Is it just me, or are there a lot of protest rallies these days? Certainly the South has lit up with marches and displays of the Rebel Flag now that the Palmetto State has taken it down from the Statehouse. There seems to always be something going on somewhere and some of them are from groups or people pushing something that others may find offensive.
What to do about it? The one thing you can’t do is let ‘em get to you – the moment you are offended and act out in a way you might not otherwise is the moment they gain power over you. The key is to laugh, to deflate the moment and dissolve the tension in a roaring guffaw.
A storm had been brewing in the North Atlantic, but as of this weekend the clouds had passed over the Irish Sea. As is common with the nasty storms that come from the roiling sea, the landscape was left forever changed – softened, gentler, and deeply appreciative of the all too rare sun.
The storm that passed over Ireland was the debate on whether to enshrine Marriage Equity in the Constitution, a document that has weathered similar storms in the scant 78 years since it was adopted. This time, however, Ireland was changing not just to catch up with the times but to lead them. It’s worth discussing on both sides of the stormy Atlantic and around the world.
In most of the world, the one thing we can be sure of is constant change. In the US House, we have come to rely on inaction in the face of change as Speaker Boehner stood resolutely in charge of a body too fractured to do anything. As comedian Dave Allen observed, “When you’re up to your bottom lip in muck, there is only one rule – don’t make waves.”
A big wave is about to come through the US House as Boehner faces a serious challenge from the Tea Party wing of the party. So far, two Representatives, Louis Gohmert (R-TX) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) have announced they are challenging him. How exactly it will shake out is anyone’s guess, but something is about to happen. Make popcorn.
Another cycle of violence between angry mobs representing the majority religion flares up in another nation. What could be truly “new” in this news? This week it was in Sri Lanka, but there was a difference. The mob were Buddhists and their victims were the Moslem minority at prayer in a mosque. It seems to be a spillover from the much more violent confrontations in Myanmar where hundreds have been killed at the hands of “Radical Buddhists” who destroyed the homes of over 400 Moslem families. Has the world gone completely mad?
The short answer is yes, the whole world is going mad. But the apparent rise of violent Buddhist radicals and fundamentalists has to be seen in a larger context of the rise of fundamentalism generally. There is a growing backlash against pluralism, tolerance, and globalism itself. Groups everywhere are being pitted against each other in a desperate bid to preserve the old ways and forge a sense of social cohesiveness. That includes the USofA – and indeed frames the recent legislative battles in Texas and North Carolina in a way that makes a twisted sense of the whole mess. And it doesn’t seem likely to end soon.
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt
One of the key features of the time we live in is paralysis. Uncertainty creates risk aversion, since risk is much more difficult to calculate. After a few years living like this and people start to live day to day. It eventually becomes “survival mode” when tomorrow becomes very difficult to imagine. The result is nothing – and that often comes even when one person is calling the shots, let alone a system based on consensus among many.
The evidence is all around us that something unusual is happening. Change is coming faster and in ways that are not often talked about adequately. The economy is not simply recovering the way it has after any other post-war recession. What should we do? FDR had it right – try something and see if it works. If that goes against every instinct you have right now, you’re not alone. But let’s see if we can convince you that there are, in fact, some things that point to very different actions than we’re all used to.