Sour fruit. –Robert M. Shelby, 6-9-11. [921 txt wds]

Looking at our pollute-ics, today I feel sadly sour. I feel sourness investing left and right like the scent of old, unwashed clothes in a musty closet. Right and Left are sour about each other and toward each other. There seems to be no middle ground but among the carelessly disengaged. How to sweeten ourselves keeps evading us. Our discourse suffers. Each side sees the other in uncomplimentary, disrespectful terms. The sourness each shines on the other casts that other in darkness. We need a vacation out in open country away from our rotting, uncivil culture. .


People who specialize in unfairness have taken over the right wing of our politics, and left wingers are angry and bitter about the bad treatment given them by the so-called Rightists. Soured Leftists incline to be aggressively unfair in return. People who specialize in demanding that all citizens be responsible parts of one, whole society have always comprised the left wing. We differ on what responsibilty means. Strivings for truth or objective balance seem futile. We pick up our rhetorical weapons and fight because the truth will not seem to shine itself forth in time to cure our massive illness.


We have an acute social disease comprised of talking past each other as if in separate languages stemming from different worlds and aiming to perpetuate biasses that exclude each other nearly from life itself. We are like Jack Spratt and his wife. He could eat no fat and she no lean. Health evaded both. Vegetables would have helped a lot. It seems right-wingers would rather talk at us than to us.


Meanness intensifies on both sides. We risk becoming like Israel and Palestine or Al Qaeda and the West. Or like sensible people and the drug war between pseudo-sensible law-&-order folks and the foreign cartels. Little of it makes real sense any more. Maybe it never did, was never supposed to make sense but only intensify delusion to feed those who gain from chaos and the misery of others.


National attention has been caught in the silliness of one congressman’s private farce leaking into public view. I feel lucky that my surname is Shelby, suggesting maybe one day I will actually exist (“shall be”) if I don’t quite exist already; or that I’m some kind of bee in a shell. I try to imagine what I’d have contended with through school and college if my name had been Weiner. What psychological effects would have remained in me life-long? What would I sense as humorous or exciting if I had been a Jew with a long nose and called “Prick” or “Weeny” a thousand times? Providence or serendipity saved me from all that.


It’s been said, to understand all is to forgive all. But, who among us understands all? The typical Republican seems to understand Senator Vitter enough not to call for his resignation on moral grounds, yet seems not to understand Representative Weiner enough not to insist pompously that he resign. Did I mention how the right-wing has been taken over by people who specialize in unfairness? They have made it an artform for most of forty years based on ordinary practices from the time of the Founders. Now they are shoving it to us via their nasty “American Legislative Exchange Council.”


Poor Bill Clinton was put through the wringer for milder stuff than his accusers were guilty of, though colleagues protected them from notoriety by tactful coverings up. Of course, news reporters and journalists used to respect the privacy of national figures. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson were spared from humiliation about womanizing while in office. In fact, masculine culture long admired covert affairs as signs of having “the right stuff.” Adding a woman to your collection was like getting a combat medal.


The world of men has been increasingly overcome by feminine values and outlook. This is not a bad thing, but male nature has changed little while male culture has tended to turn against nature. Men have grown unclear and wimpy in their role, quite a mixed lot who turn against each other for, in some cases, abandoning women entirely and seeking same-sex relations in the same measure as women have abandoned men. Political correctness requires we accept and approve of women who reject men. Rejecting traditional standards while valuing personal freedoms, what can we do but let each one follow his or her heart’s demand, whether for a brief companion or a life partner?


It is not surprising then, if many retire upon traditional values and religion, but it is sad that they get hostile and aggressive about social matters and show punitive attitude. How can people help what they feel any more than they can help being who they are? Without toleration of differences there can be no stable community. Toleration is hard. Difficulty is painful. Our society today is full of pain. Conflict is painful. It must be born with forbearance and toleration or we shall have dark, violent times. Our sourness with each other requires firm stoicism and self-control. We cannot survive without laughter, comradery and forgiveness. How can we suppose we are so important that our ideas must dominate the future without input from that future? Is it possible to make an irrational number rational without faking it? Can we make irrational assumptions rational by means of endless argument? We are wearing ourselves out with nonsense. Our views are caverns like the Stables of Augeus that need a Hercules to cleanse them.

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