We have memory issues. This can be a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing when it’s time to change or to move on from hard times to better days. It’s a curse when we forget the lessons history has to teach and then repeat them, or when politics tries to rewrite history to further an agenda.
In the age of disinformation we are cursed with a cultural memory that is short and selective. Four years ago, after one of the most divisive elections in modern history, We were forced to forget our differences, at least for a while. East and west of our enchanted valleys and hillsides, scores of firefighters were struggling to contain two major wildfires, and we were trapped in between. Smoke filled the air and ashes fell from the sky. It was hard to breathe, and you could taste the fear.
We rose to the occasion. We volunteered and we donated. We supported our local heroes and made welcome those who came here from across the country to help us. All of a sudden, and for a good long time afterward, politics and pixels just weren’t that important anymore. Family was important, and church and community. It took a common enemy to show us who we had become and remind us who we can be.
How soon we forget. Four years later we’re even more deranged by politics and pixels, angry, frightened, frustrated. The voices of our better angels are lost in the din, but we do have a common enemy.
It’s an enemy that’s more subtle than a wildfire. It’s hard to pin down, because it hides in plain sight and it often looks just like us. Some might describe it as a perversion of our technology and institutions that functions as a lens which magnifies our baser instincts. It’s an unholy alliance of politicians and corporations with an insatiable appetite for power and profit. It’s a corrupt system that repeatedly serves up an illusion of choice between corruption and turpitude. It frightens and browbeats us into choosing between evil and lesser evil as if the survival of humanity itself hinged on every vote.
We are ruled, consumed by this golem we created and which we empower. Which. We. Empower. It does not have a life of its own, but as long as we are divided and forgetful of who we can be, it will grip us with fear and the illusion of helplessness.
The architects of our system of government foresaw the possibility of our disempowerment and provided a path to a solution. It’s called a Convention of States. We’ve talked about this before and we will again. In order to walk this challenging path, we will have to take a hard look at who we have become and remember who we can be. We need to be better, because no matter what we do, we will always get the government we deserve.