Thursday, August 20, 2009

Healthcare, Hope and The Whole Damn Thing

I have shied away from political comments only because it seems that all the words have been used up and degraded from their overuse. In the mouth of politicians and cable news pundits, rhetoric becomes bloated and limp with language itself, a casualty.

Now my threshold of endurance is being tested. Mendacity masked as free speech, complexity reduced to slogans and the repetitive decibels of noise all serve to silence discourse, numb the brain and ensure that no true debate takes place on healthcare or other imperative issue of our day.

When Obama was swept into office along with decisive majorities in both houses I felt we had, as a nation, reached a new level of consciousness. For nearly my entire adult life I regarded myself as misaligned with the tenor of the times. Election night was regularly an occasion for mourning.

I was reminded of my first (and last) venture running for high office, ingratiating the electorate. Did I dream this or was I a candidate for class president in 4th grade? My opponent and I waited outside the door while the votes were tallied. I almost remember voting for him, out of politeness, and losing by one vote. I knew then that my place would be out of the fray; an occasional scribe on some distant perch, far enough to witness the passing parade and close enough to note the gloats and sneers.

However in November I was enlivened with hope; not only from our president-elect but with a sense there was repudiation of our previous misadventures and misdeeds; that long-neglected domestic programs would receive attention and correction. It felt like an awakening from decades of slumber.

It may still come to pass but it does seem that resistance to change has engendered fear stoked by a conservative surge. I have to believe that it is fear that drives the folly and fear of change that has people clinging to bitterness, mindlessness and assault weapons. How else to account for half the population ready to shoot themselves in their wallet and trade their own common sense and well-being to recite the script handed them by insurance companies.

Language repairs in the years between the carnivals. Purple fades from the bloated rhetoric and suddenly a lofty phrase falls to earth and takes root in new soil. The bluster and piety vaporize and our nearly deafened ears sprout again hungering for sounds only truth can make.

The challenge I feel is to find a way beyond cynicism. There is always the diversion of sports and entertainment or the ultimate questions that the arts ask of us. More importantly one turns away from the macro to the microcosm of personal relationships for authenticity and intimacy. Will we ever reach a point where these two worlds merge? Where human relationships in society are aligned with our most honest and undefended selves?

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