The House Vote — Relativism and Righteousness

December 18, 2019

The most serious questions raised in the US House Vote for Impeachment are these:

Are we incapable of reaching beyond our own narrow views of “reality,” in order to truly consider that we might be “wrong?” Is it possible to consider that, perhaps, we have been blinded by something, by someone, by our own selves?

Is it possible to escape our pre-conceptions, our deeply blind need to side with political narratives, bent on distorting the truth in order to preserve a foundational perception of our Selves?

How far have we come into a world of Post Truth?

Are we, as a culture, finally embracing the idea that there is no such thing as Truth? Is it time to accept that all of our truths may be dependent upon our singular perception? Is this not what Hume postulated a long time ago?

Is this a response to perhaps an over-zealous age of scientism, objectivity, big data, “realism,” a quest for a unanimous agreement on basic principles of truth.  Is this a response to Neitzche’s claim that “God is dead?”

Is this the fall of the use of a capital letter T when it comes to truth? Are we finally going to accept that no capital T belongs on the word, that our leaders and lawmakers can so completely rip our bodies politic in twain?

I wonder if my fellow artists, intellectuals, and soul-searching human beings, are contemplating the profound sense of confusion that is blanketing our nation’s capital.

Have we slid so far down the slope of Relativism that there is no climbing back up the hill?  What now?

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I am ashamed of them all.  I have not heard one voice today that speaks of a middle road of any kind. Is there not one person in our body politic who has the guts to admit to complexity, admit to the possibility that this is not a melodrama for children, but a layered and nuanced discussion of perception?

Maybe this is why I have always been so suspect, even disdainful of politics—this need to vilify, this need to create a divide in order to take action? Maybe this is why I have been reticent to march in the streets, or carry signs for political action.  Maybe this is why I believe that we create division in order to more fully develop our own identities, because we have failed to do so without these external differences. We have not yet looked inside for our sense of Self—we only feel alive when we are in opposition to someone else?

I have no affinity for Donald Trump. I actually believe impeachment might be called for. But I am more disturbed by the division than anything else. I drive to work today—down the highway I go in my  2010 Toyota Corolla, on my way to a modest college in a modest town, where mostly working class families are trying to feed their kids and pay their bills. I do not live large, but I recognize my place of privilege in the middle class, my adult years dedicated to economic stability for myself and my family.  I’m a pretty ordinary person, on her way to work on a rainy Wednesday morning. I listen to public radio as I often do…I can name the major players in the big news stories of the day. Yes, I am informed, yes, I’m eager to listen, lean in, and learn… and yes, I have my opinions. In fact, I encourage my students (and myself) to have opinions about everything. “Stand up and have an opinion.”  It means you care.

But today, the vitriol, the hyperbole, the righteousness of the US House of Representatives has finally pierced my skin.   I am deeply troubled.…I hear no humility, no self-awareness, and finally, no Truth.

If this were couples therapy, I’d applaud the arrival into subjective terrainld, exploring experience over “fact.” But this is not therapy. This is business. This is taxation, this is governance. I believe in some old fashioned ideals from the 18th Century Founders. Forgive my romanticism for a moment? I know how to seek revisionism, and reading Zinn’s tome is an important reminder of our dangerous need for fairy tales.

Is this only history repeating itself? has it always been like this? Is my own naivete? I know politics has always been fractious…duh. But have we come so far as to seem ridiculous? Or have we always been ridiculous? Have ideologues always been this blatant in their righteousness? Do I have some kind of Romantic vision, guilty of believing that “it didn’t used to be like this?”

I want to be able to see this for what it is…

And I want to be able to admit that I might be wrong.

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