There is so much bad news these days. Unspeakable tragedies pile on top of another, today’s moving yesterday’s out of the headlines and soon out of view. There are exceptions, like the Boston Marathon bombing, with CNN running the same horror reels non-stop.
Over 600 garment workers dead in Bangladesh; desperate hunger strikers force-fed at Guantanamo; the blast at the fertilizer plant in Texas; today's Pentagon report of thousands of rapes in the military. And the political news: Congress refuses to act on gun control favored by over 90% of the public; while the ranks of the long-term unemployed swell, Congress sits on the sequester that over 85% of the public wants eliminated; the risk of regional war grows in Syria as Israel bombs Damascus, and John McCain insists that Obama follow suit.
Is the list too long? Should we balance it with some good news? Actually it’s a short list, readily expanded with specifics of human tragedies too many to keep in mind.
I believe deeply in keeping hope alive. But Pollyanna doesn’t do it for me. Truth is not found by looking for the middle, while equating positions to the left with rightwing extremism. Problems are not dealt with by finding comfort in important advances in some social and cultural areas while the odds remain stacked in favor of big money and while reactionary politicians play “dog in the manger” with government. Gradualism is not a remedy while the arctic ice melts and the oceans rise.
Somewhere, some time in this irrational age, transformation has to be fueled by popular upheaval and legitimate anger as well as hope.
It’s always time for conversing respectfully with the many of our compatriots who line up on the political Right. But don’t believe that conversation will change Wayne LaPierre, the Koch brothers, or politicians beholden to big money. Some liberals like to say that there’s good in everyone, that no one is evil, if only we sit down together and look for points we can agree on. Really? It’s an injustice to millions of good people who identify as Conservative to refuse to distinguish as evil those who purposefully wield political and financial power — who thwart democracy, foster social and economic inequality, are unmoved by poverty and human suffering, and always seem ready to risk the next war. The people are not the enemy no matter how views differ. But there’s no denying: there are enemies of the people and their motives are evil.