Too Old for Pablum...
It's been said that there are two types of people in this world: those who
separate everything into two categories, and those who don’t.
It's become rather obvious to me lately that the people to whom we've
entrusted the defense of our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness believe
that all their constituents are of the first type.
In my weaker moments, I sometimes wish that I could, in fact, be that first
type of person. Life would be so much easier for me if I honestly believed
that a person who didn’t support a war was not being patriotic. Or that if he
resisted even a minor erosion of his Bill of Rights for the sake of "national
security", he was placing his country at unacceptable risk. Or that if he drew
welfare benefits for too long, he was shiftless and lazy and undeserving of
further help. Or that if he marched against the policies of the current reign,
he was a dangerous anarchist that needed to be muzzled and incarcerated.
These kind of bipolar thoughts are generated in the dark reptilian part of
the brain – the kind of "fight or flight" responses that, I'll admit, were
certainly valid and helpful a thousand thousand generations ago. But I have
the distinct sense that we've evolved somewhat since then.
In point of fact, I think there is no individual in the entire
country that falls into that first category of people. Life and culture are
way too complicated to believe that. I can hug a tree as tightly as any Sierra
Clubber you want to name – but I may politely excuse myself when he begins to
rant and rave against nuke power. He will fight to the death saving a snail
darter in some murky stream in Tennessee – but he may also strongly support
the death penalty in this country. We may agree on gun control laws, but be
light-years apart on the abortion rights issue. You simply cannot paint us
with two colors, or treat us as if we only had two buttons to push.
I have a notion that we all fall across a continuum, not into two simple
bins as manipulating leaders would have us believe. And it is not even that
simple, for there is not one continuum, but rather countless scales of
opinions & beliefs stretching at all angles far into the vanishing point – a
truly multi-dimensional, complex web formed from our uniquely individual
experiences, regrets, repentances, wonderings and hopeful strivings. Having
this kind of complex belief system defines us as human beings. It may indeed
be the only thing that distinguishes us as humans. And we should
certainly have learned by now, in the fullness of our lives, not to take
things at face value – or to mindlessly accept the simplistic choices given by
those who would play us for fools, or worse.
Is this not the case?