I said the other day that I was not posting political commentary at the moment. I have felt the need to articulate why, even to myself, until today I ran across this item by Erin Gloria Ryan over at Jezebel: “Rape Fatigue and You: When There’s No Anger Left. ” (Warning: strong language.) Why restate what she had most movingly written? She hit the nail on the head.
Or, more accurately, she hit one of the nails on the head. The war on women’s reproductive rights (so much more an accurate phrase than “war on women”) is only the most visible and most abhorrent piece of the problem. My own position on issues of rape and contraception I have written about here before. There is so much more to be concerned about.
There are arguments about the ACA, there is whether the stimulus worked, there is the outrageous influence that the most wealthy among us exercise (did you know that the Walton Family alone owns more of the country’s wealth than the bottom 40% of households combined?). Misrepresentations, half-truths and flat out lies — not to mention simple nastiness — have permeated the public discourse like so much pollution through the civic water table.
There is too much to care about, too much to get outraged over. I have hit this before, during the Bush Administration, but I recovered. Now, I fear, I may simply be too far gone.
I open links that friends on Facebook post, and then add them to my Safari reading list unread. One friend takes particular umbrage to people like me: he has announced he will keep posting political things and that anyone who doesn’t read and share them should just unfriend him now. He would be ashamed to be the friend of anyone “too apathetic” to continue to fight all the time against what is going on in this country. (It’s a pity, really: he’s one of the few friends who use Facebook as I imagine it was intended for: to post short updates about what’s going on in his life.)
It’s not apathy, truly it’s not. It’s a distressing mix of exhaustion and fear. I need to feel secure, and that the future holds good things in it, and right now neither of those are true. In all probability this marks me as immature– adults deal with things like insecurity better than this.
But then again, adults used to be able to engage in civil public discourse, too. Honesty and integrity mattered. There was a feeling that you could disagree with someone, but at the end of the day, still respect each other. That is rapidly eroding, as is the sense that while people could be wrong, they could still be so with with honor, so to speak.
I have birthers and climate-change deniers in my family. I love them, but no longer respect them — nor do they respect me either, I suspect. But in the end we have to live with each other.
It’s getting harder all the time to do that.