Lunaya Pravda

29 September 2006

A Faith Funk

An unfathomable funk has settled over me the past few days. It all started earlier in the week during a conversation with someone who I've considered to be reasonably sensible and appropriately skeptical.

I won't detail what meandering conversational train lead to this - partly because I can't remember the entire path it took - but the resulting statement was something to the effect that we all have to have faith in our president and in our country, and if we don't have faith in either, then we have nothing left. In the journey of conversation, I was accused of being too much of a pessimist - and vaguely conspiratorial - for suspecting the worst of my president and my country, and told that my outlook left no room for anything good. I was told that I have my head in the sand, that I am naive, and it was implied that my views are beyond help or hope.

Yet over the past few days, I've realized that I view this opposing position exactly the same way, as a pessimistic and conspiratorial view, naively burying his head in the sand. Without faith in our president and nation, is there really NOTHING left worth living for? Do the actions of one little man a thousands of miles away really more deserving of faith and respect than those close to home and hearth? And truly, is there a terrorist under every rock such that we deserve to be completely stripped of any vestiges of the recognition of our natural rights? Can he really believe that all the powers being usurped by the president stand absolutely no chance of being abused or being used to harm the innocent?

It's odd, but at a time when my view of all things American is at bleakest, I also have the most profound sense of optimism I've ever known. Yes, the noose gets just a little tighter every day, but my eyes are more open than ever before to the number of ways to live outside that noose - to forget the gallows that might await us.

So which one of us is truly the naive pessimist? The one who sees nothing worth having beyond faith in a man in a Big White House miles away? The one who thinks that terrorists really can be found under every rock and behind every tree, such that justification exists for complete abandonment of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Geneva Conventions, and the Magna Carta? The one who thinks that freedom is worth abandoning through fear? The one who sits contently in his easy chair at night and thinks nothing of the atrocities committed at the hands of our own government?

Or is it the one who believes we're being quietly, surreptitiously ushered into a police state the likes of which no generation alive has seen? The one who believes we as a nation are reaping the punishments of the international seeds we've sewn through decades of meddling? The one who stripping us of freedom to defend us from those who supposedly hate freedom sounds, well, asinine? The one who has great hope for the future, hope born in existence of folks who learn to live quiet, freer lives outside the system?

Do things like love, honesty, trust, honor, faith, and self-sufficiency really stop mattering the second we start to suspect our president is a power-grubbing, evil man who has squandered our fortunes and mightily abused us?

Maybe all this stings more because I've always elevated like-minded ideology as an important trait in those I befriend, and these shots come from someone I admire and trust. Maybe it bothers me because what should have been a pleasant conversation ended with strained parting words. Maybe it hurts me that his unspoken message was that jingoistic faith in the president is more important than anything else, than the people that care about him, than me. Or maybe I'm ruminating over the knowledge some topics are now necessarily verboten between us, that we must stick to certain "safe" topics in order to maintain pleasantries.

Whatever it is, the sadness is palpable.

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