Somebody’s Apocalypse

I read this today on TWOP in Jacob’s recap of the latest True Blood espisode, which he titled “Somebody Else’s Apocalypse.”

Any other week I maybe wouldn’t feel so compassionate, toward the Fellowship, but I just spent the last 36 hours watching people driven mad, murderouslymad, by their own racist, crazy stuff, whipped into a frenzy by powers that don’t care about them, and know they’re past caring if they even understand what’s behind the fear. Health care is the new gay marriage. In some ways it’s stupider — mostly it’s less stupid, because nothing is stupider than fighting about gay marriage — but all of it acts on nothing approaching facts or common sense. The birthers, the deathers, they scream the most appalling imaginary things, and none of them can tell you why they’re so angry: just that something precious is being taken away from them. And something is. I’m not denying that. Something precious is being taken away from these people, whether or not I agree with it. And that’s sad; it makes me sad to think of what that must be like. It’s super fucked up, but mostly it’s scary and sad.

Later he posits that liberals might be partly to blame in stirring up the naive right-wingers, though adults have to take responsibility for their own state.  And says, not in blame of anyone, but just about the situation “we owe them better.”

I think that’s an admirable sentiment, but I’m not sure what more it could be.  Certainly, based on my own experience with such people, which I believe is a lot longer-term and more intimate than Jacob’s, I know that offering any expression of compassion would be “kind to be cruel.”  What’s frightening them so much, as I see it,  is their loss of perceived control over the world.  Implicit in compassion is a shared condition or nature, which is what their loss would consist of – that sharing.

I don’t kid myself about how much my perceptions of the people who are currently known as “birthers” and similar are colored by my own fear.  I grew up in a small town in Texas, and started to understand at a young age that most of the people around me were irrational and angry about a lot of things that to me were just part of the fabric of reality – as I discovered it largely through outside sources, like books and radio and TV.  The outside sources jibed with observation.  The people around me had their own version, which could only be maintained through saturation and intimidation.  The biology teacher was allowed only one lecture to deal with the theory evolution, and had to say it was only a theory, without explaining how good a theory it was.  Stuff like that.  And the intimidation was not subtle.

I know enough about that way of life to have its textures, to miss some of them, like jokes that no one else will understand, but that doesn’t tell me how to reach out to them.  I’ve never known.

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