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Cliffhanger

Donald Trump is the living embodiment of a cliffhanger.

I swear, everything the man does compels us to astonishment. And once this happens he has us trapped– as the complicit media knows all too well. Almost obediently, we’ll sit there in anxious anticipation, eagerly awaiting his next act as if it were an episode of Breaking Bad. Trump, always the catalytic agent, exists to propel narratives forward. Where that story came from or where it might be headed is entirely immaterial, all that matters is that in that moment you cared, and the more passionately you cared, the better for him.

Since his election my media streams have been rivers of fire. All day long people have been screaming at one another and making the boldest declarations. It reminds me of the Olympics, actually. Some sport I will have never heard of might pop up, and after a brief, mechanical explanation of what it is and a few minutes of watching, I’ll feel like an expert.

And so it goes with politics. We may not speak the language, we may not have visited the country, we may not have any friends who are native to the place, but in very short order, we still have really, really strong opinions about what should happen to it.

Whenever I find myself assuming this role and asserting some far too sure political view, I remind myself that I have trouble keeping my own house in order. What’s my economic plan for the USA? Hell, what’s my economic plan for my family!

The world is infinitely complex, and our ability to understand it is miniscule. Our chances of being wrong about something are far greater than our chances of being right, and it’s important we keep this in mind, particularly when judging those we disagree with. I mean, if you’re awake enough to understand that not all Muslims are terrorists, then you should be awake enough to understand that not all of your political opponents are racist morons.

One’s politics are a very poorly articulated version of the sort of person one might be in the world. Typically it says more about how we’d like to be seen, than how we actually conduct ourselves. And it is just so hard to live a pure life in this society, we must always keep in mind that it is upon monstrous deeds that most of us have happily, blindly, built our lives.

The furious, pre-apocalyptic tensions defining the USA right now are typically lumped into two categories. There are the coastal city-states that house the progressives and elites, and then there is the rest of America, a kind of seething, primitive horde—think Orcs.

I try to look at it more like the future pitted agains the past.

Every year our world changes more than it has in all the generations stacked before it. A lot of people are disoriented and terrified by the velocity at which their lives are now moving, while others are grateful that time has finally caught up with them. And when one traditional way of life is subsumed by another, there is usually a violent reaction, and I think that’s what we’re seeing– the past trying to claw the future back in place, and a resentful and protective future stomping back.

So be kind if you can, for everybody is feeling like they’re hanging off the edge of a cliff.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jon Miller #

    We are, all of us, terrified. There are those who believed that one man could save them from the future, suddenly reeling from the reality that he is no more than a showman and fraud and those who believe that, under this man’s control, there IS no future, only the looming shadow of a short-lived dystopia that will end in nuclear holocaust. I want to believe that neither of these scenarios will occur and doom our country. We have survived Civil War, Great Depressions and two World Wars. We have had any number of buffoonish presidents who bumbled through four years of chaos and scandal… we will survive Donald J. Trump. We are Americans. We have faith in our democracy and in the strength of our Republic. Trump will be outed as a tool of Putin and his ‘legacy’ will be left in tattered rags, clinging to barbed wire fences while being dispersed by the wind of history. Thank you for this post, Michael Murray. You understand America more than do most Americans.

    March 24, 2017
  2. Jon Miller #

    I made a mess of the above comment. My apologies, sir.

    March 24, 2017

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