Kavanaugh vs Ford (Round 1)

The dying flame of good imagination.

As an outsider, I have a bird’s-eye advantage of looking down at the fires raging across the American political landscape and the internecine clashes which threaten to tear the “United” States apart.

Being a-moral, un-ideal, non-religious, non-partisan, and pledging allegiance to nothing else than the Earth and all living beings, I sit far removed from the circus arena and watch the clowns and carnage while munching on metaphysical popcorn.

A shrill tragicomedy unfolds before my eyes on this Theater of the Absurd.

For several weeks, the main act featured the clash of two puppets, male and female, Kavanaugh and Ford, whose strings were manipulated in shadow by the doctrinaire forces rending the fabric of this nation. Meanwhile, exploitative reporters thronged the front row feeding spectators raw meat and venom which devoured their entrails and made them vomit it back without once passing through the sieve of their intellectual integrity. Thus poisoned, and burning with self-righteous rage, they cast doubt on the testimony of these two players, based not on objective evidence, but in blind allegiance to the dark forces pulling their strings. One side claiming there should be a statute of limitation for wrongdoing, while the other insisting on imposing perfect morals on imperfect beings, they precipitated their judgment, and, like Roman Emperors, lowered their thumbs condemning their despised to death.

 

I’m not so easily duped, which is another advantage of being an exile.

From my vantage point, it sounded to me like the underlying matter in this deranged spectacle was – and still is – the issue of abortion. A renewed clash between those who consider life to begin at conception (thus sacred from that moment), and those who fear Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court might overturn Roe v. Wade, denying women the right to choose.

Maybe munching on metaphysical popcorn makes me naïve, but while watching this buffoonery from this healthy distance, it occurred to me that instead of gnashing teeth, digging heels even deeper, or drawing red lines on sand, these dark forces would do everyone a great favor if they worked together and expended all that wasted time and energy on opening adoption centers right next to every Planned Parenthood and abortion clinic. Problem solved! Women retain sovereignty over their bodies and babies live. What am I missing here?

Author Jeff VanderMeer is right in saying that the history of the world can be seen as an ongoing battle between good and bad imaginations.

Consider drugs as another example. Since 1971, the United States has wasted 1.5 trillion dollars on its “war on drugs,” but done nothing to lower the rate of addiction. Why? Because addiction is not a “drug problem” but the habitual avoidance of reality. It is the self-destructive manifestation of despair. A country with good imagination would invest its treasure on mental health, not ineffective wars.

What about guns and mass shootings? Here again, this country faces a problem of anguish, one which mostly afflicts young men. Bad imagination would have government confiscate the 270 million guns owned by Americans or have teachers carry concealed weapons at recess. The good kind would focus attention on the underlying issue.

What about walls? Bad imagination conjures idiotic ideas that immigrants are determined to take over the country or are somehow afflicted with irrepressible wanderlust and must therefore be stopped at the border with ever-higher fortifications. Good imagination understands that most immigrants originate from neighboring countries as yet not sufficiently developed to afford everyone the opportunity to provide a decent living for themselves and their families. “Tough luck!” Bad imagination would say. “Not our problem. Build that Wall!” forgetting that necessity is the mother of invention, so, while laying another row of bricks, the ground beneath their fortress becomes tunnel-riddled like Swiss Cheese. President Truman’s 1949 inaugural speech outlining his vision to assist developing countries is a perfect example of good imagination:

“We must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas. More than half the people of the world are living in conditions approaching misery. Their food is inadequate. They are victims of disease. Their economic life is primitive and stagnant. Their poverty is a handicap and a threat both to them and to more prosperous areas.

How those intentions were later translated into action is a perfect example of bad imagination.

Climate change is yet another example, pitting those who insist on wasting time trying to pin the blame on humans against those who deny it, often with such vitriol and vehemence it reminds me of the Spanish Inquisition. To my mind, it is not ultimately a matter of who is responsible, but what we do about it. Whether man-made or not, it is a phenomenon which poses a serious threat to human survival, so we might want to stop splitting hairs and, instead, roll-up our sleeves and get to work before it’s too late.

The forces of bad imagination — preferring strife over compromise, war over healing — now control the United States and threaten to tear it apart. One can only hope that the millions of puppets under their spell will soon wake up from their hypnosis, start thinking for themselves, take back power, and unleash the right kind of imagination on their country.

I’ll still be perched here, munching on metaphysical popcorn, to report on the awakening, or watch in disbelief as Rome continues to burn.


Read Round 2: Bravo America!” written right after Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

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