Obama and America have been on a ride this past week or so to the heart-stopping depths of cultural despair, through a plateau of uncertainty and on to the exhilarating peaks of ideological victory.
Nine gracious Americans killed while at a Bible study in church. Our national sociopaths, our mass shooters, or haters pretend that they are brave, that they are Shakespearean; that they must “screw their courage to the sticking place.” But they kill innocents – they kill children – they kill the devout. They all think they have their reasons. America’s a complex nation. It would probably be simple to dredge up enough injustice to fuel thousands of souls who believe they need vengeance for real or imagined slights, although we sincerely wish this would never happen again.
Freedom is not always pretty. Right now we seem to be intent on dividing society into the well-adjusted and the misfits, the cool and the uncool, the beautiful and the ugly, the rich and the poor, the hip and the clueless, the aristocratic and the peasants, and the lives of many people consist of sifting everyone into one group and making fun of or being mean to anyone who doesn’t sift on through.
Societies have always been like this and there have always been those who felt they were unfairly assigned to one group or another and who set out to prove through intimidation that culture made a big mistake. Perhaps Hitler felt this at some point before he learned a formula that would make people become mass murderers on his behalf.
We do, however, seem to be encountering more young men in particular who hype themselves up on video games, or terrorist/hate speak web sites until they are ready to rampage. So that is what we began with on Friday June 19th.
No one won. Certainly not the young man with the twisted mission, not the lovely Charlestonians discussing their Bible, not America, and not hate. Well we hope hate didn’t win. Because now, once these citizens are laid to rest we will still have this fight over a flag.
Southerners do not need this flag to remember the things that are sweet about the South. In fact the flag robs the South of all its sweetness. You don’t need that flag to honor your dead. You loved them. Those who died were your fathers, your brothers, your uncles. Preserve their histories in your attics and in your hearts. Martha Stewart, a northerner with a true Southern flavor told us how to preserve memories. Use acid-free paper and linen liners.
Look in your hearts where your hospitality and you kindness reside and admit that you are hurting your neighbors and you are holding on to a piece of rebellion in your soul. You have not and do not feel that America is a united nation. You still hold yourselves separate and you keep the possibility open that you may have to secede once again and that that time may be now.
So that was last week, and, of course, these events are not over. Our racial divide, our racism, our rebel hearts, and our hearts that quake at the very idea of a truly divided America are issues now exposed to everyday view and we do not know what the resolution will be. So we began in the depths, the yawning chasm of our grief.
Next we rose to a sort of meh mesa where the trade agreement resides. Here America divides along different lines. This is a business owner/employee divide. The TPA passed both houses of Congress – the so-called Fast Track passed. That means that when this trade agreement is finished Congress cannot amend it. They can only vote it up or down. If they vote it down the President can veto their vote. So basically if the trade agreement is completed while Obama is in office he is likely to hook America up to the nations in the “Ring of Fire” for a trade partnership which half the nation likes and half the nation doesn’t. Victory for Obama, but not for America perhaps.
Then we have the Supremes, who I have bad-mouthed before for letting their political persuasions affect their legal decisions. This week they redeemed themselves in my Democratic eyes, not so much in the eyes of Republicans. We got two decisions that are most likely victories for both Obama and for America, although it will probably be decades before Republicans come around.
As for the ACA (Affordable Care Act), we get to keep it. As for gay/bi/trans people et al they get to have and hold each other in sickness and in health for as long as they both shall live. And perhaps they get all the baggage of divorce and custody, both financial and emotional. But for now we celebrate. We have reached that point where we are at the peak of exultation.
There is, of course, no such thing as unalloyed joy that lasts longer than a few seconds. We have made Evangelicals and small government believers unhappy and they do not plan to go away and lick their wounds. They can’t do that because they believe that our great nation will be tarnished by bankruptcy, both moral and financial and they feel duty-bound to save America from those who are mistaken about what justice and equality mean. And they are trying to win an election.
Our roller coaster ride is done for now, but the coaster will obviously ride again. What a week though, eh? The work of this week will not be the business of just one week. The wounds opened will continue to bleed, the arguments won will continue to be fought. Still it was an amazing trip, from deepest pain to grinning, arms in the air, pleasure. I don’t know if there will ever be another week quite like this one.
By Nancy Brisson