In a step intended primarily to maintain my own personal sanity, I’ve once again stepped back from Facebook, because while elections may have always brought out some of the worst in people, Facebook now gives us a front row seat to the sorry spectacle. When I stepped away, Facebook told me that my 333 friends would miss me. Somehow I doubt that. I’ve “unfollowed” most of them (as they have likely unfollowed me.) A few might, but 90% of those people never interact with me. In the past year, the post that garnered the biggest response told the world about my paternity mystery.
Meanwhile, I’ve posted dozens of politically related items and I rarely get so much as a “like.” That’s okay. I get it. For most of my adult life, I’ve embraced a political view well outside the modern mainstream. I have a funny notion of how we should conduct ourselves as a society. The thought that good people doing no harm to anyone should be allowed to live their lives without the threat of fines, citations, and jail seems to make people think I’m an idiot.
As a result, reading my timeline just makes me very sad. Half my friends want free stuff taken from people they think don’t deserve it. I’ve never understood this brand of morality, and even it it worked, I wouldn’t support it. In fact, it doesn’t work. If you get the bully to take stuff from others, the bully eventually comes after your stuff.
The friends who want the weirdo strangers to go away obviously paid very little attention in history class and certainly never studied anything further than the standard high school text. When I see Catholics calling to round up Muslims, I want to send them back in time to the first half of the nineteenth century to hear the majority Protestant population talk about the Pope. Or to a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.
And it gets worse, of course. I see hypocrisy everywhere. Do it to them, but not me. Give it to me, but not them. We have come to the Unraveling, and the solutions scare me more than the threats.
I don’t know anyone who has a better reason to hate the wealthy than me. A rich man did something simply awful to me for which I had no recourse, but do I think that seizing his wealth will benefit you or me in any way? Not in a million years.
I don’t know why people can’t seem to connect the dots. I take a long time to develop an outlook, and I don’t think of myself as a knee-jerk anything. When there’s a problem, start from a simple premise: How do we solve it without depriving someone of what is rightfully theirs? What can we do as a society that will bring more liberty to everyone? If the premise of your solution involves hurting people you don’t agree with, then you will never convince me of its merits.
We have all experienced our own distinct journeys that shape our outlooks, but this does not mean that we should eschew curiosity and a sense of humor. It also doesn’t mean that we should dismiss the journeys of others. Pragmatism and respect demand that we better understand it, and maybe walk for a little while along that path.
Real solutions to what ails us lie in what made us great from the start. It begins with cherishing the dynamism inherent in a society that puts its trust in ordinary people to do good things, to earn and keep its rewards, and to seek no advantage through political subversion. The corrosion of politics will prove our undoing, and while I recognize its necessity to maintain order and to protect our rights, using politics as a weapon to undermine the good intentions of rivals diminishes us.
This country is not perfect. We got off to a rough start, but at no other point in world history did a society attempt what we did. The Founders gave it their best shot, with nothing to go on but their understanding of history and their own personal ideals. They had no blueprint for this, but they built something based on the most noble of ideas. Let people do right by themselves, and we will all share in the reward. On balance, they proved their case.
All I know is that for the benefit of my own well-being, I have to make a concerted effort to withdraw from Facebook until at least after the inauguration. I have too many opinions to resist the impulse to jump into frays that have no affect on anything except my blood pressure. My guy isn’t going to win the election, and hopefully, yours won’t either.