I'm talking about the regular display of ugliness we're compelled to
witness in the American political arena. I hate it that every day I
wake up to behold such things as Rush Limbaugh's hate-filled talk, and
corporate stooges spreading fear-mongering lies, and Republican
politicians disregarding even urgent national interests in the pursuit
of partisan political advantage.
I yearn for a better, healthier America. I'm not so naive as to expect
that our politics would be populated mostly by noble men and women
reliably serving the greater good. A preponderance of decency
--something of which America has shown itself capable in earlier eras--
Instead, every day I must look at the face of evil --the culture of the
lie, the insatiable lust for power, the spirit of cruelty and
domination-- striving relentlessly to re-establish that hold it had on
my country during the Bushite regime.
But so must the rest of America, and maybe there's a blessing in
that. Particularly a part of liberal America has suffered from
that kind of moral blindness that entails an incapacity to recognize
evil even when it's right before our faces. And this blindness is
the result of an apparent failure to understand that, in the human
realm, there are dark patterns and forces that operate to destroy what
there is of value in our world. [* See note, below]
Even today, many of the most prominent political leaders on the liberal
side seem weakened by their inability, or refusal, to acknowledge and
confront the evil they're up against. As this ugliness continues
to assault them, we see them still shrinking from seeing it, shrinking
from calling it out and naming it for what it is, shrinking from
battling and defeating it.
So maybe it's a blessing that this challenge from evil still confronts
us. Maybe, in addition to needing to defeat this ugly force that has
arisen from the right, we're fortunate to have this lesson continually
confront that complacent component of the liberal left. Perhaps
only by having this struggle protracted can the liberal side of America
not only win the immediate battle, but also be transformed through hard
and long-term experience into the kind of force to which the protection
of the good can more fully be entrusted.
I'm reminded of that great movie, GROUND HOG DAY, in which the
protagonist (a jerk played, brilliantly, by Bill Murray) must wake up
every day --for who knows how many thousands of days-- to confront the
same situation, the same set of challenges, the same
opportunities. For some mysterious reason (never explained, and
needing no explanation), he must relive that same day until, battered
by all the frustrations his own shortcomings lead him to, he finally
learns to get it right and is at last released into the future.
But it is not the same jerk who moves into the future, because it is
not by some smart set of tricks that he "gets it right." Rather,
the only way he can get it right is by being transformed. Through
that transformation, he is liberated into a future far better than the
original jerk he was could ever have achieved.
In that way, his apparently cruel fate --the nightmare from which he
could not even escape through his countless suicides-- turns out to
have been a blessing.
So also with us. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we wake up to
look again at this vicious and ugly face the American right now
wears. And so perhaps we will continue to do until enough of
America has learned deeply enough the lesson of what evil looks like,
and how it must be fought and defeated.
NOTE: See "The Concept of Evil: Why It is Intellectually
Valid and Politically and Spiritually Important," at