Friday, November 11, 2016

I Digress...

"In any society where the mores are strong, laws are not needed.  In any society where the mores are not strong, laws are not enough."
~ unknown

I have searched for the origin of this quote, one I have referenced for the last couple decades.  The closest I have found is "When mores are sufficient, laws are unnecessary; when mores are insufficient, laws are unenforceable."       ~ Emile Durkheim, 19th Century French sociologist.   

Mores, as defined in my Oxford American Dictionary, are the "essential or characteristic customs and conventions of a community."  And this is why I digress from sharing about our personal challenge, for I see a much larger challenge in the months and years ahead.  The threads of compassionate and generous mores that I thought I could see developing over my lifetime have unraveled in mere months.  The venom and hatred, the legitimizing of White Supremacy horror is something I fear will not and cannot be repaired in the rest of my lifetime.  

When did it become all right to mock a handicapped person, to call any woman, let alone a public figure a, a c...t, a sk...k?  I cannot bear to print the entire words. When did it become ok to openly and gleefully threaten revenge?  When did it become ok to even hint that someone should be beaten up for opposing you?  It seems like an eternity ago when Senator McCain had the decency to stop hateful comments about Barack Obama, and those comments pale in comparison to what we heard these past months.  Yet many people were willing to overlook all of this and put the man who said these things in the position to elevate this to a new norm.  I am beyond confused.

I am of the generation that remembers when we sent brothers and fathers and sons and husbands to battle Fascism.  I remember when the swaztika was feared and hated, not painted in our public places.  I remember when we grieved over the assassination of a president.  I remember when families were torn apart over differences of political belief.  I remember the Chicago Seven, and Kent State.  I remember a time when the support of a Russian dictator would have sent chills up one's spine.  I remember a president forced to resign for political shenanigans that seem like child's play compared to what has transpired over this past campaign.

Now, these new demonstrations.  Again, anger and fear and frustration unleashed.  And the very people who were so willing to overlook the constant and inappropriate display of anger these past months, even rationalized it as understandable (or applauded it), are now upset with this reaction. I can only imagine what they would have done had their candidate lost.  

I am not condoning either.  But I am also appalled by the hypocrisy.  People who are now asking me and others to suck it up and respect the office of the president are among those who blatantly disrespected it when this sitting president occupied it.  I am appalled by the hypocrisy.  Or is it merely that hypocrisy is another new norm that we are being asked to accept.

I recognize that people with whom my distress will register are most likely singing the same tune.  Others may dismiss my and others' distress as mere whining and being poor losers. To these folks I would say, I am indeed a poor loser.  But not because a Republican won. What I fear is that what we are losing is the underlying belief that we are and should be a decent and responsible people.  That we see education as the gateway to opportunity, that we value hard work and welcome the "tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free."  

In his commentary in the New York Times on Wednesday, David Brooks said it much better than I can..."This campaign has been an education in how societies come apart.  The Trump campaign has been like a flash flood that sweeps away the topsoil and both reveals and widens the chasms, crevices and cracks below."  And the man who led the attack now will sit in the White House.

I can only hope that "this too shall pass."  That the silver lining in these clouds is that a new commitment to a caring and compassionate country is also coalescing. I am sorry that my only contribution will be in writing and in encouraging others who will take, and  already are taking, up the fight to protect the gains we have made in the past.  I have other priorities that, as my sister wisely reminded me, must occupy my mind and heart, my energy and commitments.  Best wishes to all of us.

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