Wednesday, April 6, 2011
What Ever Happened to Idealism?
9/11 killed idealism. It threw us all into an abiss of fear and militarism. I can't go through an airport screening process without thinking how naive we all were. Where the hell did those guys come from. We didn't have a clue that our entire society would be challenged by a bunch of guys living in the most backward parts of the globe, who responded to an 8th century creed.
The electiion of Barack Obama seemed to represent a return to idealism. He won an election through inspiration. We for the most part believed him. Imagine electing the first African American ever to the Presidency. It seemed something that only happened in the movies. But we barely realized that we had already been hit with a sledge hammer of recession. And we were already struggling through two major wars that were legacies of 9/11. If politics was for a moment inspiring, it no longer is. Antibodies to the election of a liberal Black President immediately began to build and have developed into a poisonous mixture of nativism, reaction to the health care legislation, vituperatively labeled as "Obamacare" by all those who seek to denigrate the President and his accomplishments. And while the President has successfully pulled us out of the recession, he has been continually attacked for the sluggish jobs recovery and now for the Federal deficit, neither of which were of his making.
Ah, the Arab Spring! It is truly inspiring, perhaps one of the most important developments of our time. But it is being met with a high degree of cynicism and fear. We think that these revolutions could well get out of control. We fear that a certain stability we have enjoyed in the Arab world is now at risk. And we hesitate to know how far to go to support the broad revolution taking place differently in each country in the region. Meanwhile the cost of a gallon of gasoline keeps creeping up, and we can no longer trust our energy future to the power of the atom. We once again fear nuclear annihillation.
So where are the idealists? Where are the idealistic causes and what can we be idealistic about in the future?
I have questions, but at this moment no answers. Maybe tomorrow or the next day.