How fitting! 2020 has been nothing if not surreal.
There is a quote that I have mentioned frequently in settings both verbal and documentary. I knew that I wasn't getting it exactly right, so I looked it up today. Google has gotten so sensitive to our needs that putting in a vague approximation of the quote put direct reference to it at number one in the search. The real quote goes like this:
“Don't bother about being modern. Unfortunately it is the one thing that, whatever you do, you cannot avoid.”
Salvador Dali said that. I humbly concur.
The lesson today is for the large portion of the American electorate that are fighting a desperate, hopeless struggle against modernity. Not only Americans, now that I think of it, but also people around the world. People, you cannot avoid modernity.
The pace of change has been extreme for decades, and it has been a challenge to keep up with it all. Many people have chosen to join efforts to unwind the changes and move backwards in time to some fictional, non-specific “Golden Age.” Now we are cursed with politicians who cater to this desire by promising to pass laws that will restore things to some former way of life. They claim to be conservatives, but that is a lie. They are reactionaries, and unfortunately many of them and their adherents have degraded themselves even further and become vigilantes.
The Republicans lead this charge towards the wrong goal posts.
Many people want to overturn decades of progress in civil rights, and many politicians have been helping them. People feel threatened somehow by the existence of homosexuals, even though they are our friends, co-workers, and beloved family members. Many people want to return to the days when race and sexual preference were treated as status crimes. The Supreme Court, or perhaps it is more accurate to say, “a Supreme Court,” found a privacy right in the Due Process clause of the Constitution that protected a woman's decision to have an abortion, or someone's right to love whomever they wished, among other things. None of this has caused upheavals in society.
The rich, it goes without saying, have opposed every attempt to advance social justice since the early days of the American nation. They had a burning hatred for FDR, and have labored ceaselessly to unwind the New Deal ever since the various parts were passed into law. They are hard at work this minute, trying to take back everything that they were forced to share with working people. They've won a lot of it back already.
The modern world bothers the hell out of some people. People who lost some of their lordly authority over all of the cash. Insecure people who see minorities and immigrants as a threat to their own white privilege. People who see something in homosexuality that frightens them, and I'll let you fill in that blank yourself. People are desperately afraid of change, and the ways of the modern world that are strange to them. So afraid that they want to carry an assault rifle and one hundred rounds of ammunition to protect themselves on a little trip to Walmart. There are intersections in all of this fear and umbrage. I'll let you figure that one out as well.
Take it from the master surrealist, my friends. To paraphrase, don't worry about the modern world. It arises naturally from the actions of almost eight billion people every day, slightly altered with every new dawn, the changes becoming noticeable over time. There is nothing you can do to avoid it. And take it from me, we could no more return ourselves to the past than we could through a pure act of will place ourselves suddenly in the future.
Do you want to fight against something? Fight against the forces of chaos that are tearing at the fabric of America. Do you want to fight for something? Fight for peace and brotherhood, human rights and cooperation. Fight to bring comfort to those who suffer from the lack of it. Think of the power of it! The actions of individual human beings create the modern world anew every day. You are part of that. What kind of world do you want?
Carefully consider your answer.