Does fear have to win? That is my question for the coming year.
Apocalypse is no longer simply a religious vision, but the substance and narrative of our politics.
Politicians compete to tell us they will protect us from the threat of people not like us. Politics has come to not be about what we share as human beings. It is about what separates from other groups, other cultures, people with other experiences…. It is about the threat they supposedly pose and the “common sense” of anger, suspicion, and prejudice. It is about power and do we have enough and whose power threatens and what we can do about it. “Becoming great again” is a popular buzzword but is the greatness preached not defined by who we control, who we exclude, who we hurt.
Is life only for some… Is liberty the ability of some to control others… Is the pursuit of happiness only a cruel deception and the myth those with power use to control those without it.
What if politics were not about how we rate, how we stack up, about the protection of territory and the acquisition of power and influence? What if politics was not vertical, but horizontal. What if it was about how we connect, not what we do to each other but what we do with each other?
What if politics was about justice? What if it was about ameliorating the unnecessary suffering of its people? What if it was about poor people having enough money to live on? What if it was about hungry people eating….. homeless people having a place to live…. sick people being able to go the doctor….? What if it was about the promise and challenge of making better living real and tangible and accessible to all? What if it was about ordinary people mattering?
Must care and compassion be left to political convenience? Sometimes in the gospel of anger and fear it seems that way. How great can any country be that can’t, for fear of running contrary to political fashion, do good things?
Must fear win? Are we to live for a new day or to avoid the last days? Will we tear ourselves up to make a point or work together to make something worth pointing to?
We are better than the sound bites and slogans politicians seek to define us by. We are better than politicians who think their importance is all that is important.
Fear need not win.