I want to move, hearing too soon (the polls aren't even closed, but we have gotten used to that) that Cory Gardner who is known to people like me for his positions of denying climate change, has won the race for Colorado Senator. Okay, inequality for women in terms of pay, restricting access to birth control and of course there is more. The people who come with candles for their vigils against abortions, who champion life beginning at conception, and who scorn any government programs to help the babies once they exit the apparently sacrosanct womb, they all voted for him, as well as those who do not like gay people or gay rights.
I moved here from Port Washington, New York, three years ago, to--not retire--but sort of semi-retire, so my practice of psychotherapy could be less predictable in terms of hours and so we could spend months in Italy, and so I could write, and of course here too, there's more. Even though I released myself from the commitment to do the same hours every week, I still Skype with some New York clients, and I miss them because also in important ways, they were part of my deepest community--the questioners, the seekers, the ones who dared or had to, see outside the boxes presented to them. My comrades so to speak were, like me, those who wondered what they were doing in Nassau County suburbs, where the emotional and social climates could be arid, barren, lacking in the unconventional.
Here, though, in Fort Collins which is a university town, and where Lewis Black is performing this coming Sunday (and what a blast he will have right here!), I move further into the land of vanilla. Nothing against the flavor but let's face it, it means white and pasty and without very much diversity. I look for Jews, not to be clannish but to find people who know or remember the humor, the food, the idiosyncrasies, even the fact that my anxiety rose to the roof at ordering my first ham ever for Thanksgiving, even though I am not kosher. So it's hard, not only hard to not have so many Jews around as in the New York area, but it's hard to have so many churches, one of which actually had in front of it that said, "If you have to curse someone, curse yourself", signed (are you ready for this?) "God".
None of this is simple, I get it. It's about becoming sober to the fact that not only are people polarized and angry, but they are so misinformed. And beyond this alone, there has ceased to be a curiosity, a passion to know the facts when there are facts to be had. When I was younger, science was in some way worshiped, often taken at face value even as science was coming to new conclusions in rapid order. Science has never been enough to negotiate conflict, to navigate the waters of the need to belong, and deeper longings for being understood. Unfortunately, the need to be or appear right at any cost, as opposed to the hunger for truth as a significant passion, has eroded our trust in the value of looking for evidence and a willingness to be wrong, for the greater good, and for personal integrity and satisfaction.
I realize too that these problems won't be solved by rhetoric. And even though my writing at present is dedicated to understanding the dynamics of the resistance to truth when it is available, as well to attempting to gauge what it might take to change the climate that is ours on a human level, this stuff can be hard. Sometimes we need to erupt, to rage, to complain, to say how hard it is. I need to realize now that I am living in a bubble, a white conservative bubble that votes for the use of marijuana, perhaps because of the libertarian implications of the right to do just about anything, with guns or weed. I need to realize that New York is its own bubble, because even if Nassau County or upstate goes red, the city will outweigh it always.
I have my own bubble, always living 'til just awhile ago in close proximity to liberals, not being a minority in that sense. And yet for some years, the dissension among us as a country, has been bothering me, also because I see that in so many arenas--war, poverty, climate change, women's rights, gay marriage and more--information that we have about solutions is being ignored or negated. Belief systems trump facts, and interpret them by killing off--emotionally speaking--the messenger and painting him/her in colors of disgrace or insignificance. I have begun to see that nothing can be solved by preaching or hating or disdain alone. That just intensifies people's defensiveness.
I am suggesting that this condition needs attention, going beyond the fray of political warring. I'm saying to myself as well, that after sharing this brief tirade, I want to remember that beyond Cory Gardner and those like him, there is the larger issue of emotions toppling the thirst for real information. It is more like religion than politics, and actually more like a fundamentalist religion that allows no difference. Once the pledges are made, and the loyalty oaths taken, who cares about reason? Who cares about contradictions in our midst.
We hate fundamentalism, we hate discrimination, we hate the lack of freedom: that is the fairly official American orientation. But that is when it comes to our so-called defense of other nations. At home, the freedom to think is severely impaired. And I know it's quaint to want to be part of a conversation, but I really mean it. There should be, and I know this is preaching, some citizens who see this as a problem to have summits and conferences about--sooner than later.