Comments on the social media have become so inflammatory one wonders what has happened to civilized discourse. Most disturbing are those on the far right threatening civil war, essentially stating they have armaments and would not hesitate to attack fellow citizens in order to rule the country their way. On the opposite plain are the far left, answering that they also are armed and prepared to fight back. All this testosterone may sound strong, macho and “romantic”, but it also points out our ignorance of the ramifications of war. Good lord, we have seen the results of genocidal wars, religious wars, our own civil war….which, unfortunately,
only those interested in history and how it affected the common person have a clue regarding the cost to our citizenry. War, to repeat a famous iteration, is hell. Children are killed, women are raped and killed, the so called soldiers seem to enjoy torturing those they capture, and your very nice, human neighbor becomes an inhumane killing machine.
The majority of our citizens, whether leaning left or right, want a pleasant life: housing, groceries, security, a good job, and the ability to assure their families are well cared for.
After WWII we seemed to have learned the lesson of helping surviving states to rebuild and help their citizenry prosper, seeing that as a road to peace and a pleasant life for all world citizens.
Along the way there were many missteps, including the McCarthy witch hunts, unnecessary wars (or police actions), and ignoring the needs of our own underclasses. Nevertheless we made progress, finally separate but equal was addressed as the false equivalence it was, women were making incremental advances in the work force, females were given more control over their lives and their bodies.
As a young child I was taught civility, politeness and respect for others. I loved studying our history, good and bad. I was aware of some of the arguably evil things our forefathers accomplished, but saw how those actions were balanced by moving forward toward more humane policies and better understanding of our neighbors, those on our block and those across the water. After learning about the holocaust and how thousands of innocent people suffered torture and brutal death it was hard to imagine how an entire nation could allow that. The unimaginable is becoming more imaginable, and one can see the depth of the rot within. Over and over I have read or heard that our country could not, would not, be overturned by outside attack. We could only lose our freedom from forces within. Those inner forces are what turned Germany into the dark nation the world had to overcome, those same inner forces are evident today, dimming the light of our once bright land. I can only pray that Lady Liberty’s torch will one day be the brilliant symbol of hope that it once was.
“And how can we ever get back from this dark place? From this childish, binary way of engaging with and talking about those we disagree with? How do we live with those who have embraced this breakdown of civil society to such an extent they feel free – emboldened even – to express their racism and anti-Semitism, their misogyny and homophobia, their angry, righteous ignorance publicly and with impunity? I really grieve for what has been so carelessly and thoughtless thrown away. For all those carefully constructed bridges between people, communities, countries, ways of life and thought, which have been burned, or are about to be burned, down. So when I look to the future my question is; will it ever again be possible for us not to be angry all the time?”
From an article in The Irish Times
Eimear McBride is the author of A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing and The Lesser Bohemians. She has won the Goldsmiths Prize, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, Desmond Elliott Prize and James Tait Black Memorial Prizee.