Ever since the election results, I have been cautious to talk politics. Even in the old days, people typically refrained from talking about politics and religion. And now, there is tension in the air. The small-talk that I have so much enjoyed over the years now seems like a perilous landmine territory that is best avoided.
As much as I am disappointed, dejected, and depressed about the results, I understand that with age comes a responsibility as well. A responsibility to at least say something positive, for others to look forward to. With students, I told them "trust the institutions. Have faith that the various institutions that we built up over the years will lead us in the right direction."
Maybe students bought that; maybe not. I knew I was only faking it. I have no faith that the institutions will do their jobs. History has ample evidence of institutions quickly succumbing to the powers. Even the supposedly independent institutions.
Yet, with the checkout cashier at the grocery store, I offered optimism. "If you look at our history, we have overcome all kinds of horrible things. I suppose progress is not always linear," I told her. I think I was a lot more real about this, compared to what I told the students.
It was comforting, reassuring, that I was not the only one who thought that way. Even the philosopher-in-chief said similar things:
That's the nature of democracy. It is hard. And sometimes contentious and noisy. …. Sometimes you lose an argument. Sometimes you lose an election. You know, the path this country has taken has never been a straight line. We zig and zag and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back.It is not easy to understand such zigs and zags.
Obama, the zig, was a guy so cool in the eyes of much of the world that he got a Nobel Peace Prize before he’d had a chance to do much. (At the time, in his first year, the U.S. was fighting two wars.)
Trump, the zag, is a hurler of insults, a raw orator you can’t turn away from if you can bring yourself to tune in, a boor with women, a peddler of falsehoods that made millions of eyes roll but spoke to a larger truth in the eyes of supporters.
Foreigners shake their heads at a country that over the years defines cool, then represents what crazy looks like.
And in this zigzag:
a nation that is pretty upbeat about the job the cool black president is doing hands the reins to a man who spun conspiracy theories about Obama’s country of birth.The zigzag means that I need to understand my place in this zag. I started blogging when the first zag began--in 2001. Most of my blog-posts in the couple of years after 2001 were rants that provided cathartic relief. And then my personal life also took a zag. I took a break from blogging, and then when I returned, I deleted all the previous posts in one click. All gone. I then started afresh.
I start anew in this latest zag. If you are reading this, consider yourself special--you are part of my latest zag journey.