Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Find the Faith, Baby

The Capitol from 4th and E. Capitol, in the rain.

In the wake of the vote on health care, a soft rain fell most of the day yesterday. It was a soothing rain, punctuated by an occasional crack of thunder. It felt, to me, as if the weather gods wished to bring cooling to help settle the energy of the final debates and the impact of the vote.

I hoped that the rain would encourage we humans to spend the day sitting with this historical moment. But no. Americans from the far right to the far left and everywhere inbetween set out straightaway after the vote, bitching, complaining, worrying, nitpicking and projecting a trajectory of doom. We were unable, even for one single day, to be with the historic nature of the vote.

It makes me sad. I believe that the GW Bush years were awful for many reasons, including the fact that during those years, the once characteristic optimism of the American people was ground down to dust, completely and utterly destroyed. We became so bitter, hateful, so hopeless and cynical during those eight years. I'm talking about ALL of us - lefties, right-wing, Republicans, Democrats - every one of us was so demoralized by those terrible years.

People say the downturn began during the Reagan years. I do think policy changes at that time launched the process of bringing the U.S. to its knees. But we were a happy nation under Reagan, and happy under Clinton as well. It wasn't until the GW Bush years that our national psyche became so angry, so full of bilious indignation.

We can't seem to let it go, even now under our great president. At our worst, we Americans are in a fury about everything. At our best, we worry and feel pessimistic about our future. I wonder how long it's going to take our national soul to come back to our cheerful outlook. Will we ever regain our positivity? Our happiness? We Americans are in a world o' hurt. Oh yeah.


ellen abbott said...

I agree with you completely Reya. I don't know if we can recover. Marc thinks that all our generation will have to die before the rift can be healed.

The republican right wing response to this has just been awful. what happened to caring and respect? Name calling (and I mean really ugly name calling), interrupting the president and other members of congress to be rude and verbally abusive, spitting. spitting? Really? spitting on someone? What kind of example is that to set for this country?

Reya Mellicker said...

Our founding fathers dueled with each other - once to the death! And fistfights regularly broke out in Congress in the early years of the U.S. Still, we were a cheerful country, until now.

It's very sad.

Reya Mellicker said...

My friend Dell in Tuscon says:

I just read your blog for today and wanted to weigh in that I completely agree. I woke up thinking about those very things. Here in Tucson we have a congresswoman who's a Democrat and voted for the bill whose office was vandalized after the vote - broken windows, that sort of thing. We are definitely in a world o' hurt. As a bitter Democrat, I keep coming back to wondering how these people who are so vehement about the national debt and so certain that providing better health care is going to break this country seem to forget how much was spent on war during the Bush administration. Their inability to connect the dots is stunning. I have to stop myself from going down that road, lest I become just as much of the problem. Thanks for the reminder. It is nothing but sad. Very sad. Hey, have a good day!

Angella Lister said...

I hear you, Reya. The fact that some are aware, at least, of what we're missing, of what we've lost, is reason to hope.

Whitney Lee said...

This makes me think of something I read last night in an essay by Norman Corwin entitled 'Good Can Be As Communicable As Evil':

"But good can be as communicable as evil, and that is where kindness and compassion come into play. So long as conscionable and caring people are around, so long as they are not muted or exiled, so long as they remain alert in thought and action, there is a chance for contagions of the right stuff, whereby democracy becomes no longer a choice of lesser evils, whereby the right to vote is not betrayed by staying away from the polls, whereby the freedoms of speech, assembly, religion, and dissent are never forsaken.
But why linger? Why wait to begin planting seeds, however long they take to germinate? It took us two hundred-plus years to get into the straits we now occupy, and it may take us as long again to get out, but there must be a beginning."

This feels true to me, and hopeful as well.

Reya Mellicker said...

I agree, Whitney. Good begets good, compassion begets compassion.

Oy vey. We have a long way to go to get there!

The Pollinatrix said...

I'm rather envious of your rain, especially the thunder.

janis said...

I too completely agree. I wanted to respond to your blog yesterday. i read it late and thought about it all night. When I finally slept, I dreamed about it. I live in a very Repubican area. My Facebook friends have completely upset me with their lack of respect to our Government and mostly, our President. One friend in particular has had nothing to do for the past couple of days but to voice his concerns, whine, put up youtubes, polls, Join this group & that, etc. I would "de-friend" him but he may become family one day... How can he seriously be running several business' and find time to write this garbage let alone not hurt his business by his comments? I whole heartedly embarass this less than perfect Health Care plan, support & pray for our Government especilaly our President, and think that it is time we roll up our sleeves and pitch in. It will not change over night, but we have to start the process!
Thank you so much for your inspiring and thought-provoking writings.

janis said...

"embrace"...sorry, typing too fast!

Reya Mellicker said...

Janis, you know you can HIDE this "friend" on FB. Makes life so much easier.

lakeviewer said...

A good analysis, Reya!
There is a lot of rancor for a lot of reasons. We were united for a while after 9/11.

We need to have a new collective vision. It will take time and EDUCATION!

