about what’s about to happen in Washington in the face of the “fiscal cliff” both parties agreed to: social security and medicare gutted as part of a “grand bargain” to reduce the deficit, in return for only “small” additional tax cuts for the wealthy. I don’t think this is the kind of necessary compromise that most Americans have in mind, but it is one they will, if past is prologue, probably swallow, because the tribe is the only perceived protection from their own powerlessness.

I've come to learn that individual enlightenment is allowed, but socialization seems to not only be problematic, but at the deepest levels a threat, like we are trespassing upon property rights. I don’t know what to do about the dissonance between my urge for humanity to wake up and my realization that everyone is on their own path of learning – except write things like this to clear my own head, as if there are far more important things.

Charles Gramlich said...

I don't really understand how we can be divided on the issues so evenly. It must be a statistical anomaly produced by the two party system.