The undemocratic underpinnings that produced today’s circumstances have been present for a while. As someone who wrote and talked about them — even campaigned for political office on it — I can say from experience that while many people knew and were open to the national course-correction called for, our political and media establishment and the groupthink it produced have been deeply averse to even a conversation about the dark underbelly of American society and the fundamental changes that have been called for. America has had many warnings…and so many looked away.
None of this is to make us feel worse than we do, or make us crumble into a ball of guilt over what we might realize now and fear it’s too late to change. It is however to make us see that part of the awakening — a genuine awakening — is to realize not only how bad things are, but also how much our own complacency both enabled the accumulating madness and prolonged the day of reckoning that would inevitably come.
Were we fooled? Oh yes. But were we easily fooled, even willing dupes? Yes again. We were easy prey, even the most intelligent among us.
For years I’ve commented, when people would go on and on about how good things were, that surely that depended on what neighborhood you lived in, what part of the world. Well now we know — because the worst experiences of every neighborhood have come to haunt us all.
And something else is true, as well — something what will be deemed by the pseudo-intelligentcia of our time to be just as silly as they deemed my words to be before — that there is built into the nature of things, the mind of God by whatever name, a mercy towards us that we haven’t shown toward others, to ourselves, to our planet, or to other species.
If enough of us allow ourselves the true horror of this moment, which isn’t just the horror of what’s happening but the even deeper horror of recognizing that we should have known what was happening and fixed what was happening long before now, then there will be a miraculous shift in the energy of this moment. I’ve seen so many in my career who have fallen from high high places, finding themselves deeply humbled, willing and ready at last to hear words they would’ve laughed at before. They had hit rock bottom, they had fallen to their knees, and from there they were able to resurrect their lives.
That is where America is now. I noticed two men yesterday, smart legal scholars on a television news show, analyzing the day’s events in Congress. Their eyes looked so sad to me and spoke of something different than what they were saying. “Who are we kidding?” they seemed to say. “We are so f**ked.”
I felt for them; their entire framework is falling apart before their eyes. Our problem is a mass psychosis that’s immune to the machinations of either law or reason, and it has inexplicably checkmated our most esteemed institutions, causing even the smartest among us to quake.
The arrogant mind is blind to the vicissitudes of both the darkness and the light. Yet the humbled mind can see amazing things. Now it’s time for something many of us haven’t tried before: a humility toward a power higher than our own, atonement in our hearts for distracting ourselves so much from the suffering of others and taking for granted the extraordinary blessings this country has afforded us. And from that place, as enough of us in the quiet of our hearts, in the sacred chamber of our own self-reckoning, fall to our proverbial knees and admit to ourselves the part our complacency played in the path that brought us here, America will begin to turn around.
“Even in our sleep pain which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” Such were the words of Aeschylus. And that is our salvation now: the cracking open of our hearts and the shift in thinking it produces. May Americans be forgiven. May America become wise.