July 6, 2010

Democracy Is Dead; We Are Not

"How can we solve the problem when we are the problem . . . ?" So asks Joe Bageant, author of Deer Hunting with Jesus, in a recent blog post, Live from Planet Norte. That is the question, isn't it?

I've grown disillusioned. Not so much about Obama--my expectations for him were not so unrealistic--but with my fellow citizens and most profoundly with the idea of America that I believed in through thick and thin for over half a decade. The reasons have been hard to put into words, perhaps because it didn't seem to matter any more.

But something has started to shift. I began to discover others who are experiencing the same thing. Many of us are trying to find words . . . . "Democracy is dead," is about the best we can do at first. We feel like lunatics because we have an impulse to run through the streets screaming, "The end is near!" But slowly, now, some are finding words, and that is heartening. Not because our words will save democracy, not because they will save the planet or raise anyone's awareness, but because they will help us move on.

Joe Bageant has a lot to say about all of this. His perspective on what's happening in America is enlightening, and his grasp on how it's impacting some of us is astute. Most importantly, though, he knows we must move on. It's too late now for significant political change; America is too far gone. But politics and social systems are human constructs; they will fail.

So, as we give up on things that in the past have given us meaning and hope and passion, we find that "change we can believe in" is happening not in our country, not in the world, but within ourselves. Maybe it's not so bad if we are able to shift our hopes and energies to something that transcends the creations, the constructs, and the hopeless foolishness of mankind.

Mr. Bageant's essay is long, but it's worth the time and effort to read in its entirety: Live from Planet Norte.

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