Linda Sue said...

"Oh Yeah!" My morning Reya chant- "Oh yeah"...and all will be as it will be - keep your head above water and breathe. Nothing can be done except in one's own person- it is difficult to listen to NPR, to watch corporate news, to read the news paper without feeling stabbed in the heart of compassion and all that is good...This nation is very ill...and we are just a few little red corpuscles running through the disease trying to maintain some sort of health. Hasn't this always been the human condition?

Ronda Laveen said...

I know that we are, as a nation, collectively wounded on many levels right now. And part of this great new change is ugly. But right now, the degree of anger is directly proportionate to the degree of change achieved. If there were no turmoil, then that would mean the status quo had been maintained.

Although I dream of a utopian state, sometimes you just gotta rock some boats. In this case, they're very large boats.

Liza said...

I love those photos Reya, and I too am envious of the rain!!!
I like what you said,
"the weather gods wished to bring cooling"

Rebecca Clayton said...

I love tea, teapots, tea cups, and tea parties, and I'm really really mad that it's all been co-opted by the right-wing haters.

I'm not sure why we're taking this so badly, because the country has been through worse troubles than this. It's like we've collectively forgotten how strong and resourceful the people who came before us have been.

I believe we can pull ourselves together, stop carrying on like children, and get back to business. I hope we do it soon. Please keep your eye on that Capitol dome for all our sakes.

willow said...

If only the cooling rain would help.

Steve said...

I was bemoaning the extremely partisan nature and tactics of this debate on my own blog -- it IS disheartening. But then I wondered if we see the past through rose-colored lenses. I mean, were we EVER really optimistic as a country? Maybe in the 1950s, and I can only guess at that -- but from the '60s on, there's been a lot of bitterness. I agree it stepped up during the Reagan years, but maybe that's just because I didn't like Reagan. :)

Nancy said...

We truly are. I'm afraid for us, I really am.

Pauline said...

I feel like going to DC as MOM, telling all the politicians to go home since they can't play nicely, then start over with a few other mothers who know how to get things done without resorting to rude, injurious and infantile behavior. Perhaps the US has reached its apex and is beginning the long, painful decline that follows the peaking process. Signs seem to be pointing to that.

Reya Mellicker said...

It is really interesting that the uproar comes over health care reform, isn't it?

HEADLINE: Sick country needs good health care!!

Steve, the 60's and 70's were very exciting decades of huge societal change and great positivity. We believe in sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. We believed in the Age of Aquarius.

Were you bitter during the last two decades of this century? I was upbeat. Should check the front page of the NYT from 20 years ago. It will be an interesting exercise.

Reya Mellicker said...

We BELIEVED. I don't think anyone believes that anymore.

Reya Mellicker said...

One of the signs I saw carried in the march for immigration reform said


Man, I LOVE that.

Deborah said...

so well said

all my love

Deborah said...

so well said

all my love

Susan said...

I guess we're a nation in trauma, Reya. We're in two wars with no sign of the end yet. We've had a near-depression. We're scared of the future and full of worries about the past. Our belief in our superiority has been smashed, our moral righteousness drowned by our waterboarding of political prisoners.
It's a major shakeup.
And I think many hoped that one man could singlehandedly restore our faith in ourselves.
But it's a long, slow process and we're rebuilding our character.
I believe we'll build something stronger, something more mature, something based on lessons learned.
But change is stressful and growing is painful.
2012 may not be the end of the world; it may be beginning of the new one.

Natalie said...

Being still in the deepest recesses of our being,and knowing that we are loved immeasurably, is the way to conquer the fears.

The very human fears, that we all experience in the dark of the night, from time to time.

The ones we don't talk about so much.....................................................with anyone.

Realising, that it could just be a matter of acknowledging where you are at, and giving yourself credit for any movement forward, no matter how small.

Knowing that each of us is a wonderous, special person, worthy of opportunity and love, worthy of faith and belief, worthy of compassion.

Knowing that it is okay to be scared, to question and dither......................

Life is all about change and growth, that is why we are here.

Blessed change.

Wishing you courage and faith and stillness with yours.

Karen said...

I have felt pretty discouraged about the tenor of political discussions for some time now. But what stops me in my tracks after yesterday is the fact that the rhetoric of fear actually FAILED! Wow! Instead of listening to what's going on now, I'm sitting with that...

Reya Mellicker said...

Karen, me, too.

Natalie, you are so wonderful. Is it you who nominated me for The Difference?

Susan, yes it's about time we got down off our high horse, thinking we could do anything and/or that we're always right. The book Vietnam by Stanley Karnow is an amazing history of our American arrogance. Wow.

In his inauguration speech, Pres. Obama said that we could not hope to fix everything in one year, or even in one term of office. But did we listen? We always hope the president can do everything. But they never can. Ever!

Natalie said...

Not me,Reya. Though I am sure you deserve any accolades you may receive. :)

Nishant said...

once to the death! And fistfights regularly broke out in Congress in the early years of the U.S. Still, we were a cheerful country, until now.

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