It was sometime right around when Donald Trump talked about how certain people were asking for moments of silence for the Dallas shooter (a lie, of course). It was after Orlando and Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and Dallas, but before Nice and Turkey, and I decided I was absolutely going to check out of the media universe altogether.
Fuck it all. I have a life to live in my fortunate corner of the universe. I have work to do. I have art to appreciate. I have personal relationships to nourish. Plus, I’m old. I doubt that I will live long enough to see the seriously malign effects of climate change. Yes, I know where the oceans are supposed to be in 2100, but I damn sure know where I’m going to be in 2100. Plus, the grandchildren of my grandchildren will solve it using twine and neutrinos.
I saved the world! Or my genetic spawn did, and that’s almost the same thing.
And it’s too much. I can’t stand that much bad news. My friend René was talking about a chum of his, an unreconstructed Bernieite, who would send him daily missives bashing Hillary about some failed policy or newly revealed prevarication. (Hillary turned out to be a liar after all; that was disappointing). “I finally told him to stop. I’m sure most of that is true, but I’m just too anxious.” Because Trump. Because Trump and guns and bombs and trucks.
Oh wait, I forgot about goddam Brexit. Didn’t even make the cut.
I’m anxious too. The New York Times is not my friend. I avoid television news because it’s so very stupid. Plus: It’s stupid people talking about stupid things. Either horse race garbage (“Look, a new poll says there’s a five point difference! Five points! Margin of error is five points. This must be significant!”), or one of those vague general stories in which a correspondent stands beside a pile of smoking rubble and says, “at this time, nothing is known about the killer or killers.”
Or it’s Pokemon Go, in which reality is enhanced by cute little cartoon characters. Seems like everyone wanted to escape the anger and the stupidity (did I mention that?) this week. What’s another truck attack when I found Squirtle or Charizard down by the Sand Creek Massacre monument? Pokemon Go is even a hit in Saudi Arabia, where God knows they need some relief.
Oh right: Saudi Arabia involved in 9/11. That’s cold news now, raising the question: Why didn’t anyone publish it when it was hot news? That slipped under the radar too.
The Republican candidate for president, whose name I can no longer bear to type, wants to “declare war” on ISIS, unaware that we are already at war with ISIS only we don’t declare it anymore (the last time was in 1941), because we’re just not the sort of people who get involved in war. We are a peaceful people.
Also, he has not figured out that the revolution has been decentralized. ISIS doesn’t need territory so long as it has a Twitter account. The Caliphate is an idea now, and the only way to fight an idea is with a better idea, and we seem to have forgotten what ours is. Come to America, we have…products.
As I am writing this, news comes that three policeman were shot and killed in Baton Rouge. Can you hear the shouts of “race war” now? That will be the subtext of the Republican convention, count on it.
So guns. So miles and acres of guns, bought and retained by people who have no trouble with state-mandated driver’s licenses but demand unregulated commerce in guns, guns that kill people. No one goes to shoot deer with an AR-15. Or a Sig Sauer MCX, which is what the guy in Orlando used.
In 2014, more people committed suicide using a gun than were killed in gun homicides. Of course, those folks could have just stabbed themselves to death, or poisoned themselves using standard laboratory chemicals, or jumped off a cliff. But a gun is so much more certain. Pick it up, gaze at it. No puzzling over road maps trying to find a cliff, no hesitant stabbing motions after the first two or three, no exhausting search for standard lab chemicals. There’s nothing between the sad person and the completion of his own self-extinction. Bang, bang, you’re —.
But, no no no, it’s second amendment all the way, even while people are second-amendmenting themselves in the foot, or second-amendmenting their nine-year-olds after a night of drinking and gun-related hijinks. Or a kid finding Mommy’s “just for protection” gun and second-amendmenting two dogs and a neighbor.
It is fucking madness, and it’s not changing. Politicians are panderers and cowards; it’s part of the job description. They are silent when people say they want the right to carry handguns into schools. I mean, what? What? Is there not an ounce of common sense left in the universe? What remains for me to learn in the public arena? I know my voice makes a difference and blah blah blah, but I constantly vote for the same women to go to Congress. They’re supposedly liberal, although one of them is the biggest suck-up to the security establishment ever. Privacy rights, ha! And she’s the Democrat.
The urge to retreat is overwhelming. The urge to search for news of the Antillean mango hummingbird. The feeling that watching my cat wash may be the most important thing I do all day. Perhaps a quest for wildflowers, or a journey to Argentina.
Of course, I could be a resident of Aleppo. No worries about trans-gender washrooms there. In western China, they are uninvolved in Hillary’s email scandal. In Yemen, they don’t have much time to consider three dead in the streets of Baton Rouge, because for them “three dead” is a relatively light day of slaughter. For us, in this extremely lucky corner of the world, to refuse to try harder because Donald Trump is a dangerous narcissist seems, you know, a little self-involved.
You want dangerous narcissists? The residents of Syria have just the guy for you.
