Our national discourse has become like that carnival which set up in an abandoned lot on California State Route 180 which we might have gone to as a child.
Rising early, we are pushed into our clothes by our excited parents, anxious for a day away from our constant nagging. We may have driven for an hour, maybe more – expectation building until finally we pulled into the parking lot beside the garish pink dinosaur at the gate commanding entrance. On the right, soaring above the melee is the rickety Ferris wheel making its maniacal journey to nowhere haltingly, rattling to a stop and squeaking to a start again: rust and age ignored. We walk through the concessions stands first, the greasy aromas of corn dogs and pretzels waft above as we hunt for the cotton candy in desperation – because the hysterical wails of little Liz demand immediate attention, she’s been crying since Fresno (evidently Nancy had one of the fluffy treat last week, bringing it to kindergarten but unwilling to share, and it’s all little Liz can sustain in her tiny imagination) while Jill, sullen and morose, lectures her on sugar. We then make our way past the aged bumper cars, supervised by a spiritless adolescent apathetic to the fact that the Styrofoam and fiberglass buffers are worn away and no longer protect anybody from harm. Past the attractions. The painted lady holding high a trophy head, an act demanding no explanation; the spine-chilling clown who reaches down to pick the children’s pockets as we are hurried past by our parents; the bearded lady; the tarot card reader predicting over and over again the falling of the sky, indifferent to which card is chosen. Through the games where we wait while Bernard plays the darts, a game of chance and hope – to exchange good money saved from his job mowing lawns for the dream of obtaining something which he could not afford. A large teddy bear perhaps, or a laced red heart-pillow to present to his new girlfriend; but ending up only with a long cylindrical fuzzy tube from which the eyes are already falling.
We were headed through the fun house to the hall of mirrors – because Chuck wants to practice his student council speech. There, where the mirrors contort the fat into thin, the short into tall, the puny into muscular; all hung opposite each other while Charles delivers his winning address to himself and his family, our reflections bouncing from one mirror to another and another and another and another as they fade into infinity – a great crowd endless in magnitude and all reduplicating our applause over and over and over again in a perfect pageant of harmony.
Before entering the hall, I might have turned to look back at the inverse side of the great sign hanging at the carnival entrance to read the words spray-painted in blood-red “Enter Here, All Who Hate”.
Eighteen months of hate – though some would say more, though it was hate polished up and shiny and smooth as silk to the touch. But for almost two years now it has been raging full and ugly, unvarnished and unapologetic. Hate, because hate weaponized into public policy is called socialism – that tired old program to which so many inexplicably return: the managed – in the futile hope of a prize; and the managers, because people are not doing what they have been told. Hate, because it is the yeast which leavens the sizes of marches and the virality of hashtags and, in the minds of the haters, the lines at the polling booths.
But does it?
There’s something interesting happening, in reaction to our ghoulish spectacle. Because America is an unpredictable land full of empowered people where the milk of human goodness which knows no party or race or religion flows liberally, swelled often to overflowing by our tremendous prosperity. We are not a people who takes kindly to class warfare, or to the newest variation – identity warfare; victim warfare. We are from too many places, immigrants all who build and write and dream and do not wait seated in a hall or squatting endlessly in a food line for something to spill from the table of our managers. We squabble and we strive and we fight and we dream and we love. And we rebel. Right now that rebellion is against revolution, because revolution is weaponized nihilism. And a revolution unto socialism? We are doubly damned. “Man wants to reign supreme through revolution. But why reign supreme if nothing has any meaning? Why wish for immortality if the aspect of life is so hideous?” says Camus. Why the pitched battle of severed heads in the attempt to control a carnival such as they have created? Because in their nihilism they have become lonely, and “Terror and concentration camps are the drastic means used by man to escape solitude.”
Into this spectacle has emerged a new paradigm, as often happens in America when we are put under extreme stress. Because we rarely respond as we are told, rebels all. A movement, or perhaps an anti-movement of those who reject the nihilism and its carnival of death. By those who want to live in the land of the living by and for the living. #WalkAway – it is not political per-se and I will respect that aim by not reading into it what it is not. Because it is simply a group of people who have had enough of being forced into the hall of mirrors, told to raise their hands and scream hate to satisfy the egos of those who would believe “their ends justify their means”, as the below video says.
So I give it to you – that which has filled me with encouragement for the first time in a long time that there is a light at the end of our dark night of hate. I, for one, look forward to seeing the moderating influence it has on all voices – especially those who see in every debate the ancient call to socialism, which is nothing except, “the exaltation of the executioner by the victims.”