I just finished my new ebook! Writing and editing it made me wonder, is the American eye reliable? Do we observe the telltale details that are flashes of epiphany, the discovery of meaning and insight lodged inside of the blinders of our own vision? Why is it so hard to put down old versions of reality and tuck them away? When’s the last time any of us had a breakthrough? When I look at the media, especially, everybody seems stuck. How can we be more creative and how can that creativity be made trustworthy and true?
That challenge is hidden in my posts each week. Writing is a creative frame that improves my aim. Affirming the past can introduce depth and perspective or leave an idea mired in original error. If I extract an idea, it should not be a misleading “gotcha;” it should illuminate insights.
No-tax-pledge king Grover Noquist demonstrated a “gotcha” error last week that was blind stupidity at its worst. In a Twitter post, he called for higher appreciation for the policy views of House Speaker John Boehner. His reason: Boehner was elected and Obama was a lame duck. This ballooning mockery diminishes our democracy. And finally blinds our own eye. We only see the jeering. The good is damned by dire warnings, threats, fears, demands intended to defeat hope.
No hope existed in hundreds of Twitter posts calling the President a “nigger” and expressing searing outrage that his appearance at Newtown’s memorial for the children and adults of the Sandy Hook school killings interfered with their watching the scheduled weekly NFL game, as the networks covered the memorial rather the rivalry. One post accused the President of making the grief worse, as many parents (and many at home) cried at his words. So blind was their hatred, the posters failed to be moved by this powerful collective moment in our nation’s monumental loss. The deaths of innocent children in a small town’s school was an event they knew—it was on their screens!—but football was king! The President, also the nation’s mourner-in-chief, was assailed with America’s oldest epithet of race—one with a long. demeaning, nasty history containing its own memory and events of violence. But the label blinded his comfort as he stood to speak to grieving families and a grieving nation, ending with a roll call of the names of the child and adults lost, intoned one by one.
The issues and attitudes in the Twitter posts were a thorny knot as hard and dense as the one that formed in the pit of my stomach as I read them. In the continuum that is passive-aggressiveness, their 140 characters were the passive side of the shooter’s aggression, and equally desiring of grief. I wanted to close my eyes and shut out their blindness. Those around the country, many young, found their highest and most important thrills in a zone of no love. Their affection for football was its secession of thrills no different that the fusillade of bullets of bullets that, one by one, took each child and adult’s lives in Newtown; their altered emotional state tunneled away from living’s oldest mystic—life itself. Replaced by bad words and bad acts, by bodies down, by redirected blame, by indifference to life outside of selfish limits—they reflected a passive-aggressiveness without morality. Their belief systems cloaked the same delusions as the ones that misguided our nation’s spree killers, and the NRA.
You cannot separate personality and psychology from policy without seeing that they share a single mindset.
Their ideas and acts express a defective view of tragedy: that guns and words have a right to tragic use. And to them, it is a protected right. Ignore the devastation on families and communities; ignore the morality of their acts; the gun and the word itself is the only moral authority—and the only option for defense of their needs and desires, and the jury and judge for perceived social and personal faults of others against them.
As events go against their will, they see a breakdown of society. They exercise their right to a trigger pull—or Twitter post. They have blind aims.
Their targets are clear. That “nigger,” those children: a series of guns and tweets; bound by a deep connection and an insistent demand that we live on their edge.
They want an absolute right to deploy words and bullets even as they deny their hurt and are blind to their own void and its visible emanation of inevitable, tragic results.