Maybe we can’t do anything. Most of the people who tried to do something have failed. It’s the problem with doing difficult work; it’s hard. Failure is always there, whispering in your ear. But are we still civilized? Do we still believe in discourse, in ideas, in small plans made larger? Are we still interested in justice? Do we still wish to reduce suffering in our own city, our own state, our own world? Do we want to offer succor and hope? Well then, let’s keep soldiering on. Let’s make a fucking effort.
And after we change the world, we’re free to play Pokemon Go to our hearts’ content.
17 thoughts on “Make it stop”
I miss you, Jon Carroll.
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I read this,was moved, then posted my own story. I would place the link here, but thats taking advantage of the power of Jon’s writing.
Here I is.
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That’s the trouble. I don’t know the answer either, Good job, Tracy.
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As I stare at my ever-knottier and scrawnier hands hovering over the keyboard, trying to sort out my reactions to your latest, Jon, I am lost for the right words. Something tells me you’ve hit a bunch of nails right on the head because my initial and continuing response is YES! MAKE IT STOP!
There are so many things these days that are part of “it”, however, that I’m beginning to think about the state of the world in reactionary terms, most of them negative, like your headline. Why are there so many angry people in the world today? Have they always been there and now we’re instantly aware of them because of modern communications and social media? Or are we already engaged in World War III and haven’t realized that all the bombings and massacres and shootings and bedlam are nothing more than little Pearl Harbors all over the globe?
Yes, continue the good fight. But … who, or what, or which one? Or should we just do a turtle and enjoy la dolce vita in NorCal as long as we can? Our Hamlet soliloquy moment. Thanks for the mental prodding, Jon, and the visual imagery, Tracy.
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You are not alone my friend. Your articulation of my thoughts and feelings about the state of the world, our country, my city (Oakland) and myself… helps me feel a little less lonely and isolated. Perhaps that is all we can hope for. To be allowed to know ourselves and love as much as possible. According to the Buddhists, it is the only way to counteract the negativity. More anger and violence begets more anger and violence. Vicious circle. Namaste’ ❤
Well, yeah — what you said. After many decades of monitoring the news on a daily basis, I too have pulled back of late. These last couple of months have been the Horrorshow of the Week, with some fresh new Hell boiling out of the radio/TV every seven days — it feels like we’ve all been dragooned as unwilling contestants in a nightmarishly perverse reality show where every episode ramps up the bloodletting drama to a new and horrifying level.
It’s Duck Dynasty on meth, with assault weapons.
In that light, how fitting that we’re now being subjected to four days of bilious, self-righteous ranting from a frightened mob of GOP wing-nuts who have allowed themselves to be fooled into thinking they’ve found a savior in Donald Trump, the perfect “strongman” leader for these troubled times.
I recall when political conventions used to be boring — now they’ve become terrifying. Talk about the world spiraling out of control…
Granted, it’s no the time to surrender or retire to the isolation chamber, but looking around, I see metaphorical fires raging everywhere — and here we are in a drought.
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Hey, I’m so old I remember when political conventions weren’t boring. Dems in 1960, GOP in 64, Dems in 68. But this..
I was only ten in 1960, and not politically inclined — although (perched on my father’s shoulders), I did get to shake hands with JFK when he came through SF while running against “The Happy Warrior” Hubert Humphrey in the primaries. But I do recall the drama of ’64, with Goldwater’s minions holding an axe to cut the power if Rockefeller threatened to take the nomination, and as for ’68 — oh yeah, that was anything but boring.
In years since, though, the presumptive nominees have been buff, puffed, and polished to make them as slippery as possible, and thus pass through the political alimentary canal all the way into the toilet of the Presidential finals in November. Very little drama. I’m not sure we’re getting much drama from the coronation of Herr Trump, but the process reminds me of the finale in Todd Browning’s infamous movie “Freaks,” wherein the “differently-abled” residents of the circus chant “Gooble Gobble, Gooble Gobble, we accept him, we accept him.”
And so the GOP accepts Trump as their leader. We can only hope he leads them all off a very high cliff come November…
“The New York Times is not my friend.” Upsetting, isn’t. On the basis of Front Page Drivel alone, and click here to see what’s happening on the web. Kee-rist.
Jon, I’m so grateful for your verbification of “second amendment”. I am going to use that from now on.
Also – I found this Onion article both sadly amusing and confoundingly true:
Nation Struggling To Keep Track Of How Far Along It Is In All Its Ongoing Grieving Processes
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One small way I try to “deal” with the “news” of the GOP circus is to try and think of it as something I will laugh about soon enough.
Trump winning the election is simply unacceptable.
I prefer to think that before too long I will be saying: “Remember when he said/did this or that? What a maroon!”
I can’t wait to hear people call him a Loser.
As for the other stuff you mention, I may be looking for some sand into which I may put my head… though that may not be a constructive approach – still…
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Thank you, thank you for your terrific rant. We are in the same place, struggling to keep our heads, minds, and hearts, above the flood, to do good as much as we can. Your voice resounds!
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Is that bumpy road in the top picture leading to McClure’s Beach by any chance?
Somewhere on Pt. Reyes, definitely. But where exactly is not known.
You crack me up, Jon Carroll….
Love that you’re blogging Mr. Carroll!
Well said, as usual!
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