For the last two years, I have been in a position of thinking that things couldn’t get worse than they are now. I am not now referring to the physical war in Iraq, or our sluggish economy where the workers are the ones who are suffering at the hands of the powerful. I am thinking more in terms of our society and how we address issues. Hypocrisy is rampant, opinions matter much more than facts, “attack the messenger” is the only response many people know, and the pursuit of power is the only game that matters. There no longer is anything resembling “for the common good”.
I cannot state which particular events are causing me so much concern. Rather, it is just the buildup of all of these various and differing events. All these different issues like the graft and deceit of companies like Enron and Global Crossings, the rationalizations for going to war in Iraq, the attack on science because it doesn’t support some people’s beliefs, the whole messy, interconnected Duke Cunningham/Wade Mitchell/Tom Delay/K Street Lobbying affair, the outing of Valerie Plame to discredit her husband Joe Wilson thing, Karl Rove’s game plan of eviscerating the opposition while keeping the country’s attention off of the dirty dealings going on, legal arguments in support of torture, the president breaking the law whenever he feels like it just because he is the president… The list is almost endless.
I get extremely depressed when I think about the direction our country is going. It’s hard to write about a single subject without going off on a tangent on a different subject. It’s overwhelming. And I find it impossible to write about a trivial subject and be funny and snarky about it, like I had really wanted this blog to be. I used to be very good at the trivial. I delighted in it. But now, it is very hard to pretend all these things aren’t going on.
One thing that bothers me in the extreme is what all this means for the future. All of the things I mentioned above are setting more and more precedents that unscrupulous people can use to their advantage in the future. It is the normalization of things that would be unheard of just 10 years ago. It is the nature of things in general to never remain static. Things only look static to us because our attention span is not long enough to actually see the changes going on underneath our collective noses. And because things never remain static, I see our society going in one of two directions. One, sanity can prevail and we can return to a more sane, logic drive approach to solving the immense problems our society currently faces. Or, the second option is that things can continue to spiral lower and lower and get further out of control. Yes, I see some aspects of society trying to put the brakes on the descent into a very disturbing future, but I am not sure it is enough. Enough segments of our population are either out of control or oblivious to what is going on that I don’t see a reversal happening any time soon.
Dictatorships and fascism don’t happen overnight. They need to grow and get strong first. Only a small percentage of the population of a society needs to support those changes at first. When everyone becomes aware of what is really going on, it is too late to stop it. That is what I fear going on with this country right now. Are we to be the next Roman Empire under Caligula? Or perhaps the next Italy under Mussolini?
Being able to see something developing through the lens of history is easy. It is extremely difficult to see something that is going on now and conclude where it might end up in the future. I think that is where we, as a society, are now.